Home > Jobs > Getting work: Job tips from editors and others
Part 3 of an ongoing series.

Getting work: Job tips from editors and others
Part 3 of an ongoing series.

July 12th, 2011

The last post in this series talks about getting that first job and all that follow. It again intersperses tips and advice from editors that I interviewed.

First job

Don’t give up. Be open minded. Realize that it’s harder to find work than to do the work.

Barry Cohen, online editor

You’re afraid you’ll never get started but there are actually some advantages to your position. You are no threat to anyone — you don’t know enough to compete. This means that people will try to help you. People feel good helping someone get a job. And someday you’ll pay it forward yourself.

The flip side is that you can be taken advantage of. Many of us have had that job from Hades, mostly because in our eagerness and need to succeed we let someone push us around. I hope this doesn’t happen to you. If you do find yourself in a bad situation, evaluate if it’s worth staying. If it isn’t, get out as gracefully and wholly intact as possible. Chances are they probably already have a bad rep and leaving won’t hurt you. If you do decide to stay, focus on something positive: the credit on your resume, future contacts, skills learned, getting in the union, or the paycheck.

Places to contact

These are places you should be tracking down:

  • Corporations with in-house production and postproduction departments
  • Government film agencies
  • Networks
  • Post houses
  • Production companies (independent, large and small)
  • Special effects and title houses
  • Studios

Type of jobs to start with

If you get a job as an apprentice or assistant editor, volunteer to cut anything: scenes, promo, gag reel, teaser, bumper, the director’s wedding video, etc. It will not only give you knowledge and confidence but it may be worthy of putting on your reel and resume as examples of things you’ve edited. (If your work is not used in the show, do not pretend it was.)

Since digital systems allow infinite versions, play away and practice cutting to your heart’s content. Show your work to other assistants, to the editor, to anyone who will give you good feedback. And who knows, you may get to cut part of the show or a director or producer will take a shine to you and hire you for another project. I’ve seen it happen. At the very least, you’ll improve your editing skills and system knowledge.

Type of project to start on

I took every single job I could find. I probably edited 50-60 reels of film hair stylists. I would do anything.

Dean Gonzalez, music video editor

Anything. Just get hired. There are so many types of editing projects: animation, awards shows, commercials, corporate films, documentaries, educational films, features, government films, infomercials, IMAX movies, music concert shows, music videos, promos, PSAs, trailers, and training films. Not to mention television and its many types of programming: cartoons, game shows, MOWs, news, reality shows, series, sitcoms, soaps, and talk shows. Working at post house, audio or VFX facility or other company that serves postproduction is also a good way to get experience.

Whatever you get hired on, remember: It’s editing, it’s experience, and it will help you wherever you end up. You never know when having worked on a music video, commercial, or documentary may land you the job on a new drama because the director wants a slick commercial, documentary, or music video feel. Conversely, your dramatic experience may get you that docu-drama job because the producers want someone with drama experience. Job by job you will build experience and a life in editing.

Let Joy know how it goes for you. And best of luck!


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