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Productive Assistant

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Rocco Forte
Productive Assistant
on Feb 8, 2008 at 7:37:13 am

I'm editing a feature lengthed documentary and just got my first assistant, which is a great help.

I need him to pull clips, stills and put together selects more than capturing or anything technical.

What experience do you have working with assistants in this way? And what did you feel were the most important contributions which made the film better?


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grinner hester
Re: Productive Assistant
on Feb 8, 2008 at 7:45:40 pm

one can only hope production assistants are productive.
The ones who are do not remain production assistants any longer than ther ones who are not. This being the case, they are rare and very short lived.
A good assistant editor will have your bins a waitin happily for ya in the morning, along with a fine joke and a 10 minutes of good coversation. He/she is not a coffee-getter but a clean slate that is very trainable, at least in a perfect world. Their opinions are replaced by intrigue and their limitations are hazed over by nietivity. If lucky, you can squeeze rough cuts out of em in no time. This is when and how ya lose the good ones tho. They take off quick after that.

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Pixel Monkey
Re: Productive Assistant
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:08:39 pm

[grinner hester] "along with a fine joke and a 10 minutes of good coversation."

How many Producers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Just one, but he keeps changing it and changing it!

How many live TV directors does it take?
"One. No two! No, one! One! Three!

How many editors?
Jost one of course... However we don't want the light to come out of the bulb. Can it move across the ceiling? And can you make it a square bulb? The sponsor likes the color green.

Sorry... ahem...

The best "pro" Assistant Editors (AE's) out there are actually real editors with a touch more analitical-ness than most, and who know their immense technical knowledge can fetch easy money as assistants. They know when to chip-in their 2ยข and when to shut up.

Other assistants -- the ones that are so because of how green they are in their careers -- will benefit the most if you treat them like equals... "eventual editors", not "current coffee getters". You'll benefit in the short term as well because they'll dedicate themselves more to the project.

From my current "Best practices":
- Editor creates an Excel doc listing all tape names, formats and so on, from which the assistant works from (and adds to) during digitizing and logging.
- Assistant creates subclips, adds locators (of which the Editor creates a color-coded system for the AE to follow).
- Editor formats scripts for Avid's ScriptSync software, within which the AE creates an "interview assembly" or a "base script assembly" (project depending).

Once you see how dedicated/capable your assistants are, you can hand them small scenes to create themselves. I remember a guy a couple years age that actually cut a scene three ways for me to choose my favorite. He's now a full-blown editor, but still freelances AE on the side.

For what it's worth.

`(=)`/...Pixel Monkey

A picture says 1000 words. Editors give them meaning.

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