Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and Profiles » Careers in Film and Television » EDITORIAL - Job Title: Editor, Film Editor, Or Picture Editor, Job Title: Postproduction Facility Manager Or Director Of Postproduction

EDITORIAL - Job Title: Editor, Film Editor, Or Picture Editor

income salier editing people television

Job Overview

In consultation with the director, the editor is responsible for the complex process of assembling the film or video footage in a cohesive sequence to ensure continuity. Some editors perform magic, repairing damaged elements, solving story problems, and turning poor performances into good ones.

Although generally hired before shooting begins to assemble their editorial crew and handle other preparation, the editor's most important job of cutting the film begins the day photography begins. Dailies are synchronized with the sound track and viewed each day with the director. The editor makes note of the best performances, particularly those the director prefers, and begins assembling the film scene by scene. An editor's cut is delivered shortly after the picture has wrapped.

“It's sort of like constructing a house,” explains editor Edward Salier. “You have plans or a script; you have materials, which is everything that has been filmed; and you follow the script to construct the show out of the materials you've been given.”

Special Skills

An editor must be a good listener and collaborator, and still have the ability to work long hours alone. “You can't allow your own ego to get in the way … it's not what I want to see, it's what the director wants to see. I really have to be able to sit and listen to him, get a sense of what he wants to accomplish, and deliver that as quickly and efficiently as possible. If he wants to see something different, I try it that way. I have to have ideas, but ultimately be able and willing to go along with whatever his vision is … It's an intense job. It's a long workday. You have to be able to work on your own. You have to have people skills and you have to have the technical skills. If you're lacking one of those, you're going to have a really difficult time.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

Salier cautions students coming out of film school that, even though they have earned a degree and gotten some experience, they are not going to land a job as an editor or even an editor's assistant. “The business doesn't work that way. You have to earn your stripes and pay your dues. You have to be willing to start at the bottom. My advice is to get an internship, where you can meet people and build relationships. Then be willing to work really, really hard. You have to be in a place and position where you can learn the skills and meet the right people. I can't emphasize enough it's a relationship business. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.”

There are many avenues for finding a production assistant or apprenticeship job, where you can observe and eventually get some hands-on experience. Look into local television stations, commercial production houses, or postproduction facilities. Don't limit yourself to features or series television when looking for an internship.

Professional Profile: M. Edward Salier, Editor

It's hard to believe that editing was an accidental career choice for Edward Salier. As a young boy, he loved putting puzzles together to see the finished picture. Interested in visual arts, photography, and graphic design, the New Jersey native attended college before taking a postproduction assistant job at a small New York film company. Eventually he became an apprentice editor, although he was still undecided on a career. “To be honest, it was a job: money. I was in the business for probably five or six years before I decided it might be a career.”

Having put in two years as an apprentice, Salier moved up to first assistant, working on a film called Little Murders. He landed a sound editor position on his next picture. “Supervising the sound editing of that movie, I got a real solid insight into how you put a movie together, how you construct the sound effects, and the whole process from beginning to end, as far as postproduction and editorial is concerned.”

In his early twenties, Salier began editing promotional pieces for upcoming movie releases. His first project was a behind-the-scenes making of the movie piece for Song of Norway. While working on it, he discovered his love of editing. “I decided this was intriguing, because you really get to construct something. I got to do the kind of things I enjoyed … the structural aspect of making puzzles.”

What do you like least about your job?

“The negative part of it is the insecurity of finding your next job when the [current] job is over. And occasionally, working with very unpleasant people.”Edward Salier

What do you love most about your job?

“Every show is its own little puzzle. You get to see the picture when you're done. That's what I love about it. I [also] love the collaboration, the people I work with, and the environment and atmosphere.”Edward Salier

As work opportunities dwindled in New York, Salier relocated to Los Angeles in 1978. Although he had worked in the industry for a number of years, he still faced difficulties getting into the union in Los Angeles. Without union membership, he was unable to work on features and television series, which were almost all union controlled. To subsidize his income between nonunion productions, he got involved in the computer industry, doing programming.

Salier's first break came soon after, editing the horror film Silent Scream. He found more work on low budget independent features and then got involved in videotape editing. “What I saw happening was, the future of television was going away from film and toward videotape, so I made the decision to get involved at an early date … In terms of editing, they were looking for people that could learn the new computerized editing system. I was in a position to do that. I had the dramatic editing background and the computer background, so I could learn these new systems that were replacing the traditional film editing equipment, that very few people knew how to run.”


* “It's a very, very tough business. It's highly competitive. You have to be prepared for a lot of disappointment and a lot of struggle. You have to be willing to put in years to get to the point where you have opportunities. It's not going to happen overnight.”Edward Salier

Salier mastered the new technology and was admitted into the union, and work began coming in a steady stream. Over the next decade he worked on a variety of television series, including Beverly Hills 90210, The Client, The Division, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Quantum Leap, and Sliders.

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