Note 1: I will dedicate a future blog or two to job hunting and include advice from all the editors and assistants I interviewed.
My latest interviewee, assistant editor Rachelle Dang, clued me in a program that really helped her career: the A.C.E. internship program in LA for college grads. The editor who mentored her was Lori Jane Coleman. Now Lori has co-authored a book with A.C.E. editor Diana Friedberg, Make the Cut: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Assistant Editor in Film and TV.
Note 2: All italicized sentences are quotes from the book.
The assistant editor is the heart of the cutting room…
This 230 page guide book contains the gospel from Hollywood. If you want a Hollywood career, take heed. If you work in editorial outside of Hollywood, let me know how this differs or parallels your experience and what your advice would be.
Like Gaul (for those who, like me, took Latin and read Caesar’s The Gallic War), the book is divided into three parts. Here’s a synopsis:
Part 1 – Getting Started (titled just like my book!), has nine chapters. The first chapter details how to prep for the interview and the job. The rest address the specific duties of the AE such as supplies to acquire, inputting dailies, best strategies for organizing Avid or FCP bins for drama, documentary, and reality shows, workflows, and the stages of post (dailies, online, etc.)
Part 2 – Protocol, with three chapters, goes over editing room etiquette, the Hollywood pecking order, and surviving cutting room politics.
Being an assistant has its heartaches and rewards. There are long hours, social politics to navigate, career decisions to be made, and jobs to be won or lost.
Part 3 – Make the Cut, composed of three chapters, tells you how to shine (always bolded) as you advance and lists containing job websites. It also advises you on how to advance from freebie to paying non-union jobs to union work and provides a couple of tables. One table shows the pay scale and years to expect to wait for advancement according to the genre trail you choose to follow: feature, TV, doc, and reality. Another table provides a budget for how to invest each week’s [union] pay including saving for those times you’ll be unemployed. Part 3 and the book finish with a chapter consisting of a panel discussion of editors who relate their views on assisting and their career trajectories.
My main negative with the book is the pronoun referring to the editor being he, never she. The time for limiting editors – or any profession – to males – in writing or hiring – is long past. Use your words and hiring practices to include everyone. It’s reality and the fair, right thing to do.
Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process, Television