Honess was educated at Queen's College, Taunton from 1956-1963. He then became an apprentice editor at the United Kingdom branch of MGM, where his father was working. He moved to the United States in 1971, where he got his first editing credit for It's Alive! (1974), a cult horror film about a couple that become parents of a monster baby. When Honess returned to the United Kingdom, he was again employed as an assistant editor. In all, Honess spent fifteen years as an assistant. Honess acknowledges the mentoring by British editors Tony Gibbs (Tom Jones) and Thelma Connell (Alfie), "Thelma was quite an extraordinary woman. I was absorbed by how she edited. She cut very, very fast. That was also true of Tony. He'd cut the film in his head at dailies." After a ten-year hiatus, Honess was hired to edit the films Memed, My Hawk (1984) and Champion (1984), and thereafter he has worked regularly as an editor.