REEL WOMEN: Emily Hayes, Editor at Optimus

Emily Hayes

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.

Emily joined Optimus in 2018 from Beast where she was an Assistant Editor. Prior to Beast, Emily was an Assistant Editor at The Colonie from 2015 to 2016. She earned a film degree from Tribeca Flashpoint in 2013, and before that her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. 

See Emily’s reel here

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
I’ve always wanted to create video content. Growing up I was constantly making short films with my friends and editing together whatever I could. One of my favorite parts of creating these pieces was getting to see the joy it brought people when playing it back (even though maybe my parents were just being nice)! I loved getting creative and just seeing what was possible by putting all of this different footage together. Additionally, I realized the power that video had and how we can create impact through film. From an early age, I just knew that I wanted to create impactful content through video.

How did you get into the film industry?
After graduating from the University of Illinois in 2010, I wanted to further my experience in post production. I looked into a few programs and settled on Tribeca Flashpoint where I graduated in 2013. After that I spent a short time at a local ad agency before becoming a runner at Beast. From there I worked my way up to becoming an assistant editor and I got to experience a few great places in post production (Beast, The Colonie, and Optimus). In February of 2020 I was officially promoted to editor.

Who were your mentors?
There have been many people throughout the years that have supported my journey or given me great advice. However, Angelo Valencia has been mentoring me from day one. Since I was a runner he always had his door open to show me how to do something, or answer any questions that I had. He constantly pushed me to the next level and encouraged me to go after what I wanted in this industry. He has taught me so many valuable lessons and has shown me what it really means to be a great editor. 

What is your greatest achievement?
Being promoted to editor. 

What is your biggest disappointment?
When first starting out after film school I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to work my way into the industry. At the time it seemed like there were very few openings even for internships and I kept feeling disappointment over and over as I often didn’t even hear back from places that I had applied. However, this really drove me to push myself to do whatever I could to get into the industry and just keep putting myself out there. 

What are your biggest pet peeves? 
People that don’t contribute to a team effort
Not being punctual


What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
I think we are exponentially moving towards phone content. People are getting the majority of their information through their phones and social media has completely restructured the way we receive information and ads. Catering to the social media user/phone platform has already been happening over the past few years, and I think we are going to continue to move in this direction. 

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I don’t think anything that crazy, but I did wait tables and was a receptionist at a hair salon. 

Who plays you in your life story?
Ideally I think it would be Zendaya because I admire how fierce she is. Something with her just resonates with me.  

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What do you wish you had more time to do?
Probably travel. Just a few days in a foreign country never seems like enough! I think after I retire I could see myself traveling around Europe for a few months!

Do you talk to yourself?
Of course! Everyone talks to themselves at one point or another.

What inspires you to be creative?
I love seeing new ideas come to fruition. It’s so exciting to have a concept in mind and then to work through and nurture that concept until it starts to take form (whether an initial creative concept for a shoot or anything down to a small side project). Pulling in other people to help the idea grow with their thoughts and suggestions often brings out a whole new side to the story. When the final content has been created it’s just incredibly inspiring to watch, and to know that this just started as an idea that grew into a full piece with so many people investing themselves along the way. Additionally, I am really inspired by people who are truly passionate about what they do. People that bring bold ideas to the table and aren’t afraid to try something new.