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Old February 20th, 2005, 04:22 PM   #1
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Need advice on a big move: LA or NY?

As a fairly "green" editor time wise, Raleigh, NC has given about all it can to me in terms of editing short films, features and music videos (all that's left is corporate which I recently decided against going into) and I'm ready and preparing for a move when my lease is up in 6 months. Now the big question is, which area is going to provide the best opportunities for an editor looking for the next step, to begin a breakout move and hopefully meet some long term connections/friends in short or full length films and music videos, LA or NY? I'll be starting from scratch connection wise in both places and will be relying heavily on mandy.com and craigslist.org to begin working and networking (both areas have about the same amount of job posts). For a gauge of where my talents lie, my reel can be found at http://www.DefiningFilms.com/BryanRoberts.htm .
Please only reply if you have experience or know someone who has had experience in either of these places. Thank you very much for any advice you have to give, I greatly appreciate it as I contemplate this critical decision.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 07:46 PM   #2
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A friend of mine moved from Vancouver to LA and made it big time, after a couple of years in LA. However, he's a script writer, not an editor. Our moderator, Dylan, seems to be doing very well here in Vancouver (directing and editing). Chicago and Toronto are good as well.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 07:49 PM   #3
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It turns out that I have family connections (well, mostly extended family) in the "biz" that may or may not pan out but also have a few cousins in LA etc. that I think will help make the transition much smoother than NY where we (the gf and I) know no one - so in August, LA here we come.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 08:11 PM   #4
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Good luck. Stay away from the gang infested areas.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 08:43 PM   #5
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Gangs? We're looking at Glenndale, Burbank, N Hollywood or Studio City - I thought the gangs were primarily over on the other side of LA, but I guess I'm talking out of my ass here.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 09:05 PM   #6
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Just be careful with the mandy and the craigslist. They can be good, but there's so much bs on the job forums it's unbelievable--people asking you to work for free, underpaying, acting like they're more experienced/bigger than they are, etc.

I've had a little (very little) luck cold-calling production companies, and if you have good stuff to show off, that might work out better. At least your're dealing with established businesses then, instead of anonymous strangers.

Then again, I too could be talking from between my hairy cheeks (and I don't have a beard).
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Old February 25th, 2005, 12:53 AM   #7
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This might work:
Join a users group for Avid, Final Cut, Vegas, Adobe, etc. These meetings will have lots of other editors so they should be great for networking. If you want to, volunteer to do a presentation at one of these meetings. That might be a good ice breaker and/or a good way to get other people to talk to you. You can do whatever presentation you want... it could be about editing and sub-categories of that, audio (finding music, editing music together, noise reduction, etc.), production, special effects, how-to tutorials, DVD authoring, story boarding, etc. etc.

You might also try to look for similar events where the right people attend (editors, or people who would need one).
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Old February 25th, 2005, 09:54 AM   #8
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Nice ideas - although I'm HORRIBLE at public speaking, meeting people at those type events and also other events where editors might be needed is a good idea Glenn.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 09:03 AM   #9
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Although there are a ton of jobs/connections to be had in NYC, LA has more.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 10:28 AM   #10
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I was an editor for years, and boy did you pick a tough row to hoe! (Most of my work was as an uncredited "film doctor" fixing crap to make it less crappy).

L.A. has much more going on. I'd recommend joining Filmmaker Alliance here in Los Angeles.

http://info.facommunity.net/index.html

Dan
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Old February 28th, 2005, 11:42 AM   #11
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Dan - for someone who's a newer editor starting out in a new place, would you rec. making the rounds of freelance work on mandy and craigs? - or should I perhaps look for apprenticeships or maybe fulltime work as assistant editor at a production company? Any knowledge you could share would be invaluable, thanks.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 08:57 AM   #12
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Hi Bryan,

The internet didn't exist when I started, so I can't help you much there. Where you look depends on the kind of editing you want to do. The tuesday edition of the Hollywood report lists all the productions going on. If you want to edit features eventually, I'd contact the editors or production managers listed and see if you can get an apprenticeship. Or if your reel isn't strong in narrative stuff, see about getting on a no-budget feature as an editor. Of course this isn't going to pay anything. Join Filmmaker's alliance... it's a town of who you know, so the more contacts you can make, the better. If you've got the cash, I'd go back to school at AFI. They have an editing program that will hone your skills and put you in contact with those in the industry and those entering the industry. It's really a matter of shot-gunning as much as you can and see what sticks. Starting out is so much a matter of luck than anything else. I started out at Cannon (now defunct, thank god) as an assistant simply because they threw out all the old resumes and mine was on top of the pile. I got my first job editing about 6 months later because I knew the production manager on a feature that recommended me. The company hired the wrong director, and I ended up salvaging that picture, which sort of solidified my career as someone that could fix a film. The bad side of that was I was always working on crap, was uncredited, and I rarely came into a film from the start. The good part was I got to travel the world. It's all because I did a good job for a producer that told other producers. Again, it's who you know. Films are a risky undertaking, and people don't want to hire someone blind as a department head unless they know them, or know someone that knows them. Also, the computer has really changed the industry. Most directors think they can edit, and since computer editing is so fast, the director is in the editing room ALL THE TIME. So often the editor has turned from a creative professional into a machine operator, babysitter, handholder to directors that really don't understand the process or their own limitations of objectivity. In the old days, you wouldn't see the director in the editing room until the first cut was finished. This break gives directors time to forget what they shot and come into the process with fresh eyes. Something that's pretty rare nowadays, yet incredibly important. I know I'm getting off the subject, but I just want you to know what you're getting yourself into!

Just try everything: craig's list, AFI, major studios, independent films, no-budgets, and see what sticks.

Good Luck!

Dan
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Old March 1st, 2005, 09:30 AM   #13
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Dan - that's great info, I can't thank you enough. I emailed the Filmmaker's Alliance yesterday and hopefully will be joining very soon! Even though I've only worked in my local area and only one feature length edited in Boston, I even can attest that directors are now wanting to sit next to you while editing - it's tough, not that I have a huge problem with it but the objectivity part as you mentioned is tough and most director's can't edit but you have to respond to them like they can - very much like holding a child's hand. I have just a few more quickie questions if you can spare the time:

1. Did you go to film school? (I was trying to avoid at all costs, AFI is a bit out of reach expense wise)

2. On low budget features, do you typically edit on your own equipment? How important is it to have an upper end home system? (it would seem that with cuts only features that raw processor power isn't as important - I have a 1.4 G4 mac and a 2.4 gigahertz p4 both with ample storage, a gig of ram and Avid Xpress Pro, FCP HD)

3. When is it good to email, when is a phone call necessary and when is snail mail appropriate to send reels rather than online links (ie. when calling or applying to positions, contacting editors of features, contacting producers etc.)?

4. Do most people starting from the bottom that you've run into work in the field fulltime or do they have part time jobs? It seems like it'd be extremely important to have flexibility (I have somewhat of a cushion for a little while with the extremely supportive GF who will be working full time and savings).

Dan again, I can't thank you enough. Anything I can learn before hitting the scene is really again, invaluable. Thank you so much for your time.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 10:35 AM   #14
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1. Did you go to film school? (I was trying to avoid at all costs, AFI is a bit out of reach expense wise)

California Institute of the Arts.

2. On low budget features, do you typically edit on your own equipment? How important is it to have an upper end home system? (it would seem that with cuts only features that raw processor power isn't as important - I have a 1.4 G4 mac and a 2.4 gigahertz p4 both with ample storage, a gig of ram and Avid Xpress Pro, FCP HD)

Probably. Producers, when I applied for a job, used to ask what you've done and would talk to others you've worked for. When Avid came out, the first question out of their mouths was "Which Avid do you own?" They really didn't seem to be interested in whether you could actually edit or not. I'm sure having your own system would be very important, if not necessary on low budget. Mac over PC. I tend to like FCP more than Xpress. Typically a film would have at least 2 systems: one for the editor and one for the assistant. The more kick ass your system, the better a producer will like it. Now is it necessary to have a huge system to actually do the job? No.

3. When is it good to email, when is a phone call necessary and when is snail mail appropriate to send reels rather than online links (ie. when calling or applying to positions, contacting editors of features, contacting producers etc.)?

I would always write first with a cover letter and resume, then follow up with a phone call. FAXing is totally appropriate. But I would do all of the above. It's a matter of getting into the mind of the powers that be, like a bad commercial. Just don't get annoying. That'll just piss them off. I always hired people that were the most sincere instead of those that hyped up their resumes.

4. Do most people starting from the bottom that you've run into work in the field fulltime or do they have part time jobs? It seems like it'd be extremely important to have flexibility (I have somewhat of a cushion for a little while with the extremely supportive GF who will be working full time and savings).

I never had to have something else. I worked pretty solidly. Know that once you get on a film, you'll have no life at all. The hours are incredibly long, usually 6 days a week. They only time I worked 5 days a week was on Television. So a part time job is one you'll have to quit once you get a film. And if you do get a job outside the industry, don't tell the place you are applying to that you want to work in film. They know you'll quit as soon as something comes along, and won't hire you. Best to get a job at a post house or lab doing anything.

NAB is coming up in April in Vegas. It's a great place to make some contacts, plus I'll be teaching a couple of workshops there so I have to advise you go!

Dan
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Old March 1st, 2005, 12:49 PM   #15
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Dan - thank you, thank you, thank you. I really can't wait to get back to the no-life hours of film editing work which I haven't had to work since March 04', it's what I love to do. I would definitely attend NAB if I literally hadn't already scheduled 2 plane tix last night to LA for mid June (also my gf has to take the CBEST teaching certification test on June 18th, so it was centered around that) for exploring around Burbank, Glenndale, West Hollywood apartments and figuring out the traffic flows etc. . It would have been great to attend NAB and meet some more contacts and speak with you more in person (if you're not already tired of the subject ;) ). I guess I'll try and sell my g4 and work on a dual 2.0 G5 if producers of low budgets really take system specs into hiring consideration. I'm going to try and hold onto my dvx100a as long as I can - it's such a wonderful tool that I think will still be useful even if I'm focusing on editing. Thank you again.
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