Filmmaker Spotlight - Nathan Allen
NAME: Nathan Allen
ROLE: Production Designer, Sound Operator and Researcher.
Hello there, I’m Nathan; a recent film graduate with four years of filmmaking experience, specialising in short narrative films and documentaries. Most of my filmmaking experience is centred around production design and sound, ranging across a number of projects. I also have some experience in directing and producing short narrative films, but foremost I have always been drawn to the production design side of filmmaking, due to the way such roles allow me to use my creative, visual eye.
How did you get into Filmmaking?
My filmmaking journey might be a bit different from most other's, as I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do until I was about 18 years old. I always had an interest in film, whether that be watching Blade with my Grandad (when I shouldn’t have been...) or going to the cinema with my friends to see the next Marvel film, film was always in my life. But before I decided what I wanted to do with my life, my aspirations ranged from managing a football team to designing video games - although filmmaking was always in the conversation when it came to my future. It was when I was 16, and my school announced that they were opening a Sixth Form, that this conversation first seriously happened. It was with my English teacher, who asked me what I’d like to do in the future, and I said, with confidence, that I would like to either be involved in film or football. My teacher's advice in that moment was for me to take English at Sixth Form, which I knew had ties to filmmaking through to the role of scriptwriting. After my first year of Sixth Form, and not being happy with a few of my AS-Level grades, I started to focus more on becoming a filmmaker.
There were very few opportunities at my Sixth Form for media production, but a couple of years later (having enrolled at another college) I was really getting into filmmaking and my creative eye was growing. I took up the opportunity to complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), in which I was able to talk about whatever I wanted and to present it in any format. Through this, I created my first film: an archive documentary about Kurt Cobain, which was a production process I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from. After finding real enjoyment in creating my short film, I decided to look more into film-based undergraduate degrees, and that’s when I found the University of Salford - where I got onto the Film Production course.
Once I got to Salford University, I gradually found out how much actually goes into the overall process of making a film. It was here that I learnt the key methods of filmmaking and the usage of specialist equipment. There were some points throughout the whole course where I felt very out of place, because I didn’t do Media at college and I didn’t know as much as the other students in my lectures. But at some point in my second year, I started to feel like I was on more of a level playing field with my peers; I don’t know if it was due to all of the skills I had learnt, but I certainly felt a lot better about my situation. At a similar point throughout second year, I became confident that I wanted to focus my expertise in the production design element of filmmaking. I was given an assignment where I could draw up my own designs for a scene, and through that work I became certain that I wanted to be a production designer. As well as finding out what I wanted to specialise in, it was during my second year that City Projections was created with Noah, Tom, Emily, Rowan, and Freddie. Since then we’ve created multiple projects and made numerous memories - and I’m sure that it’s the start of something amazing.
Main filmmaking inspiration?
When it comes to filmmaking inspiration, I don’t really have a go-to filmmaker that I take inspiration from. It is more just a collection of things I’ve seen from film and TV shows. I tend to take my inspiration from things like stories I’ve heard, whether it be from people I know or just videos on YouTube. This is probably where I come up with some of my weirder ideas, just from hearing a random story and seeing how that can be turned into something I’d enjoy watching and creating.
What films have you worked on?
LOU: Lou (2020), follows the lives of Lou and Lee as they struggle to cope with the first signs of Dementia. Told through the first and final years of their married lives, the film asks the question; 'How important are memories?'
The film achieved a large amount of success in the film festival circuit, winning Lift-Off Film Festivals Best Film and being selected for a number of others.
Lou (2019) is the most recent completed film I have had involvement in, due to more recent projects being put on hold at the hands of the COVID pandemic. On Lou, I was one of the production designers, as well as the on-set sound recordist. It is probably the most fun and fulfilling filmmaking experience I have had so far. A bit factor to the success of the film, and the experience of making it, was the fact that it was City Projections' first collaboration project, and we had a connection to the story being told - so we were determined to do that story as much justice as possible.
Looking back at 'Lou' now, I can see some flaws in my approach to the production design, but they are flaws that I can build on and use to develop myself into a better production designer for future projects. Lou is the project I’m the proudest of at the moment, due to how well it came together at the end, and it was the beginning of City Projections. It’s just a glimpse of what we can create and I know we’ve all developed from then, so I can’t wait for our next project and to see what we are capable of next.
Other Recent Projects:
Sign Here (2020)
Produced in just 1 day, Sign Here was made for the MCR 48 Hour Filmmaking Challenge. Light-hearted, the film tells the story of an old man who is unknowingly having his every belonging stolen from right under his nose.
3 Goals for the future?
Create a documentary about the lesser seen things in stuff I’m interested in. Recently, I have been watching 'The Dark Side of the Ring' - which goes into detail about the less glamorous parts of professional wrestling. Watching this has really sprouted a personal interest in creating a documentary that goes into the lesser-seen things in certain sports. Whether it be about what happens to people who don’t make it in football, or events in sports that should have more light shined upon them.
Be involved in the creation of a video game. Another form of creative media that I have always appreciated and found fascinating is video games, and how people can create characters and worlds that offer such diverse escapism. Due to the amount of storytelling and creative content you can put into a video game, I would love to be involved in the process of creating a video game that people would create a connection with and enjoy the story being told.
Be involved in the creation of an animated film. When people usually think of animated films they think of Disney and kids films, however, I would like to make an animated film that goes into different themes that aren’t really seen in Disney or Dreamwork pictures. There are films out there like, Watership Down and When the Wind Blows, that go more into less seen subjects and I would like to create something that subverts expectations of the animation genre in a similar way.
So that’s me. I'm not exactly a fan of writing about myself so I hope you enjoyed it at least! Maybe some of you got a better understanding of who I am, or maybe found out something you didn’t know about me (or maybe everything I wrote was something you didn't know about me, because you didn't know me at all!). I hope everyone is staying safe, and that soon everything will start to resemble something closer to what we can call 'normal'.