Francis William Thring (2 December 1882 – 1 July 1936), better known as F. W. Thring, was an Australian
film director A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay (or script) while guiding the film crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, ...
, producer, and exhibitor. He has been credited with the invention of the
clapperboard A clapperboard (also known by various other names including dumb slate) is a device used in filmmaking and video production to assist in synchronizing of picture and sound, and to designate and mark the various scenes and takes as they ar ...

Early life

Francis William Thring (or William Francis Thring) was born on 2 December 1882 in
Wentworth, New South Wales Wentworth is a small border town in the far south west of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It lies at the confluence of Australia's two most important rivers, the Darling and the Murray, the latter forming the border with the state of ...
, the son of a labourer, William Frances Thring(?), and Angelina Thring (née McDonald). Although sometimes known as Frank Thring Sr, on account of well-known son Frank Thring Jr., the subject of this article is actually Francis William III. His forbears were Francis William Thring (1812-1887) and Francis William Thring(?), known as William Thring (1858-1920). F.W. Thring (1812-1887) had two sons, both of whom were given their father's name. The first of these was illegitimate, but the second one was born after his marriage, and the Thring line continued through the legitimate son.Peter Fitzpatrick,
The Two Frank Thrings
', Monash University Publishing, Melbourne, 2012


Thring worked as a conjurer in the outback and as a bootmaker in
Gawler, South Australia Gawler is the oldest country town on the Australian mainland in the state of South Australia. It was named after the second Governor (British Vice-Regal representative) of the colony of South Australia, George Gawler. It is about north of the ...
, as well as starting Biograph Pictures in
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
. In 1911, he became a projectionist at Kreitmayer's Waxworks in
Melbourne, Victoria Melbourne ( ; Boonwurrung/Woiwurrung: ''Narrm'' or ''Naarm'') is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in both Australia and Oceania. Its name generally refers to a metr ...
. He thrived in the cinema trade and opened the Paramount Theatre in 1915 and became managing director of J. C. Williamson's Films in 1918, which eventually merged to become
Hoyts The Hoyts Group of companies in Australia and New Zealand includes Hoyts Cinemas and Val Morgan. Hoyts operates more than 450 cinema screens and 55,000 seats, making it Australia's second largest movie exhibitor after Event Hospita ...
in 1926. In 1928, Thring personally supervised the building of a new Hoyts picture theatre in
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city of South Australia, the state's largest city and the fifth-most populous city in Australia. "Adelaide" may refer to either Greater Adelaide (including the Adelaide Hills) or the Adelaide city centre. The de ...
, the Regent Theatre.

Efftee film studio

In 1930, Thring sold his interests in Hoyts to
Fox Film Corporation The Fox Film Corporation (also known as Fox Studios) was an American Independent film production studio formed by William Fox (1879–1952) in 1915, by combining his earlier Greater New York Film Rental Company and Box Office Attractions Film C ...
and went into film production, establishing Efftee Studios (based on his initials). Over the next five years, Efftee produced nine features, over 80 shorts and several stage productions, including the Australian musicals '' Collits' Inn'' and '' The Cedar Tree''. Notable collaborators include C. J. Dennis, George Wallace and Frank Harvey. Thring visited Britain in 1932–33, where he sold Efftee's entire output: seven features, nine shorts and a series about the
Great Barrier Reef The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over over an area of approximately . The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Au ...
made with Noel Monkman. In 1932 Thring became the leader of a campaign for a quota for Australian films. In 1934, he suspended Efftee's operations, announcing that resumption would depend upon the introduction of an effective quota system in Victoria. In 1935, Efftee obtained a licence to broadcast from the then-new broadcasting station
3XY Magic 1278 (official callsign: 3EE) is a commercial radio station in Melbourne, Australia owned by Nine Entertainment Co, and run under a lease agreement by Ace Radio. History 1935–1991: 3XY 1935–1967 3XY began broadcasting on 8 Sept ...
Melbourne Melbourne ( ; Boonwurrung/ Woiwurrung: ''Narrm'' or ''Naarm'') is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in both Australia and Oceania. Its name generally refers to a m ...
, which was owned by the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two pri ...
(and later the Liberal Party). After New South Wales passed its ''Cinematograph Films (Australian Quota) Act 1935'' in September 1935, Thring resumed production in February 1936, in Sydney, becoming chairman of directors of Mastercraft Film Corporation Ltd while remaining managing director of Efftee Film Productions. In March he sailed for Hollywood in search of scriptwriters and actors. It was estimated Thring lost over £75,000 of his own money on his filmmaking and theatrical ventures.

Other achievements

He is usually credited with the invention of the
clapperboard A clapperboard (also known by various other names including dumb slate) is a device used in filmmaking and video production to assist in synchronizing of picture and sound, and to designate and mark the various scenes and takes as they ar ...

Death and family

Thring died of cancer on 1 July 1936, aged 52, in
East Melbourne East Melbourne is an inner-city suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, east of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the City of Melbourne local government area. East Melbourne recorded a population of 4,896 at the 2021 ce ...
, and was buried in Burwood Cemetery. He was survived by a daughter from his first marriage to Grace Wight (Viola, known as Lola; 1911–71), his second wife, Olive, née Kreitmayer whom he had married on 25 April 1921, and their then 10-year-old son, the future actor
Frank Thring Francis William Thring (11 May 1926 – 29 December 1994) was an Australian character actor in radio, stage, television and film; as well as a theatre director. His early career started in London in theatre productions, before he starred in H ...
.Holroyd, J. P., 'Thring, Francis William (Frank) (1882–1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
accessed 22 January 2012.
Lola dated the future Prime Minister
Harold Holt Harold Edward Holt (5 August 190817 December 1967) was an Australian politician who served as the 17th prime minister of Australia from 1966 until his presumed death in 1967. He held office as leader of the Liberal Party. Holt was born in S ...
but she ultimately rejected him only to marry his divorced father, her father's business partner. Harold Holt thus acquired a step-mother who was three years his junior. Harold Holt's father, Tom Holt, was in control of Efftee Studios at this time.

Selected filmography

* '' The Haunted Barn'' (1931) – short * '' A Co-respondent's Course'' (1931) – short * ''
Diggers The Diggers were a group of religious and political dissidents in England, associated with agrarian socialism. Gerrard Winstanley and William Everard, amongst many others, were known as True Levellers in 1649, in reference to their split fr ...
'' (1931) * '' The Sentimental Bloke'' (1932) * ''
His Royal Highness Royal Highness is a style used to address or refer to some members of royal families, usually princes or princesses. Monarchs and their consorts are usually styled ''Majesty''. When used as a direct form of address, spoken or written, it tak ...
'' (1932) * '' Harmony Row'' (1933) * '' A Ticket in Tatts'' (1934) * '' Sheepmates'' (1934) – abandoned during shooting * '' Clara Gibbings'' (1934) * '' The Streets of London'' (1934)

Unmade films

*adaptation of ''Redheap'' by Norman Lindsay *''Pick and Duffers'' – meant to follow ''His Royal Highness'' *adaptation of ''Collitt's Inn'' *''Ginger Murdoch'' from the novel by William Hatfield with George Wallace *''The Black Sheep'' – meant to star George Wallaca *''A Sweepin' in the Deep'' with George Wallace

Selected theatre credits

*''Clara Gibbins'' (August 1933) – Garrick Theatre, Melbourne *''Rope'' (1933) *'' Collits' Inn'' (1933) *'' The Streets of London'' (1933) *''Children in Uniform'' (1933–34) – Garrick Theatre, Melbourne with Coral Browne *''Mother of Pearl'' (1934) *''The Beloved Vagabond'' (1934) *''Jolly Roger'' (1934) *'' The Cedar Tree'' (1934) *''Her Past'' (September 1934) *''Peter Pan'' (December 1934, December 1935) *''Crazy Nights Revue'' (1935) – with George Wallace *''S.S. Sunshine'' (1935) *''The Oojah Bird'' (1935)

See also

* Cinema of Australia


Further reading


External links

F. W. Thring
Australian Dictionary of Biography The ''Australian Dictionary of Biography'' (ADB or AuDB) is a national co-operative enterprise founded and maintained by the Australian National University (ANU) to produce authoritative biographical articles on eminent people in Australia's ...

''Frank Thring Introduces Stars''
at Australian Screen Online
F. W. Thring
at Australian Screen Online
F. W. Thring
Trove Trove is an Australian online library database owned by the National Library of Australia in which it holds partnerships with source providers National and State Libraries Australia, an aggregator and service which includes full text documen ...

F. W. Thring Australian theatre credits
AusStage AusStage: The Australian Live Performance Database is an online database which records information about live performances in Australia, providing records of productions from the first recorded performance in Australia (1789, by convicts) up un ...

F. W. Thring
at the National Film and Sound Archive {{DEFAULTSORT:Thring, FW 1882 births 1936 deaths Australian film directors People from Sydney Australian theatre managers and producers Australian film producers