Broadcast SBS Surviving Season 3 Episode 14 — When Jon Bell started writing what would become the six part television series ‘The Gods of Wheat Street’, he had no road map or destination in sight. All he had was an idea.
‘You know how sometimes you sit down with a plan and start writing according to the plan? This wasn’t like that at all.’
When Jon Bell started writing what would become the six part television series ‘The Gods of Wheat Street’, he had no road map or destination in sight. He didn’t have a commission. He wasn’t bonded to a grant. There were no expectations of him. He had no deadline, let alone something to sell. All he had was an idea about a mechanic who’s looking after his kids and hoping against hope that his wife comes back.
Looking back, Bell says it was a luxury and a liberation to work this way; akin to writing a first novel that gestates for as long as it needs in a desk drawer. Bell, who was raised in Casino in northern NSW where he still lives, made films as a teenager, studied law, then dance, before having a child. He was a working single dad for many years. He made a couple of shorts, wrote two episodes of Redfern Now and only now, aged 40, does the self-taught scriptwriter call himself a professional.
”It’s been a long and twisted journey,” he says.
Bell’s career and experience don’t fit the typical TV-industry trajectory; fittingly, his story is woven from fresh, unconventional and unexpected threads.
‘The Gods of Wheat Street’ completely does away with anyone’s idea of what it is to be Aboriginal. It’s just a family that goes to work, sits down at a dinner table, has arguments, loves each other, watches footy. A big part of the movement that’s happening now, is indigenous people are in control of the production, the writing, the directing. They cease to be indigenous stories and just become stories.’
This is an inspirational snap shot about the life of Jon Bell, where he has been and where he is going.