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New Web Series Explores The Lives Of Aboriginal Teenagers In Western Sydney

Kasey is Missing has Aboriginal kids taking control of their own story on the screen.

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Cranebrook, in Sydney's outer western suburbs, is better known for its disadvantage than its film cameras, but a new web series is giving a voice and unearthing talent new Koori talent in the area.

Information and Cultural Exchange.

Kasey Is Missing follows young Aboriginal girl Ricky as she searches for her missing best friend Kasey.

No one seems to know where Kasey has gone and no one seems to particularly care, aside from Ricky. A strong metaphor for the isolation and alienation young people feel in the outer suburbs.

Beneath the gritty use of suburbia on screen in Kasey Is Missing the key message is one of hope and the need to support each other through tough times.

"This type of project is important because if your friend goes missing you need to care about that. We need to care for each other," says 13-year-old Mikayla Johnson, the star of the series.

Johnson was one of three local teenagers who wrote and acted in the series alongside respected community member Mary Ridgeway.

15-year-old Leonie Haines says the drama was an exciting opportunity rarely afforded to young people in the area.

“It’s fun to learn about cameras and how to make a film and stuff and it’s good because it gives teenagers something to do and keep them out of trouble,” Haines said.

It took five years for the co-production between Parramatta based arts organisation ICE (Information and Cultural Exchange) and the Nepean Community Neighbourhood Centre to finally get made.

The cast, along with the public ,got to watch the series on the big screen earlier this month in Penrith. Producer Christian Tancred told BuzzFeed News that it was a moment of pride for the community.

“This is great because not all kids love the classroom and this is an important way for them to learn about cameras and stuff like that, but most importantly they are learning about their culture,” Ridgeway, who produced and starred in the drama, said.

“When you see kids watch themselves on a big screen it’s a magical moment. You see a sparkle in their eye and nobody can take that positive moment away from them".

The web series also attracted prominent Indigenous filmmakers who jumped at the chance to work on the project.

“Everyone got to put their director's hat on, even the actors got to put their director's hat on and that was special,” said Aboriginal filmmaker and actor Colin Kinchela.

“It’s really amazing to be given the privilege of being invited and welcomed into a community and have them share their stories with you."

You can watch the entire five episodes of Kasey is Missing here.

Check out a preview clip here.

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Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at allan.clarke@buzzfeed.com.

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