Dialog Box

Arts | Human Rights
The Scribe
THE SCRIBE presents the “Donald Bradman” of speech writing - Graham Freudenberg.  This documentary interrogates the symbiotic relationship between speechwriter and orator as it explores the craft of political speech writing. It examines the changing language of the political landscape - from the introduction of TV until today. 

Beautifully crafted by one of Australia's foremost filmmakers, Ruth Cullen, this is not a bio-pic or a chronology of events, rather an untold perspective from a behind the scenes man who was right in the epicentre of government.

Over a 50 year period Graham articulated policies which redefined Australia. If politicians are the “front of house”, staffers are the muscle and this frank and intimate documentary straight from the engine room, provides a fresh insight into the practice of politics. Finally, the scribe becomes the orator.


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

Statement by Ruth Cullen (Producer/ Director)

"Politics is an honourable profession and it’s time to bring some of that regard back into the public discourse. With Graham’s integrity, humility and fierce intelligence my hope is that he will inspire others to be better citizens. The prime intention of this project is to engage with the public in an informed an entertaining way about democratic processes. 

There is a widespread cynicism about politicians and the politics. While some of this is justified, my motivation in making The Scribe is to counter this cynicism through the example of one of our great public intellectuals whose words have influenced us whether we know it or not". 

The successful distribution of Ruth's film THE SCRIBE will help address the core problems defined below:

• Politics as a profession has fallen into disrepute and the public has become disengaged and cynical. People have switched off.

• New technology has facilitated the use of sound bites and simple grabs over developed argument. Discussion is being replaced by statements of opinions.

• Communities are siloed and live in social media bubbles, speaking primarily to themselves and reinforcing existing biases.

• Younger millenials are engaged with big ideas but the connection to finding solutions through politics is broken.

• We never see a staffer’s perspective or have any real understanding of what goes on behind the scenes.

• Politics and Ideas matter and the way we express those ideas matter. The business of governing matters.

• Democracy might be flawed but it’s better than the alternatives. We should not take it for granted, it’s a responsibility and we ignore it at our own peril

Aims & Objectives

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

The prime aim of the film is to go beyond "the choir" and inspire a new generation of courageous informed millennials to engage in the political processes. Ultimately it is about engaging with the political process, not what side you’re on. This project will give them the tools to do so successfully. 

Our objective is to get as many people as possible to see the film and to take away some of the values that it is promoting. This will be measured in a number of ways;

 1. By the number of ticket sales at festivals and online as well as ratings figures on broadcast on TV. 

2. The number of kits placed into universities, community groups, branch party groups and special interest groups.

3. Results from surveys revealing the changed perceptions and engagement of young leaders who view the film. 

4. Analysis of the film's dedicated website traffic and social media sites - examining degree of engagement with the call to actions being promoted. Will there be an upswing in youth voter registration? 

Our primary audience will be 50+ men and women and millenials - concerned tertiary students and their friends who will be growing up with the consequences of global warming.

Our secondary audience will be those identifying with an interest in politics and Australian history. Many think that a good speech is about oratory and lovely flourishes of language but ultimately a speech is about the argument that it presents and this is what the film will focus on. 

Revealing to audiences the mastery of developing and presenting arguments in a civil and courteous way where differences are discussed rather than lampooned. This seems to be a forgotten skill but it is a necessary one.


What is your education and outreach strategy?

Our education and outreach strategy is to encourage critical thinking in young developing minds and inspire young adults as they begin their journey as voting citizens. 

The impact goal is to change the behaviour of young Australians, dispelling the current tone of cynicism towards politics and increase their understanding and engagement with the democratic system. 

Working with Impact Strategy experts Media Stockade, we are developing a suite of sophisticated toolkits focussed on the 3 key areas of Community, Politics and Education. This will involve a campaign of targeted screenings for key influencers, strategic partners and mass audience alike (including community and special interest groups). There will also be a comprehensive media strategy and social media campaign, built around a dedicated website with downloadable resources.

Our 3 Focus areas are:

COMMUNITY - Inspire a new generation to participate and engage politically – vote, research and lead. 

POLITICAL - Advocate for more constructive political dialogue that transcends party politics. Encourage robust participation in political processes that doesn’t get bogged down in personality politics, or point scoring. 

EDUCATION - Inform and educate students about the art of oratory, critical thinking and the construction of persuasive arguments.

Interested investors are encouraged to get in touch if you would like more details on the execution of our strategy and how we might support you or your organisation to host a screening. 

Ruth Cullen
Ruth Cullen
Total budget
73 Minutes