Matt Alonzo is a video director, producer and Skee TV affiliate well known for the colorful visions he brings to life in his cinematic masterpieces.
Responsible for the likes of videos like Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” and the New Boyz’ “You’re A Jerk”, Matt Alonzo manages to mesh the essence of the artist with the message in the music.
This visionary sat down with HipHopWired to tell us how he studied his craft, his plans to make his first feature film and how he met DJ Skee, the man that would change his life forever.
Peep the interview after the jump
HipHopWired: What made you want to get into being a video director?
Matt Alonzo: Basically I wanted to bring the song, elevate songs to another level, I had written in my head when I was listening to music and I always wanted to put those images to canvas and he happened to find me and it all worked out.
HipHopWired: Tell me about your initial meeting with Skee, how’d you get hooked up with Skee TV?
Matt Alonzo: I had put out a Lil Wayne concert video got about a million views on you tube, Skee saw that, he actually hit me up, we connected and had a good meeting and I think two weeks after that we were shooting our fist video for Snoop Dogg and Korrupt and Terrance Martin.
HipHopWired: A lot of people think it’s kind of easy to get into being a video director, but would you agree that it takes years to really study to at least get good at like you are.
Matt Alonzo: Definitely, before I went to film school I thought the exact same thing. I thought it was just grab a camera and film but once I went to film school and broke it all down and studied motion pictures, I realized it’s so much harder than that, there’s so much that goes into it. A lot of people take it for granted but like you said it’s something that’s really hard. Some people out there with god given talent but you definitely have to study.
HipHopWired: How many years did you study?
Matt Alonzo: I started when I was about seven years old, my dad had a camera, I stayed home from school one day and I made my own movie with myself in it. I edited it with two VCRs and then it was over since then.
HipHopWired: For people that aren’t familiar could you really break it down, in house music director, what does that entail?
Matt Alonzo: With Skee TV I do everything from directing music videos, editing music videos, also pre production get the song, sit down you write your visions, give them to the artist, go back and forth until you get something concrete. Hopefully they don’t cancel and move around the dates but they always do, you shoot the video and I take it back and I edit and color it so it’s a full package. I try to be as cohesive as possible, with everything that we do at Skee from the videos to the commercials to the trailers, everything.
HipHopWired: Tell me more about this full length feature film you guys are working on.
Matt Alonzo: Me and my buddy, Mike, assistant director, we’re writing this movie it’s basically an urban crash, it’s about five people on the verge of hitting rock bottom and they all come to separate crossroads where they make a decision that they think is rational at the time and each person’s decision affects the next person’s outcome. It’s like an urban “Crash”, we’re definitely going to star some rap artists in it, hopefully some models and familiar faces, hopefully we can hit theatres, but if not worse case scenario straight to video and get something about there.
HipHopWired: Do you have an idea of who you want to cast in it?
Matt Alonzo: Any of the artists that we work with I’d love to work with, from Soujla boy to The Game, to Be Real, just to have all these faces in there, it’d be fun, and it’d be good for the urban society right now.
HipHopWired: You really kicked things off with the New Boyz with “You’re A Jerk” video and Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On”, tell me a little bit about how you got started working with these younger artists.
Matt Alonzo: Well I’ve got to thank Skee and Skee TV for that, plus being able to work with all these young guys, they had a lot of good ideas; they were so much fun to work with. They bought so much energy to the set that it made our jobs easier, they’re having fun we’re having fun and the next thing you know the day is over with, so when that happens, usually it’s magic. Those three videos were by far my favorite sets.
HipHopWired: What would be the difference in approach you would take with the New Boyz video or Soulja Boy or one you would do with The Game or The Clique?
Matt Alonzo: What we try to do at Skee TV we try to make sure that we figure out who the target market is, New Boyz we knew that a lot of the younger kids were looking at it, they like the bright colors. For Game we knew that a lot of the urban crowd would be looking at it so we gave them a little bit more gritty hard core film grain. With the Clipse and Kardinall it was very clean and flashy for the club people, so we give everybody a spectrum of videos that meet everybody’s tastes.
HipHopWired: In the coming yer who are the other artists that you want to work with this year for videos?
Matt Alonzo: I would definitely like to work with Soulja Boy, Game and New Boyz, when they’re ready, we’re ready for them. Drake, Young money we’ll take it all. We’ll just take it as it comes and hopefully we’ll get some big names as the year progresses.
HipHopWired: A lot of people argue that videos aren’t really helping record sales these days especially with all the leaks and illegal downloads. So with that being said, how important do you feel videos still are to the music?
Matt Alonzo: Personally, I don’t think anything is selling records right now but if anything is going to get a buzz about a song, it’s going to be the video or the trailer. If you listen to some songs you might not even like them the first time you hear them but if you match them with some dope visuals, people start getting into it. They start forwarding it to their friends and the whole movement takes off from there, so a good video can go really far. Obviously like I said records are not selling but it can still do a lot for your ring tones and anything else that you’re selling.
HipHopWired: When you’re coming up for a treatment for a video, what do you take into account when you’re putting it all together?
Matt Alonzo: You listen to the song and you try to go with whatever comes first to mind, we like to break it down and see who the audience is and who’s going to be watching it and make sure they like it. We try to make sure we target it for the right audience. That’s my main focus. Try to make the best video that we can for the budget and the limitations that we have.
HipHopWired: For 2010, what is your ultimate goal for your videos?
Matt Alonzo: For music videos or just overall?
HipHopWired: Music videos.
Matt Alonzo: For Skee TV to win an MTV music video award, that would make the year worthwhile.
HipHopWired: And the ultimate goal for yourself?
Matt Alonzo: To get on the feature film train as soon as possible, that’s the overall goal.