What do Logan Paul and Justin Bieber have in common? They both have passionate video editors working for them behind the scenes. We had a chance to chat with Hayden Hillier-Smith and Jordan Orme about their editing careers, balancing multiple projects, and their latest collaboration, The Editing Podcast. There, these two professional editors share their experiences and interview other editors and filmmakers.
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The film school option
These days, Jordan edits music videos for some of the biggest artists, but his first introduction to filmmaking was Vine. “It was so much fun,” Jordan says of the now-defunct short-form video platform. “I was like, ‘You know what, maybe I wanna do film.’” At the time, he needed to decide which major to pursue in college.
Fast-forward to Jordan’s first filmmaking class: “I was making a short film for the first film class that I was trying out … We did everything and got it pre-planned, got it filmed. And then once I got in the edit lab, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I gonna do?’”
That feeling of uncertainty didn’t last long, however. “I got in [the edit lab] at 5:00 PM, and I just started looking up tutorials on one screen and trying to work on Avid and put this entire story that I had scripted out together,” Jordan says. “It was an amazing experience, as I truly describe it as existential and magical. And I look up at the clock after I’ve been working for a little bit, and I see that it says 5:00 AM. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been here for 12 hours, and I had no idea.’”
With this realization, Jordan knew he had sparked a passion. “That was the first moment for me where I was like, ‘Shoot, you know, I think I could actually make a career out of this.’ I really, really enjoy editing and telling stories in post-production,” Jordan concludes.
The industry option
Hayden, on the other hand, took a more direct route into filmmaking and video production. “I think what it was,” Hayden says, “was that both me and Jordan came around a time when accessible cameras became, well, accessible.”
Hayden tested out the role of director and cinematographer. However, once he got the chance to edit the footage, that was the part of the process he enjoyed most. “I think it’s because me, I’m a little bit of an introvert, and so if you just leave me alone with the footage, that’s perfect. That’s beautiful for me,” Hayden tells us. He also sees editing as having the best creative opportunities.
From there, Hayden continued to find ways to get involved in the filmmaking community. His pitch went something like, “Hey, you film something, gimme the footage. Leave me alone. I’ll give you something great in a day or two.” Hayden also produced, filmed and edited a YouTube channel called “What’s Good London,” a tourism channel. That led to some work, and eventually, Hayden landed his first official gig with a company making videos for Facebook. He would later be let go from that gig, but it didn’t hinder his career. In fact, it did the opposite. Getting let go actually resulted in Hayden getting hired to edit for Logan Paul, the ultra-popular YouTube vlogger. Go listen to The Editing Podcast for the full story.
Hayden credits his success to having a clear focus. “I think a lot of it was simply because early in the process, I found what I enjoyed the most straight away and then doubled down on that.”
What’s so great about editing?
When asked what he loves most about the editing process, Hayden’s answer is succinct. He says, “When something doesn’t work and then I make it work. That’s the bit that excites me the most.” He finds satisfaction in solving issues that most editors would consider a lost cause.
Jordan’s answer is related. “I remember being in film school and where a narrative didn’t work and you’re like, ‘This film is just trash,’” he says. In those cases, Jordan and his classmates would sit down and take a long look at the story. “We would write out scenes on note cards and just start rearranging them.” Like Hayden, Jordan finds satisfaction in solving the puzzle. “The ability that we had with a single cut — to just be able to change the entire meaning of a scene or of a way a character feels. That’s, like, so magical. It’s crazy.”
The life of an editor
“Editing is unfortunately always so unpredictable,” Hayden tells us. “Something you might think would take 10 minutes will suddenly take four hours.”
“If you’re a freelancer, the schedule is different for every single job,” Jordan agrees. He emphasizes the importance of balancing work with other aspects of your life. “I think one thing that Hayden and I are really passionate about is about helping freelancers create healthy boundaries, because those boundaries usually aren’t in place for you.”
Hayden gives an example: “Anything past midnight, I very clearly shut it down. Even leading up to midnight, so I’d say even 11:00 PM.” He says he won’t pull an all-nighter for work. “The boundary that I now like to establish is, if you’re expecting me to be working overnight on this, it’s because you haven’t given me enough days to finish this.” When it comes down to it, it’s the client’s responsibility to give the editor enough time to finish the project.
Keeping reasonable work hours also allows Hayden to do his best work. “As soon as you go into the early hours of the morning, your quality diminishes drastically,” he says, “because you’re now having sleep deprivation. Regardless of the extra hours you put in, it’s not gonna get any better. I may as well rest.”
For Jordan, the time of day doesn’t matter as much as the total time commitment. “If you’re editing like over 8, 10, 12 hours, that’s when that quality really gets diminished,” he says. “Some people are more creative at night, so for them, working at night might be better, but they should rest during the day, then.” Jordan emphasizes that it’s all about maximizing creativity with a schedule that works for you.
Pros and cons of freelancing
Despite freelancing’s challenges, Jordan prefers it over traditional employment. “I’d like to say I’m a way more free, flowy person, so freelance just works better for my lifestyle and for my personality,” he tells us. At the same time, he recognizes that different editors may have different work styles. “There are other people that love structure, that love to have a routine, that love to be doing similar things every single day, and really thrive in that environment. And so I think staff is perfect for them.”
Hayden shares a slightly different perspective. He worked as a full-time employee for nearly a decade. “I was a full-time employee for Logan Paul for the past six to seven years, but even that had its flexibility with it as well. What I’m enjoying now is a bit more of a variety as a freelancer, but that does bring inherently a lot more risks, especially financial risks.” He continues, “I’m now switching onto the freelance and enjoying those pros and also enduring those cons.”
Making time for personal projects
Aside from client work, both Jordan and Hayden run YouTube channels dedicated to the art of editing. Balancing client work with making YouTube content can be a challenge, but Hayden believes it’s necessary in order for him to be a good creator. “For me to be able to talk about editing on YouTube, I should still be editing on projects,” he tells us.
Hayden describes his channel as a love letter to editing, especially YouTube editing. He says he’s always wanted to be a creator himself, but there are limits to the types of content he can create. “I don’t have $5 million spare to buy the most expensive Pokemon card in the world,” Hayden admits. “But Logan [does]. So I’ll edit his video. I can’t rent out SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles … my friend Jimmy [Donaldson, a.k.a. MrBeast] will, so I’ll edit his video.”
Hayden goes on to explain how this client work feeds into his own channel’s content. “Once I’ve edited [their video], that gives me the opportunity to then do a breakdown of it on my channel.” Hayden says he especially enjoys picking apart the theory and the psychology behind an edit.
Jordan started his channel because of the 2020 pandemic. “I had a friend that called me … and he was like, ‘Hey bro, I heard that you’re editing for Justin Bieber. You should make a YouTube channel and talk about that,” Jordan says. He was reluctant at first to follow the advice. “YouTube channels are so hard to start and maintain,” he explains, “And I was just very cynical about YouTube.” That changed when the pandemic hit and productions were shut down. With more time on his hands, Jordan decided to go for it. “My personal experience is a ton with music videos, so I just started talking about music videos right away because that was interesting to me.” Like Hayden, Jordan is most interested in the psychology of editing and discovered that not many YouTubers approach editing from this perspective.
Jordan agrees that balancing it all can be challenging. “But it’s fun,” he says, “and I don’t think we would have it any other way.”
The Editing Podcast
Always eager to share their passion for editing, Hayden and Jordan have paired up to create The Editing Podcast. “What I find the most beautiful,” Hayden says, “is that me and Jordan come into the podcast with two different perspectives that happen to align beautifully.” Hayden works mostly on YouTube content while Jordan edits music videos for more conventional clients. “I’m very excited in having conversations with all three generations … the TikTok generation or the Gen Zs, the millennials and the traditional generation as well.”
“We just wanna have the opportunity to go in deeper,” Jordan adds, “and meet the best editors in the world and really learn from them. Because we know, I mean, we’re pretty young still. We know a little bit about editing, but there’s still so much that we can learn. And so much room for us to grow. So for me, it was a huge opportunity to learn from other people.”
“We love the idea of bringing on guests with their own life experiences,” Hayden says. For him, Edgar Wright, the filmmaker known for ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Last Night in Soho,’ is at the top of the podcast guest wish list. “He was the filmmaker that made me fall in love with editing and a fundamental key into my life and to where I am today. And so I’d love to have a conversation about him and his philosophies and his ideas.” Jordan names Joe Walker, editor of ‘Arrival’ and ‘Dune,’ as his ideal guest: “I think he’s my favorite traditional editor … And his work is — phenomenal, and I admire it so much. So I’d just love to pick his brain about his thought process.”
Hayden and Jordan’s parting advice
As we conclude our interview, I ask Hayden and Jordan to share their best advice for aspiring editors. “For me,” Hayden says, “stay curious. It’s easy to assume you know everything straight away. And the moment you can let that go, what you can learn becomes beautiful.”
Jordan had this to add: “Be passionate … like what Hayden said [about] staying curious, being passionate really helps you to stay curious … if you can be passionate about something, it’s gonna be very easy to learn and become very good at that. Because you want to, anyway.” Jordan concludes with a cautionary note: “Really love the art for the art. And not because you can make money, or because you can get famous, or any other ulterior motive. Because that’ll never last you.”
It’s clear from our chat that Hayden and Jordan are both living by their own advice.
To learn more about becoming a professional editor, check out Hayden Hillier-Smith and Jordan Orme on YouTube or tune in to The Editing Podcast.
Featured image courtesy: Adam Duffy