Tim's in the Showbiz - a day in the life of Tim Stephens at the School of Arts Cafe. Youth Video Production Unit of the Cultural Centre Queanbeyan, 1998. Launched by Mayor Frank Pangallo MBE.
Feel the power of Queanbeyan as I did last Saturday at the City Library, and you touch the heart of the Country Town. The Mayor launches and tells stories about Tim; Tim tells kitchen stories and thanks his parents; CCQ President John McGlynn thanks everybody, including local sponsors Palmers TV; the video upstages everyone, though the sound wasn't in synch. The librarian Peter Conlon says the place is full of energy, and too full of people: there were barely enough scones, jam and cream to go around.
Not sophisticated enough for cities like Canberra, or Sydney? Perish the thought. I'm not so sure that false "Feel the Power" campaigns are better value than the community and family feeling of the country town. And Queanbeyan maintains its identity against its potentially overwhelming neighbour - perhaps because it's in another state. Maybe we need federalism to grow in diversity.
Gunnar Isaacson's quality work at the CCQ shines through in Tim's in the Showbiz. The young production team of Tom Murphy (producer/presenter), John Paul Moloney and Ian Andre (editor) have put together a documentary which is creatively shot, informative and creates the mood of the School of Arts Cafe.
An important element in the final version screened, however, was the work of technician Carl Looper, who assists CCQ - and thereby hangs a tale of young achievers at CCQ making videos of Young Achievers of Queanbeyan, but without the quality equipment needed to make original stock technically up to scratch. And even with help, the money was not there to lipsynch the computer projection.
Tim Stephens also shines through as much more than the comedian he appears as presenter at the School of Arts Cafe. We were told (by the Mayor no less) of banging about in the kitchen as Tim expresses his creativity, but in truth Tim is the House Manager in team with Pat, the Administrator, and Bill, the Theatrical Manager, forming a highly professional family company whose power is felt locally, interstate and internationally. Last year's Canberra Critics' Circle Award to the Stephens family clearly belongs equally to all three.
At the end of this year Tim will spend some time working in Sydney - though he promises never, ever, to abandon Queanbeyan - and I wonder a little if the School of Arts Cafe will be the same without him.
CCQ will continue its series of documentaries, following Megan Still, Olympic Rowing Champion, and Tim's in the Showbiz, with Nicole Smith, who established and publishes the free Entertainment Guide in Queanbeyan, and young playwright Tom Murphy, 1997 The Globe Young Shakespearean of the Year who has just left for his prize two weeks at the Globe Theatre, London.
But can this clearly valuable work carry on without equipment? The young media hopefuls have to borrow a camera, and have editing facilities so old that they can learn very little of the techniques which are now the norm in video production. The issue is two-pronged, I think.
Queanbeyan has in the CCQ an original outfit that could easily be outshone by a Canberra group - except that the country town community feeling is what helps produce the quality. So I hope that the Queanbeyan Council, already strongly supportive via Ann Rocca and John Wright, can find a way to establish CCQ on a firmer footing than its current hold on a likely-to-be-condemned building.
And I suspect that without improved equipment, young people - even with a drive to learn equal to the team behind Tim's in the Showbiz - will begin to tire of being unable to begin with technically good pictures. With good basic equipment, they will be excited to learn production and editing, knowing that the final product will stand up in public without apology. Maybe this needs a one-off injection of funds which Queanbeyan Council's Donation Fund could provide, with some sponsorship from a supplier.
It's worth looking at, because these CCQ documentaries help the community celebrate their own young people's achievements and record the town's history - and they're well enough made to be worth looking at in their own right. If it were technically up to broadcast standard, Tim's in the Showbiz could well go further afield.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page