Kris Mrksa flourishes in the UK and sets his sights on the US


Kris Mrksa.

Kris Mrksa loves writing Australian dramas but his primary focus now is creating projects for UK producers – and cracking the US market.

The in-demand screenwriter has created two miniseries for the UK’s New Pictures and is developing two shows for the same producer and another for Lookout Point and Expanded Media.

After signing with ICM he is also looking at opportunities in the US. “Nothing firm yet, but I have been talking to a few people and there are some interesting projects being discussed,” he tells IF.

His first UK commission was Requiem, a six-part supernatural drama/thriller which starred Lydia Wilson as an accomplished cellist whose life is turned upside down after her mother’s suicide, produced by New Pictures for BBC One and Netflix.

New Pictures and ITV then commissioned him to create White House Farm, a crime drama based on the infamous case of Jeremy Bamber, who was jailed for life for killing his parents June and Nevill Bamber, their adopted daughter Sheila and grandchildren Daniel and Nicholas at their Essex farm in 1985.

Freddie Fox plays Bamber with Alfie Allen as Bamber’s friend Brett Collins and Mark Addy as Stan Jones, the detective who is convinced he is guilty. Mrksa wrote four episodes and Giula Sandler penned two.

“It is a fascinating true story which raises all sorts of questions about the slippery nature of truth. There is also an astonishing set of circumstances and facts surrounding it; some of it is stranger than anything you could make up,” he says.

Among the projects he is developing is a mystery-thriller based on a novel for New Pictures and Apple TV, which has commissioned Shantaram, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content’s 10-part TV adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ novel which will shoot in Melbourne in October, with Justin Kurzel directing the first two eps.

“Apple TV seems very eager to engage with writers on high-end projects. I think they will be a big player,” he says.

‘Requiem’ (Photo credit: BBC).

ITV has commissioned the development of another Mrksa script, a police drama, with New Pictures. Also on his slate is an adaptation of Devil’s Peak, a novel by South African crime writer Deon Meyer, for Lookout Point and Expanded Media. The novel follows an ageing cop who pursues a vigilante killer with a personal vendetta against people who commit crimes against children.

The screenwriter cites David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, The Larry Sanders Show and Lars von Trier’s Danish miniseries Kingdom with changing the way he saw TV early in his career, recalling: “These shows broke the rules and stretched the parameters of what was then a formulaic approach to storytelling.”

He credits The King, his 2007 telemovie which starred Stephen Curry as Graham Kennedy, directed by Matt Saville and produced by Crackerjack Productions for TV1 and the Nine Network, with opening a lot of doors for him.

His extensive credits include The Slap, Glitch, Nowhere Boys, Devil’s Dust, The Secret Life Of Us, Packed to the Rafters, Rush, East West 101, Underbelly 2: A Tale of Two Cities and Underbelly 3: The Golden Mile.

The acclaim for Tony Ayres’ The Slap motivated him to start meeting with agents and producers in the UK, which led to Requiem.

Given his UK focus for the past two years and now scouting opportunities in the US, he says: “I am not turning my back on the Australian business. I really enjoy working here and have some great relationships. I hope I will be working on something here in the not-too-distant future.”