MTV VMA-Nominated Editor and Director Ernie Gilbert Comes Home to the Gate City to Direct a Local Band and Reflect

On a balmy Friday morning, Ernie Gilbert sat stuck in L.A. traffic, his mind elsewhere. He wondered if he’d have fast enough internet when he arrived in San Bernardino, where hip-hop artist Childish Gambino was rehearsing for Coachella. Ernie, a director and editor, would need to send footage back to the city, and his head filled with questions about what awaited.

Ernie would be directing and editing a video to play behind renaissance man Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, as he opened his Coachella set. Ernie had worked with Glover before, editing the music video for “This is America” as well as the TV show Atlanta, but this would be his first Coachella experience, and he didn’t know what to expect.

It’s been more than a decade since Ernie left Greensboro, graduating from the early college program at Guilford College before attending UNC. He settled in Los Angeles more than six years ago and has no intention of moving back. But that doesn’t mean he stays away; a week before the Coachella shoot, Greensboro emo/pop band Lowborn released a music video Ernie directed in the Gate City. He’s working on the script for his first feature-length film, which begins in Greensboro and that he plans to film on-site.

Ernie’s interest in film began here. As a high schooler, he’d planned to move to D.C., become a lawyer and go into politics. But after taking film classes, he realized he needed to change course.

Who knows what kind of politician Ernie would’ve been, but his shift paid off. He’s edited music videos for stars like John Legend, 2 Chainz and Shawn Mendes and TV shows like Barry and Baskets. He received a VMA nomination for his editing on “This is America,” and he’s worked with brands like Banana Republic and Jordan. He’s making two shorts, one featuring Constance Wu and Reggie Watts. 

Despite the impressive résumé, Ernie says doesn’t have a favorite project. He’s too busy focusing on what’s in front of him—and what’s next.