Being able to stand out as an assistant editor is your best shot at making the jump to the next stage in your editing career. There are a handful of actions you can take to set yourself a part from the pack. This post covers four different ways for you to do this.
Always Be One Step Ahead
Your number one goal as an assistant editor is to always be one step ahead of the editor(s) you’re working under. When the senior editor realizes she needs a shot from another project, you already have it ready in her project. You can always be one step ahead if you do two things.
First is to understand the workflows. Learn exactly how the entire postproduction process at your company runs for each editor you work under. If editor A likes to name her clips with a certain naming convention, use it. If editor B would rather color code his clips, use his colors. Preform these tasks before it’s asked of you. If you’re new to the company it will take a couple months to get the hang of everything. But once you do, be proactive as often as possible.
The second way to stay one step ahead is to always stay “in the know.” That means read the scripts, know if something wasn’t shot, find out what graphics need to be made, read when the producer CCs you on emails, etc. Think about how you would edit the project and what you would want ready for you. Then prepare those elements for your editors.
Follow Through on Advice
The biggest benefit to being an assistant editor is that you get to be around editors with experience that can provide you with helpful advice. This advice is a goldmine. It is real firsthand experience you won’t read about in a textbook or hear in a panel interview at a conference. The editors you work with don’t have to give you advice. It’s not in their job descriptions. If you are lucky enough to get advice from one follow through on it.
Let’s say one of the senior editors tells you about a time she was working on a project that required a ton of folly sounds that she didn’t have. It wasn’t created during production and was left to “fix in post.” She had to spend days searching for or creating these folly sounds. She tells you that having a library of folly sounds is important to have even if you only use them once a year.
As the assistant editor what should you do? Spend 10 minutes a day of your own time for the next two weeks compiling a small library of folly sounds. Then share it with that senior editor.
The result? The senior editor will 1) be floored you acted on their advice, 2) happily add your folly sounds to their library and 3) give you more advice in the future.
Use Common Sense
As an assistant editor you’re going to be tasked with a thousand different small activities. This is because it is not worth the editors’ or senior editors’ time to do them. It depends on the job but that could be anything from pickup coffee to setup a new project in Premiere.
Something could go wrong in any of these tasks. Your job as assistant editor is to make sure it doesn’t take up the time of the editors. Maybe Premiere won’t launch or the coffee shop is out of hazelnut sugar for a latte. When these hiccups arise your first instinct should not be to reach for your phone to call someone about hazelnut sugar or shout two edit bays over to ask why Premiere won’t open. Take two minutes to try and figure out the problem yourself rather than asking for help.
With the hazelnut sugar latte, get one with vanilla sugar and a second one with caramel sugar and drink the one that the editor doesn’t want. With Premiere, reset the computer then use one of these resources to see if you can troubleshoot it. One day you will be the one that an assistant editor runs to when Premiere won’t open so you’ll have to learn sometime.
Dress to Impress
Many post houses and post production jobs have relaxed dress codes. Editors can get away with wearing shorts and t-shirts in some places and in other places they can wear jeans and a polo shirt or casual blouse. Whatever the dress code is, dress one level up. Instead of jeans and a polo shirt its khakis and a button-up dress shirt.
Wearing a three-piece tuxedo might be overkill but taking that tiny step to dress better than you need to speaks volumes about you to people you might not deal with day-to-day. Some of these people could ultimately decide whether your make the jump to full-fledged editor. What you wear non-verbally communicates how seriously you take your job. You could take your assistant editor responsibilities very seriously but if you under-dress to others from the outside looking in it’ll look like you don’t.
If you are so lucky to have an edit bay or place to keep a handful of your belongings undisturbed, keep a spare set of dress clothes at the office or in your car if you have to. If you’re in that shorts and flip-flops work environment and accidently show up like that on a day when a client in sitting in… well, you don’t want that to happen.
Standing out from other assistant editors is one of the best choices you can make for your career. You can do this by always being one step ahead of the editors you work under. Always follow through on any advice that is given to you. Use common sense for any task you are assigned. And dress one level better than you need to.
Using these four practices you can set yourself apart from other assistant editors and advance your career faster.