In filming the history of Newcastle, Glenn Dormand has seen a different picture than what he expected.
"Some of these stories feel like the opposite of what the Newcastle cliche is," Glenn said.
"It kind of made me proud of Newcastle."
Glenn, who went to school in Waratah, now lives in Mount Hutton on a property overlooking the ocean.
He's best known by his alias Chit Chat Von Loopin Stab, of the iconic band Machine Gun Fellatio. His voice is warmly familiar to anyone who spent time watching Foxtel's TV music channel Max.
Glenn, who spent years interviewing world-famous rock and pop stars, has one of those voices that somehow manages to capture the essence of Australian culture.
This seems to make him a good fit to tell the history of Newcastle in an original way.
As a kid, he felt the desire to escape Newcastle and his hellish imaginings of a working life in industry.
Now he and his filmmaking partner Tony Whittaker are directing 12 films about Newcastle under the title, Stories of Our Town.
Funding for the films is coming from the NSW Government's fifth round of the Newcastle Port Community Contribution fund.
The films are being released through theStories of Our Town website for free.
"We call it a gift to the city. We feel everyone should have access to them," Glenn said.
He initially suspected he might come across stories of bigotry and racism, particularly when it came to the ghosts of the town's industrial past.
"I just kind of found this story of community and inclusion," he said.
The latest film to be released features the illustrators Harriet and Helena Scott, who lived on Ash Island during the mid-1800s.
The film, The Scott Sisters of Ash Island, was made with the University of Newcastle's Cultural Collections/GLAMx team.
The Scott sisters illustrated the island's flora and fauna. They're renowned in particular for their drawings of butterflies, moths and caterpillars. Their depictions of trees, plants and flowers, too, have captivating and abiding qualities.
The siblings broke down gender barriers in becoming two of Australia's most accomplished natural history illustrators.
"I'm the father of two daughters. I kind of want to convince them that they can do anything," Glenn said.
"Stories like this reinforce that."
Glenn has praise for the Scott girls' father, Alexander.
"The talent was theirs. But in an era where children were seen and not heard, he had them at the table with these big thinkers and let them be who they were meant to be."
He wonders whether the isolation of life on the island gave them the freedom to break social convention.
"If they were in Sydney, maybe it wouldn't have happened," he said.
The film features animations of the artwork, which the Australian Museum created for a touring exhibition last year.
"We knew we had an ace up our sleeve," he said, of the animations.
At the Star Hotel
The Star Hotel film was made to mark the 40th anniversary of the riot last year.
"I know Jimmy Barnes enough to be able to say, 'Hey, can we use the song?'."
They were able to use that famous Cold Chisel song for free.
While researching the riot, he "kept on hearing about lost footage".
When he was able to get hold of the footage, he dug out a VHS player and went through it.
Footrot Flats had been taped over it.
Mercifully, other copies were floating around. When he got hold of one, he was drawn to images kept out of news bulletins at the time of police using hoses on rioters
The next film is about Joseph Lycett, the convict artist renowned for his paintings of Aboriginal life in the Hunter and elsewhere.
"I love the idea of a forger preserving Aboriginal history," Glenn said.
They're also making a film about Reverend Lancelot Threkhold, a Newcastle missionary who "preserved Aboriginal language".
Another film will focus on the architecture that surrounds Civic Park.