I am writing a series called The Best Jobs in the World. This series is dedicated to people who have rare or super cool jobs. My aim is to give options, hope, or motivation to people who don’t feel the need to go get a regular nine-to-five.
I feel extremely fortunate to interview my good friend, Sean Gowdy. We are both alumni of the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. Sean is a videographer/editor for a production company called Sweety High located in Marina Del Rey. Sweety High has a content partnership with Radio Disney, so he gets to do projects for them along with other freelance gigs. He’s been with the company for a little over two years, but he’s been editing in some capacity for over a decade.
EC: Let’s get to it! Did you get your interest in film before or at Cedarville University?
Sean Gowdy: I became interested in film around five years prior to Cedarville. I was in middle school at the time and received a video camera from my parents for Christmas. This was right around the time that YouTube launched, so I would invite my friends over to film. Even my family would get involved. My dad was constantly throwing out ideas for videos.
We’d film anything from short films, music videos, pranks, etc. We could be as creative as we wanted to be and no one was telling us what we could or couldn’t do. I’d film and edit everything, release it on YouTube, and send links to all of our friends. I thought it was so neat to be able to put a video online, then a day or two later, friends from all over town would come up to us at school saying they loved the videos.
Even my high school principal and other faculty members started watching the content. Soon after, a music video we made about school pride caught the attention of VH1 and they ended up airing it on TV. That caught the attention of our entire community and we even got our picture on the front page of the newspaper.
That’s really when I realized the power that video content can have, and I was hooked.
EC: The jump to LA is a big one. I have done it twice. What prepared you the most for the city?
Sean Gowdy: I was fortunate enough to have made several survey trips out to LA during high school and college. I knew that film was the career path I wanted to follow, and I knew that LA was the place to be.
I’m from Portsmouth, which is a smaller town of 20,000 people in Ohio, so LA was definitely overwhelming at first. But Hollywood had a sense of awe and wonder to me, and it still does. During my final semester at Cedarville, I transplanted to LA in order to attend the Los Angeles Film Studies Center and complete an internship. This was a great opportunity to get my feet wet and see what it was actually like to live here for a few months.
I went back to Ohio to walk at graduation, spent the following summer in Ohio as a production assistant on a feature film, and then moved back to LA in August of 2012. I wasn’t really prepared though. I knew a small handful of people and had no job lined up. Thankfully, thinks worked out.
EC: What do editors do besides cutting and complaining about problems they have to fix?
Sean Gowdy: That’s basically all we do. Kidding. Sort of. Not really. Being an editor also takes a lot of organizational skills. We have to pay close attention to detail and be very patient at times. Putting together a cut takes a lot of time and effort that people don’t always realize. Everyone is just used to seeing a finished product and don’t realize all of the work that went in to getting it to that place.
We also talk things through a lot with directors and producers. They’re constantly giving notes and feedback.
I personally don’t drink it, but editors also tend to drink a lot of coffee. Arnold Palmer gets me through.
EC: (Laughs) I detest coffee! If you weren’t an editor, do you think you could direct or write?
Sean Gowdy: I’ve never had a huge interest in writing scripts, but I have a massive amount of respect for those that do. I know how difficult it is to truly write a great script. As far as directing goes, I’ve been able to direct several small projects. I definitely enjoy it, but I feel like I’m stronger at shooting and editing. That’s where my passion truly lies. I enjoy working alongside talented directors.
EC: Do you have any projects that stick out as favorites?
Sean Gowdy: I’ve been able to work on so many amazing projects with very talented people. On a personal note, I absolutely loved filming my best friend David Pettit during his final home game as Drum Major for the The Ohio State Buckeyes. It was the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, which is a huge rivalry every year. I was able to capture his emotion and be right next to him on the field. It was special too because I knew the video was something he’ll get to keep forever. He’ll be able to look back and relive that day. The footage turned out great and ESPN even ended up reaching out to use some of our shots in a promo for the championship game.
Getting to do several projects with Jason Derulo has also been a highlight for me. I spent a week filming with him in the recording studio and was fortunate to edit a music video that he appeared in. My boss directed the music video, and she trusted my buddy, Jacob, and me enough with the edit. That led to the opportunity to edit another video for him that he played at each stop on his tour.
Other than that, the nostalgic side of me really misses filming projects back in Ohio with my friends and family. I’m just thankful for all the doors that God has opened.
EC: Who is the coolest celebrity you’ve met?
Sean Gowdy: That’s a tough one. Meeting Chris Pratt was a highlight. I met him a couple months before Jurassic World was released. He was so down-to-earth and humble. Meeting Owen Wilson was also really neat. I’m a big fan of a lot of his movies. Earlier this week, I was having lunch at a bagel shop when Zach Galifianakis came in and had lunch at the table next to me.
EC: What do you miss about the Midwest?
Sean Gowdy: First and foremost, I miss my family and friends. They’re all back in Ohio and it’s tough because I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. Thankfully, most of them have come out to visit, which has been nice. I occasionally miss experiencing all four seasons, but day in and day out I’ll gladly take SoCal’s weather. I miss how quickly I can get to places in the Midwest. The traffic in LA is beyond ridiculous. There’s so much to see and do here though, so it sort of makes up for it. There’s so much opportunity here that I couldn’t get in Ohio.
EC: What’s the biggest difference between girls in LA and girls in Ohio? Don’t get in trouble with your answer.
Sean Gowdy: I better be careful how I answer this one. First off, there are amazing girls in both places. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great female friends. But…
The thing that I’ve noticed with some girls in LA is that they secretly have ulterior motives. They pretend to be friends with someone but all they’re looking for is to take advantage of the other person’s power or influence. There’s an endless number of pretty girls in LA, but it’s been challenging at times to find quality to go along with that.
I think girls in Ohio just tend to have different priorities in life. But like I said, there’s clearly amazing girls in both places. I don’t want to sound like I’m completely bashing on LA girls. Thankfully, not all girls in LA are like that. I’ve met some of the most welcoming, nice, funny, and genuine girls of my entire life while living here.
And I hear girls in Minnesota are pretty cool, too.
EC: You sly devil! How supportive is your family with you pursuing your dreams?
Sean Gowdy: Where do I even begin? My entire family has been nothing but supportive. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the love and encouragement from my family. Also, I told my mom that I’m going to take her to the Oscars one day so I’ve got some work to do. My friends have been so supportive as well.
EC: What’s the most difficult part of being an editor?
Sean Gowdy: Each project is like a puzzle. You start with an empty timeline and have all of this footage that needs to be pieced together. I have to adapt to each project and fill someone else’s vision. The edit has to be so smooth that people almost don’t even pay attention to the editing. And on top of all that, you have to meet a deadline.
It’s certainly not always a walk in the park but I love the challenge that each new project brings.
EC: What feeling do you get seeing a finished product?
Sean Gowdy: It’s extremely fulfilling. Whether it’s a big or small project, it feels so good when an edit is locked. I’ve done videos that have made people smile, laugh, cry, etc. I always enjoy seeing the different responses that comes from it.
EC: What is your ultimate dream?
Sean Gowdy: My ultimate dream. I’ve been asked that a lot recently. My ultimate life goal – to be happy and honor God through my words and my actions. Not to sound cliche but that’s what I want out of life. Hopefully along the way, I can be an encouragement to those around me, and I can continue to work on cool projects that have a positive impact.
EC: Tell me, who is the funniest person you know in your life?
Sean Gowdy: Several of my coworkers are truly hilarious. We all spend so much time together that we’ve figured out what makes each other laugh. My friend and coworker, Alex, makes me laugh every single day. She has a great personality and can always lighten my mood. So, I’d maybe say her. Also, my boss, Veronica, is hilarious. We’ve shared a lot of laughs together in the edit bay.
EC: What’s the best way to become an editor like you?
Sean Gowdy: First and foremost, I’d say just start cutting. It’s easier now more than ever to get your hands on video editing software. It can seem daunting at first, but it just takes practice. The more you edit, the better and faster you become.
I used to simply edit things for fun or for free, but one day it clicked with me how valued a good editor is. So, edit as much as you can and always know your worth.
EC: Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Sean Gowdy: Watch the original 1977 version and we both know Han shot first.
EC: (Laughs) Exactly! What’s your favorite move right now?
Sean Gowdy: The last movie I saw in theaters that I was blown away by was The Revenant. The cinematography was a thing of beauty. I was on the edge of my seat at times and Leo’s acting was top notch. He’s very deserving of his recent awards run and I’m curious to see if he’ll finally win an Oscar. I also enjoyed The Martian.
EC: Sean, it’s always good to catch up with you!
Sean Gowdy: Thanks for the interview! It was an unexpected surprise and it’s been a pleasure. I’m so glad our paths crossed at Cedarville University, bud; and that we’ve been able to still keep in touch over the years.Stay tuned for the next interview in my series The Best Jobs in the World.