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Film historian Graham Shirley was the speaker at AMOHG’s September 2018 meeting. Graham is arguably more familiar with the NFSA’s oral history collection than anyone else in Australia – having recorded a great number, and used many more in his research. In his talk he noted that NFSA holds many oral history interviews with significant figures in the media industry – figures whose stories range from the silent film era to the present day.

But while household names such as Jimmy Barnes and films like Picnic at Hanging Rock are featured and easy to find, there are hundreds of other interviews with industry figures who are less well-known, but whose memories and insights together tell the story of the Australian media industry, and how the rest of the NFSA’s audiovisual collection – Australia’s history on screen and in sound – came to be made.

Graham’s talk is reproduced here in full

1: Profiling Oral History at NFSA

Since the advent of the new NFSA website – ‘new’ as of several years ago – the NFSA’s oral history holdings have been profiled in ways unimaginable even five years ago. Much of this has been thanks to NFSA production teams who have collaborated with text, audio clips, video clips, photos and graphics for NFSA online exhibitions – for instance, those dealing with such well-known feature films as Picnic at Hanging RockPriscilla Queen of the Desert, Storm Boy, Muriel’s WeddingStrictly Ballroom  and such household names as Graham Kennedy, the singers Jimmy Barnes and Tex Perkins, the actors Damon Herriman and Chris Haywood, and TV journalists including Barrie Cassidy, Jeff McMullen, Leigh Sales and Lisa Wilkinson. Visitors to the NFSA website have often been drawn to visit the site by those personalities. As household names, they have won their fame since the arrival of Australian television in 1956, and with a particular emphasis on post-1970 films, TV programs and recording careers.

The “hidden collections”

But what about lesser-known oral history interviewees in the NFSA’s collection – people whose heyday was before the mid-1950s, or who may have contributed valuably to films, TV and radio programs, or to the sound recording industry, but who, for various reasons are normally far from public eyes and ears? Their interviews are part of what I would call the hidden collections of the NFSA – oral histories recorded as part of a particular initiative over the decades since the 1960s, sometimes searchable under a project name, and otherwise disconnected and waiting for public recognition.

2: Recording Australian Film Pioneers – The Beginnings

Early interviews

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Ken G Hall

The 1950s and 60s saw the growth of on-camera interviews with a wide range of people in documentary, and in television news and current affairs. Some of the earliest interviews with Australian film pioneers were recorded on film – Raymond Longford in the late 1950s for a Commonwealth Film Unit Australian Diary segment that was never completed; the Salvation Army’s Reg Perry and Colonel Howarth in the 1960s for interviews not included in Alan Anderson’s The Pictures that Moved; and Elsa Chauvel, Ken G. Hall and Bert Cross for Tony Buckley’s documentary on early Australian film, Forgotten Cinema.

 

From 1957, Hazel de Berg pioneered the audio-recording of many Australians, eminent and otherwise, and in the mid-1970s the Australia Council started commissioning, on 16 mm colour film, oral histories with a wide range of Australian veterans of the Australian arts and media including at least one filmmaker, Ken Hall, and the film distribution executives Herc McIntyre and Al Daff. The Australia Council also funded filmmaker Hugh McInnes to record audio interviews with a variety of film workers. In the early 1970s Joan Long recorded several audio oral histories with film pioneers to research stories she wanted to tell in her documentary, The Passionate Industry. In August 1971, I recorded my first oral history. My interview subject was Neville Macken, a businessman who had funded one of Australia’s first viable sound-on-film recording processes.

The Film Pioneers Project

In approximately 1975 the Australia Council decided that although they would continue filming oral histories from the creative community generally, they would from now on leave oral histories with film personnel to other bodies including the National Library.

Fortunately, from October 1975, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School injected a new burst of energy into media-related oral history. Julie James Bailey, who from that month headed the school’s Research and Survey Unit, had oral history among her responsibilities. In 1976, I was invited to join a steering committee chaired by Julie at the Film School which intended to find ways to record oral histories with early film industry people. After the committee had met a couple of times, in August 1976 the AFC announced that they would grant $12,250 for the audio-recording and selective filming of 35 film pioneers. The arrangement was that AFTRS would administer what became known as the Film Pioneers Project. AFTRS organised that the National Library would supervise the transcription of and ultimately hold the interviews. AFTRS also negotiated with 3M to provide free audio stock, and with Colorfilm Laboratories to provide free processing and printing of the film segments.

In 1977, a meeting of the committee was held to discuss and finalise a list of industry pioneers to be recorded. I sent Julie a list of suggested interviewees, and AFTRS staff wrote to filmmakers and film historians around Australia seeking their recommendations on who should be interviewed.

A Project Officer is appointed

After the initial recording of interviews for the Film Pioneers Project had made sluggish progress, AFTRS employed me to be its project officer. My duties included matching potential interviewees with interviewers, to build up momentum via regular contact with the interviewers, and to conduct a number of the interviews myself. Ultimately the other interviewers included Alan Anderson, Ina Bertrand, Ross Cooper, Ray Edmondson, John Hughes, Joan Long, Margot Nash, Andrew Pike, and David Stratton.

3: Highlights among the Film Pioneers Project interviews

For me, highlights among the interviews were:

philbuddenPhil Budden – In many ways one of the fathers of the film laboratory business in Australia, Phil talked about heading the Commonwealth Film Laboratories and its corporate successor, Colorfilm. Phil also covered the introduction of ‘continuous printing’ at film laboratories in Australia in the early 1930s, and how the money his lab made from printing mostly imported films enabled them to invest in or indirectly subsidise Australian film production.

Bill Carty described the studio and laboratory activities of Australasian Films at Rushcutters Bay in the 1920s, where he was able to observe Australasian’s as well as independent filmmakers at work. In the 1930s he worked as one of Cinesound’s newsreel and documentary editors. As a combat cameraman During World War 2, he replaced Damien Parer at Paramount News after Parer’s death, and he filmed the reconstruction of Japan for several years after the war. After a decade as a press photographer, bill returned to filmmaking at Cinesound, where his credits included the award-winning Cinesound Review special, Symphony in Steel (1970).

stanley-hawesStanley Hawes – Stanley talked about his career as a documentary filmmaker in the UK and Canada in the 1930s and early 40s, and about being Producer-in-Chief at the DOI Film Division and Commonwealth Film Unit from 1946 to his retirement in 1970. He was also a strategist in the revival of the Australian feature film industry, and a pioneer of the film society movement in the UK and in Australia.

Herbert Hayward – Involved in publicity, administration, distribution, exhibition and film production, Herb’s career ran from Australasian Films in the 1920s, through Greater Union and Cinesound production publicity in the 1930s. In the 1960s and early 70s he headed the NSW Theatres and Films Commission.

John Heyer was an Australian postwar documentary filmmaker who followed a productive postwar career at the Department of Information with the classic feature-length documentary The Back of Beyond, produced under the auspices of the Shell Film Unit. Back of Beyond is known to many for cameraman Ross Wood’s classic images of the outback, and its narration script co-written by the poet, Douglas Stewart.

threeinoneCecil Holmes – The director of the 1950s features Captain Thunderbolt and Three in One, besides many fine documentaries, Cecil had already been interviewed several times before I approached him on behalf of the Film Pioneers Project. Although unwilling to record another at-length interview, he consented to appearing in a 20-minute film segment for the project.

Allan Jones – Allan Jones recalled his life as a travelling and fixed-venue film showman in the South-West of Western Australia between the 1920s and 1970s. His interview included setting up and projecting films in temporary venues, negotiating primitive roads between those venues, programming for specific communities, and advances in film technology and films.

John Kingsford Smith spoke of working at Cinesound 1930s, of his wartime career in the RAAF, and of his frustration at returning to what he saw as an antiquated and inefficient Cinesound. In 1946 he formed and ran Kingcroft, a corporate documentary and commercials company, and made the now little-known but highly evocative documentary, The Inlanders (1949). Kingcroft went from strength to strength until John Kingsford Smith’s retirement in the early 1980s.

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Jock Levy and Norma Disher

Jock Levy, Norma Disher and Keith Gow, in a joint interview, covered their contributions to the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit, whose remarkable output of 19 documentaries was produced between 1953 and 1958.  With such films as Pensions for Veterans, The Hungry Miles and November Victory, the unit in the midst of the 1950s Cold War made films that expressed radical viewpoints and mocked conservative capitalists and politicians like PM Bob Menzies.

Louise Lovely – One of the first Australian stars to achieve prominence in Hollywood, Louise Lovely began her film career in a series of features for the Australian Life Biograph company at Sydney’s Queenscliff in 1911 and 1912. Travelling to America, she starred in around 50 feature-length and short films made by Universal Studios and other companies from 1916 to 1922. On her return to Australia, she produced, co-directed and starred in the now lost Tasmanian feature, Jewelled Nights (1925).

Gwen Oatley began her career as an actress before moving into film production in partnership with Merv Murphy at Supreme Films in Sydney. She provided a comprehensive account of the history of Supreme in the context of the gradual decline of feature production and continuation of documentary from the 1940s to the 60s, and the industry’s revival in the 1970s and 80s. (Supreme was also an important production base for many independent filmmakers who used its laboratory, sound mixing, editing and office space. In the 1960s the filmmakers included such alternative, or experimental filmmakers as Albie Thoms, Aggy Read and Bruce Beresford.)

Shirley_Ann_RichardsShirley Ann Richards recalled her career as a leading film actress, first at Cinesound in the mid-to-late 1930s, and subsequently in Hollywood. She provided valuable detail about how Ken G. Hall built Cinesound as a Hollywood-style studio, complete with a well-publicised star system.

Bill Shepherd – Starting as a crewmember on 1920s Australian feature films, Bill Shepherd contributed to the development of the Standardtone sound-on-film recording system in 1930-31. From The Squatter’s Daughter on, Bill edited all of Ken G. Hall’s Cinesound features, and, for Charles Chauvel, edited Forty Thousand Horsemen. In the 1950s and 60s he directed and edited for the Commonwealth Film Unit.

Ralph Smart made wartime documentaries in Australia and documentaries and features in England before directing two significant made-in-Australia features, Bush Christmas and Bitter Springs, starring such actors as Chips Rafferty, Gordon Jackson, Tommy Trinder and the Aboriginal actors Ebenezer Saunders and Henry Murdoch.

Arthur Smith recalled developing the Cinesound sound-recording process which made Cinesound feature films possible from On Our Selection (1932) onward. He remained chief recording engineer at Cinesound for several decades before continuing, in partnership with Clive Cross, to run the film and TV audio technology company, Smith and Cross.

Bill Trerise filming The Adorable Outcast (1928)

Bill Trerise  had a career that ran from newsreel work with Australasian Films in the early 1910s, through newsreel and feature work at Australasian in the 1920s, newsreel work at Australian Movietone News in the 1930s and 40s, documentary films at the DOI in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and training the first generation of TV news cameramen at ABC Sydney in the mid-to-late-50s. Bill’s vivid memories of filmmakers, film trade executives, laboratories, studios and equipment made his interview one of the very best in the Film Pioneers Project. He approached the interview meticulously, insisting on rehearsing every answer before we recorded it.

Filmed interviews

The following eleven interviews were also filmed as part of the Film Pioneers Oral History Project:

  • The already-mentioned Phil Budden, Shirley Ann Richards, Gwen Oatley, Herbert Haywood, the Waterside Workers Federal Film Unit team, and John Heyer.

Also filmed were:

  • Vera James – Appeared in two silent films for Franklyn Barrett before seeking a Hollywood career in the 1920s
  • Agnes Dobson – Appeared in several Australian silent features before a long and prominent career in Australian theatre & radio
  • Thelma Scott – Theatre, radio & TV actress who also appeared in Australian features of the 1930s and 40s
  • Alan Anderson – Sound recordist for Cinesound and the wartime Department of Information who later directed films for the Commonwealth Film Unit.

Each of the filmed interviews was confined to 20 minutes, which essentially meant that they were rationed to two 400-foot rolls of 16 mm film. This resulted in a rigorous process of choosing which highlights of the already-recorded audio interview would be covered. It also meant a different way of interviewing, since there was little room to depart from key content in the in a way that could be part of the audio interviews. All but one of the interviews were filmed using AFTRS students as crew members in the AFTRS main studio at Lyonpark Road, North Ryde, or at interviewees’ homes.

But there were some departures from the usual form. The Gow, Disher and Levy interview was filmed for John Hughes’ documentary Film Work (1979), which was about the Waterside Workers’ Federation Film Unit. While footage from the Film Work interview was edited into John’s documentary, the unedited soundtrack of that interview was submitted as an audio interview for the Film Pioneers Project.

Apart from those initiatives, and as far as I know, the Film Pioneers Project interviews have not been accessed, let alone used as a source of information or quoted, for many years.

4: Using the Film Pioneers Project

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Five books

In the years after the recording of the 35 interviews for the Film Pioneers Project, I incorporated information and extracts from a number of them in the book Australian Cinema: The First 80 Years, published in 1983 and 1989. Neil McDonald was also to make valuable use of several more of the interviews in his book on Damien Parer, first published in 1994 as War Cameraman: The Story of Damien Parer, and in 2004 as Damien Parers War.

brilliantcareersAndree Wright was to use others for information and quotes in her 1986 book, Brilliant Careers: Women in Australian Cinema, which also connected with her and Stewart Young’s 1985 documentary, Don’t Call Me Girlie. In 2012 Martha Ansara drew from the project for information about early Australian filmmaking and film careers in her book, The Shadowcatchers: A History of Cinematography in Australia. More recently, Daryl Binning has written a book about the history of the travelling picture show men and women of south-west Western Australia, and has made good use of Ina Bertrand’s Film Pioneers project interview with picture showman Allan Jones.

Transcription, digitisation . . . and fading

Apart from those initiatives, and as far as I know, the Film Pioneers Project interviews have not been accessed, let alone used as a source of information or quoted, for many years. For at least 20 years, one drawback for access to these interviews was that only about half of them had been transcribed until the NFSA put extra money into their transcription in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

cansThankfully, all of the interviews’ audio has now been digitised, but the film segments – the truly forgotten part of the project – have suffered from colour-fading and a total of nil-use, aside from a couple of public screenings of the Cec Holmes interview at occasions commemorating his achievements. I should add that in 2017, Bronwyn Murphy (then the NFSA’s Oral History Officer) and I collaborated to identify all of the project’s interviews, which are now findable via Search the Collection using the search term, Film Pioneers Project.

5: Other NFSA-Held Oral History Collections

There are a number of other project-based collections within the NFSA oral history collection whose existence must be made known.

Crawfords Oral History project

At the International Oral History Conference in Sydney in 2006,  now former NFSA Oral History curator Ken Berryman spoke about the NFSA/Crawford’s Oral History Project. He placed the Crawfords project in the context of other partnership projects by writing and talking about a range of such projects which included:

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Ken Berryman

“The history of the film society movement in Australia, shared with the Australian Council of Film Societies (ACOFS); the Actors Equity 65th Anniversary Project, a series of interviews with activists from film, television, dance, vaudeville, comedy, radio and opera, in conjunction with Tony Watts and Genevieve Picot; and the Screen Comedy Project, in association with academics Sue Turnbull and Felicity Collins at LaTrobe University. Contributions to each project by the respective partners will vary, but the aim is always to try and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.” (read more . . .)

By July 2006 the Crawfords Oral History Project, filmed on Mini DVCam, had recorded twenty interviews, all of which had been copied, catalogued and stored by the NFSA. Ken wrote of these interviews:

“The range of interviews with those who have contributed to the Crawford production history is impressive – actors, actors’ agents, writers, script editors, casting directors, producers, production and unit managers, wardrobe heads, camera operators, company directors and executives – the list goes on. As the interviews also reveal, a lot of these people are still actively working in the field, some overseas, the common denominator being the vivid memories they retain of their time at Crawfords.”

Stored, but virtually unfindable

The Crawfords project, like the Film Pioneers Project long before it, was a substantial and valuable oral history project which – along with the ACOFS, Actors Equity and Screen Comedy Projects – deserve recognition on the NFSA’s website.

However, unlike the Film Pioneers and ACOFS projects, neither the Crawfords, Actors Equity or Screen Comedy projects are findable under those names on the NFSA’s Search the Collection database. Selected highlights (about one hour out of eighty) of the Actors Equity interviews are held on a single DVD at the State Library of NSW, and the complete interviews are undoubtedly held by the NFSA.  One could do work-arounds by finding the individual interviews with such specific search terms as ‘Actors’ Equity’ , ‘Crawfords’, ‘unpublished sound recording’ and the names of the interviewers involved.

But if the current invisibility of these projects via search-the-collection is any indication, there is much work to be done not only to make them visible to researchers but also visible to more general visitors to the NFSA site, many of whom are always on the lookout for something of interest they hadn’t known before.

Australia Council

The Australia Council Archival Film Program was recorded between 1974 and 1999. Executive producer Peter Campbell has recalled that this initiative sprang from the Australia Council’s concern that not enough full-scale documentaries about Australian arts identities could be produced providing:

“a ‘first person’ broad view of Australian arts history before many older artists died – many of them unrecorded on film or video. Funding was provided by the Australia Council and its artistic Boards, particularly the Visual Arts and Crafts Board, Literature Board, Theatre Board, Music Board and Aboriginal Arts Board. A few films were co-produced with Film Australia and a number of independent filmmakers. One of the main intentions of the Archival Film Program was for documentary filmmakers to access the material (for no fee apart from duplication charges) for use in their own projects.”

The first series of 34 one-hour shot-on-film interviews in the Archival Film Program were produced in 1974-1975. The second, definitely more ambitious series filmed another 130 interviews between 1979 and 1999, whereupon the program was discontinued.

Ninety-three of the interviews were filmed with the production or post-production involvement of Quest Films, the company formed and run by the now late long-term AMOHG (when it was FBIOHG) member David Perry.

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Frank Thring (as Moomba king)

The names of people interviewed for the series included artist Grace Cossington Smith, Russell Drysdale, Donald Friend and Lloyd Rees; the writers Judith Wright, Joan Lindsay, Christina Stead, A.D. Hope, Douglas Stewart, Kylie Tennant, Max Harris, Jack Davis, Robert Dessaix, Sumner Locke Elliott, Ray Lawler, Manning Clark and Nancy Cato; composers and musicians including Peter Sculthorpe, Richard Meale and Eileen Joyce; actors and producers including Frank Thring and Doris Fitton; photographers including Max Dupain; and miscellaneous live performers including opera singer Joan Hammond, dancer and choreographer Robert Helpmann; Actors Equity co-founder and dancer Hal Alexander; and long-term government including arts bureaucrat H.C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs.

These interviews are hard to find too

But it’s quite difficult to find a full list of the Australia Council interviews via NFSA’s Search the Collection.  The terms ‘Australia Council oral histories’ or ‘Australia Council interviews’ won’t yield a result. To find them, one has to very precisely type in ‘Australia Council Archival Film Program’, and then click on the first result – which again reads ‘Australia Council Archival Film Program’. That takes you to a list which you can only find by hitting the tiny button reading ‘Title Relationships’ at the top right of screen. Once you’ve clicked on that, it will lead you to a further list of 136 interviews which were filmed by a variety of producers including Smart Street Films, Meg Stewart, Richard Kelly Tipping, Steamer Pictures, Bonza Pictures, and Keisal Films. But even then, this list isn’t precise, since it seems to include a small number that were not part of the Australia Council Archival Film Program. Very few people – including staff at the Australia Council – know or recall today that the Australia Council Archival Film Program interviews were ever filmed, or that they’re viewable at NFSA premises on request. For probably 10 to 15 years from the mid-1980s, 68 of the interviews were released on VHS by the Australian Film Institute in association with the Australia Council. But this arrangement seems not to have outlived the closure of AFI Distribution in 2000.

6: Oral Histories outside the media sector

Australian Biography

As a point of comparison, I’d like to acknowledge the existence of one other major oral history collection which although it wasn’t commissioned by the NFSA, it is held by them. The project that developed this collection was Australian Biography, and it resulted from 76 at-length oral histories filmed, between 1992 and 2007 for the Film Australia-produced eleven series of the Australian Biography documentaries, for which Robin Hughes (pictured above with producer/director Rod Freedman and Production Manager Karrin Cheung, photo by Nicholas Sherman) was interviewer. The most prominent public outcome of Australian Biography was its screening, several times, on SBS-TV, and its several awards included from the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies for making an outstanding contribution to the quality of Australian cultural life. Prior to Rod Freedman working on Australian Biography, the series was produced and directed by fellow AMOHG member Frank Heimans.

The brief of the interviews was to capture the memories of extraordinary Australians, and its interviewees included aviators, scientists, economists, writers, academics, lawyers, politicians, human rights activists, governors, artists, medical specialists, performing arts and media practitioners, police, prisoners of war, businesswomen and businessmen. Although each Australian Biography documentary runs for 30 minutes, its ingredients were drawn from three days of filming.

In 2008, the year after the last series of Australian Biography, the federal government closed Film Australia, transferring several of its responsibilities to a new federal film body, Screen Australia. In 2011 the rights and obligations of Film Australia Ltd Library and Sales were transferred to the NFSA, and the Film Australia Library collection became the Film Australia Collection (FAC) at the NFSA.

The risk for all 76 episodes of Australian Biography will be that as they progressively age and their earning capacity sinks below a certain level, they could, as the years roll by, become just as hidden and unknown as most other NFSA-held oral history project collections.

Where to search

Unlike most of the hidden NFSA-held oral history collections I’ve mentioned so far, information about Australian Biography does remain publicly visible online. But I did initially have to work hard to find it, starting off in what seemed a logical way – searching for it on the NFSA website.

NFSA’s Search the Collection was of little help, its listing of nine titles implying that only nine Australian Biography documentaries had ever been made. I learned that to find more about Australian Biography through an NFSA site search, the searcher has to consult the NFSA’s Film Australia-related web pages, which cover Film Australia’s output in ways not possible elsewhere on the NFSA site, including through Search the Collection.

To find the Film Australia Collection on the NFSA site, the site visitor can scroll down any page of that site until they find, at its base, the heading ‘Using the Collection’, and below it the subheading, ‘Film Australia Collection’. Alternatively, ‘Film Australia Collection’ can be found via its own separate Google search.

After entering the FAC page, click on the ‘Sales and Distribution’ heading, and then ’Browse online for documentaries and educational programs’. At that point, the searcher will find Australian Biography as one title among many listed at the left of screen. Navigating to and clicking on ‘Australian Biography Series’ and then clicking on any one of the project’s episodes, you will find a sales page for that episode, and it includes a small icon for a link called ‘Australian Biography Online’.

A rich set of resources

If you’re wondering if ‘Australian Biography Online’ has its own independent existence on the web, it does, it’s called Australian Biography, and its address is australianbiography.gov.au

australianbiography

Once you reach the ‘Australian Biography Online’ site, you will find a rich set of resources – a complete list of interviews, information about the Australian Biography TV series, and for each interviewee,

  • an introduction,
  • a brief biography,
  • a transcript of their full interview,
  • a study guide,
  • a documentary script,
  • links to external references,
  • a link for downloading brief extracts from every documentary,
  • and a link to buying a copy of the documentary.

One minor glitch is that  ‘Australian Biography Online’ is an archived site dating from pre-2008. If you click on the last link to buy a copy of the documentary, it will result in ‘Can’t find this page’.

But buying the documentary via the Film Australia Collection (FAC) Sales and Distribution page does work. It’s also possible, via the Australian Teachers of Media’s (ATOM’s) The Education Shop, to stream individual episodes for three days’ rental or one year’s access. While the NFSA’s Australianscreen Online platform and the NFSA Films YouTube channel have not, to date, curated any episodes of Australian Biography, the main aim of the project’s current online representation is to monetise its documentaries through educational and public sale. While this is understandable, it does leave Australian Biography out on a pay-for-use limb when compared to other oral history material the NFSA has, in recent years, curated free-of-charge elsewhere on its website.

A good model?

Even so, the online representation of Australian Biography via the ‘Australian Biography Online’ site provides a good model for how the otherwise hidden oral history project collections of NFSA could be profiled, especially when it comes to providing full transcripts, summaries and brief biographies. The risk for all 76 episodes of Australian Biography will be that as they progressively age and their earning capacity sinks below a certain level, they could, as the years roll by, become just as hidden and unknown as most other NFSA-held oral history project collections.

7: Finding the Gold: Possible Solutions

All of the projects I’ve mentioned are veritable goldmines packed with stories that deserve to be publicly profiled. I can recommend several strategies to make this happen.

Without that findability, few people will know that the projects and their interviews were ever recorded. In the absence of that knowledge, awareness of Australia’s media and arts history will be all the more impoverished.

Promote more selected interviews on the NFSA website

My first recommendation would be to have at least segments from the Film Pioneers Project, the NFSA/Crawfords’ Oral History Project, the Actors Equity anniversary project, the Screen Comedy Project and the Australia Council Archival Film Program interviews selectively profiled on the NFSA website much in the way that the output of the Australian Writers Foundation/FOXTEL Oral History Project was back in 2012.

Publish interviews in print

My second recommendation would be to have the interviews published as hard copy. But that’s an uncertain and risky business these days, where publishers are not exactly keen to publish books on Australian film history.

Links with Australian Screen Online website

My third suggestion – especially with Australian audiovisual industry-related interviews – would be to see extracts from the interviews linked to already existing entries about films and filmmakers on the NFSA’s Australianscreen Online pages; or to post their film segments up on NFSA’s YouTube channel,  and audio-only interviews on its Soundcloud collection..

Upgrade Search the Collection

And finally, underpinning all of the above, the NFSA needs to be urged to make these and other oral history projects much more easily findable via Search the Collection. Without that findability, few people will know that the projects and their interviews were ever recorded. In the absence of that knowledge, awareness of Australia’s media and arts history will be all the more impoverished.