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BRITISH FILMS.

2G PER CENT. MAXIMUM.

ADVOCACY BEFORE ROYAL

COMMISSION.

A' maximum of 20 per cent, of collective British and Australian 'films was advocated by a witness before the Royal Film Inquiry Com- mission yesterday.. The same witness expressed the opinion that British productions Were Improylng and in- creasing in a greater ratio - than other productions.

An allegation that intimidation had been resorted te. drew from the chairman a sharp warning that if

such attempts were made the Com-''

mission would take a certain course.

The Royal Film Commission, now sit- ting in Brisbane, continued its sittings at Parliament House yesterday. The personnel of the Commission is: Mr. W. M. Marks, M.H.R. (chairman), Senators W. Ii.'Duncan and H. Hays, and Messrs. F. M. Forde-and H. Giegorj-, and Dr. L. W. Nott, M's.H.R.

FIVE PER CENT MINIMUM.

Osborn James Fenwick, proprietor of the Imperial Picture Theatre, Lutwyche, continuing his evidence on behalf of tho Federal I'ictuie Showmen of Australia (Queensland branch), advocated a mini- mum five per cent, quota of British and Australian productions as a beginning. He favoured the establishment of a Com- monwealth studio to encourage the Aus- tralian industry.

RIGHT OF REJECTION.

Witness submitted correspondence and telegrams in suppoit of the allegations made by him on the previous day that

the industry was dominated unfairly by

certain exchanges, through the system o£ "blind" booking. He' ateo gave the name of an exchange, whose representa- tive, he alleged, had attempted to warn him to be careful of the evidence he gavo before the Commission. He emphasised theriiecessityl of every contract contain- ing a provision (no matter what the du- ration) for the exhibitor to have tho right to reject any number of the feature films contracted for, up to 10 per cent, of the whole of the contract. His associ- ation was strongly in favour of a 6j'stem of. Government control for the film in- dustry for file purpose of getting a foot- ing for the British pi oduct. He did not think private enterprise could success- fully grapple with the problem. With íe spect to the quota system, witness thought that if it were adopted, condi- tions could be finalised for its operation within 12 months ftoin the date of notice of such adoption. Whatever the quota figure chosen, care should be taken to see that the figure allowed of sufficient elasticity to avoid the rnomaly of every theatre having to show the same picture.

"TRYING TO PUT ONE OVER."

.Referring to what he desoribed as "un- savoury methods" in the contracting of films, witness produced certain corres- pondence and telegrams, which had passed between bis association and the Para- mount Film Exchange. He related bow members of his association had entered into a contract which provided for the supply of 13 specials. After the contracts had been signed, two films, "College Days," and "Were in the Navy Kow," "were taken from the class contracted» for, and put into the super-special class. The exchange replied that the two films mentioned were~not included in the 13 specials contracted for: they were ad- ditional specials. Witness's association contended -that the "pictures were covered by the contract, and could not be placed in -a special and separate class bj- the Paramount exchange in ordertogethigher i «turns for pictures that happened to be better than other».' The contract entered into by hie association had been for lou per "cent, of the output of the exclianfie, Xo names ot films were stated in the contract. The association got no redress from the »exchange, which declined to treat the menVbers as an association, re- plying; to them separately ¿s individual

cxhibitois.

The Chairman: Your contention ia that the exchange was trjing to put one over

on you.

Witness: Yes.

The Chairman: There is no provision in the contract to say who «should select /the 13 specials?--No.

"The Chairman: You have made a aéri- ons charge against the Paramount people. The interpretation of the contract ap- pears to be a legal matter.

'Witness admitted that under the con- tract Paramount was legally right, tout ¿fe held that the tiwo pictures Ehould have been ' supplied under the contract. The exchange refused to -suDmit tile dispute to arbitration,

..-< ALLEGED INTIMIDATION.

The Chairman: You said yesterday that one exchange had given you to understand that you would have to be careful what evidence j-ou gave before the Commis-

sion.

: Witness gave the name of the exchange whose- representative had eaid certain things to him. The Commission, he said, had then been appointed, and was oper- ating.

The Chairman: -This is a serious wai- ter. , Very heavy penalties aire provided under the Royal Commissions Act for the intimidation of witnesses. Did the man in 'question give you to understand that j-our supplies would be seriously affect- ed? -

»Witness: He did not have time. I took

Kimi mp too_ quickly.

"The Chairman: I want to convey the statement generally that if person« dare to- intimidate witnesses who come ¡before this Commission the Commission will have to take a certain course.

Replying to Mr. H, Gregorj-, witness advocated a maximum of 20 per cent, ot collective British and Australian films. That meant that the exhibitor would screen one British or Australian film in five under compulsion.

In reply to »Senator Duncan, witness said that "The Only Way" was a British production, and a good one. It was a . picture that was j'ust too good in concep-

tion, power, romantic interest to appeal to tie general public in the way of enter- tainment. He took the picture to "lift up" the public a bit towards that stand-

ard/

JSenator Duncan: How do you find the standard of British productions?-«Not as

good in photography* sombre m character,

lacking in vivacity, compared with other productions, but very solid, more for J thinking and 6tudiouslj--mindcd people.

Mademoiselle from Armentieres" was a "winner." If? anything, British produc- tions are improving and increasing in a bigger ratio than other productions, but they have a big leeway to make up.

Replj-ing to further questions, witness fcaid that in order to obtain specials, ex- hibitors had to buy other films that they did not want. This wa6 a most obnoxious and growing practice, and the exhibitors resented it very much. Fairly frequently they found that the standard of the film contracted for wag not up to the standard they had been led to expect.

' A JOCULAR REFERENCE.

Robert Carmichael (Queensland man- ager, Famous Laskv Film Service, Ltd.), referring to the alleged "threat of intimi- dation mentioned by Mr. Fenwick in his evidence, said that the statement as lepeated to him by the company's repre- sentative was.that he j'ocularly 6aid to Mr. Fenwick: "You will have to be care- ful what you say to the Commission." Witness then heard Mr. Fenwick raise his voice. Witness subsequently told the lepresentative: "You should never joke with a man like Fenwick on "a subject biich 36 that." He subsequently saw Mr. Fenwick, who remarked to him: "You want to tell that fellow to be a little more careful. I do not want anybody to in-

fluence me."

The Chairman: It is a vcrj- serious matter. Apparently, Mr. Fenwick did not take it.aè a joke.

SPECIALS AND SUPER-SPECIALS.

Witness said that lhere were four grades of films as distributed to exbibilore: Re- gular service, specials, super-specials, and load show attractions. Referring to Mr. -Fenn ick's allegations, witness said that these- w«r« remarkable, ia view oi tie.

fact that »his company had never ex- perienced «"roy trouble in their gencrtl dealings with exhibitors. The exhibitors in this instance thought that by using their influence they might get these par- ticular specials at the same rates as other attractions. TJndcF no circumstances did his company "put anything over them.'

Mr. Forde: "Blind" booking is a good thing for you, but a bad thing for the exhibitor. They are buying a pig in a poke?-Not exactly; I would not say that,

In reply to Senator Hay, witness said that no specific attraction was promised or agreed to in the contract. The dispute concerned íevcn exhibitors out of 200. If the showmen would only extend a 'more co-operative feeling towards the distribu- tors, they would get» on better. It was not a fact that a picture on a circuit had been recalled and made a Bpecial. Last year his company released 26 British

feature films.

AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTIONS.

Mr. J. S. Kerr, M.L.A., public officer of the Australian Film Productions, Ltd., said that the paid-up capital of the com- pany was £7000. and the uncalled capital £4240. T« o pictures were produced, "The Moth of Moonbi." and "Greenhide." The cost of production of the former produc- tion was £4400. Tbeipicture had already earned a profit of £1300. "Greenhide" had cost £3800 to produce, and the earn- ings to date had been £1000. A contract had been entered into with Hoyfs for the presentation of "Greenhide" in 50 theatres. The general manager of Hovte had stated that it was possibly the best picture produced in Australia, and wanted to put it on the whole of his circuit. The company asked for a. figure of £1200; the figure obtained was £800. Had that offer not been accepted, the picture would pos- sibly not have been screened in any' theatre in Australia.« The company still had to get back £6030 to cover produc-

tion costs.

The Commission adjourned - st 4.30 o'clock until 10.30 next day. * < -

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