Hannah Carroll Chapman looks beyond ‘The Heights’
Hannah Carroll Chapman.
After finishing up as one of the lead writers on the second series of The Heights, Hannah Carroll Chapman is developing her own projects, including two with ABC serial alumni Romina Accurso and Megan Palinkas.
Her eclectic slate includes Hold Me a Tight, a feminist horror film about a guy who works in a plastics factory and is haunted by a sex doll which wreaks revenge, and several projects with Matchbox Pictures.
With Accurso and Palinkas she is developing two comedy series which explore the current “war” between Millennials and Baby Boomers in Australia.
She has finished the first draft of the feature and is keen to find a “shit hot director.”
Matchbox Pictures’ Warren Clarke, The Heights showrunner and co-creator with Que Minh Luu, hired Hannah to script edit and write multiple episodes of the first season, co-produced with Peta Astbury’s For Pete’s Sake Productions, and again on the second series.
“Hannah was there from the very first brainstorm of the series; she’s a gun writer on the rise,” he tells IF.
Unusually for someone in her field, she started out working in VFX on the movies Iron Man 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine .
That led to her transitioning to an assistant editor on the ABC kids show My Place and working on the post production team on Blackfella Films’ First Australians.
“Post production and editing are crucial parts of the story telling process,” she says. “What I learned to appreciate about editing is that it is the final draft or rewrite of a story.
“I had wanted to write for a long time but I was a bit nervous to admit that to myself as I was scared of failing.”
To learn the craft she spent a year doing several short courses in screen writing, including one run by Nick Parsons at the Australian Writers’ Centre, and another at AFTRS.
‘The Heights’ series 2.
She spent three years full-time as a development coordinator at Matchbox Pictures, working on such marquee shows as The Slap, Nowhere Boys, Deadline Gallipoli and Glitch.
With all that under her belt she joined the Home and Away creative team, initially as a storyliner, and then wrote 22 episodes during her three years on the Seven Network serial.
“If you can survive more than one year working in-house on Home and Away or Neighbours, I reckon you are ready to join the Navy SEALs,” she quips. “That set me up for the kind of workload I faced on The Heights.’
Several years ago she did another screenwriting course at the University of California, Los Angeles, winning the UCLA Summer School pitching competition for her original comedy pilot Squatters.
She is developing Squatters with a local production company and bringing on other writers, including Indigenous talent, as one of the characters is Indigenous.
The plot follows two Millennials who accidentally euthanise an aging Baby Boomer and take up squatting residence in her mansion, only to find she comes back to haunt them.
“What I’m really interested in now is characters and how they fail and behave badly,” she says. “I think a good story begins with a character like that.”