Screenwest, Western Australia’s film, television and digital media funding and support organisation, has announced that Indigenous food documentary The Fat of the Land will be the recipient of a development grant.

The news is an encouraging sign that the project between filmmaker Todd Delfs and Stephne Pronk and Paul “Yoda” Iskov of Fervor is edging closer toward a commercial release.

According to Delfs, much of the grant will be used to hire an executive producer and associate producer to help get the project ready to pitch to television networks, streaming services and distributors. Once this vital stage has been completed, the documentary will be shot and hopefully completed within 18 months.

The rest of the grant will be used to pay Indigenous consultants for their time and input on the documentary series. Considering there are eight Indigenous consultants working on Fat of the Land, this is no small investment. But according to Delfs, it’s an important one.

“We’re trying to be as diverse as we possibly can,” says Delfs. The proceeds from November’s crowdfunding drive will also be used to pay the consultants for their work. “WA is one of the most diverse landscapes on the planet, so you really have to ask as many questions as you can and get all the right people involved.”

The documentary focuses largely on the eight West Australian regions: Great Southern, South West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, Gascoyne, Shark Bay, Pilbara and the Kimberley. Although Indigenous ingredients and flavours underpin all the stories being shot and told, the project isn’t a cooking show, but rather a deep-dive into shared culture.

“People desperately want connection,” says Delfs. “Food, 100 per cent, can be the device that gets us there. I’ve seen it again and again over the years, where you’ve got a bunch of people in a room speaking different languages – if you’re sitting and sharing food together, there’s a universal language there.”

In the lead-up to the documentary’s release, Delfs is posting short videos documenting Fervor trips and tours from the past five years. The latest release is a 15-minute clip from a visit to Kakadu that explores Indigenous food culture in the Top End. Among those featured in the documentary is Kakadu Kitchen founder Ben Tyler, whose current projects include growing native plants in an indoor garden at a Darwin cocktail bar. Although Tyler’s story, by dint of geography and state borders, won’t make the cut for The Fat of the Land, his work is yet another instance of traditional knowledge coming together with contemporary food culture.