Shorts on the scene….

A few gorgeous shorts I worked on as dramaturg are making the festival rounds.


Daily Bread – Directed by Ruby Challenger, recently won audience choice awards at the Melbourne Film Festival 2018.


Lovelost – Directed by Ven Gia, is set to premiere at Sydney Film Festival 2018.


Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful – Directed by Natalie van den Dungen, has hit the international film circuit recently screening at shorts festivals in NYC, Seattle and is about to hit Palm Springs International Shorts Festival.



bec laugh- Photo by Ange Coote copy_preview

At the end of 2017 I visited the Western state for the first time, brought on by writer/actress Bec Bignell to direct Rain Dance.

We travelled with a small crew to her home town Kojonup, a few hours out of Perth,  and spent time with the shearing team, meeting with members of the community and being fed copious amounts of good ol country cooking.

Currently being produced by Cockatoo Co Lab – Rain Dance is  a series about two women in a remote Australian shearing team who fight for their community in the wake of environmental adversity.


Rain Dance is  It is designed for multi platforms



2017 ended amidst a horde of 5 year olds, zombies and farm animals. With torrential rain followed by a heatwave on Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters   – I couldn’t have had more fun.


Lupita Nyong’o in Little Monsters

Don Groves – IF Mag….

Writer-director Abe Forsythe proved his skill at flicking the switch from black comedy to violence in Down Under, and now he’s embarking on a film which will mash even more genres.

Due to start production in Sydney at the end of October after receiving production funding from Screen Australia, Little Monsters will blend comedy, romance and zombies.

The saga follows Dave, who goes to live with his sister, a single mother, after breaking up with his fiancée. While Dave is looking after his sister’s five-year-old he meets kindergarten teacher Caroline.

Dave is soon smitten, a relationship which is tested when he volunteers to escort the kids on an excursion, where they are attacked by zombies.

Thereafter Dave and Caroline try to convince the kids they are part of an elaborate ride rather than being at the centre of a zombie Apocalypse.

The producers are Jodi Matterson, the US-based Keith Calder and Jessica Calder (whose credits include Anomalisa and The Blair Witch remake) and Steve Hutensky. Bruna Papandrea (The Nightingale, Big Little Lies) is the executive producer.

The Calders were keen to be involved after watching Down Under, Matterson told IF. Forsythe got the idea for Little Monsters after volunteering to take his six-year-old son Spike and classmates on an excursion.

Matterson said the film will tell a “very upbeat, optimistic story,” in contrast to the mostly dark tone of Down Under, set in the aftermath of the Cronulla riots.

Universal Pictures will distribute in Australia and Protagonist Pictures will handle international sales. Jason Behan, vice president, acquisitions for Universal Pictures Australia, did the deal for the studio.


A film clip produced, directed & edited by Nadia Townsend and Ruby Challenger.

girls in pool

Synchronised swim team – The Emeralds.

Ruby Challenger and I met when she worked as the costume designer on my first short film BRAWL and I recently worked as dramaturg on her directorial debut DAILY BREAD.  BRIGHTER by MONIKER is our first project together as co-directors.  MONIKER is an emerging electro outfit.

DOP Vanna Seang.

KN1_6415 copy

Images by Kwa Nugyen



For the last couple of years I’ve been working on a project called Kasey is Missing, an initiative of Information and Cultural Exchange (I.C.E) and Nepean Community Neighbourhood services – a project that has been an ongoing and long time engagement with the community has became a beautiful web series about a young girl who’s friend goes missing and no one seems to notice or care.  


The series was created by bringing together a group of film makers and developing scripts with the community through workshops and improvisation.  As we explore the possibility of a second series we made a trip to Wellington NSW – the second oldest settlement west of the Blue Mountains, Wiradjuri country. The home of Aunty Mary, who plays Aunty Mary in the series – a warm, strong and caring character, a rock for the community and the only person who seems to hear the concerns about Kasey’s absence.  Following Aunty Mary’s lead we explored her home country and ran 3 days of workshops in association with Wellington Information and Neighbourhood services.  


Meeting the youngsters of the region and working with Aunty Mary and Information and Cultural Exchange crew was a highlight of my year.  Wellington is an enchanting place with a heavy history – We are currently seeking funding for the continued development of the series throughout 2017.





A DRAMA WHAT?? – the finer workings of the Dramaturg by NT




A short explanation of the finer workings of the dramaturg in film and TV.


When I work as a dramaturg on films often no one really knows what I’m doing there.  They see me following the director around, whispering in his or her ear, speaking intently with the actors and maybe liaising with other departments putting in requests here and there.


After a few days of this mysterious behavior I will often have some one sidle up to me and sheepishly ask, ‘so is it drama… turrrr…’  a slightly confused upward fading inflection, and I finish the word for them, ‘turg’.

I then explain,   ‘With a hard g…..’ They look at me blankly.

‘I know I say, it sounds like turd, dramaturd’. They may smile but mostly remain confused.

So I continue,  ‘or you could say turge with a soft g…’.  At this point I might get a non-committal lift of an eyebrow.

So I joke, ‘you could call me a drama turkey if it helps’.   I push the gag, ‘or a drama twerky’, and I give a little shake. They look at me blankly.  A moment.


Then they finally ask, ‘so what is it that you actually do?  You’re like an acting coach or something right?’  At this point I steady myself for a well rehearsed and much tried explanation of my work as a dramaturg most certainly NOT to be confused with the work of an acting coach.


Here goes…..


Dramaturgy (with a soft g) is the art of dramatic composition.


Traditionally the dramaturg works in the theatre and it’s more of a research or literary role, working closely with the text and its rightful execution.


Film and TV dramaturgy is pretty uncommon, particularly in America and Australia.  The only other film dramaturg’s I know of in Australia are Nico Lathouris (Wild Side, Heartbreak High, Yolngu boy Boy) and Sapidah Kian (who worked with me on Brawl).


The film dramaturg is viewed with suspicion because ‘directors know how to direct and actors don’t want to be told how to act’.  So just to clarify,  the Dramaturg neither directs nor teaches acting.


When I work as a dramaturg I work with the director for the story in the same manner say that the focus puller would work with the Director of Photography.

I neither choose shots nor decide what is the most important thing to look at in the story but rather do what I can to make sure that when they need to capture something for the story it is in focus.


I interrogate the story, design a program for the rehearsal period and engage a methodology that will assist and support the story in every facet possible.  Whilst working predominantly with the performers the dramaturg also liaises with all departments as a guardian of the story say, while the director is the keeper of the vision, if you like that kind of terminology.


Often in film all the departments and players work in isolation and the only time they come together is on set, once on set there is the overwhelming presence of the ticking clock, under this kind of time/money pressure the intricate nature of negotiating an understanding of story is pushed to the side and every one does what they have to do to get thru and make sure they come out okay and perhaps amongst all this there are moments of meeting on common ground and magical happenings where the planets align and we are all united for a small moment in the story we are telling.  Or we just shoot cutaways and hold steadfast in the knowledge that we ‘cast right’ and we can ‘fix it in post’.


The dramaturg’s job is to make sure that as many people as possible are as united as possible  in an understanding of story before they step on set so that the production can in fact, save time, therefore money and all the individuals are given time and space to speak their truth whilst finding common ground and get the best job done in time and under budget.


Okay, so this is point at which I get real passionate about making sure the person who sheepishly inquired gets the point…. They attempt to back away slowly.  I hold their gaze, they ain’t going anywhere till they get the point I’m trying to make.


I can’t help it.  I often have well versed industry people give me their highly ill informed opinion of why they don’t want an acting coach on set…’ dramaturg’ I correct them.  ‘same thing’, they say.  Hold my tongue, I do.



Dramaturgy is about having a game plan. I don’t think I would do another film without her. ”


– Eddy Bell, writer/director of Ghost Bull




Eve Ensler on BRAWL…

Brawl Movie Soups

Playwright and Activist Eve Ensler, best known for her international phenomenon The Vagina Monologues and her prolific work with her organisation VDAY a global movement to end violence against women and girls and One Billion Rising.  A worldwide community of Vwomen and Vmen who promote the possibility of living with respect towards our fellow human beings.
Eve Ensler, a good friend of George Miller was brought out to Namibia in 2012 to work with some of the players during the pre production of Mad Max 4.  Where Nadia Townsend (Assistant Dramaturg) and the stunt men of Brawl had the good fortune to spend an evening with Eve and George Miller, sat in a circle on the floor of the Swakopmund town hall, listening intently to Eve speak of the possibilities of creating a world that didn’t operate with fear and destruction.

Eve Ensler, on Brawl

Eve Ensler, on Brawl

Nadia is attempting to dissect what is at the core of young men and their need to destroy in order to survive.  Particularly privileged men who’s survival is not being ‘threatened’.

In Namibia I was witness to the dramaturgical process that Nadia was leading this group of men through and it was terrifying to see how easily a united group of men could either be steered towards or away from violence.
One of the young stunt men said to me that night, ‘But that’s the way its always been.  Ever since the beginning of time there has been war and destruction as a mode of survival’… I explained to him, but it  doesn’t have to be.
Im excited by the work that Nadia and the Vmen of Brawl are doing and looking forward to seeing Brawl when its finished.
We would like to claim the gentlemen of Brawl to be avid supporters of the movement towards non-violence.  The V-Men of Brawl.



Helter Skelter by Neil Labute

A review of Turtle Lab’s latest production

Cosy night descends into wild ride

by Jason Blake

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter

Old 505 Theatre, June 22
Until June 30

A very pregnant woman meets her husband at their favourite bistro after a day of gift shopping in the city. It should be the relaxing start to a cosy night in a hotel suite. It takes just a few minutes and an awkward incident with a mobile phone to set a tragedy in motion.

Playwright Neil LaBute sucks elements of the ancient Greek Medea story into the present in this short, corrosively funny play whose shock ending depends on the viewer being swept up in its sudden escalation from infidelity drama to mythic showdown. Thanks to Jonathan Wald’s modest yet bold production, there’s a better than even chance you will be.

Working with designer Burju Nuhoglu, Wald counters LaBute’s hyper-naturalism by placing the scene in an abstract gallery-like space and isolating his characters in a gauzy cube. White carpet and walls throw everything into sharp relief. Liam O’Keefe’s lighting shifts the tone with block chords of colour.

The performances are nuanced and edgy. Julian Garner keeps his evasive, blame-shifting husband on the knife-edge of our sympathy; that is, until his squirming gives way to a self-justifying babble that would be laughable had not LaBute infused it with a bullying tone.

Faced with her husband’s pleas to not make a scene in public, Nadia Townsend’s woman does just that – and what a scene it is. Her performance makes this woman’s extreme reaction to her husband’s misdeeds seem not only plausible but justifiable.

Wald’s decision to include another figure in the scene – an ugly, yet tuneful presence – is a brave one, but it pays off, lending what could be a straightforward two-hander a welcome strangeness.