Vale: Mac Gudgeon

Esteemed screenwriter, whose credits include Waterfront, The Petrov Affair, Killing Time and The Secret River, has died.

Esteemed screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, whose credits include Waterfront, The Petrov Affair, Killing Time and The Secret River, has died aged 74.

The Australian Writers Guild confirmed he died last week following a long illness.

Wollongong-born Gudgeon’s credits are many and varied and include Skirts, Snowy, Sky Trackers, Stingers, Good Guys Bad Guys, Dogmwoman, Halifax fp, and the movies The Delinquents, Ground Zero and Last Ride.

He was a fervent member of the AWG, joining the union when he became a full-time writer, and receiving Life Membership  in 2022.

President of the Australian Writers’ Guild, Shane Brennan, said, “Mac was a towering presence in the Guild. He was not just our heart and soul, he was our conscience, that little voice in our head that said ‘we have to fight this’. And fight we did, so many battles with Mac standing, unflinching, on the front line.

“Mac didn’t just man the barricades, he built them. His contribution to this Guild, to the place we earned at the table, to the concessions we won over decades, should never be forgotten. And yes, Mac was one helluva writer.”

Former AWG President Jan Sardi said,  “As well as being a great and authentic storyteller, Mac had this uncanny ability to see bullshit from a mile off. And he was never afraid to call it! It’s what made him such a fierce advocate when it came to fighting for what he believed in, be it writers’ rights or some other injustice. It also made him a terrific script editor and mentor to those whose young careers he championed, some of them now working internationally.

“For close to forty years Mac was front and centre of every important campaign the Guild fought – as President, NEC and Management committee rep, Vice President, Chair of the Television committee, on the Finance committee, the Victorian State committee plus endless other committees. His contribution to the AWG is impossible to quantify, but one thing is certain: the Guild stands stronger, and we writers are all the better for it!

“When it comes to putting words and actions into fighting for what you believe in, Mac was and always will be an inspiration. A forever great and loyal friend to many. We’ll miss you, Comrade!”

Producer Roger Simpson added, “For a pacifist, Mac was a fierce competitor, a warrior with a rugby ball (maybe foolishly into his forties when he busted his leg), a warrior with his pen and a warrior for the Guild. He wrote for six separate series for Simpson Le Mesurier and, such was our respect for his talent, was the only writer we ever commissioned to write a screenplay without first requiring to see the pitch.

“Though we became great friends, Mac maintained a healthy wariness of producers and thought ‘hyphenates’ with a foot in both camps had to be closely watched. During those seminal years when Jan Sardi was President – and Mac and I his vice-presidents and consigliere – we fought many long and redefining battles together.

“With his penetrating mind, signature grin and without a single hair out of place, Mac was the one who would strike fear into the hearts of producers, funding bodies and collection agencies alike. We shall miss him in the trenches and on the picket lines, but his passion for the Guild shall never be forgotten. Travel safely my friend.”

Gudgeon would also teach Screenwriting to emerging writers.

He once said, “Screenwriting is a great job because people pay you to stay at home and dream up things. You can play God. You create characters, you create a storyline and you have fun. You get paid for it if you’re good at it. The main thing is to have passion for what you do, and love telling stories.”

Leave a Reply