Esteemed screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, whose credits include Waterfront, The Petrov Affair, Killing Time AND the secret river, he died at the age of 74
THE Guild of Australian Writers confirmed he died last week following a long illness.
Wollongong born Gudgeon’s credits are many and varied and include Skirts, Snowy, Sky Trackers, Stinger, Good Guys Bad Guys, Dogmwoman, Halifax fp, and movies The Delinquents, Ground Zero AND Last run.
He was an ardent AWG member, joined the union when he became a full-time writer, and received lifetime membership in 2022.
Australian Writers’ Guild chairman Shane Brennan said: “Mac was a commanding presence in the Guild. He wasn’t just our heart and soul, he was our conscience, that little voice in our head that said ‘we have to fight this’. And we’ve fought, so many battles with Mac standing resolute, at the forefront.
“Mac didn’t just man the barricades, he built them. His contribution to this Guild, to the seats we’ve earned at the table, to the concessions we’ve earned over the decades, must never be forgotten. And yes, Mac was one hell of a writer.
Former AWG president Jan Sardi said, “Besides being a great and authentic storyteller, Mac had this amazing ability to see bullshit from a mile away. And he was never afraid to call him! It’s what made him such a fierce advocate when it came to fighting for what he believed in, whether it was writers’ rights or some other injustice. He has also made him a fantastic writer and mentor to those whose young careers he has supported, some of whom are now working internationally.
“For almost forty years Mac has been at the heart of every major campaign the Guild has fought – as Chairman, NEC and Management Committee Representative, Vice Chairman, Chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, on the Finance Committee, on the Victorian State Committee and on countless other committees. His contribution to the AWG is impossible to quantify, but one thing is certain: the Guild is stronger, and we writers are better off for it!
“When it comes to putting words and deeds into the fight for what you believe in, Mac has been and always will be an inspiration. A forever great and loyal friend to many. We will miss you, mate!”
Added producer Roger Simpson: “For a pacifist, Mac was a fierce competitor, a warrior with a rugby ball (maybe stupidly in his forties when he broke 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 talents, he was the only writer we ever commissioned to write a script without requesting first to see the pitch.
“Although we became great friends, Mac maintained a healthy distrust of producers and thought one-footed ‘hyphens’ in both camps should be kept an eye out. During those pivotal years when Jan Sardi was president – and Mac and I his vice presidents and advisor – we fought many long and redefining battles together.
“With his penetrating mind, distinctive smile and not a single hair out of place, Mac was the one who would strike fear into the hearts of producers, lenders and collection agencies. He will be missed in the trenches and on the pickets, but his passion for the Guild will never be forgotten. He travels safe my friend.
Gudgeon would also teach screenwriting to emerging writers.
He once said, “The script is a great job because people pay you to stay home and dream things up. You can play God. You create characters, create a story and have fun. They pay you if you’re good. The main thing is to have passion for what you do and love to tell stories”.