Actor and producer Aaron Fa’Aoso says his docu-drama on the history and culture of the Torres Strait Islands is a labour of love.
Fa’Aoso is about eight months away from wrapping up the epic three-part series Blue Water Empire for the ABC. He and a documentary crew have been making regular trips to the islands.
The East West 101 and The Straits star is aware of the big responsibility resting on his broad shoulders.
“It’s a privilege and an honour, but also one that’s quite daunting,” says Fa’Aoso, who is of Torres Strait Island descent. “Get it right, man, I tell you. You got to get it right. This is history. Yeah, you are telling stuff about real people.”
The series, co-produced with Greer Simpkin and David Jowsey (Goldstone, Mystery Road) will cover almost 200 years of Torres Strait Islander history, beginning before European colonisation.
It will combine drama with archival footage and interviews.
The acting cast includes Fa’Aoso himself as well as Jack Thompson (The Man From Snowy River, Breaker Morant), Ryan Corr (Packed to the Rafters, Love Child, Wolf Creek 2), Damian Walshe-Howling (Underbelly) and Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits).
The drama scenes have already been filmed in Cairns and Fa’Aoso and the crew have made several trips to the Torres Straits to meet and interview elders.
A third trip will see them visit about another seven of the islands.
Fa’Aoso says the Torres Straits are often overlooked on the Australian mainland.
“Geographically we come from a small place when you put it up against the Australian mainland, but in terms of how we’ve contributed politically to the native title effort and also economically, we’ve been punching above our weight,” he says.
“It’s quite timely to be making it now, but it’s a bit embarrassing really that it’s taken until 2016 to tell the history of a people who have played a significant part in the history of this country.”