Audio Interview with a Cinematographer

One of the cool things about twitter is when I get to meet someone I follow in person. I asked Cinematographer Julia Swain if she would like to meet up for an interview. I was excited when she was more than willing.
We had a cup of coffee and talked about what we are passionate about: creativity and movie making.

A big thank you to Julia for taking the time to chat with me. You can see more of her work at and be sure to add her on twitter. ūüôā

My Personal Film School

I may not be able to afford film school but I can afford books. Here is my film library. Some of these I read a while back and others I bought yesterday when I was in Burbank. I am now on my third book, “What They Don’t Teach You at Film School.”

I just finished, “In The Blink of An Eye” and loved every moment of it. I didn’t want the book the end. My personal film school is: Read a book, make a film, read a new book, film….

Here are a few more books I am looking to read:

Make the Cut: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Assistant Editor in Film and TV
by Lori Coleman and Diana Friedberg

First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors
by Gabriella Oldham

Do you have any favorite film books?

7 Questions with an Assistant Film Editor

I’ve been looking to connect with a female film editor for years.¬†After all its my dream job to edit a film.
Kim is an Assistant Film Editor and on her newest project she is an Apprentice Editor.
When she sent me back the answers, I was blown away at her insight. She gave me  a lot to think about.

-Thank you so much Kim for taking the time to answer my seven questions.

Here we go:

Kim Huston, Assistant Film Editor

1. What responsibilities does an Assistant Film Editor have?

In my experience the Assistant Editor on a feature film is very much the Editor’s right-hand-man. The Editor¬†relies¬†on the¬†Assistant¬†to keep them up to date and prepared for the work ahead.When you give them the dailies for that day, the Editor assumes everything is accounted for and error free because it isn’t their responsibility to check. Check for errors or¬†inconsistencies, or sync issues in dailies, then organize in the most sensible fashion, and keep everything¬†consistent¬†in your method.¬†Your main goal as an Assistant Editor is to make life easier for the Editor.
The AE is also the one in contact with production for receiving footage, and paperwork, and whatever else they need to send. So keeping up to date with them is important. They get caught up in their busy day and sometimes forget to send things and it’s easy to lose track of what came in and what didn’t. The paperwork upkeep is necessary for the Editor to properly work as well. It will slow them down if new footage has come in, but the current line pages and facing pages aren’t there to accompany.
DVDs and digital files get requested all the time by the Director, Producers, distributors and marketing, Mixers and VFX houses, etc etc.  So the Assistant Editor makes all of those happen as well.
It’s a lot of providing and appeasing, while always having your Editor’s back and working as a team to make things work. It’s an interesting, but fun relationship to have with someone. It’s like being on a capture the flag team of 2!¬†Strategize¬†and work together!

2. What have you found to be the best training in becoming a film editor?

The best training I’ve found for becoming a Film Editor is to do TONS of projects on your own, so you learn the craft and aren’t bogged down by technology. Watch a lot of movies! You should know your craft and what other people are doing. And read theory books, especially by Walter Murch. He has such a smart and eye opening (haha, Walter Murch book reference joke) way of explaining his choices and methods of editing.
I’d say film school doesn’t help a whole lot, but that’s probably not true of the top schools on the two coasts as compared to mine in the midwest. Going to school with teachers who are actively working in the business, who have connections and offer you jobs is SUCH an advantage. The other part about doing, watching and reading ensures you’re good enough to accept the job offers from your great school connections.

3. Have you ever had to work on a project you were uncomfortable with?

No, I haven’t worked on anything that I was uncomfortable with. Some things I wouldn’t personally watch or enjoy, yes. Nothing offensive.

4. What makes a good editor?

I think a good Editor can define a project, but knows they’re working on someone else’s baby and doesn’t overshadow. A good Editor will know what “style” the project calls for and it’s not about showing off. A good Editor can drive the story, and should. A good Editor adds to the story instead of takes away, covers up, or pulls back the curtain to reveal every cut.

5. What are film makers and directors looking for when choosing an editor?

In a perfect and professional scenario, Directors will look for a person who 1, they can get along with and is a team player and  2, will successfully pull off their vision. I think they look for a creative partner in crime.

6. Sometimes on credits next to the editor I see A.C.E. What does it stand for? 

The A.C.E. stands for American Cinema Editors. It’s not a union, but more of an honorary cool kids table.
(There is a different union) I call it the “cool kids table” not to be¬†flippant, but because it’s where you want to be, and you have to prove yourself to get there, and then you get to show off your fancy new suffix. It seems a bit coveted. The rules of¬†admittance¬†sound a little like those of an ivy league school. But I fully admit to aspiring to be able to join one day! It’s all about getting to sit with the awesome people at lunch.

7. What advice would you give to a FCP video editor who would like to transition in to film? (me haha)

Well there are plenty of films cut on Final Cut. I’d say learn Avid too. You wouldn’t want to NOT get work because of the program you use, so know them all! Otherwise, my advice is meet people specifically working in features. I’ve learned… very slowly… that it’s ALL about who you know and just a piece of paper with your qualifications gets you nearly nowhere.

— so good, Kim you are awesome… ūüôā

Connect with Kim: