Findlay filmmaker KC Allen, right, gives direction to actor Sam J. Jones, who plays a loan officer in the short film “Poor Baby.” The project was filmed in 24 hours in Findlay, inside both the Hancock County jail and First National Bank. Allen is readying the project to enter into this year’s Winterfilm contest in Cincinnati. He says the suckers pictured on the bank counter are, in fact, used as props in the film. (Photo by Kevin Bean)

By BRENNA GRITEMAN
LIFE EDITOR

A nine-month pregnant woman, turned down for a loan but desperately in need of a crib, diapers and other items, resolves to rob a bank.

She has every intention of repaying the money just as soon as she is able.

In an extraordinary coincidence, a more typical bank robber type holds up the same bank on the same day, at the same time.

“The robbery that was supposed to be low-key … escalates when the robbery is interrupted by a more experienced, more aggressive robber.”

If it sounds like the premise for a delightfully absurd movie, that’s because it is.

The 10-minute action-comedy “Poor Baby” was filmed during a whirlwind February weekend in Findlay, led by local independent filmmaker KC Allen.

The short piece, written and directed by Allen, was filmed inside the Hancock County jail and Tiffin Avenue’s First National Bank. Its production was overseen by officers from Findlay Police Department’s tactical unit and off-duty sheriff’s deputies, all of whom appear in the finished piece. Bank employees were also present, for obvious reasons.

The remainder of the 18-member cast and crew is made up of actors, cinematographers, directors and prop masters from as near as Findlay and as far away as Chicago.

And now that the marathon 24-hour filming process is complete, Allen is scrambling to edit the piece and submit it to the annual independent Winterfilm contest ahead of its March 1 deadline.

Allen, of Findlay, founded Allen Film & Video in 2001. Corporate commercials were the company’s “bread and butter” through about 2008, says Allen, who estimates he once produced hundreds of commercials a year. He continues to produce long-form training and promotional videos for local companies like Whirlpool and Six Disciplines, along with corporations including Delta Airlines and Cabela’s.

In 2016, a friend in Columbus asked Allen to write a film. After reading the script, he prodded Allen to produce and help direct the film.

That short project was titled “Wildcat,” and it marks Allen’s first entry — and win — at Winterfilm.

“We won five awards on that film,” he says.

At the end of 2016, Allen wrote and directed a seven-minute horror film called “Dark of the Night,” shot inside an old home up for sale in Findlay. That one went on to win best film in two categories at two different film festivals.

Allen’s “Melting Pot,” a comedy-drama, won best film, first runner-up at Winterfilm 2017 and took the award for best supporting actor. “Melting Pot” also went on to find success on the festival circuit.

Allen produces his short films under the brand 10 Ring Films, a nod to his love of competitive archery (think bullseye). He has already pledged to produce a short horror film by the end of this year: “My goal is the scare the pants off of people.”

But first, he must complete the task at hand.

Allen was in Cincinnati on Feb. 1 to learn the theme for this year’s Winterfilm entries (“a setback”), and the prop that must be incorporated into each film (a bottle opener). He had already assembled a cast and, having always wanted to write a bank robbery story, had managed to secure the bank site.

Upon returning to Findlay, “the only thing that was left to do was write.”

Five days and eight drafts later, the script was ready. Filming took place Feb. 9 and 10.

Each of the 20 films being entered into Winterfilm will be screened April 20 at the Woodward Theater in Cincinnati, with the awards ceremony that evening. Allen plans to be in attendance.

News that a bank robbery scene for an independent film was being shot in Findlay spread like wildfire on social media the day before production began. Some people drove repeatedly past the “scene of the crime” on both days of the shoot, just to catch a glimpse of the action.

Allen, though, knows that independent films are being shot in the city fairly regularly.

Early last spring, for instance, he and cinematographer Greg Kraus, a Findlay native, shot a feature-length film here titled “O9en (Open) Up,” which is now in post-production.

Those involved with the movie were quiet about it, but Allen says the project “was actually pretty high-octane” and brought Oscar-nominated actor Lanny Joon of “Baby Driver” fame to the city for several days.

“We’re bringing it here. We could bring it anywhere, but we bring it here,” Allen says of film production. “Because this community means something to me.”

While the actors and production crew are in Findlay, he points out, they are sleeping in our hotels, buying our gas and eating at our restaurants.

“People who are in familiar, Oscar-nominated movies are coming to Findlay, Ohio, and getting a chance to try us out,” he says, noting that Joon, in particular, took a liking to Dietsch Brothers chocolate.

Allen’s films — minus “Dark of the Night” — can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/10ringfilms. He plans to enter “Poor Baby” into the film festival circuit after its premiere at Winterfilm.

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Twitter: @BrennaGriteman

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