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Iconically Australian


When you hear the word Australia there are so many iconic images that instantly come to mind. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House, Uluru, Kangaroos lying on red dirt, koala’s sleeping off a feed of eucalyptus leaves in the crook of a branch. Heat, and beaches, Christmas’ on the beach and Paul Hogan’s 80’s Australia promotion involving shrimps and barbies. Given Australian’s don’t call them shrimps though I guess that’s not really as iconically Australian as it appears.

Recently I’ve been working on letting my creativity flow. Not blocking it off with instant refrains of “you can’t do that” or “they won’t want that”. Just letting the ideas flow. The funny thing – to me at least – is the ideas that flow are not novel ideas, but TV show ideas; and not the old “could this novel idea make a tv show instead” trickery either.

Sitcoms, drama’s, adults only and children’s entertainment. The ideas are not limited by anything. Not scope, not fear, not where they’ll be filmed or how much they’ll cost. Not winning awards or being cancelled after 2 episodes. They just are, and they’re filling up my little notebook with the red English phone booth – an Iconic English image – quite quickly.

I was thinking about the ideas last night when I was on my evening walk. I walk along the waterfront and as I was heading home, and the sun was setting, I noticed how calm and peaceful the bay was. There was no movement, no waves, nothing. Just a glass-like plate of perfectly still water.

As I looked at the water I “saw” in my minds eye 3 Gods and a boat, followed by a whirlpool, and 5 kids and their boat disappear only to rematerialise in a whole new world. It’s an opening scene – or at least one of the earlier scenes – of a children’s tv show I’m playing with.

The night before last as I was falling asleep, I saw in my mind the moonlight on a gun barrel, a sleeping couple in their beds and the fire of a gunshot. An image of a news reporter standing outside a suburban home talking of a massacre and a police detective making her way into the house, finished off that particular vision.

The good part about the murdered family vision – that sounds strange but you know what I mean – is that it led into a second flash. A basement full of children, mostly babies, a couple of toddlers and a kid about 12, a hand and a voice “that one is a good choice for you. That’ll be $25,000. Will you be taking her now” and then my detective kneeling in pristine garden over the corpse of a dead woman.

What has all this got to do with the theme of today’s post. Well, most of the TV shows we have in Australia are quintessentially Australian. Medical dramas, legal dramas, dramas in the country, period pieces, all the ideas that other countries have but that seem someone iconically Australian. Beaches, wide open vista’s of rural farm land, tend to make up the basis of most – not all – Australian tv.

I’m not begrudging that, but I am saying that one of the reason’s I’ve never felt 100% comfortable about my own writing is that it’s not that Iconic Australian story. Whenever I begin to plot and plan, to bake and create, I always use that as a stumbling block. I was talking to a friend in America the other day and during the conversation I thought “Fuck it. I’m going to to do it. If it’s made good, if not, well that’s good too.”

I’ve been so worried about letting the side down, I’ve let me down instead. I don’t know which of the ideas I’ll work on first. The two rich kids forced to work comedy idea, the two friends sitcom idea, the 5 children in a land of wonder or the detective hunting a serial killer, or even the aliens and the hatchery idea. Who knows. What I do know is this; it took people many years to create the “iconic” image we have automatically when a country is said.

As a foreigner, what is the first thing to come to mind when someone says America? Red, White & Blue, Apple Pie, The Big Apple, The Hollywood Sign, Fields of Gold and mountains turned into sculpture with the faces of dead Presidents.



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