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28 02 2022 - Media release

Back to Back Pictures launch animated series First Responders on ABC


First Responders (Photo credit: Rhian Hinkley)

Back to Back Pictures in association with Back to Back Theatre has announced its 20-part animation series First Responders, is now screening on ABC ME and ABC iview. The series has received funding from Screen Australia and Film Victoria.

First Responders features a group of unlikely experts who are on a mission to help answer any questions about the future. From love, to landscaping, to... parallel universes they’ve got the answers. Produced by the internationally acclaimed Back to Back Theatre, a company with an ensemble of actors with disabilities at its core, this project will bring unique perspectives and underrepresented voices to our screens.

View or download the trailer here

View Episode 1 here

Created in collaboration with thirteen 17-year olds who identify as being neuro diverse, First Responders utilises a unique writing process that involves interviewing and capturing the young artists verbal response to the themes of a world in transition, with their audio forming most of the dialogue and soliloquy of the animation. In the series, our neuro diverse co-authors are represented as avatars of themselves, as knowledge assets and heroes of a community. Each episode is characterised by a new emergency that the First Responders must respond to, as well as manage their own internal differences, short fallings, egos and conflicts of opinion; their idiosyncratic understanding of everything from physics to philosophy may be all the human race has to liberate it from fear and misinformation.

All First Responders scripts have been developed in conjunction with the participants from the Geelong based Nelson Park School together with the artistic team. The process includes recording interviews and using excerpts to form the content of the short animation. The structure is question and response, with questions formed through the interviews which are then asked back to the First Responders by members of the community (played by Back to Back Theatre’s ensemble of artists who identify as having an intellectual disability/neurodiversity).

Participant Rupert Stone said, “There’s been nothing so epic to appear on these screens since Sonic The Hedgehog!”

Director Ahmarnya Price said, “What has remained important throughout is that each episode not only represents an aspect of the world we all live in but a young person who has control over the narrative of their own world.”

Screen Australia’s Head of Online Lee Naimo said, “Back to Back Theatre Company have been making an impressive transition into the screen space, with recent feature Shadow being selected for South by Southwest Film Festival. We’re thrilled to support them bringing this new quirky and charming series to a wide audience on ABC Me, and continuing to provide vital representation for people with disabilities.”

First Responders is directed by Ahmarnya Price with animation by Rhian Hinkley, music by Kelly Ryall and illustrations by ARTGUSTO.  The series is produced by Alice Fleming, Nikki Watson, with executive producers Bruce Gladwin and Tim Stitz.

The series is co-written and stars Breanna Deleo, Cam LeCouter, Jai Storey, Harry Schaller, Parsa Shabestanimonfared, Priscilla Ragesh, Sarah Gray, Kerry Cook, Grace Funston, Vivian Salter, Chloe Weiler, Ayden Horrocks, Sarah Alwood, Jonathan Slater, Nathan Mead, Lucas Kenyon, Rupert Stone and Charlotte Fitzgerald.

First Responders began as a series of workshops run by director Ahmarnya Price with the students of Nelson Park in early 2020 with the intended outcome of a live theatre piece but evolved by necessity into the remarkable series.

About Back to Back

Over the last thirty years, Back to Back Theatre has made a body of work that questions the assumptions of what is possible in theatre, but also the assumptions we hold about ourselves and others. As an ongoing dialogue with our audience, each new project is an investigation seeking answers to questions raised in previous works. Our attention lies with design, light, and sound. The stories we pursue weave the personal, the political and the cosmic. We work to curiosity and interest in the live moment, to what sits within and between. Seeking to make a body of work that exists in repertoire across time, the company tours extensively locally, nationally and internationally to the world’s leading festivals and cultural institutions. Over the last decade, Back to Back Theatre has presented 48 national and 74 international seasons of its theatre works, receiving 18 national and international awards. Back to Back Pictures debut feature film SHADOW has been selected for South By Southwest Film Festival where it will premiere on March. Back to Back is based in Geelong, Australia.

First Responders is produced with the assistance of Screen Australia and Film Victoria.


Miranda Brown

0491 743 610 | [email protected]

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