Indy Ira Mallory
Indy Like a Local
Who is Ira?
A filmmaker and producer of commercials and music videos.
Q: Are you an Indianapolis native? If not, how long have you lived in Indy?
I was born and raised in Indianapolis, my mother’s family migrated here from Canton, Mississippi, and my dad’s, Nashville, Tenn. I’ve lived in Indianapolis my entire life with a short stint in Argentina.
Q: When did filmmaking pique your interest? How did you get started in the industry?
My interest in film started at 15 years old when I got my first home video camera. I started in the industry after traveling to Los Angeles to be a part of a master class in directing at 21st Century Fox. Among my instructors was the late, great John Singleton.
Q: How many films have you done to date?
According to IMDB, I have directed 10 films [laughs], all of which I am very proud. In addition to those 10 flagship projects, I’ve also directed close to 50 commercials, music videos, live video productions, and more. I am currently going into production on my 11th film.
Q: What filmmakers, either locally based or known across the globe, do you admire and why?
In terms of locally, I have great respect for a very young filmmaker, Deonna Weatherly (Indiana University ‘20); she’s a powerful voice; Jonathan Ockletree (Purdue University ‘11), a multifaceted visual genius; and Nick Braden, another emerging young voice with a ton of talent. Among the global icons, my favorites include Antoine Fuqua, Christopher Nolan, Spike Lee, Spielberg, Ryan Coogler, and, of course, the man himself, John Singleton. All the filmmakers I mentioned have used film to say something and captured incredible elements from life and history and infused them into live-action form.
Q: One of your works, In Closing, covers the closure of Broad Ripple High School. Did you attend Broad Ripple? Why were you inspired to tell the school’s story?
I did indeed attend Broad Ripple! When the alumni learned the school was closing, there was a lot of angst about preserving the legacy and history of the school. I began following the story in 2017 when the announcement was made of the school potentially closing. Making the movie was my contribution to documenting what may turn out to be the last story out of Broad Ripple, its closing. The style and method of the film is intended to capture how much was lost in 2018 and demonstrate what the school meant to everyone. Also, my other goal was that there be some record on film of how things went down in the end. It wasn’t so pretty.
Q: Where in Indy might you take out-of-town guests?
The Jazz Kitchen is great for showcasing the musical talent in the city. The Eagle for dinner and drinks. You can never go wrong with a classic: Nicky Blaine’s.
Q: Your Jewish faith heavily influenced The Dreidel. How else does your faith impact or influence your work?
That’s such a great question. Only recently did I take the approach of directly inserting my faith in my films. Or to put it another way, I have been much more open about it lately. But I really like where that’s going. My next film will also be a Jewish story. In the past, I have found subtle ways to insert certain Jewish lessons in my films, even those films that were not Jewish centric. I’ve done that for years.
Q: What topic, person, place, or event in Indianapolis, past or present, would you love to make a film about?
Great question! I would love to make a live-action film centered in the events and lifestyles occurring on Indiana Ave in the 1940s and ‘50s. That area was the center of Black Indianapolis culturally. My parents have told me so many stories. Just to see the fusion of cultures occurring at that time would be so fascinating to see on screen. My dad’s family arrived from Nashville, Tenn., and mother’s from Canton, Mississippi, and that was happening all over Indianapolis. So to see those various cultures coming together on the Ave at that time in history would be really exciting to bring to life. I have some very interesting stories my Dad has told me about the Ave that are movies all by themselves.
Q: Where in the city do you like to enjoy a great meal or drink?
For takeout, we enjoy R&R Extreme Wings, Greek’s Pizzeria, and BBQ & Bourbon on Main Street [in Speedway]. For a nice sit-down experience, we love The Eagle on Mass Ave.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
As a fan, my favorite film of all time is still Terminator 2: Judgment Day. James Cameron is another one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. T2 combines every element of great American cinema: spectacle; an unlikely, tragic hero; an iconic, relentless villain; and a satisfying, if predictable, ending. As a filmmaker, I think Saving Private Ryan is an almost unparalleled masterpiece.
Q: Can you share what you have in the works? Anything coming out later this year?
Yes! This year I plan to release a live-action film version of the story of the Biblical character Queen Esther, titled The Hebrew Queen. Later this year, we release the sequel to The Dreidel.
Q: Where do you like to take your daughter for fun?
My daughter loves going to The Children’s Museum. We were there during the first days of the reopening last year, and she was thrilled. She also loves the Tibbs Drive-In Theater.