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Breaking into this industry as an editor

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Udey Wells
Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 8:53:36 am

I have been trying to get my foot in the door as an assistant editor for almost two years now. I have worked a lot of freelance jobs and internships. I have a solid knowledge of Final Cut Pro and working on getting my Avid and After Effects skills just as good.

I just can't figure out what the missing element is. I know contacts, a great reel, and strong skills are important. I have a lot of industry contacts but hardly any of them are editors. Does anyone have any tips on how to meet and network with editors? Are there other people I should be trying to network with other than editors, for instance directors? What else does it take to move up from an post-production assistant or intern to an AE?


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walter biscardi
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:48:37 am

How is your storytelling? That's the most important thing for me.

I see a lot of reels that are full of motion graphics, slick transitions, etc... I want to see a 5 minute story with nothing but cuts and dissolves. Most editors can't show me that.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Mike Smith
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 2:46:05 pm

For me, Walter is spot on here.


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Udey Wells
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:03:53 pm

That's a good point. I see the same thing all the time when I look at reels. I broke mine up into 3 sections, first section is a music video and then the other two are shorts I worked on and they both tell stories.

http://www.audreyweller.com

It is on there. It would help me out a lot if you could look at it and provide me with some constructive criticism.

Thanks Walter


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Stephen Smith
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 2:37:45 pm

[ Audrey] I have a lot of industry contacts but hardly any of them are editors. Does anyone have any tips on how to meet and network with editors?

Go to user group meetings if they are in or close to an area around you. You mentioned that you know FCP, here is a list of User Groups: http://www.fcpworld.com/links/ Hope this helps.





Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2


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grinner hester
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 3:28:24 pm

You need to be talking with production house owners, not editors. You'll be starting for free or close to it so cold call everyone in town shaking branches to see what fruit falls. I got into places by doing everything from working as a tape librarian to painting walls, to taking out the trash. When my first real edit job was offered at 8 bucks an hour, I took it. I climbed ladders as my salary needs changed... usually with the birth of every new child and I simply got hired on elsewhere with a 10k raise. I moved my family to five states in as many years at one point and was able to make a decient living at it with just one job after a decade or so.
Understand that networking IS a fulltime job. Start with your local production guid and be willing to move when something is offered elsewhere. Do not be afraid to branch out beyond your current skill set. One of the best jobs I ever got was a result of saying "yes" on the phone when they asked if I knew the "NightSuite". I was hired over the phone, moving arrangements were made, then I hung up and called everyone in my local market looking for one so I could learn it. When I got to the network I was hired at, I trained their staff on it.
I had never touched one prior to the phone call.
That job is what opened big doors for the rest of my career.



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Terence Curren
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 6:24:32 pm

[grinner hester] "One of the best jobs I ever got was a result of saying "yes" on the phone when they asked if I knew the "NightSuite". I was hired over the phone, moving arrangements were made, then I hung up and called everyone in my local market looking for one so I could learn it."

My first professional job was as an A/C on a music video. The producer's wife cut my hair. He had met me through her. He called one day and asked if I was familiar with the Arri camera. Of course I lied and said I was. That gave me one day to spend at the rental house learning that camera inside and out.

It was still tricky on the shoot as the Camera Op would say "go get the high hat", etc. Having no clue what the heck a high hat was, I would find a grip and ask if he'd seen it laying around. When he pointed at it right next to me I would play it off as my not seeing it.

Ended up doing a lot of work with that group over the years.



Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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Todd Terry
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:54:33 pm

[Terence Curren] "...asked if I was familiar with the Arri camera. Of course I lied and said I was."

[Terence Curren] "Having no clue what the heck a high hat was, I would find a grip and ask if he'd seen it laying around"

No offense intended at all (and sounds like in your case you pulled it off), but those are the kind of people I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally hire whenever working with a new crew member. Yikes.

I'd much rather someone be truthful and willing to learn something, than to lie to me and say they are proficient at something when they aren't.

If I ever found out a crew member's padded resume jeopardized the success of a shoot, they definitely wouldn't be working for me again. Or probably for anyone else that I know either.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Terence Curren
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 5:32:11 am

[Todd Terry] "I'd much rather someone be truthful and willing to learn something, than to lie to me and say they are proficient at something when they aren't. "


First of all, I would never have gotten the job if I said I had never done it before.

Second, I pulled it off which is why I'm still in this profession.

Finally, are you telling me that every time a client or potential employer has asked you to do something you had never done before, that your response is always "I've never done that but I'm willing to try"?

I find that hard to believe.



Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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Todd Terry
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 6:04:01 am

[Terence Curren] "are you telling me that every time a client or potential employer has asked you to do something you had never done before, that your response is always "I've never done that but I'm willing to try"?"

Pretty much.

Our response is usually "We've never done that exactly, but it's definitely within our capabilities." Or just simply "Sure, we can do that." If we can. If someone pointedly asked me "Have you done that before?" and we haven't, we'd certainly be upfront about it.

I wasn't picking on you, honestly. Everyone fudges. But there comes a point when it crosses a line and honesty is almost always the best policy.

If I had a crew member who didn't know what a high hat was, who cares? That's no big deal. But if I hired a loader who told me "Sure, I've loaded a Panavision Millenium hundreds of times, I practically grew up with one" when in actuality he had never even touched a film camera... well, that's not just a little fib, that's a boldfaced lie that can end up costing a shoot day and thousands and thousands of dollars because of one missed sprocket hole or one loop just a tiny bit too big or too small... because he only pretended to know what he was doing.

You wouldn't want your heart surgeon to sneak a little white lie past you ("Oh sure, I've done this a thousand times")... and while it's not life or death, I take my job just as seriously. Ok... only half as seriously. But serious enough.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Terence Curren
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 2:19:43 pm

[Todd Terry] "But if I hired a loader who told me "Sure, I've loaded a Panavision Millenium hundreds of times, I practically grew up with one" when in actuality he had never even touched a film camera."

That's a far stretch from from where I was at. I had been working with film in various formats since i was 12.



[Todd Terry] "You wouldn't want your heart surgeon to sneak a little white lie past you ("Oh sure, I've done this a thousand times")... and while it's not life or death, I take my job just as seriously. Ok... only half as seriously. But serious enough. "


You are jumping to an extreme. If the doctor said he had "done it a thousand times", he would be blatantly lying. If he said he was "familiar with heart surgery", and in reality you were actually his first living heart patient, he wouldn't be lying. Doctors have to work on a lot of cadavers before they touch a living one. And every doctor has his "first" patient for any particular operation. I tend to doubt they all say "you are my first" each time that happens.




Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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Todd Terry
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 4:50:06 pm

[Terence Curren] "You are jumping to an extreme."

I admitted that... as an example.

And "Can you do something?" is a very different question from "Have you done something?" With two potentially different answers.

Our policy stands. Tell the truth.

Maybe I can't expect that from those looking to us for jobs, but we expect it from ourselves.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Terence Curren
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 5:01:16 pm

[Todd Terry] "And "Can you do something?" is a very different question from "Have you done something?" With two potentially different answers. "

There we both agree.

[Todd Terry] "Our policy stands. Tell the truth.

Maybe I can't expect that from those looking to us for jobs, but we expect it from ourselves. "


So you ALWAYS tell a potential client that you haven't done something in the past, even if they don't ask. Even if you know you can do it, but haven't done it yet?



Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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Todd Terry
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 5:38:08 pm

[Terence Curren] "So you ALWAYS tell a potential client that you haven't done something in the past, even if they don't ask."

Nope, never said that.

I said I would admit that we haven't done something IF they asked. I wouldn't volunteer the info that we hadn't done it before if they didn't ask and it was well within our capabilities. But if they did ask, I wouldn't pretend we had done something when we hadn't.

Maybe that little "fudge by omission" is a fib in a way, too... but it's not a blatant lie saying you have done something when you haven't.

Frankly, it's just not an issue here. I can't remember but one or two times in the last decade+ than anyone has ever asked "Have you...?" It's always "Can you...?" But if they did ask, I know what my answer would be.

And back to the previous extreme example... no, although I can appreciate the fact that everyone has to start somewhere (me included), I personally don't want to be that heart surgeon's first patient no matter how many cadavers he's cut on. I just don't want to be the next one. :)



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 5:22:07 pm

I think you two are in more agreement than it may appear.

Like Terry Curren, I am rarely afraid to jump in and do something new. (Rarely being the operative word.)

Why?

Because like Todd Terry, (and I am sure, Terry Curren), I hold myself to some very demanding standards and Kathlyn would tell you that I will work all night long to get something done if I have promised it to a client.

I only take the things that are within my grasp and while I may never have done that specific function before, I know that I can do the job and will learn it quick -- or I wouldn't take it.

I am honest with myself, and that makes it to where I do not always have to be exactingly honest with a client. (But to be straight up, I wouldn't answer a direct question with a lie. But on the other hand, I wouldn't feel obligated to tell every client exactly what I have done or not done in the past.)

If all I took were jobs that I had done before and was comfortable with, then I would have done few things in my career; this, as I have always pushed myself into new ground.

I tend to think that both of you hold VERY high standards and it is your commitment to your customers that has made each of you successful. (I know the work that each does, and I would work with either of you in full confidence if I were a client.)

I guess that the way I tend to see my own moral compass is that (as I have on occasion told clients over the years), "I drive hard for the close because you could do a lot worse than work with me. I place my customers first and therefore I am always driving hard to assure that at the end of the job, they are happy with the result."

Would I tell a film crew that I could run an ARRI or a Panavision on a film shoot? No. I've never done it and would say so. I also laugh thinking that the lack of a union card and no status as an ACE would also give that away. (But I can understand Terry Curren going down to the rental shop and working to learn something he had never done before. I don't live in an area where I could learn what's there in a rental shop.) But would I tell someone yes to signing on to do an effect that I have never tried before? In a heartbeat, because I know that I will drive myself to exhaustion to learn it and produce the expected result -- or better.

I think you guys are more alike than it may appear at topical glance, especially when seen by those of us who know you both and know what excewllent work you are both capable of.

Have a great weekend, guys.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry






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Terence Curren
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on May 1, 2009 at 8:08:37 pm

Ron,


You nailed it! Nicely put.




Terence Curren
http://www.alphadogs.tv
http://www.digitalservicestation.com
Burbank,Ca


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cowcowcowcow
Brendan Coots
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 5:18:57 pm

Networking with editors isn't going to help - they aren't likely to hand you their own valuable contacts or refer you for jobs that they themselves need. Part of the problem you're experiencing is that there is an incredible glut of editors out there these days. I recently posted a listing for an FCP editor and received about 40 responses within 24 hours, most of whom had a mile long resume and pretty good reels. In situations like this it really does come down to who you know, because your chances of being noticed in a stack of resumes that high is, well, 40:1. To get in the door you need to know people on the inside of the production houses, ad agencies etc. in your area. They can help you land the jobs before they are even made public, and save the hiring manager a lot of time and BS in the process.

I would focus on finding mixers, events and user groups catering to various post production roles, agencies etc. outside of editing. This could include motion graphics groups, VFX groups, agency functions and beyond. These people, since they aren't in direct competition with you for jobs, would be good inside allies to have pitching for you when positions come up. But they won't vouch for you simply because they met you at some mixer, you need friends on the inside - this means cultivating relationships with the people in your local production community like crazy. When you do land a gig, network with everyone there like your career depends on it. Make friends with everyone, including (and to some degree especially) the front desk/reception people, and don't be the silent emo guy/girl who slinks in and out every day unnoticed.

I would also suggest making contact with the hiring personnel of your local studios when they don't have any openings listed. This gives you a better chance of reaching them directly and introducing yourself since they aren't in defense mode from all the applications they've been getting.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Udey Wells
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:09:42 pm

I think my main problem is that I've been going after small potatoes. In other words, the internships and post PA jobs I've had up until this point have been for independent directors, small vfx houses, and places that just don't get a lot of traffic or jobs.

In order to meet the types of people you've mentioned- ad agencies, production houses, and people in HR - how do you suggest I do that? By just going to LA411 and making cold calls? Mailing out my resume and reel whether I know or not if they are hiring? Forgive me, I am just horrible at networking and really need people to spell it out.


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walter biscardi
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:41:30 pm

[Audrey Weller] "I think my main problem is that I've been going after small potatoes. In other words, the internships and post PA jobs I've had up until this point have been for independent directors, small vfx houses, and places that just don't get a lot of traffic or jobs. "

Nope, that's not a problem. You need to do as many small potato jobs as possible. And smaller houses usually do a multitude of projects, not just one thing over and over. I did one $500 job three years ago for one client as a favor and that turned into a PBS series, three feature length documentaries, 80 news stories per year, a 2nd potential PBS series and probably two more years worth of work from that one client.

I have done a lot of "small potato" work because it keeps building my name out there and the quality of our shop gets around. We're only a full time staff of 3 here with another 4 or 5 contract editors running three edit suites. Yet we'll deliver about 350 projects by the end of 2009. Some of them as simple as "please burn this beta to DVD for me." Others as complex as a 50 part series for Discovery Science channel and 3 the feature documentaries.

The size of the project or the size of the shop doesn't matter. It's the quality of your work and getting your name out there as a reliable, good storyteller. As others have said, networking with editors won't help you much at all because any freelance editors is not going to give you any leads. You need to start getting into meetings that have as many production house owners, managers, etc... as possible. Corporate video departments are wonderful places to get your foot in the door. Very often they give the editors a lot of leeway in freedom to create.


[Audrey Weller] "In order to meet the types of people you've mentioned- ad agencies, production houses, and people in HR - how do you suggest I do that? By just going to LA411 and making cold calls? Mailing out my resume and reel whether I know or not if they are hiring? Forgive me, I am just horrible at networking and really need people to spell it out."

NATAS, Final Cut Pro User Group, After Effects / Motion Graphics User Groups, State Film and Video dept. meetings and events, etc....



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Steve Wargo
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 6:41:52 am

Meet people. Lots of people. Let people know that you are available to fill in for others. You are not a threat to the top people, but you are a threat to the lower people.

We have a local group that is hosted right here on the COW. Although I am not an FCP editor, I own four stations and I hire others to run them. I have a great creative guy and a second string editor that is happy with being in second place and we have occasional interns. Sometimes we travel and I need to take an editor with me while my entire staff stays behind at the office.

Have a business card with your photo and only crucial info. It must have a url to your reel.

Your website should be a resume and lot of clips that are your best work.

Get a name badge that says Audrey Weller, Editor/Compositor, FCP, AVID, AE. This will be an ice breaker and people will ask about your skills and experience.

And remember one very important thing: Your profession is Editing and Composition but your actual job is "Selling your skills to those who will hire you".

We do not hire smokers. They are bad for business.





Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:50:44 pm

I suppose the first part of networking would be to fill out your profile and include your online demos. I've outsourced to many a COW grazer.

Steve



Jump to the FFP Website



View Steve Kownacki's profile on LinkedIn




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Brian Humphreys
Re: Breaking into this industry as an editor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:28:10 pm

I'm new to the COW, but I just landed on this post whilst perusing around so I figured I would throw in my 2 cents as a relative newcomer to the industry. I fell into editing accidentally while going to school for Architecture. It just sort of happened. One day I was sweeping floors and driving the company van for $7/hour at a production house, the next I was behind an Avid workstation. Now I've been editing professionally for almost 5 years across multiple platforms. What paid off for me was the hunger. You have to strike a balance between honesty (don't pad your skill set, just make it clear you want to expand it) and eagerness. Make it clear that you'll get it done, no matter what's asked of you. Don't pass up a single chance to prove yourself.

Work ethic is just as important as knowledge and creativity. Plenty of working editors can't tell stories very well, but they still find their niche because they keep searching.

Networking is vital, but it can simply be that initial phone call. I have a friend with limited AE experience that just walked into the door at BET in LA and was hired that same afternoon because he knew how to organize bins. That's no joke. He doesn't even have a reel. Right place, right time. But you've got to bang on the doors.

Keep at it. There's no magical answer and everyone here got where they are for different reasons. Just keep pushing and stay optimistic no matter what.


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