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Australian Expansion,



Only since the invention ol talking Alms has the Australian picture industry shown any signs of real and sustained progress Previ. ously, there had been sporadic bursts of ac. tivity. Now, two large organisations are pro- ducing films regularly, and others look as though they may develop in the right direction.

The success of "On Our Selection" was a great encouragement for film production h Austialla. Before Mr Ken Hall made this plcturr for Clnesound, Ltd, there had been much talk about the possibilities of local activity Enthusiastic optimists had declared that Australia could obtain a world market for hei films, if only she set her mind to It But their arguments were without form and void Uki» the sound of peas rattling round In a can Beyond the idea that multitudes of sheep and cattle were to be disphvjed on the screen, no one seemed to be very clear where the material for these world-films vi as to come


Mr Hall rrystalllsed a great deal of this ambitious but Impractical talk into a concreta demonstration He himself deprecntes "On Our Selection" being taken too seriously It is, he points out only a farce But a farce can be Just as fine a production, In its own way, as drawing-room comedies are in theirs In point of photography and direction 'On Our Selection'1 was equal to most of what comes from overseas Most important of "11 the film brought thî attitude of Australian audiences toward Australian productions out of the sphere of fruitless theory, and showed Irre futably that there Is a profitable market within this country, quite excluding oveiseas con- siderations, for locally-produced films which are really worth while In conception and execu- tion In rural centres all over Australia picture theatres were crowded whenever "On Our Selection" took the screen In some places a second session had to be given at 11 o'clock at night to accommodate people who had not been able to enter the theatre for the first


I Efftee Films, with headquarter- In Mel-

bourne, has not enjoyed quite the same trlum I phant success with its productions, such as

"The Sentimental Bloke" and "His Royal High- ness," birt the films have beeu well enough received to enable further progress to be made. Mr Charles Chauvel has achieved a high ar. i tistlc standard in "In the Wake of the Bounty,"

which is now at the Prince Edward Theatre; . and, while it Is too early to predict with cer.

talnty on the Australian exhibitors' reaction, one hopes that one's countrymen will be intelll. i gent enough to appreciate the film The Misses ? McDonagh comoleted their picture, ' The Two

Minutes' Silence," some time ago, but as yet > It shows no signs of coming to a public screen ? lng At the Capitol Theatre in a few days

picturegoers will see the Pat Hanna film, I ' Diggers in Blighty "

Besides all this actual and tangible activity, there arise, from time to time, organisations which announce, with some flourish of trum. pets, that they are about to launch into film . making, and which even display front eleva-

tions of projected studios, looking like Warner ¡ Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer rolled into

one; but very little seems to come of all these I pompous forecasts


There remains the question of the over sea market How are Australian producers to obtain entiy into the theatios of Great Britain and America? What sort of films must they make, to achieve this desirable goal?

At present all the Australian films produced are being handled overseas by the American firm of Universal The Universal Film Cor- poration has already shown a certain Inter national-mindedness by distributing European films in America Through its enterprise Australian audiences were able to see the

\ admirable German production, ' The Doomed

Battalion " Now it is busying itself trying to place Australian pictures In the British market

In a letter written recently to local repre- sentatives, the head of the Universal organ! r sation In London remarked on a certain qual ' tty possessed by the English exhibitors which

must always be borne in mind That is i their conseivatlsm Outside the West End

of London where the "pre-releose theatres' are situated, the men In charge of picture houses do not care to make experiments They pin their faith to the English and American product This attitude Is haid to break down The innovator has always to fight

Still, the silent veislon of "The Sentimental Bloke" was widely accepted by English ex ' hlbltors years ago, and there seems no reason i why, with a little real determination, that ' success should not be repeated But such i success can only be made possible at this

end of the line-by the Australian producer, i He must study the outlook of the Old World,

and try to cater for It.

i There are two schools of thought, with re I gard to pleasing picture-goers overseas

One declares that makers of Australian films must provide something really characteristic ' of Aus ralla-something which could be done ' in no other country It maintains thnt local

produce s have not the resources to compete with English and American rivals in the sphere of international drama-the sort of . play that could happen anywhere, such as r the average drawing-room comedy This ! school of thought was responsible for On

Our Selection "

The second attitude insists that anything too t definitely and exclusively Australian in atmos ) phere simplv will not be understood in Eug

lnnd and America-that audiences will gape I open-mouthed, and feel no sympathetic con t tact with what confronts them This is the . mainspring of idea in "His Royal HiRh

t ness "

What are the facts, as far as the a-tual [ reception of Australian films abroad disclose

them? At present It is too early to saj. Accoidlng to English law, films must be "trad» screened" some time in advance of general release throughout the country Only when general release Is attained will Englands authentic reaction to "On Our Selection' and "The Sentimental Bloke" be obtained

One straw docs show how the wind is blow- ing, though The title of "On Our Selec- tion" has had to be changed In London to "Down on the Farm," for the reason that i hardly anybody In London knew what a i "selection" was This seems to Indicate that

the over-elaboration of Australian slang or . the caricaturing of Australian types, is not i the most profitable means of gaining a hear i ing One cannot help regretting acutely , that the Efftee management Insists on pro-

ducing and sending to Europe films which ' show the least intelligent side of the Aus i trallan people, and that "On Our Selection

well dhected as it was presented types of rural crudeness which still exist in this coun try, certainly, but which are not character-


It is ali very well for producers to become indignant with local critics, to remark acidly that their films are "good entertainment , and to plead for leniency towards an infant . Industry Once a film leaves these shores I and goes abroad, it should be more than

"good entertainment " It should be an am- bassador to make Australia known ine average English citizen's mind is almost com ' pletely Innocent of information about tms ' continent Surely it would be a mean ano.

unpati lotie act to disperse that ignoiance witn false or one-sided knowledge, leaving the true greatness of this country unexpressed?

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