Producer Allen Gilmer’s journey into filmmaking began when he watched movies as a kid. “I’m the tail end of the baby boomers. Movies were a major part of our life as kids. I had the good fortune of growing up in El Paso, Texas, which had a collection of some of the finest old movie theaters in the country. El Paso Street was known as the Broadway of the Southwest in the 30s and 40s.”
However Gilmer’s final destination as a producer began on a different track. “I got my degree in geophysics because I was fascinated by our earth. Then I became the CEO of a software company that focused on harnessing resources to bring value to people’s lives, and that’s what I like to do – bring value to people’s lives, so being a producer allows me to do that.”
Although Gilmer rose in geophysics and excelled as a scientist, his love lay elsewhere. It was filmmaking that gave him the most pleasure. Gilmer founded, along with his wife, Riki, AHUEVO Films and Redbud Studios. “AHUEVO is the production company my wife Riki and I founded when we took the lead on our first feature film, Death In Texas, filmed in 2019 and released in June 2021. AHUEVO is a slang term we used growing up in El Paso. It means, in polite terms, ‘Of Course’, but really a bit stronger… like ‘Hell Yes’ but replace Hell with a stronger term. Subsequently, we helped found Redbud Studios with producer Scott Dolezal, Tom Brady (the director, not the football player), and actor William Shockley. AHUEVO is a brand we use when it’s just Riki and I working with others, and Redbud when we help produce and/or distribute film or TV content.”
The film industry has been impacted by Gilmer’s efforts. “We helped out financially with Nothing Stays the Same – The Saxon Pub Story when I ran into a friend, Vince Foster of Main Street Capital in Houston, and he asked me to partner with him on this film. It won the 2019 SXSW (South by Southwest) Audience Favorite Award, and we’ve done a couple of more Texas documentary things with one of its producers, Jeffery Brown. These types of films preserve Texana…they aren’t money makers. We first invested with friends in a film several years ago with Dirty Weekend, a passion project by director Neil Labute. It was awful.
“Through that project, I learned the value in reading a script first. Our first real efforts were in helping producer/actress Tara Wood make QT8, a documentary about Quentin Tarantino by having the cast and crew discuss his first eight films. It’s darn good, and we are working with her on doing her next one on Tim Burton. Our first feature was the aforementioned Death In Texas where I learned about the fickleness of reviewers…reviews were all over the place with that one. A couple loved it, a couple hated it, and the majority liked one part or another but not the whole. I learned that some topics, like appreciating your parents, are completely alien to some people. I learned the importance of getting in front of a controversy with a press kit and letting them know what inspired certain plot lines. My own criticism philosophy is first ‘Is it boring?’. If yes, then it’s bad. If it isn’t boring, then it’s just a test of an individual critic’s world view. Our feature film Frank & Penelope, which was released on June 3, is our latest, and it’s a good film. I like and am proud of all the films we have done save Dirty Weekend.”
Gilmer goes on to explain that Frank & Penelope was written and directed by actor Sean Partick Flanery. “It came about as we were discussing founding Redbud Studios. Scott Dolezal had bought the script from Billy Bob Thornton’s body double, John Thaddeus. He wrote a great story based on the Bloody Benders family in Appalachia who would kill and eat people who stopped by their inn. Scott had worked with Sean Patrick Flanery of Boondock Saints and Young Indiana Jones fame, who had moved back to the Houston area after 20 years in LA. We knew he wanted a shot at directing, and he said ‘Yes,’ if he could rewrite the script to bring in elements of the Big Bend area where we filmed the majority of the film. As a geoscientist, that area has always fascinated me, and is one of my favorite places in the world. The story is fun, sort of a ‘horrific romance,’ as Sean says, and gives you the opportunity to look at it allegorically. So, what’s not to like?”
Gilmer laughs when asked if he had any aspirations to act. “Oh, hell no! I have a face made for radio, as they say. Frankly, I didn’t appreciate how difficult it is to be a good actor. Try funding a film, casting your buddies and their kids, and watching through your fingers how hard it is. I’m sure there are some prodigies, but getting it right quickly is tough.”
Cover Photo Courtesy Chris Carzoli from Unsplash
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.