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Production   /  Sally McLean

Champion: The Franz Stampfl Story

The extraordinary story of the artist turned Athletics coach behind the breaking of the Four Minute Mile, Franz Stampfl.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Sally McLean

  • PRODUCER Sally McLean, Billy Smedley, Christopher Kirby & Margaret Woodlock-McLean OAM



Written, directed & produced by Sally McLean (BBC Music & Arts, Channel 9, Endemol Southern Star), featuring interviews filmed around the world with iconic figures including Sir Roger Bannister, Sir Christopher Chataway, John Landy, Ralph Doubell, Ron Clarke, David Williamson, Ulick O’Connor & others, "Champion" tells the extraordinary story of a Viennese Artist who would become a pioneer of Sports Psychology & Sports Science, eventually coaching Roger Bannister to break the elusive Four Minute Mile in Oxford in 1954 – Franz Stampfl. Through World Wars, Olympic scandals, shocking tragedies and inspirational triumphs, filled with plot twists to rival any Hollywood blockbuster, this film explores the pursuit of excellence in all things, the important contribution immigrants make to Australian culture and society and fascinating personal insights into major historical events of the 20th Century.

Support this project

31.35% funded
  • $50,000.00

  • $15,675.00

  • 7

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Anonymous $200.00
Anonymous $5,000.00
Stephen Wyley $250.00
Philip Evans $50.00
Janet Watson Kruse $25.00
Karen Benattar $250.00
Previous donations 6 donors $9,900.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

This film explores:

1) the history of Australia's internment policies, focusing on WW2 and the Dunera, and how that has impacted on our society, as well as the impact internment has on the individuals concerned;
2) the importance of health and fitness at any level in young people, as well as adults;
3) the compatibility of Sport and The Arts in society;
4) the significant contribution that immigration has brought to Australia in the past;
5) stories of the Jewish peoples who were persecuted during WW2 in Austria, and interned in England and Australia;
6) the history of Australia as a growing, multicultural nation who began to have an impact on the world stage as seen through the lens of Athletics and the Olympics from 1955 onward; and
7) the incredible positive contribution one person can make to their community - locally, nationally and globally.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

This film shines a light on an unsung hero of the sporting and motivational arenas, inspiring others to strive for excellence in their own lives. It shows that anyone can do anything if they believe in themselves & their abilities. It highlights that acquired disability is no barrier to go onto continued success in life in any field, that new immigrants can go on to become proactive, important figures in Australian society & that individuals can make a positive, global impact.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Through the film, we intend to take a personal look at the impact of war, immigration, mental health and disability and the ability to transcend adversity that will inspire others to greater heights themselves. We also intend to encourage people to seek help if they need it for any reason, build awareness of historical events that have a resonance in today's world, drive conversations around the themes of the film, confront these difficult topics head on with empathy and understanding, inspire individuals to be the best they can be and to strive to have a positive impact themselves on their own communities due to the film's message of "the positive power of one".


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The official website for the film will contain longer interviews with various official interviewees that go into more detail about Franz's training techniques and philosophy, as well as selected archive footage and photographs taken from Franz's personal collection that will show aspects of 20th Century history as seen through his eyes. There will be interactive elements of the site where people can continue the conversation about Franz's contribution, as well as discuss how the film has affected or inspired them. There will also be a place where people who knew Franz personally (to date we have counted over 22,000 people he corresponded with, coached or saw regularly in his casual jogging groups) will be able to share their experiences writing or video or audio online. We will also have our speaking engagements, screenings and film festival run, and are currently sourcing a distributor and/or network to get the film out to the widest audience possible.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Athletics Victoria, Athletics Australia, the Victorian Olympic Committee & Sport Australia Hall Of Fame are all supporters of the film, promoting the film to their networks and raising awareness that the film exists & we have support from various prominent Arts figures.

“I believe Champion has the potential to be a fascinating, original and rewarding documentary, of interest to a wide audience. I have no hesitation in supporting Sally and her colleagues in this project.” – Roly Keating (Former Controller BBC2 & BBC4)

“Franz’s philosophies transcend the sporting arena and can be applied to the pursuit of excellence in any field. In my opinion he is a truly inspirational figure and his story has universal appeal. I unreservedly wish to express my strong support of this project and the team involved. This is a story that must be told.” – Ethan Hawke (Oscar®-nominated Actor, Writer & Director)

These relationships have ensured that we have extra resources & support to complete the film.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Essentially this film is about making a difference and how one person can change the world they live in, no matter where they have come from or what their circumstances. Ultimately, this film is an exploration of the power of one, advocating for those with an acquired disability, for women in sport, for the positive impact immigrants can have on their new homes, for the power of belief in self and the greater good and for the power of the individual in the pursuit of excellence to inspire others to be the best they can be. We hope that this film will spark a national conversation about the importance of the Arts in all areas of life, and the importance of knowing our history so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, as well as the positive contribution that immigrants have made to Australian society in the past through to the present.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The film is already reaching people from all over the world – the 2 minute teaser for the film has already won four awards on the international film festival circuit, so based on this early success, we are also aiming for a strong international film festival run once the film is completed, plus several industry & community screenings with Q&As to be able to further discuss the issues brought up in the film with an engaged audience and a wider media response to the film and it's subject will all indicate that we have achieved what we are aiming to with the film. Ideally, we would also be looking for official theatrical distribution in various territories, as well as television broadcast in Australia. TV ratings, theatrical box office figures and/or streamed downloads/viewings numbers will also act as a measure for the film’s impact once it is released. Additionally, our outreach program will give us further measurement and information about the impact of the film in the wider community.