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Film jobs offer paid roles in film editing, video editing, and camera operation. Those who choose these professions put in long hours working together to produce captivating movies and TV shows. In a typical workflow, camera operators shoot footage with cameras, while editors piece these clips together in a coherent and digestible fashion.

Are There Differences Between Film Editors vs. Video Editors?

Film editors work by using light boxes to splice together physical pieces of video tape. On the other hand, video editors manipulate digital footage using powerful computer software. Both jobs are tedious and time consuming.

Directors who choose the more costly route of shooting on film have no choice but to enlist film editors to piece together their projects. Also, since more and more people now shoot digital footage, skilled video editors are in high demand.

What Is Film?

A film is a series of images and sounds played in quick succession to create the illusion of movement. This art form is widely used to tell stories, give instructions, and convey other types of information. When creating films, two crucial jobs are those of the editor and camera operator.

Associates working as editors compile movies, short films, and television shows. To do this, they sift through dozens of hours of raw footage and compile it according to director or studio requests. Camera operators are responsible for framing their shots based on the director’s wishes.

Video editors typically work in isolated, quiet locations. These include editing bays and post-production booths. Some of them also work at office desks or within cubicles at studios. Live television directors, who in many ways act as editors, work in TV production trucks or control rooms. Camera operators stay busy on set during production, capturing actor performances and other types of footage.

Who Do Film Editors Work With?

Film and video editors spend lots of time working alone or in small groups alongside:

  • Assistant editors
  • Sound effects editors
  • Music supervisors
  • Directors
  • Consultants

Who Do Camera Operators Work With?

When filming on set, camera operators work with the following colleagues:

  • Directors
  • Cinematographers
  • Camera assistants
  • Gaffers (electricians) and grips (lighting and rigging staff)
  • Audio technicians
  • Actors

What Types of Projects Do Film Staff Produce?

Studios hire camera operators and editors to create videos on a wide variety of subjects. Associates often work on the following types of projects:

  • Commercials
  • Documentaries
  • Training and instructional videos
  • TV shows
  • Full-length movies
  • Music videos
  • Animated features like cartoons and claymation

What Are Film Editor Duties?

Film and video editors sequence scenes in a way that shows progression or elicits emotional response. The specific order in which they arrange shots makes a profound impact on the story’s logic and meaning. Editors often cut video to precise lengths, such as 30-second TV spots or 90-minute movies. They must finish projects within specific timeframes, which can lead to mandatory overtime.

These workers apply color correction to enhance video images. They also generate credits seen at the end of movies and TV shows. Sifting through and organizing video footage is a big part of an editor’s job, but those who capture the images assist this process. Camera operators label their footage and keep detailed shot logs in order to make sense of raw footage.

What Are Camera Operator Duties?

Camera operators shoot scenes based on orders from directors or cinematographers. At times, they may suggest shots and camera angles that can add to a film’s style or story. They practice specific arm movements and body positions in order to be ready when actors are on set. Those who capture movies or TV shows usually have a say in the types of lighting and lenses used in each scene.

Routine camera operator duties include focusing lenses, color balancing, and supervising assistants. Depending on the nature of their subject, they might have to travel for several months before returning home. They may even find themselves in dangerous situations when filming in unsafe locations.

Caring for and storing equipment is a vital aspect of camera operation. Rental or loaned gear is even more crucial to keep an eye on. Camera operators have to be responsible and attentive in order to avoid losing or damaging film tools.

What Types of Skills Should Editors and Camera Operators Possess?

Most editing work is done on computers, and therefore workers are trained to utilize editing software. The ability to navigate and utilize video compilation programs is crucial for those looking to get into this aspect of the business. Editors should have basic knowledge of graphic design and shot composition principals.

While working, editors need to possess vast amounts of concentration. Their job is tedious, requiring long attention spans and the ability to visualize a film’s sequencing needs. To refine these skills, employers may send their staff to take film classes. Postgraduate courses are usually not required for editing jobs, but they will further a candidate’s qualifications.

Film and video editors need acute time-management skills. They must be detail-oriented with excellent problem-solving talents. Associates also need to know how to make proper use of green screen technology and other editing techniques.

Camera operators should be experts in shot composition and positioning. They must also have patience, as they often wait for actors and riggers to prepare between takes. Not only do they need to know how to quickly assemble and disassemble their hardware, they must be strong enough to carry this film equipment everywhere they go. They should be proficient in the operation of drone cameras for capturing wide-angle overhead shots.

Camera operators must abide by established safety standards at all times. They may need to film from a fixed or moving position for long periods. Due to advances in technology, workers are likely to control robotic cameras at some point throughout their film careers. Prospects should have experience with the latest video camera equipment.

How Do Film Editors and Camera Operators Maintain Their Workspace?

Editors should keep their workstation free of drinks or food. These items can cause spills atop keyboards and video switchers. Film editors often prefer to work in quiet, isolated environments while collaborating with directors and producers. Their editing bays are dim or well-lit depending on personal preference.

Camera operators maintain neat and organized workspaces out of necessity. They must keep track of expensive camera components and accessories, along with memory cards containing digital footage. Because of their equipment’s sensitive nature, camera operators try to avoid dust and dirt getting into their gear bags.

The work environment of a camera operator varies depending on the type of footage being shot. Some sets exist indoors, while others take place outside during various times of day. Weather conditions range from hot and humid to rainy or snowy. Associates may have to stand, sit, or squat for extended periods.

Why Do Film Workers Need Communication Skills?

Film workers must be capable of following guidelines regarding shot composition and order of progression. They need quick thinking skills and the ability to convey complex ideas or instructions.

Lots of labor in the film industry is freelance. Recruits often get jobs through the people they know. Having strong connections can be the best way to find steady work. Higher-paying jobs will pop up as one builds their profile in the moviemaking community.

People in this industry want to be around positive coworkers, so an upbeat attitude goes a long way. Employers hire those with discipline, passion, and good demeanors.

What Are Useful Skills for People in This Field?

  • Creativity for solving abstract puzzles like the proper order of shots
  • Digital video editing skills for compiling footage
  • Organizational skills for keeping track of camera components and memory cards
  • Production of custom still images and motion graphics
  • Collaborative working skills for splitting duties amongst groups of people
  • Strength and endurance for holding heavy cameras and lugging film equipment
  • Ability to interpret and execute the director’s vision
  • The know-how to incorporate video with motion graphics and audio

Are There Special Film Requirements to Find Jobs?

A bachelor’s film degree is needed for most jobs in the business. Some prospects may even find work with a vocational or technical school certificate. Camera operators should look into cinematography classes, while video editors can earn a film certificate for their knowledge of software like Final Cut Pro or Avid.

What Is the Outlook for

Jobs in Film?

Over 59,000 Americans with film education find employment in this industry. Camera operators earn yearly salary options around $54k, with the potential to receive double that amount with the right skills and connections. Job growth is around 7%, which is on par with the national average.

Film and video editors enjoy wages around $62k per year with the possibility to make up to $170k. Industry growth is at a healthy 17%, well above the national average.

When employed full-time, unionized workers may be eligible for the following film benefits:

  • Medical insurance
  • 401(k) plans
  • Paid time off
  • Vision and dental coverage

Never before in history has there been so many ways to watch video. Digital platforms and streaming services are the new norm. Requests for American movies within foreign countries are growing, fueling job growth even further. The need for skilled film workers continues to swell as the public demands more movies and television shows.

What Should Workers Expect?

Freelancers may go through periods of unemployment after finishing a job. Unless they have strong connections, they must commit to time-consuming outreach in order to find their next gig. When perfecting projects or working against tight deadlines, associates should expect mandatory overtime.

In order to gain experience, most video editors make time to work on passion projects. Not only does this give them a body of material for their film resume, but it also helps to get their name out and make connections.

Where Can Prospects Find Work?

Film school graduates can work for local cable stations, major TV studios, and anything in between. Some of them are even self-employed or freelancers. Most full-time jobs are located near entertainment hubs such as Los Angeles and New York. The following companies actively hire those with film training:

  • Live television and news groups
  • High school, college, or pro sports leagues
  • Motion picture and video studios
  • Scientific organizations
  • Post-production facilities
  • Wedding and party planners
  • Government entities
  • Independent production outfits
  • Animation studios

Can You Work Remotely?

While a camera operator’s work always involves travel, editors have a bit more flexibility. Those with powerful computers and proper editing software can work from home. They will need an internet connection with enough bandwidth to transfer large video files.

Big-budget studios usually prefer their editors to work in company suites with approved equipment. However, a simple internet search reveals that there are many remote jobs available. Lots of entertainment and production companies outsource work to home editors.

Do Film Editors and Camera Operators Have Any Other Options?

With enough experience and industry connections, video editors and camera operators can begin creating their own projects. Becoming a producer or director allows for a high degree of creative control when making films and documentaries. It’s a high-stress job, but there is no better fit for those who love creating movies.

What Are Alternate Careers for Film Editors?

Editors and camera operators looking for something new have several avenues to explore. For example, multimedia artists generate visual effects and animations. They layer video footage with explosions, smoke, or anything else scenes may call for. Multimedia artists earn average hourly wages of over $30.

Interview with a Cinematographer

An interview with Bill Mills, owner of Florida Film and Video in St. Petersburg, Florida.

What is your job title? Where are you employed?

Director’s cameraman, director of photography. I have my own company, Florida Film and Video, and I’ve been doing it for about twenty-five years.

How long have you been a cinematographer?

I’ve been doing it for several years, but I started my own company at about 1984.

What type of training did you have to become a cinematographer?

I went to the University of Georgia.I had a four-year bachelor’s degree in journalism. That put me into a position to see how the industry has changed a lot. Coming out of college, kids should just start their own company.First, they should decide what they want to do in the industry and then go for it. The sky’s the limit depending on the career path you choose.

What do you like best about your job?

Working for myself. Having the freedom to make your own decisions, to make your own path about what you want to do. But you can go for a month without working if you’re on your own, so definitely put yourself on a business path as well as a creative path. Take businesses classes, not just liberal arts. The film industry is a business, just like the music industry. You have to be a self-starter.

Describe your typical day on the job.

Which job? Normally when I’m not working, I’m in my office doing paperwork. From your office, you might have to go somewhere on location and that can be anywhere from two days to thirty days. A lot of our stuff is remote locations. Every job is unique. As soon as you think it’s typical, it changes.
What career were you in before becoming a cinematographer? Do you feel that it helped prepare you for becoming a massage therapist?
I was doing journalism, working at a newspaper and making a decent earning. I found myself incorporating paramount to my words, and when I started taking pictures and filming, I realized this was what I’m most passionate about. But when you have a creative bone in your body, like writing, it’s easier to expand into other aspects of a different creative trade.

What traits do you feel are necessary to be successful as a cinematographer?

Everybody takes different paths to be successful. But you have to keep up-to-date. Editing and graphics has changed so much. The whole dynamics has completely changed. You have to be totally flexible and stay with the current trend.

Would you say it’s imperative to have a college education for a career such as this one?

I don’t think it’s imperative, but what I got out of college is I networked a lot. I don’t think it’s a hundred percent necessary. But, of course, you should have a good school to teach you what you need. When you’re in college, you need to start working on building a portfolio and college can help with that. If two people went for the same job and they both had impeccable portfolios, but one also carried a four-year degree, you can bet that person’s going to land the job. To be in the industry full-time, not just freelance, means it’s important to get that degree.

Would you recommend this career to someone else?

Yeah. I can’t think of anything better to do. I see things that people don’t see. Is it for everybody? I don’t think so. You have to have thick skin. You have to work for months on end. Don’t set your expectations too high. Be realistic. My first recommendation would be to go to college and get that full-time job. Get a feel for what the industry is all about. It’s hard to just have a good portfolio, unless you’re an amazing cinematographer. Doing it without college is extremely hard to do.

What is your next career move, if any?

Retire and go sailing. No, but seriously, I’m going to do more projects. I want complete control of my future projects.