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Production Management

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2008-2014: Looking back at Four Decades

As they say in the classics, a life unexamined is a life unlived. I have been very fortunate in my working life – firstly to have fallen into the entertainment industry where and when I did, and then in the succession of mentors I encountered along the way. To have had the opportunity of working at GTV during the era of “In Melbourne Tonight” and the rest of the GTV9 variety shows was to learn the very structure of the entertainment industry from the ground up, and to develop a sense of timing from that great talent, Graham Kennedy, a distinct privilege. I was mentored by a trio of great lighting directors, and enjoyed the company of energetic colleagues, some of whom remain friends to this day. Through John Fowler I had the enormous privilege of being a part of the Sunbury phenomenon, and I landed on my feet in what was then Australia’s most progressive television audio department. Both Colin Stevenson and Ken Whytecross mentored me along the way as I learned new skills. I am particularly grateful to Col Stevenson, as I have the feeling that I may not have been the easiest of employees to work with at times. Crawford’s gave me the opportunity to work on some of Australia’s finest drama serials. I also had the opportunity to work on a large number of special events produced and directed by that great Australian television talent, Peter Faiman.

And then there was the working partnership between Murray Tregonning and Capital Sound which allowed us both to push some of the boundaries available to a pair of young sound engineers with big ideas and a modest budget. Jane Lennon and her colleagues from the Historic Places Section strengthened my sense of history and, just as importantly, gave me a passion for heritage. Ron Cairns smoothed my transition to the corporate arena, and his wise counsel helped me to achieve what I have in the final phase of my production career.

Finally, there have been six wonderful years spent working part-time in the Steam Operations department at the Sovereign Hill outdoor museum in Ballarat, where I had the opportunity not only to fire boilers, operate steam engines and learn the fundamentals of blacksmithing, but to participate in the assessment of significance and make recommendations as to conservation measures to ensure the future of the world-class collection.

There is a nineteenth-century term that I rather like – an artisan after apprenticeship but before becoming a master was known as a “journeyman”. That is what I feel like - a “journeyman”. Apart from a few backward steps, most of my progress through an industry where you can learn a little from books, more from experience, and lots from good mentors has been mostly positive. Whilst it could not be said that I have reached the top of my profession, I don’t think I could be labelled a failure either. There is still plenty of work to come, albeit at a slower pace. Until I finally stop paid work, I will still think of myself as a “journeyman”. It will then be up to others to decide whether or not I should be accorded any higher ranking.

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John Fowler
Peter at the controls of the 1909 John Fowler loco at Alexandra

 

Still Working
Peter still working in the entertainment industry after four decades.

 

Still Working
Peter in the mine blacksmith’s shop at Sovereign Hill.

 


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