Taylorsville moviemaker JD Allen balances fatherhood and filmmaking, one diaper and one lens cap at a timeJun 06, 2023 12:33PM ● By Carl Fauver
Taylorsville filmmaker JD Allen stays close to his wife and youngest child Aniyah, even as he keeps busy building a movie making career, one project at a time. (Courtesy JD Allen)
Raised in one of the roughest parts of the Greater Los Angeles area, motion picture writer, producer and director JD Allen and his sprawling family now call Taylorsville home. But despite leaving that Southern California area years ago, Allen named his film company after the hardscrabble streets he once shared with the Crips and Bloods: “Inglewood Films.”
In the seven short years since officially creating Inglewood Films LLC, Allen has produced dozens of music videos, along with short films, documentaries and even a couple of feature-length movies. He’s now putting the finishing touches on his most recent horror film – and, at $80,000, his largest-budget film to date – “Algea: God of Pain.”
“I wrote Algea with another writer and it’s now in the final production stages,” Allen said. “I’m excited about it because I think it will show what I can do (as a filmmaker). I want to get it in the right (distributor and public relations) hands. We want to get it into film festivals. My goal is also to get a theater run for Algea.”
In the midst of all these lofty career goals, Allen and his wife of two-and-a-half years, Mandi Makoni, find themselves very busy on the Taylorsville home front. Between the children each of them has from previous relationships… along with a foster son… and their shared 1-year-old, Aniyah, it’s pretty common for 10 heads to hit pillows at their home each night.
“My husband is amazing,” Makoni said. “He works from home – in his man cave theater room – constantly editing. But he also covers the baby several days a week. My parents take Aniyah two days a week. They are a Godsend. But JD works nights and weekends on his films. He’s busy – but also a great father.”
Mandi and JD had a self-described “COVID wedding” in January 2021 at a Las Vegas chapel, with only the bride, groom and four friends. “We plan to do something big at five years,” Makoni is quick to add.
Allen’s move from Inglewood to Utah occurred more than 20 years ago. After playing one football season at a Southern California junior college, he moved to Provo to play for Brigham Young University in 2002 and 2003. Just a couple of years after legendary coach LaVell Edwards retired, the Cougars weren’t particularly good back then. Allen’s teams did not qualify for a bowl game in either of those seasons.
“I was preparing for my BYU senior season when I was suspended from the team,” Allen said. “I signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004. But they cut me before the preseason games began. I played a little arena football. But by 2008, I was out of the game entirely. My whole life I ‘knew’ I was going to the NFL. So, I was lost. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life now.”
That confusing time put Allen on the path he continues to travel today. First, he was a music rapper. But when he learned how expensive it was to make a music video, he got the idea to get behind the camera himself.
“I love writing stories,” Allen said. “After football, I wrote stories with words and through drawings. As a black man, I never really discuss my life with people. But writing stories is how I get my messages out. Directing and operating the camera for my movies allows me to do that even more effectively.”
Allen estimates he’s already spent about $60,000 on his movie camera and other equipment. So far, he’s been able to make films on shoestring budgets. He’s also won a few industry awards along the way. Now he hopes to turn the corner soon and begin making bigger budget movies.
Like presumably everyone in his industry, Allen would love to someday earn an Academy Award or a Golden Globe. But he has no plans to return to Southern California to make that happen.
“Hollywood is a very shady place – and I don’t need to move there to make movies,” Allen concluded. “I want to do this on my level, not Hollywood’s level. I keep a family vibe on my set. There are a lot of filmmaking opportunities here in Utah. I love the team aspect of making movies. It takes me back to my football time – the fun of working with a team. And I am happy to have that team, here in Utah.”
Visit Allen’s website, theinglewoodfilms.com, for the most current information on when his biggest film to date – “Algea: God of Pain” – will be available, in a theater near you. λ