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Vale– Jonathan Dawson 24 November 1941 – 10 August 2013

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Jonathan Dawson 24 November 1941 – 10 August 2013

VALE – Jonathan Dawson 24 November 1941 – 10 August 2013

It is with great personal sadness I advise you of the passing of one of our industry greats, and ACS Honorary member, Jonathan Dawson.

“Jono” passed away peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning in Hobart, Tasmania. His wonderful wife, Felicity and son Patrick were with him.

The ACS passes on our deepest condolences to Felicity, Patrick and Jono’s daughter Olivia.

The Society is there whenever you should need us.

Close friend and AC Magazine Editor, Dick Marks OAM observed:
Jonathan Dawson died at 12.55am on the 10th of August 2013. No man can replace my-phone-a-friend of choice Jono. The Font! What a freakish ability to store and recall… anything, any subject. No one can top his total commitment to and his obsessive love of movies. And especially his love and admiration of cinematography, of story telling, and the whole 'why this story, why you and why now?' of making movies. No one. Sadly, that vault has closed.

His beautiful partner for 40 years Felicity, emailed me to advise of Jono’s passing. These are some of the words she chose. "… we went back to the hospital at 1.00am... the only car on the streets… wonderful rain… romantic and fitting. This is such a bugger." Those words, that observation could have only have come from Flissy. Very fitting indeed that Jono should choose to go on a night so noir. Streets wet and shining, deep, dark shadows that I think (and Jono would agree) the genre invented. And romance… ahhhhh! The final ingredient.

Whilst many of you may not have known Jono, he was made a life member of the ACS a few years ago for his love, support and dedication to the art of cinematography.

Jono was a director, writer, film critic, media academic, raconteur… and true friend. I cannot imagine a world without Jono.


Jono liked nothing more than being with Felicity and his family, watching his beloved Aussie cricketers, wearing their baggy green caps, doing battle with “those bloody Poms!” and watching AFL.

When Jonathan was born in 1941 it was called VFL, and that year Melbourne defeated Essendon, a fitting result as Jonathan Dawson was born in Melbourne.
At Melbourne University he graduated in English Honours and won awards for acting and two One Act Playwriting Competitions. Published many poems and short stories and later, as a poetry performer was often accompanied by guitarist Glen Tomassetti at La Mama.
His play, A Cup of Tea with Mrs Groom was performed at La Mama directed by Graeme Blundell. He also created two of the most successful university revues of the decade (1960s).
After graduating, Jonathan joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission as a Trainee Radio and TV Producer/Director. He left the ABC to join Crawford Productions as a writer director on Homicide and later Division 4. He then went on to Channel 9 in Sydney to direct The Link Men and write for other series including Rush and The Box.
He continued to publish poetry and short stories, but left the fulltime film industry to set up the new media studies department and screenwriting courses at the University of Canberra, leaving there to help set up Griffith University's Foundation Year in 1975, where he worked to create the then new screen studies and production courses now internationally acknowledged, a series of pioneering new degree and postgraduate programs that have produced and mentored many of the leading film scholars and film makers in international screen studies today.
Jonathan wrote and directed documentaries, commercials and documentary specials for the ABC and commercial networks and the feature film Ginger Meggs in 1982.
As a film maker who welcomed emerging writers, directors and students on his film shoots, he made contributions to the growing film industry of the 1970s right through to his pro bono political commercials on his retirement to Tasmania.
With his 1980 Film Australia documentary The Myth Makers, and later the Japan Prize-awarded TV Open Learning series Images of Australia, he opened up debate in the 1990s on national identity and the interconnected effects of literature, painting, cartooning, film, propaganda and the arts to constructing and projecting national self-images.
At Griffith University, after eight years as Vice Chair of the School of Humanities, he helped plan and then headed up the multi campus Film School (now the Griffith Film School, serving as the School's Foundation Chair and Associate Professor until his retirement in 2000.
After retiring to Tasmania, Jono created a radio film chat show on ABC Radio with Tim Cox as well as writing for the ABC website and contributing popular weekly podcasts on film and popular culture. As Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania he also introduced contemporary cinema studies courses.
He has achieved much including addressing the Royal Australian Institute of Architects annual awards as Keynote Speaker (2004) on film and architecture as well as creating a series of new adult education courses on screenwriting and contemporary film. In association with Screen Tasmania and The State Cinema he has curated and lectured on film theory and history, hosting movie seasons with themes from Independent Movies to new French Film and Australian Film and Documentary.
Since 2009 Jonathan has acted as Script Editor for short drama and documentary film projects such as Daughter of San Domenico and Tin Man for Wide Angle Tasmania and is a member of AFCA (Australian Film Critics Association).
He has been Patron and Senior Judge of the Tasmanian, MyState Film Festival since its inauguration in 2003.
In November 2009 he was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Cinematographer's Society.
The Society and the industry he loved will miss him….
A public memorial for Jonathan Dawson will be held at the State Cinema, North Hobart, on Thursday at 4pm.

 

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