Creating on Country with Tyson Mowarin

Tyson Mowarin is a Ngarluma man, based in the Pilbara region, Roebourne, WA. He is a filmmaker, writer, producer, director, musician and proud Dad who founded the production company Weerianna Street Media. Mowarin’s artistic journey is deeply intertwined with his First Nations heritage, which he incorporates into his works. 

From a young age, growing up in Broome, he displayed a keen interest in storytelling and music. Initially inspired by local Aboriginal music, his music career has grown with his songs being showcased in compilations such as WAM’s Sounds of the Pilbara – Songs in Language, and performances such as Big Hart’s Songs of Freedom Concert and Nannup Music Festival in 2021. Most recently, Mowarin is working on an original album. 

Mowarin’s body of work as a filmmaker is impressive. Through a personal lens, his work sheds light on his connection to community and culture, showcasing resilience and strength. 

He has made significant waves with his documentaries such as Connection to Country which documents the fight to preserve the sacred lands of the Burrup Peninsula (or Murujuga) from threats of development and mining; and scripted television such as the childrens’ series Thalu, about a group of resourceful kids who set out on a journey to save their land from the threat of a mysterious dust cloud.

In this Colour Box Studio interview, Mowarin discusses how he finds creative inspiration, collaborating with community to tell stories through film and music, and his latest endeavour IndigiFLIX, a new and innovative streaming platform for First Nations content. 

1000 bedrooms - Tyson Mowarin #399 - Image by m ellen burns
1000 bedrooms – Tyson Mowarin #399 – Image by m ellen burns.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Wayiba, my name is Tyson Mowarin, I am a Filmmaker, Musician and Dad from Roebourne in WA. I own and operate my small media production company called Weerianna Street Media. We have written, directed and produced content for NITV, ABC and Film Festivals around the world. When I was a teenager I left to study music in Perth, studying the drums and earning an Associate Diploma in Performing Arts (Music). I’ve since written songs that have been recorded by others, for compilations and albums and recently recorded 22 tracks of my own originals. 

How did you start your creative practice and why?

I started Weerianna Street Media through getting involved in film after the film crew I was working with found out I had been studying music. They needed a boom operator so I got the job and have been growing my body of work in film and music ever since. Once I discovered film I have never looked back, it saved me from working dead end jobs and getting no where. 

Where did you grow up and how has it influenced your practice?

I grew up in Broome so the whole Broome Music scene plays the soundtrack to my early childhood. I’ve been very musical ever since I can recall. I didn’t know commercial music until I became a teenager. I only knew Aboriginal Music, Broome music and music from South Australia. The Film Wrong Side of the Road about the two bands No Fixed Address and Us Mob inspired me and my love of music. 

Tell us about your past creative projects. What has been your most treasured creation so far?

We have produced many awesome creative projects over the past 12 years. Thunderstorms is an awesome doco about my Uncle Patrick and his childhood dream of flying planes. Connection to Country about our connection to the lands and what it means to us is one of my highlights as well the two awesome Live Action Kids TV series which are the 10 episode Thalu and the 5 episode Red Dirt Riders which were real community collaborations involving as much of my community, elders, kids and business as we could fit in. 

DP Torstein Dyrting & Producer Director Tyson Mowarin on set if Thalu 2019
DP Torstein Dyrting & Producer Director Tyson Mowarin on set if Thalu 2019. Image provided.
Tyson Mowarin with cast of Thalu. Image provided.
Tyson Mowarin with cast of Thalu. Image provided.
Tell us about your current projects?

I’m currently going to start pre-production of a ten minute doco for Channel Ten Play. Also heading to Canberra to take up a week long music residency at Yilul Studios to mix and master some of my original music. 

Who or what inspires your practice?

I’m inspired by leading production houses like Blackfella Films, Ramu Productions, Pink Pepper Productions and all the First Nations Independent FilmMakers across Australia creating awesome projects about important and creative ideas.

Where do you feel most creative and why?

I actually find that when I’m travelling by road somewhere across Australia I tend to think a lot and I’ve written songs like this. I might be thinking of something and I pull out my phone and write thoughts and ideas in my notes app. It’s full of lyrics, film ideas and crazy random thoughts. It tends to come from what I’m seeing, hearing, thinking or reading either online, in my thoughts or in front of me.

What do you hope audiences take from your work? What’s the best compliment/ worst feedback you’ve received from a show or work?

I hope that audiences could learn about what goes into thinking up creative ideas and bringing them to life because the final piece of work is usually the result of enormous amounts of collaboration in the community. I like to always tell people that my film projects are the result of community because its made with them for them. 

The best compliment I always get is that someone appreciates the film or song that I have created, people listen to my music all the time and watch my films all the time and they always enjoy it. The worst is when someone says that they haven’t heard my music or seen my films as yet, because I feel if and when they do, they will enjoy it. 

What gets you through creative challenges or tough industry times?

Being part of the film and music industry is definitely challenging in many ways, especially financially when you’re in-between projects, many times what gets me through is knowing I’m creating a body of work that I will one day look back on and feel proud of.  Another thing is the thought of getting a real job so to speak, working for someone else in a dead end job that doesn’t satisfy my creative mind. So if you see me with a really 9-5 job you will know my dreams didn’t come true lol. 

What future projects are you looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to building a community around my new streaming platform called IndigiFLIX. I’ve been working on this for many years and have finally got it off the ground. We are going to build its legacy catalogue, acquire newer release content, become a home for indigenous podcasts, LIVE Events and Webinars. 

I look forward to you all being a part of it with your films and events. In the near future, I really look forward to commissioning original content through IndigiFLIX Native, my original concept arm of the platform. 

Whose work are you digging at the moment?

Oh theres too many to list, but I’m really into projects like Robbie Hood, thats pretty funny, I laughed right through every episode. Hopefully we can see more of it.  All the independent filmmakers making waves, the deadly Jub Clerc, Garry Hamaguchi and his partner Brooke, Pink Peppers Our Law. I’m also into a new movement of Black Photographers called They are reclaiming the Blak Space in Photography across Australia and theres some awesome talent in that group.  

Tyson Mowarin on the set of THALU with daughter Sharliya - Image by m ellen burns
Tyson Mowarin on the set of THALU with daughter Sharliya – Image by m ellen burns.
Where can we find and follow you online? And the usual social media channels

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