Some questions for full time editors

For a project for school, I have to get some questions answered by someone who works in the field I want to pursue. If you are a full-time editor and you have the time it would be greatly appreciated if you could answer the questions below.
Thank you :)
 
1. Did you go to college and if you did what school did you attend and in what field did you study
 
2. How do you get started in a video editing career?
 
3. What things do companies look for in portfolios when they are looking at editors? 
 
4. What things in portfolios appeal to companies?
 
5. How do you get your name out?
 
6. What main aspects of editing should an editor perfect to appeal to people 
 
7. What hours do you work?
 
8. Should you approach companies or let them approach you?

Comments

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited November 11

    @MorganStudios ; Having "been" a full time editor in a previous life, I hope you don't mind my $0.02.

    1. Did you go to college and if you did what school did you attend and in what field did you study
     Kansas State University, B.S. Journalism/Radio-TV
     Washburn University, Master of Business Administration
     
    2. How do you get started in a video editing career?
    Went to work for a television station after a radio DJ gig to run audio for the nightly news. Graduated up to Technical Director switching live television.  Went out with the crew to shoot commercials and edit on 1" using an Ampex computerized editor.  Learned to manage shot lists and EDL's (edit decision list).
     
    3. What things do companies look for in portfolios when they are looking at editors? 
    A "killer" reel.  If you can't edit your own reel and tell the prospective employer about your involvement with every shot then you won't get the time of day.
     
    4. What things in portfolios appeal to companies?
     Depends on the company.  Not every outfit is doing commercial production.   Some are doing industrial videos, instructional videos, medical videos, etc.  Of course the commercial houses want a "star".  Often in my experience that also comes with a pompous attitude and a lot of bravado.   As a Production Manager for a company that produced computer animation and presentation systems for the courtroom, I would look for someone who was less of a "star" but an editor who  was competent, dependable and a team player.  In the end, an editor job is just one of many at a production house.  If all these people can't get along then you will never be "productive".
     
    5. How do you get your name out?
    Used to be you would make a portfolio website and put that on your business card and applications for jobs.  Today it is more about having a YouTube channel and getting the most "likes".   Some people have made that a business model.   A lot of people struggle with that and have unrealistic expectations.   As with anything you need talent, motivation and luck.
    The problem with portfolio sites and putting your work online is that you may be under a non-compete from your previous (or current) employer.  So posting paying work done for your employer can be a No, No and get you in hot water.  Best to do your own shots on the side or at the very least ask for permission to use work that may literally be owned by someone else - even though you slaved for weeks in the edit suite to put it together.
    If you find the magic formula for the answer to this question, I'd be happy to hear it.
     
    6. What main aspects of editing should an editor perfect to appeal to people 
    As mentioned - competency, skill, dependability and trustworthiness.   There is no question you should learn and know your craft. You always keep learning.   But the best hot stick in the world won't last long at a job if they cannot get along with the client.   And clients can be out right A-holes.  Did I mention patience?
    If I had time, I'd tell you the story about the time I was asked by the producer to shave the edit by half a frame.
     
    7. What hours do you work?
    Yes-all hours.  Anybody who works in the video or film production business knows you will be working long hours.  Time frames can be very short.  There is always an emergency.  Or equipment failure.  You stand around drinking coffee until the engineer drives in to fix the tape machine.  It may be 8 o'clock at night and you've been there for 12 hours already, but you still have to finish the edit because dubs have to go out tonight counter to counter and you've already missed FedEx.  You may get home at  2 am and back in at 8 am because your "favorite client" (you love to hate) will be standing at the door with ideas for you to try before your 11 AM arrives.
     
    8. Should you approach companies or let them approach you?
    No one is going to go looking for you.  Did I mention LinkedIn?  No one is going to head hunt you on a social media site.  They aren't going to scour YouTube for sites with the most likes.   It's all up to you.  If you know you want to work for a prestigious production house, then you need to court them.  You need to make friends with someone on the inside and maybe get lucky.  Other than that, answer every ad and send them your "killer" reel (and or link to your site).  If you really want to work in this business you keep looking until you get your foot in the door.  And then it's up to you to do your best for your employer and the client.  By being good at what you do and easy to work with you build a reputation that may allow you to move up in your local market.   But if you burn your employer by being late or hard to get along with, then that is a reputation you don't want.
     
    @MorganStudios ; Hopefully you didn't mind me rambling on here.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Also a former full-time editor. 

    1) I studied at many places and actually completed degree requirements in theater, film and fine arts. My tv/film training was at Chapman University. I say  "degree requirements" as completing those disciplines took more than four years... The University suddenly changed me from a graduating Senior to a first-term soph. Who knew gen-ed classes had an expirations date?

    As I had completed degree requirements, I also lost my scholarships, so I dropped out. The takeaway here is film/tv is an industry where the quality of one's work matters more than the degree. But I should have taken the damn foreign language course and locked in a degree years earlier.

    2) I hustled and went after jobs. Lots of calling and asking around. Where film school helps is, if you can generate good relationships with fellow students, you can help each other out with work. For several years a buddy and I (this was for A/V work) were a "package deal,"

    3, 4, 5) @Stargazer54 is spot on. Only thing I have to add is "short attention span" syndrome 20 years ago a reel would be about 5 minutes. Now you can get away with two minutes, but most reels will be watched for about one minute...

    6) "Half a frame?" *facepalm* Dependability is key, and this means delivering on-time and on-spec. If you're brilliant, but always late to deliver, you've caused problems for your producers and won't keep your job. If you go off spec, you'd better have finished the spec work efficiently and found extra time to create your "improved" version. I'll give a good and bad example of going off-spec (these were radio ads): Bad. My former partner once went off-spec because he thought he had a better plan. By the time I found out he'd already delivered to the client. I managed to complete the project to spec and get it to the client within two hours, but the damage was done. We lost our contract, and we had to fight to get paid - and, of course the client used both versions. Good: The script was terrible. I completed the job on-spec then recorded and produced an entirely different version (I note in both these examples we did stay on-budget). I sent the on-spec version first, then the "oh, I also did...." version. Client was happy, paid extra and used both, and we picked up a recurring contract. 

    The only difference is in the order the ads were presented. When the client was given a "my idea is better" FIRST, the client was annoyed that we "hadn't done as asked," whereas the other way around was "going above and beyond." Delivering off-spec first was "undependable."

    7) Whatever you have to. Some projects, things go smoothly and you can put in your eight hours and go home. Sometimes there are issues and you're on-site for 36 hours because the deck is down and the titles artist flaked and you're frantically trying to get the master finished for delivery by 11am, but the final output isn't ready until 1045 and it's a half hour show and you're begging the UPS guy to wait the extra time... 

    But that only happened to ME once. 

    8) As Stargazer notes, you're the one who has to sell yourself. When you get to the point where people just call and offer gigs, you've already put in your years of searching for gig after gig. 

    Hope this helps. 

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