A Pint With… James Rose

August 2, 2016 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Friendly chat from the grumpiest face in editing.

As we’re both consummate professionals, James Rose and I met within spitting distance of both of our Soho offices, at The Blue Posts on Berwick Street – ready to dart back should we have urgent business to attend to (we didn’t). The golden afternoon sun demanded lager as we got to know each other. It was Becks Vier for me, keeping it session as I knew we’d have more than one, and a classy(ish?) Kronenbourg 1664 for him. The conversation meandered from work to culture to history for quite a while. I think he was just pleased to be out in the daylight.


“… When I was a kid my stepdad was a builder. I would have been one too if I was any good at it. To this day I refuse to put shelves up. But I loved the sense of achievement. At the end of the day you’d look at what you’d done ( in my case digging holes or mixing cement for a wall ) with pride. I often get that same satisfaction when I finish a day’s editing.”

“… I was into fighter jets when I was growing up. Norfolk was the airforce base of the Free West - Lightnings, Harriers, F-15s, F-16s, MIG-29s, SU-35s… There’s something reassuring about knowing all the specific details – wingspan, max speed, range… It was like Top Trumps flying past daily.”

“… It’s strange how little boys were obsessed with war. I don’t think it’s so much the case now. We had grandparents who’d been around in the Second World War, so we still had that connection. My Great Uncle was a pilot and my Grandfather used to say he wouldn’t buy anything Japanese, as the Norfolk regiment were stationed in Singapore. Now it would be hard not to buy Japanese.”

“… Being unemployed used to be fashionable. I was made redundant from a job in insurance in my early 20s, and it was a positive thing. I spent quite a while on the dole, reading far more voraciously than I’d ever done – proper, mind-expanding classic literature. Amazingly, I could survive. I used to be able to spend a tenner a week on food and managed to still smoke as well.”

“… We in the ad industry can inflate the importance of what we do. It sometimes reminds me of the end of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the new Earth is populated entirely by hairdressers and telephone sanitizers. I don’t know if editors would be all be that useful on a newly colonised planet either.”

“… I like when it goes quiet in the edit. At first it freaked me out, but it often means I have people’s trust. Part of editing is getting someone to trust you as quickly as possible so you can understand each other. It’s an interesting mind game.”

“… I’ve got quite an undiplomatic face. It looks like I have a problem even it’s fine. But it kind of works in the edit suite. If I have a problem, I’ll tell you. I’ve had trouble convincing people that I’m a warm, generous person because of my grumpy face. I really am, though!”

“… One part of editing is about rhythm and keeping time. I used to play the drums. I learnt to edit from an ex-bassist in a punk band – another member of the rhythm section. He used to say being a drummer was good, but the bass is the soul of the music.”

“… The idea that post production needs to offer a five-star-hotel experience is bollocks. You need to make clients comfortable enough to work, but not so comfortable they just want to come and hang out. You don’t want people to be distracted by luxury. Everyone needs to be thinking about getting the best edit possible.”

“… I’ve seen a few hotels around the world, but that’s not real travelling. Lots of the travel I do is professional, so I often never see places in the daylight. You arrive at night, leave before it gets light, come back after it gets dark and do that for days. I edited for 21 days straight in January, which is my record – a week in Prague and then two weeks in Amsterdam. It was a long time to be away from home.”

“… I’ve got a son who’s going through his ‘teenage discovery’ moments. Some of which I tolerate. Some of which I’m relieved that at least he’s talking to me about. He’s happy to talk to me about weed and he can allegedly source other products from the dark web that are allegedly 83% pure. Part of me wants to guffaw and say that’s bollocks. That would be the strongest this side of the Atlantic if that’s the case! But I can’t say that. So I just go ‘Oh really? Goodness me. That’s not a good route to go down. Especially not with your (my) pocket money.’”

“… I don’t want to be a shouty Malcolm-Tucker-type boss. I’m enjoying the challenges of being a Partner. It’s fun editing, but this is a project to see what I can do with people - balancing personalities and trying to move forward as a group. We’ve got a panoply of characters. It’s about finding an interesting balance and getting the best out of everyone, helping them to enjoy this game and to have as much fun as I do.”

James Rose is an Editor and Partner at Cut+Run.

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