Poised to attend MIT and study engineering after high school, Clay made the decision to follow a different passion. He has been making films for the past ten years. Immediately after finishing the film production program at USC in 2006, Clay hit the road to co-direct a rock documentary about Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady. After that, he continued to work as a freelance director and cinematographer in Los Angeles, shooting music videos, award-winning shorts and documentaries.
In 2009, he returned home to his family’s tobacco farm in Kentucky to direct a narrative feature film. Jess + Moss premiered at Sundance in 2011, screened at the Berlinale and won the Dallas narrative competition. He then produced The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had With My Pants On, a narrative feature that premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and screened at AFI Fest in 2012. Clay was selected as a Sundance Institute/Cinereach Feature Film Fellow and attended the June 2012 Sundance Screenwriters Lab with a science-fiction script he co-wrote, called Io.
Since 2014, Clay has directed six episodes of the critically acclaimed Netflix Original Series, Chef’s Table, documenting the lives and philosophies of chefs from around the world, including Francis Mallmann (Argentina), Dan Barber (US), Alex Atala (Brazil), Enrique Olvera (Mexico), Alexandre Couillon (France) and Virgilio Martinez (Peru).