Inside the editing suite with Alec Cullen

Outside of Four Corners, Alec Cullen isn’t a household name. Inside the program, he’s a legend. Editing the program from 1980 through to 2011, Alec has expertly fashioned some of the most memorable programs – on HIV-AIDS, Alan Bond, the Fiji Coup, the Bangladesh floods, Blue Asbestos Australia’s live export trade to Indonesia, and many more. From 1961 to 1995, Four Corners was shot and edited on film. The processed 16mm reversal film was the only copy and it required real skill to not make any mistakes when cutting the rushes on the Steenbeck editing machine!  Alec navigated the transition in 1996 when Four Corners moved to tape and non-linear editing using the AVID editing system. The program is now completely digital and still being edited on AVID. These pictures from Alec’s collection give an insight to his 30-plus years with the program.

4cs 21s Anniversary

Four Corners 21st anniversary. (L-R) Reporters
Ray Martin, Bill Peach, John Temple, Peter Luck
and John Penlington.

4cs edit room

The 4Cs edit room at Gore Hill, Sydney.

Trims and rushes

Trims and film rushes in the 4Cs edit room.

Chris on Screen

Alec Cullen cutting a Chris Masters’ PTC (Piece-To-Camera) on the Steenbeck.

6 Des and Tanian

A long day/night in the edit suite for editor Des Horne
and assistant Tania Brown.

7 Nettleship and Cullen

Editing assistant Michael Nettleship with editor Alec Cullen
in the 4Cs edit suite.

8 Des Steinbeck

Editor Des Horne at the Steenbeck. Note details of the rushes on the wall.

9 Alec Cullen Adelaid

Alec Cullen cutting a 4Cs fast turnaround (edited in 2 days) at Adelaide ABC during the 1987 Federal Election.

10 While Gloves

4Cs editors and editing assistants with their
white film editing gloves.

Flipper cleans

Editor Philippa Byers cleaning the Steenbeck.

12 Dave Mc

Cameraman Dave Maguire, with Arriflex film camera.

13 hagin Playboy

Cameraman John Hagin with his Arriflex
camera filming at "Playboy”.

Belsham and Steenbeck

Producer Bruce Belsham at the Steenbeck. Bruce would go on to be executive producer of Four Corners in the 2000s.

20th anniversary

Alec Cullen cutting the 20th anniversary program of “The 1975 Dismissal" – the last Four Corners program to be cut on film (1995).

Alec and Deb

Editor Alec Cullen and producer Deborah Masters – co-producing 4Cs 50th anniversary program.

Des Avid

Editor Des Horne with the AVID tape editing system (used from 1996 to the present, though source material is now all digital).

Alec Avid

Editor Alec Cullen testing out the new AVID editing system.

Ric and Co

Researcher Rick Young, producer Sue Spencer and reporter Jenny Brockie in the 4Cs Gore Hill office. Sue went on to become 4Cs executive producer in 2007.

Marr and Masters

Reporters David Marr and Chris Masters in the 4Cs Gore Hill office.

Janine and Alec

The new world of tapes – producer Janine Cohen with editor Alec Cullen (Janine and Alec produced the 40th anniversary program).

Mercer and Whitmont

Reporter Neil Mercer and producer Debbie Whitmont
working in the 4Cs office.

Nettleship Junker Cullen

Sound mixing 4Cs – assistant editor Michael Nettleship, sound mixer Oliver Junker and editor Alec Cullen.

Holmes, Barry, Wilkinson, Williams

Executive producer Jonathan Holmes, reporters Paul Barry
and Marian Wilkinson, and producer Paul Williams
in the 4Cs Gore Hill office.

McLaughlin and Butler

Producers Murray McLaughlin and Martin Butler in their 4Cs office.


Rosemary Meares – 4Cs production secretary
and keeper of all 4Cs’secrets.

4cs celebration

4Cs celebrations – researcher/producer Shaun Hoyt, reporters Mark Colvin and Marian Wilkinson, executive producer Peter Manning and cameraman Wayne Harley.

Hogarth Cullen Jackson

Reporter Murray Hogarth, editor Alec Cullen
and reporter Liz Jackson.

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