Alison Maclean

Active - 1992 - 2006  |   Born - Jan 1, 1958 in Ottawa, Ontario  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Comedy

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A filmmaker as unconventional in her everyday mannerisms and speech patterns as in the cinematic visions she creates, Alison Maclean constantly aspires to give audiences something new and inspiring. With a constantly evolving sense of inspiration and challenges, Maclean strives for innovation in the endless search to use film language and images in ways that they've never been used.

Born in Ottawa, Canada to a pair of native New Zealanders, Maclean made her journey back to kiwi-country at the age of 14. An intensely creative youngster, Maclean eventually enrolled in an Auckland art school where she studied sculpture and photography, later moving into filmmaking after discovering that it was the perfect medium for combining the varying aspects of her vigorously visual interests. Beginning as a production assistant, Maclean soon met producer Brigid Ikin and the two forged a collaboration that resulted in a number of short films. It was after seeing Maclean's acclaimed short Kitchen Sink that director Jonathan Demme contacted her to direct an episode of Subway Stories.

Noted for her distinctively dark style, often penetrated by a ray of humor and hope, Maclean credits an instinct of urgency as the driving force behind her creative endeavors, "It's a combination of your instinct and what's right but also what's possible." All of these factors were in place for Maclean's first feature Crush (1992). A quirky and intriguing tale of the female id unleashed, her dark, humorous, and complexly layered meditation on the disorienting nature of human relationships earned her recognition as a filmmaker unafraid to explore areas of the psyche often left untouched in conventional cinematic terms.

Spending some time directing for television before again venturing into feature territory, Maclean helmed episodes of popular television series, including Homicide: Life on the Street and the first two episodes of Sex and the City, while sorting through numerous offers for her next film. Rejecting offers from the likes of Disney and sorting through a slew of script development deals, Maclean penned three features before hitting a "huge wall of frustration." Little did Maclean know that the perfect project was lurking just outside her range of view -- Jesus' Son, the story of a pathetic but ultimately sympathetic and likeable drug-addled loser, was just the inspiration Maclean had been searching for. A longtime fan of Dennis Johnson's novel of the same name, the unconventional story, along with its fractured narrative structure and unique characterizations were ideal material for Maclean's sophomore feature effort. Hailed by critics as an intriguingly original and offbeat film, Jesus' Son proved that Maclean was a formidable force in fiercely creative filmmaking.

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