Get the Promonews daily round up

User Accounts

Get the Promonews daily round up

The Story So Far: Leah Burton, Final Cut

The Story So Far: Leah Burton, Final Cut

David Knight - 23rd May 2023

In the latest in our series on up-and-coming talent we talk to Leah Burton - a young editor who is showing that she can cut the mustard at one of the top editing houses in London. She tells us about the significant work in her progress to date, and the insight she has gained in the art and craft of editing.

At the company which been home to some of the legendary names in music video and commercial editing, Leah Burton is a homegrown talent. Having started on the lowest rung as a runner, straight out of education, she has now risen through the ranks at Final Cut in London to become a key member of the company's New Blood roster of editors.

In the process, she has gathered an admirable array of credits. In commercials and content - including for Dr. Martens, Concern Worldwide - and in music videos, for the likes of Maverick Sabre, Joel Corry, and MJ Cole. This has been achieved in tandem with her role as assistant editor, where she has been able to observe and learn from some of the acknowledged masters of their craft, such as Joe Guest and Amanda James.

Final Cut has been supportive through every stage of my career.

She confirms that she was given the opportunity to work on her own projects, after hours – including music videos - from her early days. "Final Cut has always been really supportive throughout every stage of my career," she says. "As soon as you start here as a runner, you'll get given a mentor. I had Kit Wells, who would have been an assistant himself at the time. They start teaching you how to do everything and all the practises to get you ready for assisting and editing your own jobs."

Leah was born in Belfast, and grew up mostly in Australia - and her voice has an accent that's a fairly unique combination of both. She returned to the UK from Australia in the early 2010s to study Film Production at UCA in Farnham, where she seriously caught the bug for editing, cutting all types of student films, using Avid for the first time, and even did some physical cutting of celluloid on a Steembeck. She started at Final Cut even before she graduated, firstly on work experience, and has been at the company ever since.

"I started as a runner and worked my way into library and then assisting where I was very lucky to work alongside and learn from some of the best in the biz. Now I’m getting ready to make the jump to editor." As she prepares to make that next important step, we asked Leah to pick the favourite work she’s done so far that helped her get to this point – including her latest for Olivia Dean, with Candice Lo, with whom she is about to work with again on a trilogy of videos.

"I’m really excited about that. And it’ll be my first daytime edits as well. I'm not going to be relegated to the darkness of night anymore - after hours editing. That'll be fun."

Dir: Stephen Isaac-Wilson

"This was one of the first pieces of work I edited at Final Cut. I think I was working in our library at the time and had maybe had one spot on my reel so very grateful to Stephen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. It was great being able to work with such huge artists whose music I was familiar with and who were everywhere!

It was going to be a bit heavier on Maverick Sabre and George The Poet, as they had verses and Jorja Smith didn’t – she’s on backing vocals. But Jorja looked amazing. She was just blowing up then, so we did want to get her in there as much as possible. I think they actually had to reshoot her stuff as well, so we really went to quite a lot of effort to get her in there."

Dir: Elliot Simpson

"This was a really fun one to work on. I love working on comedy and stories with a narrative so this was right up my street. Elliot had a very cool concept for this about a smartphone rehab centre and the video has some really cool references. It was very Black Mirror-eseque and I think Elliot was quite inspired by The Lobster and things in that vein.

Elliot usually cuts his own stuff and he’s a fantastic editor, but he was away on holiday for this one. So it was great to have the opportunity to collaborate with someone who doesn’t usually work with another editor – and also quite intimidating. But he was happy to give me space to do my thing and then very present if I wanted his opinion on anything. So we were WhatsApping bits of the edit to him while he was drinking on a beach somewhere.

Joel could have asked to be featured more, but he didn't. He was very chilled throughout the whole process.

Joel Corry was in the video, so we had to make sure to feature him. And I think Joel Corey's sister was in the video, too. But I guess for something like this, where it's more of an ensemble piece, Elliot and I were probably much more objective in not having to feature anyone particularly prominently. I feel like it was fairly balanced in terms of the footage we had to work with, and what we needed in the end.

Joel could have asked to be featured more, but he didn't. I think he was very chilled throughout the whole process. It was the next video that he absolutely blew up and that video was everywhere. But I saw this one on TV, and it was the first time seeing anything I’d done on TV, so that was fun."

MJ COLE Presents MADRUGADA (2020)
Dir: Henry Dean

"Madrugada was created and inspired by the album of the same name by MJ Cole - the concept was created to be a visualizer for his album. Henry created a blend of narrative and documentary to create this immersive film that is about that magical moment [known as Madrugada] where the spirit of the night meets with the freedom and anonymity of the morning. We’re all really proud of the end result.

It follows various individuals in different parts of Ukraine, and their differing experiences of that time of day. The challenge in the edit was to link everyone through their isolation and convey that even though we are seeing a range of different characters, what we are witnessing is a single experience.

This was definitely a first for me. I’d worked with Henry before – including a live video for  Elderbrook, some online content for Ashnikko - it’s always been a really enjoyable creative experience. I was very lucky to have loads of incredible footage to play with courtesy of the excellent DoP Charles Mori. But it was much trickier to weave all the different characters together [than Joel Corry].

It was about trying to make all those separate vignettes make sense separately, but also make them feel like they were part of a bigger thing too. There’s some English in it, but we were dealing with a couple of other languages. luckily we had think Henry's girlfriend was able to translate some of it for us, and the producer as well.

With everything that’s happened in Ukraine, it definitely hits differently now.

MJ Cole came in to the edit as well. And when we finished, and we had locked picture, he sat down with it and scored it all really beautifully.

This was such a great project to be a part of. And it led to some exciting opportunities for Henry and myself – including, shortly afterwards, our first commercial work for Dr Martens (see below). But watching it back now, with everything that’s happened in Ukraine since then, it definitely hits differently."

Dir: Henry Dean

"It was my first piece of commercial work and it was just a fun job. It was with Henry again – and actually happened during lockdown. I think I did it all in my bedroom…

On some of the earlier things I did, I'm sure I thought the key to good editing was cutting a lot, but I think it's important to realise that it's about knowing when not to cut as well. And there's so much more to it as well than just cutting. And with the Doc Martins one as well, you've got so many different elements to balance, including v/o and music. You just want to make sure that everything's kind of complementing each other rather than having one thing running the show.

Henry and I were both nominated for Young Arrows for this one – for Best Director and Best Editor."

Dir: Isaac Lock

"Harmonia was a fashion film I worked on with Isaac Lock at Somesuch. It follows a cast of characters as they go on a journey of self-expression through dance getting over their initial awkwardness and finding the harmony in letting go.

It was a really fun edit to be a part of and to be able to tease out the transformation of the characters to gradually reveal their unburdening whilst cutting between the eclectic cast to highlight the contrasting motifs in Nanushka's collection.

And the music is also an important part of the experience...

It was great working with Isaac (especially when we would bring his dog in) and I recently had a chance to collaborate with him again on a British Airways commercial, which I co-edited with the one and only Amanda James."

Dir: Charlie Rees

"The concept for this was a high octane, vibrant dance promo about a stressed-out hotel porter who is suddenly struck by a burgeoning need to dance and along the way we see him glitch out and mutate into different versions of himself.

In terms of the edit it was very much about stitching scenes together to hit really precise timings. If my memory serves me correctly Charlie made a really great animatic for it starring himself (which I’m sure he definitely wouldn’t want me mentioning to anyone).

In the edit the focus was really on ensuring we had the best takes possible of Kofi, our incredible dancer. We also ended up experimenting a bit and adding in some looping and glitching to just really ramp up and lift the energy to highlight how the hero is being totally consumed by the music.

There was a bit of VFX work in here too which added another layer into the edit. There were lots of crazy whip-pans and all the many versions of Kofi that needed duplicating. In the offline we don’t need completely finessed VFX, but you always want to do your bit to help everyone visualise what the final output will look like. The VFX in this video where then expertly finished by Dom at This & That Media." 

Dir: Candice Lo

"I’ve been quite lucky that my background assisting has allowed me to forge some really great relationships at a lot of production companies. I assisted Joe Guest for most of my career as an assistant editor and through that have been able to get to know the lovely folk over at Academy quite well which led to me working with the incredible Candice Lo.

There’s about five edits in the whole video - although hopefully you wouldn’t notice that many...

The idea for Dive was around escaping the confines of the city and embracing nature and is just about this lovely moment of freedom she’s found.

The edit was quite straightforward. There’s only about five or so edits in the whole video - although hopefully you wouldn’t notice that many when you watch it. Only one is really noticeable, when Olivia moves from the village set-up to the beach.

But apart from the hidden cuts, there is other stuff going on – behind the scenes, as it were. There's some keyframes in there to resize and track her in the frame, and lots of repositioning. I was trying to keep the drone focused on Olivia without the movements becoming quite erratic.

In a way, this one is about the other things that editors do, beyond the cutting. But the credit really needs to go to Candice and Academy – and the drone operator - for nailing the shoot." 

• Leah Burton is based at Final Cut in London. Watch more of her work here. Contact Martin Macnamara for more about Leah here

Featured on this page

David Knight - 23rd May 2023


  • Interview/Q&A
  • The Story So Far
  • Editing

Popular content


Problem with this page? Let us know

Related Content

Latest Videos

Promonews logo

Music video creativity everyday.
Submit your video