Elise McCredie on the privilege and quandary of screenwriting

Elise McCredie on the ‘Stateless’ set (Photo credit: Kirsty Stark).

Elise McCredie believes that as screenwriters typically work in isolation at home and many have projects in development, the cohort to which she belongs is best placed to ride out the COVID-19 crisis.

However that doesn’t ease the pain for the co-creator of Stateless, Jack Irish and Sunshine and co-writer of Ride Like a Girl.

“For me personally the lockdown is like having my arms, legs and heart wrenched in different directions and it hurts,” Elise tells IF.

“Carving that precious space to write has become exponentially harder with the combination of home schooling kids, looking after fragile ageing parents and a compulsive obsession to check The Guardian’s news site every ten minutes. My life feels like Years and Years meets Catastrophe meets Contagion.

“I only finished the Stateless mix in mid-January and was looking forward to both a break and time to immerse in new projects.”

That said, she has plenty on her slate including The Boat Builder, a feature which will chronicle how Jørn Utzon and NSW Premier Joe Cahill battled political forces to realise their vision of the Sydney Opera House.

That will be a co-production between Marian Macgowan Films, Nordic Production Company and Sweden’s SF Studios.

With Norwegian showrunner Erik Skjoldbjaerg (Occupied, Insomnia, Prozac Nation) and the UK’s Big Talk Productions she is co-creating a TV series adapted from a novel set in Antarctica. Big Talk’s executive producer (drama) Luke Alkin put her in touch with Skjoldbjaerg.

Also on her slate is a project with Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment and several other original TV projects with international partners.

“It feels strange to be developing/writing a show set in the present that will be shown a year or so into the future,” she says. “Will it immediately seem outdated? How can any show set in the present not reference this cataclysmic, life-changing event?

“I don’t know the answer; it just feels like our stories cannot just return to business as usual. They will be deeply impacted by all we have witnessed and experienced.

“I have so many friends that are artists, performers and musicians and the impact this is having on them is devastating. Many freelancers in the arts are only a heart beat away from missing a rent payment anyway but this will desecrate an industry unless there is significant government support.

“I am hopeful that all of us who are artists will, if supported, find a way to respond to what is happening in a bold, poetic amd powerful way. It is not our job to make sense of things but we can shine a light, we can give voice to those that are neglected and forgotten in this crisis and we can explore the beauty of our shared humanity.”