'Norman Laird (1915-1978): Pioneering Tasmanian Filmmaker, Writer and Naturalist'
Norman Laird was a pioneering Tasmanian advocate for nature conservation through documentary filmmaking and writing in an era before environmental activism was well known, yet his achievements have since been overlooked. Through the camera and pen, Laird was a seminal influence on public discourse about Tasmanian nature in the mid-twentieth century, and, being in the vanguard of environmental thinking, he was at the forefront of the campaign to save Lake Pedder in the early 1970s. His story is particularly fascinating because Laird’s long career with the Tasmanian Government Film Unit potentially conflicted him in making government-sponsored cinema that celebrated hydro-dams, forestry and other environmentally impactful activities. How Laird navigated that tension and how the Film Unit itself evolved amidst the environmental activism of the 1970s provokes wider reflections on the role of environmental documentaries in mediating social change.