The Uncertainties of Allan
Allan was one of several jobbing actors who alternated between cinema, television, and theatrical roles; he did not have a significant part in the Star Wars movies in which he appeared. Allan was working on two other movies when his agent called about the second movie in production, “The Empire Strikes Back.” That meant any changes to his appearance—including a beard—could not be made since doing so would harm the other movies he was working on.
Allan didn’t need to worry, though, for he would eventually become a stormtrooper. The armor had been vac-formed and carved out of the plastic sheets with little consideration for filing off sharp angles or edges, so the fittings were hilarious. He wasn’t particularly skinny, but there were other guys of all sizes and shapes, and he was well-built. Every piece of armor was the same size! If it fits, you wore it; if not, and you still desired to work, you wore it anyhow and “suffered for your craft”!
As a stormtrooper, Allan frequently had no idea how his actions fit into the plot because that was not my responsibility. They endured hours of being forced to stand in awkward positions or run, leap, fall, and roll over the place. They were a group of sore and scarred brothers. With barely fitting armor, this was no easy task! White camera or “gaffer” tape has to be applied to protect it from splitting and digging in more pain than before. Some days, the action would shift to several sound stages with fantastical sets: huge hangers, ice tunnels, ice fields, jungle, and inner spacecraft corridors.
Additionally, they didn’t always wear our white armor. They were utilized in any way conceivable to conserve money if we were required to spend the entire day at the studio. You might be a featured character if you were less frequently employed on one set. If you had been storm trooping all morning, you might be a rebel in the afternoon, dressed in hot attire for the Norwegian ice fields.
In such a case, you might be taken inside a highly heated, arc-lit studio set where hot steam is blown through rock salt to simulate snow-covered ground. The scents were awful, especially in the tunnels, and the salt seeped into every crevice, worsening the wounds the ill-fitting stormtrooper armor had left us with! Ah, the cinematic romance!
Allan Flyng was requested to contribute to the Carbon Chamber set. The set was challenging to enter since electrical cables, and metal scaffolding poles formed the set’s substructure. The stand-by crew and camera covered the stairway made of scaffolding and planking used to access the upper set.
So a ladder was used to provide them mere mortals entrance to the set! Wearing helmets and full stormtrooper armor made climbing difficult with one hand. There was minimal lighting. Allan is often referred to as “the chubby one.”
Their main “action” was to space out around the gantry space uniformly and to remain still unless otherwise instructed. They struggled to remain calm because of the intense steam, heat, and honey smoke. They would be instructed to move to the left or right of the camera, to clear the view for the main action, or to manipulate the angles every time the camera position was changed.
One man, wearing a helmet and having minimal peripheral vision, was forced to take a step to the right that was too far, which resulted in his fall of around 15 feet to the concrete ground below. Although he was wounded and his armor was destroyed, it startled other participants and led to greater caution moving forward. Harrison Ford was moved into the scene by a stuntman and Allan, after which he rode down an elevator and reemerged as a block of stone. Allan admits that he never came any closer to him than that.
The studio canteen was poisonous, just like any other studio canteen! It implied everyone, including the office personnel and the cast, was mixed in. The food was awful!
Allan had been working in costume design and production in the theater by the time “Return of the Jedi” rolled around, and this casting was the last he agreed to. The day he was supposed to complete this film, he was scheduled to work on his first movie in the costume team.
When Allan showed up again, he was teamed up with people he had worked with and other crew members who had grown close to him over the years. He was quickly replaced by another actor who turned out to have a speech impediment, changed out of his black Tech costume into an officer’s drab green attire, and was sent onto the scene!
He was led around the sound stage by the first AD, Dave Tomblin, whom he had known for years, without a script or knowing what the action was about. Allan shouted this sentence repeatedly as loudly and quickly as he could. The statement, as written, was “Sir, we’ve lost out forward bridge deflector shields,” so it was a bit of a tongue twister. The phrase was reduced to “Sir, we’ve lost our bridge deflector shields,” even though he did it without difficulties. Enter the set, where actors operate buttons on boards and displays blinking here and there.
Ken Colley and another bridge officer stood above him, perhaps nine or ten feet away. The fun element of this was that Ken co-starred in the movie with Glenda Jackson and John Finch, in which Allan was supposed to work in the costume department and outfit Ken.
Nevertheless, the action was called after all the technical issues with the lighting, camera position, and sound levels were resolved. He finished it in one go! They then reshot the scenario with Ken and the other actor’s actions and reactions from different angles, and he was done! Many congratulations and thanks to everyone! Easy-peasy!
h Allan drove the 145 miles to the next movie the following day, and when he got there, the production office told him to call Elstree Studios in London. The ROTJ office informed Allan that there was an issue with the sound stock and that they urgently needed him back in London.
Glenda Jackson stood up for Allan, his new boss. Ken was okay and not needed; he had nothing to say, so Allan went back! Alan performed in one take after changing into costume and using a slightly different setup.
When he meets Star Wars fans, AWhen he meets Star Wars fans, Allan frequently gets questioned about why he hasn’t attended conventions before. The short answer is that his second lucrative business as a costume designer and maker kept him completely busy.
In 2009, he reconnected with Derek Lyons, an old buddy from those early days who had worked on the first installment of the series (now the fourth), and he told Alan about his experiences at conventions for the Star Wars franchise. He referred Alan to a few agents, and Alan subsequently “appeared” at signings sponsored by the Bounty Hunter website in Belgium and the Daedalus-Con in Bochum, Germany.
It’s important to note that Alan shares the same passion for Star Wars as many fans he meets, and they are frequently perplexed when they meet a regular guy who is just as thrilled to see them as they are to meet a new autograph for their collection. He has made a lot of really great, friendly friends, and he hopes that by continuing the charitable work that is so dear to his heart and supporting the Star Wars heritage in his way, he may fulfill the wishes of fans and convention organizers.