AWG honours sci-fi scribes and Aussie writers win international awards

'The Death and Life of Otto Bloom'.

‘The Death and Life of Otto Bloom’.

In this wrap:

  • The late Cris Jones and C.S. McMullen win AWG’s John Hinde Awards
  • WA writer wins PAGE International Screenwriting Award
  • Melbourne scribe wins in Austin Film Festival script competition

The late Cris Jones and C.S. McMullen awarded AWG’s John Hinde Awards

Writer-director Cris Jones has been posthumously honoured with the Australian Writers’ Guild’s $10,000 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science Fiction Writing (Produced) for his film, The Death and Life of Otto Bloom.

Jones, who passed away in September, entered his film in the produced category in July. His mother accepted the award on his behalf.

‘I know Cris would be over-the-moon to know that his screenplay of The Death and Life of Otto Bloom has won the John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science Fiction Writing for Best Produced Screenplay. I remember him telling me how great it was to see an Award that actually rewarded imagination and thinking-outside-the-box in a screenplay.’

‘To win an award from his peers at the Australian Writers’ Guild, who truly recognise the time, effort, and sheer hard work that simply takes over your whole life while writing a feature film, is something he aspired to and I know he would feel deeply honoured. I am only sorry that Cris isn’t here with us to be able to experience this honour, and I thank the AWG on his behalf.”

The film, which stars Rachel Ward, Xavier Samuel and Matilda Brown, has also been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at this year’s AACTA Awards.

The award’s judges praised Jones’ skill in bringing humanity “with all its wonders, faults and horrors” into fascinating examination through the prism of science-fiction in the screenplay.

“It is with privilege that we honour Cris Jones’s memory with the 2017 John Hinde Award,” said AWG Group CEO Jacqueline Elaine.

“We were greatly saddened to hear of his death, but feel it is befitting that the screenwriting and science-fiction community were able to come together to celebrate his work through the John Hinde Award, which each year recognises the excellence of writers whose imaginations delight, intrigue and challenge us.”

Ben C. Luca’s thriller OtherLife was also highly commended by the judges. Previous winners of the award include Jesse O’Brien’s Arrowhead, the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination and episode five, season one of Cleverman, penned by Michael Miller.

In the unproduced category, the award was presented to Melbourne writer C.S. McMullen for her pilot Awake, about a society where sleep is optional and the rich work and play on a 24-hour cycle.

“As a writer whose first love has always been science-fiction, this award has incredible significance for me, and I am prouder of this than perhaps anything else I’ve won,” said McMullen, who currently in Los Angeles.

“Thank you so much to the AWG, and the estate of the late John Hinde for this bequest. This is part of a golden age for Australian science-fiction, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Awake was included in the AWG’s Pathways Showcase in 2017 and has since received Scripted Ink. development investment funding for a writers’ room to brainstorm the project alongside screenwriters Stu Page, Gemma Crofts and Joe Brukner.

The judging panel commended McMullen’s script on its ability to skilfully display the multifaceted nature of humanity through the thrilling lens of dystopian science-fiction.

Previous winners in the unproduced category include Graeme Burfoot’s screenplay Red to Blue, Simon Butters’ screenplay Min Min and Penelope Chai and Adam Spellicy’s screenplay Mary, Mary, which won the 2016 Monte Miller Long Form Award.

WA writer takes out PAGE International Screenwriting Award 

Miley Tunnecliffe.

Miley Tunnecliffe’s script Disorder has won the gold prize for a TV sitcom pilot at this year’s PAGE International Screenwriting Awards.

Disorder exposes the messed up personal lives and relationships of a family of psychologists when their estranged matriarch is forced to return home.

“PAGE is such a hugely respected contest. I’m so excited to win. Their alumni are some the best working writers in the industry today and to be amongst them is an immense honour.” said Tunnecliffe.

“Because of the contest I’m getting a lot of exposure in the US and incredible opportunities to connect with high level managers, producers and executives.”

Tunnecliffe was also the recipient of Screenwest’s Bill Warnock Writers initiative earlier this year, which has seen her work with mentors on season two of Seven’s The Secret Daughter and the ABC’s Mustangs FC. She is also currently developing TV projects with Jungle, and her first feature film with Black Milestone Pictures.

Melbourne scribe wins in Austin Film Festival script competition 

Steven Snell with his award.

Steven Snell, a Melbourne screenwriter, has taken out the one hour spec script category in Austin Film Festival’s Script Competition.

Snell penned a spec script for Netflix show Black Mirror, titled Punchbag.

“Originally this started life as a tentative storyline I’d imagined for the AMC and Channel 4 series Humans. In this series lifelike humanoid robots called Synths are an everyday household possession, mainly for slave labour,” said Snell.

“But then I was introduced to the series Black Mirror, and I was so taken and inspired by it that my idea started to expand into a potential storyline for it.”

“Winning the award is amazing. It is the icing on the cake for one of the most fantastic experiences of my life, the AFF screenwriters conference.”