GETTING YOUR FIRST JOB IN POST-PRODUCTION
Getting started in the post-production industry is difficult. There isn't always a clear path to build your career and it's hard to track your progress. It takes several jobs to find your best fit. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Show up and do the work. Be open-minded. What you think you want to be in the post industry may change throughout your journey and that is okay. Joining and volunteering with a community of post professionals like the Blue Collar Post Collective can help you on this journey. You can also read more tips in my interview done by Kylee Peña of the Creative Cow Post Industry Blog.
See the other links at the bottom of this document for inspiration and resources to hone your skills. Below are some additional tips I learned along the way and I hope they will help you navigate the vast opportunities that this industry has to offer.
Look for jobs to get you in the editing room:
• Editorial Intern/Edit Room Assistant
• Post Production Assistant
• Post Coordinator
• 2nd Assistant Editor
• Overnight Assistant Editor
Skills to practice that will make you super valuable to the team:
• Transcription (this is VITAL to the edit)
• Knowing the good lunch places and having menus! (Lunch is the best part of the day)
• Taking notes when someone explains technical workflows
• Creating trackers and edit continuities (Trackers document Graphics, Archival, & Visual Effects. A continuity is an industry term for a sheet that notes the edit of scenes as they evolve throughout the editing phases. The executives refer to this document when they discuss making changes so do a good job. Ask the AE of your project to explain more.)
• Bringing positivity to the editing room especially when things are stressful
• Listening and meeting the needs of the team. Often when a director or editor asks for your feedback they are asking for how the edit made you feel, not how you would have told their story differently. Learn how to give constructive feedback.
• Learn how to create temp graphics, titles, and VFX (i.e. Avid, Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop)
• Learn how to pull the highest-quality media elements from the internet and how to search databases
Personal goals for your first job in post-production:
• Understand the post workflow from dailies to delivery (i.e. stages of an edit)
• Learn how/when to be in the room with the boss
• Understand that you will not learn everything you need from one job and that is okay
• Try MANY post jobs and learn your niche, what do you REALLY enjoy doing?
• At the end of your job, document what you feel you did well and areas you want to improve for the next job. This will help you track your professional growth.
ASSISTANT EDITOR IN POST PRODUCTION
What the Assistant Editor does:
A good assistant editor handles the technical side of the edit so that the editor, director, and producers can focus on the creative stuff. Your role is to keep the edit moving smoothly from start to finish. This means processing media as it comes in, keeping it organized and tracked, and finally delivering the media to be polished in the finishing phase.
Tasks may include:
• Organizing and grouping footage
• Marking selects while watching dailies (learning the footage)
• Making string outs of moments or scenes
• Gathering elements (i.e. sound effects, social media posts, archival materials, music)
• Exporting cuts and uploading for executives
• Backing up elements and projects throughout the edit
• Tracking elements throughout the editing phases to facilitate smooth delivery to the finishing phase. (i.e. Archival, Graphics/Titles, Visual Effects)
• After the edit is finished, delivering the edit to visual effects, color, and sound for finishing.
Why would you want to be an AE?
1. You learn the industry in ways they can't teach in film school
2. You see how experienced editors build their stories
3. You watch a story adapt into several shapes before it’s released
4. You learn to work efficiently and troubleshoot by yourself
5. You learn how to edit all sorts of content which can be applied to many kinds of jobs
6. You hone your skills while you develop your personal style (and get paid)
Some tips for being a good AE:
• At the start of a project you should have a conversation with the dailies technician who processes the footage and find out how the project will be finishing. (4k, 1080p, Podcast)
• Have a meeting with your editor before you set up the project and find out their preferences.
• These early conversations will inform the way you set up and organize your project.
• Take notes throughout the job so you can reference them on future jobs for troubleshooting
• Every job is different, adapt your workflow to best meet the needs of your team
• Be kind and helpful to everyone on the team. From the intern to the director, we are all needed to tell a meaningful story
• MOST IMPORTANTLY Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Everyone has deadlines to meet and as the person in the middle, it can be hard to keep everyone happy. Set realistic expectations and boundaries when needed.
Additional Resources for Inspiration and Honing Your Skills: