AMC Studios orders Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher’s ‘Firebite’

Warwick Thornton.

AMC Studios has greenlit series Firebite, helmed by Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher and described as a “high-octane” Indigenous spin on the vampire genre.

Firebite follows two Indigenous Australian hunters, Tyson and Shanika, on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the desert – a colony shipped from Britain to Australia in 1788 by the colonial superpower to eradicate the Indigenous population.

Sheltering from the sun in the underground mines and tunnels that surround the town until the present day, the colony’s numbers and hunger is growing. War is coming. Tyson and Shanika stand vanguard to the war.

A co-production with See-Saw Films, the eight-parter is expected to start shooting in South Australia in the coming months and land on AMC+ in the US later this year. There is no word as yet to an Australian broadcaster.

Thornton and Fletcher have co-created and written the series, with both to direct.

It’s not their first collaboration: The duo co-directed an international TVC promoting Australia’s Indigenous tourism for the Federal Government back in 2014, and then teamed up again for 2017 documentary We Don’t Need A Map, which Thornton directed and Fletcher produced.

Both are internationally recognised filmmakers in their own right, with Firebite marking their first move into TV series as creators. Thornton’s debut Samson and Delilah won the Camera d’Or at Cannes, and follow up Sweet Country the Special Jury Prize in Venice and Platform Prize in Toronto. Fletcher’s Mad Bastards was nominated for the Special Jury Prize at Sundance.  

In Firebite the duo wanted to create something fast-paced, highly imagined and entertaining.

Or as they put it: “We are really proud of the worthy and important stories we’ve brought to the screen over the last twenty years. Now it’s time for some rock and roll.”

Joining the pair in the Firebite writers’ room are Kodie Bedford and newcomers Devi Telfer and Josh Sambono.

Executive producers for See-Saw Films are Rachel Gardner, Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, alongside Thornton and Fletcher. See-Saw COO Simon Gillis serves as co-executive producer.

Paul Ranford will produce the series alongside Dena Curtis who is co-producing.

Gardner, See-Saw head of drama Australia, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be bringing Warwick and Brendan’s unique vision to the screen with a high-octane explosive story that draws on the complex themes of colonisation and racial prejudice, driven by Indigenous storytellers.”

Filming locations will include the traditional Country of the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people of the Western Desert and Kaurna People of the Adelaide Plains in and around Adelaide, the regional town of Coober Pedy and Adelaide Studios in South Australia.

“This is an original and highly entertaining series we can’t wait to bring to AMC+, and one that expands our already fruitful creative partnership with See-Saw Films after very successful collaborations on the wildly original State of the Union and the rare gem that was Top of the Lake,” said Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and co-head of AMC Studios. 

“We are excited to tell this story authentically, in Australia with Indigenous storytellers, cast and crew and on Indigenous lands.”

Further information regarding cast and crew is yet to be announced, but the production will be providing employment opportunities for Indigenous practitioners.

The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) has provided major production funding.

The AMC deal was negotiated by Rebecca Hardman for See-Saw Films and Scott Stein for AMC.