Scriptwriting

A draft of a script recycled for other purposes!

When I graduated from Uni, I knew I wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. I decided to get a job in which I was writing every day, so when inspiration struck I’d have the skills to turn my ideas into something solid. I was lucky enough to do work experience with the Home and Away script department and was hired as a script assistant. After a couple of submissions, I started to write scripts for the show. This experience was invaluable and taught me so much about how to structure a story, write action and dialogue and work to tight deadlines.

After a couple of years I got itchy feet. I had a boss who kept telling me to ‘Get out and see the world while you’re young!’ (Actually, he said ‘Get out while you can!’ but I chose to put a more positive spin on it!) I took his advice, booked a one-way ticket to Spain and ended up waitressing in the Canary Islands for a year, then travelling around Europe.

When I returned to Australia I did an assortment of odd jobs before getting back into scriptwriting and becoming a script editor. I worked on Home and Away and Headland, then left to co-run an independent scriptwriting project called Represent. For me, Represent came about because I had finally figured out what I wanted to write: I wanted to tell strong stories about culture which reflected multicultural Australia today. We worked with a group of Sydney-based teenagers from countries as diverse as Sierra Leone, India, France, China, Tonga and Pakistan, teaching the fundamentals of TV writing and working together to turn their real life stories into a pilot and bible for a half-hour television drama series called The Space Between. This work saw us nominated for the inaugural Kit Denton Dis-fellowship. It also helped me win a British Council scholarship to do an attachment with Jimmy McGovern in the UK on Series Two of the award-winning show The Street. Unfortunately the show itself never got made. At that point in time there wasn’t much demand for diverse stories and content in Australian television – a situation I’m very happy seems to be changing rapidly now.

After that, I wrote for All Saints, Winners & Losers, Wonderland and The Heights. There’s generally a team in the office who make up the overarching stories – my job as a writer is to flesh those stories out, write dialogue and action, and bring the characters and episode to life. Each episode has one writer, who could be working from anywhere. For example, I wrote for Wonderland whilst living in Arnhem Land – and yes, it was definitely interesting mentally teleporting myself from Yirrkala to Coogee!

TV shows I have become engrossed in include The Wire, Fleabag, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Unorthodox, Six Feet Under – the ones where characters aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they’re just human. There are many Australian dramas I love, two of my favourites being Love My Way and Brides of Christ. I particularly love teen movies and coming-of-age stories; there have been some fantastic adaptations of YA novels recently.

I’m currently working for the ABC as a Development Manager for Scripted TV giving feedback on original TV drama and comedy shows – right from initial ideas, through to scene breakdowns and multiple drafts of the scripts. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best writers, producers and directors in Australia. Some of the shows I’ve worked on in this role include: Stateless, Diary of an Uber Driver, Content, Operation Buffalo, Sarah’s Channel, Les Norton and The Heights. I’ve also given feedback on Audio Studio podcasts including The Eleventh and Snowball, and been lucky enough to work with a group of writers in Port Moresby to create what we hope will become PNG’s first ever serial drama.