Jack Davidson is a story-teller at heart. But it took a little while for him choose the vehicle that best suited his story-telling talents. As iRacers have already begun to see, Davidson’s decision to choose film/video as his preferred medium fit the proverbial bill.
Soon after joining iRacing last month, Davidson posted a video teaser on the Forums offering a peak at iRacing’s upcoming driver swap feature. The video was well-received . . . a preview of what’s to come both in terms of iRacing’s new feature and the format and professionalism of future iRacing videos. Davidson has since created a couple of additional offerings on the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge and Timmy Hill.
“iRacing wanted to have a dedicated videographer, so I was hired as a multi-media specialist,” he says. “It’s a new job at iRacing. My predecessor Sean (Siff) was hired more as a marketing guy and he did a great job with iRacing TV, but I think we want to revamp the show to make episodes a shorter but more frequent. Looking back, the old episodes are 20-25 minutes long and I’m going to try to get them down to five to six minutes.”
A few years ago, Davidson expected his chosen medium to be words, be it on the computer or by putting pen to paper. But early in his course of studies at Boston University he had a change of heart . . . and careers.
“I was interested in writing at first, because I knew I wanted to tell stories” he recalls. “Then I got into photography, and I realized I really liked telling stories with images. I was also a quiet kid; I enjoyed communicating more visually than with words. I just loved watching movies more than reading; it was something I always wanted to take part in.
“I went to BU as a journalism major, but I was interested in film and film-making. I started making short films and I enjoyed the hell out of it – and decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I enjoyed every part of it; it doesn’t seem like a job to me. It’s different than writing but it’s still a form of storytelling.”
Davidson followed a circuitous path to iRacing, ultimately winding-up at 34 Crosby Drive via Los Angeles, New York City . . . and New Hampshire. One of the major attractions of the BU program was its study “abroad” feature – in this case, abroad meaning the exotic and foreign city of angels, aka Los Angeles.
“It doesn’t seem like a job to me. It’s different than writing but it’s still a form of storytelling.”
“LA is SO different from Boston that it is sort of like a different country,” Davidson chuckles. “I enjoyed that a lot. I interned with the Conan O’Brien Show, sitting behind the producer and the director in the control room as the show was going on. There was lot of intern “duties” — getting people coffee in the morning and refreshing the snack table. There wasn’t a job at the end, but I still enjoyed being there.”
Even if he didn’t get to hang much with Conan . . .
“I never formally introduced myself,” he says. “Conan’s a busy guy (and) I don’t think interns were allowed to bother him. But I saw a lot of him off-camera. He’s pretty much the same guy as on-camera: very energetic, always cracking jokes; it doesn’t matter who’s watching.”
After college, Davidson continued pursuing his career a little closer to his Connecticut home, in New York City to be exact.
“Even before I graduated I was looking for jobs, still in the mindset of working in the television industry’ he explains. “I’d had a taste of that working for Conan and then I did a short stint with a commercial editing company in New York City, but the hierarchy for getting those sort of jobs is intern duty – making people coffee, going on grocery runs, stocking the fridge– for as long as they want your there, until they move you up to a slightly better position; which I didn’t like at all. So I started looking at corporate video production.”
OK, for a guy who pursuing a film career it makes sense to spend time in LA and the Big Apple. But New Hampshire? Actually, Davidson’s time there proved crucial to his landing the job at iRacing, specifically the time he spent shooting and, later, editing a video of a rally in the Granite State.
“I started looking at corporate video production and that’s how I found iRacing,” he explains. “I did not expect at all to get the job. I do love racing games – and I put a lot of work into my cover letter — but I didn’t expect to even get a call back based on my experience in applying for jobs thus far.
“I also included a short video I’d shot just for fun while attending a rally-race in New Hampshire. It was all slow motion, very dramatic . . . and that’s what caught their eye. I got lucky.”
Although Davidson is no stranger to racing games, prior to joining iRacing his sim racing experience consisted of Need for Speed, DIRT and GRID and other arcade games. Although not quite ready to challenge Greger Huttu or Ray Alfalla just yet, Davidson is now the proud owner of a Logitech wheel and had logged four official races in Mazda Cup with a couple of top tens (and a respectable number of incident points) to his credit.
“iRacing is quite probably the most realistic game I’ve ever played, so I still have a lot of practice to do,” he concedes. “It’s a different challenge from arcade games where you just plug in and go.
“Right now I’m doing a lot of time trials – they teach you discipline – and when I get confident enough, I join races. It’s interesting that on iRacing, you need to drive with respect for the other drivers – you don’t want to crash into them and affect their races and their iRatings. So I’m just working at getting better at it.”
If Jack Davidson proves as handy with a G27 as he already is with a Sony AX2000 Handycam and Adobe After Effects then the sim-racing pros had best keep an eye on their mirrors.