Michelle Alvarado

Michelle Alvarado is the founder and owner of Wahoo Films.  She is a seriously innovative filmmaker and videographer who is equally adventurous and fun.  She has created the 7 new video segments for Adventure Woman and is one of the premiere artists in her field.  See the Wahoo Films offer on our Supplies Page and check out her impressive work on the Wahoo Films Website. Michelle is an extraordinary and accomplished person both behind and in front of the camera.  Meet Michelle:

1. What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure is not always comfortable but it is always memorable.  Adventure Woman founder, Beth Waltz once said, “it is important to take an adventure every day.”  For me, that is traveling along a new path that I’ve never been down and I do this almost every day with my daughter and with my business, Wahoo Films.

2. Did you grow-up in an adventurous family?

As a kid, I would hang out in my father’s pottery studio or with my mother in the art gallery.  My parents encourage my inner entrepreneur early by selling my pottery from age six to sixteen.  We often hit the road to various craft shows around the US.  On our way, I saw everything from pueblos to humpback whales.  The most memorable family adventure was the first experience I had with scuba diving on the Hawaiian Islands.  It felt like I was floating in outer space. My life continues to be influenced by that adventure.

3. Who was your favorite female adventure role model as a child?

Marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle is still my greatest hero. Dr. Earle was chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990-1992. She’s written numerous books worth reading and she is currently a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.  When I worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I had the chance to interview her on video about our oceans.  This interaction only heightened my level of respect for her vision, focus and drive.   A few years later, I saw her on TV at age 68 wearing full scuba gear and jumping off a platform as waves crashed upon her.   Dr. Sylvia Earle continues to make waves today by impacting the way we care for our oceans.

4. What is the best adventure you’ve ever done?

Outside of birthing my daughter?
When I moved to Central Oregon from Monterey, California, I discovered a new adventure in river diving.   In 2005, I received a call from Tom Bie, a well know fly fishing filmmaker who produced “Drift” and founded a magazine called “The Drake”.  Tom heard I was attempting to capture the elusive wild steelhead swimming in its natural habitat, as oppose to being attached to a fishing hook or swimming through a fish gate.  At the time, I had little success. I knew capturing the elusive steelhead underwater would be a tremendous challenge but deep inside, I felt this was a journey I needed to take.  It was going to require strategy, persistence, and lots of failure. 

Unlike the ocean sway, the river pushes with immense strength down hill. Further, steelhead travel miles up the river to spawn, moving quickly from one area of the river to the next.   Finding them at a location I could dive would require good timing.   After numerous attempts, I finally found the solution.  After three hours underwater, I managed to film next to six wild steelhead graciously swimming against the rivers current.   It was one of the most memorable events and extremely useful footage that can be seen today in numerous fly-fishing films around the nation.  As they say, perseverance paid off.

5. What attracts you to creating film and video?

Telling a compelling story is one of the most powerful forms of connecting with the largest group of people in the shortest amount of time.

6. Is it “adventurous” running your own business? Why?

Wahoo Films is an internationally recognized production company that produces powerfully compelling “docu-mericals” - highly targeted films that connect companies directly with their customers in an extremely personal way.  As a result, Wahoo is redefining the way today’s businesses think about web marketing, advertising and promotions.  

When online video was in it infancy, we jumped on board to learned and define the way it works today.  This was a risk at the time, when television advertisement was at an all time high.  However, with the popularity of online video and optimization, our knowledge is a great asset to our clients.

7. What is the benefit of adding video clips and film segments to a business profile?

I strongly believe that any organization that is not using online video as a way to create customer loyalty, generate new clients, and expand their market is missing a huge opportunity to reach their consumers where they live everyday – on the web – in one of the most affordable, scalable and effective ways.

8. Is video becoming more prevalent with the boom of social media?

YouTube is the second most searched website in the world next to Google.  Online video has become a key tool in communicating with customers and communities.  A video can serve as a sales person if produced correctly.   Further, YouTube and other video host often provide a place for people to comment on the video and start a conversation about the film’s topic.

9. Is there anything you’re afraid to do?

You might think this is silly after diving with sharks, hiking through grizzly country, and riding on experimental planes, but my biggest fear is driving on a busy multi-lane freeway.  When I went to school at the University of Southern California and worked at National Geographic Feature Films, I made it a point to schedule my classes and work around non-traffic hours. 

10. When do you surprise yourself?

When I realize I get to work with other amazing people and together we are making a difference in the world.

11. Does adventure come from a sense of curiosity or from a source of strength?

Adventure comes from a sense of curiosity, always wondering what is the story here and how can I capture it.

12. Where would you like to travel and why?

With a two-year old daughter and a business, my circle of travel has mostly been within the United States.  With that, I wish I could head to the Gulf Coast to help as well as document the story of the oil spill in a way that would reach and educate our youth. 

13. What is the best piece of advice you received from your mother?

“Don’t worry, be happy”

14. What item do you always pack in your suitcase?

I tend to pack as light as possible in the personal area so that I always have room for camera equipment. To do this, I always try to pack the gear in coolers, or ice chests on wheels with a locking seal, avoiding the typical expensive looking camera case.   A photographer I know learned this the hard way.

15. Where would you someday like to take your daughter on a classic American road trip?

When my daughter gets a bit older, I plan to go on a tandem bike ride from the Rockies to the Rio Grande

16. What is your motto? 

To better understand our world is to better understand ourselves