Leading US writer/producer Anne Kenney has agreed to executive produce and co-write Ruby Entertainment’s historical miniseries The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.
Based on Dr. Clare Wright’s Stella Prize-winning book of the same name, the eight-part drama will focus on women on both sides of the Battle of Eureka Stockade between gold miners and colonial forces in Ballarat in 1854.
La Trobe University, where Wright is Associate Professor of History, is putting up $200,000 to enable Kenney to write the treatment and pilot script.
Ruby Entertainment’s Mark Ruse and Stephen Luby, who optioned the novel in 2015, aim to mount the series as an Australian-US co-production.
Wright, who will serve as co-producer, reached out to Kenney after admiring her work on the time-travel series Outlander. They became friends, Wright sent her a copy of her book and Kenney jumped at the chance to drive the TV adaptation.
Kenney said: “Rebels is an historic piece filled with adventure, ambition, intrigue and grit with a group of amazing, previously-unheralded women at the forefront. What could be better than that?”
Her extensive producing/writing credits include Switched at Birth, Hellcats, Beautiful People, Greek and LA Law.
The series will focus on six young women from the US, Scotland, Ireland and England plus one Indigenous woman who worked on the gold fields and led the popular movement towards democracy.
The women were also instrumental in the creation of the Eureka Flag, which was hoisted above the diggings by rebellious miners in defiance of the police and the British military garrison.
Two days later, a military assault on the makeshift ‘Eureka Stockade’ resulted in a short but bloody battle where more than 30 people were killed.
Ruse said: “We are incredibly excited to have Anne on board. Our vision for Forgotten Rebels is as a truly international production for what is truly an international story full of modern day relevance. Our characters and our heroines are all newly arrived from all over the world and their stories are packed full drama, love and pain, as they throw caution to the wind, abandoning the trappings of the old world, and push towards a new way of being and a new nation forged ultimately in the stain of their blood.”
La Trobe University’s investment comes from its new Strategic Innovation Fund designed to help translate output of the University’s research.
“Our investment in helping translate Clare’s book into a TV miniseries speaks volumes to the potential impact, opportunity and value that can be leveraged from research coming out of La Trobe,” said Professor Keith Nugent, the University’s deputy Vice-Chancellor for research.
Wright said the project’s chances of moving rapidly to commission are hugely enhanced with that early stage investment, adding, “With a writer of the profile and calibre of Anne Kenney on board I’m confident the pilot will quickly lead to a TV series.
“Most importantly, this would result in the incredible stories of the unbiddable women of Ballarat reaching huge national – and potentially international – audiences.”
The producers intend to hire Australian writers to write some episodes. They will pitch the project to potential co-producers after the first draft is finished by the end of this year.