Q&A With Rising Director Matt Alonzo (of Skee.TV)

By Jay Casteel & Ronnie Gamble  |  04/07/2010

Matt AlonzoMaybe you've heard of Matt Alonzo, maybe you haven't. Either way, there's one thing that is certain, you've seen his work.

He's the lead director at the production house DJ Skee built called Skee.TV. In just over two years at Skee.TV, 24-year-old Matt Alonzo has built a music video resume aspiring directors would die for. Some of his credits include The Game's "Dope Boys", Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On", and the New Boyz' smash "You're A Jerk."

Alonzo has become one of the "go to" directors for hip-hop acts, but he's beginning to branch out into other genres, and has aspirations of doing breaking into film, commercials and other things as well. While working on Xzibit's "Hurt Locker" music video, we had a chance to chat with Alonzo about how the relationship with DJ Skee started, what he was doing before their partnership, and his two-year experience of climbing the music video director ladder.

Get acquainted with Matt Alonzo. We're sure you're gonna be seeing a lot more of his work in the coming years.

BallerStatus.com: You've been racking up a ton of music video credits over the past couple years. Tell us about how it feels to be a player in the music video game.

Matt Alonzo: It's been a great run. It's been about two years. [DJ Skee] found me off YouTube. I did a Lil Wayne concert, got like three, four million views, and Skee found me off that. He brought me in and within two weeks, we were doing a video. It's pretty much been non-stop since then -- everything from Game, Soulja Boy, Chris Cornell, Cold Flame, New Boyz. We've traveled the whole market. It's been a great experience.

I'm young, 24, living the dream out in L.A. Not too much more I could ask for. Hopefully I can get into some feature films shortly, and keep things moving.

BallerStatus.com: What were you doing before Skee found you on Youtube?

Matt Alonzo: Before Youtube, I was actually working at a record company, directing music videos over there for them. They kinda kept me in a box. They wanted to kinda keep me down and have me edit stuff and have the guys sit over my shoulder ... I actually just quit, straight up quit. I was getting paid a lot of money, I just quit and left with absolutely nothing. I figured that I'd rather do something that I love, take steps back to take steps forward, you know what I mean? So, I did that and it's been everything I could imagine plus some. I never saw myself in my head doing this, but now we're here.

BallerStatus.com: Out of all the videos you've done so far, what has been your favorite? Or the one that sticks out most in your head?

Matt Alonzo: I went out to Amsterdam and shot a dude named Salah Edin, that was crazy. That was really fun. You know, Soulja Boy, New Boyz ... a lot of the young guys are fun. Xzibit, he comes out and it's pure fun. There's not too much work, as far as stressing out. The artists give me everything I need. It's just a lot of fun. I can't put my finger on a straight favorite one, but Young De's videos are crazy.

BallerStatus.com: What's the process like when an artist comes and seeks your services for a music video?

Matt Alonzo: We'll usually get contacted through the artist themselves, or through the record company. They send us the record and from there, we sit back a couple days, we go through all the mental thoughts, the creative process, to figure out what we really see for this piece. We write up a nice treatment, send it out, and usually have a conference call with the artist or label, knock out a few kinks. From there, we check out a location, make sure everything looks good and we just move with it. Everything is in stages, and it's like a domino effect.

BallerStatus.com: Talk a little about the music video game. Today, it's a lot different from 5, 10 years ago where there was $100,000, $500,000 budget. I know, it's a lot smaller today...

Matt Alonzo: A lot smaller budgets!! All you kids out there, make a plan for after this. Music videos are a great stepping stone, but there's not too much left as far as financially, like making a living, buying houses and [Roll Royce] Phantoms and all that. It's a great starting position.

Right now, it's about being more creative with the money that they give you. They're not giving us a ton of money, so with what they do give you, you have to push the creative boundaries to the brink. That's what it's really about. I think if you don't do that, you won't be able to make your name and your videos are just gonna fall in line with everybody else's right now, because everybody's shooting. You really gotta make something creative and set yourself apart.

BallerStatus.com: Your videos have a big budget look to them. They look really high quality. How are you able to do that with limited funds?

Matt Alonzo: I dunno if there's an actual way we do it. The one lucky and unfortunate, "slash", is I edit my own stuff. So, I'm able to kinda sit there and really perfect it. I think that gives it the value that it has, as far as people looking at it, because perfect it. I sit there, literally, for three or four days without sleeping ... like know that kids. It's crazy! I think that goes a long way. Some of these directors, they give it to an editor, edits for a few days, then comes back, and it's done. I sit there and do every single thing to make sure it's absolutely perfect. That goes a long way, far as the production value on these videos.

Locations help out a lot too, and my crew are just hands down the best. They do their job -- Dom, Mike B., Brandon, everybody. It's a good movement, and I'm happy to be here with Skee.TV and making these videos look a lot bigger than they really are.

BallerStatus.com: Tell us about working with Skee.TV.

Matt Alonzo: Skee.TV found me off Youtube, and we've had a two-year marriage. It's been a great one. It's like a family here. We have our bickerings, our ups and downs, but it's all relative to what we're doing and where we're going. We all have a lot on our minds and we all wanna go big places. With that comes a little bit of tension, but other than that, it's love and all work.

BallerStatus.com: So, what's Skee's involvement in everything?

Matt Alonzo: Skee is the face of Skee.TV. He's the one that really brings in all the artists. He gets a lot of face time with all the artists, doing radio and his personal connections ... he's real large. Him doing the face time, doing the chitter-chat and getting me in there goes a long way. Skee really brings the videos to us. Now, people are beginning to send and solicit to us, but before it was Skee pushing to get us all the videos. He's really involved.

BallerStatus.com: Has any moment while doing this over the past two years surprised you? Like artists coming to you and just really commending you on your job, or something like that?

Matt Alonzo: Yea, luckily, we haven't had any bad videos... knock on wood. Every artist that we have worked with really appreciates what we do. They know I take things home, edit four or five days. They know the work I put into it. I think they appreciate that. B-Real calling me, X calling me ... people like just calling you, it trips you out. I was a kid watching "Pimp My Ride," next thing you know, I'm getting called by him. That kinda stuff blows your mind. You can't really put it into a category. You can't really over think it, because it'll trip you out. It is what it is.

BallerStatus.com: What other projects do you have in the works?

Matt Alonzo: I have a feature I'm writing right now with my assistant director. I kinda wanna get outta these music video rather quickly. I still wanna do them, but I wanna keep my options open ... with features, commercials. I have a feature in the works right now. It's kinda like an urban "Crash". I wanna bring a lot of the artists I work with -- X, B-Real, Soulja Boy -- and basically make an urban type of "Crash" where people cross plans and don't really know it. That's my vision and goal for the future.

For more info, or to inquire about Matt's services, head over to MattAlonzo.com or SkeeTV.com.