Five First Nations writers selected to develop ‘Yellow Water Billabong’

Top row L-R: Brooke Collard, Boyd Quakawoot, Shontell Ketchell. Bottom row L-R: Rachael Chisholm, Samuel Nuggin-Paynter.

First Nations writers Shontell Ketchell, Brooke Collard, Rachel Chisholm, Samuel Nuggin-Paynter and Boyd Quakawoot have been selected by Screenworks and Tamarind Tree Pictures to help develop Yellow Water Billabong, an animated children’s series created by writer/producer Danielle MacLean.

The writers will participate in a four and a half day development lab later this month, to be held on the traditional land of the Murumburr clan at Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp in the Northern Territory.

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 feature unique animals and ancestral beings from the Top End of Australia.

The development lab has received funding through Screen Australia’s Enterprise Program with investment support from Screen Territory, and will be delivered by Screenworks in partnership with Tamarind Tree Pictures and Flying Bark Productions.

The initiative is designed to provide hands-on experience of the writing and development process. The writers will to work with 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 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.”

Screenworks CEO Ken Crouch said there was so much talent in regional Australia, particularly among Indigenous creatives, and that 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.”