Global Editing – Germany

Since “Die Wende” in 1990 when East and West Germany were reunited, the German language motion picture industry and especially the TV branch grew enormously with an expanded market that already included not only Austria but also sizeable German-speaking parts of Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg and France. So it is not a big surprise that this also meant a significant growth in the number of editors that became employed in the industry. The equivalent of ACE in Germany, BFS, grew to among the largest honorary film organizations in Europe taking the lead in a lot of matters like copyrights and other important issues. Even though language barriers still exist, the borders of the countries that are part of the European Union almost vanished and that created new challenges that BFS and sister organizations in the other European countries needed to address. When streaming distribution and production companies like Netflix and Amazon start to produce and include foreign-language content in their line-up (like German sci-fi thrillers Berlin Babylon and Dark now available in the U.S. on Netflix) it becomes necessary to gauge the consequences this might have. Their resolve to find common ground is an example of how editors around the globe need to join forces to deal with all the aspects an internationalized film industry puts in front of them.

The Bundesverband Filmschnitt (federal association of editors / BFS) is an association that represents editors in Germany. Whilst not a trade union, the BFS still engages extensively in economic, legal and political matters. It was founded in 1984 and used to mainly represent cinema editors but this has gradually changed over the years. We now represent editors across all divisions of our profession.

Editors can join at any point in their career, including at the start as junior editors, after graduating from film school, and of course as assistant editors.

Our main task is to represent editors’ professional interests vis-a-vis film and television companies, trade unions and political institutions. To achieve our goals, we are active in all areas of television and film policy. We are working hard to ensure editors the due recognition and credit, economically as well as artistically for their complex work.

As a founding member of the Copyright Initiative, our association represents the demands of editors in German and European law, and argues together with other associations of the German film and television landscape for fair copyright laws.

A significant result of that work has been securing editors’ rights as film co-authors in the copyright collecting agency, ‘VG BildKunst’ (the Association for the Administration of Copyright and Neighboring Rights in Germany). Both members and nonmembers can benefit financially from this.

The BFS also negotiates remuneration rules for editors with broadcasters and producers, concludes collective agreements in cooperation with the local trade union “ver.di” (the second largest trade union in Germany) and strengthens the role and appreciation of the art of film editing.

Our association is headed by seven honorary board members and, since 2016, there is a full-time managing director. There are currently 442 members and the numbers are going up every year. Our three-person office is responsible for all organizational matters and we also employ an accountant as well as an IT specialist who sends out circulars and looks after our website.

Another primary focus is set on the cooperation with other German associations, in order to strengthen the rights of all creative professionals in Germany’s film and television market.

Thanks to years of national and international work experience, the seven members of the BFS’ board of directors are part of an extensive network that each of them mobilizes with great commitment for our members. The board members act throughout Germany and, with the help of additional regional contacts, take care of the needs of BFS members and regularly organize gatherings in the individual cities. We come together, retired and active members and discuss current industry issues and requirements, boost self esteem, dig up grievances, exchange plenty of information and of course also socialize.

We organize workshops and master classes where editors (and sometimes guests from other areas of filmmaking) talk about one of their projects – and make these talks available afterwards as audio streams. We also offer training on creative, technical and personal economic aspects of the daily work of editors across Germany. In addition, we try to invigorate an awareness for the historical significance of our profession for the film industry.

Beyond these direct exchanges, members also communicate via an internal mailing list and our Facebook page, where members quickly get answers and help to urgent questions.

Visitors to our website can find information about current political activities, negotiations by our association and also news about prizes and awards won by individual editors.

BFS members can also manage an online resume displayed on our website and advertise that they are available for work.

Last year, we learned that Europe’s Film + Music Festival, which is focused solely on editing, was being terminated. The festival features different European countries each year and offers a great international platform for editors to meet and exchange experiences. We had numerous discussions on the board as how to save it but felt with our involvement as BFS it might lose its independence and integrity. Time ran out,
since financing, organization and structuring needed to be taken care of. Dietmar Kraus, one of our board members then took on this huge challenge and beside his routine workload as an editor and his commitments to the BFS decided to head the festival himself. Not only has it been a very successful event, but the continuity of the festival is secured and we are all very proud of his achievement.