ALLEN HUGHES (Director, Producer) is an acclaimed filmmaker whose major leap into the entertainment industry came with his and twin brother Albert's jolting debut as the 20-year-old creators/directors of MENACE II SOCIETY. The film's compelling, realistic look at inner-city life garnered international critical acclaim and put them on the map as major filmmakers.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, to a mother highly supportive of her sons' creativity, Allen began making home movies at age 12. Although Allen and his brother had been making short films at home, it wasn't until Allen took a TV production class in high school that his flair for storytelling and natural filmmaking abilities were recognized. After he made a short film entitled HOW TO BE A BURGLAR, Allen's teacher realized he had talent beyond his years and linked him in with the school's public access channel. Allen went on to produce and star in three shows for the channel, which helped introduce him to a wider audience, and he and his brother began directing music videos shortly after.
It was on the set of a music video that Allen met and befriended the late rapper Eazy-E, who had been a big influence on Allen growing up -- not just because of his music, but because of the ways he dealt with theme and concept as a storyteller. Allen credits Eazy-E with teaching him how to set himself apart from others and harvest his uniqueness. Allen and his brother went on to become successful music video directors for artists including NWA and Digital Underground. They are also responsible for shaping the image of Tupac Shakur at the start of his career, directing Shakur's first three music videos, most notably for his solo debut single, the award-winning "Brenda's Got A Baby."
With the making of a short film entitled MENACE, about a bank robbery getaway, and THE DRIVE BY, Allen and his brother's reputation as innovative filmmakers began to take root. Their work attracted other filmmakers, who approached them to direct features. But they couldn't seem to find the right project, so they created their own. MENACE II SOCIETY, which was their first film to be green lit (when the Hughes Brothers were 19) made its world premiere at the1993 Cannes Film Festival. With a budget of roughly $3 million, they took a story they came up with at age 14 and turned it into a motion picture that grossed nearly $30 million at the box office. The film would make them the first major motion picture directors born out of Hip-Hop culture to make a film that reflected that very culture. MENACE II SOCIETY was chosen as one of the 10 best films of the year by several major critics across the country, and received Best Picture honors at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.
The Hughes' follow-up film, DEAD PRESIDENTS, written by award-winning playwright Michael Henry Brown, starring Larenz Tate, Chris Tucker, Bokeem Woodbine, Seymour Cassel, Martin Sheen, Keith David and N'Bushe Wright, was the story of a young man's life, which turns to shambles after he is sent to war in Vietnam. Expecting to return home as a hero, he instead finds himself reduced to pulling off an armored car robbery in order to support his family. The film made its debut at the New York Film Festival in 1995.
Their next film was the feature-length documentary AMERICAN PIMP, which examined the men behind the world's oldest profession. For the documentary, the Hughes Brothers interviewed both retired and working pimps from almost every major city across the country. AMERICAN PIMP made its debut at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
In 2001 they released FROM HELL, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, set in 1880s England and based on an investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders and their alleged link to the Royal family. FROM HELL was their first film to open #1 at the weekend box office.
Their most recent film, THE BOOK OF ELI, starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, tells the tale of a lone hero's journey as he fights his way across the wasteland of post-apocalyptic America.
Allen's debut as executive producer came with the USA Network television series TOUCHING EVIL, staring Jeffrey Donovan, Vera Farmiga and then newcomer Bradley Cooper. Allen also directed the pilot.
Allen also has proven his talents in the music field. The first two soundtracks he and Albert produced, MENACE II SOCIETY and DEAD PRESIDENTS, both went platinum. With a keen eye for recognizing talent, Allen gave musician Atticus Ross his first composing job on TOUCHING EVIL and later brought him on to compose the score on THE BOOKOF ELI, Ross' first film. Ross has since become one of the most sought after film composers today, winning the Academy Award for THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
Allen's short form credits include the posthumous music video for the late Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," and the re-release of Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By." Allen's commercial work has included spots for Gatorade with Usain Bolt; Reebok's I Am What I Am' campaign, which featured skateboarder Stevie Williams, as well as music artists such as Jay-Z and 50 Cent; Nike with LeBron James; and Best Buy with the Black Eyed Peas. He has also directed music videos for the likes of Dr. Dre and Eminem. Allen has directed two PSAs on gun control entitled "Stray Bullet," and "These Walls Have No Prejudice," which have won 44 awards to date, including four Clio Awards.
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