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Post-production   /  Danielle Karalus

Love in Bright Landscapes: The Story of David McComb of The Triffids

Too Wordly for Australia, Too Australian for the World.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Jonathan Alley

  • PRODUCER Danielle Karalus and Tait Brady



In a short life, Triffids songwriter David McComb gave up secrets in the shape of his songs. Using his familiar Western Australian landscape as the canvas for his towering psychodramas and heart-broken epics, the tragedy and triumph of McComb’s short but driven, passionate and vivid life is brought to the screen with snatched memories expressed in music, poetry, letters, never-before-seen family-archives and heart-rending interviewees with his colleagues, family and friends.

Support this project

85.01% funded
  • $450,000.00

  • $382,560.00

  • August 2021

  • 27

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Zika Vuletic $50.00
Bruce Botta $50.00
Mark Ritson $2,000.00
Paul Wiegard $500.00
Anonymous $50.00
Adam Hogan $100.00
Nick Wilson $100.00
Brian Waldron $100.00
Wayne Lewis $100.00
Martin Malone $50.00
Darren Lamb $50.00
Bruce Morrison $100.00
Anonymous $100.00
Julia Ingram $50.00
Rachel Slade $100.00
Lee-Ann Crowley $50.00
Richard Gornall $50.00
Peter Azzopardi $50.00
Brett Goyne $20.00
Alison Steele $100.00
Kirsten Devitt $50.00
Tim Rippington $10.00
Duncan Roberts $100.00
John Willsteed $50.00
Nick Gye $20.00
Online Donations $378,460.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

We aim to increase awareness and appreciation on a significant part of Australian contemporary music history that has not been covered in film before, by revealing McComb's significance as an Australian cultural icon, and world-class artist, with his band The Triffids.

McComb's creative process and inspiration in his songwriting grappled with sense of identity. He questioned notions of 'home', in relation to the landscape and our place within it, using it as story context that established ‘place’ within his own imagery. We aim to appeal to a broader audience, beyond those who grew up in the ’80s. Young audiences may recognise the songs, but have no understanding of their original context.

We will affiliate with heart transplant and donor organisations, and organisations associated with alcohol campaigns for drinking in moderation, bringing added awareness to them, as McComb had a heart transplant four years prior to his death, and a life long history of alcohol consumption.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

David McComb has left an ever-evolving legacy to audiences, chiefly through his songwriting and writing. Love in Bright Landscapes aspires to extend this recognition and widen the understanding of this work to domestic and international audiences. Impact will be measured through audience viewer numbers for theatrical, festivals, free-to-air & via home viewing on DVD/download/streaming.


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

The chief aspiration of Love in Bright Landscapes is create a version of David McComb’s life story, quite distinct from straightforward biographical information on his work as a songwriter in The Triffids. This story – the untold narrative – reflects a struggle with class, family, surroundings and identity that deserves wider recognition as a strong and affecting Australian story. His determination to achieve on his own terms cost him a singularly high price, in terms of his relationships, and mental and physical health. It’s this untold story we want to tell our audience: the chiefly desired outcome. While McComb deserves far greater recognition in this regard for the maturity, elegance and quite extraordinary imagery of his work, his overall story is one of loss and struggle with identity. These themes illustrate the immense pressure arts practitioners often face: we want to give audiences increased understanding of the compromised nature of the arts in Australia.


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

David McComb suffered cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle caused by excessive alcohol intake in young men. His heart muscle failed on songwriting trip to New York, and he was flown home in an emergency. This condition was addressed via a transplant undertaken in 1996, but sadly David only lived about three more years. We will engage with The Heart Foundation to make them aware of the subject relevance in Love in Bright Landscapes and prepare appropriate materials for them to publish online and to our via their e-newsletter.

We will also partner with Fremantle Arts Press (publishers of his poems), Mushroom Music Publishing (who publish his songwriting catalogue), community radio station Triple R FM, music retailer Rocksteady Records, and the Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Audiences should be more engaged with David McComb’s songs and poems after seeing the film. There are numerous opportunities for the public to engage with these art works . The Triffids' albums were all re-issued on CD in the mid late-’00s and McComb’s only solo album Love of Will was added to streaming services in 2018. Viewers drawn to David’s story, and the emotional weight behind these works, will also be logically drawn to the worlds within these musical works. The filmmakers fervently hope audiences hear his music a-new. McComb was also a prolific writer. This side remained a private expression in his lifetime – a creative outlet distinct from songwriting. Several poems feature in the film, read by Australian novelist DBC Pierre and juxtaposed with vivid 35mm colour photography from his childhood and newly discovered photos and footage. These works will be available over our theatrical season: wider audience engagement with McComb’s poetry would be a worthy outcome.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Love in Bright Landscapes will have achieved its impact vision when the film releases theatrically, and is seen subsequently on second tier platforms, thus reaching the eyes and ears of its intended audiences. The feature doco should build upon ongoing interest in David McComb’s work around the world, and build on strong audience foundations in the UK, Belgium, Scandinavia and Greece, by achieving European festival and second tier release in those territories, with subsequent sales to European-based broadcasters. The filmmakers have established strong feedback links to David’s very loyal fan-base via social media interaction, and thus have established numerous pathways to audience feedback. If audiences and critics respond positively to a wide release in the Australian and European territories we will have achieved our impact vision.