Rising Through the Ranks: Erik Sandoval
June 5, 2019
For the last 15 years, 34-year-old Erik Sandoval has been hustling in Hollywood, doing what he loves while working toward a brighter future.
“I would often say I’m not necessarily the most talented, charismatic or smartest person, but for the most part, I feel like I am the hardest working person in the room,” Sandoval says.
Sandoval inherited his fervent work ethic from his parents, who spent their lives working in the fields of Ventura County to provide Sandoval with the ‘American Dream.’
“My parents are Mexican immigrants. They spent a lot of time working in manual labor. They showed me that hard work paid off more than talent and intelligence.”
Lucky for Sandoval, he possesses all three traits. A graduate of USC, Sandoval has spent much of his time since graduation grinding to make his dreams a reality, knowing that to make it in Hollywood, sometimes you need to create your own career. Sandoval co-founded the online comedy troupe 5-Second Films, which to date has received over 260 million views and has even been featured in Time Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Spin, and on CNN and Larry King Now.
“We would make movies that were five seconds long,” Sandoval says. “This was before Vine and a lot of the micro-content you see online now.”
It became a full-time, Monday through Friday gig, where Sandoval learned how to shoot video, edit and create successful online content. Eventually, Sandoval and his team transformed their sketches into a full feature called Dude Bro Party Massacre 3.
“[It’s about] a frat party that gets terrorized by a female killer,” Sandoval says. “The movie became a popular, weird cult thing.”
From there, Sandoval dabbled in a variety of media. In 2005, he directed the award-winning Arabic language film, Sharq. The movie was filmed in Kuwait and is entirely in Arabic.
“It’s a light-hearted family movie,” Sandoval says. “Like the Sandlot, it involves Bedouin kids playing soccer in contemporary Kuwait. But underneath their goofy adventures are more serious issues being addressed.”
Sandoval has also worked for the NBC design show Fashion Star and produced several seasons of the Bravo series Top Chef, along with its Spanish-language spin-off, Top Chef Estrellas, which eventually won an Emmy.
To date, Sandoval says his biggest accomplishment was having The Blubburbs, a cartoon he wrote and created, released on the Go90 network. The nine-episode series follows a dysfunctional community of sailors, explorers and scientists living inside the stomach of a whale that's been swallowing unsuspecting victims for centuries.
“I was working with my writing partner Michael Rousselet and we were sitting around, goofing off and came up with the idea of the whale,” Sandoval says. “After we pitched the idea, four to five months later, it went into production.”
Unfortunately, Go90 went under following the show's ninth episode.
Sandoval spends each year prioritizing his time and work in such a way that he is available to write and produce content that he hopes will one day get picked up and created. He says he produces and works for other people about four months out of the year in order to spend the rest of his time writing and in a creative space.
“I don’t want to be so preoccupied chasing my paycheck that I miss my payday,” Sandoval says.
In the next 15 years, Sandoval hopes to write about the Hispanic experience in America and produce a project in that space.
Written by: Allison Collins-SmithAllison Collins-Smith is a twice Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!