WRITERS' ROOM Q&A: SHAUN GRANT
Shaun Grant - multi-award winning screenwriter whose credits include Snowtown, Jasper Jones, Berlin Syndrome, Penguin Bloom, The True History of the Kelly Gang and Nitram.
Who are you heroes in writing?
Heroes is a very strong word I’d probably link to health care workers and first responders but there’s certainly a huge number of writers I admire.
Here’s a short selection - I’ll try and be patriotic and stick to Aussies.
Novelists - Richard Flanagan, Peter Carey, Patrick White, Helen Garner
Screenwriters - David Williamson, Andrew Dominik, Tony McNamara
Songwriters - Nick Cave, Billy Thorpe, Courtney Barnett
Tweeters - Titus O’Reilly and dare I say Adam Zwar
Favourite piece of screen dialogue?
Impossible to answer as not a day goes by without me quoting lines from film and television; Seinfeld and The Simpsons alone make up 48% of the words which come out of my mouth. Films like Casablanca and All About Eve amaze me in that there are so many unforgettable lines. The dialogue in those films is perfect. How about I narrow the field and select the favourite piece of dialogue I have ever written? Off the top of my head I’ll go with ’Shoot The Dog’. My films tend not to be overly quotable but that line has been quoted back to me on several occasions throughout the world.
Best excuse you’ve used (or heard used) for missing a deadline?
Thankfully, I haven’t missed too many deadlines so not sure I have any great excuses up my sleeve. The idea of not delivering terrifies me, I see deadlines as my friend as I could always improve something and if I didn’t have them I’d never get anything done. The excuse I always hear for missing deadlines is, it's not ready. To that I say, it never is. Never is a script perfect nor could it not be improved with more time, but eventually you have to shoot. A deadline is just a check in point on the way to producing something, it’s not an end point. Even when delivering the shooting script. I’ve been on set rewriting, screenwriting is a constant work in progress.
Worst note you’ve ever received?
Probably to lose the ’Shoot The Dog’ scene in Snowtown from a script assessor. Like I said, now people quote it, and from the very first draft it was such a pivotal scene. That and the cutting up of the dead kangaroo scene, which they wanted to change. I always find it odd that people can watch humans be murdered yet can’t stomach animals dying. To me the murder of a man, which there are many in that film, should be the more challenging of scenes to view.
What song best represents your career?
Man these are some unusual and tricky questions. How about we go with, ’Started from the Bottom’ by Drake. We were both raised by working class single mums and went on to do alright, though it's fair to say he’s done much better than I. I’m still waiting on my mansion and private jet.
Favourite cinema hero and villain?
Oh this one’s easier. Hero - Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird. Villain - Hans Gruber. Die Hard. Gregory Peck shows that you don’t need to wield a sword or a gun to be a hero and fight injustice and Alan Rickman played an ‘exceptional thief’ in that film though the greater crime is that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, he’s incredible.
If not a writer, what would you be?
School teacher. I know this because I was. I taught for several years before ’scratching an itch’ and trying to chase my dream to become a professional writer. If it all ends tomorrow, I’d probably go back to education as I consider it the most important job in the world.