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“Apart from a good idea, what are you going to do?” 1957

At GTV in 1957, those Commercials that were not done live by Graham Kennedy, during “In Melbourne tonight” were invariably brought in from the U.S.A. or the U.K.

What few were left had to be shot in Melbourne.  One of our advertisers asked if we could produce a commercial for them.  It was for a car wash product. I directed and edited it.  It was okay but they had a very low budget, so it was simple.

About this time, we were joined by a trio of people from New Zealand.  They were led by one Roger Mirams who was their director of photography. Another of the party was their manager/salesman, Chris Stewart, and the third was their sound engineer, Jim Davies.  They had converted a space in an old part of the Heinz factory as a studio and office.  They had been part of Pacific Films in New Zealand, but had split with their partners in order to make their way in Australia.  They were fully equipped with up-to-date 35mm gear.

They had come to Melbourne because they thought that they could make a killing producing commercials.  They believed that there was no viable film industry in Melbourne, capable of producing quality commercials.  However, they soon found out what was happening within the advertising industry which was that they would accept a “live” commercial if it was effective and cheap.  They might even run to a 16mm commercial if it was also cheap.  What they were not prepared to do, at that stage, was to pay a high price for a good quality 35mm commercial.

Some of the commercials originating overseas were even scratched or poor quality duplicate copies, but they still preferred those to spending big money.

They must have picked up some work during the first few months, but, not enough to sustain their business.

I became friendly with them and helped out where I could.

I was not entirely happy at GTV.  There seemed to be no ambition to provide the best equipment for editing the news and documentary programmes.

There were other niggling things which started to make me feel a bit uncomfortable.  I even thought about going home to England when my two years compulsory residence were up.

Roger Mirams and his Pacific Films continued to lose money and Roger became more and more depressed.

One day, Roger and I were talking and he revealed to me the state of his company. He said that if something did not turn up soon, he would have to sell his equipment and go back to New Zealand.

He actually said to me What can I do to make money ?.

I said Throughout the world, there is a shortage of quality films for and about children.

He said What can we do here about children?.

I said Roger, here you have most unusual flora and fauna, you know, kangaroos and wallabies, wombats and dingoes, it would be a unique situation.

Some time later, I found out that he was proceeding with such a production.  When I next met him, I said If you are going ahead with a production, would you find a job for me?.

Incredibly he replied Apart from a good idea, what are you going to do?

Mirams and company took up my idea and later produced a series of programmes called The Adventures of the Terrible Ten which was all about a group of children playing out their adventures in the Australian bush surrounded by lots of odd animals.  His daughter, who was about ten years old, played the lead and his wife worked in the production department.  A nice little earner.

Magic Boomerang

This series was sold into twenty-four countries and the fact that the series was followed by several other series made for children, proved it was a good idea in the first place.  Roger Mirams became successful.  If I had said nothing, he might have had to retreat back to New Zealand.  The success of these series assured Roger of a place in Australian Television history.

He was a prolific producer of quality programmes, but he could not find a spot for me – he clearly found a spot for many others over the years based on my idea.

My father used to have a book in his bookcase which I never read.  It was called “Ideas have legs”.  How true.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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