Paul Kelly’s festive classic ‘How To Make Gravy’ is becoming a Christmas movie

Said Kelly: “Dan and Joe and Rita and Angus and Dolly and all the others have been stuck inside that song so long, I’m glad they’re going to get a chance to live life a different way!”

Paul Kelly’s iconic song ‘How To Make Gravy’ is being adapted into a Christmas movie by Warner Bros. Australia.

Today (May 5), it was announced that Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia has partnered with Speech & Drama Pictures to secure the exclusive international rights to adapt the Australian festive classic into a feature film.

First released in 1996, ‘How To Make Gravy’ was originally commissioned by Lindsay Field for a Christmas charity compilation to fundraise for the Salvation Army. It tells a story of a newly imprisoned man named Joe who writes a letter to his brother Dan about wishing to be with his family at Christmas.

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Over the years, ‘How To Make Gravy’ has been embraced by Australians as a Christmas classic, with the date of December 21 – the date Joe writes his letter – affectionately dubbed ‘Gravy Day’. The lyrics also feature a hotly debated recipe for gravy (“Just add flour, salt, a little red wine / And don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang”) that Kelly first got from his father-in-law.

“Dan and Joe and Rita and Angus and Dolly and all the others have been stuck inside that song so long,” Kelly said in a statement. “I’m glad they’re going to get a chance to live life a different way!”

Speech & Drama Pictures is the production company of Megan Washington, who makes music as Washington, and filmmaker Nick Waterman, who has worked with the likes of Jessica Mauboy, Amy Shark and Montaigne.

“Paul’s beautiful song is the perfect recipe for a feature film,” Speech & Drama Pictures said in a statement. “Its characters are already beloved by many who have imagined the story behind Joe’s letter themselves – there’s so much to be found in the space between what he must be feeling in prison at Christmas and what he writes in his letter to his brother. This song holds a special place in our hearts. It’s an honour to bring it to life.”

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Last year, Kelly re-recorded ‘How To Make Gravy’ for his Christmas album ‘Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train’. “It’s a staple in our [live] set,” Kelly said in a statement last December. “The band and I thought it would be worthwhile putting our current version to tape.” Watch the official music video for the new version here.

‘How To Make Gravy’ is also the title of Kelly’s 2010 “mongrel memoir”, and also inspired the concert series Making Gravy that Kelly organises around Christmastime.

This year, fans can catch Kelly on tour from May to August. He will perform four career-spanning nights at VIVID Sydney and tour with Paul Grabowsky in support of their 2020 album ‘Please Leave Your Light On’. He will also play a benefit show for the flood-stricken Lismore region of NSW on May 15 alongside Grinspoon, Lime Cordiale and more.

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