“It was a massive surprise to win the award, as there were so many talented writers who entered the competition,” said Ellen Shanley. “I’m extremely proud of the achievement and very grateful for the endorsement of my talent. I am excited to see what doors it opens.”
Prior to her one year course in Los Angeles, Shanley had co-chaired the Brisbane Screenwriters’ Group – a writing group for writers of all genres and experience-levels residing in Brisbane. She holds a dual Bachelors of Journalism and Arts (Drama and English) and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education from the University of Queensland, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries (Creative Writing) from the Queensland University of Technology. In 2017, she was longlisted in the Australian Writers’ Guild ‘Prime Time’ competition for an original pilot concept.
The UCLA award was presented for her pilot script for The Longest Day, which is set in an Outback town where every year, on the same day, someone goes missing. “It follows a family who must reconcile the loss of their oldest daughter after she disappears,” she says.
“Now that I have returned to Brisbane, I plan to pitch my project to local producers, with the aim of taking the show to series.”
Shanley says that she loved the UCLA experience “as it enabled me to engage with other emerging writers and make lasting industry connections. With regular feedback from peers and professors alike, I felt my writing elevate from good to great. I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn from professors with years of industry experience, such as Jill Goldsmith and Neil Landau. I also had incredible access to accomplished writers in the weekly lectures. Some of my favourite guest speakers were Keenen Ivory Wayans, Kit Steinkellner, Mark Wilding, Maya Erskine, and Anna Konkle.”