The keys on the keyboard have been punched. The mouse clicked more than one thought it could. The attach button has been abused beyond all recognition. That send button is now associated with waiting. More waiting awaits you. Ding! Your inbox now bears an unread message. You’ve been granted access. Welcome my editorial padawans. You have entered one of the most dangerous stages. The interview awaits you.
You’ve done the hard work. You’ve stayed up late, forgone meals, and developed your craft into what some would classify as legend. You’re an editor. However, you’re finally being subjected someone other than your peers. You’re about to be interrogated by someone who actually wants to pay you good money to do what you love. You want this. You’ve wanted this for quite sometime now. How the hell are you actually supposed to show this?
First, and foremost, I’m not going to give you some rudimentary list that can solve all of your problems. No list can solve your problems. Only you can. Really the only belief that one should take into consideration when pursuing a passion can be summed up like this: “Stay hungry, and don’t be an asshole.” It’s a broad principle, but put some thought into it, and you’ll see the weight of such a notion.
Now, back to the matter at hand. How do you present yourself as valuable to someone who can hire you? This could be your first step in the door to spending all of your time editing, instead of doing odd jobs to make time for editing. Trust me, I know this feeling more than most. In order to present yourself as valuable to a potential employer, you must first be able to provide value for your editorial ninja skills.
You have to take yourself seriously. You’re starting your journey into paid work, and steering away from deferred work or better yet, a free meal on set. Taking yourself seriously falls under the “saying hungry” mantra that I hold firm belief in. By taking yourself seriously, you understand that you must dedicate time to researching your employer. You have to notice what separates them from other companies. From there, you will realize how you separate yourself from other competition, and what makes you unique for the position.
There is a saying that I believe and practice quite often. “Fake it ‘till you make it.” It’s a favorite of mine, and has helped quite a bit. You kind of have to when most entry-level positions these days require experience. Now, where the hell does one get experience, when that’s all they’re after? This phrase mostly applies to how well you truly software, a concept, or workflows. If you don’t know story then get the hell out of here. However, when it comes to software, just read a lot about it to get the job. If you have to demonstrate use of it, then you better be a lucky faker, or at least know what you’re doing. As for workflows, this is where your hours of hard work and practice comes into play. One can fake this in discussion, but when you’re dealt an assignment that employs this workflow because your employers were so enamored that you could do this, then you better damn well not look like an idiot. You’ll be out of a job real quick. People talk. You might not land a job for a while after that. All-in-all, faking it until you make it is a great belief. You better be able to back it up with some sustenance though.
I recently had to say I knew Final Cut Pro X in preparation for an interview a few days after that. I’m highly proficient in the Adobe Creative Cloud and workflows implemented there. Two days later after drowning in Lynda tutorials, and I was proficient in FCPX. Now, that I’m implementing it in my job, I’m highly proficient in it, and kind of like it. Shh, don’t tell my Adobe friends.
At the end of the day, editing is editing. Employers want you to at least be familiar with what the program looks like when you open. The rest is learning keyboard shortcuts, implementing workflows, and crafting a hell of a story. Be an editor. Know your tools. Learn them better. Don’t be an idiot. Simple as that.
You now must determine if the job is even the right fit for you. It may seem great on paper. However, the office may be an eyesore. You don’t want to work in a place you don’t feel empowered to work in. What’s asked of you may be completely unethical. Trust me, we editors are incredibly vulnerable in times like these. You’re going to be working with these people for 20-40 hours a week. Ask the interviewer what he/she/they do for fun outside of work. It shows your genuine interest in them, the environment, and yourself.
The second part of my mantra is my favorite. Don’t be an asshole. Think to yourself, “Would an asshole say/do that to another co-worker? Would I want some asshole to say/do that to me?” If you have to put some thought into it, then you’ve saved yourself embarrassment, and more embarrassment. Be kind to others, and yourself.
So to all ye editors out there, good luck in your job searches. May the rendering times be in your favor.
Next time, we’ll discuss actually keeping your job once you acquire it. In the meantime, remember: “Stay hungry. Don’t be an asshole.”
Author: Kyle Harter
Kyle Harter recently relocated to Philadelphia after receiving his BA in Film from the University of Central Florida. Kyle aspires to a career of filmmaking, writing, and adventure. Kyle has a mild obsession with Quentin Tarantino, coffee, and Corgis. He co-authors the film blog, The Main Squeeze.