Advice for an Aspiring Video Editor

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AJ Sementilli

This post contains advice I gave to someone aspiring to be a video editor. The first part of this blog is to give some context to how I ended up offering this advice.

Some Context


One of the things I enjoy most in life is meeting new people. I especially like meeting people that have lived a vastly different experience than I have. Hearing their stories and asking them questions is a way that I learn about the world, and sometimes even make new friends.

In October, at a local meet-up for video producers, I started up a conversation with someone after I saw her doodling in her notebook. We found each other very interesting, so much so that she asked if she could interview me. I was flattered, and I agreed, assuming we would set up a time later. She asked if we could do it after the meet-up! I laughed and said there was no time like the present.

When the meet-up was over, we went outside, she pulled out a point-and-shoot camera from her bag, held it like she was taking a selfie, started recording, and began talking to it before she set it on the table to start to interview me. I was impressed by her confidence. We went on talking for about 10 minutes before I asked to turn the camera around and interview her. She put up the interview on YouTube the very next day. You can watch it here.


The Questions

Hey Evan! 

I thought I'd take you up on your offer and ask you a question. But as context, I think I should disclose some stuff. I'm really not anything special with editing just yet. I'm 21, a manager at Walgreens, and taking some night classes at a community college. I'm just starting to learn about adobe premiere and I haven't made anything impressive yet. However, editing is the one thing I can do for hours. It's the only thing that I can see myself doing and enjoy doing. It's the one thing in my life I just sit down and devote all my attention to. 

I know it will be tough. Editing doesn't always go smoothly and sometimes in a time crunch you can't always make exactly what you thought. But my question to you is, what about editing made you go into it? Do I have to move to New York or California to get good jobs? Oh wait, that's two questions. 

Eventually I want to work on Documentaries and Educational Shows for something like National Geographic or maybe PBS but I have no idea where to go. As soon as I get my degree should I contact one of those studios? What kind of people do I need to get in touch with? Dang, that's four questions.  I promise that's all of them.

 Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask you. - Ellie


My Answers:


"What about editing made you go into it?"

Well, it was the requirement for me to actually make a movie! I had the idea, I had the camera, but I had no idea how to edit. I was very fortunate to have the ability to shoot on a Mini-DVD that I could import directly into a computer and edit. I taught myself the basics; splicing a clip, adding in titles and music, and grew from there.

"Do I have to move to New York or California to get good jobs?"

The best editing jobs in the world are currently in those two cities in my estimation. I started in St. Louis, about as far as you could get from both of those places in the US. I don't think you need to move, but you need to figure out how to shorten the distance... the internet is a great place for that! I've done a few jobs remotely, and I imagine I will only continue getting more jobs from outside my neighborhood. I think it is easier than its ever been for editors to be anywhere.


"As soon as I get my degree should I contact [TV] studios?"

I'd advise you to create a 'spec' piece or a video of your own that you can show off first. A degree is probably not going to be the thing you show to the people that will hire you as an editor -- I guarantee they will want to see something more than a printed piece of paper. I think it is better to be sought after by studios than to seek them out, but I'm still learning how to do that myself!


"What kind of people do I need to get in touch with?"

Search LinkedIn for other editors in your area. Watch their reels and see who they have worked for. If it’s not a sports or news reel, it is probably going to be businesses and non-profits. The people at those organizations who would hire you would most likely be in the marketing department. Some companies hire freelancers themselves, others use contracting companies (like the company I work for, TeamPeople). Directors, producers, content marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, and recruiters are important to get in touch with if you want to be a successful editor. If you make something really awesome, these people will find you.

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