Profile image of Donna Mcrae

Dr Donna Mcrae



Senior Lecturer, Performing Arts


Faculty of Arts and Education


School of Comm & Creative Arts


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Donna McRae is a Melbourne-based filmmaker whose work has been screened across several continents. Having trained and worked as an actor, visual artist/ researcher and filmmaker, she is uniquely placed to make films that are thoughtfully researched, visually beautiful and politically charged.

Embracing drama, documentary and video installation, her work reflects a deep interest in both genre and feminist theory, an unconventional but highly potent combination. Donna has repeatedly proven herself to be undaunted by ‘swimming against the tide’, unafraid to work across colour and black & white, long takes
or multi-channel, she possesses a fluency that is exceptional. Her particular interrogations of 19th century gender roles and post-punk rock‘n’roll once again offer a surprising and powerful potential.
After graduating from the VCA Film and TV School in Melbourne, Donna McRae made several shorts which were all selected for local and international film festivals. Her first micro-budget feature film, Johnny Ghost (2012), was selected into numerous film festivals locally and internationally, winning 7 awards including Best Female Director at Berlin Independent Film Festival, Best Feature at South Texas Underground Film Festival and two Special Jury Prizes, including Hamilton Film Festival, Canada,. The film has North American distribution with Continuum Pictures, and local distribution with Titan View.

Donna’s latest micro-budget horror feature Lost Gully Road has won three international awards for Best Feature, in Los Angeles, Peru and Texas, has distribution with Umbrella Entertainment and has been sold to Channel 9.

Donna has an interest in video installation and has shown her work in art galleries both here and overseas. She has also made several collaborative works with visual artist Michael Vale, including music videos for Dave Graney and Clare Moore.
Currently she has just finished post production on a feature documentary about a chimpanzee called Cobby: The Other Side of Cute, and is in development for various projects, including her next feature film Kate Kelly, a ‘ghost western’ about Ned Kelly’s sister; and an untitled ‘Female Horror Anthology’ project with Unicorn Films.
The Kate Kelly project was selected for Frontiéres Co-Production Market at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival in July 2016.

She has also collaborated with visual artist Michael Vale since 2002, principally on the feature film project Le Chien qui Fume (currently in development with Screen Australia & Film Victoria support). They have also made several short films & videos together culminating in a film award from Asolo Film Festival, Italy, for best film on art, and worked with installation art (The Innocents Westspace, Melbourne 2011).

COBBY: The Other Side of Cute had it's world premiere at the San Francisco Documentary Festival in June, follwed by kansas International Film Festival and screenings in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. 

Donna is a Senior lecturer at Deakin University in the Film &TV Department.

Read more on Donna's profile

Career highlights

Lost Gully Road -

Nominated Best Direction in a Feature film under 1 million dollars - Australian Directors Guild, 2019

Best Feature - La Femme International Film festival, Los Angeles 2018,

Best Feature - Insolito de Cinema, Peru, 2019

Best Feature - South Texas Underground Film Festival - 2019 

Official Selection Monsterfest 2017, Revelation Film Festival, 2018

Nominated Best Original Score, Ozflix awards 2018

COBBY: The Other Side of Cute

Official Selection SFDocfest, 2018

Official Selection, Kansas International Film Festival, 2018

Official Selection, revelation Film Festival, 2019

Flyville - Durden & Ray, Los Angeles and Strange Neighbour, Melbourne (as part of Slippery Stories) 2016

California  -Mars Gallery solo show March 2015, Sydney video Contemporary September 2015

Johnny Ghost -

Special Jury Prize, Hamilton International Film festival, Canada 2013

Best Female Director, Berlin Independent Film festival, 2013

Film with Most Heart, Pollygrind Film festival. Las Vegas, 2012
Best Feature, South Texas Underground Film Festival 2012
Special Jury Prize, Melbourne Underground Film Festival 2012
Best Screenplay, Melbourne Underground Film Festival, 2012
Best Editing, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, 2011
Official Selection, Portobello Film Festival, London, 2012
Official Selection, Portugal Underground Film Festival, 2012
Official Selection, Stranger with My Face Women in Horror Film Festival,2013
Official Selection, RxSM Film Expo, Austin, Texas, 2013
Official Selection, KIlof Film Festival, Poland, 2013
Official Selection, No/Gloss Film Festival. Leeds 2013

Research interests

ghosts, memory, Australian female Gothic

Units taught

screenwriting, Honours program

Knowledge areas

Cinema Ghosts, Horror, Australian Female Gothic


Screening Melbourne 2017


Early Career Teaching Award 2015


Lost Gully Road - feature film

Cobby - feature documentary 

Le Chien qui Fume - A Smokey Life (with Dr Michael Vale) feature film (development)

Untitled Horror Anthology - feature film i(n development)

Kate Kelly  - feature film - (in development)

California - video installation 

Flyville - video installation


Filter by


Say a Spell : Summoning the Ghosts of Post Punk Melbourne

Donna Mcrae, Alexia Kannas

(2021), pp. 1-1, Punk reader Vol.3, Bristol, Eng., B1

book chapter

The Stranger With My Face International Film Festival and the Australian Female Gothic

Donna Mcrae

(2020), pp. 1-17, Women make horror : filmmaking, feminism, genre., Chicago, Ill., B1

book chapter

Ladies of the Cemetery

Donna Mcrae

(2020), Bridge Gallery, Melbourne, J2

Non-Traditional Research Output


Donna Mcrae, Michael Vale

(2019), Melbourne, Vic., JO3

Non-Traditional Research Output

Cobby: The other side of cute

D Mcrae, Michael Vale

(2018), San Francisco, Calif., J1

Non-Traditional Research Output

Lost gully road

D Mcrae, Elisabeth Baulch

(2018), Los Angeles, Calif., J1

Non-Traditional Research Output

Lost Gully Road

E Baulch, D McRae

(2017), Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn, Australia, J1

Non-Traditional Research Output

The Cutopia Paradox: anthropomorphism as entertainment

M Vale, D McRae

(2016), Vol. 7, pp. 128-143, Ecozon@ : European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment, Alcalá de Henares, Spain, C1

journal article

Who's knocking in my little house? Ursula Dabrowsky's Inner Demon (2014)

D Mcrae

(2016), pp. 1-1, Senses of Cinema, Melbourne, Vic., C1

journal article


D McRae

(2016), Los Angeles, Calif., J1

Non-Traditional Research Output


D McRae

(2015), Windsor, Vic., J2

Non-Traditional Research Output

Make believe it's nothing

D McRae

(2014), Melbourne 3000, J2

Non-Traditional Research Output

Everything was legendary with Robert

D McRae

(2014), Melbourne, Vic., J2-1

Non-Traditional Research Output

Johnny Ghost

D McRae

(2013), Melbourne, Vic., J1

Non-Traditional Research Output

All mine

D McRae, M Vale

(2013), Melbourne, Vic., J2

Non-Traditional Research Output

Funded Projects at Deakin

Other Public Sector Funding

Ladies of the Cemetery>

Dr Donna Mcrae

Kingston City Council

  • 2020: $1,885
  • 2019: $3,000


Dr Donna Mcrae

DITRC Creative Partnerships Australia MATCH Lab

  • 2021: $5,000

Industry and Other Funding

Cobby - The Dark Side of Cute

Dr Donna Mcrae

Research My World Pozible

  • 2015: $10,686

Other Funding Sources


Dr Donna Mcrae


  • 2021: $24,218


Principal Supervisor

Katherine Murray

Thesis entitled: CRADLE TO CRYPT: Women in Australian and South Korean Horror Cinema

Master of Arts, School of Communication and Creative Arts


Kristina Kraskov

Thesis entitled: Ethics in the Suburbs: An Exegesis of the film The King of Frankston

Master of Arts, School of Communication and Creative Arts

Associate Supervisor

Bryan Ott

Thesis entitled: They Sound Human: Crafting Post-Feminist Women in Contemporary Western/Horror

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Communication and Creative Arts

Rohan Jones

Thesis entitled: Preparing for ¿Action!¿: an investigation into actor-direction for the screen

Master of Arts, School of Communication and Creative Arts


Matthew Burns

Thesis entitled: Cinema and the Art of Dying

Master of Arts, School of Communication and Creative Arts


. Su Hnin Htut Aung

Thesis entitled: Representation of Ghosts and Spirits in East and Southeast Asian Cinema

Master of Arts, School of Communication and Creative Arts