Francis Lazaro

Music videos and nightlife videos

Francis Lazaro seems genuinely surprised when people give props to his video work. A humble grin typically crosses his moon-shaped face as fans gush about the Filipino filmmaker's exhilarating and kinetically charged music videos documenting the Valley's dance music scene.

It's something the 22-year-old is rapidly becoming accustomed to, considering the following he's amassing among local DJs, music bloggers, and nightclub promoters over the past year. And with good reason, as Lazaro's unique videos — produced under his moniker of PheosiA Films — pulsate with electricity, rapid-fire imagery, and electrified staccato beats.

Lazaro is condensing all the energy of off-the-hook nightclub gigs into two- and three-minute epics that are, quite frankly, unlike anything that Valley nightlife has ever seen before. More importantly, Lazaro's efforts add an air of legitimacy to a dance music scene that's long played second fiddle to those in cities such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

None of it's gone to his head, however. "I never want to be cocky or sound like a douchebag, because that's so not me," he says. "Right now, I'm just having fun going out, filming shows, and banging out videos."

Not bad for a self-taught auteur who's been shooting nightlife events for just over a year. And what a year it's been. Lazaro's gone from being just another face at club gigs to having his smart phone ring constantly with inquires from local DJs and promoters.

It's a far cry from the career he envisioned for himself as a physical therapist during his teenage days as a New Jersey mallrat. The digital camera he bought during his freshman year, however, changed such plans. Bored with point-and-shoot pics of "flowers and family," Lazaro began making mini-movies of his friends' shenanigans and decided that directing was his calling.

Neither his high school in Jersey nor Glendale Community College (which he began attending in 2006 after moving to the Valley) offered the kind of filmmaking program he craved, so he bought a MacBook and became an expert at Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. He put said skills to use last spring when he turned bootleg footage of dubstep superstar Bassnectar performing a local gig ("I wanted to get in for free and used my camera to talk my way past security," he jokes) into a music video on a lark.

Lazaro's still not paying to see DJ performances these days, as promoters eagerly invite him to shows. It's not hard to miss him at gigs, as he's usually standing still with his camera amidst the maelstrom of activity provided by go-go girls, spastic scenesters, and energetic electronica artists. Dressed in his standard uniform of Dickies work shorts, threadbare hoodie, and royal blue baseball cap perched atop a mane of jet-black hair, Lazaro soaks up the activity with his camera.

"I learn something new every time I film. Like when to pay attention to the DJ and feeling out the good drops on their songs," he says. "Because that's when he feels it, the crowd feels it, and I feel it. I really want to tap into that wild and raw energy in my videos. Nobody wants to see a dead club. None of my editing can fix that."

When not out at clubs (or taking care of his 2-year-old son Aiden), Lazaro focuses most of his time and energy into editing, mixing and matching his footage to music with all the aplomb of a top-shelf turntablist. (He's even been picking up some tricks and techniques from some DJ buddies in order to improve his editing skills even further.)

"That's why I'm out working, trying to make this scene as good-looking as possible and get people to come out to gigs and see all these amazing DJs we have in Phoenix."

For Lazaro, music is everything. He's particular about which tracks he uses in the videos.

"With the right song and the right beats, everything just comes together," he says. "I've been cutting it down to two minutes max, because I've noticed my longer videos don't get as many views. People like effects and quick, flashy edits."

Sometimes, he says, less is more.

"Even I start freaking out sometimes because it's too quick," Lazaro says, laughing.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.