Early Cinema in Australia

The Story of the Kelly Gang
R: Charles Tait. K: Millard Johnson, Orrie Perry, Reg Perry. D: Elizabeth Tait, John Tait, Norman Campbell. P: W.A. Gibson e.a. AUS 1906 (Frgm.)
Print: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

“Since 1879 the sensational Kelly gang story had been the subject of at least five popular plays, and films of re-enacted historical events were also crowd-pleasers. Audiences were accustomed to sitting through plays that ran for more than an hour, so it must have seemed logical to the theatre-seasoned filmmakers to produce a dramatised film running for the same length. The Story of the Kelly Gang was produced by John and Nevin Tait in association with Millard Johnson and William Gibson. The Taits ran theatres throughout Australia and New Zealand, and from 1904 they had been screening the latest films from Europe, Britain and America in Melbourne. Films at this time were generally not more than 10 minutes long and were usually interspersed with the latest sound recordings of the biggest artists of the day. The Taits had made good money with the travel film Living London, and had been impressed by the enormous success of a rival exhibitor’s presentation of Edwin S Porter‘s landmark US short drama, The Great Train Robbery (1903).
Johnson and Gibson were also film exhibitors, as well as cameramen familiar with film labs. They had recently ventured into production with Living Hawthorn (1906) and coverage of a Squires vs Kling boxing contest. The Taits joined forces with Johnson and Gibson to fund The Story of the Kelly Gang, with the former working on the creative side while Johnson and Gibson handled camerawork and other technicalities.”
Sally Jackson and Graham Shirley
National Film and Sound Archive