A TASMANIAN FILM
"For the Term of His Natural
Pictures to be Taken Here
An Ambitious Project
The announcement in yesterday's "Mer- cury" of the intention of Australasian Films Ltd. to produce in Australia a mo- tion picture based on Marcus Clark's fam- ous story, "For the Term of His Natural Life" has aroused considerable interest, and the news will be welcomed that this is to be the forerunner of several other
pictures, the plots of which will be laid in Tasmania. The managing director of Union Theatres and Australasian Films
(Mr. W. A. Gibson, O.B.E.), who with the producer (Mr. Norman Dawn), ia at pre- sent in Tasmania selecting sites for pic- tures to be taken in connection with the
production, stated yesterday that Tas-
mania's wonderful scenic beauties lent
themselves admirably to moving pictures,
and that not only "For the Term of His Natural Life," but other films were under consideration for filming in Tasmania.
During the course of an interview yes- tcrday, Mr. Gibson remarked that he was practically the pioneer of motion pic-
tures in Australia. As far back as 20
years ago he started making pictures, with more or less success, and was the first man to make a 6,000 foot picture. As time
went on and with the advancement of the picture business, Australasian Films Ltd. built several studios, until to-day the firm claimed to have at Bondi, Sydney, one of the most up-to-date studios in the world: On the building, plant, and lighting, over £60,000 had been spent. During the past 12 months five pictures had been made, all of' them quite good so far as Australia was concerned, but realising that some- thing better had to be done if they wish- ed to secure part of the overseas picture trade, it was decided to import a director from Hollywood, thc home of thc world's film industry, who was capable of produc ing pictures that would be suitable for the world's markets. To that end the services of Mr. Norman Dawn, the inventor of the double exposure process in moving pictures, were obtained. Mr. Dawn had made about 40 pictures in America, most of them having been seen in Australia, and they included such notable pictures as "Lure of the Yukon" and "Wolves of the North."
Upon his arrival in Australia, Mr. Dawn was asked to select the scenario for his first picture, and he unhesitatingly chose Marcus Clark's wonderful story, realising that it gave outstanding opportunities for a producer to show his capabilities. Mr Dawn appreciated the fact that it would be necessary to in some ways modify the story in the direction of'eliminating some of the gruesome details of convict life.
Mr. Gibson went on to say that it had been asked why such a story as that re lated in "For the Term ot His Natural
Life" should be recalled, but he pointed
out that on account ot its associations with the convict days. Port Arthur was a favourite tourist trip, and in London the famous Tower of London, which had pages in its history far more gruesome than any connected with Port Arthur, was one of
the chief sights of the city. No one would suggest that because of its associations the Tower should be destroyed, or its history disguised. The picture, in addition to being of unique, historic interest would also be the medium of displaying to millions of people in all parts of the world the wonderful beauties of Tasmania, and in that way would prove an advertisement of incalculable value.
After Mr. Dawn had chosen his subject it was necessary to select a cast, Mr. Gib- son proceeded. He made various tests of Australian actors and actresses, and while appreciating their capabilities, he consid- ered they had not had sufficient experi- ence to do justice to such a pictnre. It was therefore decided to send to America for artists, and the services had been secured of Miss Eva Novak to take'the lead. Miss Catherine Dawn, and Messrs. George Fisher and Steve Murphy. Mr. W. Roose, a camera man of considerable experience, had also been secured, and it was felt that by the introduction of such artists Australian actors and staffs would have an opportunity of seeing how modern pictures were made. This would be bene- ficial to them in future productions. It was the intention of Australian Films Ltd.
to continue making pictures in Australia and Tasmania. He desired to stress the
point that the productions of his com- pany were purely Australian, as it was working entirely on Australian capital and making its pictures in Australia. It was
estimated that the production of "For
thc Term of His Natural Life" would cost at least £40,000, and it would be impos- sible for the company to recoup itself by confining thc screenings to Australia, which represented only 1 1/2 per cent of the world's market, whereas America repre sented over 80 per cent. Such a venture was only possible provided the world's markets could be exploited, and he was convinced that thc story of 'For the Term of His Natural Life," as it would be screened, would have a world-wide de mand.
Mr. Gibson and Mr. Dawn have just re- turned to Hobart from Port Arthur, where locations have been selected for. pictures, and about the middle of September they will return with about 20 principals to take the outdoor scenes at Port Arthur, in Macquarie Harbour (some of the scenes in the novel are laid round Settlement Island, the Gordon River, and Hell's Gates, the entrance to Macquarie Har- bour), and also in and around Hobart. It is expected that at least a month would be spent in Tasmania taking pictures. The indoor scenes are to be made at the studio in Sydney, and a start will be made with that part of the work next month. The supernumeraries for the outdoor scenes Mr. Gibson will engage in Tasmania.
The visitors expressed themselves as very appreciative of the assistance they
had been afforded on all sides whilst in Tasmania, and particularly thanked Mr. J. Beattie for his help in making available
his museum of Port Arthur relics and
loaning costumes of the period, from which duplicates would be made for the use of the characters of the picture.
PROHIBITION OF FILM. QUESTION IN FEDERAL
MELBOURNE, July 23.
In the Senate to-day, thc Honorary Min- ister, (Senator Crawford), in reply to Senator Guthrie (Vic), said that it was understood that preparations were being made to film thc Australian story, "For the Term of His Natural Life." The Com- monwealth had no constitutional power to prevent this, but the question of prohibit- ing the export of copies would bc consid- ered, should the contingency arise.