Advice for an Aspiring Video Editor

Posted by TeamPeople on January 28, 2016

The talented team at our sister company TeamPeople have some of the best insight into the industry. The following is a story from one of TeamPeople’s video editors, Evan Mueller, when he was approached by a woman asking for advice:

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.

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 meetup 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 meetup! I laughed and said there was no time like the present.

When the meetup 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 story could have ended there, but there’s something else that I want to share. Later, someone commented to say they found the video inspiring, so I replied and said they could send me a message if they had any more questions. Below is the questions she asked followed my answer, republished with permission.

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 answer’s to her questions:

”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.

-Written by Evan Mueller, TeamPeople video editor

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