Filmmaker M J Allen has produced two short films that were accepted by Cannes, “My fairy tale come true moment while in Cannes was descending the red carpet for a movie premiere,” she tells rolling out. “It was so surreal and one of the most monumental moments of my life.” Allen also operates the successful Take 1 & Cut hair salon that’s been in business for more than six years.
Rolling out caught up with the filmmaker behind the salon with the Hollywood theme. —lydia k. nesmith
What was your introduction to film?
Actually, my introduction to film was as a theater actor. But I was really intrigued by the women in Hollywood who starred in the black-and-white classics. Their commitment to their craft on and off screen is rarely duplicated in the industry today.
Whenever I watched their movies, my eyes were always fixed on the impeccable attention given to wardrobe and styling, especially hair and accessories.
My interest was heightened after I saw the prolific works of my favorite filmmakers, Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee. I was so impressed with their writing and directing style and the way they both cinematically brought their stories to life. It was then that I was convinced that there was a story and vision inside of me that only I could tell. I immediately enrolled in Columbia College and earned my film degree in Directing.
What is your role and responsibility as a filmmaker?
I’m the filmmaker who loves being involved in every aspect of filmmaking; from conception to pre-production to post-production, to ultimately getting the film to its final destination.
… My role commences with selecting a compelling, well-crafted story line and seeing how it would resonate with an audience.
You’re a successful filmmaker, so why did you decide to open your own business?
I had a front-row seat to watch my mother operate a successful beauty salon for more than 30 years and my father manage his own construction [and] roofing company.
My actual motivation, however, came after working in corporate America for numerous years and seeing the negative impact corporate downsizing had on co-workers and friends … I devised my exit strategy and returned to my roots … the salon.
Why open a beauty salon with a film theme?
My mother started out working as a “kitchen-tician” [that’s a person who does hair in their home, aka the kitchen]. She eventually completed cosmetology school and became a licensed beautician.
When I decided on a business venture, it was very natural to pay homage to my mother’s example. I coupled that desire and example with my passion for filmmaking and designed a salon with a film theme.
I guess, this means my mother and I are now connected not only in love, but also with our business endeavors and our dreams.
Take 1 & Cut Salon
1315 South Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Ill., 60616