Cross-Border Conversation: Paths to Becoming an Editor

Supported by Genelec

What are the steps to becoming a film and TV editor? What are the defining skills – technical, creative and soft skills – that enable you to keep learning and best relish your craft as you progress? How do you find equanimity with each director and the team? Speakers Rachel Erskine (Scotland, UK), Sourath Behan (Pakistan) and Christopher CF Chow BFE (England, UK), drawn from our mentoring community and at different stages in their editing careers, were in conversation. These three stand-out film editors discussed their different routes to head of department status differently, via college, as assistant, assembly editor, and self-taught via YouTube.

Watch the recording of the talk or read the transcript.

Rachel Erskine, editor
Rachel describes herself as having roots in several places. After growing up in Holland and Germany, she moved from country to country with her family, settling in Scotland, a country she loves. Although a job in the creative industry had seemed unattainable in her teens, something that could only be pursued as a hobby, in her early twenties, she  gained an apprenticeship with Warner Brothers, which launched her into the world of post production. Rachel worked for eight years as an assistant editor on a rich variety of projects, from high-end TV dramas to feature films. She loved the role of assistant, but was able to make the jump to editing and gained credits as an assembly editor, for example, on Supernova and Vigil. In 2021, she edited her first feature film, A House in Jerusalem, directed by Muayad Alayan, which was a fantastic experience. Rachel enjoys giving back as a mentor as well as being mentored. She is a member of BAFTA.

Sourath Behan, editor
Sourath Behan is a film editor and colorist based in Karachi, Pakistan. She began her career as the co-editor of the critically acclaimed Pakistani film Moor (Mother) in 2015, and since then has been actively working in the industry as an editor and colorist on various television commercials, documentaries and films.
As a filmmaker, Sourath firmly believes that a good narrative lies in the hands of a powerful editor. Some of her earliest works include two PSA’s called Blindfolded (2014), that highlights child labour in Pakistan, and Unbeatable (2016) for UN Women Pakistan. She was also the Associate Editor on Pakistan’s first Netflix original, Sitara: Let Girls Dream (2019), and a part of Pakistan’s first YouTube Original Series.
In 2016 Sourath attended the International Professional Certificate Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, as part of the HDI Emerging Filmmakers Workshop. Her short documentary, The Invisible Line, premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival, 2017. She was then hired as Head of Post-Production, Senior Editor and Colorist at SOC Films, where she further developed a love for documentary narratives.
Sourath continues to actively work in the Pakistan film and television industry as one of the few female editors and colorists. Fluent in English, Urdu and Sindhi, Sourath has an international outlook and as a filmmaker and artist, she strongly believes in the power of visual storytelling and its ability to bring about positive change.

Christopher CF Chow, film & TV editor
Growing up Christopher had a staple diet of films and TV, so in hindsight it’s no surprise that he ended up working in this industry, but it wasn’t until one late night in his second year in university that he woke up and had an epiphany to pursue a career in films.
16 years on, Christopher has edited several outstanding feature films, was awarded Best Editing for the psychological horror Charismata at FilmQuest Film Festival, and he has just completed Raging Grace, the first ever British Filipino film, written and directed by BIFA nominee Paris Zarcilla.
Very few editors have ever had the daunting challenge of editing an interactive film and Christopher has somehow edited two. The first was The Complex, written by Lynn Renee Maxcy (The Handmaid’s Tale). On release it became the best selling interactive film of all time. Then there is the newly released The Gallery which has a monster runtime of 5 hours in total. Both were directed by Paul Raschid (White Chamber).
After struggling to get into TV for a long time, last year Christopher finally broke through and edited his first block of Casualty for BBC, which was nominated for a TV BAFTA. Then he went on to edit Sky TV original mini-series Little Darlings, co-written by BAFTA nominee Nathan Bryon (Bloods), directed by Ian Aryeh and it was nominated for a Broadcast Digital Award.
Currently Christopher is editing the newly revamped series of the highly popular BBC show Bad Education, exec produced by Jack Whitehall and directed by Freddy Syborn (Ms. Marvel). 
Beyond editing, Christopher is a vocal advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the industry. He founded BEAM Network which aims to support British East and South East Asians working in UK media. Christopher is based in London, UK. He is a member of BAFTA and British Film Editors, and he is fluent in English and Cantonese and moderate Mandarin. 

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