The longest narrative film then seen in Australia, and quite possibly in the world, opened on 26 December 1906 at the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne. In 1904, two young entrepreneurs, John and Nevin Tait, from a family of five brothers in show business, had begun to include film programs among their concert bookings at the Athenaeum Hall. Their screenings of imported 'scenics' had been profitable, and they became eager to expand their film activities. In making their first film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, they were joined by Millard Johnson and William Gibson, two chemists who had become interested in film when they acquired a second-hand projector from a vaudeville show. Johnson and Gibson soon began showing films to large crowds around Melbourne, in the open air on the beach at St Kilda, and at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and through their knowledge of chemistry they became proficient in handling technical aspects of photography and processing.
The film was financed jointly by the two partnerships, and after thorough planning, was directed by the Taits' older brother Charles, who had had wider experience in theatrical presentations. Pike & Cooper: 5-6.
The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906) J. & N. Tait, Johnson & Gibson; Frank Mills, Elizabeth Tait, John Tait, Norman Campbell, Will Coyne; world's first feature film, in the sense that it ran for more than an hour; seventeen minutes of the film have been restored and released by the National Film and Sound Archive.
New: 26 December, 2012 | Now: 20 November, 2013 | garrygillard [at] gmail.com