Alex McPhee Snr. (1912-1989)

Inducted into ACS Hall of Fame – 1997

Alex McPhee Snr. – First President of the Western Australian Branch of the ACS

From a very early age Alex McPhee Snr. was interested in photography. He owned a 16mm camera and as a teenager he was shooting dramas using his mates as the stars. All effects were done in camera, as there was no alternative except for expensive opticals, double and triple exposures, using mattes, split screens etc.

After the war he joined the Western Australian State Film Unit where all government department films were made. He spent a lot of time in the north west shooting documentaries on the main roads, oil exploration, cattle droving, and in more recently recent years the Ord River scene.

In the early days everything was shot on 35mm, and until an Éclair Cameflex with 400′ loads was purchased he was using a Bell and Howell Eyemo with 100′ loads.

The Government Film Unit changed its name to The Visual Education Department which meant it was run by ex-school teachers, to the frustration of Alex. In the late 1960’s he was Chief Cameraman with more responsibility, but still managed to get away to his beloved Kimberleys. In 1968 he was unanimously elected as the first Western Australian President of the Australian Cinematographers Society, and all the meetings were held in the theatrette at Vis Ed, with after meeting gatherings held at the Leederville Hotel over a beer or two.

After a long career in the industry Alex McPhee Snr. retired in 1974 leaving a legacy of fabulous films, beautifully photographed, covering all of Western Australia.

In 1997 Alex was one of the inaugural members inducted into the ACS Hall of Fame along with eleven other notable people who made significant contributions to the Australian film industry.