Tag Archives: DMJ Studios

Tips for Editors: How to get the job

By David Jasse

As a veteran editor and video producer, I’ve held many different positions since I started in the industry — I’ve been the hired help and I’ve been the one doing the hiring. Looking back on these experiences has put me in a good position to share my wisdom. Some of these might seem super-obvious, but they are all based on my recent experience interviewing editors for job openings at my studio…

1. Do your homework about the company you’re meeting with, and think about the client first. Before you tell them where you became really good at your craft (which you should do at the right time) and certainly before you tell them that you’ve been making films since you were five years old, talk about their needs first and read the ad carefully. Research the company and the work they do before you go. Help them make the connection between your skill set and what they do. Sounds obvious, but it’s scary how many editors show inappropriate work for what we do here.

2. Know the software. Go beyond intuitive editing. A lot of people can cut around the timeline. Do you know the shortcuts? Do you have your own personal settings? Maybe you don’t even know what personal setting are. It’s frightening to see people who call themselves professional editors need three key strokes to do something that should take one. Learn the software not just how to edit.

3. Know templates. If you want to be a professional editor, you should leverage templates out there and practice using them. It’s important to employers that you give them a polished look without having to pay for an expensive graphic artist. On the other hand if you’re the storyteller, predator type and you know how to create good content while being the editor, then its fine stick to that – your ability for graphics is irrelevant. I highly recommend becoming expert at templates, whether they be for show opens, lower thirds, or just throughout the video.

4. Living things must grow. Show that you too are growing and advancing. Do you read books? Do you do online tutorials? Do you get to seminars? Software changes all the time. Are you keeping up and advancing?

5. Be tech savvy. You should know how to use a computer and get around the keyboard and Internet. Sounds incredibly obvious, but when an editor sits down at the computer it only takes about 10 seconds to know if they are comfortable. Also, keep your hands on the controls when at a computer or edit station. Take your hands out of your pockets and be ready to edit. It’s like a PA on a set with their hands in their pockets. It’s bad set etiquette… the same goes for editing. Be ready to make changes in the edit.

6. Be prepared to show your work. The “Oh wait, I just have to download it” doesn’t impress.

In addition to the above here are some more general tips:

  • Don’t dress like a slob. Sure you’re creative, and maybe you can work your way to slob once you have the job, but when you come in for the first time dress respectively. Some people get grossed out by bad personal grooming, so don’t rub the person the wrong way with something that later on won’t matter. Look presentable.
  • Stay in touch. When I interview you, I’m immersed in you and getting to know you. Once you’re out the door I’m focused on things that make me money. I don’t remember everybody who comes in the door. There’s a good chance I might forget you, no matter how friendly and engaged I was when you were in my office. If you think you’re a good fit, stay in touch and send work from time to time.
  • Ask questions. I expect candidates to have questions for me, just not ones like this: “Do you pay for my train ticket?” I’m expecting you to ask about what is required of the position, and typical turnaround times, not about your days off and if I will I pay for this or that for you. Ask about advancement in the company, maybe performance-based raises.


David Jasse is the owner and creative director of New York-based DMJ Studios.

How to get hired, and how to get hired again

By David Jasse

Over the last 15 years, I’ve interviewed many potential job candidates — full-time and freelance — for my post and production company DMJ Studios… and I’ve seen it all! You should know, I’m a people person. I always look for the best in people, but to be honest, some of the folks who have come in for interviews have left me speechless.

For example, I asked one woman who was applying for a production manager position, “What exactly did you do on that particular production?” She squirmed in her seat, never answered and then left. Another person came for an edit position and got mad at me for testing him on the software. He said I should have warned him that I was going to test him!

I thought this list might be useful in helping those looking for work or hoping to stay employed long-term.

1. Be a professional. Come early. Stay late if needed.
2. Acknowledge mistakes and weaknesses. Don’t make excuses. Tell the truth.
3. Know how to wear a producer hat. In other words, if you’re asked to do something you can’t do, find someone who can.
4. Say little, but do a lot.
5. Do not text or talk on the phone on company time. Do it on breaks or ask permission.
6. Know the software like a professional. Be an expert, take classes and stand out.
7. Go the extra mile — wash a dish, change a bulb, make coffee… don’t just stand there.
8. If you can’t make it in then send a friend/freelancer.
9. Submit fair, one-time, accurate billing.
10. Be familiar with the work of the company you’re applying to/working for.

Employing just a few of these simple tips might help make you an even stronger candidate/employee.

David Jasse is a director and owner of Long Island-based DMJ Studios. Jasse opened DMJ in 1992 after gaining network experience at CNN, MTV, CBS and Fox. Among his company’s most recent achievements is editing and designing graphics for Emmy Award-winning Born to Explore With Richard Weise for ABC.

Tips from an experienced shooter/editor

DMJ Studios’ David Jasse is an editorial and production veteran with over 20 years in the industry. Jasse opened DMJ in 1992, after gaining experience at CNN, MTV, CBS and Fox. Among his company’s most recent work was editing and designing graphics for Emmy Award-winning Born to Explore With Richard Weise as seen on ABC.

We asked him to share some tips for shooting and editing, and he obliged….

1. Don’t blame the gear — you have to position yourself. Don’t worry about having a zoom lens.

2. “Dirty the lens,” as the pro’s call it. Don’t be afraid to frame your shot with tree branches obscuring or framing the shot. The same goes for fences, backs of chairs, poles. It’s great, especially if you can do a side-to-side dolly and reveal your subject, with our without a slider.

3. Be sure to change focal lengths. The normal 50mm DSLR lens is what your eye sees, but your videos may not look exceptional although, and while it’s not about the gear, the gear helps. Try a 200mm to really blur out backgrounds. Try a 14mm extreme wide, just before distortion for a different look. The 14mm is great for a cheap man’s steadicam for dolly shots. Be sure to get in very close to your subject and fill the lens.

4. Think like an editor. Cover yourself with cutaways. It’s fundamental, but folks forget. Get a wide, establishing, move in for the two shot, then singles, then reversals. Don’t forget that extreme close-up and, of course, the over the shoulder.

5. Don’t center your shot… it’s blah. Amateurs typically see the focus cross hairs in the center and think they’re aiming at their subject. You’re not aiming for a bulls-eye — you’re composing. Divide the frame into thirds, put talking heads way off to the side, leaving lead room.

6. Once you know the rules then you can break them. Know them first before you try a shaky-cam, a hand-held look or swish pans.

7. Spend time editing your own material. Until you try cutting it yourself, you’ll never know if the speed of your pans is good, or if you’re holding your static shots long enough.

David Jasse editing.

1. I learned by editing by number. This is coloring by numbers, but for editing. I’ll explain: Find a video with editing you respect, then cover it with your own materials replacing their shots to the frame. Edit within the editor’s cuts. You’ll learn about two-frame edits, editing to the beat, and you’ll get some great ideas.

2. Be organized. It’s good for you and it’s a must for people who are going to work at a company. People are going to need to retrace  your steps and find what you do. Date your edited sequences and don’t name it “final,” because there are likely to be five “final” cuts.

3. Take an editing class; learn the software. Many programs are very intuitive today, and folks think they are professional editors because they have cut a lot of nice work. A real editor, one who is marketable, knows the shortcuts and the software, not just how to come up with a nice cut. Professionals who know the software are much faster and come in to save the day when the film has to get out and you need that person who can find that bug that won’t let you output your sequence.

4. Basic color correction. Pretty much all software today has the automatic white balance. Find white in the shot — could be the eyes, the teeth, the wall, the shirt — and, at least, white balance. For a pro, there’s no excuse for green images, and I see a lot of them.

5. Templates. Everything has been done today for the most part, so why reinvent the wheel? Most of us don’t have network budgets for graphics; even networks don’t always have them. Find a Motion or After Effects template you and your client like, then modify it. Any average editor can use Motion, for example, but, once again, learn the software on your own using YouTube videos for help, and then go take a class. Your value will increase out there in the market.

6. Cut first, think later. Some of my best edits over the years happened by mistake, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

7. Tell stories with your cuts. Your film should look good without sound. Remember a video is worth a thousand words. Instead of having someone explain the matter at hand, show it with nice visuals that make sense… that tell the story. Too often you see videos with very random B-roll, not telling a visual story.