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Memoirs of a


                                    by Peter Broome
                         Part Three - A 16mm Interlude

            When the President of 20th.Century  Kingscliff hotel. At this time the hotel
          Fox Spyros Skouras visited in 1952 he  and surf club were the only buildings.
          was surprised that we had not entered  The hotel was in a paddock facing the
          the 16mm field, so haste was made to  ocean. Try and find a car park in  Authority had quite large theatres in
          do so. This ‘substandard’ film gauge  thriving Kingscliff now!           towns like Cooma and Cabramurra
          was popular with large firms and     Clients like the Navy and the   where thousands of men were
          organizations responsible for the  Prisons Department were fair in seeing  employed, and portable equipment
          welfare or entertainment of people in  that we got our share of business, but  moved by jeeps for the remote
          isolated situations - the Navy, cruise  competition in the private sector, the  locations. Winter or summer, they
          ships, freighters, NSW Penal Service,  clubs and the Snowy Authority was  travelled to dozens of locations to put
          Snowy Mountains Authority, The    fierce. We had some interesting clients  on a show.
          Australian Antarctic Division - as well  like jockey George Moore, Captain  Running all this was the Amenities
          as film societies and individual film  James Patrick of Patrick Shipping, and  Officer, Bill Joyce. I would fly to
          enthusiasts.                      Sir Garfield Barwick, who was general
                                                                               Cooma and be picked up at the airport
            Fox was last into this field. Our  counsel for Hoyts.
                                                                               by Bill, return with him to his office
          main competitor was the well-        Sid Albright, who now took a    where a deal took all of thirty minutes.
          established 16MM Pty. Ltd., a     personal interest in 16mm due to the  Bill always offered an invitation; “What
          subsidiary of BEF and Greater Union,  instruction to “get with it”, called me to  would you like to see?”
          Columbia and MGM. Soon, the RSL   his office one day and told me that Jack  With his four-wheel drive to get us
          and Leagues Clubs in NSW wanted   Davey, who narrated Movietone News,  through the roughest terrain, I tramped
          16mm for Sunday-only screenings of  wanted to screen 16mm on his cruiser,  all over the emerging Adaminaby Dam
          feature films.                    and I was to give him anything he  and went to the bottom of the T2 power
            In 1956 I was seconded to the   needed at no charge. Sid explained that  station.
          16mm Division to drum up business. I  Jack was paid ten pounds ($20) for his
                                                                                  The first indication that we had
          moved around the business and     first narration, and since then had
                                                                               completed the descent was the noise of
          industrial sectors of Sydney seeking  always refused to take more. Jack's
                                                                               the skip hitting the empty kerosene tin
          contracts from wealthy men who could  reasoning was that Movietone had
                                                                               at the bottom of the shaft.
          afford a projector at home. Standard  made his name in Australia, for which
                                                                                  The Authority was probably the
          rental for a feature and two shorts for a  he was grateful. And so it remained; for
                                                                               greatest organisation set up by any
          home screening was four pounds ($8).  Jack’s last newsreel he still received ten
                                                                               Australian government and the shame
          Meeting with some success, I was then  pounds.
                                                                               is we did not keep it intact for other
          sent to Melbourne and Brisbane to    The arrival of CinemaScope brought  bold engineering feats like turning back
          establish markets and appoint managers  the challenge to convert clients to the  the North Queensland rivers and
          for the new business.             new medium. The definitive lens was
                                                                               tunnelling Sydney effluent out west to
            All established safeguards and  manufactured in Chicago by Bausch
                                                                               the semi desert.
          aspects of commercial distribution were  and Lomb and was not cheap. My
                                                                                  For the 16mm release of A Man
          applied to 16mm. I met many       friend Keith Stevenson secured the
                                                                               Called Peter, church groups became an
          interesting people, including Tom  dealership for Australia and a colleague
                                                                               obvious sales target. As most
          Halbert an exhibitor at Surfers’  of his began to specialise in
                                                                               congregations did not have projectors
          Paradise. At this time Surfers    construction of the large screen frames
                                                                               or screens, we took the film and our
          comprised sand dunes with the hotel,  needed. Not long after, Tom Halbert of
                                                                               equipment to them. At the Central
          theatre and a few shops making up a  Surfers Paradise invented the Paradise
                                                                               Baptist Church, Sydney we screened on
          small town.                       lens, which was about half the price of
                                                                               percentage for eight consecutive nights.
            Tom owned a spare cottage behind  its competitor. So now Bill Kessler and
                                                                                  Years later I was to devote many
          the theatre, which he made available to  I sold the concept, the lenses and the  weeks to sitting on anti- piracy
          friends at no charge. To escape the  programs - a complete package.
                                                                               committees in Australia and Asia,
          November heat in Brisbane, my        First major client was the Snowy
                                                                               combating the theft of copyright
          appointee drove us to Surfers to cool  Mountains Authority, whose boss Sir
                                                                               material made so easy with the
          off each weekend and enjoy a Saturday  Hudson Fysh insisted that even a small
                                                                               invention of video cameras and tape,
          lunch of prawns bought at the Co-op  diamond drilling camp of or three men
                                                                               but the first example of this form of
          and a few beers on the verandah of the  was to have a weekly film. The
                                                                               lawlessness was in 16mm.
          10  2006 CINEMARECORD
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