Film editor

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Jack Jones is staff editor for a Newcastle-based post production company. He polishes up the initial footage into a presentable package fit to be shown to the public.

Can you describe your role?

After companies finish filming they come to my company to have the material edited into the final programme. I 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, I could be supplied with five hours of footage to edit into a 30-minute film.

What does your job involve?

Editing is all done on computer-based systems. The footage comes to me in the form of tapes which are digitised on the computer at a low resolution (or quality). The director and I watch the scenes and select which ones to use and in which order. We assemble those scenes and keep making changes until we are satisfied.

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

What happens next?

When the director and I are happy with the film, the footage is re-recorded into the computer, incorporating all of our 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 do you work with?

The company has five permanent members of staff. I work alongside a sales manager, a senior editor, a technical assistant, and a receptionist/administrator. I may also work with clients' representatives who watch what is going on and make comments and suggestions.

What hours do you work?

I work Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. However, I often have to work weekends and late nights to meet deadlines.

What qualities do you need to do be a film editor?

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.

What do you like most about your work?

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

Is there anything you don't like?

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.

Jack's 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.

Jack's tip

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

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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.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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