b. February 26, 1943, Melbourne, Australia
beginning as an independent filmmaker and freelance editor, Peter
worked at Eltham Films, Commonwealth Film Unit, and also produced
some extremely low-budget commercials.
1973-1975 he was employed as a Tutor in a film course for
teacher training at Melbourne State College, Carlton. Peter was
also a founding member of the Melbourne Filmmaker's Co-op when
setting up at the Spring St. venue, and a contributing member
at Lygon St., Carlton venue until 1976.
During this period he worked with Garry Patterson on two low-budget
To You Mr. Robinson, a 52 min. biographical doco about Reg
Robinson, and his life as an independent film-maker and producer
of a 16mm camera of high quality from his backyard in Pascoe Vale.
You Sing, a feature written produced & directed by Garry
Patterson, filmed by Peter Tammer over a four week period, made
on a shoestring budget, with an extremely small cast and crew,
but a lot of fun!
Peter left his teaching position at Melb State College, and returned
to freelance editing. In 1977 he was approached by Brian Robinson
to take on part-time teaching at Swinburne F&TV.
From 1979 Peter was a Lecturer, and later Senior Lecturer in Film at Swinburne, later VCA Film
and TV School. Between 1979 and 1983 he taught the 2nd year of
the Undergraduate course, and when Nigel Buesst retired Peter
was appointed to supervise the Post Graduate course in Narrative/Drama.
study leave which included a trip to America in 1985 to examine
the early versions of computerised editing systems for film and
television, Peter was appointed Senior Lecturer in Film at Swinburne,
afterwards the VCA, continuing his role as "year lecturer" for
the narrative/drama stream of the Post-Graduate course.
Peter helped initiate and was placed in charge of a specialised
strand for Documentary in the VCA Post-Graduate course, and in
partnership with Megan Spencer as co-manager, ran "The Doco Club"
on a regular weekly basis introducing members and visitors to
a wide range of documentary productions from local and international
sources. Peter retired from the VCA in July 1998.
the period 1977 - 1998 Peter continued producing his personal
films which are recorded in the filmography below, winning some
major awards. As listed, some of his films were invited to participate
in local and overseas festivals.
now living in Kyneton, central Victoria.
Journey to the End of Night
I have always been interested in the
many streams of film culture from my teenage years. I was first
drawn to films from the mainstream of World Cinema, then to films
which would best be described as non-mainstream, narrative dramas,
as well as documentary and avant-garde or experimental.
directors in the early sixties included Hitchcock, Fellini, Resnais,
Wajda, Losey, Satyajit Ray, Godard, Welles. There were many more,
it's a big list.
In the mid
sixties I came into contact with independent and "experimental"
films, (even started making some myself...), meeting other filmmakers
like Tom Cowan, Nigel Buesst, John Richardson, Giorgio Mangiamele,
Arthur and Corinne Cantrill, and especially my very good friend
included professional work with Tim Burstall and Pat Ryan as Eltham
Films in South Melbourne as assistant editor to Russell Hurley.
Also at Consolidated Films with Geoff Wright.
time I made connection with Sydney Filmmakers:-
Albie Thoms, Bruce Beresford, Mike Thornhill, David Perry, especially
as they had shown a programme of UBU films at the Dendy in Brighton,
to which we responded with a programme of our own, "A Breath
of Fresh Air", which incorporated a range of short films
of various styles and subject matter. In this venture I was extremely
well supported by Monique Schwarz, Peter Steadman, Douglas Findlay
and John Lord.
In some ways
this screening could be seen as a pre-cursor to what later eventuated
as the Melbourne Co-op movement, from the Pinacotheca Gallery,
to Spring Street, and finally to Lygon Street.
period 1968-1975, I came into contact with a range of new genres
including Underground from USA, Brakhage and Markopoulos, the
Kuchar Brothers, Warhol and Morrisey, as well as a range of major
Documentary filmmakers, Leacock, Pennebaker, Flaherty's wonderful
Nanook of the North, also, Peter Watkins, Nick Broomfield,
Fred Wiseman and the Maysles Brothers.
We were fortunate
to have visitors to our co-ops such as Mike Kuchar and Pier Farri,
as well as having some interchange between the Melbourne and Sydney
Co-ops, including programmes from USA and Europe. One weekend
at the Lygon St. Cinema we showcased approx 70 films from a touring
programme which included work from USA , Europe and Asia, most
of which have never been shown in Australia since that time.
my interest in cinema straddled all of the above, from Mainstream
to World Cinema, drama to Avant-Garde, full-length features (and
longer works such as Chelsea Girls) to some of the briefest
(e.g. David Perry's A Sketch on Abilgail's Belly), I have
never felt that I should restrict my filmmaking to any one of
these streams, and am quite content to mix and match on a needs
basis. My dear friend Nigel Buesst once remarked, about one of
my films, "All over the place like a dog's breakfast".
I don't think Nigel has ever been able to accept that I refused
to settle down to one style, one groove, one patch, and make it
thing about the world of Cinema is that it is so broad and so
deep. In the late seventies and eighties I was able to embrace
more varied work, from many other countries and many directors,
and I still delight in finding new work which doesn't quite fit
into any known groove. One example, not so long ago a remarkable
film was shown on SBS called Aaltra, I think from Belgium,
a wild and whacky piece that quite bowled me over.
I have a
range of close friends who are addicts of the cinema, and who
persist in sending me work to chew over, such as Franju's Eyes
Without a Face sent by Winston Thomas, or Nightmare
Alley which John Flaus introduced me to.
And Nigel has made sure I have kept up to date with Godard (I
think I now have the complete collection), while John Ruane keeps
throwing many interesting little tidbits my way.
In 2014 I completed a short film about the early days when I met Paul Cox, a friendship
of forty years. A tribute to Paul, The Nude in the Window was completed before he passed away after a long battle with liver cancer, a liver transplant, and further serious illnesses. Paul put in a monumental struggle to survive. I was incredibly pleased to show him the film, especially as he actually enjoyed it, despite his misgivings and fears prior to that screening.
In the last month I have lost another fine filmmaker friend, William Oscar Kerr.
I met William during the '60s when he was a teenager and served in his father's shop, the "Carr Camera Co" in Swanston St. I helped him with some of his films and he assisted me with some of mine. William's father appears with Reg Robinson in the film Here's to You Mr. Robinson which I produced with Garry Patterson about 1976.
Recently I have taken to writing a few essays and short stories, such as An Endless Journey into Deep Space, while some of my friends such as John Ruane and Nigel persist in overloading me with gifts of music from all parts of the world.
Thankfully, life is never dull!