How Damien Bray Moved From Stuntman To Filmmaker

Throughout Damien’s career in film, he’s worked with Christopher Nolan, Dennis Villeneuve, Quentin Tarantino, and Roger Deakins.

(Damien Bray)

Presented by Luke Lintz

How does a successful Hollywood stuntman become a filmmaker? For Damien Bray, the answer lies in having the intense desire to pursue the passion of telling a story and sharing that creative process with others. 

“Everything that I had learned in my craft and was inspired by fueled my passion for filmmaking.” If you feel fulfilled in your work, it will only continue to bring happiness into your life and ultimately aid you in becoming the next best version of yourself.

Damien Bray worked actively in the movie industry for over 14 years as a professional stuntman. He participated in many great flicks with A-List actors and directors. Throughout Damien’s career in film, he’s worked with Christopher Nolan, Dennis Villeneuve, Quentin Tarantino, and Roger Deakins, to name a few. Damien felt like he had reached the threshold of his current career and needed a change. Ultimately he halted all stunt work to change his direction in filmmaking.

However, the advantage of working on set with top-notch talent did have its perks. Damien’s experiences awakened his curiosity and love for storytelling, which opened up a space where he could understand and analyze the nitty-gritty of filmmaking and its process.

“My experiences on set with so many great directors changed my perspective on the collaborative process of making a film and how it all comes together.”

Damien’s interests stretched further into knowing how the movie would eventually look on the big screen when it was all done and dusted. 

“I started coordinating more, laying out all the action, designing the scene, and giving them guidance on how I would shoot it. It came to a point where while showing directors and cinematographers how I would shoot and structure the pacing in an action sequence; I realized that I wanted to be the one in the driver’s seat and be able to have an ultimate say in what landed on the screen.”

Once Damien realized that he wanted to dive into directing, nothing could dissuade him; he turned down a six-month-long project to coordinate a major motion picture film in England. “I had to decide to step down and turn the job away to focus on what was important for my career.”

Despite not having experience in directing, Damien began slowly but steadily gaining all the knowledge he needed to direct his films by taking those baby steps into filmmaking.

According to him, “That started it. I started filming and editing stunt previs for major motion pictures.” 

With the skills gained from performing/coordinating stunts and shooting action scenes, he became knowledgeable in shooting stunt previs and collaborated with many great directors over the years. It gave him the confidence needed to pursue filmmaking fulltime.

But, by Damien’s admission, the idea of a stunt professional transitioning into directing is quite a feat since only a handful of professionals successfully make that transition into feature films. It’s typically more common when they move from stunt coordinators to 2nd unit directors.

Damien is living his dreams one day at a time, though. He’s earning his stripes as a director and has been fortunate to work and partner with big names in the industry, such as Jason Momoa. Through consistency and passion, his desire continues to grow and move forward in the direction of what matters to him.

Each milestone he crosses and every achievement he makes proves his dedication to his dream. For him, it’s essential to keep surpassing his goals and not dwell on previous achievements. Damien’s mindset reminds him to always reach for more and never to stop creating.

“That’s why I was always transforming within the film industry. Always looking for the next thing inspires me to be creative and feel fulfilled in that process.”