Mal still loves his Reel Movies
Mal MacDonald says it was his mother who got him into the world of movies.
Growing up in Double Bay in the 50s and 60s, he said his mother would drag him and his father to the cinema during that ‘Golden Age of the Silver Screen’ and it left a lasting impression.
“My mother was an avid movie buff, so I always had a passion for films,” said Mal. “She’d drag me along to see all these movies and I just got wrapped up in it.”
Mal began his working career in the paint department at Grace Brother’s department store, but it didn’t take long before the film world called to him.
“In the 70s, I worked at a VHS company and that got me even more interested in the movie side and I worked for a film company where I learnt the trade — I was a film checker, repairer. I was there for about two years with them and then I left and opened my own business in February ‘74 and the rest as they say is history.”
Mal has run his business — now called Reel Memories — continually since, supplying movies and movie memorabilia to cinephiles like himself. He recently felt the need for a tree change and has relocated to Orange.
“When we first opened the doors in Bondi, back in those day’s keep in mind there was no Beta, no VHS, none of the technology that we've got now — it was all film. People would buy a package film of a movie, an extract from things like Star Wars, Winchester ‘73, Casablanca, High Noon, King Kong, the great Universal monster movies… people would take these homes and put them on their home projector and show them,” said Mal.
“And there’s collectors now still collecting this stuff, so I still sell package films, so we have a whole wealth of package films.”
Then the home movie revolution came with the introduction of Beta and VHS to Australia in the 1980s.
“Then you had all these great classics you could buy on a cassette and through your VCR play on your TV and that became very big,” he said.
Throughout the technological changes of the past 40 years, Mal has adapted and today specialises in supplying hard-to-find classic movies and television series from his vast library.
“We've got thousands of titles for people looking for old classic shows,” said Mal, who supplies his full listings on request.
“The people I sell to like to have their own library, where they can just go to the shelf and say let's watch 55 days of Peking, let’s watch Combat!, lets watch one of the old classics tonight and there is so much stuff now available. Things change, but with people still tend to go back to a lot of the older stuff, which is why people still buy that.”
Mal also sells any and every type of movie collectable from posters, photos and lobby cards to movie programs and trading cards. In fact, his home is filled with carefully catalogued boxes labelled with nearly any film and TV genre you can think of.
“And I've still got a whole storage facility in Sydney that is still to come here,” he said. There has been big change in the industry, but we've kept in, dealing with collectors who collect original movie memorabilia, posters, photos, lobby cards… I was way ahead of my time; I was selling all this stuff back in 74 when I opened. Now I deal with one of the biggest auction houses in America and I get in rare stuff, which you just can't get here in Australia. I've got stuff pouring in every month from the States.”
After a lifetime involved in the movie industry, what does Mal think of the state of modern movie making?
“It's good and bad,” he said. “Some of the stuff now is just so cheaply done. I don't like anything shot on digital. I like it done the old school way on Cinefilm, on 35 or bigger 70mm but that's the way technology is going and down the track it could all change — who knows what else they'll come up with.”
Mal can be reached on 0419 979773 or search for ‘REEL Memories’ on Facebook.