Maurissa Horwitz '98, associate editor for Sony Pictures animation, has spent the last 15 years building up her experience editing film in Los Angeles. She entered the field as an apprentice, worked on some television projects, and now edits full-length animation films. Some recent titles she has worked on include "Over the Hedge" (2006), "Monsters vs Aliens" (2009), "How to Train Your Dragon" (2010), and "Gnomeo & Juliet" (2011).
Position: Associate editor for Sony Pictures Animation
Please provide a two sentence description of what you do:
I edit animated feature films, which includes cutting together storyboards and editing the various stages of animation with dialogue, sound effects and music.
What is most satisfying about your current work?
Honestly, I find a lot of satisfaction just in having a small part of bringing a movie to life. The cherry on top is that, since I work mostly in animation, my projects are family-oriented and I can encourage absolutely everyone to see them.
What’s the best way to enter your field? Any essential elements of preparation?
A film major isn't necessary, but a serious interest in animation or film is required. Since there is so much film and animation equipment available to Dartmouth students with the gorgeous, new Black Family Visual Arts Center, I would recommend trying to get as much time in there as you can.
What advice would you give to others seeking opportunities in this field?
Being a great editor requires someone who is extremely detail oriented (one frame at a time), but who can also step back and see how the whole narrative is working. It takes time to cultivate those skills, so be prepared to spend quite a few years as an apprentice and assistant editor when you enter the industry. These are mostly organizational (not creative) roles, but what you learn from the various editors you work with and their management styles will be invaluable for a long career ahead.
How has Dartmouth supported you in your career development?
I have Dartmouth to thank for many reasons. First, the fact that a well-rounded liberal arts education is stressed at Dartmouth meant that when I decided to change from a chemistry major to film major in the middle of my junior year, it was easy and I was still able to graduate on time. I had taken my time making that decision so I knew it was right for me.
Second, I found Dartmouth very challenging n every way. I really had to work my butt off for both good grades and to make personal connections with students and professors. If you want to tackle the entertainment business, you have to be a self-starter, work really hard and play very nice. The challenges of Dartmouth made me strong enough to be successful in this industry.
Lastly, the film studies department was incredibly supportive and encouraging, and having brilliant people who believe in you (which includes my parents) can make all the difference. My first internship came via an outdated listing at the career center; even though the program listed wasn't offered any more, I kept calling and harassing the company and spent my first summer in LA working on a low budget sci-fi movie thanks to them. The apprentice editor I met that summer has been my mentor for 15 years.