Film Translation Jobs

The term “film translation” encompasses many types of translation. It can include the translation of articles or other written materials that will help in the making of the film, film subtitles, and synopses, reviews, or marketing materials.

Many translators work with filmmakers or documentarians translating articles or interviews that are used for research before the actual making of the film actually begins.

Filmmakers and documentarians also enlist the services of interpreters when doing field research or working on-site while filming.

Filmmakers or film companies use translators in the dubbing and subtitling of films. Dubbing consists of changing the audio track of the film itself so that the characters appear to be speaking in the target language. Subtitling involves providing written captions that appear at the bottom of the screen and are synchronized with the dialogue in the film. Translators working on dubbing typically come up with a script based on the actual script in the source language and the movement of the characters’ mouths on the screen. To make sure the film translates culturally, good translators remain aware of colloquialisms and slang and provide accurate equivalents in the target language.

Whereas dubbing is a very difficult, nuanced and time-consuming process, subtitling is a bit more straightforward. Normally, translators will receive the script and provide a direct translation of it for the subtitles (keeping in mind, of course, cultural specificities and colloquialisms). Sometimes, the translator will be called into the editing room to make sure the subtitles match up correctly with the dialogue when they are applied to the screen. Translators could also be asked to provide subtitles based on an audio source (listening to the film) versus a visual source (the actual script), however this is rare.

Film and publicity companies also have opportunities for translators post-production. Translations of publicity materials for all types of media (print, radio, television, online, movie trailers) are needed before a film hits the theaters. By the way, see the film jobs section of JobMonkey for a list of other jobs in the industry.

Film companies also work with translators to prepare dossiers and applications for international film festivals.

“I have done all types of film translations- I’ve translated interviews for documentary films, done subtitles (French to English), and even worked on publicity materials for a film that went to the Cannes film festival. It’s exciting to be involved in the process,” says Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, an experienced professional French interpreter.

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