“I’m gonna take hold of my life by changing my name.” Why Olly King’s name matters so much
“I’m gonna take hold of my life by changing my name.” Why Olly King’s name matters so much

By Tyson Anderson, Director/Editor, Call Me Olly

Call Me Olly is a short documentary about a legal name change, and what a new name means to one young First Nations man.

Ken Burns was born with the legal name Kenneth Charles Burns. To friends and family, he was simply known as “Kenny.”

As a child and teenager, Kenny dealt with health issues, a struggle with weight and identity and bullying so vicious he had to switch schools. But even throughout these challenges, Kenny maintained one unwavering dream: to become a filmmaker. 

Raised in the small reserve of James Smith Cree Nation, Kenny grew up in an environment where it wasn’t common for kids to have big Hollywood dreams. But that never stopped him — until he discovered a man who shared his name: Ken Burns, the famous and world-renowned documentary filmmaker. It was then that Kenny decided he needed to carve out an identity of his own. Olly King was born.

Kenny spent the next decade pursuing his dreams under the moniker “ODMK Productions.” ODMK was the acronym of his desired-but-not-yet-legal name: Oliver Darrius Merrick King. His friends respected his wishes and addressed him as Olly, but he didn’t receive that same support from his family.

Olly King with his parents.

Olly’s name change is more significant than a brand that rolls off the tongue. It represents a fresh start, and that claim of a bold new identity that’s no longer weighed down by the trials and tribulations that so negatively affected Kenny. Olly’s parents weren’t aware of these implications when they kept addressing their son as Kenny.

Call Me Olly documents Olly's journey to legally change his name, and follows hims as he reveals the news to his parents, hoping for their support and approval.

Call Me Olly captures the power of a name, and the impact a name can have on an individual striving to be truly uninhibited.