NEW YORK CITY — Modern Post (https://modernpost.com) editor Clay Doggett took to the craft early on, picking up a camera as a teenager to shoot and edit skate videos, while also documenting friends and family. Originally from Providence, RI, Doggett was eager to begin his career and pivoted away from film school in favor of hands-on work experience. He landed an internship at a boutique post shop, where he learned about editing hands-on from top talent. His excitement for many kinds of projects initially led him to work as a freelance editor, cutting commercials, documentaries, music videos, feature films and fashion projects. Ultimately, he made a leap back to a staff role, joining Modern Post in 2018, where he was recently promoted to editor.
Here, he shares with Post details on his background and career path.
I was always into filmmaking growing up; it was something I was always around and a passion that I gravitated towards early on. Like many kids in the 90s, I was also into skating, and when I ended up breaking my arm early one summer, I picked up a camera (with my good arm) and got really into filming my friends and creating skate videos. My dad worked in advertising as an agency producer and I was lucky enough to have opportunities to tag along with him when he was working and get a glimpse into the industry. I had an internship at a production company in Boston while I was still in high school, and had the opportunity to shadow an in-house editor at a production company and help however I could. Digitizing, backing up jobs, making reels…things that helped me know really early on that I wanted to be an editor.
This laser focus was something that led me to approach the idea of college very differently than most of my peers. Growing up in Rhode Island, I was familiar with Emerson’s prestigious film program, which was the only film school I applied to. Looking back, I’m not sure that I even considered the idea of a “safety school.” I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go to college, I just thought that for what I wanted to do, this was the place I could go and learn to become an editor. When I didn’t get in, I was left with two options: sulk about it, or get to work.
While all of my peers were buying their bedding and toiletries, and preparing for the excitement of dorm life, I was packing my bags to live with family in New Jersey for the summer while taking on my first NYC internship at just 18. This early motivation, along with an opportunity that my father was able to get me, is definitely something that I don’t take for granted. I started as an intern at Lost Planet and was eager to learn about every part of the process. Eventually, I landed a full-time position working in the vault.
After a couple of years as a staff apprentice editor, I decided to go freelance. I knew it would be a hustle, but I was eager to explore and be more hands-on in the creative process. Looking back, I know that it was something that I needed to do in order to get a better personal perspective on the full scope of the industry and where I could see myself fitting into it in the long term. While working freelance is inherently a rush, it gave me confidence in my craft through experience, working on a wide range of documentary, music video, feature film and commercial projects.
After seven years of working freelance, I started working with Modern Post in 2018 and quickly realized this was the type of team that I was looking for: a team of really talented, hard-working creatives who all want to push each other to be the best they can possibly be, and are serious about a consistently-high level of creative output. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a staff role, but I became so aligned with the team and the type of work they were doing that it seemed like the right move. In the nearly four years, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside an incredibly-talented team of editors and producers. I’ve been able to grow so much, and being promoted to editor after so many years as an assistant editor was something that I’ve been working towards for so long.
Going to film school is certainly one way to get started as an editor, but for me, I think that forging my own path and starting my career early on was the right move. I’ve been able to really navigate my own creative process, coming into collaborations with a truly open mind and being very receptive to working with what the footage gives me. Having grown up working alongside such top talent within the industry has really sparked excitement for a dynamic collaboration process that keeps things fresh with each new project.