#MCM: Director Alfredo Flores on How to Get Shit Done
Alfredo Flores is only 26 years old, but thanks to his talent and drive, he’s making a name for himself as a go-to tour videographer and director for Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Selena Gomez.
And he didn’t get there by accident. Alfredo has been grinding for years to become a video director. He waited tables while attending classes and holding down two internships at a time his freshman year of college alone — this is a guy who doesn’t have the words “I can’t” in his vocabulary.
There’s nothing more crush-worthy than a guy with incredible drive. Being part of Justin Bieber’s unofficial touring entourage also helps. So we asked Alfredo Flores to share his best tips for getting shit done.
1. Be persistent
Alfredo credits his work success to his obsessive attention to climbing the ladder. This started with him taking on as many internships as possible. When he was 19, he was not only going to school full time, but also holding down two internships — one at a production company and one at a record label — while also working at a restaurant.
And the way he got the internships was by emailing and emailing and emailing the people in charge until he got what he needed. Even when they gave him the old “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” he kept trying.
“I was kind of a bit annoying I think, when I look back,” he said. “If you don’t get a ‘no,’ just keep going. It all worked out. My constant followup [emails] just landed my gigs.”
The only thing he wasn’t doing was sleeping much.
2. Set an achievable goal
His was to get a job before graduating college no matter what — and he did it. That’s what led him to secure internships, unpaid jobs, and all the experience he could get his hands on.
“I had no social life in college,” he said. “Everyone’s partying, going to frats and stuff — that wasn’t me. I was in the school lab editing, going to school, going to work. I knew what I wanted and knew what I had to do to get it, so I didn’t have time for a social life up to that moment.”
His first job out of college ended up being a videographer on Justin Bieber’s tour, so clearly it all worked out.
3. Break the right rules
Alfredo’s college advised him to wait until his last semester to do an internship. He didn’t listen and started interning almost immediately upon starting school.
“That really was what gave me my start,” he said of interning. “I didn’t want to wait until the last semester, because my job was to get a job before graduation.”
4. Don’t forget your creative work is still work
No matter how creatively inclined your work is, it’s still all business. This can result in some disappointments if you’re not good at rolling with the punches.
“I’ve shot music videos where the music videos have never been released” due to copyright issues or otherwise, Alfredo said. “It just never sees the light of day. It reminds me that no matter how creative we can get or how artistic it is, it’s still a business and it has to be treated as such. It’s disappointing sometimes but you always learn, so it’s cool.”
5. Understand why you’re doing the work you’re doing
If you don’t have a strong foundation for your work, you might find it difficult to hustle as hard as people like Alfredo do.
“Have some strong roots as far as perfecting your craft and having a solid vision of who you want to be,” Alfredo said.
If you’re not actually that into your creative job, or if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, you’re not going to get far in the field.
6. Don’t turn down jobs in the beginning
How did Alfredo get to the level of working with Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber? By working hard on as many other shoots as possible first.
“I assisted other photographers and built up a work flow, and the opportunities came,” he said.
If you’ve been putting in work on other projects, then “when you do get the opportunity to work with a high-profile artist, you’ll be ready,” he said.
7. Work on your own projects at the same time
If you want to do what Alfredo does, you’ll need a reel. If you want to be a photographer, you’ll need a portfolio. And if you want to be a writer, you’ll need writing samples. Just assisting isn’t enough.
Not only will this help you when applying for future jobs, but you never know which person you shoot for free will turn into the next big thing a few years down the road. They’ll remember you from back when, possibly give you more work.
8. It’s okay to be starstruck
Alfredo’s first big job was shooting Mariah Carey when he was just 19. She needed someone to wrap up some filming for the behind-the-scenes footage from the album “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.”
“I was not only starstruck but nervous as shit,” he said. “I was 19, it was my first job, and it was the biggest singer of our generation up to that point. It was pretty fucking crazy.”
The only thing he wasn’t nervous about was the actual editing process. He went out on a limb and used to new editing techniques that he knew Mariah might not have seen before — and she loved it.
9. Don’t procrastinate
One of the reasons people like working with Alfredo is that he gets things done ASAP. His first time shooting for Justin Bieber, he edited the video and sent it to Bieber’s management later that night.
“I stayed awake and edited as fast as I could,” he said. “I sent over that video and they loved it. That’s how I started working with Justin.”
10. Don’t let money hold you back
It can seem like the only way to succeed in the creative industries is to have rich parents so you can work for free. But if you’re driven enough, you can make it work.
Like Alfredo, you can always pick up a restaurant job and make your money that way. The rich kids might be better rested than you, but they won’t have the same fire in their belly.
11. You’ll have to overcome creative blocks
If you’re on a tour shooting the same thing day in and day out like Alfredo sometimes is, you might go a little nuts. But you won’t be able to use writer’s block or a creative block as an excuse to not get shit done.
Learn how to mix it up and above all, get over it. Whoever’s paying you for your work isn’t going to be thrilled to hear “I’m just not feeling it right now” as an excuse.
12. Never take anything personally
Understand that you’re not perfect — and no one else is, either. Translation: you’ll have bad days and so will the people you’re working with and sometimes, people can get nasty. But your job is to stay focused on what you’re getting done.
“There’s gonna be times when you feel like you’re not good enough,” Alfredo said. “But don’t take anything personal. You’re here for a reason.”
All photos (besides the mirror selfie) by Amber Asaly