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Morris, Jonathan (1949-)


Main image of Morris, Jonathan (1949-)

Director Ken Loach's prolific output as a feature film-maker since the early 1990s owes a lot to the regular group of collaborators who have worked with him during this period. One of these is editor Jonathan Morris. Morris began his career as a child actor, appearing on stage and in films including I Could Go On Singing (d. Ronald Neame, 1963). After school he worked as a second assistant editor on television series such as The Saint (ITV, 1962-69) and The Champions (ITV, 1968-69).

Later Morris worked as a dubbing assistant at Tigon Films. With some exceptions, notably Witchfinder General (d. Michael Reeves, 1968), his experience there taught him that "the great difference between editing as opposed to almost any other technique is that sometimes the best work is done on the worst films". In the 1970s Morris opted for the relative security of a staff job at ATV (subsequently Central Television) where he met directors such as Ken Loach and John Pilger. When Central closed down their operations at Elstree, Morris and Steve Singleton established Parting Shots (later The Editing Partnership), which has provided editing facilities for Channel 4 and various other television and feature productions.

Morris and Loach's work together dates back to 1980s documentaries such as the controversial Questions of Leadership (1983). The politically expository nature of the documentary and feature films Loach directs means that for Morris "the dialogue scenes that we do are really hard, really difficult...a lot of footage". Morris feels his relationship with Loach has developed over time: "I have more influence with Ken now than I did fifteen years ago." Loach will take note of his responses as the first viewer of the material: "He may be watching me more than he's watching the rushes, to see how I react to something."

This relationship fed into editing the famous debate sequence in Land and Freedom (UK/Spain/Germany, 1995), where Morris' "energies were spent trying to cut it down." He tried to view the sequence not from the perspective of "the intellectual studying the Spanish Civil War, or politics in the twentieth century". Instead, he imagined himself as an average cinemagoer "sitting in the audience thinking, 'I want to get on with the story', at the same time being aware that's what the film's actually about. So it's a delicate balance."

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

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Selected credits

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Unusually tender Ken Loach feature about love across cultural divides

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Ken Loach's first US film, about the exploitation of Latino workers in LA

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Glaswegian-Nicaraguan love story about an idealistic bus driver

Thumbnail image of Hidden Agenda (1990)Hidden Agenda (1990)

Tough, Belfast-set thriller about the British army's 'shoot to kill' policy

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Ken Loach's alarming portrait of the exploitation of immigrant labour

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Heartbreaking drama of a mother's struggle to keep her children

Thumbnail image of Land and Freedom (1995)Land and Freedom (1995)

Passionate tale of British volunteers fighting the Spanish Civil War

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Football-related supernatural buddy comedy from Ken Loach (!)

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Drama about a reformed alcoholic trying to run a failing soccer team.

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Ken Loach's powerful response to the privatisation of British Rail

Thumbnail image of Raining Stones (1993)Raining Stones (1993)

Jobless Bob struggles to buy a communion dress for his daughter

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Ken Loach tragicomedy set on a London building site

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Bleak portrait of a Scottish teenager coping with drugs and poverty

Thumbnail image of Red and the Blue, The (1983)Red and the Blue, The (1983)

Ken Loach documents the Labour and Tory party conferences

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Thumbnail image of Loach, Ken (1936-)Loach, Ken (1936-)

Director, Writer