Arrested 3 times before the age of 18, homeless, had a near death experience, traveled all over the world and worked with multi-million dollar companies. These are all things most of us might never experience in our lifetimes, but for Damien Sandoval they were solely stepping stones on the path that lead him toward his destiny as a film Director. We sat down with him to discuss his life and what pivoted him into a life of success.
Noble: Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you and where did you grow up?
DS: I’m 31 years old and was born in Oakland California. But I was raised in Alameda, Oakland and the Bay area. I love film, traveling, music, and partying!
Noble: How was life growing up?
DS: My life growing up was amazing. Even though my parents were divorced, they always tried their best to support me in what I wanted to do. Growing up I didn’t care too much for school. I didn’t want to learn about subjects I felt were pointless. My mom would let me cut school and stay home so I could be on my computer and do whatever I wanted. It got so bad that the police actually came to my house and told my mom that they would take me from her if I didn’t start going to school. My dad was a workaholic, and he always taught me the importance of hard work. Growing up I was always friends with the troublemakers. Life was more interesting to me when I was getting into trouble, so I vibed more with the bad kids. I was arrested 3 times before the age of 18 and even got kicked out of school. Even though I was constantly getting into trouble I was a nerd at heart. I loved electronics and computers and that’s what got me to where I am today.
Noble: What sparked your interest in filmmaking and when did you first start doing it?
DS: My interest in capturing timeless moments… I always liked to collect things as a kid from baseball cards to stickers. It was a way for me to capture those cool moments with my friends. I first started filming at age eleven when I bought a stolen camcorder. Funny thing about it is, the guy who was selling the camera robbed me for the $100 I had with me when I went to go purchase it from him. I wanted that camera so bad, I had my older gang member friend go buy it off him again for another $100! So I ended up paying $200 for the camera. Best investment I ever made. Even though I didn’t have a plan to make money with it at the time, I just wanted to film all the stuff I did with my friends. Filming all of this “stuff” came back to haunt me later when my mom found all of the tapes we made. She gave me a pretty good beating for all of the things we had done. I was the first one in our city to put together a dvd!
Noble: When did you decide to quit your day job and pursue filmmaking fulltime?
DS: I decided to quit my job when I realized how hard I was working but didn’t have anything to show for it. I’ve had a few jobs over the years from McDonald’s, FedEx and being a janitor. I always knew I was going to have to start my own business in order to be successful. So I saved up all of my money while working these jobs and even sold drugs just to make it happen. My plan was to save up enough cash so I could purchase a new better camera and then pursue my real passion, which was film.
Noble: What are some of the challenges you’ve been faced with while working on set?
DS: Some of the biggest challenges while on set are making sure you dot all your “I’s” and cross all your “T’s”. There are so many different pieces that make up a good shoot. You have to make sure not to move too fast and to really stay focused just to make sure you don’t forget to do something. One time I had a gig in Paris and I forgot to bring a cable for my camera, which was back in LA. The clients weren’t too happy about it to say the least, but luckily I found a rental house in town that had one available and that totally saved the shoot and my life!
Noble: What’s your favorite aspect of filmmaking?
DS: My favorite aspect of filmmaking is the journey it has taken me on. I’ve been to Hong Kong, Paris, Miami, New York, Bora Bora, Italy, London and Hawaii. When I’m traveling the labels pay for all of my expenses. This allows me to travel and to do what I love; It’s literally a dream job. I’ve made so many connections and met so many different types of people. From major artist to industry moguls like P. Diddy. It’s a blessing to know so many respected people in the industry.
Noble: I see you travel quite a bit. Where else have you traveled?
DS: Filmmaking has taking me all over the world like I said. I’ve been to Miami, New York, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Paris, Bora Bora, Italy, London, Brazil, Thailand, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Spain and Austria, just to name a few.
Noble: Who are some of the biggest artist and brands you’ve been able to shoot for?
DS: I’ve worked with a lot of brands and celebrities such as; P. Diddy, Mark Wahlberg, Lil Yachty, Paris Hilton, Zendaya, Amber Rose, The Dream, Jeremih, Puma, Pink Dolphin and so many more.
Noble: How many hours would you say you invest into your craft per week?
DS: I invest at least 100 hours or more into my craft every single week. Even if I’m not shooting or editing, I’m watching other videos or movies studying techniques and color palettes. Even if I’m driving down the street I’m looking at everything thinking how could I shoot it, how could I make this look cool or what angel the lighting looks best at? It’s crazy because I don’t look at the world the same way anymore; I look at it as if I’m a camera.
Noble: What does success mean to you?
DS: Success to me is happiness, nothing more nothing less. You could have all the money in the world and still not be happy.
Noble: Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
DS: I see myself with two to three movie scripts written, a newborn baby and being a homeowner with a promising career.
Noble: Who’s currently at the top of your playlist?
DS: The top of my playlist is myself! I make music and that’s how I actually got started with shooting music videos because I would shoot my own! But other then myself I’m a huge fan of Tokimonsta (Major Vibes when I’ll color grade projects or edit) Travis Scott, Jay Z, Future and old school 90’s rap. I love all different types of music.
Noble: Do you have any words of motivation you can offer our fans, entrepreneurs or anyone thinking about heading down the film making path?
DS: The best advice I could give any young entrepreneurs is don’t wait to learn. All of the information you need is on the Internet. Do your own research, be motivated and have the passion to want to learn! Also find a good mentor! Reach out to people, don’t be scared to intern and work for free. Soak up all the knowledge you can and use it. You also have to love what you do. Don’t do it for a paycheck. The money will come. The key is to wake up each day and be happy doing something that you enjoy everyday.
Noble: Anyone you would like to thank or shout-out?
DS: First and foremost, God. Without him I would be dead. I found myself in a sticky situation about 3 years ago where I thought I was going to die. I prayed for him to get me out of that situation and made a promise to him that if I lived I would change and become the best person I can be. Since that Day I’ve gave all the credit and glory to him and I’ve really changed my life around. I’m a completely different person. I would love to give credit to my wife Desirae who’s been rocking with me since I was homeless. She let me live with her and held me down from the start. She’s my rock and I love her for that. I also would like to give a lot of love to my good friends Trev Case, whos been rocking with me from the jump, since back in the Alameda days. He’s stayed loyal and never judged me. Love you for that! I also want to give a huge shout out to Neima and Cena who have been mentors and big influences for me in business and have become some of my best friends. They are the ones who have taught me how to conduct myself in the right way when doing business and also when being creative. They are major influencers to me and I owe them a lot of credit for my success as well.
Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your incredible journey with us Damien! We know you have some big things coming in your future and we wish you nothing but success and positivity! If you have a chance head over to Damien’s website http://www.damiensandoval.com/ and take a look at his incredible work. Feel free to reach out to him for business inquires as well. Here at the Noble HQ we’ve been working meticulously on a new watch design which we can’t wait to show you all! Stay tuned for more of that and more motivation coming soon! Go turn those dreams into goals, goals into checklists and start checking things off.