A chance meeting at the 2013 Logie awards was the catalyst for the launch of a joint venture between Blackfella Films and Werner Film Productions.
Big Chance Films’ first production, Ready for This, a teenage drama with mostly Indigenous characters commissioned by ABC3, is now shooting in Sydney.
The ensemble cast includes two newcomers, rapper/singer Majeda Beatty who competed in The X Factor, and Liam Talty, who studied at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts in Brisbane.
They join Aaron McGrath (The Code, Redfern Now, The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Leonie Whyman (Redfern Now), Madeleine Madden (The Code, Jack Irish: Dead Point, Redfern Now), Christian Byers (Puberty Blues season 2), Christine Anu (Dance Academy, Outland) and Lasarus Ratuere (The Mule, Mabo, Terra Nova).
Set in inner city Sydney, the plot follows five Indigenous kids who come to the city to pursue their dreams. Anu and Ratuere play the couple who run the kids’ boarding house.
The idea originated when Joanna Werner and Blackfella Films’ Darren Dale and Miranda Dear met up the Logies, where their series Dance Academy and Redfern Now both won silver Logies.
“We had been friends for a long time and we wanted to work together, “ Werner tells IF. “We had this idea for a show about kids who have to leave home and go to the city to pursue their aspirations.”
Originally entitled My Life in 50 Words or Less, the 13-part drama was co-created by Liz Doran, Werner, Dale and Dear and funded by Screen Australia, Screen NSW, the ABC and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, which is handling international sales.
Werner says there is already international interest in the project as Australia’s first teen Indigenous drama. Netflix, which had great success with Werner’s Dance Academy, “loves the cultural specificity of Ready for This,” she said.
Rachel Perkins was originally named as the director but has since departed for other projects so the directors are Daina Reid, Adrian Wills and Tony Krawitz. The writers are Doran, Wills, Jon Bell, Josh Mapleston, Kristen Dunphy, Steve McGregor and Kirsty Fisher.
The cast also includes Hamish Michael (Black Comedy, Janet King, Redfern Now), Jimi Bani (Redfern Now, Mabo), Damian de Montemas (Carlotta, Packed to the Rafters), Tammy Clarkson (Redfern Now), Tony Briggs (Wentworth, Broken Shore, Redfern Now) and Ryan Johnson (Hiding, House Husbands season 3, Love Child).
Ready for This is just the beginning of what the producing partners in Big Chance Films hope will be an ongoing collaboration.
Werner is also developing a feature film spin-off of Dance Academy scripted by Samantha Strauss, who was creator and head writer on the series, with the assistance of Screen Australia and Screen NSW.