Michael Miller, screenwriter of the ABC’s acclaimed Indigenous superhero series, Cleverman, has won the $10,000 Australian Writers’ Guild’s 2016 John Hinde Award for Science Fiction.
Miller took home Australia’s richest sci-fi sceenwriting prize for episode five of the series, which aired on ABC TV in June 2016 and whose second season has just been announced for ABC TV’s 2017 line-up.
Cleverman, co-written by Miller, Jane Allen and Jon Bell, is a gripping sci-fi drama set in the near Australian future which sees a group of non-humans from ancient mythology battling to coexist in a world where humans are trying to silence, exploit and kill them.
Based on an original concept by Ryan Griffen, it is rooted in Aboriginal mythology and has met with praise in both Australia and the US, where it premiered on SundanceTV in June this year.
Miller said sci-fi is a form that allows a writer to say things and make points that might not always be so easily said in traditional formats.
‘That was definitely part of the logic behind setting Cleverman in the future. It’s exciting to think that Cleverman is one of several sci-fi-inspired shows on television at present.
‘Science-fiction is clearly alive and well at the moment and awards like this help to keep the dream alive. So again thanks to John Hinde for his vision in supporting and celebrating sci-fi in this country.’
The AWG judges said Cleverman won the award for its intelligent and meticulous worldbuilding, fearless foregrounding of science-fictional elements and its creative exploration of current social issues.
AWG Board Member Shayne Armstrong praised the series: ‘Cleverman poses big questions about humanity through the prism of future or alternative worlds – which is a hallmark of almost all truly excellent science-fiction writing.’
The annual AWG John Hinde Award, which was first presented in 2008, is funded by a bequest from the late, iconic film critic, John Hinde.
The award has two categories – one for a produced script, won by Miller, and one for an unproduced script, which this year was awarded to Graeme Burfoot for his screenplay, Red to Blue.
The judges praised Burfoot’s script for ‘its intelligent, brave and commendable foray into “hard” science-fiction while never forgetting the purpose of a screenplay is to engage, entertain and provide context for the reader.’
Burfoot will receive professional support for the development of his screenplay, including a meeting with an industry professional handpicked for the project and entry into the AWG’s Pathways Program, which links talented writers with industry opportunity.
Miller and Burfoot will be presented their awards at an industry event held at Brisbane Powerhouse this evening (Wednesday 9 November 2016).
Previous John Hinde Award winners in the produced category include feature films Arrowhead, by Jesse O’Brien, and the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination.
Previous unproduced winners include Simon Butters’ screenplay Min Min and Penelope Chai and Adam Spellicy’s screenplay Mary, Mary, which won the 2016 Monte Miller Long Form award at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 49th Annual AWGIE Awards held last month.
Vicki Madden’s gothic supernatural series The Kettering Incident was highly commended in the produced category while Michael Kratochvil’s The Paradise Syndrome was highly commended in unproduced.
The 2016 shortlisted entries in the unproduced category were:
The Paradise Syndrome by Michael Kratochvil
Portalgate by Ella Roby and Zahid Gamieldien
Lost in the Dark by Chris Bailey
Lucid by Philip Denson
The 2016 longlisted entries in the unproduced category were:
Recycle by Anthony Curtis
No Man’s Land by Tom Midwood
Splitters by Brooke Goldfinch