Cleverman: The Exhibition


Acknowledgement of Country by curator Kat Clarke

We acknowledge the lands of which ACMI stands and we acknowledge the lores of Bunjil to be holistic to the Victorian First Nation people. We are welcoming to guests, respect the lores of Bunjil, do no harm to each other or the land and its creatures, and do no harm to the children. For we are on the custodian lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation and this is a statement acknowledging their communities and all First Nations People of this country who have travelled to visit ACMI and the exhibition. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to all First Nation people past present and future.

Cleverman, the television series, includes two languages, Gumbaynggir and Bundjalung, from Northern NSW. In the exhibition, we pay tribute to both of these languages and the people who speak them.

Recommended for Year levels: 5-10

Learning areas: English, Media & Media Arts, Technologies

Capabilities: Creative and critical thinking, intercultural understanding, ethical understanding, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

1. Dreaming stories

“If you listen, then you can see.” 

Listen to the Dreaming stories that helped inspire the series Cleverman recorded by Triple J, and listen to Hunter Page-Lochard’s narration of the story of the Cleverman. Listen Creator Ryan Griffen also talks about gaining permissions and working with cultural protocols to create the sci-fi series here.

1. Consider one of the stories recorded by Triple J.  Think about the story and its message. In small groups share the story by retelling it in your own words.
2. Think about Hunter Page-Lochard's narration and explain the significance and role of the Cleverman

2. Language and culture

Language is a powerful tool and Cleverman is a celebration of language. Find out more about Language in Cleverman here.

If you are in Victoria and are interested in learning more about the language local to your area, head to Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

1. Watch the video above of Cleverman directors and actors talk about their experience learning and speaking the Bundjalung and Gumbaynggir languages for Cleverman.  What does it mean to them and their community to have an Indigenous language spoken on screen?  Why is it so important to keep language alive?

3. Character design:  The Hairies

Watch “Creating the Hairies” Behind The Scenes above, learn about the creation of costumes, props and sound effects for the series here: Behind the scenes of Cleverman.

1. What were some of the key elements production designers had to consider when designing the Hairies?  What were some of the practical considerations involved in making the designs?
2. Create your own comic book cover that includes these elements of production and costume design.  Present your cover and explain why you included these elements in your design.

4. A ‘reverse’ storyboard

Cleverman gif

Storyboards are used in film and television production. They set out what the camera will capture and show on screen in the final edit.  They also help communicate to the whole production team what the director is aiming for. Before you tackle the storyboarding activity, you can find a storyboard template at ACMI’s Film it online resources.

Activity: storyboarding
1. Using this moment from Cleverman, draw what the storyboard would have looked like for the production team.  How many storyboard panels will you need to include? Think about camera movement, the different shot types, and what is included in the frame.

5. The Inclusion initiative

Watch this behind-the-scenes video and respond to these questions:

1. How does Cleverman explore issues of identity and racism?
2. Why is it important to tell stories that explore these issues?
3. What visual elements and symbols are used to help communicate these ideas?

6. Beyond Cleverman

Cleverman animation - Emily Johnson

Cleverman is many things to different people. It is both modern and ancient. It is magic, it is real, it is history, it is future, it is all.

Nayuka Gorrie

Find out how four exemplary emerging Aboriginal creatives have responded to the Cleverman series.

Creative response
1. Develop your own creative response in your preferred medium and form.