(L-R): Josh Thomson, Chai Hansen, Luciane Buchanan and Emilie Cocquerel (Photo: Geoffrey Short). 

See Saw Films and Jump Film & TV have kicked off production on The Legend of Monkey for ABC, TVNZ and Netflix.

To be shot on location around Auckland, the 10×30’ children’s series is an adaptation of the 16th century Chinese fable Journey to the West. It follows a teenage girl and a trio of fallen gods on a journey to bring an end to a demonic reign.

The Legend of Monkey will star Chai Hansen (Mako Mermaids, The 100) with Luciane Buchanan (Filthy Rich, Blue Rose), Josh Thomson (Terry Teo, 7 Days, The Project) and Emilie Cocquerel (Lion, An Accidential Soldier).

Head writer is Jacquelin Perske (Seven Types of Ambiguity, Spirited), who will work alongside Craig Irvin (Nowhere Boys) and Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy).

The lead director is Gerard Johnstone (Housebound, The Jaquie Brown Diaries), with Irvin to direct additional eps.

See Saw’s Rachel Gardner said Perske’s adaptation created a fantasy world “occupied by charismatic and interesting characters that will entertain all ages. Brought to life by the vision of Gerard, the story and setting will not be like anything we’ve seen before.”

Jump Film & TV’s Robin Scholes said Johnstone had a strong crew working alongside him. “The production values on screen for cinematography, design, costume, and make up are breathtaking, as are the performances of a largely New Zealand cast. We’re also thrilled that Australian and New Zealand audiences will see it first on ABC and TVNZ.”

An official Aussie-NZ co-pro, the series has received funding from Screen Australia in association with Screen NSW, Fulcrum Media Finance and the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.

The Legend of Monkey will air on ABC, TVNZ and Netflix in 2018.

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  1. Chinese lanterns in background… check. Rolls of Chinese silk to the right of picture… check. Chinese cuisine in the background… check. Chinese hand props… check. Non-Chinese actors… oops! “Squinty-eyed” eye make up for the male actors… oh my god! Doc Martin boots for Pigsy… odd. ABC, Screen Australia and Screen NSW heading for an “ABC, Screen Australia and Screen NSW funds whitewashed and culturally-appropriated children’s TV series” PR disaster… check. Thankfully SBS not involved. But, like, seriously… really?! LOL!!!

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