Filmmaker Friday featuring Filmmaker Matt Alonzo

An Insiders Perspective On The Creative World of Filmmaking

With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a filmmaker. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a Filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Filmmaker Matt Alonzo about his work. This is what he said:

What inspires you?

Matt Alonzo: Inspiration is everywhere, it surrounds us, it’s truly a beautiful thing.  Overall, my inspiration is my family and future family. My parents were 16-17 years old when I was born and the work ethic I saw growing up instilled a non stop passion to grow and push my boundaries. They’re my heroes and while our career paths may be different, I still try to emulate them in every way I can. So even when I don’t feel like creating, I think of them and get right back to it.

That being said, family is important and something I look forward to having one day. That also fuels my fire so when the time comes I’ve done all I needed to by myself and also put myself in a position to provide.

Now, day to day inspiration normally comes in the middle of the night or early morning when I can’t sleep. It just comes – BOOM- sometimes I practically edit or write entire pieces in my mind. It comes so fast. Those are some of my favorite moments.   As a writer, director and editor I find myself spending countless hours at the computer so any time away from the screen also helps to breathe fresh air, ideas and creativity. 

What is your role on set?

Matt Alonzo: Now, day to day inspiration normally comes in the middle of I am the Director. I have been directing for 10 years now (professionally ha-ha) and I haven’t really been on set as any other position in a long while.

On set my role is to guide the artistic, technical and dramatic vision of the piece forward. I work closely with the Producer, Director of Photography and the Talent communicates my vision, but the way I look at it, every piece is a collaboration and team effort.

Lately I have been operating the camera as well, not a control freak thing ha, just being an editor too, I know EXACTLY what I want. Most of the time I see the cuts in my mind.

 What’s the first thing you do when you get to set?

Matt Alonzo: Introduce myself to ALL of the crew and mess around with the guys. I like to create a loose environment. It’s game day but not no fun day. I played sports all my life and I firmly believe in the strength of camaraderie. Especially when it’s the final shot 18hrs in! Overall I am here to make wonderful art but at the same time I’ve learned to enjoy myself and all that surrounds me.

 What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on before?

Matt Alonzo: COOLEST? Hmm Probably shooting in IRAQ with Xzibit. That was something I will never forget. We spent 3 weeks with visiting the troops. Flew in Blackhawks, Military Cargo aircrafts, stayed at Saddam’s Palace and had the chance to hang out with the men and women who serve and protect our country. I shot a music video and a documentary while I was there. No crew, no lights, just 5D and one extra lens. Just like good ol’ days.

COOLEST 1B – Hopsin music video. He starts off as a head and over the video we mechanically attach his torso and limbs. I really learned a lot during that project. I just nerd out sometimes and think it’s cool.


 What are you currently working on?

Matt Alonzo: Narratives and Ads. Of course a few music videos as well. Can’t speak much on things yet but all is coming soon. I am super excited!

 Your favorite piece of film gear is? 

 Matt Alonzo: Now you may not like this idea but I have to personally say the mind. Starting off in this industry I didn’t have a lot of gear or access to it. I had to replicate what I saw in creative and innovative ways. Yes it would be nice to have this or that but more and more I hear “I would be so much better if I had that gear or camera,etc” and that is the furthest thing from the truth.

I had a one chip mini dv camera when I graduated film school. Everyone had 24p GL2’s etc. etc. I filmed a Lil Wayne concert, edited it in one night with split screens, films overalls and all these things NOBODY was doing ten years ago and BOOM a million views over night (back then it was huge!) Two months later shooting real music videos for Interscope. Even today I find myself with budget restrains and still have to find ways to make things work. I think that is the best part-at least in hindsight probably not during production haha! It’s not about the gear it’s about how you use it.


What advice would you give to people interested in this industry?

Matt Alonzo: Let your inspiration guide you and don’t let everyday problems stop your progress. Never act on how you feel but on what you have or need to do to achieve your goal. I had a nice salary job after graduating directing and editing videos  for a small record company. I had to wear a suit and tie everyday, I hated it. It killed my creativity. One day I just quit with nothing. Things got rough of course but my mind stayed focused on my goal. My inspiration and motivation created opportunities. I filmed the opening act of a concert… Lil Wayne was the headliner… You never know what is around the corner. Take a chance and do something great!

What is your greatest accomplishment in the film industry?

Matt Alonzo: Honestly, giving advice and helping the younger generation. At least those who ask and listen. I never had a mentor in the film industry so I like to lend a hand, ear or eye whenever I can. It inspires them just as much as it does me.

Professionally, I can’t say Im there yet, I have created some amazing pieces with amazingly talented people but I don’t feel I have “arrived” yet. My goal was always features so I am hoping once I add one of those to my belt I can chalk that up as my greatest accomplishment.

 Is it harder to get started or to keep on going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

 Matt Alonzo: I think get started, once you get a glimpse of your life vision, it’s much easier to continue pursing even against all odds. Once I signed with ICM as a feature film director and when to meetings, put together pitches, etc I knew I was where I belonged. All doubt faded. You must conquer your mind – your emotions.

 Getting started now is extremely tough. The market is over populated. Everyone has a camera or Iphone and everyone is a film maker. My advice is find a mentor and ride it out with them. Be a PA or assistant. If you’re hungry and stay loyal they will open doors for you. It will also keep you moving forward and quite any doubts you may have in your mind.

 Where can people follow you on social?

 Matt Alonzo: Always been the same – @mattalonzo on all platforms.

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