WBITPA, Speech & Drama Pictures to develop Xmas feature based on ’How To Make Gravy’

'How To Make Gravy'.

“Just add flour, salt, a little red wine and don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang”.

Long considered an Australian Christmas classic, Paul Kelly’s 1996 ballad How To Make Gravy will now form the basis for a feature.

Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia, in partnership with writer/director Nick Waterman and musician/writer Megan Washington’s Speech & Drama Pictures, has acquired the exclusive international rights to develop the song into a Christmas film.

How to Make Gravy tells the story of a prisoner named Joe who writes a letter to his brother Dan about his longing to be with family at Christmas; missing everyone and lamenting he can’t make the gravy for the roast. The recipe in the song is real, passed to Kelly by 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, I’m glad they’re going to get a chance to live life a different way,” said Kelly of the adaptation.

December 21, the date Joe writes his letter to Dan, has affectionately become known as ‘Gravy Day’, and How To Make Gravy’s cult status has seen it re-enter the ARIA top 100 singles chart several times in the past few years. Kelly often conducts Christmas tours called ’Making Gravy’, and released album Christmas Train in 2021, which included a re-recording of the song.

The character of Joe is also the protagonist in other Kelly songs such as To Her Door and Love Never Runs On Time.

Michael Brooks, WBITPA managing director, said: “Few songs have risen to cult status and secured a date on the festive calendar, which is why Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy is so special. It’s a privilege to be given the opportunity, alongside our partners Megan and Nick at Speech & Drama, to unravel the mystery and meaning captured in Paul’s now iconic lyrics and bring this incredible story to the screen.”

In a joint statement, Waterman and Washington said: “Paul’s beautiful song is the perfect recipe for a feature film. It’s 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.”