‘How does one get started as an editor?’ It’s a good question. With the consistent release and improvement of editing software and technology, the curveball that was covid-19 and naturally, the inevitably of rapid cultural shifts in the industry, aspiring editors might be unsure as to how they should best proceed.
But, they need not worry. With new possibilities for remote work, brands’ consistent demand for new video content and the technological barrier to entry being more cost effective than ever, getting a job in editing is more doable than ever, so long as one is willing to network for it.
LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Marshall Street Editors’ Guy Savin, Final Cut managing director/editor David Webb, DEFINITION 6 senior editor John Gill, Uppercut Edit founder/editor Micah Scarpelli, Where The Buffalo Roam’s Jonathan Flookes, Modern Post’s Graham Patterson, Alkemy X’s Vincent Cordisco, and MCM Creative head of post Aubrey Hardwick, to learn more about how one might get started in the field.
Editor at Alkemy X
I never knew that I wanted to be an editor; it re-found me in college - which was a nice surprise. I discovered my path somewhat organically, but I think for others that really know what they want to do, there are several ways to go about it.
Today, so much of the education for becoming an editor can be done online for free, or relatively cheaply. You can join an editing house starting out, but freelancing also took a massive step forward during the pandemic. I think that it is here to stay, and it can be really appealing for companies who want to be able to hire someone who is not in their city. This is equally appealing for the people who once thought they needed to be in New York or Los Angeles, but now, no longer have to relocate. With that said, I personally always steered away from freelancing due to how intimidating it was to constantly be working on getting new projects booked. Nevertheless, the ability to book more work remotely has likely opened up way more opportunities to work from anywhere.
In the same vein, traditional career paths are also changing. Even just 10 or 15 years ago, an editor was purely an editor - working in Avid, Premiere, or Resolve. Now, having a motion graphics background or some ability in that arena is, in some ways, becoming synonymous with being an editor. While they used to be two separate roles, I now see them as interchangeable. I think you really need to have some motion graphics abilities because they are so incorporated in edits now. The way that styles have changed - you now see motion graphics in everything. After Effects knowledge is so deeply incorporated in an editing role now.
Because of everything in this industry being rooted in technology, everything also advances super quickly. It’s important to never be complacent, because there is always going to be someone younger than you that knows something you don’t about the newest version of Premiere, After Effects and DaVinci. Embrace changes. It’s important to know how to use the new tools and not be afraid of them.
What remains timeless, however, is the need for a near-OCD level of organisation. You’re constantly passing projects from editor to editor, and if you’re not extremely organised, everything takes longer and is made difficult for everyone else you’re collaborating with. It’s also essential to be meticulous about your file names and structure. I don’t know any good editor that is not organised - it’s a prerequisite for working efficiently.
In terms of where you can work from, I think if you are a true assistant editor and you are doing pre-cuts and syncing stuff, it can be fully done remotely. As you rise further, or if you are a motion/graphics editor or a senior editor, that might change, but for an assistant editor, it really depends on what the edit house is looking for. If it’s just working within the software, there is no reason why they can’t spread out to other cities. It doesn’t seem like remote work is going anywhere anytime soon.
Read more advice from Little Black Book.