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My first job right out of film school was to take over an overnight unpaid assistant editing job on a low budget feature… and I had no idea what I was doing.

Film school gave me friends in the same industry, and a good grasp on how to use Avid and what editing was about creatively, but at the time there was little instruction on the technical aspects that the assistant editor role required. I think we only had one day on how to assist!

I was given a short overview of the job by the previous assistant and was left to it. It was a little bit of a trial by fire but (thank goodness for the internet) I was able to google answers to just about everything I had questions for.

I communicated with the editor via a notepad, and he offered something amazing—if I wanted to cut some of the rushes, he would watch and give me feedback. So I spent half of the night importing, syncing and organising, and the other half cutting! It was an excellent learning experience and when we eventually met in person, he told me that he always offered that to his assistants, but nobody ever took him up on it! My next three projects were with the same editor, since at the time nobody else knew who I was.

My first job outside of my editing mentor came through Women in Film and Television (WIFT). I met a producer at a networking event who needed an assistant. My following job also came through attending a WIFT meeting, though kind of sideways… I had been offered a data wrangling job via email but the message went to my spam folder! Luckily the person who messaged me saw me at a WIFT event and asked me about it.

My first job, the unpaid overnight one, was in December 2009. The data wrangling job came in July 2010, and it allowed me to finally quit delivering pizza and move into the film industry full-time.

Kerri with her first editor carpark as an editor on The Brokenwood Mysteries / Photo: Supplied

My first bit of advice, and I know this may be super obvious, is to make sure you do your job reliably. You don’t have to go overboard, but producers and editors expect you to get your work done. Make sure you know what they need from you—and do it well. If you make their working life easier, they’ll call you again.

I assisted full-time from 2010 until 2016. During this period I cut as many side projects as possible in my spare time. At the beginning, most were unpaid (or lightly paid) passion projects from other creatives who were also in the early stages of their careers. It took a lot of energy, and it sucks that most of these early jobs are unpaid, but working on so many short films and music videos really honed my storytelling skills. I should also shout out the DEGANZ editing masterclasses! I had the opportunity to attend two of them and they were so valuable in helping me upskill.

Making the move from assistant to editor was really scary. I was at a point in my assisting career where I was very busy. I was also occasionally getting offers for small editing jobs that I had to turn down because I was already occupied by assistant work. You could make a great career out of assisting, but that’s not what I wanted, so I had to stop taking assistant work and focus on selling my skills as an editor. My first year exclusively editing was slow, and as a result I took a big pay cut. But I kept pushing and slowly built a good reputation as an editor and started getting return calls.

My advice for people entering the industry is to say yes to opportunities as often as you can without burning yourself out. Work hard, practise your craft, and be kind. Be comfortable turning down work that won’t take you where you want to be. And let the people you work with know what your goals are—you’d be surprised how much support you will find!

I’ll always be grateful for the willingness of New Zealand editors to be mentors, to give their time and to uplift anyone who wants to give it a go. I hope I can pay it forward!

 


About Kerri Roggio

Kerri is an Auckland-based editor. In the last few years, she has edited the comedy horror film DEAD; on TV series Mystic (season 2), My Life is Murder (season 2) and The Brokenwood Mysteries (seasons 4-7); as well as short films, documentaries and music videos.

kerriroggio.com

How I Got Started in the Industry is a new guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with kelly@degnz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

Our congratulations goes to the DEGANZ members whose work featured among the finalists for the 2021 NZ Web Fest Awards.

Taking out the award for Best NZ Pitch was Léah McVeagh (DEGANZ) for her pitch I Choose. Another special shout out to the runner up of that prize category, which went to fellow member Taylor Nixon for his pitch Roadie.

The five-part documentary series 100 Year Forecast, edited by Ben Chesters (DEGANZ) received a Special Mention under the Best Show – NZ Factual category. The Spinoff produced the online series, which explores the implications of climate change for Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as discussing potential action moving forward.

This year’s list of #NZWF21 award nominees also included other work from our members. Rachale Davies’ The Collective was a nominee for the Best Show – NZ Factual Award. Meanwhile, under the Best Pilot (NZ) category, both Anton Steel’s Chloe and the Crash Test and Samuel Shelton’s The Handy Circle were finalists.

Read the full list of winners on the NZ Web Fest website.

The real-life crime-solving series Cold Case is back with another instalment, with the latest episode edited by DEGANZ board member Steven Chow and reconstructions directed by member Michael Duignan. Cold Case offers viewers a rare opportunity to follow and help the New Zealand Police as they reassess some of our most chilling unsolved murders.

The latest episode looks into the case of 34-year-old Timothy Pridding, who mysteriously vanished from Dunedin in 1994. Following the episode’s premiere on Tuesday on TV 2, the Police received an influx of tip-offs, which the Police are now reviewing.

Watch the episode on TVNZ OnDemand.

Secrets, terminal illness, and differing opinions threaten to tear the Simpkins family apart in the The Pact, edited by DEGANZ member Brendon Chan. Described by Stuff.co.nz as a “thought-provoking and charming” series, The Pact comes right off the tail of last year’s euthanasia referendum. It follows a flawed but loving family as they are faced with tough questions and even tougher decisions when a family member decides to end their life after a terminal illness diagnosis.

The series explores a range of sensitive topics, including euthanasia and suicide. It was designed as a show to “open up conversations” by placing euthanasia at the forefront. The Pact examines how the decision to end one’s life impacts not only the individual concerned, but for those closest to them.

The Pact is available to watch now on TVNZ OnDemand.

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the DEGANZ Best Director and DEGANZ Best Editor awards at the 2021 Show Me Shorts Film Festival. The award for Best Editor went to Peter Roberts and Dwayne Cameron for June. Isaac Bell took out the prize for Best Director for his short film Space Invader.

A tale of raw despair, carnal natures, and transcendent occurrences, June follows the story of Willow and David as their world disintegrates while trying to grapple with the news of a serious diagnosis from their doctor.

Isaac Bell’s comedy Space Invader follows young Max, a small boy with a big imagination, and his co-pilot father. Feeling threatened by the addition of a new woman in his father’s life, Max must do whatever it takes to confront this intruder before his father is lost forever.

Since 2009, the Guild has proudly sponsored both of these awards at Show Me Shorts, an Academy Awards-accredited festival.

Check out the full list of this year’s winners at the Show Me Shorts Facebook page here.