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Boots and Shoes (c.1924)


A promotional film presented by the Made in Australia Council that shows the manufacture and assembly of Australian-made footwear in a factory. It ends with the slogan ‘wherever you trade, buy Australian Made’. The silent film uses intertitles to describe the processes involved.

Curator’s notes

Boots and Shoes is one of the earliest examples of the work presented by the Made in Australia Council. At the time this film was made, the footwear industry in Australia supported 22,000 employees and produced footwear exceeding ten million pounds per year. The footwear industry is promoted here as, if not the oldest, then ‘certainly the greatest’ secondary industry of the Commonwealth. These proud statistics are shown through title cards at the commencement of the film and provide a context to what follows.

The remainder of the film shows the inner workings of a boot and shoe factory and takes the viewer through a manufacturing process that starts with cutting the patterns for the shoes and ends with the finished product. Slow pans, close-ups and repetition is used to convey a strong sense of what happens inside a factory. Throughout Boots and Shoes, intertitles are also used to great effect. They describe the processes involved and emphasise the craftsmanship, technical expertise and superior manufacturing techniques that make Australian footwear such a strong product.

The Melbourne-based Made in Australia Council was formed in the early 1920s as part of a campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of local production and to promote Australian-made goods. Emerging out of a growing movement in support of local manufacture and production, the Made in Australia Council drew support from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Australian Industries Protection League, Australian Natives’ Association (now Australian Unity), the Education Department and Railway Commissioners (Australian Natives’ Association Annual Conference Report, 1924). It promoted support for Australian-made goods through the distribution of posters, leaflets, pamphlets and the production of ‘moving pictures’. The Council’s slogan was ‘wherever you trade, buy Australian Made’.

An article that appeared in The Age newspaper in 1927 – around four years after this film was produced – was still lamenting the ‘thoughtless buying’ of Australian consumers which resulted in Australia importing boots from abroad. Mr VL Ginn, then a member of the Made in Australia Council, learned that Australian boot manufacturers were working at ‘two-fifths capacity’ and urged Australians to support locally produced goods because it would create jobs, reduce production costs, lower the cost of living, promote local expansion and ‘make Australia self-contained’ (The Age newspaper, 18 August 1927). This indicates that the work of the Made in Australia Council still had a long way to go.

Other promotional films made by the Made in Australia Council include A Shining Example, Piano Making, A Day at an Engineering Works and Factory to Farm: Making Agricultural Implements in Australia.