This newsreel clip from 1926 shows a scene from the film For the Term of His Natural Life in production at the Australasian Films’ Bondi studio, Sydney NSW. A cameraman on a moving platform, or dolly, shoots the scene as Sarah Purfoy (Jessica Harcourt) talks to Captain Frere (Dunstan Webb) in a sitting room and a kangaroo jumps onto set.
Australasian Films produced the film For the Term of His Natural Life, which is featured in this newsreel clip. Newsreels such as this were used for publicity. As there was public opposition to the production of this film, due to it being based on Australia’s convict history, a large amount of publicity would have been undertaken to gain goodwill and interest in the film. This is one example.
Australasian Films developed from a merger of the key Australian film distribution and production companies. This 'combine’ was the forerunner in film production of the time until Hoyts entered the market, pushing costs of film buying and production up until it became less viable for Australian companies to compete.
This newsreel clip takes us behind-the-scenes of a film production – in fact, one of the biggest films to have been made at the time. For the Term of His Natural Life was based on Marcus Clarke’s novel of the same name about the fate of an English aristocrat, Rufus Dawes, who was transported for life to the convict settlement of Van Dieman’s Land for a crime he did not commit. Shot both in production studios, as you can see in this newsreel clip, and on location in Berrima, New South Wales, Sydney Harbour and Port Arthur, Tasmania, the film portrays convict life in a penal colony with historical accuracy and also uses glass shot special effects, which allowed the director, Norman Dawn, to restore roofs to the ruins of Port Arthur.