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Meet Javier Cruz - Digital Storyteller, Digital Auteur

Javier, known as Javi, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He’s lived his entire life in Columbus  - first attending Metro Schools and Columbus State Community College. He is now pursuing his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University graduating in 2025 majoring in Moving-Image Production with hopes of being a documentary film editor.


Javi has an innate interest in film and especially documentaries that have an impact on the community and focus on social justice. He loves learning new things as well as studying historical content and is particularly interested in the history of film as it has evolved. In high school, he played soccer and swam freestyle and butterfly, noting that he is a devoted Columbus Crew fan. Due to Michael Phelps influence, he began swimming competitively at age 11.


Javi came to PAST via Metro. One of his teachers mentioned that PAST was looking for a graphic designer intern. Being unsure of his pathway at that time, he decided to give it a go. “My experience with PAST was that I got to do a little bit of everything. I knew I wanted to be a creative artist of some kind and knew I loved film, but could I actually make a living doing what I loved?“


Fast forward after completing two years as PAST as an intern, today he is PAST’s Digital Storyteller, responsible for marketing, branding, social media, and video production.  As an intern, he helped figure out how to best tell the PAST story. Working with the PAST tribe and GP Creative, Javi brings a wealth of fresh ideas and provides an expertise that we had previously not had.


He attributes much of his success to PAST’s work environment and especially with the very talented staff. “Even as a student intern, I was treated as part of the team. I had exposure to many opportunities and I was also able to acquire experience with various digital programs as part of my experience.


“What I love most about PAST is there is always something happening! While I recognize that this can sometimes be stressful or uncertain, PAST’s team always works together to solve the issue at hand. I think that the smallest of the organization allows us to be more flexible and creative.”


As Javi reflects on what gives him the most joy, what engages him, and what challenges him, he offers, “Summer is a busy season at PAST. With all of the summer programs we offer at multiple locations throughout the city, we are always looking for instructors. When I was approached about out running a photography and production program, at first, I was a bit hesitant. I thought, I have never seen myself as a teacher, but now that I have done it, I have an even greater appreciation for teachers. It is so amazing to see the impact that you can have on your students. I just love sharing my passion!”


One other thing that Javi really enjoys with teaching is the feedback, not only from the students but also the parents. The number of compliments that he received from parents was very surprising but also so very rewarding and now Javi realizes that he has the opportunity to conduct student programs every summer.


One of Javi’s favorite projects was working with PAST’s workforce students. He experienced being a mentor to students who were not that much younger than he. “Stepping into the role of mentor provided me with another dimension, guiding them and allowing them to be engaged in the process. Not telling them the answers, but rather, explaining that I was there to support them. The result was seeing their creative expressions and teaching them life skills, like how to be their own best advocates. This had a huge impact on me.”


Javi selected the meta title, Digital Auteur, digital is obvious, but auteur means usually a filmmaker, often a director, who exercises creative control over his/her works and has a strong person style. That seems to sum up Javi perfectly!


In thinking about the future, he hopes to make documentaries and films to become a film editor working for a production company. Actually, he is already producing more films as he and his friend, Tobias launched Demise Creative. Their mission is a belief that the power of storytelling has the ability to ignite positive change and amplify the voices of those involved in art and activism within the Columbus area. We at PAST feel certain that he will be highly successful!


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