Without film/video editors, movies would last for days, television shows would be completely incoherent, and music videos would look like they were filmed in your parents’ garage. You can’t just take the raw footage from a film shoot, mash it all together and then release it upon the world. Indeed, skilled and experienced film/video editors are required during every single post-production process.
Film/video editors use state-of-the-art video editing software, such as Avid Symphony and Montage Extreme, to transform the ingredients of a film (i.e. the sound effects, the CGI, the dialogue and the action) into a refined, tasty treat that the target audience can devour on the silver screen, the internet or the ‘idiot box’.
Editors typically work alongside the director in an editing suite or studio. They amass all of the recorded material (including sound files and daily rushes), organise it, store it digitally and then arrange it, cutting parts and restructuring scenes until a ‘rough cut’ can be put together.
Once the right shots have been sequenced and the sound effects and dialogue have been overdubbed properly, an editor’s job involves putting the finishing touches to everything. This process might involve enriching colours or adding in special effects and stylistic flourishes.
Furthermore, film/video editors might work alongside music supervisors, choosing background music for certain scenes to enhance their dramatic effect.
Salary & benefits
Film/video editors in the early stages of their careers can earn between £19,000 and £26,000 per annum, while those with more experience can earn up to £37,000.
Senior editors working on high-profile projects can earn up to £75,000 per annum.
Most film/video editors work on a freelance basis. Consequently, wages are completely dependent on one’s ability to find regular work.
As a film/video editor, your working hours will be fairly flexible, especially if you’re a freelancer.
From time to time, you might simply be required to work from nine-to-five. However, at other times, you may work in the evenings or at the weekend, especially when project deadlines are looming.
Although a degree is not strictly necessary for entry into this line of work, completing an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as creative media production, media studies, broadcast journalism, fine art, computer science, software engineering, animation, photography, film studies or graphic design, might increase your chances of securing an entry-level position.
Gaining relevant work experience is essential. Many people get their break as a film/video editor after working in another role in the industry, such as runner or production assistant.
Getting involved with a student filmmaking society or starting your own film company at university can be a great way of getting hands-on experience and putting together an impressive show reel.
To stand a chance of breaking into such a competitive line of work, you will need evidence that demonstrates your ability to use the right software. Indeed, you won’t get far without proving that you have experience of packages such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Symphony or Montage Extreme.
Training & progression
The majority of your training will be done whilst on the job under the supervision of a senior editor. It’s essential that you keep up-to-date with all the latest industry developments and advances in technology. Therefore, you may also be given the opportunity to attend training sessions run by external organisations, such as BECTU.
Once you’ve taken your first tentative steps into the world of film and video editing as an assistant editor, you will progress into a fully-fledged film/video editor role. If you work in-house for a large media organisation, there may even be scope for progressing into a senior editor position.
Otherwise, most people explore freelance opportunities or move into other areas of the film industry, such as directing, production or script reading and script editing.