22 May 2009 - 11:49 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:07 PM

J. Harkness – Shot Of Love

Local filmmaker J. HARKNESS brings us SHOT OF LOVE – his gritty, grungy tale of junkies, police corruption and social malaise. BY FILMINK'S BRIAN DUFF

James “J” Harkness' Shot Of Love is the type of intelligent, inventive, ambitious local show that we all supposedly pine for. Yet, it didn't bank a tonne in ticket sales, and most of what it did make came from South Australia, where Harkness is based and could subsequently make the most marketing impact. In fact, just to pull the film off, he took on the roles of producer-director, although he claims that it's not something that he would do if given the choice. “I've worn so many hats because I care about the film, although I would love just to direct,” Harkness says. “Time spent being creative and artistic in the film industry is all too brief; most of the time you're hassling. If you believe strongly enough in your product, sometimes you're the best hassler and, while that's not something that comes naturally to me, I can be a little entrepreneurial because intellectually, I like the challenge of it.”

Like many independent filmmakers, Harkness has become a bit cynical about the local industry – calling it “piranha infested” and claiming that the “majors try to push you off screens as quickly as possible” – but his involvement has allowed for a perspective that he plans to use for future endeavours. “I've got valuable knowledge to impart and share,” he claims. “I care about Australian cinema, and certain things I've seen in the business sell Australian product short. For example, the way the industry compares Australian product with Hollywood mainstream films. Also, there's a lot of pressure in Australian film to be pleasing, to treat it like sport, and to back a winning team.”

Harkness sees a perversity in this construct: “Most of the films that have meant something to me haven't been enormous hits, and if there were more Australian films made, Australian audiences would come back. The great films that lots of people saw – Mad Max, Breaker Morant – were made in a culture of abundance, when there were a lot more films made…even though there were a lot more terrible films too.”

To his credit, Harkness knows that there is “a fine line between authentic, sincere personal pieces and indulgent ones,” and that some will surely see his as striding too close to that line.