The Moving Image:
The History of Film and Television in WA 1895-1985

Edited by Tom O'Regan and Brian Shoesmith


Tom O'Regan and Brian Shoesmith

A project such as this completed in haste over three months necessarily leaves out as much as it puts in. So what is here represents not so much what we believe to be the most important aspects of WA Film and TV culture, but what we could research and write about within the limited time at our disposal. Anyone acquainted with film and TV in WA would immediately recognise some glaring omissions. We have nothing, for instance, on the independent production houses - the Richard Oxenburghs, the Camella Muscas, the Shepherd-Bakers and the TAIMACS - who have over a long period made sponsored and TV documentaries and TV advertisements. Their significance cannot be underestimated. We have nothing on the nationally and internationally significant WA based film financiers UAA (United American and Australasian) headed by Perth solicitor John Picton- Warlow. We have not discussed the representation of WA society and industry in the film output of the federal and state governments. Over the years the Commonwealth Film Unit and later Film Australia has produced a series of films on WA topics and issues for screening both locally and in other Australian states.

In important areas like cinema popular memory, the cinema trade, the amateur cine-societies and audio-visual education we have barely scratched the surface. Likewise we would be the first to admit that our coverage of TV is very limited. Regional TV and the ABC barely get a look in. Comment on locally produced in-house shows - the Today, Tonight, Variety, Quiz, documentary and drama is virtually non-existent. Similiarly the changes - technological and industrial at TV stations over the years have been overlooked. However, at the other end of the spectrum the pre-history of the screen in Western Australia has also been omitted.

Other organisations which have been important in defining the terrain of local film and televisual practice have been left out. One such institution is the Perth Institute for Film and Television (PIFT - now called FTI). It has had a marked influence since its establishment in the early 1970s not only on film culture and film production education, but also in launching film and TV production outside of the stations for a national audience. On that score we still have to interview and place in context Joe O'Sullivan, Bill Warnock, and Alan Bond who provided, with no strings attached, PIFT's initial funds.

Other community organisations like Fre-video - a video access group which was later incorporated into PIFT/FTI -and Cinematrix, a feminist film group, have been entirely left out of the picture. They should have been included.

The reader could undoubtedly make further additions to this list. For all of these acknowledged absences this dossier has at least established the groundwork from which richer, more careful and more exhaustive accounts of this regional screen culture can be done. It is for this reason that we welcome your ideas and suggestions for further areas to be canvassed, for more memories and stories to be recalled, and for any unintentional errors to be pointed out.