Selling pictures to magazines and newspapers was lucrative in the sixties. Sharks proved more popular than whales – which were almost an unknown species then.
The whale shark story was bigger. It culminated a five-day shark special being run by The Daily Mirror. Extra newspaper pages were run containing our pictures. Proceeds from that sale enabled me to get into making 16mm movies. I bought two Bolex camera’s, various lens from 10mm to 150mm, tripod, underwater housing.
There was no money left for film! TD Preece and Company (Sea Hornet) sponsored me with 3000 feet of Ektachrome, but I still had to raise money for processing months later. Eventually it all came together. Less than two years later I was showing a 90 minute film to USA audiences – a silent print narrated by me in person and playing recorded instrumental music as a background track.
Still strapped for cash, our poster was made from recycled printing ‘blocks’. Getting to the USA was also expensive. I sold my new twin 40 HP outboards to help and bought a one-way ticket to Canada with a stop on the way at San Francisco. You could enter the USA providing there was a ticket to somewhere else where you’d be that country’s new problem.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. The Los Angeles shows broke-even without a profit. Hawaii was a sell-out success, luckily. You take risks like that when you are young. Another show on Maui was so popular we ran a second un-advertised show at 10pm to accommodate those who could not buy tickets for the 8pm show.
Back in Australia it was the Queensland audiences who responded equally well. By then I’d re-named Aquarius “Queensland Seafari” and followed hot on the heels of “Northern Safari” which was doing record attendances with an outback 16mm film.
(Years later I’d be working for Northern Safari while my own film was being re-edited with new material).