You can't really miss it. 166 Willoughby Road, even if you can't read the number, is a great walled box of a place; white, and solid, standing out from the conventional shops and stores as a place with something different to offer. And you wouldn't be wrong. Enterprise Colorvideo has been operating in this former butter factory for 7 years. In that time it has grown from a comparatively small personal dream, into a thriving centre of activity for almost all sides of the film and television industry.
ECV isn't easy to describe in a sentence of a few paragraphs. You can read about it's facilities in trade reference books but they don't tell you about the heart of the place, or what makes it beat. You can ask almost anyone in film or television whether they've been there, and get the answer Yes. It might only have been for a drink and an informal chat. It might only have been as a guest at one of the noisiest, most boisterous, Christmas parties in Sydney. But more likely it will have been someone in need of top advice, top service, and top facilities in some aspect of film or television production. Whatever the reason, and whatever the occasion, no one who has made use of ECV will be able to argue that they received short shift, or inadequate service, or any thing but co-operation and assistance. The people who work there are the key to the place.
ECV's ancestry goes back much longer than the Willoughby Road factory; and it was in the beginnings that the first seeds of the new kind of organization were sown; an organization that was first and foremost independent of any other; that has no other higher gods to serve than its own informal management; and that has recognised, from the very first, that the most important aspect of any company's makeup is the quality of the staff.
Royce Smeal. Managing Director and founding father, first moved into the media as a front man with Channel Nine, hosting a number of sporting segments including a programme called appropriately " Come Fly with Me". But the attraction of working for himself rather than a number of different bosses, was too to hold him in front of the T.V. cameras for long. A former tug skipper, licensed pilot, and adventurer in a world rapidly running out of risk-takers, he found the challenge to break into the whole mysterious film industry, irresistible. He bought his first cameras, a Bolex, together with a handbook on how to work it; and within a short time persuaded Rothmans that he could make commercials for them at a much lower rate and of a much higher quality than their current agency. Rothmans called his bluff, sent him to London with an almost open brief, and almost on his return, three weeks later, signed him on to handle their commercial requirements. Royce Smeal Film Productions had arrived, and with them, a real sense of thrust and energy that has been passed on to the company that has now grown from it.
Royce himself is still a key figure in the set up. But his move from film to video·the only example of such a commercial conversion in Sydney, if not Australia·has enabled him to bring into his "family" a number of highly professional and enthusiastic young men and women who have now taken on the responsibility of keeping the machines running, and customers coming in.
He has total trust and faith in the young team gathered about him. The reliance enables him to give more of the Variety Club, for whom he founded, with Reg Watson, the Australian "Tent", known as Tent 56. With Prince Charles as its patron, it devotes itself to raising funds and helping underprivileged children. I n fact ECV has contributed extensively to charity, in a way that few production houses would consider. Royce's door is always open and he's prepared to listen to any of his staffs problems. There's no red tape, no protocol, no standing on ceremony. Decisions on major policy issues, or minor personal problems, are made without submission to boards, or shareholders, or ponderous committees. ECV operates on the lines of an extended family. Much of this is Royce's dream come true. There's a curious chemistry about ECV that not only affects the staff, but rubs off onto the clients who come breezily through the heavy wooden doors from the clatter and noise of Willoughby Road.