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On The Road with SNL DP Alex Buono – Visual Storytelling 2 Tour

SNL DP Alex Buono made the Los Angeles/Burbank stop of his Visual Storytelling 2 Tour. We had a chance to speak with Buono during a break, to get some deeper insights into his theories, thoughts and ideas about the filmmaking process.

We’d like to say on the onset of this article that this was a great experience. Beyond some great information on how to practically shoot a variety of different setups, Buono offers something unique you won’t find anywhere else: his unique experience. From his own work in documentary films, commercials and his fifteen years with the SNL Film Unit, Buono offers his triumphs as well as his mistakes for everyone in attendance. His willingness to share in such an honest way brings tremendous value and elevates this experience beyond a mere day of teaching. No matter what your career level, from the novice to the expert, the Visual Storytelling 2 tour offers something for everyone. We can’t recommend it enough.


Much of the day included practical lighting set ups that Alex had used throughout his career on Saturday Night Live, as well as a few he used on his recent Directorial venture ‘Documentary Now’. Buono offered alternatives to digital effects by keeping them practical and in camera. For example, he showed attendees how he captured the SNL cast for the SNL 40th anniversary opening. There was also several points where Alex had the audience come up and light and shoot a specific scene, such as a country music video parody. These were definitely highlights in an overall amazing day.

Alex Buono with a practical demonstration of a music video shoot – a staple of the SNL Film Unit


As if it weren’t enough that you were already listening to the DP of SNL detail how he produced some of their best shorts, he actually took you step by step through recreating them, detailing specific shots and pre-production processes. To top it off, Alex made sure to stress the “poor man’s process”, or doing things as cost effective and practically as possible to get a great result. So these techniques are something that anyone in attendance should be able to put to great effect in their own work.

Another practical demonstration, this one showing attendees in detail how to capture a car sequence using “Poorman’s Process”


The attendees were another highlight of the day, with the packed room full of professionals that ran the gamut of complete newbie to learned veteran. Having talked with a number of people throughout the day, it seems that nearly everyone there not only enjoyed themselves but also took away a variety of knowledge they didn’t have before. All of this is in addition to raffle prizes, comforting atmosphere, hands on practical demos and great filmmaking tips anyone can use.

Buono shared his hard won nuggets of knowledge of lighting techniques his learned over his 15 years with the SNL Film Unit


So, at the end of the very jam packed day, Alex still travels on. Next he’ll be in Austin, Texas and continue on to Dallas on the 21st and Houston on the 23rd. That’s still only about half the whole tour, so if you’re on the Gulf or East coasts, there’s till plenty of time to catch this awesome tour. If you just can’t make it to any of his stops however, the tour is being offered as a DVD and digital download. So there’s nothing stopping you from getting some amazing tips to boost your productions.

For more information, check out our exclusive interview with Alex above and visit to check out the other tour dates.

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