EXCLUSIVE: Production has just begun in Sydney on Cleverman, a six-part high-concept drama starring Game Of Thrones and Downton Abbey‘s Iain Glen. Wayne Blair, breakout helmer of Oz’s The Sapphires, is lead director, with Leah Purcell also directing.

The Australia-New Zealand co-production is described as a “sexy and dangerous” drama set in the near future where a group of nonhumans battle for survival in a world where humans feel increasingly inferior and want to silence, exploit and kill them. It’s based on an original concept by Ryan Griffen and focuses on two estranged indigenous brothers who are forced together to fight for their own survival. Otherworldly creatures also emerge into this “real world” dystopian landscape.

Also starring are Frances O’Connor (The Missing), Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires), Hunter Page-Lochard (The Sapphires), Rob Collins (The Lion King), Stef Dawson (The Hunger Games), Ryan Corr (The Water Diviner), Tasma Walton (Mystery Road), Rarriwuy Hick (Redfern Now), Tony Briggs (The Slap), Robyn Nevin (Top Of The Lake), Lynette Curran (Wentworth Prison) and Jack Charles (Gods Of Wheat Street).

Goalpost Pictures Australia and Pukeko Pictures are producing, with Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop providing the creature design. ABC TV in Australia will air the series locally, with Red Arrow International distributing worldwide. EOne Australia is attached for domestic sales.

The series is an original concept commissioned by the ABC TV Indigenous Department and produced in association with Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Red Arrow International.

Sally Riley, exec producer and head of ABC TV’s Indigenous Department, says Cleverman is set to be a “major drama highlight” for ABC TV in 2016 and calls it an “exciting opportunity to invite Australian and international audiences into a bold new world where Aboriginal stories and legends meet high-concept genre drama.”

Amelie Kienlin, executive producer and VP Scripted Acquisitions at Red Arrow, adds, “Cleverman is a particularly bold and ambitious project, and must be one of the most original genre drama series to be currently in production anywhere in the world.”

Michael Miller is script producer, and the writers are Michael Miller and Jon Bell. Producers are Rosemary Blight and Lauren Edwards for Goalpost Pictures, Ryan Griffen, and, for Pukeko Pictures, Angela Littlejohn, with Executive Producers Riley, Kienlin, Kylie du Fresne, Ben Grant, Martin Baynton, Adam Fratto and Jan David Frouman. Park Road Post Production will provide picture, visual effects and sound postproduction services.