Pioneer of the YearVictoria


I first entered the exhibition industry by default in 1960 when my family moved into the manager’s residence at the Plaza Theatre in Geelong. Though mainly live theatre, we did screen Greek movies on a Sunday night in those early days. Then along came the Leyland Brothers who showcased their Australian adventures to local schools during the day and the general public at night. They were just starting off and struggling, sleeping in our dressing rooms at night to save costs.

I commenced with Village Roadshow on January 24th, 1973, by managing their new Twin Cinema Complex in Geelong working alongside the wonderful Geoff Heriot, Village’s Area Manager. The values Geoff taught me then, have stayed with me for my entire working life and are proudly adhered to in my current cinema operation.

During my ten years there, I also managed the Corio Theatre and did manager holiday relief at both of the Geelong Drive-In Theatres. As the youngest manager on the circuit, I was asked to manage the Hamilton Drive-In for four months whilst the site manager recuperated from a heart operation. I remember well turning the town upside down and causing major traffic jams with the screening of THE TOWERING INFERNO.

During the ten years in Geelong, I oversaw major cinema releases which included marketing large budget campaigns. When JAWS (1975) and E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1983) were released at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne, The Corio Theatre was the only other Victorian site to screen them day and date. As manager, I was able to deliver Village Roadshow record box office revenue at each release.

One of my strongest memories with E.T. was converting the Corio Theatre’s ‘Çrying’ room into a hospital ward so a terminally ill patient could view the movie with her family. The lady passed away a few days later but a simple act of kindness gave that family lifelong memories. I call that the power of cinema.

My favourite promotion whilst in Geelong was for Robert Morley’s WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE? with the main prize being dinner for one at the Lido in Paris.
The winner was to fly to Paris, have a meal and fly back the next morning!

In 1983, Village Roadshow invited me to join the Melbourne Circuit. Locations I managed included Greensborough, Boronia (1985), Croydon, Knox, The Village City Centre, Doncaster, Dandenong and Knox Multiplexes.

My first Melbourne cinema was a joint venture between Village and Hoyts. I was joined at that year’s Movie Ball, on our first date by a girl from Hoyts. A month later I proposed, and the rest is history. As a result, with Cynthia and her sister Lisa being Personal Assistants to Graeme Hodges the Southern Regional GM and Leon Fink, the Hoyts Chairman respectively, Village deemed it wise to remove me from being so close to the enemy and transferred me to the Boronia Twin. Whilst there, I was awarded Village Roadshow’s Manager of the Year, for 1985.

In 1998, whilst managing Doncaster Cinemas, I introduced the daily multi session policy, giving patrons a choice of up to five daily sessions, instead of the usual Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday matinee sessions. This was taken up nationally by our partners at Greater Union and our opposition, Hoyts Cinemas.

1999 whilst based at Dandenong, I introduced the first non-smoking policy for any cinema foyer in Australia. With the release of BATMAN RETURNS, I converted the shopping centre into Gotham City and even had the local newspaper change its banner to the Gotham City Journal for the month of release.

That same year Village asked me to join their Multiplex marketing team, which oversaw all promotional activities for the new multiplex cinemas across Melbourne and Sydney. This role required me to report personally to the Vice President of Warner Bros based in Los Angeles.

My greatest joy has been returning to Boronia in 2005 and setting up Metro Cinemas Boronia, as a totally family-owned operation. My daughter Ellie has the role of General Manager and I enjoy the ongoing support of both Cynthia and Lisa in administration and front-of-house. My son Kristian helps greatly in hunting for the inevitable roof leaks and other technical issues when he isn’t wearing his Emergency Services hat.

Most in this industry gravitate to the art of running film but my strength and love has always been maintaining strong relationships with our patrons, often greeting them by name when they arrive at the location to enjoy their movie experience.

I often refer to our cinema as ‘The Smallest Show on Earth’ but we are far more than that. The years of operation have been difficult working on shoe-string budgets and the Covid years nearly broke us. However, Covid brought us even closer together and we managed to get through the pandemic by the skin of our teeth. Whilst not out of the woods, we continue to fight to secure our little cinema.

I do also enjoy the great relationships built with other exhibitors and our distributor partners, but whilst there are many joys in being in Exhibition, it does come at a price. All those shifts worked at the expense of family gatherings. Missing out on those special occasions whilst the children are growing up puts great pressure on family life. I am so thankful that Cynthia has put up with me for so long and given me the support and continued respect, especially at the low times that we experience in this game.

I would also like to thank the Victorian Committee of Cinema Pioneers for my most unexpected nomination for this year’s Victorian award.

I also serve as a Councilor on the CIBF and Sub Committee Scholarship fund, supporting the education of the children of cinema employees.