Careers: Cut+Run's Isaac Chen
Issue: April 1, 2014

Careers: Cut+Run's Isaac Chen

Isaac Chen
Los Angeles

As a kid, I dabbled in just about every hobby under the sun — from violin to DJing, amateur rocket ship-making to Web design, soccer to swim team. My parents embraced my curiosity and gave me the freedom to explore the world around me. They knew early on that I wasn’t going to follow the typical path of becoming a doctor or lawyer — I was a trailblazer.

Fast forward to high school, I created a DVD yearbook for the school of 4,000 students that captured the highlights of the year and essence of the glorious ‘90s. From then, I knew I wanted to be a part of the post production madness. At age 16, I was already itching to dive into this thing called the “workforce.” I landed an internship that allowed me to get my feet wet in all aspects of post, which propelled my desire to pursue this as a career. It took a bit of blood, sweat and tears, and a whole lot of tenacity, but thankfully the internship quickly led to a full-time job as a graphic artist and visual effects Flame assistant. 

I began working full time and going to film school full time at The Art Institute of California Los Angeles, soaking in as much as I could as a student of the creative process. It was a rough period — I averaged four hours of sleep every night and pulled all-nighters weekly. In three years’ time, I graduated with a BA degree in Film and TV Production. Looking back, I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. In these sleepless nights, I fell in love with storytelling and filmmaking.

Visual effects always intrigued me, so I envisioned myself becoming a Flame artist. However, after working at it for four years, I found it just wasn’t for me. I shifted gears and transitioned into an editorial assistant. That was where I discovered my deep passion for the collaboration and storytelling inherent to editing.

I came to a point in my career where I needed to push myself, take a risk and go freelance. It was the most frightening decision, yet it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I freelanced as an assistant editor, working at a handful of the top editing companies in Los Angeles alongside all the greatest editors of our time. After a while, I’d collected all of the tools under my belt and before I knew it, I became an editor in my own right. Fortunately, I have had the tremendous honor to collaborate with many of the industry’s top directors.

Today, I continue to blaze my own trails and do the one thing I love most in life as a job. Looking back at how I got to where I am today, it was not only very organic, but every step built on the last to lead me here — a lot like storytelling.