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Marcelle Mouton and 20 years of editing television commercials


Marcelle Mouton has been editing television commercials for the greater part of twenty years and in the course of her career has been named as one of the top 10 editors worldwide. Marcelle commenced editing at Cut Aways where she began honing her craft and then she went to launch her own company named Visual Assault which enjoyed immense success working with agencies such as TBWA Hunt Lascaris and some of South Africa’s creative greats such as John Hunt, Stefania Johnson and Sue Anderson (ex Crispin Porter Bogusky, LA and was named as one of the most powerful women in advertising last year by Business Insider.) Currently part of the Deepend Post Production family where she has recently worked on projects such as an ad on Miss South Africa for Cell C, a video trailer for novelist Lauren Beukes “Broken Monsters” new crime book and another book trailer for John Hunt, the Worldwide Creative Director for TBWA.

Marcelle cites a very rewarding time of her career as being when she was working on several international commercials for the likes of South Africa’s most renowned and awarded tv commercial directors Ricardo De Carvalho of Velocity Films amongst other successful South African directors.
Marcelle believes that the key to success as an editor is prepare prepare prepare and it is for this reason that she will spend a great deal of her editing time in preparation. She will sometimes select and then re-select, or spend an entire day looking for exactly the right music. “ I find that if my time is well spent at this stage, it simplifies my process once I have decided on the editing technique I will employ in order to deliver an impactful, intelligent and precise 30′ commercial.” she shares.

What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it as an editor?

I don’t think editing is necessarily considered as a craft anymore. The process of editing has sped-up considerably due to the digital age and I think that most people now think that it is a matter of sitting in a room and choosing the best takes, which “anyone can do” so we’ve almost become operators. By virtue of the fact that we can operate editing programmes, we are editors. But I do think that it is a symptom of a larger “malaise” which affects advertising as a whole, globalization and the now more corporate approach to advertising has led to a certain impatience with anything out of the ordinary. Not that I think it’s a lost cause, we just have to try even harder.

If there was one thing you could change about the way people view editing as a craft , what would it be?

I would like people to realize the impact it can have on the whole commercial by simply changing the order of one shot, well, actually, I would like them to realize the power of editing and that an editor is in a unique position of being untainted by the whole production process and can therefore bring a fresh perspective to any job.

The thing I would most like to see change is the mentorship aspect or assistant aspect of post production. In years gone by an editor was surrounded by an army of assistants who had to log clips, do sound effects searches, assemble scenes into cutting order etc. All of these rather mundane and mostly annoying tasks led to a level of involvement and exchange between editor and assistant which was mutually beneficial. Nowadays it seems as though once you’ve learnt how to use an editing programme, you edit, which takes me back first point of how, as editors, we have become operators. I think more time and care should be taken around launching an editor, making sure that they understand the fundamentals and have the ability to contribute constructively to a project be it through interpretation or technical advice. Which is why Marcelle is pleased to have been involved in working closely with young editor at Deepend that has just launched Nick.

My biggest personal bug bear is cellphones and ipads/laptops. The level of concentration during an approval is diametrically opposed to the amount of personal communication devices in the room.

Can you shed light on key aspects of a successful working relationship between an editor and a director and the positive impact it has on a job ? 

The most amazing thing is when there is a synergy born out of mutual respect and a mutual vision between an editor and director. There are times when I read a script and I see images in my mind and then the images that I see in the rushes are almost exactly what I pictured, which is really cool and then other times they are so surprisingly different that it forces me to adopt a different approach, which I love. Once a director appreciates the fact that an editor personalises each job to the same extent that they do and that there is a similarity in approach and “taste” the trust and the relationship develops from there, ideally it becomes a relationship where the editor is quite literally, completing the directors’ sentences.

“I still get nervous before every approval.” quips Marcelle, which just highlights her level of humility as a person and as an editor.


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