We had the good fortune of connecting with Bret Kalmbach` and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bret, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Right out of high school my parents said I needed to go to college. At the time all I was really doing was skateboarding and filming footage for our own skate videos. Since I didn’t really have a clear path my family said, “Go to school for business. Can’t go wrong there.” I enrolled in ASU for business and lasted all of a semester before hating it. I was at a party one night, a few weeks after I dropped out after my first semester of college, and someone said they were going to film school. At the time I had no idea that film school existed. They said they loved going to school and they made really interesting and fun projects which sounded rad. The next day, I looked into it and enrolled. I had a decent amount of camera experience from filming skating so that was a huge help. So to answer the question of how I found the film aspect of my career, I’d say it almost feels circumstantial since it was one random conversation that drove me towards jumping in the industry. That being said skateboarding is a very creative sport and I think I’ve always, to a degree, had some drive towards innovation and creativity.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started Apairus Company in 2011 with my brother Jerrod when we were living together in Phoenix, AZ. We had heard it was a good idea to form an LLC to funnel our money through, for tax incentives and asset protection. We got a loan for a Red One and that was our first joint owned gear and we started shooting and creating. My brother and I had just broken away from a salary film job creating web content that was probably one of the most demanding jobs we have had to date. Making almost nothing with unlimited hours available to a boss who barely had a creative bone in his body and a ton of bad ideas. It was basically boot camp for us and it prepared us well for what was to come. We shot a ton of freelance content over the years until life was a little more comfortable financially. It was a struggle, for sure. There were many ramen packs eaten and when mcdonalds had a 50 piece chicken nugget deal we were on it. The only way I think we were able to keep it all afloat was by keeping the content above par and really just not screwing up. We had no marketing strategy, there was no instagram to showcase your work on the daily. We would either wake up to an email requesting us to produce work or not. I think just offering a good experience on set along with quality work was the key. No matter how simple the job, we would always overextend ourselves to make sure it was exceeding the clients expectations. After the company grew a little more stable, my brother was offered a full-time editing job on a feature doc which took up a lot of his time and I had the bug to move to NYC. We parted ways and I eventually solely took over Apairus for 4-5 years and grew it further. After meeting my wife, she now is a co owner with me and contributes more on the bookkeeping side, along with all of the feedback I ask her for on everything. Even during the beginning of the pandemic we started a tiktok for her with highly produced fun videos and she not only made money from them but received millions of views which was cool. Long story short I never thought this is where I would be today and If I had to offer one piece of advice it would be to not only be fixated on one department. Get to know all aspects of production, if you can do it all you’ll open yourself up to a lot more work
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If we are talking Phoenix where I just moved from; I’d take them to a cool little bar downtown called Valley Bar, it’s underground and has cool vibes. Another place is call Ziggy Stardust, you have to walk through a fake refrigerator door in the back of a pizza shop to enter the bar and it’s all Bowie themed stuff and there’s a ton of pinball machines. I’m a movie person so if the theaters were opened. we’d either go see a movie or two at Camelview or the drive in theaters in Glendale. As far as scenic spots, South Mountain has cool views and so does Papago Park. Phoenix is a sprawl and there’s only a few spots I really liked going to. Now that I’m in Oregon it’s all foreign to me here. We just went to Cannon Beach on the coast where they filmed the Goonies. NW coast beaches are rad. Very different from what I’m used to seeing. We live in the woods outside of Portland, in Lake Oswego, so maybe would take them to the lake. We’re hoping to meet some friends who own a boat, so we can get access to the lake since it residents or friends residents only. Portland is rad but we have barely scratched the surface. So many cool restaurants and bars in the city and then you drive a few minutes west and you’re in the forest.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
At the moment I’d say my wife Carolina. We met in 2016 in Brazil while I was producing and filming a job for Adobe/Golf Digest in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Since then, she has immigrated to the US and endured a lot of what I have to image is painful/annoying with my work and travel schedule. I think it was the first week or so after she immigrated to the US, I had booked a job that took me away for over a month shooting. She flew out with our dog to Colorado and stayed with my family so she would have company. Her coming from a very close family oriented house in a country where family is first is a big difference compared to the US with a husband that travels all of the time. She keeps me balanced when I try to overextend myself with too many jobs and takes care of our house and three dogs while I’m away. Most recently I convinced her to move to Oregon as I wanted to try a different market out, since I travel and film in Arizona a lot already. I booked shooting a feature film to start the week after we moved up here. We lived in an airbnb for about 3 months before we found our house and I would never recommend shooting a movie the same time you uproot your family. All in all there were tears and chaos throughout but it’s made us stronger and we’re both excited to get things going up here in the beautiful state of Oregon.