Ep70: To Assist or Not to Assist…That Is the Question (pt 1) | with Chris Cavanagh

Today’s episode is part 1 of two-part case study (click here for part 2) that dives deep into the question that plagues so many trying to land their dream job in scripted entertainment:

To assist, or not to assist: That is the question!

In part 1 of this case study I chat with Chris Cavanagh, a television and film editor who specializes in long-form unscripted storytelling. He’s worked on numerous shows in the docuseries, true crime, and reality spaces, and two years ago he moved from New York City to Los Angeles to make the terrifying transition from unscripted to scripted.

Despite having an extensive resume of popular shows for top networks, Chris found it incredibly difficult to make the transition from unscripted to scripted because most in Hollywood unfairly believe that “People who do unscripted work can’t do scripted.” After working with Chris for 12 weeks in my one-on-one career coaching & mentorship program, Chris has officially made the transition into scripted television. He even landed the gig as my assistant editor on Cobra Kai, and he’s now moving onto one of the editorial teams for Star Trek: Discovery.

There is no set path we can follow to success in our industry, but it is possible to design your own unique path if you know the right questions to ask and the right steps to follow. My purpose for sharing this case study with you is to demonstrate how Chris designed his own path so you can then apply what you learn to your own journey.

If after listening to this interview you do want to learn more and apply to work with me for the next several months and beyond, enrollment is currently open in my career coaching & mentorship program, but time slots are extremely limited.

Applications will only be accepted through Friday May 10th.

Want to work with me one-one-one to land your dream job?

» Click here to apply for Optimize Yourself Elite

Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • How Chris and Zack came to work with each other
  • Approaching networking in a way that isn’t arrogant or anxiety-inducing
  • Ways in which creativity is birthed from necessity
  • Overcoming the “non-scripted editors don’t understand scripted work” mindest
  • Respecting yourself and accepting career set-backs in order to find a better ladder to climb
  • Making a commitment to a goal is the difference succeeding and failing
  • How to pitch yourself confidently and avoid language that makes you sound unprofessional

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Click here to apply for Optimize Yourself Elite

Ep12: The Right Way to Network In Hollywood | with Chris Visser

Ep48: Feeling Lost? It’s Time to ‘Find Your Why’ | with David Mead

Ep71: To Assist or Not to Assist…That Is the Question (pt 2) | with Wellington Harrison

“Give & Take” by Adam Grant


Our Generous Sponsors:

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Guest Bio:


Chris Cavanagh is a television and film editor/ assistant editor with a passion for long-form story-telling. His job is to help bring stories to life on screen. It’s not just what-he-does-for-work. He creates human emotion for a living. As an editor it is his responsibility to engage the viewer in every moment from start to finish.
He recently transitioned to scripted TV as an assistant editor for Season 2 of the hit show Cobra Kai to pursue his passion for editing scripted content.

He is excellent at collaborating and more importantly establishing trust, because working with people is one of the most satisfying facets of his career.

He specializes in drama because he loves exploring human motivation at its core and throughout every complex layer. Story shows us why people do something, or do not. And getting the story right is all about nailing the emotion.

When he is not editing, he is playing with his two kids, or he is cooking dinner with his wife, or he is attempting to complete one of the 7,942 daily tasks required to exist as both a professional and a parent in 21st century Los Angeles.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Elyse Rintelman. The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”