Saturday, February 6, 2010

5 tips young editors should know.

Starting a career in post? already in post? good. Here are 5 things I learned, practically. I'm still learning.

1. Drop the book. Hit the edit room.

Walter Murch is god among us, but he can’t tell you how to cut. No matter how many times I read his book, I didn’t have The Godfather or The English Patient to Edit. Better yet, none of us can cut like he does. No one cuts alike, right? That’s because post is a singular field, where emulation is not as valid as in film directing.

FWI: Start cutting, master the tools of storytelling-and gain experience. Orson Welles once said that in editing is where the true art of making pictures comes true, and you control it. (hahaha)

2. Three D’s. Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines.

90% of your job is a race against time, how you adjust requires organization. Once you’ve done this enough times, you’ll get good at it. Save time by getting all the specifics of your task before pressing return.

That means consulting with your client, director, cousin, whoever.

Knowing what you can / cannot accomplish in given time is what leverage is, otherwise you’ll be treated like a puppet in this world of emerging deadlines. And you’ll never sleep.

3. I know Final Cut Pro. I know After Effects. I know everything.

Guess what? pick two skills and get really good at it. Time and again I encounter the portfolios of everything in the kitchen, while no set sticks out distinctively. It is true that a lot more is demanded out of us these days when software facilitates use, just remember that if you’re doing grading, graphics and photoshop, expect to be paid for each skill you’re offering.

It’s impossible to be equally good at five jobs, pick two skills and market those well. And just because you know the software don’t make you an editor. (cracks knuckles).

4. Do the first edit yourself, listen to your client. Whichever comes first.

Are you uncomfortable having a director (or client) breathing on your back without a breath mint? nitpicking all your decisions? this is what I do: get the details right, and lay your cards on the table.

Once they trust you, chances are they respect you. I am not grateful for every job I get, because the dollar to hour ratio don’t match. So guess what? have conditions. You’re not a machine although in New York they expect you to have infra red capabilities and work miracles overnight.

The client is always right, even when they’re wrong. Getting paid for the assignment? then get inside their brain just like the footage you’re about to edit. Push on their weaknesses (directors sometimes don’t know what to do) and always, always pretend like you know what you’re doing even when you don’t.

Rough patch? fight for your right. If you feel strongly about something chances are you’re right.

The job tells you how to do it. Trust you.

5. Last but not least. Learn how to edit.

Final Cut Pro has made a lot of editors, and has also made a lot of amateurs into editors. Where you fall is up to you. One thing I agree with is that Editing is more than just a technical means, learning the art form is what you bring from your life using technical means, married to tell a story. How effective you are doing it is what will keep you employed, and hopefully keep you apart from the next person.

I know nothing, just what I can tell.


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