A brief history of the Society

The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers was founded by Stanley N. Wright on November 29, 1933 and now has more than 2,900 Members. We are a not for profit association dedicated to the recognition of people who have provided 20 years or more of service, employed in the Australian Cinema Industry –  encompassing Exhibition, Distribution and Production.

Overseen by a National Executive Committee, each Australian State has its own local branch of the Society which conduct local functions and activities, as well as the annual National Dinner.

The Society provides members with a means to stay in touch with industry colleagues, and be connected via newsletters, social media and gatherings.

A history over the years - 1933-1995

(Compiled by NSW member William Gray in 1995, this documentation mainly covers the beginning of the Society, and the annual National Dinner functions held in Sydney each year.

This work is yet to be expanded to include the history and functions of the branches once they were established in each state).

IN THE BEGINNING:

 

George Clemments

First established in 1933 after years of thought by several prominent members of the motion picture industry, the gentleman who finally made the move and brought together a sufficient number of interested people was George Clements who was the Branch Manager of Fox Films in Sydney. He was a veteran of 23 years in the film business, starting back in the days when Waddington flashed his first movie on his first Australian screen.

Waddington’s King’s Cross Theatre

Fired by the success of Waddington’s enterprise, others started in opposition and Clement’s selling days began. He recalled how, accustomed to a programme of a dozen films averaging 300 feet, the exhibitors refused to countenance the early 1000 footers, and how it wasn’t until Waddington again blazed the trail that they were willing to try them on a public even then hard to please.

For 10 years Clements was manager of Australasian Films, and then linked up with First National, serving eight years as Branch Manager of Warner First National. He had a personal friendship with every exhibitor in NSW – a friendship of a lasting sort. In 1932 he moved into exhibition, joining Exhibitor Crane in partnership of the Hurlstone Park Theatre. He returned to distribution in August 1933, becoming the Manager of Fox Films.

Film Exchange Staff – Australasian Films – Melbourne

The idea of forming an association of veterans of the film industry came about in 1931.

Fred Gent, one of our real pioneer distributors, wrote a letter from London dated 22 July 1931 to Archer Whitford, Managing Director of Everyones (a trade magazine) in which he said:

“Your revival of old memories has recalled an idea of mine which was talked over several years ago and finally brought to fruition by others here. It is the Cinema Veterans’ Association. We meet only once a year, a dinner to yarn and talk over old times. It has become quite an institution. It keeps the veterans in touch with one another and is eagerly looked forward to by all of us. There is only one strict rule – members must be able to prove that they were actively connected with some branch of the industry not later than 1903.

I think you could dig up in Australia and N.Z. quite a batch of old timers who would rally to such a function if ‘Everyones’ were to sponsor it.”

Gayne Dexter, Editor-in-Chief of Everyones wrote an article in reply:
“Now How About That?”
“Perhaps 1903 is too early a period to deal in veterans but suppose those who have been in the game for 21 years were decided upon as eligible who would gather around the festive board? Who among our film fellows of today were bio-blokes in 1910. Let’s nominate a few: Edwin Geach, Jack Jones, Stan Crick, Archer Whitford, Cecil Mason, Gus Mcintyre, George Clements, Monte Simmons, E J Tait, Arthur Gregory, Dick Garner, EJ and Dan Carroll, Bill Scott, Martin Brennan, Teddy Bedford, Lorrie Brown, Terry Taylor. They are just part of the Sydney contingent. There must be many others to say nothing of the interstaters who date back further than 1910. Will somebody please send in their names so that we can summon an ancestral gathering and grab a column or two of reminiscences from the night when the boys get together?”

Dan Carroll
George Clements

No further comment was reported in Everyones until 4 November 1931 when Editor Gayne Dexter wrote the following in his column:

“Fred Gent now the motive power behind the Veterans’ Association of England suggests a number of names as foundation members of a similar association in Australia. Motoring in the mountains a few weeks ago we discussed the formation of an Old Timers’ Club and had no idea that such a strong contingent could be added to the list of names already published, we being only of the 1914 vintage. As soon as our industry comes down to earth, ‘Everyones’ will start that club.”

It was not until the 2 November 1932 issue of Everyones that Dexter wrote in his column a further comment on the subject. The item referred to an interview he had with Alan J Williamson, the Australian representative of Gainsborough Pictures of England. (Williamson’s association with the Australian industry went back to 1910.)

“In those days, he brought London experience to Australia and for three years was associated with the activities of Cozens Spencer. He conjures up colourful visions of those days and particularly interesting is a mention of his producing activities in association with Raymond Longford. The trials and tribulations which marked the making of such old-time gems of the cinematic art as ‘Captain Starlight’, ‘Captain Midnight’, ‘Margaret Catchpole’ and ‘The Fatal Wedding’. He remembers vividly to this day the moment that he mentioned the colossal sum of £800 as production costs to the late Spencer’

“In 1897 Mr. Williamson was a screen actor. His father was one of the real pioneers of England.

Alan is a member of England’s Veterans’ Association. He suggests that the formation of a local association should prove a good move and thus endorsed a scheme along lines outlined in ‘Everyones’ some time ago. Like the English body which meets at a dinner annually, such a linking up of the pioneers of the trade should prove an interesting highlight of the year’s activities.”

In Dexter’s column in the 5 July 1933 issue of Everyones he wrote:

“The General Theatres Managers Club and the publicity boys of The 47 Club held a combined luncheon that was a great success. One of the guests of honour was Alan Williamson and he commented once again about the London veterans’ club of which he is a member with 80 or 90 others who have been in films since 1903 or before. Incidentally, it is fitting to suggest that something similar should be operating in this country.”

 

 

On 1 November 1933, Everyones featured this story.

“Old Timers Will Form Social Club.”

“Who has been 20 years or more in the motion picture business? The ‘Old Timers Club’ is forming and its first function will be held during the last week of November. On several occasions ‘Everyones’ has advanced the idea and last week George Clements of Fox took action by inviting a few veterans to his office to discuss ways and means. The quick muster included Bill Howe, Bill Szarka, Ted Betts, Archer Whitford, Herb Crispe, Stanley Wright, Gayne Dexter and Arthur Gregory. Idea is to inaugurate the get together of old timers at a dinner.”

CInema Pioneers Foundation Members - 1933
Ted Betts
Print Examining at Australasian Films
timeline_pre_loader
1930's

8 November 1933

On 8 November 1933 a firm date was set – Wednesday, 29 November at which a meeting was to be held at the Tattersall’s Club, Castlereagh Street, Sydney at 7pm with Clements as Chairman of the Committee in charge of the function. Application forms as foundation members had been sent out to about 90 members of the industry who had entered the industry in 1913 or earlier and they were asked to contact Clements. Tickets for the meeting were one guinea.

1934

2nd Annual Dinner

The second annual reunion of the Old Timers Club (now officially renamed The Australian Cinema Pioneers) was held on Wednesday, 12 December 1934 at the Tattersall’s Club.

In all, 57 members attended and it was another outstanding success. Stanley N Wright was elected as the second President and installed in the chair by retiring President Clements. At that time, Wright was General Manager of the Regent and Plaza Theatres.

Performers entertaining the gathering included Professor Little (magician), Balmus and Phyllis (equilibrists), Queenie Royal and Audrey Swain (dancers), John Gilding (tenor), Gladys Evans and Jack Lumsdaine (vocalists) and Bert Howard (pianist). They were supported by a Frances Scully Ballet while Stan Porter brought around the Regent Orchestra and soloists who were the hit of the night.

1935

The Carlton Hotel was chosen as venue for the Third Annual Dinner on 12 December 1935. A warm welcome was given to Roy Purves, whose association with the business dated from 1907. Bill Szarka, associated with Hoyts Theatres, was installed as third President. A special musical interlude was given by Stan Porter and the Regent Orchestra and George Taylor’s Banquet Boys as well.

Bill Szarka

1936

The 1936 Annual Dinner was only briefly reported in The Film Weekly. W A Mcintyre was installed as President. Mcintyre, at that time, was President of the NSW Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association.

A picture on the cover of the Souvenir Programme was that of George Clements who had passed away that year.

1937

The venue for the fifth banquet was the Carlton Hotel, on 9 December 1937. Alan J Williamson was installed as President and he assured the members that every effort would be made by him to advance the interests of the Pioneers. He was very proud to have been elected.

The guest speaker for the evening was Norman B Rydge, Managing Director of Greater Union Theatres who gave an address on the economics of the moving picture industry.

Immediately inside the banquet room was a reminder of the very early picture days – a Cineograph projector brought along by Tim Wiseman. Entertainment comprised: The Popular Broadcasting Party (courtesy of radio station 2GB) which included Harry Dearth, Jack Lumsdaine, Muriel Flood, Lou Vernon and Nina Devitt; The Merv Lyons Orchestra and the Regent Theatre Orchestra with Maurice Guttridge conducting; singer Bob Parish (Tivoli Theatre) and accordionist Arnie Hartman. Also there were recitals by Beryl Howard (piano) and Oswald Sommerton (cornet).

1938

Installed in the chair for the sixth annual function, at the Carlton Hotel on 15 December 1938, was Charles E Munro, managing Director of Hoyts Theatres. Prior to being with Hoyts, Munro was head of Fox Films and, in 1930, on behalf of Fox negotiated the deal whereby Fox acquired a controlling interest in Hoyts Theatres. Munro made an appeal for contributions to a fund for the purpose of building a home for needy pioneers.

Charles E. Munro – Managing Director of Hoyts Theatres

 

120 guineas was immediately pledged and A J Beszant offered to make available his holiday home at Bowral and a flat at Cronulla to the cause. The guest for the evening was The Rt Hon William Morris Hughes who spoke well of the industry and the pioneers who were present.

Entertainment was by Hamilton Webber and the State Theatre Orchestra, Larry Adler, The Rhythm Boys, Merv Lyons and his Orchestra, and baritone Newton Goodson.

1939

The seventh meeting, in 1939, saw A J Beszant elected as President. A well-known figure in cinema Circles, he had started as a projectionist in the silent days and had managed theatres in Sydneys western suburbs. This eventually led to he formation of Western Suburbs Cinemas. At the time he became President of the Pioneers, he was serving a third term as President of the Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association. The guest for the evening was the Hon B S B Stevens.

Music was supplied by The Mills Brothers (from the Tivoli circuit) and Barbara James from the Trocadero, who sang “Loch Lomond”.

1940s

1940

Dan Carroll

Dan Carroll was elected President at the December 1940 meeting at the State Ballroom. In 1908, Carroll had joined his brother who was showing one reelers in Brisbane. In 1910 they built skating rinks in Queensland and screened films in them in the summer. That was the foundation of their northern circuit which, between 1923 and 1927, was rebuilt as a chain of modern theatres. In 1924, in association with J and N Tait and Union Theatres, the Carrolls built the Wintergarden Theatre in Brisbane. By 1940, Dan Carroll was Managing Director of Birch Caroll and Coyle, Queensland, and Managing Director of Carroll Musgrove Theatres Ltd (Prince Edward) in Sydney.

Although £614 had been raised towards the establishment of a pioneers’ home, it had been found that the building scheme was impracticable.

1941

The ninth President to be elected at the 1941 meeting at the Carlton Hotel was Arthur Gregory, who had been General Sales Manager of Fox Films for a number of years A gold watch was presented to Stanley Wright for his services as Secretary for the past nine years. For entertainment there was Gladys Moncrieff, Peter Dawson, Bert Howell and The Prince Edward Stage Band, the Great Levante (magician), and Robert Butt (baritone). The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Stanely S Crick (himself an industry veteran) presented the watch to Wright.

1942

At the tenth annual banquet, held at the State Ballroom on 21 December 1942, veteran Monte Simmons (20th Century Fox executive) was installed as President. Charles Munro was guest-of-honour and Sir Benjamin Fuller was welcomed as a new member. Entertainment included Les Levant and others from the Tivoli Theatre, Sydney.

1943

The State Ballroom was the venue for the eleventh annual banquet, held on 16 December 1943. Archer Whitford was installed as President  Guests-of-honour were Stuart F Doyle, Harold Bowden (of JCW) and The Hon T G Murray (a Director of Greater Union), and Jimmy Bancks (of “Ginger Meggs” fame). Star of the entertainment items, staged by Wal Grant, was Stella Wilson.

11 December 1944

Clayton C Reid elected twelfth President. Guest-of honour was Herc C Mcintrye of Universal.

4 October 1945

John Fuller

John Fuller, brother of Ben and associated with Fuller Theatres of Australia and New Zealand, was elected President. Guest-of honour was Sir Ben Fuller. The 183 men present gave him a standing ovation. Norman B Rydge proposed the toast, seconded by Jimmy Bancks.

Sir Ben Fuller and Family

Entertainment was provided by veterans of variety including Bert Warne, Doris Tindale, Harry Webber, Zelia Algard and Her Three Rhythm Maids.

May 1946

John Fuller presiding. Venue – The Savarin Restaurant.

12 November 1947

Tommy Greaves elected as fourteenth President. Greaves was General Manager of Filmcraft Film Laboratories. 135 members attended. Alan J Williamson was honoured to mark the occasion of his 50 years in the industry and Norman B Rydge proposed the toast. Venue – The Savarin Restaurant.

8 April 1948

Installed as fifteenth President was Stanley S Crick who, for 19 years, was Managing Director of Fox Films in Australia and had been Chairman of Hoyts Theatres from 1930 to 1937.

As well, he had thrice been Lord Mayor of Sydney. Guests-of-honour were Bill Robbins and Franklyn Barrett. Venue – The Savarin Restaurant

1 November 1949

Herc C Mcintyre, Managing Director of Universal Pictures was elected as President. Prior to entering distribution, Mcintyre pioneered with brothers Gus and Hugh in a tent show at North Sydney and later on he was involved with the establishment of Haymarket Theatres.

Guests-of-honour included Senator John Armstrong, J O Alexander (the Chief Film Censor) and the Minister for Immigration Mr A A Caldwell who gave a fine address to those present. Venue – The Savarin Restaurant.

1950s

4 December 1950

Ted Johnson, who was Chief Films Officer for the Repatriation Commission, was installed as President. Guest-of-honour was The Hon Harold Holt MHR, Minister for Immigration. Venue – The Savarin Restaurant.

17 November 1955

Venue – The Tattersall’s Club.  The eighteenth President was Gordon D Ellis, General Manager of British Empire Films (a unit of Greater Union). Ellis acknowledged that it was the first banquet for some time.

Ken G. Hall

New rules for membership were announced. Pioneers who had served 25 years in the industry would be eligible; past eligibility comprised 20 years service, but it had been discovered that numbers were decreasing and this tendency would accelerate with the passage of time. 54 members were in attendance. Guest speakers were Ken G Hall and Charles Chauvel. Mel Lawton was in-charge of entertainment by artists from the Prince Edward and Tivoli theatres. Ellis served as President for two years (1956 – 57).

1956

The Lady Killers

For the 1956 meeting, 45 members gathered at the Universal theatrette for a screening of “The Ladykillers”. Invited guests were Raymond Longford and Franklyn Barrett. Also in attendance were the producer and director of the feature film “A Town Like Alice”. After the screening, a supper was served in the Universal reception quarters.

7 November 1957

Venue – The Tattersall’s Club.  Dan Casey was elected President. Casey was General Manager of Universal Pictures. Guests-of-honour were Norman B Rydge (Managing Director of Greater Union) and Ernest Turnbull (Managing Director of Hoyts), the latter being a new member and who was named “Pioneer of the Year”.

Casey served for two years as President (1958 -59).

9 November 1959

Mel Lawton, Manager of Operations, Advertising and Presentations at the Sydney Prince Edward Theatre, was elected twentieth President. The meeting took place at the Universal theatrette and a screening of “Pillow Talk” followed.
1960s

24 November 1960

Over 70 members attended the meeting including two of the oldest: Franklyn Barrett (87) and Tim Wiseman (80). Venue was again the Universal theatrette. Doug Lotherington, General Sales Manager of RKO Radio Pictures was installed as President

13 December 1961

At the Universal theatrette, members saw a screening of “Come September” and Franklyn Barrett was elected twenty-second President. Barrett was a pioneer Australian film maker and later manager at various times of Hoyts theatres at Neutral Bay, Mosman, Arncliffe, Woollahra and Clovelly. He remained President for 1962 and 1963.

6 November 1964

At the Universal Theatrette, Les Andrews was appointed twenty-fourth President in absentia as illness prevented him coming to Sydney for the Meeting. Andrews was the first MGM Manager in Brisbane. After 20 years he became Manager for MGM in NSW and Queensland.

Members accepted the recommendation of Colin Jones that Vice Presidents be elected for each state: Colin Jones (NSW); Rob McLeish (Victoria); Reg Perry (SA); Cliff Searl (WA).

Robert McLeish (Victoria)

Appointment of the Vice Presidents would provide local representation for the pioneers in the individual states and allow eligible members of the industry easier access to membership. The Meeting ended with a screening of “Good Neighbour Sam”.

29 November 1965

Venue – the Universal theatrette. Horrie Nagel, General Manager of the Sydney Odeon circuit of 33 cinemas, was installed as twenty-fifth President. Members saw a screening of “What’s New, Pussycat?”.

29 November 1966

Venue – the Universal theatrette. Tom Cadwallader, General Sales manager of Universal, was elected as President.

Biggest roll-up of members in years saw a screening of “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!”.

17 November 1967

Venue – the Universal theatrette. Phil Jones, Manager of the NewsLuxe Newsreel Theatrette, was elected twenty-seventh President. Members from all over the state attended and a screening of “Don’t make Waves” followed.
1970s

1970

Norman B. Rydge

The 1970 meeting was held at the AMP theatrette.  Keith Moreman, Managing Director of Greater Union, was elected as thirtieth President. Ken Hall was named “Film Man of the Year” and Norman B Rydge was made an Honorary Life Member.

1971

The 1971 meeting was also held at the AMP theatrette. Ron Michaels, Managing Director of United Artists, became President. Arthur Smith was named “Film Man of the Year”. Smith, a sound man, was the first in Australia to record sound-on-film. Life membership was awarded to Reg Perry, a veteran of 72 years in the industry. He opened the South Australian branch of Universal and was manager of it for 42 years. The evening concluded with a screening of a film produced by Tony Buckley, “A Biography of Frank Hurley”.

1972

Robert McLeish

The 1972 meeting. Venue – The AMP theatrette.   Robert Mcleish, owner of a number of theatres in Victoria, became the thirty-second President. He made Stanley Wright a Life Member. Wright was the well-known General Manager of the Haymarket Theatre and, later, General Manager of the Regent and Plaza theatres. Membership of the Pioneers now totalled 377. “Film Man of the Year” was Roc Kirby, Chairman of Village Theatres, and co-founder of Roadshow Film Distributors.

Roc Kirby – Village Theatres & Roadshow Film Distributors

1973

The President elect was Phil Budden, Managing Director of Colorfilm Laboratories. The thirty-third President declared Bert Cross as “Film Man of the Year”. Cross was Technical Adviser for Cinesound Studios. After the meeting a screening of “The Passionate Industry” took place.

1974

The 1974 meeting was held at The Film Club in Goulburn Street. Darby Jewel was elected President. He was Greater Union’s National Publicity and Advertising Director. “Film Man of the Year” was Eric Porter who had Australia’s largest animation studio

1975

The 1975 meeting was also held at The Film Club. The thirty-fifth President was Billy Maloney, General Manager of Far Northern Theatres in Queensland and for many years had written articles for The Film Weekly. “Film Man of the Year” was Vic Webb who was 53 years with Greater Union as General Sales Manager. Neil Patterson was appointed Vice-President for South Australia.

25 November 1976

The meeting was held at “Roc’s Place”, a bar and bistro under the Village Cinemas in George Street. Elected thirty-sixth President was John P O’Callaghan who had spent 43 years with Hoyts, the last 25 years as City Theatres Circuit Supervisor. “Film Man of the Year” was David Williams who had become Managing Director of Greater Union. Stanley Wright was made the first Life Governor, the man who more than any other had held the society together for the past 43 years as its Honorary Secretary. Allan Lewis succeeded him

29 November 1977

The meeting and dinner was held at “Roc’s Place”. The thirty-seventh President was Wes Loney, the Managing Director of Cinema International Corporation and Chairman of the MPDA. “Film Man of the Year” was Herbert Hayward MBE who had been the twenty-ninth President. Tommy Greaves (the fourteenth President) was made the second Life Governor.

30 November 1978

Meeting and Dinner at the British Ex-Services Club, 541 Kent Street. David Williams was installed as the thirty-eighth President. “Film Man of the Year” was Colin Jones (twenty-third President). Guests included: Jack Neylan, Victorian Vice-President; Neil Patterson, South Australian Vice-President; Arthur Styles, West Australian Vice-President. There were also present a number of former war correspondents.

29 November 1979

Meeting and dinner at the British Ex-Services Club. Elected President was Walter Granger, General Representative in Australia for Walt Disney Productions. “Film Man of the Year” was Al Daff, the first and only Australian office boy to rise through the ranks to become President of a major American film company, Universal-International. Lou Soumprou, now Victorian Vice-President and Herman Flynn, now Queensland Vice-President, attended. Total membership was now 650.
1980s

27 November 1980

Meeting and dinner at the British Ex-Services Club. Elected as fortieth President was Allan Lewis who had 40 years service with Hoyts, and was now Secretary/Treasurer of the Pioneers.

“Film Man of the Year” was Phil Budden OBE (thirty-third President). A new Life Governor was Reg Perry and George Ruttle had become Victorian Vice President.

Membership now totalled 710.

26 November 1981

Meeting and dinner at the British Ex-Services Club. The new President was Rod Gurr, long time Publicity and Advertising Director for MGM. “Film Man of the Year” was Tony Buckley, film producer. Two new interstate Vice-Presidents were announced: Reg Potter (Victoria); Ken Kirkley (Queensland). Membership had now reached 800. A film of the 1980 meeting was shown thanks to John Leake, Jack Gardner and Keith Mclennan.

25 November 1982

Meeting and dinner at the Tattersall’s Club. The forty-second President was John Neal, Managing Director of United International Corporation (the former Cinema International Corporation). “Film Man of the Year” was Darby Jewel (thirty-fourth President). New Victorian Vice-President was Brian Casey, the son of Dan Casey.

At the 1981 meeting it had been announced by President Allan Lewis that all members would be issued with permanent cinema passes to all GU, Hoyts and Village theatres in Australia.

At the 1982 meeting it was announced that the passes would now admit two persons. Members attending were most grateful.

Membership had now reached 825.

24 November 1983

Meeting and dinner at the Tattersall’s Club. New President was Fred Crouch, General Manager of GU Film Distributors.

The cover of the annual journal featured a composite picture of all the foundation members, only three of whom were still living. These men were presented with a special certificate. “Film Man of the Year” was Tom Nicholas who, as General Sales Manager of Columbia Pictures, so pleased the US executive that they sent him to London as Managing Director for the UK. Two new Life Governors were Ken G Hall and Herb Hayward. New Vice-Presidents were Ken Neck (Victoria) and Jack Groves (Tasmania).

22 November 1984

Venue – the Tattersall’s Club.  Elected as forty-fourth President was Laurie Russell, former Hoyts Executive and a Director of the company. “Film Man of the Year” was Arthur Stiles, well-known West Australian theatre executive with the Grand Theatre Company. Keith Milroy had become the Victorian Vice-President.

28 November 1985

Venue – the Tattersall’s Club.  David Joel was elected President. Joel, 27 years with Snider and Dean, finishing with that company as General Manager, had later become involved with the trade paper The Australasian Exhibitor (later Cinema) on behalf of the MPDA.

At this meeting, it was announced that each President would now be known as National President and each interstate Vice-President would be named President.

“Film Man of the Year” was John Smith, General Manager of Birch Carroll and Coyle of Queensland. Colin Hogben became Victoria’s President, and John Scott became Queensland’s President.

27 November 1986

Venue – The Masonic Centre, Goulburn Street, Sydney. The National President was John Merrin, General Manager, Theatre Operations at GUO. “Film Man of the Year” was Keith Moreman (thirtieth President). Interstate Presidents were: Gil Whelan (Victoria); Olaf Jacobson (Tasmania).

28 November 1987

Venue – The Masonic Centre. New National President was Stan Fitz-Alan, long time MGM, Hoyts and GU employee. “Film Man of the Year” was David Joel. Interstate Presidents were: Peter Minty (Victoria); Lindsay Stephens (Tasmania); Norm Pelling (Queensland). The application fee to join the society was $25.00.

23 November 1988

Venue – The Masonic Centre. Mervyn Jones, the new National President, had been in the industry in Canberra for 47 years. “Film Man of the Year” was Gordon Presland, known as “King of the Switch”. He had started in the business taking films from one theatre to another on pushbike. This grew into a large enterprise called “Presland’s Film Service”.
Interstate Presidents were: Lloyd Worland MBE (Victoria); Wayne Doran (Tasmania).

23 November 1989

Venue – The Masonic Centre.   John Smith, now Chief General Manager GU Screen Entertainment Ltd, was elected as forty-ninth President. Greg Coote, President of Village Roadshow Pictures (USA) Inc, was declared “Film Man of the Year”. Interstate Presidents were: Ron Burton (Queensland); Ted Burne (Tasmania); Harold Hutton (Victoria).

It was at this meeting and dinner that female members attended for the first time and received their certificates. It was also announced that Allan Lewis would be stepping down as Secretary!Treasurer after 17 years of selfless service.

1990s

29 November1990

Venue – The Masonic Centre.   The fiftieth President was Murray Forrest, Manager , Sales/Marketing with Atlab Australia.

“Film Man of the Year” was Jack Gardiner, well known in Australian film production activities for 49 years. Interstate Presidents were: Ron Wright (Victoria); George Haines (Queensland); Arthur Stiles (West Australia); Brian Spriggs (Tasmania); Neil Patterson (South Australia). Membership now totalled 1130.

The new National Honorary Secretary!Treasurer was Geoff Levers, Manager, Systems Development in the Theatre Division of Greater Union.

Cinema passes were now able to be used anytime except after 6pm on Saturdays, public holidays and for special screenings.

29 May 1991

The last of the Foundation members passed away on 28 May 1991 – Vic Webb.

28 November 1991

Venue – The Masonic Centre. The elected National President was Bruce Hawkins, General Manager, Cinema Operations, GUO.   “Film Man of the Year” was Graham Burke, Managing Director of Village Roadshow Group of companies. Interstate Presidents were: Tom Minear (Victoria); George Haines (Queensland);Arthur Stiles (West Australia); Paul Hodgman(Tasmania); Neil Patterson (South Australia).

Society neckties were available for sale for the first time. Also, following discussions between the society and Rydge Hotels, substantial discounts were arranged for members who wished to stay at Rydge Hotels.

Discussed at the meeting was the feasibility of forming a NSW branch of the society.

Members could now use their cinema passes at Roseville, Hayden cinemas, Mecca and all United cinemas besides the ones already participating.

26 November 1992

Venue- The Masonic Centre.   The fifty-second President was John Reid who had held executive positions with Columbia, United Artists and Greater Union and who, in partnership with Rod Pusker, had formed an independent company representing overseas and Australian companies within Australia and New Zealand. Their business covered theatrical, video and television sales, marketing and distribution.

“Film Man of the Year” was Terry Jackman, Chairman of Pacific Cinemas, operating multiplexes at Loganholme, Queensland and in Canberra.

On the retirement of Geoff Levers, Bruce Leonard became Secretary/Treasurer.

Membership badges were offered for sale for the first time.

As a result of a decision taken at the 1991 dinner, a NSW branch was formed with Ron McEwan as President. Keith Turnbull, Vice-President and Bruce Leonard as Secretary.

Committee members were Wendy Paterson, Milton Burton, Tim Toohey, Tom Omaye. The first engagement of the branch took place in the form of a luncheon at the Catholic Club in Park Street.

Interstate Presidents were: Rees Jones (Victoria); Damien Farrell (Queensland); Paul Hodgman (Tasmania); Arthur Stiles (West Australia); Neil Patterson (Queensland); Ron McEwan (NSW).

Terry Jackman – Chairman, Pacific Cinemas

25 November 1993

This being the sixtieth anniversary of the society, the annual meeting and banquet was held at the State Theatre, Market Street, Sydney. The new President (fifty-third in number) was Keith Moreman who had also been thirtieth President and the first person elected to serve a second term.

“Film Man of the Year” was Peter Thomson, Managing Director of Coastal Cinemas of West Australia. State Presidents were: Ron McEwan (NSW); Ron Landon (Victoria); Damien Farrell (Queensland); Neil Patterson (South Australia); Arthur Stiles (West Australia); Paul Hodgman (Tasmania).

Queensland branch had a “Pioneer of the Year” – Leo Erbetto. During the year, two luncheon meetings at the Catholic Club were held: 5 April (special guest Michael Bromhead, former Managing Director of EMI Film Distributors (GB)); 15 July (special guest Tony Buckley, film producer).

This year also witnessed the announcement that the cinema chains had agreed to a proposal made by John Reid that spouses of deceased members be issued with cinema passes, the only requirement being that they formally apply for them.

At the annual dinner all members who attended were given a special brochure commemorating the occasion. This contained a picture of George Clements acknowledging that he was the first man to make a positive step in establishing a club which they called “The Old Timers Club”: later a more embracing name was selected as “The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers”. A list of most of the old timers at the first meeting was also included in the brochure. The fee for joining the society had increased to $40.00.

24 November 1994

The sixty-first year. Meeting and dinner took place at the new Tattersall’s Club, the original club having been the venue for the first (1933) meeting. The fifty-fourth National President was Ron McEwan, then Manager Maintenance, Air-conditioning Services for GUO.

National Film “Pioneer of the Year” was Len Webb who had been National Director of Publicity and Advertising for 20 years at CIC and the later VIP. State Presidents: Ron McEwan (NSW); Don Albon (Victoria); Bill Palmer (Queensland); Neil Patterson (South Australia); Arthur Stiles (West Australia); Paul Hodgman (Tasmania). The Queensland Branch Committee announced that John Scott, Manager of Hoyts Queensland before his retirement, was “Pioneer of the Year” for that state. Two well-known and respected members of the society passed away during 1994: Herbert Hayward (twenty-ninth President) and Ken G Hall (twenty-eighth President). Also Gordon Presland, Stan Fitz-Alan and Alan Barr passed away.

The cinema passes could now be used at the following cinemas: all GU, Hoyts, Village, BCC, Wallis houses; Roseville; Hayden; Mecca; all United cinemas; The Entrance; Kincumber; Boolaroo; Cosmopolitan Twin at Woden Square, Phillip; Cinema Centre and Electric Shadows, Canberra.

The Motion Picture Benevolent Society of NSW announced that, from 1 September, funds would automatically be made available for direct payment to funeral directors in regard to reasonable funeral expenses for NSW and ACT members and their spouses.

One NSW Branch luncheon took place at the Catholic Club on 4 July and new members were presented with their certificates. National membership was somewhere around 1200.

A meeting of the NSW Branch was held at the Catholic Club on Monday, 24 April. New members were presented with their certificates of membership and Bruce Leonard presented an update on the many celebratory events being planned for the Australian Centenary of Cinema during 1995/6. Ron McEwan, State President, presided.

1995

The fifty-fifth National President Elect is Les Woods, lessee of the Stanmore Cinema Centre and whose career in exhibition has spanned about fifty years

(William Gray’s excellent chronicle of the Cinema Pioneers was written in 1995 and appeared in “Kino Magazine” that year.  Reprinted here in 2017, it will now be the future task of another dedicated member to continue this documentation of  the Society’s activities, growth and history for future reading and prosperity.)

From a small beginning with only an idea and a vision, the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers has grown to an Australia-wide organisation. Membership is a rewarding thing for the veterans of the motion picture and allied industries. Besides having cinema passes that enable them to maintain their interest in the current movies and new theatres, it also provides generous concessions for them. There is, too, the opportunity to renew acquaintances with old comrades in the spirit of fellowship and mutual respect.

Herbert G Hayward has written:

“Whether in the field of production, distribution or exhibition the society regards the cinema industry as a continuous process of adaptation to changing market requirements. For this is a creative and financially hazardous industry, operating on a vast international scale, activated by the powers of imagination and constantly dependent upon its ability to generate new ideas, new methods, new processes and devising new approaches to themes and subjects in production, distribution, marketing and presentation of entertainment.

“In the scheme of things it is reasonable to say that the function of the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers is not simply to preserve a pride in the cinema industry’s past achievements in this country. It also has the function of guidance to our industry by keeping alive the bright lights of experience, so that it may shine alike on paths not yet attempted as well as on the roads already travelled.

“In short, the memories of its members serve to give safe direction to the cinema industry. They give knowledge to impart to those who follow a knowledge of its character, its strengths and weaknesses. Our memories also serve to give timely warning and to sound our high hopes for the future.”