I’ve been working in post-production for about five years now, much of that time as an assistant editor and all of it for the same company. So, while I have a perspective on the profession, it’s just a single view-point. Thus it is with some eagerness that I picked up Make the Cut: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Assistant Editor in Film and TV with the hopes of getting a broader view.
Right at the start, the authors assure us that they write for readers whose ultimate goal is not to be an assistant, but to be a full-fledged editor. Their recommendation is to achieve this goal by being an excellent assistant — it’s not the only way people have achieved that goal, but certainly the most reliable. Coleman and Friedberg make the case that being a great assistant gets you access to the best editors, who can serve as mentors and eventually open the door for you.
They’ve put together what amounts as a strategy and game plan for becoming a full editor, with lots of tips that come from real experience, including an extended section at the end which appears to be a transcript of a roundtable with several working editors who offer a range of opinions about what they are looking for in an assistant.
As far as specific technical tips, this book is not as deep. They cover the paperwork and duties that are expected for assistants in features, television and reality/documentaries but do not get into many Final Cut Pro/Avid specifics. That’s okay, because that’s the sort of information that expires most quickly. The authors sensibly recommend online tutorials and local classes to stay current with software.
A lot of books of this type have a companion website where you can download some of the paperwork templates discussed in the book. If there is one thing a new edition should add, that’s my vote. But really, you’ll be able to quickly whip up the templates yourself based on what’s shown in the book, or, as the authors suggest, just copy the templates that your working assistant friends are already using.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in pursuing post-production as a career. It’s super-readable, highly-informative and, based on my experience, quite accurate.