Vale Mac Gudgeon, writer for film, television and the stage

Mac Gudgeon teaching screenwriting. (Image: Facebook)

Renowned screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, whose work included the 2009 film Last Ride and television series Halifax F.P, has died aged 74, following a long illness.

A former president of the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG), Gudgeon’s career spanned more than three decades, during which time he used his platform to advocate for writers’ rights.

Born in Wollongong, Gudgeon spent time working as a painter and a docker, before entering the industry with 1984 miniseries Waterfront, directed by Chris Thompson, which won the 1985 Logie award for Best Single Miniseries/Telemovie.

He would have another four credits before the end of the decade, penning the miniseries The Petrov Affair alongside Cliff Green, the screenplays for Bruce Myles and Michael Pattinson’s action drama Ground Zero, and Chris Thomson’s romantic drama The Delinquents. He also wrote the story that inspired Ben Lewin’s 1988 mystery thriller Georgia.

Gudgeon’s other narrative feature screenplays were more sporadic, going on to be part of the writing team for Carroll Ballard’s 1992 action drama Wind, before penning Glendyn Ivin’s Last Ride, based on Denise Young’s novel of the same name, nearly two decades later. The latter had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In between, his words appeared in television series Sky Trackers, Stingers, Good Guys Bad Guys, and Halifax FP, as well as television movies Dogwoman: A Grrrl’s Best Friend and Monash: The Forgotten Anzac. His later work included miniseries Killing Time, starring David Wenham, and The Secret River, which premiered on the ABC in 2015.

Outside of screenwriting, Gudgeon has worked as a script editor on Greg Mclean’s horror classic Wolf Creek and television miniseries Devil’s Dust. In 2007, he was crowned the inaugural winner of the Foxtel Fellowship for Excellence in Television Writing.

He served as president of AWG from 1998 to 2000, and also held numerous positions chairing the guild’s Victorian state branch and on the National Executive Committee, receiving life membership in 2022.

AWG president Shane Brennan described Gudgeon as a “towering presence in the guild”.

“[Gudgeon] was not just our heart and soul; he was our conscience, that little voice in our head that said ‘We have to fight this’,” he said.

“And fight we did, so many battles with Mac standing, unflinching, on the front line. Mac didn’t just man the barricades, he built them. His contribution to this guild, to the place we earned at the table, to the concessions we won over decades, should never be forgotten.”