NEWBURGH - Courtney Allen has wanted to be in the world of show business since she was a little girl. The 33 year old, life-long City of Newburgh resident is finally getting her chance to make that dream a reality.
After majoring in Media/Communications in college, Allen was intent on landing a job in the field. However, her job search proved much more challenging than anticipated. She needed work; bills had to be paid. An opportunity surfaced at a social services agency in case work. She took the training and immediately developed bonds with her clients, youth, ages 9-18 years old.
Allen also fostered a deep passion for the challenges social workers faced on a daily basis in their fight to bring peace, stability and hope to families facing incredible challenges. As those stories continued to take shape in her mind, her interest in and love for film and entertainment were once again ignited. An idea surfaced about five years ago: why not create a reality show on the topic? On paper, the concept looked great, however the arduous task of getting the release forms was too lofty. A lighbulb went off: How about a weekly, television drama show? Enter: "At Risk," a web series detailing the tragic, realistic depiction of five caseworkers, hailing from very different backgrounds. The viewer will witness the very real struggles these professionals endure as they attempt the balancing acts of their safety of children and the sanity of their own lives. The pilot addresses such issues as a suburban, upper class mother starving her aspiring dancer daughter. In another segment we see, "Rebecca," a delusional, drug-addicted mother, insisting she is clean and doing right by her children. In both cases, the social worker, "Kristy," has to navigate the intricacies of these adult issues, while looking out for the chief priority, the childrens’ well-being.
"This show is different than anything else out there, such as the shows on law, police and hospitals that are all over the place, but people have not seen shows on social work, especially social workers’ lives," explained Allen, who further details it as: "Law and Order SVU" meets "Nurse Jackie."
Allen quickly discovered having a great concept in film is the tip of the iceberg. Excited to embark of the project, she attempted to write "At Risk" solo. Realizing the challenges of the process, she soon got some assistance; however, their first pilot results came up too "dialogue heavy." A script consultant was in order. After six weeks all ten web episodes were rewritten; to date, three of those have been filmed. Thanks to opportunities such as The Spark Event (a contest for creative ideas that Allen won), she has been able to secure some funding for that New York City-based filming. However, a $20,000 budget has been forecasted to complete the first seasons’ shoot. She is hopeful many of the needed monies will come from her fundraising website, crowd funding on Indie Go Go. Excited to get the project back in filming motion, Allen has an August 31 deadline set on the site, but contributions will be accepted after. The desire and need for the project is too strong to slow down the momentum.
"It’s so important to get across these stories of these caseworkers and the families they work with; people need to be able to see what happens," said Allen. "A lot of people think only poor, uneducated people get services; the reality is people from all walks of life do, and when you watch this Series, you will see a bit of everyone out there in it."