Finely Sliced: Andrew Holmes

Andrew Holmes’s distinctive editing style has crowned him this year’s ‘Editor of the Year’ at Shots Asia Pacific Awards. Andrew has worked internationally for some of the finest post production facilities in the world. Currently residing at Heckler, he has over 20 years experience editing high end commercials, short films, documentaries and music videos. His recent Shots accolade comes off the heels of previous wins at Cannes Lions France, The One Show New York, London International Awards and D&AD London, to name a few.

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

Andrew> I make it a habit to research and prepare before diving headfirst into any project. I scrutinise creative references, read through director treatments, scour film and commercial work for inspiration, gather potential music tracks, and immerse myself in the stylistic world surrounding the project. It’s important to communicate with the director before getting started, but I also enjoy space to assemble my first cut. This way, I have the opportunity to make that first impression count. Afterward, I collaborate closely with the director to bring the two visions together. From there, I organise and refine footage methodically. This method enables me to get my head around the material and begin to subconsciously build my editing approach. Next, I trust my instincts and select the most emotionally, rhythmically, and aesthetically compelling footage. I love finding the moment in and around the moment, if that makes sense; happy accidents, outtakes and textural shots. Following that, I refine these selections again and again, then start on building a skeleton edit.

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?

Andrew> I guess years of experimentation and experience. In my opinion, good storytelling is at the core of all successful film projects, along with audience connection, emotion and rhythm. I draw significant inspiration from various forms of art. It’s crucial to avoid limiting yourself to just film, as creative passions outside of work can be very beneficial in finding inspiration. I am passionate about playing instruments, watching films, painting and photography, and of course my background as a graphic designer has also contributed to shaping my style as a film editor.

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

Andrew> In film editing, an understanding of the story and its mechanics is crucial. Without a clear understanding of the narrative, it’s challenging to create a cohesive and engaging edit. Understanding the narrative gives me a reason to choose the takes I choose or motivates the decisions behind shot combinations. Editors have to comprehend the story’s structure, character arcs, and the intended emotional impact on the audience. Understanding how to manipulate time and pacing, they can then effectively build tension, reveal important plot points, and evoke specific emotions. Ultimately, the success of an edit depends on how well the editor understands and executes the story’s mechanics.

LBB> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing – 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?

Andrew> I like to experiment a lot with sound. Being a musician has always helped me as an editor, finding the right rhythm and sense of timing. Music and sound design are so important. They help me build out the structure, to explore rhythm, pace, shape, emotion and mood. Sound design also helps with accenting cut points. With the existing visuals in mind, I’ll sometimes start by building a musical story or soundscape. I use that to guide me towards finding emotional builds, turning points, and dramatic reveals. All the beats of the story can be mapped theoretically with music. Alternatively, there are times when editing narrative work where I work purely with visuals and no sound. Visuals, music, and soundscapes are all tools that guide me to the destination but ultimately the final visual narrative has to be strong enough to work on its own.

LBB> Tell us about a recent editing project that involved some interesting creative challenges.

Andrew> Heaven + Hell

(Recently picking up GOLD for “Best editing” @ Shot Asia Pacific and at theAustralian Screen Editors Awards (ASE).)


Earlier this year, I worked on a passion project called ‘Heaven + Hell’. I love working on these art films for the creative freedom, and because they give me a chance to fine tune my skills and to collaborate with a wider variety of directors and artists. For this piece, director Anthony Capristo and myself really wanted to experiment in crafting a film that embodied the words ‘Love’ and ‘Insanity’. One of the creative challenges we faced was working out how far to push the edit. We knew we wanted to elevate the artistry, and push the film into an art space, but we also needed to ensure it wasn’t too abstract. Luckily time was on our side, so we could experiment with ideas and structure to get both the balance and tone right.




Andrew> Firstly, I love collaborating with different directors. Each brings their own unique gifts and vision into the creative process. It’s great to work with

people who are willing to listen and be open to inspiration from anywhere – as well as utilising the expertise of the people around them.


People that bring passion and energy into a project can help drive creative thinking and produce a stronger outcome. There’s always going to be creative differences in filmmaking. That’s where your communication skills become really important. Understanding the personality of the director you’re working with is just as important. You need to listen and understand the big picture –the vision and the process the director and the creatives have already gone through, just to get to the edit stage. By doing this, I’m able to understand the limitations we have to work within but also what creative opportunities we can explore, together. Communication is key.




Andrew> In my opinion, having insufficient material is more challenging. The more options you have, the more you can experiment with different shot combinations and this usually pushes creativity and unexpected outcomes. However, it’s a balancing act, and the key factor is quality over quantity. You might have 20 takes, but not a single one fits the edit, pace, cut points or emotion you’re aiming for. Alternatively, you might have just five takes, and each one hits the mark perfectly. So, sometimes, less can indeed be better.




Andrew> The projects where I can leave my creative footprint are the ones I keep close to my heart. Three recent projects that come to mind are:



(Recently picking up GOLD for “Best editing” @ Shot Asia Pacific and Silver at the Axis Awards.)

Directed by Kyra Bartley, this edit was a lot of fun. Kyra and I enjoyed the experimentation within the edit suite. The structure was built around the theory of time relativity, using the words of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking to highlight the pace of change and the way time flows at different speeds.
Leaps by Bayer
Working closely with director Stefan Jose, I spent a number of days refining footage and experimenting before we began blocking out a skeleton edit. We knew we had something special, it was just a matter of working through the process, changing shot combinations, experimenting with light, shade, and pace variations until we had instinctively built mini scenes to help break down the narrative. We had a lot of creative freedom in the edit suite, which meant the creative process could unfold naturally. It is a beautiful thing to craft a film that will take your audience on a journey like this one.

Highlife is my most recent work. A beautiful short film directed by Leve Kühl, promoting the importance of recreational drug testing and safer usage. Leve was personally affected by a tragic loss caused by impure drugs, which put this incredible campaign in motion. It’s always a nice feeling to be able to use your skills for a good cause.

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?

Andrew> With recent projects there is always a social media aspect. Whether that be creating online-only spots or just reformatting TVCs for social media. There’s some really great work being done for web-only and many of them no longer have time restrictions which is liberating in terms of what can be done in the edit. Longer forms open up so much more possibilities for better storytelling.

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

Andrew> I’m a fan of Thelma Schoonmaker. She has edited numerous Scorsese films, including “Raging Bull”, “Goodfellas”, and “The Departed”. I love her rhythm, pacing, and ability to convey the emotional depth of characters. Sally Menke (“Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill”) Paul Rogers (“Everything, Everywhere, All At Once”).

In the world of commercials, I really like the work produced by Tokyo-based studio “kidzfromnowhere”. Their work is always so rich, abstract, and they experiment a lot with sound too, which I like.

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

Andrew> Commercials are all about speed and style, focusing on aesthetics and clever visual tricks to maintain viewer engagement. When you’e in this world, the turnaround times can range from a few weeks, to even a single day. I tend to gravitate towards fast-paced editing intuitively, so commercials are a lot of fun. They also give you the opportunity to work with different directors and brands, which I enjoy.

There’s typically more time on films, which means there’s more room for exploration and more time to flesh out performance and complex storytelling. You always need to keep the bigger picture in mind when cutting. Having the opportunity to work in both long form and short form, I think long form has helped me with my efficiency and patience in the fast-paced world of commercials.

Have you noticed any trends or changes in commercial editing over recent years There are always going to be stylistic trends that come and go in commercial film editing. It’s an ever evolving world especially with social media trends and shorter attention spans. Brands recognise the need to capture viewers’ attention quickly, so commercial editing has adapted to shorter, more dynamic formats. This means focusing on visuals that work well on smaller screens and utilising text or subtitles for clarity. Mastering in different aspect ratios is also more common.

I’ve also recently noticed more jobs coming across my desk with larger deliverables for various platform requirements. Emotional storytelling and character development have become more common with brands looking to create a deeper connection with viewers. Shooting on film is still popular, which makes me happy. The spots that stand the test of time are the ones that tell a compelling story and grab the viewer visually, regardless of the format or stylistic trends happening at the time. The good spots will always find a connection.