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Opened in 1928 to a design by local  Duty Manager Greg Gent said that  Oatmill’s three screens seat 230,
          architect Warburton Perry Knight, it is  the former owner, (who retains a property  160 and 110 respectively. Bold use of
          pleasing because it is different - in part  interest) stipulated that any conversion  colour - Cinema Three has blue walls,
          carried off with aplomb, sometimes  must be reversible. When standing on the  red seats and geometric, overlapping
          almost naïve. Described as Free   original stage it was possible to see how  wall panels in five other colours -
          Classical Revival in style, high parapet  this would be possible.    works a treat.
          walls either side of the stage, protecting                              Tina explained that the cinema is
                                            Star, Portland (10,000)
          windowed ‘rooms’ above, also suggest                                 open seven days a week because
                                               Generously curved walls and a ceiling
          a nod to ‘atmospheric’ on a budget.                                  restricted screenings create confusion.
                                            of opaline lighting extending to the stage
            The stage space is lower than the                                  ‘Spur of the moment’ decisions can
                                            show off art deco at its best, despite the
          columns framing the proscenium. This                                 mean good business, especially on very
                                            ravages of time. The balcony has been
          is original (see sketches by the                                     hot or very cold days. The staff has
                                            retained as the cinema and the new floor
          architect), and was not, as first thought,                           grown to 18, with four full-time.
                                            from balcony to stage conceals
          a change to accommodate a heating
                                            commercial premises beneath.       Port Fairy (2,600)
          plant installed in the 1930s.
                                                The simplicity of design and its
            The theatre is now part of a larger
                                            effectiveness (even in a half theatre)
          complex of buildings that includes an
                                            made this inspection a treat.
          indoor sports floor. Only the balcony
          seats (193 of them) are used on film  Oatmill Cinema, Mt Gambier
          nights.                           (24,000)
          Capitol Warrnambool
          (Population 27,000)
            Apart from their very different
          facades, this Capitol has a sister in the
          former Rex Daylesford, both designed                                    In this coastal town - its original
          in the 1920s by Charles Bohringer. Only                              name New Belfast accurately conveys
          the balcony (Cinema One) shows off the                               its appearance - the Film Society has
          original Spanish décor. It was a relief to                           taken on the task of keeping the cinema
          step into this detailed space after the all-                         open and with council assistance, plans
          curtain and otherwise featureless stalls                             to enhance it for live performance. The
          of Cinemas Two and Three, formed by                                  annual Folk Festival, when the
          dividing the stalls lengthwise, and                                  population swells to 10,000 is the
          walling off the original stage.                                      lifeblood of the enterprise.
                                                                                  What places this venue in a special
                                                                               category is the Film Society’s ‘against
                                            Oatmill manager Tina Watson in     the odds’ attitude to survival.
                                            discussion with President Gerry Kennedy.
                                                                                  Our hosts Hilary Reardon (daughter-
                                                                               in-law of the builder/operator) and
                                               How often is a modern cinema
                                                                               George Dunnitt explained how the
                                            found in a reproduction 19th century
                                                                               Society is prepared to try everything to
                                            skin? Set amongst historic mill
                                                                               keep going: buying DVDs and hiring
                                            buildings, the council stipulated that
                                                                               them out to members, encouraging kids
                                            any new building, even one built on
                                                                               to play video games on the big screen,
                                            what was waste ground, must match its
                                                                               as well as monthly film shows with
                                                                               CATHS’ own John Brown as
                                               Whether it was this surprise at
                                                                               projectionist. (See box next page)
                                            finding a modern triple inside, or the
                                                                                  The cinema is typical of the 1950s
                                            personality of manager Tina Watson
                                                                               country work of cinema architects
                                            who has run the cinema for four years,
                                                                               Cowper Murphy and Associates. That is
                                            it was a lift to the spirits after coming
                                                                               to say, it is brutally functional. Whereas
                                            from the sad arcade in the shell of the
                                                                               wall piers in a 1910 cinema were
                                            former Ozone/Odeon Star in the same
                                                                               always disguised with a pilaster, in this
                                                                               1954 version there is no embellishment.
                                               Tina explained that Oatmill owner
                                                                                  But so what? It was a cold and
                                            Shane Ford pursued his dream to run a
                                                                               blustery morning. The verandah pin
                                            new cinema and convinced the banks to
                                                                               lights were twinkling, just for us, and
                                            help him realise it. The cinema will
                                                                               things only got better. The Film Society
                                            celebrate ten years this year. Shane’s
                                                                               has installed hydronic heating at floor
                                            company Landmark Cinema also
                                                                               level behind each row of ‘balcony’ seats
                                            screens in four other towns during
                                                                               (a stadium design) and the rising
          Walled-off stage box (top) and balcony  school holidays.
                                                                               warmth was magic.
          today at the Capitol.
          8   2007 CINEMARECORD
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