job searching for video editors?
October 3, 2005 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm an assistant video editor (for broadcast, mostly.) in the nyc area, and I've recently been laid off. non-union, non-guild. any suggestions for job searching resources for my position/location?
posted by shmegegge to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Film in the City.

Are you interested in joining the union or do you want to stay non-union? To join the union you may have to backtrack a bit (perhaps starting at the apprentice level), but if you're interested, email me (in profile) and I'll pass your name around... I was a union assistant up till 2 years ago and all my friends work in editing on movies, so I sometimes get leads on apprentice and second-assistant gigs.
posted by xo at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2005

craigslist as well.
posted by filmgeek at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2005


did you guys who are in the industry start out in film school or are you largely self-taught? Do employers look for a particular degree or just look for particular skills and at a portfolio/reel?

How is editing as a day-to-day job? Does it pay? Do you get sick of it? Is it, as everything ends up being, much less glamorous than it seems?

posted by fishfucker at 1:05 PM on October 3, 2005

Response by poster: fishfucker: I did not go to film school. I took courses on digital non-linear editing, as well as motion graphics, graphic design and 3d work while persuing my bachelor's in lit. I am currently in the industry because friends who knew I knew the tech and could learn the craft brought me in. I, personally, haven't got paid much, yet, but I know people who do. I have no idea what employers find most important. I imagine that it varies from employer to employer. I get the impression that a great reel is the best thing you can have, though. And editing as a day to day job is as good as the work you're doing. That's to say, if you can work in such a way to satisfy yourself creatively, then it's great. Some jobs are easier to do this in than others. It depends on your work ethic and, to a lesser degree, on the work you're given to do.
posted by shmegegge at 1:59 PM on October 3, 2005

Thanks shmegegge! good luck with the job hunt!
posted by fishfucker at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2005

As mentioned above, and craigslist both tend to have listings in your category. Media Bistro used to have great listings. I don't really know what they're like now, though.

You can also look up listings for post houses and production companies (and cable and broadcast networks) , and start looking for their web sites to see if they're hiring. It's a pain in the ass, but it can work-- and New York is chock full of production, as you no doubt know.

For what it's worth, the first production job I got in NYC I found through the Tech List at the Mayor's Office of Film Theater and Broadcasting. The Tech List appears to have changed its name to "Reel Jobs" and become less useful, unfortunately.

Every job I got after that was through contacts. Your best bet is to ask around other people you know in production and find out if they know anyone who's looking for assistant editors.


I'm a production manager who studied religion in college, so, no, film school is far from necessary. In fact, in some cases, it can occasionally work to your detriment when you're starting out. I know some people who won't hire people fresh out of [certain unnamed high-profile NYC-based film school] because they come in with too much of an attitude of entitlement. A sort of a "Why am I a Production Assistant when I should be directing?" sort of attitude that NOBODY wants on their set. (Although film school certainly can be a place to make valuable contacts...)

That said, it depends on what you do, although as someone who has frequently hired technical and artistic crew types, I will tell you that a good reel, good list of credits, and good recommendations (preferably from someone I know) beats a good education EVERY SINGLE TIME.
posted by dersins at 2:25 PM on October 3, 2005

I anticipate this thread being of some value to me in the near future. Thanks.
posted by brownpau at 3:01 PM on October 3, 2005

I'm a CG artist working on feature-length animated films. I started out as a production assistant, with no prior CG experience, and learned the software on my own time. Eventually they gave me an entry-level artist position and I've been working ever since so all my training was OTJ.

In our industry a strong demo reel / previous experience counts more than where you went to school, much like dersins said above.
posted by shino-boy at 4:36 PM on October 3, 2005

did you guys who are in the industry start out in film school or are you largely self-taught? Do employers look for a particular degree or just look for particular skills and at a portfolio/reel?

How is editing as a day-to-day job? Does it pay? Do you get sick of it? Is it, as everything ends up being, much less glamorous than it seems?

I didn't go to film school. I took a couple of film production classes as an undergrad, and those did help my understanding of some processes, but didn't give me any edge over anyone else when it came to jobs. I did an internship at a cable network after I got my BA, and was hired for a job there at the end of that experience. While in that job I took night classes in editing at NYU. I left the cable network and did an internship at a post-production facility and then in the edit rooms of two films. The people I met at those experiences were enough word-of-mouth to get me started as a freelance assistant editor.

[If you're heading to college anyhow, there's no reason not to major in film, but since it's a difficult industry that requires living in an expensive city, be careful about your debt load.]

For editing, while you are an assistant you can just list on your resume which pieces of software or editing systems you are familiar with, and a list of credits for what shows/projects you've worked on (including student productions, for those just out of college). I've only had to show a reel when I was interviewing to be the editor. Graphics people always have reels.

As for how it is as a day-to-day job, it can really vary. On films, you are working long hours, tons of overtime, tight deadlines, producers that want you to save them money by working faster, directors that vary from brilliant to insane. Ultimately, you are helping gestate and deliver someone's baby, so you will never be as important as the film is. Female film editors tend not to have children. Male film editors tend not to see theirs. But you get to hang out with the actors and directors, and shape what could be an amazing contribution to Western culture as a whole. (Or you could spend an entire year working on a movie that gets 5.2 stars out of 10 on IMDB.)

Many tv shows have the same problem with hours and stress, with the addition of lower pay and less glamor. On the other hand, editing for a company rather than for a specific creative product can be a good life. Regular hours, decent pay, seeing your work on the Discovery Channel or in a toothpaste commercial or in an animated feature, and having a life outside of work can be compelling indeed.

For me, editing wasn't enough of a creative outlet -- too many hours were spent pleasing someone else or helping them to express something I didn't think was worth expressing. So though I had fun and great lunches and met celebrities, all day long I'd be thinking about what I wanted to do when I got home. And then they'd ask me to work all weekend.
posted by xo at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2005

I'm a video editor in TV news and I really enjoy it. My attention span probably isn't long enough for feature-length work (a big project at my shop is one that takes a week), but for what I do, it's pretty good. I view it as storytelling and some creative problem-solving, all on a deadline.

I have a degree in TV/Radio with a concentration in video production, but that just got me in the door at my employer. I'd been editing since high school, but most of my actual experience in news editing, learning our style, et cetera, came on the job after working my way up from entry-level PA-type positions.

I don't do the hiring, but I'm pretty sure that when we hire people, it's on the basis of: do they know how to use our editing software package? (Or: can they learn?) What's their proficiency at other things, like effects plugins? Do they have a strong editorial sense -- do they know how news works, have good news judgment, et cetera? And I would definitely assume they want to see a reel, preferably with some news pieces on it so they could judge things like pacing and flow.

Feel free to e-mail any questions, by the way.

And shmegegge, check your e-mail.
posted by Vidiot at 9:54 PM on October 4, 2005

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