Alfuso: The man behind the camera

Alfuso: The man behind the camera



Michael Alfuso, a local student sat across the table from me at a coffee shop in Northridge, Calif. He had a mangy black beard, much like mine and he made the joke that we must look like two hobos. Sitting next to a large black hard-cased piece of luggage he got up to order coffee and said, “watch this for me, it has half my life’s work on hard drives in it.” He returned with a small coffee, no cream, no sugar.

“I grew up in Tustin, Calif., where money was everything,” said Michael Alfuso, “but it meant nothing to my family.” Alfuso, a CTVA Major at California State University Northridge, grew up with a musically inclined middle class family in an elitist community. His parents taught him that modesty goes along way says Alfuso.

“I always found it odd that, [at school], kids were picked on not for looking a certain way or for GPA’s but based on the car they drove. My car in high school was a small beat up truck; every other guy had brand new, lifted, full sized pickups,” said Alfuso, now 21 years old, "but I was cool with it".



At the moment, Alfuso works for the school as a videographer shooting short trailers and informational videos. However, the job he gets most of his excitement and exposure from is as a freelance videographer for various longboard skateboard companies, such as Abec11, The Arbor Collective, and Honey Skateboards. Most recently he has been working on a documentary type series of short episodes for The Arbor Collective.

“Ideally, I would like to make full length documentaries,” says Alfuso “but for right now I’m looking to diversify into Surfing or Snowboarding along with the long board films I currently make. I have always wanted to do Mountain bike videos, that’s what launched me onto this path.”

As early as five-years-old Alfuso was playing with video cameras, “at that time the camera was one of the VHS ones and it was almost as big as I was.” When he was 16 he was turned on to mountain bike films, the one that sparked his initial interest and still inspires him today was “ROAM.”



ROAM was produced in 2006 by The Collective, ROAM is a rarity because it was shot on 16mm film, not digital. “In a time when digital is taking over, this movie is a major inspiration for me, it’s one of the reasons why I prefer film over any other medium,” says Alfuso “I plan to shoot, edit, and project a short 16mm skate film.”

Alfuso is currently working on a series of short documentary series for the Arbor Collective. “I like this new work, its closer to the kind of stuff I want to make” said Alfuso.

The short clips, parts of a whole series, have yet to be released. The series will be a documentary type project following the Arbor team through the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range. “We camped every day of the two weeks, five of us packed into an old beat up pick up and I filmed the team shredding hills every day,” said Alfuso “At one point James Kelly was passing cars [on his longboard], topping speeds of 50 mph, we [in the truck] couldn’t keep up with him he was going so fast. All we had to follow was a trail of ‘thane lines leading down the mountain. Watching athletes challenge barriers like that is why I love my job. ”



Derek Smith, team manager at Honey Skateboards, was the first to bring Alfuso in to shoot a longboard skateboard short film. “He was great, even three years ago he was a visionary, his movies were ground breaking, at that time the only videos you could get on the internet were home videos shot with a tripod and no eye for the art. Mike [Alfuso] broke that norm and created the Flex video, a clip showcasing our new board and some of our new riders at the time.” Alfuso not only had the creative eye but he also drove a hard bargain, becoming the youngest paid videographer in the longboard market.

“I worked with Honey for about a year, but was eager to get more jobs with other clients, I kept my options open and clients filled them, some paying others not but it all has propelled me to where I am now, and I still plan to move forward,” said Alfuso.






Michael Alfuso plans to graduate in the next year and then to pursue an independent film venture, “ultimately, I want to make a full length documentary of sorts, all on analog film. I’m really interested in the imperfections of humans and the relationships we have together, film is the perfect medium for this because of its own imperfections and how we have to interact with it to make something beautiful.”

We look forward to seeing what he comes up with!



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