David Molina Cavazos is an assistant video editor and filmmaker based in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Swarthmore College as a Film and Media Studies student and was a QuestBridge National College Match scholarship recipient.
Intellectual curiosity is one of David’s driving motivations. It has driven him to shoot, direct, and edit nationally recognized short films. He has programmed video games, worked in live sports, coded websites, and composed Soundcloud beats that should never see the light of day. While his interests are broad, he has a particular passion for video editing, documentary filmmaking, and great food (any recommendations are welcome).
AX: In your opinion, what is the key to being an effective editor?
DMC: An effective editor is someone who wears many hats. They will need to have a deep understanding of the software used and the film theory that goes into knowing when to cut and why. But they also need to effectively communicate while navigating many different viewpoints. An editor will need to juggle their vision of the project, the client’s wants, the overall budget, and the ever-approaching deadline. I am starting to understand that knowing how to read the room and make a well-timed observation is just as important as being up to date with all the yearly changes in Premiere or Resolve.
AX: What’s your favorite part about your job?
DMC: To me, variety is the spice of life. One of the best parts of working as an assistant editor at Alkemy X is you never know what is going to come through the door next. One week I was working on a 30-second commercial (that aired on the Superbowl!) with some very tight deadlines. And the next, I was working on a feature-length film. Each project comes with its own set of challenges, expectations, and solutions. A painful lesson learned on one project can serve as an example of what we should change on another, there is a constant cycle of learning and growing as an assistant and creative.
AX: What’s something you wish more people understood about what you do?
DMC: While video editing itself is a highly creative field, there is a large engineering and technical effort that goes into making sure that any project runs smoothly. A lot of that technical effort comes from the prep work we assistants do. Video editor may be the job description, but a major focus of ours is not exactly editing. Rather, it is ensuring that all the media that flows into our office is formatted and organized correctly. We’re responsible for ensuring all the metadata (frame rate, resolution, codec, etc.) for all the footage we receive is consistent. This is an essential step in knowing there will not be any issues once we start our process.
AX: What was your first job and what’s the most important thing you learned from that experience?
DMC: When I was a student at Swarthmore College, I worked at a magical place called the Media Center. It was a computer lab with a focus on creative software/work and, as a Film and Media Studies student, it was my second home on campus. I worked as a consultant, which meant I made sure nobody wrecked the place and helped with projects when someone got stuck. I would help print student posters, provide input on someone’s design or teach faculty the basics of Premiere. Each of those interactions was an opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate on any project, and how to start troubleshooting when something went wrong!
AX: How did you initially get into editing?
DMC: Back when I was in middle school, the big dream was to become a “let’s player.” Some dudes figured out how to make millions of dollars by receiving FREE video games from publishers and then just recording themselves playing said free games and posting their reactions online. I spent an obscene amount of time watching different let’s players and it sounded like the perfect job. All I had to do was quickly figure out how to make these videos and then I could start pulling in the big bucks. After hundreds of hours in Windows Movie Maker, Sony Vegas, and Premiere Pro - I realized that I was having more fun making people laugh with my videos than playing the games themselves. Over time, I started focusing less on the games and more on the video editing.
AX: Did you experience any hurdles or challenges as you entered this industry?
DMC: Yes, I made the very questionable decision of graduating right in the middle of a major global pandemic. I’d recommend against doing so yourself, but if you can’t avoid it, I would keep in mind that the rest of the world is figuring it out with you. With completely changed circumstances come new opportunities, and one of those is the sudden increase in remote work. COVID demanded a lot of flexibility from production companies like Alkemy X. Being flexible enough to fill in the new holes that appear could be a fantastic way to start your career.
AX: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career as an editor?
DMC: “Your network is your net worth” - Kenneth “Kenny Beats” Charlies Blume III. In this industry, personal recommendations go a long way. Sending in an application or cold calling is a long shot compared to having previously worked with someone and already having that foot in the door. It’s important to work with as many people as you can and be as easy and fun to work with as possible. This applies double if you are a student, you should be on everyone’s film set. Hold a boom mic, haul some camera gear, help with post-production - it doesn’t matter. Help whenever you can, and you’ll realize people tend to remember your contributions.
AX: What kind of projects do you enjoy working on or look forward to being a part of?
DMC: I have really enjoyed the ongoing process of improving and documenting the various workflows done by our assistants. We may already have a seven-step process that worked for us in the past, but what if there is a better and easier way if we use different software? Or take a slightly different approach? A large part of being a good assistant is not just knowing what steps are necessary but understanding why they are necessary. That additional knowledge allows us to view our workflow as a whole and see where life can be made easier if we start asking the right questions. A small change here or there can make life easier in all our projects moving forward, and there is immense satisfaction in automating that seven-step process or reducing it to three steps.
AX: What’s a goal you have for yourself in 2023 - work or otherwise?
DMC: A goal I have for myself in 2023 is that I would like to expand my skills as a graphic designer. We recently just finished a very busy political season, and an observation I had is just how important motion graphics were to many of the spots we worked on. Animating text, logos, or other graphics was just as essential to telling the story of a commercial as the traditional concept of video editing, cutting between different clips. Those two skill sets appear to be becoming one over time, it would be great to work with the team to improve my design skills as well.
AX: How do you spend your free time?
DMC: My partner and I are big fans of trying new places to eat and we recently just moved to Boston! We have a large list of cool restaurants to try, and we have been steadily working our way through them. If you’re ever in Chinatown and looking for ramen our favorite place is called Ruckus. When I’m not stuffing my face, you’ll likely find me playing Modern Warfare II or watching AEW, my pro-wrestling promotion of choice.