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Getting to know Persefoni: Meet David Parke

Article Overview

1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)

I was born and raised in Los Angeles to a lawyer and a small business owner with a sister 10 years my senior. I grew up wanting to be an actor. Braces kept me out of the casting office, so I skateboarded and rode BMX. Eventually, I thought directing might be for me so I started using my dad’s camcorder to film me and my friends skating and making short films. If someone’s parents had a camcorder, we were using it and I was always behind the camera.

When I turned 12, my dad and I went down to the local community theatre and got involved. I fell in love with the first show we saw there. Theatre became our religion. My first real job was working the box office at that theatre where I saved up my money to buy my very own camcorder. By the time I was 13, I was stage managing shows. I was pretty much set on going to either my local high school or Hamilton, the closest performing arts high school. An actor in one of the shows I was working on turned out to be an English and drama teacher at Hollywood High School. After one performance where he forgot to pre-set a prop for his character - an insanely pivotal part of the show - but I remembered and got it to him off-stage, our friendship developed. He wanted me in his theatre department at Hollywood High andI was fast-tracked into the Performing Arts Magnet.

For 4 years, I got on the bus at 5:50 am and didn’t get home until after 6 pm. I would then head to the theatre and work on a show until about 11 pm and start all over again the next day. I would also be making skate videos and short films with my friends on the weekends, and even started a band in my senior year with the new kid in school, Ryan Orenstein.

In my sophomore year, without knowing what editing was, I took the knowledge I had gained working in the theatre and spent an entire weekend “inventing editing” (I had never even known such a thing existed!) creating a skate video that played really poorly at the high school talent show. But I held onto that weekend I spent using two VCRs and a lot of paper. When I did my high school film class, I spent the semester learning how to edit on a computer. This workflow REALLY hooked me. When the student film director’s brother recorded over all the footage we had of our film’s final scene, I was able to repurpose footage we hadn’t used in the film and craft an alternate ending. It was at that moment that I realized how powerful editing was. While I still loved and did theatre for another 10 years, my career goals were set - I wanted to edit movies.

In college, I wound up in TV production. From there I got an internship where I realized how much I hated being on set and loved being in the edit bay. That internship turned it into being the lead editor and Post Production Supervisor for that company. There, we worked on ad campaigns for FOX as well as small productions for businesses in the area and LOTS of reality TV pitches while moonlighting on other projects with my own clients, including my bandmate Ryan!

After being there for 8 years, I went to work with a college buddy where we worked on everything from Disney to Marvel to LucasFilm to Netflix and even Scorsese films. I really fell in love with the technical side of editing at this place.

After moonlighting on a job for Ryan in early 2021, he offered me a job at Persefoni. The job we had just wrapped I guess played well at SXSW and Ryan wanted to make a bunch more stuff. For 8 months I kept moonlighting but it became hard to balance 2 jobs AND a family life. I finally made the leap and here I am.

I started dating my first non-theatre girlfriend in 2003. We traveled the world together and were married in 2011. After some more traveling, we had our first child in 2015 and our second at the end of 2019, just before the COVID lockdowns. We have two dogs and live just blocks away from where I had that first internship.

2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)

At Persefoni, I architect workflows and best-practices for our creative team to work collaboratively while remotely. I also cut content alongside our creatives on the AESOP team and support any way that I can. I am still, in many ways, that guy that fixes things, but I am also that guy that cuts things and knows where things are. I tend to be really good at this intersection of creativity and technical knowledge.

From there, I also make sure content that’s delivered gets there in the highest quality and in the best way possible. I make sure that all the required elements are included with those deliverables and ensure that if something is missing, it can be found.

As a podcaster myself, I helped establish a podcast team in order to get our two shows, ClimateTech with Kentaro and Sustainability Decoded with Tim & Caitlin, produced and out into the world. It’s been a fun ride thus far learning best-practices in the podcast space as, like I did when I taught myself to edit, my podcasts have always been kinda slapped together with toothpicks and duct tape. Having a super talented team of experienced podcasters and real producers has helped this ragtag podcaster become more disciplined!

3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?)

I hope to really hone my skills as a post producer in addition to my abilities as a post super and editor. I have always stayed away from the paperwork side of things but when we started AESOP, the paperwork I was used to referring to didn’t exist. I had to write those things out and writing out all those workflows really helped me solidify what worked and what didn’t. What was “right” and what needed to change and HOW best to approach that change.

Separate from my career ambitions, learning what my role is in the larger picture when it comes to climate change and “the space” in and of itself. Between working on the podcasts and researching for our video content, there’s a whole new world to consider and understand. For example, I have recycled my whole life, but it was always for the redemption value from cans and bottles, not necessarily because of the impact on our environment (but that was also a contributing factor to keeping me going when I moved out on my own.) I see everything I do now from that lens and I do my best to impart that knowledge onto family and friends (without sounding preachy if I can).

Learning as much as I have since I started and seeing how much, still, there is to learn is inspiring and keeps me going.

4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)

Being able to work from home and be closer to my family was a huge factor in moving to Persefoni. When I was working at an office full time while moonlighting either at home or staying up late to moonlight, it was hard to keep doing that while trying to raise two kids. When we were childless and young, it was a bummer to be apart, sure, but with kids, it was even harder. Ryan’s pitch to me included the importance of family and work/life balance and I couldn’t say “no” any longer.

Further, work/ life balance while creating content that helps spread the message of where our world is now versus where it will be generations from now with the help of our product sounds fulfilling enough but getting to work with a lifelong friend in the process is the whipped cream. Working with the team of creatives at AESOP is the cherry on top. We all are cut from the same professional cloth and collectively believe in Persefoni’s mission. Really feeling the appreciation from my peers for my abilities is important and I feel that here at Persefoni.

The AESOP team is so small compared to the company as a whole. The fun part is sharing our work with the company and rather than getting weird notes back from some creative in a suit, we get celebrated for our work. Just that small shift in approach makes me feel appreciated and valued - something that’s easily lost in “the industry.”

5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)

I still play music casually. I love going to movies and concerts as much as I can (but less so with young kids these days.) I really love computers and I host a couple podcasts - one about Disney Parks and the other, a song-by-song analysis of Jimmy Eat World’s entire musical catalog. I can’t recommend listening to the Jimmy Eat World one unless you really like the band and lots of digressions. The Disney Parks podcast was put on hiatus for Jimmy Eat Pod but the content is pretty evergreen and can be listened to by just about anyone.

My family love traveling together, going to Dodger games, Disneyland, and watching movies. Our oldest son is 6 and is starting the 1st grade this fall. Our youngest is 2 and is in daycare part time which is another huge plus to working from home. My wife currently works in retail where she’s killed it in that space for over 20 years.

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