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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4446


Dr CASS (Maribyrnong) - The thing I find depressing' in this discussion is the timidity of the approach of the Government, lt seems that it needs cut and dried answers to every conceivable question; there is not much room for imagination or enthusiasm. If I may refer to the report by the consultants who drew up all this verbiage, in a summary of their findings they indicate, in discussing the needs of a national film and television training school, that 'there are certain problems. They concede this. They feel that the industry believes it suffers from 2 major drawbacaks. There are insufficient volumes of work due to a small home market and its inability to supplement this sufficiently in export markets. The next problem is that there is a great shortage of top class people to handle the key functions, namely, producer-directors, editors, script writers, film cameramen and art directors. They then say:

These two factors are seen by the industry to be self-perpetuating.

The report continues:

The key to greater volume of work can never be more than partially solved by any government action in the form of increased quotas, subsidies or the like as the home market is just too small. The greater volume must come from export markets which are seen to require higher standards. Higher standards, in turn, depend on having the necessary top class key people.

Of course the top class key people depend on a greater volume, and so it chases its tail and will never get anywhere. The point is that the whole concept seems to be related to the needs of an industry seen in far too narrow a sense, as far as I am concerned.

For instance, this survey indicates that it did not include an assessment of employment opportunity for graduates of the school in educational institutions. It did not consider the possible desire of some graduates for self-employment or to work on a free-lance basis. It did not consider students from overseas who might attend the school and then return to their home countries. In other words, the whole concept appears to be seen in terms of the needs of the film industry, the people who make films that are shown on the commercial screen; but I suggest that there is much more to it than that. T would like to quote from an article written by Phillip Adams in a well known national newspaper recently commenting on the views expressed by the man who took his place when he resigned from the Interim Council, namely, Hector Crawford. Adams says:

Hector's gloomy attitude to the employment prospects of graduates-

The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) mentioned this. He said there is not much scope, there is not much room for people. That is the view of Hector Crawford who it seems is one of the men who has been given the prime responsibility of reviewing the whole thing. Adams article continues: . . (who wouldn't make their debut until ground 1975) is just as baffling. For a start, film and television are meritocracies - forms of expression that need new people as surely as agriculture need new crops or Parliament needs new members. Perhaps he is being prophetic. He goes on:

Does society stop producing painters, novelists or musicians to protect the employment prospects pf middle-aged practitioners? Of course nol. And it would be just as absurd (and cruel) to prevent talented young film-makers studying their craft because of the shadows Hector sees in his crystal. Adams continues:

In any case, the Interim Council had carefully researched employment prospects and found that the industry needed more graduates than the school could realistically provide. For that reason we had always thought in quantitative rather than qualitative terms.

To get confirmation of that we turn to the first report of the Interim Council. In paragraph 9.2 it states:

Graduates can be expected to find employment in film and television production, whether in government and national agencies or in the private and commercial sector. A limited number might also find jobs with advertising agencies or in other branches of the communications media. In addi tion the Interim Council has constantly been made aware that there is a growing demand fo.r graduates-

This is where a bit of inspiration comes into it - of a Film and Television School in education. Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education, Teachers Colleges' and Technical Colleges . . .

Let us consider what Professor Toeplitz said about the whole thing - someone who has world stature as a film maker. He said:

I.   notice from your Report that the Interim Council has said that graduates of the School will find employment not only in film production but also in educational fields;-

There were no estimates made as to the demands in these fields - in the universities, colleges of advanced education, . . and so on. Tt is of course unlikely that the supply of experts in educational film and television will ever satisfy the demand.

In view of all the pessimistic views that have been expressed by the Government I would like to repeat that. Professor Toeplitz concluded:

It is of course unlikely that the supply of experts in educational film and television will ever satisfy the demand.

He continues with another bright idea, not that he is just trying to be bright but because he perceives a need in human terms for the community. He said: . . I think that the National School should be prepared to organise courses of limited duration for scientists and their counterparts in other disciplines, who might wish to use film as an aid to their own research, as a medium for training other people or, perhaps, as a vehicle for the popularisation of their life's work. For such people courses in the fundamentals of film technique would be of immense value. 1 should stress that such courses would be of more value if they were made available to scientists and others at the outset of their careers, rather than to their more senior colleagues.

This is a case for having the school near another tertiary institution where these people could be produced so that we can get some cross fertilisation as has been mentioned before. In other words, I think the whole brouhaha about the enormous cost - which I think is nonsense as it is really a drop in the bucket in terms of the gross national product of this country- on the ground that there really is not a need because after all it will produce only 15 graduates and they will not find work anyway is sheer nonsense. It is narrow and it is looking with blinkers over your eyes.

That would be a minimum. There are many more avenues of possible employment for these people. Adams continues:

Recently Fred Eng,les, the American producer . . . said that Australia needs cameramen, editors and technicians of international standard if we are lo persuade overseas interests to film more features here. But, more importantly, Australia needs these people itself - along with writers, directors and producers - if it is to develop a truly indigenous industry.

In fact Adams quotes, very interestingly, from a letter written by Hector Crawford to the Interim Council just 12 months ago in which he said: . . since the purpose of the school is to foster the growth of Australian-produced television programmes and feature films, I consider that it should train directors and writers. Courses should also be available in the technical aspects of film-making, but it is the lack of creative personnel (ie, directors and writers) which is holding the industry back. An essential part of a student's training would be the widening of his horizons in a variety of fields other than simply motion pictures or television . . .'"

Crawford continues: . . it is suggested that the school's curriculum should include lecturers on a variety of subjects allied to the arts.'

That is another good reason for having it in a larger area associated with other schools and next to a university. Adams continues:

And I would ask both the Prime Minister and Mr Howson to zoom in and take a big close-up of this sentence: 'Ideally, there should be one school established in Melbourne and another in Sydney.'

So much for the poppycock about the one we are proposing being too much for Australia already. Crawford himself feels there ought to be 2 envisaged even at this stage. Phillip Adams goes on to indicate how film schools have been around since 1918 in various countries in the world. It is not a novel idea. He suggests that many leading film makers of Russia, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia have all been graduates of film schools. He indicates that currently in America 100,000 Americans are studying film or television at the tertiary level. The equivalent for Australia would be something like 25,000 and here we are quibbling about whether we can afford to build a school to turn out about 15 people. What utter humbug and nonsense. I would suggest that it is time we recognised that this community is rich enough to afford a little bit of adventure, a little bit of inspiration and a little bit of courage in grappling with something that is new, some thing that we have not tried before. In any case for the future health and welfare of this community in terms of its intellectual and emotional development it is vital that we should develop this new form of communication. It is new compared to writing and other forms such as music, painting, and so on. Film and television are new. They are new mediums of communication. But just because they are young and a bit smart does not mean that they arc any less important as means of communication. In fact there are some who feel that probably film and of course television because of their capacity for immediacy and their scope in combining many of the other art forms ali together clearly visual, auditory and so on, are in a way potentially more important to the human race than all our previous art forms. It does not mean that film will displace these things, lt clearly builds on these other things. After all we cannot have films without writers. I am not suggesting it displaces anything. It builds upon these things but it is an integral part of the expanding necessity that we have for improving communication and understanding between peoples. After all, what else can exceed the capacity of a film to communicate beyond language barriers because one may not understand the language but whatever one's language one can understand the image.

For these reasons I feel that the Government is betraying itself and the whole community is being so timid and so reluctant to proceed with what was in my view a very modest proposal put forward by the Interim Council. When the Council proposed 60 acres of land as against the 8 acres or whatever piddling area it was for just a simple film school, the Council was looking ahead to a broad concept. I think we should accept the recommendation of the Council. We should not at this stage ruin the chances of the whole proposal just because we do not feel we can afford S7m at this stage over 5 years. Of course we can. My guess is that the way the economy is going some time next year the Government will embrace the opportunity to expend the extra money to encourage or to prime the pump of the flagging economy. So let us stop the nonsense about we cannot afford it. Let us stop being frightened. Let us be a bit adventurous. Let us drag ourselves into the latter half of the 20th century.







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