walter barnettHenry Walter Barnett

Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934) might be regarded as Australia's first director of motion pictures.

Maurice Sestier held the sole franchise for Lumiere equipment, and his first project in Australia was in late September and early October 1896, when, together with Walter Barnett, his new business partner, he shot scenes around Sydney Harbour, including a short documentary film called Passengers Alighting from Ferry 'Brighton' at Manly, which is still in existence.

On Tuesday, 3 November 1896, with Barnett in charge, Sestier filmed the Melbourne Cup, and even managed to get a long shot of the running. The Governor appeared, among other worthies - and Barnett himself. The film was preserved in suitable storage in Paris, so it is all still in good condition. It premiered at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, then ran at the Criterion Theatre in Sydney for three months.

Barnett directed the films while Sestier operated the cinématographe, and in the Melbourne Cup film Barnett is seen on camera encouraging spectators to wave their hats as the horses cross the finish line. (Wikipedia)

References and Links

Shirley, Graham & Brian Adams 1989, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, revised edition, Currency, Melbourne (first edition 1983).

Wikipedia page - which does not reveal whether the photo is a selfie or not


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