College of LAS « Illinois

Pitching new ideas in Hollywood

An individual plan of study in LAS was critical for a young television editor

Photo courtesy of Jason Lee.
Photo courtesy of Jason Lee.
Ever wonder how a show makes it to television? Jason Lee works as a film editor at an independent production company in Hollywood pitching new shows to TV networks. It’s fast-paced, meaningful work (there’s more to reality television than people stuck in a house), and Lee’s decision to create an individual plan of study at LAS has been critical to his success.

Occupation: Supervising development editor at Critical Content

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Degree: BA, ’11, individual plans of study (Asian American film and media)

What is a typical workday for you?: Reality shows are not just where everyone living in the same house talks smack about each other. They’re shows about cooking, traveling, house renovation, unsolved murders, dating, etc. I’m part of a team that develops new unscripted shows to pitch to TV networks. On a typical day, I am editing what are called “sizzles”, which are like three to five minute trailers for TV shows that haven’t been made yet. Like movie trailers, their purpose is to make people want to watch the show, but in our case, they make network executives want to air it on their channels. It’s a fun job where I constantly immerse myself in new worlds I would have never known about. It’s also rewarding knowing a big, successful show your friends and loved ones enjoy came from the early work I did to make it become a reality.

What was your first job out of college?: I was a story assistant on Prophets of Science Fiction, a show about how the work of famous science fiction authors predicted or influenced the technology we have today. 

How did your major prepare you for your career?: I created a major under Asian American studies and the Individual Plans of Study program that allowed me to take a curated list of classes in film, minority studies, and media studies and focus my major around how those subjects influence each other. The major also gave me credit for making my own video projects, so I was able to develop a lot of fundamental skillsets in movie making while expressing the ideas I was learning about in class. Those four years gave me time to study lots of movies, learn how to write, direct, and edit my own shorts, and figure out my social responsibility as an Asian American in a film industry with a representation problem. For me, the value of that time intentionally spent learning and developing myself for the field was immeasurable to my career. When you start working, there isn’t so much time for stuff like that. College is completely what you make it and the things I learned in school helped me move up quickly.

Are you a graduate of the College of LAS with an interesting job or career path that you’d like to share in your own words? Please contact Dave Evensen to be considered for the LAS@Work series!


Related Topics

  • Alumni
  • Asian American studies
  • Humanities
  • LAS@Work
  • Individual Plans of Study