Documentary Australia Foundation

Next submission deadline is
16 May 2014

Paul Kelly: Stories of Me

Paul Kelly: Stories of Me
Director /
Ian Darling, Susan MacKinnon, Mary Macrae
2011 December
AUD $$300,000
AUD $1200000
100 minutes
Arts, Education

About the film

STORIES OF ME charts the life, loves and losses of Paul Kelly, one of Australia’s most gifted singer-songwriters. Kelly has been mapping out the Australian landscape and its people through words and music for almost 40 years.

The sixth of nine children, a former altar boy, dux of his school, sports champion and grandson of two famous opera singers, Kelly began playing guitar at the age of 12. Since then, he has penned over 350 songs on themes of love, sex, death, family, friends and places, drawing on an enormous number of heroes – literary, musical, artistic and sporting – for his inspiration, and begging, borrowing and stealing from all of them. His songs chart not just the physical terrain but also the emotional landscapes he and his contemporaries have walked through.

He is a storyteller, a poet, and has the unique ability to communicate with all Australians, across all age groups and gender. Collaborating with indigenous musicians, young performers, artists of all genres, Kelly has created some of the most important Australian songs of our times.

Paul Kelly has lived through failure and success, two marriages, countless lovers, three bands, drug problems, four cities, three volumes of Proust and the two Testaments. And he has the songs to show for it. Although a very private person in a public career, STORIES OF ME digs deeply into what makes Paul Kelly tick, revealing the man and his music for the first time. And the poet who lurks inside all of us.

Funding amount Sought

AUD $$300,000

Total Project Budget

AUD $1200000

Length of Production

100 minutes

Stage of Production


How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

Our aim is to re-ignite the call for increased spending on a comprehensive music education program given the well documented value of music in creative learning. We will develop a specific policy action plan based on reports released over the past few years supporting this position.

At a time when the Government is increasing its focus on creative learning with a National Cultural Policy slated for 2012, the film’s outreach and education comprehensive package will highlight the importance of music.

The Outreach package seeks increased funding and access to music education for all students across Australia to encourage creative learning and cognitive development.

This film and its education program will highlight the power of words and music in a contemporary Australian context by examining Paul Kelly’s vast and varied body of work. We want to highlight this value of the resource for telling our own stories about Australia through words and music.

The education package will provide teachers of English, Music, Indigenous Studies, PDHPE, Civics and Citizenship, with a powerful Curriculum resource.

The program will be donated nationally to schools and relevant youth organisations. Specific programs will also be targeted to students in remote and rural areas.

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

Education outcomes – It is proposed that in 2013 the film and resource will be on the National Curriculum, and used across English, music and the Arts.

The film and education package is being created to be a benchmark resource due to the Australian content and the value adding of both music and English in the one resource.

The education package will also be specifically designed as a key resource for music, indigenous studies, civics and citizenship and PDHPE ie gender studies. A study guide will also be developed by ATOM for students of media to study all aspects of the documentary.

Outreach outcomes – Our objective is for the State and Federal Governments to recognize an education rich in the Arts, and to increase resources to music education accordingly. An increase in philanthropic and government resources to remote and regional Australia would also be a substantial outcome.

By establishing Community Partnerships with Musica Viva, Australian Children’s Music Foundation, and the Song Room for example, we aim to take music education to remote and regional Australia.

What is your education and outreach strategy

As a companion piece to the film, Shark Island Productions is developing a 5 year program based on its highly successful model The Oasis for all secondary schools and various youth networks.

A 100 minute feature film is being produced for broadcast and cinema release. A specific 60 minute film is also being released for the education and outreach resource. The feature film will also be showcased at Australian and International film festivals.

The program will target government for increased funding and philanthropic organisations to support our community partners for funding for regional programs.

Curriculum resources including the DVD of the film, short films and study guides will be available on an interactive website.

The Education package will be aligned with the new National Curriculum. Developed around the writing process, it will highlight the power of music, lyrics and poetry to communicate our stories.

Outreach will be developed with a number of partners working in literacy, music, indigenous and media that reach into regional and remote communities ie Australian Children’s Music Foundation (juvenile justice program), The Song Room, Musica Viva and The Red Room Company.

An Advisory Committee of curriculum experts and practitioners has been established to provide guidance.

Who are the filmmakers responsible for the project?

PAUL KELLY: STORIES OF ME is being made by the Shark Island Productions’ team who made the following films: The Oasis,The Soldier, Polly and Me, Wall Boy, In The Company of Actors, Alone Across Australia, and Woodstock for Capitalists.

Director and Producer: Ian Darling
Editor: Sally Fryer
Producers: Susan MacKinnon and Mary Macrae
Director of Photography: Simon Smith
Executive Producers: Toby Creswell and David Leser
Director Outreach & Education: Lesley Holden