Storytellers – Today’s Film Industry and the Golden Years of Australian Swimming

The last meeting of the year had a jam-packed agenda and top room with 100+ attendees. Lucas Webb, son of Chris and Helen, began proceedings with a lively and most entertaining presentation about how he began in the film industry.

Lucas Webb

Lucas left for LA when 20 after a stint at Sydney Uni then Canberra Uni doing communications. They had 2 x United States placements, Boulder, Colorado and Pepperdine, Malibu. As a son of a surfer and family of beach lovers naturally he chose Malibu. After graduating he set about getting his first job in the film industry. Eventually Lucas met the Head of HR at Endeavour. She asked why she should select Lucas as against all the Ivy League graduates. “I am a hard-working Aussie kid who needs a break”. She said “Lucky you … I’m engaged to an Australian … you got the job”.

After a year his Visa ran out and despite the offer of a sponsorship, Lucas wanted to expand his horizons and to see more of the World so he moved to London. Further good fortune as he met a Disney executive. They had created a London production unit to make modestly budgeted English language movies to emulate Working Title comedies like Four Weddings, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones. It was a good time and Miramax, Disney’s prestige label founded by the Weinstein Brothers was bringing Oscar winners from Pulp Fiction, The Crying Game to the English Patient. Eventually there was a restructure. The man who ran Disney UK moved to New York and promoted Lucas in London to become the UK executive, and the eyes and ears of the local scene.

Lucas shared several anecdotes about the film industry including a one about Steven Hawkins with his first viewing of The Theory of Everything. “Sentimental but largely accurate”. He then whetted our appetite with an insight into future movies such as Churchill. Oliver, The Famous Five, Nell Gwynn and Johnny English 3.

It was great start to a big night and Lucas was the most entertaining of speakers.

Julie Goodsir, Jon and Bonnie Henricks

To set the scene for our next speaker Olympian Jon Henricks, some video footage was shown of the 1997 Balmoral Baths Centenary race which involved the BBC and several other teams racing a star studded Olympic Champions team, followed by some short footage of the British Empire Games, Vancouver 1954.

Jon then took to the floor and a rousing BBC welcome. Jon had attended Fort Street Boys High School along with the late Don Goodsir, and thanks must go to Julie Goodsir for contacting Jon and arranging for him to join us. He read from the first and last pages of a book he had penned “Swimming in Lane 4”, the lane he spent most of his time in the water … as champions do!

Jon then modestly gave some personal glimpses into his glory days and answered many questions, e.g.

  • Prior to 1956 Jon was a champion over 400 metres, 800 and 1500. What made him change to 100 and 200?
  • What changes did he make to his technique?
  • He was coached by Harry Gallagher with Dawn Fraser. What made Harry such a specialist sprint coach?

The Storytellers were most fortunate to have both Lucas and Jon present in Sydney from London and Santa Barbara respectfully and were told that they were most welcome to join us when they’re next in town so we can hear more about their interesting lives. It was a pleasure to have Jon’s wife Bonnie and other family members present.

Balmoral Baths Relay Swimmers Terry Gilchrist, Jon Henricks, George Franki & Ron Wilson

Mention should also be made of George Franki for digging out of his archive the Balmoral Baths Relay VHS video, which has now been converted, digitised and will be shared on the BBC website. Don’t forget if you have any BBC memorabilia please contact the Archive Committee / Jackie Bourn.

BBC Storytellers will resume on Tuesday 21st February. Be prepared for more wonderful storytellers. Remember to let me know if you have a story to tell … your club needs you!!