- Personality type:
- Working closely with the Director to craft the finished film
- Working in an edit suite for long hours
- Running a team of assistants and trainees on big productions
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- Have technical aptitude
- Have wide experience of the post production process
- Be familiar with a variety of computer editing equipment
- Understand dramatic storytelling to create rhythm, pace and tension
- Be creative under pressure
- Have imagination and an understanding of narrative
- Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Have highly developed aesthetic visual awareness
- Be able to lead a team
- Have patience and attention to detail
- Have good organisational skills
- Understand the requirements of relevant health and safety laws and procedures
What does a Film Editor do?
Editors are one of the key Heads of Department on feature films, responsible for First Assistant Editors, and on bigger productions, Second Assistants and Trainees.
The Editor works closely with the Director, crafting the daily rushes into a coherent whole. To ensure that the story flows effortlessly from beginning to end, each shot is carefully chosen and edited into a series of scenes, which are in turn assembled to create the finished film.
Editors work long, unsociable hours, often under pressure, in an edit suite. They are employed on a freelance basis by the Producer (sometimes with the approval of the film's financiers), based on their reputation and experience. Editors often work on television drama, as well as on feature films.
The Editor works closely with the Director before shooting begins, deciding how to maximise the potential of the screenplay. Editors check the technical standards, as well as the emerging sense of story, and the actors' performances.
Because scenes are shot and edited out of sequence, Editors may work on scenes from the end of the film before those at the beginning, and must therefore be able to maintain a good sense of how the story is unfolding.
Editors select the best takes and edit them together to create scenes. In some cases, an improvised line or an actor's interpretation of their role may create some on-screen magic that can be developed into a new and exciting scene.
During the post production period, the Editor and the Director work closely together, refining the assembly edit into the Director's Cut, which must be approved by the Producers, until they achieve picture lock or Fine Cut (when the Director and/or Executive Producer give final approval of the picture edit).
Editors usually work in a supervisory role during the subsequent music and track laying, and sound mix.
Will I need a qualification?
You don’t need a specific qualification. But if you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film.
What's the best route in?
Traditionally, you could go from being a Runner to a Trainee, Second Assistant, First Assistant and eventually to become an Editor. However, with digital editing, 2nd Assistants are now only employed on very big budget films.
As a Trainee with at least two years' experience you would have to work as an Assistant in television or on low budget films for a considerable period of time before becoming First Assistant on feature films. Some big budget productions take on Trainees and Second Assistants, and it is important to keep up to date with films in pre-production by reading the trade press.
If you can work with an Editor as an Assistant, you may be allowed to carry out the assembly edit of some sections of the film. If you can become an experienced Assistant, you may also work as an Editor on short films, which will enable you to showcase your talents.
Interested? Find out more…
- BKSTS - The Moving Image Society - organises events, courses, and new equipment demos, and publishes: Cinema Technology, and Image Technology;
- BECTU - the trade union represents Editing & Post Production personnel;
- Shooting People - a forum on filmmaking
- Editing and Post-production (Screencraft series published by Focal Press) by Declan McGrath;
- In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective of Film Editing (Silverman-James Press) by Walter Murch
- The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Film editing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)
- Screen Daily - online industry news service and weekly publication, Screen International
- Variety - a weekly publication for the film, television, music and interactive entertainment industries
- American Cinematographer