A geologist and hydrologist by education, and a software developer by trade, Allan fell into the ‘film industry’ almost by accident back in 2001 when the first Classic Fighters Marlborough Airshow was held in Blenheim. Knowing the importance of visually documenting what he expected to be a significant local event, Allan (along with a local colleague) offered to film the activities during the airshow weekend with a view to recording it all for posterity, and to do ‘something’ with the video footage after the event. Following the purchase of a new Apple computer capable of editing digital video, and finding a stunningly well priced copy of Final Cut Pro on TradeMe, Allan proceeded to take the 20 hours of video from the weekend, and to turn it into a documentary version of the airshow that many aviation enthusiasts hailed as the ‘best NZ airshow video’ produced up to that time. By this time Allan had realised he had an emerging talent for editing, and really enjoyed the creative challenges of putting videos together that other people found engaging to watch.
Allan then went on to film, produce, write the narration script, and edit the (increasingly better quality) official videos for the 2003, 2005 and 2007 airshows as well — by the end of this cycle he was editing the documentary ‘films’ using over 90 hours of raw footage from upwards of six or seven cameras in operation at each of the later airshows.
Between 2002 and 2007 Allan became heavily involved in the general organisation of the Classic Fighters airshow, and handled a number of roles such as dealing with ticketing, the design and production of flyers, posters and advertising media, the ongoing maintenance of the CF website, working with and training show volunteers, interfacing and liaising with various show suppliers, development of sponsorship opportunities, and working with a diverse range of people to ensure the show worked well. With a base of project management skills gained during years of working on large software development projects, the airshow work further developed Allan’s ‘production’ skill set, and he prides himself on his ability to find solutions to problems and to just ‘make things happen’ when they need to in as efficient a way as possible.
Since 2008 Allan has concentrated on filming aviation and military vehicle related material under the umbrella of the ‘Historical Aviation Film Unit’, HAFU, a collaboration with Alex Mitchell, a stills photographer based in Canterbury. HAFU has produced and released several documentary DVDs (and Blu-Rays) over that time, and the unit has also produced and published a number of pictorial aviation books with Alex’s photos, written and edited by Allan.
While Allan has a couple of dramatic projects on a slow path to development, he’s also passionate about a number of other New Zealand documentary stories that he thinks should be told and which he hopes to start work on following the completion of another book project.
Allan is keen to be involved and to help out on the production side of any other local projects and film productions.