Australasian Gazette: Master Pictures Lead the Way

Australasian Gazette: Master Pictures Lead the Way
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Beginning with an intertitle to give the context, this newsreel segment proceeds to show WA Gibson and Norman Dawn boarding a ship bound for Tasmania. A second intertitle explains their purpose in visiting locations for the film For the Term of His Natural Life. The clip ends with the two men tipping their hats to camera. Summary by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers.

Filmed by Australasian Films, the same organisation producing the feature film For the Term of His Natural Life, this newsreel clip was used more for promotional purposes than the distribution of information. Public opposition of the production of For the Term of His Natural Life, was growing and a publicity drive was undertaken to improve goodwill and increase interest in the film. This newsreel clip was part of this publicity drive.

Opposition to the production of For the Term of His Natural Life grew because it was based on Australia’s convict history, but also because it was directed by an American Hollywood director at a time where the growing influence of Hollywood on Australian content became a concern. Only a year later, a royal commission into the Australian Film Industry resulted in film exhibitors having to meet screen quotas in Australian produced content. However, as we know, this would not solve this ongoing problem.

As this newsreel is silent, intertitles have been used to provide facts and figures as well as to explain what and who is on screen. According to this newsreel, For the Term of His Natural Life was to be produced locally for a cost of over £40,000, a budget unlike any other at the time.

Newsreels were an integral part of cinema programming in Australia before the advent of television in 1956. Issued on a weekly basis, newsreels enabled people to further engage with local and national political stories and events.

Notes by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers