My name is Allen Smithee, Jr., and this is my first attempt at blogging. Therefore, please bear with me until I catch my stride!
One of the main reasons for beginning this blog is to share my love of filmmaking with other filmmakers and those who love film and all the work that goes into creating it. My earliest memory I have with movies is right around the age of four. I was fascinated with movies, and the way they told stories. I even applied the technique to playing with my toys. I tried to apply what I was absorbing through the work of directors, writers, producers, even composers into my intricate (as intricate as a 4-year old can get) story lines where my Ninja Turtles would come face-to-face with their arch nemesis, Megatron!
My stories always began with a simple set. Once I had my little set built, then I would begin to build my story. I needed a reason for these characters to be where they are and how they would interact with each other. I would then need a reason for them to run off and face their enemy (a McGuffin was always the go-to choice for furthering the plot). The bad guys were always one-dimensional; their motivation was simply hatred for the protagonists.
Dialogue was always ad-libbed. I can’t recall what any of the lines I used were, but that wasn’t really the point, was it? What I began doing was using my left eye as a camera. I would get up close to my action figures and I would begin to unconsciously compose my shots: close-up here, wide shot there, pull focus here, dolly out there, etc. I would do take after take until I got the shot/angle that I wanted.
Yep. I was a weird kid. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time; I thought that creating your own soundtrack was a normal thing until I was nine, at my friend’s house while prepping the G.I. Joes for battle against Cobra Commander. He kept looking at me with a funny look until he could no longer contain himself, and asked me what the hell I was doing.
I may not have had a camera then, but I knew that I wanted to make movies. So, what did I do? Once I learned how to write sentences I worked on putting what was in my head down on paper. My teachers worked with me teaching me the rules and how to write in detail. I delved into composing once I got into middle school. I still enjoy composing and even wrote the soundtrack to my film Iridescent.
Now, what really sealed my love for filmmaking was one day with my dad while were standing in line at Albertsons. There were cheap VHS movies on sale, and my dad pointed out that one of the films was directed by Alan Smithee. For those of you who don’t know, Alan Smithee was a name used by directors who hate their film. So, my dad and I share a name with a pseudonym used to keep directors out of hot water when their film bombed. I knew filmmaking was what I wanted to do.
So many things happened that kept me from going to film school that I’ll tell you more about in another post, but now I am doing what I love, running my own production title AJS Films LTD. Please check out my wife’s and my YouTube channel, English Playtime.