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AMMPT Media Release – TV’s eleventh hour

Posted by ken On March - 31 - 2010


What: The pioneers of Australian television are in danger of being swept into obscurity. A national effort has begun to ensure these people and their technology won’t suffer the same fate as many of those individuals and companies who began our cinema industry over a hundred years ago.

Where: Meetings of concerned people from the cinema and television industries will be held in Sydney and Melbourne as part of a national unified effort to make certain our industry pioneers are not forgotten.

When: Industry personnel, private collectors and historians, and anyone interested in preserving the heritage of Australia’s moving image industries are invited to attend meetings early in May.

Storyline: With over 50 years of Australian public television broadcasting behind us, we seem to forget it was almost the same time span before the 1950’s when our own cinema industry was born. It was a time when the Salvation Army’s Limelight Department and other enterprising producers and exhibitors blazed a trail which in many cases, was emulated by others around the world. Five decades later, at a time when the new electronic media was emerging, there was little interest in preserving for the enjoyment and education of future generations, the stories, the equipment or memorabilia from those pioneering cinema days. Indifference to our industry’s heritage resulted in many significant items being lost forever.

Today after another 50 years, we are now approaching the eleventh hour in respect to saving what is left of the very early days of our television industry. What may appear to be commonplace today often leads to complacency. Fortunately the recently reconstituted National Film & Sound Archive has been pro-active in recent years in addressing this matter. Also private collectors and concerned individuals have saved many irreplaceable items from going to the tip. Budgets and other constraints limit what they can achieve. Support and collaboration of a unified community based national entity is needed to harness the passion of concerned individuals to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes we made fifty years ago.

Sydney contact: Keith Kanaar 02 9524 9691. Melbourne contact: Malcolm Richards 03 9699 3922
Media release written by AMMPT President Daryl Binning 08 9310 3377, email

Originally established in 2004 by a group in the Perth branch of the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers, membership of the Australian Museum of Motion Picture Technology (Inc.) – (AMMPT) has grown to the point where it is now represented in all States. An autonomous regional branch in Sydney has recently been incorporated with another planned for Melbourne in a few months time. AMMPT is registered nationally with ASIC and has been granted Charitable body status by the ATO. The word “Television” is now being considered for inclusion in the name. Details of its operations are listed on the web site in which current activities are described in the December newsletter.


Other features on the site, such as Cinemaweb, is an example of projects it is proposed to initiate in each region for both the cinema and television industries once local membership numbers and industry support has been consolidated. Also included is a report on last year’s public exhibition of local television heritage which attracted over 6500 people. This followed a similar successful display held in the Perth Town Hall in 2006. Other major projects are in preparation. These are aimed at creating a wider community appreciation of the achievements of Australia’s cinema and television industries. Also obvious on the web site is the moral and financial backing being received from many established and respected entities.

AMMPT 2006 Perth Town Hall Exhibit

Under the ACS presidency of Brisbane based Ron Johanson, AMMPT now has the national support of the Australian Cinematographers Society with recently appointed ACS historian Ron Windon also becoming a member. Ron brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the early days of the cinema production industry. Others including John Bowring – proprietor of Lemac, Butch Calderwood – editor of Australian Cinematographer, Malcolm Richards – proprietor of Cameraquip, and Lindsay Cox – the Salvation Army custodian of artefacts of the Limelight department and the Biorama company, Australia’s pioneering film producers and travelling picture showmen, are also convinced of the urgency of unified action. These are examples of industry leaders who recognise the need to preserve and exhibit our film and television heritage and make it accessible to all Australian communities.


Support has also been forthcoming from many sectors of the industry such as metropolitan and regional television stations, ScreenWest, local and national cinema chains, Lotterywest, local government, commercial entities and private individuals. The importance of, and the contribution made to our objectives by government entities, such as our Canberra based corporate member, the NFSA, with whom we enjoy increasing collaboration as well as with their State based counterparts, has also been appreciated.

AMMPT 2009 Fremantle Exhibition

Many in AMMPT are also members of the Australian Cinematographers’ Society and the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers who have contributed a wealth of information of the very early days of our industry but a growing number of new members are now coming from the television industry. Fortunately the value of the knowledge of those involved in the birth of the Australian TV industry is belatedly being realised. Because Australia’s moving image industries originated on the east coast, concentrated effort must be made to ensure its history is properly recorded and artefacts retained and preserved for future display. This can only be achieved with local effort.

AMMPT 2009 Fremantle Exhibition

Interstate government entities have already expressed interest in proposed activities in their region. We anticipate their tangible support once local committees are operational. In conjunction with the proposed May meetings in both Sydney and Melbourne, we will be visiting members with their private museums and some country local government entities who have indicated they would like to establish a moving image museum relating to past activities in their area. AMMPT intends to eventually be able to attract funding to assist with their projects. Our philosophy is to take the heritage of our industry out to the people – rather than have them try to track it down in some far away gallery or warehouse.

AMMPT 2009 Fremantle Exhibition

Over the past few years we have contacted several industry leaders seeking their interest and support. With the urgency of unified national action now very apparent, it is hoped the proposed meetings will garner wide spread support to preserve our industries’ heritage. What has been achieved in Perth with limited population, facilities and industry heritage could be replicated tenfold in the east coast regions, if only there was a combined will to do so. This is possibly our last chance to make it happen.

For more information please contact the writer, Daryl Binning on 08 9310 3377 or by email

Daryl will be in Melbourne around the weekend of May 1st-2nd and in Sydney the following weekend.


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