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PICTURE FILMS. |

*

ALLEGED AMERICAN

COMBINE.

IN FULL CONTROL.

f~

Producers' Appeal.

A deputation of picture, producers declared to Mr. Tratten (Minister for Customs) yesterday that the picture exchanges were controlled by American interests, -which crushed out Australian and British Ulms.

The deputation made EUggostlons to the Mini-tor that the importation of American films should be restricted to 85 per cent, of the present numbor, the remaining 15 por cent, to be replaced by Australian and British films; that a bonus should be given the Australian producers on throo-roel Alms, equal to the «mount of entertainment tax col- lected In each theatre during the currency of tho film, or that the present duty on im- ported films should be replaced by an ad valorem duty of ten per cent., the proceeds to be used for a bounty to the Australian Industry; and that tho consorship of Austra- lian pictures should bo transferred from the State ronsors to the Federal censors.

Mr. Pratten exprossed sympathy with the deputation's aspirations, and promised to have all phases of the Ulm industry investigated. He Bald that ho proposed calling a confer- ence of Stato Ministers, in charge of censor- ship ¿unctions in their respective States, to ondeavour lo formulate a uniform policy.

The deputation Included: Messrs. Roland Groon, M.P., W. R. Bagnall .M.L.A., T. J. Smith, M.L.C.. A. Shirley, R. Darling, R. Longford, F. Barrett, G Smith, J. E. Ward, J. Ramstor, Rolfe, A. Higgins, A. G. MacGowan, T. Higgins, J. C. Mccullagh, C. Le Malstro, Walker, Scott, Aloxander, and Miss M. Mallon.

"FOREIGN PROPAGANDA."

Mr. Green, M.P., who introduced the deputa- tion, «aid that he believed we had In Aus- tralia the material necessary for making films the equal of, If not superior to, any pro- duced oversea. We were receiving through the agency of pictures too much foreign propaganda, which was detrimental to a healthy Australian national sentiment.

Mr. Bagnall, M.L.A., said that during thu past tew years Australians had produced at least a dozen pictures that would hold their own with the majority of thoso from ovorsoa.

Mr. Barrett said that the picture exchanges to-day were ownod and controlled by Ameri- can interests, and that many films were ship- ped here to-day which woro not wanted. The Americana had introduced the contrao system, by which suburban and country theatres wire bound to show only American pictures on cet tain nights of the week, and thus there was no room on their programmes for the casual Australian and British illms, which could not put out a regular programme.

In reply to Mr. Pratten, Mr. Barrett said that within 12 "wooka the Australian pro- ducers oould fill the gap of 15 per cont. if it were assured them.

AN AUSTRALIAN COMPANY.

Mr. Lo Maistro Walker gave an account oí the difficulties encountered by an Australian company he had founded some years ago to produce Australian films. Tho company had produced a picture called "Silks and Saddles," the box oillce receipts from which in two city theatres for one week amounted to £1700, of which tho company received only £198. The picture, which had cost £5600 to pro- duce, took £17,000 in Australasia, of which the company received only £3900. The Eng- lish rights were sold for £3000 and the American rights for 16,000 dollars. The Americans altered the title and altorcd the picture to nomo extent, and made £30,000 out of it. Mr. Walker declared that if tho he^t picture In the world were made in Australia thoy would not bo nhlo to Boll It to-day unless they received the assistance they wore asking for. The picture produced by his company was shown for a week In two suburban theatres, the company having to pay £450 for each, In addition to £100 each for rent. The company had boen able to pay 23/ for the £1 invested, and had then gone out of busi-

ness.

THE COMBINE.

I Mr. Longford, who claimed to bo the pioneer

of Australian picture production, assured the Minister that there was a combine thnt ope- rated against Australian films, and that the combino had boen In existence for 14 years. He complained that tho censorship In Aus- tralia operatod .«gainst the Australian pro- duction and In favour of the American film, and that the combino had refused to screen oven the Commonwealth pictures that were going to Wembley. "Wo reel that wo h.ivo a right to ïhow Australian pictures In Aus- tralia," be said, "and to show them without asking the Amerlcaos."

Mr. Shirley said that the Minister had al- ready made it possible for Australian pro- ducers to get "some kind of a show." They were being given a chanco by Australasian Films and Union Theatres, Ltd., but not by tho American firms, which were giving thora

no chnnce whatever.

MISB Mellon said that she had produced pictures herself with her own money. If they could produce pictures that would entertain the public she thought they should get those plcturos shown.

Mr. Scott Alexander said that there were at least 2000 good pictures produced In the past five years in England which had never come to Australia. He felt sure that the 15 per cent, was a limit on the wrong side, and thal Australian and British films could easily fill 20 per cent.

MINISTER'S REPLY.

Mr. Pratten pointed out that the Federal Government had no power ovor State censor- ship, and could only exercise censorship on films going out of the country or passing Into the country, after which the Federal authori- ties had no control. He agreed that we wanted to establish an Australian sentiment hero. With regard to the proposal to placo an ad valorem duty of 10 per cont. on Imported films In place of tho present duty, Mr. Pratten pointed out that the present duty was 1 per cent, so that the proposed duty would repre- sent a considerable Increase. The Govern- ment was entirely favourable to tho develop- ment of Australian industries and the Austra- lian picture Industry, if It could be devoloped on business lines. Mr. Pratten said that his promise to Parliament with regard to film censorship would bo carried out in every

detail.

PICTURE DLSTRIBUTORS'

REPLY.

Commenting upon statements made at the deputation to Mr. Pratten, Mr. Connell, secre- tary of the Motoion Picture Distributors of Australia, last night said that tho deputation had hardly stated the position fairly. "Firstly," he said, "the picture business in Australia Is not in tho hands ot American Importers. It is under the control of Aus- tralian picture theatre owners, who buy in open market the world's best pictures, irre- spective of whether thoy are British, Ameri- can, or Australian. -Importers have never sought to hamper distribution of locally-made pletures, and It Is a fact that moderate or good Australian pictures have always been shown by exhibitors.

"I notlco," sold Mr. Connell, "that the sug- gestion was mudo that tho theatre-owner should bo compelled to show 15 per cent, of British and Australian pictures on hiß pro- gramme. This is a matter purely for the Australian picture theatre owner, though per- sonally I think the proposai Is not a practical one. Tho exhibitor buyB tho doss of pictures his experience and his invested capital de- mands. In regard to the suggestion that tho amusement tax collected at theatres whero Australian-made pictures wero shown should be rebated t3 the producer, Mr. "Connell statod thnt the amusement tax was purely a war taxation measure, and that the war profits tax bad long since coased. "As the Australian publia pays this amusement tax," concludod Mr. Connell, "and as approximately £300,000 Is paid annunlly by picture theatre goers, we consider that the time has arrived when the Government might, as an act of grace, re llevu tho picture patron of this charge."

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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