Griffith Film School alumnus David Peterson has won a national award for a sci-fi feature script developed during his master’s degree.
David is this year’s recipient of the Australian Writers’ Guild John Hinde Award for Science Fiction Writing. His feature script Untethered won the unproduced category.
“It’s still sinking in,” he said.
“I think the award will help the script find a home and it’s obviously a big boost to my profile as a screenwriter.”
The screenplay follows a former refugee on an ill-fated mission to Mars who must unlearn the lessons of her deadly voyage with people smugglers decades before.
The judging panel praised the script for its originality and strength of craft and noted its resonance in modern-day Australia.
“I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi – I was a big fan of Star Wars as a kid and the first film that really caught my attention was Back to the Future,” David said.
“I’m fascinated by how the past influences the future, and it’s a great genre to explore current social issues.
“I wanted to write something that might help people see refugees as real people with the same dreams and aspirations.”
Finding your voice
After a career as a computer programmer and a stint teaching in Ethiopia, David decided to pursue his love of film, completing a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production at Griffith, followed by a Master of Screen Production.
“Untethered started life as a YouTube web series pitch, then it became the basis for my master’s thesis at film school,” he said.
“My postgraduate studies were invaluable in getting the first draft off the ground – I had a script mentor and the time to really find my voice.”
Laying the foundation for a career in the screen industry
David has carved out a career as a producer, editor and screenwriter, working on acclaimed series like Bluey and co-writing a popular science fiction podcast for Audible with a group of fellow Griffith Film School graduates.
“The thing I loved about my time at Griffith was that it was a very practical, hands on course that allowed you to try out different roles,” he said.
“Telling stories on screen is also a collaborative effort, and the connections I made at film school have paved the way for most of the projects I’ve worked on in the industry.”
The project will be inducted onto AWG’s Pathways Showcase, with David receiving up to $5,000 in professional development support to further develop the feature film.
More than 170 entries were received for this year’s award, which is funded by a bequest from the late film critic John Hinde.