D.J. McPherson. 

Victorian-based writer D.J. McPherson has won the Truant Pictures screenplay competition with her project His Name Is Jeremiah.

McPherson’s screenplay is said to have stood out to judges with for its “rich character work, strong on-the-page craft and a twisted plot that kept readers guessing until the very end.”

Set in a rural Australian town, His Name Is Jeremiah tells the story of a teen struggling to adjust after her estranged mother returns from jail. Feeling lost and alone, the teen develops a dangerous obsession with a missing boy, setting off a chain of events that unfold mysteries from the past and present.

McPherson has been awarded a $5,000 cash prize, a hot desk for one week at Truant Pictures’ office in Sydney, and mentorship from Truant’s development and production executives Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt.

Truant Pictures is the live-action genre arm of Animal Logic Entertainment, and aims to produce genre films in Australia, with Aussie creatives, for an international audience. Schmidt and Nalbandian launched the competition earlier this year to uncover Australia’s next great horror, sci-fi and thriller writers and their stories.

Schmidt says: “D.J.’s writing caught our eye immediately with characters that grabbed us from page one and a story that consistently delivered solid drama, chills and suspense. It’s everything we look for in emerging talent.”

Nalbandian says: “Due to the incredibly strong response and interest in the competition, we’re committed to making this an annual competition to further uncover and support new Australian voices in the genre space.”

The other two finalists, announced last week, are David Willing and Beth King with their script The Surrogate and Jonathon Green and Anthony O’Connor’s Emma After. Each script will be read and noted by an industry judge: Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral, I, Frankenstein), Zak Hilditch (Rattlesnake, 1922, These Final Hours) or Yolanda Ramke (Cargo).

Beattie says: “I’m thrilled to support Truant Pictures’ initiative to discover and promote Australian screenwriters, especially those working in genre, as it has proven time and again to be an incredible launch pad for emerging talent.”

Hilditch says: “Australia has a rich history of genre filmmaking. I’m excited to support a new generation of writers as they explore the dark, provocative and otherworldly.”

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