Home / Gran Slam / 2020 / Alan Harkness, 88

Alan Harkness, 88

Age: 88

Byron Bay, NSW

Our resident movie master from all the years spent in the film industry, Alan has been a creative all his life. A fairly new resident at our Byron Bay village, Alan wasted no time in getting right into the thick of things.

He seizes any opportunity to nurture his creativity and to try new things today – be it writing, dancing or slam poetry!

A Life

I’m a pioneer elder, son of a farm creator

I am part of the country nature,

Surrounded by birds, animals, creatures, native to Australia

Duststorms three days long, birdsongs all gone

I find my way home, walking the railway line, past our north gate

From there I know the way home at a sand-stinging rate.


Three long droughts in a row stop any wheat to grow

Heartbroken Dad says “We have to leave the Mallee”

His brother in dairying was his best ally.

We ended up milking sixty cows by hand.

For a third of the milk cheque from the owner of the land


Three years late, deteriorating health, forced Dad to move us into a town with a population of 5,000 people

It seemed to us a big steeple to climb


Colac’s Regent Theatre showed movies every night and a matinee on Saturday which I attended right away

Then I got a parttime job as a trainee assistant projectionist

Which meant I learned how to show films as a perfectionist.

After high school I worked in the theatre full-time. My life became an exciting rhyme.


One night the film broke and caught fire in the gate

I had to run down stairs calling “FIRE – EVACUATE”

The Hollywood producer said the Colac Regent had to pay for a new print because one of my joins broke

I spent a restless night of no sleep; my mind awoke to the idea that my job was gone

Next morning, we found the other half of the join and stamped across it was ‘Columbia’


A move to Melbourne to work in the city theatres for Great Union, and to study for my projection license.

I then went to London to be part of the Film Production.

Luckily, I worked at Ealing Studios on a great variety of productions.


Back in Australia I got a job in a film unit helping local agriculture.

Within six months I am writing scripts, direction and editing

Films which farmers found crediting.

Two years later I worked on Stanley Kramers “ON THE BEACH” with Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire. I learnt so much on that film the industry finally new I WAS THERE!!!!

To find out more about the Gran Slam project and to see the rest of the incredible participants, click here.
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