Internationally this century recognised as one of Australia’s most successful ongoing cinema businessmen and studio historian, Paul Brennan has enjoyed a 50 year career in rescuing, showcasing and promoting the culture of cinemas and the business world of making and distributing movies. From graduating with a University teaching diploma and a focus on psychology and applying that to reinventing cinemas and adopting orphaned films, Paul Brennan’s career has expanded into a wide portfolio now seen as essential consultation for new talent and established movie business plans. The knowledge bank of his cinema business life is now out of his brain and onto a website.
In 3D and with pictures and pointers. From championing the Hollywood studio archives to showcasing emerging talent, and with the enthusiastic applause of movie distributors and International statesman historians Paul Brennan is now sharing his accumulated pop culture knowledge of everything he did and learnt. From Roger Corman to Leonard Maltin through the WB NY Vitaphone Archive, International Film Festivals and Hollywood Classics, there is a photo and a story on how it all happened and how you can learn from it. PTB SCREEN: Celebrating Cinema as Paul Brennan knows it, from the street to the screen.
1954: Born in Sydney Australia.
1961: Presentable and styled.
1960s: Educated in suburbia by Catholic Nuns who escaped WW2 Italy and whose embedded Fascist fashion ideas resulted in this 'Mussolini Youth' school uniform compete with brown shirt, fake military medal pocket detail and charcoal wool shorts.
1970: Has tuxedo, can dance: for three years I was the teenage dance partner for hundreds of virginal Catholic wallflowers at end of year dinner-dance events, night after night each Oct Nov Dec. Yes, I was a teenage gigolo for the Catholic High School Graduation ballroom circuit. I got paid well, too.
1973: I enter the film industry at Chas E Blanks cinema advertising. Advertising agency fashion and photo editing, copywriting and ad design.
1974: Aged 19, I rent rescue renovate and reopen my first cinema, a storm sodden ruin by the seaside at Avoca Beach near Sydney. From torn curtain to snazzy picture palace for decades I fill it full of rescued items from demolished picture palaces and see it treasured by generations of cinemagoers
1976: Groovy mid 70s style Male modelling in Sydney nightclub fashion pictorials. (nude photos upon request).
!977: Love letters from Hollywood: Director Peter Bogdanovich responds personally as I continually screen his maligned musical AT LONG LAST LOVE.
1978: I graduate from Sydney University with a diploma from their Guild Teacher’s College: A major in Child psychology and arts.
1978: The Manager wore Ugg boots: Freezing winter weeknights at my cosy seaside movie house. Humble but warm.
1978: 1940s Hollywood screenwriter Casey Robinson visits my theatre. He has retired to Australia. His acclaimed Bette Davis film NOW VOYAGER (1942) is on screen, new print 25 mins of missing footage. He alerts me to this lost studio print, and in his own handwriting, writes me the famed book ‘quote’.
1980: Fate tries twice to kill me using waves rocks and boat oars. Three times if you count the sudden slimy deep mud accident on the deserted lake.
1982: In Sydney: a gallant attempt to rescue renovate and reopen the truly dilapidated Marina Theatre, a mangy 1927 vaudeville-era movie house that proves to be The House Of Whacks, with hungry seats, fizzing light bulbs, geyser toilet plumbing, Frankenstein lightning projectors, gargling sound, and an angry gas heating system of unpredictable volcanic terror. After shredding hundreds of reels of movie film, and tormenting bewildered dwindling audiences, I exit 1984. Singed and bruised. Back to sunny seaside cinema security.
1985: My mission begins to rescue orphaned Australian movies: for Jane Scott/Carl Schultz GOODBYE PARADISE; David Elfick: UNDERCOVER, Anthony Buckley: BLISS each screened as cast/crew showcase.
1988: My third cinema: I rescue renovate and reopen the gorgeous ruined 1938 deco ‘ocean liner’ cinema in rural NSW at Scone. A city cinema in a country town which opens in Easter 1988 to gigantic box-office and enduring applause. A wealthy horse breeding area with a very snazzy cinema.
1988: Paul Plans His Xanadu: and I built it too: a stupendously glamorous faux-deco 300 seat cinema called THE RITZ. Opens June 1988.
1990-91: I begin celebrating screening and promoting unique struggling Australian films onto my own cinema screens to ensure their profile release. Various cast and crew from strong indie Oz pix like WEEKEND WITH KATE and BELINDA travel to my cinemas ensuring media coverage and good box-office. I realise there could be a business in just this. Later...
1990-1991: Disasters galore: Business turns way way down in a brutal Nationwide recession that cripples cinema income. My mother dies suddenly aged just 61. My brother’s wife dies aged just 34 leaving him and 4 young children. Dad slips into morose depression. Hideous cruel debt and endless losses.
1992: I sell everything: each beautiful cinema, pay debts, cut losses, move cities, focus on family and live like a student. Age 37.
1992: I manage Avalon Theatre in beachside suburban Sydney. I become a founding member of Australia’s new Cinema Historic Society KINO.
1992: I become involved as a cinema heritage consultant in the massive costly rescue of Sydney’s iconic Capitol Theatre.
1993: I complete a one-year film making course at Sydney’s School Of Visual Arts. I win the annual editing award. I produce and act in a fun promotion documentary short film promoting the new Baz Luhrmann hit STRICTLY BALLROOM. My documentary chronicles the TV exposure of 60 Ballroom dancing couples attempting to entertain a packed drunken football arena of sports fans mid way through the Grand Final, to the tune of JPYoung warbling “Love Is In The Air”. Oddly, the bewildered football hooligan crowd do not appreciate this interruption, and toss half eaten food, pies and crushed beer cans directly at us as we leave the arena to jeers and boo-ing. The documentary STRICTLY FOOTBALL will soon be available on the PTB Screen site.
1993-4: I spend 10 months with multi award winning film industry statesman David Elfick distributing his award winning cinema release NO WORRIES.
Rescuing orphaned films for Australian producers and directors now becomes a possible career.
1994: I am accepted as a “Cinema Pioneer” of the Australian film exhibition industry.
1995: With a silent financial partner, I open Carrington Road Productions to attract and develop boutique level 35mm cinema features that need bespoke marketing and publicity and distribution. We buy the Australia/NZ cinema rights for the 1972 Academy Award classic CABARET which opens in cinemas to colossal boxoffice across Australia. An avalanche of 'Hollywood Classics' titles follows: PILLOW TALK, DAYS OF HEAVEN, UP THE SANDBOX, THE ODD COUPLE, THE BOYFRIEND, and others, plus a massive slate of rescued viable Australian titles: UNDER THE LIGHTHOUSE DANCING, EROTIQUE, STORM BOY, CADDIE, SAY A LITTLE PRAYER. In association with Ronin documentary distribution and Gil Scrine Films and others this continues until 2009.
1996: I curate and distribute into cinemas nationwide the CENTENARY OF AUSTRALIAN CINEMA touring festival of 12 classic features from private collections and the National Film and Sound Archive. I also attend the Australian International Movie Convention to enthuse independent cinema owners to the low rental delights of my Indie Australian cinema titles. I collaborate with esteemed Sharmill films player Natalie Miller and Euro title provocateur Mark Spratt of Potential Films.
1997: A business friendship with Academy Award winning Hollywood director Robert Wise begins when I personally reissue his massive 1968 Julie Andrews musical STAR! into cinemas in Australia using our archive prints. He is very grateful and we remain telephone friends until his death in 2014.
1998: I become daily Film Programming Manager at the iconic art deco Ritz Cinema at Randwick in Sydney. Through 20th Century Fox and Robert Wise I secure and reissue a new 35mm print of THE SOUND OF MUSIC to Nationwide acclaim.
1999: I join visiting Hollywood Producer/Director Roger Corman on an advice panel of emerging University film making talent at a Regional Film Festival.
1999: I Manage publicity and marketing for the Sydney season of the 60th anniversary season for new-look 35mm GONE WITH THE WIND screening in Sydney’s restored Capitol Theatre.
2001: I produce for Valentine’s Day, the epic outdoor circus sized production of ROMEO AND JULIET….triggering premiere night live performance chaos in Sydney’s gigantic outdoor restaurant arena The Italian Forum. In thunderous ominous clattering wet weather, over twenty thousand people descend on this venue, in pouring drenching lashing rain, choking the gridlocked streets for kilometres. Rain ruins sound systems and costumes so the unruly mob instead eats everything the 22 restaurants can feed them. Five drier days and nights later it all gets tossed into the dumpster. Never to be repeated.
2002: Cinema events with Sydney’s Latent Image Productions’ new 35mm cinema feature WILLFULL marketing and distribution Nationwide. Glamorous costume fashion premieres and a regional charity tour.
2004: An infamous Independent Australian Producer hires me to distribute his epic surf drama LIQUID BRIDGE. This is Ryan Kwanten’s first film. I produce an arresting media profile and poster image for this film which is rejected. The film opens with a thud and hilarious bad reviews. Ryan hides.
2005: Stellar International Scandanavian cinema success with embassy and consulate cinema events. I co-release the Swedish drama AS IT IS IN HEAVEN to record breaking acclaim, I then enter a film festival tour with the Swedish Film Institute, I tour Denmark and Sweden and deliver many premiere cinema events Nationwide across Australia with Ambassador and Embassy official attendance. I enter the diplomatic cultural exchange orbit which continues to this day. Even the US Embassy have me on their culture exchange register from Ambassador Joh Berry.
2006: The Swedish-Australian Ambassador Karin Ehnbohm-Palmquist sends me to Sweden to meet HEAVEN director Kay Pollack. Other Swedish titles come to Australia from this collaboration, and more Independent Australian titles land on my desk for rescue: BROKEN SUN, VIVALDI/4, and THE VIEW FROM GREENHAVEN which allows an unforgettable connection with screen goddess Wendy Hughes.
2009: The era of international film heritage recognition begins with the Australian rediscovery of the lost 1929 Hollywood technicolor sound epic MAMBA, now being restored in the USA for the Centenary of Technicolor. A collaboration between UCLA California, myself, The Matthew family of Adelaide and Jonas Nordin of Stockholm. Major recognition through The Vitaphone Project of New York with the rescue and repatriation of HELLO POP for Sydney’s Malcolm Smith, Harry Furner and myself sees this once- lost Technicolor Three Stooges short greeted across the USA to wild acclaim. Ron Hutchinson from The Warner Bros Archive Vitaphone Project makes me their Australia/NZ region emissary to rescue archived reels of famous lost Hollywood films.
2010: ABC Radio National adopt me as a regular Thursday night movie guest with Lisa Forrest and others, to boost classic cinema awareness.
2011: I join Event Hospitality as a cinema consultant for their chain of Event multiplex and regional boutique locations. Continues to this day.
2012: I collaborate with Universal Studios’ Centenary Film Festival at Sydney’s State Theatre. 6 weeks of classics in Universal’s honoured movie palace.
2012: I travel with Sweden’s film historian Jonas Nordin to New York to present MAMBA, euphoric, at the annual Cinefest for rediscovered cinema treasures. I am adopted by US restoration statesmen Leonard Maltin, UCLA’s Jan Chris Horak, and NY based musical author Richard Barrios.
2013: I am invited to the Danish Film Institute screenings for MAMBA to celebrate Danish / Hollywood star Jean Hershsholt.
2013: Australia’s prestigious NATALIE MILLER FOUNDATION accepts my participation in the charter to ensure equality in the gender balance of executive women in the Australian cinema and screen industry. I develop working relationship with DRESSMAKER producer Sue Maslin whose hit film passes the $20m mark in ticket-sales boosted by enduring screenings in my portfolio of cinemas ensuring this landmark box-office figure was met.
2014; In Canberra and Newcastle regions of Australia, I ensure the regional media profile of Australian film makers and their crew gets an enthusiastic selling audience by hosting premieres for quality Australian features. Damon Herriman’s hit doco THAT SUGAR FILM and Lawrence Johnstons’s sublime NEON sign valentine see city movie screens via my desk. I regularly participate in regional radio syndication ensuring all and every quality film is boosted to Australian audiences. Morning radio on Canberra Capitol radio 2cc with host Tim Shaw gets weekly airplay.
Present: Now a recognisedInternational level historian and cinema consultant with 43 years field experience; I share and pitch the cinema focus of and for emerging talent entering the movie development production and exhibition arena; An assessment professional of lost private film archives for the repatriation and restoration of abandoned cinema movie classics. An industry statesman to foster and develop the love and craft of enduring cinema.
A teacher and a collaborator.