Sydney, 1966 Things are going well for me. I live on the 11th floor of Blues Point Tower. My view is the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the famous Opera House.
I drive six miles north to Channel 9 in Artarmon, a quiet Sydney suburb dominated by TCN9’s huge transmitter. I have a rent-free office where I make documentaries and clips for Channel 9 shows like Bandstand.
Last month ABC Channel 2 asked me to shoot segments for their This Day Tonight program. I feel guilty editing them at Channel 9.
Today the phone rings. It’s Dick Mason, head of production at Film Australia. He has a documentary for me and wants to come to my office. My office! It’s a shed at Channel 9.
That’s it. I can’t stay here anymore; I’ve got to move out.
Just the Two of Us (Oh Yeah)
My Blues Point Road office
Just up Blues Point Road there’s a small terrace house for sale. It isn’t zoned for business.
Nick, the owner of the local Ampol gas station, is on the North Sydney council. I know him well.
“Nick, I’d like to buy that semi-detached and move my business into it. Would anyone care?”
“Tell me about it, Stef.”
“I’ll be editing film and Rosie will have an office taking bookings and admin work. Upstairs, I’ll do some photography—just product shots, that sort of thing.”
“No outdoors signs. There’s not much parking. Be quiet, totally invisible.”
“Nick, it’s just the two of us.”
“Keep a low profile and no one will care. Go for it, mate. Don’t say I said so.”
We move out of TCN9. At last I feel free to work for other clients. Three of my filmmaker friends move in with me. We share jobs, cameras and Moviolas. Rosemary and Megan are our PAs.
It’s now mid-1968. We’ve had two good years here. I’ve built a studio upstairs. Work is pouring in.
I get a call from a producer at 9: Can I shoot interviews for The Bob Rogers Show? Sure …
Bob is a radio 2UE disc jockey making his TV debut. I spend a week with him.
We get on well. “If I can do anything, call me. Here’s my private number.”
Back at the office, Megan has a problem. Fellow filmmaker Rob Kersey has landed a Bonds babywear commercial. Megan has found a baby agency but Rob is unhappy. They’re just not cute enough.
In a moment of madness, I say to Megan, “Look, give Bob Rogers at 2UE a call—he is on air now. This is his private number.”
“All you mothers out there, if you have a beautiful baby, my very talented friend and filmmaker, Stefan Sargent, needs your baby. He’s casting tomorrow. Grab a pencil and write down the address.”
Yep, you guessed it. Several hundred mothers turn up. We can’t fit them in and the line goes right down Blues Point Road, way past the Ampol gas station. It’s a hot day. The babies are crying, the mothers are freaking out. We have one toilet. Everyone is screaming.
Pretty soon the police arrive, then the social workers, then the council officials. “Who’s in charge?” Just me, Stefan, the very talented filmmaker.
We Gotta Get Out of This Place
If it’s the last thing we ever do.
And it was.