Wearing the Hat w/ Filmmaker Carlo DiFiore

by Bella Taylor March 11, 2024 10 min read

“Wearing the Hat” is a series where staff writer Bella Taylor showcases the incredible people in the Isla Vista community and all the “hats” they choose to wear as they bring their passions to life. 

Carlo DiFiore (@bycarlodifiore on Instagram & Tik Tok) is a 3rd-year transfer student from Sacramento, CA. He’s currently majoring in Film and Media Studies at UCSB, as he has an eye for all things special and uses this talent to catch beautiful moments in time through his photography and videography. His expression of his passion is worthy of admiration and is meaningful to many, especially those living in Isla Vista at the exact same time as him. 

Carlo wearing the SB Shoreline Cap.

Carlo recently joined me for a chat where we discussed his expertise with a camera and where it all began for him. Down below are his responses to everyone’s favorite IVO icebreakers:

What’s one item on your bucket list? 

CD: I want to travel to at least 5 continents in my life. If I could hit all 7, then all 7; but for now, 5. 

What do you truly value about yourself? 

CD: I think I truly value my passion to spend my time as condensed as possible. I feel like I try to make the most of my time every day and I try not to waste it as much as possible. I spend my time with my friends and family, I try to make the most of my time with them, and I think I value that about myself the most. 

What is a day or moment in your life that you’d like to relive? CD: I don’t have a specific moment, but one of the summer days in high school over break back home. Me and all my friends going to the river, going on the rope swing, biking all the way down to the water, bringing sandwiches from Roxie Deli, just having a good time there with the sun going down and some music. 

Go-to Freebird’s order? 

CD: Chicken burrito with rice, pinto beans, green salsa, pico, cilantro, onion, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and sometimes I’ll do guac if I’m feeling it. 

DiFiore’s story on how he got his start with film making reminds us just how important it is to honor our childhood hobbies all the way into adulthood: 

“It goes all the way back to 3rd grade because me and some of my friends would shoot iMovie videos on our iPod touches and we had a Youtube channel where we would make skits and post that. That kind of went into middle school when I started doing Casey Neistat style vlogs where I’d try and be Casey Neistat around my neighborhood and film all my friends doing stuff. That continued on into high school; I kept doing photography, videoing and filming stuff around my city so I’ve been doing it for the past decade. It’s never been a lost interest for me.” 

What kind of camera equipment do you use? 

CD: Fuji Film X-t4. I shoot 16-80 mm lens with a CineBloom filter that makes it look like it’s shot on film. I like Fuji Film because of the dial system it has with the ISO on the left and the shutter speed that you can set manually which makes it feel like you’re shooting on a film camera even though you’re shooting on digital. It’s a lot cheaper but it looks like film when you’re editing it. I shoot on this and then my drone just got lost in the ocean a couple of weeks ago when I was shooting some clips on Del Playa, so I don’t have my drone anymore. I got the same camera two years ago but I broke that one, too. I’ve broken a lot of gear in my life, which means that I’m using it. I got this one last summer used off of Facebook marketplace but I’ve used this same model for about 2 years now. 

What are some of your favorite things to photograph or take videos of?

CD: I like shooting my friends doing cool stuff. When I get a text from a buddy saying something like, “I’m gonna go ride a surfboard behind my friend’s truck in the rain through a puddle,” like, that’s some of my favorite stuff to get. I love going out and making my friends look like they’re doing cool stuff. Honestly, nature, too. Since I’ve moved to Isla Vista, there’s been so much cool stuff to film. There’s always something cool happening that I can just flip my camera out and get a cool shot of so it’s pretty great. 

Through conducting all of my interviews and living in Isla Vista myself, the biggest takeaway that I can emphasize is just how magical, special, and unique IV is. It sincerely is unlike anything else and I think that is something many residents can agree on. Carlo’s ability to portray IV in his photos and videos is what makes them so memorable and heartwarming, especially in his “Intro to SB” video series on Instagram and TikTok that have blown up with over 125,000 views. Fortunately, Carlo has been reminded by others of this notable skill as well: 

“I’ve gotten a lot of people say that I make it look like how they experience Isla Vista, which makes me really happy that I can capture that. I love putting a video up and seeing that people are enjoying what I’m putting out there. ” 

Do you have a photo or video that you are most proud of capturing or creating? 

CD: There was a time, I think last February or March, I went on a solo trip where I drove from San Luis Obispo up to San Francisco just by myself because I felt like going on an excursion and I got a lot of photos and videos that are some of my best stuff. It’s just because I was by myself, filming all day. I went to the Golden Gate Bridge and I got some shots of cars driving by and people watching the city skyline and those are some of my favorite shots that I’ve gotten. 

Do you gain any inspiration from other photographers? 

CD: Definitely. The thing about Instagram and Tik Tok nowadays is that there’s so many people you can get inspired by. I see a bunch of people on my For You page that I feel inspired by. Everyone’s just so available to create and it’s so easy to be inspired by different people. But definitely Casey Neistat. I’m also inspired by a lot of movies. I’m inspired by cinematography and I try to make my stuff look as close to movies even though they’re not there yet. I try to make it look like it’s in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie or I try to make it look like it’s coming out of a Tarantino movie. I try, but I’m getting there. 

Is photography long-term for you? Do you see yourself making a career out of it down the line? 

CD: I would love to. For now, I love taking photos and videos and trying to romanticize the life that I’m living. Eventually, I do want to go into making short films and movies. A dream way down the line would be to make a movie for myself and with a bunch of people would be awesome. 

Do you have any other hobbies and if so, do you find a common denominator in the things you enjoy whether that be the feeling they give you, the creativity involved, the people you do them with, etc.? 

CD: I play a lot of guitar and piano. Music is my other hobby, it’s hard for me to balance doing both a lot of the time. For me, they go hand in hand, like, music definitely inspires the videos that I make. I think that when I’m playing guitar, I feel like I’m using the same part of my brain when I’m doing photography, and they both make me happy. If I could start making music that I could put behind my own work, then I want to start doing that. 

DiFiore explains that he was raised in a musical household. He grew up listening to good music with his dad and took piano lessons as a child. He took up guitar in middle school and it’s become a part of his day-to-day life, commenting that he “can’t see [his] life without music.” He’s now in an up and coming music band here in Isla Vista, juggling both of his passions at once. 

Are there any music artists that inspire you? 

CD: I was worried you were going to ask this question just because there’s so many. In a lot of the videos I make, I use The Growlers’ music. I love The Growlers, I like all the Indie music like Mac DeMarco, I love The Strokes, I love 70’s rock. One of my favorite composers is Philip Glass; I like his ethereal stuff so I listen to him. The tree video had something like that. I like varying my music taste. 

Carlo’s “tree video,” titled “The Fallen Tree,” is a personal favorite of mine as he uses voice recordings from the KCRA News Channel about the storms in his hometown that blew down one of his favorite trees at his childhood park. He uses clips of both black & white and color to show memories in the “before” and moments in the “after.” The storytelling aspect is something that DiFiore wants to do more of because he feels as though he is saying something of value and finds a deeper meaning in photography/videography with this. Carlo continues: 

“Most of the time, I use music to inspire the videos that I’m making. The music is what really inspires me and I want to go more into depth with creating stuff that actually mean something with either a narrative or real life stories.” 

DiFiore explains that he has a playlist titled, “Songs to Make Videos About,” with multiple songs that he feels inspired from. Typically, he’ll find a song and then shoots clips that he feels will fit the song he’s shooting to. He mentions that “music is the driving force behind a lot of the videos,” and certainly sets the tone for a lot of his videos. 

How do you view yourself? Do you recognize that you are more than just a person with a camera, and do you see that you have talent and a vision for telling stories through your creations? 

CD: Oh, man. I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that I can tell stories more than just, like, filming them. I think I’m definitely growing as a creator and I’m trying to get to that point where I can call myself more than just that. We’ll see what happens. 

How do you think Isla Vista has shaped you into who you are today and does IV contribute to your photography? 

CD: It definitely does. I think, since I’ve moved here, my photography and all the stuff that I’m doing, has definitely shifted towards a more surfer vibe. When you move to a different city, I think you’re just inspired by your surroundings. I think my stuff definitely has more energy in it because there’s a lot of people surrounding me and I think all the energy and people have definitely made my stuff more action packed. I think for myself, it’s changed me for the better and it’s been a great change. 

How has your experience as a transfer student at UCSB been so far?

CD: I’ve gotten really lucky as a transfer student. I’ve gotten to meet so many great people through the connections that I’ve made meeting others. Isla Vista makes it really easy to find other people because everyone’s just trying to be friends here. Everyone wants to have a conversation with you. You get a lot of stigma around being a transfer student because they say, like, “You’re never going to be able to live the full 4 year experience.” But, I think you kind of have to try to appreciate the time that you’re spending more, because you’re a transfer student. You only have two years here, you don’t have four years, so you’re trying to pack as much stuff into 2 years as possible. I think that I’ve taken advantage of that and I’m always trying to so I think if there’s anyone else that wants to transfer to UCSB, then they should, too. 

As a transfer student myself, I find this to be an accurate and relatable representation of my own transfer experience so far. Carlo and I take in the factor that the “Fear of Missing Out” is very real, and we agree that it can absolutely be overwhelming trying to do everything all the time because we know we have less time than students who got their start here as freshmen instead of juniors. DiFiore shares more on this topic: 

“I try to make the most of it. I think in the past, I’ve done a lot and I’m just trying to chill for a couple days because I’m just always trying to do stuff. I think you totally need rest days. Everyone does.”

What’s your favorite spot in IV? 

CD: I really love taking a bike ride down past Dev’s to right before Sands on the point. There’s a little chair that surprisingly, no one’s stolen yet. I don’t think it’s, like, locked up or anything but you could just sit there and watch the sunset and it looks like it’s out of a movie. There’s some tree logs next to it, and that’s probably one of my favorite spots to watch the sunset. 

What is something you can’t wait to do in the future? 

CD: There’s so much to look forward to. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the movies that are coming out this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing where all of my friends go in their lives. 

DiFiore wraps up his end of our conversation by leaving us with his amazing social media page that showcases all of his work on Instagram and TikTok @bycarlodifiore. Carlo DiFiore has a remarkable gift for envisioning and encapsulating stories through his camera lens. His art is rare and I, as with many others, feel very lucky to witness UCSB through Carlo’s eyes just as it never fails to match my own depiction of the unforgettable adventure that is living in this little bubble of college students and ocean water. Thank you, Carlo.

Bella Taylor
Bella Taylor

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