She's worked with celebs, Fortune 500 companies, fashion designers, MTV and more. Cache Bunny is an acclaimed L.A.-based video director and visual effects artist who made a splash on the VFX scene when Skrillex featured her content on his 2012 world tour. Since then, she's broken into the commercial space with uniquely clever and colorful short-form content for the likes of Will Smith, Adobe, Virgin and most recently, Microsoft. The New Jersey native wears many hats, from conceptualizing to directing to editing and was one of the judges on our Edit Challenge (check out the winners here).
In this exclusive Artlist interview, Cache Bunny breaks down her creative process and gives new filmmakers valuable advice. She also talks about the importance of creative collaboration and working as a female director in a male-dominated industry, so tune in!
How did you get started as a video editor?
"So, in 2010, I started going to the School of Visual Arts in New York, which is a college that has a video editing major, and that's exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be a video editor. I never thought about being a director, shooter, visual effects, anything like that.
At school is where I met a lot of people that I ended up working with down the line. One person I worked with in school who ended up working at MTV hired me for some editing work there. That went really well. I ended up working full-time in-house for MTV for about 6 months, then moved out to L.A. to work at Insomniac out here, all the while doing just normal video editing. I was always doing musical stuff, and I've always loved combining visuals with music.
So I did that at a bunch of different music companies and then stumbled upon the work of Ari Fararooy, who is an incredible visual effects artist who makes short-form social media content. This is the stuff that I'm doing now. He was amazing, and I reached out to him like, "I don't know what I can offer you," because I didn't think he needed traditional editing," but I would love to work with you."
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Luckily, a project came up where he needed an editor. It went really well, and then he offered to teach me a little bit of effects. From there it was history. Once I knew the basics of effects, I could be off and running and learn on my own. He and I worked together for a super long time, and then I started doing some of my own jobs. That was about 3.5 years ago. I learned a lot faster than I would have if I didn't have almost a decade of video editing behind me. Because I already knew a lot about video in general, how it works and using programs like Adobe. So I had a leg up in that sense. Shooting and effects and directing were all in the last 4 years.
I never really saw myself as a director for some reason, and Ari is the one that showed me that part of myself and showed me that, 'Yes, you can do these edits, but your skill is probably more as a director.'
How did you end up working with Skrillex?
Skrillex was huge for me, and I didn't even technically work with him. He found a video that I made on the Internet, and he used it as visuals on his 1st world tour, which is crazy. I'm such a huge fan of his, and I made a video out of 31 different movies that I found online. I would just download a movie, cut little clips out and put them into the timeline, and I just kept doing that and made this crazy edit.
It took me months, and I'd actually skip class just to get this done for when he was coming into town because I really wanted to give him this video. All of my eggs were in that basket. I was doing nothing else in the world but that video for such a long time.
We gave him the video. He ended up loving it and asked me to send it to him so he could use it as visuals behind him on his first world tour. I still have videos that people posted online of my video playing behind him, which is so cool. That was kind of my resume or my reel at that point, this huge artist who used my visuals. It was really inspiring because I didn't shoot anything. I used pre-existing footage that I found online. I used his song. It was all just me reimagining things that already were there and just putting the puzzle together differently.
I love doing that. I love finding a story out of something that is already there. Especially with super famous movies, you've seen the scene a thousand times, but now it's hitting you differently because it's in this new edit or this new song. So it's kind of like recontextualizing something you've known for a really long time. So I think that's really cool, and as an editor, I think that's a great way to sort of show your skills.
How did the Skrillex video advance your career?
So once I had that endorsement from Skrillex, I had a lot of credibility as a musical editor, and I got hit up for some music videos and live performance stuff. So a friend of mine was working for MTV, and he was doing a dubstep concert series, and I was the go-to person because of the dubstep video that I did for Skrillex.
He brought me on for that project. It went really well, and then from there, I started working with MTV more and more, kind of through freelance and then started working with them full-time. That was a dream job that I ended up getting really fast into my career because of the Skrillex video.
For a while, my niche was just taking visuals and putting them to music. No shooting, no directing, just using footage I was given and being creative with it, making it feel really cohesive with the music.
I think a huge mistake that a lot of beginners make is just being too perfectionistic and tricking themselves into thinking that's a good thing," she says. "Nobody's 1st video is their best video. Nobody's 2nd video is their best video. Your best video is always to come.
What was it like judging the Edit Challenge?
Judging the Edit Challenge was incredible! The submissions blew me away. There were so many good ones. It was hard to narrow them down because I personally love making brand ads, so I felt like that category really spoke to me. It was really fun to look through what people did, knowing what they had to work with and knowing that they didn't direct this or shoot this footage, and nothing was actually storyboarded. They were working within the confines of what Artgrid had to offer, which obviously is a lot of amazing footage, but still, it can be hard to find a story without making it yourself.
I felt super inspired because there are so many options, and it's so hard to narrow that down and find a very specific narrative that can tell exactly the story you want.
What's your creative process when looking for music?
When I'm looking for music through Artlist, there's always a lot of options. I love the search features, and I love that I can kind of add a lot of keywords to narrow it down just right off the bat. I add lots of things to collections. I can dig for hours for music, and even if I find songs I love, I still want to keep looking to see if I can get something a bit different than I thought I wanted.
I'll do a test treatment. I'll find a song, then I'll get some footage from the Internet or that I have laying around from other shoots. I'll cut the footage to that music and see how it starts to work, what kind of sounds of that song I like to draw attention to with the edit and kind of be musical about with the effect. Especially for dance videos, that's super important. You have to have the song before you start shooting. It takes a while to find that exact right rhythm, that exact right beat that's gonna work with the dancer's style and with the effects style. Then, once that all starts to fall into place, you can start making test edits and really get the song's energy.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers and editors?
I think a huge mistake that a lot of beginners make is just being too perfectionistic and tricking themselves into thinking that's a good thing. Nobody's 1st video is their best video. Nobody's 2nd video is their best video. Your best video is always to come. Of course, you should try your best but have realistic expectations. Start small, and then grow into it. Because what happens is if you're too perfectionistic, you end up sort of paralyzed and not making anything because you can't get it as good as you want it.
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That was another thing I loved about Ari's work. It was small and sort of achievable in the sense that the stuff I was doing before would take 30 different movies and combine 60 hours of footage into this crazy 3-minute edit. It took me months to get anything done, and I would get really perfectionistic about it. But his stuff focuses on 1 clip, 1 effect, 1 style, so you can be a lot more prolific. That's a mistake that I definitely made and that many people make - having your standards a little bit unrealistically high when you start out.
I think it's okay to make something and then look back on it and say, 'Okay, I learned from that, now I'm gonna make something better.' So just don't overthink it. It's okay to post things, to share your work. People love following creators and seeing their growth. It's kind of fun to follow somebody's journey. Maybe they weren't as good, and now I'm seeing them grow and improve with every post. I love that about following new creators, so I don't think it's a bad thing. Just try to let it flow.
Tell us about your creative process.
There are 3 main ways that I conceptualize my work and 3 things that inspire me. First, music. Sometimes a song will just spark an idea right off the bat, and then I'll get this whole treatment in my head of what a video might look like based on that song or sound. The 2nd way would be a specific technique that I want to use. So maybe it's a 360 camera, or perhaps a projection map or some kind of specific editing technique. Then I'll go from there and say, 'Okay, I really want to do that effect. How can I try to look at many videos that use that effect and try to reverse engineer? How can I incorporate that in a new way?' And then the 3rd way would be just whatever prompt I get from the client or the brand or whatever subject it might be.
So if I'm shooting with a race car driver like I just shot with Collete Davis (I ask myself), what can I do that shows off her skill without watering it down? I want to be able to show the car and show her in a great light and her skills, but I also want to combine my own. So if you have a subject in mind to shoot, (think about) how you show it in the best way without being overbearing with your treatment.
How do you feel playing the director role?
Lately, I've had a lot of jobs where I was able to play the director role, and I really love that, and I want to focus more on that and the creative side of things. Previously I'd be really nit-picky about getting precise edits and just making sure everything was really polished and clean, but now, I realize that I'm more useful in the creative aspect. I love having a team to work with to help me get those precise edits. I want to just really focus on the creative and the concept and play around with footage and find cool edits rather than working so hard on just making things precise. So I want to just be a little bit sloppy, be experimental, be able to just cut into footage and get really cool ideas and then have a team to make those come to life.
Are you stepping away from editing?
I feel like I'm gonna have to touch the edit no matter what because that's my main way of coming up with concepts. I get the footage and start editing. What I'll typically do is get 1 clip, and I'll edit it 5 different ways. Even if they're not good, I'll just try something new, and I'll go through and make a couple of sloppy edits. Then, I take a little bit of time away, and there's usually one that'll be stuck in my head, and that's usually the one that I pursue. I like to see what different paths can be taken with a particular clip.
Collaboration seems to be very important to you. How does having an artistic community make your work better?
One of the most important things to my career has been collaborating with people and just reaching out and being part of an artist community. That's how I've learned many of my skills and how I've gotten many of my jobs. I have a community that I can ask questions to, and if I want to try a new effect or if I want to do something new and I don't know how to do it, I have a community that I can ask. They are super knowledgeable and super helpful people, and they are my friends. That has been completely invaluable to me in my whole career, and that's something that I will never ever give up.
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I highly recommend trying to reach out and be part of a community wherever you might be. It's nice to be in the middle of things. So if you can, have somebody that you're mentoring. I like to always be learning and always be teaching at least to some degree, find my own path in the middle, be helpful, and allow myself to be helped.
How do you feel being a woman working in a male-dominated industry?
As a woman in the industry, I recognize that we're rare. There need to be more women in this filmmaking world. It's important to show your appreciation and your recognition of women who are killing it. It's important for women to also lift other women up. I had an amazing intern, XX Lucy, who is killing it right now. She's doing amazing work for Will Smith and huge clients, and she's one of my closest friends. I'm looking for another female intern now, and I hope to be part of that change in perception in the industry.
I think it's also important to hold brands and pages accountable for their lack of diversity, to bring a spotlight to that, and just say, 'Hey, we're here too, and we want to be shown in a healthy, respectable way.' I feel like I've been very fortunate as a woman in this field, and I know it is very male-dominated, but I feel like I've had a lot of respect and a lot of good interactions with people who have really believed in me and men who have allowed me to rise up within different workplaces. So I feel very fortunate in that respect. There are moments where it feels like I'm not believed in as much. If I enter a room, maybe they're not expecting certain things from me at first. But I feel like that barrier is pretty easy to break through by being confident and doing good work.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
When I was 16, first touching a video camera and thinking about anything video-related, I immediately wanted to be a music video editor. I've been very specific not to do music videos for now because I feel like I'm not quite ready yet. I want my first music video to be amazing. So I want to get my skills to that point. I want to get comfortable directing and conceptualizing, but I think that is definitely on the horizon, maybe soon. We'll see.
I've never really been very goal-oriented, which I know might sound kind of funny. I like to just go with the flow. I want to just let opportunities come to me and go with whatever comes my way rather than specifically seeking things out. Maybe that'll change, but at least for right now, I like letting my career find its own way. There's a lot of things that I wouldn't have thought to specifically pursue, like a lot of different products or brands that I might not have thought to reach out to. Still, they reached out to me, and then I ended up having an amazing time doing that work. So I like to just be on that path and go with the flow, and that means in 5 to 10 years, I have no idea where I'll be.
Jessica Peterson is a travel and documentary filmmaker with a background in journalism and marketing. She has 20 years of experience producing content in 114 cities and 25 countries. In 2016, she directed and produced her own documentary about her then-home of Guam. Working under the name Global Girl Travels, her clients include CNN, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Matador Network, and Tastemade.