Fall 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 91

18 CINEMONTAGE / FALL 2015 OP / EDIT by Pamela Malouf, ACE T he first time I heard my assistant editor referred to as an "AE," the hairs on my back went up! I felt it was disrespectful and unbecoming — but why? After all, we call production assistants PAs without offense, so why not call assistant editors AEs? Well, for starters, PAs fetch coffee and deliver scripts, whereas assistant editors perform highly skilled creative and technical work in an artistic craft. Still, as an old-time editor (having started assisting and cutting on film), I thought maybe I was overly sensitive and just not hip to the new slang. Yet, at industry mixers and Hollywood events, other editors echoed my sentiments. Past Editors Guild President Daniel Cahn, ACE, says, "Can we all please agree to call the assistant editor an assistant editor and not an AE?" Editor Chris Willingham, ACE, declares, "I hate the term AE; it's degrading! I don't know who termed it or why. Perhaps it's an offshoot of AD [for assistant director], but that's been around for decades — and it doesn't make AE right." On the other side of the coin, assistant editor Jeff Cenkner says, "For me, what it really boils down to is: What's in a name? Assistant editor or AE...does it make a difference? We work in a fast-paced creative industry where time is money. And any assistant editor worth his or her salt knows that if something can be done faster and more efficiently with the same results, it's worth its weight in gold." Another assistant editor, who does not wish to be identified, tells me, "I'd rather be called an AE than an assistant. People need to get over it. I never heard an AD or DP [for director of photography] complain about initials instead of their full title." Cenkner adds, "Hey, if you can describe my job in two syllables as opposed to six, why not? It works for DPs and ADs." Ah, but does it work for those job titles? Because the moniker DP is widely used, most people assume that directors of photography (aka cinematographers) happily accept it, but this is not quite true. According to Rachel Bosley, managing director of the American Society of Cinematographers' ASC Online, legendary society member Stanley Cortez, ASC, who started as a camera assistant in the 1920s, always objected to its use on the grounds that DP was the term for "displaced persons" — a reference to the refugees in World War I and II. Cortez died in 1997, but out of deference to him, American Cinematographer magazine has continued the practice of avoiding this term in its pages; even if someone uses it in a direct quote, it is changed to "cinematographer" or "director of photography." The society's president Richard Crudo, ASC, adds that, out of respect for Cortez, the organization does not use the term DP inside the ASC clubhouse. Nonetheless, the acronym has stuck and cinematographers accept it, lest they appear to have a bad attitude; plus, they've been called it now for so many years that most of them don't mind. Nor do assistant directors want to be called ADs, because that title puts them one step further away from the title of director — a job to which many of them aspire. As an associate director member of the Directors Guild of America, I can also personally tell you that assistant directors also dislike the abbreviation of their title, mainly because it doesn't differentiate them from their fellow DGA classification: AE: Acrimony Over an Acronym It's apparent that many assistant editors — particularly those who've entered the business in the last decade — do not mind the AE title because they think "assistants" get coffee, and that the term doesn't matter because it's their work that defines them, not their title. CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of CineMontage - Fall 2015