Five minutes with ‘Tender’ producer, Kath Shelper

1 August 2013

From director Lynette Wallworth and producer Kath Shelper (Samson and Delilah), Tender tells the moving tale of how the residents of NSW town Port Kembla are taking life – and death – back into their own hands with their plans for community-based funerals.

Ahead of the film’s world premiere at AFF this October, Kath took some time out to talk to us about picnics in cemeteries, the state of Australian politics, and how Bailey the dog (pictured) helped to conquer her fear of death.

What is the first film you remember seeing?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, closely followed by Storm Boy – both at the Leongatha drive-in, in my pyjamas.

Tender is described as “heartbreakingly beautiful and beautifully funny”. Can you share one of your favourite memories from the set with us?

Having a joyful picnic in a cemetery on a sunny day whilst discussing personal burial preferences was kind of up there with weird things I have encountered in my line of work. The Port Kembla community members we filmed with (including Bailey the dog) are a pretty amazing bunch – [they have an] infectious zest for life. And death.

Has making Tender changed your feelings on death?

Yes, markedly. I was terrified of death before. Not my own so much but the thought of losing people close to me. I am still afraid about that but I feel much more at peace when I think about it now. Being immersed in a subject brings a strange comfort. Being around people who are not afraid rubs off a little.

This year the Adelaide Festival of Ideas runs in conjunction with the Adelaide Film Festival. What do you do if you’re struggling for ideas/inspiration?

Go on a nice long holiday. Like I will do straight after the Festival.

What do you think is the most important issue we face in 2013?

The state of our political debate in Australia is appalling. Lack of true visionary leadership in public life, and a balanced and intelligent media, is creating a very unsophisticated country.

On Friday afternoons in the AFF & AFOI office, we have Winyl (wine & vinyl) sessions. If you were to guest DJ, what record would you play and why?

I don’t know about the vinyl but as for the wine I would serve the Chain of Ponds 2005 Nebbiolo if you can find it – a delicious Adelaide Hills number we discovered when we were shooting in South Australia recently.


Tender will have its world premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on Monday, 14 October. Earlybird prices end soon, so grab your tickets now via our website.