Vee Pinot: “At Some Point, You Have To Take A Chance On Your Talent”
For many of us, the idea of packing your bags to start from scratch overseas is little more than a daydream. For Vee Pinot, it’s the secret to her success.
It doesn’t take much talking to Gramercy Park Studios’ Head of Editing for North America to realise that she doesn’t generally do things by halves. From starting her own company in London to establishing GPS in the North American market, the editing guru has a track record of success that comes out of hard graft and a well-placed faith in her own ability.
None of which is to say that the process of building a new company in NYC has been without its obstacles. It was less than two months after GPS’ official grand opening that Covid-19 hit New York, leaving Vee to ride out the storm.
To find out how she’s keeping GPS on-track in turbulent times, as well as chart the ups and downs of opening in the big apple, we caught up with Vee.
Q> First of all, how did the big move to NYC come about, for you and GPS?
Vee> Oh wow, I need to go back to the beginning! Of course, I had always been a part of GPS in London right from the start, and I am still proud of being on that team. But I can remember even around the time we started, you had people talking in hushed tones about ‘the future’. In fact, I find that idea of starting from scratch really exciting and energising. The boutique vibe of GPS gave us a kind of USP, and New York was a market where we felt people could really benefit from what we were offering. And of course, they say if you can make it here, then you can make it anywhere.
When we launched in London, we’d created a live editing system called ‘GPS Live’ which I helped to develop alongside Francisco Lima, our VFX Technology Supervisor. It’s a system which gives editors a live feed from the camera that’s being used on-set, meaning editing can be done in real time as the shoot is happening. It gives this enormously freeing feeling because the director can have peace of mind that there is a shot in that can that works, so there’s more time and confidence to play with creative ideas. At the same time it allowed VFX supervisors to be confident of which shots are working and which aren’t, so everyone involved is on the same page.
The system became a kind of swiss army knife that’s beneficial to editors, VFX teams, creatives, directors, and clients. I loved how much value it was bringing to people and the idea of bringing that value to a totally new place was something that started to grow on me over time. And as London established itself, we began to have this belief that that the things we were doing could really work in a different market.
Q> And what advice would you give to someone looking to prove themselves in New York?
Vee> You know what, you need to have courage. At some point in your career, you have to take a chance on your own talent. For sure that’s what this move has been for me, and it’s been this wonderfully motivating thing, you know. Which is also to say, maybe part of my advice for others would be maybe that sort of challenge isn’t for everyone. I’m a bit of an underdog-type person, and I have that element of my personality that likes to prove things to people.
Above: The Perrier ‘Original Spark’ campaign was edited using live-editing software on-set in South Africa.
Q> And so the idea of starting at the bottom of a ladder in terms of recognition was something that motivated you?
Vee> It scared and motivated me at the same time. And it still does! I remember on the plane here, officially moving, I was thinking ‘what the hell did I do!?’. But looking back, this is something I call the European Fear Syndrome. We have this idea deeply ingrained in us that America is just bigger and therefore better than we are. But I can tell you after a couple of months here I had my confidence back. We have a great work ethic in Europe and you know what, Americans love us! I’m not kidding, when I go to editing awards here I find almost all the winners are UK-based. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Q> What have been the biggest differences you’ve encountered between working in London and working in New York?
Vee> That’s a good question. I think in London - well, in Europe generally - the director is king. In New York, there’s a much more collaborative approach and you tend to find a lot more people involved in the process at various stages. It’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just one of the things you notice about the culture of the industry.
In London, the way I was used to working was getting to know individual directors and how they worked, and you’d sort of know something about a project coming into it based on that. In the UK, the director chooses the editor. But over here, the creatives choose the editor and creatives tend to work more exclusively with specific brands. So for me, there’s a challenge in not being pigeonholed as the best editor just, for example, for pharma, and to show what we can do for a wide variety of brands and genres by building up a diverse client base. So it was a totally fresh way of thinking for me, and a refreshing challenge in making all these new relationships with creative teams. Also, that is something that feeds into the appeal of proving what we can do in a new market again.
The advantage of working at GPS is that we have a load of partners we can bounce off. Plus, of course, the more great work you do the more you get to know people.
Above: The music video for Michael Blume’s ‘In Between’, for Sony BMG
Q> What can you tell us about GPS’ facility in New York?
Vee> To an extent, I like to see it as a culmination of everything we’ve learned as a company. The numbers are that we have 16 edit and VFX suites, two colour suites, and five audio suites. We also have an enormous centre stage where we’re filming all the time.
What I’m really proud of is how we’ve opened up this big new facility, in a new city, but it’s still distinctively GPS. Of course it has all the branding and all that, but it’s also maintained this boutique-feel that I think makes it stand out in New York.
Q> And the facility officially opened in January 2020, which means you only had a couple of months before Covid-19 struck. How did you manage that?
Vee> Well, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds as we had been in the office and working for a good while before January. But, yes, our official opening was only a month or so before Covid happened.
In terms of our work we are still busy - in fact maybe even more busy than before which is great. Really the biggest challenge has been adapting to day-to-day life, both personally and alongside our team here. I think we’ve hit a rhythm now, and for sure Hogarth, our parent company, has been amazingly helpful as they helped us develop this new workflow and they had this great technology and expertise in working remotely.
As much as I do miss the office - and I really, really do - there are some ways in which this has been a blessing in disguise. We all knew eventually that, at some point, we would have to start working like this. It’s given us huge flexibility in terms of our work/life balance and now, speaking for myself, I know I am very mindful of making sure I am keeping in touch with our whole team.
Above: IKEA’s ‘Stay Home’ campaign was GPS New York’s first after going into lockdown.
Q> Finally, where will you and GPS New York be in five years’ time?
Vee> Haha, back in our amazing office! As I say, this experience has been a learning curve and there are things I have taken from it for sure. But I am looking forward to taking those things to the whole team in the office. There are human interactions that, working remotely, you just can’t fake. How many times have you been having a conversation with someone in your office and that conversation has triggered a totally fresh idea? I miss that. So yes, my wish is that, much sooner than in five years’ time, we can see a return to that great creative office culture.