Temple student’s film promotes inclusivity in industry

“Malarkey” is meant to promote inclusivity in the filmmaking field.

Junior film and media arts major Lindsay Allen is directing “Malarkey,” a film starring a person with Down syndrome. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Lindsay Allen’s inspiration for the main character in her film comes from her brother, 27, who has Down syndrome.

He became the muse for “Malarkey,” a film Allen wrote and is directing about a young girl with Down syndrome. The movie is part of Allen’s mission to tell inclusive stories and promote women’s representation in filmmaking.

“It’s important that you cater not necessarily toward a specific audience, but you make the film relatable,” said Allen, a junior film and media arts major. “You want people to be able to see themselves.”

“Malarkey,” which begins filming this month, follows teenage sisters Mallory, who is applying to colleges, and Mauve, who has Down syndrome and is asked to her first dance. Between Mauve’s pursuit for independence and Mallory’s overprotective nature, the two grow apart and don’t speak to each other.

In writing Mallory’s character, Allen drew from her own feelings toward her older brother, she said.

“I wanted to pull from my own experiences of having a brother with Down syndrome and how protective I am of him,” Lindsay Allen said. 

Her brother, Richard Allen, will make a guest appearance in the film. In addition to “Malarkey” representing women-directed work, Lindsay Allen wants the film to represent actors with Down syndrome by featuring an actor with the disability. 

“I wanted to show that people with disabilities can act and can be in film in a real manner by playing these authentic characters, but at the same time play individuals who can do things on their own,” Allen said. 

To play Mauve, Allen cast local actress Alana Hibbs, who has appeared in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Despite being 21, Hibbs is considered a minor because of her disability, so the film crew can’t have typical 12-hour shoots and instead films in shorter increments. 

Jillian Hartman, a junior film and media arts major and the film’s producer, said “Malarkey” is worth the hectic schedule and Allen adds a personal touch to the film. 

“As a woman, it’s not relatable to have a male director tell the story of being an older sister,” Hartman said. “Lindsay’s personal experience really helps in constructing that narrative. She knows the story she wants to tell.”

According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, female directors worked on only 4 percent of the top 100 grossing films of 2018. 

In addition to filmmaking, Allen is president of Mise-en-Femme, Temple’s first female filmmaking group. This semester, the student organization will mentor local aspiring filmmakers, an experience faculty advisor LeAnn Erickson believes is a crucial part of Allen’s achievements.

“If you look at the success [Allen] has, it is because she seeks out mentors,” said Erickson, a film and video production professor and independent filmmaker. “She doesn’t sit back and wait for somebody to offer help. She goes and finds the people who can help her make this thing happen.”

For Allen, filmmaking comes naturally. Growing up, her family took trips to Washington, D.C., where her father took lots of pictures and let her play with the camera. When Allen entered high school, she made videos for student government, then moved on to wedding videos and nonprofit events.

“I made all the rinky-dink videos for my school, and I decided that this is something I could do,” Allen said.

Allen hopes to continue to promote women directors in the film industry, especially after seeing the 2019 Oscar nominees for Directing and Best Picture — neither of which include films directed by women. 

The lack of representation drives her to create her own projects, Allen said. “Malarkey” will be her first stepping stone in a career of writing and directing films starring actors and actresses living with disabilities.

“This is what I want to do,” Allen said. “I want to defy the odds and pave the way for female filmmakers.”

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