On the value of Digital Natives as experts

A few years ago, I was cutting a feature on FCP7, and was given a young Assistant Editor, fresh out of college. I looked at her with suspicion, as I really needed someone with great skills for this particularly technically-complex job.

“How good are you at using FCP?”, I asked.
“I’m an expert” she answered immediately, exuding confidence.

“Oh sure,” I responded, thinking “cocky little shit”. “How long have you been using it?”

“Since I was nine”

At that moment I realized that this young person, having never even yet held a job in the industry, had a lot to offer. She was more experienced than me on certain tools of the trade, and her natural proficiency at using a computer-based NLE was something quite humbling.

Then, I realized there was a new generation entering the industry who already knew how to use the tools of the trade. They had grown up with access to cameras and computers, giving them a natural head-start that generations of professionals previously only had if they came from filmmaking families or from great privilege.


Michelle went on to become a mentee and protegé of mine, as I realized she had wonderful technical talent, and just needed guidance to navigate the culture of post production and mature as a professional. 

Digital natives have so much to offer us, as experts. All filmmaking is “digital filmmaking” now, to a large extent, and digital is the mother-tongue of millennials. Every time I see “panels of experts” made up of people my generation and older, I am saddened. Arrogance and ignorance leads to a real loss of opportunity to learn from young professionals with some of the deepest wisdom our industry has to offer in areas of technology and user proficiency.