Chapter 13: The Prodigal Returns

We returned to Melbourne at the end of 1968, or the beginning of 1969.

I had two jobs within the first few months.

The first was with Mike Browning who ran Browning Productions, a film company dedicated to the production of television commercials.

I did not take long for me to realize that the television scene in Melbourne had changed greatly in the five years I had been away.

It was a “yuppie” environment, and no more so than in the advertising industry, peopled by Account Executives who devoutly believed the outlandish claims and half truths they were propounding about the products they were advertising.

If you couldn’t feel comfortable in an environment of self-indulgence and abject fawning on the people whose goods you were extolling, then you had no place in the advertising game.

And because I was fifty years old, I was regarded by all and sundry as “over the hill” — too old to learn the intricacies of the wonderful industry in which they were employed and too old to appreciate that the salvation of the business world, and the world of commerce, in fact the salvation of the entire world lay in the latest advertising slogan and the latest form of packaging.

So I gracefully removed myself from the aura of Browning Productions, not having a clue what I should do next.

But as luck would have it, within about three weeks, I was approached by Howard Bull, of Howard Bull and Associates, a Public Relations Company.

Howard Bull (an appropriate name for someone involved in “Public Relations”) had been a “copy boy” or “gopher” in the editorial department of the Argus, when I was reading radio news there.

Now he wanted me to join “Communicator Films”, a subsidiary company he had formed. I was called Executive Producer, an impressive title which implied that I was in command of several other less important film producers.

In actual fact, I was the only producer, and I produced very little. Our major effort in the time I was with Communicator Films was a musical documentary shot on 35mm, featuring the Young Australians, a popular singing group of about eighteen young people all under the age of twenty.

They were travelling to Perth from Melbourne by coach. In Perth, they were to appear in the Perth Festival of that year. The film was released by the Village Cinema chain.

That was the only film we ever made.

It was apparent that Communicator Films wasn’t going anywhere, so when an offer was made to me by a company called “SMS Audiovisual” or Sales and Management Services to join them as a producer of Audiovisuals, I rapidly accepted the offer before they had time to change their mind.

(Editor’s note: In fact Denzil did produce another film at Communicator Films — it was a pilot for a proposed television drama series called “Rafferty” — set around the historical Murray River paddle steamer trade. The series featured Gavin Hamilton as the captain of the paddle steamer, Frank Wilson as the scheming mayor of the riverboat town, as well as former GTV9 colleagues Joff Ellen as the comical ship’s hand and Rosie Sturgess as proprietor of the local hotel. The pilot episode was shot on 16mm, black and white, at Sovereign Hill, Echuca and locations around Melbourne. Unfortunately the series was never taken up by any television network and the whereabouts of the only copy of the pilot are unknown. Some still photographs do survive in Denzil’s collection.)