Lights, Camera, Allen!


Nijl Allen can often be found filming in school and around Washington. (Photo by Alex Schwalb)

Alex Schwalb, Editor in Chief

Senior Nijl Allen has spent three years in the Warren Hills film program and has flourished artistically. His talents have taken him to professional filmmaking and a possible acting career in the film industry.

Allen said he found filmmaking very early in his life and it’s a skill that has stuck with him.

“It really started when I was in the third grade. I found out that my uncle’s friend made a YouTube channel for me,” Allen said. “I immediately got a hold of it and started creating my own things. I borrowed my mom’s camera and just goofed off and did whatever I wanted to.”

Having started so young, he has been able to find his own creative process for creating his films.

“I always want to have a clear beginning, middle and end,” Allen said. “There needs to be a narrative to my films.”

Allen had the chance to work in a professional atmosphere, starring in the 2018 short-film “One Bite,” directed by Camryn Mina with Reel Works, a talent mentorship company based in New York City that helps young filmmakers create professional films.

“It was definitely eye opening to me,” Allen said. “It’s a completely different atmosphere from any work environment. Everything has a different name when you’re on an amateur set, when you see the gaffer and he’s adjusting the lights, everything is more complex than a school setting.”

Allen cites inspiration from the cinematography in the 2018 horror film, Hereditary and the story telling from The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey.

“I start by either thinking of personal experiences and putting a twist to them or thinking of my favorite movies and combining them all and add my favorite elements,” Allen said. “I love sending a message and just making everyone think and stay on the edge of their seat.”

Film Design teacher Richard Patricia had nothing but praise for his student.

“Nijl is a very creative person. He thinks differently than most people do. Creating a good film takes more than just the ability to operate a camera or sit down and edit,” Patricia said. “Good films require planning, creative thinking and uniqueness. Nijl’s films have all of that.”

Patricia said he was impressed by Allen’s dedication to his art.

“Having Nijl in my class the past three years has been awesome,” he said. “It’s so nice to have students like Nijl who are serious about their work and take the time to shoot and reshoot until the project is perfect.”

Allen said he was grateful for his time at Hills and has plans to carry his career in filmmaking past high school. He will major in Digital Filmmaking at Raritan Valley Community College.

“I learned a lot for when I film for film class and for me as an actor. I do a lot of auditions and I don’t get a lot of work, but it’s not the work that I’m worried about right now. I’m eighteen and still have so many years ahead of me, I look at it as I’m building a concrete base to start building my own skyscraper. Patience is key and I’m just looking forward to continue my career as an actor.”