8 Editing Rules Every Filmmaker Should Know

Barcode Films by Jake Oelman

Since I moved to Los Angeles over 10 years ago I’ve worn a lot of hats. Extra, PA, writer, camera operator, DIT, producer, director, and of course editor. FCP had just come out when I moved here and I bought version 1.0. I spent two days screaming at the computer and at one point was close to ripping the monitor out of the wall. Since those early days I have dipped my toes in many different project waters. I’ve cut reels, music videos, promos, behind the scenes, commercials, live events, corporate videos, documentaries, and narratives. Given my past editorial experience I offer up 8 rules to make your career as an editor a more fruitful and enjoyable one. In no way do I regard myself as an expert craftsman and directing is still where I feel like my filmmaking shines but these days the two things often go hand in hand and what I present here is a friendly tip of the hat, if you will to all my fellow filmmakers and editors.

Don’t Edit What You Won’t Watch
This should be self explanatory but often times we fall into jobs that we do merely for the money and this is a slippery slope. Nothing will help you reach burn out factor faster than cutting material you loath. Whether it’s a reality show with moronic shouting matches, infomercials selling the latest ass shamey, or soft core porno with balloon lipped actors, if you hate the material you will eventually hate editing. 95% of the people I’ve known who started out working on stuff they hated just to get their feet wet left the entertainment industry in a hurry.

Know The Trends But Don’t Chase Them
The editing landscape is changing all the time. Do you cut on Final Cut or AVID? Motion or After Effects? Is Premiere the way to go or is FCPX actually onto something? These are all important things to know and be aware of but also know what works for you and your client base. Computers and software take time to learn and cost a lot of money and if staying on the cutting edge of technology is where your business lies then you will need to keep up. If however you work for clients that require content that just needs to be cranked out on a regular basis and you have a system that you know and can churn and burn as they say then don’t be so concerned with constantly updating your system. The danger with staying with something for too long however is that if you are all of sudden presented with a great opportunity and you can’t wrap your head around the technicals you may miss the boat. read more...

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