When I moved back to LA, AJ would be at a lot of the same community events and parties that we would end up at. Beyond the Filipino American connection, I would run into AJ at random shows. Like at Oddball Comedy festival in Irvine or at other shows at the Hollywood Bowl. I knew AJ worked as an assistant editor and when I asked him what show he worked on he said "Oh this show on USA. It's called Covert Affairs." I freaked out. I was like "I totally know that show! I watch it!!" Which was much to his surprise, because I don't think AJ had met anyone who had seen the show. But as a fan of all things USA Network (Characters Welcome. Yes I know the tagline.) I totally knew Covert Affairs. The show has since been cancelled, but AJ is now an assistant editor with my new favorite USA Network show Mr. Robot. DUDE. GO WATCH IT NOW. Mr. Robot is amazing. It took all my energy not to hit him up for spoilers! (Side note: I can't wait for Season 2!!)
AJ is also an example that your major in college doesn't necessarily lead to your future career. He was a Psychobiology major and now he's an editor. Yeah that path isn't exactly direct. When students would come into my office freaked out about what career they needed to go with, I always though of AJ.
Hope you all enjoy this interview! Oblivious meets AJ Calomay
A.J. Calomay. Arthur, if you know me from high school (because of roll call!)
Affiliations (arts org, fun things you do, etc) :
Xylophone Films (founder) and Kid Heroes Productions (producer). We've been producing and editing music videos, shorts films, commercials, documentaries and features since 2001. Mostly community based projects. But lately with Xylophone I've been working with companies such as Xbox and Fandango, editing content. Other affiliations -- Theta Delta Beta brotherhood, and every Fil-Am based entertainment networking group for the last 15 years, hah.
What's the one word you are guilty of using too much?
"Umm". I was never quite the orator so when I explain things it takes me awhile. Especially when I talk about editing. A lot of the process can't always be explained clearly. Or when I get asked what I want to eat. LA has too many options. I gotta pause to think about it.
How did you end up doing what you are doing now?
PCN videos! Started editing at UCLA, because of Pilipino Cultural Night videos and videos for other orgs on campus. Shoutout to Bahay Bidyo, Samahang, SPEAR, Theta and Unicamp for letting me edit your projects while I was there as well as the other schools we produced videos for - CSUN, Long Beach St, Cal St Fullerton and UCI. I was able to practice and develop a craft in a comfortable space. But really, before college, my cousins Loyd and BJ Calomay shot home-made thriller movies, skate boarding and travel videos. So I was familiar with the concept of movie making at an early age. And then later on, early in my college years, I was influenced by films such as "Diary of a Gangsta Sucka" by John Castro, "the Debut" by Gene Cajayon, and "The Flip Side" by Rod Pulido. I met Patricio Ginelsa in 2000 and he told me about his movie "Lumpia" that he had shot a few years back. It seemed like a fun project and a good fit. I cut a trailer for the movie that made some rounds on the internet back then and even in the VC Film Fest! That started my journey working with Patricio. About 50-some projects later I'm very proud of the body of work we've produced in the last 15 years, with strong narrative and a variety of styles and genres.
Also, I've been lucky to be steadily working in the post-production industry here in LA for the last 15 years, everything from MTV to Disney to Speed Racer, and now in scripted TV with Covert Affairs and Mr Robot. I've learned so much from all these great producers and editors. Having an outlet for creativity in the "industry" and with my community work is crucial for me, and it enables me to mentor and share what I've learned, which in turn helps Xylophone Films grow and evolve.
The RZA because I like orchestrating and bringing people together
Dogs or Cats, who wins? Why?
Dogs all the way, I'm allergic to cats.
What is the best part of any given day for you?
Moments when I can just shut off and not be working or thinking about work. Even when it's stepping away from the editing station during the work week to enjoy a lunch, or hanging with my wife, Anna, on a lazy Sunday morning.
In a zombie apocalypse who would you want on your survival team?
Speaking of my wife, I'll want her because she's done the zombie run at Comic-Con a few times, watches "The Walking Dead" with me so she knows the rules. Plus she knows solar. We'll need solar panels to survive.
What is the last thing you searched for on google?
"Lakers training camp 2015". It's been a long summer, I need my fix!
"Hang on to those paisley shirts"
What is the best thing or meal you ever ate?
Wow, too many. Just check my instagram at @ajxy :)
What is a memorable project that you are working on or have worked on?
I just finished up at the tv show Mr Robot on USA Network. It was definitely an exciting ride since people didn't know what it was at first, or even wanted to give it a chance. But the first season has been a hit and people are still discovering it. It's eerily captured the zeitgeist of how we live with technology, sprinkled with themes of dysfunction and disconnect. And there's a good 'ol family drama in there as well. On the Xylophone/Kid Heroes side, "Lumpia 2" is the next big project for us. After the amazing Kickstarter awhile back, where the community came through for us big time, we're still prepping things. It's definitely not an easy process to get a film completely off the ground but we're making progress. It's still happening. Also, with my Xylophone crew, we've been editing featurettes and pieces on upcoming movies at Comic-Con the last several years with Xbox and now Fandango and IMDB. I'm super proud of this crew since they've done a lot of work with the community projects and they've gone into the maelstrom of Comic-Con, and thrived.