A NEW television series about Bendigo could be destined for the small screen after an Australian writer in New York received a grant to develop a pilot script.
Jillian Abbott, who grew up in Bendigo, started working on her series - titled Kangaroo Flat - after creating a successful Instagram blog called The Mindful Mouth.
The series plans to follow Jane, an expat living in New York City, who is passed over for promotion and goes in search of her younger, fearless self when she finds a time portal her television.
The portal allows Jane to relive her often hilarious childhood triumphs in 1960s rural Australia.
"I had been wondering what I could do with the Instagram. I had a conversation around this time with (executive producer) Chris Gist about another project I was working on - also set in Bendigo - and we got talking about growing up in the 1960s," Ms Abbott said.
"I started working on Kangaroo Flat in 2019, but really got going in the winter break of January, 2020, then once lockdown came in March 2020, I worked on it every chance I had.
"Kangaroo Flat is a half hour TV series, a dramedy, that is, a drama, with lots of humor. I am working on finishing the first season."
Ms Abbott's City Artist Corp grant from the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs will allow her to complete a pilot script and hold a Zoom table read of the project.
"The grant is confirmation that the work has value, and that it could or should be made," Ms Abbott said. "As a writer, I can't think of anything more exciting than to have my words jump off the page and into the mouths of actors.
"Here in the US, a lot of projects get the greenlight for a pilot to be made, but don't make it to air. So, if you think about it like that it's a selling document. If a network or streamer love it, they can greenlight it to become a full blown TV series.
"The hope, the dream, is that it will go from a pilot to a full series. The grant wasn't enough to achieve that. It's seed money, and Chris and I are working to turn Kangaroo Flat into a full blown, funded series."
Mexican American director Michelle Bossy, who has worked in film and theatre as well as TV, will direct the pilot reading of Kangaroo Flat.
"Jillian has so specifically yet so universally captured the feeling of growing up and not being understood, whether that's in Australia or in any other part of the world," Ms Bossy said.
The table read will show Ms Abbott how ready the script is to be shot and if actors can embody her characters.
"For me as a writer, the reading is a chance to get the script out of my head, off the page, and into the actors' mouths," she said. "How is the pacing? Can I make it better? For Chris, it's sort of similar - Is it doable?
"The arts in New York - especially TV and film production - has been decimated by the pandemic. By including the requirement of a public event in the grant, the city is giving artists, including actors and directors, as well as writers, the chance to practice our arts in front of an audience."
Ms Abbott said she wanted to write a Bendigo-based series because the region is part of who she is.
"That's where I spent my formative years," she said. "Although as a kid I thought we were a long way from the center of things, I've discovered that many people can relate to my childhood. The 1960s were similar across the western world.
"I'm also looking to get some movement on (another) project, which is a murder mystery set on the Bendigo Goldfields."
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