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So You Want To Be An Editor, And Work On Drama?

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Often, I have been asked my advice on how to become a professional editor. Strangely, even though the technology used to create edited content has radically reinvented itself many times over the years, the advice I have offered has remained pretty consistent, says Rory Cantwell, Soho Editors.

Just to explain, the reason I get asked for career advice so often, emanates from my role as one of the founding partners of Soho Editors, Europe's leading freelance Post-Production Talent Agency. Soho Editors has two main business areas and both have informed my opinion and my advice to aspiring TV and Film editors.

The first, established about twenty years ago, is a Post-Production Talent Agency that supplies the best freelance talent to many of the top production, advertising agencies, and post facilities in the UK. Alongside this, Soho Editors Training offers manufacturer accredited training on all the technology available from the major players including Avid, Adobe, Final Cut Pro, Blackmagic Design and Maxon.

From that profile, you can guess I always get asked two questions. The first one is "how do I become an editor?" And the second is "now I'm an editor, how do I get to cut drama?"

The second problem is far more complex than just saying "learn an NLE". Drama cutting as a discipline, is rightly or wrongly perceived to be the pinnacle of the editing craft; the place where technology is definitely secondary to the creative art of storytelling. Arguably, the editor that still manages to grab the attention of the viewer of a low budget corporate will often have to work much harder to achieve their result. Even more important than choosing to become an expert in the technology required in the drama sector, are the network of peers that you establish as you navigate the series of catch-22's that defeats all but the most determined wanting to cut drama. Essentially, the problem is, "You only get to cut high-end drama, once you have proved you can cut high-end drama."

The simplest way to deal with this consistent and universal barrier, common to all sectors of the creative industry, is to hone and then deliver the proof of your skills, initially working for low pay, with others on a similar journey, all striving to succeed in their own disciplines. Clearly, all of this is relevant only if you are able to deliver the skills and vision that will create content that, for example, compels everybody watching to cry at exactly the right time.

To progress your creative career, there are two very important ways of approaching the problems you face. The first draws on the old maxim 'luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity'; never more true than in our industry. If you are prepared for that moment when creative demand outstrips supply, you'll be able to take advantage of that opportunity and progress. I'll round this off by pointing out the obvious: if you're in the preparation stage, you can short-cut the pain of this learning process with some career-targeted training from Soho Editors Training.

The second approach speaks to your attitude to any opportunity that may arise.

Essentially any aspiring editor must be prepared for possible setbacks, as they get confronted by new challenges, for example, a difficult client, time constraints or missing shots. As opportunities arise, it will only be the brave that step up and put their preparation to the test. Critically, even if they do fail, the process of trying will educate them and improve their performance for the next time fortune shines on them.

Preceding all of these issues, I would first ask you to be honest with yourself to answer one very important question: Are you passionate about the target of your career? If you are, you will probably have the determination and commitment necessary to overcome the myriad of challenges and obstacles that will inevitably attempt to hamper you on your way to success.

By Rory Cantwell – Founder of

This article is also available to read at BFV online here, page 36.

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