22/06/2020 - 15:52

Indigenous issues drive PiNK PEPPER

22/06/2020 - 15:52

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Our Law producer Taryne Laffar has launched her production company, PiNK PEPPER.

Indigenous issues drive PiNK PEPPER
Taryne Laffar says Our Law has attracted plenty of media attention.

Our Law producer Taryne Laffar has launched her production company, PiNK PEPPER.

After reading a script for the television show The Circuit, which first screened on SBS in 2007 and featured an indigenous lead actor, Taryne Laffar wanted to be involved in production of the drama series. 

A student at the time, Ms Laffar called Media World, the company producing the show, and secured a role in the casting department. 

“That’s pretty much the first time I’ve walked onto a big film production, and haven’t really looked back since then,” Ms Laffar told Business News

“It was a politicised moment; I knew it was history books, I knew this was a groundbreaking series.”

Ms Laffar, who descends from the Bardi and Jabbir Jabbir peoples of the Dampier Peninsula, has since been involved in productions including Bran Nue Dae, the film Mad Bastards, and television drama KGB

She recently produced the documentary Our Law, about an Aboriginal-run police station in the state’s north – the debut project of her production company, PiNK PEPPER.

The documentary, written and directed by Cornel Ozies, follows Noongar police officers Revis Ryder and Wendy Kelly as they work in the Warakurna community – one of the most remote beats in the world. 

Mr Ryder and Ms Kelly learn Yarnangu lore and culture, and master the Ngaanyatjarra language to try to gain trust of the community they work with. 

The documentary had received a lot of media attention, Ms Laffar said.

“I have been working in this industry for a long time,” she said.

“We have been loud about it for a long time on the indigenous side, but to see the mainstream pay attention and to respond, it’s something we are really proud of.

“I think more attention has been shone on it because of the Black Lives Matter movement. You don’t want anyone to die to get to that stage, but we are grateful we are getting some attention for something that’s overdue. 

“It’s a small community with only a couple of hundred people; it hasn’t got a really great history between indigenous people and police, so we are grateful that it has received the attention, and really, it’s opening up conversation like never before.”

The documentary was funded by Screenwest and NITV, and was a finalist for Best Australian Documentary at the 2020 Sydney Film Festival. 

Screen Australia has also announced development investment to turn the documentary into a six-part series.

“We want to open it up a bit now and talk about some of the other issues from a metro standpoint, and then hopefully cover the state,” Ms Laffar said. 

Although the near-simultaneous launch of her production company and the documentary was a coincidence, Ms Laffar said she was really proud of the documentary, as it was a Western Australian product. 

Ms Laffar decided to establish her own company after working as a writer and director of her first documentary Who Paintin’ dis Wandjina?, and learning only producers held the rights to the finished product.  

“I realised, writer-directors don’t own it, they have to negotiate their rights; producers are the ones who manage the production and deal with all of the legals,” she said. 

With a degree in arts management, Ms Laffar said the transition to becoming a producer made sense. 

PiNK PEPPER will specialise in indigenous Australian film and television and has a slate of projects in the works, including a comedy web series about a 47,000-year-old indigenous superhero, Old Mate, and an eight-part scripted anthology series called Red, which explores how indigenous female writers and directors have been overlooked throughout recent history.

Ms Laffar is one of the first WA female indigenous producers, contributing to a growing indigenous film industry in the state. 

“It’s important to not only get our stories out there, but also to support new talent coming in; I’m a really big advocate for that as well,” she said.  

Late last year, Ms Laffar was appointed to Screenwest Industry Advisory Group for a three-year term, and is also a committee member of Women in TV and Film in WA. 

“I think you do yourself a disservice if you don’t put yourself on the table, especially if you are trying to build your career and opportunities for others; it’s imperative really,” Ms Laffar said.  

Our Law premieres tonight, Monday June 22, on Karla Grant Presents on NITV at 8.30pm.

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