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Who is a Film Editor? - Career Guide

A Film Editor is responsible for giving face and shape to the visuals in the director's mind and thus constitutes as an extremely important part of the filmmaking process.

Imagine filmmaking to be some sort of a magic trick. This one, however, is done by a group of magicians together instead of just a single one. While screenwriters, directors, producers and cinematographers are considered to be the prime magicians, a film editor is easily a show stopper. We say this because others of the lot may be allowed to make mistakes (and in most cases, they definitely do), it is a film editor’s job to not only hide their mistakes during post-production but to present the final product in a flawless way, just as envisioned by the director.

A film editor works at the final stage of film production where the major magic happens! You can be a great director or cinematographer but all your greatness is of no use if there isn’t a good film editor to do justice to your creative vision.

Let’s learn more about this very important person (or MVP) – who is a film editor? what does their job entail? what are the skills they need to have? how to be one? - among other things.

Who is a Film Editor?

As the name suggests, a film editor is a person who edits films. To elaborate, a film editor merges the raw footage shot during the production stage, puts it in a meaningful sequence, enhances it, and adds effects to tell a visually captivating story.

A film editor is a storyteller of sorts. Their job is to not only create a sequence that justifies the director’s vision but to put it in a way that grabs the audience's attention and keeps them engaged with the film experience. Most films are for the masses and not for the director, after all. Thus, a film editor is responsible for putting together the film in a way that appeals to the audiences but stays well within the director’s creative vision.

As easy as the job sounds, it is an extremely hectic one. A film editor spends eights and tens of hours a day in front of the screen, watching and sorting the raw footage, making notes, and selecting the best out of the lot. That’s just part one of the job. Their job is much more detailed and requires a crazy amount of patience.

Let’s talk about the job of a film editor in detail now.

Job of a Film Editor

You may be aware that during the production stage, multiple shots of a single scene are taken – different angles, different perspectives, numerous takes, etc. Since a film is made up of so many scenes, it all falls on the film editor’s shoulders to watch each and every shot, and choose the final ones. With directors by their side, they sit through every single shot and make notes of the final shots. This requires watching and rewatching tons of footage again and again.

Next comes the assembly stage. More often than not, film editors sit for hours at stretch in front of the screen merging the clips, adding transitions, and playing around with the raw footage to create the final product. It’s their vision added to the director’s that gives the film the look and feel it’s expected to have. It is them that truly give the face and shape to the visuals in the director’s mind.

Their job is not merely technical. A film editor has to constantly analyze all the raw footage (first while selecting and then while placing in the sequence) in order to create the desired thematic and emotional impact of the film.

You may wonder that with the advent of easy-to-use software and even easier access to them, it isn’t a big of a deal to be a film editor today. While it is true that anyone can edit videos in today’s time and age, not everyone has the potential nor the ability to be a good film editor, let alone an excellent one.

With this in mind, let’s talk about the skills required to be a film editor.

Skills required to be a Film Editor