Small Axe

Small Axe editor, Chris Dickens ACE

Small Axe editor, Chris Dickens ACE first made a name for himself cutting director Edgar Wright's zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead.  A few years later Dickens would collaborate with Wright once more on the movie, Hot Fuzz.  But it was a film Dickens did in 2008 that would bring him his highest honor to date.  Chris was awarded an Oscar® for Best Film Editing for Slumdog Millionaire.  In subsequent years Chris would edit such films as Mary Queen of Scots and Rocketman.  After wrapping up the Elton John biopic, Chris began discussions with director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) about his upcoming project, Small Axe.

Small Axe consists of five films that tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. The series kicks off with the courtroom drama Mangrove. Next up is Lovers Rock, which takes place over the course of one day at a house party.  Next is Red, White and Blue starring John Boyega as a young man who trades a promising career in medicine to become a police officer intent on creating reform from within the department. The fourth film in the series is Alex Wheatle, a historical drama about a novelist sentenced to imprisonment after the 1981 Brixton uprising. The series concludes with the film Education, which takes place in the 70’s and addresses the transferring of disproportionate numbers of black children from mainstream education to schools for the so-called "educationally subnormal".

Editing Small Axe

In our discussion with Small Axe editor, Chris Dickens ACE we talk about:

  • Editing five different films in different formats
  • Non-linear editing in a linear fashion
  • Why 16mm is shunned by streamers
  • The challenge of editing a “plotless” film
  • The editorial gift of a non-stop musical backdrop

The Credits

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