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I should preface by saying that I never planned to be working in the film and television industry. The honest truth is that when I finished school and decided to go to university, Film and Television papers seemed like a fun choice in amongst English, Sociology, Philosophy, and Art History. As it turned out, the Film and Television papers were the most engaging and fun, and that drove me into doing a Masters in Creative and Performing Arts, specialising in writing and directing for film. After graduation, my first paying gig in the industry was a small assistant editor role through one of my tutors. She connected me with a post-production supervisor who was helping facilitate a short film cutting from his house. It was exciting to be working on something film-related and I got paid a sweet $100.

Meanwhile, another contact through the same tutor, got in touch looking for an assistant editor on a children’s television drama. This would be my first dip into a longer form of drama, as well as a show that had quite a few VFX to contend with. It was at this point that I really began to get hooked into post-production. Even though pickings can sometimes be slim in our industry, I made the conscious decision to only do drama work which is where my passion lay. I was in a position in my life where I had very little financial out-goings and personal commitments so I let myself be open to opportunities, even if they weren’t my original plan. I was in no hurry to make the leap into editing and was hungry to get as much experience as I could.

Editor Jochen FitzHerbert editing Emmy Award-winning series ‘INSiDE’ from his home / Photo: Supplied

It was about five years of assisting work before my break into editing happened. I had assisted on a couple seasons of Power Rangers and one of the regular editors was starting back late due to a scheduling conflict. The returning producer offered me those blocks and I made the quick decision to make the official move to being an editor. Power Rangers was a great first show to cut as I was familiar with it from my assisting time there, but also it had the resources to have a big post team and manageable schedule.

The jump from assistant to editor is one of the trickiest things to manoeuvre. You forge a career as an assistant and work with a bunch of people around town, building a reputation only to have to turn on that and say that you are not that thing any more. Work can be slow in this transitional period but if you dig around enough there are little jobs you can flex your muscles on like low-budget web series or assemble editing.

As the Power Rangers season was finishing, Spartacus started shooting in Auckland. No, I did not get hired for Spartacus, but a lot of great local editors did which meant there was a gap in the industry. It was a perfect storm where the industry was booming and everyone was busy so there was room for people to step up. One of the directors I had just worked with on Power Rangers was going onto one of the said local dramas and he thankfully took me with him. From here, I felt I had my foot in the door.

My advice to anyone starting out now is don’t feel like you have to hurry. Make every job a learning experience and forge lasting connections with people you work with. You never know where or who your next job might come from.

 


About Jochen FitzHerbert

Jochen is an award-winning film and television editor with a long list of credits including Creamerie, Mystic, Power Rangers and The Gulf, for which he won an NZTV Award for Best Editing in a Drama in 2020. He also edited the international Emmy winning series INSiDE, which also won him a Webfest Award for Best Editing.

jochenfitzherbert.com

How I Got Started in the Industry is a 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 admin@deganz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

Edited by DEGANZ member Chia Chi Hsu, web series Inked is a milestone in Aotearoa’s television history — our first funded Chinese bilingual drama. That may seem surprising given that Chinese have been in New Zealand since the 1860s, the first non-European and Pacific Island immigrants to arrive. Although Inked reflects the lives of more recent Chinese immigrants, it speaks to generations of Asian New Zealanders.

The eight-episode series follows Jiayue, a 1.5 generation pharmacy student secretly apprenticing at a tattoo studio while she struggles to connect with her unhappy father. Technically, Inked contains four dialects of Chinese: Mandarin, Cantonese, Nankinese and Shanghainese. It has subtitles in both English and Simplified Chinese.

Chia cut the web series while completing a DEGANZ Drama Editor Attachment with editor Dan Kircher. When we spoke to Chia about her attachment, she said, “Bit by bit, what I had picked up from the attachment, I was able to apply them directly to what I was working on: from how to organise a project for a drama, how to tackle the notes, to tactfully dealing with tricky situations.”

Chia was part of a diverse, Asian-led cast and crew. Playwright Renee Liang, who had a small cameo, wrote on why Inked is significant for Aotearoa and what it was like behind the scenes.

According to Renee, “There is comedy throughout, but the observations in Inked – especially of the complex negotiation of family relationships when those involved are trying not to fall into the gaps between cultures – are insightful, deep and above all, real.”

The series debuted as a single package on Prime in late September. It is now available to stream on Neon and Sky Go.


DEGNZ member Chia Chi Hsu answers some questions about her experience shadowing Millie Lies Low editor Dan Kircher and what she learnt from the mentorship. Chia was selected in 2020 to take part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, funded by Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission.

 


For anyone who hasn’t done an attachment, what does being a drama editor attachment through DEGNZ mean in a nutshell?

An opportunity for an up close look at the editorial aspects of a drama production, and be privy to meetings and discussions between the editor and others involved that one might not have the experience of attending before.


You finished your editor attachment not long ago. How long was your attachment and what was your schedule like with Dan Kircher?

The sessions were widely spread out so I got to see a bit of everything, from the rough cut stage till the end of the project. The attachment took well over a year because of Covid, but the lengthy period allowed me to take in and put to use what I had observed.


What’s something you learnt from Dan while observing him work with director Michelle Savill?

Always be prepared and be open to communication. Also I saw a good deal of trust and respect between Dan and Michelle, from which I think the film really benefited.


What was your experience like in later parts of the process?

Similar to earlier but just observing different aspects of the process. Also, I saw that the editor’s involvement carries on well after the locked cut; apart from colour grading and sound, Dan also helped with music clearance. I think being able to see a project through to the end must be very satisfying.


How has your attachment helped you with work that you’re doing?

During the attachment, I happened to be working on a web series. Bit by bit, what I had picked up from the attachment, I was able to apply them directly to what I was working on: from how to organise a project for a drama, how to tackle the notes, to tactfully dealing with tricky situations.


What’s one thing you discovered about feature film editing that was different to what you imagined?

How the extent of an editor’s involvement can facilitate the editorial process, and that being an editor is more than having the technical skills but also being able to communicate well, manage expectations, problem solve, all of which contributes to how well a film will turn out.


How do you think your attachment has contributed to your development as an editor?

With the many solid skills I have picked up during the attachment, I think they are helping me to be more confident, knowing that I have a few more tools under the belt, and more equipped to deal with projects on a larger scale.

 

What are you working on next?

I am working on a feature drama film at the moment, alongside Dan! The new project started just as the attachment ended, as if the attachment has continued on!

 


Chia Chi Hsu entered post production in mid-2015 as an assistant editor to documentaries, working with veteran filmmakers and editors on films and series, including Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, Yellow is Forbidden and Dark Tourist, among others. Her work includes editing on short film Memory Foam, web series Inked, the TVNZ anthology series episode Giving Up the Ghost; additional editor on Yellow is Forbidden and The Girl on the Bridge.

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme was initiated to give emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor. Recipients learn through attendance during editing and later, at director, producer and/or funding body screenings, about the critique and response process so vital to the successful creative collaboration required of the feature film editor. The scheme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōnā te ngahere, 
ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōnā te ao.

‘The forest belongs to the bird who feasts on the miro berry, 
the world belongs to the bird who feasts on education’.

 

Our kaupapa is to inspire rangatahi to look beyond the glamour of filmmaking to the hidden engine room that controls the story and magic of a film – Editorial.

If you’d like to know more, come along to a workshop where you can find out what’s involved, hear from and talk with Māori who have made a career in film editing. Have a go with a scene from an award winning Māori drama on the latest editing software and find out just how much influence and responsibility an editor has on a film.

Tikanga Māori will be in place, some tutors are te reo speakers, and te reo is welcomed in the workshop but not required.

Ngā Kaiwhakahaere: Hineani Melbourne (NAW) & Tui Ruwhiu (DEGNZ)

Ngā Kaiako:

TE RUREHE PAKI (Editor Merata: how Mum Decolonised the Screen, Vapnierka, Making Good Men, The Gravediggers of Kapu)

ANNIE COLLINS (Editor Coming Home in the Dark, premiere Sundance 2021)


Support Tutors: Lea McLean & Onehou Strickland

Workshop Details

When: Saturday 29 May 2021, 9:30am – 4:30pm with capacity for a chat, or a little extra time for finishing a task until 5:30pm if required.

Where: South Seas Film School Campus – Yoobee Colleges, Unit 6/75 Ellice Road, Wairau Valley, Auckland 0629
If you need help with transport to the North Shore, please let us know when you register.

For Ages: 17 – 30 years old

Price: Free of charge. Includes lunch & refreshments.

 

Registration Form

Registrations Close: Monday 24 May, 4PM

Spaces limited to 14. We will email you to confirm your place.

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This workshop is instigated and run by Ngā Aho Whakaari (Maori in Screen) and the Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand (Ngā Kaiwherawhera Kiriata)

       


Supported by the
New Zealand Film Commission

NZFC

 

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōnā te ngahere, 
ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōnā te ao.

‘The forest belongs to the bird who feasts on the miro berry, 
the world belongs to the bird who feasts on education’.

Two-Day Workshop for Maori Editors 17 & 18 April

This workshop is for emerging to mid-level Maori editors with a focus on preparing you to transition to independent drama productions.

Tikanga Maori will be in place, some tutors are te reo speakers, and te reo is welcomed in the workshop.

We will cover:

  • setting up an Editorial department
  • interaction with the pre-production and production crew
  • scheduling an edit
  • setting up the workflow systems from camera originals through to handovers to independent post houses (sound design, picture conform, composer, VFX, titles graphic artist)
  • relationships with other departments including producers and directors
  • handling screenings, and giving and receiving feedback.

The focus is on managing an independent Editorial department for an independent production, not on how to edit – it is assumed that you know how to edit and you have your own style and vision that you should retain. The workshop will use Avid Ultimate 2020.8, and you are urged to familiarise yourself via online tutorials.

The workshop commences at 9:30am each day, finishing around 4:30pm with capacity for a chat, or a little extra time for finishing a task until 5:30pm if required. Lunch is provided, tea and coffee for morning and afternoon breaks.

Limited Spaces. We will email you to confirm whether you’ve been accepted.

Workshop Details

Ngā Kaiwhakahaere: Hineani Melbourne (NAW) & Tui Ruwhiu (DEGNZ)

Ngā Kaiako:

Te Rurehe Paki (editor Merata: how Mum Decolonised the Screen, Vapnierka, Making Good Men, The Gravediggers of Kapu)

Annie Collins (editor Coming Home in the Dark, premiere Sundance 2021)

Location: South Seas Film School Campus – Yoobee Colleges, Unit 6/75 Ellice Road, Wairau Valley, Auckland 0629

Price: Workshop offered free of charge because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel Allowances: If selected to attend, DEGNZ and NAW members may apply for financial assistance of up to $150 (incl. GST) towards their travel costs. To be eligible:

  • Applicants must live in New Zealand outside the Auckland region.
  • Applicants must be a current member of DEGNZ or NAW.
  • There are up to 8 travel allowances available for this workshop.

 

Application Form

Applications Deadline: Friday 9 April, 2PM

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Brought to you by Ngā Aho Whakaari and the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ

       


with the generous support of the
New Zealand Film Commission.

NZFC