A six-part drama about an Aboriginal family called The Gods of Wheat Street will be shot in Casino, Lismore and Coraki later this year and screened on ABC1 sometime next year.
The series is the brainchild of Bundjalung writer Jon Bell and will be produced by Every Cloud Productions, who have previously made East of Everything and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
Jon has been developing the series for about six years. The Echo actually did a story three years ago when it was going to be made for NITV (National Indigenous Television). But that deal fell through and Jon is excited that it is now going to be produced for the ABC.
"It's not as big as Ben Hur, but it feels like it's on that level," he said with a laugh.
Jon told The Echo three years ago the story was like "an Aboriginal Neighbours, but not as nice".
"It does have some plot points in it that people could describe as 'soapish', but at the same time I feel like we're covering new ground to have a series with an Aboriginal family that is not really grounded in issues... It's a show people could watch for the drama, humour, warmth and pathos of the family, but to some degree that description is still apt."
The series evolves around Odin Feeburn who promised his dying mother he would keep the family together. Now he has one brother in jail, another brother is in love with the daughter of the family enemy, and his wife has run away to the city leaving him to raise their two daughters.
Jon said it was an absolute pleasure to work with Deb Cox, the writer who also co-wrote Seachange.
"She's just such a pro. It's been great for someone like me coming up to this level... Her sensibility and mine are quite similar and she always tries to help me find what I'm trying to do instead of imposing her ideas on to it.
"And I don't think she sleeps. I'd be up at 2.30am and would email her something and she'd send something back at a quarter to three!"
Jon has previously worked for DoCS in Casino, but is now a fulltime writer and filmmaker. He is currently in Sydney where he is in pre-production for a new short film and he's also working on another series for the ABC with the working title Redfern Now.
He said it is exciting to be at the stage with Gods of Wheat Street where they are at the point of starting to think about casting and putting a production team together.
"It's a bit surreal that it is actually happening. It's always been a bit 'off in the ether'... There is a bit of trepidation as well because after this (has gone to air) people will expect me to come up with something else in six months, whereas it has taken six years to develop this."
Every Cloud Productions are looking for Indigenous kids, teenagers and men and women aged 20-70 years of age for roles in the series. Auditions will begin in August and anyone interested should contact Anousha on 0413 689 495 or email a photo of yourself with contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.