Making John Wick and Horror Feature Film Titles in a Basement – Interview with Amador Valenzuela

September 18, 2019 - By 

Making action-packed 3D titles for films like John Wick Chapter 3, freelance artist Amador Valenzuela tells us about working on movies in his Illinois basement.

Amador Valenzuela has worked on feature film titles, commercials, animated brand assets, experiential displays, and much more. He has helped create opening titles for films like John Wick 2 and 3, as well as a collaborating on a multitude of other films and series like Furious 7, The Haunting of Hill House, and Insidious.

He is a frequent collaborator with the incredible Filmograph studio in Los Angeles. With the Filmograph team he has both designed and animated title sequences, and he dives into his process with Chad Ashley.

So let’s listen to Chad Ashley and Amador Valenzuela talk about their relationship, learning Cinema 4D, balancing big-name projects and little-known projects, and creating feature film titles.

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Show Notes:

Guest – Amador Valenzuela, Black Book Studio

Ritchie Valens

La Bamba Movie

Fernando Valenzuela

Blackbook Studio

Aquaman Titles (Concept Boards)

The Haunting of Hill House Titles (Design Boards)

Insidious Titles

Filmograph

Aaron Becker

Prologue

The Legend of Hercules

Element 3D

3ds Max

Cinema 4D

Cherry 7UP commercial

Sinister 2 Titles (CG Design + Animation)

Blumhouse production logo

John Wick Titles (Filmograph)

John Wick Chapter 2 Titles (Design + Animation)

Octane

John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum Titles (Design + Animation)

Redshift

Greyscalegorilla 3D and 4K Dust

Everyday Material Collection


Podcast Episode Transcription:

Chad Ashley: 00:00 Okay. So I’m really excited about this guest. I’m very, very excited to introduce all of you to a really good friend of mine and somebody that I’ve known a really long time. And uh, his name is Amador, Valenzuela and uh, if you couldn’t tell by the intro, I’m pretty, I’m pretty stoked that he’s here. Amador, how you doing today?

Amador Valenzuela: 00:19 Oh good man. Thanks for having me on board.

Chad Ashley: 00:22 So quick, quick question. Uh, every time I tried to call you on my phone it wants to say Amador Valenzula and like I don’t understand what, why that is like is it that that name is like just not common in Google’s uh ecosystem or have you ever heard people pronounce it that way?

Amador V: 00:43 Yeah, that’s like usually the, the way that they screwed up the most, you know, the Zula I think cause that’s everything. Actually, if you look at it, it’s pronounced exactly the way you would, you know, the way it’s spelled out, basically. They just forget about that E. I don’t know something about that E. The combination they think is just like a Zul, but it’s like Zuela.

Chad Ashley: 01:01 That’s so strange. I gotta believe that there are millions of people out there with that last name.

Amador V: 01:07 No, actually it’s not that common to be honest. Uh.

Chad Ashley: 01:11 Really?

Amador V: 01:11 Yeah, it’s weird. Right? Well when I was growing up, I, the story that I would get all the time or like when I, when people would see my name they’d say oh like Richie? Cause like Lubanga had came out and so his name is Richie Valenzuela. But like in the movie if you saw the movie he shortens it to Valens.

Chad Ashley: 01:28 Oh my God. Yes dude. Well, I’m going to call you Amador Valens now.

Amador V: 01:31 Well, it’s funny cause I have cousins that are like on Facebook and stuff that they did that just to be annoying about it. Like they’re just like yeah I’m Valens too cause he was a Valens so.

Chad Ashley: 01:40 Oh, that’s awesome.

Amador V: 01:41 Yeah. But no, I, so that I, when I was growing up it would be like, oh like Richie and I’d be like yeah, yeah, yeah. Or also the other one that would get, which would be like the opposite spectrum would be like Fernando, cause if you’re into baseball, Fernando Valenzeula was like a legend, apparently. I’m not into baseball, so I have no, I mean I know the guy, I know who he is, but I could care less.

Chad Ashley: 02:02 I’ve heard the name before.

Amador V: 02:03 Yeah. Well the thing is, well here’s the thing. So those two guys are, are pretty legendary in their own fields. And so people just assume like, well I’ve heard that last name. Yeah. Cause of this guy and that guy or whatever. And they just kind of assumed that it’s pretty common. But I don’t think it is though, because I like all my life. I think um, I mean the only, when I was in school, for example, there was only one other time when I was in high school and I went to pretty big high school, uh, Curie High in Southside Chicago. There was only one other girl with that last name, which I thought was kinda weird. But I’ve never really run into anybody else so I don’t know.

Chad Ashley: 02:36 Well I think we share that in common. I have a fairly uncommon last name myself.

Amador V: 02:40 Really?

Chad Ashley: 02:40 And I, I constantly, I constantly have people thinking that it’s my first name.

Amador V: 02:47 Oh right.

Chad Ashley: 02:47 Which is like annoying as all hell, but you know, whatever we get by, anyways.

Amador V: 02:52 Wait, real real quick, since you mentioned that. So, Amador, speaking of not being in common. That’s uh, that’s not a very common first name, but it’s a very common last name. So I.

Chad Ashley: 03:04 Dude.

Amador V: 03:04 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 03:05 There you go. We do, we’re the same.

Amador V: 03:06 So weird. Yeah. So everyone would like, that’s the other thing. People would go, oh, what’s your name? Or whatever. And I’d say Amador. And they’d go, well, what’s your first name,

Chad Ashley: 03:14 Dude? That is so true. That happens to my kids all the time.

Amador V: 03:18 It’s so funny. Yeah. So.

Chad Ashley: 03:20 Oh dude.

Amador V: 03:20 There you go dude.

Chad Ashley: 03:22 Anyway. Well, I want to like give people a quick overview, uh, of who you are. But I think it starts back when I first met you. I’ve known you, Gosh, how long have I known you now? Since 2000

Amador V: 03:34 I don’t know. It’s like, 05?

Chad Ashley: 03:36 4 or 5, somewhere in that range.

Amador V: 03:38 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 03:39 So I’m going to give people a quick history lesson a way back then. I was starting up a CG department at a company called Somersault in Chicago that was part of a, a larger post effects, uh, post house kind of a place. It was called, uh, Avenue Edit.

Amador V: 03:58 The good old days.

Chad Ashley: 03:58 So I was at Somersault. Yeah. The good old days. And I was trying to find 3d artists to join me and help me build up this team. And Amador was one of my first hires. I think he was my second hire, uh, ever. I believe my first hire being Mark Theriault who went on to do some amazing stuff too.

Amador V: 04:19 Oh yeah, I forget about that. Was he technically on board though? I thought he was like the intern when I got in there.

Chad Ashley: 04:23 Yeah, he came in as an intern and then eventually we hired him.

Amador V: 04:26 Gotcha.

Chad Ashley: 04:26 And then he went on to do, uh, all the cool stuff that he went on to do. That, we’ll save that for another episode.

Amador V: 04:33 For sure.

Chad Ashley: 04:33 So, Amador came on and really you didn’t really, you didn’t have any experience. You, you were pretty fresh, but I was immediately drawn to your energy and your work and your style of work and it just like I could tell you had something. And so that’s why when I brought you on, I was like super stoked cause we built up a pretty damn good team at that place, I thought.

Amador V: 04:56 Oh yeah.

Chad Ashley: 04:57 And you are a really big part of that. And so we worked together for a number of years there. Then you went off to uh, if I’m not mistaken to the material group, right?

Amador V: 05:08 No, that was, it was

Chad Ashley: 05:10 No

Amador V: 05:10 You bailed to DK. We were, we were leaving.

Chad Ashley: 05:12 Oh ok right.

Amador V: 05:12 You’ve got to DK. I actually had to take off cause I didn’t want to be the last guy on the boat. So I took off.

Chad Ashley: 05:21 Right.

Amador V: 05:21 And I went freelance. I actually got a job in New York as the first freelance gig. So that was a weird time because I left. I remember the week that you left actually. It was like you were scheduled, you had already given him, you know, you had given your notice.

Chad Ashley: 05:34 Right.

Amador V: 05:34 And, uh, I was like, just trying to get the hell out of there too, but I didn’t really have anything lined up. And so I ended up just

Chad Ashley: 05:40 I think I’m getting this, I’m getting the time we all left DK mixed up I guess because

Amador V: 05:46 Oh cause yeah, it was

Chad Ashley: 05:47 Yeah

Amador V: 05:47 That was all so weird.

Chad Ashley: 05:49 So, alright well. Anyway.

Amador V: 05:50 Yeah, he left around the same week basically. And like I ended up going to freelance for about a year and then ended up back with you at DK.

Chad Ashley: 05:58 Right. So we worked together again. I brought you back to DK once I landed there and I could actually hire people.

Amador V: 06:06 And by the way Nick Campbell also Somersault and DK.

Chad Ashley: 06:09 Yes, that’s right. God, it’s a small world.

Amador V: 06:13 It’s so weird.

Chad Ashley: 06:13 So, yeah. Very. So anyway, I, I’m trying to get to the juicy bit

Amador V: 06:17 Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chad Ashley: 06:17 About why I think people, uh, should know about your work.

Amador V: 06:21 Sure.

Chad Ashley: 06:21 Cause chances are you’ve seen Amador’s work numerous places but had no idea that he was involved. And I’m talking mainly about your work in feature film. So Amador does a lot of amazing feature film titles. Ah, production logo design, uh, animated production logos in addition to a lot of commercial work and, uh, experiential work and just all kinds of work. But the, the stuff that I think people most people would have seen is probably a your work for god, dude, I’m looking at your site. And like if you wanna check out Amador’s work, check out digitalblackbook.com and I highly recommend looking through his, his library of work. I mean, I’m seeing Aquaman here, Haunting of Hill House, John Wick, uh, two and three right? Is that right?

Amador V: 07:10 Yeah. And actually I would say too, blackbuck.studio is the name of the studio site, but uh digitalblackbook.com is my personal site, which I’m thinking about phasing out and just sticking with just the studio. I just got to update everything, but yeah, but for sure. Yeah. And John Wick three was a more recent one and uh

Chad Ashley: 07:28 Insidious, which I absolutely love. I love that title.

Amador V: 07:32 Thanks man.

Chad Ashley: 07:32 Um, yeah, dude. So much good stuff. And, and then of course, you know, uh, you weren’t always doing that work. And I want to talk about that journey a little bit, uh, but yeah, to kind of bring people up to speed, known this guy forever, super talented dude, and he’s been killing it in these, in these titles and, and just his studio logos, his commercial work, his experiential work is all fantastic. So tell me, okay, so now that we’re sort of like, people sort of know what you do, uh, tell, tell me a little bit about like you’re doing this work. Are, do you consider yourself a 3d artist, a designer, a filmmaker? Like what do you like if you introduce yourself to somebody, what are you saying?

Amador V: 08:18 Oh man, that’s a tough one. I don’t know, to be honest. I know that’s always the tricky one because it, and honestly it depends on who I’m talking to. You know, if it’s a client and obviously they’re looking for a more CG centric, um, project and, um, I’m the head of CG or I’m the CG director or whatever. I mean, I guess in general I just say creative director because I do run my own shop and, and so I’m the creative director of my studio, you know, like, so I, that’s probably the one that I use the most. But um, but that, that’s so vague too. So it just, you know, titles are just, I don’t know. It’s always tricky, but yeah, you’re right. No, cause I do do, I mean, especially when, when working on some of those projects and like, uh, I’m, I’m starting from scratch and kind of concepting and designing from scratch then finishing to the final output. So it’s like, what does that make me? I Dunno.

Chad Ashley: 09:13 Well, maybe a better question is like, not very many people that I know, um, are on their own, which you are, you don’t work at a big studio anymore. You’re got your own company. You also are doing a sort of a, a really high level of work, but not just in one area. Like it’s very rare to see somebody do like look at their site and see motion design and movie titles and production logos and like an experiential product piece.

Amador V: 09:46 Right.

Chad Ashley: 09:46 So how, how, how do you explain that? Like how did all, where did this come from? Like I know the relationship with, uh, uh, and I’ll let you talk about that relationship for the movie thing. Like I want to hear about that, but like how did this all happen?

Amador V: 10:02 Yeah, I mean, I think, well a lot of it, I mean, if I have to go all the way back, like just from when I was growing up, I was always into, I was always an artist, you know, that was like the first thing I always loved drawing and painting and, but also I didn’t stick to one thing or another. You know, I would get bored with one medium and just start to go, oh, let me see what I could do with a painting now or let me f–k around with this clay or whatever. And so I love just being able to just be creative with a lot of different kinds of mediums. And, uh, growing up I always knew that I would do something creative, but I, I didn’t really know what that meant, you know? And, um, and so anyway, fast forward to like the, the way, the reason why I got into animation was because I was, I saw in animation and especially with CG stuff, the ability to, to have all those skill sets and, and kind of, uh, you know, dive into sketching, you know, this the storyboards and, and kind of getting into the process of painting texture maps on a 3d model that I was sculpting like that, just the idea that I was going to be able to tap into all these different little skills that I was gonna hopefully build up over time was just like an awesome concept for me.

Amador V: 11:10 And it’s something that, uh, I, I, like I said, I don’t know, maybe it’s a little bit of an ADD thing when it comes to that art. You know, I just, I couldn’t see myself just being a painter or being, you know, an illustrator or whatever, just sticking to one thing. And so that’s what always drew me into animation and it kinda has continued like throughout my career because as you said, you know, you look at my site now and it’s even kind of confusing some times to to go like, what is this? What is the specialty here? Like what is the focus, you know, which could be a kind of a good and bad thing business wise by the way, you know, because sometimes clients can look at that and go, I don’t know, like what are you, you know? Um.

Chad Ashley: 11:48 Yeah, I mean I could definitely see that, uh, that that is a challenge I imagine. But I think that what helps and what helps you in that respect is that you have, it’s all high level. So it’s not like, it’s not like they’re looking at it going, well, he’s really good at this one thing, but this other stuff’s not that great. Like, and sometimes that’s even actually, that can even hurt you even more because you’re like, well, what is it that I should go to you for?

Amador V: 12:16 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 12:16 Should I go to you for motion design for a movie title? I guess the answer is everything, right?

Amador V: 12:21 Right, right. Exactly. Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 12:22 Your own company.

Amador V: 12:23 Exactly.

Chad Ashley: 12:24 Come to me for everything.

Amador V: 12:25 Sure. And then no, and you’re right. It is tricky because a, again, depending on who you talk to, I mean what I will do sometimes is if I’m bidding out a project and they are looking for a specific look, then you know, just like what everyone does is you kinda try to search for that in your background. Some project you did a while back or whatever, that kinda matches that vibe. Um, and then show them those particular, you know, those particular pieces and say, hey, check it out. Yeah. Like I could definitely hit that, that note, you know, and um, so that, that always helps. But, um, I guess my philosophy from way back was always, like you said, do high level work. And then I would hope that someone would assume that I can do anything underneath that.

Amador V: 13:05 Right. Like they would probably go, oh, well, if he’s doing this up here, of course he could tackle this other thing that’s probably a little bit easier to manage. But you would be surprised man, you’d be surprised how many times I get asked like, hey can you, but, but can you do an explainer video? And it’s like, oh man, I really like you’re asking me that. Like, that’s so weird, you know? But so I think sometimes, again, it depends on who we talk to, but some clients have a very like tunnel vision, um, mentality when it comes to like, I need this and I’m not seeing this specific thing on your site. I’m seeing a bunch of other stuff, but I need you show me this right here. And so it’s tricky sometimes, but you know, hopefully you find that the clients that are cool enough and knowledgeable enough to understand the high quality work and how that translates to everything else, you know?

Chad Ashley: 13:55 Yeah. I think that’s, that’s an interesting way to think about it. And I can totally see that. Like if you’re, if let’s say, cause you do a lot of, um, like work directly for clients, not necessarily through agencies or studios or anything. So I imagine the direct to client work, they’re probably like, wait, so the guy that did the John Wick titles is interested in doing our trade show video. And you’re like, well yeah, like money is money. I want to help you, you know, elevate your brand, whatever.

Amador V: 14:25 Right.

Chad Ashley: 14:25 And I’m sure their heads, they’re like, is this a joke? Like is this like, are we really getting the guy that did that?

Amador V: 14:31 Dude, I’m actually dealing with that situation like literally right now, uh, I mean

Chad Ashley: 14:36 Oh that’s amazing.

Amador V: 14:36 Yeah, it’s so funny cause I, uh, well and then you mentioned the trade show thing. Cause lately I’ve been getting into a lot of trade show stuff where, you know, they build out these elaborate booths and they have a bunch of screens everywhere and of course they need content to fill those screens. And, uh, and, and you’re right. I mean money’s money, man. Like, and those guys have a pretty good budget for that stuff, so.

Chad Ashley: 14:56 Oh yeah.

New Speaker: 14:56 So yeah, I’m definitely looking to go after that work pretty hardcore. And, um, one of the conversations I had recently was with, uh, actually a project that’s about to start right now is, um, you know, the, the, the, the boss or I guess the, you know, whoever was the guy in charge of, of dishing out that money.

Amador V: 15:11 Right? Um, he was questioning whether or not they needed to spend a lot of money in order to get that stuff made or the video content made. And my luckily ended up the contact that I have over there was, was, you know, she was like, hey, I, I love your work. I want to work with you and, and, and, you know, let’s just try to move this forward. So she was kind of on my side trying to convince the bosses. But, uh, so it’s funny that you said all that because in our conversations I kept telling her like, hey, mention to them that I’m the guy who did John Wick 3, like, you know, and you’re like

Chad Ashley: 15:45 No shame in your game. I love it.

Amador V: 15:48 No.

Chad Ashley: 15:48 I love it.

Amador V: 15:48 Dude, if it works.

Chad Ashley: 15:49 That’s what I love about you, man. Like I love that.

Amador V: 15:51 Well, and here’s the thing too, by the way, which I don’t even know if I should even get into this too much, but when it comes to the money, I mean, I, well I guess a lot of people do know this already, but a lot of the film projects as sexy as they are, the, the budgets are not great. You know?

Chad Ashley: 16:05 Right yeah.

Amador V: 16:05 And so, uh, the, you know, and you talked about the fact that that’s probably the stuff that people know me or have seen from my work, right? So if you go to my site, you probably didn’t see that trade show thing that I just did last, you know, last year for CS. Cause you know, if you weren’t at CS or whatever, you’re not in tuned to that industry. That’s just not your thing.

Chad Ashley: 16:27 Right.

Amador V: 16:27 Of course, people saw John Wick, you know, and know their films. So their horror movies and

Chad Ashley: 16:32 Fantastic.

Amador V: 16:32 Yeah. So, but the thing is, so I, I try to, I’m kind of spread out that work because even though they’re lower budgets, that’s the highest exposure that I can get. And so, um, you know, of course I’m going to try to use that as leverage when I’m trying to bid out a pretty high budget thing, you know, and, and at the very least I can, you know use those projects to say, hey, of course you can trust me man, I’m doing Hollywood movies. Like, you know.

Chad Ashley: 16:58 Yeah, I imagine it helps in a situation like that where you’ve got somebody on your side making the case to why they need to bring you on for the project. And, and they, there’s probably a little bit of that prestige on their end where maybe they’re, you know, they’re not like a super public company and maybe they only do content like this once or twice a year.

Amador V: 17:22 Exactly.

Chad Ashley: 17:22 So for them to say, we got the guy that worked on Aquaman and John Wick and like, that’s a feather in their cap for us. Right?

Amador V: 17:30 Yeah. And, and, and believe me, I definitely play that up, you know?

Chad Ashley: 17:34 Yeah, dude, as you should.

Amador V: 17:36 Yeah. I mean, yeah, that’s always kinda been also the part of the strategy for me to continue to do that kind of work because, um, well and as you know, like when we were at DK, they, you know, like a year into me starting there, they had made a decision that they didn’t want to pursue that kind of work anymore because of the budgets. And, um

Chad Ashley: 17:55 Right.

Amador V: 17:55 And so that was kind of a huge, uh, uh, controversy within our, within our group there. You know, like everyone was bummed out and pissed off about that decision. But, um

New Speaker: 18:05 Dark days.

New Speaker: 18:05 That was the dark days of DK. But, but the point is that, I mean, fast forward to now when I’m also on the business side of it. I totally understand where they’re coming from, you know, but at the same point, it’s like I didn’t, what I didn’t like is the fact that they weren’t taking into account that we were all creatives and that, you know, there is something in us that you kinda have to feed the soul a bit, you know?

Amador V: 18:29 And, and of course we all want to make good money and stuff, but at the same time I want to work on cool sh-t. You know, that’s kinda why I had gone there. And so my whole philosophy, uh, with my own studio is, yeah man, I, it, you know, I can do a cool John Wick title or whatever, you know, film sequence here and there and then that, use that as leverage to get the high end or the, the high budget stuff that nobody really cares about but pays the bills, you know, and, and just kind of have a good balance of things, you know, that I can always tap into. And so far, so far, so good man. So far it’s actually working out pretty well. Um, I should say, by the way, since we’re talking about the film stuff that I do gotta give props to Filmograph and kind of mentioned that.

Chad Ashley: 19:12 Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about that. Actually. Why don’t we, why don’t we start back? Um, and I guess this would have to go back to the time that we were still together at DK.

Amador V: 19:24 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 19:24 Where we met, uh, Aaron Becker and yeah. Tell, walk me through that.

Amador V: 19:29 Yeah, for sure. Uh, so basically my, so everything that’s on my site is if it’s a film, uh, piece, it’s, or, even a branding production logo piece. Anything to do with Hollywood is all through Aaron Becker and his studio. Um, and yeah, so.

Chad Ashley: 19:44 Filmograph.

Amador V: 19:44 Filmograph. Yeah. Filmograph.

Chad Ashley: 19:46 And then for those like it’s Film-o-graph. Right?

Amador V: 19:49 Right.

Chad Ashley: 19:49 Cause that’s something that’s kinda hard to say. Anyway. Sorry, go ahead.

Amador V: 19:52 No, yeah, you’re right. And I think I shouldn’t even say that the, I think it’s like filmograph.tv, is their website. Um, but, uh, but yeah, so going back to how that’s all started is, yeah, we work together at DK, uh, uh, when you, when you were there and Nick was there and stuff.

Amador V: 20:06 And, um, I think actually our, our timelines even were very similar. Like I think he started a few months after I started and then I think he left DK like a few months after I left. So we were kind of like, staggered, you know, of it. But, um, but anyway, yeah, we met there and just hit it off right away. He was, he’s an awesome guy as you know, uh, like one of the

Chad Ashley: 20:25 The best.

Amador V: 20:27 Dude, one of the nicest.

Chad Ashley: 20:27 I got to get him on , I got to get him on the show.

Amador V: 20:29 Oh, you should. Yeah. Yeah, that’d be awesome. But yeah, one the nicest guys you could possibly meet, you know, and, and, uh, and also we had a lot of things in common and we both grew up listening to hip hop and other stuff, so we, we jogged right away and like, um, you know, and, and, um, work together well and all that.

Amador V: 20:43 And so anyway, he, when he left DK, we left for different reasons, which I won’t even get into, but, but the point is that when he left DK, he just went back to focusing. Because I think he had come from Prologue. If, if I’m speaking

Chad Ashley: 20:56 Yep, yep that’s correct.

Amador V: 20:57 So, so he had a background in doing a lot of, you know, a lot of titles, sequences with Prologue, um, and then essentially went back to that world. Um, but was, it still was still in Chicago for awhile and it was just kind of reaching out to the clients, uh, in Hollywood and kind of older, um, or these relationships that you had, you know, start to establish with young directors and stuff at the time and, uh, was starting to get, you know, get that ball rolling and do more of that work, just kind of as an independent freelancer. Um, and essentially just started to, uh, accumulate enough projects that he started the company, Filmograph. Um, and, um, and then at that point, I think for a while he was, you know, at Jack’s studio, the studio on the West.

Chad Ashley: 21:37 Yeah. So here’s some really weird, uh, world crossing.

Amador V: 21:42 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 21:42 So Filmograph and Aaron Becker, were actually in the same space as Greyscalegorilla

Amador V: 21:48 Dude.

Chad Ashley: 21:48 before I started.

Amador V: 21:50 Right.

Chad Ashley: 21:50 So it’s this like crazy talented, like I dunno stew people that always seem to like mix together.

Amador V: 21:59 That’s true man, I forgot about that. Yeah, he was in there with Nick. So yeah. So when in those days, you know, he, uh, and at that point I think, um, cause I had left, uh, Somersault, I mean, I’m sorry, I had left DK to go back into the freelance world and, and so, uh, you know, he would reach out to me once in a while whenever he had he needed help with a project and, um, I would just come in and we’d collaborate. We collaborated really well and, and so that relationship started to grow from there. You know, just, he, he knew like he could reach out to me whenever the, a lot of times it was either, it was kind of more technically challenging, so cause he was more of a designer. Um, and obviously also knows 3d, but you know, it didn’t, wasn’t really hardcore into it. So He, if there was something that he knew, like there was a limitation that he was facing, he would call me up and, um, we would just kind of tag team it together. And then, um, and then basically over time, yeah, it just sort of as his company grew and they started to, um, you know, get bigger and bigger projects. He, he called me up, you know, here and there and said, yeah, you want to be involved in this. And, and uh, and I would just be like, yeah man, let’s do it and

Chad Ashley: 23:04 What was the first one, the first title that you helped him with?

Amador V: 23:08 Oh, that’s a good question. Let me see. Um, I think that was, hmm. I think that was the Hercules, uh, project that. I don’t even have it posted anymore. Um, he had called me cause actually, yeah, I think it was, uh, he called me cause they were doing the, the end titles, for the Hercules movie with one of the Hercules movies. It was like two that came out around that time. Um, I forget which one it was, but it was, uh, yeah, it was, so the main on end titles, the client wanted them to be stereo, you know, or the whole movie was stereoscopic 3d um.

Chad Ashley: 23:39 Okay.

Amador V: 23:39 This is when that was kind of trending and all that. And uh, and he didn’t know, like he had never done a stereo job. So he was like, hey man, like could you help me figure this out? And I was like, yeah, that’d be awesome. So we, we kind of tackled it together and um, I think I ended up doing, oh you know what, that was a, yeah, I think that was the first time I used Element 3d cause we realized that, you know, it, it wasn’t very complicated.

Amador V: 24:03 It was really just some 3d texts flying towards the camera. And then I think I had to be, yeah, it was a snowy scene. So I just had, we just needed some snowy elements and like, um, some 3d titles flying towards you. And I, I was originally setting it up in 3ds Max cause they had, I think I had found like a script or something for a stereo rig. Cinema didn’t have their, their rig yet.

Chad Ashley: 24:26 Hmm. Okay.

Amador V: 24:26 Like I said, it was very early on. Yeah. So I remember I had gotten the stereo rig from Max and imported it into After Effects, um

Chad Ashley: 24:35 Aw man, we forgot to talk about that.

Amador V: 24:38 What’s that?

Chad Ashley: 24:39 The fact that we both came up using Max and converted to Cinema 4D.

Amador V: 24:45 Oh yeah dude. That’s a whole other thing.

Chad Ashley: 24:47 And for years, you and I looked down our noses at C4D as like oh poopoo.

Amador V: 24:53 I wanna say it was more you than I, but yeah.

Amador V: 24:55 Whatever man. You did it too.

Amador V: 24:57 No, I definitely did it too. Well, here’s the thing. Yeah. But going back to GSG, uh, those days when we were at DK, when Nick still there, like I remember, you know, I used to sit across from him actually in that pit area.

Chad Ashley: 25:09 Yeah that’s right.

Amador V: 25:10 Yeah. And I remember he a, this is when he was literally just, I don’t even know if it was GSG yet, like where he was, had that blog or whatever it was. Um, or I guess he did call the blog GSG right? Like that was kind of where it started.

Chad Ashley: 25:21 Yeah, I believe so. It started out as a blog.

Amador V: 25:24 So it was Greyscalegorilla, not, not this form, but you get the point. Um, but he was tinkering with all this, um, you know, just, just making a quick little tutorial about something, whatever it was. And uh, or actually no, you know what it was, that’s also when he was doing a lot of the, uh, the, uh, what do you call it? The stock stuff. He was creating like stock animations.

Chad Ashley: 25:44 Oh my God. Yeah. I forgot that.

Amador V: 25:45 That’s what it was too. But, so a lot of times I would see him, you know, on the corner of my eye and he’d be trying to work up some little effect, you know, that he was trying to do in Cinema. Uh, and, and this happened very regularly, I should say, which is another reason why we both kind of had this snobby attitude about Cinema. Uh, he would turn to me and be like, Hey, Amador, um, hey man, I’m trying to do this thing. Like, how, how would you do this in 3ds Max. And then I’d be like, Oh dude, easy man, I’d probably do this, blah, blah, blah.

Amador V: 26:12 You know, like I would describe it and then he would go, oh yeah, I can’t do that with Cinema. And I’d be like, Oh, you mother. Okay. You know? And I would just walk away kind of going like, well, sorry man. Like that’s all, you know.

Chad Ashley: 26:26 Wow, seems like Cinema really sucks.

Amador V: 26:27 Exactly. You know, and that was my impression the whole time. And I, dude, I to this day, I remember the time that the first time that you and I, I think both even talked about this. I remember the first time Nick was doing a project, uh, you know, for a little tutorial or whatever it was and that we were, we both looked at each other and we’re like, oh sh-t. Yeah, that would be really difficult in 3ds Max.

Chad Ashley: 26:48 Yeah, I remember.

Amador V: 26:50 You know which one?

Chad Ashley: 26:50 Yeah, it was the 7 Up Cherry.

Amador V: 26:52 Dude, that 7 Up job. Holy crap.

Chad Ashley: 26:54 So yeah, that’s actually like when, if you could pinpoint the moment in which I started to think, oh wait, maybe I should go learn this tool. It’s when Nick dropped that 7 Up Cherry like, like it’s basically just a bunch of particles that come in and form a logo or something.

Amador V: 27:11 Right.

Chad Ashley: 27:11 I can’t remember exactly what it was but that’s really hard to do uh in 3ds Max. And it still is.

Amador V: 27:19 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 27:20 I actually had to do it eventually cause it got sold through to another job and we had to do it with uh P-Flow and like some scripting and it was just a nightmare. So that, that was the moment in which I was like, okay, I need to eat my words and really look at this thing as like a serious tool.

Amador V: 27:38 Yeah, no, that was.

Chad Ashley: 27:40 Anyway,

Amador V: 27:40 Well, no, for sure. And that was exactly the time that I, I basically kinda said the same thing to myself, although you’re better at like grabbing some software and tinkering with it. Like I, I remember at that time I’ve got a crack copy of Cinema, you know, and.

Chad Ashley: 27:55 Uh oh.

Amador V: 27:55 Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t say that, but, uh, you know, I remember I got a copy of Cinema, but let’s just say that, uh, you know, and I was, cause I was like, you know what, I’ll just learn it and just maybe one day we’ll end up switching over to it. Who knows? Or just

Chad Ashley: 28:09 Right.

Amador V: 28:09 You know, incorporate it as part of our pipeline. And um, and uh, yeah, man, but it was just so hard to, I mean, when you’re busy with projects and stuff and you know, you’ve got a family to go home to and stuff. I just didn’t have a whole lot of time to really learn it. So, it wasn’t until years later that I basically just forced myself to take a job that was a Cinema project and I just said, okay, like this is it. I just landed this job and I have to learn this and that’s kinda what happened there, so.

Chad Ashley: 28:36 Yeah, I mean that’s how it always goes, man. You just got to dive in and try to figure stuff out.

Amador V: 28:40 Right.

Chad Ashley: 28:41 And you know, that’s how it, that’s how it goes. I want to, I want to transition to back into your, uh, your title work.

Amador V: 28:48 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 28:48 And eventually I wanna, I want to land on the John Wick stuff, but first I wanted, I want you to tell that story about, um, I don’t, it was, I forget which horror movie it was, or maybe it was the Blumhouse, uh, logo, but which one was the one that you shot a lot of it in your basement?

Amador V: 29:09 Oh yeah, that was the, um, Sinister. Sinister 2.

Chad Ashley: 29:13 Okay.

Amador V: 29:14 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 29:14 And what is that the one where you’re a, your daughter made a cameo?

Amador V: 29:18 Well, no. Well, here’s the funny thing to backtrack. My daughter is in the Blumhouse logo. Like the actual

Chad Ashley: 29:24 That’s what I thought.

Amador V: 29:24 Yeah, the production logo and uh well, and I’ll tell that story real quick. But basically Aaron, and again, this is like very early on with him. I don’t even know if he even had the studio up and up and running yet, but he was, you know, getting these clients and um. He, I think knows one of the guys or, you know, establish a relationship with one of the guys that launched Blumhouse productions, which is uh, it, for those of you don’t know they do well now they do a lot of other stuff. But at that point it was strictly horror movies and they were all very. It was always like based in a house like they, they basically figured out a really good strategy for making a crap load of money. Like they, they had these

Chad Ashley: 30:03 That’s always good.

Amador V: 30:04 Oh yeah. It was awesome. Like they essentially, if you look at all their, especially with the early work, um, they did like, uh, Paranormal Activity is, is one of their projects.

Chad Ashley: 30:13 Oh dude. So many good movies.

Amador V: 30:14 Yeah. Sinister, all that stuff. And, but if you notice all of the early movies were shot in-house, so it was like one set indoors. And if there was a big movie actor, I think what they did is had some sort of back-end deal with them so they would get a cut, you know, based on the profits and all that kind of stuff. And they would limit the budgets. Like if you look online like those budgets for like 5 million or 10 million or it was, it was really low for, for those kinds of movies, you know?

Chad Ashley: 30:41 Right. Yeah.

Amador V: 30:41 So anyway, so going back to, you know, when they started to kind of get the ball rolling and they were getting a lot more, cause those movies compared to how much they got, they were the budgets where, I mean they’ve made hundreds of millions. So if you look online, I think they actually are listed as one of the most profitable, uh, like production houses or production, you know, uh, film companies because of that. Like just the ratio.

Chad Ashley: 31:03 Oh yeah.

Amador V: 31:03 The ratio of, of the returns is ridiculous. Um, but anyways, so, so when the kind of started to get the ball running and make it more movies, um, they reached out to Aaron and said, yeah, we need a, like a new production logo for Blumhouse. And so of course they specialize in horror movies. So they said, you know, actually, I’m not even sure what the direction exactly that he got or if he pitched this idea. But he had this idea of kind of going into a room and again, cause it’s all based on the, you know, these haunted houses. So you go inside this room and there’s just a lot of like paranormal, kind of spooky things happening. Like flares, chairs flying around and like, you know, just the, the, uh, walls creek.

Chad Ashley: 31:42 Crack. Yeah creepy stuff.

Amador V: 31:42 Yeah. A lot of creepy stuff, including, they wanted it to have like a creepy girl in it. And, uh.

Chad Ashley: 31:47 Yeah, you gotta have a creepy girl.

Amador V: 31:49 Gotta have a creepy girl, creepy kid. Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 31:50 Gotta be.

Amador V: 31:50 Right, right. Yeah. So, so he, Aaron, you know, like, I dunno, I don’t. Maybe I’m one of the only people he knew that had kids or something. But he was like, hey man, I know you’ve got a daughter right? Like what do you think she’d be interested in, you know, being in this thing. And I was like, I don’t know man. I’ll ask her and she, she was down, she was like, okay, yeah, I’ll do it. I think she was like

Chad Ashley: 32:12 Crazy.

Amador V: 32:12 Like eight or nine at the time or something like that.

Chad Ashley: 32:14 Yeah, dude, she’s, I forgot which movie I was watching and the logo came up. And then I’m like looking at that and I know, you know how old she is now. And like time has passed. Dude made me feel really old.

Amador V: 32:27 Oh dude, don’t even get me started. Well, so that, the funny thing too about that is that we, I remember he was like, alright, cool. Like, I mean, everything was just so run and gone. And you know, I remember like, uh, we, we, I, I was working at another studio at the time and they had a whole first floor and I said, yeah, maybe we could probably just set up in here and we had some equipment and stuff and we use our green screen and, and um, and then my daughter came in. I remember we ran to the thrift store and got her like some old weird dress and uh, and like she had tap shoes cause she was in tap dance. So like we just, if you look at the.

Chad Ashley: 33:04 Tap dancing ghost.

Amador V: 33:05 Yeah yeah. If you look at the un, you know, um, un-keyed out footage. Like you could still see the tap shoes and stuff in it. But anyway, so that’s, so she’s in that thing forever. Like we, we still to this day get people over that call us up. Like, Oh sh-t, I just saw her, you know, this new movie or whatever.

Chad Ashley: 33:20 Oh wow.

Amador V: 33:21 So that’s kind of pretty cool, you know, and it’s

Chad Ashley: 33:23 That’s so cool man.

Amador V: 33:23 Yeah. So going back to the Sinister stuff, that one. So that was another situation where, you know, um, again, just, I mean at this point, Aaron and I just worked so well together and he knows what I can do and you know when to call me basically.

Amador V: 33:37 So he, um, he basically reached out to me on that one and, and said, hey, like, here’s like they were busy on other stuff and he’s like, I was helping him concept it basically for the client. And um, so I came up with some ideas for it and one of them was, uh, cause in the, in the movie, a lot of this is like, you have to kind of have seen the movie, but in Sinister there’s essentially, um, these, these spirits or these, these, uh, ghosts that kind of come off of the, the film reels. Like, I dunno, I think it happens in every film where they, somebody moves into an old house, they find like a canister, like a box of canister reels, you know, and then they’re like, oh, what’s this about? And, uh, it’s almost like The Ring, you know?

Chad Ashley: 34:18 Yeah. So if they screen the movie, doesn’t that, don’t they like?

Amador V: 34:20 Yeah like they kind of come off and yeah and it’s like all of a sudden they’re, they’re haunting the whole place and all that. So anyway.

Chad Ashley: 34:25 Right.

Amador V: 34:25 So, so the idea that I had was like, I literally went to a, a second hand shop and they happened to have like an old projector with a bunch of canister reels and stuff and I just bought all that stuff and took it home and set up a, like a little, you know, little little shooting set in my basement and just, uh, did the boards that way. Um, even like some of the, it’s funny too, cause they were, they sold me the reels and like none of them were really labeled. And um, so I got the projector up and running and which was awesome. It was running and uh, you know, popped in some of the reels and like some of the footage was like from people’s vacations and at like Disneyland in the 50s.

Amador V: 35:05 It was so weird. So you know, that was pretty awesome. And I actually even included some of that in my boards. Um, which was I thought was really cool. I was kind of distorting the faces and all that in the footage, in the footage. But the, uh, they ultimately didn’t get used because they said, you know, they, they were worried about, uh, somebody coming in and, you know, recognizing their, their family foot, uh, footage.

Chad Ashley: 35:26 Hey, that’s my, my dad’s birthday party. What are you doing?

Amador V: 35:31 Yeah, yeah. No, but that, and then the other funny thing about that set or the shoot is that, um, you know, as we were filming it, uh, my son, cause this is in the basement of my house, you know, and so my, my son, I got uh, well he’s nine now. He was probably like six back then. Um, he kept coming downstairs and bugging us and you know, I kept saying, hey man, just stay up there.

Amador V: 35:51 And at one point we were taking a break and I said, all right, you can come down for a bit. And, um, he was making faces at the camera, like just being a silly kid, you know. And, uh, Sergio, who’s my DP, he just, he saw him making the faces. So he kinda just hit record on the camera. So when I was editing it, I saw this, these clips of, you know, Luca just making these silly faces and stuff. And so as a joke, I put a couple of really quick shots of him doing that in there and then the director. But it also kind of made sense though, cause I even told Aaron. I was like, look, this is kind of a joke, but not really because it’s still sort of works with the theme of it cause in the movie it’s a bunch of little kids that were the ghosts. And so

Chad Ashley: 36:30 Oh right yeah.

Amador V: 36:31 So I, he was like, yeah, dope. Like just leave it in there. Let’s see what the director says. And so the director caught it and he was like, Hey, who’s that kid in it? Like, can you put ’em in there more often? Like get ’em get them more involved. And I was like, oh.

Chad Ashley: 36:43 Wow.

Amador V: 36:44 Yeah. I was like, oh okay. And so he, you know, most of the

Chad Ashley: 36:48 Coolest dad of the

Amador V: 36:50 I know exactly.

Chad Ashley: 36:51 Of the year.

Amador V: 36:51 Oh dude. Yeah, it was, it was, yeah, I definitely got some cool dad points there. Um, and it’s funny cause a lot of it, uh, it actually made more sense too because essentially all it was is the canisters that were labeled a certain way and they had all the titles on the, on the label. And so, um, all we were doing, it was really, you know, these macro shots, kind of moving in and out of the canisters. And um, so what we did is had Luca, we kind of went back and re-shot it with, with Lucas’ hands, like almost as like the kid was the one placing them in this little pile of canisters and you know, moving things around.

Chad Ashley: 37:24 Oh interesting.

Amador V: 37:24 Yeah. So it actually kind of helped with the, you know, give it a little bit more of a narrative than just like random, you know, reels essentially. So. So yeah, it was a fun project, man.

Chad Ashley: 37:34 Hey, that’s a cool one man.

Amador V: 37:35 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 37:35 So how do you go from that to John Wick and tell me about like the John Wick main on ends and, uh, like how did it, was that, that was done with Cinema 4D, right? The whole main on end.

Amador V: 37:47 Yeah, yeah Both of them. Uh, the, so actually the, uh, the second one. Oh no, they were both intros. Sorry. They weren’t main on ends. They were intros.

Chad Ashley: 37:58 Oh, okay. They were intros.

Amador V: 37:58 They were in movie.

Chad Ashley: 37:58 Sorry.

Amador V: 37:58 Yeah. Uh, so, uh, Aaron at Filmograph, he, he had created the first movie, uh, the ones for the first movie, but I don’t think they had much though, to be honest. Like I think it was mainly like, you know, more straightforward titles. Uh, I mean, they’re really well-designed, but they weren’t really doing an elaborate intro. Um, it was kinda just right into the film. And then, uh, I think also because the budget probably was a lot lower on the first one. And they, you know, they weren’t really sure if there was gonna be a success or not. And so

Chad Ashley: 38:27 Right.

Amador V: 38:27 Of course, it was a huge hit. And so when the sequels came around, the director wanted to do something a little more elaborate. And so uh, and it was all CG and you know, they, they knew that. The only thing that they knew was that they wanted to use a lot of the, the objects from the movie, you know, like, so there’s these coins that the assassins use.

Chad Ashley: 38:45 Yeah are you talking about about two or three right now?

Amador V: 38:48 Well, two, this is when, I kinda got involved with it I guess.

Chad Ashley: 38:51 Okay.

Amador V: 38:51 So this is when, when two came around, he said, hey, like, you know, they don’t know exactly what they want to do with this, but they know they want to have all this, these iconic kind of objects from the, from the movie in this, in this, in the, in the sequence. And uh, so he, he had some models of, of some of it, um, you know, and I think they had scanned in. Like there’s a marker, like a blood oath marker that they use, um, for contracts or whatever. And so, uh, he said, I think they scan that one.

Chad Ashley: 39:21 Okay.

Amador V: 39:21 So the geometry was kind of janky. We had to clean it up, but everything else, I think we had gotten a decent model of, or it was a CAD thing, but um, so anyway, we, I, yeah. So I helped him kind of figure out and flesh out the boards for that one and we collaborated on it. And as far as like the concepting phase and uh, yeah, the director loved it, you know, loved the boards. And I think on that one I used Octane.

Chad Ashley: 39:45 Okay.

Amador V: 39:45 For part two. Yeah, it was Octane and Cinema. Um, that was like, and actually going back to the whole software thing, um, I knew when he described it I was like, Oh man, I’m seeing a lot of people do cool sh-t with Octane. And I had just upgraded my machine to GPU, like four GPU cards and all that. And so I’m like

Chad Ashley: 40:03 Yeah this was the time that you and I were both using it a lot, I think we collaborated on a project around that time.

Amador V: 40:10 Oh Yeah. The Lego piece. Yeah, yeah. That was so, yeah, that was right after that actually.

Chad Ashley: 40:13 Yeah. We were all up in, all over that often when it first came out.

Amador V: 40:16 Oh, for sure man. And that’s the thing. I uh, well you, you’re the one that did the bulk of that, the CG on that. So I hadn’t really, the John Wick 2 titles was the first time that I ever really dove into Octane, like on a, you know, on a project. So, um, that’s kind of where that happened cause I was like, okay, I saw, I saw what Chad did on the Lego piece, you know, I, I know I’ve seen people just do cool sh-t with it and I said, I’m just going to learn it this way. I’m just gonna like do it, you know, with Octane. And uh

Chad Ashley: 40:43 Right.

Amador V: 40:43 So yeah, man, it worked out really great. I mean it turned out, you know, amazing. The only thing I would say, um, that did burn me a little bit, which is kind of why I use Redshift now is.

Chad Ashley: 40:54 That’s a whole other podcast.

Amador V: 40:55 Yeah, that is a whole other podcast. But I’ll just mention there, a bit like the thing is the render passes, which is probably, you know, like everyone.

Chad Ashley: 41:03 Yeah it’s the weakest one, of the weakest parts.

Amador V: 41:04 Yeah it’s the weakest link.

Chad Ashley: 41:04 Especially at that time, like it was non-existent.

Amador V: 41:09 Right. So that kind of, uh, it burned me for sure on that project. Everything else though was awesome. And I, you know, to be honest, like it wasn’t that big of an issue because, um, at the end of the day, I, I basically said, hey, either I’m gonna have to look at each shot and figure out if I can bake in all the, you know, all this stuff and just do less compositing, um, or, or just suck it up and let it run with, you know, the passes that I need. So, you know, on certain shots I was able to do it one way and, and, uh, you know, others I got away with just making it all in. So it was fine at the end of the day. But yeah, it was a tricky one.

Chad Ashley: 41:44 Then when John Wick 3 was coming around and you were gonna work on that one.

Amador V: 41:50 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 41:50 How did, how did you decide what tools to use to tackle, to tackle that one?

Amador V: 41:56 Yeah. Well that one was, so the, the tricky part is that I had done, like I said, Octane for part 2 and I mean, like I said, for the most part it worked well and also some of the shaders are already built. But, um, you know, fast forward to part 3, which was just, I mean, it just wrapped a few months ago. Um, I, I had been already using Redshift a lot and so it was tough to kind of switch gears and have to, you know, decide to use Redshift and basically rebuild some of the shaders that I had had already created, like for the marker and some of the coins, you know, in Redshift.

Amador V: 42:28 But I just, I just didn’t want to have to go through that process at the end, um, at the end of that schedule, knowing that I may have those issues. And I really didn’t know if, if the client or the director was gonna want to do a lot of changes in post, you know, because, um, you know, some stuff did come up on part 2 that I was kind of scrambling to adjust. And you know, the idea that, um, you know, the idea that, that, that basically I might not have that ability and have the director kind of breathing down my throat.

Chad Ashley: 43:01 Right.

Amador V: 43:01 That scared me a little bit. And also at that point too, I mean I actually, I used some GSG tools, um, you know, just to get some stuff done. Cause the other thing,

Chad Ashley: 43:10 Nice.

Amador V: 43:10 The other kind of problem with some of the film stuff, uh, you know, sometimes is that because it’s, it’s usually like an afterthought in the production process for them. You know, they come at you at the last minute and they go, hey yo, I got this, we got this X amount of money and when you need this title sequence. And so,

Chad Ashley: 43:26 Right. Yeah. I imagine that probably happens a lot.

Amador V: 43:28 Oh yeah, man. So we’re always kind of scrambling to get something done. And of course you want to do a really great job. And so, um, I think we actually used some of the dust, I don’t know if you guys launched it yet, but the

Chad Ashley: 43:38 Oh yeah, it’s out. Yeah.

Amador V: 43:39 Oh, okay. Cool. Yeah, we use some of the dust particles that you guys have, uh, in, in part 3. And um, and yeah, man, I mean I’m just all about using tools that that helped me, you know, get stuff done quicker cause um, and especially on that timeline we were, it was kind of a crazy schedule dude. I was, I was killing myself like up three days in a row. Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 44:00 You tell me that a lot.

Amador V: 44:01 I know man.

Chad Ashley: 44:03 And honestly like that’s why I make the material packs and all that stuff. Is I, I make it to help in those situations to help people like you. And I’m stoked when I hear that you use it on something like that. It makes me like super happy because I know that I’ve talked to you so many times where you’re under the gun and you’re super stressed out and trying to get this thing done.

Amador V: 44:27 Right.

Chad Ashley: 44:28 And so, yeah, I’m just stoked that, that the stuff helps you.

Amador V: 44:31 Oh, for sure man. It definitely helped out. And then actually I think also for that, for part 3, it was weird because, you know, usually the way a production goes is that, um, you, you get client notes throughout the entire sequence and, and, and you kind of are just, uh, it’s like layers, you know, you’re just adjusting and, um, and, and doing it one layer at a time, uh, throughout the entire piece. We on for whatever reason, on part 3, um, the director had the most amount of notes on just the opening shot.

Amador V: 45:01 And so we were just refining that and, and sometimes replacing it all together, um, to try to find what worked best, but on all the other shots, you know, he was just from right, right, right from the gate. He was like, oh, that works. That’s cool. You know, like he was very chill about most of the sequence except for that opening, which I understand obviously that’s the very first thing that pops up, you know, when you, when you’re at a movie. But, um, but that also made it really stressful down the line because, you know, we, we had gotten to the point where we were running out of time and I mean, I hadn’t even really gotten into the compositing phase yet, so they hadn’t really seen most of the sequence comped and colored and all that.

Chad Ashley: 45:42 Oh man. Jeez.

Amador V: 45:43 Oh man, it was so stressful. You know, cause my, I always had nightmares that like, I was gonna try to finish it all off and then had, you know, he didn’t have notes obviously for most of it, but all of a sudden he’s going to see it rendered out, you know, he’s going to see some details that he hadn’t seen before, or maybe the way I composited was weird and

Chad Ashley: 46:01 Oh god.

Amador V: 46:01 So man, it was those last few days.

Chad Ashley: 46:03 You’re all in your own head, like thinking about what could happen.

Amador V: 46:07 Oh yeah, man, trying to

Chad Ashley: 46:08 Yeah, that’s. Umph

Amador V: 46:09 It was tough man. But no, it was at the end of the day it worked out and you know, I got, got a lot of compliments for it.

Chad Ashley: 46:17 No, it’s great work dude.

Amador V: 46:19 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 46:19 It’s a killer, killer movie and just really, really nice. And I mean, honestly, everything that Filmograph and Aaron and his team does is excellent.

Amador V: 46:28 Oh for sure.

Chad Ashley: 46:29 And if you haven’t checked out their work, please go do that. Because they’re, not only are they like super talented, but they’re the nicest people they will ever meet in the industry.

Amador V: 46:40 Yeah. It’s ridiculous.

Chad Ashley: 46:42 That when I first met Aaron Becker and I’ll get, if I can get him onto the show, I’ll tell the story in more length, but he’s one of those people that you meet and he’s so nice that you think, you immediately get suspicious.

Amador V: 46:56 Oh yeah, for sure.

Chad Ashley: 46:57 And you’re like, wait, why is this guy so nice? Like what’s his angle? Is he being sarcastic?

Amador V: 47:03 Right.

Chad Ashley: 47:03 Is he like, what’s his thing? Turns out he’s just a really nice guy and like sometimes, and it took me awhile, like coming up, very sarcastic, punk rock sort of like background. I just like assumed the worst in everybody and that’s just how I came up. And so when I met somebody like him for the first time and realized that, oh, there are nice people in the world who actually are nice and like want to talk to you and find out how your day was. And that was such a foreign concept to me, dude, that I was just like, it took me a good year before I trusted him and it was like, okay, this guy’s legit. Like, he’s just a nice guy.

Amador V: 47:37 Right. No, I was the same way, dude. I would have conversations with him and I’d be like, is he joking?

Chad Ashley: 47:43 Yeah. Yeah.

Amador V: 47:44 Is he being sarcastic?

Chad Ashley: 47:47 It’s crazy. Maybe he was just playing us the whole time and he really was like super sarcastic.

Amador V: 47:52 Yeah, I know.

Chad Ashley: 47:53 We just had no idea. We had no idea.

Amador V: 47:55 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 47:56 So, what’s, what’s, what’s coming up for you? Like, what do you, uh, you, you just, uh, you wrapped up John Wick 3, uh, are there any projects coming up that you can talk about that the audience might get excited about?

Amador V: 48:10 Uh, I mean, the, the, the very latest thing that I worked on actually with those guys, with Filmograph, um, which I don’t even know. Well, I think I could talk about it and I mean, I’m not showing anything.

Chad Ashley: 48:19 Well, don’t say anything that’s gonna get you in trouble. You can just, you can always just use like a code, a code name, like say this thing

Amador V: 48:25 Well I won’t, I won’t get too specific. Yeah, I won’t get too.

Chad Ashley: 48:27 Okay.

Amador V: 48:28 We were working on a really high end, well, it’s all high end I guess. But really, um, it’s, it’s another branding thing, you know, for a production company. But, um, I’ll just say that it’s a stereo piece and uh, it’ll be basically in front of a lot of movies that you see. So that was really exciting to work on. And, and also that was another time where they were Aaron again, like you said, he, dude was so nice, he, he came to me specifically cause he said, oh man, this is like totally your style. You know, he goes, man, the client is asking for this. And it’s exactly like the stuff that you love to do. Cause he knows me so well. So I was like, dude, that’s awesome. You know.

Chad Ashley: 49:06 Yeah that’s awesome.

Amador V: 49:07 Yeah. So he came to me specifically cause he knew I would have fun with it and you know, so that, that was a really cool piece that um, I think there still kind of wrapping up right now, without saying too much. But uh, but yeah, so that’ll be out pretty soon. And then beyond that, I just got, like I said, I’m just starting another trade show thing, which people will care less about, but it’s, it’s paying the bills really nicely, so.

Chad Ashley: 49:30 Hey man.

Amador V: 49:30 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 49:31 I mean, listen. I think that that stuff gets glossed over. Um, mainly because it’s not, uh, you know, on a movie screen or whatever. But that’s how we all make our living.

Amador V: 49:43 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 49:43 Like we all make our living, uh, making content for screens.

Amador V: 49:48 Right.

Chad Ashley: 49:48 And those screens are at trade shows. They’re at in the bar.

Amador V: 49:52 They’re everywhere.

Chad Ashley: 49:52 They’re on TV, they’re in your house, they’re on your phone. So it’s, it’s definitely nothing to, uh, uh, you know, don’t, don’t diminish it cause I think it really is an important part of your business because

Amador V: 50:03 Sure.

Chad Ashley: 50:03 Like you said. And this is really an interesting thing that I think, I hope people are, uh, coming away with this idea of like sort of using the creative work, the work that’s more eye catching or maybe it’s more, for lack of a better word, sexy to get you the meat and potatoes work.

Amador V: 50:24 Sure.

Chad Ashley: 50:25 That pays the bills and allows you to buy a house and provide for your family.

Amador V: 50:31 Definitely yeah.

Chad Ashley: 50:32 Like that is a really, that’s a good balance to have.

Amador V: 50:36 Right.

Chad Ashley: 50:36 Because if you’re, if you’re all in on the sort of not the stuff that doesn’t pay that well. The really sexy, artsy stuff, then chances are you’re struggling. You maybe aren’t able to make your rent, you know, hopefully it’s not that bad, but

Amador V: 50:53 Right, right.

Chad Ashley: 50:54 You know what I’m trying to say is like if you go too far on one end of each of those plates, imagine this is like a plate balancing.

Amador V: 51:01 Right.

Chad Ashley: 51:02 Then, then you’re just going to fall and it’s going to crash. Same thing goes with if you just do nothing but the work that maybe doesn’t see a lot of eyeballs and, and it could be creatively fulfilling, but it’s not going to get you more of that sexy work that you want. So it’s about that balance.

Amador V: 51:18 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 51:18 Maintaining that balance, which I really think is an interesting part of your career. And also just like all of the, you have this interesting body of work and you also have, I would say that it’s like schizophrenic. But it’s, it all makes sense because it’s who you are and it’s like how you navigate this work.

Amador V: 51:43 Sure.

Chad Ashley: 51:43 So it’s also like a, a testament to your ability to, to uh, adapt. And I think that that’s another really important lesson to take away from your, from your career, which is you adapt, you, you don’t settle. You’ve learned what you need to learn. You go to a thrift shop and buy an old dress, you put your kids on on camera because it just worked and you’re open to the experience. And I think that’s really cool.

Amador V: 52:13 Yeah, I appreciate it man. No, I think that’s a, that’s a good point to make for sure. And uh, yeah, just try to keep fun with it. You know, stay having fun with the projects. I think that’s pretty important too. Even if you are doing the meat and potato stuff. I mean, you gotta you gotta keep it interesting one way or another.

Chad Ashley: 52:27 Yeah, that is very true. Well, Amador, thank you so much for being on the show, man.

Amador V: 52:33 Oh yeah, thanks for having me, man. It was fun.

Chad Ashley: 52:35 Yeah, it was great. It’s been a great, a great show. I hope everybody enjoyed it. Please check out Amador’s work. And I don’t, I don’t want to get your site wrong. So tell the site one more time.

Amador V: 52:46 Oh for sure. Well, again, I would say just digital. Well, I’m sorry, I’m screwing that up too.

Chad Ashley: 52:52 See. I can’t do it, you can’t do it.

Amador V: 52:54 Check out blackbook.studio. That’s the main site to check out. Um, and then, uh, I guess maybe Instagram, if you want to check me out there. Uh, it’s blackbook_studio is, uh, you know me on Instagram, so yeah, on Twitter. Um, I’m bad at Twitter so don’t even bother with that.

Chad Ashley: 53:11 Okay. We won’t.

Amador V: 53:12 Alright.

Chad Ashley: 53:12 And checkout Aaron Becker and his fabulous team over at Filmograph. Uh, and what’s the, is it Filmograph TV or is it Filmograph? I don’t remember.

Amador V: 53:20 Yeah, Filmograph TV is there stuff. Yep.

Chad Ashley: 53:21 Okay. So yeah, go check that out. Thanks again dude. And thank you to all of you out there, uh, who stuck around. Listen to this fantastic interview with my good friend Amador Valenzuela and I will see you in the next one.

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  • This conversation is so valuable to get a glimpse in the life of an independent successful movie title designer. It would be great to listen a chat about rates in those kind of high profile affairs.

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