Hoop Story #039: Dominique Oliveto, Director, Producer & Photographer

Dominique Oliveto

How did you first get interested in basketball?  Who inspired you early on?

I’ve always loved basketball for as long as I can remember. I was inspired by my father who passed away when I was younger. We used to watch NBA and WVU games together and it was one of my favorite things to do. He inspired a love for the game that transcended after he passed and motivated me to want to stay connected to the sport. 

I played when I was younger but I’m 5’2’ so clearly that didn’t go anywhere. I was always interested in more creative avenues as well. I always remained a die hard fan, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized I could have a career - let alone a creative career - centered around the sport. 

I can honestly say basketball has opened so many doors for me - especially due to the synergy with entertainment, music, film, etc. No matter where my career takes me I’ll always stay connected to basketball. 

 Dominique Oliveto Director/Producer/Photographer

You worked for the NBA and then went out on your own to focus on storytelling, What did it mean to make that jump?

I am grateful for my time at the NBA because it was a fun place to work and it taught me a lot about the business and introduced me to some of the most amazing people who will be some of my best friends for life. 

Some of the work I did at the NBA ultimately helped to ignite my creative passions and helped me to see that there were creative job opportunities around the sport - not just business based roles. 

Making the jump from the NBA to pursuing my career as a Director, Producer, and Photographer has been the most pivotal moment of my life thus far. It’s something that I’m really proud of because not a lot of people would bet on themselves and take a risk like I did. I definitely didn’t take the safe route. The ride hasn’t been easy, and I’ve made mistakes and experienced a lot of rejection along the way, but ultimately moving to Los Angeles has been the biggest growth experience personally, professionally, and creatively. 

The jump taught me about myself and my creative abilities. It taught me about the power of relationships and helped me to realize that I can stand on my own name and creative talents in this industry. Companies and athletes I’ve dreamed of working with have become some of my clients and that is an amazing feeling. The jump has helped me be more confident in myself and get out of my comfort zone creatively. 

I love seeing my work elevate, especially compared to where I started. I am constantly amazed and grateful by some of the rooms that I am entering. I am improving as I go and I want to inspire and lift up others along the way. 

 Dominique Oliveto, Director/Producer/Photographer

You traveled to Africa with JaVale McGee. What were some highlights of that trip?

Traveling to Uganda with JaVale McGee and his Juglife Foundation was a special experience for me. I got to experience first hand how athletes are impacting and occupying spaces outside of their particular field. JaVale and his foundation are making the world a better place through their work, so it meant a lot to be trusted with capturing and telling such an impactful story.

You produced an episode of the Legends of Sport podcast with Andy Bernstein which featured Kobe Bryant. What was that experience like? What were you able to learn from Kobe?

It was a great experience. Andy and Kobe are legends in their fields. I learned a lot from the both of them and about their professional relationship and the respect and admiration they had for each other. It was special to be a fly on the wall for the conversation and to capture some photos of Kobe as well. 

Through the conversation, Kobe taught me about the power of curiosity and always remaining curious about your craft. The Mamba Mentality is essentially infinite curiosity. That has really stuck with me. 

 Dominique Oliveto Director/Producer/Photographer

As you are creating relationships with these players, what excites you most about telling their stories?

I get excited about creating an atmosphere and energy on set that allows athletes to open up and be their most authentic selves. I enjoy showing the sides of their personality that makes them unique and that not everyone gets to see. Society tries to put athletes and celebrities in a box, so it’s important to me that I shift that narrative through my work. 

I direct, produce, and shoot most of the photography, so each project has to be approached with extreme precision. When projects require me to hire additional crew, I have to be very diligent in hiring people who I know will connect with the athletes the same way I do. Other times I have to approach everything alone and often I’m balancing multiple projects at once. No matter what the set up is like or the concept, the athlete’s story and comfortability remain my priorities. I’m big on integrity and trust. I think it’s pretty remarkable how multidimensional these athletes are, and I believe the same to be true for most people. 

Everyone has sides of themselves that are important and unique and my job is to share those with the world and get my subjects to trust me with their stories. 

While each project is different, I strive to do two things every time: authentically connect to athletes getting inside access into their lives, and tell a unique and visually compelling story no matter the type of content. 

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