Recaping Eat, Drink & B-Indie's Making a Living Editing

Last Tuesday I attended my very first Eat, Drink & B-Indie organized by the Atlanta Film Festival. It was a learning experience, and I am ashamed this was my first visit. As I listened to the panelists and the questions from my fellow attendees, a dichotomy surfaced amid what we had come to hear and what we were hearing. Mainly, if you are attending an event titled "How to B-Indie and Make a Living Editing" one would hope you would leave the event knowing just that. The simple fact was they did not know, so now we do not know, and it's ok.

Workshop attendees were presented with four panelists: Michael Koepenick, Amy Linton, Ellen Goldwasser, and Tom Roche. In theory, the panelists represent four different paths on how to achieve financial stability working as an editor. And while it is true they are currently making a living editing, the answers to our questions slowly dissected this truth. With my scrutinizing eye I saw four individuals who continuously struggle to balance work they are paid to do with work they are passionate about.

This is encouraging news!

Like myself, much of my family, friends and colleagues are constantly juggling a vocation with an avocation. Their passion lies with their avocation and they hope to someday get paid to do it. Our panelists are no different except the skills they acquire in their vocation directly apply to their avocation and vice versa.

It is important for me to stress that I do not intend to downplay the accomplishments of our panelists. They are individuals who have worked incredibly hard, for decades, and have created outstanding commercial and personal work. Mr. Koepenick who cut his teeth in corporate & broadcast media, has all along been working on art projects. His company Guillotine Pictures is now working on a documentary about the musical madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton. Ms. Linton has found stability in both documentary and narrative editing, but still described the horrors of sometimes seeing her work destroyed by the hand of producers & investors. She has just finished editing the widely successful documentary, Jews and Baseball. Ms. Goldwasser talked about working long thankless nights at CBS (while being taunted by Raccoons!). She moves back and forth between narrative and documentary film, and happily works on award winning films being produced by her network of friends. Mr. Roche has not let numerous awards from his client work at Crawford Communications keep him from charging into the studios on the weekend. There he has produced and edited feature films, including his most recent muse, The Big Uneasy.

So, in the end, the message I was getting was this: there are very few jobs, and no standard protocol on how to get them. In regards to finding work editing, you are better off being content  creating your own work or working for free.

That looks like a pretty pessimistic outlook, but I see it as liberating. It is an act of faith. We are saying "I'm going to do this work with every spare minute I have, and someday it will lead to collaboration, and maybe some day somebody will pay me to do it." In my opinion, the distance between optimism and pessimism is measured by how you view your work when you are not getting paid for it.

Marcus Rosentrater is a director  and editor with Climenole LLC. Climenole was founded in 2007 by Gideon Kennedy and Marcus. Since then, Climenole LLC has been producing a constant stream of film projects, including 3 short films, 6 commercials, 3 special event videos, and 1 music video. The Atlanta Film Festival's Eat, Drink & B-Indie meets every third Tuesday at Manuel's Tavern.