We had the good fortune of connecting with Nickolas Duarte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nickolas, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Probably mostly selfishness. I think it takes a certain degree of selfishness and arrogance and ignorance to start a business. At least it did for me. Arrogance of youth. Not just youth of age but also of career. That feeling in your gut that you could do it better. Ignorance of risk- of course I knew the risks intellectually but not experientially. Ultimately though, I think it came down to selfishness. I needed to start a business to serve as a structure for my filmmaking career. I needed to finance my projects in an extremely costly medium. I could do that by working for someone else or working for myself. Neither of those options are inherently good or bad. They’re just good or bad for certain individuals. Personally, there are few things I value more than autonomy. So it made sense to start my own company (Crown Chimp.) I think many artists have entrepreneurial spirits and many entrepreneurs have the souls of artists. Oftentimes it comes down to what role we need to play to get done what we need to get done. And I had films that I selfishly believed needed to get done. I honestly don’t know how much of a thought process it even was. I just did it, it happened, and I was doing it. There was no deliberation on whether or not to start the business- only on when and how. “Selfishness” may be the wrong framework. It may have been more about excitement. Excitement to make things, to make a mark, to engage with the world. Maybe it was raw unadulterated enthusiasm that converted itself into a little nuclear reactor of energy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve latched onto the idea of impressionistic catharsis as my filmmaking North Star. I like stories about damaged people trying their best. I like films that have a fever dream like quality. Films that stick with you. Films that explore the illusory veil of reality. Stories that are willing to lie in order to tell a deeper truth. In terms of how I got to where I am in my career, that’s simple: passion and lots of support. Was it easy to get “here”? Some things were more difficult than others. It can be very challenging but that’s the price of admission. Besides, you don’t really want to play a game that’s easy to beat. I’m proud of a lot of the work we’ve done. Right now though, I’m probably feeling most proud of my company’s internship program. It’s been surprisingly fun to interact with students and watch them grow as filmmakers. Looking forward, I’m most excited about the work we’re doing developing a new feature film. It’s a story that I feel so fully compelled to tell. And given Crown Chimp’s substantial national successes in commercials and short films, it’s a story I know my team is ready and able to tell.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Film is a collaborative form so it makes a great deal of sense that my journey mirrors the medium. My life has simply been filled with good people. The best of which is my wife who is a beautiful pragmatist with the kindest heart and a sense of humor that will cut you in half. My chief collaborators, Sonia Campbell and Frank Armendarez, have provided guidance and support in more ways than I can count. My parents instilled many, many things in me including love, discipline, and curiosity. There’s a few teachers that stand out. At this moment I’m thinking of the names Lavold (high school creative writing), Sparks (high school english, mythology), Montano (wrestling coach), and Wing (college film instructor.) I had a partner early on who is still one of my best friends. My in-laws have encouraged me since the beginning. So many talented actors and crews that lent their trust and talent and hard work. People in advertising and film- clients, executives, creatives- that have taken the time to provide genuine mentorship. The Latinx organization NALIP has played a great role in my development. Friends and friends of friends and then, eventually, the complete strangers that have taken the time to enjoy my work. And my daughter who reminds me that silliness and joy, that playfulness is one of the truest forms of existence. The work has always been the driving force but looking back, as your question requires, I think the best part of it all has to be these mini bubble universes of relationships. I mean that’s the stuff that makes the experience the experience.
Other: Company site: https://www.crownchimp.com
Will Turner Pierluigi Malavasi Natalie Kingston Kris Bonnell Joplin Wu Nickolas Duarte Oscar Rivera