Entertainment

Mellissa Lo: Film and TV Editor

Company: Self-employed

Title: Editor

Industry: Film and television

Function: Editing footage for film and television

Education:

BSc-Goldsmiths, University of London, Creative Computing

MA-Goldsmiths, University of London, Filmmaking with specialization in editing

IMDB

What is your daily schedule like?

I usually get in about 9:00 a.m. and make sure everything for my editor is set up for the day and check emails. If we are in the middle of the shoot, I’ll make sure I’m ready to receive and process the footage, but if not, then ensuring the project is tidy and assets like sound effects are in place. I am the liaison between the cutting room and everyone else, so my day is just making sure I’m on top of everybody’s needs (but mainly my editor’s). The hours can be really long, though, so the end of the day really depends on the stage of the project.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the storytelling aspect of my job, but I also love working with other people. Filmmaking is incredibly collaborative, and you can’t do it alone. Working with other people is really important to me.

What were the steps you took to get your job?

When I was at Intermission Film, I was lucky to build a big roster of work that was seen by a lot of the industry, and I had a reputation for that work when I left. Because of that, when I cold-called people and went to networking events, they knew who I was. Networking and socializing is such a cliché, but it really is essential because this industry runs on recommendations.

What is your best piece of advice for girls interested in this field?

You need to have a real love for storytelling and be determined to stick it out. It is hard work, and it is a rough ride, but it will be worth it if you stick with it and you do love it. Don’t be intimidated or let others make you feel inferior because you have every right to be here. Know that there are so many people willing to help and pay it forward (more than there are those who want to try and stop you). Shrug off those unwilling.

What inspired you to pursue this career?

When I was little, my dad was really into film and let us watch lots of really cool films. The way he talked about his favorites, and the way other people talk about their favorite films, they’re reliving the first time they saw Blade Runner or Jurassic Park, and I want to help create those moments.

Career Snapshot

Mellissa is a freelance editor for film and television and works in both long-form (i.e. feature films) and short-form (teasers and trailers) projects. She started her career working exclusively on short-form projects but knew that she wanted to make the transition. With long-form, you get to see more of the story and get to piece it together like a puzzle, which she’s had the chance to do with dramas like Howard’s End and Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent film, Brexit: The Uncivil War. She also continues to work in short-form with a set of clients which includes the BBC where she creates teasers and trailers for shows like Doctor Who and Attenborough and the Sea Dragon.

The Career Journey

It would be easy to see Mellissa’s career as a straight line of successes, but it took a lot of determination. She started working at Intermission Film and learned a lot in the 3.5 years that she worked there but decided that being a freelancer would be the best way to get into long-form work. Since then, she has worked on several short films, multi-part dramas, and even successfully raised funds for a documentary she is producing, directing, and editing. One of the most essential requirements for working in the film industry is perseverance because for every job she has worked on, there’s been at least one where the job went to someone else.

Even though the job market can be cutthroat, there are also a lot of people who are incredibly nurturing and want to mentor newcomers. The older generation of editors often want to give assistant editors a chance to edit or an opportunity to sit in on other post-production processes such as grading or mixing so you can gain experience. The key is to be open to these opportunities and willing to learn from others’ experience.

Advice

Mellissa’s advice for girls considering a film career is whenever you are in doubt, embody the confidence of someone in a privileged position. In the film industry, people will try to put you down or make you feel bad. Women are less likely to go for new positions because they don’t feel qualified. If you think about being in a position of privilege, you’d just go for the job and not be worried about what people will think. What this advice really means is that you should always bet on yourself and be confident because people in this industry will always find a reason not to hire you if you let them.

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