Picture of an image maker

Kev Franzi's CinemaWorks the place where our history is captured and saved


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A LIFE BEHIND THE LENS: Using the latest digital technology at his CinemaWorks studio, Kevin Franzi captures and preserves our cinema history. Photo: Jen Franzi.

A LIFE BEHIND THE LENS: Using the latest digital technology at his CinemaWorks studio, Kevin Franzi captures and preserves our cinema history. Photo: Jen Franzi.

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Veteran film-maker and photojournalist Kevin Franzi busy as ever sharing our stories.

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AUSTRALIA has a rich history in film making, from laying claim in 1906 to the world's first full-length feature-film, The Kelly Gang, to the formidable team of Raymond Longford and Lette Lyall, with their 1919 movie The Sentimental Bloke and on to Charles Chauvel's In the Wake of the Bounty in 1933 (Errol Flynn's first film).

But it wasn't the gathering strength of Australia's film industry that in 1945 turned a young boy's life around, to become one of the doyens of documentary film-makers and photojournalists, but the gift from his dad, for his 14th birthday, of a Vest-Pocket Kodak camera and the first picture he took with it. The teenager was Kev Franzi.

I've known Kev and his wife Jennette for more than two decades. A delightful couple, they live in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, about two hours north of Brisbane, in the charming Mary Valley. There, nestling into the side of a steep hill, is CinemaWorks, combining Kev's Production Studio and Showcase Cinema, where he illustrates every major advance in cinema technology, from our first films of 1896 to today's digital wonders.

THE NOVICE: Kev at 15 shooting his first film on a 9.5mm Campro camera on a very shaky tripod

THE NOVICE: Kev at 15 shooting his first film on a 9.5mm Campro camera on a very shaky tripod

His Australian Cinema Heritage Collection of working equipment and his two-hour show, Capturing the Australian Image - Past, Present and Future, celebrates the finest work of our film-makers and photographers.

As a documentary film maker and photo-journalist, Kev's passion has never diminished, if anything it is still growing. At 88, he's engaged the digital-age with all the enthusiasm and delight of a chocoholic, having just been told that "dark chocolate is good for you".

Now looked to as an elder statesman and historian of the film industry, he started his career in film making as a message boy and rose to cameraman, producer and director. Kev's career has covered TV commercials, education and industrial films and his favourite, historical documentaries. He was also seconded by the great Hector Crawford to be senior film editor for many of Crawford Productions' biggest shows, including Homicide, Hunter, Division 4, Showcase and numerous documentaries.

AND THE MASTER: Kevin with his trusty Bell & Howell Eyemo, which he used to capture half a century of our history. Photo: Jen Franzi.

AND THE MASTER: Kevin with his trusty Bell & Howell Eyemo, which he used to capture half a century of our history. Photo: Jen Franzi.

Since 1990 his Museum and Electric Theatre has been one of the many "must-sees" on the Sunshine Coast, with tour organisers including it as on their itinerary. From glass plates to celluloid and now digital, it shows how our image makers record and preserve our history, and in doing so capture our Australian spirit.

Is he slowing down? Not a bit. Last year Kev produced three two-hour productions for screening at CinemaWorks and this year the most exciting project yet, The Seven Keys to Dynamic Filmmaking, an instruction kit to create capsules of living history.

Kev says by combining the simplest forms of film-making - the video diary - with an understanding of basic videojournalism, anyone can create living history capsules of value and potential, to tell their Australian story, whatever their interests. It's simple and can be budget free, but it takes time and effort.

Kev Franzi, the man who captures time, laments that today's screens overflow with violence and disaster. "We need more creative and inspiring stories - stories of achievement by people in all walks of life and with a little instruction anyone can become an Australian image maker, with a purpose".

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