I do post-production, mostly for television. My most recent gig has been as picture editor for Top Chef Canada. I get all the footage and work with a writer and story editor to pick the camera shots that tell the story.
I've always had a passion for storytelling. At a young age I made short films and edited them with two VCRs hooked up to a tape deck. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but didn't get into film school, so I studied broadcasting at Seneca.
School provided me with basic knowledge and showed me how a TV show is produced in a studio. I was 19 when I interned as a producer's assistant at CBC. Now, as an editor, knowing a bit about what everyone does helps.
The amount of footage generated on any reality show is a challenge. You have to know ahead of time what shots you're going to use and pre-map everything in your head. There are seven cameras running for 12 hours daily, so at the end of each day there's a ton of footage to pare down to 10 entertaining minutes.
Editors are loners. You're left by yourself in a room for up to 10 hours a day, and you may not see anybody for an entire week if you're on a show that's really intense. You have to be confident, but also self-motivated, because you're given a deadline and have to manage your own time.
If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to work on the worst projects ever. I've done bar mitzvahs and a nun's jubilee - anything to get a portfolio going. You need to know Avid and Final Cut Pro; nobody is going to look at you if you don't.
I used to spend hours at home after school and on weekends editing, researching software and techniques and watching TV shows to see how many frames they used per edit so I could recreate it. It's one thing to know what you want, but being able to do it is the big part of editing. You have to be willing to pay your dues and have a passion to work on your craft at home.