Picture the Hollywood movie scene in St. Louis, Mo. and you’ll meet Alessio Summerfield ’13, filmmaker and director. “Los Angeles isn’t Los Angeles anymore,” he said, bringing the big screen wherever he steps foot.
While he specializes in narrative films and documentaries, he said, “It’s less of a genre and more of a mood. It’s stories that are happening all around us, but nobody takes the time to stop and look for. Even in my narrative filmmaking, where I can create whatever stories I want, I tend to do a lot of surreal and fantastical stories about things everybody goes through, but presented in a way that leads into nostalgia, regret and childhood that you can’t live again. All these little things that we all think about, but don’t dedicate a lot of time to.”
For his senior project, he produced “Father of Curiosity” under the fake production company Forever an Astronaut. He attributes the success of his film to the generosity of his community, saying “Auburn meant a lot to me, and not the Auburn that you see on ESPN or the Auburn that people see when they go there just for college. I think Auburn meant a lot to me because it’s a small town, when everyone leaves for summer break it doesn’t have a huge population, but you’d be surprised–whenever you really want to do something, the whole town gets together to help you.”
His fake company would come to life, producing “The Audition,” “EYEZ on Trains,” and “A Life of Review.” Forever an Astronaut’s name was coined from the song “Drunk Girls” by the LCD Soundsytem. Its singer, James Murphy, wails, “Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut, it comes back, but it’s never the same.” To Summerfield it represents “that the sky is not really the limit, you can always push yourself harder and harder. Forever an Astronaut is this idea of going after your dreams, but never coming back down.”
In 2013 he befriended a masked vigilante in Atlanta during his internship and videoed the man for three months, naming the ten minute documentary “The Crimson Fist.” One night he and the vigilante found themselves in the middle of a 2,000 man march on the PNM Center protesting the Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin verdict.
He most recently produced a series called the “Dev Diaries” that will be released January 21, 2017. It’s a documentary that follows the Coster brothers who produced the videogame “Buttersctoch Shenanigans’ Crashlands” as a last memory for Sam after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Summerfield wholeheartedly devotes himself to a story worth telling and this certainly was one.“Before I came to Auburn, I barely made it through a bad car accident. It was my dad and I on the interstate and there was a semi-truck involved. I took away from this story the same thing I took away from that incident. When the urgency presents itself and you realize that life is short, you have to do the things you want to do now because you may not be able to do them later. The Costers are in a similar situation where Sam could die of cancer tomorrow, but what are we going to do now?”
The brothers have earned a place on Time Magazine’s Top 10 Games of 2016 list and Top 50 Apps of 2016 list.
Next on screen is his feature film “Mother of Calamity,” which will be a few years in the making.
He finds inspiration in “consuming other people’s art,” naming “Punch Drunk Love” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” as his favorite films. “My biggest drive was watching all these movies and striving to be somebody who can produce a film that 13 year old Alessio would want to watch.”