His name is J. Douglas Allen, and he has produced motion pictures and videotapes for more than forty years.
His father began taking 16mm motion pictures in 1924, and passed this fascination on to his son, who literally grew up with a movie camera in his hand. His father also had learned to fly, and at the age of sixteen Doug Allen earned his private pilot’s license. After receiving an undergraduate degree in Geography from Stanford University, he became a Naval Aviator for four years, flying an S2F Grumman Tracker off the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea.
After returning to Stanford and completing an MBA, he was awarded a fellowship to the Nuffield Foundation’s Unit for the History of Ideas. He spent the next year in London establishing a film production capability for the Unit and studying the British documentary at the British Film Institute, Shell Film Unit, Sheppardon Studios, and London University’s Slade School with the eminent director Thorold Dickinson.
Returning to California in the summer of 1961, he founded a one-man, vertically integrated motion picture company, Sound and Scene, Inc., and began his filmmaking career producing public relations films for Stanford University.
In 1962 BBC televised a thirty minute documentary film about the Navajo Nation called ‘The Last Frontier” for their Traveler’s Tales series, produced from film, audio, and a concept supplied by Doug Allen.
In 1964 he completed two documentaries for the Atomic Energy Commission’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) about the purpose and construction of this two-mile-long electron microscope.
But his real interest was aviation, and he soon began making corporate capability and marketing films under contract to the Hiller Aircraft Company. While there he documented and produced motion pictures on two expeditions to explore Baja California in the first jet-powered corporate helicopter, with famous mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner.
Later, in partnership with journalist Robert de Roos, he documented the life of Erle Stanley Gardner, including his final years, in preparation for a one hour program for television about this prolific author, the creator of Perry Mason.
During production he also made a thirty minute movie for Sr. Lic. Miguel Aleman, Director of Tourism for Mexico, on “Uncle Erle’s” trip through Mexico by train … a gift from the Mexican Government.
New clients came by word of mouth. For the next twelve years he produced corporate capability and marketing films under contract to Evergreen Helicopters, covering their activities worldwide.
Also during this time Intermountain Aviation, Inc, renown for remote air support, contracted for a series of films to brief high government officials on their aerial delivery and recovery capability. This established a relationship with the management which has endured for more than thirty years, and Sierra Pacific Airlines is still a client.
In his spare time, Mr. Allen made two corporate capability films for Alaska International Air, an airline based in Fairbanks, Alaska, transporting heavy cargo around the world in C-130 Hercules aircraft. He self-produced ‘The Sky is Yours”, the first motion picture presenting the entire spectrum of general aviation aircraft, and sold it to Champion Spark Plugs for their “Learn to Fly” campaign. He created a motion picture titled “Fences Are For Those Who Do Not Fly” for Harry Combs, a Beechcraft distributor in Colorado. And he made a convention and television presentation for Piper Aircraft Company, buying and flying a turbo-charged Twin Comanche around South America for “The Flight of the Bluebird”.
In 1972 he contracted to Gates Learjet Corporation to produce all of their corporate capability films, a relationship which lasted for ten years and resulted in nineteen motion pictures.
In 1978, his NBAA film presentation for Learjet, “Freedom”, won the Aviation and Space Writers Association’s Motion Picture Award for that year … without one word! It consisted entirely of motion pictures of Learjets, edited to music.
Starting in 1980, he produced corporate capability films for Learfan, Ltd. for two years, and in 1982 contracted to the Beech Aircraft Corporation, producing thirteen corporate capability films and videos over the next five years.
As a result, he has had his share of participating in, and simultaneously documenting record-breaking events. He was aboard a Learjet 28’s flight from Wichita to Kitty Hawk at 51,000 feet, piloted by Neil Armstrong, and breaking four world’s records. He was the Friendship Foundation’s personal videographer on Friendship One’s record breaking flight around the world. The 747 SP, flown by United Airlines Captain Clay Lacy, set twelve world’s records, and Doug Allen’s hour and fifteen minute video of the flight captures its excitement.
Doug Allen has been one of the more prolific filmmakers in the aviation industry. Although he has focused primarily on the aviation world, 48 of his more than 250 films have been corporate capability films. He has a long history of being able to make complex technological issues clear to customers. These films have marketed technologies to consumers via television, to corporate buyers at trade shows, and to military and government officials all the way to the White House.
He made three corporate capability films for Raychem Corporation on it’s wire manufacturing and cross-linked, heat-shrinkable polymer products.
He made two videotape presentations for LAFORZA, a new automotive concept, including photography at Pininfarina in Torino, Italy.
And since 1986 he has created thirty-eight corporate capability videotape presentations for General Atomics in San Diego, including fission and fusion research in California, streetcar rehabilitation in Germany, cryofracture demilitarization of chemical weapons, and a spectrum of unmanned air vehicles for military and civilian reconnaissance.
In addition, he has produced charitable foundation films and videos for the Peninsula Children’s Center and the Children’s Health Council … films and videos on Indian art and tribal culture … and Classic Arts segments for his good friend, classical guitarist Ray Reussner.
For twenty years he worked with the classic Arriflex S and a state-of-the-art Nagra audio system. When the first portable broadcast quality Betacam became available, he adapted to its format. Later, when Hi8 reached commercial quality, he utilized its advantages of smaller size and lighter weight.
Now, always moving ahead with the latest most productive technology, he works in the mDV and DVCAM formats, shooting with the Sony DSR-PD150 and editing in his studio with a high end Pentium processor PC and the latest non-linear digital computer editing system. This allows him to create real time, broadcast quality videos in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the expense of studio editing.
Because of his expertise with the Astrovision air-to-air camera system, he is now frequently found in one of Clay Lacy’s Learjets, operating the premier system that takes 35mm motion pictures for virtually all of the airlines, aircraft manufacturing companies, and U.S military forces in the world. The Boeing Company. McDonnell Douglas. Northrop. Cessna Citation. Gulfstream. Learjet.
He has been Director of Photography on more than 400 Astrovision flights since 1975, photographing unique aircraft from Lufthansa’s JU-52 to Boeing’s 747 and 777 … from Western Pacific to Cathay Pacific to United Airlines … from Earthwinds to the Voyager … from Air Force One to the Blackbird.
During forty plus years of documentary production Doug Allen has created more than 250 individual films and videotapes. In almost every project, he has personally performed the planning, scripting, shooting, and editing. Because of this high level of integration, he believes credits are not necessary.
What are his favorite scenes? Sunsets! So much so that his friends call him “Sundown Allen”. In Texas … in Baja California …on the Amazon … in Oman … the Australian outback … over the Pacific Ocean. Sunsets are his inspiration.
J. Douglas Allen welcomes the challenges of new video production, and brings four decades of experience to solve them. Perhaps he can help you solve yours.