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Re: Tips for interviewing a new editor

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Mark Suszko
Re: Tips for interviewing a new editor
on Apr 16, 2012 at 5:07:40 pm

I would look at reels and longer, online samples first. This helps establish if they have timing and an "eye" and can tell a story.

I'd ask the references for a story on how it was to work with that editor, if he or she solved a particular problem for them well. I'd google them to see what comes up.

When I had it down to 2-3 candidates, I'd ask to come see them work on something, if they had their own place, and if not, I'd ask them to come in perhaps on a Saturday for an hour or two and "play" with my system and some sample footage, have them critique some stuff.

There's as has been said, "button-pushing" editing, where the editor is more or less just a technical conduit executing someone else's vision, for good or ill, and there's editing where the cutter is also considered to be makng a creative contribution, on par with or near to the Writer, Director and DP. Nobody is happy when this distinction gets too blurred and someone tries to work in the opposite mode from what the client wants. A lot of this has to do with the kind of material you'll mostly assign the editor: spot work, which is heavily technical and pre-planned/approved,with limited options for creativity, outside of repairing problems... or longer-form work, where they are a narrative partner.

It is important to have a solid technical grasp of codecs and stuff, but IMO that has to come third to the main talent which is being able to look at randomized puzzle pieces and quickly and efficiently assemble them into an effective story...

...and the second most important skill: being able to work with people well. To communicate clearly, to understand and be understood. To have creative give-and take, knowing when to push for some decision and being able to defend it and justify it with facts and theory, selling the client on why you think it's best... and knowing when to gracefully let some battles go and do what's asked for, as best as one can.

One doesn't always have to be a "yes man" to get client respect, but it can't become an adversarial process. rather, by the time you're done, the client and you should feel you really worked together as a team to achieve the satisfying result, and they would go out of their way to work with you again. Find a person like that and hire them.

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