Editors are one of the key Heads of Department on feature films, responsible for First Assistant Editors, and on bigger productions, Second Assistants and Trainees. The way a story unfolds and grabs the attention of the audience is one of the most important elements in filmmaking. The main responsibility of the editor is to ensure that the story flows effortlessly from beginning to end, each shot is carefully chosen and edited into a series of scenes, which are in turn assembled to create the finished film.

On the first day of principal photography, Editors begin work in the cutting room, looking at the previous day's rushes which are developed overnight at the Film Lab and syncedup (synchronised, the alignment of sound and image) by the Assistant Editor. Because scenes are shot and edited out of sequence, Editors may work on scenes from the end of the film before those at the beginning, and must therefore be able to maintain a good sense of how the story is unfolding. In some cases, an improvised line or an actor's interpretation of their role may create some on–screen magic that can be developed into a new and exciting scene.

Usually the editor creates and edits the contents of the media production (newspaper, TV programme, film, etc.) by using computer software to compile the finished film. This can be seen as a creative role also.

He/she works long hours, most of the time under pressure, in an edit suite or cutting room. The producer employs the editor on a freelance basis.

Job/task description

  • Choose the best takes and edit them together so as to generate scenes
  • Transform sounds and images into continuous scenes of the film
  • Cut out irrelevant information that doesn’t reflect the main idea of the film
  • Work closely with the Director before shooting begins, deciding how to maximise the potential of the screenplay
  • Make sure about the technical standards
  • Looking at the previous day's rushes
  • Check the technical standards
  • Check the emerging sense of story and the actors' performances
  • Work on scenes from the end of the film before those at the beginning is possible
  • Select the best takes and edit them together to create scenes
  • Reworking scenes and cutting them together to create a Rough Assembly by the time the film wraps (shooting is completed)
  • Work closely together with the Director during the post production period, refining the assembly edit into the Director's Cut, which must be approved by the Producers, until they achieve picture lock or Fine Cut (when the Director and/or Executive Producer give final approval of the picture edit)
  • Editors usually work in a supervisory role during the subsequent music and track laying, and sound mix