Requirements & Career Prospects of a Film Editor

To be a successful film editor you must be able to visualize a story effectively, be technically savvy and be able to co-ordinate with directors and studio executives. Film editors work closely with sound editors and musical directors, as anything an editor does affects these two aspects of a film. Interpersonal skills and endurance are keys to success in the career.

There is no substitute for experience and hands-on opportunities. Working with production houses in any capacity is a way of acquiring that experience. Keep a track of all your production experience by starting and regularly updating a resume, which can be presented to prospective employers in order to gain more work opportunities and experience.

Film editing is one such field where your experience and expertise counts over and above your educational qualification. Of course, formal training in editing will broaden your perspective but it’s not mandatory. If you manage to stick to a reputed film editor with contacts in the industry it will be your best training ground.

Apart from enrolling with a top-rated film/video school seeing, analyzing and discussing films, reading books on filmcraft, observing film and video productions, visiting equipment rental houses and befriending camera assistants and attending professional exhibitions, seminars and workshops are all means of learning by living the craft.

For the post graduate course, the eligibility is a degree in any discipline. For a diploma course, the eligibility is a pass in HSC. Film Editing is also included in the graduate and postgraduate courses of Mass Communication, the eligibility for which is plus two and graduation respectively (in any subject stream). The final selection for most courses is based on an aptitude test.

The initial entry into this field is indeed tough. You might have to make innumerable trips from one studio to another. The best way to begin in this field is to start work as a technical or production assistant, watching directors in action, seeing how film editors work within the director’s vision, then learning the appropriate skills. You can also learn the ropes by working as an assistant to an experienced editor who has existing relationships with directors. While this is a popular route, you need to know that it might become difficult for you to disentangle yourself from an established and in-demand film editor.

Don’t expect to be doing a lot of independent editing right at the beginning. You will have to play the ‘wait and watch’ game. That’s not all. You would also be required to carry cans from one place to another and do all the odd jobs. If you sustain this period then you are really cut out to be an editor or an asst. editor. It might take you some years to rise high and become an editor. Patience and hard work pays.

Those who really want to become independent, self-supporting film editors take note: Four to ten years of on-the-job training before making enough connections, building up a significant body of work, and being able to start your own editing service is more than common. It’s the only way.

Film editors can also switch over to direction and sound editing. But more often it is the other way around. Those who leave film editing can enter animation companies, where editing is not an issue (because footage is created with the final script in mind and no excess footage or outtakes exist) but creative direction and editing the script with an understanding of how these pieces will seam together-is.

You can also work with music channels like Channel V and MTV and production houses.

The recent satellite and television boom has opened up a truly vast array of lucrative and varied career opportunities for any one interested. Just look at the number of music video being made these days. And of course there are advertisements, promos and not to forget full-length movies. These need editors to trim the rough footage. So the prospects in this field can be goldmine if you have the patience to stick around. It may be months or even years before you get the first break. But hold on to your dreams. You only need that one hit to establish yourself in this field. Then the big banners will come knocking on your doors. The industry is moving towards “non-linear” film editing technology such as digital processing. While editing jobs can be found throughout the country, most career opportunities for editors exist in the studios of Bollywood..

Most editor’s dream of becoming a director some day. When editors become directors they have an added advantage, that of cutting their own film. So when editors turn directors they become pretty successful, as the film doesn't lose the essence since it's cut and directed by the same person. That's precisely the reason why editor turned directors like David Dhawan and A. Muthu are where they are - up there. Editors will continue to enjoy strong demand for qualified professionals who produce quality service.