Most of Don Parham's documentary films have been on serious social-political issues. His filmography also includes a "docu-comedy" made for commercial television and recent works have ventured into arts and history.
Although his body of work is very diverse there are recurring themes and subjects to which he keeps coming back. Early in his career he made three films on social justice issues related to the distribution of wealth in Australia. The titles in this trilogy are - Something You Call Unique (1989), Big People Small People (1991), and The Great Australian Dreaming (1992). Five of his eight films since then have explored the relationship between men and women from almost every conceivable angle. These include - Deadly Hurt (1994), We're All Independent Now (1995), Love's Tragedies (1999), Why Men Pay For It (2003) and The Choice (2006).
In 1996/7 Parham experimented with a new genre - a "docu-comedy" called Big Hair Woman, shot in Papua New Guinea and produced for Network TEN. Life Is Too Serious (2001), about the Australian composer George Dreyfus, was his first arts documentary and then came Riot or Revolution (2005) - a history doco about the Eureka Stockade of 1854.
Many of Parham's films are in the auteur tradition - authored and sometimes controversial. The respected Age TV critic, Barbara Hooks, described some of these works when she wrote,
"Don Parham is an extraordinary film-maker, one of few who can slaughter
your most sacred cow and yet leave you feeling challenged and inspired."
Parham's impressive track record has been recognised with a range of industry awards, fellowships and grants. He has written a number of published articles, and been guest speaker at conferences, workshops and tertiary institutions. He also did a stint as a presenter with the national broadcaster, ABC-TV, when he introduced two prime time weekly documentary series.
Smithy – feature length biographical doco about John Smith, founder of God's Squad CMC (130 min, ACC-TV, 2016)
Forgiven People – personal stories about faith and forgiveness (30 min, Network 7, 2013)
The Choice – personal stories about abortion (52 min, SBS-TV, 2006)
Riot or Revolution - about the Eureka Stockade, 1854 (55 min, ABC-TV, 2005)
Why Men Pay For It - men talk candidly about buying sex (52 min, SBS-TV, 2003)
Life is Too Serious - about the composer George Dreyfus (55 min, ABC-TV, 2001)
Love's Tragedies - about adultery (55 min, ABC-TV, 1999)
Big Hair Woman - a 'docu-comedy' set in Papua New Guinea, starring 'Effie (45 min, Network TEN, 1997)
We're All Independent Now - about relationships, marriage and divorce (56 min, SBS-TV, 1995)
Deadly Hurt - about the feminist analysis of male violence against women (56 min, SBS-TV, 1994)
The Great Australian Dreaming - about the Australian dream of home ownership (54 min, SBS-TV, 1992)
Big People Small People - about the distribution of wealth in Australia (2 x 58 min, SBS-TV, 1991)
Something You Call Unique - about youth homelessness (48 min, SBS-TV, 1989)
** Writer, Producer, Director on all of the above films except 'Forgiven People' (Director/DOP/Editor)