A Man of Character: Paul Abbott In Conversation
Mac Gudgeon (chair)
Paul AbbottWed, 20th Feb 1:15 PM
Paul Abbott is one of the U.K.’s most prolific, inspirational and decorated television writer-producers and the creator of some of the medium’s most memorable characters. A recipient of the BAFTA Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing in Television, International Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, Paul’s talent, honesty and generosity are legendary and he is particularly admired for his inspiring mentorship of new writers. This is a must attend session for writers, producers and hyphenates and comes highly recommended –
“Paul’s a master of narrative, always one step ahead of the audience.”
“You’d pay a thousand pounds an hour for Paul Abbott’s tutelage.”
Russell T. Davies, Creator/Writer Queer As Folk (U.K. TV series)
THE SAPPHIRES: CASE STUDY
Kelly Lefever (Chair)
Keith ThompsonWed, 20th Feb 2:45 PM
From real life, to a musical play, to one of the most well received and successful movies in recent memory, The Sapphires has come a long way baby. In this case study Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson talk about bringing a very personal story to the big screen, how a writer at home behind a computer and an actor/writer who likes to pace found ways to collaborate, and what made it work through the highs and lows. Not to be missed.
COMEDY PANEL WRITING PANEL (PANEL!)
Warwick Holt (Chair)
Ian SimmonsWed, 20th Feb 2:45 PM
Many of Australia’s best-loved and longest-running TV programmes are comedy panel shows. While much of the success of shows like Spicks & Specks, Good News Week and the Gruen family is due to the wit and improvisational skills of the guests, panel shows always require a well-written gag-filled script as the engine that keeps the show running. In the conference’s first ever meta-panel, some of Australia’s most successful panel show writers fill us in on the secrets, the skills, the successes and the failures they’ve encountered. Points will be awarded for the most entertaining insights. Come along and keep score!
Mike Jones (Chair)
Frank VerheggenWed, 20th Feb 2:45 PM
There’s never been a better time to be a screenwriter as there have never been more screens to write for. But increasingly many of those screens are interactive and so demand for writers to engage with the delivery of dynamic and compelling Interactive Storytelling is growing. With perspective from both screenwriters and producers, this panel will explore the challenges of Interactive Narrative and the balance between authorial control and audience direction. The world of Interactive Storytelling is broad and diverse and offers huge work potential for Australian writers in the digital age.
Frauds, deserts, virtues and a few best men: Stephan Elliott in conversation
Jon Stephens (chair)
Stephan ElliottWed, 20th Feb 4:30 PM
Writer/Director Stephan Elliott already had one feature under his belt before Priscilla, Queen of the Desert gave him a box office hit and thrust him on to the world stage. A chat and a journey through his career, influences, inspirations, creativity, intentions, objectives, whatevers from film to stage to television – pausing along the way for a major career hiccup in the form of a definitely life changing skiing accident, a rediscovery of his sense of humour and the creating of the “most expensive music video of all time”.
WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
John Collee (chair)
Jacquelin PerskeWed, 20th Feb 4:30 PM
In a way, every film is a love story. Our lives are generally driven by positive emotions, by love rather than hate. Love truly does makes the world go around and stories without empathy quickly bore us. On the other hand, negative emotions, at first glance, may seem inherently more dramatic - and it’s true that a love story is only as strong as the forces acting in opposition to it. How do we invest love stories with the drama of a thriller? How do we make the audience care? How do we write true romance without getting cliched or sappy?
‘SHAMELESS SUMMER SOIREE’ – BBQ & DRINKS
Wed, 20th Feb 6:00 PM
The Shameless Summer Soiree BBQ and drinks will be hosted this year at the award winning Moonah Links Resort. It is the perfect way to round off the opening day of the conference and meet your fellow writers. Sample Mornington Peninsula’s fine local wines and tasty treats whilst enjoying the impressive backdrop of rolling grasslands and ancient sand dunes. The relaxed BBQ and drinks will be followed by the raucous and hotly contested Screenwriters’ Trivia Contest staged by Quizmasters Mac Gudgeon and Jon Stephens.
Jon StephensWed, 20th Feb 8:00 PM
The much anticipated and hotly contested Screenwriters’ Trivia Contest is back! Quizmasters Mac Gudgeon and Jon Stephens test your knowledge and bend your brain as they roll out the hard questions about film and television. See how a few glasses of wine effect your expertise, and meet some of your fellow delegates as you struggle for supremacy in a competition that’s anything but trivial.
Thu, 21st Feb 8:00 AM
MONEYBALL: THE HIGH STAKES GAME OF DEVELOPMENT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET
Jan Sardi (Chair)
Emile ShermanThu, 21st Feb 9:30 AM
In a business where ‘Nobody knows anything’ according to William Goldman, developing film and television projects for the world is a high stakes game that involves endless passion, big money, nerves of steel and more often than not, years of your life. Win or lose, hit or miss, the game is easy if you know how to predict the future. For those of us who don’t, we’re often told that a simple story, well told is the key ingredient to success. But what does that really mean? And is it enough when it comes to the ultimate challenge of finding an audience? This session will shine a light on the rocky road to success, the pitfalls to avoid, and how to stack the odds in your favour.
THE WRITERS’ ROOM
Rick Kalowski (CHAIR)
Roslyn WalkerThu, 21st Feb 9:30AM
There are many ways of writing TV. In house, teams working with freelance writers, tend to be the tried and true Australian method for our drama fare, but overseas great drama is being increasingly (or indeed, historically) generated by that most mysterious beast, the writers’ room. So what is it that makes this beast work? Does it really counteract the “us and them” mentality of the in house form so many people talk about? Does it give true creative freedom for a small group of like minded creatives? And can a group of writers truly create a unified vision without blood on the floor? The question needs examining – if it works for comedy in Australia, can it work for drama too? Or is the writers’ room just not cricket for our Australian sensibilities? This session aims to shed light on the mystery, and examine whether writers’ rooms are the way of the future in Australian television, and why those who work in them either love or hate the beast.
CONSPIRACY 365: Pick it, tell it, sell it – A how to of High End kids’ TV
Michael Brindley (Chair)
Mark ShirrefsThu, 21st Feb 11:00 AM
How do you adapt a 12 part, first person, continuous narrative that already has half a million teenage readers and turn it into event television? The tight-knit team behind The Movie Channel’s TV action adventure series Conspiracy 365 will take us through their highly integrated process: from the producer’s pitch to the network, to creating the scripts and the massive on-line component. Hear about the mammoth process of crafting the stories – across a number of platforms – to both meet the expectations of the existing fans, and build a whole new audience… and all whilst staying within budget and schedule. The team is alive, awake and ready to reveal all!
WARP FACTOR NONE: WRITING SCI-FI FILM & TV IN AUSTRALIA
Shayne Armstrong (Chair)
Shane Krause (Chair)
Vicki MaddenThu, 21st Feb 11:00 AM
Australian sci-fi got off to a flying start with the MAD MAX trilogy but apart from a few noble efforts it’s mostly been downhill from there. Why? What went wrong and more importantly how do we fix it? Sci-fi is one of the most popular genres in cinema, books or TV but we rarely make sci-fi films and television in this country. So how do we move ahead into the future? What can we learn from the many American sci-fi films shot in Australia? What kind of science fiction films work in an Australian setting? Why are Australian science-fiction novelists triumphing on the world stage while our screenwriters are failing to launch? And can we avoid an Australian setting completely as long as all the significant players are Australian? Science fiction has been called the “genre of ideas” … it could be your idea, and a willingness to embrace the form, that will kick start the genre so it can live long and prosper in Australian cinema.
DIGITAL NARRATIVES: Love, Games and Fear of the Machine
Mike Cowap (Chair)
Paul CallaghanThu, 21st Feb 11:00 AM
There’s so much change in the world of digital storytelling, but just like film, theatre, radio and television, a strong script is still where these new forms begin to succeed. Chaired by Mike Cowap of Screen Australia, the session will explore the craft of writing for digital narratives: from online documentaries, to alternate reality dramas, to AAA video games. Using examples from their own work, experienced creators in the on-line space, Sam Doust and Paul Callaghan will workshop this new craft from the writer and director perspectives.
…BUT SERIOUSLY: THE RISE OF COMEDIC DRAMA IN TV
Naomi Janzen (Chair)
Debra OswaldThu, 21st Feb 1:15 PM
From Offspring to Rake, comedy both takes the edge off drama, and gives drama the edge according to the genre’s fans. So what defines comedy-drama? How do you find that magical sweet spot between dark and light, laughs and pathos that makes a show funny, dramatic and authentic – all at the same time? This session will explore the giddy balancing act that gives this type of television series its unique tone and ongoing appeal with audiences at home and around the world.
THE SUM OF THE PARTS
Kelly Lefever (Chair)
guests soon to be revealedThu, 21st Feb 1:15 PM
A hit at the last conference, with tales of temper and tray throwing, overzealous extras, dead characters being revived and killed, and heartbreaking personal experiences which inspired beautiful drama, we’ve brought this session back by popular demand! Some of our most distinguished guests show and tell their own work as they share the scenes that moved them, the scenes they’re proud of, and ones they’d rather forget.
DOCUMENTARY: UNDER CONSTRUCTION….
David Tiley (chair)
Tarni JamesThu, 21th Feb 1:15 PM
Contemporary factual television is extraordinarily diverse; from classic observational documentaries like Mrs Carey’s Concert to what’s been termed ‘reality’ television such as revivals of Big Brother. Then there’s been the recent emergence of an even stranger beast – ‘dramality’ such as The Shire. Somewhere inbetween are hybrid factual shows like Go Back to Where You Came From, Grand Designs Australia and so on. Creating fiction is difficult enough, but what are the limits to crafting compelling factual television using real people and real events? How much can ‘reality’ be constructed and in doing so how much truth is lost? And is this an ethical minefield?
ONCE UPON A CRIME: WRITING CRIME FOR THE SCREEN
Vicki Madden (chair)
Kris WyldThu, 21st Feb 3:00 PM
Heard a good crime story lately? Chances are you have. Whether it’s front page news, a TV show or the latest film, our appetite for all forms of crime is unwavering and unrelenting. For many writers, crime is the genre of choice. So how do you choose a story, find the line to walk and the character to walk it with, and choose what to leave in and what to throw out? And in this day and age, when society is becoming increasingly desensitised to the shocking depiction of true crime – what is our moral responsibility – if any – as storytellers? This session explores the ideas behind the stories and what motivates writers to tell crime stories.
ANIMATION: WHERE THE ACTION IS!
Brendan Luno (chair)
Mark ShirrefsThu, 21st Feb 3:00 PM
Happy Feet? Toy Story? Family Guy? The Simpsons? Some of the world’s most loved and most successful film and television is animation. Cartoons used to be the short before the main feature, now they are the main feature – making millions at the box office and filling television schedules… especially in Kids’ TV. And let’s not forget the increasingly animated content of many blockbuster live-action films with their amazing CGI effects, superhuman stunts and cartoon violence. Animation provides a cinematic freedom that live action can never approach, but does that make it easier or harder to write – or is it simply different? It’s been said that in animation, the writer is God. Are you ready for the responsibility?
THE HORROR, THE HORROR: 13 TERRIFYING THINGS WE LEARNT ABOUT WRITING AND DEVELOPING SCRIPTS THAT SELL
Shane Krause (Chair)
Shayne Armstrong (Chair)
Antony I. GinnaneThu, 21st Feb 3:00 PM
A scary glimpse for writers into what it’s like to be on the other side of the script fence. By reading the first act of nearly one hundred scripts and the full screenplays of shortlisted candidates, the judges of Terror Australis learned invaluable lessons for any writer not just entering a script competition but also submitting their work to a producer, director or reader. This session shares thirteen chilling lessons (in the form of warnings, tips and insights) that they learned. Within days of winning, the awardees of the AWG Terror Australis competition had multiple offers to option the project and it is now in development. How and why did they win and how can your script win not only script competitions but also the interest of those who can actually make it?
UNDERGROUND – THE JULIAN ASSANGE STORY: CASE STUDY
Karin Altmann (Chair)
Robert ConnollyThu, 21st Feb 4:15 PM
We’ve all heard plenty about the modern-day Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, one of the most significant figures of the twenty-first century. But Robert Connolly was interested in looking at the formative years of the internationally notorious activist, when he was a teenage computer hacker in Melbourne. Robert will share his process in writing the screenplay for Underground – from researching hacking methods two years before the internet existed, to his reasons for writing the film as an action thriller, and why he decided not to take advantage of access to Assange himself in crafting the script.
THE ECLECTIC WRITER: Pleasures and pains of working in multiple genres
Rick Kalowski (Chair)
Keith ThompsonThu, 21st Feb 4:15 PM
Feature film dramas, comedies and musicals, TV series, sitcoms, telemovies, sketch comedy and childrens’ – our esteemed international, multi-award-winning panel has done it all. But is screenwriting across multiple forms and genres the pure joy it sounds? Or does it spring traps? Does one genre inform working in another? Or is it just another part of the mind to be wiped clean before facing the terror of the blank page anew? Don’t miss what promises to be one of our conference’s most fascinating sessions – in equal measures masterclass and gossip session (under strict ‘Chatham House’ rules, natch).
‘TWILIGHT DELIGHTS’ – GALA EVENT
Thu, 21st Feb 7:00 PM
Enjoy a spectacular night of fine wine and dining, in an award winning landmark building designed by Wood Marsh Architecture. Voted one of Australia’s top 100 dining experiences and winner of Winery of the Year 2012 (James Halliday), Port Phillip Estate is one of the most exciting wine and food destinations in Australia!
CREATING CHARACTERS WHO CREATE STORY
Coral Drouyn (Chair)
MARC BRYANTFri, 22nd Feb 8:00 AM
You’ll hear it said that “story is everything” and that a character’s role is to “serve story.” Yet you cannot tell any story until you put it in the hands of the characters. This session shows how, beyond that, characters create story and often even determine genre by their personalities and how they react to what crosses their path. Beyond “cause and effect”, is what we might call “The Screenplay Equation”, a combination of action, interaction and reaction. How much story a character can create is limited only by how we create them.
HOW NOT TO WRITE A SITCOM: CRAFT LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY
Rick KalowskiFri, 22nd Feb 8:00 AM
Rick Kalowski wrote two terrible UK and US sitcom pilots before co-creating /writing /producing ABC1′s At Home With Julia – 2011′s highest rating Australian comedy, which sold to the US and, among many honours, earned him, Amanda Bishop and Phil Lloyd (A Moody Christmas) two AWGIE nominations. With several new comedy projects in development here and overseas, and the opportunity now to have read hundreds of local sitcom scripts, Rick has craft lessons to share – most of which he’s learned the hard way. Bring your creative and commercial questions, opinions, and detailed sitcom script problems to this fun, hands-on, interactive session.
Documentary workshop and breakfast club
Karin AltmannFri, 22nd Feb 8:00 AM
Documentaries need a character, a narrative, an argument and a style. No easy matter, we know. Refine your documentary idea in this limited numbers workshop. It will be led by Karin Altmann, an AWGIE-winning documentary writer, script editor and former Screen Australia Development executive. She ran the JTVdocs program for 5 years in concert with Amanda Duthie at ABCTV, hunting out the talent and helping refine the work for the audience. In this workshop she can do it for you. Note: numbers are strictly limited and the doors will close once 8 people, including her, are in the room.
TRICKS, TIPS & TOOLS: THE INDUSTRIAL SIDE OF THE TRADE
Angela Keefe (Chair)
Jan SardiFri, 22th Feb 8:00 AM
Ever been offered less than Guild minimum fees? Have you been asked to come up with a first draft with no contract in place? Or on spec? Told you have to wait for payment until the investments come through? Well, enough is enough – come learn to get on the front foot with the Guild’s Industrial Panel.
Changing the world, one word at a time: In Conversation with Tom Schulman
Kelly Lefever (Chair)
Tom SchulmanFri, 22nd Feb 9:30 AM
Tom Schulman’s illustrious career as a screenwriter began with Dead Poets Society. His first feature length script, it won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and inspired us all to seize the day and make our lives extraordinary. Join this extraordinary writer in conversation with Kelly Le Fever and find out why the key to surviving in Hollywood is to write what you’re passionate about, how you must fight for everything you believe in, and why it is that storytellers have a vital role to play in changing the world.
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”. (Dead Poets Society).
THE ‘REAL’ THING: ADAPTING FACT INTO FICTION
Michael Brindley (Chair)
Kris WyldFri, 22nd Feb 11:00 AM
‘Based on reality’ is a great hook, but reality doesn’t come in 3 tidy acts. As the late, great Nora Ephron said, “You have to impose a narrative on the facts.” Kris Wyld (Dangerous Remedy) and Tony Briggs & Keith Thompson (The Sapphires) will tell us how they wrestled dramatic truth from chaotic reality. What were the tough choices they had to make as they imposed the narrative on their diverse stories? How does telling the “truth” compare to true fiction? And would they do it all again…and again?
Recipe for Success: The ingredients of a smash hit comedy feature
Peter Moon (Chair)
David ParkerFri, 22nd Feb 11:00 AM
Australia’s most favourite films are mostly comedies – but so are some of our biggest cinematic misfires. What are the elements that make our comedies work here and overseas? Three writers of some of this country’s most loved comedy features (Malcolm, Priscilla and Kenny) try to identify what made them work so well. Do the usual rules of feature writing apply? How important are plot and theme? What are the essential ingredients of a successful comedy feature? Jokes? Characters? Existential pain and suffering? How come some comedies work and some don’t? After this discussion no-one need ever make another flop again.
THE RED CARPET: INTERNATIONAL GUEST PLENARY
Jan Sardi (Chair)
Stephan ElliottFri, 22nd Feb 1:15 PM
Come behind the scenes and hear an awe-inspiring panel of international industry elite swap anecdotes about the glamour (and often lack thereof) of their lives on the red carpet. Oscar winner Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society) will chat with the ever-candid Paul Abbott (Emmy and BAFTA winner), Stephan Elliott (Palme d’Or nominee for Frauds and writer of Oscar-winning and BAFTA-nominated Priscilla) and John Collee (writer of two Oscar-winning films Master and Commander and Happy Feet), as Oscar-nominated AWG President Jan Sardi (Shine) chairs this light and conversational plenary that’s sure to be a conference highlight.
MASTERCLASS: PAUL ABBOTT
Paul AbbottFri, 22nd Feb 3:45 PM
An intimate workshop with internationally acclaimed screenwriter Paul Abbott. This masterclass is only open to AWG Full Members. Places are extremely limited. Register early.
MASTERCLASS: TOM SCHULMAN
Tom SchulmanFri, 22nd Feb 3:45 PM
An intimate workshop with internationally acclaimed screenwriter Tom Schulman. This masterclass is only open to AWG Full Members. Places are extremely limited. Register early.
Wed, Thu, Fri, 20th, 21st, 22nd Feb, During breaks
For newer writers, or not so new, looking for words of wisdom and experience, these micro-mentorships are a chance to meet with a senior writer for half an hour and yak. You may wish to talk about your latest project, or get general advice about the industry, work methods or even how to overcome writer’s block. You must be registered as a delegate to apply for what has proven to be a very popular part of the conference. Places are strictly limited. Priority will be given to AWG associate members.