Editing: A look at the business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
Issue: December 1, 2014

Editing: A look at the business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

Editors and facilities are seeing an unparalleled demand for content worldwide. It’s coming from new media and new sources of business outside the traditional business models. Editors are able to do more post themselves, thanks to comprehensive toolkits and facilities offering under-one-roof services or a family of businesses that fill clients’ needs.  

But, editors are also challenged by shrinking budgets and turnaround times.  On the commercial side, they’re watching more agencies set up in-house editing facilities; on the feature film side, they’re seeing studios push big-budget titles, perhaps to the detriment of medium-budget movies that once were their bread and butter. Editors are under pressure to evolve to meet changing market needs and cope with the concerns of motion picture piracy. Still, the insatiable desire for content makes for a healthy forecast.

Executive Producer
Los Angeles and Austin

Cut+Run features a diverse roster of editors, as well as resources for VFX, design and finishing for advertising, entertainment and art. The company has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin. Its clients include Honda, Miller Lite, Dr. Pepper, Adidas, Pepsi, and Nike. 

STRENGTHS: “The television has gone from in our homes to everywhere — in our pockets, on our wrists — and with it, the demand for all types of content, especially from those emphasizing creative editorial, has led to a tremendous period of growth, often with new clients. This desire has allowed companies like Cut+Run to thrive because when you really care about the work your clients do, you form strong creative partnerships.”

WEAKNESSES: “Each year, everyone says it feels like budgets are tighter than they’ve ever been! You have to be smart about your approach to a job and be very nimble. The industry, as a whole, needs to continue to watch and address clients’ extended payment terms.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “Business models used to be very traditional and often limited in scope when it came to sources of work. The doors have been blown completely open. Opportunities are coming from everywhere: We’ve edited for production companies directly, with TV writers brought in by the client, and have even created online content with no agency involved. It's always been about cultivating strong relationships and that’s still true, but now they are more varied relationships.

“Agency partnerships with global clients can also lead to tremendous opportunities. We had a Starbucks project from 72andSunny run through our LA office, which was shot in nearly 50 cities on the same day. Strategic planning and preparation by the production company, agency, client and post house enabled a workflow that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago. In two-and-a-half weeks we went through all the footage and delivered a :60 cinema spot, eight short documentaries, a two-minute online spot and multiple international broadcast commercials.”

THREATS: “Editorial companies need to be able to evolve to meet the changing needs and demands of agencies and other creative partners. That’s not really a threat, it’s a requirement that companies pay attention to the core aspects of their business model and understand their partners.  If you do, it’s a great time to be in editorial.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2015: “We’re really optimistic and excited about 2015. We hope the trends we’ve seen in all markets will continue. Content is consumed everywhere, on all types of devices. Although that means the market is more fragmented, the hunger and thirst for content positions creative editorial in a great place.”

Lucky Post

Lucky Post is a full-service post studio combining creative editorial, graphic design, high-end compositing, sound design, mixing, and finishing. Clients include Chrysler, Comcast, The Home Depot, McDonald’s, MetroPCS, RAM, and Southwest.

STRENGTHS: “Lucky Post is my first opportunity to work in a post house where everything is under one roof. That’s a big strength. It streamlines and speeds the process for everyone’s shortened schedules, and — more importantly — allows a cohesive creative approach, where everyone in all stages is on the same page.”

WEAKNESSES: “As an editor, the most precious thing for me is time — time to go through the footage and get to know it. I think the creative process is consistently compromised by the move toward rapidity. People new to the industry may not know that time is essential for the editor in their process to get the best edit possible.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “As the industry changes, there’s an expansion of creative content in new formats, and yet storytelling is and always will be at its center. It’s fun and exciting to see editing take on new media with clients. For example, I'm starting to see some editing for interactive projects. I worked on a concert by Beck, sponsored by Lincoln Motor Company, that was a 360-immersive experience. I worked with director Chris Milk to translate the concert experience that he shot so the online viewer could place himself in the show [and feel] as if they were actually there.”

THREATS: “Aside from time, the increased use of treatments might be a threat. I saw from editing in music videos that treatments were prevalent. Now, every commercial has a treatment — in addition to the storyboards. Recently, we've seen an increase for rips, which is essentially the editor's treatment. The spots are coming together before we have the opportunity to collaborate with the agencies on these stories. Unfortunately, this can compromise the creative process both with our clients and directors, and I don't want to see those collaborations limited.” 

OUTLOOK FOR 2015: “The industry is strong, and editorial companies seem to be thriving. I think interactivity will push its way through in more projects.”

Editor/Creative Director
Whitehouse Post
London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Amsterdam 

Whitehouse Post fosters editorial storytelling in a creative and supportive environment, which features production and finishing partnerships with sister companies Cap Gun Collective and Carbon VFX, as well as design-driven production company Gentleman Scholar. Commercial clients include GE, Nike, Audi, and Google; feature film and documentary credits include Leaving Las Vegas, Seven Psychopaths, and Spring Breakers.

STRENGTHS: “Editorial has always been such a fundamental part of filmmaking, yet it’s been somewhat undervalued over the years. It’s like being a drummer in a band — everybody thinks you’re important but no one can remember your name. Our strength is that we’re pretty obsessed with editing. We acknowledge that there’s sort of a digital jack-of-all-trades thing going on with some editors saying they can edit, composite and mix audio. But instead of our editors saying they can do it all, we’ve developed a family of businesses — a design company, VFX company, production company — that work together in a really tight way. That makes for a cost-effective and efficient option for client, while we all still remain specialists in what we do.”

WEAKNESSES: “My concern about the profile of the craft within the advertising industry is that increasingly, [agencies] are developing editorial departments of their own. One or two have made a good job of it, but a lot have found it to be more challenging than they imagined. They’re employing freelance editors, some of them fresh out of school, so there’s a danger the craft could get diluted a bit. Editors who take the generalist approach, the jack-of-all-trades approach, are another weakness.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “We’ve been around for 25 years, so we’ve adapted our business every time there’s been a sea change in technology and networking by adding our sister companies and offices worldwide. You have to stay cognizant of the opportunities the market provides and take advantage to develop new business.  

“Our Cap Gun production division created a comedy pilot, Teachers, which has been picked up for six episodes on TVLand in 2015. It would have been easy for us to say we don’t do that, but as the landscape keeps changing we keep adapting. There’s a value to the storytelling skills we learned as editors that breaks out of the cutting room and can be applied to different mediums.”

THREATS: “We’re still primarily a commercial editing company, so I’m always concerned about the future of :30 and :60 spots. The nature of TV is changing with more cable and more a la carte ordering of shows. What will broadcast look like in the future? Our challenge is to keep developing the business and stay abreast of that.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2015: “Predictions of the death of broadcast advertising are wildly inaccurate. Broadcast advertising is changing, and it will be interesting to see where it lands — nobody knows, to be honest. People are really excited about digital advertising and its very solid metrics compared to broadcast. But I’m concerned that digital sometimes forgets to tell stories. A spot can be designed to drive traffic to a Website or promote some interaction — but it’s not telling a story.

“I’m excited about two-screen technology though, where you can watch a broadcast show on TV and your iPad. The audience drives the app; they can vote on a talent show or get clues to a mystery program. I see that as a real growth area — definitely one to watch for the future!”

Independent Editor

Film editor John Gilroy hails from a distinguished film and theatrical family, and has edited features for everyone in his immediate family, apart from his mother. His first editing credit was The Luckiest Man in the World, written and directed by his father, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Frank D. Gilroy. He has collaborated with his director/screenwriter brother Tony on three films: The Bourne Legacy, Duplicity and Michael Clayton, for which John Gilroy received a BAFTA nomination. Most recently, he edited twin brother Dan’s Nightcrawler, which marked Dan’s directorial debut. Other notable credits include Pacific Rim, Salt and Ticker, and a short in the BMW Films series, The Hire, which netted a Clio Award.

STRENGTHS: “I’m no economist, but even as a picture editor you can feel the pull of the business side of things. The world market has really opened up in the last few years. There’s a great need for more content. People have an appetite for entertainment, and more and more people have access to the movies and television shows we help make. That’s good for all of us.”

WEAKNESSES: “With the expanding world market, studios are turning more to the big tent pole movies and shying away from the medium-budget films. This is disturbing for those of us who have done some of our best work on these types of films. Many writers and directors have turned to television for this reason. We had success, both critically and financially, with my brother Danny’s movie, Nightcrawler, but it only happened because we made it with half, or even a third, of the budget we might have had 10 years ago.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “As technology builds on itself in our industry, picture editors have more sophisticated tools at their disposal: color correction, some VFX capabilities, sound. It’s really quite staggering how advanced some of this technology is, and it’s all at my fingertips. I am a storyteller, and if you know how to take advantage of tools offered today you can really raise the bar in terms of the craft.

“With all these movie-building tools at hand, the farther the picture department can go to conceptualize a whole movie. Producers and studios expect more from editors today; a film to look and feel far more finished than 10-15 years ago.

“I’m always looking for an editing environment that’s both comfortable and safe. On Nightcrawler we gave a hard look around before we settled in at Hula Post on the West Side [of Los Angeles]. My standards are very high.”

THREATS: “The big one is piracy. When the work of hundreds of people worth many millions of dollars can be stolen with a few clicks on a keyboard, that concerns me. There’s an organization called CreativeFuture that confronts this very issue. People can and should find out about it.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2015: “I think our business is very healthy, but also changing in a lot of ways. A lot of great filmmakers are migrating to the small screen: there’s a renaissance with TV — so many great, smart shows are on right now. And the movie box office has never been better.”