How to Break into Film Editing? — Send a Telegram.

How to break into film editing when you don’t know any better.


I was stuck with it. A giant stack of triplicate paper with tear-away, sprocket-hole perforated edges. Rather broke at the time, I bought the cheapest paper around that would work with my clunky printer so I could send my resume out to every film editing company in Manhattan. I found out that employers wanted you to send a videotape reel of your work, but I didn't have any material, so I just sent out the cover letter and resume on my awkward paper to about 50 places.

Weeks went by. I followed up with phone calls. No response. Despair set in. Now what? Those were rice and beans days, so I wasn't in the market for fancy Crane's stationery. In my exhaustion, I chided myself for sending out letters that looked like Western Union telegrams from a 1940's Hollywood film. And then it came - a sideways shift in perspective. I decided to send about a dozen companies a fake telegram issued as a warning to them that a person of my description was currently in New York trying to break into the world of film editing. If they had any contact with me, they were to report my whereabouts immediately. This faux telegram (complete in crispy triplicate with tear-away edges left intact) was peppered with various pranks. Like a drunken night in a French bar where I challenged a German traveler twice my size to an arm wrestling match — it ended unbelievably in a tie. Also mixed in were my actual credentials and work experience as an assistant to a tv commercial film director. It was a blast to write, and believe me, I felt I had nothing to lose.

About a week later, I got three job interviews followed by three offers. My first week as an editing apprentice, an assistant asked me which relative had gotten me into the business. "None," I told him, to his utter disbelief since the business was so closed to outsiders. I remember feeling really glad I didn't know THAT at the time I had gotten the inspiration to go with the telegram.

Got your own job break-in story? I’d love to hear it. (leave a comment)

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