Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Allen Maldonado EVERYBODY DIGITAL teams up with NBC Universal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
By Lapacazo Sandoval, Contributing Writer
Published August 24, 2017

Allen Maldonado of ABC’s “Black-ish” (Photo Courtesy: Benjo Arwas)

In Hollywood-talk, one of Los Angeles’ favorite sons, Allen Maldonado is “on the fast track” and considered “one to watch”.

Maldonado’s handsome face is well known and most remembered for his hilarious and recurring role on ABC’s “Black-ish”.  A proud representative holding up his Afro-Latino roots, Maldonado is also a member of the writing staff on STARZ’s hit series, “Survivors’ Remorse”, which just debuted its 4th season (August 20).  As a budding mogul, Maldonado runs a recording company, Get It Done Records, a film production company, Only Son Productions, and a T-shirt line, Vineyards’ Phinest — where a portion of its proceeds go to his non-profit foundation (L.A.)  Demo Nerds and his new app for short content,  Everybody Digital is launching October 3rd.

He recently wrapped Season 1 of “The Tracy Morgan Show”.  The TBS comedy is executive produced by Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).   The story is about Tray (Tracy Morgan), who’s being released from a 15-year prison stint and is shocked to see just how much the world has changed in his absence. Returning to his newly-gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood, he discovers that his former girlfriend has married an affable, successful White man, who is helping raise the twin sons that he never knew existed. Wanting nothing more than to connect with his kids, but having no money to support them or himself, Tray falls back on the skills he learned in prison to make ends meet.


Maldonado plays lovable cousin Bobby, Tray’s loyal cousin but not the brightest tool in the shed.  Just a kid of 15 when Tray first went to prison, he’s now grown up to be a small-time hustler who is always looking for the latest scam. He helps Tray adjust to life on the outside.

Maldonado appears to have his hands—creatively in a lot of jars but for him, at least, he’s looking at the biggest picture possible and finding ways to stack his cash—true— but to also influence content.  When you look at where this young man is going, it’s exciting because, as a child actor he’s been observing the ins-and-outs of Hollywood since he was just old enough to pull up his socks.  What I am trying to say is that Allen Maldonado has game and his moves reminded me of an article that I read in the New York Times and it’s worth reviewing.

In 2004, the New York Times ran a response by Lindsay Patterson letter on Elvis Mitchell’s Feb 26 (2004) article.

”No Green Light on Road From ‘Hood to Hollywood,” [by Elvis Mitchell Critic’s Notebook, Feb. 26]. She responded back thusly:  “To keep waiting for Hollywood to open wide the door for black filmmakers is futile. And if Hollywood ever gets an African-American executive who is authorized to ‘green-light’ films, he may not even green-light any African-American films (which would be his right).  So, if blacks’ films are ever to routinely have worldwide distribution, African-Americans must create their own equivalent of Hollywood. A place where filmmakers can experiment, fail and ultimately (one hopes) succeed. After all, integration, although a worthy goal, is limiting. Only a handful of black filmmakers and executives are ever going to be employed by an ‘integrated’ Hollywood.”

Standing back 13 years later, her words string true and although we can applaud new comers to the game who are “kicking ass and taking names” like Barry Jenkins, John Ridley, Ava DuVernay, F. Gary Gray, Dee Rees, Tim Story,  Cheo Hodari Coker, Ryan Cooger and producer Will Packer,  to name a few,  our community is still—proverbially like a tiny spec of sand on Hollywood’s massive sandy white beach.

It’s worth repeating this sentence again —  “African-Americans must create their own equivalent of Hollywood. A place where filmmakers can experiment, fail and ultimately (one hopes) succeed.” I think that space is the digital frontier.  Here (right now) we have a space where our voices can be heard, telling stories about us, by us with intellectual property that can benefit us.  Perhaps this digital space is a peek at the promise land where “creative slavery” or — at best — creative “indentured servitude” might be drawing to a close.”

(Photo Courtesy: Benjo Arwas)

But we must act fast…..


In a recent article in Variety, reporter Dylan Coulter interviewed Jeffrey Katzenberg on his plans and the article was illuminating, and encouraging.  In summary, “Katzenberg’s plan involves nothing less than the creation of a whole new species of entertainment targeting 18- to 34-year-olds: short-form video series produced with budgets and production values you might expect from primetime TV, along with top-shelf creatives on both sides of the camera. For example, imagine a drama akin to ‘Empire’ or ‘Scandal’ but shrunk to 10-minute episodes made for mobile consumption. Or a five-minute talk show, or a two-minute newscast — all with high-profile talent attached.”

Rewind.  A year ago, when I first connected with Maldonado, it was at the Sundance Film Festival and he was excited about entering into the digital space with Everybody Digital. Created by the actor and writer, it’s the world’s first app with an easy-to-access platform on which to show the world exceptional short-form filmmaking at the click of a button. Everybody Digital is the only app in the world where audiences will be able to find licensed, award-winning, original short films culled from the most prestigious film festivals (Tribeca, Cannes, Toronto, AFI, and Sundance) as well as from tomorrow’s groundbreaking filmmakers on the cusp of bright careers.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Everybody Digital—which will launch on October 3rd—is one of the industry partners for the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL along with SAG-AFTRA, Tandem, Producer’s Guild of America (PGA), Writers Guild of America (WGA), WGAW and the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

It’s a big deal for a creative team to be a part of the NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL and out of 4,200 submissions, 16 original short films and webisodes were choosen as semi-finalists and screened at the 12th annual festival in New York.   The finale screening and awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on October 18.

Here is what Afro-Latino Allen Maldonado had to share about his new app Everybody Digital being a part of NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL and his L.A. based foundation Demo Nerds.

Los Angeles Sentinel (LAS):  Mr. Allen, I can’t believe you are in New York City and your app Everybody Digital is listed as an industry partner.  My brother, we just discussed this new endeavor in January at Sundance, did we not?   (http://everybodydigital.com/ .  How are you doing everything that you are doing?  Did you clone yourself?  Is that the answer because frankly — I am confused. Help me out.  Aren’t you shooting the still untitled comedy for TBS that Jordan Peele is executive producing?  That’s what your groovy assistant told me!

Allen Maldonado: (laughing) Lapacazo, you are funny! Yes. I just completed the show and you know what, right after this [NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL] party, I am on a plane and will be back on the set of “Black-ish!”

LAS: Oh, is that why you are wearing “your sunglasses at night?”

AM: Jokes. You have jokes. No — look at my eyes. People would think that I am crazy if they saw how red  [my eyes] they are.

LAS: People will think, like me, did he clone himself since you are everywhere!  Hey Starz’s “Survivor Remorse” is entering into it’s new season, 4th I think.  When we kicked it in L.A., in February, you snuck out the writers’ room to treat me to dinner.  Thank you, kind man!  You know what I noticed then — man — you really love writing.  Remember, we talked about how much you loved being in the writers’ room — kicking ideas back and forth?

AM: You are right! I love writing so much — wow you are right—if “Survivor Remorse” comes back for a new season — I will find a way to stay in the writers’ room.

(Photo Courtesy: Benjo Arwas)

LAS: (laughing) Time to order more clone Allen!  Oh, by–the-by, are you still running your L.A.-based foundation Demo Nerds?  If memory serves, it provides free acting classes, tools, and services for at-risk youth and foster children in the inner-cities of Los Angeles.

AM: Great memory. For the past five years, Demo Nerds has been providing free acting classes, tools, and services for at-risk youth and foster children in the inner-cities of Los Angeles.  [Watts and Downtown Los Angeles areas.]

LAS: How do families connect with  Demo Nerds?

AM: They can visit DemoNerds.com to see when the next camp will begin.

LAS: How do professionals that might want to volunteer get connected with Demo Nerds?

AM: They can also visit DemoNerds.com

LAS: Let’s talk frankly about your newest venture into the digital space with Everybody Digital and keeping it 100% — no one, outside of the film industry, really watches short films?  Why would you ever want to devote such time and other resources for the Everybody Digital app for film shorts?

AM: I am laughing because what you said is true.  Most consumers do not watch short films and they should.  I designed the Everybody Digital because, like hundreds of other filmmakers, I was frustrated.  Filmmakers pour everything into making shorts, sometimes all the money they have in the world and there is no distribution for shorts films. Nothing, now that’s frustrating.  So you begin to ask yourself, ‘What’s next’ and the answer is create a distribution platform to showcase short films.

We are very discerning in our acquisition of short film titles. We have a very high bar that we will set the tone for our Everybody Digital brand.  To help me find the best-of-the-best, I am developing a team in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.

LAS: New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta team building. Impressive. Toss me into the mix. I have an exceptional eye.  Here is the other big question—keeping it 100%. To compete and become successful in the digital game you need original content. Do you agree?

AM: I agree. Thank you for bringing that up.  We are producing an Everybody Digital short film a month and producing an Everybody Digital original digital series every other month.  So when we launch on October 3rd there will be great content!

(Photo Courtesy: Benjo Arwas)

LAS: Back up.  What’s the budget for your Everybody Digital original content?

AM: As a producer, I use the assets that I have at my disposal which are considerable.  I own high-end cameras, a series of editing computers and a network of experienced film and television writers and actors.  That makes the cost low but the quality, well, that’s very high.

LAS: Smooth, you did not answer me about the budget.  Scared of you!  Lush. So is the Everybody Digital app free?

AM: The Everybody Digital app is free but that gives limited access. To view the full catalog and to enjoy the original content, it’s only $2.99 — a month – cheaper than a Starbucks cappuccino [cup of] coffee.

LAS: Last question … you launch on October 3rd but how did Everybody Digital get connected with NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL?  That’s big time! Stand back and look at it from my vantage point.  You have not launched yet but you are one of the industry partners along with PGA, SAG-AFTRA, Tandem, WGA, WGAW and DGA.  Brother, this is big time and I am so proud of you!

AM: (laughing) Lapacazo, you are funny!  Thank you mama!  You are right, it is an amazing opportunity for us to partner with this film festival [NBCUniversal SHORT FILM FESTIVAL] and we will be able to provide the eight finalists with the opportunity to be featured on Everybody Digital.  We do launch on October 3rd and I am very excited because along with featuring 8 of these incredible films and their filmmakers, they will be joining a full catalog of great short films and original short content which features many faces that you already know.  I am blessed to be able to use my industry contacts, which are actually just my friends, really, to create stuff that is pitch perfect for the mobile consumer. We are also going to launch a digital magazine as well and we are still taking submissions.

App launches October 3 Afro-Latino back on the “Black-ish” set




(Photo Courtesy: Benjo Arwas)

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