Five First Nations writers have been selected by Screenworks and Darwin-based production company Tamarind Tree Pictures to develop Yellow Water Billabong, a new animated children’s series created by Indigenous Writer/Producer Danielle MacLean.
To be held on the traditional land of the Murumburr clan at Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp in the Northern Territory over four and a half days in late July 2022, the Screenworks initiative has received funding through Screen Australia’s Enterprise Program with investment support from Screen Territory and will be delivered in partnership with Tamarind Tree Pictures and leading animation production house Flying Bark Productions.
The selected writers come from various locations around regional Australia – Shontell Ketchell (Cairns, QLD), Brooke Collard (Broome, WA), Rachael Chisholm (Darwin, NT), Samuel Nuggin-Paynter (Alice Springs, NT), and Boyd Quakawoot (Mackay, QLD).
The Yellow Water development lab will give them invaluable hands-on experience of the writing and development process and will be a unique opportunity to work with Indigenous Producer/Writer Danielle MacLean and Producer Anna Grieve from Tamarind Tree Pictures and Flying Bark’s Creative Director Alexs Stadermann and Head of Animation Alexia Gates-Foale.
“It’s such a gift to be able to sit down on the startlingly beautiful, thriving landscapes of Ngurrungurrudjba (Yellow Water Billabong), on Murumburr country alongside traditional owners and Senior Custodians Jessie Alderson, Violet Lawson and Mandy Muir and listen as they share their language and culture and knowledge,” said Danielle MacLean. “What an amazing opportunity for these five breakthrough First Nations writers and the Tamarind Tree Pictures and Flying Bark team to have such inspirational people, landscapes and culture to draw on to help shape the development of our new animation series, Yellow Water Billabong.”
“We’re excited to be working with Tamarind Tree Pictures and Flying Bark to bring this opportunity to regional First Nations writers,” explained Screenworks CEO, Ken Crouch. “There’s so much talent in regional Australia, particularly among Indigenous creatives, and they often don’t get the same opportunities as metropolitan-based practitioners – so we look forward to supporting these five writers through the Yellow Water development lab and seeing where this unique experience takes them.”
“We are delighted at the prospect of Tamarind Tree Pictures developing another compelling children’s series on the back of their recently completed co-production Barrumbi Kids. The stunning locale of world heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is the perfect place to feed the imagination of these five exciting new voices. Under the guidance of Flying Bark and Tamarind Tree Pictures’ considerable experience in animation, and with development alongside the traditional knowledge of Murumburr elders, this Northern Territory Government supported initiative promises to deliver something uniquely authentic and truly special,” said Screen Territory Director, Jennie Hughes.
Yellow Water Billabong is a 26 x 12 minute animated TV series that centres around the life of two Aboriginal kids – 11-year old Tommy and his 8-year old sister Kenisha who live on Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu National Park. This is their traditional country and they have a special affinity and obligation to the land and animals here. The series will entertain children with unique animals and ancestral beings from the Top End of Australia. The Aboriginal culture will be intriguing not only for international audiences but also for Australian audiences, many of whom rarely leave the city or coastal areas and have little to no contact with Indigenous people.
This development lab will be the third and final development lab being delivered by Screenworks as part of its Regional Script Lab X Initiative which has been supported by Screen Australia Enterprise Ideas funding.