NITV and ABC Children’s jointly commission live-action series ‘Thalu’

L-R: ‘Thalu’ cast Jakeile Coffin, Sharliya Mowarin, Cherry-Rose Hubert, Logan Adams, Ella Togo, Penesha Wally and Wade Walker. (Photo credit: Tyson Mowarin)

NITV and ABC Children’s have jointly commissioned five-part children’s series Thalu from Weerianna Street Media, with production now underway in the Pilbara, WA.

Produced by Weerianna Street’s Tyson Mowarin and Robyn Marais with Bernadette O’Mahony from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), Thalu is described as an “ode to the Pilbera and its people”.

It follows a group of Indigenous children who undertake a journey to save their Country from the threat of a mysterious dust cloud and its inhabitants, the Takers. It takes Roebourne community stories and weaves Ngarluma culture with the classic heroes’ journey.

The scripts have been penned by Beck Cole, Sam Nuggin-Paynter, David Woodhead, Donald Imberlong and Nayuka Gorrie. In addition to producing the series, Mowarin will also direct with Dena Curtis, Amie Batalibasi, Hunter Page-Lochard and Curtis Taylor.

The cast is packed with newcomers including Ella Togo, Cherry-Rose Hubert, Jakeile Coffin, Wade Walker, Penny Wally, Logan Adams and Sharliya Mowarin. All come from Roebourne, and each character has been written with input from the actors to reflect their personalities, sense of humour and culture.

Heads of department include DOP Torstein Dyrting, production designer Otello Stolfo and costume designer Kylie Clifford.

Thalu has received principal production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screenwest and the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, and was financed with support from NITV, ABC and the ACTF.

NITV have previously partnered with the ABC to commission Little J & Big Cuz and Grace Beside Me.

NITV channel manager Tanya Orman said: “Thalu is as much an action-packed adventure as it is a celebration of the Pilbara region and its Indigenous culture. We’re very excited for our viewers to take this journey with us.

“With 55 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population under the age of 25, NITV is committed to producing and showcasing quality content that is relevant to younger Indigenous audiences.”

“It’s so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids to see themselves reflected on screen – and to celebrate Indigenous culture and language. We are sure that Thalu will be received with the same warm reception as our award-winning series Little J & Big Cuz and Grace Beside Me.”

ABC head of children’s content Libbie Doherty, said: “Thalu ingeniously mixes traditional and modern Aboriginal storytelling to bring this futuristic fantasy to the screen. The ABC is excited to partner again with NITV to share this adventurous story from the Pilbara and to work with Tyson, the awesome cast members and the Roebourne community to bring this story to young audiences across the country.”

Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan said: “Screen Australia is committed to supporting local children’s content that celebrates Australian culture, landscapes and accents onscreen. Thalu is such a distinct story, not just in its dystopian look against the backdrop of the Pilbara, but also in its close connection to the local community.

“With creator and Roebourne local Tyson Mowarin working alongside producer Robyn Marais and a talented team of writers and directors on board, I can’t wait to see this cast of newcomers bring this inspiring original series to Australian audiences next year.”

Thalu will premieres on NITV, SBS On Demand and ABC ME in 2020.