In 2014 a friend of mine invited me to this group he was hosting, it was called "Rough Cuts" it was in some random apartment in North Philly, I bumbled around the neighborhood looking for where it was before I called Nic Justice to ask him, Where is this place?
He came down and got me. As I entered into the apartment the smell of pizza wafted back at me, I was greeted by friendly faces Kurtis, Mike, Oliver, Dave, Stephen, Jamie. As we went around and ceremonially shared our names and what we did, I said, I'm Aaron Kitzo, I'm new to Philly and I'm an editor, or rather, I want to be an editor, I used to do everything but now I want to make editing my life's work. I was greeted with enthusiasm, and confused by the reaction, I later found out that I was the first person in Rough Cuts to specialize in editing. It's been 5 years since then, and I have grown more than I could have ever imagined. I went from wanting to specialize in editing, to being a sought out editor. Clients call me because they trust they will get the best possible version of what they brought me. That is because of Rough Cuts and hard work and the desire to grow.
And here are 10 reasons why you need to show up at the next Rough Cuts meetup.
1. Advocacy and Empowerment
You will find a community that WANTS to help you, no one is there to show off (or if they are they learn quickly they shouldn't be), we are all there to get better, that type of environment attracts people who want to help others accomplish their professional and personal goals.
2. Neuro-Plasticity in Community.
You are stuck in your ways, community, contact, connection, those are all ways to get you unstuck, you need other people to help you get out of a rut, to get to the next level, you need others to give you original ideas, and to exchange ideas with. You need other people to grow, and to change your mind. Because if you're not growing you are dying.
3. To Find A Mentor
One of the most important things I found at Rough Cuts was Mentorship, Nic Justice took me under his wing and showed me all his editing and storytelling tricks, he taught me there were things I didn't even know I needed to know, self-study can only get you so far, once you've exhausted all the keywords you can think of related to your field, you need to find someone whose already been there and done that and who is well on their journey to guide your way. As a result, one day it will be your turn, I have had the privilege and honor of having students from Rough Cuts, and it is incredible to witness their growth.
4. To Find Peers
Some of my very best friends in the whole wide world are from Rough Cuts, I formed ties that are more like family than they are colleagues. We might even bicker. But it's all love, and it's part of being in this amazingly led community.
5. To Gain Work Experience
When I first started editing I got my second ever editing gig from rough cuts, The first was a nightmare that paid 10$ an hour, from outside of rough cuts, the total sum of which I was never paid. The second from within rough cuts I shakily asked for 300 dollars for the week to edit the project. I'm sure it was awful, but the collaborative nature of RC meant that I could be there to learn, and not pretend like I knew everything. I have never believed in fake it till you make it, because I've never been a liar. 5 years later I now make that sum in less than half a day. I'm not saying that to brag, I'm saying that to show how far I've come, I'm honestly not sure I was worth that first 300, but someone took a risk and helped me learn, while also showing me support.
6. To Get Feedback and Get Better
Look if you want to get great at what you do, you have to practice. But practice also needs review. You must learn how to take critique, how to use it to sharpen your tools, and how and when to trust it, or trust yourself. The value of this cannot be understated. Eventually the wonderfully helpful critical voices will become a part of your instincts. You need instincts.
7. The Give Yourself Deadlines
So many of us have things we've been working on for too long, Rough Cuts is a way to give yourself a deadline. If you have a goal to show something at the next Rough Cuts, that's a great way to force yourself to finish the project.
8. To See Other People Grow.
I have seen amazing things happen from Rough Cuts, one guy came in as a waiter at a restaurant with a photography hobby. At RC he grew into an incredible filmmaker, and then and grew and grew until he had multi-million dollar clients. He now is a Producer at a schwanky NYC global firm, and travels the world shooting sports. His rise was Herculean because of all the hard work he put in, and because of Rough Cuts. This ability to see other people grow also lets you see how you can grow too... which brings me to my next point.
9. To Know That You Can Make It.
If you're going to keep up this tedious habit you have of making shit. You're going to have to see that it can lead somewhere. When I moved to Philly I literally had $100 to my name, and a cot to sleep on in someones unfinished house. I needed to see that there were people that made shit as a profession that at least seemed stable enough to pay rent. I had been a vagabond that moved from city to city, with bouts of homelessness. I needed the hope of stability. I didn't have anything else to fall back on, but I also had nothing to look up to, at least not real people that I knew. Rough Cuts had that, and I needed it desperately. And you might too, and we're here for you.
10. The free beer*
I hope to see you at the next Rough Cuts.
CUT by CUT is a blog about the art of film editing. It challenges norms, catalyzes ideas, and uses science, social psychology, and art history to think about filmmaking.
Aaron is a full time film editor based on the east coast. He thinks a lot, drinks a lot of rockstar, only wears black and red, and works everyday to become better at the art of film editing.