How to Become A Film Editor

The job of Film Editors, also sometimes referred to as “Picture Editors,” is to tell an engaging story using a collection of disjointed video footage. They take raw footage and add sound effects, music and dialogues to it. The end result is a seamless and cohesive story that captivates the audience.

If you are interested in becoming a Film Editor in America, then this piece will be useful for you. It provides useful information with regards to the education and skill requirements while also giving step-by-step guidance on how to get started in the field.

Should I Become a Film Editor?

Film Editors take a collection of footage shot during production and put it all together to create an exciting end product which tells a fascinating story. Apart from determining the cuts within each scene, they add sound effects and music while also color-correcting images. To do that, film editors need to have good command over different IT tools and some postsecondary education in the field. They must also have a passion for films and the visual arts.    

The following table gives valuable information about the skill and education requirements for becoming a Film Editor. Recent salary details and career outlook for the coming years is also included.

 

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication/Filmmaking/Cinematography (Diploma and Certificate programs are also available)

Major Requirement

Internships/Apprenticeships

License / Certification

Certification Available

 

Key Skills

Active Listening, Critical and Creative Thinking, Speaking, Oral and Written Comprehension, Time Management, Near Vision, Information Ordering, Communications and Media, Video Creation and Editing Software, Graphics and Photo Imaging Software, Music/Sound Editing Software, Webpage Creation and Editing Software.                                   

Annual Mean Wage (2019)

$87,300 (Film and Video Editors)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

11% (Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators)

 

     Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Film Editors

As per information gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators are expected to increase by 11% from 2018 to 2028. This projected rise is much higher than that expected for most other occupations. So, this is a good time to make a career as a film editor. 

The kind of opportunities available to you will also be dependent on your location. In 2019, California had 10,520 film editors working all over The Golden State. This was more than double the vacancies available in New York (4,330), the second top-employing state for film editors. California and New York were also the top-paying states for Film and Video Editors in 2019 with annual mean wages of $118,510 and $90,290 respectively.      

Steps to Become a Film Editor

To become a Film Editor in the US, you will have to take the following steps.

Step 1: Complete Your Undergraduate Degree

Becoming a film editor does not require any specific education. However, having a Bachelor’s degree with courses in Mass Communication, Filmmaking and Television Production can be beneficial. It provides vital knowledge about the field while also giving students a good grounding in editing and video production techniques.

Most aspiring film editors go for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a concentration in Film and Video Production, Mass Communication, or other related areas. During this 4-year degree, students are taught about acting, editing, screenwriting, post-production, cinematography, etc.

Step 2: Gain Production Experience

Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you can look for entry-level employment positions. These typically include roles like production assistant or assistant editor within a production or a post-production setting. In such a capacity, you will be responsible for obtaining ambient sound, logging footage and taking notes.

These entry-level positions will also be an opportunity to hone your craft by learning different editing skills such as combining camera angles, aligning film with soundtracks and creating special effects with the help of editing software.   

Step 3: Seek Out Film Editing Positions

As you gain more and more experience, you will be able to seek out higher level editing positions. Other than full-time roles with production houses and television studios, you may also look for freelance opportunities on the sets of independent films.

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