Born in Elmhurst, Queens on July, 27th, 1981; Christian San Martin became the first generation American Honduran for his family. His mother, abandoned by her husband, was forced to deal with the struggles of being a single young mother. With the cards already stacked against him; young Christian San Martin was left to sort out the paths to following his dreams, acknowledging hardship and searching for father figures in the wrong places.
By the time his family finally settled down in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, New York, Christian San Martin began to learn different creative outlets as a form of self expression. At the time a cultural phenomenon known as graffiti began to have a strong hold within the community. Lacking after school programs and adults that understood this new Americanized generation; young Latino kids began to use graffiti as a means to differentiate themselves from the herd. Art, music and graffiti or bombing became forms of self expression and Christian embraced all of them. As a child, his fondest memory was that of his first sketchbook. Drawing came natural to him and he would sit for hours drawing cartoon characters he would see on television. The local children in his area began to invite him to go “graffing” or “bombing” with them. This was an invitation to get down with the crew and to showcase his drawing talents. In search of father figures, the solidarity he found on the street began to take a noticeable impact in Christian’s life.
Unbeknownst to himself, Christian was becoming a disciple of the streets. His mother, unable to understand her son’s grief, became increasingly physically and verbally abusive towards him. As the days went by, Christian began to crawl further and further into the rabbit hole. He began defacing property using graffiti and performing small time robberies to express his frustration with the place he called “home”. The older drug dealers on his block nicknamed him “Pause”; a name he began to use as his graffiti tag. Angry at her son, his mother kicked him out at the age of 14. Distraught with no money and no where to go; Christian confided to his closest friend, Khan, that he was now homeless. Knowing that they were just still children, Khan asked his parents if Christian can move in with them and they accepted. Ground rules were set in place and Christian began to live with his best friend and their family.
Now living with his best friend, he wasn’t going to stay home while his friend went out on adventures. They began to hang out with a local barber named Juganot who at the time helped carry crates for a local disc jockey named Camilo. Pretty soon they caught the club bug and offered to carry crates in exchange for free entrance into the clubs Camilo performed in. Although his grades began to suffer, he was able to support himself during the time that he lived away from home. He landed a job at a video store and began to watch different genres of movies during his free time. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before Christian wore out his welcome at his best friend’s house. Using the money he saved from his job; once again Christian was on the search for a place to live.
Around this time Christian’s uncle began to take notice of where his nephew had been. Realizing his nephew’s need for a home; he was invited to move in. It proved to be one of the best decisions Christian ever made. His aunt and uncle served as surrogate parents and cultivated him into becoming an educated young man. Christian’s Uncle was well respected and thus made the transition into father figure easy. With the support of his Uncle’s family, Christian began to prosper in high school and graduated.
Things were going so well that his past demons were bound to show their faces again. He lost his job at the video store and had to figure out ways to make ends meet. Just because he lived with his Uncle didn’t mean they were going to pay for his expenses. So he began to look for means to pay bills by getting connected with his friends on the street. Pretty soon he was selling weed and ecstasy pills to survive. He realized he was making way more money on the street than by working a regular job. Christian’s new line of work began to tear away at the father son relationship his Uncle had strived to create. Soon Christian got caught up with the wrong crowd and began to get into serious fights. He survived a knife attack in which he was stabbed and soon after he was caught by the police selling drugs. The experience in jail scared him straight. Christian was close to spending 3 years in jail but luckily, with the help of a good lawyer; was later released under certain provisions. By the time he was set to come back home his Uncle decided to kick him out.
For a period of time he would live a nomadic lifestyle again. It wasn’t long before he began to realize the error in his ways and decided that it was time to live for him and not for his troubled past. Once again a beam of hope shined on Christian in the form of his grandmother. She was beginning to see the changes in her grandson that were leading for the better and offered him a place to live. The experience of almost having his freedom taken away made Christian view life in a different light. He searched for a real job and settled into working in the DVD section of HMV. Once again he started spending time watching films to avoid trouble. Spending all this time pondering where his life was headed; Christian started to look into College.
During this time he had already established a presence in the club circuit. D.J. Camilo’s star was already on the rise and Christian continued helping him carry his crates to gain free entry into the clubs. On one night he was hanging out with Juganot watching him take pictures for Camilo’s increasingly popular website. Tired of walking around, he passed the camera to Christian to continue shooting. It seemed awkward at first interrupting people having fun just for pictures but he began getting the gist of it. At the end of the night when they began reviewing the pictures he took, they realized he had a talent for taking quality pictures. On his first try he unknowingly landed the job that would soon lead him to finding his passion for film. He worked for D.J. Camilo for free for a year until he was finally added in as a paid employee. His pictures helped Camilo’s marketing strategy. Everyone wanted to take a picture by Christian, who at this time received the nickname “Pookie” as his night life moniker. It wasn’t long before he was given a high quality professional camera. Without any professional training, his pictures began to gain notoriety for capturing the fun and glamour involved in night life. Soon Christian or as his alter ego was called, “Pookie”, received a special area on the website aptly titled “Pookies Pic of the Week”. He began traveling around the world with Camilo and taking pictures of party goers in different cultures. But even though he had gained some fame, he still felt he needed to do more.
The money he was making in the clubs wasn’t enough to survive on and he soon began to realize that he needed another challenge. A friend brought up the possibility of Christian attending the Arts Institute in downtown Manhattan. His friend mentioned the photography major so that he could formally learn photography. It sounded good but his heart wasn’t in it. Being that it wouldn’t have killed him to check the school out; he went to view the campus. By sheer accident he stumbled onto the video production major and began to look deeper into his love of film. The majority of his first jobs involved selling, watching films or more presently shooting on film. He felt it was a perfect fit for him and enrolled in the school.
As he began working through the major, he realized that his love for film was ever present. The first short films he created established him as a guerilla style film maker. And as his craft began to show promise; he began to post his work on public video viewing sites such as youtube.com and vimeo.com. His short films included many famed radio personalities and actors such as L Boogs of MTV Tres as well as members of the internationally known Heavy Hitters DJ Crew. Based on his background, it wasn’t long before Christian began to receive job offers from underground artists such as Reymo and Juganot to create music videos. His work began to receive such a notable buzz that he eventually landed a job as a video editor for Marc Ecko’s Complex Magazine website; Complex.com. Most recently, Christian created a short video depicting Complex Magazine’s photo shoot with famous R&B recording star Amerie.
Christian San Martin has faced becoming a statistic, the New York City slum stereotype and falling prey to premature hardship. Thus he came to be one of the very few successful survivors from his neighborhood. Judging from influences such as Martin Scorsese and Alejandro González Iñárritu; it’s no wonder Christian’s main goal as a film maker is to bring back truth to a genre that seems to be lacking originality.
Breaking the pattern of tripping over his own struggles, Christian San Martin has finally unearthed the path to following his dreams.