Renowned Indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton is no stranger to making confrontational and thought-provoking films about the barriers faced by First Nations people.
Her 2009 film, Samson and Delilah, tells a story of poverty and oppression faced by two Indigenous teenagers.
Thornton’s latest work is a television series called Firebite. The plot is themed around colonization in Australia, but this time he used humor and vampires to get his point across.
âIt’s total rock and roll Australia, vampire hunting madness, dumb, dumb, dumb, you know, with a nuance of issues that are incredibly important to Australia,â he said at 7:30 am.
Thornton, who is listed as executive producer, co-creator, one of the show’s directors, co-writer and cinematographer, said the idea came to him after making a discovery on the First Fleet. .
âIt came out of anger in a weird way. I remember reading 10 years ago that they brought 11 vials of smallpox on the First Fleet. And I was like argh, Australia Day, bringing smallpox at a barbecue? A little weird to me, and thinking, how can I do anything about it? “
The exact manner in which smallpox first appeared in Australia in 1789 has long been a source of contention, with only patchy historical documents to draw on.
For Firebite, Thornton set out to turn the disease into 11 vampires, sent by Britain to care for the indigenous people and take the land. Over two centuries later, the last of the vampire colony lives underground in a remote opal mining town. It’s up to two native vampire hunters to kill them and save their people.
âVampires love black blood, it’s pretty pure and there’s some good stuff in it that gets them high enough. So it’s, you know, it’s bullshit. It turns fact into fiction and gives kick the door, turn up the amp and rock, âhe said at 7:30 am.
Thornton knows some people might balk at the message, but the overall concept was to deliver a fantastic high-octane action series packed with humor.
“Take it or leave it, how you want to manage it. It’s educational. It’s entertainment, you can watch a bunch of blackfellas kill vampires or you can read a nuance there,” he said. he declared at 7:30 am.
Coober Pedy, “the perfect place” for vampires
Thornton co-created the series with his longtime friend Brendan Fletcher. Fletcher said the series is also about the relationship between the two main characters, Tyson and Shanika, the vampire hunters.
âDeep down, it’s a family affair. Tyson is kind of a father figure to Shanika, whose parents were killed by vampires.
âTheir relationship is the heart of the film, the heart of the series,â he said at 7:30 am.
Rob Collins and Shantae Barnes-Cowan play Tyson and Shanika.
Callan Mulvey from Avengers: Endgame and the Australian Series Underbelly plays the Vampire King. The series also stars Yael Stone of Orange is the New Black.
Fletcher said the series was produced and edited in South Australia and featured an all-Australian soundtrack.
âWe shot this show in Coober Pedy where there are a quarter of a million abandoned mine shafts, which is the perfect place for the vampires to set up, you know, a dungeon and some sort of underground colony.
“Then we can come back here to the Adelaide studios and we can book the scenes, we can do some big jobs, we can do some post. [production] here we can do sound mixing, we can do all visual effects that we need. So, you know, for us it was – it was obvious, really.
âSouth Australia is a bit of a one-stop shop. So it’s a pleasure,â he said.
Not only do Thornton and Fletcher hope to win over Australian audiences, but Firebite will be shown worldwide after being picked up by US cable network AMC.
âThere is this new thirst for native tales. We’ve been saying this for 10 to 20 years, that there is a thirst for Aboriginal storytelling in the world, âThornton said.
âIt was fantastic that AMC recognized that and gave the green light. I’m surprised how good it is. I didn’t give a damn, you know, on the first day of filming.
“We wrote this craziest showâ¦ and we pulled it off, we got it right.”
Fletcher said he was not surprised that AMC chose the one-off series.
âThey did The Walking Dead, but they also did Breaking Bad and they also did Mad Men, so they kind of have a history of great genre shows.
“Their shows are also complex … they’re not afraid of the dark, they’re not afraid of being confronted.”
When asked if there will be a season two, Thornton said it will last as long as there is an appetite for it.
âThere will be season five. By then we’ll all be like, ‘Don’t do this anymore. Itâs terrible. âYou know, it’s designed for about three seasons. That’s how it’s set up.
âAgain, Americans might say now, ‘We don’t like this. “”
Firebite premieres on AMC + on Thursday, December 16.