SQ News

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers will have the opportunity to work with acclaimed Indigenous screen industry all-rounder Leah Purcell, and her producing partner Bain Stewart, in Screen Queensland’s First Peoples: First Draft initiative.

Leah Purcell and Bain Stewart
Leah Purcell and Bain Stewart of Oombarra Productions

Kylie Munnich, Screen Queensland CEO, said the organisation was proud to announce the new SQ Mob initiative during Reconciliation Week, as a part of its commitment to supporting Queensland’s Indigenous screen creatives and their stories.

“This year’s Reconciliation Week theme of ‘In this Together’ has greater resonance now due to COVID-19, but it also speaks to our focus of collaborating, partnering, and working with our state’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers,” Ms Munnich said.

Douglas Watkin, Screen Queensland Vice President of Indigenous Stories and Talent, said that up to five local screen writers would be selected to take part in the development program to prepare first drafts of feature film or broadcast series scripts.

“At Screen Queensland we are very much in this together with our SQ Mob, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen creatives in Queensland. We want to unearth and bring out the ‘black voice’ for all our Mobs in the industry,” Mr Watkin said.

Leah Purcell said the initiative was wonderful timing as her company, Oombarra Productions, with Bain Stewart, settled into their new office in Brisbane, and was looking forward to the writers’ workshop with the selected participants.

“I love to give back, share my knowledge, and unpack my whole kit bag of acting, writing, producing and directing experience for the next mob to learn from. I have a long history of creating my own Queensland Murri stories and I can’t wait to help shape and grow the next stories coming through,” Ms Purcell said.

Leah Purcell directing on the set of Redfern Now

Bain Stewart, Executive Producer Oombarra Productions, said they were excited by the momentum of Indigenous screen creators in Australia.

“We have seen the screen industry change over the last 20 years and we know that there is a market and international audience for Indigenous stories so we’d love to help get more into production,” Mr Stewart said.

The First Peoples: First Draft initiative is part of Screen Queensland’s $3.3 million support package to help sustain the local screen industry through COVID-19.

Applicants must submit a video pitch, one-page story outline, bio and samples of previous work and writing by 5.00pm, Monday 6 July 2020.

Find out more information on how to apply on the First Peoples: First Draft applicate page.


Leah Purcell is a multi-award-winning author, playwright, actor, director, filmmaker and screenwriter. That she directs her prodigious talents towards female, Indigenous and First Nations themes, characters and issues through film, TV, theatre and publishing, has resulted in a body of work already considered canonical in our literary, screen and stage history. Born in Murgon Queensland, Leah is a proud Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman.

Bain Stewart is one of Australia’s leading independent Indigenous arts producers working across film, theatre, TV, visual arts and multimedia. He is the Managing Director of Oombarra Productions, part of the Oombarra Group. Bain is currently in post-production on his debut feature film, The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson to be released in 2021. Born in Brisbane Queensland, Bain is a proud Ngugi-Goenpul-Noonuccal Murri man.

Oombarra Productions is Leah Purcell and Bain Stewart’s producing entity and has been established since 2011. Bungabura Productions was the parent company back in 1996 then grew in to Oombarra Productions as part of the Oombarra Group of which Tahlee Productions is a part. Under the banner of Bungabura, Oombarra and Tahlee, Purcell and Stewart have produced iconic Indigenous theatre, documentary, short film, visual art and publishing with titles such as Box the Pony, Black Chicks Talking, She. Say. and The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson. Oombarra Productions focus at present is the feature film The Drovers Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson which started out as stage-play then novel and is slated for release in 2021. Oombarra means Iron Bark Tree in the Indigenous language of the Gunggari. For more information visit oombarraproductions.com