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PUTTING AUSTRALIA ON THE SCREEN
There's a certain small bear destined to become a famous character before long. He's a chubby little fellow with the know; ing look -worn by those relations of his vrho were pictured by Norman Lindsay, end he's to have the place of -tumour 'in all JSoirtuiwell screen plays. In other -words, r--i'V ihe real, live trade-ma,rt of tihe cani paxx. Choosing him for that role was quite an accident. Mr. Harry Southwell, the pro ducer of 'The Kelly Gang,' which is to be shown at the Pavilion Theatre on Monday, ?week nras Traiking through 'Melbourne Zoo
one day wiicn _e causlit flight of tic little animal. - ? 'Look at, the Teddy bear,' he invited the friend who was with him. His com panion looked. a 'That isn't a Teddy bear,' he explained. That's an Australian native bear.' Air. Southwell was straightway con vinced that opportunitr in the shape of friend koala was knocking. He had been looking about for a distinctive emblem for his films, and had found it hard to find one to suit. Now, however, he set his mind upon using this very bear, and, with the permission of the Zoo authorities, he brought his camera man next day, and the furry little, fellow who had appealed to him became' a moving picture star. Mr. Southwell., who filmed the O. Henry stories for Vitagraph, is finding conditions very different here from those in America, but isenitfnusiafitic about producing in Aus tralia. He has arranged to make at least four pictures a year in New South Wales, following on the recently-finished 'Kelly Gang,' which he produced in Victoria. ti '1'or that picture,' Mr. Southwell said, 'the indoor scenes were taken at Coburg. To get the outdoor settings -vve went, araoug - other place?, to Croydon (about twenty -two miles from Melbourne), across the Dandcnong Range, and to thickly wooded districts in Warburton, the strong hold in one of the scenes. We had three teemen cutting dov/u trees for that, and, in all, there were 280 logs in the construc tion. We built it in a huge, natural hol low in the ground.' Asked how he chose his players for 'The Kelly Gang,' Mr. Southwell answered— 'Well, that was one difficulty I was up against. I just had to get people who had some experience in acting, and from them chose the best types for Uie parts, lu this way, of course, 1 passed over seve ral actors and actresses who were well known in favour of others who had not gone so far, perhaps, in their profession, but who suggested better the characters they would represent. ''Here's one trouble I had oh location. Some of the people I had chosen had taken lessons in the least reputable of the Dkotoplay schools. These had been taught — mistaught, tliat is — by men who knew nothing whatever about moving pictures, and their main ambition .it tivBt was to instruct the others. It took some trouble to persuade them thai their ideas of act iug were all wrong.' This producer, is one who pays tribute to Australian players. ''They've common sense,' he says, 'and so they're easy to coach. 1 lind that the most likely men and women to turn into screen stars are those with a little knowledge of acting — not those who aic slaves to acting. The man pro., whose every gesbure is studied and tlie.it rical, even in ordinary life, is hopeless for the camera.' ? Mr. Southwell is naturally alive to the I growinc d»»iic on the r-art ul tin? Austra lian public to see locally made films, and he re-.-JJscs, hkc other producers « bo hive '
? recently started work here, that successful treatment of Australian stories will help to deepen national pride. 'Since I have been iu Aulrfralia. a period of nearly a year,' lie remarked. 'I have been greatly impressed by the fact that the average* Australian seems to know as much, if not more, about America than he does about the land of his birth. This is not altogether surprising, because the screens of Australia have been for years almost exclusively devoted to boosting America. I am setting out to reproduce in moving pictures Australian themes by Australian writers, and wish to make every Southwell screen play a link in the chain of national propaganda. ''Wherever the scenes are supposed to be laid there will the Southwell players and camera men actually be. If our story should require us to go to the cane&elds of Queensland, the fruit settlements along the Murray, the great sheep and cattle stations ot' the West, or ths silver-lead iuine-=nt Broken Hill, we U pack up and do so We intend to depict Australian life as it was, and as it iB;j according to the particular story filmed.''