Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to become an Editor

Film editors are responsible for cutting and assembling the video and audio footage for film and television productions into a comprehensive, seamless whole. Becoming a film editor involves a long path of study, hours of internship, apprentice and volunteer work, the right connections, and above all, possessing a keen eye for style, pace, and timing. Most film editors spend years in different jobs until they finally get a break, so besides talent, skill, and hard work, you’ll need perseverance in order to find a position as a film editor. The following steps will teach you how to become a film editor.

A Typical edit suit

1. Study how movies are edited. Watch produced movies and analyze the timing and pacing of scenes; i.e. how long each scene lasts, how much action or tension there is during a scene, and how each scene fades seamlessly into the next, sometimes with visual or sound cues.

2. Edit as many short films as possible, and submit to film festivals.

3. Get a degree or certificate in film editing. Your coursework will include basic editing and commercial editing, film history, and storytelling and screenwriting. In addition, you will learn how to use photo and film editing software programs like Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, the Hollywood standard for film editing.

4. Volunteer your services as a film editor on student productions or any local productions you find. The more tangible experience you have, the better your chances of getting your foot in the door in the world of film editing.

5. Get a job in a film studio. You’re very unlikely to get a job in editing right away, so take any job that comes along, whether it’s as a tour guide on a studio lot, a personal assistant to somebody on a film crew, a secretary at the office, or a runner for a production.

6. Be polite to everybody you meet and promote yourself. Hand out business cards with links to your website and reel. Make it known that you’re looking as a job as a film editor. Building your network of connections this way can lead to unexpected chances, like becoming a film editor on a short that later wins an award at a festival. If you meet people who work in the editing room, ask if you may occasionally join them to observe and learn.

7. Build a significant body of work and have it listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Even shorts and low budget movies can get a listing on the site, so long as the productions were released. Potential employers will refer to it before hiring you.

8. Send out your resume, along with a reel of your best work, to studio executives, directors, and other film editors. This may help you land a job as an assistant editor on a production.


- Be patient. It can take years to break into the movie business. Remain actively involved in film editing by working on student films and low budget productions while maintaining your day job and still looking for your big break.

- Students can obtain film editing software at a special student price upon proof of enrollment in a film editing program.


If in Chennai, South India, my creative shop Sushma Multimedia, accepts apprentices and volunteers. We involve in several types of creative works, including film editing, and the complete post production pipeline. There are several such shops worldwide, but you will have to search for them.