Having completed an honours Anthropology Degree at Sydney University in 1973, Gillian Leahy studied at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She worked as a clapper loader on four feature films and worked as an independent director and camera operator on a number of films. She was a member of the editorial board of FILMNEWS. She began teaching at UTS in 1983. She has directed over 16 films ranging in length from 10 to 55 minutes. She has written three as yet un-produced feature scripts with funding from the Australian Film Commission. She is best known for her experimental essay film, MY LIFE WITHOUT STEVE, which won an AFI Award for Best Experimental Film and Best Film at the Melbourne Film Festival, amongst other awards. She wrote, produced and directed OUR PARK, a documentary made for SBS TV. She is currently writing a feature film script, THE WEATHERMAN LIED, which tells the story of a man who disappears from his life and family. She writes on documentary theory.
Member of the Executive and the Advisory Committee of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association
Member of the Australian Screen Directors' Association
Member of the Australian Writers' Guild
Member of the Australian Documentary Forum organising committee
Can supervise: YES
Documentary cinema study; Documentary, drama and experimental film production; Theory and practice of screenwriting.
Media Arts Project
Screenwriting and Developing Creative Projects
Media Arts Project
Leahy, GA 2013, 'Reflections on What Makes a Documentary `classic'', IM - Journal, vol. 1, no. 9, pp. 1-13.
This paper examines what it is that makes some documentaries become `classics' over time and argues that the documentaries that become classics are usually those that have brought innovations in form to the documentary genre. The writers list of documentary classics is presented and argued for in terms of their innovations in documentary form. There are slightly more in depth studies of the innovations in Michael Rubbos Waiting for Fidel and Chris Markers Sunless (aka Sans Soleil)
Broderick, M & Leahy, GA 2010, 'Introduction - The Creative Screen Production Sector in Australia Now', Text, vol. number11, no. Special Issue Series, pp. 1-3.
Gibson, SC & Leahy, GA 2003, 'Repression and Expression of the Filmmaker's Voice in Australian Documentary', Metro, vol. 135, pp. 90-96.
'This article was born out of a paper Gillian Leahy and Sarah Gibson gave on the essay documentary at the Documentary Sites Conference in Auckland in September 2000, and a second version at the Australian International Conference in Perth, March 2001.'
Leahy, GA 1996, 'Fidelity, faith and openess: Rescuing observational documentary', Media International Australia incorporating Culture & Policy, vol. 82.
Leahy, GA 1996, 'Fidelity, faith and openess: Rescuing observational documentary', Media International Australia, vol. 82, no. Nov.
Leahy, G 2019, 'Developing Baxter and Me: Maintaining Authorial Voice Despite Industry Pressures' in The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 169-180.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Baxter and Me (Leahy 2016) is a feature-length documentary about dogs and intimacy. It includes two intertwined threads: a story in the present about Baxter, my large Labrador, and me, and a story in the past, which is a memoir of my life mitigated and mediated through my dogs and in part illustrated using my previous films. This chapter describes and analyses the development process for the film. Securing funding to make the film and the writing of the script were intertwined activities as I came up against pressures from the funding body, and at times the producer, to make a different film from the one I had initially envisaged. This chapter argues that while these industry pressures challenged my authorial voice as writer/director, they were ultimately fruitful. While compromises were made, I was able to remain faithful to my original intentions and the pressures on me made for an ultimately better film. The completed documentary is more audience-friendly and has achieved higher production values that the one I originally envisaged. Even though I lost some sections that I had held dear, the film is now also stronger because I was able to introduce some philosophical ideas from critical animal studies and thus hold onto my authorial voice. A key tactic to achieve this was the translation of ideas from academic writing about dogs into an engaging voiceover that I delivered as narrator of the film.
Leahy, GA 2008, 'Benchmarking Creative Higher Degree Theses', ASPERA National Conference, Melbourne.
Leahy, GA 2007, 'Getting into Step with the RQF: RQF Measures of Quality & Impact for Screen Works', Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association Annual Conference, Griffith University Brisbane.
Leahy, GA 2006, 'What makes a documentary Classic', Australian International Documentary Conference, Melbourne.
Leahy, GA 2003, 'Speaking in Tongues: The Voice of the Documentary Film-maker', Persistence of Vision Symposium, Sydney University.
Leahy, GA 2003, 'Too Much Sound and Much Too Much Music in Some Australian Documentaries', The Art of Documentary Conference, Canberra.
Leahy, GA & Gibson, SC 2008, 'A Biographical Dialogue', Australian International Documentary Conference, Byron Bay.
Leahy, GA 2002, 'Tempted to Fiction: Confessions of a Documentary Maker', Marseilles, France.
Leahy, GA 2002, 'The Gatekeepers', Australian Screen Director's Association conference, Australian Film Television & Radio School, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 2001, 'The Ubu Film Group's Avant-garde Documentaries', Visible Evidence, Brisbane.
Leahy, GA & Gibson, SC 2001, 'The Essay Documentary', Documentary Sites Conference, Auckland New Zealand.
Leahy, GA 1999, 'Our Park: Ethical and Other Perils making a documentary in your own community', Australian International Documentary Conference, Adelaide.
Leahy, GA 1998, 'My Life Without Steve - the Director's View', Womens' Filmmaking & Theory Conference, Melbourne.
Leahy, GA 1993, 'Collaboration, Director, Cinematographer and Art Director', International Cinematographers Forum, AFTRS Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1993, 'The UBU film group and the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op', Australian Film Institute, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1992, 'Eurocrats and Us', Sydney Film Festival, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1992, 'Film Education & Training - Out of Focus', Sydney Film Festival, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1991, 'Collective Amnesia - The Sydney Filmmakers Co-op', Metro TV, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1989, ''Buried Alive', 'Chile Hasta Quanda' and 'Philippines, My Philippines', different film strategies on independence movements', Film & History Conference, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1988, 'Collective Filmmaking', Womens' Filmmaking & Theory Conference, Australian Film & Television School, Melbourne.
Leahy, GA 1988, 'My Life Without Steve - the Director's View', Womens' Filmmaking & Theory Conference, Melbourne.
Leahy, GA 1986, 'The Australian Documentary Genre', Australian Screen Studies conference, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1984, 'Political Films - Why make them documentaries?', Sydney.
Leahy, GA 2016, 'Baxter and Me', Baxter and Me, Ronin Films (at present), Sydney Film Festival.
A film about dogs, intimacy and happiness.
PASSWORD for url link is sandy
Leahy, GA 2013, 'The Chikukwa Project', as above, Approaching SBS & Ronin Films - Self distributed at present, Zimbabwe.
Most attempts to set up sustainable farming projects in Southern Africa fail. Why then, has CELUCT (Chikukwa Land Use Management Trust), operating for over 20 years in Eastern Zimbabwe, been so successful in creating a community with more than enough food for its needs? Gillian Leahy (UTS) and Terry Leahy (UoN) are co-producers of this 52- minute documentary. Terry Leahy is a sociologist conducting research on food security projects in Africa. Gillian Leahy is the films director. The two filmmakers chose expository and interactive (interview) modes with observational footage, to ensure the widest possible dissemination of these research findings and to visually document the project, providing an evidence base and historical record. The film shows the most successful sustainable development project in Southern Africa, running for over 20 years using permaculture methods. The situation of the 7,000 Chikukwa villagers in the early nineties was difficult in the extreme, with seriously degraded land making it hard to get a good crop. Malnutrition was extreme. The film outlines the history of the project and posits arguments as to why currently it is so successful. Starting with a small self-help group, the project expanded to transform the landscape, agriculture and social context. In doing this it became much more than just an agricultural project, taking in participatory democratic community organisation, womens social groups, HIV/AIDS, pre-school education, traditional cultural revival and conflict mediation. Information on this project will be very useful to development projects around the world. The film is screening as part of UTS Speaks series in November 2013. It is already in demand by groups wishing to screen it. It will screen at the International Permaculture Conference, Cuba, 2013. The film has already raised funding to send two other African groups to train at CELUCT.
Leahy, GA 2007, 'My Life Without Steve', My Life Without Steve, Ronin Films, International.
The film was republished on DVD.
Leahy, GA 2006, 'Our Park', Our Park, Ronin Films, International.
A film about a local park, nature and culture.
Leahy, GA 2000, 'Me and You'.
Leahy, GA 1998, 'Our Park', Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1991, 'Rumoured to be Alive'.
Leahy, GA 1991, 'The Weatherman Lied'.
Leahy, GA & Tilson, A 1991, 'Bluebottle Bay'.
Leahy, GA 1990, 'Balmain Boys'.
Leahy, GA 1988, 'The Mary Hardy Show'.
Leahy, GA 1986, 'My Life Without Steve', Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1986, 'My Life Without Steve', as above, Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1981, 'Something creative'.
Leahy, GA 1980, 'Role Call', Sydney.
Leahy, GA 1979, 'Caterina - An Extended Family'.
Leahy, GA 1978, 'Cattle Annie'.
Leahy, GA 1978, 'Doled Out'.
Leahy, GA 1978, 'I Never Saw Him Again', Sdyney.
Leahy, GA 1977, 'Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine'.
Leahy, GA 1977, 'Lucia'.
Leahy, GA 1976, 'The Settlement'.
Leahy, GA 1975, 'Starting Right Now'.
Leahy, GA 1974, 'Hearts and Spades'.