Oiive sings Bye Bye,  Blackbird

Olive sings, Pack up your troubles in your old kitbag and smile smile smile

Olive talks about fishing.

Olive speaks about her family. From the movie

All about Olive.

I regard All about Olive as my most touching and engaging documentary. It began as a project about the phenomenon of centenarians, asking the question why so many people these days are living to 100 or more. In the course of our research we found a standout character, Olive Riley who was at the time, 104. Olive had had a rough and mostly inconspicuous life. Nobody had paid the slightest attention to this little woman who’d been a barmaid, a cook on sheep stations, and a child in a family of 12.


Olive proved to be wonderful talent on the screen. We had decided that we would take her back to Broken Hill where she was born in 1898. That proved to be an extremely good idea because we were soon discovering fragments of her past, people who remembered the family, the house that she lived in and the mine in which her father worked. Story threads emerged as well which proved immensely important for Olive, and are an example of how documentary making can sometimes be therapeutic and helpful for the subject. Olive had had a beloved older sister called, Emma, who died very young at 16 of an ear infection.  We were able to find Emma’s unmarked grave and put a stone on it. It gave Olive precious closure.

Stylistically the film is interesting for the way we handle re-creations. There was not the budget for complex recreations of Broken Hill as it was a hundred years ago. We got around the problem by making Olive a participant in the recreations, sitting in her wheelchair and commenting on what she’s seeing, correcting the mistakes we are making according to her memory. This took the pressure off details which otherwise wouldn’t have been acceptable such as something modern in the shot. Olive is funny and feisty and soon takes over the production, telling me how recreations of her life should be handled. It’s a wonderfully warm and inspiring film since somehow it gives you permission to keep on living with enthusiasm and passion… Long past your normal used by date.

Olive was delighted both with the film and the attention that it brought her. So delighted that she wanted that attention to keep on going and so after the film was finished and released, we created a blog for her and from 2004 until 2008, year of her death, she became the world’s oldest blogger in the Guinness World Book of Records. Of course she was not able to type herself, I did that with her dictating the stories. We both had a lot of fun and I miss her dearly.



Buy here – https://www.roninfilms.com.au/feature/645/all-about-olive.html

After the film was finished, Olive became the world’s oldest blogger, a title she held until her death at 108 in 2008. On the blog, there  frequently appeared clips of Olive singing songs and telling stories. Some of them I’ve added here, but there are many more if you go to YouTube.

The first clip is a trailer for the one-hour movie. I may get round to putting the whole film up on YouTube. It deserves to be there.  Olive marks my transition from longer financed films,  aimed at broadcast TV, to short films made for YouTube. Many of which you can find elsewhere on the site.