WideAngle Studios of Vancouver is a fast-growing player in the high-tech world of video production – the kind of dot-com business that gravitates toward Seattle and Silicon Valley, Calif., or maybe Hollywood.
You might compare WideAngle to some hypothetical local garage band that’s beginning to make it big: The musicians can’t wait to put Vancouver in their rear-view mirror on their way to Los Angeles or Nashville.
But David Alonzo, who grew up here and created WideAngle Studios while a student at WSU Vancouver, runs it out of his East Vancouver home and has no such get-out-of-Dodge notion.
This producer of TV commercials, business films, documentaries and video promotions for corporations and nonprofits, isn’t looking to move to a high-tech mecca, even though WideAngle’s tentacles reach to San Jose, Calif.
Alonzo says he’s staying right here and, as much as possible, contracting homegrown talent – both technical and creative. “I make an effort to hire people on our side of the river whenever possible.”
Many WideAngle projects require about a dozen contract employees, Alonzo says, including videographers, motion graphic designers, actors and actresses, a producer and other specialists.
Moreover, one of Alonzo’s long-range goals is to establish permanent, full-time studio here – not only for WideAngle’s inside work but also for rent to individuals, groups or businesses needing space, equipment or personnel for creating and editing video or audio projects.
“It would be a community resource – something not now available in Vancouver,” Alonzo says.
High school beginnings
Alonzo credits a TV production class at Mountain View High School (Class of 2000) for launching his interest in video production. Next came Clark College and then WSU Vancouver. He launched WideAngle Studios in 2006 when he was a student in the Digital Technology and Culture program at WSUV.
His first job under the WideAngle Studios banner was a video for the Humane Society of Southwest Washington, which was raising funds for a new facility in East Vancouver. Jobs for other nonprofits soon followed.
The company’s biggest-name client so far has been Papa Murphy’s, a Vancouver-based take-and-bake pizza chain for which WideAngle did an internal-communications video.
Today, its website (wideanglestudios.com) displays logos of organizations, corporations and government agencies that have hired Alonzo, including Vancouver Mall, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the band Lincoln’s Beard, the Clark County Department of Environmental Services, the Outdoor Industry Association, Horizon Wind Energy, The Columbian, the YWCA, the Rotary Foundation, the ARC of Clark County, the March of Dimes, Clark College and Washington State University.
Alonzo has a small office in San Jose, Calif., where he was in late June on a project for a high-tech company. “We’ve had a little growth down that way,” he said. “But most of it is in the Northwest.”
Alonzo’s only permanent employee is artistic director and screenwriter Johnny Winningham, whose career has ranged from standup comedian to stage actor to TV director in Hollywood.
As the company’s business grows, Alonzo’s pool of contract talent gets deeper, the jobs become increasingly creative and the equipment more exotic. For example, camera-equipped drones are now used on some jobs for overhead camera angles.
The ‘most complicated’ project
In 2013 Winningham directed promotional videos for Vancouver Mall, including a 30-second TV commercial that he calls the “most complicated” project the studio had tackled up to that time. It required two camera crews, four hired actors and a frenetic five-hour shooting schedule, most of it before the mall opened for the day.
“It was amazing how it all came together,” Winningham says. Now, WideAngle is about to begin work on new commercials for the shopping center.
In recent years, WideAngle has dipped its toe in political waters and created or contributed to visual projects in three campaigns for candidates or ballot measures.
Alonzo doesn’t pause for a second when asked to describe the most unusual assignment WideAngle Studios has tackled so far.
The Animal Planet cable TV network hired him in 2008 for a piece about a Portland-area man Alonzo describes as “an animal hoarder. He kept dozens of caged animals in his house as pets, including birds, rodents and reptiles. It was a sight to see.”
wideanglestudios.com Founded 2006