Courtesy of Southern Cross Austereo. NFSA: 66064
Note: The audio on the excerpt is location sound only.
The above clip shows the rehearsal and shooting of scenes from Demonstrator (1971). Outside the City Police Station on London Circuit, Steven Slater (played by Gerard Maguire) follows his angry mother Marion (played by Irene Inescort) into her car having been bailed out after his arrest during a demonstration at the Canberra Theatre Centre. The other scene shows Slater arriving at (Old) Parliament House in a vintage car with a couple of the demonstrations’ organisers.
David Brice, CTC 7’s newsreader, optioned a book by Curtin residents Elizabeth and Don Campbell. The Demonstrator is a political drama about an Australian Defence Minister’s plans of forming military alliances at an Asian security conference being disrupted by demonstrations organised by his idealistic son.
Brice thought the subject matter would make a great feature film so he approached television producers Warwick Freeman and James Fishburn. To raise the $300,000 budget, Brice contacted a group of Canberra businessmen. JJ O’Neill, B Jones, Rod Hanstein and Terry Briggs formed management company ACT One, and raised the money through Canberran investors.
Savings in crew and location costs helped keep the budget small. Camera and sound crews agreed to lower pay rates to support the developing Australian film industry. Prime Minister John Gorton even instructed federal government departments to assist the production, providing there was no direct expenditure. Fees were waived for: filming at the National Library of Australia, Academy of Science, Kings Hall and Fairbairn RAAF Base parade ground; the use of RAAF VIP aircraft, and ACT and Commonwealth police vehicles; and the participation of the Duntroon Military Band.
Although the main cast and crew were not from Canberra, off-duty ACT police officers, CTC 7 employees and Australian National University students played extras in the film. When one scene was short of extras, the filmmakers scoured hostels and pubs finding willing participants at Gowrie Hostel.