A Personal Potted History of Film Buffs Forecast

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Film Buffs Forecast (FBF) began life as a twice weekly show on Melbourne public radio in the late 1970's, hosted by its founder, film scholar and provocateur John Flaus. The 'forecast' which gave the program its title was a critical but informal look ahead at cinema and television screenings which would take place in the week ahead. By 1980 the public radio station 3RRR which hosted the program had moved FBF to a Saturday lunch-time slot. I was approached by the station management to co-host. I was a regular phone caller to the station offering information and gently castigating some of John's more inaccurate pronouncements .

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Although I had been involved in attending training sessions held in the months leading up to the station opening in 1976 I was 'wet behind the ears' with little on-air experience..

Eventually I came to the realisation that I had been really  hired as a traffic warden to act as a buffer between a loquacious, erudite host who could talk underwater and the economic requirements of the station to play a requisite amount of sponsorship announcements each hour. Thus a major component of my co-hosting role was to  remind John that every so often we would need to cut to sponsorship spiels which would help pay the bills. Sometimes this might occur during a lengthy dissertation on Japanese master Ozu or Vincente Minnelli in which I would play the role of the Philistine who would interrupt his pearls of wisdom.

In time, however we developed a mutual respect. I gained confidence as a presenter and we shared a good-natured banter that endeared the show to regular listeners. This working relationship continued for over a decade. In 1991 John felt that with his increasing work commitments as an actor, often taking him away from his hometown, that he would have to reluctantly resign.

The programme was now well established but I faced a new challenge.How could I sustain a two-hour talks based show on a weekly basis by myself without other input?? 

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The solution was to bring in a rotating roster of reviewers and to increase the amount of segments in which I would conduct interviews with filmmakers. FBF successfully continued in that format until May 2017. On my return from an overseas trip in August I was persuaded by longtime supporters to set up a podcast in which I would be guaranteed total freedom and editorial independence  and not subject any  agendas or bureaucratic interference. This was an offer too good to pass up.

But it was nerve-racking too. For all of my time at public radio I had lived in a protected and closeted environment. Unpaid volunteers and generous station staff had previously helped me set up interviews and attended to the technical back-up.

 But putting together a podcast was like sailing into uncharted waters. I would need a studio, equipment and a producer who could also edit and assemble the content. Plus marketing assistance and a dedicated person with IT skills. Over the last year this has been gradually achieved with special thanks to Michael Smith and the team at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville. The result is the professionally produced program that goes to air weekly, and is now heard by thousands of listeners in Australia and across the globe.

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