Howard Allen knows his way around the indie film industry.
Allen, who acts, writes and directs movies, started a production company last year, Coyote Moon Films, and runs the Script Doctor (scriptdoctor.com) screenplay consulting business, analyzing between 35 and 50 scripts a year.
In 2004 Creative Screenwriting magazine rated Script Doctor the fourth-best script consultant business, and Allen has been a featured speaker at the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo the past three years.
On top of all that, he teaches screenwriting at Pima Community College and the Art Institute of Tucson and also writes and directs plays.
The University of Arizona graduate, a former journalist, says he thinks the future of the local industry is in low-budget movies.
"I want to focus on microbudget, renegade, under $1 million and under $250,000 features, and I'd like to shoot them in Arizona, if at all possible."
Allen, who has lived here since 1985 after stints in New Mexico and Texas, just finished shooting his first film, "Se Habla Español?" It's a short about a bilingual woman who helps people solve language-oriented problems.
After he finishes post-production on the 15-minute film, Allen will move on to a feature. He's optioned four scripts, two of which he's co-written, and is on the lookout for others, and encourages screenwriters to contact him via his Web site, coyotemoonfilms.com. Allen said he'll make whatever project draws investment the quickest.
Describe 'Se Habla Español."
" It's about Angelica, a bilingual sweetheart who is a bridge between cultures. I wanted to show we know production values and value storytelling, and the DVD will also have a making-of video."
What do you do as a script consultant?
"I tell them what's not working, but I'm kind of famous for telling them what is working as well. . . . What happens a lot out there is a lot of script analysts try to force a formula on the screenplay that doesn't fit a formula and sort of lambastes you. That's not really helpful. We honor the writer and like to be the ones who take the re-write where it needs to go."
How much do you charge?
"The standard service is a page rate that's still frightfully low. It's $4 a page."
What do you want Coyote Moon to accomplish?
"We're looking for storytelling and storytellers. We're not looking to make movies that are studio tentpoles with$100 million budgets. We want to tell really good stories. Examples of films we look at are 'The Visitor,' 'Frozen River' and "Starting Out in the Evening.'
Will you make all your movies here?
"I'd love to stay in Arizona, but we're sort of nationally famous for not being friendly to filmmakers."
How old are you, by the way?
"(Gasps.) You don't do that in the film business. I'm old enough to have a lot of experience."