A Day in the Life

Film Editor

What you do: The range of the job?

The role After companies finish filming they come to a post production company to have the material edited into the final programme.

You might work on a variety of projects including corporate videos, TV adverts and programmes, and short or feature length films.

Why do films need editing? The production company produces many hours of footage containing different versions of scenes. The editor (usually working with the director of the film) picks the best versions and assembles them into an understandable order. Editing also involves removing some scenes to cut the film down to the required running length. For example, you could be supplied with five hours of footage to edit into a 30-minute film.

What does the job involve? Editing is all done on computer-based systems. The footage comes in the form of tapes which are digitised on the computer at a low resolution (or quality). The director and editor watch the scenes and select which ones to use and in which order. They assemble those scenes and keep making changes until they are satisfied.

The process is a bit like cutting and pasting paragraphs in a word processor document.

What happens next? When the director and editor are happy with the film, the footage is re-recorded into the computer, incorporating all of their changes. At this stage, the film's colour can be improved using computer software and titles can be created and edited. An audio engineer works on the sound, usually in another studio. The final version of film is then recorded from the computer onto tape.

Who else might you work with? You may work with a range of staff including a sales manager, a senior editor, a technical assistant, and a receptionist/administrator. You may also work with clients' representatives who watch what is going on and make comments and suggestions.

What hours might you work? Expect at the least to work Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. However, you might often have to work weekends and late nights to meet deadlines.

Qualities: What you need to be able to do the job?

Because of the long hours and tight deadlines you need to work well under pressure. To make a film work you also need to have a good feel for pace and understand how to tell a good story, get a message across and keep the viewer's interest. Editing is done on computer, so IT skills are important.

Aspects of the job It is good to get the chance to be creative at work. Although it can be difficult at times, you can enjoy the process of creating a film from the material supplied by the production company. You might spend days, weeks, or even months crafting a film, so it's very satisfying to complete a project and to watch the final version.

It can be stressful at times, as there can be pressure to meet deadlines, which are sometimes extremely tight. However, this is part of the job and you do get used to it.

Tip A good knowledge of film history and theory will help you to understand what works well and why.

Career path: How you start and where you can go with it?

Steps to becoming a film editor; BTEC National Diploma in Media. BTEC Higher National Diploma in Media Production. BA in Media Production. Three month training scheme with his present employer. Offered a full-time job.

Film editor related jobs; Photographic technician TV/film camera operator TV/film director TV/film runner VT operator

Salary of a film editor Salaries for assistant editors start at around ?11,500. Fully-trained editors start between ?18,000 and ?25,000. With more experience you could earn from ?30,000 to ?60,000.

Getting in FT2, Cyfle (Wales), Scottish Screen and some of Skillset's regional training partners run industry training schemes for new entrants. Skillset offers professional qualifications in editing at Levels 2, 3 and 4. There are a few degree courses which offer in-depth training in editing, but there are some MA courses, for example, at the National Film and TV School.

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