Friday, June 24, 2011

Men We Admire: Damien Gilbert

I met Dman when he was a student of mine in the film program at Confederation College. This guy is a perfect example of why books have to be read and not just looked at. Yes, he's a skater and a stunt man. But he's also smart, tech and marketing savvy, and phenomenal drummer to boot. My karate teacher used to say, "Watch out for little guys with muscles. They've always got something to prove." He was talking about scrappers at the bar. This little guy with muscles definitely has something to prove: that whatever he does, next time he'll do it better...and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

Photo: Jason Stasiw
Name: Damien Gilbert
Age: 27
Occupation: Freelance Film Maker, Youth Program Coordinator, Photographer and Entrepreneur
Relationship status: Girlfriend
For how long?: 6 Months
Car: Nissan Pathfinder
Stats: 5'4”, 180 lbs. 2006 BEAC Award Winner, Best PSA
Favourite instruments: Tama Drums
Sports: Skateboarding, Hockey, Parkour

How did you get started on your current career/lifestyle path?
I was in high school and made prank and stunt videos for my friends and I. There was an audience that wanted to watch these videos. We would sell VCDs out of our lockers. Sold hundreds of them. We then turned to the internet. This was years before YouTube was invented. We posted videos on our site called We started receiving so much traffic and views from all over the world it was decided that I should make a DVD. Still in high school at the time, I did my placement with MHR Media and edited the DVD with their help producing. I managed to obtain distribution and have my first DVD--SPDST "Disarray from the Bay"*--in HMV stores across Canada. My distributor also created an online store for the DVDs to be purchased online where I sold several hundred more. 
Many people were steering me along the lines of enrolling in film school. I had never thought of anything like that. I applied in September of 2004 and was not accepted. I wasn't too upset because I was already working on my second DVD. I received a call in December from the college. They told me they were starting a second intake and that I had been accepted. So in January of 2005, I was in film school. I graduated in December of 2006 and was working by January, 2007. Have been busy ever since.
*That's Thunder Bay, for you uninitiated. Ed.

Did you have any mentors who helped steer you on this path?
I have had many people I would consider as mentors, not just in film, but all walks of life. I would say the profs at Confederation College guided me into taking film. I met them prior, and they noticed I had an interest. So, Dennis Austin for always believing in me, Eric Weller for letting me produce my first DVD out of his establishment, Don Delorme, for teaching me the technical skills, and several friends along the way in school like Mikey Williams, Rodney Dwira, Sheree Betker, Dave Clement and Scott Baker's talent, just to name a few. There are several people once I graduated that were a big help too, like Kelly Saxberg and Ron Harpelle.
How has your work contributed to your development as a person?
My work has made me grow so much as a person. I mean working on over a 100 productions, varying from documentaries, fiction, non fiction, action sports,'s been a humbling experience. You learn so much from every shoot, whether it's technical experience or just more on a particular topic you wouldn't have known otherwise.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just entering your field, what would it be?
It would be don't leave yourself limited. Multitask, and keep up on technology.
Do you have a personal work philosophy?
I have the craziest Pavel Bure Collection. It's kind of bad how much I have spent on a hockey player who has been retired for close to ten years now. 
Photo: Jason Stasiw
What do you do for fun?
A big thing to me is going to our skate plaza and filming some skateboarding. It's like, therapeutic for me. I enjoy seeing some live performances at our local clubs. Spending time with my girlfriend and friends.
What motivates or inspires you?
I get motivated when I watch something that I know could have been created better lol. I get inspired by work that is beyond my capabilities.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I have many things I am personally proud about. I try not to look back in what I did, it's about what's next. Sure, working overseas, and working with childhood idols on the level is cool. But there is much more to do.
What is the one thing you hope to achieve?
Acknowledgement on a grand scale for what I do.
What is your super power?
Thought Process and Energy
Who's your hero?
Buster Keaton
What are you reading (or watching) these days?
Youtube, Vimeo
Thinking back to a time when you had to make a hard choice, how did you decide, and do you feel, in retrospect, that you made the right move?
When I moved out of my mom's house. She thought maybe she did something wrong and took it harder then I expected. But it was for my personal growth and I had to do it for me. It may sound self-centred but I did what I did. My mom was always very supportive of everything I did and still is.
What's next for you? What's your next big idea, project etc.?
Well over the past six months I have been a program coordinator with the Regional Multicultural Youth Council, teaching a Skills Link program to 18- to 29-year-olds who have either dropped out or are currently unemployed. I have learned a lot from this experience and never ever thought I would be in this position where I am the mentor/role model/counselor...on a salary. Never in a million years!
I have lots on the go at all times. I have a shirt company. I'm a musician. I make films and work for others on their projects. I hope to start the 2nd installment of the Skills Link program in October.
What one piece of advice would you give to your own son (hypothetical or otherwise) in the hope of making him a better man? 
It would be to trust you instincts and don't let anyone tell you it can't be achieved.
Favourite workout tip: 21's on the Bi's: In a three-part curl, hit 7 reps half-way up, followed by 7 reps half-way past that, and finally 7 full reps. Thrashes your biceps in no time flat.

iPhone or Android: BLACK BERRY (pssshh...Ed.)
One thing guys should know when talking to a beautiful woman: Respect

Absolute WORST experience on set/shoot:
Haha, it was my first day on a shoot in California. I was the Production Coordinator. I had all the signed release forms in a folder. We were shooting on a beach. A big gust of wind took that whole pile of release forms, created a paper tornado and tossed everything into the ocean and wet sand. It took a while to collect them all, dry them out and wipe the mud off. Good times! lol.


Damien's YouTube Channel

Dman Photography

Damien Gilbert on IMDB


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