Playwright-screenwriter Nathan Maynard and author-screenwriter Adam Thompson have come together to form kutikina Productions, with the company to co-produce Digital Originals series Moonbird alongside Rummin Productions.
Billed as the first-ever Tasmanian Aboriginal screen production company, kutikina will focus on scripted content and telling Tasmanian Aboriginal stories, as well as engaging in the broader industry to further develop First Nations screen culture in the state.
Maynard, a Trawlwoolway man who’s written seven full-length plays, told IF the name ‘kutikina’ came from a folklore spirit legend of palawa storytelling not dissimilar to the bogeyman.
“For us, kutikina has been around since millennia but white people hijacked the name when it came to the Franklin Dam and Kutikina Cave, which is when they got to know about it,” he said.
“Someone also put kutikina in song, where they pronounced it wrong.
“What we’re about is correcting these narratives of our people and telling stories that the white community has never heard about our people.”
Thompson, who worked in the story room for Film Art Media’s Bruny and is in the midst of writing episodes of Little J and Big Cuz, added the company was “a new avenue for palawa stories to go out into the world”.
“We are sick of non-Aboriginal people exploiting our stories and our culture,” he said.
“Through our company we will create fresh, authentic, and high-quality content and bring our community along with us, through collaboration and by developing the technical and creative skills of individuals.”
Maynard and Thompson will collaborate with Matthew Newton, Catherine Pettman and Courtney Gibson on Moonbird, a 6 x 10-minute project that follows an 11-year-old pakana boy who takes on the responsibilities of an adult when his father drowns on a remote Mutton Bird Island in Bass Strait.
It is being developed for NITV/SBS On Demand, with funding from Screen Australia. An earlier version of the project received development funding from Screen Tasmania.
Maynard said Moonbird was an exciting launch pad for the company, which the pair had been seriously developing for the past 12 months, following conversations across the past 2-3 years.
“It was about us feeling we had the experience to take something like this on because it’s not for the faint-hearted,” he said.
“We thought the Digital Originals initiative was an amazing opportunity and why not launch with something as big as that?”
Screen Tasmania executive manager, Alex Sangston, anticipated the company to play a leading role in content production and broader Indigenous practitioner development in the state.
“Screen Tasmania is thrilled that Nathan and Adam have launched kutikina as the first palawa production company,” he said.
“It is vital that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have the capacity to tell their own stories, so that we can continue to contribute to the national narrative and celebrate the world’s longest-living culture.
“Screen Tasmania looks forward to working with Adam and Nathan on Moonbird and other future projects across lutruwita”.
Maynard said kutikina Productions had “three or four projects on the go”, although details were still under wraps.