Interview: Don Packer, Post Production Editor and Co-Founder of EngineRoomEdit

Don Packer is a seasoned post producer, who has years of TV, film, and commercial editing experience on both the West and East coasts. He co-founded the Boston-based post production company EngineRoomEdit along with his business partner, Scott Knowlton. Among EngineRoomEdit’s highly regarded work are commercials for Progressive Insurance on their “Flo” commercials,  Toyota, General Motors, Gillette, and Scottrade. Here, Don shares a look into his editing process along with invaluable advice for aspiring editors. 

Don Packer Engine Room Edit How to be a TV commercial film postproduction editor

How did you get your start in video editing?
After college I went straight to LA. After kicking around for six months and getting various PA jobs, I was offered a job as a driver for 20th century Fox and Solt/Leo Productions. The show was called Heroes of Rock n’ Roll.

I lasted two weeks and they promoted me to apprentice editor. Everyday I would finish up and bug the assistants and ask them if there was anything I could do. Eventually they started turning over all their work to me as they backed off. And then, they promoted me and canned the two assistants.

It was the willingness to work hard and be curious that got me to there. Finally, I started staying late to get all my work done so that when the editor came in morning, I had nothing to do but sit next to him and watch. It was a fantastic learning experience and the editor was Glenn Farr, who ended up winning the Academy Award for The Right Stuff. I learned a lot from him and immediately went on to cut a variety of commercials.

What tools do you use to edit? Avid? Final Cut? And what are the primary differences?  
I use Avid. I grew up on it and I love it. The failure of its seamless integration with After Effects means nothing to me, How to become a tv film commercial editorthough it’s a huge advantage in FCP (Final Cut Pro), because I’m a cutter, not a graphics guy.

Other than that, it’s easy to find things when you

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