Lawrence Jordan’s family jokes that he grew up with an editing room for a playpen. The son of a man who ran one of the first commercial post-production houses in New York in the 1960s and ’70s, he was exposed to film early. “I started out pretty young in the business,” Jordan says. “When I saw how much editors add to a film, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Jordan learned the realities of the profession quickly. “I saw that the structure of Hollywood and the Editors Guild was very specific,” he says. “You become an assistant editor first; you get yourself into an editing environment. You build your network; you develop your skills. And then, God willing, you get some mentorship from an editor, and you get an opportunity to cut some scenes.”
Now Jordan, who has worked on more than 45 features and TV shows, has developed Master the Workflow, an online course that teaches assistant editors the ins and outs of the business.
The initiative began when he was cutting the Netflix movie “Naked,” starring Marlon Wayans. On that project, Jordan worked with Richard Sanchez, an assistant editor who had developed a digital process that made their workflow run more smoothly. Soon Jordan and Sanchez began talking about bringing what they had learned to the next generation of film editing hopefuls.
“Master the Workflow came from this kernel of an idea,” says Jordan. “You’ve got a lot of people who are learning to edit in Adobe Premiere or Apple’s Final Cut Pro or Avid systems. A lot of people learn the skills of an editor in film school or on freebie projects. In our course, we assume you know the software, and we take you through the entire post-production experience as an assistant editor — from the first meeting with the editor and on to the pre-production and post-production pipeline meetings. We hold your hand every step of the process.”
The course is divided into six modules and 32 lessons. The 13 hours of material were designed to give students crucial information that Jordan and Sanchez believe lays the groundwork for a successful career as an assistant editor so that their pupils can later become editors.
The course takes its students through all aspects of the post-production process, including sound, visual effects, finishing and delivery. “We also try to emphasize what it’s like to be in that environment and what those pressure points are going to be,” Jordan adds, “where the political land mines might come up and how to be diplomatic with directors and editors and the studio — because that’s also part of being an editor.”
Jordan knows the value of what he learned, coming from a family in which editing and post were part of life. “It’s still an old-school process to become a film editor,” he says. “But hopefully with what we have to offer, people who want to become editors can make that leap.”