When you next watch an episode of Survivor, take a moment to admire how the story flows so smoothly, how the music enhances the mood and how each personality is allowed to unfold.
The man who pulled together those 67 minutes of compelling viewing by wading through a mind-boggling 2 000 minutes of footage was Andrew Dixon, a freelance editor who has found his niche in reality TV.
“Give me an edit suite and video footage and I’m in my element,” he says. “You might watch 40 minutes of footage for that three second nugget that turns the story on its head.”
Dixon (34) is currently working on a new series of Masterchef, again condensing hours of footage into a show where the emotional highs and lows are as important as the food.
As a freelance editor he has worked for clients such as EMI, Sony Music and Telkom. A video clip he edited on the sights and sounds of Ghana was broadcast around the world from the African Cup Of Nations opening ceremony.
Since then he has specialised in reality TV including Class Act, The Big Break Legacy, Masterchef and Survivor.
“I fell in love with human emotion and storytelling,” he says. “I get to tell the stories of seemingly ordinary people thrust into an absolute whirlwind of emotion and drama. I want to make the viewers at home feel the emotion that these contestants are going through.”
Survivor is the ultimate dream for a storyteller, he says, with up to 15 cameras capturing the action around the clock.
“It’s the ultimate art of crafting a story through video and music. One minute of footage can have 20 different sound changes to drive home what the viewer must feel.”
Dixon is in high demand, yet he’s keen to train others to help to fill the shortage of competent film and TV editors.
“There is a clear shortage of story editors in our industry. It’s a stressful job working seven days a week and it takes extreme dedication and stamina. I’m not quite sure how a normal life is lived,” he says. — Lesley Stones