After more than 10 years as a development producer – the last seven and a half years at Easy Tiger/Essential Media and Entertainment – Rachael Turk is pursuing her passion for screenwriting, creating her own projects and script producing with other creatives.
“This was a long-planned strategic move in order to do what I love best: not only creating and developing shows but writing on them too,” Turk tells IF.
As an indie, she hopes her first project to go into production will be female-led, international mystery thriller The Red Cord, which has been in development for several years with Easy Tiger and Fremantle’s global drama division and recently received script funding from Screen NSW.
The plot follows two women, one in Australia, the other on the other side of the world, who set out to solve a mystery surrounding a child whom they inadvertently share. Easy Tiger’s Ian Collie and Rob Gibson are lining up an international co-production partner on the series.
She is in discussions with a streaming service and a high-profile director for a series based on an Asian family dynasty.
The slate also includes The Centre of the Universe, a high-concept relationship drama set in outer space, which she co-created and co-wrote with Jasmin Forbes-Watson, for which she in talks with Goalpost Pictures.
Invisible Republic’s Michael Wrenn has agreed to produce Jungle School, a Queensland-set family show with an international cast, which she created for Easy Tiger.
And she is liaising with a British executive producer on Wood, a female ensemble series set in the early 1970s.
Rachael departed Easy Tiger at the end of July after collaborating with such top-notch writers as Sarah Lambert, Alice Addison, Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron and Shelley Birse. She developed three seasons of Jack Irish for the ABC and co-created the SBS miniseries The Principal and Sunshine.
“I will miss Ian Collie and all we built together,” she says. “Working with him and Rob has been a hoot but having been in-house for over a decade, it’s liberating to be able to meet with other production companies on a diverse array of shows.”
In the past few months she has participated in numerous writers’ rooms including one for Mature, a comedy written by Adam Zwar and created by Tom Armstrong, which she picked up for Easy Tiger at the Screen Canberra TV Pod. The show follows 18-year-old Billy who, on her first day in college, meets a mature age student and her long-estranged father.
With Caribbean-American-Australian creator Rojé Augustin she plans to write The Park (working title), an eight-episode series which follows a diverse group of teenagers in New York in the early 1980s.
‘Smile for Me’ (Photo credit: Anna Fraser).
Keeping in Touch is a podcast for the ABC by playwright Adolfo Cruzado, based on his play which follows a couple who meet at university in the late 1980s, fall in and out of love and become friends for life. On that she is working with Cruzado and writers Tommy Murphy and Katherine Thomson, with Ian Walker attached as the producer.
In her first venture into the factual realm, Adaptable is a series she likens to a “a kind of Marie Kondo for the mind,” which aims to encourage people to become more positive.
Turk’s ambition to write dates back to when she was just five years old and dreamt of creating the ‘the great Australian novel.’
After completing a degree in mass communications and film at Macquarie University she landed a job as a journalist and publishing editor at IF, working for this esteemed publication from 2003-2008.
Her first screenplay, Smile for Me, a short set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, directed by Anna Fraser and shot by Bonnie Elliott, won the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Monte Miller Award.
After writing three more short films, she moved into TV development with John Edwards at Southern Star.
“The upside of COVID-19 is that it has obviously meant a shift in focus from production to development, so now is the time to put head down and fingers to the keys,” she says.
“The whole world is in flux so why not work with that? I even have a couple of book ideas. Who knows, if the industry implodes it might be that novel after all.”