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IN FOCUS PRESENTATION – 2017

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The AMMPT WR Inc. ‘inFocus’ program provides a free presentation for members and the public.

‘inFocus’ Presentation – Wednesday 16th August
This coming Wednesday Roy Mudge presents:
“The Glamorous, The Exotic, The Forlorn, and The Forgotten”
An in depth account of the rise and decline of four of Perth’s great Cinemas.
Through Roy’s careful research and the rebuilding and revisiting of photographic records on the large screen you will get some idea of what Perth has lost forever.
Roy gives us a thorough and accurate insight into these four great Perth icons which have not only been destroyed but have all but been erased from Western Australians memory.
Be at the RSL Hall 1 Fred Bell Pde, St James on Wednesday evening at 7.00pm for a 7.30 start. Free refreshments are provided

 

Inquiries to Keith Rutherford 9446 1627.

The In Focus topic for a few sessions is be Perth’s cinema heritage from the earliest days, which coincides with much of Perth’s growth and building history (pity so much of our early theatre architecture has now been destroyed.)
This multi-part video presentation will tell the stories of the people who made things happen and how the entertainment industry in Perth evolved over the years to enable mass entertainment to be accessed without leaving the home, regardless of living in the city or in remote rural areas. That is were our nostalgic journey will lead.
As the scope is so vast, the story will unfold in a number of episodes, shown on alternate months.
We will trace the origins of Perth theatre, which in the early days included live vaudeville with film screenings.
Here’s a list of theatres that will feature over the months (note how some venues have a change of name over time).
  • The Cremorne Theatre and Gardens (1895-1914)
  • Theatre Royal (1897-1978)
  • Queen’s Hall (1899-1926), Regent Theatre (1927-1938), Metro (1938-1973)
  • King’s Picture Gardens (1908-1911), Spencer’s Esplanade Gardens (1911-)
  • Capitol (1929-1968)
  • The Melrose (1908-1922) and Prince of Wales (1922-1935)
  • Shaftesbury (1911-1924), Luxor (1925-1944), Tivoli (1944-1949), Perth Ice Palais (1949-1955), Canterbury Court (1955-1999)
  • Perth Trades Hall (1912-1985), Unity Theatre (1940-1948), Delaney Gallery (1985-2014), Trades Hall (2014-)
  • Pavilion (1914-1930)
  • Britannia (1915-1918)
  • Grand (1916-1980)
  • Majestic (1916-1937), Plaza (1937-1965), Paris (1965-1984)
  • Palladium (1918-1925)
  • The Ambassadors (1928-1972)
  • Times Theatrette (1934-1936)
  • Piccadilly (1938-2013)
  • Mayfair (1947-1968), Capri (1968-1987)
  • Liberty (1954-1978), Kimberleys City Cinema (1978-1992), Liberty (1992-1997)
  • Savoy Theatrette (1955-1964), Savoy R-rated (1965-1983), Savoy (1983-1987), Sex cinema (1987-1991)
  • Town Cinema (1969-1992)
  • Academy Twin Cinemas (1975-1988), Lumiere Twin Cinemas (1989-1996)
This series will also incorporate historic footage of our grand picture palaces before they were demolished.
A most comprehensive look at an aspect of Perth’s culture, that has now gone forever.

Factors that moulded entertainment in Perth

 

 

 

PAST EVENTS

 

– “The Dying Of The Light” was presented by Roy Mudge in the June presentation. A light hearted but poignant look at life behind the cinema projector. Free light refreshments.

 

 

Ken McKay,again presented a story on Film History in May. This time he looked at the business of the great American Movie Houses entitled:

The Hollywood Studio System: 1930 – 1940

The period wasn’t all ‘Guns and Roses’ or ‘Hearts and Flowers’

The two decades that began with the Great Depression and led into World War II, is remembered as Hollywood’s Golden Age. More than 80 million people took in at least one film per week at the height of the cinema’s popularity. This period also saw the introduction of the Production Code, B-Films, and the first animated feature of Snow White. Hollywood’s Golden Age began to decline in the USA during the late 1940’s due to the introduction of television, Hollywood blacklisting, and the ability of actors to become ‘free agents.’ A final blow to the industry occurred in 1948, when antitrust suits were filed against the major studios.

 

“The Dawn of Sound:  How Movies Learned To Talk”

The AMMPT ‘inFocus’ program is pleased to host this new set of presentations. It is a complex study covering Perth’s early film entertainment through to the present.
This first segment aims to set the stage for early screenings and traces development through to the end of the silent era.
It should be understood that Perth’s earliest beginnings were primitive and life was hard. By comparison with other settlements in the East. We show how Perth was a backwater and not particularly inviting to new settlers.
The story is picked up during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901) when many of the early colonial buildings were established.
The Gold Rushes between 1885 and 1893 brought about a huge influx of miners from the east and from all parts of the world. The population was exploding.
1896 sees the first ever film screenings and marks a beginning for Perth Cinema. At the same time, Perth was experiencing a deadly heat wave. Water was scarce, sanitation was primitive, well water, and even the first dammed water became contaminated and typhoid fever broke out, peaking with epidemic numbers. Consequently, there was also a big growth in breweries, with beer often preferred to drinking the water, meanwhile temperance lobbies were fighting the consumption of alcohol and the temptations of gambling. This extended to simple fairground raffles that were collecting funds for charity. The country became dotted with Coffee Palaces, which were hotels devoid of alcohol.
They were some of the pressures society faced back then, as we left the Victorian era and its strict rules of etiquette… with much of the moral norms to be challenged by the stories and images that film portrayed.
This first presentation briefly traces film screenings from the earliest outdoor settings to more elaborate venues, as theatres were built with increasing grandeur.
Film sources, their content and the silent stars will be briefly conveyed through vintage footage, photographs, newspaper advertisements and posters.

This documentary contains many fascinating interviews, with lots of great archive footage which explains in clear detail the evolution of sound in the cinema.

It is sprinkled with vintage clips of stars such as Al Jolson, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, and Orson Welles.

The nearly 30-year struggle to bring sound to motion pictures is the backdrop for this insightful documentary.  Film historians, and survivors from the era take the audience from the early failed attempts by scientists and inventors, to the joined forces of Western Electric and Warner Bros. who, with their Vitaphone process, revolutionised the entertainment industry, perhaps more than any time before or since.

While a few earlier sound films had bits of dialogue, they were all shorts. The first Warner Bros. Vitaphone feature film, Don Juan (1926), starred John Barrymore, and was a handsomely mounted epic.  It was a silent film, but one that featured a synchronised instrumental score and sound effects. Audiences and critics responded with great enthusiasm, and Don Juan was a box-office smash. Many thought its success was not so much due to the feature film, but more for the fascinating program of Vitaphone shorts that preceded the feature. Its success drove Warner Bros. to try and expand the potential of VItaphone. Like Don Juan, The Jazz Singer was initially conceived as a silent feature film, with synchronised underscore and sound effects, but this film would also have synchronised singing sequences built around Jolson performing as only he could.

 

The Jazz Singer was initially conceived as a silent feature film, with synchronised underscore and sound effects, but this film would also have synchronised singing sequences built around Jolson performing as only he could.

 

The Jazz Singer stars entertainment legend Al Jolson in a story that bore a few similarities to his own life story. Jolson portrays a would-be entertainer whose show business aspirations conflict with the values of his rabbi father (Warner Oland). The Jazz Singer began life as a 1925 Broadway play, and was revived early in 1927, starring George Jessel. The Warner brothers offered Jessel the opportunity to reprise his stage role on the screen, but he and the studio couldn’t agree on salary. The studio then offered the part to Eddie Cantor who declined. The part was finally offered to Jolson, who was then at the height of his popular

 

 

 

Jolson had broken new ground on the stage and sold millions of phonograph records. Just his name on the marquee of a Broadway theater, or on a piece of sheet music, almost always guaranteed success. He found the challenge of conquering the screen via the new VITAPHONE technology irresistible. Jolson headed to Hollywood and began work on The Jazz Singer at a fervent pace. Only a few months later, his labors resulted in the creation of an indelible piece of motion picture history.

 

 

The Great Dictator is a 1940 American political satire comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by and starring Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other films. Having been the only Hollywood film-maker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, this was Chaplin’s first true sound film.

The next part will look at the ‘talkies’ in Perth.

 

RADIOSONIC The First 50 Years of the Wireless and the Gramophone in WA.

 

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It is planned to run for four months – till the end of August.

The new exhibition will be held in partnership with the Vintage Gramophone & Wireless Club of WA.

Radiosonic! showcases radios and objects from both collections and tells the story of the role that Wireless Hill played in the history of this loved form of communication.

Radiosonic! is accompanied by a series of free Sunday Radio Talks at Wireless Hill Museum.

Old Wind-up Gramophone Information Day
July 3,  12 noon -3pm

Australian Telephones (1876 -2016)
July 10,  2pm

First Television Experiments in WA (1936 – 1950)
July 17,  2pm

The Story of Analogue Television (1935 -1981)
July 24,  2pm

From 6WF to the ABC (1924 -1932)
July 31,  2pm

Dinosaurs of Sound (1925 -1935)
August 7,  12 noon – 3pm

Coming of Sound in WA Cinemas, Part 1 (1904 -1914)
August 14,  2pm

Original Records of Famous People (78 and cylinder records)
August 21,  2pm

F.R.I.E.D. (1879 – 2016)
First Real International Exhibition of Darksuckers
The Science and Technology of Darksuckers (1879 – 2016)
August 28,  2pm

All talks are free to attend.

Wireless Hill Museum is open Wednesdays & Fridays, 10am to 2pm;
and Sundays, 12 noon to 4pm.

For more information, please contact
Wireless Hill Museum
at 9364 0158 or
wireless.hill@melville.wa.gov.au

 

 

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IN FOCUS PRESENTATION –

IN FOCUS PRESENTATION – Richard Rennie – RSL Hall, in Fred Bell Parade, St. James – Wednesday August 17th – 7.30pm.

“The Science and Technology of Darksuckers (1879 – 2016)” – Free admission tea /coffee/ biscuits provided.

 

Do come along to support and to encourage our efforts so that these monthly meetings can continue next year.

     

Here are some reports on past InFocus presentation held by the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT).

Turmoil in the WA Television Industry during the 1980s

Turmoil Event April 2016

When television first started in Australia in 1956, the four commercial licenses were granted to newspaper proprietors, in both Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Channel Nine, Sydney, went to Frank Packer’s The Daily Telegraph.
  • Channel Seven, Sydney, went to a subsidiary of Fairfax, which owned the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Channel Nine, Melbourne, went to a consortium which included two newspapers, The Argus and The Age.
  • Channel Seven, Melbourne, was originally owned by The Herald and Weekly Times Limited, owners of The Herald and The Sun.
Then in 1959, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth got their turn.
  • Channel Nine, Brisbane, went to Fairfax.
  • Channel Seven, Brisbane, went to Queensland Press, owned by the Herald group.
  • Channel Nine, Adelaide, was owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owned The News newspaper.
  • Channel Seven, Adelaide, was owned by the Advertiser Newspapers, then controlled by The Herald and Weekly Times.
  • Channel Seven, Perth, went to a West Australian Newspapers subsidiary.
The “Greed is Good” notion took over business ethics in the 1980s, which led to the stock market crash of 1987. A  great upheaval that caused corporate raiders to come unstuck, empires to be lost and fortunes to vanish.
Meanwhile, Government legislative changes, and reduced regulation, had a big impact on the media, allowing it to be more concentrated with less owners. Then new technology helped centralise program distribution in Sydney and Melbourne, with an increasing tendency for content production to be concentrated there also.
The influence of Sir James Cruthers, Brian Treasure, Robert Holmes a Court, Alan Bond, Christopher Skase and even Laurie Connell will be covered. The NEW-10 licence fight will also be covered along with all the players.
On Wednesday the 20th April, 2016, The Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) will conduct a presentation that will track how the transition in television ownership took place during the 1980s.  Much of it determined by political decisions and business opportunities for the powerful elite. This brought about a restructuring of the industry. A process that continues to this day, influenced by the party in power and the lobbying power of the media moguls.
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One person who faired poorly out of the NEW-10 licence application was Ross McDonald, who had established TIAMAC as a television facility with three studios for commercial production.
In 1983, Ross built a three-studio complex in North Perth for 5.7 million dollars, for his Taimac Video Corporation, which merged with the Shepherd Baker Studio, formed by former West photographers  Mike Baker and Don Shepherd. Together they formed Taimac SBS, with Ross McDonald as the Chairman.
Then came the Federal Government’s decision to grant a third commercial television licence in Perth.
The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal received submissions from four applicants for the third commercial licence: West Coast Telecasters, Now Television, Perth Television and Western Television.
The high cost of maintaining expensive legal counsel had forced two of the initial applicants out of the race.
It took 117 days of hearings and around $6 million – most of it on lawyers’ fees – to reach a conclusion.
With the lawyers’ bills mounting to around $900,000, Taimac took a controlling partner, local merchant banker Laurie Connell.
This dragged on in part due to the points of order raised by and the court challenges mounted by the existing licensees to the validity of the Tribunal hearings.
These challenges had been made possible by the uncertain legal status of the Tribunal as a quasi-judicial body. It had also been due to the added complication that the Tribunal had to decide on whether the licence be allocated on the VHF or UHF band.
TVW proposed the establishment in Perth of a “localised non-profit community television station, owned through a government commission or statutory body and drawing upon members of the community to direct and establish operating policy”.
The submission envisaged that, existing commercial licensees, government and sponsorship arrangements would combine to finance the alternative station.
Brian Treasure’s West Coast Telecasters, funded by Kerry Stokes and Jack Bendat, was the successful applicant, defeating Ross McDonald’s Western Television.
However, NEW-10 was sold to Frank Lowy’s Northern Star Holdings before they went to air. The reason for this was a change in government policy.
Ross McDonald is understandably bitter towards the Federal Government and a hearing system which allowed a  company to win a licence on the basis of certain promises, which it then avoided by selling the licence.
Ross was prepared to honour his commitment, but he lost out on two accounts when Laurie Connell adversely impacted on his company.
During the 1980s, Laurie Connell started acquiring numerous local businesses through aggressive takeovers before setting himself up as a deposit taker for investors under the name of Rothwells Merchant Bank, which had begun its life as a Brisbane-based menswear chain.
Taimac was one of these companies.
Immediately after the October 1987 stock market crash, there was a run on the bank from local investors.
Connell put together a rescue package involving numerous Australian businessmen and approached the premier, Brian Burke, who provided a 150 million dollar government guarantee to provide short-term relief.
Rothwells ultimately went into liquidation, causing heavy losses to the government and Rothwells investors.
The fallout from Laurie Connell’s business dealings, led to the WA Inc Royal Commission, and ultimately claimed or marred at least three premiers — Ray O’Connor, Brian Burke and Peter Dowding. For Dowding organised the 400 million dollar purchase of a non-existent petrochemical company, part held by Connell.
This is only part of the NEW Channel 10 licence application story, which will be told in full on Wednesday the 20th April, 2016, when the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) will conduct a presentation that will track how the transition in television ownership took place during the 1980s.  Much of it determined by political decisions and business opportunities for the powerful elite. This brought about a restructuring of the industry. A process that continues to this day, influenced by the party in power and the lobbying power of the media moguls.
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Here are a number of newspaper articles that deal with the epic Broadcasting Tribunal hearing which resulted in Kerry Stokes’ West Coast Telecasters winning the Channel TEN licence in Perth… then to sell the station before it opened.
These can be found on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/watvhistory/
The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal received submissions from four applicants for the third commercial licence: West Coast Telecasters, Now Television, Perth Television and Western Television.
The high cost of maintaining expensive legal counsel had forced two of the initial applicants out of the race.
It took 117 days of hearings and around $6 million – most of it on lawyers’ fees – to reach a conclusion.
West Coast Telecasters, however, was sold to Frank Lowy’s Northern Star Holdings before it went to air.
This is only part of the NEW Channel 10 licence application story, which will be told in full on Wednesday the 20th April, 2016, when the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) will conduct a presentation that will track how the transition in television ownership took place during the 1980s.
Past and present television staff are welcome to this FREE presentation, which includes: tea, coffee and biscuits
Television staff who worked in the industry during the 1980s are particularly welcome… and we’ll be keen for guests to contribute on the night.

 

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On Wednesday 16th of March 2016, Perth science-teacher-turned-history-author and founder of the Light and Sound Discovery Centre, Richard Rennie, gave a presentation to the members of the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) on the coming of synchronised sound to WA cinemas. Also present were Steve Austin and Rodney House of the Vintage Wireless and Gramophone Club of WA, from where much of the equipment was kindly provided.
The equipment shown demonstrated early attempts at providing amplified sound, before the advent of the thermionic valve amplifier. One used a compressed air process that was invented in 1899, then further developed in 1904 and marketed by Victor in 1906. The other machine incorporated a Higham Amplifier, where in between the stylus and the reproducer diaphragm, is an amber wheel which revolves simultaneously with the cylinder. The amber wheel acted upon a hard rubber shoe where the  harder surface provided larger vibrations and thus louder noise. This Columbia Model Gramophophone was launched in 1905.
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Richard Rennie and Steve Austin
Many of these devices had extraordinary names such as the Auxetophone, which was demonstrated in Perth in 1907, to play records to the Theatre Royal audience.
In 1908, the Gaumont Chronophone was demonstrated at the Theatre Royal, followed by the German Wonderfraph and Auxetophonscope in 1909.
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The equipment shown demonstrated early attempts at providing amplified sound, before the advent of the thermionic valve amplifier.
In 1911 the Chronomegaphone was demonstrated at the Theatre Royal until its final performance at the Esplanade Gardens in 1914.
Edison’s projecting Kinetophone made an appearance in 1913.
World War One intervened on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918, when energies thereafter were devoted to the war effort.
It was another decade before the sound film era began again in earnest.
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The Prince of Wales was one of the two cinemas to introduce sound films to Perth on 6 April 1929, while the Regent screened The Red Dance (1928) using variable density sound-on-film, which contained music and no recorded dialogue, the Prince of Wales presented Warner’s The Jazz Singer (1927), using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc, though this movie was mostly silent, with segments of recorded dialogue and lip sync songs. The quality of the the sound-on-disc was then superior to the early sound-on-film, though this was to change with the development of variable area sound-on-film.
The Prince of Wales theatre was sited in Murray Street, Perth, near the spot where the underground train station is now located. The Regent Theatre was located in William Street next to the Queen’s Building. The Art Deco Metro Theatre also occupied this site from 1938 to 1973.
Richard Rennie kindly pointed out that May 15th is the opening of the Radiosonic Exhibition at the Wireless Hill Museum – the first 50 years of the wireless and the gramophone in Western Australia.
The Vintage Wireless and Gramophone Club will be presenting a series of six free public presentations on a weekly basis at the Wireless Hill Museum during May and June of 2016.
Every Sunday there will be a different presentation.