Day 1: Wednesday 22 Feb
11am The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) Screening and Lecture,
Old Melbourne Gaol
Shot in and around Melbourne and first screened in 1906, The Story of the Kelly Gang is considered the first feature length film anywhere in the world. As part of the three-day Screening Melbourne conference, Swinburne University of Technology will host a special screening of the film and lecture at the site where the infamous bushranger met his fate, the Old Melbourne Gaol. While much of the original film has been lost the remaining footage will be screened with a special introduction from National Film and Sound Archive of Australia curator Sally Jackson, detailing the painstaking process of restoration. Following the screening Dr Stephen Gaunson (RMIT University), author of The Ned Kelly Films, will discuss more recent film versions of this iconic figure in Australian history. Chaired by Liam Burke (Swinburne University of Technology).
Sally Jackson is a curator in the Film branch at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA). Prior to joining the NFSA in 1991, she completed a degree in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University, worked for the Melbourne International Film Festival and Australian Film Institute, and as a freelance researcher in film, television and publishing. At the NFSA, Sally has worked in exhibitions, screening programs and film restoration, including work on The Story of the Kelly Gang and the NFSA’s Corrick Collection. She is currently writing a new history of the early days of cinema in Australia.
Stephen Gaunson is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Cinema Studies in the School of Media and Communication. His research explores the topics of adaptation, genre, national cinema, and film history. Stephen has published widely on the Australian cinema and global fields of film history. His writing has appeared in a range of books and journals. He is the author of The Ned Kelly Films: A Cultural History of Kelly History (Intellect, 2013).
7.15 Self-Guided Bluestone Laneways Walk
The self-guided walk passes through several of Melbourne’s famous bluestone laneways from the Reception Venue at RMIT (Chapel Courtyard) to the Treasury Theatre screening. In preparation for the screening of Daniel Crook’s Embroidery of Voids, with improvised musical performance by Ricochet, it will draw attention to some familiar and less familiar bluestone landmarks en route. A map and itinerary will be available on the day or through the ‘Screening Melbourne Laneway Walk’ on the free PocketSights app for the (available for iPhone download only – requires registration).
8pm Special Screening and Live Performance,
Treasury Theatre, 1 Macarthur Street
Walker-delegates will be greeted at the Treasury Theatre by a complimentary glass of champagne before a one-off screening of An Embroidery of Voids (2013) by contemporary video artist Daniel Crooks presenting a mesmerising journey through Melbourne laneways, accompanied by a live, improvised performance by Melbourne-based sound art group Ricochet and introduced by Stephanie Trigg. Sponsored by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.
Daniel Crooks is a Melbourne-based artist working across digital video, photography and installation. His work probes our understanding of time and visual perception through manipulated images that compel us to re-examine our experience of reality. Crooks’ work is in private and public collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Crooks has held numerous solo exhibitions at galleries including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (2016), Gallery of Modern Arts, Brisbane (2015), Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia (2013), Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2013), Art Gallery of Ballarat, Australia (2011), and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu, New Zealand (2010); and has participated in exhibitions at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2014), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013), Royal Academy of Arts, London (2013) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2012).
Ricochet are a sound art group, developed out of the Melbourne free improvisation movement. The music is constructed as a long form improvisation, most often directed and moulded by communal restrictions or concepts. The group aims to present cohesive group improvisation with an emphasis on collective structure. Ricochet has performed at festivals and venues around Australia, curated a month long series of cross-disciplinary performance nights, and released two full length albums – each recorded in a single night. In 2016, the group hosted an ongoing silent film/improvised soundtrack series of monthly performances in collaboration LongPlay Cinema in North Fitzroy. The group consists of Joshua Kelly, Joel Trigg, Oscar Neyland and Ziggy Zeitgeist.
Stephanie Trigg is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of English. She holds an Honours Degree and a PhD in English from the Department of English at the University of Melbourne and a B.Litt. degree in Philosophy and Social Theory from Melbourne. She was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2006, and from 2008-2011 she was a Trustee of the New Chaucer Society. In 2008 she received the Patricia Grimshaw Award for Excellence in Mentoring, and an Award for Teaching Excellence in Arts and Humanities from the Australian Teaching and Learning Council. Stephanie is currently one of ten Chief Investigators and one of four Program Leaders in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (UWA). She leads the Melbourne node of the Centre.
Day 2: Thursday 23 Feb
9am Crime on the Streets: From Homicide to Jack Irish Panel Event
Deakin Edge, Federation Square
Featuring TV writer/creator Matt Cameron (Jack Irish, Secret City), television luminary Ian Crawford (Crawford Productions), crime writer Andrew Nette, and Prof. Jock Given (Swinburne University). Convened by Deane Williams (Monash University).
Matt Cameron is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose credits include Jack Irish, Secret City, Molly, Old School and SeaChange. He was the script editor for Kath & Kim and co-creator/co-writer/director of the AWGIE winning Introducing Gary Petty. He has written numerous award-winning plays which have been performed throughout Australia and internationally.
Ian Crawford joined Crawford Productions when he was 20 years old. His uncle was Hector Crawford, his mother was Hector’s sister, Dorothy Crawford. Once television began in Australia, Ian directed the early episodes of all the Crawford drama programs, from Homicide, through Division Four, Matlock Police and Cop Shop to The Sullivans and Carson’s Law. In the early ’60s he was appointed a Director of Crawfords, and from then on was an Executive Producer of all the company’s drama output. In 1980 he became the company’s Managing Director, a post he held until Hector and he sold their company shares in 1988.
Jock Given researches, writes and teaches about media and communications policy, business, law and history. His work has been published in Telecommunications Policy, the Journal of Information Policy, Info – The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications Information and Media, Business History, Media History, the Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television and the Historical Records of Australian Science. His radio documentaries ‘Crawfords: Television for the People’ and ‘Empire State: Ernest Fisk and the World Wide Wireless’ were first broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Hindsight program in 2014 and 2012. He published Turning off the Television: Broadcasting’s Uncertain Future and America’s Pie: Trade and Culture after 9/11 with UNSW Press in 2003. Jock previously worked as Director of the Communications Law Centre, Policy Advisor at the Australian Film Commission and Director, Legislation and Industry Economics in the federal Department of Transport and Communications.
Andrew Nette is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, reviewer and pulp scholar. He is the author of Ghost Money and co-editor of Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980. His popular website, Pulp Curry, contains reviews, features and interviews on a broad range of topics relating to crime fiction, film and popular culture.
Deane Williams is Associate Professor of Film and Screen Studies at Monash University. He is the editor of the journal Studies in Documentary Film, and his books include Australian Post-War Documentary Film: An Arc of Mirrors (2008), Michael Winterbottom (with Brian McFarlane, 2009) and the three-volume Australian Film Theory and Criticism (co-edited with Noel King and Constantine Verevis, 2013-2017). In 2016 his The Cinema of Sean Penn: In and Out of Place was published by Wallflower Press.
10.45 Difference: Screening Diversity Panel Event
Deakin Edge, Federation Square
ABC Radio National’s Jason di Rosso, Executive Director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival Dillan Golightly, Olivia Khoo (Monash University) and Leila Gurruwiwi (The Marngrook Footy Show) discuss representations of diversity on, in, and behind, the screen.
Jason Di Rosso is RN’s film critic, host of the weekly film show The Final Cut and reviewer across a range of RN. Before becoming RN’s chief film specialist Jason spent six years as associate producer and reviewer on Movietime, a weekly show hosted by Julie Rigg. Outside the ABC, his writing on film and popular culture has appeared in GQ magazine and The Australian. In 2011 he was host and curator of the weekly filmmaker Q and A called Friday On My Mind, held at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney.
Dillan Golightly has been festival director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) since 2015. The 26th MQFF was held in March/April 2016 and was a successful event attracting new, younger audiences and meeting ticket sales targets (with the best box office performance in 5 years).
Olivia Khoo is Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University, Australia. She is the author of The Chinese Exotic: Modern Diasporic Femininity (Hong Kong University Press, 2007) and co-author (with Belinda Smaill and Audrey Yue) of Transnational Australian Cinema: Ethics in the Asian Diasporas (Lexington, 2013). Olivia is also co-editor of four volumes: The Routledge Handbook of New Media in Asia (with Larissa Hjorth, Routledge, 2016), Contemporary Culture and Media in Asia (with Dan Black and Koichi Iwabuchi, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Sinophone Cinemas (with Audrey Yue, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Futures of Chinese Cinema: Technologies and Temporalities in Chinese Screen Cultures (with Sean Metzger, Intellect, 2009).
Leila Gurruwiwi is an Australian media commentator and television show producer. She is a panel member on The Marngrook Footy Show and co-producer of an upcoming reality TV show currently being filmed in Arnhem Land, with the working title Dance Off.
12.45 My Melbourne Project, Projection and Performance
The My Melbourne project will put the city and its people front and centre to explore our emotional attachment to place and culture by asking What does Melbourne mean to you? An edited projection of the best photos and videos will be screened, accompanied by an interactive live musical performance from The Yellow Peril Symphony. Co-hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Multicultural Arts Victoria and the Centre for Contemporary Photography.
4.30 Experimenta Screening and Panel: MIMA’s Experiments in Film and Video in 80s Melbourne
Modern Image Makers Australia (MIMA) was established in Melbourne 1986 by experimental film and video makers, and quickly became a crucial platform for screen cultures in Australia. It also became instrumental in the development of media art from an underground cultural phenomenon in the 1980s to exhibiting in major galleries, festivals and events. The original MIMA committee – featuring Corinne Cantrill, Dirk de Bruyn, Chris Knowles, Robert Randall, Michael Lee, Sue Goldman, Stephen Goddard, Frank Bendinell and administrator John Smithies – lead an active and prolific stable of avant garde artists, experimental film and video makers, and sound artists whose impacts immeasurably shaped the face of film, video and media art in Australia. In MIMA’s early years, the organisation toured experimental film around Australia and to international events, featured weekly screenings in Melbourne, championed critical discourse on experimental film in dozens of lectures and talks, and launched Australia’s first national exhibition of film and video. This exhibition and its follow-on festival – dubbed ‘Experimenta’ – became the namesake for the organisation as it exists in its current form. Yet much of MIMA’s extraordinary output is lost, unknown or little recognised.
One of MIMA’s most tangible legacies was a set of film and video ‘yearbooks’ commissioned by the Australian Film Commission for circulation as an educational resource. This series of three, one-hour yearbooks highlighted shorts and extracts considered ‘difficult’ to program and distribute through traditional channels. The yearbooks served to showcase the best in experimental and ‘avant garde’ works created between the mid-1960s to late 1980s, and challenge preconceived notions of film, art and their intersection.
Experimenta has recently digistised the original MIMA Yearbook tapes and founding MIMA member, Dirk de Bruyn, has curated a special screening of a selection of the yearbook’s works. Ranging from 1966-1989, these films are a pre-digital time capsule sampling a fragmented and diverse community whose history reflects the changing nature of experimental film/video art. Following this 40 minute screening, a panel comprised of early MIMA members – Dirk de Bruyn, Keely Macarow, and John Smithies – and lead by Experimenta’s current artistic director, Jonathan Parsons, will reflect on the formation of MIMA, its impact and legacies on Melbourne’s screen cultures.
Jonathan Parsons has over twenty years of experience working in arts and culture in Australia and internationally. He is currently Experimenta’s Artistic Director and is also Creative Director of Robotronica, a biennial festival showcasing the latest in robotics and interactive design at QUT. He was the Director of ISEA2013 (International Symposium on Electronic Art) an international festival of art, technology and ideas in partnership with Vivid Sydney. He has extensive arts administration and management experience working for a range of festivals, cultural institutions and performing arts companies. He has artistically led and collaborated on a broad range of cultural programs and events across all art forms including for: State Library of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Riverfestival, Byron Bay Writers Festival, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Pacific Wave Festival, Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Awesome Festival and the London International Festival of Theatre.
Dirk de Bruyn is Associate Professor of Screen and Design at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. He has made numerous experimental, documentary and animation films, videos, performance and installation work over the last 40 years and written and curated extensively in these areas of practice. He was a founding member and past president of MIMA (Experimenta). His book The Performance of Trauma in Moving Image Art was published in 2014.
Associate Professor Keely Macarow is Deputy Head, Research & Innovation, School of Art, RMIT University. Keely has worked as a creative producer, artist and curator for film, video, performance and exhibition projects which have been presented in Australia, the UK, the US and Europe. Keely’s creative practice has spanned media, sound and visual arts, performance, experimental film, curation and design. Her research is collaborative and focuses on social practice, art, design, housing, health and wellbeing. She is currently working on interdisciplinary projects with art, design, housing and medical researchers based at RMIT University, Lund University and the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden). Keely was actively involved with Experimenta in the late 1980s and 1990s as Artistic Director (1998-2000), Office Administrator for the Modern Image Makers Association (MIMA, now Experimenta) in 1990 and as a curator of experimental film and video art programs for MIMA (1989-1990). Her curatorial focus with Experimenta crossed sci-art, feminist experimental film, analogue and digital media and post-postmodern video.
John Smithies is an artist and experienced arts manager with a background of arts programming, research and policy development. He studied at art schools in Australia and overseas. John was the first Administrator for MIMA/Experimenta in 1986. From 1992, John was Director of the State Film Centre of Victoria, initiating and leading it through its development to become the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square in Melbourne, opening in 2002. He is Director, Cultural Development Network (CDN) and Adjunct Principal Research Fellow RMIT University. John’s key achievements at CDN have been to establish its internationally recognised research program and form the National Local Government Cultural Forum, a partnership of the Commonwealth Government and the Australian local government sector.
6.30 Capitol Theatre Presentation, 113 Swanston St
The Capitol Theatre, Melbourne, Screen Culture and a Feminist Herstory Lisa French, RMIT University
Architect Robin Boyd described Melbourne’s iconic Capitol Theatre in The Australian as ‘the best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built’. Following its opening in 1924, it packed in cinema audiences of over 2000 but today its doors are closed. This paper, conducted with a tour of the theatre, tells some of the fascinating history, beginning with the architects Marion Mahony Griffin and her husband Walter Burley Griffin. Whilst Mahony Griffin’s central role was not acknowledged during her lifetime, according to academic Anna Rubbo, she was a central force in many projects, including The Capitol, for which she has been generally acknowledged as responsible for the brilliant, geometric ceiling. She was a trailblazer, the second woman to get a degree in architecture in the US, the first to be licensed as an architect, and a pioneer for women in the field. So it is fitting that this mini-history of the iconic Capitol Theatre begins with her, and then goes on to paint a picture of its contribution to Melbourne’s screen culture and architectural history.
Lisa French is Professor and Deputy Dean in the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University. She co-authored Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute (2009, 2014), and was the co-writer/editor of the anthology Womenvision: Women and the Moving Image in Australia (2003). Her professional history includes three years as director of the prestigious St Kilda Film Festival and nine years on the board of the AFI. She has contributed to the Australian film industry through her service on many boards, including the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and Women in Film and Television (WIFT). She is currently working on a book and a film on women documentary directors and the ‘female gaze’, and on a project to get the doors of the Capitol Theatre open again!
Day 3: Friday 24 Feb
9.30 Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Panel Event
State Library of Victoria Theatrette
Screenwriter Elisabeth Coleman and line producer Anna Molyneaux from EveryCloud Productions discuss the process of revisioning Melbourne in the 1920s and recreating the Miss Fisher novels for the screen. The session will begin with a screening of an episode from the third season of the popular series, followed by morning tea and the panel discussion. A second episode from the first season will also screen at 12 pm for anyone interested. Chaired by Terrie Waddell (La Trobe University). Presented in partnership with La Trobe University.
Elisabeth Coleman is a scriptwriter and dramatist. She wrote her first television scripts for The Flying Doctors in 1986 and has since written prolifically for Australian television favourites including Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-2015), Bed of Roses (2008), McCloud’s Daughters (2005-2006), All Saints (2005), and Blue Heelers (2005), Sea Change (1998) and Heartbreak High (1996-1997). Elisabeth has written numerous plays that have toured nationally including It’s My Party (And I’ll Die If I Want To) (1993).
Anna Molyneaux is a line producer and production manager for film, television and documentary. Her television credits include Wolf Creek (2015-2016), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2011-2015), City Homicide (2009-2010), The Saddle Club (2007-2008) and John Safran vs. God (2004).
Terrie Waddell is a Reader/Associate Professor of Media Arts, La Trobe University. Her research focuses on the relationship between screen media, literature, gender, popular culture and psychology. As well as chapter and journal contributions, she has authored and edited: Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television (co-editor Routledge, 2015), Wild/lives: Trickster, Place and Liminality on Screen (Routledge, 2010), Mis/takes: Archetype, Myth and Identity in Screen Fiction (Routledge, 2006), Lounge Critic: The Couch Theorist’s Companion (co-editor, ACMI, 2004); and Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness: Wrath, Sex, Crime (editor, Rodopi, 2003).
1pm Tour of the Limelight Department Studios
Salvation Army Heritage Centre
The Limelight Department was the Salvation Army’s pioneering film production and presentation unit in Australia. Between 1892 and 1909 its many productions, included 300 films and the major multimedia presentations Soldiers of the Cross and Heroes Of The Cross. The unit also documented Australia’s Federation ceremonies in 1901. Australia’s first dedicated film studio was created by The Salvation Army at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne, in a room that still stands preserved much as it was at the turn of the century.
5pm Melbourne’s Artistic Games History Panel Event
Australian Centre for the Moving Image, The Cube
Helen Stuckey, Dan Golding, Hugh Davies and Chad Toprak discuss Melbourne’s long history of experimentation in games development and its legacy today. Chaired by Helen Stuckey.
Melbourne House – the literary origins of local game development
Helen Stuckey, Flinders University
The story of Melbourne House publishing is perhaps the most unusual story of page to screen. Melbourne House is a name well known to British and European computer gamers of the 1980s. According to the Australian Business Review Weekly, in 1984 Melbourne House owned 10% of the $30-$35 million British games market, the company consistently had three or four games in the ‘Top30’ games sales of the era. Some of these games were developed in the living room of a small South Yarra flat and others in a seedy South Melbourne studio space next to a brothel and an all-night taxi cafe. But Australia’s first videogame developer is not a conventional bedroom coder technology start-up story but rather its origins lie with maverick book publishers Outback Press. Outback Press was founded by four young Melbourne rebels in 1973 to publish local stories, art and photography in defiance of Australia’s UK controlled book publishing regime that served to stifle local voices. Melbourne House’s Alfred Milgrom formed part of that original four-person team with his friend Morry Schwartz.
This paper examines the history of Australian game developers Beam Software and their parent company, publishers Melbourne House. It explores the origins of Melbourne House in art house publishing, and reveals how the company’s genesis was not within the story of computing, but rose from an impassioned desire.to support Australian artistic expression. Exposed is the central role that Australia’s colonial past played in the emergence of games development in Melbourne.
Helen Stuckey is the Games Program Manager in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT University. She was the inaugural Games Curator at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (2004-2009) where she produced and curated the Games Lab an exhibition space dedicated to exploring videogame culture. As a curator she has contributed to such significant international exhibitions as Game On (2002-), Gameworld (2007) and Game Masters (2012-). She recently completed her PhD “Remembering Australian Videogames of the 1980s: What museums can learn from retro games communities about the curation of game history” as part of the Australian Research Project Play it Again: Creating a Playable History of Australasian Digital Games, for Industry, Community and Research Purposes.
Artists, outsiders, and the industry: Melbourne’s experimental videogame history
Dan Golding, Swinburne University
In 1980, the book publishers Alfred Milgrom and Naomi Besen returned to Melbourne from London and established Beam Software, Australia’s first videogames development company. Since then, Melbourne has been a foundational hub for Australia’s videogame development industry, and has been home to hundreds of studios, large and small alike. Melbourne is acknowledged as a hub for the Australian videogame industry in scholarly research (Banks and Cunningham, 2016; Apperley and Golding, 2015; Hinton 2009), yet tensions remain between what Keogh calls ‘Triple-A, lndie, Casual, and DIV’ (2015) as modes of Melbourne’s development culture. As Banks and Cunningham note, Melbourne is sometimes “characterised by a thriving indie scene with much more of a games-as-art approach than just chasing commercial success,” in contrast to other Australian centres, such as Brisbane (2016, 134).
However, the histories of videogames in Melbourne are still largely focussed on commercial successes, including games like The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1982), Way of the Exploding Fist (Beam Software, 1985), and De Blob (Blue Tongue, 2008), and emphasise large studios with international publishing deals and many employees or contractors, such as Blue Tongue, Transmission Games, Tantalus, IR Gurus, Atari Melbourne House, and more recently, Firemonkeys. Accordingly, though the contemporary understanding of Melbourne’s videogame culture is one strongly influenced by an ‘arts’ approach and experimentation, historical accounts still focus on studios with links to videogames’ global capital. Yet Melbourne also has a long and prolific history of experimentation and work at the margins of the industry that is not always reflected in historical accounts. Accordingly, drawing on the work of artists and collectives such as Selectparks, the Escape From Woomera team, and Julian Oliver, this paper will argue for a link between older experimental game-making in Melbourne and more contemporary work that exists at the fringes of Melbourne videogame culture, such as that of Lee Shang Lun, Alexander Bruce, Ian Mclarty, and games like Once Upon A Spacetime (2011), and Movement Study 1 (2014, unreleased).
Dan Golding is a lecturer in Media and Communications at Swinburne University and a writer on the Australian games industry. In 2015, his series ‘A Short History of Video Games’ was broadcast on ABC Radio National, which was later Highly Commended at the 13th Annual IT Journalism ‘Lizzie’ awards. He is also a contributing editor at Metro Magazine. In 2016, Dan co-wrote Game Changers (Affirm Press), and wrote the soundtrack to Push Me Pull You (PS4). Dan is currently the director of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival.
Hugh Davies is an interdisciplinary artist, academic and media researcher with a keen interest in experimental and expansive games. Hugh was inaugural board chair of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival and his PhD examined transmedia games mixed reality experiences. He has held professional roles including multiplatform producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and senior lecturer in Media Arts at La Trobe University. With creative output spanning sculpture, participatory installation, video art and games, his works have been presented in Europe, the Americas and the Asia Pacific Region.
Chad Toprak is a passionate game designer and researcher at the lab who holds a Bachelor of Arts (Digital Art) degree at RMIT University. He co-directs and curates Hovergarden, Melbourne’s monthly gathering and celebration of local multiplayer indie games. With the intention of doing further research and studies in games and digital play, Chad is currently undertaking a PhD degree. His passion lies in social, playful and pervasive games, with evoking playfulness through ludic interventions as one of his main research interests. Chad actively participates in and contributes to festivals and events such as Freeplay.