James Rosen: A few of my favourite things
The Final Cut editor talks us through his comic collection, his books on creativity and the best Back To The Future posters you'll see today.
Over the course of working with some of the industry’s top directorial talent such as Sam Brown and Neil Gorringe, Rosen has picked up a plethora of awards and nominations for editing including D&AD, Clio, British Arrows, LIA, with his work on BAFTA-winning short Cowboy Dave remaining his proudest moment.
We check out the trinkets and doodads that fill his friendly edit suite, including his excellent comic collection, books on creativity and the best Back To The Future posters you'll see today.
The creativity books
What I do is time-consuming and let’s face it, probably a little bit boring for most people to sit through and watch. So I like to offer my clients creative ways to pass the time. So far there’s ‘642 Things To Draw’ and the origami-style ‘Papertoy Monsters’. I don’t think people notice, but in a pot on the table is everything needed to get stuck in - scissors, pencils, erasers, tape and glue.
So far only one director has made paper monsters, but the drawing book is filling up nicely. I flicked through it recently and have no idea who drew anything. But clearly the people who drew a ladder as a ripped pair of tights, a beetle as McCartney and Bowie as a coffin are in the right business.
The Nano Block synthesiser
I bought this little model synth on a work trip to Tokyo (Geek Mecca). Sadly the legs and the tiny sustain pedal have disappeared, so now it’s portable!
I’ve had a silly sort of love affair with pianos since the age of 7. After some formal training I soon learnt to improvise, working out piano versions of whatever music I was listening to at the time. Bought a Korg. Formed a band. Made an album (2 stars in Q Magazine). Despite fooling around with synths and sound design tools, the piano will always be the love of my life.
I came up with a cool way to shorthand ideas that have become important to me as an editor. Instead of writing them down, I’ve expressed them in a single icon, although I doubt they make any sense to anyone else. Nor should they, I like that they’re somewhat cryptic.
With a few exceptions, I’ve been generally disappointed with the Marvel and DC movie storylines. Source material is usually the best, so it’s been fun dipping back in. I try to keep an assorted collection in the room, even just for artistic merit as some of the illustrations are just astonishing.
You’ll find: One Punch Man (bloody hilarious), Gotham By Gaslight (Batman hunts Jack the Ripper) and Death of Superman (totally bonkers), along with weird and wonderfully random titles I’ve found in trips to Forbidden Planet.
I came across these delightful little things in a hotel room in LA. A cross between a fidget spinner and random decision maker, they are very satisfying to play with. It’s also a reminder that creativity is often about letting go, leaving things to chance, going somewhere unexpected. But mostly it’s about the joy I feel in spinning the damn thing. As for letting it make decisions...best of three?
Fighting Fantasy books
I rediscovered these at my parents’ house one christmas and knew they belonged in my edit suite. I used to read (play?) these all the time as a child. Best described as a one player version of dungeons and dragons, these dice-controlled ‘choose your own adventure’ books probably gave me my first taste of DIY storytelling. PS4 is one thing, but try turning to page 241 to find out some barbarian just hacked your head off.
(I also keep a pair of dice in the art pot for anyone who wants to try their luck.)
The Post It Notes
I sometimes stick these all over the wall to get my head in the game, to deconstruct a particularly complicated project, or just procrastinate while my creative mind gets into gear. It’s also very healthy to step away from the computer and work it out in your head, stick things on a wall, move them around. Have fun with it. Decorate.
Back to the Future prints
Unfortunately for my clients, these awesome screen prints (Phantom City Creative, Toronto) are hung above the sofa, so they aren’t usually seen until everyone gets up to leave. At which point they usually get a compliment and make me look way cooler than I really am.
But they are perfectly positioned for me. I often catch myself staring at them during presentations, a bit like someone might stare at a stained glass window in a church. Ok, I might not be editing one of the best films ever made, but the gold standard is still valid.
(And, before you ask, 1, 3, 2.)