Allison Volk is a writer/actress/director based in Southern California. A prolific and enthusiastic playwright and screenwriter, her feature film script DEANY BEAN IS DEAD (comedy) was produced in 2018 and premiered in Hollywood, CA at the Dances with Films Festival, directed by Austrian filmmaker Mikael Kreuzriegler.
Though many of her short films and plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles, Ms. Volk finally made her directing debut with the short fantasy/drama WHAT KATY DID in 2018 and is eager to direct her first feature film.
Her dark action comedy feature script TIGER WOMAN won Best Screenplay at the Utah Film Awards 2018 and was recently adapted into a comic book published by Clover Press in 2020.
Ms. Volk also co-founded The City Shakespeare Company in Santa Monica where she served as co-artistic director for three years.
We spoke to Volk about DEANY BEAN IS DEAD, which gets a VOD premiere this month.
GVN: How and where did you begin your acting career Allison?
A: I studied acting and playwriting at the National Theatre Institute in Connecticut when I was in college. From there, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, and that led me to begin writing and producing as well as acting.
GVN: And do you remember the first job you got paid for?
A: Yes, it was an infomercial for a home DNA test kit to determine paternity. It was a strange experience because I auditioned and didn’t get the part, but the day of the shoot, the woman they had cast didn’t show up. They called me and it just so happened that I lived down the street from the shooting location, so I was able to be there quickly. I was so proud to have made a bit of money acting — and when I say “a bit,” I really mean a tiny, little bit: I think they paid me $25.
GVN: Did you work another job in those early years?
A: Yes, and I still do. I promised myself early on that I would never walk into an audition “needing” the money, because it tinges the whole experience with a desperateness that doesn’t sit right with me. An audition is so much more powerful when you can be fully present because you want to be there and you’re passionate, without thinking, “God, I hope I get it!” (To quote A Chorus Line.)
Whatever job I’m doing, whether it’s my dream job on set or something else, I endeavor to be fully present and give my best.
GVN: What genre would you say you normally gravitate towards?
A: I love romantic comedy so much. Love stories are just the best and can teach us so much about compassion, tenderness, empathy, and our humanness. That’s my favorite genre.
GVN: How do you think you’ve improved as an actor since the first film you did?
A: I think I’ve gotten better at being present and fully in the moment. To me, that’s what creates a great performance: when you’re so “there” that you’re able to react genuinely without faking anything or defaulting to tricks.
GVN: As the films you do become more successful, does your say at the table become even greater?
A: I would say that as I grow more confident in my ability and own my space as an artist, I’m more empowered to ask for what I want and create the projects and roles that I find most meaningful, fun and fulfilling. The more comfortable I am asking for what I want and need, the more likely I am to get a favorable response.
GVN: How much did the festival run help “Deany Bean is Dead”?
A: So much! We premiered at Dances with Films in Hollywood, California, and it was an incredible time. Not only were we welcomed with open arms by the festival and the audiences, but it was a great way to put this little project on the map. Film festivals can do a lot to bring attention and credibility to a film, and I really think our festival run played a major role in doing just that. Many thanks to the festivals that hosted us!
GVN: What kind of reaction have you gotten from the film? Any surprising fans?
A: The reaction has been generally positive. I think that this movie really speaks to a certain group of fans who like romantic comedies with a twist; that is definitely where we fit!
We had a lot of fun at the Ojai Film Festival. I remember sitting in the audience of one screening, completely forgetting that in the film, my character, Deany, goads her romantic rival by turning to her ex and saying, “Tom, do you remember that beautiful resort in Ojai? We didn’t leave the room for three days…” The entire audience exploded with laughter and applause; they were so delighted to have their hometown mentioned. That was a great moment, and I think we won some fans in Ojai that night.
GVN: Are you the type of actor that can’t watch their own work back – or can you easily sit through it?
A: It’s a bit of both. There are definitely moments when I flush and think, “Oh, why did I do it like that!? That’s awful!” But there are other times when I feel like I can step outside of myself and watch as if I were an audience member. Well, at least that’s what I hope! I’m sure no one can truly rid themselves of a bias like that, but we all have to try and be objective so we can become more expressive artists.
Thank you so much for having me!
DC Fanboy! Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time. Favorite movies are Man of Steel, Goonies, Back To the Future