Greg Rowe as Storm Boy looking at the camera through long grass
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/1161792_cheeky_storm_boy_collection.jpg

Storm Boy

Storm Boy

An Australian classic

Storm Boy, the classic Australian film based on Colin Thiele's novel, appeals to audiences of all ages. Now 40 years old, its themes of friendship, land rights, conservation and family breakdown are still as relevant as ever. Complements the Storm Boy online exhibition.

WARNING: this collection contains names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Storm Boy: 'You run like a blackfella!'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1447284
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

While his father takes a catch of fish to sell in town, Mike (Greg Rowe) discovers some illegal hunters shooting birds. An Aboriginal stranger, Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil), drives them away with a warning shot. Mike tried to hide but Bill asks him to come and see if the hunters hit anything. 

Summary by Paul Byrnes

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Storm Boy: 'Wild things should be free'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1447284
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Mike (Greg Rowe) is overjoyed when Mr Percival, his pet pelican, returns after being set free. 

Summary by Paul Byrnes

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Storm Boy: 'Does this country belong to him?'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1447284
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Mike (Greg Rowe) and his father (Peter Cummins) go to warn Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil) that trouble is brewing. Bill is not supposed to be living on a state reserve, and the ranger wants to talk to him. 

Summary by Paul Byrnes

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Storm Boy: Before and after restoration
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1484568
Year:
Year

The NFSA’s experts had their work cut out for them when they discovered the oxide was lifting off two reels of the final sound mix. This required ‘baking’ them in a low humidity rejuvenation chamber for seven days before they could be safely digitised.

Restoration partners Frame, Set and Match had to spend almost twice the time on digitally cleaning and grading the picture than with the restorations of Starstruck (1982) and Howling III: The Marsupials (1987). 

Producer Matt Carroll contributed to the process and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) were very happy to see the film digitally restored.

You can rent or purchase the full film from Umbrella Entertainment.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Greg Rowe remembers Storm Boy 40 years later
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation and Greg Rowe
Year:
Year

Actor Greg Rowe talks about his experience of working on Storm Boy, working with David Gulpilil (Fingerbone Bill), Peter Cummins (Hide-away Tom) and his dialogue coach. 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
The Crew: dialogue coach, stunt advisor and first assistant director
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
5140
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation,
Australian Film Television and Radio School
Year:
Year

In this excerpt from the documentary, The Crew filmed on the set of Storm Boy, we see dialogue coach Michael Caulfield working with Greg Rowe on his lines. Stunt advisor Grant Page performs the stunt work for the pelican POV flying sequences and we see behind the scenes of the shipwreck scene. First assistant director Ian Goddard explains his role as a 'right-hand man' to the director.

This is rare footage of Greg Rowe working with his dialogue coach on the seminal Australian film. It's great to see the skilled and fearless Grant Page doing his thing, advising them on stunts and flying in hang gliders. The educational intention of the film is to give a succinct look at each crew specialisation and it works well. Today its value is even greater because it captures behind the scenes footage of what has become an iconic Australian film. It's also historically important because we see people who have become famous in their field, for example, clapper loader Erika Addis who went on to become a prominent cinematographer. 

Notes by Beth Taylor

One of the pelicans from Storm Boy sitting in a car on set of the film
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/mr_percival_in_car_1161792.jpg
Storm Boy - Mr Percival sitting in a car
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

One of the pelicans on the set of Storm Boy taking a break from the shoot in a jeep.

Greg Rowe on the Mike Walsh Show
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1259276
Courtesy:
Mike Walsh AM, OBE Hayden Productions
Year:
Year

Greg Rowe (Storm Boy) speaks with Sue Smith about working with the pelicans in Storm Boy, travelling to Japan to promote the film and fan mail.

This clip is from The Mike Walsh Show – Episode 8075.

Storm Boy producer Matt Carroll oral history excerpt
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
427542
Year:
Year

Storm Boy producer Matt Carroll talks about how the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) worked with the distributors and education departments around Australia to turn Storm Boy into a massive box office success in this edited extract from an oral history interview in 1981.

This clip is an important record of the original approach the SAFC took with marketing the film directly to schools. The SAFC in conjunction with other organisations created additional educational resources to build on the potential the film had for being part of the primary school curriculum.

As well as the more standard film posters and lobby cards, additional educational materials were produced to coincide with the film’s release:

  • A special edition of the book featuring stills from the film by Rigby Limited.

  • A twenty-minute documentary called The Crew, filmed on the set of Storm Boy, and explained the different roles of the principal crew members was produced by The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in conjunction with SAFC.

  • Pic-a-pak teaching aids were produced by the Educational Technology Centre and the Film Study Centre. Each pack included colour prints, a study guide, audio cassette, map and colour slides.

The SAFC staggered Storm Boy’s release across Australia so they could concentrate their efforts promoting the film through state education departments and direct mail campaigns to schools. The film was released in South Australia first and it ran for over a year at the My Fair Lady Theatre in Adelaide.

The film was a run-away success. It sold to 100 countries and grossed $2,645,000 in Australia alone (which is equivalent to over $14 million today).

Notes by Beth Taylor

Storm Boy - Fingerbone Bill dance
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1447284
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil) tells Storm Boy (Greg Rowe) a dreamtime legend about the pelican including a dance.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Storm Boy trailer
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
5151
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

The original trailer for Storm Boy. The classic 1976 film has been digitally restored as part of NFSA Restores. Starring Greg Rowe, David Gulpilil and Peter Cummins.

Synopsis: A 10-year-old boy (Greg Rowe), living with his father in the wild Coorong wetlands of South Australia, rescues a baby pelican orphaned by hunters. With the help of Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil), the boy and the bird become inseparable, until the outside world encroaches.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
The Crew: pelican trainer
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
5140
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation,
Australian Film Television and Radio School
Year:
Year

An excerpt from the AFTRS documentary The Crew showing director Henri Safran giving direction to Greg Rowe and pelican trainer Gordon Noble on the set of Storm Boy (1976).

This short excerpt, skillfully weaving documentary footage of the shoot and excerpts from the final film, shows what a collective effort filmmaking is.

Footage of the pelican trainer working with his whistle and bucket of fish is an example of the kind of the essential, but often invisible, jobs that exist on film sets. 

Sandwich, Carpenter and Dum Dum - the three pelicans who played Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival in Storm Boy - were raised from chicks by Noble, who was originally a dolphin trainer. They couldn't hire a pelican trainer because there were none; pelicans had never been trained for a film before.

The first pelicans they tried to train flew away, so they had to start over again. Noble lived with the pelicans for nine months in the lead-up to the shoot and taught them them tricks (such as catching a ball) which they repeated for fishy rewards. 

Learn more about Storm Boy in the curated collection and online exhibition.

Pelican trainer Gordon Noble with a whistle in his mouth on the beach set of Storm Boy with two pelicans
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/1161792_0002_002_greg_noble_on_set.jpg
Storm Boy - Gordon Noble training pelicans
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Pelican trainer Gordon Noble on the set of Storm Boy with two pelicans he trained from birth for the film. 

David Gulpilil on the Mike Walsh Show - Episode 8197
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1244434
Courtesy:
Mike Walsh AM, OBE Hayden Productions
Year:
Year

David Gulpilil talks with Mike Walsh about missing Arnhem Land when he's in the city and the importance of passing down traditional dances to young people.

He offers to teach Mike Walsh the emu dance saying that it will take about one month.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Polish poster for the film 'Storm Boy' shows a drawing of a pelican sitting on top of a young boy's head.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/polish-storm-boy.jpg
Polish poster for Storm Boy
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
461776
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

The Polish one-sheet poster for Storm Boy (1976) represents the bonds of friendship between a boy and his pelican, depicting them as inseparable.

Polish film poster artists weren’t constrained by Hollywood movie studios and were free to create designs inspired by the mood of a film.

Notes by Adam Blackshaw

Geoff Burton in conversation
Year:
Year

Cinematographer Geoff Burton talks about the challenges of working on Storm Boy (1976) in a conversation with NFSA Engagement Officer Louise Sheedy on 30 October 2016. 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Storm Boy screenwriter Sonia Borg oral history excerpt
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
329510
Courtesy:
MTV publishing
Year:
Year

Sonia Borg, screenwriter, talks about scriptwriting and her work on films Blue Fin and Storm Boy covering influences of cast, location, nature, author Colin Thiele, her television writing background, script editing, research, appeal and themes. 

The Crew: production design, props, wardrobe and make-up
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
5140
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation,
Australian Film Television and Radio School
Year:
Year

An excerpt from the documentary, The Crew filmed on the set of Storm Boy.  Film crews at their best are finely tuned machines - each piece working to produce a beautiful work. Production designer David Copping explains the responsibilities of him and his crew. Ken James explains the job of a stand-by props person. In voice-over, director of photography Geoff Burton explains the importance of make-up, even for a film like Storm Boy that requires a very natural look. Jennifer Zadow from the wardrobe department says it's been a challenge to keep the costumes dirty and in a sufficient state of disrepair, 'complete with fish scales', on the film.

By focussing on the crew members working rather than having them speak to camera, the clip succeeds in providing a fascinating behind the scenes insight into the making of a feature film. The voiceovers are effective in explaining what they are trying to achieve and the challenges they confront. Although each crew specialisation is talked about only very briefly, seeing them at work makes it feel like a full picture of their jobs. 

Notes by Beth Taylor

Black and white cover of the Ocean Studies guide to Storm Boy. Features image of Storm Boy (Greg Rowe) in silhouette walking along the beach with Mr Percival the pelican following after him
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/storm_boy_ocean_studies_guide_672119_page_10.jpg
Storm Boy - Ocean Studies guide
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
672119
Year:
Year

Page ten of the Survival/Metro Storm Boy: Ocean Studies Guide. The 25 page guide was included as a supplement in Metro Magazine in 1978. The guide includes ideas for excursions, activities, information about animals and a shell guide, using the film Storm Boy as the central text to inspire an exploration of the ocean.

This opening of the guide shows examples of observation exercises for students at the beach. Students are encouraged to observe the tides, and different types of birds and crabs. Examples of the birds the students might observe are illustrated in silhouettes next to the exercise. This thorough study guide, with its skilful combination of information, activities, film stills and illustrations, is an excellent example of how the film was marketed to the educational sector, and shows why the film went on to become such a key text in the Australian curriculum for decades.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Roadshow distributor's press sheet featuring synopsis, advertisements, cast and information about the book
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/672373_roadshow_1.jpg
Storm Boy - Roadshow press sheet
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
672373
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

A Roadshow Distributors press sheet created for Storm Boy, featuring synopsis, information about the adaptation of the book, cast, crew, list of accessories for marketing, censorship, running time and length information and examples of press ads. This is page one of a two page press sheet.

Roadshow distributor's press sheet featuring production notes, how to sell Storm Boy and details of ads to place, preview screening instructions and colouring competition
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/672373_roadshow_2.jpg
Storm Boy - Roadshow press sheet side 2
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
672373
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Page two of a Roadshow Distributors press sheet created for Storm Boy, featuring production notes, how to sell Storm Boy and details of ads to place, preview screening instructions and a colouring competition for local newspapers. This is page two of a two page press sheet.

Lobby card featuring a black and white image of Storm Boy (Greg Rowe) tenderly touching Mr Percival the pelican and smiling. There are credits below image and text above title reads: 'every year has its special film, this year it's...' Storm Boy.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/lobby_card_429864.jpg
Storm Boy - Lobby card Greg Rowe and Mr Percival
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
429864
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

A special understanding: Lobby card featuring Storm Boy and Mr Percival the pelican. Lobby cards were displayed in cinemas to entice moviegoers. Lobby cards typically came featuring a series of different scenes from the film and there are eight lobby cards for Storm Boy in the NFSA collection. 

Two Australian Film Insitute (AFI) awards that Storm Boy won in 1977. They are tall and slender, shaped like a piece of film made of bronze with a black perspex backing.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/storm_boy_afi_awards.jpg
Storm Boy - AFI awards
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1019354
Year:
Year

These are two AFI (Australian Film Institute) awards won by Storm Boy in 1977. One is for best film of the year, and the other is the Jedda award. The awards are made from black perspex and bronze, which has been cast to look like a piece of sprocketed film with the Australian Film Award logo at top and year at bottom. The bronze-coloured metal plaque on the top is engraved with text: 'Australian Film Award, Storm Boy, Best Film of the Year, Produced by Matthew Carroll for the South Australian Film Corporation'. The other reads: 'Australian Film Award, Storm Boy, Jedda Award, Produced by Matthew Carroll for the South Australian Film Corporation'

Brass trophy consisting of four legs, a hollow mid section (with door at rear) and three portals at front, four decorative turrets at top and at centre top, a stained glass feature. Also features a painted wooden base with an aluminium plaque
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/storm_boy_tehran_award_1019912.jpg
Storm Boy - Tehran award
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1019912
Year:
Year

An Iranian Film Archive trophy won by Storm Boy from the Tehran Festival of Films for Children in 1977. 

Chrome sphere suspended between two brass arms, mounted on wooden plinth. Gold coloured metal plaques are attached to opposite sides of the plinth.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/storm_boy_moscow_award_1019939.jpg
Storm Boy - Special Prix award
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1019939
Year:
Year

An trophy won by Storm Boy in 1977 from the Special Prix, National Organisation for the Protection of Children. The chrome sphere, which is suspended between two brass arms spins around.

Australian poster for Storm Boy showing Greg Rowe with Mr Percival with his beak around Storm Boy's hand. Text reads 'every year has its special film. This year it's... Storm Boy'. Pictures of the main actors sit below.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/435563_poster_one-sheeter.jpg
Storm Boy poster
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
435563
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

One-sheeter poster for Storm Boy from Australia. 

Production still from the set of Storm Boy showing pelican trainer Gordon Noble, Greg Rowe (Storm Boy) and pelican all sitting on a pier near the water
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/pelican_greg_noble_1015074.jpg
Storm Boy - Greg Rowe, Gordon Noble and pelican production still
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1015074
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Pelican trainer Gordon Noble, Greg Rowe (Storm Boy) and pelican sit on a pier near the water on the set of Storm Boy.

Director Henri Safran talking with actor Greg Rowe as they walk along the beach on the outdoor set of Storm Boy
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/greg_and_henri_safran_1161792.jpg
Henri Safran and Greg Rowe on the beach set of Storm Boy
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Director and actor at work: Henri Safran (left) talking with Greg Rowe as they walk down the beach during the Storm Boy shoot.

Director Henri Safran standing in the sand dunes with actor Peter Cummins (Hide-Away Tom) above the humpy set from Storm Boy
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/1161792_0002_005_henri_safran.jpg
Storm Boy - Henri Safran and Peter Cummins
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Henri Safran standing in the sand dunes with actor Peter Cummins (Hide-Away Tom) on the outdoor set of Storm Boy.

Greg Rowe remembers working with Mr Percival
Year:
Year

Forty years after starring in Storm Boy as an 11-year-old, Greg Rowe talks about working with the pelicans and the tricks he learnt to make them happy.

Greg Rowe as Storm Boy looking after baby pelicans who are sitting in an old bath tub in a scene from Storm Boy
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2016/greg_rowe_with_baby_pelicans_1162773.jpg
Storm Boy - Greg Rowe and baby pelicans
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1162773
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Bonding with baby pelicans: Greg Rowe (Storm Boy) on set with baby pelicans. 

Scene during the shooting of Storm Boy, showing the crew 'making rain' with a hose connected to an off-camera water truck, a wind machine in the centre used to heighten storm effects, an Avis truck in the background which was used to haul heavy duty equip
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/making_rain_1475939.jpg
Storm Boy - making rain
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1475939
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Making rain: behind the scenes of Storm Boy, with a hose connected to an off-camera water truck, a wind machine in the centre used to heighten storm effects, an Avis truck in the background which was used to haul heavy duty equipment, and cast and crew wrapped in oilskins in an attempt to keep dry.

Crew with tall lights film outside the humpy set for the film Storm Boy
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/1161792_0002_007_humpy_with_crew.jpg
Storm Boy - humpy shoot
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Crew film outside of the humpy on the set of Storm Boy.

Storymakers: Colin Thiele
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
49459
Year:
Year

Author Colin Thiele reads from his book Storm Boy as we see how the film interpreted the world he created. Thiele goes on to talk about the power of words: 'Even now I never cease to be amazed at the way a row of black marks on a piece of paper can do so many wonderful things. They can make us laugh, they can entertain us, they can make us cry.'

Actors Greg Rowe and David Gulpilil sitting down in the sand, playing with string on the set of Storm Boy. The boom operator with boom and clapper board are visible in the frame
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/1161792_0002_003_storm_boy_fingerbone_bill_crop_with_clapper_board.jpg
Storm Boy - Greg Rowe and David Gulpilil on the set with clapper board and boom operator
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1161792
Courtesy:
South Australian Film Corporation
Year:
Year

Slate 374: Actors Greg Rowe (Storm Boy) and David Gulpilil (Fingerbone Bill) playing with string on the set of Storm Boy, with boom operator Julian McSwiney and clapper board visible in the frame.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons