Skip navigation

Sydney Film Maker's Co-op

The Sydney Filmmakers Co-operative was a co-operative of independent filmmakers, funded by the Australian Film Commission (AFC) in order to distribute and exhibit their films and the films of other independent filmmakers both Australian and overseas. These included short films, low budget features, and documentaries with a particular emphasis on social issues and those for, by and about women.

Founding members were the experimental filmmakers of the 1960s and early 1970s, including Aggy Read, David Perry, Albie Thoms, Phillip Adams, Phillip Noyce, and later Bruce Petty.

The Co-op grew out of the earlier group Ubu Films, and held its first official meeting in May 1970. One month earlier, the Experimental Film Fund of the Australian Film Commission had come into existence, providing filmmakers government support for independent or non-feature production.

With the advent of government funding, the Co-op opened its own 100-seat cinema in St Peters Lane Darlinghurst, with the upstairs premises used for film distribution in 1974. In 1975, the Co-op began to regularly publish the newspaper Filmnews. The paper was initially little more than a supplement to the Co-op's Film Catalogue, but later developed into an independent publication which covered issues surrounding the production, distribution and exhibition of film and video in Australia.

In 1981, the Co-op's cinema closed after the AFC decided not to fund it any longer, and the St Peters Lane premises were vacated in February 1985. The AFC supported the Co-op’s move to new premises in Pyrmont, and encouraged more aggressive marketing and distribution policies, but these policies stretched the Co-op’s resources. However, the AFC would only fund one film and video distribution agency, the Australian Film Institute (AFI), and subsequently the Co-op closed its doors in February 1986.