Cinema Australia Podcast #73 | Brendan Fletcher

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Warwick Thornton (centre) and Brendan Fletcher (right) on the set of Firebite.

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Welcome to the final episode of the Cinema Australia Podcast for 2021.

My guest in the episode is filmmaker Brendan Fletcher who join the Podcast to discuss his new series Firebite which he co-created and co-directed with Samson and Delilah and Sweet Country filmmaker Warwick Thornton.

Firebite stars Rob Collins, Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Callan Mulvey, Kelton pell and Ngaire Pigram and follows the Vampire King who arrives to the last colonial stronghold in a remote Australian mining town. With a lot of violence and to the backing of a truly rock and roll soundtrack, it’s up to two Aboriginal renegades, Tyson (Collins) and Shanika (Barnes-Cowan), to stop and end the bloody 230-year war for land and power.

I was very excited to be chatting with Brendan as I’m a big fan of his debut feature film Mad Bastards which was released ten years ago. If you haven’t already seen Mad Bastards I suggest you seek it out as it’s very special film. I also recommend listening to the soundtrack by The Pigram Brothers which is just as good. 

Here, Fletcher reflects back on Mad Bastards and what he’s been up to since, moving from film to television, how he was introduced to Thornton and obviously we discuss everything Firebite. 

Such are the joys of technology, this Podcast was recorded during a press junket with other creatives who can you just hear being interviewed by other media in the background. It only lasts a few minutes so be sure to keep listening. 

Anyway… enjoy!

Firebite is now available exclusively on AMC+, the new streaming bundle available via Amazon Prime Video Channels and Apple TV Channels. You can catch new episodes of Firebite weekly. 

Rob Collins as Tyson in Firebite. Photo by Ian Routledge.

What is Firebite?

Welcome to Opal City: known for free mining, endless desert and, to a select few, vampires. 

This remote desert mining town is the last stronghold for vampires who arrived in Australia in 1788 on the first fleet, sent by the colonial superpower Britain to deal with Indigenous populations and take the land. 

In the 233 years since, a select group of blackfella vampire killers, known as “bloodhunters” have sworn to protect their own and kill the vampires in secret. And they have done successfully. There’s only one King Vampire left and one last colony. The King is headed to Opal city for safety, and safe he is with endless abandoned mines, tunnels and a growing army of vampires. 

The only thing stopping him: Tyson, a reckless “semi-alcoholic” failed Blood Hunter and his 17-year-old street-smart adopted daughter Shanika. Together, they make a formidable team keeping the “pests” at bay above ground. But with the King’s arrival, the pair realize that they need to change things up if they are to protect the community. More vampires are arriving and are venturing above ground, kidnapping blackfellas for their blood and taking them below to bleed them. 

Tyson needs to confront his past with the Blood Hunters, and Shanika is going to learn the truth about the death of her mother. If Shanika and Tyson are to defeat the King, they’re going to have to stick together not fall apart. And they’re going to need help. But how do you tell people that vampires are living right below you. 

The war is only just beginning. The King is out for blood and land. And Blackfellas will fight to the death. 

This is a story of modern day colonization. This is Firebite. 

Shantae Barnes-Cowan in Firebite. Photo by Ian Routledge.

Who is Brendan Fletcher?

Brendan is one of Australia’s most dynamic and versatile film-makers with an award winning body of work across documentary, drama and TV commercial formats. 

After a successful career directing network documentary and factual shows, Brendan’s 2011 breakout feature Mad Bastards was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, won the Independent Spirit Award at the IF Awards and garnered 5 AACTA Award nominations including Best Film and Best Original Screenplay. The cinematic father-son story from the remote Kimberley region was steeped in authentic performances and established Brendan on the international stage. 

Beyond individual films, Brendan is a regular collaborator with heavy-weight Australian creatives. Brendan co-directed a series of documentaries with Academy Award winner Russell Crowe including Texas (Sundance), then co-directed the award-winning Black Chicks Talking with Leah Purcell (Tribeca Film Festival). He went on to collaborate with premium Australian creatives such as Kev Carmody, Judith Lucy and Hannah Gadsby on a suite of award winning TV documentaries. 

In 2015, Brendan’s Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and The Rose – starring Mia Wasikowska, Geoffrey Rush and David Wenham – was nominated for a Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. The short animation made in collaboration with Archibald-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton was awarded Best Australian Short Film at the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival and the AACTA for Best Short Animation. 

Brendan’s collaboration with long-time friend Warwick Thornton began when they co-directed a Tourism Australia TV commercial promoting Indigenous Cultural Experiences. The duo then co-wrote the feature doc We Don’t Need A Map, which scored the coveted Opening Night Film slot at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival. 

In 2020, Brendan’s feature screenplay Taronga won him and co-writer Devi Telfer a place with Ron Howard’s internationally renowned Imagine Impact Development Program. 

Brendan’s work is focussed on rich, emotionally charged characters. He’s attracted to bold ideas and edgy collaborations and is passionate about making fresh and exciting television. 

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