What were you favourite subjects at school?

I would probably say that Craft and Design and Art were my favourite 2 subjects. I found myself spending as much time as I could in the Art Room.

When you were at school, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do when you left?  Did any of your teachers help to shape or inspire your plans?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left, but I felt it would be something creative. I never had the drawing skills of others but I loved coming up with ideas of what I wanted to say in my art. My art teacher, Mrs Douglas was incredible. She was always encouraging us with whatever we wanted to explore and she made the art class feel like one big family.

Did you go onto further education after you left school? If so, what did you study and where did you hope it would lead?

After leaving school I went to to study at Edinburgh College of Art. I had originally hoped to specialise in graphic design, but after experiencing the magic of photography, I changed direction. This was long before digital, and just seeing an image appear on what was seconds earlier just a blank sheet of paper, was just incredible. After leaving art school I had hoped to become a commercial photographer. However, my degree was more of a fine art course and therefore I left without the knowledge of how to transfer my skills into the commercial side of photography. 

What was your first job after studying and what were your plans for career development at that time?

My first job after leaving was as a photographer in The Edinburgh Dungeons. It was a great team and I enjoyed it, but I never saw it as a career move. Taking photos of tourists all day was not what I had studied for 4 years to become. So when an opportunity to get into film and tv came along, I grabbed it with both hands. My dad had seen an advert in his local paper up in the Highlands, where the hit tv show Monarch of the Glen was looking for a trainee edit assistant. I had done a little bit of film editing at art school so I knew it was something that I could be very interested in. I think there was only 2 applicants, so I didn’t have much competition.

You’ve worked on some amazing projects from Monarch of the Glen to Shameless to Chewing Gum and now you’re working with Marvel in LA.  What has been your favourite project to work on and why?

Without a doubt, my favourite has been Loki for Marvel. I think just about every kid dreams of being a superhero one day, but although I’m certainly not that, I feel it’s the next best thing. Marvel are like one big family and when you walk onto the Disney Studio Lot, here in LA, you feel like you are part of something huge. The costumes are displayed in glass cabinets all around the building, and occasionally you see some of the actors who once wore them.

What do you like most about your job?

My job involves a huge amount of creativity and I love that aspect the most. I get the previous day’s footage delivered to me first thing, and then it’s my job to start putting it together as I feel best tells the story, with the director’s vision in mind. With working on Marvel shows, it’s key that you work closely with the visual effects department and that’s also a very fun part of the job. Coming up with what can be added to shots, is an exciting part of the job.

What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?

I have worked on a lot of comedy tv shows, and I’d say they are the hardest to edit, the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. It’s really hard to make someone laugh as you need every part, the writing, performing, directing, and editing to be perfect before you get the laughs. It’s always a challenge to balance the right project, with the need to earn money. I’m very fortunate to have worked on a lot of projects that I really wanted to be part of.

What advice would you give to current pupils at Stewart’s Melville when they are thinking about their future?

I’d probably say that they shouldn’t put extra pressure on themselves to know exactly what they want to do when they leave school. I definitely never saw myself as an editor when I left school. 

What is your fondest memory of your time at school?

I was actually in the boarding house when I attended Stewart’s Melville. I really enjoyed that side of things as it felt like I had a load of brothers to hang out with. My favourite memory of school life was probably spending time in the Art class where I was fortunate enough to have some great class friends whom I am still in touch with today. 

If you have any questions you would like to ask Calum, please email these to Suzi at development@esms.org.uk.

One thought on “Interview with 1996 SMC leaver Calum Ross, Film Editor, Marvel

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