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Finely Sliced: How Cam Anderson is Carving Out a Space for Himself


The Outsider Editorial editor explores the value of understanding storytelling principles, his belief in longer-form commercial storytelling, and why he’s a perpetual student of the craft

Finely Sliced: How Cam Anderson is Carving Out a Space for Himself

As a new addition to the Outsider Editorial roster, Cam Anderson has become known for his work ethic, charm and energy, as well as his truly versatile approach to craft and storytelling that has made him a hit with creatives, directors and producers alike. Working on a wide range of commercials for clients - including Telus, Kellogg's, and Osmow’s, Cam always looks forward to the next creative challenge.

LBB> The first cut is the deepest: how do you like to start an editing project? 

Cam> I have a habit of quickly previewing dailies before making any of my selections, primarily because it gives me a rush of dopamine that boosts my enthusiasm for the project. After that, it’s all about gathering references. Whether it’s spots or any other material provided by the director or agency, reviewing them for inspiration helps me establish visual guidelines to follow when making my initial selections from the footage. 

LBB> Non-editors often think of editing just in technical terms, but it’s integral to the emotion and mood of a film. How did you develop that side of your craft? 

Cam> By consuming and experimenting. Being a great editor means having the ability to adapt and evolve in an ever-changing industry, and therefore, I am a perpetual student of the craft. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to improve my skills as an editor. Whether it’s by studying the work of successful editors who are masters at evoking emotion and mood in their footage, or by learning new techniques, I am constantly looking to grow in this craft and carve out a space for myself. 

LBB> How important is an understanding of story and the mechanics of story? 

Cam> Intrinsic. By having a strong grasp of storytelling principles such as character development, pacing, and tension, an editor is better equipped to make creative decisions that serve the story. 

Understanding story is also so crucial in commercial editing, where a spot’s length is often constrained. Editing a commercial can feel like solving a puzzle, where time is limited, and the editor must communicate the idea effectively while maintaining the essential elements of storytelling. It's about knowing how to balance these constraints - ensuring that the story’s integrity is not sacrificed while achieving the desired outcome within the given time frame.

LBB> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing (even when it’s a film without actual music). How do you think about the rhythm side of editing, how do you feel out the beats of a scene or a spot, and do you like to cut to music? 

Cam> Editing revolves around rhythm, which I believe is its core tenet. Rhythm helps you establish the pace and timing of your piece, drawing in the audience and evoking emotional reactions. Creating rhythm is crucial because it allows you to break it and surprise your viewers with unexpected moments. When I approach a project, I like to think of rhythm in terms of individual beats and make small edits while selecting footage that excites me. By creating these moments, I can visualise the larger structure and rhythm of the piece, and eventually connect the dots for the final cut. 

Personally, I’m not a big fan of cutting to music unless the agency or client has pre-selected a track. Music plays a significant role in editing and can easily overpower the footage, which drives the emotion of the piece. Instead, I prefer to let the footage and sound design determine the rhythm, while music plays a supporting role as an accent that brings everything together. For me, music’s tonal quality is more critical than anything else. 

LBB> How important is your relationship with the director, and how do you approach difficult conversations when there is a creative difference of opinion? 

Cam> The relationship between an editor and the director is crucial to the success of any project. As an editor, it’s our job to refine and execute their creative vision, and an open and honest dialogue is essential to achieving this goal. Handling creative differences doesn’t have to be difficult. I’ve always approached those conversations diplomatically, ensuring that everyone’s ideas are heard and explored. This is particularly important when working with a director for the first time, where we might not have a familiarity or comfort quite yet. This absolutely goes both ways. 

LBB> What’s harder to cut around – too much material or not enough? (And why?) 

Cam> Honestly, these two challenges are very distinct, but they can both be equally challenging. When you’re short on footage, it can feel like you’re stretching your selects further than usual and have limited options to work with. However, the beauty of not having enough footage is that it can ignite your creativity and inspire you to find unique ways to bend and manipulate the footage to make something you’re still proud of. That’s why I love editing so much – it’s like putting together a complex puzzle, and there’s always a solution to be found.

LBB> Which commercial projects are you proudest of, and why? 

Cam> I am extremely proud of my work on ‘Jars’, a project I edited for Nescafe through Courage. What I love most about it is that it’s not flashy – it’s understated and simple, but elegant. Director Omri Cohen captured these stunning vignettes in different countries, including India, Mexico, and Italy. The concept from Courage focused on a reusable Nescafe Jar and how it symbolises something that culturally unites us all. My goal was to create a sequence of meaningful vignettes that would connect each piece of the puzzle, and I achieved this through sound design and matched action, with the Nescafe jar as the hero. 

LBB> There are so many different platforms for film content now, and even in advertising something can last anything from a few seconds to a couple of hours. As an editor, are you seeing a change in the kind of projects you’re getting from brands and agencies? 

Cam> This isn’t really an answer to the question, but rather, something I'd like to see more of. Specifically, I recently had the opportunity to work on a project for Kellogg’s in collaboration with Leo Burnett, which celebrated their 70-year partnership. It was a content piece that lasted around two minutes and highlighted exactly what I would love to see more of from brands and agencies. By creating a longer narrative, the piece was able to tell a story and showcase the Kellogg’s brand in a compelling way. Even though it wasn’t focused on selling a particular product, I strongly believe that longer storytelling can still be successful in the commercial world, and can be applied to promote a brand. 

LBB> Who are your editing heroes and why? What films or spots epitomise good editing for you? 

Cam> I’m a big fan of Jessica Brunetto’s comedic editing style. Her work on ‘Broad City’, one of the best comedy shows of all time, is exceptional, and more recently, she edited ‘Hacks’. I’m impressed by how well the show balances its comedic and dramatic elements. 

In interviews, Brunetto emphasises the importance of selecting moments that not only make the audience laugh, but also serve the story or feel authentic to the character. It’s not about being funny for the sake of being funny, but rather using humour as a means to achieve a larger purpose. 

LBB> How does editing in the commercial world differ from the film world and TV world?

Cam> While I only have experience in the commercial world, I imagine that one major difference between commercial and TV/film projects is the timeline. In the commercial industry, projects often have a quick turnaround of only a few weeks, which can make the pace of the work quite intense. Conversely, the timelines for TV/film deliverables tend to be longer. I can’t speak to the intensity of those timelines and whether or not they foster creativity differently, since I haven’t worked on long-form projects outside of a few passion projects.

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Outsider Editorial, Mon, 24 Apr 2023 12:52:39 GMT