A bit of history...
The film society grew out of the energy created by the Regional Centre of Culture in 2012, which was a State Government initiative to invest funds into regional areas for the development of their arts infrastructure and to create a year long program of arts events. It was a big year for the arts communities of the Alexandrina region with State funding enabling an extensive program of arts events (called 'Just Add Water') and the refurbishment of Goolwa's Centenary Hall into a contemporary performance space.
Centenary Hall 1977
Centenary Hall 2017
The Southern Fleurieu Film Society was formed in late 2012 and become an Incorporated Association in March 2013. We also began screening films in March 2013. In that first year, we used the 50 seat theatrette in Signal Point, Goolwa. The theatrette is a terrific facility to have as part of Goolwa's principal art gallery - Signal Point - and it's use by the SFFS contributed to it's retention in the face of possible demolition. Goolwa resident, Carol Gaston, organised an event in the theatrette (showing photos of her trip to the Venice Bienniale) to promote interest in saving the facility and suggested a film society be formed. The thinking was 'if we use the theatrette more, maybe they won't demolish it'. Mike Tye volunteered to form the film society and got together a committee consisting of himself, John Biggins, Anne Brookman, and Sonya King.
There was strong interest in the film society and it took only a small effort to attract 50 members to fill the theatrette. In those days, Mike stood up in front of the audience and gave a short talk about the film before it was screened. But we almost immediately outgrew the space, with many more people interested in joining than seats; we needed to find a bigger venue. Centenary Hall was the obvious choice. There was division amongst committee members about expanding the size of the film society and moving to Centenary Hall. In September 2013, three committee members resigned, leaving Mike to form a new committee comprising of himself, Michael Masters, Lachlan Kelly, and Heather Masters. A few years later John Moore also joined the committee.
The recently refurbished 200 seat Centenary Hall is an ideal venue for screening films. In fact, that's one of the reasons it was originally built. In 1928 Percy Wells (1878-1959), a local businessman and Mayor of the Goolwa and Pt Elliot Council (1928-9), saw the need for a community hall in Goolwa and, having unsuccessfully tried to convince the Council to build such a hall, had it built and paid for himself. In 1929 it was completed and was immediately embraced by the community and used for meetings, dances, and film screenings. Around this time the silent film era was coming to an end with the beginning of 'talkies'. Percy Wells had imported an amazing machine from the USA, The Fotoplayer, that put music to silent films but it was soon to be replaced by the new technology of talkies. That machine now sits in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Films were regularly screened in Centenary Hall until the 1970's.
With it's history of film screenings and it's recent refurbishment, Centenary Hall was the ideal venue for the growing film society. In February 2014 we began screening films in Centenary Hall. Mike's short talk before each film was no longer practical due to it being hard to hear him in the larger space. Although Mike and another member, Lachlan Kelly, had been trained to use the projection equipment, the Hall's technician stopped short of allowing them to use the PA system. In response to this, it was decided to film an introduction to each film and project it onto the screen before the feature film. Heather Masters joined Mike as co-presenter. Click on the 'Archive' tab to see Heather and Mike's film introductions. The early film introductions were filmed by Mike (with the assistance of Michael Masters) on a borrowed camera and reflect Mike's early foray into the world of film making. As time went by, the quality of the introductions improved. While there is still room for improvement, members look forward to the film review supplied by 'Goolwa's Margaret and David'.
Heather and Mike
2014 also saw the beginning of film screenings in Milang and Clayton Bay. The SFFS was successful in attracting funding, from Country Arts SA, to purchase projection equipment and used this to present the program to residents in these two outlying towns. The groups in Milang and Clayton Bay are much smaller than the Goolwa group but they enjoy the same films (and film introductions) without having to travel to Goolwa. For the first two years, Mike travelled to Milang and Clayton Bay with the projection equipment and set up the screenings with the help of John Bradford and Neil Johnson in Milang, and Suzy Rex and Peter Bullock in Clayton Bay. In 2016, the Milang and Clayton Bay groups took over from Mike and set up the screenings themselves. In June 2017 it was decided to cease screenings in Clayton Bay due to diminishing member numbers.
Clayton Bay screening 2014
The SFFS is now well established. It's primary objectives of promoting film as an art form, and encouraging social interaction between it's members, continue to guide the development of the group. Our core activity is running the monthly screenings but we also hire out our projection equipment for community events from time to time. The possibilities for enlarging the program, starting groups in other towns in our region, supporting local film makers, and a swag of other ideas are all there to be considered, if there is the passion and energy to make them happen!
The SFFS symbol was designed by Mike Tye in 2015.
The design is based on three aspects of film making. The strips of film refer to the historical elements of film making, the colours refer to the primary colours of light, and the lenticular nature of the design represents lenses - which are found in the cameras used to make films, the projectors used to screen films, and the eyes used to watch films.