One of the last Australian films shot on super 35 mm film, THE TELEGRAM MAN was four years in the making from securing the film rights to raising the finance to gaining the interest of the film’s three screen icons. The film did not receive any form of government funding. It was definitely a big challenge for me trying to get it off the ground. I raised the finance privately myself, hoping that someday it would be enough to make a film that would do justice to the story. It is well worth the effort since THE TELEGRAM MAN has been so well received here in Australia, as well as overseas, particularly in the United States, where the film has been screened in more than 80 different film festivals across the country.
I decided very early on to shift the point of view from those receiving messages in the original short story to the man delivering them, putting him and his painful job under the microscope. No other film had dealt with war in this way, and it is a story that is timely even to this day.
I had the good fortune to visit the United States on a festival-sponsored trip to present and talk about THE TELEGRAM MAN. In each of the festivals and special events I attended here in Australia and the United States, audiences would approach me after the screenings to let me know how the film had deeply touched their hearts. Some were parents whose children were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some were war widows whose spouses recently died while serving in these two countries. A number of Australian audiences remembered those stories told by their grandparents of how they went through the horrors of World War II, not seeing their sons, husbands, brothers or fathers for the entirety of the War, not knowing from week to week if they were alive or shot dead in some obscure jungle, and the frightening knock on the door, not knowing if it was the telegram man on the other side of the door.
I have also been receiving numerous letters from soldiers and returned veterans describing how THE TELEGRAM MAN emotionally moved them. One such letter is profoundly touching:
“As a returned veteran, and a relative and dear friend of a number of veterans who were lucky enough to return and some that didn't, I’d like to personally thank you for making THE TELEGRAM MAN. This film touched me in ways I thought would never touch me. Thank you. I can’t stop crying. It also reminded me of recent times where I’ve lost friends deployed overseas and some I’ve lost in peacetime too. I lost a dear friend a while ago from that insidious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, of which I’ve recently been diagnosed with. Congratulations on a fantastic film, and my thanks to the cast and crew involved.”
As a filmmaker, it is the greatest joy to learn that the film, in which you poured years of blood, sweat and tears to make, resonates well and strikes a chord with audiences.