Brian Hicks is no rocker, but he sure looks like one.
He's got the skinny jeans and the dramatic haircut — dyed black strands that fall past his blue eyes; it's shorter and messy on purpose in the back.
The leather jacket he wears to meet me at McCoy's for Sunday brunch has subtle skull-and-crossbones designs on its silver buttons.
The look suits Hicks well at the rock bars. It didn't help him fit into the culture at the downtown media firm he used to work for (to say nothing of events at his 9-year-old son's suburban school).
Early this year, Hicks, a video editor, quit the cushy job that brought him to Kansas City six years ago. "I was tired of spending my days feeling odd and out of place," he says. More important, he wanted to focus on the kind of work that got him into film in the first place: music videos. Last year, he worked on a hilarious Teen Wolf-inspired video for Super Black Market, the Warrensburg punk band that recently moved to Los Angeles. Currently, he's working on video projects with the Republic Tigers, the Beautiful Bodies and Be/Non.
He also worked on the opening sequence of the new James Bond movie.
Local in-demand video masters MK12 were tapped to create the intro for Quantum of Solace, which features Jack White and Alicia Keys singing the latest Bond theme, "Another Way to Die," over a montage of live video and animation. MK12 brought Hicks in to help.
As a video editor, his role comes in the middle of the filmmaking process. "I take the raw footage; I build the story. Then it goes to transfer and special effects," Hicks says. "When I get done with it, it's not really finished. Other people have to add their stuff."
He says he spent about seven days at MK12's offices experimenting with footage of a naked woman in a sandbox. Hicks couldn't show me any clips, but Quantum of Solace opens Friday. And Hicks promises that the opening credit sequence is "a real twist on reality."
Hicks grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, "playing guitar in the closet." When he graduated from high school, he wasn't sure what to do. He only knew he wanted to be involved with music.
After kicking around Austin for a couple of years, Hicks enrolled at the Art Institute of Dallas to study film and video. One day, he attended a guest lecture by a man who made videos for the karaoke versions of popular songs — videos that were actually good. Hicks' interest led to an overnight editing job with the man's firm.
After Sony took note of the company's unusually decent karaoke videos, Hicks went on to editing videos for Pantera and Marilyn Manson. Years of no sleep and noteworthy jobs ensued; eventually, Hicks got mar-ried and had a kid and thought a steady job with benefits might not be a bad thing. Hence, the move to Kansas City.
Hicks, who has since divorced, feels restless again and is considering moving West, where there's more work. He just spent three weeks in Los Angeles editing a series of coffee commercials for McDonald's. (For now, advertising jobs remain his bread and butter.)
But Hicks has fallen in love with KC. "There's a real interesting, supportive culture here," he says. "Everyone's pushing for something."
Hicks hopes to build a local video company that's similar to MK12 but which targets the music industry in particular. "I'm trying to create a new path at this point," Hicks says.
Currently, he's editing sessions on a video, which was shot at an abandoned hospital, for the Republic Tigers song "Made Concrete." He's working on the project with Jason Cantu, of the Kansas-based video production company Outpost Worldwide, and Alicia Solombrino, a budding videographer better known as the frontwoman for the Beautiful Bodies. Later this month, the same team will start production on "Strut," a video for Solombrino's band.
And then there's the Be/Non movie — a 45-minute, wordless feature that will go along with the band's latest album.
That project just got out of storyboards and will surely be weirder than anything James Bond ever did.