Tail of a Tiger

YEAR: 1984


Tail of a Tiger was the first feature film for most of the key crew, including writer/director Rolf de Heer. The film came about almost by chance. On the last day of the financial year in the heady days of 10BA tax incentive film financing, a phone call came through at about 9.30 in the morning. "Do you have anything of between $300,000 and $600,000?" One never says no to a question like that, even with nothing on hand, and by 5 pm the dollars were in the bank and by a quarter before midnight the contracts had been signed, on the basis of a 2-page outline for a documentary. It could never happen nowadays.


For almost the whole of his twelve years on earth, young Orville Ryan has been trying to leave it...he is obsessed with flying.

Orville's encyclopaedic knowledge of aerodynamics and aelerons however, fails to gain him acceptance into the local gang, headed by Spike. The gang possesses radio-controlled model aeroplanes; and Orville's great desire to fly one of them leads him into conflict with Spike, who puts Orville into his place by smashing his scale model Tiger Moth.

Dejected, Orville wanders off teary-eyed to explore a deserted factory complex nearby. There, in the depths of a disused flour mill, he sees it...wings sadly askew, body canvas tattered, dilapidated but real...the wreck of a full size Tiger Moth biplane. Orville is exalted by his discovery. In his mind, the derelict Moth is already flying, swooping through the skies like an eagle, Orville at the controls. His excitement is short-lived, however, as he is swiftly ejected from the mill by the plane's owner, an old man almost as derelict as the biplane. On his next visit to the old mill, Orville finds even the entrances boarded up.

And so begins a battle by Orville to get the Tiger Moth flying again...a battle to win the trust of Old Harry, a battle to overcome the obstacle of Spike and the gang, and finally, a battle with his own and Harry's courage.


Orville - Grant Navin

Harry - Gordon Poole

Lydia - Caz Lederman

Beryl - Gayle Kennedy

Spike - Peter Feeley

Rabbit - Dylan Lyle


Writer/Director - Rolf de Heer

Producer - James Vernon

Executive Producer - Grahame Jennings

Costume design - Grahame Jennings

Production Manager/First AD - Nigel Abbott

Director of Photography - Richard Michalak

Sound Recordist - Kevin Kearney

Boom Operator - Philip Hayward-Surry

Production Designer - Judith Russell

Costume Designer - Clarissa Patterson

Film Editor - Suresh Ayyar

Sound Editor - Penn Robinson

Music - Steve Arnold and Graham Tardif