April 08, 2013
The seed for what is now known as Yarnangu Detective was first planted during the 2011 RIMO (Remote Indigenous Media Organisation) Festival, where NG Media General Manager Chris Hobart experienced a side of Indigenous storytelling that was new to him. In the videos and films on show, there was an imaginative thread of humour on display that not only had the Yarnangu crowd excited, but everyone else too. In some ways it was a classical humour, harking back to Charlie Chaplin-era slapstick comedy sketches, but it was also ingrained heavily in indigenous culture. Chris spoke at length with his Yarnangu media team about what they found funny, and thus Yarnangu Detective born. The idea was built upon finding the bizarre, the funny, the weird in the desert landscape, and mixing it with a detailed human element, and a journey that would take us across the entire Ngaanyatjarra Lands.
In December 2011 the first Yarnangu Detective images were captured on screen. A few members of NG Media travelled the 700 kilometre journey from Wingellina to Cosmo Newberry, to help out with technical services and film and radio training. After working on a documentary with two locals, Nigel Mervin and Rhys Winter, we decided to try our hand at a promo for Yarnangu Detective. Chris Hobart and Michael Mouritz (NG Media’s Film/TV producer) worked with Nigel Mervin and Gibson Swayne to produce two short clips that would form the basis of our series. The clips, which featured Yarnangu Detective encountering a crazed Spirit Man in the Cosmo greenhouse, are no longer considered canon for our series, yet their importance cannot be overstated. Upon completion the clips were screened to Yarnangu all across the lands, and the response was electric, with both Yarnangu elders and youth in absolute stitches over the comedy elements, and wanting more.