HFF 2015 Interview: The Truth About Lies Director/Writer/Producer Phil Allocco


Gilby Smalls is having a meltdown. He’s just been fired from his job, lost his apartment in a fire and his girlfriend gave him the boot. And it’s only Wednesday. Now, at the ripe old age of thirty-something, he is forced to move in with May, his boozeswindling man-obsessed mother. This is the last straw.

Gilby’s life is bleak until best friend Kevin drags him to a family get-together, where he meets Rachel, Kevin’s very beautiful but very married sister. Rachel is the very thing Gilby needs to get his life back on track. Desperate to impress her, Gilby starts to weave a web of lies; one bigger than the next. Now in a sticky mess, Gilby is forced to face the uncomfortable truth about himself before he can find a way out of his very own lies.

The Truth About Lies is a 2015 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection, Narrative Feature.

We spoke with Director/Writer/Producer Phil Allocco about his film:

HF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?

PA: The initial idea for the film was to create a story around lies. I was inspired by the Mark Twain quote “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” My only prerequisite was that every character had to either be lying to each other or to themselves.  It wasn’t going to be malicious lying; more along the lines of “little white lies” that blow up in the characters’ faces. And as each character becomes tangled in the web of lies, we find out more about why they lie, and how it helps free them from their situation and eventually leads them to the truth.

When I finished the script I wasn’t sure what I thought about it at first, so I sent it to three screenwriting contests before I showed it to anyone. I was really surprised when the script won Best Romance at the American International Film Festival and it was a finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Festival Screenplay Competition. I thought two out of three – maybe I have something here. I sent it to my producer and close friend, Steve Carr and he loved it so we decided to make it together.

HF: What was your role in the production?

PA: Director, Writer, Producer.

HF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?

PA: We submitted because we heard great things about the Heartland Film Festival and how they care about the filmmakers and the films selected. And we heard that the Heartland Audiences that are passionate about film and excited about the screenings.

HF: This year’s tagline is “Movies That Stay with You” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?

PA: I’ve always loved comedies that were multi-dimensional, that are very funny but also had the depth of a drama. I want to make a film that on the surface is simple and easy to watch, but also works on a deeper, more subtle level. I’m hopeful that the audience has a great ride watching the film but also leaves with something to think about.  The idea of lying, whether to each other or to ourselves, for moral or immoral reasons, is such a universal aspect of being human – It’s one of the first moral concepts we understand as children and something we all deal with as we move through life and communicate with each other.

HF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?

PA: I was actually a recording artist with MCA and Def Jam for the first 10 years of my professional life.  I was always passionate about film and always wanted to get involved so I started creating short films. My short films won awards which was very encouraging and led me to be one of the short-listed directors picked by Steven Spielberg from a world-wide search of over 12,000 directors for his US TV series On the Lot for FOX TV, produced by Spielberg and Mark Burnett.

HF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now, but you weren’t told when you started your career?

PA: I was blissfully ignorant about how hard it is to get funding and ultimately how hard it is to have a successful film. Not that I thought it would be easy – but I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it can actually be.

HF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?

PA: For my favorite movies… 2001, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jacobs Ladder, The Producers, Annie Hall, Duck Soup, Black Robe, Play it Again Sam, The Fly.

For my favorite bad movie…   I don’t consider a bad movie, but it seems like a lot of people do, but I love Scarface – so much fun and I find it hysterical. Whenever it is on I have to watch the entire film. Same with Devil’s Advocate.

HF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?

PA: So far –  Santa Barbara Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, Hollywood Film Festival and Flixxfest.

Festival audiences are pretty passionate about movies and it’s exciting and a bit nerve-racking, especially when they know very little about your film. But they are usually pretty open-minded and so far it has been a great experience for me personally.

HF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?

PA: I would love someone to ask me if they could fund my next film! Ha! But seriously – I love when people ask the more philosophical aspect of the story or comedy. I always have fun talking about those types of subjects.

See The Truth About Lies at the 2015 Heartland Film Festival

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