The Cinderella story that is Kico Velarde’s life is remarkable. From being a struggling out of work editor to becoming the toast of the Cannes International Film Festival to winning an Emmy for producing Jay Leno’s Garage. Crazy!!!
His film PVC-1 – was accepted into the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes International Film Festival and was nominated for the Camera D’ Or Award in 2007. He became the toast of the festival but barely had two cents to rub together as he spent his last cash on tickets to the festival.
Check out the trailer to PVC-1:
After the festival it took some time to get back on his feet but then he got an opportunity of a lifetime, to work as an editor on a small YouTube show about Jay Leno’s Garage. Fast forward a year and he wins an Emmy for the show and the rest, as they say, is history.
If that wasn’t enough he also directed an award-winning short film “The Shooting Star Salesman.” You can watch the entire short film below.
An embittered, magical salesman (Yancey Arias) repairs his shooting star machine and ventures out to restore people’s belief in shooting stars. Much to his dismay, he picks up a curious 8-year-old tag along (Elijah Velarde) who starts to question if perhaps it’s the Salesman himself who needs to have his faith restored.
Kico’s story is truly an inspirational one. Take a listen and get ready to be inspired.
Alex Ferrari 0:02
So guys, today I have a real special guest Kico Velarde and please kick off forgive me if I mispronounced that last name. Kico. I've been friends for years. He has been an editor for most of his career. He's a producer of one film that got to can the Cannes Film Festival and took it by storm. And like he was literally broke one minute and he's still broke. It can literally sleeping on a floor somewhere. But he's the toast of the festival. And then finally getting a shot to be on Jay Leno's YouTube show for Jay Leno's garage and just recently got picked up by CNBC, making it the highest rated show on the channels history. And he's a producer on it as well. So that I also mentioned that he's an award winning director as well. The man is truly remarkable. Kiko has an amazing story. I wanted to bring him on the show to kind of inspire you guys to show you what can be done. He's one of the hardest working guys and one of the nicest guys I know in the business. So without further ado, here's my interview with my main man Kico. Kico man thank you so much for being on the show man I really appreciate taking the time out I know you're very very busy, man.
Kico Velarde 2:19
Oh no problem my pleasure, man.
Alex Ferrari 2:22
Cool man. So we'll jump in so uh, you know both you and I started off as editors and we still obviously edit as well. How do you think being an editor has prepared you for what you're doing today in the in the business.
Kico Velarde 2:36
You know what i editing I don't think I would have done it any differently like you know people try to always figure out like how do you break into the industry or what do you try to do or what can best prepare you and I think being an editor was like the best way to start in our side as an assistant editor and I learned from other editors and stuff but it just helped me develop my eye as a director and how you become more of an efficient director and producer as well you know you know exactly what you're going to need you learn what works and what doesn't from other films that you work on. And I'm me being an editor was was just one of those things where it just like I think really rounded me out as a filmmaker like I I was really rough around the edges and just working as assistant editor to an editor to editing anything even even editing weddings it gets in yet I was when I was first coming up and stuff like that like seriously like it's like your everything is about telling the story you know everything is and being an editor you're taking images and telling stories and working with timing and it just like I cannot tell you like I always tell people what's the best way to start editing I always tell people start with editing You know, I think editing and writing other two's like strongest wasted to really get in because it's just it just really helps. Like for me as a filmmaker
Alex Ferrari 4:07
Yeah for me I like for editing I think as opposed to writing writing is an excellent way to get in but writing is a tough to make like a daily income with that job so that's why I jumped into editing too because it was like okay I could I could be pa while I'm working on my craft or I can be editing and learning about my craft
Kico Velarde 4:28
Absolutely. So it definitely it definitely kept my family afloat while while I was just trying to swell struggling you know what we're trying to get my foot in the door like I tried to keep together as a wedding they pay well.
Alex Ferrari 4:42
We all look I did demo reels. You know for a long time doing commercials on a real site I feel you brother like you know it's and that's the thing a lot of people they figure it out pretty quickly that it this is not an easy visit. And then when you and I were coming up it was a lot different environment than it is today. Oh yeah. I mean going you and I were coming up there with competition but it wasn't like, you know, you still had to go drive somewhere to edit. Yeah, you couldn't edit at home as easily.
Kico Velarde 5:07
No, totally. Yeah it was it totally totally like that. Yeah, you definitely there wasn't as many in home systems and if you did like if you did had your your home system it wasn't as powerful it is now like now you get a Mac looking like really kind of feature on it. Back then you had to have like servers and oh, huge setup,
Alex Ferrari 5:25
And not and not to mention the software. I mean, the avid software alone was like, you know, obscene until finally until Final Cut came out. Which was my next question. Yes. You and I both were a Final Cut guys. I know you've got an avid as well, so have I but you know, I think Final Cut was one of our go to, and then ever since its demise, when I jumped to Final Cut x. I've played with Final Cut x a little bit, you know, but it's, it's not Final Cut seven. What what are you editing on today?
Kico Velarde 5:54
A sensitive subject
Alex Ferrari 5:56
No, dude, it's like, it's like, you know, you're talking about my woman. You know,
Kico Velarde 6:01
I was a hardcore Final Cut disciple to man like, Yeah, I was like, I had the Bible of Apple, you know, saying,
Alex Ferrari 6:08
Oh, yeah, no, no, we drank the Kool Aid brother. We drank it.
Kico Velarde 6:10
I drank it, man. I was like, and I was like, I was like a Final Cut alcoholic man. Yep. But you know, I switched over to premiere. Oh, the P word. Oh, wow. Yes. The dreaded p word. Yeah, no, but premiere has been great, though. It's been really really good. It has a little quirks here and there. But But other than that, I've really enjoyed it. I've really, really enjoyed it.
Alex Ferrari 6:35
Oh, nice. Good. So I've kind of played with it a little bit. You know what I started editing on now Da Vinci.
Kico Velarde 6:41
You know what I have to dive into Da Vinci I got to download a demo of her and other people good things about it.
Alex Ferrari 6:45
Yeah, I actually started because I've been a colorist for a while. So I've been on da Vinci for a while. So when I saw the new editing software, I was like, well, this will do. I love it, man. It's like so it's, it has kind of like best of both worlds. It has a little bit of the final cut and premiere tie. It's timeline based obviously like everything else. But it's not as I movie ish as Final Cut axes. So but it has a little bit of both. It's it puts its foot in both worlds, which I think is a nice blend. But it's it but for me like if you want a full blown experience of this to master to I mean, you know, color grading right into Da Vinci and editing right there. You could do sound there, you could do a bunch of stuff. It's pretty powerful, though. And it's the price is right. Essentially, you can get it for free. When you buy the camera, right? No, no, you can get it for free period. And then if you want to do higher end stuff like 2k and 4k, you've got to pay. If not, you could download it for free man that's like it's like a it's like an app killer. Like, Oh, yeah, yeah, that's why DaVinci runs color grading, like because essentially everybody can download it for free. Only those few little things, they lock out of it for the money for the so you can do it. But overall, you 90% of the projects can run on it. So anyway, two editors are going off on a tangent on editing gear. So let's, let's let's move. So um, so you you've been working on a web series called Jay Leno's garage, what's it like working and producing on a such a high profile web series and then also working with a legend like Jay Leno.
Kico Velarde 8:26
You know, working on that show, it's been it's been a blessing to be honest with you is one of those things where I kind of just fell into it. You know, I was working at NBC at the time I was a struggling filmmaker trying to look for work, NBC was looking for a temp position for an assistant editor to edit these 32nd promotional clips for days of our lives and the friend of my works here said hey, you know you want to you know, you want to come and do this gig you're way overqualified for this, but I know you need a job, you know, you want to do it and I kind of humbled myself and I was like, I could have been like, Nah, I'm not editor producer, whatever, right? But I was like Screw it. Now I need the money. So I went in there and I did this little like, just Kenny 32nd promo clips for days of our lives and then a month later, the producer for Jay Leno's garage webserie was leaving and I threw my name in the hat and I got in and started producing the show and it was one of those things where it's kind of I was kind of intimidating at first because I didn't know I'm not a car guy.
Alex Ferrari 9:24
You are now I'm assuming now I am but yeah,
Kico Velarde 9:27
but before I you know, I drove my little Prius and that was good enough for me that was right and the Prius is a bad keyword in the automotive industry like you say Prius and although if you're a car guy you like Prius
Alex Ferrari 9:40
you know yeah, that's fine but you know what sexy mpg
Kico Velarde 9:44
Exactly that's what I'm all about
Alex Ferrari 9:47
Kico Velarde 9:48
So I you know, it took me a while was a little intimidating because I didn't know my cars I didn't know anything you know, Corvette was a Corvette to me. I don't know there was like classic Corvettes you know, so working with J You know it was a little bit like you know when I first started I had to kind of get up on my knowledge really quick but you know working with Jay is great he's such a good guy super knowledgeable I mean just working with him right away you just realize the man's a human Encyclopedia of of the automotive industry I mean just know so much and he's so inspiring where when you just talk to him I mean just the wealth of knowledge that comes out of him is just so amazing he's just a overall nice guy good down to earth guy and like I always tell people he's he's a he spoils and he spoils us as producers and people we when we work with him because if I ever worked for another celebrity is going to be tough to hard to work with somebody else other than than Jay because Jay is just a no frills guy he's just a real down to earth you know, genuine guy
Alex Ferrari 10:48
And then now the show notes when you weren't when you working on the show you started off as an editor or you jumped right in as a producer,
Kico Velarde 10:54
Alex Ferrari 10:56
Ohh you are a predator
Kico Velarde 10:58
Producer editor it's a predator so I was editing the shows I still am I still edit the shows. And I started off just editing and then showing up on set and helping out all set and stuff like that. So I was I was a predator and then I moved into supervising producer, where I'm at now.
Alex Ferrari 11:14
Oh, that's awesome. And then that's going to be on CNBC. Right?
Kico Velarde 11:17
Yeah, it actually premieres tonight Oh nice. See 7pm on CNBC so yeah, we're really excited it's a television show and it's completely different from the web series so you know the web series is for like hardcore tech heads like gear heads okay. And this CNBC shows a little bit less gear heavy it's more fun yeah more fun a little bit light hearted you get pull people in who are not car people you pull them in you get them hooked and then you send them to the YouTube show so they can kind of get their deep deep gearhead news you know
Alex Ferrari 11:47
So let me ask you a question. This is interesting to me so you have a new sheet so basically you're creating a new show for the for the CNBC kind of Yes Okay, so it's a new show that's going to be airing only on CNBC and then you aim them towards YouTube for the older shows for the obviously the archives that you guys have and then also new shows that are a lot more tech heavy. Yeah, now as so and this is all owned by NBC Universal Yes. So it's interesting so NBC is actually using YouTube for I'm assuming advertising revenue and sponsorships and things like that but it's kind of like that's a new paradigm I haven't seen before
Kico Velarde 12:26
Well you know, it's kind of weird because I think as a first time that this has ever happened where like Jays garage on YouTube we have 1.4 million subscribers so it was the first time like where all the social media and everything was really built up. So usually when you have a show you started a new show you got to build a social media following you got to do all that by the time the show premieres so you get the word out there but this time it wasn't really all there i mean you know we have a huge Twitter following a huge Instagram following and a huge YouTube following so when we put the show together It was one of those things where it was kind of a no brainer you got to kind of use what's already there to promote the show
Alex Ferrari 13:05
Now so the show the so then obviously NBC approached you guys to say hey, we want to put a show on CNBC and kind of leverage all the stuff that you've been able to do online essentially.
Kico Velarde 13:18
Right exactly. So what happened was you know, what, Summer of 2014 we hit that 1 million mark on YouTube million subscribers subscribers Yes. Money subscriber mark, and that's when you know, see, NBC came to us and was like, Hey, you know, because we're part of the NBC digital department they're kind of Hey, this might be make a pretty good TV show so they approached Jay JCM for it and we shot a pilot that summer and then the pilot had the highest ratings on CNBC it's ever had so that's what we got approved for eight episodes. Yeah. Okay, so it's an eight episode run it episode run for right now hopefully after tonight we'll see if we can get picked up for more
Alex Ferrari 13:59
Nice that's that's that's very it's it's interesting, like the new way television and movies and online have to kind of work together.
Kico Velarde 14:08
Yeah, you know, it's it's it's definitely a new era. I mean, you keep hearing about, you know, all these YouTube stars getting picked up by CIA and other agencies, and they're getting their own TV shows and stuff like that, you know, and it's kind of funny how, like, Jay you know, the YouTube show was going while he was on The Tonight Show, it's been going into the YouTube shows been around for 10 years.
Alex Ferrari 14:28
Oh, really. He's just been doing it for fun.
Kico Velarde 14:30
He's been doing it for fun, but like it was on NBC calm and then in 2013. We put it on YouTube and it just exploded. And at that point when it was right around the good timing, because right when Jay was about to leave the tonight show, and then once he left it tonight show it just blew up even more. And then after that they were just like, you know, it's just one of those things where like, people do that on YouTube all the time or the girlie shows into TV shows and it just happened to be a perfect second Laci vehicle for J.
Alex Ferrari 14:57
Yeah, exactly, because you know j is J and And yeah, and he's retired. So he has so he needs to have something to do at this point.
Kico Velarde 15:03
And he's so passionate about like, when you watch the show, you will see like a different side of Jay. That's one thing everybody says when they watch the show, they're like, I've never seen him so passionate because nobody says, you know, when he was on The Tonight Show, he was just kinda like, yeah, yeah, celebrities, but
Alex Ferrari 15:16
Fe did for 20. How many years did he do?
Kico Velarde 15:18
22 years yeah. But now that now that he's a, you know, now he has his car show. I mean, you'll see he's really passionate and super knowledgeable. He's having fun. He's like a retired guy who's having fun with really fast cars.
Alex Ferrari 15:31
And it was kind of like what Jerry Seinfeld did with that show that he has a what's it called the
Kico Velarde 15:38
Committee's two cars getting coffee. Yeah, exactly. Great show. It's like it is a great
Alex Ferrari 15:43
Brilliant show. But then isn't that being aired somewhere? I thought that was a thought that's being aired somewhere now too. I think the channel picked
Kico Velarde 15:50
up crackle crackle picked it up, right? echo has it. But from what I was reading, I read a couple of reports Jerry has a really interesting insight to that, you know, they're trying to put it on television, he won't do it because he says he who loses loses creative freedom, which I understand. I definitely understand because when it comes to television, you have advertising, you know, parameters, you got to stay around and you know, you got commercial breaks, and you definitely lose our freedom where YouTube we have complete complete, complete creative freedom. You could do whatever you want, and it's really up to you. And you have this direct relationship with your audience which I ever experienced before. And that's one thing I do love about YouTube which makes YouTube like addicting is that once you start building your audience and you have a direct relationship you don't have Nielsen numbers to deal with your your your audience is literally telling you your stuff sucks or is good or not, I love you or hate you or whatever. But it's like right there. You're right there on their faces. And it's a really, really cool thing is it makes it super addicting.
Alex Ferrari 16:51
Yeah, absolutely. No, it's it. That's the thing with all all kind of social media once you start building up a proper, a proper audience, you have that interaction, that's insane, especially as a creator as a as an artist.
Kico Velarde 17:05
Yeah. And they show your love. And then pretty soon advertisers are seeing Oh, wow, you know, this guy has huge YouTube following. Let me start advertising any, it's like, it's a whole, it's the future. Like I've always felt like YouTube, that this whole online streaming everything that we're doing right now, it's the future of the entertainment industry, just the entertainment industry needs to just embrace it more and just accept it and figure out how they can make it cutting edge, you know,
Alex Ferrari 17:30
I mean it because essentially, it's going to be like a guy like Jay, who obviously is a legend and a powerhouse in what he does, could easily just, you know, even without NBC finance the whole thing himself, create his own show, and have his own thing and basically and then you can have a series of different shows on his YouTube channel. And it's all j and j is the last end of it and, and but I think that's where the future is everyone's going to be their own little studios, if they know how to deal with social media know how to create that, that following then, and I think it's a great time for independent filmmakers, and creators like with web series and films and TV shows and other things like that. So it's really interesting I would that's why I really wanted to get you on the show because I wanted to kind of hear your dynamic about what's going on with that kind of show and now this is just a selfish question. How was it winning an Emmy?
Kico Velarde 18:24
You know what, it's been cool man. It's been really really cool experience. You know, the year I joined the show is a year that we went to me and it was just crazy. I happen to get on the show that same year. And it was one of those things where it's like, I can't believe this is happening. Like literally the year before I was struggling for money I was struggling to like find a job right? And then a year later I'm at the Emmys and I'm like What is going on? You know, but it's crazy man. It's an honor and we've been nominated three years after that. I got nominated for three years in a row and it's just like every year you're just like whoa like it's an honor just to be nominated you know, and be amongst those other great shows that are out there. It's just it's just crazy. It's just a once in a lifetime experience you know,
Alex Ferrari 19:12
but you have been but it's an actually being at the show must have been just surreal.
Kico Velarde 19:17
Oh man, it was crazy. It's like you look around and you got like Bryan Cranston right there right. I met Steven Soderbergh which was crazy I'm a huge Steven Soderbergh fan and he was like right there at the bar and I was like staring at him and he played that I was on some crazy stalker but I was like, you know he's like some six foot three Mexican just staring at him.
Alex Ferrari 19:38
Which is, which is rare as if as a general statement, there's not a lot of six foot three Mexicans out there, let alone staring at Steven Soderbergh.
Kico Velarde 19:45
So he looked at me like how you doing? I'm like, I'm good, man. I just want to tell him, I'm a big fan. He's like, oh, cool, thanks, you know, security. Exactly. It was just like one of those things where it's just insane. Like, I People are just like people you watch on television producers directors. I was sitting there doing shots with with an Emmy Award winning director from from house. I was like, he's like, oh, what's your name? I'm Kiko I do I love deals graduate do you show to you I direct house I just want to me he showed me his me Like what? It was just like crazy. If we're do we shot, it is just awesome, man, it was a really awesome experience. And that was that I was able to take my wife, my wife went to the Emmys with me one year, and it was glorious. It
Alex Ferrari 20:29
must have been awesome. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So um, so what advice do you have for someone wanting to start up a web series nowadays,
Kico Velarde 20:47
oh, man, there's so much so much advice, I could give them a couple of nuggets. One, I one thing I could say is, if you're going to build a web channel or a YouTube channel, plan it out. Really think about what you're going to shoot what your content is, who's your audience who, who you're trying to target and have a clear understanding of that. And even when it comes down to like creating your logo, your little thumbnail picture on YouTube, all that all that has to be thought out because once you come up with a vibe and a look in in your your brand, you got to stick to it because youtubers they love. Recall that they don't like change. And once they see something, they want to hold on to it. And you got to make sure you come through. So even with your shows, we can somehow see consistency, you have to come out every week, if you're going to be a weekly show, you better come out with a show every week and be ready to put out a show every week. If you come out and you miss a week here, they're Miss, you know, a month here or there and they're gonna forget about you and move on. If you're consistent, you will build your audience and it takes a while you got to be patient. I know people are expecting big YouTube cream out of the gate. But some of these people have been running the YouTube channels two or three years before they really explode. You just got to be ready and be willing and committed to doing that, to putting out a show every week or every day, whatever you want to do, but every week would probably be a little bit more feasible. And just make make sure you just know how to target your audience and who you're trying to target. You know.
Alex Ferrari 22:29
Very cool, very cool. Now I'm the shooting star salesman, which was your directorial debut. How was it transitioning from being a predator to being a director?
Kico Velarde 22:41
Well, actually, I did the shooting star salesman before I started working at NBC. Yeah, yeah, I actually directed that film before. Like his funny because as soon as I was done directing that film, I was broke. And then six months later
Alex Ferrari 22:56
still a work sir as being an independent filmmaker. So I can you're done with your movie, you're broke.
Kico Velarde 23:00
It's totally true man. I was broke. I was struggling like, you know, we raised the money on Kickstarter. But we blew through that money. I was like, literally just had that movie sitting on a hard drive because I couldn't afford to finish it. And I literally looked, it was looking for a job. I was desperate. And that's when I ended up getting on to NBC. So actually, my first couple years at NBC, get off of work and go home and work on the shooting star sales man.
Alex Ferrari 23:23
That's awesome. So how was your transition though, from being an editor to being to being what was your directorial kind of experience like being a first time director on that project?
Kico Velarde 23:35
It was you know what it was one of those things where you know, I produced a couple other films you know, feature films and I've got to work with a really great director and worked with other great people in the industry and kind of shadow people see how you know, they direct and how they do stuff. So you know, when I started directing, it was nerve wracking because I didn't want to screw it up. directing the shooting stars out my was, my goal was to prove that I can direct and I could tell a story. And it was one of those things where it was nerve wracking, but it was felt felt good. It felt like that's where I was supposed to be. You know, and it was amazing man, I have so much fun I had a great team. And it was it was it was a complete adventure man and I had a great time doing it. It was it was it was a breath of fresh air.
Alex Ferrari 24:22
Now when you were once the movie was finally done, what was your experience like kind of marketing it and getting it getting getting some attention for the project?
Kico Velarde 24:32
Yeah, man that was hard. Really, really hard the first year.
Alex Ferrari 24:38
I like that you just started that conversation that sentence like that the first year of marketing.
Kico Velarde 24:43
The first year yeah, it was the first year of most putting it out there. Like it's practically we're begging people to watch it. Like please watch our film and you're going to festivals send disseminate to festivals and stuff and, and they just wasn't getting any traction. I mean, I think I submitted till 50 festivals and I only got into two oh wow wow really yeah I got turned down left and right it was bad it was
Alex Ferrari 25:07
why it's a good film and it's it seems like it would be it would fit beautifully in a schedule like so you can program it nicely
Kico Velarde 25:14
oh no man I got turned down from so the first festival to ever accept me and it was after almost a year of submitting it was the New York Latino the HBO Latino Film Festival they were the first ones to take me and before that I was getting turned out left and right and I was kept you know you should question yourself as an artist you're like do I suck my delusional here does my phone suck and I'm thinking it it's it's good but it really sucks right? And it was one of those things where it was so depressing. And then when the New York Latino Film Festival took it I was like Okay, good, good. There's hope you know, right? And then um, it was just one of those things where I had to figure out another way of doing it of getting it out there you know, and you know, you could create a trailer and put it out there but it's you know, there's so many films out there's so many short films I like it's hard for people to sit there and watch it like to sit there and want to watch it or be a part of it. So it took a little while it took me like making I made a behind the scenes making of it. That helped out a little bit people got interested because once I started seeing the behind the scenes, it was beautiful. It was beautiful. Thank you. They were like yeah, maybe I will want to watch this film. So it was it was doing a lot of that. And then also too, I started doing once Instagram started taking videos, I started doing micro trailers,
Alex Ferrari 26:31
okay 15 second trailers,
Kico Velarde 26:33
the second trailers and they've a festival accepted me in I knew we're gonna screen up the festival and put their festival logo at the end. Just to put it out there so people like in not only your branding your your film, but your branding the festival, too. And you're like, Hey, you know, and they appreciated that. So stuff like that, you know, I just started doing in a sort of spreading the word programmers started talking to each other, like, Hey, you got to see this film, The Shooting Star salesman. And that's the thing, you really got to get programmers to watch your films because they may not accept your film and TV, their festival. But they talk to other programmers, right? And they and they're like, Hey, you know, so so programmer, you should watch this film. I didn't have it in my festival. I wanted to for whatever reason, I couldn't put it in, but you should consider it. And then they say, Oh yeah, I love this film this program, and then they reach out to you. So it's really about getting programmers to watch it and getting them to talk about your film. Because that's how you'll definitely start getting the buzz.
Alex Ferrari 27:23
Very cool. Now. Now how was it working with such a diffusely amazing cast? Like Yancy arias. Jason Kendrick and Sidney Poitier.
Kico Velarde 27:33
Oh man. Yeah, it was amazing. Yeah, she's just First of all,
Alex Ferrari 27:38
yes, he's the man just to say let's just say
Kico Velarde 27:40
he's the man dude. He's such an amazing talent, both in just acting and then you know, directing and producing to he's really, really an inspiration. And he working with him was so great Manny, he, he trusted me. I mean, I was my first time directing and he was, you know, he has a resume. That's amazing. And for him to say, I trust you as my director. I was like, Whoa, you know, like, it was an honor and him working with my son because my son started the phone. It was just one of those things where he just like they just got along, like as buddies, and they just work together. So well. He he kind of you know, took him under his wing. You know, as I was, you know, trying to prep Malaysia, he helped me pregnant Elijah, and he just, you know, Yancy just dove into the character. He did his homework. he'd call me every night and be like, Hey, you know, ask them questions about the character he sent me for being a short film. This is not a feature film. This is not a studio film whatsoever. This is complete independent and he just did his homework he studied he was really fascinated by the character and he just he just did his own homework on it and and took chances on stuff that I didn't even think about that worked out perfectly. So it was a complete honor to work with him. And then of course, he brought on you know, yeah, sending to me a party and Jason Gehrig, who are both amazing to work with to Sydney you know, she would do little subtle stuff that I didn't notice until post brilliant, like you know, she would do certain things and they say her line a certain way or look at Elijah Yancey a certain way and I was like wow, that's brilliant. That sounds a lot without saying anything You know? And she was great.
Alex Ferrari 29:13
It was a you know like when I saw when I watched the movie and I saw Jason in it I was like you know my one of my favorite movies growing up was the heavenly kid. Oh yes, dude. Yeah, dude, that movie and of course rooftops but that's now now I'm going now I'm going really really fast Eagle bro. Oh of course iron Eagle. How can we forget about iron Eagle one and two. But But heavenly kid man I freaking loved heavenly kid growing up. So when I saw him like, Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. Like we geek out that way. So what advice would you give a young director about to direct season and experienced actors because I know a lot of, you know independent directors. A lot of times they're either using, you know, you know, or working with, you know, actors who are not that seasoned or young or they're Friends and then when you work with a real professional there is a shift because that's what happened with me I mean I when I directed my stuff I directed mostly you know young direct a young actors who had never met but then the second I started working with real, professional and seasoned actors, the game changes so what advice would you give to a young director working with some seasoned and experienced actors for the first time
Kico Velarde 30:22
working with with a seasoned actor I would say like keep an open mind. I know a lot of times you walk in as a director you have your vision and you have what you want to do in a scene. But you know, I love to keep my set like open and collaborative and when you do that, an actor really appreciates that and I think working with Yancey he made a lot of suggestions where you know I could have been like no this is the way I want to do it and that's it you know, but I heard it out and I said you know what, we have time let's let's keep our options open just shoot it the way you saw it and I want to shoot it the way I shot I shot I saw it and then let's see what happens in the editing room. Because it's really about you know, film like I think any type of film lives live stronger when it's a collaborative environment. And if you if you become an iron fist and say no this is my this is the way I want to do it and that's it and then you're choking your phone. You know,
Alex Ferrari 31:20
it's a very it's very good advice. That's actually really really good advice. So how did you get involved producing those two feature films that you did PVC one and please pronounce it for me. Oh,
Kico Velarde 31:32
Alex Ferrari 31:33
Metro Ah, II see you had a problem too. Yeah, both of those were nominated for in Cannes and Berlin Film Festival. So how did you get involved with those and what was the experience producing those kind of films?
Kico Velarde 31:45
Oh, well, PVC one was the first feature film I ever produced and that film what happened was his crazy story but I was working at Apple at the time teaching Final Cut Pro course because you drank the Kool Aid I got to drink the kool aid you know, I had it ready to add an IV and you know CG Fabrica pronoun man, it's an old high school friend of mine I hadn't seen in like 15 years. And he comes in He's like, What are you up to these days? I'm a filmmaker. So I am to he does so we exchanged business cards. And then three weeks later, he calls me and he's like, hey, goes I have a friend I went to film school with this guy named spiros. He's like this crazy director when you meet me. he's a he's short. He has hair like Einstein. His hair is like sticking straight up. So he says, this guy's really he's a brilliant director, but he has this film he wants to do. And he needs help with post production and he's producers and I'm thinking about producing it but I want to meet with him and maybe you might want to be involved and I was like, Sure. So I met with this director I met with my high school buddy of mine, this director and he had this idea about shooting this film on one shot at five minutes about this woman in Colombia who had a bomb strapped to her neck
Alex Ferrari 32:51
Wait a minute, is this Hold on a second? Is this is this that movie? No. Is that this is the movie that I heard about the whole thing and wanted one like an award account the technical award because it did the whole thing on one shot yeah yeah holy cow man i didn't i didn't connect the two Yeah, that thing was huge. I mean everybody was talking about that movie because of what he bought goes what he did that was like insane movie Oh awesome.
Kico Velarde 33:15
Yeah literally we shot the film for $4,000 Beatles went to Columbia shot the film one shot came brought it back here to the US we did all the post production and
Alex Ferrari 33:26
post production meaning looking at it and doing audio
Kico Velarde 33:30
basically you know you know unfortunately it was so humid in Colombia when we shot it and we shot it on the dv x 100 on mini DV tape
Alex Ferrari 33:36
Oh Jesus Christ
Kico Velarde 33:37
and is when the 85 minute dv x tapes came out remember yeah yeah we literally took it to the end of the tape and by the time he got paid back you know so human that the tape started like coming apart like basically like getting moles there's a lot of parts in the film that like God digital hits, so we had to go in there and clean it up rebuild pixel by pixel those those images and also to it was a lot of sound design. Okay, yeah a lot a lot of times as I said it was a one shot there's really no editing or you know, adjusting exposure throughout the film and doing the color correction and doing the sound design so yeah, so we did the film and then I took it around try to get around Hollywood try to get people to see it and people watched it and wanted to go straight to DVD. We told me want to go to cons everybody laughed in our face. I said no way you guys gonna be able to go to cons there's no way so we ended up taking the film back and we submitted ourselves and we got into cons and got nominated.
Alex Ferrari 34:38
And did you um, did you go to con Yes. How was that
Kico Velarde 34:42
amazing? This is amazing as I thought it would be even more now you
Alex Ferrari 34:47
still broke during this time right? Oh, hello
Kico Velarde 34:49
broke. Yeah, I was working for Apple but I mean, I was getting paid $100 every two weeks that support my wife and my kids. You know,
Alex Ferrari 34:59
Jesus man. Yeah. That's craziness and but you're like hey I'm again
Kico Velarde 35:02
I had to take out a loan to go back and I remember we took I took out a loan for five grand to go to cons for tea. And we all slept in this small apartment in cons we all like stuck on the floor
Alex Ferrari 35:14
while we were there. So very, very, very luxurious. Yeah, I
Kico Velarde 35:18
mean seriously, like literally we walk the red carpet come back and they will go to bed to sleep on the floor. Like it was crazy. But it was it was like the best experience of my life, man. I mean, God who was the guy that the guy who directed the spider man there for Spider Man,
Alex Ferrari 35:32
you Sam Raimi? Sam Raimi?
Kico Velarde 35:34
We were sitting in the Hollywood Reporter tent, right? And we're, you know, all the hustle and bustle, like all these agents were like, pulling at us, and oh, yeah, we want to sign up last time you so we're sitting there and this man comes up to us. It says, a youth of PVC one guys. And we're like, Yeah, he goes, I'm a huge fan. Congratulations. I watched your film on the plane read over. I can't wait to see what you guys do next. And he shook our hands and walked away. I had no clue who he was. My degree was like, Do you know who that was? on my mind? As I said, for me. I'm like, What? I had no clue Sam Raimi came up to us and just gave us so much love and so much praise. And I just didn't even realize I was hanging out because it was just so many people so much hustle bustle round Yeah, it was it was crazy.
Alex Ferrari 36:17
That's awesome dude. That's a great story. Yeah, it was really crazy. So um so let me ask you another question. Why do you love the business? What What is it about this ridiculously unpredictable lunacy that is the film business Why do you love it so much?
Kico Velarde 36:42
I think I love at the end of the day telling stories man at the end of the day it's really been able to create images and to tell stories is my passion I can't see myself doing anything else you know I can't see myself being like a teacher I can see myself being a police officer I'm passionate about telling stories getting in there and just really beautifully telling the story and and working with the creative team and doing that I mean at the end of the day, I just love that you know I breathe it I eat it. I love being a part of it. You know just just you know, I think as a kid I was always fascinated by Steven Spielberg movies and how they do this and how to do that and now to be the person creating those worlds and those images it's like it's awesome you know,
Alex Ferrari 37:31
it is it's you know, and I'm sure all of us I think every filmmaker at one point or another has that question that has a conversation with themselves like do I continue to do I do I keep going is this worth it? Should I change course I don't know about you have you had that conversation with yourself?
Kico Velarde 37:51
Oh my God, I've had that conversation with my wife
Alex Ferrari 37:55
which is much worse which is much worse than
Kico Velarde 37:59
my wife is like like she's like sharing Moonstruck she slaps me like snap out of it
Alex Ferrari 38:05
well moodstruck reference nice yeah so
Kico Velarde 38:08
she she you know my wife's been so supportive and I wouldn't be here without her because she's been definitely my my rock and my foundation because there's so many times where I just wanted to quit I mean from from just projects not turning out the way I wanted them to turn out and getting like you know, you know just not getting the reaction I wanted to to just having bad you know, you know fall outs with the crew or with teen people you work with stuff like that. So it's one of those things where you just like so many ups and downs is definitely a roller coaster ride working in this business and it's definitely you know, one of I've had many, many conversations where do I really want to keep doing this? Is this really worth it? Am I you know, am I too old? Am I am I too old? that that kind of thing? Because it is a young man's game.
Alex Ferrari 38:58
But it isn't it isn't? Yeah, it isn't it isn't because I think that you know, the young is great, and they have experience that you and I never did. Like they grew up with this stuff. They've been editing since they were 10 Yeah, you know, so it's different but there's something to be said about experience.
Kico Velarde 39:15
There is they're really really really really yeah and I think a lot of these these kids coming up I mean they're super talented but there's something about having life experiences that adds an extra depth to your your films.
Alex Ferrari 39:29
Not only that just not only life experience to like make you more flavorful as an artist but but just business experience the film business experience, which is Yeah, you know, you could be a fantastic artist, but this this business will eat you up and spit you spit you out with a question. I mean, like I've had that conversation with myself a million times literally like, Okay, I gotta I don't know if I'm gonna keep going. I don't know if I'm gonna keep going. And then and then the only answer I've ever come up with like, so what are you going to do? Yeah, that's like, Okay, well, what else What are you going to go do get a job where what do you what are you going to do if you can't do this so that's honestly this
Kico Velarde 40:05
is the only thing I've been good at like I have a super good at like like cooking I have friends who are good at like fixing cars or fixing up cars I have friends that are just amazing all kinds of different stuff I have friends who are great lawyers great this amazing mathematicians or whatever but when I say this is the only even video games I have friends who are like brilliant I'm playing video games
Alex Ferrari 40:26
and which is a profession nowadays which is hilarious yeah
Kico Velarde 40:28
I can This is the only thing I'm good at this is only thing where I could got a story I can shoot it I can edit it I can make a gorgeous is the only thing I've ever been good at
Alex Ferrari 40:39
so you're you're obviously working on jay jay leno sub show right now now are you going to be doing any more feature work independent work shorts you're going to be directing again anytime soon.
Kico Velarde 40:51
Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely. I'm working on another short right now I'm trying to get together and I'm actually just got attached to my first feature film.
Alex Ferrari 40:59
Kico Velarde 41:00
Yeah, so we're just waiting for the funding but i'm i'm attached to it.
Alex Ferrari 41:04
Nice nice Congrats, man. Congrats. Thank you brother. Amen. I know I look I know that I know how that game is played too. So yeah, congrats. So this is the toughest question I'm gonna ask you the entire interview. Okay, prepare yourself okay. What are your top three favorite films of all time? Oh no particular order whatever tickles your fancy at the moment.
Kico Velarde 41:29
Oh yeah, that's so hard
Alex Ferrari 41:33
I get every every every guest of mine does the exact same ah
Kico Velarde 41:41
there is one from there's there's many films but cash that's that's a hard one.
Alex Ferrari 41:47
Yeah, don't worry. It's not gonna be engraved on your gravestone or something Don't worry whatever just pick three from that really did something to you. But it's
Kico Velarde 41:54
so it's so like subjective because like, you know you there's so many filmmakers out there. Let's see what he speak. Let's see what he says. You know,
Alex Ferrari 42:01
look, I'll tell you what, look I had a I have a friend of mine Suki who was a guest on the show. He was he's a cinematographer, he's at the ASC and I asked him that question and I was expecting like, you know, this really deep you know, Russian, he's a Bosnian he's from Bosnia. So I was expecting some really obscure, he said Enter the Dragon. Um, and I think like another like, I forgot the other but entered a dragon stuck out to me. I'm like, Enter the Dragon. Don't get me wrong. Enter the Dragon is a frickin awesome movie. Yeah, he goes, but that movie affected me as a filmmaker, because when I saw it as a child that it kind of blew me away. Yeah. So don't get caught up. Like I you have to say Citizen Kane. Whatever, whatever. Like I've heard from all my guests I hear. That's why I love asking the question. Because it's just like, what do you know, obviously, we all know that there's certain movies that are on everybody's top 10. But what affected you as an artist? So just three.
Kico Velarde 43:00
I remember. I can say one of the films I'll say right now that I remember watching and it left me with such a huge impact. It left me with a kick in my stomach. I remember when I left that theater. I felt like I felt like literally somebody kicked me in the stomach. Was do the right thing. Oh, wow. Yeah, I remember seeing that in a theater when I was I was probably a freshman in high school. And I was locked out and I was like, Holy moly. Like I walked out like thinking, like, I can't breathe right now. Like, I was like, that was just so heavy, you know, right? Do the right thing I could definitely say is one of them that really affected me that really, I think showed me the power of film.
Alex Ferrari 43:40
You know, the thing about do the right thing, too, is that it was so good that people still go to see spike. Spike Lee movies in hopes that one day? Yeah, he'll make another do the right thing or something of that, because he's never made anything of that caliber again. I mean, he's a great, don't get me wrong. He's an amazing filmmaker. But that's his Citizen Kane. That's absolutely that's that thing. He's never been able to reach that again. And
Kico Velarde 44:04
film my watch. And I smile when I watch it. Because there's so many great things in that movie, like, just the writing and then the directing and the performances of so many young like actors. Great
Alex Ferrari 44:14
film. Oh, God. Yeah, amazing. Amazing. Amazing. A good good choice. Yeah, yeah. So
Kico Velarde 44:19
I think I'll probably say full metal jackets.
Alex Ferrari 44:25
The huge Stanley Kubrick fan. Yeah, huge, huge metal jacket
Kico Velarde 44:28
was definitely one of the ones that like I remember as a kid, and then I'll pay you know, 80
Alex Ferrari 44:36
Yeah, that was the one that got started. That one's the one that started it. For me. That was the first time I ever thought of being a filmmaker was after 80
Kico Velarde 44:42
Yeah, 80 was a whole experience. I mean anything Spielberg at the time, I was a kid with this. Like, it's almost like the same excitement. JJ Abrams is building with the Star Wars right now. It's like, yeah, kids are that's all they're talking about. Right now. The Star Wars premiere, December 18. I remember anytime a Spielberg movie was coming out in the 80s. That was like the same thing.
Alex Ferrari 45:00
Yeah I mean after after Raiders I think because you know it gave me the jaws was jaws and then but Raiders is the one that kind of blew the door open for for our generation like for that kind of adventure kind of stuff yeah totally and then yeah at and then it just it just went from there and then he does like Color Purple and we're like what it is which is a great movie but not
Kico Velarde 45:23
a good friendly way to go see the color purple everyone's they haven't I say Villa which is the color purple thinking oh man it's gonna be adventure center just Whoopi Goldberg up there and
Alex Ferrari 45:34
like what's going on? Oprah Oprah what's going on Oprah
Kico Velarde 45:36
like what's what why are you Why are you so why is Danny Glover so angry? Yeah. Oprah
Alex Ferrari 45:46
Very cool event so let me ask you where can people find you find what you're working on?
Kico Velarde 45:51
Um, you know, they could kind of keep up what I'm working on my website KicoVelarde.com KicoVelarde.com, and they could check out some, you know, behind the scenes making of my film. And you know, more news on my film of the shooting star salesmen calm are very cool. And then obviously J's show. J show Jay Leno's garage comm you can watch that on youtube youtube channel, subscribe, you can subscribe to the channel to get weekly updates on all our shows. And then, you know, nbc.com as well,
Alex Ferrari 46:19
How many archived episodes Do you guys have that that have that show?
Kico Velarde 46:23
We have about 1200 episodes?
Alex Ferrari 46:27
Yeah, wow. So you guys are getting views left and right, people just continuously finding stuff.
Kico Velarde 46:32
It's crazy. Dude, we're averaging right now about 250,000 views a week on our new videos. So it's crazy. It's like it's just getting massive, massive views. And it's just growing. It's like, right now everybody's on YouTube contest and the best car show on YouTube, which is an honor because there's so many great car shows out there. Sure.
Alex Ferrari 46:50
Sure. Of course. Of course. That's so awesome. Man. Kico thank you so much for being on the show, man. I really, really appreciate you taking the time out, man.
Kico Velarde 46:58
Well, thank you Alex. Thanks, man.
Alex Ferrari 47:00
Man Kiko really inspired me. I hope you guys got a bunch out of that one because a key goes like I guess like, as you guys can tell, he's one of the nicest guys in the business. I all the success he's got. He's, he's, he deserves all the success he gets and he has men. He's busted his ass for years. And he's come up on top right now. So I wish him nothing but the best. And I hope it serves as an inspiration to you guys, that sometimes this business well not sometimes pretty much all the time. It's brutal, it's tough. It's tough to make it in this business is tough to make able to, to make money with this business to provide for your family. I mean, he was sleeping on the floor. And just like a comment, you know, he took that little job doing like really, you know, promos for NBC online, and it was like really beneath his skill set and where he was, but you never know what that can turn into. And look what a turned into it turned into a few months later turned into a job on Jay Leno show and all of a sudden, he's at the Emmys. He's a producer on the show. And all of that came from humbling himself down to the point where he had to do what he had to do to make it to survive and thrive in the business. So if you just keep pounding the pavement if you just keep honing your craft and keep trying and keep pushing forward. Good things come out of it and Kiko is a perfect example of that. So keep those heads up. Alright guys, don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast.com filmmaking podcast.com and leave us an honest review for the show. Thank you guys again so much for all your support on the show. So please spread the word if you can. Also guys if you want the show notes for this show, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/027 thanks again for listening guys. Have a Happy, Happy Happy Thanksgiving. Keep your dream alive. Keep the hustle going. And gobble gobble gobble. Talk to you guys soon.
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- Kico Velarde
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- Jay Leno’s Garage
- IFH: Guerrilla Indie Film School
- FreeFilmBook.com (Your FREE Audio Book)
- Six Secrets to get into Film Festivals for FREE!