We had the opportunity to talk about filmmaking with Conor Allyn, his journey into the industry, and how he made his new feature film, No Man's Land, starring Jake Allyn, George Lopez, Andie MacDowell, Alex MacNicoll, and plenty more.
Truthfully, I was doing it long before I ever realized I wanted to do this as a job. I was raised in Dallas. It’s not a place where you think of story-telling as a profession. I made home movies with our neighbors… just for fun.
You worked with your brother Jake on your previous feature film, ExPatriot, starring Valene Kane. How is your relationship on set? Is it more like a partnership or are you willing to communicate naturally to each other?
The partnership is great. We know each other intimately obviously and that’s gives us a wonderful shorthand. It also means there’s an incredible amount of trust, which is ideal for an actor-director relationship. It allows us to try things and share criticism in an honest way that elevates our material.
I grew up in Texas. My father worked quite a bit in Mexico when I was in my formative years and he took me with him on work trips. It allowed me to see a side of Mexico that I could sense my friends and their parents we’re seeing.
We hired 100% of the crew in Mexico. Same for the cast except for the five US characters. Mexico has a terrific domestic film industry so it was easy to find exceptionally talented crew and key positions. On set, I felt the most important thing was for the cast and crew to understand how important our film and it’s message was… and they could see what we were trying to do. It kept all of us, including me, focused on making this a great film to do justice to the true stories and struggles behind it.
I’m a huge fan of the films and their filmmakers whose work leaves a lasting impact on their audience. I remember how films like Braveheart, Requiem for a Dream, Memento stayed with me for weeks after I watched. They make you think and rethink about everything that happened and why. I love that. I also love directors whose work is not clearly defined by any one kind of genre. It’s incredible to me that a director like Spielberg can do Jaws or Indiana Jones or Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List. Such completely different films and the artistry employed on each is very different.
I’d like to see the independent film business be less built around fame-casting or international-sales dependent casting. Basically, to get financing for an indie film right now, you must cast a handful of actors… all men, all older, all action stars. It really limits what gets made.
You’re going to meet a lot of adversity. It’s a saturated industry with 100 times more people who want to be a director or be an actor than there are paying spots for them. A lot of people are going to tell you that you can’t do the job because you haven’t done it yet. Find a way to put that behind you and press on. Win over people one at a time. Build your network among your peers.
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