By Mars Ross, Photography Editor
Allyson Morgan, a writer, producer and actress, came to speak at Manhattan College last Thursday to give insight into building a sustainable life in the world of art and film production. During the event she also screened two of her short films, one of which is commissioned by 20th Digital Studio and is airing on Hulu.
Not only does Morgan write, act and produce films, she also founded an award winning film and theater collective called F*** It Club. Morgan started the club in order to start putting together her own work.
“[The club was] created in the spirit of ‘why are we waiting for people to give us work?’ F*** it, let’s just make our own work,” Morgan said.
The company ran for 10 years and Morgan continues to forge her own path in the production industry, never taking no for an answer. Since she did not go to film school, instead she learned this lesson early on as an actor who wanted to make films. Morgan kept acting and made her way into writing, now working with some major players.
“You never know what you can do until you go out and start doing it,” Morgan said.
Maeve Adams, the director of the Digital Arts and Humanities program, put together the event. She thought Morgan would be an insightful speaker to show students that there’s always a way to make your own path.
“She has managed to cobble together, really creatively, a unique version of this career. She’s created a career in a way that is non-conventional and demonstrates the fact that this kind of thing is possible. One doesn’t have to simply follow some kind of preordained path if they want to work in film or other kinds of media technologies.”
Morgan screened two of her short films. One titled “Sitting,” which she wrote and acted in, was produced by her film collective in a matter of days. This film made its premiere at the Savannah College of Art and Design Film Festival and won outstanding narrative short at the Tallgrass Film Festival.
The short tells a story of a man with dementia who wants to commit suicide, but does not want to do it alone. He calls a babysitter, played by Morgan, to have company on the tough night. While it seems like an emotional tale, it has many moments of comedic relief.
“I liked ‘Sitting’ because it had a good balance between comedy and heavier topics. It was also interesting to see Allyson act in a film she wrote,” Colleen Cahill, a junior who attended the event, said.
The second film, “First Date,” currently airing on Hulu, is in development as a feature film by Fox and Disney. The horror short follows a lesbian couple and involves mystical means in order to get the “perfect love.”
Morgan noted her interest in writing about unconventional relationships that we do not get to see a lot of in the media.
“I am always interested in relationship stories that are maybe non-traditional. I’m interested in not telling the same kind of man meets woman and they fall in love, and everything works out in the end,” Morgan said.
Adams also commented on the relationships in Morgan’s writings.
“I loved ‘First Date’ because I think it’s a radical portrayal of queer relationships in the horror context,” Adams said. “It’s not reductive of queer relationships, it doesn’t sound sterotypical, it’s not suggesting that queer relationships are horrors, it’s using the horror genre to explore something about intimacy and about romance that I think we rarely get to see.”
Morgan also found her way into the production of augmented reality experiences. She spoke of her experience co-creating an award-winning augmented reality, or AR, experience titled “Ghosted.” The experience won Most Innovative and Immersive Experience at the North Bend Film Festival in Washington.
“We came up with the idea of speed dating with ghosts,” Morgan said. “The idea is you’ve gone to hell, but the good news is you can come back if you take one ghost with you to haunt you for the rest of your life. It works like Tinder, you swipe right or left after hearing the ghosts’s monologues. I wrote a big portion of it and we also commissioned playwrights to write the monologues.”
The DAsH program at Manhattan College has classes taught by Michael Grabowski and department chair Daniel Savoy, that allow students to not only immerse themselves in AR, but also learn to create it. AR classes will be offered this fall, along with the other 57 cross listed DAsH courses.