Quarantine Q&As: Nick Armstrong, Sam Bould, Jamie O'Donnell and Meg Thorne, Cut+Run

Promonews - 22nd May 2020

In theory, editors have been able to work pretty much as normal during the lockdown. So we asked a quartet of Cut+Run London's finest - above from left, Jamie O'Donnell, Meg Thorne, Nick Armstrong and Sam Bould - how they have adapted to WFH.

Has the patience required for their exacting craft been taxed to the limit by demanding family members, as opposed to, er, lovely directors? 


Nick, the editor of videos in the past year for Easy Life, Two Door Cinema Club and Baxter Dury, says that the lockdown has given him some quality time with his two young children he may have otherwise missed. But then again... "getting in [to Cut+Run in Wardour Street] before everyone else with an overpriced coffee and having 30 mins all to myself... that feels incredibly priceless now.” 

Kids Cosmic Yoga is more fun then bundling onto the Bakerloo line. 

How has lockdown affected how you do your work?
I would like to say it has massively affected the way I work, but the first joke I saw online was two identical pictures of an editor working - one labelled ‘before self isolation,’ and the other one labelled ‘after self isolation’.

It reminds me of working on location in a remote set up in a hotel somewhere, with the Ocado delivery man replacing the room service, but with your own bed at the end of the day. We’ve even managed to maintain our Cut+Run Friday afternoon drinks (in more exotic locations then Wardour Street) which is an important tradition.

What have you learned about yourself during quarantine?
That good coffee is the most important thing I need in quarantine. I went through several different beans before settling on the East Blend from Nude Espresso. Oh and I'm as competitive at getting Ocado delivery slots as I am at getting Glastonbury tickets.

What's the favourite part of your daily routine?
Kids Cosmic Yoga with my three year old in the morning before I start working. It's more fun then bundling onto the Bakerloo line.

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking (send photo, if poss!)
My wife has been getting creative with the kids afternoon fruit.

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why? 
The best thing I've listened to has been revisiting classic albums with Tim Burgess' Twitter Listening Parties #TimsTwitterListeningParty.

At a designated time you collectively press play on an album and listen to it in full whilst the band, producer and even the album artwork designer share stories of the recording and making of it. [Kevin Godley was Tim's guest on May 21st, talking about his band 10cc's third album The Original Soundtrack, which includes I'm Not In Love - ed]. During this period there is real comfort in dusting off the vinyl and listening to music you already know with the added community aspect of listening together with other fans.

What positives can we take from the situation (if any) and build upon?
We’re learning how important certain media is in getting people through this - not NHS-level important, but still of value in these long, locked-down days. Gratitude is possibly one of the greatest positives we can take away from this. We work in an amazing industry that never really feels like work - some of us are lucky enough to be able to do it wherever we are.


Once he had cleared out the spare room of accumulated junk, "forcing us to actually tidy up for once”, Sam was ready to work. He has missed the human contact of directors like regular collaborators The Sacred Egg - he's edited all their videos, including last year's one for CamelPhat - but it's enabled him to learn The Gruffalo off by heart. 

Dealing with the pandemic is a bit like a breakup. You start in denial... 

How has lockdown affected how you do your work?
To be honest, I’ve become quite used to working like this. In the last few years I have spent as much time out of the edit suite, working from a laptop on set and sending cuts remotely, as I have in the suite with a room full of clients.

You obviously miss that collaboration with a director which does work a lot better when you are in the room together. But it’s so easy to connect these days with tools like Zoom and evercast so that collaboration isn’t totally lost. 

What's the favourite part of your daily routine?
It’s probably the 12th or 14th recital of The Gruffalo. I can do it entirely from memory now “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood, a fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good...”

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking (send photo, if poss!)
The thing I have been missing the most are the restaurants in Soho. In an attempt to recreate an authentic edit suite dining experience we made our own chicken katsu curry.

Are things getting harder? 
Dealing with the pandemic is a bit like a breakup. You start in denial, then sadness sets in, next you get to anger, then a little bit more sadness. I’ve just moved on to acceptance. Ridding myself of all emotions seems to have helped.

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why?
We’ve been enjoying lots and lots of Veep. Watching politicians make catastrophic mistakes is a lot funnier when it’s fictional.

What positives can we take from the situation, and build upon?
Everyone is being forced to think very creatively to come up with solutions to the simplest of problems, hopefully when this is all over our brains will all be so finely tuned that making a music video will seem like a walk in the park.


Lockdown came just after a house move for Jamie, so for the first few weeks his spare time "consisted of unpacking boxes, assembling furniture and settling into a new environment!” Now things have settled down, he's coming to terms with the new normal. It's not so easy - but then there's that treat on Saturday night. Vegetarians look away now... 

Saturday nights rock!  

What have you learned about yourself during quarantine? 
I have discovered that I'm at my best when I am occupied and kept out of trouble!

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why? And the worst…? 
I have been watching way too much Netflix! The best thing I watched was Unorthodox. It's a world I know little of and I though both the script and acting were really strong.

The worst for me was Hollywood. I thought it looked great, but for me it felt self-indulgent and the mix of real and fictional just ended up annoying me. That being said, I did watch the entire thing! lol

Are things getting harder/better/staying the same? 
Things are definitely getting harder. My partner and I moved into our new house days before lockdown started and at the time I was also working full time from my home office. As time has gone on we have finished unpacking and the job I was working on has slowly wound down, resulting in the days starting to feel longer and longer.   

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking (send photo, if poss!) 
Saturdays have now become steak night. Steak, real chips, homemade onion rings, grilled tomato and chimichurri. And an amazing bottle of red (or two). Saturday nights rock!


With respect to the other editors here, Meg could be Promonews' favourite editor of lockdown. After all, she took on the tricky task of editing three episodes of Natalie Steiner's must-see film series for Promonews, Music Videos In LockdownEpisode 4: Wonderings And Worries dropped this week - and has done a brilliant job. She has also managed to lead a very balanced life in lockdown - but still hankers for a few things about her suite at Cut+Run. 

I miss a proper chair and big monitor.

What's the most surprising, or least predictable thing, that's happened to you during quarantine? 
Exercise!  I've been walking and running so much more than I used to. Having more time because of no commuting is definitely helping with that. Also because I start going a bit mad trapped in my flat I love going outside for a long walk and fresh air.

What's the favourite part of your daily routine? 
Waking up and enjoying my morning coffee in bed. It's nice not having to rush in the morning to catch a train! My husband works a lot with teams in Germany, so he has to be up earlier for Zoom calls etc, which means we're both up at 7am, so I'm thankful for that! I think I'd feel sluggish if I stayed in bed until midday.

Are things getting harder/better/staying the same? 
A real mix. Extra time from no commuting is great. I've also managed to get better wifi although it took me about three weeks to get through to Virgin to organise! I miss a proper chair and big monitor though.

What have you learned about yourself during quarantine? 
The importance of being healthy and exercising. I've had more time to focus on me over the past couple of months and it's really paying off.

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking?
I hate to say I've become really cliché and got into making banana bread. It's with oats and almond flour instead of normal flour and sugar though - so at least it's healthier! We’ve also been experimenting a lot with our new Ooni pizza oven, making pizzas, chicken wings, steak and Padron peppers.

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why? And the worst...? 
I read Normal People and wasn't that into the book, but now I'm now watching the TV series and I'm hooked. It's beautifully shot too!

Also from working on the Music Videos In Lockdown interviews, Jax Harney pointed out that she's going through the imDb top 250. So we're slowly looking at that too. I watched Memento for the first time the other day. Mind blowing!

The worst thing I watched was Too Hot To Handle on Netflix. I'm embarrassed I even watched it.... Shouldn't have even told you!

What positives can we take from the situation (if any) and build upon?
Patience is a big one. I think our industry has become incredibly demanding. I've noticed that drop rapidly now because people know due to the current situation, things can't happen as instantly as they used to.

How's your Work/Life balance at the moment? 

• Check out the showreels of Nick, Sam, Jamie and Meg at the Cut+Run website. Thanks to Martin Macnamara.

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    Promonews - 22nd May 2020

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