Lights! Camera! Action! Allen's story destined for the silver screen USD English professor Ed Allen points to Las Vegas, NV on a map. He spent three days on location during filming of a feature film based on his novel. (Photo courtesy of Gary Keller/USD Media Relations) by Kristine Chung Teacher. Author. Movie actor.
Ed Allen, a University of South Dakota English professor, loves playing all three roles.
And while his talents didn't exactly land him in Hollywood, he came close. Last summer, he
participated in the filming of the motion picture Easy Six � not because he's great actor. He's great with the written word.
When completed, the movie, starring James Belushi, Julian Sands, Kate Towne and John Savage, has a chance to be shown at the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival.
His opportunity to appear on the silver screen � if only for a few brief moments � had its birth nearly a decade ago. That's when his second novel, Mustang Sally, was published.
The book caught the attention of director and screenplay writer Chris Ivenko. He was so interested in Allen's story that he eventually raised enough money to transform the main premise of the book into a movie.
The subject of Allen's book just happens to be a college professor. He's quick to add that the story is mainly fiction � it's not based on any of his real life experiences.
"The only part of the movie that I can relate to is how the main character is a part of two worlds," Allen said. "I love to teach and I love the Vegas life."
Mustang Sally tells the story of Packard Schmit.
During the day, Schmit, also known as Pack, is a professor who teaches hundreds of young adults. At night, he loves to gamble in Las Vegas casinos. During one of his nights on the Vegas strip he meets Sally Iverson, a licensed hooker, who is also the daughter of a teaching colleague.
Iovenko gave Allen the opportunity to act as an extra in several small parts on location in Las Vegas.
In one scene, Allen and another extra are shown walking out of Binion's Horseshoe Casino.
He also appears in a scene as an awed tourist wandering the casino.
The filming of Easy Six is complete, and it is now being edited.
He knows even before seeing the movie that its storyline doesn't always follow the plot of his novel.
Reading the screenplay has given him that insight. He knows, for example, that the conclusion of the film differs greatly from the ending he wrote for Mustang Sally.
"I consider the book to be a dark, discouraged comedy and the ending in Easy Six is definitely what I would refer to as a comedy climax," Allen said.
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He's glad to have had the opportunity to participate in Easy Six's filming. It gave him a close up look at what movie-making is all about.
"The movie is considered a 'low budget' film but to see the set one wouldn't know it � the amount of professionalism was fascinating," said Allen.
The cast consisted of about 20 to 30 crew members.
Allen especially enjoyed having the opportunity to meet Belushi.
Easy Six is now waiting to be accepted by the Sundance Film Festival.
Should that occur, representatives from film distributors across the country will have the chance to view it, and the movie could eventually be on its way to theaters throughout the nation.
Writing has always been a part of Allen's life but he started to take it more seriously in the mid 1980s when he finished his graduate studies at Ohio University in Athens and received his masters and Ph.D. Before starting to teach in Vermillion, he received his undergraduate at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT and taught at San Jose State located in San Jose, CA.
Allen's other works include the novels Straight Through the Night and Pete Gaga Saga. He has also had poetry published in the Indiana Review, Riverstyx and the Massachusetts Review. He's the author of a textbook titled Hands-On Fiction Workbook. His latest collection of short stories, Ate It Anyway, recently received the Flannery O'Connor Award, topping 200 other entries vying for the honor.