Advice on becoming an editor
I really need some advice. I'm currently in my final year at University studying Theatre, Film and Television. I desperately want to become an offline feature film editor, but don't really know how to get into it. Well I do know that the best way is to start as a runner, but 1. where should you be a runner? and 2. how do you get from runner to editor?
I did a 2 month placement at ITV in Leeds and they suggested similar, but I'm going to move to London to start my career, after graduating, and I have no idea where to apply to. I have done some research and found many facility houses but I assume that's not what I should go for as I presume that they just provide equipment so would offer not training.
Are there any companies anyone can suggest? And if I was lucky enough to get a runner job in a good company, how and where would I go from there to becoming a film editor? I know that they generally work freelance, but obviously I can't do that as I have very little training and knowledge of editing suites.
Offer your services on student films and low budget indie's. Buy a Avid Xpress or Final Cut Pro system and learn it (there are books with self tutorial DVDs and Avid has online training called ALEX). If you want to make money, apply for reality show jobs. Maybe begin as an assistant editor. Take Avid or FCP classes. As for reality show jobs, buy my book, EDITING REALITY, it's short, easy and inexpensive. It contains all the practical info you need without all the "other" stuff you don't. As for film, there are many other bigger, more expensive books for that. Get them too. You may have already read them in school or will be in your last year. Try to get an internship, best of all. If you can get in a good place, spend your own time on the equipment to learn it, offer to do things for the editors or assitant editors. They will show you stuff and give you opportunities to take small steps toward becoming an editor. That's how it's done. Don't know what places to suggest in London because I'm in New York, but as for reality shows, try the BBC or Lion Television. I'm currently working for Lion in New York. If you are interested in my book, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. with your email address.
Since you are in your final year of school, you should be able to get a student discount on Avid or FCP. You won't be able to use it to make a living with the license that you get but you will be able to learn the programs. Shoot your own stuff or (as has been suggested) use it to edit student projects. This can help you build a reel and experience to get that first foot in the door.
Since you already have a relationship with ITV in Leeds, it makes more sense for you to start there. If you can get an entry level job for a year, or even an internship there for a few more months, it will help you to land a job in London later.
Good luck & work hard!
Now in post: Peristroika, a film by Slava Tsukerman
In addition to all the good advice above, here's aother suggestion. A few years ago there was a course called "Avid Boot Camp" here in the States. It was an intense workshop where you went through the entire process of editing a feature film and in the end worked with a director on an independant project. I think it was held in Portland, Oragon. It was a good look at the feature film industry and it gave you good connections. There may be something like it in the UK. Google Avid Boot Camp.
I'm kind of in the same boat except I'vebeen working as a tech for about a year now. I've got a decent amount of machine room and tech experience but I've found it's tough to get people to take me seriously as an editor because of it. Can anyone offer any advice or links on what I should try to assemble as a reel when applying to assistant or editing jobs?
It's easy to get "pigeonholed" in this business... if you get a reputation as a good Assistant, or a good "Tech", then that's what people will know you as...
If you want to be an editor, then start editing stuff! Do a project "on spec"... maybe a music video for a friends band... or, edit a short film for a friend... anything... just start editing stuff... a post house in New York had a contest a while back for assistants, where they would take movies, and cut trailers for them that changed the story and feel of the movie... the winner was a recut of "The Shining" as a feel good family film - Google "The Shining Trailer" and you should find it. I'd think this would be good practice. Just cut stuff... take a favorite scene from a movie and tighten it up, play around with it. The sooner you start cutting, and mentally engaging in the problem-solving aspects of cutting, the further ahead you'll be.
If you're working at a facility as an Assistant, or Tech, chat up some of the Editors that work there, and let them know (nicely - don't be pushy) that you're interested in editing. That's how I got my "first taste" in the professional ranks as an Assistant... the Editor would go to the bathroom, or coffee break, or whatever, and he'd say to me "wanna lay in the next shot?" ... which I would then do.
Now, during this time when I was an Assistant Editor by day, I'd be spending nights and some weekends doing projects with friends at our local Cable Access station - doing creative projects that were fun, and just generally making things that we thought were funny.
Most good editors (because some of them feel that people don't fully appreciate the creative and technical aspects of what they do) will jump at the chance to share knowledge... sometimes it will be hard to get them to shut up!
Try this web site is for jobs from all over the word but is UK based ; http://www.mandy.com
there is plenty of request to work for free to build you reel and get some experience.
If I may offer some advice on what 'not' to do.... I started as a runner in Soho. But I was SO deperately eager to get a job as a runner that I didn't care where I got that job. So to cut a long story short I busted my balls to become a tape op, and lo and behold I was still "trying to become an editor" a few years later. I still had to start at the bottom. Again.
Anyway, my advice is if you want to go the industry route, pick your first company WISELY so you only have to start at the bottom once. OR, perhaps you need the runners expericence to become a runner, then get a job with the intention of leaving as soon as that other runner job comes along at a better post house. Also: Seond the above opinion - cut, cut, cut like crazy! Get a mac, go do it. Cut so much you dream in editing (it'll happen)
I am in the same boat as you. I graduated last may from college with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, though my heart is in long form fiction/non-fiction work. Prior to graduating I contacted a local well known post house whom offered avid classes. I got to talking with the coordinator of the Avid school and asked if I could have a tour of the facility. A few days later I met her in person and was given a tour and talked about the Avid classes. Jump to a few months later, recontacted her and found out they had postponed their school program because of renovations, was bummed about that, but the next words out of her mouth were great, she mentioned they were hiring for the upcoming political season so I jumped at the chance and sent off my resume. A few weeks later I got the call and was offered a full time position in the client relations side of the company, which I accepted.
Jump to right now as I type I am sitting the office, still on the client relations side but the opportunities that I have had over the 8 months or so I have worked here have been great and I hope to move into the technical side in a few months. I have met some great people and have been editing side projects for them as well and started my own video podcast for a hockey team I played on at school to keep editing.
This is all a long winded way of saying get your foot in the door whenever you can, doing whatever, yes I did not start out in the technical/edit side of this company, but everyone here knows I want to edit and I have sort of become the "you know final cut pro right..."guy for all those random questions from co-workers. There are dues to be paid, and I feel I am paying them now and am reaching the end of that period and look forward to getting into the things I really want to do.
In the end, the year I will have spent doing client relations work will make me a better editor and will allow me to truly cherish the job of editing once I finally realize my goal.
my advice would be a practical elaboration on 'cut cut cut!'
1.Pick something you like on tv or in film. Something that you think you would like to edit for a profession. Example: MTV style content.
2. Shoot a few of your own shows or films in that style. Even copy a show or film out currently or recently. Example: MTV Cribs of your local fraternity house, Day in the life of a local band.
3. Edit said show or film. (short film in your case). Example: Complete three 3-5 minute MTV Cribs segments, and one 5 minute Day in the life of Local Rock Band.
4. Display your work on a professional and completed dvd presentation. Example: Open up your iDVD, pick a non-cheesy template, and add some hip music in the background, with easy to use buttons to navigate to your works.
5. Now, when you go in for an interview for whatever entry level job you get, bring that and ask to show them. They will most likely take you more seriously as someone who wants to move up, since you obviously have a goal, and pay attention to what you want. Obviously they won't bring you in for an interview as a logger and hire you as an editor, but it immediately will put it in their head that 'this person will probably be more than a logger in the future.' Example: Somewhere in interview 'Just so you know, i also brought my demo reel (just be bold and call it that, they won't be expecting an amazing product from a logger), if you have a minute i'd love to show you some works i've done. Or if not, i'll leave it with you if you get a minute to check out my work at some point.''
Hope that helps, its practical, and worked for me.
As someone who has been laboring in the assistant editor trenches for several years, I can tell you that the AE track is no guarantee of becoming an editor. If you want to be an editor, you have to edit, period. As other posters have mentioned, this means working AFTER work on your editing so that if and when you get a chance to cut something for somebody who matters (i.e. a producer at your "A" job), your chops will be razor-sharp. When he or she says "Dazzle me!" you want to be able to do just that. If you stay ready, you ain't got to get ready. And, these days you have to know After Effects and Photoshop, too. Have fun!