Jennie Allen received funding in the amount of $2500 through the 2017 NYSCA/Community Arts Grants-Individual Artist tier re-grant program administered by Greene County Council on the Arts. The Individual Artist Review Panel was comprised of seven panel members from Columbia and Greene Counties who reviewed nine applicants for this award.
The panel recommended Jennie Allen of Greene County for her project, The Mystical Clinic, which is a pilot for a web series and will also function as a Standalone short film about a practical woman battling lung cancer that participates in an experimental study that uses hallucinogenic drugs to combat end-of-life anxiety. The panel felt this project was very accessible and addressed an important subject.
For more information about GCCA’s Community Arts Grants program serving Greene, Columbia and Schoharie counties visit www.greenearts.org/grants. Contact Community Arts Grants Coordinator for Greene and Columbia counties, Margaret Uhalde at firstname.lastname@example.org and Schoharie Grants Coordinator Dennis Shaw at email@example.com.
Jennie Allen is a writer, filmmaker, and teacher living in Catskill. Before landing in film a decade ago, she worked for Unity House in Troy, NY as a mental health counselor.
Jennie’s current short film, The Clinic, is about a woman with a terminal cancer diagnosis who participates in an experimental research study, taking a high dose of psilocybin to face her fears about dying. This is a narrative film based on rigorous research studies at Johns Hopkins and New York University that have tested the use of entheogenic agents to help patients suffering from emotional distress at the end of life (as well as from addictions and PTSD). These studies have shown strong evidence that the careful use of entheogens such as psilocybin can have long lasting therapeutic effects for people facing a terminal illness.
As a filmmaker and a Community Hospice volunteer, Jennie is interested in how we approach dying and death. The film is rooted in the real practices and firsthand accounts of research subjects outlined by Dr. William Richards at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Reading these accounts had a profound effect on Jennie; they illustrate the power of addressing deep psychological and spiritual concerns into our care for the dying, and illuminate the way we live our lives – often cut off from the truth of our mortality, our shared future, and our connectedness. The film attempts to be both an inquiry and a model for this kind of work.
Jennie’s artistic goal for The Clinic is to create a visceral experience – to have the film lead an audience through the journey of this character as she faces her darkest fears about dying, “meeting” her cancer, and leaving her husband and daughter behind. Creating this inner journey using live action rather than visual effects has proved to be as challenging as Jennie anticipated, and while principal photography was completed in the summer she continues to shoot as she edits the film. She is collaborating with local sculptor and photographer Anthony Masina; in recent weeks they have spent quite a few afternoons standing knee-deep in a creek with DSLRs and macro lenses, discovering shots that “feel like” something, laughing, talking about myth, symbols, fear, faith, doubt, mystical experiences, and the character’s journey.
Shooting and editing will be complete by the end of the year, and then the process of outreach, press, and festival submissions will begin. A local screening will be announced early next year.
“The Clinic” was made possible, in part, with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts, administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund. Jennie partnered with Catwalk Institute, a local artist residency which provided time, space, stunning locations, and untold support. Dr. Albert Garcia-Romeu at Johns Hopkins is an advisor for The Clinic. Local musician and engineer Tyler Wood will do sound design and mixing, and Iva Bittova is providing the indelible score.
Jennie’s other current projects include the feature film Culebra – a dark comedy about grief, addiction, and the spirituality of imperfection – in development with Fidelio Films, and the television pilot Sunshine, about a depressed teenage girl who joins an upstate farm commune/collective. Recent work includes co-writing the short film Dear Chickens (directed by Mauro Mueller) starring Philip Baker Hall and Kerris Dorsey, which screened in October at the Zurich Film Festival.
Jennie’s prior short film Relics won an Adrienne Shelly Foundation Award for Best Female Director, a jury award at Palm Springs International ShortFest, and placed for awards at the USA Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, The Forum on Law, Culture, and Society, and the Columbus International Film + Video Festival. Relics screened worldwide and was distributed by Shorts International and Egoist. The film received a Sound Lounge Development Grant, a Columbia University Finishing Funds grant, and was sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). Failing Better Now, a feature film Jennie co-wrote, is available in the U.S. on the Starz network. Other short films have screened at festivals including Brussels Short Film Festival, CineKink, Brooklyn Arts Council’s Scene: Brooklyn, and on NYC-TV.
Jennie received her M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University, along with the Lewis Cole Award for Excellence in Screenwriting. She has taught Screenwriting at Columbia and Filmmaking at Pratt Institute and the City University of New York, and is a current faculty member at SUNY Stony Brook/Killer Films new M.F.A. program in Manhattan, where she teaches alongside Killer Films’ luminaries Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler.
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