Veteran filmmaker Peter Allen is living the life many screenwriters dream about: his movie, “Takers” seems destined to be a bona fide 2010 summer blockbuster.

The movie stars red-hot actors Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana, hip-hop superstar Tip “T.I.” Harris and controversial crooner Chris Brown, and is about a group of slick bank robbers who go all out to pull off a $20 million heist. The movie is scheduled to be released nationwide Aug. 27.

Allen, one of the film’s co-writers, says he wanted to present a different vision of high stakes criminals. “Why can’t they be gentlemen, why can’t they be slick, why can’t they be smart like some of the guys I have read about and know about,” Allen told the AFRO in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

The Baltimore native tapped into a rich tapestry of experiences growing up in one of the city’s most prominent families to fuel his successful Hollywood career. His late father, Milton B. Allen, was a political and legal giant who became the nation’s first Black prosecutor when he was elected Baltimore City State’s Attorney in 1970. The elder Allen was also a judge and a successful criminal lawyer.

Allen graduated from Forest Park High School and began to lay his technical foundation as a filmmaker at the Maryland Institute College of Art. “MICA taught me that you can figure it out if you put your mind to it … you can pull it off,” Allen said.

After MICA, Allen built on that foundation as a photojournalist at The Kansas City Times. In the early 1980s, Allen moved to Los Angeles and began working in animation studios before applying and fine-tuning his skills in the burgeoning music video industry.

In 1992, Allen directed the independent film, “No Saving Grace,” and in 1995 he broke through as a writer of the film “Kla$h”, which starred Jasmine Guy and Giancarlo Esposito. In 2005, Allen co-wrote the martial arts film, “Book of Swords”. But, this summer he stands poised for his most successful endeavor with “Takers”.

“I would like to see “Takers” make a lot of money…because that’s how they measure success in Hollywood and hopefully that will open more doors,” said Allen, who has written about 35 scripts over the years, with four making it to the big screen. “That’s the hardest part, getting the go ahead to make the film.”

He concedes few find success in this industry without a measure of luck. “Everybody, even the big guys like Brad Pitt and George Clooney say luck is a big part,” he said.

Audiences, and Allen, have had to wait several months for the premiere of “Takers”—the movie’s opening was pushed back from February to May and then to this month. But tenacity is the glue that has held Allen’s career together.

“Be persistent … really take it seriously, because it’s really a lot of hard work,” he advised newcomers to the film industry. “I hope “Takers” will open the door further on my career and open the door for the next generation of Black filmmakers, so they can find some daylight.”

 

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor