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Major/Minor Questions

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Hunter HempenMajor/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 3:24:03 am

I am currently a freshman in college, vigorously studying and expanding my After Effects knowledge and reaching out to various news stations, etc, for the sake of networking. My current major title is Mass Communications: TV/Film...I have come to the point where I've begun to ponder about my minor. What's usually a good minor for a film editor (the position I'm hoping to find in the near future)? None? Business? Or should I be double majoring? Or can college simply not teach these things? :) The latter, I am sure, but tell me what you think.
Hunter Hempen

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Timothy J. AllenRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 4:12:56 am

The minor that will serve you as a film editor might not be the same one to serve you best in the near term at a news station. You really can't go wrong with minoring in business. That's a field of knowledge that many creative professionals wish they had time to go back and study. It could make a world of difference in how much money you eventually make - and it will force you to get out early and do some of the other things that we all eventually end up having to do in the "real-world" such as make presentations, negotiate salaries and draw up contracts.

That said, when I hire an Editor, I usually look for someone who has a well-rounded liberal arts background. English, history, geography, psychology, sociology, engineering, music, science and yes, even (maybe especially) philosophy.

The best Editors and Graphic Artists are like the best musicians; they draw upon a wealth of experiences to create stories that speak with their own unique voice.

So, while its true that time is the only way to get some of that experience, you'll do good to find a minor that distinguishes you from the others who will be competing with you for jobs - a minor that's not related to media production as much as it's related to something that feeds your other passions and interests. For instance, where I work (a NASA Research Center), having an Editor that understands the written and visual "languages" of physics and mechanical or materials engineering really helps save time as they "translate" what the Engineers or Inventors are trying to convey and turn those ideas into effective videos.

So... where do you want to end up? Study that.

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Hunter HempenRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 4:57:35 am

I guess news editing might be a good place to start out, I already do several news pieces a month for my school newspaper concerning local events and on campus etc. A few of my options for a minor were Graphic Design, Journalism, Creative Writing, and Marketing. What kind of minors would editors who do TV shows / dramas look into? More minors the better?

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Mark GrossardtRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 1:59:38 pm

To echo other posters, minor in something that really interests you.

That being said, I see that you mention Creative Writing as an option. I believe that good writers make good editors. Great writers really understand structure, pacing, tone, motivation, drama, etc. - essentially all of the elements necessary to tell a good story. Seems to translate pretty well into the editing world, no?

So, minor in something that seems cool, and if Creative Writing seems cool to you, I think that's a great option.

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Alan LloydRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 12:19:34 pm

As Timothy has mentioned, become as well-rounded as possible.

I had no defined minor, though I was not far from one in Geography. Other subjects/interests involved Art History and Classics. Those weren't all, by any means.

One of the best profs I had was in East Asian Art History, and he was a former jazz musician. Another was a Japanese History prof who thought (and taught) largely, though not exclusively, in economic terms.

Breadth and depth are both important. Find things you are passionate about and follow them. The world we live in is a richly textured place, and there will certainly be bits of it that resonate strongly for you.

And a little music knowledge never hurts an editor. Even if you don't do formal coursework, take up - and develop some facility with - an instrument, especially in conjunction with other people playing at the same time.

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Mike CohenRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 2:07:34 pm

The fact that you are 18 and asking these questions indicates that you are a good thinker and thinking beyond the moment.
I think one mistake people make is being too specialized, and/or becoming a good technician. Those technical programs like Full Sail or Connecticut School of Unemployment tend to teach technical skills but no real sense of what to do with them. I have seen the same situation with people who went to film school. It used to be that film school students weren't taught much more than theory. The common statement we heard in New England about BU and Emerson film schools was "underclassmen are not allowed to touch anything." Not sure this is still true in the age of digital video.

But getting back to your question, as the others have said, be well rounded. College is partially about learning skills, but mostly it is about learning to be a critical thinker, a problem solver, a mature educated person who can become valuable to a company. If you think you need a minor, go for lit or business. Or just stick with the Comm major and use your free time to read the classics and audit some courses in finance, accounting, marketing, advertising, and don't forget math and science, which are usually required courses in a liberal arts school.

Mike Cohen

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Aaron CadieuxRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 2:15:55 pm

Minor in whatever you want. Business is probably a safe bet. In the real world, nobody really cares about your educational background so long as you graduated college and have an impressive demo reel. In this business, you could be a Satan-Worshipping-Neo-Nazi-Puppy-Kicker, but as long as you have an impressive demo reel, you'll get work. Wherever this business takes you, just remember to not let anyone walk all over you. Make sure people pay their bills too. There are a lot of dead-beat clients and employers out there.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 2:59:11 pm

Business/Marketing would be one solid choice for a minor. Creative Writing and Graphic Design would be excellent. Considering how much of our work these days is composing graphics, having a solid grounding in the fundamentals of design rules/color theory/typography is very useful. Heck, had I known how much photoshop and roto work I do today, I would have worked much harder on coloring inside the lines, back in Kindergarten. :-)

A course in Art History, Film History/Appreciation and Music Appreciation will serve you well as an editor. Just about every *good* editor I know plays or sings music as one of their hobbies. The sense of pitch and rhythm is very important. Moreover, artists reference earlier works all the time, and you can't do that if you don't know anything about it.

Even a paralegal course could be useful, to help navigate copyright questions or to work with lawyers on their video projects. Learning some basics about optics and electronics never hurts. I remember being the only student in my college TV courses that could identify transistors and other like components and describe their general functions. It blew my mind that the others had no curiosity about the innards of the magic boxes they wanted to make a career out of using.

Liberal Arts courses teach you how to learn, as much as they teach you facts. How to research something and analyze the information and from that, draw your own understanding out of it and apply that. Being well-rounded makes you adaptable and flexible and able to survive and manage rapid change.

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John CuevasRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 6:01:43 pm

12 years later, if I could do it all again, I'd get a second major/minor in graphic design. As much as I have studied the subject, I know there is a ton more to learn and it's cost me quite in work time and probably opportunity.

Even when I'm just editing, the knowledge of good graphic design is so important. When you throw AE into the mix, I think it's essential to have that background. So that's the one I would choose if it were me.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

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grinner hesterRe: Major/Minor Questions
by on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:44:25 pm

Fine art, commercial art, theatre, creative writing, and music.
I'd hit commercial art hard and take the others as electives.
You find in your daily grind, especially as an editor, commercial art is a big percentage of what ya do. Story-telling, pacing, and other required parts of the editor's gig come natural. Design rules are important to learn so you can break them properly later on.

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