editor working at the computer
MARCH, 2023
Essential Skills


Are you passionate about storytelling through visual media and looking to turn that passion into a fulfilling career in film and TV editing? Starting out in this competitive industry may seem daunting, but with the right guidance, persistence, and creativity, you can carve out a niche for yourself in no time. In this article, we will explore the steps necessary to dive into freelance film and television editing, including building your demo reel, networking effectively, and standing out from the competition.

Preparing for Success: Essential Skills and Tools for a Freelance Film and Television Editing Career

Acquiring the Right Technical Skills for Editing

Before you can start working consistently in film and TV editing, it’s crucial to have a solid foundation in the technical aspects of the field. As a video editor, you need to develop essential skills to create engaging content in the world of creative and digital media. Here are some of the key things you’ll need to know:

Familiarity with editing software: Learn how to use the most widely used editing tools such as Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro, which are popular among film editors and television editors alike. Having a good grasp of these tools will give you confidence in your editing abilities, not to mention make you more efficient.

The Value of Assistant Editing – A Stepping Stone to Becoming a Lead Editor: Working as an assistant editor is an invaluable stepping stone for aspiring film and television editors. Historically, many successful video editors began their careers by assisting more experienced professionals. Assistant editing not only provides hands-on experience but also offers a unique opportunity to learn from seasoned experts in creative and digital media.

By starting as an assistant editor, you can build a strong foundation in the technical and artistic aspects of film and TV editing. This experience will not only enhance your skills but also help you establish a professional network and reputation. Over time, as you continue to learn and grow, you’ll be better equipped to transition to lead editor.

Post PA – Getting Your Foot in the Door: Before aspiring editors can become assistants, they often start out as Post Production Assistants (Post PAs), also known as “runners.” These entry-level positions are at the bottom of the ladder in post-production, but they provide invaluable opportunities for those looking to get their foot in the door. Post PAs typically handle tasks like running errands, taking lunch orders, making coffee and, if lucky, occasionally “shadowing” assistants or even lead editors.

Despite its seemingly menial tasks, the Post Production Assistant role is often a much-coveted position for those starting out in editing. By working closely with experienced professionals and learning from their expertise, Post PAs can gain invaluable knowledge and connections that will serve as a strong foundation for their future careers as assistants and beyond. In fact, many successful film and TV editors can trace their career trajectories back to their humble beginnings as Post Production Assistants.


Sound editor working at the digital audio workstation.

Color correction and grading: Understand the principles of color theory and learn how to use software like DaVinci Resolve to enhance the visual quality of your projects. A good understanding of color correction and grading techniques will help you create more visually appealing and professional-looking work, and they are a an important skill set to be familiar with.

Sound editing and mixing: Develop your audio editing abilities and learn to use apps like Avid Pro Tools or Adobe Audition for sound editing, design, and mixing. Sound editing is a crucial aspect of film and television editing, and editors often say “sound sells it,” as it greatly impacts the viewer’s experience.

Graphics and visual effects: Learn to create and manipulate motion graphics and visual effects using programs like Adobe After Effects or Cinema 4D. As an assistant editor or a lead editor, understanding graphics and VFX will elevate the quality of your projects and help you stand out in the competitive world of film and television editing.

Building a Demo Reel

A strong demo reel is often essential, (and required) to getting work in editing. Showcasing your video editing prowess and ability to work across various formats is essential in the field of creative and digital media. Here’s how to build a compelling showcase of your work as an editor:

Include a variety of projects: Show potential employers your versatility by including different types of projects, such as short narrative films, commercials, documentaries, and music videos if possible. Highlighting your experience in different genres demonstrates your adaptability and ability to handle diverse projects.

Highlight your editing skills: Demonstrate your proficiency in storytelling, pacing, and visual effects by including before-and-after examples. Make sure to emphasize your role in the post-production process, whether as an assistant or lead editor.

Create a personal brand: As you get more projects under your belt, develop a unique style and visual identity that sets you apart from others and one that resonates with your target prospects. This personal brand will help you stand out in the competitive world of film and TV editing.

Showcase your portfolio online: Build a professional website and utilize social media platforms to share your work and attract potential employers. A strong online presence is crucial in the creative and digital media industries and can help you land more projects.

Ace Tech Fest Workshop
Editors lined up for an event.

Networking and Marketing Strategies

Leveraging Your Personal and Professional Network as an Editor

In the field of film and TV editing, your network can be your most valuable asset. Building connections with other professionals will help you gain exposure and open up opportunities in the creative and digital media landscape. Here’s how to utilize your connections to get started

Reach out to former colleagues and classmates: Let them know you’re available for freelance work and ask if they have any leads or referrals. Film editors, television editors, and other professionals in the field can provide valuable insights and connections to help you get started.

Attend industry events: Film festivals, networking events, and workshops are great opportunities to meet potential clients and collaborators. These events will help you establish yourself as an editor and can lead to partnerships or work.

Participate in online communities: Participate in forums, social media groups, and online platforms dedicated to film and TV editing to exchange ideas, seek advice, and uncover work opportunities. Engaging with fellow video editors and film professionals can expand your network and improve your visibility in post-production.

Offer your services to local businesses and organizations: Develop relationships with local production companies and nonprofits by offering your editing skills for promotional videos or other projects. This will help you gain experience, build your portfolio, and strengthen your reputation as an editor.

Man editing at the computer.
Woman editing on the computer

Marketing Your Editing Abilities in Film and Television

Although this might not come naturally to some creatives, promoting your skills and abilities as an editor is essential to building a successful career in editing. Implementing smart marketing strategies will help you attract work and showcase your expertise in creative and digital media. Here are some marketing strategies to consider:

Develop a unique selling proposition: Identify what sets you apart from other editors and communicate that value to potential clients. Are you great with sound editing, visual effects or graphics? Emphasize your experience, skills, and unique approach to post-production to attract clients who appreciate your special abilities and style.

Create a professional website: Showcase your portfolio, list your skill set, and include testimonials to establish credibility and attract new work. Having a polished online presence is crucial for film and video editors in today’s digital age.

Utilize social media: Regularly post your work, your latest news, and behind-the-scenes content, (with permission) on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to engage your audience and expand your network. This will help you reach potential employers and collaborators. But remember, always be humble and considerate, nobody likes a know it all or braggart.

Reach out to potential employers directly: Identify production companies, agencies, and filmmakers in your niche, and send them personalized emails introducing your abilities and linking to your portfolio. Proactively seeking out opportunities can lead to new collaborations and help you grow as an editor.

Build partnerships: Collaborate with other freelancers, such as cinematographers, directors, and sound editors, to build a team that can offer comprehensive production services to clients. These partnerships can lead to more opportunities and help you establish a solid reputation in film and TV editorial.

Staying Competitive and Growing Your Freelance Career in Film and Television Editing

Keeping Up with Industry Trends as an Editor

Staying informed about the latest trends, techniques, and tools in post is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge. As a video editor, it’s important to continuously improve your craft and adapt to the ever-evolving field of creative and digital media. Here’s how to stay up-to-date.

Follow industry blogs and publications: Subscribe to trade journals, newsletters, and blogs to stay informed about new software, editing techniques, and news. This will help you stay ahead of the curve in both film editing and television editing.

Attend workshops and conferences: Participate in workshops, webinars, and conferences to learn from experts and discover emerging trends in video editing. These events can help you enhance your skills and stay relevant in the post-production process.

Join professional organizations: Become a member of organizations like the Motion Picture Editors Guild or the American Cinema Editors to access resources and networking opportunities. These organizations can help you connect with future co-workers and other professionals.

Experiment with new tools and techniques: Continuously update your skill set by learning and incorporating new editing techniques and software into your workflow. Currently, there is a tremendous demand for those who are adept at visual effects. Adapting to new technologies and trends will help you stay competitive as a freelance video editor in film and TV editing.

Networking with others on the editing team.
Editors collaborating at the computer

Expanding Your Network as a Freelance Film and Television Editor

To grow your work opportunities in film and TV editing, it’s essential to consistently attract new clients. As an editor, you need to expand your network and showcase your expertise in the creative and digital media landscape. Here are some strategies for expanding your client base:

Seek client referrals: Encourage satisfied clients to refer you to their colleagues and friends. Positive word-of-mouth can lead to new opportunities for film and television editing projects.

Optimize your online presence: Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your website’s search ranking and make it easier for potential employers to find you. A strong online presence can help you attract clients looking for editors.

Diversify your offerings: Consider expanding your skill set to include related fields, such as color grading, sound design, visual effects or motion graphics. Offering a broader range of post-production services can attract a wider range of clients and projects.

Pursue passion projects: Work on personal projects or collaborate with others on non-commercial projects to showcase your creativity and attract new clients who share your artistic vision. Passion projects can help you build your reputation as a skilled and innovative editor.


How long does it take to become proficient in video editing?
The time it takes to become proficient in film or video editing varies from person to person, depending on factors such as prior experience, dedication, and the complexity of the editing software being used. Generally, it can take several months to a couple of years to develop a solid foundation in editing skills. As a creative endeavor, many believe you never stop learning!

What are the most common Non-Linear Editing programs used in film and TV?
Some of the most popular editing software programs used in film and TV include Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. While Media Composer is the most widely used in high-end features and TV, Adobe Premiere Pro and Davinci Resolve are adding new features and becoming more common in post.

Is it necessary to have a formal education in film or television editing to succeed as a freelance editor?
While having a formal education in film or television editing can be beneficial, it’s not a strict requirement for success as a freelance film or video editor. Many successful editors have built their careers through self-taught skills, online courses, workshops, and on-the-job experience.

What rates should I charge as a freelance video editor?
The rates you charge as a freelance video editor will depend on factors such as your experience, skill level, the complexity of the project, and the client’s budget. It’s essential to research industry rates and consider your own expenses and desired income when determining your rates.

How do I find a job as a freelance film or television editor?
To find work as a freelance film or television editor, you can leverage your personal and professional network, attend industry events, join online communities and job boards, offer your services to local businesses, and use social media and other online platforms to showcase your work and connect with potential clients.

What is the role of an assistant editor in the post-production process?
An assistant editor is responsible for supporting the lead editor in various tasks throughout the post-production process. These tasks include organizing and managing footage, syncing audio and video, preparing sequences for review, and exporting cuts. Assistants play a crucial role in maintaining an efficient workflow and ensuring the lead editor can get their work done as smoothly as possible.


Launching your freelance career in film and television editing requires hard work, dedication, and a strategic approach. By honing your technical skills, building a diverse portfolio, networking effectively, and implementing smart marketing strategies, you can forge a path in this competitive field. Stay informed about trends, continuously improve your craft, and seize every opportunity to showcase your unique talents and grow your network of clients and collaborators. The journey may be challenging, but with perseverance and passion, you can establish yourself as a sought-after editor in professional films and television.

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