Australia's First Film Studio | Limelight

Australia's First Film Studio | Limelight

Australia's first film studio was built at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne in 1898.

Australia's first dedicated film studio was created by The Salvation Army in a room that still stands preserved much as it was at the turn of the century.

By 1895 Perry, with his Limelight equipment, had visited nearly every Corps in Australasia, journeying some 46,500 km, presenting religious illuminated shows to some 522 astounded audiences.

Commandant Herbert Booth was appointed as Australasian Territorial Commander in 1897. Upon meeting Joseph Perry he saw the possibilities in an expanded Limelight Department. He enthusiastically authorised the purchase more equipment, including three gramophones, and importantly, a Cinematographe machine. This led to the establishment of Australia's first permanent film production unit and saw some astonishing pioneering achievements, including:

On September 13th, 1900 the world's first dramatic film was a key attraction in a pioneering multimedia production "Soldiers of the Cross" at the Melbourne Town Hall. The film was the latest in a series of developments by Australia's first film production company: the Limelight Department of The Salvation Army. They had produced prior to this a series of short movies about the social work of The Salvation Army.

Film historian Chris Long wrote, "It would be difficult to find an Australian film icon attracting more extravagant claims than Soldiers of the Cross. Described as 'Australia's first full-length film'... or even 'the world's first motion picture play'... its saga dominates many chronicles of early Australian cinema".

Soldiers of the Cross depicted the lives of the early Christians; it ran for over 2½ hours and comprises fifteen 90-second films and 200 slides, accompanied by oratory and music. It was an illustrated lecture rather than a "true" feature film.




Australia's First Film Studio | Limelight  69 Bourke Street,  Melbourne Victoria 3001
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