Alumni & Friends
As a freelance cameraman for some of the world’s leading news outlets, Mark Allan (B.A. ’68) has been shot at, stepped on and gassed -- all in the name of getting the story.
He has captured a would-be coup in the Philippines, secretly recorded the illicit trade of tiger parts in Taiwan, and shot 26 World Series among countless assignments for ABC, NBC and CBS. His work has also made him an unseen regular on "60 Minutes," the doyen of American news magazines.
Allan’s nearly 30–year–old feature of Morley Safer’s interview with Jackie Gleason remains one of the show’s most run segments. But Allan’s most widely watched work may be his regular forays into the frenzy at the end of Super Bowls where he helped turn "I’m going to Disneyland" into one of the world’s most celebrated advertising slogans.
His mission at game’s end is simple. Find the chosen player and record him saying the magic words -- complete with a "Disneyworld" version for the East Coast. But beating a surge of fellow journalists is like trying to ride through a cattle stampede.
"It’s wild. Everybody there wants what you want," says his wife Susan Giacomini Allan (attended ’74–’77), his partner in Essanay Film and Television company, which produces commercial and documentary work. "It’s survival of the fittest."
But Allan always gets his quarterback -- and the multi-million dollar shot, she says. Since filming Joe Montana in 1989, Allan has worked 19 Super Bowls for NFL Films, a track record that recognizes the trust people have in him, his wife says.
Looking back at his time at SF State, Allan says that Professor of History Arthur Mejia, who taught students to think, not memorize, helped prepare him for the diversity of subjects that he films.
The son of a cameraman, Allan resisted the field because of the long stretches his father was away. But work for him has turned out to be a family affair. Susan is president and executive producer of their company and his youngest son Stephen is a fellow shooter who has two Super Bowls under his belt. Last year, Allan and his son were nominated for Emmys, his son’s second nomination and his ninth; he won one in 1991.
In his mid-60s, Allan is far from retiring. When the 49ers or Raiders play at home, he can be found in the highest seat in the house shooting for NFL Films. Otherwise, he might be working anywhere in the world.
For Allan, the variety of projects keeps his life behind the camera interesting.
"When I wake up in the morning, I say, ‘what am I going to do today?’"