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Podcast – Niki Aken: writing for TV in Australia

Niki Aken breaks down the different roles for Aussie TV screenwriters, and shares her experience of co-writing The Hunting for SBS.

Niki AkenFind this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

Since starting out as a script assistant on Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, television writer Niki Aken’s career has covered script editing, freelance writing and script producing.

Unsure of what any of these roles are? On the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast, Aken explains the different work out there for television writers who are on the more traditional career progression route (acknowledging that many people are creating their own pathways online).

Aken says she’s always been drawn to storytelling, which initially took form through acting in theatre, but her focus began to shift toward writing. “I guess there was an element of me making sense of the world through writing,” she says.

Since embarking on a screenwriting career, she’s written on series including Underbelly: Badness, ANZAC Girls, The Secret Daughter and series 2 and 3 of Janet King. Most recently Aken co-wrote The Hunting for SBS and Closer Productions, with catch-up episodes now streaming on SBS On Demand.

“I wrote episodes two and three of The Hunting and I was brought in to help brainstorm and plot,” she says of the series, which follows the fallout of a nude sexting scandal in an Adelaide high school.

“So the two creators, Sophie Hyde and Matthew Cormack, had devised the initial concept… and then it was a process of going into the room and really examining what that arc was going to look like over the series.”

In addition to Aken’s writing credits, she also script edited the second series of both Janet King and Squinters; was story editor on ABC/Screen Australia comedy pilot Why Are You Like This?; and was script producer on the upcoming Foxtel, Lingo Pictures and Sky UK series Upright starring Tim Minchin.

Aken also gives her top tips for writers starting out and the way the Australian industry could better utilise writers beyond handing in a script.

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