Become a Better Editor by Learning from Mistakes

Some might say that admitting a mistake is weak. In reality, it's a great indicator of a solid, confident editor.

I mean, if you weren't completely confident in your skills, would you tell everyone about that time you did that thing that really screwed you over? Probably not.

I co-host a podcast called The Track Matte Moment, which is a post production confessional of editors sharing mistakes and the lessons they learned from the mistakes. The podcast is meant to be a learning and cleansing environment. The editor comes on and confesses their post sins, we listen and offer comfort, and listeners gain some knowledge they may not have considered. Surely some will politely decline an invitation to come on the podcast, and to them I say meh, cowards!

Admitting your mistakes is a great skill for an editor to learn. Once you own your mistake, you can truly learn from it and avoid ever making that error (or any related error) again. By being honest about the things we screwed up, we not only help ourselves, but our peers too. You may have wasted 4 hours, but someone else may learn from you and make their deadline.

The worst thing you can do as an editor is try to cover your tracks or blame someone else for an error. If you're in a facility where you have a direct superior, you should come clean to the mistake, briefly apologize, and say what you are doing to fix it. Don't try to hide it or shift blame. I'd say even if it isn't entirely your fault, take care of fixing it first before you ever address the source of the mistake unless it's an on-going issue. There's work to be done, and it's often on a deadline. There's no point in starting a finger-pointing session when post needs to happen.

So come on, if you make a mistake, let people know about it. Maybe not the instant you make it on every occasion, but at some point it might be worth sharing. Nobody believes that you're a flawless editor who never does anything wrong. Come on now, don't kid yourself. The best lessons are learned from the times we screw up!

Have a mistake you want to fess up to? Let me know in the comments, or better yet, on our podcast!