Australasian Cinema > directors > J.E. (Jack) Ward
J E (Jack) Ward worked as a sketch artist on the staff of the Sydney Morning Herald for eleven years, and as a lithographer and vaudeville performer, before devoting his career in 1915 to travelling in Papua. He began to make film records of his travels, and shot many thousands of feet covering the life and customs of Papuan people. At the suggestion of the entrepreneur Dan Carroll, he decided to exploit his footage commercially by adding a dramatic narrative. In mid-1918, with an Australian actress, Nellie Romer, and an actor, Garry Gordon, he staged a simple romantic story in the Yule Island area near Port Moresby.
Unexpectedly, the footage was impounded by the territory administration after Catholic missionaries complained about Ward's activities. Appeals and investigations were made, and eventually, when officials were satisfied that the film would not prejudice relations with the native population, it was returned to Ward. The narrative scenes were subsequently interwoven with documentary footage under a title that referred to the New Guinea territory, formerly a German possession and now 'Australia's own'. Billed as an exotic adventure movie, with special hand coloured wildlife segments, it opened at the Globe Theatre, Sydney, on 20 January 1919.
Subsequent screenings were rare and lacked publicity, and commercial results could hardly have been impressive. Undeterred, Ward persisted with production, recycling much of his earlier footage to make new documentaries, including The Quest for the Blue Bird of Paradise, a seven-reel film completed around 1923 and probably containing acted scenes from Australia's Own, and Death Devils in a Papuan Paradise, released in Sydney in October 1924. He departed briefly from his New Guinea subjects in 1925 to direct an urban comedy, Those Terrible Twins. Pike & Cooper: 88.
Australia's Own** (J.E. Ward, 1919) prod. wr. dp, Jack Ward; Nellie Romer, Garry Gordon; romance
Those Terrible Twins** (J.E. Ward, 1925) aka Those Terrible Twins Ginger Meggs and Bluey, J.E. Ward Productions; Ray Griffen (Ginger Meggs), Billy Canstell (Bluey), Kitty Willoby
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