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Tips for interviewing a new editor

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Adam Fischer
Tips for interviewing a new editor
on Apr 15, 2012 at 9:52:19 pm

Im looking to bring on a new contract editor who I hope to keep busy at least 30 hours a week. So I want to make sure I'm investing my time into someone I can trust and depend on

Looking at demo reeks is easy enough, but I was wondering if had any tips on good questions to ask or scenarios to present to a potential editor so that I can better trust their abilities and gauge if they would be a good fit.

Im posting this here and in the editing forum to get a variety of answers. Thanks for any input.

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Steve Martin
Re: Tips for interviewing a new editor
on Apr 16, 2012 at 12:49:04 pm

Hi Adam,

This is a tough one because everyone soooooo different in what they expect from an employment agreement - on both sides of the table. So other than the obvious questions about skills, style and techniques, my suggestion is to spend some time and focus on how you expect the relationship to work.

For example, are you a very "hands off" type of person who wants to defer to a professional editor and let him/her make lots of creative decisions? Or are you deeply involved in creative direction? How will your approach to a project affect how they work? Are you both OK with that?

You mention that you hope to keep them busy for 30 hours per week. If they'll be paid by the hour, make sure that you are prepared to set deliverable goals in terms what kind of productivity you need him/her to achieve. If you'll be paying based on a final project deliverable, flesh out how you'll handle changes and re-edits. Is there a limit to the number of revision you'll expect performed without incurring additional costs?

In general, try to determine potential flash points (i.e., creativity, time/effort & money) and make sure that you are on the same page.

I hope this helps!

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Jason Jenkins
Re: Tips for interviewing a new editor
on Apr 16, 2012 at 2:21:35 pm

[Adam Fischer] "Looking at demo reeks is easy enough, but I was wondering if had any tips on good questions to ask or scenarios to present to a potential editor so that I can better trust their abilities and gauge if they would be a good fit."

If their demo "reeks", then I suggest you keep looking!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my profile.

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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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Alex Elkins
Re: Tips for interviewing a new editor
on Apr 19, 2012 at 3:35:06 pm

About a year ago I was in the same position of, for the first time in my career, having to interview potential staff editors.

Some of the things I was looking for were:

Does this person actually know who I or my company is? Do they want to work for me, or do they just want work?
If the candidate has done their research and is interested in what your company does then already that's a huge tick next to the question of "Can I trust them?" - you certainly can't trust someone who hasn't got a clue who he/she is speaking to.

Does this person want a future in post-production?
This may not apply, but when I was interviewing we were looking to fill a fairly junior role. I wasn't interested in people who were just looking for any way into The Business - I wanted someone who loved editing. The question "where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?" might be a bit cheesy, but when someone answers "I'd like to have directed my first feature film" then you know they're not a keeper.

Assuming that I was confident in their ability, my main concern was whether or not I felt I (and our clients) would get on with the candidate. You can gauge that pretty well just from chatting quite generally with them.

Do they feel like the sort of person who delivers what they've promised? Can they substantiate that with any examples of previous work? The corporate world is cut-throat so you don't want someone who promises more than they can deliver.

Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
Post Blue showreel
Latest work: Greyhounds in Motion at 500fps
My Vimeo Pro page

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