In April of 2012, filmmaker Warwick Thornton did a callout around Australia for people to come forward with their Indigenous ghost stories. There was only one rule: They must be first hand – the story must be the experience of the storyteller.
The callout spread quickly and before we knew it we were inundated with stories from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across Australia. Along with that we had people ringing in to say, “My mum has the best story”, or “My uncle has the scariest one”. Well get them to ring in then, we want to hear it from them. First hand.
The Darkside is a collection of the stories that caught Warwick’s imagination – some spooky, some emotional, some curious, a couple are even funny.
And the rest of the stories we are going to share with you on The Otherside, where you can also listen to new stories as storytellers add them each day. And if your mum or your uncle or your cousin didn’t call in, now’s your chance to encourage them to do so – or for you to upload their story with their permission. Cross over to The Otherside to tell your story.
On The Otherside it doesn’t have to be a first hand story, as long as you have permission from your family and/or community to tell that story. Respect people’s sacred stories – some should remain secret.
Warwick was born and bred in Alice Springs and lives there to this day. His family is the Kaytej people from just north of Alice Springs. Warwick found his love of cinema when he became a camera trainee at CAAMA - the first Aboriginal production company in Australia. He went to the AFTRS in the early nineties to study cinematography and then ended up writing and directing his own short films and documentaries.
In 2009 his first feature film Samson & Delilah was released to international acclaim winning awards and recognition from Cannes to Cairns. He was the cinematographer on The Sapphires and more recently he's started making art - yep the stuff of art galleries folks. He popped himself on a cross in the 3D video and photographic series Stranded, he put Mother Courage in a van and took her to a posh art fair in Germany called Documenta and he created a photographic series where he put himself in the picture as a priest, a cowboy and a policeman for an exhibition called Debil Debil. Warwick's fascination with spirituality has now crossed over to the other side and he would love you to come on that journey with him through the film project of The Darkside and the online project The Otherside.
Performed by Lynette Narkle
Original story from Delise Moore
A story of regret and brotherly love
Performed by Merwez Whaleboat
Original story from Lesigo Zaro
A disturbed night’s sleep on Thursday Island.
Narrated by original storyteller Sharon Cole
Painted by Ben Quilty
Sung by Miah Madden
Ben Quilty paints while listening to Sharon tell her own story about a little spirit girl.
Performed by Sacha Horler
Original story from Kim McCarthy
A warm memory from a chilly trip to the outside toilet.
Performed by Jack Charles
Original story from Kenneth Dalton
A strange blue light reveals the mystery of the flowers.
Performed by Deborah Mailman featuring Marcia Langton
Original story from Pamela White
Don’t mess with the Ouija board.
Dance performed by Hakeem Davey
Singers Frank and Jo Davey
A contemporary traditional dance from the Bardi Jawi Dancers. Listen to Frank and Jo Davey tell the story behind the dance:
Narrated by original storyteller Romaine Moreton
Haunted at the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra.
Narrated by original storyteller Michael Liddle
An old tribal man and the eclipse.
Performed by Bryan Brown
Original story from Graham White
From the Top End, an apparition of a girl.
Performed by Claudia Karvan
Original story from Karen Quant
A meditation takes us on a trip.
Performed by Aaron Pedersen
Original story from Steven Tranter
A haunted shed in Camooweal, QLD.
Performed by Shari Sebbens
Original storyteller Naomi Hicks
Nana assists in a passage to the other side.
Kath has worked with Warwick for the last ten years, collaborating with him on his short films, feature film and art works. Kath was a law-abiding, tee-totaling vegetarian until she started working with Warwick. Credits here.
Annie joined our team for the first time, but she has been an enthusiast from the back row for a while, being the partner of our longtime editor Roland. Annie has designed some fabulous feature films that are listed here.
Roland is French. We like to think he adds a certain je ne sais quoi to our projects when his jazz fingers hit the edit suite keyboard. He has edited every film that Warwick and Kath have done together – but inbetween we let him work with other people, you can see his credits here.
Liam loves cats. He has seven of them at last count. Most of them are neighbourhood orphans that Liam has rescued. In his spare time he designs our sound and has done for every project since 2005, his full credits here.
THE Black Book is a portal to Indigenous media and the arts.
Groovy Interactive Aboriginal Language Map
Indigenous Filming Protocols
Warwick’s Debil Debil artwork at Anna Schwartz Gallery.
The Otherside is an archive of Indigenous ghost stories, a place where people can find out more about who they are, where they come from and what happens when they die. Warwick Thornton dreamt up this place to celebrate Indigenous spirituality and storytelling:
Aboriginal people live on the threshold of two dimensions. One is a world of everyday reality and the other a world of spirits, demons and entities. We can live an ordinary life with dead ancestors and demons all vying for space. Although we might seem stoic and complacent, with the clash of these two worlds the reality is we are scared shitless.
When I embarked on this journey to collect ghost stories for my project The Darkside, I was overwhelmed by the number of stories we received. And I thought there must be many more. So we’ve created The Otherside so you can share stories, record your own, help your aunty to record hers and we can build a living archive of collected memories. The stories I featured in The Darkside are mostly poignant stories about family connection, from both black and white Australians but there are plenty of other stories that are scary as hell. You can also share a freaky photo if you've got one - and record a short message explaining the photo. We got sent a few from our callout and I would love to see more.
Apart from the audio stories, you can also download the App and experience our Augmented Reality stories via your tablet or smartphone – invite a ghost into your house and hear their story.- Warwick Thornton
Download The Otherside App for iOS (Android App coming soon) and experience some Augmented Reality ghost stories.
Put your headphones on, go to a quiet place and freak yourself out.
You can also download The Darkside poster here and use the App to unlock a message.
Choose 'unlock a poster' and hold your phone or tablet up to the poster.