LOCAL LINKS: Local indigenous languages were spoken in ABC TV’s Cleverman.
LOCAL LINKS: Local indigenous languages were spoken in ABC TV’s Cleverman. Lisa Tomasetti

Language on screen

A NEW television series is showcasing local indigenous languages to a new audience of millions.

The recently broadcast ABC series Cleverman featured both Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung languages that are traditional to the Mid North and North Coasts.

The series re-imagines several stories of the Aboriginal Dreaming in a modern, super-heroic context.

Gary Williams - the chief executive of the Nambucca-based Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative - was on-hand during production to help indigenous actors from across Australia with their translation and dialect.

"The producers wanted to have Aboriginal language as a major feature in the series and wanted to showcase, if possible, the North Coast languages," Mr Williams said.

"It was all translated from English so there were some things had we to sit down and work hard at.

"With the limited time we the aim was not to teach the actors the language, we taught them the pronunciation."

As well as spending time on set, Mr Williams also Skyped with the cast and crew throughout production.

He said working in television was a first for Muurrbay, with its primary role aimed at revitalising languages of seven Aboriginal communities from central to North Coast NSW.

Muurrbay also supports teachers in schools that offer Aboriginal language programs.

Mr Williams said it was encouraging to see interest in traditional languages growing among the youth.

"There is a new generation coming up and interested in learning it. For young people it's a chance for them to really grab it with both hands," he said.

Mr Williams could soon be back on set as - having screened in America, New Zealand and sold to the United Kingdom - a second series of Cleverman is now in the works.

"I was a little bit anxious about it at first, so I was pleasantly surprised when (the first series) did come up and it sounded so good," Mr Williams said.

"It's a good exercise for all of us."



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