App State football videographer builds legacy through brand

Senior+football+videographer+Max+Renfro+holds+his+camera+for+a+portrait+at+Kidd+Brewer+Stadium+March+27%2C+2022.+

Max Correa

Senior football videographer Max Renfro holds his camera for a portrait at Kidd Brewer Stadium March 27, 2022.

Cameron Burnett, Associate Sports Editor

One football videographer has created content since becoming a student at App State. On the big screen in Kidd Brewer Stadium, the hype videos before games have become synonymous with that Mountaineer. 

Max Renfro, a senior marketing major, came to App State with an interest in working with the football video team and turned it into his passion. The evolution of his work has coincided with the team itself.

While App State football’s success on the field has garnered attention over the last few years, the work behind the scenes has received national recognition as well. When the team earned headlines for scoring touchdowns, Mountaineer football’s content team earned headlines for unique uniform reveals and documenting scenic views advertising Boone.

Renfro spearheaded the content team for App State football, but there was a time when the school wasn’t his first choice.

When he was a senior in high school, Renfro made the last second decision to attend App State. Renfro spent time in high school as a photographer and found a passion for documenting his scenery, then heard about the video team for Mountaineer football. During his freshman year in 2018, Renfro joined the video team. His impact was felt quickly as he took over as student director of video production in the spring.

“It’s been the greatest decision ever to come here and start creating videos. I feel like every day, I appreciate it more and more,” Renfro said. “My high school didn’t even have a football team, so I had no clue I would be filming football a few years later.”

As the leader of the team, Renfro won four College Sports Video Association SAVVY awards from 2018-20, but his viral breakthrough came right before the 2020 season.

A uniform reveal video led by Renfro featuring Thomas Hennigan rising from the water of Laurel Creek Falls garnered national attention from multiple outlets. ESPN and Barstool Sports posted the video, now exceeding 10 million views on TikTok alone.

The development of App State’s social media following was a microcosm of Renfro’s ascension as a content creator. The Hennigan uniform reveal caught the most attention on the App State football TikTok account.

“The algorithm that TikTok has, anyone can go viral, so it’s just a reminder to always post your work. You never know who’s on the other end watching, so it’s an easy way to grow,” Renfro said.

The account now has 228,000 followers, the fourth most of any college football program. Throughout the last four seasons, Renfro has thought of ideas for every week of the season, garnering excitement from fans each week as they await the video’s release on social media.

From a “Stranger Things” inspired Halloween uniform reveal to players running in the snow to returning the helmet stripe with College Football Hall of Fame coach Jerry Moore as the star of a video, Renfro’s creativity built a following comparable to any Power-5 program.

In this process, Renfro developed a program of student content creators with the team, including sophomore Will Allen and senior Andrei Paras. As the experienced creator, Renfro recruited Allen to shoot App State video and met with him during his visit at the school.

“Without Max, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now. If that meeting had never happened, who knew if I would be shooting App State football,” Allen said.

Coming into this academic year, Renfro initially decided to step down from his role as the content lead for App State football. As a senior, he faced the pressure of a final year of college classes on top of the freelance work he does beyond shooting athletics. This culminated in Allen taking over the role, but before the football season started, Renfro couldn’t stay away too long before returning.

Renfro reached out to Allen before the season to express his interest in returning to the team. Allen was ecstatic to have one of his mentors back creating content for one more year. 

“Max did not have to do that. It was out of the kindness of his heart to come back and help me when he’s in the most stressful year of his life. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of guy he is, I don’t know what will,” Allen said.

While he was shooting App State this season, a national opportunity was prepared behind the scenes. Every year, the NFL puts on the NFL Honors ceremony a few days before the Super Bowl. At this event, the league crowns the greatest stars in football for the year. The NFL offered Renfro the opportunity as a NFL Honors videographer. He accepted it and began preparing for the trip to California. 

Months before the trip, those who worked with Renfro helped him brainstorm. Paras, Allen and others practiced different shots and video edits Renfro would use on the NFL’s best players.

“The creative process for that was insane … It was really cool to see him bring his talents to a bigger platform because he deserves it,” Paras said.

Renfro created videos posted directly to the NFL’s social media. The stars of these videos included MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp, Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons and more. The content was posted on the NFL flagship accounts and viewed all over the world on every social media platform with Renfro’s name right under it.

The original video blueprint was a movie poster style with animated video featuring highlights from the season and the star players getting a Hollywood treatment. Renfro broke down his experience at NFL Honors and sleepless nights in California in a vlog.

“It doesn’t feel real, but it was an insane experience,” Renfro said. “I wasn’t too starstruck or anything, but it felt like filming an App State video.”

Once starting as a freshman videographer for an up-and-coming college football program, Renfro has revamped the content for App State and shot videos with the biggest stars in American sports. 

The creative drive manifesting in the viral videos inspired students like Allen to attend App State and join the athletics content team, and Renfro has become a mentor for them.

“Seeing how he does things was really interesting and really a special experience to be able to work with him,” Paras said. “Outside of the creative world, he’s just an amazing friend, and he’s always there for you.”

Looking back on his experience in Boone, Renfro said he will always remember the place where he first made his mark as a videographer and photographer. Amassing over 17,000 Instagram followers and over 100,000 TikTok followers, Renfro’s brand is beyond just App State content. After graduation, he plans to dive into the freelance world, whether it be commercial work, covering huge NFL events or continuing to do work as a Mountaineer in Boone.

“As of now, I’m just going to start freelancing, so if App is one of my clients, I’d for sure love to work with them and then anyone else who needs a video,” Renfro said. “I’ve been an App State fan my whole life, so just being able to create for the football team growing up as a fan was a dream come true.”