The Man At The Counter

Brian McAllister

How did you get into directing?
I made my first Pepsi vs. Coke commercial when I was eight years old. In high school it was ninja videos. And in college, I finally started to find my voice as a filmmaker. I got my degree in film and television and after that moved to New York where I got my first job in the industry.

What is your most recent project?
This May I just finished directing a short film entitled Patti and Me, Minus Patti. It’s a tragic comedy about a 30-something recluse named Edmond who lives alone with his cat. He comes home from work one day to find his beloved cat dead, belly-up on his bed. As he attempts to deal with this horrific loss, Edmond must take a terrifying, awkward and hilarious journey within himself to find what he is really looking for. I’m really excited about this film because of its humor, edginess, and dynamic character arc.

What is the best part of being a director?
I’m passionate about stories. I love being able to look at the full scope of a story and meticulously break it down into its most simple and efficient parts. While in pre-production, I enjoy designing the visual landscape and tone of the film, always making choices to support the story. In production, I love working with talent and finding ways to create natural and seamless performances. In post, editing is where you rediscover the story and make the hard decisions that truly make the film better. It’s all great, really.

What is the worst part of being a director?
Sometimes there’s really bad coffee on set.

What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My current career focus is to direct narrative feature films. I aspire to work with character driven scripts that have both comedic and dramatic elements. I find that the mix of comedy and drama allows the audience to feel comfortable enough to go to the uncomfortable emotional places. The goal for me is always to make unique and entertaining films that reach as many people as possible in an emotional way.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?
No, but I would love one, so if any successful directors read this, feel free to contact me!

Who is your favorite director and why?
I have lots of favorite directors. Lately I’ve been really into Richard Linklater’s work. Here is a guy who consistently directs quality, entertaining films with sincere characters who make you feel like you’re hanging out with them. He makes completely different movies from one to the next but they’re always fascinating because he focuses squarely on the story and characters. This is what I strive for in my work.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite film, but I generally love small films with big themes. For example, I recently saw the film Cyrus and was blown away. The story is so simple yet the stakes are very real, and the themes are tangible. The tone of the film is something I strive for in my own work, as it has a natural sense of comedy yet maintains a very strong emotional arc.

Tell us about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in small town New Hampshire where there were more cows than people. I now live in New York City where there are more people than cows…and any other U.S. city. I started my career editing for a range of TV networks including National Geographic, A&E and the Oprah Winfrey Network. I moved to producing documentary television shows including Jacked for A&E and Dangerous Drives for the Speed Channel. Last year I edited Jonathan Caouette’s feature film Walk Away Renee which screened at 2011 Cannes Film Festival (Critic’s Week) and will be distributed by IFC’s Sundance Selects this Spring. As a director, my first short film The Man At The Counter staring Tom Everett Scott has traveled to over 15 film festivals, has won two awards, and has secured distribution with The Spiritual Cinema Circle.