Is Feature Film Post Production The Right Job For You?
Let’s be honest, it takes a special sort of person to make it in feature film post-production. Not many of us get into this game looking for fame, fortune, or glamour. The reality of life behind the scenes is that being an editor is a tough, demanding, but ultimately incredibly rewarding job.
Long hours at unsociable times, days spent in a dark room, getting up close and personal with a computer – if this sounds like your ideal working conditions, you’re probably already working in post-production. If you’re thinking about what it might be like to work in post-production, read on to figure out if this is the right gig for you.
You get on well with tech
Early studio assistant editors in training.
This is the biggy and it’s numero uno for a reason – if you want to get ahead in post-production, you HAVE to get on well with technology and that is the long and the short of it. There’s no way around it, this game is all about the tech. If computers explode when you walk into the room, or you don’t really understand what control-alt-delete actually does, then start walking, post-production is not for you. Codecs, chroma key filters, drop frame timecode, and green screen compositing might just sound like terms from another language but if you decide on a career in post-production, this will become the language you eat, sleep, and breathe – and it’s all to do with tech.
“Fundamentally, editing is all about putting a film together in the right order – the art, beauty, and techniques involved in that compilation are the gifts bestowed upon it by the editor. ”
Tell me a story…
You know how to construct a story
The best bit of working in post-production for many of us is that you are the one who gets to tease out the story of the film. Editing is really about telling stories and knowing how to reveal what, when, and how. With all the will in the world, even if you have been gifted the most beautifully shot and composed rushes in all of cinematic history, if you can’t figure out the order in which to put them, there just won’t be a film at all. Fundamentally, editing is all about putting a film together in the right order – the art, beauty, and techniques involved in that compilation are the gifts bestowed upon it by the editor. Known as the ‘invisible art’, if you want to know more about it, just ask Mr. Kuleshov or Mr. Hitchcock, they might have a word or two of wisdom to share with you.
You’re okay with whacky working hours
Working in the film and television industry at any level is not for the faint of heart. Best illustrated by periods of intense and all-consuming working hours followed by fallow periods of being out of work, if you need a specific schedule or guaranteed income every month, then this industry could be tricky for you.
Working in post-production is intense. Long periods of being shut in a tiny room with perhaps only one other person, and working to a tight deadline really only sounds good to a select few hardy individuals. If you need to do the school run or have people counting on you at very specific times of the day, you may well be taking on more than you can chew by working in post. There are always the lucky few that manage to land a long-running television job and that can be a good way to combine family life with working in post-production but it’s good to know that opportunities like these are few and far between.
You can handle finicky work
If you know you can spend hours working on one cut between two minor shots, then congratulations, you might just have what it takes! Editing is a laborious process and it definitively isn’t suited to everyone. At some stage in the game, you’re going to be handling everything shot during production and you’re going to need to craft it into the finished product. If you can’t keep still or get fidgety just thinking about being in one dark room for hours on end, then walk on by and head into another sector of the film industry because post-production isn’t for you, friend.
Trimming, cutting, honing – Some people think editors are Finicky?
You can meet a deadline
Deadlines are everything in post-production. As the word implies, you are the very end of the film tail. The only thing that comes next is the release date. If you can’t hit this very real and scary deadline, then watch out, you’re in BIG trouble. If you’re the kind of person who finished their homework on the day it was set, or the kind of person who likes to plan in advance, you might just make a great editor. Editors are planners and organizers by nature, fastidious, and excellent record keepers – if that makes you squirm just thinking about it, then keep looking.
“If you know you can spend hours working on one cut between two minor shots, then congratulations, you might just have what it takes! ”
You don’t like the limelight
Can you name the nominations for best editing for this year’s Oscar Awards ceremony? Remember who won Best Editor at last year’s Oscars? Not many people can. If you’re looking for glamour and fame and think that working in post-production is going to get you there, think again. Editors are almost the best illustration of the invisible puppet master or the Wizard of Oz. It is fair to say that editors are the least seen member of a film’s crew, hidden away in their ivory towers and making the magic happen away from the glare of the limelight – bliss.
This is NOT Leonardo Di Caprio hiding from the paparazzi.
So, while all of that might sound like we’re trying to put you off, this is genuinely good advice. Nobody does well in a job they’re not suited to and don’t enjoy, that’s why careers agencies spend thousands of dollars on computer programmes that can test and assess personality types against job specifications. Having said all of that, if you’re organised, at one with the machine world, can handle very accurate and painstaking work, and don’t mind long and weird hours then you might just be the perfect fit for a long and happy career in post-production – but of course, if you’ve found this page, you probably already know that don’t you?!