Position title: Editor
Major: Journalism (emphasis in Strategic Communications)
Certificate: Digital Studies
Graduation Date: May 2017
How did you end up freelancing?
The transition to freelancing was extremely nonlinear and the culmination of a lot of nights and weekends building out my own ‘portfolio’ of sorts. While it involved a lot of traditional networking– cold-emailing, asking to chat with people I looked up to (whether meeting for coffee, talking on the phone, or otherwise) – it was a lot of just surrounding myself with like-minded (albeit, far more talented) people that had the same trajectory in mind. It’s a kind of behavioral osmosis; if everybody’s setting high expectations for themselves, you will too. Those same people then become your collaborators and your work grows as they grow. That might be a vague answer, but 5 years ago I’d rather hear that than the actual nitty gritty details.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a video editor by trade and craft and there’s nothing complex about that – the workday is pretty self-explanatory. The real work (which is arguably the most important part of any job) is just in the communication– selling your ideas, persuading others, developing a rapport with the right people, and just being likeable. Most days involve phone calls and emails with directors, artists, producers, and other traditional crew members integral to the post-production process. Depending on the project, there can also be a lot of conversation with people from the “client” side: advertising agency creatives and executives, record label creatives and commissioners, and then also sometimes bypassing that bureaucracy entirely by communicating directly with their clients.
Most of my work is available here: cavanjames.com.
How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?
The Digital Studies Certificate helped me build hard skills related to software, technique and practice. The certificate helped lay the technical foundation for a lot of the post-production software I now use today– the Adobe Creative Suite (Premiere, AfterEffects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom,), Final Cut Pro X, Avid, Davinci, Baselight, etc.
Do you have any advice for current students?
Since I’m in no position to be dishing advice to anyone but myself, I would rather give advice as if I were telling it to my younger self just a few short years ago. So, I’d say quit trying to justify your career path and trajectory with the choices you made in college regarding your degree – your life and career is never a straight line and you should not strive for it to be so. For the longest time, I saw the unavoidable magnetism my career seemed to have in post-production/editorial work and I strongly avoided it. I felt it wasn’t what I had gone to school for, and was thereby hard to justify pursuing a career in it. It all seemed like a step backwards.
So my career so far has been less about careful navigation and more about following the green lights that appear immediately in front of me. It’s painfully obvious now that every professional opportunity will prove valuable in some way and over time, those experiences amalgamate and are formative in your direction. But always be ruthlessly self-critical and self-reflecting as you go through that process. And continue to expect more from and for yourself.