Today we’d like to introduce you to Oscar Armando.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Oscar. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Would you like to hear my life story or my story as a director and filmmaker? Hahaha! Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I normally do not talk about myself, but I am at a place in my life where I am practicing being open to new things. So, how about I share a little of both with you?
My story is relatable to what screenwriters would call “the hero’s journey.” We face many challenges in our lives and many times we learn how to overcome those challenges. Sometimes it takes a couple of times for us to discover the lesson in things we experience. Yet, I believe our stories make us, and many times others, stronger.
I find myself walking along the shoreline at night a lot, where the water touches my feet, reflecting on where we have been and where we have yet to go. I say “we” a lot because it’s truly not me that can take credit for all that I have learned, achieved, and experienced in life so far. I have so many people to thank for everything. People you may never meet, but it’s truly important for me to start this interview this way. Thank you to everyone and everything that has been a part of my journey thus far. Whether directly or indirectly. Whether we still communicate on a daily basis to this day or not. I love you all.
I actually began my filmmaking career by choosing to not follow my dream. Allow me to explain: As a kid, I would write stories in my notebooks. At school, I would tell my friends these stories and visually be able to act out every scene, word, and moment. I loved telling stories. I would sometimes get my friends involved and have them play parts. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but it was fun. I remember being on the playground of my elementary school and I could visualize scenes in my head playing out as I watched the rest of the kids play. I remember going to Disneyland for the first time and pretending people were saying dialogue that I created according to their body language and expressions. I thought it was fun to create stories and share them with others. I could see my life being a storyteller living in the Hollywood Hills, but I didn’t know exactly which path I would be following just yet.
Fast Forward: I ended up attnending college for business at the same university that James Cameron dropped out of when he decided to pursue film career possibilities that he had at the time. (Side Story: James Cameron’s “Titanic” was the first movie I remember going to see in theaters as a kid. My mom took me with her even though I was underage because she had nobody else to go with since she was a single mother who raised four boys on her own. I loved the movie. Thanks, mom.) (Back to my story): Even while studying business in college, I found myself working on creative projects. Some of my best friends were the “theatre kids.” We would create scenes and tell stories when we hung out. Other friends would cast me into their projects and ask me to play roles that they wrote for their media and screenwriting classes. While growing up, I wanted to be a “theater kid” so badly, but I was afraid to tell my friends (at the time) this and my mother wanted me to get a “good job” when I graduated from college. So, I took the advice of a campus career counselor and others who told me I should be a business
student because they recognized that I was great at connecting with people. I graduated with honors from Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, Fullerton, yet something felt like it was not aligned inside of me. (Later in life I was accepted into one of Harvard University’s programs, but we’ll save that story for another time.)
Cut to: Ext. Driveway – Day
We see Oscar Armando packing and moving to Los Angeles after college.
I was supposed to work for Google when I graduated from college. Many people don’t know this about me. After that did not happen, I decided to move to LA because I felt like Los Angeles was where I would find answers to an inner voice. Later in life, I was accepted into a Harvard University program, but we will save that story for another time.
Fast forward to Los Angeles:
I remember it was The Oscars weekend in 2016 and I was working on an Oscars + Kohl’s Live production shoot with a marketing/PR company in Hollywood, CA. It was the night when Leonardo DiCaprio won his very first Oscar for Best Actor for his work in The Revenant. I’ll never forget it. I was working at a marketing and public relations agency in Beverly Hills. It was Oscars night and the client asked us to dress appropriately. So, I dressed up with a black and white Tuxedo and bowtie. It was the Oscars. I mean c’mon.
I remember showing up to set dressed up in my tuxedo and realized that everyone else was wearing nice, but not that nice clothes. In short, I was the only one on set in a tuxedo. I saw Vanessa Bayer (actress, comedian, and cast member on Saturday Night Live at the time) standing on set and I introduced myself to her as the crew was preparing to shoot the Live Broadcast being presented by Kohl’s with The Academy Awards that night of The 88th Oscars. I was walking around on set with our agency’s owner and staff. As I walked around, people on the film crew kept giving me compliments on how nice I looked and asked me where I got my tuxedo. I got the feeling that somehow the crew thought I was one of the producers on set. I didn’t know this at the time, but the universe was preparing to align me with my childhood dreams.
A couple of days after that shoot I got into a life-threatening car accident on the interstate 5 freeway while driving from work in Los Angeles to my home in Orange County. I remember being in an ambulance and realizing I ended up in the Emergency Room of a hospital that night. I watched the doctor walk up to my bedside. “Good news is nothing’s broken,” he said. “You have some bruising, but no internal bleeding. We’re going to keep the neck brace on you for a little while, okay?” He looked at the report on the clipboard that he was holding in his hands and said, “You know, you’re very lucky to be alive. From what the ambulance EMT’s said, if it wasn’t for the type of car you were driving, you probably wouldn’t be here right now. You might want to take this time to think about your life and perhaps do what you really want to do with it. Not many people get a second chance like this.” I will never forget those words. It was like the universe and God were literally speaking to me through this emergency room doctor and telling me to go do what I really wanted to do with my life.
That night in the emergency room, I remembered my childhood dream of wanting to be a storyteller/director and a movie star living in the Hollywood Hills. I don’t know exactly why, but it was like I have always known where I was going to end up even as a kid. Weird, but I guess we can’t escape our fate in life. It took several months for me to fully recover from that near-death car accident. I remember going to the junkyard and found my car completely totaled. As I looked at my destroyed car, I also looked at my life. I thought about what the doctor said to me the night of the accident in the Emergency Room. I knew what I had to do, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to leave my job at the marketing and public relations agency.
Cut to: Int. PR & Marketing Agency – Day
I showed up to work at the marketing and public relations agency in Beverly Hills with a neck brace one day. I was finally able to work, but I was still technically recovering from the car accident. There was discussion of a meeting with a film producer by the name of Lawrence Bender coming from the agency owner’s office.
I remember Googling “Lawrence Bender” after I heard mention of his name. I had heard of him before, but somehow I never got around to finding out who he actually was in respect to entertainment. I found out he was one of the film producers who had produced many of Quentin Tarantino’s films. I began to read articles and watch interviews about Mr. Bender. I was intrigued by his ability to make movies come to life. I had been a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work, so naturally, I had an interest in the producer who made his films a possibility.
The next day I showed up to work with my neck brace in place and I said hello to everyone in the office. It was so quiet in the office that day. The newly hired lead publicist took me into an enclosed office space. I remembered I had missed a lot of workdays because of my accident, so I figured we were going to talk about the briefing of our new client or perhaps something related to my accident. We sat down and she slid over termination paperwork for me to review. I got my answer from the universe. It was time for me to move on.
Cut to: INT/EXT Oscar Aligning with The Universe – Day/Night
I remember asking people in film/tv if I could jump on a project with them and that I was up to do anything to help produce projects. People would always ask if I had any experience. I would tell them that I had creative and management skills and that I would take care of anything that needed to be done. (A marketing professor from college taught me to say that to assure that clients knew I could take care of whatever needed to be done haha. It worked because it was true.) It took a while for me to be hired for paid work in film production, but all the while I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life so I kept pushing forward. Day by day, I began working on projects with filmmakers all over Los Angeles.
Since then, I have worked with producers who were legit and I also worked with producers who gave me a fake check one day which ultimately lead to my bank calling me to tell me that they were closing my bank accounts due to the fraudulent check bouncing, leaving me with zero money, not being able to pay my rent, and me living in my car and then homeless for a while. This was when I learned what Rocky meant when he said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.” Still, through this time I would go to local coffee shops with my laptop to connect to free wifi and apply to work freelance film production gigs and marketing jobs every day. I did not understand why some of the things in my life were happening, but I knew that I could not give up on myself and let my dreams go to waste. I mentioned Rocky earlier because I watched a lot of inspirational videos throughout this time to try to keep myself in a positive mental state. Also, since I did not grow up with my father, Rocky Balboa was my father figure growing up. Shout out to Sly. Personally, I do not share the details of this part of my story with anyone because there are a lot of things and people that played parts that I do not want to exclude anyone. I did however write a screenplay based on all of the things that have happened along my journey. I will make sure to let you know if it gets greenlit.
Cut to: Int. AT&T Film Competition – Day
One day, I was losing faith in myself and realized that I needed to do something to get my head straight. So, I signed up for this film competition in Los Angeles, CA that AT&T was hosting. I met an actor/acting coach that went by the name of Blu that day. To make a long story short, Blu’s kindness and desire to help me gave me faith that there were still good people in the film and tv industry. Later, things just clicked when I was asked by a producer to help produce a set of short films with his team. I had been involved with many projects prior to these productions, but it wasn’t until I was literally at the lowest point of my life that I truly understood why I would dedicate my career to being a film director, producer, actor, writer, humanitarian, environmentalist, and philanthropist.
Now, I find myself directing and producing projects, running my own entertainment and marketing companies in Los Angeles, helping others grow, working with people who love what they do, and helping those who want to make a difference by using our storytelling platform to tell the stories of phenomenal people and beings who walk or have walked throughout this universe. I am taking everything day by day and working to be the best. I know it might sound cliche or corny as some have told me, but I love directing and that’s what I am dedicating my time to as of now.
Let it be known that I have no hard feelings towards anyone who has ever crossed paths with me. We are all doing our best and I believe love is the answer. I love everyone and everything. Side Note #2: If I wasn’t making films for a living then I would probably be in places like India, Asia, Europe, and South America helping people, the environment, and animals around the world.
Fun side story:
My father was in and out of my life while I was growing up. He decided to split up with my mother when I was about six years old. Funnily enough, on Christmas Eve 2016 I decided to reunite with my father after so many years. I found out he actually lives in the very same apartment that he left us when I was a kid. So many memories without him at that apartment. It was definitely interesting going back to where a lot of my story began. During our conversation, he asked me what I was doing for work. I told him I was a director working in Los Angeles. “You’re a filmmaker?” he said in Spanish. I nodded. He looked at me and said, “I used to be a filmmaker. My friends and I would gather props, set pieces, and reenact stories like Scarface.” Many cliches come to mind, but the one that sticks out is “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (even when the tree is not physically there).” I told him Scarface was one of my favorite movies. He laughed. On Christmas Eve 2016, my father told me that he used to be a filmmaker. This is the same year that I experienced my near-death car accident. The same year that I was let go of from my job at the marketing and public relations agency. The same year that I decided to dedicate my career to directing, filmmaking, and being the storyteller I dreamed of being when I was a kid. The universe is a phenomenal place. I do not know what the future holds for me and the phenomenal filmmakers I have met and will meet along my journey, but I do know that we are all in this together. Each and every one of us is important and crucial in this story/journey we share called life.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about 27, Interstellar Entertainment LA, and Always Golden Productions, – what should we know?
We love our clients. Each venture specializes in film (motion picture), television, commercial production, marketing, and distribution. At each company, we have four principles: 1) Give back to the universe, 2) help others grow, 3) go above and beyond, and 4) know thyself.
My personal goals reflect the brands and communities that I build. My personal efforts fall in line with the companies we run, people and organizations we work with, and the people we hire for projects. We want you to know that your story matters to us and we care.
27, in particular, is a vision I have had for a while now. 27 is a group of production studios that will exist at hand-picked locations around the world where storytellers can connect with real industry professionals and be able to work with these experts on their projects. 27 is like WeWork meets Los Angeles production studios. The reason I aim to create this network of studios is because I know personally that there are so many stories out there that never get told due to lack of resources, knowledge, and local experts. This is why with 27 we plan to partner with local filmmakers and industry professionals according to the geographical location. We also will fly storytellers and filmmakers to other locations based on the specialty and/or stages they need to film their projects. I actually have a budget breakdown that specifically breaks down costs, feasibility, and land acquisitions if anyone is interested in learning more about this project. One of my personal goals is to help change the ways motion picture, television, and the entertainment industry sees race, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and possibilities.
On the record, I believe we are all unlimited beings. This is the part where I start to lose people and people start to look at me like there’s something wrong with me. That’s the thing; too many times I see employers and companies look at people who love this industry as employees and not as people of the world. Too many times I have seen people be told they are not capable of doing something or given jobs without pay like they should be grateful of the fact that they get to work on particular projects. Because of this, I decided that I would commit myself to ensure budgets from projects I work on include payment to all crew and cast. Like a mentor of mine once said to me, “If you don’t have a budget, then you’re not ready to film.” Through my own challenges, I have found that we are one. Without you, there is no me. Without me, there is no us. Therefore, let’s work together to build what we envision. I do not judge, criticize, or limit people I work with based on the story they were born into. It’s where we take that story and what we build together that matters. I am most proud of the nonprofit segments of our production companies.
We have begun to assign profits from the projects I am currently working on to be allocated to 501 nonprofit organizations that are focused on environmental and humanitarian needs. I am currently an active contributor, donor, volunteer of 501 nonprofits such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation Los Angeles, Mutual Aid LA, the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Santa Ana, CA. I am adding more programs and organizations to the list as I venture through life’s journey. The reason this is so important to me is because of all the stories I have heard from people along my journey that remind me of my humble upbringing, my challenges, and the books I have stumbled upon. I recently read a book called “The Journey Home” by Radhanath Swami. The author tells a story about Mother Teresa in his book. I found myself doing research late one night and I was inspired by the work of Mother Teresa who devoted her life to helping those in need. This inspired me to ensure that all of the projects I work on contribute profits to the greater good or international non profit organizations such as the ones listed above.
Previous to deciding this, I helped build and worked with a non-profit organization where 20% of all of my personal income was used to help the organization and its benefits.
I am currently volunteering and working alongside the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mutual Aid LA, Ground Game LA, POWER, and more.
What sets us apart from others?
Magic Johnson came to our school right before graduation when I was in college. Magic shared his story about him fighting for life while living with the life-threatening disease known as AIDS. Magic then told us the power determination and overdelivering. He told us to always overdeliver.Always. I took his words to heart and decided to teach this to everyone I work with. I sometimes find myself teaching others as I run operations at my film/television production companies, run the operations of renown film festivals, and while having experience working various roles in film and television such as Director, Technical Director, Script Supervisor, Producer, Line Producer, UPM, Grip, Gaffer, G&E, Production Assistant, Assistant Director, Director of Photography, Camera Operator, 1st Assistant Camera, 2nd Assistant Camera, DIT, Casting Director, BTS, Boom Operator, Sound Mixer, and many other positions on and off set. What sets us apart? We care, we over-deliver, and our hearts are in it to win it.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
This is an ongoing long list that I could never truly finish. So many people deserve credit that have played a big role in my success and the success of my businesses. I would like to thank my mom for not knowing how to raise four boys on her own and always doing her best with what she had. La Quiero mucho mama!! I thank my father for willingly reconnecting with me and having kind conversations with me even after all these years. I thank my brothers for sharing childhood memories with me and being who they are. I thank Blu Lindsey, The HollyShorts Film Festival Team, The Mammoth Film Festival Team, The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival Team, The San Pedro International Film Festival Team, Charles Hesketh, Sam Hesketh, Scott de Jesus, my college friends, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers, National Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council, Michelle Steinberg, Theo Dumont, Nicole Castro, Daniel Sol, Mike Fallin, Anne Therese, Rashaad King, Alex Bryant, Joel & Joseph Harold, Carmen Carrera, H.R. Cole, Jeff Smith, the DLS Events Teams, David Rountree, Jeremy Jordan, LA Acting Studios, Justin Rivera and so so so many more people who I have learned from, learned with, worked with, and who have been a part of the journey. I love you all. We have so much more work to do. Love and light. Many blessings.
Photographs by Oscar Armando
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