Working in post-production can be a fulfilling career choice for those with the right qualities and passion for the job. But as with most careers in Hollywood and adjacent fields, there are ups and downs to the dream role you thought was going to be "the one". You've probably heard "your job sounds cool" a thousand times when you explain that you edit music videos or commercials for a living. And it can be cool. You're right in the mix of things and can definitively say you helped make that thing. But it can be depressing AF too. We've asked around and hear is what we've heard.
1. You're not the Drake, you're his ghost writer
Generally, editors can live with the fact that the audience will know James Cameron but not John Refoua. You may even enjoy the bit of anonymity that comes from being in post. But there are times where you may wish you got the praise for the final product that was so intricately created through the power of editing. Raw footage is nothing without post-teams to bring it together.
2. You suffer the wrath of field production errors
"There's no budget to reshoot! Figure it out!" we've all heard from someone who screwed up big but relies on the post team to clean up the mess. If you work with an inexperienced field crew regularly, these errors can start to weigh on you and even impact your reputation as an editor.
3. Time is not a concept to stakeholders and clients
Let's set the scene:
"We shot for one day. It should only take a day to edit...right?" If you've ever worked as a editor you've probably heard some variation on that from a client. It can be incredibly discouraging to hear a client know so little about the time necessary to produce awesome work. So much so, that they think it takes the same amount of time to edit a YouTube video as a commercial. You grin and bear it while preparing to push against the clock and work up the nerve to ask for a slight extension. Heavy sigh.
4. Being in a dark room can be depressing, literally
OK, this might seem like a stretch but we're completely serious. Tons of studies suggest the link between light deprivation and real-life clinical depression.
5. Adequate pay is not a clear concept to those that hire you
You may not have dove head first into a post-career for money -- most creatives can only hope to be rewarded fairly for their contributions. But there is a conventional idea that proliferates through many a production budgeting session: The budget for post can always be lowered. VFX are cheaper, editing systems are ubiquitous and there are thousands of people who can edit for cheap...or so they say. But it can become a sore spot when you're constantly devalued.
6. You'll be dinged for not being a mind-reader
One of the biggest hurdles in finishing an editing project is not the first cut, but the many revisions you may need to make because of poor feedback loops. Many tools make the review and approval process simpler than ever, but if you're faced with stakeholders who are technology adverse or hold radically opposing views, the collaboration process can still be quite brutal. At some point in your career you will encounter a client or supervisor who is never satisfied, doesn't give clear feedback, or wants you to perform magic tricks rather than your job.
7. Your technical advantage over the competition can quickly become obsolete
One thing that makes you constantly valuable regardless of your career or industry is your skill set. However, similar to someone who made shoes in 1900 vs. today, one's skill set must drastically change to adjust to an evolving climate. If you're an older editor, you'll never lose you ability to tell a story but you may have to learn and keep up with new software, industry standards, and trends. For some, this challenge is a welcomed one but for those who liked the way things were it can be a tough new world.
Luckily, the good days usually outweigh the bad, especially when you're running on deadline adrenaline, ready to share a new project with the world or a client is thrilled with your work. That's a post for another day!
Do you work in post? Do you love it most days or relate just a little too much to the above. Comment below about your own experiences for better or for worse.