We’re so ready: Australia’s first Indigenous teen drama

By 29 September 2015Interview, The latest

Ready For This is Australia’s first Indigenous teen drama and it’s a collaboration between two of our top production houses: Werner Film Productions, known for teen and kids drama like the hugely successful Dance Academy, and Blackfella Films, behind some of the best adult drama in recent years, such as Redfern Now.

We chat to Ready For This producer, Joanna Werner about the show, ahead of its release on Monday 5 October on ABC3.

Screen Australia: How did the collaboration between Werner Film Productions and Blackfella Films come about?

Joanna Werner: Darren [Dale from Blackfella Films] and I met at the Adelaide Film Festival and over drinks, became good friends. We talked for a while about wanting to do something together. And we really wanted to join together our two areas of expertise to create something unique.

SA: What would you describe as the main benefit of collaborating?

JW: I’d worked a lot in teen and kid’s drama, and that was an area that Blackfella Films was really interested in moving into. And in [Werner Film Productions’] Dance Academy, we touched on some stories with Indigenous content, and I really wanted to pursue a series that focused on coming-of-age from an Indigenous teen perspective. So it really made sense to join together.

SA: The show is about five talented teens that all come to live together in Sydney. How did you come up with that?

JW: There are hostels around Australia where Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal teenagers stay when they have to move away from home to pursue particular passions, particular schooling, whether it’s athletics, music or AFL, and so [our idea] came from the reality of that. We thought it was a really aspirational story to follow: teenagers chasing their dreams.

SA: What do you hope people will like the most about the show?

JW: We want this show to be universally appealing. We want every teenager to be able to watch it and to be able to identify with the characters, and identify with the things that our characters are going through. But we also want to give an opportunity for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal teenagers to see characters who specifically reflect them on screen. I think that’s really important.

SA: What’s your favourite part of the show?

JW: I love the interpersonal relationships between the characters. It’s fantastic that they’re following their passions, but the characters that we’ve developed have such heart, and the way that they come to form their own little community is really great. There are really heart-warming and challenging stories, and we hope the audience will come to love these characters.

SA: What have you enjoyed most about making this show?

JW: I loved the collaboration. It was really fantastic to co-produce with Miranda Dear, who has so much experience – and having come off the incredibly successful and fabulous Redfern Now series – to be able to work together and share the load, for me, that was fantastic.

But also I’m just so excited with the casting of the show. We cast some actors who have had quite a bit of experience, like Maddy Madden and Aaron McGrath who play Zoe and Levi; Christian Byers who plays Reece and Leoni Whyman who plays Lily have both had quite a bit of experience but this is their first time as leads; and we’ve also cast some brand new actors who have never acted on television before in Liam Talty and Majeda Beatty, so to be able to give them their first opportunity – and we know that they’re going to go on to long careers – is fantastic. And it’s fantastic for the pool of talent in Australia.

Ready For This starts Monday 5 October on ABC3 at 6.20pm.