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Australian Stories in Australian  Film

Area of Study 3 Australian stories

Stories have always been a pivotal part of culture. Australian media is built on ctional and non- ctional stories that re ect our local, national and global cultural histories. Media creators and producers develop an individual style through the use and crafting of narrative and structures that engage different audiences and their interests. Audience readings of meaning are mediated through a shared understanding of the media codes and conventions used to construct narratives in media products.

The creation of narratives in media is contextual. Institutions and individuals involved at each stage of production constrain and shape narrative development in response to the cultural, institutional, economic, social and political constraints in which they work. Factors including government regulation, nance and the economic sustainability of production play a part in the development and distribution of Australian narratives. These factors are most evident in ctional works, games, photography, print and non- ctional narratives such as news and current affairs, podcasts and advertising.

Students study a range of narratives in two or more media forms, exploring the context and features of their construction and how they are consumed and read by audiences. Narratives selected for study must be by Australia media creators and producers with primarily Australian content.


Outcome 3  On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse how the structural features of Australian ctional and non- fictional narratives in two or more media forms engage, and are consumed and read by, audiences.

  1. To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 3.

      Unit 1: Media forms, representations and Australian stories 

      Key knowledge

  • the structure of Australian ctional and non- ctional media stories arising from cultural histories and institutions

  • media codes and conventions used to engage audiences and communicate meaning

  • the in uence of the style of media creators and producers in the construction of ctional and non- ctional narratives

  • the impact of institutional, economic, social and political constraints on the production and distribution of ctional and non- fictional narratives

  • how audience engagement with and reception of narratives is affected by their expectation, consumption and prior reading of a range of ctional and non- ctional narratives in a range of contexts

  • media language.


    Key skills
  • analyse structures in Australian ctional and non- ctional media stories arising from cultural histories and institutions

  • analyse media codes and conventions used to engage audiences and communicate meaning

  • analyse the construction of narratives through the ctional and non- ctional style of media creators and


  • analyse the impact of institutional, economic, social and political constraints on the production and distribution of ctional and non- ctional narratives

  • discuss factors which impact on audience engagement and reception, such as consumption and prior reading of narratives in a range of contexts

  • use media language. 

Australian Film Industry  The 1970s  New Wave


The Australian film industry declined after World War II, coming to a virtual stop by the early 1960s. The Gorton (1968–71) and Whitlam Governments (1971–75) intervened and rescued the industry from its expected oblivion.[1] The federal and several state governments established bodies to assist with the funding of film production and the training of film makers through the Australian Film Television and Radio School, which created a new generation of Australian filmmakers who were able to bring their visions to the screen. The 1970s saw a huge renaissance of the Australian film industry. Australia produced nearly 400 films between 1970 and 1985, more than had been made in the history of the Australian film industry.


In contrast to pre-New Wave films, New Wave films are often viewed as fresh and creative, possessing "a vitality, a love of open spaces and a propensity for sudden violence and languorous sexuality". The "straight-ahead narrative style" of many Australian New Wave films reminded American audiences of "the Hollywood-maverick period of the late 1960s and early '70s that had just about run its course".[4]



Several films of the Australian New Wave are regarded as classics of world cinema and regularly rank among films considered the best. Published in 2004, The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made includes Walkabout, Mad Max, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, The Road Warrior, The Year of Living Dangerously and Dead Calm.[5] In 2008, Empire magazine chose The Road Warrior and The Year of Living Dangerously as two of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, ranking in at #280 and #161 respectively.[6] The 2011 book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die features Walkabout, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, My Brilliant Career, Mad Max and Gallipoli.[7]


Since its re-release in 2009, Wake in Fright has been assessed as one of, if not the greatest, Australian film




Wake in Fright (also known as Outback) is a 1971 thriller film directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence and Chips Rafferty. The screenplay, written by Evan Jones, is based on Kenneth Cook's 1961 novel of the same name.

The film is an Australian and American venture produced by Group W and NLT Productions. Wake in Fright tells the story of a young schoolteacher who descends into personal moral degradation after finding himself stranded in a brutal, menacing town in outback Australia.


For many years, Wake in Fright enjoyed a reputation as Australia's great "lost film" because of its unavailability on VHS or DVD, as well as its absence from television broadcasts. In mid-2009, however, a thoroughly restored digital re-release was shown in Australian theatres to considerable acclaim. Later that year it was issued commercially on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Wake in Fright is now recognised as a seminal film of the Australian New Wave and is regarded by some critics as the greatest Australian film ever made


Over one long booze-soaked weekend Grant is drawn into a world he has never tasted. In the heat and dust of “The Yabba” the locals teach him a thing or two about the special cultural habits of frontier life…drinking, fighting, gambling, and hunting and in the process Grant loses his money, his dignity and almost his mind.

Made in Sydney and on location in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Wake in Fright was a critical smash and a major success in competition at Cannes but was rarely seen on cinema screens after its initial release in 1971.

After a few screenings on TV and cable over the last few decades the film fell into obscurity; fans and historians settled for bootlegs on video. The only prints available were faded and battered and the original film materials were thought to be lost. In 2002 the original sound and image of Wake in Fright was found in film cans marked for destruction in a Pittsburgh warehouse, and the National Film and Sound Archive has collaborated with Atlab/Deluxe for over the last two years to digitally restore the film.

The movie was released in an age before there was such a thing as an Australian Feature Film Industry to a public that was largely indifferent to home grown product (much less one wary of disappointment) and a sceptical media. Its May 1971 screening at Cannes, with rave reviews, encouraged film aficionados, but this was no guarantee that it would translate to box office.

Still, Wake in Fright was launched with a certain amount of confidence and low-key pizzazz. Its co-producer, NLT Productions, was a part of the powerful NLT Artists, an agency that happened to be amongst the country's heaviest showbiz hitters who had already scored with the local media in signing a deal with the prestigious United Artists, one of the oldest of the Hollywood movie companies, to release Wake in Fright worldwide. A further boost in confidence in the movie's prospects in what was a depressed marketplace was the fact that NLT was aligned with the country's leading television network, TCN Channel 9, as a 'program packager' (this was in an era before cross-promotion was a standard part of a movie's launch platform). Hoyts, which released UA product in Australia, booked the movie in a 900-seat cinema, for its Sydney opening, called the Embassy, which had an excellent mid-town location and was best known for running English films.


Its premiere took place there on October 8, for the Children's Telethon and had enough NLT players in attendance to generate picture opportunities in the social pages in the days that followed. The reviews were great; the tone somewhat awestruck at the idea that such a strong, powerful and serious movie could be made from an Australian subject – let alone Australian producers! More than one critic called it a “masterpiece”


Complete the following questions 


Wake In Fright Film Analysis


What elements of Wake in Fright  created such controversy upon its original release. ?    research 


Discuss the introduction and development   of the main protagonist in the film  - John Grant?





























What conflict occurs to the main character and how does this contribute to the audiences expectations of the

narrative possibilities of the film?


 Discuss in detail the central themes the film explores.


Highlight some  production elements  that have been used creatively to depict settings  or  complement and enhance  other  story elements within the narrative: Select a scene from the film and specifically discuss the use of production elements


How does Wake in Fright comment on society in Outback Australia in the 1970s and the myth of the Bush Legend in Australian film.?



National Identity The Bush Legend


According to historian Russel Ward (1958) “national character is not…entirely a figment of the imagination of poets, publicists and other feckless* dreamers. It is rather a people’s idea of itself and this stereotype, though often absurdly romanticized and exaggerated, is always connected with reality in two ways .It springs largely from a peoples past experience and it often modifies current events by colouring men’s idea’s of how they ought to typically behave

Russel Ward was the first to trace the historical and literary roots of the bush myth in his 1958 book 'The Australian Legend'. 'Scanty rainfall over great distances ensured that the habitable land was occupied sparsely by the pastoralists'. Russel Ward argued that the Australian frontier made it not possible for the small man to succeed on his own and become a self-employed owner of individual enterprises. This also explained why the Australian male values mateship and collectivism.

The bush is the creator of the 'rugged' frontier image of the Australian male. This was depicted when Ward described the bush as having 'scanty rainfall over great distances' and a dry and infertile land'. The hard environment meant that the Australian male was a rugged individual who was a tough survivor, an independent individual with great prowess and survival skills in order to exist on the dry and infertile land.


Character traits include :

Anti authoritarianism

Strong sense of mateship

A pride in Australian egalitarianism- (equalities)

An emphasis on practical skills

Skepticism with regard to intellectual and cultural pursuits

A celebration of physical prowess and sporting skills


The chief objection to his portrayal of the typical Australian after the book was first published was that it was based on Australian bushmen even though most Australians lived in cities. Ward said the Legend did not purport to be a history of Australia, or even an explanation of what most Australians are like. Rather, it sought to explain the development of the Australian self-image. He said it showed that the ethos of workers in the bush had a disproportionate influence on that of the whole nation. Not all Australians acted like bushmen but most liked to identify with the legendary set of attitudes.


However the myth of the bush legend was deeply embedded in many Australian films in the 1980s. Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers.

It is important to remember that the production context ( when the film was made- not when the events historically occurred ) 



Peter Weirs “The Cars That Ate Paris”


Mad Max continues Australia’s longstanding cinematic love affair with cars,

but nothing can top The Cars That Ate Paris for sheer weirdness











The Cars That Ate Paris 1974 (released in the US as The Cars That Eat People). The first feature from veteran director Peter Weir  (Gallipoli Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Witness)  and produced by twin brothers  Hal and Jim McElroy belongs to a pantheon of productions focused on poor sods stuck in crummy backwater outback towns (including Wake in Fright, Welcome to Woop Woop and Summerfield) where dark things happen, particularly at night.


It was Weirs first feature film, and was also based on an original story he had written. Shot mostly in the rural town of Sofala, New South Wales, the film is set in the fictional town of Paris in which most of the inhabitants appear to be directly, or indirectly, involved in profiting from the results of car accidents.


In this town , the economy is reliant on a steady supply of wrecked vehicles. The local pastor refers to the road into town as “a real bone-shaker” and says he would “certainly hate to travel on it at night”. It’s not just the road itself that poses a danger. The locals use the curly mountainous route to target tourists and visitors, creating accidents by blinding them with lights and driving them off it. Car parts are sold and the survivors subjected to strange medical experiments – an amateur psychological test here, a drill to the head there.


Arthur (Terry Camilleri, who later played Napoleon in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) is a rare victim who emerges physically unscathed, though psychologically rather worse for wear. His brother was killed in the crash and Arthur is adjusting to a new start as Paris’s resident parking officer, having been befriended by the local mayor (John Meillon) who decrees that nobody is ever allowed to leave.


The community is self-sufficient but divided. Hints of what at first appears to be a Wickerman-esque community, bound tight by a shared secret, a story of youthful rebellion and adult consternation – with dangerous driving and no joy in the challenging of status quo. Weir (who also wrote the screenplay) heats up intergenerational tension between older members of Paris and its population of young hotheads, which eventually boils over into violence and destruction.


The drivers are mostly unseen, like psychotic spiritual brethren to the faceless maniac behind the wheel in Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971). They operate monstrously modified vehicles including the film’s centrepiece invention: a gaudy silver beast that looks like a gigantic mechanical hedgehog, its chassis covered with enormous spikes that impale anything in its the way. The full reveal of the vehicle is left until late in the running time, Weir teasing out its presence in the manner of a monster from a creature feature you don’t get to properly see until the end.


There is a restrained sense of madness throughout The Cars That Ate Paris; a feeling the drama might tip over into mayhem at any moment. Weir’s gravitation towards human behaviour over spectacle (the story is largely told from perspective of Arthur trying to make sense of it all) keeps the film distinct from the bloodline of Ozploitation movies, which came into being around the time of its release and delved much more willingly into vulgarity and gross-out.


The essence of Paris is more akin to a cryptic Transport Accident Commission (TAC) video. While Australian cinema has no shortage of films involving devilish road games, they are almost always ensconced in stories sceptical about a national obsession with burning bitumen and screeching tyres. Mad Max director George Miller once described driving in Australia as a socially acceptable form of violence. “The Americans have a gun culture,” he said. “We have a car culture.”

The deadpan performances from the excellent cast and Weir’s no-nonsense direction are initially disconcerting. On first viewing, it’s not entirely clear what it is that you’re watching. Weir presents the strange lifestyle of the people of Paris, salvaging luggage from their victims to sell for a living while the kids salvage the ruined cars for their own projects, as nothing particularly out of the ordinary. They’re not grotesques or monsters – they go to church on Sundays, celebrate their culture and history with real civic pride, no-one raises any questions about what they’re doing and they’re a commendably industrious bunch (the anarchic youngsters and their increasingly outlandish vehicles are the real monsters here it seems) and their parasitical preying on innocent passers-by is considered no big deal by anyone in Paris. The Cars That Ate Paris belongs to a potent strain of 1970s Australian horror films in which outsiders find themselves trapped in strange rural communities or locations with many a hidden secret waiting to be unearthed (Wake in Fright (1971), Summerfield (1977), Long Weekend (1978)). It also tips its hat to the western in a little vignette in which the puny Arthur tries to face down some of the car gang.

Taking off in the same absurdist vein as his earlier featurette Homesdale (1971), The Cars That Ate Paris doesn’t really sit comfortably in any one genre – there are dashes of science fiction (hints of some sort of mad science going on at the hospital), horror, surrealistic allegory and jet-black comedy but accurately pigeonholing it is hard work. And probably futile. It feels like the film should be spoken of in the same breath as J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash and George Miller’s Mad Max films (Bruce Spence, the gyro captain in Mad Max 2 (1981) and Jedediah in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), turns up here in an early role). Like those works, it takes a satirical sideswipe at 20th century fetishization of the car, which turned a utilitarian machine into a symbol of sex, power, freedom and wealth. Australia in particular has long had a thriving car culture and in The Cars That Ate Paris is an exaggeration of what Weir could see going on around him, the reductio ad absurdum of the impulse to soup up old cars, renovating and upgrading them, twisting them out of shape and refashioning them. The influence on the Mad Max films should be obvious (that spiky Beetle, or a close relation thereof, would cameo in Fury Road (2015)).


The Cars That Ate Paris is both part of that and a carnivalesque reflection of it. It’s a complicated satire and a violent and eccentric classic.




Peter Weir got the idea to make the film while driving through Europe where road signs on the main French roads diverted him into what he perceived as strange little villages.[2] It originally started as a comedy to star Grahame Bond but later evolved Piers Davies and Keith Gow also had input.[3] He then took the movie to the McElroy brothers, who had previously worked in a large variety of positions on a number of films. Most of the budget came from the Australian Film Development Corporation with additional funds from Royce Smeal Film Productions in Sydney. Shooting began in October 1973, primarily on location in Sofala, New South Wales



The producers unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate an American release for the film with Roger Corman after it was shown with great success at the Cannes Film Festival.[4] Shortly afterwards Corman recruited Paul Bartel to direct his Death Race 2000;[5] Bartel hadn't seen The Cars That Ate Paris but he was aware that Corman had a print of the film.[6]

The movie struggled to find an audience in Australia, changing distributors and with an ad campaign unsure whether to pitch it as a horror film or art film. However it has become a cult film. In 1980, $112,500 had been returned to the producers.It received an American release in 1976 by New Line Cinema under the title The Cars That Eat People with added on narration and other differences

In 1992, it was adapted as a musical theatre work by Chamber Made Opera.


Peter Lindsay Weir,  born 21 August 1944) is an Australian film director.

He was a leading figure in the Australian New Wave cinema movement (1970–1990), with films such as the mystery drama Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), the supernatural thriller The Last Wave (1977) and the historical drama Gallipoli (1981). The climax of Weir's early career was the $6 million multi-national production The Year of Living Dangerously (1983).

After the success of The Year of Living Dangerously, Weir directed a diverse group of American and international films covering most genres—many of them major box office hits—including Academy Awardnominated films such as the thriller Witness (1985), the drama Dead Poets Society (1989), the romantic comedy Green Card (1990), the social science fiction comedy-drama The Truman Show (1998) and the epic historical drama Master and Commander (2003). For his work on these five films, Weir personally accrued six Academy Award nominations as either a director, writer or producer.


Since 2003, Weir's productivity has sharply declined, having directed only one subsequent feature, the critically successful but financial flop The Way Back (2010).

Answer the following 

1a Provide a critical analysis of the film - examine and analyse  to codes and conventions discussing The Genre , Opening , Character , Setting Conflict 

Plot. Discuss the use of production elements by analysing a sequence or scene from the film. Provide a rating  for the film 

and the audience you feel the film would engage

2 Examine the theme of the outsider  trapped in strange rural communities  with many a hidden secret waiting to be unearthed

what comparisons can be made to Wake In Fright 


Malcolm (1986)

A crime caper replete with kooky contraptions, this endearing film's hero is a man who moves to his own mechanically engineered beat


At the start of the film Malcolm is working for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (then operator of Melbourne's trams). Socially awkward and shy, Malcolm is obsessed with trams, but he is also a mechanical genius whose modest inner-city cottage is fitted with a variety of remarkable gadgets. When his boss (Bud Tingwell) discovers that Malcolm has built himself a cut-down tram during work time and using work materials, and has taken it out on the tracks, Malcolm is sacked. With his mother dead and no other income, the local shop-owner advises him to take in a boarder, Frank (John Hargreaves). Frank's brassy girlfriend Judith (Lindy Davies) soon moves in with him, and Frank reveals that he is a petty criminal who has recently been released from gaol. Despite their differences, the trio develop an awkward friendship, and when Malcolm learns of Frank and Jude's plans to stage a robbery, he decides to use his technical ingenuity to help them. In his first demonstration, he shows Frank the "getaway car" he has built, which splits into two independently powered halves, and they use this to successfully elude police after Frank steals some cash from a bank customer.

For his next demonstration, Malcolm stages a near-successful hold-up of a payroll delivery, using a radio-controlled model car and trailer, fitted with a video camera, a speaker, and a gun loaded with blanks with which to threaten the guards. Frank walks in on Malcolm's bedroom "control centre" while the robbery is in progress; joining in, he helps Malcolm to steal the cash, although it is eventually lost when the planned getaway route (through a street drain) proves too small and the bag of cash is knocked off the trailer.

The trio then devises an audacious plot to steal the weekly $250,000 cash delivery from a major bank, and Malcolm collaborates with Frank and Jude to create a set of ingenious inventions. They plant a set of armed, remote-controlled motorised robot rubbish bins inside the bank, which are then secretly manoeuvered up to an overhead walkway between the two bank buildings. When the guards cross the walkway with the cash on a trolley, they are bailed up by the robot bins. With Frank's specially modified Ford Transit delivery van, stationed below, a spring-loaded arm fitted with a hammer swings up, breaks the glass of the walkway window, and the robots push the cash into a chute fitted into the roof of the van. The trio then make their escape, stopping in a lane to disguise the van as an ice-cream truck; they also set loose a Ned Kelly-like dummy in a radio-controlled wheelchair, armed with two shotguns, which they send out as a decoy for the police while they make their escape. They manage to elude the pursuing police, but they are nearly caught when two officers on a routine patrol pull up beside them and ask them for an ice-cream. Frank speeds away, with the police in hot pursuit, and they now employ their backup getaway plan. They dump the van in a suburban street and decamp on foot, but when the police arrive moments later and scan the area for the fugitives, they see only the back of a tram, pulling away into the distance. However, when we see the front of the tram, it is revealed to be Malcolm's custom-made mini-tram, with the trio and their loot aboard.

In the final scene, Frank is leaving a bank in LisbonPortugal (another city with a major tram network) where he has just deposited the proceeds of the Melbourne robbery. He then meets up with Malcolm and Jude at a local cafe, and as the film concludes they lay plans for another daring robbery.


As revealed in the closing credits, the character of Malcolm was inspired by Nadia Tass' late brother, John Tassopoulos, who died after suffering an epileptic seizure after being hit by a car in 1983.[2] As portrayed by Friels, Malcolm exhibits many traits that are characteristic of someone with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome, including a peculiar walk, reluctance to make eye contact, poor social skills and a deep-focus, obsessive interest (in this case, trams).

David Parker had never written a script before and he did it while working on location of Burke and Wills as a stills photographer. Raising money was very difficult. Channel Seven agreed to provide $175,000 as a pre sale, Film Victoria came in for $100,000 and the rest of the movie was raised from Parker and Tass mortgaging their house and via 10BA.

All of the gadgets in Malcolm's house and the ingenious inventions used in the robbery sequences were devised by writer David Parker.

Filming locations

The scenes of the exterior of Malcolm's house were filmed at 23 Napoleon Street, Collingwood. The house has since been demolished and redeveloped with apartments. The interior scenes were filmed at a house in John Street, Flemington, an inner city suburb of Melbourne.

façade was constructed in Napoleon Street for the exterior scenes of the Milk Bar. The interior scenes were filmed at the former milk bar located on Peel Street near Napoleon Street.

The Leinster Arms Hotel, located in Gold Street, Collingwood, was used for filming the inside scenes at the pub Frank often frequents.

The scenes of the headquarters of the fictional Anglo Swiss Bank were filmed at two locations. The building where Frank and Judith deliver a number of ashtrays is the Commonwealth Bank in Collins Street near the intersection with Queen Street. All signage related to the Commonwealth Bank was removed for the purpose of filming.

The overhead bridge featured in the robbery of the bank is located at the William Angliss TAFE, on LaTrobe Street.

The tram depot featured in the beginning of the film is the former South Melbourne Depot which was located on Kingsway at the corner of Dorcas Street (and is now a BMW dealer). Kew Depot features briefly in a dawn scene of a tram depot, prior to Malcolm taking his own tram for a test run. The Foreman's office in which Malcolm is sacked is located in the body shop at Preston Workshops. The scene in which Malcolm, Frank and Judith switch from a getaway van to Malcolm's tram was filmed near the Workshops in Miller Street, Thornbury.



The tram from the film Malcolm, at the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria's site (Tramway Heritage Centre) in Bylands, Victoria.

The model tram that Malcolm "built" ran on a motorbike engine, the rest having been put together by Ian McClay. A wooden pole was used to simulate the power input pole. After the film was completed, the tram was donated to the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria.

The split car gag was achieved with three different Honda Z's. One was tricked up with two motorbikes bought from Albert Park Golf Club - these were the split cars that the stunt riders drove in the movie. The second car was used for the actors on a caravan base towed behind a tracking vehicle generously donated for the job by Sydney grip, Ray Brown. The third car remained as a driveable - pre-split car. It is now housed in Cascade Films Foyer in South Melbourne. The drivable split car is now stored at the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra.

The remote controlled car used by Malcolm to rob his first bank is a Tamiya Sand Scorcher, model number 58016.

All the remote control cars, including the ashtrays, were built by David Parker, Tony Mahood and Ian McClay. The split cars were built by Tony Mahood, Steve Mills (from Ted's Camera Store) and David Parker.

The staged television news item which screens during the movie, detailing Malcolm's failed remote-control payroll robbery was read by long-serving Channel Seven Melbourne news reader David Johnston, who was at Channel Ten at the time.









KENNY   2006

Kenny is a 2006 Australian mockumentary film starring Shane Jacobson as Kenny Smyth, a Melbourne plumber who works for a portable toilet rental company.

Director Clayton Jacobson describes the character of Kenny as "'The Dalai-Lama' of Waste Management, eternally optimistic and always ready to put others before himself. Kenny represents the humbling nature of common decency." The film was shot entirely on location in the western suburbs of Melbourne and NashvilleTennessee in the United States


The film was released in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom on 28 September 2007


Kenny is a mockumentary that follows the fictional Kenny through his daily life. His work and his personal relationships are explored as Kenny goes about his day-to-day activities and speaks directly to the camera and his audience. Kenny provides a most basic service to the community, portable toilets. The audience sees Kenny interviewing potential clients and involved in major public events. It is important to Kenny to know the kind of food and drink to be served at these events as this will determine the level of service he provides. Never ashamed of his job, despite the disparagement of some (including his own family), Kenny regards himself as a professional. Even at the most prestigious events for which he caters, Kenny realises that the most glamorous will need his portable toilets. He sees life in all of its complexities through the need of his services. Kenny takes his son Jesse to visit his father, but is hampered by his ex-wife's uncooperativeness and his father's bitterness. When Kenny travels to Nashville to attend a toilet convention, he is thrilled to travel outside his native Melbourne. His ingenuity, friendship and commitment to his profession opens business opportunities in Japan and the potential for a new relationship with Jackie, a flight attendant, but he must return home prematurely when his father suffers a medical emergency. In an attempt at bonding, Kenny and his father and his wealthy brother David go camping. After half a day, David leaves in disdain, to which Kenny tries to defend prompting his father to tell Kenny to step out of his brothers shadow and stick up for himself, a conversation with his father back in the tent prompts Kenny to consider his life. He reveals that his success in Nashville has led to the offer of a promotion, and though his father urges him to accept, Kenny is unsure. When Kenny's ex-wife unexpectedly leaves him with Jesse on the day of the Melbourne Cup, his busiest day of the year, Kenny finds Jesse to be an able and cheerful assistant. However, prejudice against his work again appears, with customers complaining that a child should not be made to clean toilets, and Kenny remands Jesse to the office. When he returns to find Jesse gone, Kenny searches the venue in a panic and eventually finds Jesse at the toilets, wanting to help again. That night, as he is about to drive away in his septic tank truck after a long and exhausting day, Kenny's way is blocked by a luxury car whose driver insensitively brushes off his requests to move. Kenny eventually breaks habit to fill the man's car with human waste, a suggestion that perhaps Kenny has decided to stick up for himself a little bit more. Finally, Kenny declines the opportunity to become an executive and seeks out Jackie to renew their relationship.


  • Shane Jacobson as Kenny Smyth

  • Eve von Bibra as Jackie Sheppard

  • Clayton Jacobson as David Smyth

  • Ronald Jacobson as Bill Smyth

  • Jesse Jacobson as Jesse Smyth

  • Morihiko Hasebe as Sushi Cowboy

  • Vicki Musso as Kenny's ex-wife and Ringless Woman

  • Glenn Preusker as Glenn

  • Chris Davis as Pat

  • Ian Dryden as Sammy

  • Mark Robertson as Robbo

  • Alf Scerri as Alf

  • Jason Gann as Drunk Guy at Melbourne Cup

  • Nash Edgerton as Golf Cart Victim


In line with the theme of the film, its first screening was held in the Victorian country town of Poowong


Kenny received positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reports that all 18 reviews listed gave the film positive feedback, with an average review score of 7.5 out of 10.[2] Jake Wilson in the Melbourne Age lauded the film as "the best Australian comedy in a very long time";[3] Megan Spencer of Triple J called Kenny "... a lot of fun and a good stab at a mock-doc ... a good-natured, crowd-pleasing comedy about ordinary life that outranks perennial 'ordinary Aussie bloke' yardstick, The Castle. She also praised the film's technical accomplishment, describing it as "a triumph, superbly shot, edited and directed by Clayton Jacobson – probably surpassing most Australian movies with its command of film language, shot on HD video to boot".[4] Margaret Pomeranz from At the Movies awarded the film a score of 4.5 out of 5. In contrast, however, David Stratton gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, criticising the cinematography and overused humour.

Great quotes from Kenny 

Asssessment Task:

Write an analysis of the way in which two Australian feature films or documentaries have used technical codes and story conventions to 

create meaning and engage their audience 

Create a profile of a famous Australian screen storyteller .You may present this as a magazine piece , academic essay

short film or pod cast .Iy should include an in depth discussion of the screen story tellers contribution to Australia's 

cultural identity 


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