• Family Rules creator and executive producer, Karl Hart. (Sabine Albers/Metamorflix)
Filmmaker, Karla Hart broke ground when she created Australia's only First Nations 'reality' television program. Family Rules returns for its second season with more humorous and feisty entertainment.
By
Kate L. Munro

12 Nov 2018 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 28 Feb 2019 - 1:17 PM

Karla Hart, a passionate Noongar woman and a multi-disciplinary artist, is the creator and co-executive producer of NITV’s history-making series Family Rules, the only First Nations ‘reality’ television program of its kind in the country. Never before has a modern Aboriginal Australian family allowed this type of access to their lives.

The in-house production, developed by Metamorflix and Karla Hart Enterprises with the assistance of NITV, Screenwest and Lotterywest, is set in the Western Australian capital of Perth, and will see single mother Daniella Borg and her nine stunning Rule daughters back on our television screens for a feisty, entertaining and humorous second season.

Hart, an award-winning Perth-based filmmaker, writer, director, producer, dancer, teacher, singer and actor, rejects the notion that Family Rules should be classified as ‘reality television,’ despite the Rule sisters being dubbed the ‘Indigenous Kardashians’ or the ‘Aussie Kardashians’ by some media outlets. Hart asserts that this style of film-making is essentially ‘deep access documentary.’

“Reality television seems to have a lot of negative connotations to it, and we are telling so many more important stories than the majority of reality shows,” Hart told NITV.

“Reality television seems to have a lot of negative connotations to it, and we are telling so many more important stories than the majority of reality shows.”

Family Rules premiered on NITV last year following the lives of Daniella, a Noongar mother and grand-mother who lost her husband and the father to all her nine girls, when he was the victim of a ‘coward punch’ in 2004. Their youngest, Hannah, was just a few weeks old at the time. Despite the immense trauma this bought to the large family, Daniella worked hard and focused to keep an underlying calm within an everyday storm.

“The original concept came to me when I was in production with the family for a documentary that I wrote and was directing called Angela’s Rules, that was centred around Angela, the eldest sister,” Hart explains.

“After spending time with this family, I knew they were made for television; so, I had some discussions with them all about following their lives and life events…they eventually took me seriously and agreed to do it. I approached Renee from Metamorflix and we ended up developing the series.”

In stark contrast to the fame-hungry, very privileged Kardashians, Daniella and her nine daughters possess a natural and dynamic flair; the individuality of each sister shines through in the series, yet collectively they are a staunch team bonded by more than just blood but also by culture and healing after the tragic death of their father, Kevin Rule.

A casual and vibrant comfortability is captured in Family Rules and its everyday life from an urban First Nations perspective. Working with a supportive and professional crew ensured a brilliant first season.

“I think after shooting Angela’s Rules they (the family) knew what to expect (with the cameras in their everyday lives). I think having such a great crew and having people film them that they are comfortable with, like myself and Claire Leach— and Claire Leeman from Series One —makes a huge difference.”

“I feel also that having such a big family with so much happening, it’s like the cameras become part of the background after a while. As a crew we pride ourselves on being there, but not being there,” Hart said.

Crazy, wild and funny, yet resilient and serious at times, the family are connected intensely by the trauma of losing their father; the final episode of Season One saw the Rule sisters visit inland WA on Ngadju country— the heritage of their father —for a significant ceremony.

“It’s challenging to follow a family as they are living their lives every day, and it is real life situations and emotions that come up— this is where we, as a production, have to navigate to protect them as well as tell their story.”

“It’s challenging to follow a family as they are living their lives every day, and it is real life situations and emotions that come up— this is where we, as a production, have to navigate to protect them as well as tell their story.”

“We really do our research when putting together each episode and sometimes things don’t go as expected, so you really have to roll with things and especially with working with such a big family it’s often chaotic.”

The intimate and powerful circle of family protection and care is portrayed in both series and is a key theme of the entire production. Hart identifies family, everyday women, teenagers and young women who are strong role models as over-arching themes in Family Rules.

“They are a great representation of a family in Australia and also a Noongar/Ngadju family with a strong cultural identity,” Hart said.

Speaking about the up-coming and much anticipated second series Hart assures us we can look forward to the ‘usual glamour, love, chaos and laughs’ that were highlights of Season One.

“Aleisha is looking for a job, Jessica is trying to finish year 12, a baby is on the way for someone, Kelly is thinking about more serious matters in her life now, Sharna is facing her fears and through all of this Daniella is still working towards getting her degree.”

“It’s about not giving up and working towards your dreams. There is, to me, so much you can get out of this series.”

Family Rules Season 2 airs Wednesday, 14 November at 8.30pm on NITV (Ch. 34) and will be available On Demand  after broadcast. Join the conversation #FamilyRules