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Audsley, Mick (1949-)


Main image of Audsley, Mick (1949-)

Whereas previous generations of editors typically began as assistants, Mick Audsley progressed through a different kind of apprenticeship. After studying at Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Art he worked as a sound and then picture editor on various projects for the BFI Production Board. There Audsley encountered Bill Douglas, whom he describes as "one of the few real poets of cinema". He learned an enormous amount about the practical aesthetics of editing from working with Douglas on My Way Home (1978). On these smaller productions Audsley did every manual task relating to the editing himself. Working on his first 'proper' feature An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (d. Christopher Petit, 1981) involved a process of adjusting to having assistants and being part of a more formal hierarchy. Since then he has established an enduring collaboration with Stephen Frears as well as working with other leading directors, including Mike Newell on the blockbuster Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (UK/US, 2005).

Before embarking upon a project Audsley reads the script and asks himself the questions: "Do I want to live with this and take it home with me for a year of my life? Is it the sort of film I care about?" Another consideration is the quality of his working relationship with the director; trust, empathy and supportive frankness are vital factors here. Audsley has great respect for Frears' craft skills, and Frears is a director who has repeatedly acknowledged the invaluable contributions made by his collaborators. Limited budgets dictated that My Beautiful Laundrette (1986) and The Snapper (1993), both directed by Frears, were shot quickly and "we didn't spend a lot of time cutting these [television-funded] films". The craft skills of all involved helped make the most of these limited resources. Audsley particularly enjoyed orchestrating the complex series of looks between several characters after the opening of the laundrette in the earlier film.

Above and beyond the feelings individual sequences can communicate to an audience, Audsley's primary focus is the overall dramatic structure of the film. The narration of pertinent story details was a particular concern during the editing of Twelve Monkeys (US, d. Terry Gilliam, 1996). He was "continually anxious that it is in the nature of this movie that the 'set-up' of information is complex and rather slow, in order for the conflict and resolution, i.e. the second half, to work and pay off. Will the movie engage its audience quickly enough?" More generally, Audsley refers to the crucial process of modulating the emotional 'temperature' of different strands of a film's narrative: "I ask myself 'In this scene, what has changed by the end of it? What's gone up and what's gone down?...What's the temperature change?' If I can't explain that or understand it in myself or read it I know there's something not firing right. So I'm asking myself those questions all the time about the dramatic structure."

Roy Perkins/Martin Stollery, British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie (BFI Publishing, 2004)

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Comrades (1986)Comrades (1986)

Bill Douglas' epic portrayal of the lives of the Tolpuddle Martyrs

Thumbnail image of Dance With a Stranger (1984)Dance With a Stranger (1984)

Miranda Richardson's breakthrough role as murderess Ruth Ellis

Thumbnail image of Falls, The (1980)Falls, The (1980)

Peter Greenaway's catalogue of survivors of an unknown disaster

Thumbnail image of Hit, The (1984)Hit, The (1984)

Spanish-set thriller about a supergrass 'escorted' home to face the music

Thumbnail image of Madonna and Child (1980)Madonna and Child (1980)

The second part of the Terence Davies Trilogy

Thumbnail image of My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Surprise box-office hit about a gay Pakistani/National Front romance

Thumbnail image of My Way Home (1978)My Way Home (1978)

Bill Douglas' trilogy ends with Jamie finding peace through his artistic talent

Thumbnail image of Prick Up Your Ears (1987)Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

Alan Bennett-scripted biopic of 1960s playwright Joe Orton

Thumbnail image of Soursweet (1988)Soursweet (1988)

A Chinese couple find themselves on the wrong side of Triad gangsters

Thumbnail image of Unsuitable Job for a Woman, An (1981)Unsuitable Job for a Woman, An (1981)

Imaginative, underrated adaptation of the P.D.James detective thriller

Thumbnail image of Walter (1982)Walter (1982)

Ian McKellen stars in a moving drama about a mentally disabled man.

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