Learning Core Skills
If you are striving to get into professional editing you will be competing with others who may have more experience than you, or may have a greater understanding of processes, editing styles or techniques. Be mindful of this, but more importantly, you should be getting on with making you as good as you can be, in order to stand out from the others!
When starting out, you should get as much experience as you can across every genre you can think of. Don't be selective about what 'style' of project you work on. It's all about gaining experience and seeing how things are accomplished (or not) within projects. Once you have some experience you can then be a little more selective, but right now, it's about effort and gaining experience.
Whether you're just starting out, or have been in the industry for some time, you will need to build and maintain relationships. Being part of a wider 'network' means that people have you in mind for positions and roles, long before a position is advertised. Better still, they come to you before you have to apply for anything. They will only think of you however, if you make the right impression.
Depending upon where you're based (USA, United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world) the ways and means of breaking into the industry will slightly vary.
In countries such as America there are 'unions' you will need to part of and in turn, understand how these govern your working environment and contracts. However, there are a few common approaches that can be pursued to break into editing, no matter where you are in the world.
Warning, not all Post Houses are made equal.
Smoke and Mirrors reception - Image from AKA Design
No matter where you are in the world there will be a post production house and therefore an opportunity to apply as a Runner. Many Editors have emerged from the ranks of the Runner at Post Houses. These 'ground beds' of editing talent allow people from almost any background, to work in the post production sector by carrying out simple day to day tasks such as making teas and coffees for editors and production teams. With the right attitude and some timely opportunities, people may be offered some basic editing tasks or help with ingesting content, which if performed effectively, could signal the start of your editing career.
Getting that first Assistant job is going to be tough, so you need to build up your portfolio to get that first job. If there's nothing going on, or that first role is being hard to find, why not pick up a camera and go shoot something yourself. Club together with friends or colleagues to create a project. If you're going under your own steam with no friends to help you, or a film school background, then jump online and research making your own short documentary about something you know and love. At this stage it's all about learning processes and experiencing workflows and seeing what does and more importantly, does not work.
Create yourself a website that advertises you and your abilities, use this as your ever expanding CV, making you available to anyone at any time. Keep it short and be selective, showing only your best work.
Every city and town has a vibrant community of would be film makers and producers. Search these resources out online and sign up and help out. It all looks great on your CV.
The internet offers a wealth of learning opportunities and by taking this course you are proving the point! Try not to waste too much time reading about editing rather than actually doing it. Your CV needs to have your work on it, not others. Here's a short list of some free, and some paid services, that could help make you stand out from the crowd.
As an editor it's important to keep up to date with the latest editing software capabilities. Avid have a great number of articles that they keep up to date around their latest video editing software systems. You can catch therm on their Blog Site
Download and install Media Composer | First (Mac and PC) this is the latest version of the NLE software and will give you first hand experience of the latest software features and all for free. Don't be afraid to look at Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro and Davinci Resolve too, it'll broaden your opportunities at the very least.
Jonny Elwyn's web site is a fantastic resource that lends itself to any editing platform be it Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro or Davinci Resolve. His articles and reviews are a fantastic way to establish what's going on in the industry and also help select the right equipment for the job at hand too. He's has also written some great detailed articles on how to become an Assistant editor .
Steve Hullfish should be name you become familiar with. His Art of the Cut online interviews (and book) are a great way to get an insight into professional editing and also give you some idea of where people have started in the industry. It well also give you an insight into how a professional cutting room works.
Eddie Hamilton rose through the ranks of editing by starting as a runner with no formal film school qualification and went on to to cut the likes of Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation and The Kingsman. Perhaps the greatest thing about his site is that he offers great advice and shares his timeline and project screen grabs on the projects he has worked on. Read his personal story and be more than a little inspired!