We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicolas Varela and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicolas, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
I think risk have always played an important role in my career. Firstly, I jumped into filmmaking in another country really far away from my family and friends or everything that defined me. Also, I was challenged by language since English is not my natural speaking language. Moreover, I came to live at the most competitive city in the film industry. Therefore my initial decision to start my career as filmmaker here in LA was a risk itself. Now, as an artist risk is always part of my art-making process. I’m known for write and direct projects with a really polemic and provocative touch. Most of my creations are inside the crime genre spectrum but my approach to these kind of stories is different. I believe that people is not good or evil, people are the result of a sequence of decisions and those decisions are driven for emotions and thoughts. So for me as a storyteller is really interesting to explore what those emotions and thoughts are and how them lead a person to make decisions that end up in some kind of crime. My goal is understand the humanity behind the “beast”. This perspective has been always a risk, overall here in the US where people love to see in movies the hero and the villain or the victimizer and the victim as two different entities. I think people is way more complex than that. I’ve been called risky among my fellow filmmakers as well, because I never write my stories thinking about what the audience would like or not to see but what I consider important for the story to be told. The motivations and needs of my characters is most important for me than the approval of the general audience. Fortunately for me, these risks have payed off nicely. I think is a mistake to make art pursuing to be likable for everybody or for most people. I think that is killing the soul of your creativity. The more authentic and congruent you are with yourself and your art the closer you’ll get to your own success. At least that has been my personal experience.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
The colors and atmospheres of my image-nary in combination with the darkness of my stories create an interesting contrast that has became a strong signature of my work, which has been noticed by my fellow filmmakers in some film festivals I’ve been lucky to be part of. This personal aesthetic has been gaining such a powerful presence in my career that inspired me to create my own brand. So I’m excited to announce that really soon I will open my own film company. We are starting small but with a lot of confidence in the projects we would be able to generate and the services we would provide. Since I was a kid my parents taught me that we could be the shapers of our own lives, therefore they always pushed me to be an opportunity maker for myself. Plus we are living in times in where there are multiple ways to showcase yourself as an artist. That’s why I thought that by creating my own brand as a content creator I would be able to freely shape my career and my life into the direction I want. This process hasn’t been easy at all since there’s a lot to think about and deal with. I’ve been lucky enough to have the unconditional support of my husband, Trevor who has been a motivation booster whenever I feel overwhelmed. Also, I count on really talented and highly professional young artists that have been truly helpful in this journey. But most importantly, family and friends have been always there for me by having the best opinions and wishes. Hence, all this support have helped me to overcome whatever obstacle I’ve had to face. As any other journey this one has been full of lessons. Communication and team work has been the key words of my career so far. On one hand, communicate with clarity and respect is time saving and helps to keep the workflow smooth. On the other hand, making others part of the creation process and working together in pro the story is what lead you to the ultimate form of filmmaking, in my opinion. I hope my work and brand would help to give people some perspective by getting to see and listen someone else’s story and point of view. I think filmmaking could be a powerful awareness tool that can offer perspective and hopefully some understanding. Our film company has its doors open to artists that want to say something by making a movie, a music video, an experimental piece or any other audio-visual content.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a coffee lover so I would probably take you to some of my favorite coffee shops; Simply Coffee in Burbank, Alfred in West Hollywood, or Black Elephant in Atwater Village. After coffee I would drive early morning to El Matador Beach and Point Dume to take some pictures. On the weekend I would take you to Melrose/Fairfax Flea Market or to the one on Rose Bowl. For dinner I would go to Toca Madera or Sage and then to the bookstore next door.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe my success firstly to my family and friends for the unconditional love and support, but also to all of those who have work with me because budget has never been a motivation for them but their trust in me as an artist and the stories I’ve been meaning to tell.