Semester in LA Students got an up-close talk from Dan Asma ’92, Caitlin Nordigian ’11, Bryan Coleman ’07, and Mohamed Nazar ’16, who are currently employed at the trailer-crafting power player Buddha Jones. They talked with us about Columbia ties, their work, and what drew them to editing in the first place.
On May 3, Semester in LA students heard from four alumni working at Buddha Jones, a media company that creates trailers and other video content for companies including Hulu, HBO, Netflix, DreamWorks, and Showtime. Roundtable panelists Dan Asma ’92, Caitlin Nordigian ’11, Bryan Coleman ’07, and Mohamed Nazar ’16 talked to Columbia Connection about their Columbia ties, Buddha Jones work, and what drew them to editing in the first place.
Bryan Coleman, editor
What specific Buddha Jones projects stand out?
I’ve had the opportunity to work on not just trailers but broadcast projects, video game projects, creative content like behind the scenes stuff, special effects. I recently did a trailer for the video game Far Cry 5, which just came out. They call it the story trailer. Video games will often have different pieces to highlight different aspects, because in video games you can do so much. My piece was about the cinematic journey that you’re going on in this game.
Why is it important for alumni to stay connected to Columbia?
Not for our benefit, but for the benefit of people who are going to school need touchstones and people to look to. Like, “Hey, I was there. This is where I’m at now, this is what I’m doing.” When I got out here [in LA], there was a bit of a scramble trying to make any connections I could. There’s no shortage of people to meet and get connected with. When I was at Columbia, I think it would have helped to have someone to look to and get in touch with, to chat with.
Caitlin Nordigian, editor
What drew you to editing work?
When I was a kid, my mom always took me to the movies. I actually had more fun watching the trailers before the movie. It’s two and a half minutes long, and yet you feel so much emotion. I would get that goosebumps feeling. Especially in a movie theater, when it’s loud and you feel really in that moment.
What did you discuss at the panel?
All four of us—Dan, Mo, Bryan, and I—we kind of just shared a couple of stories. Mo gave a lot of great advice to these new alumni moving out here for the first time. I was just trying to tell [the students] to keep working hard at what you want to do—writing, directing. Because the more you practice that, the better you’re going to get at it. Networking is another big thing—if you’re looking for a job out here, keep networking with alumni.
Mohamad Nazar, assistant editor
How did you start at Buddha Jones?
MN: I ended up working in the video game department. I initially started as a capture artist, and I learned how to basically be a cinematographer in a virtual environment. After a couple months doing that, they were like, we’re going to create a hybrid position for you where you can be a capture artist, and you can also do the AE side of things: cutting up footage, prepping it for the editor, bringing things in for projects that need graphics or audio or music or sound effects.
How have your Columbia connections benefitted you?
My first job out here was all because of students and peers that I had met at Columbia. We just happened to stay in contact and they were like, “Hey, we actually have a position open, so when you move out here would you be interested in interviewing for it?” It’s things like that that make it great to stay in touch with the school in general, because you really stay connected, whether it’s with classmates or new people that you meet.
Dan Asma, Owner
How did it feel to sit on the alumni panel with these graduates who work at your company?
It was really exciting to see these graduates—the alumni from Columbia who work with me—to be able to share their thoughts and insights and how they’ve creatively grown over the years. It’s really, really great to see how they’ve grown. And for them to be able to teach students who are literally graduating this week, to be able to share their experiences and what they’ve done creatively. These are good careers. These are very successful people. And it’s exciting to be able to share in that.