Tom Rolf worked through the transition from analog editing to digital editing and managed to do it without skipping a beat. It proves that a good editor is a good editor, no matter what era.
Mikey Rossiter, veteran colorist at The Mill, would tell you he chose his career by accident. He never set out to become a colorist. And when he interviewed for an internship at The Mill (at the young age of 18), he wasn’t entirely sure what The Mill did. Still, despite the fact that he seems to have stumbled into his dream job, we don’t think there was anything accidental about it. Mikey has that one essential quality shared by all successful people: He keeps his feet moving. Whether he’s knocking on doors or hanging out in different departments at The Mill, his career keeps moving forward because he is active.
Do you have what it takes to compete against other top editors? The 2017 Filmsupply Challenge is here and we’re calling on you to put your skills to the test and compete for prize packages in 8 different categories.
There are a lot of ways you can learn how to make films. You can go to film school. You can study film books/history/theory. You can get a job as a PA on a film set. Or starting at age 15, you can make 300+ rap music videos in the nooks and crannies of London, England. As you’d expect, Charlotte Regan did the latter, which is perhaps why her work stands out as being beautifully offbeat, charmingly nonconventional, and — best of all — funny.
Forty years ago, legendary editor Walter Murch was working late one night on a film for Francis Ford Coppola called The Conversation (starring Gene Hackman). Like always, Murch was going back and forth through the footage, over and over again, looking to make the perfect cuts. Murch cuts intuitively, in real time. He never goes frame by frame. As the night went on, Murch started to notice something weird happening: Every time he made a cut, it seemed to line up perfectly with Gene Hackman blinking. “I began to get the sense that there was some collaboration going on between myself and…Gene Hackman,” Murch told Radiolab during an interview in 2009. What Murch had stumbled upon wasn’t just a useful editing technique; it was theory for why film editing works.
It’s easy to compare reels to resumés. It’s a make-or-break career moment, an opportunity to get your foot in the door by showing your skills to employers. But, there is one key difference between the two: a reel gives you nothing to hide behind. No pretty cover letter. No “proficient in Microsoft Word.” It’s your creative work out in the open, a fully exposed moment when you put your best foot forward and hope it works.
You could point out a lot of reasons why Oscar-winner Tom Cross is one of the best editors in Hollywood. Maybe the most obvious, though, is evident in the diversity of his portfolio. Along with director Damien Chazelle, he’s crafted a tightly wound character study on obsession (Whiplash), a throwback love-letter to Hollywood via a musical (La La Land), and now a historical biopic unlike any we’ve ever seen in First Man. You probably couldn’t dream up three films that are more different than these, or three films edited as precisely and artfully.
Film editors bat cleanup in the long, long, super long process that ends if all goes well with a finished film. They take raw material and turn it into something clean, cohesive, and engaging. They’re not so different from a chef in that way. And they require just as diverse a skill set. “Being an editor is equal parts creative, craft, and pure nerd,” Lucas Harger an editor at the creative studio Bruton Stroube told us recently. “And I am exceptionally nerdy.”
Dana Shaw is a hands-on type of guy. A film editor, stained-glass artist, and self-proclaimed bird charmer, Dana’s preferred method of editing documentaries is to lay out all his notes and stills on a large piece of butcher paper, so he can physically move the pieces around. “I’m really tactile,” Dana told us. “So being able to put those themes into categories and print out related quotes and put them on this ‘paper edit’ helps me organize my thoughts.”