New York filmmaker Meredith Alloway hasn’t spent all of her life behind the camera. She impressed Lake Highlands audiences with starring roles in dramas and musicals at the high school and the Methodist church before taking her talents to SMU. Neighbors figured it was just a matter of time before they saw her name in lights on Broadway or on Hollywood’s silver screens.
Inside Alloway, though, beat the heart of a filmmaker.
“I definitely knew I wanted to make movies from a young age,” she says. “The first film I made was in fourth or fifth grade, and any time friends would hang out would me, we made movies together. I made horror movies, and my first, called Consequential Death, was pretty dark for a kid. I directed it and was in it, and I killed off my character pretty quickly and came back as a ghost.”
Alloway was eager to get to the center of the action in L.A. or New York, but she knew she had lessons to learn.
“I remember playing Andromache in The Trojan Women in high school and thinking I don’t have the tools to do great theater. I don’t know how to access these emotions or handle the text,” she says.
Alloway went on to SMU, where she studied conservatory acting as well as playwriting and directing. She also spent a semester studying acting in London at the British American Drama Academy. Then she headed for Hollywood.
“Being in L.A., being an actress starting off, a lot of it can feel like it’s not on your own terms,” says Alloway. “When you’re auditioning, you feel like you’re waiting for someone to give you an opportunity. So, I wrote something where I was the right actress for the job. That was a return to acting on my own terms, as my own director.”
Over the years, she also stepped into journalism, writing for publications such as Filmmaker Magazine, Vanity Fair and Playboy. She has traveled to international film festivals to interview artists from all aspects of the business. Olivia Wilde, Dev Patel, Marion Cotillard and other respected talents shared their hard-earned advice with Alloway – and her audience.
“It was like a film school education. There are a lot of people creating things, and you have to find your voice and find the story you want to tell. Interviewing a bunch of different filmmakers helped me find what I like and see we need more representation from women and POC (people of color) artists. I took my time learning who was out there making what, because you have to find your film family.”
After her short film Deep Tissue premiered at SXSW and toured film festivals internationally, Alloway went on to partner with Hulu and the Sundance Film Institute on her next film, Ride. Last fall, she worked with 20th Digital Studio on First Date, which is also featured on Hulu. She directed Paris Jackson’s music video, “Let Down,” and her first feature film, High Priestess, is currently in development with a renowned production company. She’s busy working on her first studio script, which she calls “a fun, haunted movie,” and mapped it out on a massive whiteboard in her home office.
Like choosing your favorite child, Alloway says it’s tough to say which she loves best – writing, directing and acting are enjoyable for different reasons.
“They all lead to the same place – a good story. I always knew I wanted to make my own films, and maybe I’ll act in some, and maybe I won’t.”
Alloway now lives and works in New York’s East Village, where she’s been grappling with the pandemic and its shutdown of projects and theaters.
“It’s hard working on a horror script in my office until late, then going to bed six feet away,” she says. “I love going out to write in hotel lobbies, and my favorite spot just opened up, so I’m very excited about that. I met a woman in her 70s who was also writing there, and we decided to exchange emails and become work buddies. It was a New York moment.”