Film Editor Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Film Editor, or Video Editor, is responsible for turning uncut footage from a film shoot into a finished, cohesive final project. Their duties include studying film scripts and using them to guide scene development, determining which camera angles to use and coordinating sound and visual effects in post-production.

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Film Editor Duties and Responsibilities

A Film Editor has a variety of duties and responsibilities, including:

  • A Film Editor has the responsibility of piecing together a vision based on the Director’s interpretation of the script. They will meet with the Director, often going on location to experience the story as it is recorded on film from the Director’s point of view.
  • Piece together a comprehensive story from a variety of locations and angles. Edit frame by frame as needed, to support the dialogue and complete the film.
  • Communicate with appropriate people regarding status of editing, the goal and vision for the film, working closely with Assistant Editors and Editors to prepare and revise footage and effects.
  • Work within the timeline established by directors and producers in order to turn the film around on deadline with initial, uncut version and with revisions.

What Does a Film Editor Do?

Film Editors work as part of the post-production team at a video and film production company to carry out a director’s vision for how each shot in a movie should be put together. They use storyboards to trim video clips to the appropriate length and arrange them in the correct order to tell a logical and compelling story. Film Editors use software and digital tools to create transitions between different camera angles. They determine the appropriate sequence for different shots and add sound effects and musical scores to evoke different emotions in the viewer.

Film Editor Skills and Qualifications

A successful Film Editor candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed for their duties.

  • Strong attention to detail: The main focus of the Film Editor is to notice every detail about the movie and how it contributes to the story. Something as simple as a misplaced coffee cup in a period piece can destroy the integrity and authenticity of the piece so it’s imperative that the Film Editor has a keen eye and is able to spot even the slightest misplacement.
  • Advanced communication skills: Communicating constructively is important for the Film Editor role. Working with fellow creatives can often be difficult as the art being created is a work of passion and love. Being able to express the goal, keeping in mind the emotional response and potential pushback, while encouraging revisions and adjustments is a skill necessary in this position.
  • Aware and respectful of deadlines: A film house or Producer may have a set timeline for the final cut of the film. The Film Editor must be aware of this deadline and work with this date in mind. They must edit all music and effects, as well as perform all revisions needed within the allotted period, with little to no allowable delay.

Film Editor Salary Expectations

The data is not available for the average salary of a Film Editor. However, salary will vary greatly upon experience and the specific project the Editor is working on.

Film Editor Education and Training Requirements

While there are no specific educational requirements to become a Film Editor, a bachelor’s degree in film, broadcasting or another related field could be helpful.

Film Editor Experience Requirements

A portfolio of work will be requested when applying as a Film Editor. This can be comprised of previous work as a Film Editor, internships you have completed, or apprenticeships where you may have worked closely with another Editor.

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Frequently asked questions about Film Editors

 

What is the difference between a Film Editor and a Videographer?

Videographers are in charge of capturing specific shots on set, while Film Editors piece together those shots after filming. Both Videographers and Film Editors use a director’s instruction and storyboard to guide their work, but Videographers work on getting all of the essential visuals for a Film Editor to use and turn a still storyboard into a complete film. Videographers actively work with actors and a film crew to get appropriate framing and movement, while Film Editors rearrange different filming perspectives to achieve a dynamic scene.

 

What are the characteristics of a good Film Editor?

Good Film Editors are organized, creative and meticulous when arranging raw footage and deciding how to piece it together. They use artistry to decide which effects to use and the appropriate timing for different key plot events. Because their role is to bring a director’s vision to life, good Film Editors must be able to follow clear instructions and accept feedback. Successful Film Editors are extremely patient and may have to produce multiple versions of the same film for the production team to review. They pay attention to small details to create seamless transitions and create a movie frame-by-frame.

 

What are the daily duties of a Film Editor?

Film Editors often work independently in a film studio, meticulously organizing and studying the footage provided to them. They spend time in projection rooms and film labs to see how their editing looks in different formats and make the appropriate adjustments. Film Editors examine tapes for possible errors and break them into useable segments. They regularly create backup copies to preserve their work as they use different types of linear editing software to make all necessary changes. At the end of the production process, they work with audio engineers to improve sound quality and create consistent volume control.

 

What should you look for on a Film Editor's resume?

A Film Editor’s resume should emphasize their portfolio of past editing experience and they types of software and editing tools they are familiar with. When hiring a Film Editor, look for candidates who have worked independently and as part of a team to ensure that they can handle the collaborative aspects of film editing and be able to self-manage during long hours ediitng in the studio.

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