Alumni Profile: Sylvia Allen, B.S. ’00
When asked which filmmakers have inspired her, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Sylvia Allen, B.S. ’00, has difficulty naming any. “There are so few African-American female filmmakers,” she says. “There’s really no one to look up to.
“Do I have to be my own inspiration?” she asks with a laugh.
Ironically, it was her own experience that prompted her to write and produce I Want a Man, an Indie Fest award-winning short film recently selected for the 2012 International Black Film Festival of Lille Metropole (France).
Following her graduation from UB’s Corporate Communication program—where she discovered her passion for video production—Allen turned a film trailer she produced as an undergraduate into a feature-film screenplay she describes as being about “love, revenge, betrayal and murder.” While she says the original script is more of a “suspense thriller,” her subsequent short-film adaptation focused more on domestic violence, a topic that was all too familiar to Allen in her teenage years. “In hindsight, it is still an unknown why I stayed [in an abusive relationship],” she says. “But I was in love.”
“I’m from Baltimore. I’m tenacious.”
Later, in 2002, it was her love of motion pictures that spurred her to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. While earning her certification in producing from the New York Film Academy and working 40 hours a week as a clerk typist at Los Angeles International Airport, Allen decided to take her short-film script from page to screen.
As the executive producer of an independent film project, she was responsible for everything from financing, location scouting and hiring cast and crew to post-production editing, music selection, sound design and marketing.
Allen hopes that her short film initiates more dialogue on domestic violence and conveys the idea that “both sides of the relationship are responsible and need to be understood.”
“Nobody talked about [the abuse],” she says of her own experience. But, she adds, “I do not consider myself a victim. I moved on. I’m still here.”
Allen, who also owns and runs Sylvideo Productions, LLC—the Future, has submitted I Want a Man to various major film festivals for consideration and is now working on securing funding to create a full-length feature film. When asked about her prospects, Allen is optimistic. “I’m from Baltimore,” she says. “I’m tenacious.”