How I Started as an Editor in Lebanon

Hi, I’m Roy. I started my professional career by cutting a lot of music, both live sessions and music videos.

The only thing I invested in at the time was the best Macbook Pro I could afford, a couple of hard drives, and a ton of free work that I mostly enjoyed! 

Who or what inspired you to become an editor / writer?

I’ve been drawn to editing by video games cutscenes and the truckloads of music videos we were watching day in day out on MTV, inspired by the big 2000’s pop culture films like Matrix, Lord Of The Rings, Fight Club, and educated by Walter Murch’s must-read books for any editor.  

How did you land your first client as a freelancer? 

My first real editing job was directing and editing an official live music video for a local Lebanese rock band: The Wanton Bishops.

The band reached out to me after I filmed and cut a couple of acoustic sessions for them that played a good part in putting them on the map.

Those sessions were done for a Youtube platform called Beirut Jam Sessions that I helped build from the ground up, filming and cutting sessions for all the artists we could find in Beirut or invite there for a show.

I always enjoyed filming music with Beirut Jam Sessions and that work became my natural calling card.

What’s your editing process once you have the files?

I edit 99% of my projects on Premiere because of the immense versatility it offers. My process varies depending on project type, scope, turnaround and last but not least the gear I’m working on.

You can’t have the same flow with a full fledged editing suite and a laptop in a hotel room, so it varies very much.

I do have a few things I always make sure it’s there whether I’m working on a laptop or in an editing studio.

  • Go through the footage in the bins and get the bits that interest me ASAP on the timeline in selected reels

  • I group clips on the timeline by themes, label them, sync them to audio etc.. I find it much easier to work with footage when it’s on timeline than in bins, no matter how many brilliant thumbnail view Premiere offers! 
  • Edit using the pancake method. It’s great for cutting documentaries, ads, and even adaptable to fiction. If you don’t know it you’ve been missing out.
  • In recent years, if a draft is short enough that it can be shared on Whatsapp (or equivalent) I usually do it automatically because clients love to watch things on their phones on the fly. For longer formats it’s usually private Youtube links, or file sharing services like WeTransfer and FromSmash.

Which platforms & tools do you use for your freelancing business?

I use or WeTransfer to send and present drafts. In terms of hardware I’m currently either cutting in professional editing studios or on the move with the new Macbook Air M1. I’ve actually traded in my previous 16’ pro model for it and I regret nothing.

Which project or video are you most proud of and why? 

I’m very happy with all the work I’ve done for Red Bull live music’s formats in the Middle East. All of it is edited live so that’s a different kind of thrill.

The toughest project I worked on was a 45 min documentary for the American University of Beirut, the most prestigious university in the Middle East, where I was writing and editing. 

It was only semi-scripted so there was a lot of pressure in the edit to cut something good, within a tight deadline,  and make very protective scholars happy!

Where can someone see your rates, if they’re interested in working with you? 

I’m always available for a good project and good people at Roy Jamhouri

Do you have any advice for young freelance editors?

Make sure you find the time doing things you like and that you’re good at. That’s where you’ll find your style and if you’re good enough the networking will happen by itself. 

Don’t stress about it, just be open to opportunities and never hesitate to get out of your comfort zone. The best thing you can do as an editor is to jump often between project types: fiction, documentary, ads, music etc..  

If something is not working, always blame yourself. That’s a principle I follow in life and that I also apply professionally! 

Be fun to be around and remember that fun doesn’t necessarily mean nice. Your goal is to make the best film you can and if some confrontation is needed never shy away from it, just learn to do that well and tactfully. 

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?  

The pandemic hasn’t really affected me, my client base is varied enough.

I really don’t use anything other than word of mouth which I have learned to supplement with a light but professional presence on Instagram and my site.

For project management on long term projects I usually find everything I need on Google Drive which works well for collaborations.

”Don’t stress about it, just be open to opportunities and never hesitate to get out of your comfort zone.”

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