Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist – Gregory G. Allen

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

Gregory G. Allen. Born in Texas, moved to NYC in the late 80s and now live in New Jersey. I love to read, go to Broadway shows, watch indie films, binge TV series, and travel (all of those inspire my writing).

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

I first wrote Hiding in Daylight as a play back in 2017/2018 after I saw 1984 as a Broadway play. I knew I needed to tell the story of what I saw happening around me at the time as certain people were coming into office and pushing gays back into the closet. It had some readings in a few different states (including Key West here in Florida) and then was made into a short film which played the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at Cannes in 2019…along with several other festivals and won many awards. I always knew there was a longer version of a story to be told and wrote it out as a feature. I put it on the back-burner, but with all that is happening to attack the LGBTQ community now (transgender, drag queens, etc), a dystopian story of gays and lesbians who pretend to be straight married couples in order to survive doesn’t seem that far fetched in 2023.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

Since I had both a play version and a short film version of the story, I knew I needed to open it up more; show what life was like before the horror & fear that they are living in during the script present. So I wanted to use flashbacks throughout as a juxtaposition of life in hiding and life that was lived freely before an authoritarian government decided to round up all the LGBTQ community and put them into camps. I would sit at my computer and just let it pour out of me. I have lived with these characters now for years and feel they are real people that sadly I see representing real people who are moving out of states that are taking away their rights.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

I was a playwright and a novelist when a director showed interest in one of my novels. I decided to take a filmmaking course so that I could talk shop about that project. Instead, I came out of that course wanting to make my own films. I started by adapting one of my books into a short film and then went on to write two additional short films after that. I’ve learned a great deal about letting go of ego, making changes quickly on set, and sometimes losing entire pages that don’t seem to work and creating a bridge between other pages so that a film can be completed on time.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

I honestly want to stay true to the story I’m trying to tell (which sometimes means going against the norm), so I enjoy indie filmmakers who don’t always play in the set of rules assigned by big studios. I‘ve always loved how Ed Burns ran his career his whole life: making the kind of films he wanted to make. Todd Haynes, Greta Gerwig, Mike Flanagan and Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox are more indie names (who have moved beyond indie) that I admire and follow.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

I’ve had many obsessions. Some are guilty pleasure and some are just because they are so good. As mentioned above, I love what Mike Flanagan did with The Haunting of Hill House. I also think Breaking Bad was some of the best television ever…and I didn’t even watch it all until the pandemic so I missed out talking about with everyone else as it was happening.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

Oh wow. What a question! I can’t pinpoint WHEN it happened…but it’s whenever more and more people started to pay attention to indie films and not just those that came out of Hollywood. So it’s probably when some producers started to take notice of this whole other world and bring them to an audience.

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

That’s like asking someone to name their favorite child…I honestly don’t think I can answer as it would change each day depending on my mood. I have too many that I adore.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’m obsessed with the early part of the 1900s…and I can’t even say why. Perhaps because everything is moving so quickly now that in hindsight, all of that feels like an easier time. I’ve written some books in that period and If I could…I would travel back to NYC around 1918. End of that year after the Spanish flu hit…as WWI was ending… Louis B. Mayer had formed his film company…there was no sound in film at that time. It seems like an amazing time to be creative and inventing things so I would want to talk to Thomas Edison who had his hands in so many things that we take for granted now. He even had his own film studio which made hundreds of films such as The Great Train Robbery. I think it would be fascinating to get inside his brain.