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Australia began at the top in motion picture production, not at the bottom as most persons believe, according to Raymond Longford, who has entered upon his duties as a director of Efftee Film Productions.
Mr. Longford has been making pic tures for 22' years in this country. Re cently he gave some interesting side lights on the history of motion picture production in the Commonwealth. He claims the distinction ' of having pro duced the first interior, picture in Aus tralia. That was 'The Fatal Wed ding,' made in 1911. 'A Maori Maid's Love,' for which he was responsible, was the first picture turned out in New Zealand. FIRST TO MAKE FEATURE Australia was otie of the first coun tries in the world— if not the first— to produce a long feature film, he recallsd. ,That was the original ? production of 'The Kelly ?Gang,' which was made 'in Melbourne at, a time when America had :not reached beyond the stage of ths 1000 feet . pictures. 'The Kelly Gang' -ran into 4000 feet, and was said to have been the first film produced of anything like that length. The first film depicted by Mr. Long ford was'' 'Caplam Midnight," made for Spencer's pictures from -the original script used in the stage play by Al fred Dampier. Mr. Ldngfprd had pre viously been associated with Dampier in the stage Version of the. play. This was followed by productions of 'Cap tain Starlight'' ('Robbery Under Arms' ) and 'Rufus Dawes' ('For the Term of His Natural Life'). The success of these productions induced the late Cosens Spencer to invest £10,000 in an up-to-date film studio at Rushcutterf Bay, Sydney, where Australia's fir»j- in ferior film, 'The Fatal Wedding.' was produced. That picture, which only cost £360 to make, netted £18,000 for i^ producers, in Australia and New Zea land alone. Mr. Longford regards the late Mr. Spencer as the pioneer of ths film
AT THE GRAND — A scene from 'The Maltese Falcon' which comirnnces tomorrow.
making-, industry in Australia.. .Other, successful pictures released from Spen cer's studio about that period included 'The Midnight, Wedding,' 'Margaret Catchpole' (the first Australian film to be screened abroad), 'The Mutiny .of the Bounty,' ' and 'Church of tlie Woman,' all of which were directed by Mr. Longford. RAN FOR NINE YEARS Another success was 'The Silence oL Dean Maitland,' which continued to be screened for nine years and netted a fortune for its producers. Mr. Lang ford also directed the screen version of 'Sweet' Nell of Old Drury,' for which the late Nellie -Stewart was paid £1000. Mr. Longford '.states that, a curious feature of the development of the mov ing picture making industry in Austra lia is the fact that successful Ameri- i can directors who have been brought here from tim^ to time have ndverbeen able to assimilate the right Australian atmosphere. Efftee Film Productions is now mak ing a talkie of 'The Sentimental Bloke.' Mr. Longford' directed the silent version, which cost only £900 and was respon sible for bookings of more than £50, 000 on its tour of the world. Among other silent films produced by Mr. Long ford were 'The .Pioneers' (Katherlrw Pritchard), 'Australia Calls,' 'On Our Selection.' 'Rudd's New Selection,' and 'Ginger Mick.' He was director of picture productions for the Common wealth Government-. in connection with the British Empire Exhibition. Prior to undertaking talking picture work Mr. Longford spent about 18 months in Europe, where he visited studios and studied the latest methods. He considers that the U.F.A. studio is the. most advanced from the point of view of artistry. 'Naturally the talkies have revolu tionised everything,' he declared, 'and to some extent I now feel as if 1 am returning to my original occupation— the talking stage.' Dorothy Mackaill and: Louise Fazenda are to spend a holiday hi Shanghai. P. G. Wodehouse's story, 'If I Were You,' is being considered for Buster Keaton's next talkie. .
SCENE FROM 'TILLY OF BLOOMSBURY' — The pic ture opens at the Ambassadors tomorrow