In Our Opinion

INDEPENDENT CINEMA: Antoine Allen’s SPLIT DECISION and the Use of Social Media

By • Sep 10th, 2012 •

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Boxing is tough. Climbing the rungs of obscurity to contender in the world of filmmaking may arguably be its equal in terms of endurance, talent, and the agony of throwing in the towel. However, a good promoter is essential to finding an audience and building upon it to catapult oneself to success. First time filmmaker Antoine Allen proves that social media is capable of a film knockout.

Boxing in film is a great vehicle to demonstrate the themes of struggle. In 1970, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE portrayed African-American boxer Jack Jefferson’s battle with bigotry over his relationship with his Caucasian wife, Eleanor Backman. Times have changed and cinema reflects it. As interracial couples no longer bat a second look, the current topic that grabs headlines is the pro and anti gay/lesbian platform.

In all fight films, internal strife is a significant opponent. Allen’s story centers on a young Hispanic boxer, Lola Rosario, who faces persecution and alienation from her father, founded upon his refusal to accept her boxing aspirations and lesbianism. Allen wrote SPLIT DECISION to tackle social issues and build a social media fan support base, in part, from these issues. “I have the support of the Hispanic community and the support of the gay and lesbian community,” says Allen.

Antoine Allen cites Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Antoine Fuqua, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Michael Moore as influences. With a background in music marketing and an absence of a film school past, Allen tackled the business aspects of the art form that are usually forsaken by filmmakers. Savvy social media resulted in the trailer for SPLIT DECISION garnering over 21,000+ views on YOUTUBE.

THE SETUP AND STRUGGLE

Having written the script while at his 9-5, Antoine Allen wanted something that he could market and “…wanted to do an underdog story because we are all underdogs.” How does someone with no prior film experience go about assembling a cast and crew? NYCASTINGS.COM provided the cast and CRAIGSLIST.ORG offered much of the crew. Planning the shoot in the South Bronx for the gritty feel using centrally located locations, everything was set to go without a hitch. However, in the tumultuous world of filmmaking submission to trepidation would shut down every production.

Cast as Lola, “The original actresses’ boyfriend was uncomfortable with her kissing a male in the film but fine with kissing another female in the film.” With shooting to commence soon minus a lead, an extra, the ring card girl, offered to helm the role. Not only did she have boxing skills, but her fiancé was supportive. Thus, Priscilla Rosario made her screen debut. Allen taught Rosario, “How to walk and talk like a male. That’s the best part of being a director, taking something that’s nice and pretty and tearing it down.”

Another problem that could have jeopardized the production was an incident involving his co-director who also served as editor. According to Allen, after expressing his want for a new editor, footage was deleted by the co-director. Seeing this as a business decision and not a personal assault, he adds, “You start a business, you need to know what your weak points are.” Luckily, Director of Photography Peter Dmitriyev had footage stored and the production retained 85% of the original shots.

THE GAMEPLAN

“One of my influences for business marketing is Tyler Perry. He has his own studio, owns the rights to his works. I had the opportunity to visit his studios in Atlanta.” When the subject turns to Spike Lee/ Tyler Perry comparison, Allen claims that Lee is the superior director. Yet, Perry’s marketing has made Tyler Perry a household name. Allen, a native of Jamaica, Queens offers speculation into the drastic contrast of Atlanta and New York that may answer why Lee and Perry are so different in terms of their approaches. “Down there, people own houses. 20 year-olds own homes. In New York, people rent a room.”

Subscribing to Perry’s model and his love of marketing, Allen used FACEBOOK and TWITTER to get his work known. With such popularity, it was the moment of truth to find out if those numbers would deliver. The SPLIT DECISION premiere that was held in New York was sold out. It should have come as no surprise since Allen sold out a premiere to a 3-minute music video that he had directed.

While looking to get acquired, the film festival strategy becomes part of the marketing campaign. By using WITHOUTABOX.com, films receive a free listing on IMDB. (Adding images to IMDB is the only fee.) It’s imperative to do research into the festivals because all those $40 fees add up. Shorts that win at certain festivals become eligible for Oscar contention. Incidentally, be on the lookout for Antoine Allen’s film festival that he is planning to launch soon.

The big picture for SPLIT DECISION is to be made into a feature film. Allen continues to work full time to “…invest in myself.” The current campaign is to lure potential investors and hopefully, John Leguizamo.
Essentially, it’s all about numbers. When distributors and programmers decide what to pick up, it’s all about choosing safely in numbers. With over 21,000 YOUTUBE views and over 1200 Likes on FACEBOOK, it is quite possible that Antoine Allen’s SPLIT DECISION will be the unanimous choice to make it to the big screen.

http://www.facebook.com/SplitDecisionShortFilm

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One Response »

  1. Amazing. You Inspired Me

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