OUR FUTURE IN FILM INDUSTRY
By CHARLES CHAUVEL
PEOPLE down South often say to me, 'Why do you want to drag your unit, actors.
technicians, and equip- ment all the way to Queensland? Can't you get just as good back ground material within a hundred miles of Sydney? You've got a Queensland complex, Charles.'' Maybe I have. I was born here and spent all my early life in the Fassifern district. Perhaps a man does come back to the familiar scenes of his boyhood to get just the type of character and the type of country he knows best and writes best about. At any rate between 1925 and 1946 I have chosen Queensland locations for six out of eight major produc- tions.
However, sentiment quite apart, there are some very good reasons why Queensland as a State lends itself particu- larly well to the demands of the motion, picture industry. We need to consider these con- ditions closely because the movie making business and the tourist trade are closely linked. They are both important cash over the counter transactions for a State with any tourist pretensions at all. Moreover, both industries are now at the beginning of a big ex- pansive place in their development. It remains to be seen what bene- fits Queensland can reap from these growing industries and what attractions the State can offer film as well as holiday-makers. Efforts have long been made to capitalise Queensland's attractive- ness as a holiday resort. Good
entertainment films based on the lives of the people and showing the natural resources of the State, present the medium above all others for attracting tourists and settlers. There is no doubt that for ex- terior work Queensland provides ideal and varied conditions. I do not suggest that an expen- sive film studio should be set up in Brisbane. The installation and upkeep of such a studio might be- come a money drag on the infant industry. It is my belief that we are entering a new technical era in making motion pictures — col- our for all films is just around the corner Also we are enter- ing into a period of increasing naturalism in cinema art.
This affects stories, back- ground, actors, and approach generally. Curiously enough this is in many ways like going back to the early twenties when we filmed action stories out of
doors without the technical devices now supplied by modern studios and laboratories. More important than the erec- tion of a modern studio would be the creation in this State of a really up to date colour processing laboratory. With such a labora- tory could be associated a mobile production unit with the latest cameras, camera trucks, and other devices. Keen young men should be sent overseas to learn the new colour processes and if necessary patent rights purchased. If Queensland were to do this quickly it would capture the great- est part of Australian film pro- duction in one swift brilliant move. I am at present investigating the potentialities of such a move, and it is my ambition to make Queens- land's first full-length feature film in colour. Any planned co-operation be- tween the Government and the industry in my opinion should be along two lines. 1. — To provide good roads and reliable transport to the glorious locations that exist in this State. In short, to give accessibility.
2. — To establish a first-class processing laboratory for col- our pictures. As an independent producer, I would be very ready to avail myself of these facili- ties which I believe would be welcomed also by overseas pro- ducers. There are many changes ahead in studio work. The day may come when the heavy studios of London and the con- tinent will be bogged down in their trails, when mobile studios combined with improved laboratory and camera facilities will have come to stay. Such a change could be as re- volutionary to the motion picture -ndustry as the defeat of the Span- ish Armada was in naval welfare. Remember that originally Holly- wood depended on natural ele- ments for its effects; on good light, sunny skies, and handy open backgrounds of great beauty and diversity. I am not predicting that Queensland will be another Hollywood, but I am pointing out that we have many of the same advantages and we ought to use them to capture our share of the growing Australian industry.
We have better lighting con- ditions than our neighbouring southern States. We have a far greater diversity of scene. On Moreton Island we have the largest sand dune in the world, and an unequalled area, handy to the metropolis, for desert represen- tation. This is of great import- ance and value. We have the biggest cattle and sheep properties, and at the same time the unrivalled tropical back- grounds of palm and jungle. We have the glory of the Barrier Reef and the sailing luggers. We have picturesque mountain scenery in abundance and any amount of vibrant colour material. We should make the utmost use of these gifts of nature. I think I am right in saying that I have been making motion pic- tures in Australia longer and more consistently than any other pro- ducer. Already I have seen two big boom periods in the industry, one American, the other British. We are entering the third period now. I hope the local producer will not be squeezed out. Too much of my production time hitherto has been taken up with the promotion and financial side of film making. There has never been much money to spare. I have produced pictures on an eco- nomical budget. 40,000 HORSEMEN, which was the first Australian film to make a big success in the in- ternational field, was produced for £30,000. and earned £130,000. Even now when there is more financial backing for me we still have to work tooth out-moded equipment.
What I have always had, however, is the goodwill and welcome of Queenslanders. This has been a great encourage- ment to me in a rather uphill battle. People often write to me and ask me to make a film of their district. I like and share their patriotism of the soil. For me there has always been in Queensland something more than beautiful scenery. There has been a rich historical tradition, a colourful background of interest- ing people and romantic event. Normanby Station, for instance, was the home of the Bligh Nut- tings, descendants of Governor Bligh, whose log of the Providence the family still cherish. A neighbour of ours was Arnold Wienholt, the big game hunter, who had his right arm chewed by a lion, and subsequently disap- peared in Abyssinia. Under our old barn were the leg irons of convicts. How horrified we children were to discover them! The first time I ever went camp- ing with my father was at Spicer's Gap, on the old convict road laid down for teamsters to the Darling Downs. There are, too, the tragedies of Leichhardt, 'Prince of Explorers,' and of poor Kennedy, far up in the Cape country. I mention these people and incidents to show that Queens- land has a unique imaginative, as well as a scenic background that fits in especially well for the requirements of the grow- ing Australian film industry.
who is one of Australia's pion- eer motion pic- ture producers, beginning in 'silent' days with 'Moth of Moonbi,' which he 'shot' in Queensland. He learned the craft of sound film making with Universal Stu- dios in Holly- wood and ap- plied his know- ledge to the pro- duction of 'In
the Wake of the Bounty' which he made in 1933. Chauvel visited Pitcaicn Island for background scenes. Later he sold considerable footage to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This was the picture in which Errol Flynn made his first
film appearance. Another 'dis- covery' of Chauvel's was Mary McGuire whom he star- red in 'Herit- age' produced in 1935. This success was followed by 'Forty Thousand Horsemen,' re- leased in 1941. Herein 'Chips' Raffcrty made his bow.
The film was screened in England and America where it was received favourably. Mr. Chauvel made 'Rats of Tobruk' in 1944. This is a good record of local film production as financial re- turns from all his films were good.