The Whitehouse Post editor had just shifted from a life assisting when a global pandemic hit, so now’s a good time for him to reflect on his cutting career so far
Greg Hayes joined Whitehouse Post in 2015, working his way through up the ranks to become editor in 2020. Through the years, he’s worked with renowned directors like Giles Lovell-Wilson, Ben Charles Edwards, Anton Tammi, Rankin, and Mert and Marcus, and for top brands such as Reebok, W Hotels, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Honing his craft on music videos for several years, he’s collaborated on promos for artists including Stormzy and Ghetts. He even edited all the visuals for The Weeknd’s 2017 world tour, which played in 80 cities.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with this editing talent worth keeping an eye on.
LBB> Where are you from and what kind of kid were you? And what role did films play in your childhood?
Greg> I was a quiet kid. I grew up on the border between East London and Essex, and went through a lot of the usual teen phases - chav, grunger, skater, indie kid. I listened to a lot of music and watched a lot of films, literally everything, put something on and I'd just be enthralled. I’m still this way, it’s a trick my partner uses daily.
When I was about 10, I started writing short film reviews, so my dad made me a film review website called Greg’s Reviews where I reviewed my favourites including Rugrats in Paris, Space Jam, and The Fast and the Furious. I had great taste from an early age! I wanted to be a film reviewer, it didn’t really dawn on me until later that instead of just watching films for a living, people made them too.
LBB> How did you first get into the industry? What was your very first filmmaking job?
Greg> I started making a few music videos for mates bands, we did the Skints, Slaves, and loads of other punk bands. We shot and edited them, and I much preferred editing over shooting. Shooting always seemed hectic and crazy, but editing was discovering, organising, and playing with what we had, pushing it and seeing what we could do.
My first job in post production was the same as a lot of other people, I became a runner and made teas. This was all after uni - my mum and dad didn’t really understand that move. I was at a little place called Family run by Ray Stevens. It was super small with one assist and four or five editors. I was very fortunate and got trained as an assistant in the first month or so by then assistant Flaura Atkinson, editors Tom Grove Carter, Vid Price and Matthew McKinnon let me sit in a lot as well. I even remember falling asleep in Matthew’s suite a few times.
LBB> What was your first creative milestone in the industry – a project you worked on that you were super proud of?
Greg> At first I was just happy to edit anything. While running at Family I was also editing for lads mags like FHM and Front magazine,
It was an accumulation of every job I’d had so far learning tricks, and immersing myself. Then one day I looked and I had a body of work I was proud of, it wasn’t just one piece. In terms of getting to work with experienced editors and being trusted to make changes and tweaks to edits for artists people actually knew like Wiley, Example and Ellie Goulding, that’s when things changed for me. Looking back, my input was super minor at the time, but I loved seeing the difference from what we'd be given in the rushes and when it was finished up.
LBB> Which other pieces of work are you particularly proud of and why?
Greg> I’m really proud of one of my first short films Soho Jimbo (director Chris Chung). I always want to do more narrative-based work and cutting action was really fun.
I’m also really proud of another short I made with my friend Alex Browning called Speakeasy which was for The Hospital Club.
Working on The Weeknd's tour visuals with Anton Tammi and getting to see them play live was great, it was thrilling to watch something I’d only seen on my 12-inch laptop screen play on giant 100-foot screens.
LBB> You've worked with a load of impressive editors. Who have been most important in shaping your style and why?
Greg> I've definitely picked up something from everyone I've assisted, whether it be shortcuts, shot choices, or little tricks you'd never think of by yourself.
Shout out to Whitehouse Post for chucking you into the deep end of assisting, I believe you learn a lot when you really need to knuckle down.
When I joined Whitehouse our roster was slightly different so I learnt a lot from the guys that were there like James Forbes-Robertson, Steven Dunn, Mark Burnett and Adam Marshall.
That’s one of the good things, it isn’t like other places where you assist one editor and learn everything from them, becoming a “mini them.” At Whitehouse, one week I'd be with John Smith, the next would be Russell Icke, both superb editors but very different in how they get there.
LBB> How would you describe the way you relate to directors in the edit? How do you make sure the communication is right between you?
Greg> Every director I've worked with has worked completely differently. I think to be an editor you need to be quite versatile, you need to know how to have a lot of different approaches and fit around others. Of course you have your own ideas and bring them to the table, but it's making sure they come across in a positive way. It's the age-old question of “can I sit in a room with this person for the next few weeks?” If the answer is yes, you'll both be fine.
LBB> How has the pandemic changed your life?
Greg> I just made the jump onto The Whitehouse roster in February, then a global pandemic happened! So I was just adjusting from the assistant life to being an editor. In real life, I was someone that needed to shield so I still take it quite seriously. I try and explain it as I'm about four or five weeks later than the rest of the public. When people were in parks, I stayed home, now pubs are open, I've started to go out to the parks. My wife is a nurse too, so we're quite on top of it.
LBB> Where do you turn when you need inspiration?
Greg> There’s some nuts stuff out there, so I just watch a lot of that. I’m inspired by animation, documentaries, commercials, and seeing what’s being made by mates and friends of friends. There’s a great podcast/serial article called Art of the Cut
, which features interviews with editors and I’ve listened to lots of those.
LBB> What tips would you give to someone looking to become an editor?
Greg> I'd say there are loads of ways these days, just get cutting on whatever software you can get your hands on to get a feel for it. Then I'd argue that if you feel that editing is your passion, find a place to learn in a more constructive way. You need to know what buttons to press, but also why you're making those choices. Read books, breakdown scenes in your favourite films, maybe try and cut a trailer to your favourite film too. There’s a competition called 90to5
which is where you take a feature film and try and cut it down, always a fun exercise. One thing I’d say is you never stop learning, and listen to the people with the experience, surround yourself with those people.