Friday, April 9, 2010


Australia's great war-time Prime Minister, John Curtin, controversially uttered the following words in 1941 that set the course for this nation to the present day:

Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.

What reminded me of this rare example of Australian oratory is my impending participation in a screenwriting course with an American instructor. And damn it, I'm excited!

What John Curtin would make of a course conducted over two continents using Skype is anyone's guess but let me reiterate my position by mangling the former PM's words:

Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it clear that I look to America, free of any pangs as to traditional notions of Australian storytelling paradigms or so-called cultural imperatives.

I've never understood what "telling Australian stories" actually means other than I am an Australian writer and this might influence how I see the world. It certainly has never meant, to me, what I suspect that phrase is code for ... "Hollywood bad". Sure, America makes some dreadful movies ... they also, when they get it right, make superlative films, the best in the world.

So I look forward to having my humble efforts pulled apart and examined and challenged and reconstructed by what I consider world's best practice.

Like in Curtin's time that might be a controversial position to take - though there are signs that the inward looking cinema of urban suffering and outback cliche is waning - but it's one that will set my future course as well, critics be damned!

1 comment:

  1. There is some great screenwriting and film making done in the US, and a lot of skilled people.

    For those of us in Australia, we can work with people in the US, as well as people in other countries around the world, and learn from one another. As you suggest, there is no sense in isolating ourselves from many of the best film makers in the world to feed an artificially imposed notion of national identity.

    There is a quote in which novelist Kazuo Ishiguro has expressed a related sentiment:

    'I am a writer who wishes to write international novels. What is an 'international' novel? I believe it to be one, quite simply, that contains a vision of life that is of importance to people of varied backgrounds around the world. It may concern characters who jet across continents, but may just as easily be set firmly in one small locality.'