Bush Critics by Don Featherstone

Bush Critics by Don Featherstone
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With Bush Critics (1961), Don Featherstone elevates home movies by combining crowd-pleasing shots of koalas with a genuine story arc.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that he would have needed to craft the story based on what footage he could record of the koalas.

The opening credits of Bush Critics (seen at the start of this clip) boasts a 'D for Don' with a feather through the middle, mimicking established film production studios displaying their logo on commercially released feature films.

The watercolours used in the opening titles are credited to Don and stylistically match the watercolours featured through the film.

The shots directly after the credits in Bush Critics establish the location and the protagonist. As the artist decides what to paint, the changing perspectives cleverly suggest he is being assessed or surveilled by the local inhabitants (while, in reality, they are the ones being filmed).

This film is silent despite the availability for over a decade of magstripe along the non-perforated edge of 16mm films providing synchronised sound.

At the end of the clip, we see Featherstone playing with technique, as he almost appears in his own painting when the footage of his painted landscape dissolves into the filmed landscape.

Don Featherstone (1902–1984) was a founding member of the Darling Downs Amateur Cine Society, established in 1952 and now known as the Darling Downs Movie Makers. He is arguably the society's most successful and best-known member, with a memorial trophy named after him.

Featherstone became an enthusiastic filmmaker after purchasing a second-hand camera in 1926.

Bush Critics was screened by the Federation of Australian Amateur Cine Societies at their Second Australian Film Program in 1968.

Read more about amateur cine societies and watch clips of their members' work.