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Production Diary: Vote for Me: I'm Tired of Working for My Dad

Sydney, Australia, December 1963
TCN Channel 9 has given me a rent-free garage. It’s basic and incredibly hot, but I don’t care as I’m off to London next month.

   Grafton—famous for its jacaranda trees

“Hey, Stefan, this guy just phoned. He’s seen your films on Bandstand—can you make some political commercials? He’s in Grafton, wants to get into Parliament.”

“Grafton? Where’s Grafton?”

“Up north, the Jacaranda Festival and all that...”

Grafton, N.S.W., A Week Later
I’m met at the airport by Bill Manyweathers. I wasn’t hard to recognize as I have a tripod over my shoulder and I’m carrying a Bolex 16mm camera with Nomad recorder.

I’ve been using the Bolex/Nomad combo for the last two years. For a measly $585 my spring-driven Bolex can record sync sound. Well that’s the theory—but in practice, coupling the two with a flexible cable and depending on the Bolex spring is hopeless. I have a DC motor and a 9 volt battery.

The Briefing
“Bill, why do you want to get elected?”

“I’ve been working in my dad’s furniture business since I left school. I’m tired of working for my dad. The local TV station has made a donation to my campaign. I’m using that to buy five commercials a night.”

“Is that legal?”

First Location
Bill is in front of a banana plantation. “Hello, I’m Bill Manyweathers. I support the banana growers...”

   1960 press advertisement for the Magnasync Nomad—no, that’s not me

“Can you say some more?”

“Vote for me...”

“Bill, I think we need a policy, a reason to support them.”

“Gee, that’s tough. Bad weather is a problem. Let’s go and find a grower, see what he wants.”

We find the plantation owner. He tells us that flood mitigation is important.

Next Location
We’re down inside a concrete water channel. “Hello, I’m Bill Manyweathers. I support flood mitigation...”

“Can you say more?”

“Flood mitigation is important. Vote for me... I’m sorry, Stefan. This isn’t working.

“You must have made speeches before.”

“Of course; I’m on the local council—it’s just not the same as standing in the middle of concrete drain talking to a camera.”

Set My Bolex Free
Back at his house, I uncouple the Nomad recorder. Now the Bolex is a free-wheeling handheld camera. I shoot Bill, his wife and kids. We drive into town. Film him meeting people. We go to the local sugar refinery. Visit the stockyards.

I record voiceover on the Nomad. We talk about his career, his war service, his local community involvement.

The Deal
“Stefan, I don’t think you’re going to find anything worthwhile.”

   That’s me in 1963 shooting a pop video with my Bolex and Magnasync Nomad recorder.

“Not true. There’s some great voiceover there and I can top and tail it with your opening and closing one-liners. You’ll get in, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m happy to pay you but I think I’ve wasted my money.”

“Here’s the deal. If you don’t get in, no charge from me—you get in, then pay me double.”

We shake on it.

Win—Win
Feb. 29, 1964, and he’s elected. I’m in freezing cold London with a brand new Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter. I type out the invoice; yep, double my quote. It’s win—win; he’s happy—so am I.

Bill is in politics for the next 14 years and all because of me. I question my 1963 ethics as I had no idea what he supported—but then again, he didn't either.