NYFA filmmaking alumnus Allan Ungar will direct feature thriller “Decoy,” blazing his path in the action film genre. “Decoy” follows the success of Ungar’s film “Gridlocked,” which has found distribution with digital giant Netflix.
“Decoy” has already gained buzz in the Hollywood Reporter. Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action project.
The NYFA Blog had a chance to catch up with Allan to hear more about “Decoy” and life in the director’s chair.
AU: When I was in my early teens I was looking for a film school that was intensive through its education, but that would also allow me to have a hands-on experience. When I found out NYFA had a location in LA, I immediately knew that I had to go.
NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?
AU: My favorite NYFA moment was walking onto the Universal backlot for the first time and getting to direct a short film on the standing set from the original “Jurassic Park.”
NYFA: What was the inspiration behind your upcoming feature “Decoy,” and how did this project come about?
AU: “Decoy” was a script that my manager sent me two years ago, and I remember not being able to read it the night I received it due to a dinner meeting. The person I was seeing happened to be running late, so I began reading the script on my phone. Next thing I knew, I finished the script and hadn’t realized I was there for over an hour! The person never showed up either!
NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience shopping “Decoy” to backers at TIFF? What was that process like, and did anything surprise you while there?
AU: The reception at TIFF was extremely positive and welcoming, although I left most of the business to my producers.
NYFA: When pulling together a major feature like “Decoy,” do you have any personal rituals or advice you follow to help you with the process that you can share with our students?
AU: I try to read the script and work with the actors as much as possible beforehand. By breaking down the story and characters in depth, I find that it better prepares me for any changes or curveballs that are headed my way.
I also like to watch films with similar tones and visual styles as a way to get into the world of the film. Pre-production is where the film lives or dies, so it’s always crucial to utilize whatever time you have to communicate your vision to the department heads and actors.
AU: NYFA has played a large role in where I am now, and while there are no direct relationships being used on this film, I would say that the school enabled me to grow as a filmmaker and learn how to foster relationships as a whole.
NYFA: What has been your greatest lesson in helming major feature film projects?
AU: My biggest takeway would be that it doesn’t matter how many times you do it, you will always encounter the unexpected and continue to learn more about yourself and the process each time. I try to remember that it’s also okay to be nervous, so as long as you are as prepared as possible and know the material inside and out.
NYFA: If you could next do a movie in a completely different genre besides action films, what would it be and why?
AU: I’d love to tackle a drama; something that’s more intimate and all about the actors. I feel like because it would be something outside my wheelhouse it would be a good challenge.
NYFA: Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
AU: I’m looking at a couple projects for later but nothing I can speak about yet.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Allan Ungar for sharing some of his story with our community.