Sydney Filmmakers Co-op

Sydney Filmmakers Co-op

The Sydney Filmmakers Co-operative was a co-operative of independent filmmakers, funded by the Australian Film Commission set up to distribute and exhibit their films and the films of other independent filmmakers both Australian and overseas. These included short films, low budget features, and documentaries with a particular emphasis on social issues and those for, by and about women. Founding members were the experimental filmmakers of the 60s and early 70s, including Philip Adams, Phillip Noyce, Aggy Read, and Albie Thoms and later Bruce Petty.

It held its first official meeting in May 1970. One month earlier, the Experimental Film Fund had come into operation, and suddenly filmmakers had the beginnings of government support for independent or non-feature production – in fact, independent production became government dependent. With the receipt of its own support from the government, the Co-op opened its own 100-seat cinema in St Peters Lane Darlinghurst, with the upstairs premises to be used for film distribution (formerly, and famously, coming from Phil Noyce’s loungeroom). in 1974 and began the newspaper Filmnews in February 1975. The paper was initially little more than a supplement to the Co-op's Film Catalogue, but later developed into an independent journal which provided a critical look at issues affecting the production, distribution and exhibition of film and video in Australia.

In 1981, the Co-op's cinema closed when the AFC decided not to fund it any longer; and the St Peters Lane premises were vacated in February 1985. The AFC supported the Co-op’s move to new premises in Pyrmont, and encouraged more aggressive marketing and distribution policies, but these policies stretched the Co-op’s resources. The AFC decided that only one government-funded distribution body was being supported and that was the AFI; the Co-op had to close its doors in February 1986.

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