How many times have you or someone else asked how important Twitter is in regards to our field? I can answer for you: quite a lot. Or rather, you’ll get out of Twitter what you put in. Even if you only lurk, you may discover some cool follows or perhaps have a bit of conversation – so you can’t really lose anything by using it. This is true especially if you put yourself out there, network, attend #postchat, and get to know our fellow film cohorts. Early last year, I got a lucky and well timed opportunity to fly out to Winston Salem, North Carolina via @Jack_McFly & @zebratape to interview for an advertising agency looking for a broadcast video editor. NICE, I was possibly going back to broadcast. Familiar waters I’d wanted some more experience in. In fact, I’d be working with @Jack_McFly. I don’t know if you knew, but shhh shh come close, he maay know how to get back to the future. Now, it’s almost been a year!
If you are indeed moving from one position to another in post, there’s plenty of things to consider. I hope you’ll gain some knowledge or maybe a new perspective while I regale you with my tale of freelance to advertising. I think overall your best lesson is that nothing is usually how you analyze and pre-plan for (those in production can attest, I’m sure) and the more patience you have with yourself to adjust, the better.
The back history: I was a freelance editor for a few years after graduating college. I was in the midst of finalizing a feature film edit, Ingenue. My lease at my apartment was coming to an end, so everything was kind of in limbo, this slo mo evaluations of where am I going, what am I doing.. this will-I or won’t-I dance throughout. I knew I wanted some stability staying in my field – but HOW to get it!? I had a previous taste with a PT broadcast edit job, plus got to learn MC Avid for :30 spot or unders, but unfortunately it wasn’t FT nor did it have room to grow. I took on this PT job editing music/comedy/theatre promo spots – and I totally won’t mention the nightmare my life was whenever I had to see/hear country or Nickelback spots OVER & OVER & OVER. hahah oh nooo, like some musical form of torture. I did sometimes get to do spots I actually liked to raise my sanity a bit. (yes just a bit can do a lot) They also mostly operated using beta tapes. That was an experience to learn. But for any negative, I took it in best I could because this is when I got to first crash course myself into Avid. I wanted to get to know it better.
Timing can be literally everything. We know this fact pretty well. The advice I’d offer someone that feels a little ‘out of sync’ for being in the right place, right time, etc. is to keep trying. If you persist, I think you have a decent shot. Now, I happened to know both @Jack_McFly and @zebratape from the twitterverse land. Not only that, but they both have been in #postchat and also were fellow #nomquerers. (double YAY!) What’s neat is during my time editing Ingenue, I’d been emailing and getting some advice from @Jack_McFly. He had done a feature film himself, Granted. Anyone who’s spoken to me at great length will know that I definitely get detailed and write pretty lengthy when I want. He humoured it awesomely and gave me some really good things to think about. That’s a valuable part about getting to know your fellow editors better – it opens up the chance to exchange ideas, share, get opinions you know probably won’t sugar coat, and get to feel a part of the community even if you’re in a smaller town. So fast forwarding to the idea of being able to work with him was really really exciting. Prior to that, the only other editors I’d really gotten experience with was few.
After I applied for the position, I did a Skype interview firstly then later flew out for more interviews the next week. I arrived via 2 planes to NC, had a driver telling me all sorts of stories about the city and oddly if I recall, Oprah and her dog! After a little drive, we arrived to this higher story building to head inside for my interviews. MAN was I nervous but excited, too! I interviewed with several people and was very glad my memory had not failed me. Do your research and really try to discuss things that interested you about their past works. Find ways to include works you’ve done that might relate to that. Each interview was a challenge to get that ‘read’ on, but I felt good & kept my hopes up. On a hilarious sidenote, I managed to make a mini lake out of my purse. See, I shoved the water bottle into my purse before lunch and put the lid on crooked. It leaked ALLLLLLL over my stuff in there. YAY, gogo clumsy meee. So basically, I was trudging around after lunch with a watery purse, waiting for the lining to burst forth a sea of embarrassment, donning my best poker face (I’m positive I hid it well, except til when I dived into @Jack_Mcfly’s office that afternoon to empty the poor items out, dry them, and reprint my ticket) What an experience. Hey, if that was the worst thing that happened, I’m cool with it.
Then the big moment. I got it! I GOT ITTT! Now what? A number of things running through your mind trying to prep for what’s to come. The switch. And not just NLE’s or states or environments. Everything really, as a freelancer basically. I was a little nervous about jumping back to FCP after all this time in Avid, and before that, Premiere. Wait, shouldn’t my answer have been moving? Okay, yes that too hehe but I have been ready I think, for awhile. I didn’t know where things would take me, though! Moving really isn’t so bad in hindsight. I think our memories trick us into remembering it that way so you might actually do it again. Remember – we are going from one dark room in this one state, to another one in another state strictly speaking. But what you don’t think is: oh yeah, I can’t swing over to that movie theatre to see this movie with my friends tonight, because I had a momentary brain-fart and realized I live in NC now, not Indy!! >.< Whoops.
Some of the new experience gains were being able to use AE a lot more, with plenty of challenging things to learn or re-learn better ways on. Methods, processes, intricacies you only learn ‘on the job’ that’s for this job specific per se. Some you can take away with you for other applications elsewhere. There are still things on my list I need and want experience in, such as more multi-cam, for example. I’ve become fanatically better at my organization, color coding, etc. things I do in the hope that it won’t leave me being cursed one day in the future (especially if it’s me opening an old project going WHAT in the world.. haha) There are a number of fun times I’ve had, too. I got to dump a giant bucket of water over @Jack_McFly once. THAT was part of some really fun little videos I got to help on. I tend to make mementos out of hilarious, silly, or trying situations especially if I learned something. Upon my door are several funny jokes that’d make no sense unless you were there in the trenches of that particular project xD They amuse me. That’s a good way to turn something around.
Lots of new faces, new projects & brands, lots of new responsibilities, and projects never stop changing even if they have a familiar wrapping on them. OH, and the meetings. Loooots and lots of those… I won’t say I ever got used to all of those, yet 😉 Codes and paperworks which continually can confound me at times. The intersecting deadlines who sometimes lose their little tail lights so you lose track of when they’re turning… that can feel impossible to balance yet so far, no epic fails. Mainly the hardest challenge of all is becoming familiar and used to the various clients, including their past video projects as well. Some go down insane rabbit holes of versions and titles that can be daunting at first.
There have been some really cool changes here at the Editorium that happened since arriving. One of my super duper top favs being the new invisible yet visible ‘magic’ wall logo along with a new magic themed slate/2pop and overall theme, with the other being the adjustable standing desks!! I sort of rigged one up at home with boxes and my foam mat. I started to stand while editing as I could, and I quite liked it too! The first thing you’ll see me do in an office is get rid of the chair as soon as I can. I know most days now it feels totally natural. With that said, I find sometimes if I’m very sore from my str training, I actually want to sit for a little bit on my stability ball. But the more I stand, the healthier I feel overall and less slumpy sluggish. Goofy sounding enough, I really like my wall square that I don’t draw on often enough since I’m forgetful, but I always enjoy making my new themed Totoro character for the season. Yes, there is still a holiday themed one out there as I speak… er… note to self: draw a new totoro soon. xD
Switches galore. Switching environments from working at home back to the office. No more Spazzie assistant cat on hand. Editing in pajamas at like 1am just because I am a night owl. Multitasking my entire day everyday between life and work duties all at once. That control you’re able to have. Thankfully, I’ve heard enough times to ‘fake it til you make it’ on so many topics and I have to say, it’s not all blowing smoke. I was able to pull from all -those- experience to -this- experience in being more confident that
I COULD. DO. THIS. No, scratch that. I am doing this. That’s how quick you can go from uncertain avoidance to uncertain action.
There is a switch of sorts to make when you go from a variety of freelancing to advertising. More like aiming your focus more towards that side of things. I suppose in some ways it’s no different at all, and in other ways, it is. Yes, riddles! What I mean to say is that there will be similar projects over the course of time, always with some new ones & super short burst ones in-between. I still freelance whenever possible, whenever opportunities pop up. I don’t actually mind spending the evenings or weekends working on something on the side. Some days you’ll come in and never know if your inbox is piled up with ASAP requests, blown up revisions, requests, or there could be crickets trying to lull you into a midday nap. You do learn to appreciate that one slower time because even the next hour or the next day could be slammed. It’s hard sometimes not to be ansy though, I do like to stay busy – if I know something is going to hit, but can’t tell when or am waiting on assets or what not, it’s like being blindfolded in front of a giant ocean wave approaching and not quiiite being able to sense it’s size or complexity. Sometimes you brace and it barely tickles your toes, other times you turn your back and it unleashes jellyfish. I can’t share very often about what I am editing, the way I used to about freelancing. I find that goes with some territories, and I think in enough time, I’ll be able to sit down & fill out more of my projects section as I can.
During my time as a freelancer, I learned A LOT about myself and my skills. How to deal with clients, how to screw yourself over with rates (learned a more proper rate only after the first, mind you), how to sacrifice social time in exchange for experience (maybe even took it too far), how to pluck up courage for my work, humility when I needed more experience then gaining more wisdom to be proud of myself too, definitely how to say no or see warning signs better… of course these are not just freelance editor skills, only. Plenty of them might seem just plain common sense in regards to being an editor. Of course, putting these into practice is different than merely thinking them, so it just so happened to coincide with this experience for me. The same pretty much applies here, except you can relax on the whole rate thing and you aren’t generally dealing directly with the client, moreso with producers and creatives or account teams.
Among so many other things, I am now in hindsight curiously glad for literally tripping and falling into the chilly end of this giant freelancing pool after graduating college. I know I’ve written before and more in-depth about some of the wonderful and huge learning opportunities I ran across during my time in Indy, including the feature film edit Ingenue. Please feel free to read those to get the best perspective on that. I want to venture a guess that not knowing how challenging freelance in a not-so-film-centric area would be kind of helped me, though I admit maybe having an inkling of an idea would have been better. However, after many years struggling to keep myself afloat, I tried to make a new plan. The only plan for me: not to give up. I am sure if a few of my fellow video friends are reading this, they will remember how by the time we hit senior year, there was quite a lot less people around in our major. That feeling of knowing some people found out it was not for them. That slight moment where you wonder to yourself, what happened & what made them go, and was it the right decision.
I’d applied to many types of more stable editing and post jobs all over the states, even landing a PT fill-in broadcast editor for a time. In fact, I even applied overseas dreamily thinking it might happen in a few different countries including Finland haha I was becoming tired of waiting around. I found myself pretty frustrated. You think, sheesh – if I work truly hard and don’t screw around or call off and go with extra effort every project, that should be enough, right? But it’s not.. or at the least, my luck wasn’t with me? I’m an admitted work horse so with the gaps of uncertainty or nothing happening more frequent than not, including all the fretting anytime I was definitely done with a project too, I knew I was going to have to get out there to make some changes happen. I re-did some parts of my website, switched up the reel, fluffed up my resume, and went out on a search again. What happened is luck found me while finalizing the cut of Ingenue.
Any time I’m feeling truly overwhelmed in a project and a moment, I just remember “keep moving” and that is somehow comforting.That’s all it falls back to – you can and will do something if you stay headstrong. It’s really truly a mix of many things: network, passion, your determination and fluidity to keep on adapting to things best as you can. You don’t have to put out some persona that is perfect and never troubled. Is our line of work tiring? Heck, of course it is. But, it is also rewarding.
I’ll round this up with a hilarious portion of the beginning of things. When I got up early to fly out, my fellow editor cohort @kyl33t offered to drive me out to the airport that morning. Perfect! However, when we arrived, /insert DUNDUNDUUUN music – the plane was delayed!! Everything mostly was in red on the board. There was a rather daunting and giant line of people all backed up, and I won’t lie – I had a panicked moment while waiting in line and sorting out how I’d get through my day of interviews when I was already starting off late – “Wait, what am I doing? Shit, who do I call first?? Why me, today of all days? Is this some sign or something?! I JUST REMEMBERED, I hate to fly!! AHHH.” Thankfully this was all internal, I tried to move these thoughts into some nether space so I could focus. Anyone who comes across this knows that no matter where you go, how high up you get or not, most people are no stranger to feeling uneasy about the unknown. It’s OKAY to have these moments. Change is inevitable.
At some point, we’ve all taken that moment to wonder about the variety of ways we can tell stories out there. Maybe you’re in corporate and want to move more towards TV or film, or you’re in film but want a specific genre like documentary or fantasy, or even doing tv shows (who wouldn’t want to edit GoT or Breaking Bad for instance?) Perhaps you’ve done a wedding or three, and they’re not your cup of tea. But you can say, you tried it. We know we can’t harvest the nut without cracking it open first. Or even finding it. Because it’s not going to leap into your arms with some kind of jedi force like “OH HAI PERSON. TAKE ME!” Okay, it *could* if it fell off the tree and you so happened to be in the right place at the right time, but let’s face it! Don’t count on that. And once you do run across one, you may not be the first to reach out to it. Might end up dueling another squirrel that’s trying to take it. Or getting along with another one for the time & sharing pieces of it, for the good of experiences or survival until you can move on to another tree. haha, wait when did we all become animals?! The point is… you are going to find yourself in a lot of unexpected and very new situations wherever you go. Even if you’ve found a ‘home’ in whatever genre or style of editing you’re doing. This also means generally you are not going to insta-start straight away into exactly your desired niche. (is there some big red button for this that I’ve overlooked? hah)
If you aren’t, perhaps you should ask yourself what you’re doing lately to challenge yourself. Are you too content where you are? I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve seen it happen. When was the last time you put yourself outside of your comfort zone? Edited something you thought beneath you, impossible and/or over your head? What about you try working with another freelancer or editor? Maybe if you often work with someone, try working completely solo or with a new cohort on something on the side.
So, great! now I’m a bit depressed about squirrels and nuts AND I’ve learned it’s going to be a bumpy, possibly hungry ride. Well, buckle down. Take an uncertain opportunity if it’s best for you and your development. This adventure can take years and years to get into and through, let alone stopping off at the delicious restaurant with the hand crafted ale or cider you’ve been eyeing which so happens to house your very fav director. Keep yourself grounded, but don’t let it squash your big dreams. Who cares right now if they feel impossible? It’s okay to dream.
Keep your appetite going.
Somehow, in my mind I hear this as a little sea shanty pirate style melody:
Ohhhh, I’ve done semis & weddings, a music videooo,
a couple many PA gigs, a feature film full packed show.
A freelancer jack of all, ready to go! (psst! now make that shit glow)
A dash of a bit of most everythinggg, you take what you get
rinse, repeat all, a lower thirds maniacal fit…
Invisible, this is the art of the edit.
yeah. I’ll stop there. (your welcome.)