The company was founded in 1992 by writer/director/producer Rachel Perkins who was joined by producer Darren Dale in 2001. In 2010 Blackfella Films was a recipient of Enterprise funding from Screen Australia and former ABC Television Head of Drama Miranda Dear joined the company as a producer with a brief to develop the company’s drama slate. In 2011 Rachel Perkins and Darren Dale as directors of Blackfella Films were ranked number 16 in the Encore Power 50. In 2013 producer Jacob Hickey was appointed Head of Factual, based in the company’s Melbourne office.
A standout achievement for the company was the award-winning 7 part documentary series First Australians. The landmark multi-platform history series, broadcast on SBS Television to over 2.3 million viewers, was accompanied by an internationally acclaimed interactive website. First Australians was awarded Australia’s top honours for documentary including the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and IF Awards, the UN Media Peace Prize, TV Week Logie and Australian Writers and Directors Guild Awards. First Australians has sold throughout the world, and is the highest selling educational title in Australia.
The feature documentary The Tall Man, produced by Darren Dale with executive producer Rachel Perkins and directed by Tony Krawitz, received the inaugural Walkley Award for Documentary and was nominated for four Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards including Best Feature Documentary. It screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, was released in cinemas nationally by Hopscotch/eOne, and broadcast on SBS Television in 2012.
The Tall Man was followed by the ABC telemovie Mabo, produced by Darren Dale and Miranda Dear and directed by Rachel Perkins, featuring Jimi Bani as Koiki ‘Eddie’ Mabo and Deborah Mailman as his wife Bonita. It was broadcast in June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark High Court decision on native title. Among numerous accolades, writer Sue Smith received the 2012 AWGIE for Best Original Telemovie Screenplay and Deborah Mailman received the 2013 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress.
In 2012 Blackfella Films also completed production on the groundbreaking 6 x 1 hour ABC drama series Redfern Now, developed in collaboration with renowned UK scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern as story producer. The series was the first Australian drama series written, directed and produced by Indigenous Australians, and was invited to participate in both the FIPA and Series Mania television festivals in 2013. A further season of 6 x 1 hour episodes was produced in 2013, and a final telemovie instalment was broadcast in 2015.
Redfern Now has received an extraordinary level of critical and popular acclaim, including the 2013 and 2014 TV Week Logie Awards for Most Outstanding Drama Series and the 2014 AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series. In 2013 writer Steven McGregor received the AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television and Leah Purcell received the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama, and in 2014 composer Antony Partos received the AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score in Television. Director Rachel Perkins also received Australian Directors Guild (ADG) Awards for Best Direction in a TV Drama Series in consecutive years in 2013 and 2014 for her work on the series, and again in 2016 for the telemovie Redfern Now: Promise Me.
In 2014 Blackfella Films produced the 3 x 1 hour factual series First Contact for SBS which won the 2015 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Factual Program. The series garnered national attention and acclaim for its treatment of contemporary Australian attitudes towards Indigenous Australians.
The 14 x half hour teen drama series for ABC3 Ready For This, a co-production with award winning producer Joanna Werner, received the 2015 AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series and the 2016 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Children’s Program.
Broadcast on SBS in 2016 were the 3 x 1 hour big science series DNA Nation featuring Ian Thorpe, Ernie Dingo and Julia Zemiro, and a second 3 x 1 hour season of the acclaimed First Contact.
Also for SBS in 2016, Blackfella Films produced the major multi-platform event Deep Water. It comprised a 4 x 1 hour crime drama series starring Noah Taylor and Yael Stone which has sold worldwide including to the BBC, Netflix, SundanceTV/AMC and Acorn, the companion feature documentary Deep Water: The Real Story which investigates the events that inspired the drama series, and complementary online programming. Deep Water: The Real Story received top honours at the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, sharing the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting with Top of the Lake.
In 2017 SBS broadcast Filthy Rich & Homeless, a major 3 x 1 hour factual series exploring homelessness in Australia. The feature documentary In My Own Words, which celebrates the success of an Indigenous adult literacy program in outback New South Wales, screened at the Sydney Film Festival and was nominated for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award ahead of its broadcast on SBS and NITV.
In 2018 SBS broadcast a further season of Filthy Rich & Homeless, which received the Silver World Medal at the 2019 New York Festivals International TV & Film Awards and the Gold Trophy for Reality TV at the 2019 Venice TV Awards, and How ‘Mad’ Are You? a two part documentary series exploring mental health in Australia.
Total Control, a 6 x 1 hour drama series directed by Rachel Perkins and produced by Darren Dale and Miranda Dear, won Best TV Drama at the 2019 AACTA Awards, with Deborah Mailman receiving the award for Best Lead Actress in a TV Drama, and Rachel Griffiths the award for Best Guest/Supporting Actress. A second season of Total Control is in development.
Completed in 2020 for broadcast on the ABC is the one hour documentary Maralinga Tjarutja, while SBS will screen a third season of Filthy Rich & Homeless.
Currently in production for SBS are First Wars, a major 3 part documentary series about the nation’s frontier conflicts, and Addicted (working title), an observational documentary series exploring addiction in Australia. For the ABC Blackfella Films is producing the documentary series Dark Emu, based on Bruce Pascoe’s acclaimed book, a three part series on Australian literature, and the feature documentary Jenny & Linda (working title) about the enduring collaboration of iconic fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson.
In 2019 Blackfella Films received the prestigious Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award. The prize is awarded annually to screen practitioners whose work exhibits innovation, imagination and impact.
Rachel Perkins’ Australian Aboriginal heritage (Arrernte/Kalkadoon) has informed her entire filmmaking career. She founded Australia’s premier Indigenous production company Blackfella Films in 1992, and has contributed extensively to the development of Indigenous filmmakers in Australia and, more broadly, to the Australian film and television industry.
Rachel has directed four feature films: Jasper Jones (nominated for Best Film at the 2017 AACTA Awards), as well as Radiance, One Night the Moon (which received 5 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards), and the musical Bran Nue Dae which screened at the Sundance, Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals, and achieved a box office of $7.5 million in Australia. Rachel’s films have screened at over 75 film festivals worldwide.
In 2012 Rachel directed the telemovie Mabo, which screened on ABC1 to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic High Court decision. Mabo was nominated for Most Outstanding Mini Series or Telemovie at the 2013 TV Week Logie Awards.
Rachel directed three episodes of the landmark ABC television drama series Redfern Now. The first Australian drama series written, directed and produced by Indigenous Australians, Redfern Now was awarded the 2013 and 2014 TV Week Logies for Most Outstanding Drama Series, and the 2014 AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series. In 2013 and 2014 Rachel received the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) Awards for Best Direction in a TV Drama Series for her work on Redfern Now. In 2015 she directed the final telemovie instalment of Redfern Now: Promise Me, for which she received the 2015 ADG Award for Best Direction in a TV Drama Series.
In 2018 Rachel directed all 6 episodes of the first season of critical and ratings hit Mystery Road for the ABC.
In 2019 Rachel directed the 6 x 1 hour ABC drama series Total Control for the ABC, which premiered at TIFF and won the AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series.
Rachel also wrote, directed and co-produced the seven-hour documentary series First Australians (2008), which received Australia’s top honours including AFI and IF Awards, the UN Media Peace Prize, TV Week Logie, and the Writers and Directors Guild of Australia Awards. First Australians has sold throughout the world and is the highest selling educational title in Australia.
In 2014 Rachel completed the documentary Black Panther Woman for SBS, which was a finalist in the Documentary Australia Foundation Award at the Sydney Film Festival.
In 2015 she raised funding from a wide variety of sources for the Arrernte Women’s Project, an archival recording of the traditional dances of the Arrernte women of Central Australia as a cultural project to preserve a unique cultural tradition.
Rachel is currently directing First Wars for SBS, a major historical documentary series about the nation’s frontier conflicts.
Rachel’s other documentary work includes the series Blood Brothers, on which she was one of the writers, directors and producers as well as Spirit to Spirit, an international co-venture of Indigenous partners from New Zealand, Scandinavia, Canada and Australia.
With her Blackfella Films business partner, Darren Dale, Rachel Perkins co-curated the film program for the Message Sticks Indigenous Festival at the Sydney Opera House from 2002 until 2011, and in 2012 presented the curated program of Indigenous films Blackfella Films Presents in partnership with major Australian film festivals. Rachel has also curated the film programs for the Corroboree Sydney Indigenous arts festival and the Garma Indigenous Festival.
Since 2000, Rachel has been Managing Editor and Publisher of The Black Book Indigenous arts directory which is hosted online by Blackfella Films.
Rachel was honoured to receive the inaugural Contribution to Television IF Award at the 2011 Jameson IF Awards. In addition to her experience as an executive producer for both ABC and SBS Television, Rachel has previously served on the Council of the Australian Film Television and Radio School, the NSW Film and Television Office (now Screen NSW), the Australia Film Commission, and was a founding member of the National Indigenous Television Service (NITV).
Rachel was a member of the Board of Screen Australia from 2009 to 2013, and a Fellow of The University of Sydney Senate from 2011 to 2013.
Rachel currently serves on the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and the Australian Heritage Council (Department of the Environment and Energy) and, along with other leading Australians active in the corporate, government, Indigenous and philanthropic sectors, Rachel is also on the Board of Jawun, a non-profit organisation which facilitates and manage secondments from the corporate and public sectors to a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partner organisations in urban, regional and remote communities across Australia.
Darren has been a company director of Blackfella Films, Australia's premier Indigenous production company, since 2000.
In 2008 Darren, together with Rachel Perkins, produced the landmark multi-platform history series First Australians, broadcast on SBS to over 2.3 million viewers and accompanied by an internationally acclaimed interactive website. Amongst the many accolades for First Australians were AFI, TV Week Logie, AWGIE and Australian Director’s Guild Awards. The 2010 SBS documentary Lani’s Story was the recipient of a United Nations Media Peace Award, the second consecutive year Darren was awarded this prize.
In 2011, Darren produced the feature documentary The Tall Man for SBS, based on the award-winning book by Chloe Hooper. Premiering at the 2011 Adelaide Film Festival, the film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The Tall Man received the AWGIE Award for Best Broadcast Documentary and the inaugural Walkley Award for Documentary, and was released theatrically by Hopscotch/eOne.
The acclaimed telemovie Mabo, which Darren produced with Miranda Dear for the ABC, screened at the Sydney Film Festival in 2012 ahead of its national broadcast to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the landmark High Court decision.
In collaboration with Emmy Award-winning UK writer Jimmy McGovern and Miranda Dear, Darren produced two 6 x 1 hour series of the ground breaking Redfern Now for the ABC, the first drama series on Australian television to be written, produced and directed by Indigenous Australians. In 2013 and 2014 it won the TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Drama Series, and in 2014 the AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series. A final telemovie instalment of Redfern Now titled Promise Me was broadcast in 2015.
In 2014 Darren produced First Contact, a 3 x 1 hour documentary series for SBS, which received the 2015 TV Week Logie for Most Outstanding Factual Program.
Next up was DNA Nation, a 3 x 1 hour documentary ‘big science’ series for SBS. Darren was Executive Producer on the 14 x half hour ABC3 teen drama series Ready for This, winner of the 2015 AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series and the 2016 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Children’s Program.
In 2016 Darren produced the feature documentary Deep Water: The Real Story which investigated the gay hate epidemic of crimes in Sydney during the 1980s and 1990s, and, with Miranda Dear, the companion 4 part SBS crime drama series Deep Water, starring Noah Taylor and Yael Stone. Deep Water: The Real Story received top honours at the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, sharing the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting with Top of the Lake. Also for SBS, Darren produced a further series of the award winning First Contact.
In 2017 the feature documentary In My Own Words, written and directed by Erica Glynn for NITV and SBS premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, and the major 3 part documentary series Filthy Rich & Homeless (plus an accompanying live debate show) was broadcast on SBS attracting outstanding ratings.
In 2018 Darren produced for SBS a further series of Filthy Rich & Homeless (and a two part documentary series How ‘Mad’ Are You? which explores mental health.
Completed in 2019 was the AACTA Award winning Best TV Drama Series Total Control, produced with Miranda Dear, and starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths.
In 2020 Darren has completed a third series of Filthy Rich & Homeless, and is producing the historical series First Wars and Addicted (working title), a major series about addiction for SBS. For the ABC Darren has produced, with Jacob Hickey, the feature documentary Maralinga Tjarutja and is also producing the feature documentary Jenny & Linda (working title) about iconic fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, a three part series about Australian literature and a series adaptation of Bruce Pascoe’s acclaimed book Dark Emu.
With his Blackfella Films business partner, Rachel Perkins, Darren co-curated the film program for the Message Sticks Indigenous Festival at the Sydney Opera House from 2002 until 2011, and in 2012 presented the curated program of Indigenous films Blackfella Films Presents in partnership with the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane International Film Festivals.
Darren currently serves on the board of ACMI, and the Sydney Film Festival. He was on the board of Screen NSW from 2011 to 2015, the Council of the Australian Film Television and Radio School from 2012 to 2018, with a term as Deputy Chair from 2014 to 2018, and the Sydney Festival. In 2012 he was the recipient of the prestigious AFTRS Honorary Degree.
Jacob started his career in BBC current affairs and worked on many award-winning projects, including investigations, primetime observational documentaries and historical series before moving to Melbourne.
In 2009 Jacob wrote and directed the feature length documentary Inside the Firestorm for the ABC about Australia’s worst bushfire disaster ‘Black Saturday’ for which he won the 2010 AFI Award for Best Direction in a Documentary.
Jacob’s next project was Immigration Nation, on which he was both series producer and director. The 3-part documentary was broadcast on SBS and nominated for Best Factual Series at the 2011 AACTA Awards. Jacob then took up the post of series producer and writer on Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta which told the tumultuous story of the Vietnamese community synonymous with the western Sydney suburb. The production attracted one of the biggest audiences ever for a SBS documentary, received great critical acclaim, and won Gold and Silver Medals at the New York Film Festivals International Television and Film Awards. In 2012 Jacob was the series producer, director and writer of Dirty Business – How Mining Made Australia.
In July 2013 Jacob joined Blackfella Films in Melbourne as Head of Factual, responsible for the company’s factual slate.
Jacob was the writer and series producer of the 3 part series First Contact which screened on SBS in 2014. The series attracted a total audience in excess of two million, received critical acclaim and won the 2015 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Factual Program. Next was DNA Nation, the 3 part ‘big science’ documentary series broadcast on SBS in 2016 on which he was the writer and producer.
Jacob was co-writer of the feature length documentary Deep Water: The Real Story which investigated the gay hate killings that plagued Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s. It received top honours at the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, sharing the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting with Top of the Lake.
A further season of the award winning First Contact was broadcast on SBS in 2016, followed in 2017 by the acclaimed ratings hit series Filthy Rich & Homeless on which Jacob was the writer and series producer. In 2018 Jacob was writer and series producer on a second season of Filthy Rich & Homeless which won the Silver World Medal at the 2019 New York Festivals International TV & Film Awards and the Gold Trophy for Reality TV at the 2019 Venice Film Awards, plus the 2 part documentary series How ‘Mad’ Are You? which explored mental health in Australia.
A third season of Filthy Rich & Homeless was completed for SBS. Also in 2020 Jacob produced, with Darren Dale, the feature documentary Maralinga Tjarutja for the ABC.
Jacob is currently the writer and series producer on Addicted (working title) a major observational series for SBS exploring addiction, and the frontier history series First Wars, both for SBS.
For the ABC Jacob is series producer on the ABC documentary series Dark Emu, based on the acclaimed book by Bruce Pascoe, the writer of feature documentary Jenny & Linda (working title) about iconic fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, and the writer and series producer on a three part series about Australian literature for ABC Arts.
Prior to joining Blackfella Films as Business Affairs Manager in 2011, Helen had a diverse career in film and television production and post-production, managed the Industry and Cultural Development funding program at the Australian Film Commission (AFC), and was Administrator of the Australian Directors Guild (ADG).
Helen started her career as an assistant film editor and sound editor before moving into production. After graduating from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) she was Associate Producer and Post Production Supervisor on the feature film Floating Life, produced by Bridget Ikin. Her first association with Indigenous cinema was as the producer of the short film Passing Through, directed by Mark Olive, as part of the Shifting Sands Indigenous Drama Initiative. In 2005 Helen was the Supervising Producer on the Dramatically Black Indigenous Drama Initiative, overseeing all aspects of production on 5 x 26 minute dramas.
From 2005 to 2011, Helen was Post Production Supervisor on the feature films Suburban Mayhem, Romulus My Father, Bright Star, Animal Kingdom and the Blackfella Films feature documentary The Tall Man, and a consultant on the features Griff the Invisible, Here I Am and Sleeping Beauty.
Helen is a Producing graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), and also has a MA in Film and Theatre from University of New South Wales (UNSW) and a BA in Media from Macquarie University.
Prior to this she was the Development Executive at Dark Horse and the interim Development Executive at Film Victoria where she managed all fiction development programs and initiatives. Erin has written coverage and assessments for a number of production companies, screen agencies and an international television writing fellowship.
Erin also has a background in screenwriting with her most recent credits as writer and script editor on the award-winning series Nowhere Boys for Matchbox Pictures and the ABC. She has worked in story rooms with Matchbox Pictures, Blackfella Films, Carver Films and Dark Horse.
Erin is actively engaged in the emerging sector and has worked with Plot Twist, Screenworks and Cinespace to deliver skills development labs and initiatives for early-career writers.
Alexis graduated with a Masters of Producing from the Australian Film, Television & Radio School (AFTRS) in March 2020. At AFTRS she produced numerous short films including My First Panic which premiered at Flickerfest 2020. Her graduate works are currently on the festival circuit. Alexis also completed a placement at Easy Tiger (Doctor, Doctor) shadowing Producer Ian Collie. Prior to finishing her studies at AFTRS, Alexis landed a position as a Producer's Assistant for Jomon Thomas (Hotel Mumbai) at S'YA Concept, where she assisted the development of their slate including the upcoming feature film Monkey Man to be directed by Dev Patel.
Alexis’ previously worked in theatrical management at Shanahan Management and boutique agency Atelier Management. Over the last eight years she has also worked as a freelance producer and director on digital content, short films, music videos and theatre. As an emerging Producer, Alexis’ passion is in story development, with a focus on creating intersectional stories, and in particular elevating women's voices.
The Black Book, originally created by Rachel Perkins, is a portal for Indigenous organisations and individuals working in the arts, media and cultural industries. The Black Book Online has two main sections: the Black Book Directory and the Black Book Library.
The Directory includes more than 2,700 listings of Indigenous organisations and individuals working across 95 professions. Each listing provides contact information as well as a history of individual professional experience and organisational profiles.
The Library is constantly evolving to include new artistic works by Indigenous people. It currently contains 2,000 works from the late 1890s to the present. The works are divided into three sections - publications, music and screen productions - and then further divided into categories including documentaries, plays, features, albums etc. The listing for each work includes the artist, publisher, release date, distributor contacts and, for publications and screen productions, a synopsis.
The Black Book also offers additional pages which provide up to date information about events across the country, jobs and training opportunities. It also profiles leading Indigenous artists to provide inspiration to users.