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Shooting the bull with Phil Allocco


Quick, name five successful filmmakers who played in an acclaimed metal band in the 80s and were contestants on a network reality TV show. Having trouble? That’s because there’s only one – Phil Allocco, who in addition to his stints in Law and Order (the metal band) and On the Lot (the Spielberg-created reality show), makes funny, cutting, and memorable short films. Allocco was kind enough to talk to us about his awesome life:

Crackle: Can you tell us about projects that you’re currently working on?

Phil Allocco: I have just finished directing and editing a feature documentary, “Roxy – The Last Dance”. The film captures the spirit and history of the legendary club from its inception as Manhattan’s center of roller disco in 1979 to New York City’s largest weekly gay dance night, Roxy Saturdays, which became a Chelsea institution. I am now preparing to shoot “Margate,” a comedy I have written and will direct.

Crackle: ‘Delivered’, for all its gallows humor, has a pretty despairing view of marriage. Does this come from your personal views, or was this ‘the worse the marriage, the better the comedy’?

PA: It’s not so much a jab at marriage as a jab at petty neurotic tendencies. I think it is pretty universal – we all have crazy family members and get laughs out of their behavior. But it’s even funnier when we realize sometimes we’re just as crazy.

Crackle: You were an initial contestant on the Spielberg reality show ‘On the Lot’. Was this a positive or negative experience? Any great stories?

PA: It was a crazy experience, very surreal. The best thing about it was meeting the other filmmakers. We have all kept in touch and it has become a really supportive club. We keep each other updated on our work; many real friendships developed out of it. I guess getting thrown into a truly insane environment can do wonders for bringing people together. We were all brought to Hollywood, sequestered and isolated for over a week before we were even allowed to make eye-contact. Then we were allowed to talk to each other only when the cameras were on.

Below: ‘Don’t Make a Scene’, directed by Phil Allocco

Crackle: You played guitar in the metal band Law & Order. You’ve experienced success as a director in the context of Web 2.0 and streaming video; how do you think your experience in Law & Order would have changed if you were a young band today, in the contemporary system of music talent discovery and promotion—MySpace, music blogs, file sharing etc.?

PA: I don’t envy musicians today. When I was signed, the music industry was very different and much more supportive of artists. When I made my first record for MCA they had a position called “Artist Development”, which was responsible for helping to mold your career. They would map out a course for your success. By the time I made my second record that position was gone and it was all about breaking right away with a hit single. I was signed for 10 years, made two records for MCA and then two records with my band Dogma on Island/Defjam and I have to say every year got worse for the artists. Although there are more outlets today for your music, the idea of making a living and having a career doesn’t really exist unless you become a mega-star.

Crackle: Can you talk some about short film in the context of online video, and the format’s benefits and drawbacks for you as a director in this new environment?

PA: The more people who can see [your work], the better. The web is great for being able to instantly share your work. Years ago you had to pass our beta reels and hope someone would watch it – now with just one click you can see someone’s work, like, for example, going to my site: http://www.makethingswork.com. Wow, wasn’t that easy!

The only drawback is that most festivals will disqualify or reject your film if it is online before a festival. So you have to make a choice if you intend to hit the festival circuit.

Watch all of Phil Allocco’s short films on Crackle.

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