Behind Award Winning PBS Show Miss Scarlett & The Duke with London Born, Dublin Based TV/ Film Editor Eoin McGuirk

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Eoin McGuirk is a London-born, Dublin-based Editor whose credits include 2015’s The Lobster, PBS: Miss Scarlet & The Duke, and AMC+’s Kin

His wide range of work and accomplishments over his 15 year career, bolstered by his education from the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, has landed him in the cutting room of projects starring Colin Farrell, Claire Dunne (Game of Thrones), Charlie Cox (DareDevil), and most recently Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders) in Season 3 of Miss Scarlett and the Duke.

A member of the Irish Screen Editors Guild and Lead Editor for Miss Scarlett since 2021, McGuirk’s light-hearted dark humor spirit has granted him access to incredibly creative and collaborative experiences with stars like Cillian Murphy, Andrew Scott, Jill Robertson, and Yorgos Lanthimos.

PH: Hi there Eoin! How would you describe yourself? 

Eoin McGuirk: Describe myself? I’d rather not. In part, that’s why I’ve never been on a dating app or website. Couldn’t get past filling out my profile. Imagine a middle-aged Charlie Brown. But as an editor, I try to be consistent. Once I’ve taken a job it’s my intention to treat them all equally seriously, because every job has something it can teach you.

PH: Can you provide a bit of your professional background? What made you decide to attend Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology? 

Eoin McGuirk: The first time I set foot in Dun Laoghaire College of Art & Design (as it was known then) was to visit the friend of a girlfriend, who was doing the Hair & MakeUp course. The Hair & MakeUp students were beside the studios for the model makers and the equipment room for the Film & TV students. It looked like being a student in Art College was a lot of fun. I wanted to know how I could be one of them.

PH: Can you share some of the projects you've been able to work on? What were some of those experiences like? 

Eoin McGuirk: After twenty odd years it’s hard to pick out individual projects. I worked on so many shows. I’ve had so many fantastic colleagues. The one constant on all of these jobs is that I still love being in the cutting room. Pretty much every morning I look forward to getting in and getting started.

PH: Creatively, where do you draw inspiration from? 

Eoin McGuirk: On the most basic level, from the movies and TV shows that I love. Mimicking or trying to recreate effects and  techniques that excite you. But where it gets more interesting is when you are attempting to get to the emotional truth of a scene and then you draw inspiration from your life and the lives of the people you’ve known.

PH: How did you become involved with Miss Scarlett & The Duke? 

Eoin McGuirk: The usual way. The producers contacted my agent and I met them and the director in a cafe. Declan O’Dwyer, who directed the first season, and I largely chatted about detective shows we loved from Moonlighting to The Rockford Files. And that was that. I got the job! Subsequent to that I got on really well with Rachel New who created the show and acted as showrunner. So they kept me around for Seasons 2 and 3.

PH: What was your creative approach to editing this project?

Eoin McGuirk: I always feel that it is the project itself which dictates my approach. The script, the performances, the lighting and framing and blocking of the scenes.

PH: Did you encounter any challenges, and if so, can you share what they were and how you navigated those? 

Eoin McGuirk: The biggest challenge on Miss Scarlet was always the schedule. Each episode was shot in eight days and we had about the same amount of time to fine cut, do notes, and lock picture. We were helped by the fact while we were cutting in Ireland, the Execs were in the States. So we would send off a cut at the end of our working day, but the start of the working day in America. So by the time we got in the next morning the notes would be waiting for us. So work was being done on each episode around the clock.

PH: How long was the entire editing process? 

Eoin McGuirk: Season 2 and 3 were filmed back to back and I cut seven of those twelve episodes. I reckon it was about 7 months with a short break in the middle for Christmas.

PH: How important is collaboration in production? Can you share the team's collaborative approach, as well as some of the collaborations you've been able to have on your journey in this field so far? 

Eoin McGuirk: Collaboration is everything. The nature of my collaborations has changed over the years. I was assistant editor for a long time, and as an assistant I dealt with production, with sound, and camera during the shoot. And later you deal with post-sound, VFX, and grade. So I was pretty well-versed in the needs of other departments. As an editor, I tend to be left more to myself on a day-to-day basis. My primary collaboration is with the director. And as such, establishing trust with the director is one of the most important parts of the job. If the director doesn’t trust the editor, then it doesn’t matter how skilled the editor is.

PH: Do you have a preferred editing software? What did you use for this project specifically, and why? 

Eoin McGuirk: My preference has always been for Avid Media Composer and that was what we used on Miss Scarlet. I find editing on different software programs pretty interchangeable. The thing that sets Avid apart sounds mundane, but is really important. The way it manages media and the way you can share bins and projects saves time on projects where you have multiple editors and assistants. And if you’re on a TV show with a tight schedule and rolling deadlines, that becomes crucial.

PH: Did you have a sequence that was most impactful to you? Why?

Eoin McGuirk: While there were lots of fun sequences of Eliza investigating in dark, creepy houses or sparring with Duke as they try to defuse a bomb, my favorite scene was a quiet two-hander with Eliza and Ivy in episode 2 of season 3. It’s the episode that introduced Arabella, Eliza’s childhood nemesis. Arabella’s reappearance has reawakened all sorts of teenage pain and anguish in Eliza. Meeting Arabella makes Eliza fifteen again.  The performances of Cathy Belton and Kate Philips were full of lovely details and I was pretty keen to make sure the edit did them justice. In a show whose tone was for the most part light and playful, it was great to do a scene that was more sentimental.

PH: As an editor, how did you get to keep the heart and core of each character through your editing choices? 

Eoin McGuirk: This is a tricky one to put into words as it’s primarily an emotional process rather than a verbal or intellectual one. It’s probably a very simplified version of what actors do, you try to imagine how the characters feel from moment to moment in the scene, but at the same time you have to feel your way through the scene as a viewer. Constantly asking yourself ‘what do I want to see now?’ and  ‘how does this make me feel?’ 

PH: What have you learned (professionally and personally) about yourself as an editor over the years?

Eoin McGuirk: I have no idea. I’m surprisingly punctual! Personally and professionally!

PH: Can you share any upcoming projects?

Eoin McGuirk: I recently finished up on Season 2 of Kin for AMC, starring Charlie Cox, Claire Dunne, and Aiden Gillen. I’d done some uncredited work on the first season, so it was great to be invited back. It was another chance to work with the showrunner Peter McKenna, and my first time working with the very talented director Kate Dolan. And my first time working on a gangster show, so lots of fun picking out the right sound effects for gun silencers!

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