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Climbing the ladder: From small-town to big-city videographer

App State alum Max Renfro on the Blue Ridge Parkway during peak week. Renfro graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Digital Marketing in 2022, worked with App State athletics in covering sporting events and creating content, and has received four SAVVY Awards from the Collegiate Sports Video Association. (Courtesy of Max Renfro)

 Many students at App State were awestruck when, in Fall 2020, a video posted by their classmate of an App State football player emerging from a body of water began receiving lots of attention. This video would end up gaining 11 million views on TikTok and getting reposted by popular sports affiliations such as ESPN. 

Since graduating from App State in 2022, Max Renfro has done videography projects for the NFL, the Carolina Panthers and a “diverse range of freelance clients,” according to his website

Renfro grew up around photography. His mother and grandfather were photographers, so he was always around cameras. In elementary school, he started to mess around with his mother’s camera and get into photography, Renfro said.

In middle school, he decided he wanted to do something different, so he switched to videography. He started filming videos on a small GoPro camera. Renfro said this hobby followed him into high school.

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Max Renfro posing at the NFL draft set in 2023. Renfro was personally contacted to join the NFL’s media team for the draft and got the opportunity to work with draftees and active players alike. (Courtesy of Max Renfro)

Renfro has many family members who attended App State, including his mother, father and all three siblings. He grew up coming up to Boone to watch football games with his brothers.

“Even not being in Boone, if you see someone from App, you’re instantly friends with them,” Renfro said. “You can talk to them about, ‘You remember walking up the hill in the wind or the snow?’ That small-town feel is probably my favorite part.”

He said Boone reminded him of his hometown of Highlands, another mountain town located in the western part of the state. 

One day, Renfro’s father sent him the App State’s football page. The same night, Renfro watched most of their videos and thought he’d like to do that as well, so he messaged the page and began shooting videos for the App State football team in Fall of 2018, Renfro said.

Renfro utilized social media in his videography career before his time at App State. He posted his work on Instagram in high school. It got more serious during the spring of 2020. Renfro said he started posting frequently since everyone was locked up in their houses due to COVID-19. His first video that went viral got about 100,000 views.

“The feeling when one goes viral kind of sucks you in so you’re always chasing that feeling,” Renfro said.

The next semester, he posted the famous 11 million views video of former wide receiver Thomas Hennigan at Laurel Creek Falls, also known as Trashcan Falls.. His social media pages increased in popularity dramatically. Following that, he’s posted lots of athletic content as well as nature scenes around Boone.

Renfro appreciated the support he received but wasn’t used to the public recognition that came with the virality. The connections he made during this time, from people who had seen his social media work, helped with his freelancing career, Renfro said. 

Since graduating, Renfro has expanded his videography career. His work with the football team gave him lots of experience and allowed him to enter the workforce right away, Renfro said. 

Renfro said he was sitting on his couch when he got a direct message on Instagram from the NFL, asking to work with him. Renfro thought the account was somebody trying to imitate the official league. 

Max Renfro creating media content with Aaron Rodgers after winning MVP at the NFL Honors in 2021. (courtesy of Max Renfro)

“I think they were pretty shocked,” Renfro said about his family’s reaction to getting a message from the NFL. “I was probably the most shocked.”

Currently, Renfro does freelance work, with the Carolina Panthers being one of his clients. He enjoys being able to travel and see other parts of the world. Since graduating, he has traveled to places like Las Vegas, Canada, Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri. 

One of the biggest challenges he has faced so far in his career post-graduation was the pressure of not having an official job title, which began to weigh on him. His advice to people who may be feeling similarly to how he was is to take their time and to remember it’s OK to move around, you don’t have to stay committed to one thing, Renfro said. 

“It’s like, ‘Oh you freelance,’ people are like, ‘Oh you don’t have a job, that’s kind of what that means,’” Renfro said. “But, it’s not what it means at all.”

Renfro’s favorite project he has done was when he came back to App State last year to film the introduction video for the football team. He said it was nice to be back in Boone and reminisce about when he would film there as a student. 

When he isn’t filming, Renfro also enjoys baking and cooking. He said he has been getting into baking cheesecakes recently. He also enjoys fitness, doing activities such as playing basketball and tennis and working out. 

To the current students at App State, Renfro said to make sure to enjoy their time as students, to take their time finding the right spot for them and not to feel like they are stuck in a place or role.

“Don’t rush it, don’t feel like you need to get into the workforce right away,” Renfro said. “The people and that time was the best time of my life.”


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About the Contributor
Macy Grymes
Macy Grymes, News Reporter
Macy Grymes (she/her/hers) is a sophomore journalism major with a minor in marketing. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian
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