Screenwriters James Cripps and Rhianna Malezer are the winners of this year’s Australian Writers’ Guild Monte Miller Awards, receiving $5,000 each in script development funding.
Held annually, the awards are designed to recognise excellence in screenwriting and playwriting among the guild’s associate and student members, with Scripted Ink providing the prize money.
Cripps took home the award in the Long Form category with his television pilot High Rotation, which explores the exhilarating and near-impenetrable world of the Australian music industry, while Malezer received the Short Form award for The Stockman, an examination of family, identity, and imagination.
Cripps said the award was both “a total shock and absolute honour”.
“Thank you to the guild for their continued support of Australia’s emerging screenwriters, and thank you to my co-creators, Catherine Kelleher and Henry Stone,” he said.
“Without them, this script would not exist.”
Malezer also paid tribute to the AWG for recognising her script, which she hoped would contribute to “the diverse representation of First Nations experiences”.
‘I’m incredibly chuffed to receive the Monte Miller Short Form award,” she said.
“The Stockman is a story very close to my heart, that I also feel is the easiest thing I’ve ever written, as it flowed directly from my spirit.
“It’s very affirming of how much more impactful my work can be when I am true to my own voice.”
The winning and runner-up projects are now available to view on AWG’s Pathways Showcase, joining a collection of projects available for development.
The awards will next be open for entries early in 2023.
The winners are as follows:
Long Form category
• High Rotation by James Cripps (television drama): After a famous pop star steals her lyrics, a songwriter must fight for the recognition she deserves by breaking into the gated institution of the Australian music industry.
• Jane The Waegukin by Ra Chapman (television drama). Jane, an unsentimental and pragmatic Korean adoptee, has her ordinary life turned upside down when she becomes haunted by a Halmeoni (Korean grandmother).
• Everything Breaks by Rob Payne (feature comedy)” Things break in life, but sometimes that’s alright.
• Family Politics by Penny McNamee (television drama): Family Politics takes a heart-warming, honest and raw look at grown families, and examines what happens when our careers and civic duties cause conflict between those we love.
• In Your Dreams by Amy Parry and Diya Eid (television drama): Elis Hanna is a hot-headed teenager who unwillingly inherits the ability to enter other people’s dreams and unlock their deepest, darkest secrets. When her sister is murdered, she must harness this new-found power to uncover the buried family secret that led to her sister’s death.
• Sun Woman, Moon Man by Lyndal Simpson (television drama). After a mass shooting reveals their illicit affair, an interracial couple flees into the desert and is transported back in time by a lunar eclipse to colonial-era Australia.
• The Replicas by Adam Daniel (television drama): After passing through a strange electrical storm at sea, the passengers of a transit ferry arrive at their island home to discover that they are duplicated versions of passengers that arrived earlier on the same ferry. After quarantine and detention, they are released and attempt to reintegrate into the community. Having lost their homes, livelihoods, and their families, they bond together as outcasts and form a new family.
• The Woman Who Saved an Army by Robert Alan Bruce and Julien Perrottet (television drama): A four-part limited-series that details the heroic true actions of Gladys Baker and a group of Australian and British citizens who risked their lives to help save and evacuate 240 Australian soldiers left for dead after the fall of New Britain in 1942.
Short Form category
• The Stockman by Rhianna Malezer (drama short): When two young cousins visit their ailing Nan, they cope with her illness by escaping into an imaginary world – inspired by a painting of a mysterious Aboriginal stockman.
• Pleasant Avenue by Aimée-Lee Xu Hsien Curran (comedy web series): The residents of Pleasant Avenue live to protect their idyllic community, but each household is plagued by petty problems that escalate and threaten to unravel its values.
• Unloveable by Sophie Smyth (television comedy): A 20-something almost-not-a-virgin is dumped on her birthday because of her autism and now she’ll do ANYTHING (except anal) (probs) to prove that she! is! loveable!
• Baby Shower by Matthew Day (comedy short): A suburban baby shower descends into chaos.
• Bazaar by Ray Lich (comedy short): When a young mum decides to rid her contemporary home of a dated piece of furniture, she discovers that participating in the online marketplace is not for the faint-hearted and in an effort to escape her past, she’s introduced to who she truly is today.
• Bubba by Hannah Samuel and Nina Buxton (drama short): Claudia has the chance to escape her emotionally abusive relationship, but she won’t take it if it means leaving her beloved dog Bubba behind.
• Dirty Road by Sally Alrich-Smythe (television drama): A queer millennial drives across Australia to help her conservative, recently widowed grandmother track down the woman she once loved.