A lot has changed since Zoe Davis first got her start as a news editor at a local television network in Australia. That was 17 years ago, when most broadcasters were still cutting tape to tape. Today, she owns her own company, Calibrate Films, for her commercial work. She is also directing and editing her first feature documentary entitled FIERCE!, and working with legendary editor Walter Murch on his film Coup 53. No matter what project she’s working on, producing effective promotional content for social media channels is playing an increasingly important role.
Davis’s early career experience let her travel the world while honing a variety of skills that now let her focus on different types of projects. In 2006, she was invited to work at Al Jazeera in Qatar, where she was part of the team that launched the Al Jazeera English channel. A few years later, she settled in London, where she began cutting commercials for advertising agencies, including Hogarth, a leading marketing agency in the UK.
Building a business
After freelancing for a few years, Davis developed a plan to establish her own small company so she could take on clients directly, rather than working through other agencies. She officially incorporated in 2012, and has grown her company gradually over the past five years. In 2013, she won first place at the National Headliner Awards for the documentary Greenland: Secrets in the Ice.
Commercials | Zoe Davis (Editor) from Calibrate on Vimeo.
“The fact that I’ve done broadcast documentaries, commercials, and branded content across a range of genres helps me keep things going,” she says. “A lot of editors start to narrow down the type of editing they do to focus on one area, but I find that working in different genres means I can bring different stylistic techniques to projects. For instance, early this year I worked on a BBC natural history series, where the director brought me in to use my fast paced commercial sensibilities to cut in the opening sequence.”
Adobe Creative Cloud, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC, helps Davis work quickly and efficiently, whether she has five days to cut a 30-minute program for a broadcaster or more than a year to collaborate with other editors on a film. She appreciates the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro, which helps her meet the insatiable demand for social media content that accompanies almost every production.
“On every project, we’re producing teasers for social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” says Davis. “Time is always tight, so I need to be able to push these out quickly. I typically produce graphics in After Effects and use Dynamic Link to update them in Premiere Pro. I’m looking forward to working more with Motion Graphics templates and the Essential Graphics panel in Premiere Pro to save even more time.”
Branded Content | Zoe Davis (Editor) from Calibrate on Vimeo.
One of Davis’s projects currently in post production is the documentary FIERCE!, which follows a group of British drag queens to Texas for the world’s first International Drag Festival. In addition to documenting the physical journey of them leaving the UK and performing in Texas, the wider narrative touches on issues of identity and marriage equality, detailing a personal journey that started years earlier.
“While we were filming in Texas, I would pull the rushes into Premiere Pro and then transcribe the footage while flying back to London,” says Davis. “Throughout the production I used Premiere Pro to render off little clips to social to drive interest in the film.”
Documentaries | Zoe Davis (Editor) from Calibrate on Vimeo.
She also edited the program New York Hijabis for the BBC, which incorporated original content and fashion clips pulled from YouTube. “One of the main reasons to work in Premiere Pro is you can work with any type of footage, it takes anything with no problems,” says Davis.
While Davis enjoys working on different types of projects, she recently landed an assistant editing job with Walter Murch that will occupy her time for the next few months. The feature documentary Coup 53 tells the story of Operation Ajax, the CIA/MI6 staged coup in 1953 in Iran that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh and changed the course of history. Seven years in the making and shot in nine countries, the film features an impressive cast of eye witnesses and participants directly involved in the coup.
“I’m am learning from my hero so I couldn’t really hope for a better opportunity,” says Davis. “Even though the release of the film is months away, we recently released some teasers that Walter edited in Premiere Pro with graphics I created in After Effects.”
Zoe Davis, Walter Murch, and Taghi Amirani
As a freelance editor, Davis is always looking for ways to work more efficiently. She’s looking forward to trying Adobe Team Projects, which will let her collaborate across both distances and applications. With an impressive portfolio and an appetite for the latest and greatest features to streamline her workflow, Davis will surely continue to deliver high-caliber work for years to come.
Zoe Davis will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC 2017 on Friday, September 15th at 11:30 AM (2:30 AM PT). Her presentation on Saturday, September 16th at 4:00 PM (7:00 AM PT) will be live streamed on the Adobe Premiere Pro Facebook page (@premierepro).
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