I have an extensive film knowledge, Allen Blank said with a smirk, sitting crossed-legged in a pair of blue jeans and white T-shirt at his College Point home recently.
Last month Blank, along with fellow filmmaker and director Peter Rowan, won the Bare Bones 2002 International Film Festival award for best mockumentary with their comedy-drama entry, The House on the Hill.
The annual week-long festival in Muskogee, Okla., is becoming a prime outlet for emerging directors.
It was a bunch of independent film makers who wanted to see their work reach an audience, said Blank. He is no stranger to entertaining others, having done so since his early years at The Windsor School in Flushing, acting in Guys and Dolls. From there he ventured into theater, hooking up with the Queens-based Colonial Players.
Blank was so engrossed in theater that he had early ambitions of becoming a Film Historian. I did film studies at Queens College and was very much into the aspect of the performing arts, he said. His passion for film often put him into sharp focus of his professors, whom he at times challenged about accuracy of information in his beloved field. They knew there was no room for errors, even though some of them liked the challenge, he said. They also learned.
While with the Colonial Players in Bayside, Blank formed an alliance with Rowan, and made the yet-to-be released 1997 indie-flick Rockaway Summer. Their collaboration on the project took approximately two years for completion.
He directed and wrote the movie, and I did the editing, Blank said. The two joined forces again two years later at a theatrical summer camp in Colorado where they decided to make a comedy.
The project, a throwback to the 1970s, was influenced by Blanks childhood and growing up as a teenager in College Point. The House on the Hill, is reminiscent of the days of drive-ins and horror flicks. Filmed on a shoe-string budget and cast with amateurs, Blank was glad he could get placed at Bare Bones. More established film festivals scoffed at Blank and Rowans requests to host their film.
We ended up in Connecticut, where most of the shooting for the movie was done, Blank said, citing the simplicity of obtaining Connecticut permits as opposed to ones in New York. Also, the City of Stanford had the amenities, tailor-made for the film. Drive-in owners allowed the free use of their facilities.
Completed last February, the film is a funny take on the story of making a movie. Its a movie about making a movie, Blank said.
House on the Hill is built around a successful New England filmmaker, Delon McCormick, relaying his experience from his entry into the world of film with a soft-porn flick, Sex Dreams. Kit, his new friend and the films antagonist, has to deal with issues related to being unstable, drifting and wandering in an attempt to escape unresolved family conflicts. Kit became instrumental in McCormicks early Sex Dreams success, and it was his editing genius that aided in getting McCormick another contract from the producersthis time to make a violent and terrifying horror movieThe House on the Hill.
Creative differences and constant bickering drive the duo apart, but after the films release it becomes a box office hit because of its violent content and negative publicity.
Blanks film takes off from there, with plot twists coming slowly throughout, sometimes involving drawn-out dialogue and sometimes-cheesy attempts at humor in the script he co-wrote with Rowan.
Spurred on by his award, Blank recently penned two screenplaysone for independent production and the other aimed more toward a major studio.
He credits Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, and Steven Spielberg and some of his biggest influences, and calls upon their strength to find his own. The award helps, too.
It motivates me, it keeps me pushing on, he said.
©2002 Community News Group
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