Ep85: Mentorship, Networking, and Surviving Hollywood Blockbusters | with Dody Dorn, ACE

Finding a mentor in Hollywood is an elusive process that few really understand, but when you find a mentor that really understands your challenges and wants to help you succeed, it can change your career (and even your entire life).

So then how do you find a mentor?

In this episode I have the pleasure and honor of chatting with my very first mentor Academy Award nominated film & television editor Dody Dorn, ACE who has worked with such acclaimed directors as James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Baz Luhrman, David Ayer, and Ridley Scott…to name a few. We talk about how and why I reached out to Dody in the first place, why she chose to respond and become my mentor, and how our relationship has worked as mentor & mentee over the last seventeen years.

But more interestly, we also chat about the major transition in our relationship when Dody went from being the mentor to becoming the mentee after realizing that…

“Keeping your head down is not the road to a healthy life”

…and is in fact the path to an early death. Like so many in her field of editing blockbuster features, Dody struggled with major health challenges, both mental and physical, and we chat about the mindset shifts and lifestyle transformations she made to become more active, energetic, and creative.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • How Zack connected with Dody and cultivate a mentorship relationship with her.
  • The tragic series of events that led to Dody calling Zack about “Fitness in Post” and work-life balance.
  • Dody shares valuable insights with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight on her career in editing.
  • Her flexible approach to gradually bringing more self-care into her busy schedule.
  • How to stay connected to the rest of the world when internal and external pressures put you in front of a screen most of the time.
  • Why “Keeping your head down” is not the road to a good, healthy life. In fact, it might be the road to an early death.
  • The realities of ‘working in isolation’ and the impacts on our health, wellbeing and relationships.
  • The “how to boil a frog” analogy and how easy it is to get so focused on work only to realize the negative health impacts once we’re already “boiling”.
  • A key shift in mindset after working with a nutritionist for just one day that led to her losing 30 pounds without even focusing on weight loss but instead on lifestyle.
  • On long hours: Dody shares valuable insights on how she overcomes the ‘gravity’ that draws so many of us into long hours at the expense of our wellbeing. HINT: We often have more control than we think we do.
  • Why we editors are “horrible bosses” to ourselves.
  • Dody’s process for preparing for the time when the director’s going to be in the room.
  • On shooting ratios: How the shift to digital has led to “pushing the work to the other side of the camera”.
  • The key to getting a mentor is simple. You need to ask and know what you’re asking for.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Article: How I Became a Curmudgeon at 25 Years Old

Live panel & workshop for Editor’s Guild – Saturday Jan. 18th “Hollywood Networking for Introverts”

Our Generous Sponsors:

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Guest Bio:

Photo of Dody Dorn

Switching easily between blockbusters and independent art house cinema, Dody Dorn is one of the leading film editors in the United States. A native of Santa Monica, California, Dorn graduated from Hollywood High School. At the outset of her career she worked mainly as a sound editor, before moving on to film editing in the 1990s.

She has collaborated on several projects with directors Christopher Nolan (MementoInsomnia) and Ridley Scott (e.g. Kingdom of Heaven). For Memento, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing in 2002.

Dody Dorn is a member of the board of Governors for the film editing branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as well as a board member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) and a member of the American Cinema Editors (ACE) . Dorn is a board member of the Avid Customer Association (ACA) and co-chair of the Friends of Residential Treasures (FORT).

Dorn has spoken on numerous panels about the art of film editing including MASTERS IN MOTION (2017) ACE Edit Fest, the Lean in Moment (2015), keynote speaker for NAB adjacent Super Meet (2017) and FilmPlus in Cologne, Germany (2018). As an Academy member, Dorn has been a Branch Executive committee member for 7 years as well as a judge for the Student Academy Awards, and the UCLA Student Film Awards. She has given seminars and talks at numerous film schools and universities including USC, UCLA, and SFSU.

Here is a partial list of Dorn’s film and television editing credits:


COME AWAY (2019)

I AM THE NIGHT (2019) 4 episodes


BEN HUR (2016)

FURY (2014)

ENLIGHTENED Season 2 (2012) – as Producer and Editor


ENLIGHTENED Season 1 (2010) – as co-Producer and Editor

THE GOOD WIFE (2009) pilot



A GOOD YEAR (2007)





MEMENTO (2000)




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).”