Tamara Asmar on the secrets of writers’ rooms
Screenwriting is often such a lonely pursuit that Tamara Asmar really relishes her time brainstorming in writers’ rooms, likening the experience to being in a confessional.
“These are places where people divulge the most personal, hilarious, moving and heartbreaking things about their lives,” says the prolific writer whose credits include Doctor Doctor, On the Ropes, Love Child and Beat Bugs.
“That feeds into stories, sparks ideas and takes you down different narrative pathways that you otherwise would not have. I have definitely contributed some stories, cleverly masked.”
Currently Asmar is juggling multiple projects in development including Aleph, an eight-part series created by Miranda Nation for Porchlight Films, a fantasy drama for Jungle Entertainment and a movie for Easy Tiger which she now thinks is better suited to TV.
Screen Australia is funding the story development of Aleph, which follows a woman who is faced with the choice between saving her teenage daughter or saving a humanity teetering on the brink of extinction.
The all-female creative team includes producer Liz Watts (The King, True History of the Kelly Gang), Anya Beyersdorf and Porchlight development executive Coeli Cutcliffe.
“We’re trying to tell a universal story which asks how far would you go for your child and would you put the greater world before your own needs?” Asmar says. “At the core of it is the mother-daughter relationship.”
The first episode has been plotted and a comprehensive bible written. “It’s an exciting venture and we are out to some key prospective partners,” Watts tells IF. “Tamara and Anya’s work with Miranda has been remarkable.”
The Jungle project is an adaptation of a young adult novel, title under wraps, which is being developed by Asmar, Niki Aken, Ian Meadows and Shay Spencer, Jungle’s development manager, drama.
The Dubai-born daughter of a Palestinian father and an Aussie mother, Asmar drew on family experience when she worked on the Lingo Pictures/SBS miniseries On the Ropes directed by Shannon Murphy. She worked with creator Courtney Wise on the development of the series and wrote the first episode.
A graduate of the NIDA Playwright’s Studio, her theatre credits include Sabur, Ninja and Belle’s Line for the Old Fitzroy Theatre and the Griffin Theatre’s Queen of the Night.
“I still love the theatre but I always wanted to write for television and that world was opening up at that time,” she says.
“It’s such a privilege to create and write Australian stories. Each time you work you learn, and hopefully get a bit better.”
After being hired by producers Greg Haddrick and Jane Allen as a researcher on Screentime’s Crownies she was asked to write four episodes of the ABC legal drama in 2011.
That was followed by three episodes of SLR Productions’ children’s series Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures, one segment of Grace: A Storytelling Company and Beyond Productions’ animated series Beat Bugs and five episodes of the first three series of Easy Tiger’s Doctor Doctor.
Also she was a script editor on the second series of Goalpost Pictures’ Cleverman and she worked for Playmaker Media as script editor/writer on Love Child season 2.
Alice-Miranda: Friends Forever, the SLR Productions’ animated movie which she co-wrote with Melanie Alexander and Justine Gillmer, directed by Jo Boag and based on Jacqueline Harvey’s novels, opens in cinemas next month and will later screen on the Nine Network.