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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

How much do big name editors make per film?

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Posted (edited)

Do they usually have a crew of other editors / assistants working with them? Or do they like to do most of the work themselves?

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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On 5/15/2020 at 3:42 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Do they usually have a crew of other editors / assistants working with them?

Just look at the credits of any blockbuster. 

The answer is clearly:
YES

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Its usually about $2m to $3m..for a typical 3 month feature...depending on their relationship with the director and DoP..  a little less than sound recordists .. this discrepancy being the fuel for much rancor at the local pub, after the 5 hr day..   post corona though, with the need for smaller crews and leaner budgets , editing will be done by the DIT..  you heard it here first .. I cant name names .. but from high up the Warner tree.. 

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As someone who actually works in post full-time, I can give some more accurate numbers. 

A typical feature film editor will have 1 - 3 assistants. They will ingest, sync and label footage. They will organize bins, prep scenes and sometimes build scenes as well. 

Typical union AE will make $2500/week and a typical union editor $5000/week. 
Typical non-union AE will make $1500/week and non-union editor $3000/week. 

AE's will generally start before the editor and generally stay on after the editor is gone for deliverables. 

A typical feature can take half a year, depending on re-shoots and producer acceptance. The shortest feature I've been on was 5 months and 18 months later, the film is still not finished. Most of the features I've been a part of, have taken years in post production, mostly because they realized the story didn't work and we had to come up with clever ideas to make it work with simple reshoots that required new funding and such. The documentary features I've worked on, have all been 3 - 5 year projects. 

I have no doubts a big editor like Lee Smith makes a few million per film, but he also doesn't work 3 months. I have worked with some top ACE union editors and none of them are driving around fancy cars or have nice houses. There are probably 15 guys making that kind of money world wide and everyone else is making close to union scale or less. 

The big money today is in color grading. A top colorist can make $1500/hour! 



 

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59 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

A typical feature film editor will have 1 - 3 assistants. They will ingest, sync and label footage. They will organize bins, prep scenes and sometimes build scenes as well. 

Cheers for your contribution Tyler, I'd just add as well that the editor and his assistants are just a small part of the total post production team!

Like you said, there is also color grading, but also an entire post production sound team, plus the VFX, and much much more. 
 

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4 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Typical union AE will make $2500/week and a typical union editor $5000/week. 

Union feature rates vary greatly depending on what production Tier the budget is in. There isn't really a 'typical' union rate for anything. Under the Low Budget agreement (Tiers 1-3), which makes up a large chunk of union feature work, an assistant editor would make around $2100 a week on a Tier 3 movie. An editor would make $3600. On Tiers 1 & 2, the rates would be substantially lower.

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On 5/18/2020 at 1:38 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

As someone who actually works in post full-time, I can give some more accurate numbers. 

A typical feature film editor will have 1 - 3 assistants. They will ingest, sync and label footage. They will organize bins, prep scenes and sometimes build scenes as well. 

Typical union AE will make $2500/week and a typical union editor $5000/week. 
Typical non-union AE will make $1500/week and non-union editor $3000/week. 

AE's will generally start before the editor and generally stay on after the editor is gone for deliverables. 

A typical feature can take half a year, depending on re-shoots and producer acceptance. The shortest feature I've been on was 5 months and 18 months later, the film is still not finished. Most of the features I've been a part of, have taken years in post production, mostly because they realized the story didn't work and we had to come up with clever ideas to make it work with simple reshoots that required new funding and such. The documentary features I've worked on, have all been 3 - 5 year projects. 

I have no doubts a big editor like Lee Smith makes a few million per film, but he also doesn't work 3 months. I have worked with some top ACE union editors and none of them are driving around fancy cars or have nice houses. There are probably 15 guys making that kind of money world wide and everyone else is making close to union scale or less. 

The big money today is in color grading. A top colorist can make $1500/hour! 



 

And this is highly contingent upon it being a union job to begin with. A large chunk of work out here isn't. I know editors working on high end projects for as little as $300 a day. I think the NABET rate for broadcast editors is something like $40/hour. Non-union editorial is probably in the $500-$1000 a day rate if you're good and a known entity. I can't imagine too many production companies would pay much more than that for non-union editorial. 

The guys that make the money are Flame Artists (but this is a highly specialized trade), and some colorists depending on the house. 

The problem is that the business is overrun with editors, because it usually has the lowest barrier to entry of any position and its one of the few jobs you can get good at before you get into the business as a professional. I suppose motion graphics and 3D modelling fall into that category as well. Maybe some audio jobs. So you have an endless supply of young editors, most of which are halfway decent at most work (big feature work is a different ballgame altogether). It is not uncommon for me to get hired on a job that multiple editors before me, or after have worked on. I've been on several commercials that had like 5 editors over different periods of time because of costs, scheduling, personalities, etc. 

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10 hours ago, Phil Jackson said:

And this is highly contingent upon it being a union job to begin with. A large chunk of work out here isn't. I know editors working on high end projects for as little as $300 a day.

Correct, the OP had a very specific question I was answering. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/17/2020 at 10:43 PM, Robin R Probyn said:

Its usually about $2m to $3m..for a typical 3 month feature...depending on their relationship with the director and DoP..  a little less than sound recordists .. this discrepancy being the fuel for much rancor at the local pub, after the 5 hr day..   post corona though, with the need for smaller crews and leaner budgets , editing will be done by the DIT..  you heard it here first .. I cant name names .. but from high up the Warner tree.. 

Wow, that is big $$ Robin! Sounds like they make more than the DP.

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Posted (edited)

"...A top colorist can make $1500/hour!"  

What do average colorists make?

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Thanks for everyone's feedback!

Anyone have an idea what they paid the editors back in the film days, say 1970's and 1980's? Dealing with all those film clips must have been hell. I would think it was a lot harder back then than they have it now with digital. 

In addition to timing, I think one of the components of being a good editor is that of being good at doing puzzles. Also having a good memory of what you got and putting it all together.  

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On 5/21/2020 at 5:00 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

"...A top colorist can make $1500/hour!"  

What do average colorists make?

I mean, if you go to a lab, the artists can make $350 - $500/hr. 

I've made $1500/day on my system before. 

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On 5/21/2020 at 5:07 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Anyone have an idea what they paid the editors back in the film days, say 1970's and 1980's? Dealing with all those film clips must have been hell. I would think it was a lot harder back then than they have it now with digital. 

I mean, it was different for sure, but there were way more people in the process than today. So you spent more time at the lab for sure and it was a lot slower process. 

I can find out how much editors got paid, I have a few friends who edited back then. 

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