News that Netflix was planning to film a vacuous docudrama in Byron Bay brought a collective snort of derision across the Shire.
But amidst the anger and disgust about Byron Baes, a gem of an idea was forming.
What if locals made their own series about the Bay – telling the stories of real people living in the town rather than those simply seeking profit and self-promotion?
The idea was hatched by local bar owner and audio engineer, Saphia Smereka.
And though the plan is still in its infancy, locals have so far taken to it with gusto.
‘I could see how many people were upset about this Netflix show and I thought “why don’t we make our own series? One that way more people will want to watch”,’ Ms Smereka says.
‘I know so many creative people in Byron – this is the perfect place to do a project like this because we’ve already got people with the skills.
‘So I put a few posts up and so many people contacted me saying they wanted to be a part of it– retired script writers, cinematographers, sound people, copywriters, ex news journalists.’
The first major step in the process will take place today (Monday) when locals who are interested in getting involved in the project will meet at Ms Smereka’s bar, Kiki on Byron.
She is hoping for a lively discussion about the show, including the chance for people to talk about the kinds of stories they’d like to see covered.
‘The real Byron is so multi-faceted,’ she says.
‘I’d love to see the indigenous community given a voice.’
“But basically, at this stage, I’d love to just open up the question: “What is Byron and what does it mean to the people that live here?”.’
As well as inviting locals to bring their skills to the table, Ms Smereka is hoping the community will provide some financial support to help get the project off the ground.
She has set up a GoFundMe page and is also interested in enlisting the services of a local grant writer who might help the project apply for government funding.
‘The point I really want to make here is that we’re not helpless in all of this,’ she says.
‘We have the power to do something, to respond to what’s happened and make something good out of it.’