Professional Story

While most of my friends would describe me as an eclectic right-brainiac, the truth is, I possess a good deal of my father’s sober, engineering thoughtfulness.  To my clients, this means that I offer an enticing mix of both worlds.  As a creative who has worked in corporate America for most of my professional life, I know when to push the envelope, and when to simply seal the darn thing, and drop it in the box (rectangular shape into rectangular slot, right?).  Put another way, I exhibit none of a diva’s worst tendencies (self-absorption, irritability, penchant for green M&Ms…), and a good deal of the best (desire for excellence, artistic integrity, love of purpose and intention…).  I have tackled large (but delicate) projects for Pampers, and small (but impactive) jobs for Jaguar.  I have found light in the tragedy of domestic violence (for the YWCA), and darkness in our communal acceptance of underage drinking (for the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati).  I have written from the point-of-view of men, women, children, teachers, lawyers, soldiers, aging Australian hippies, Cuban amnesiacs, Eskimos, and even germs.  In everything I do, I attempt to ingrain in myself a deep understanding of the goal — then work backwards to find that unique solution that feels like it’s always been there, waiting to be shared...

Personal Story

I was born in Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut on September 12, 1962.  That was the day that President Kennedy delivered his famous “We Choose To Go To The Moon” speech.  The speech was inspiring and historic, though its best line is not the one everyone recalls.  The best line is the hilarious set-up:  “Why, some say, the moon?  Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain?  Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?  Why does Rice play Texas?” 

“Why does Rice play Texas?”  Ha!  Now that’s the kind of writing I aspire to...

According to the Chinese calendar, 1962 was the special year of the Water Tiger, which means I’m especially sensitive and tranquil.  I’ll buy that for a dollar (or at least a yuan), though someone needs to explain to me why Jack Bernard, who was born in the same calendar year, used to put his Mom’s cats in the dryer.  Sure, it’s conceivable that one could be in a tranquil state of mind when doing such a thing, but sensitive?  That just doesn’t wash.

On the home front, my parents were good and kindly folk who managed to raise me and my three siblings without succumbing to a single key-party!  I say this because, as I am now aware, we were living in wanton and bawdy New Canaan, Connecticut during the time of “The Ice Storm” and the oh-so turbulent 70s.  I must say, however, if any of those sleazy–doings really occurred, they must have taken place way over on the chi-chi, Stamford-side of New Canaan (where Philip Johnson lived in his “Glass House”), not the lowly and mundane Norwalk-side, where we lived in clapboard saltboxes of puritanical innocence. 


While my parents did a fine job of raising me, I attribute a significant portion of my emotional development to our family dog, Corky, who was always VERY understanding.  Corky was eighty-five pounds of hair, muscle and testosterone, which meant, among other things, that he would randomly pop up at my elementary school, tear-assing around the playground like a frenzied, four-legged pinball.  In a flash, he’d have the snitched hat, or glove, or scarf of some giggling victim in his maw.  Naturally, everyone wanted to be a victim, so the entertainment provided by these animated visits was potentially endless.  At least, that is, until Stage-Two, when a teacher would solemnly indicate that the time had come for Corky to go to the principal’s office (he was allowed one phone call...).  All too familiar with the routine, Corky would pull me and my best friend down endless, polished hallways in our stocking feet - as if we were water-skiing behind a heaving, brown hairboat.  Good golly, those were the days!

[Corky, circa 1970]

In 6th grade, I broke my upper-jaw playing football.  This was a tremendous shock as I was wearing a Green Bay Packer football helmet with as much qualitative protection as a souvenir lamp.  (Actually, less, now that I study the deft workmanship of the lamp...)  The helmet was purchased at the local mecca for fishing gear, cable-knit sweaters, hockey sticks, and Chiclets gum:  Bob’s Sports.  Yes sir, Bob’s Sports had it all.  If I’m not mistaken, my $12.00 helmet was on display between the Wallabies and the corduroy blazers...

But what really mattered was this:  we beat Center School!  What’s a life-long struggle to attain normal-looking front teeth (not to mention the cost; did I mention the cost?!!) when compared to this dramatic and seminal achievement in the annals of regional, youth sports?

In Junior High, I got my first taste of writing success when I won the Daughters of the American Revolution essay-writing contest.  At the time, this was the literary equivalent getting selected for American Idol, except, instead of being flown out to Hollywood, I got to go to the Methodist Church on South Avenue and read my essay in front of twenty-seven elderly women, and my mom.

On the first day of high school, I met Lisa, the love of my life.  Perhaps to her credit, Lisa did not fully grasp that I was the love of her life, until some years later when my ceaseless barrage of inanities finally overwhelmed her.  When she regained her senses, she wisely skedaddled off to Williams College.  Thank goodness I wasn’t smart enough to follow her there, for (as everyone and their mother knows) this would have been the kiss of death.  I did, however, follow her to France one day and the rest is, well, personal history...  Today, Lisa and I are as happy as puppies in spring grass.  That’s me on the right, waking Lisa up from her nap (she’s a good napper...):

Along the way, we have co-produced three male miscreants that even Corky would have to recognize possess disproportional scoopings of testosterone:  Schafer, Reese, and Scott


All three are wily, waggish and wise.  Another son, Thayer, was lost very late in pregnancy and, when the boys aren’t keeping us hyperventilating with overloaded schedules and death-defying shenanigans, Lisa and I do our best to think of him.

Meanwhile, as to the writing... I didn’t develop a serious interest until I came to understand that film directors were frequently “born” out of their own, compelling scripts.  Naturally, as a Philosophy Major with a B.A. from Colgate University, a film director was assuredly what I was to be.  Pursuing my studies at the School of the Art institute of Chicago, where the creative emphasis was placed on the experimental and the avant-garde, I had a renegade teacher who introduced me to the “traditional” but dark works of Jacques Tourneur, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Billy Wilder.  Surrounded by student-artistes whose films were invariably about “light” or “anger” or “color” or “nakedness” — I figured the most radical thing I could do would be to produce a narrative film.  With the help of fellow graduate student, Ray Wang, this is exactly what I did. 


The result was “The Geometry of Love” — a film interpretation of a John Cheever short story by the same name.  In the realm of student works, this film was a great success, winning numerous awards around the country. 

[production still from “The Geometry of Love”]

By now the seeds were sown; I started to write in earnest.  Over the course of about five years I wrote three feature–length screenplays and one short.  The projects generated a certain amount of excitement, netting me an agent at William-Morris (Steven Starr) and a few trips out to L.A., where I met with Dick Berg to discuss how we might get James Spader “worked in” to one of my scripts.  Exciting times, yes, but I never managed to break out of the all-too-insidious trap known as “development hell.”

Realizing it is hard to make a living on hope and potential, I brushed off my “editing-shoes” and got to work.  A few memorable years in Manhattan were followed by what was to be a “stopover” in Cincinnati.  Happily, we’ve been here ever since, hooked by the same thing that makes so many call this fair city home:  a great quality of life and insanely-cheap parking.

As the world of editing evolved from an art of pure juxtaposition to an art of layers, graphics, software and technology,
I evolved... in subtle apposition.  While my editing style was never gaudy, I developed an approach that increasingly emphasized substance over flash.  Supporting it every step of the way was my sensibility as a writer.  Indeed, “editorial–writing” became a distinct element of my work.  In recent years, my ability to develop concepts and write effective scripts has been intrinsic to my style.  I eventually understood that the finest skill I had to offer was creating, nurturing, and articulating a vision for projects in film, video, or virtually any medium.  Today, under the umbrella descriptor of David Allison Concepts
where I present creative writing, strategic writing, copywriting, and screenwriting solutions — this is precisely what I do. 

As to the question of whether I perform these functions in a manner that is particularly sensitive and tranquil and generally respectful to my inner water-tiger, I leave that to my clients...

  Copyright © David Allison