How to Hire a Sound Editor

How is the easy part, it’s the when and the why that can add value to a production..

The when, is when you hire your picture editor, that’s the time to engage your sound editors. You’re not paying them at this point, you’re just confirming that they are the ones who will work on the project when the time comes.

Sound editors are part of the creative team in the editing department and even though they don’t start on the payroll until weeks and months after the project is shot, establishing them early as part of the editing crew makes for cohesion in the organization of the editing department throughout the production.

Why, because lining up your sound editor during pre-production has up-sides creatively and technically. First, given a few months lead time you are more likely to get the experienced sound editors you want rather than the less capable editors you will get at the last minute.

Then, during pre-production, your sound editor can read the script and anticipate the problems and opportunities the sound recordist will have during the shoot. With this input, the recordist can take advantage of unusual locations, vehicles, props etc. that are available during the shoot but may not be around after. Also, reading the script at this stage gives the sound editor time to discuss with the director how sound can help tell the story. There are certain kinds of sounds that can’t just be added in post, they have to be planned for in the script and given room in the picture cut. This is sound design.

Technically, the computers in the picture department and those in the sound editing department should be set up the same way. If these protocols are not established at the beginning of the shoot when the picture editing systems are being set-up, it can cause expensive and time-consuming problems in audio post. These aren’t complex things, just simple settings that have to be agreed on and set-up right or the file management process in audio post will be compromised.

So here in pre-production and then again during the picture editing stage, your sound editor can make a creative contribution to the story telling and be ready to start the sound editing when the film is locked. Everyone else on a film starts by reading the script and planning how their design elements for the production will come together. Sound editors can as well. Planning sound in pre-production can save costly problems and disappointment in audio post.

And most sound editors I know will not charge for reading a script in this way. In fact, most will be delirious at the opportunity to contribute to the project at this stage.

And as to the how, as I say, that’s the easy part. Pick up the phone,
call 416-571-6480 and ask for Fred.