The Rare Norm team recently had the pleasure to interview a talented film director from a small town from the midwest named Elijah Alvarado. Born in Ohio, raised in Iowa, and now living in Chicago for the last decade, Elijah has produced and collaborated with seven-time grammy nominated artist Chance the Rapper, directing one of Chance most personal songs “Hey Ma”, to creating videos with a meaningful message such as Grabbitz-“Ballin”. Elijah is a one of a kind talent, as his content conveys something honest and real, that hopefully, people will understand. Art has always been a form of communicating, Elijah’s way is through filmmaking and so far his messages have been clear. Whatever the future holds for Elijah, it is safe to say that this promising filmmaker is on the right path to success.
A fun fact: Remember that episode of Oprah that Tom Cruise jumped on the couch and let the world know he was totally crazy? My uncle was in that episode, and the video submission I made for him aired before his segment, I was maybe in 5th grade at the time and it was my first video that was broadcast nationally.
How did you get involved with filmmaking?
I’ve been making videos for as long as I can remember, I started out with stop-motion action figure movies and kung-fu epics I’d make with my friends on my family’s VHS camcorder. In school, I was always failing classes and getting into trouble until I started tuning in videos for my assignments. I started getting A’s for my projects and realized it was the most effective way for me to communicate my ideas.
You filmed Chance the Rappers, “Hey Ma” music video back in 2012, how did you get that gig? And how was it like working with Chance?
I met Chance at a Kids These Days recording session for “Don’t Harsh My Mellow”. He was actually performing an early version of “Hey Ma” on his piano in the studio lobby. The session ended up being a dope kick back and a couple weeks later he hit me up to shoot the video.Working with Chance is always a pleasure, he is an incredible person that inspires those around him to create at the top of their game. It’s an honor that he let me be a part of such a personal song, and I tried to communicate that intimacy with the video.I’ve worked here and there with Chance since then, most recently as Creative Producer on Austin Vesely’s feature film Slice.
What has been your proudest project to date?
There’s something that I’m proud of in every project I’ve put together. But my source of pride usually comes from these things: When the project comes together through a set of strenuous circumstances. When an idea is translated exactly as you originally saw it in your head, or when it’s different from how you pictured but managed to make it better.
I’ve let myself go completely, massive weight gains, uncontrollable sweating, covered in layers of crusts, an inch thick, yet somehow, beautiful women are uncontrollably drawn to me.
Keep an open mind, be kind to everyone you meet and always strive to be better. Art is a community, you cannot be a successful person without the help of others, Don’t let your ego ruin your relationships.Also- don’t underestimate the power of your art, use your voice to convey change you’d like to see in this world.