History of the Tasmanian ACS

By Peter Donnelly ACS

Left to Right. Jack Gardiner ACS (Federal President). John Bale ACS (Inaugural Tasmanian President)

This was our very first Tasmanian meeting which was held at the new studios of the Department of Film Production at 64 Brisbane Street, Hobart on the 5th February, 1969. Both Jack and Reg together with their wives came down from Sydney to meet us. They are showing the gold embossed ACS beer glasses with which we toasted the Society’s Tasmanian beginning.

John Bale had just been appointed a Film Director with the GFU, and as a former GTV 9 film cameraman was our logical choice to be our first President. In the previous year for he was the recipient of the Society’s 1st Milli Award. He won this for his black & white cinematography on “Asylum”, which he photographed and directed. It was largely shot at the old Pentridge Prison in Melbourne.

John was President for several years and I took over soon after as Secretary of the Branch due to John Wright’s total distaste for secretarial work. John was now working alongside me at ABC/TV. He had been a cinematographer for many years previously at the GFU and was Neil Davis’s mentor there. John died in 1974.

Bob Montgomery was the ABC’s first “Stringer Cine Cameraman” in Launceston. Henry worked as a cameraman with TVT6. Other members of our Society were Warwick Curtis and David Brill. About half of the local operatives were members.

To be a member of the Society previously, one had to join the NSW Branch as the Membership Card indicates. It was signed by one of the first ACS Federal Secretaries, Hilton Gordon who at the time was not a cameraman but an Accountant in Pitt Street Sydney. A Victorian Branch existed but none yet in South Australia or Queensland.

The Tasmanian Government Film Unit was also one of the very few production houses in existence in Australia at the time.