Stay positive — when I first started out, I would easily get discouraged if someone said anything even remotely negative towards me. Later on I would realize that this is only holding me back and preventing me from focusing my attention on becoming better.
As a part of our series about creating a successful career in TV and Film, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Aashish D’Mello.
Aashish is an editor currently working in the film and TV industry. Among Aashish’s editing credits is the short film Sin Cielo, which screened at over 25 international film festivals, including the Palm Spring International ShortFest and LA Film Festival, and is currently streaming on HBO. He also edited The Last Ferry from Grass Island, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival. He has also edited the feature film A Nomad River, which is currently streaming on all major services, and the short film Maps, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. He was assistant editor on the Academy Award-nominated movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, released in 2022. He most recently was assistant editor on the HBO Original series The Rehearsal and the upcoming Showtime/A2 series The Curse.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Mumbai, India. Although my parents didn’t work in the entertainment industry, they encouraged me to pursue a career in something that I was passionate about. I loved music, computers and movies. I attended St Xavier’s College, Mumbai for undergraduate in Mass Communication, majoring in Advertising. I also worked as an intern at a post-production company. After graduating, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in editing and post-production.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always loved music, computers and movies but never seriously considered any of them as a career path. It was only when I went to college and worked as an intern at a couple of post-production companies that I realized I could combine my love for technology, movies and music to pursue editing as a career. I worked as an assistant editor on commercials and a feature film. After 2 years, I decided to attend the American Film Institute Conservatory’s Editing program in order to hone my skills. Attending the program only strengthened my desire to become an editor.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
After working on “Everything Everywhere All At Once” the post-production producer passed around my resume. One day, a producer from the HBO show The Rehearsal reached out to me asking if I was interested in working on that show. While working on the show, I found out that one of the producers knew the editor of Everything Everywhere All At Once. After chatting further, I found out that he knew one of the directors too! Turns out the 3 of them used to work at the same company many years ago. I just found it interesting how people’s paths can cross and how the industry can be so big and yet so small.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It wasn’t as much a mistake as it was a funny realization. When I was attending film school, one of the short films I edited had a scene where one of the characters shuts their eyes. We had a screening deadline to make and I wasn’t able to find the right timing for that shot because it wasn’t long enough. I ended up freezing the frame for 5 seconds in order to convey the story. I thought it looked terrible and was incredibly stressed out. However when we screened it, none of my classmates realized I had manipulated the footage — some of them were even impressed by the film! This made me realize that sometimes in audio-visual mediums we can get away with more than we think, as long as the story works and people are invested in it emotionally.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working as an assistant editor on an A24/Showtime series called “The Curse”. I’ve loved working on it so far, and can’t wait for it to be out in the world!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I’ve been lucky to have worked with some really great people so far. It wasn’t easy starting out, and I can understand how success in this field can seem unattainable at times. It’s important to be patient, work hard and be nice to people on the way, because you never know when and from where the next opportunity is going to come — and when it does, you need to be ready to grab it!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
There is a certain well-roundedness that comes with a more diverse culture. We can learn so much from people and art of all kinds of backgrounds and perspectives. The film and TV industry has such a huge audience worldwide and can make an impact on people in ways that very few mediums can, so it’s incredibly important for audiences to be exposed to and see themselves in more diverse stories on screen. With more exposure comes more openness and understanding. In the age of streaming, it’s easier than ever to discover culture from around the world, and I’m also seeing many more international movies being released in theaters here in the US and online worldwide. It’s not that hard to watch with subtitles!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Stay positive — when I first started out, I would easily get discouraged if someone said anything even remotely negative towards me. Later on I would realize that this is only holding me back and preventing me from focusing my attention on becoming better.
- Mistakes are okay — no one is perfect. Every mistake is beneficial in the long run. It is important to accept and learn from our mistakes rather than trying too hard to avoid them.
- Always ask questions — when I first started, I would be afraid of asking questions I considered ‘stupid’. I was worried people would judge me as not being capable of the job. But I later realized that miscommunication is worse than not asking questions, and that people appreciate clarity.
- Take a break — we work in an industry that can be very exploitative. There can be tight deadlines and long hours with little sleep. It is important to occasionally make time to recharge, as it helps you perform better.
- Be kind — our industry depends on collaboration. Even if we don’t agree with each other all the time, it is important to be respectful and understanding towards each other. After all, the goal is to do the best work possible.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The biggest tip I would give someone is to stay positive and stay healthy. That alone can keep you going and will make you thrive in the industry.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I hardly think I have that much influence, but thank you! If I have the opportunity to inspire people, I hope to do so by bringing more understanding and respect towards those working in post-production. Their efforts often go unnoticed and underappreciated, but they are as important to the process as any of the crew members on set.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful to my first boss, under whom I worked as an assistant editor for the first time. It was a very stressful couple of years, with long hours and tight deadlines, but it all made me tougher and more resilient when faced with challenges and pressure.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” — when I just started out my career, I was working on many unscripted projects, all while eager to work on a narrative project. It took a while for things to go the way I wanted them to, but when they did, all my unscripted experience on those projects truly benefited me. Everything works out in its own time.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker. I would love to meet her. As a fan of so many Scorcese movies, it would be fascinating to hear about how she is able to edit such a wide range of movies, and the secret to her long collaboration with Martin Scorcese.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m not very active on social media, but my Instagram is @AashishDMello and my IMDb profile is https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8288278/?ref_=ext_shr_lnk
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Rising Star Aashish D’Mello On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.