Archaeological heist caper film script wins prize

IIML Awards to Sarah Harpur and Richard Dey – congratulations.

A film script featuring an outlawed metal-detecting amateur archaeologist in 1980s Ireland battling the National Museum to prove an historical truth has been awarded the 2017 David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize for Scriptwriting at Victoria University of Wellington.

Written by Sarah Harpur for her 2017 Master of Arts folio at Victoria’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), the film script Blast the Museum! is described by its examiners as “incredibly well crafted”, “a surprise and delight to read”, a “fun, fresh idea”, and “a hilarious and original spin on the archaeological-heist-caper movie”.

Named in honour of David Carson-Parker and supported by Jeremy Commons through the Victoria University Development Office, the $3,000 prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the Master of Arts (Scriptwriting) programme at the IIML.

Recipient Sarah Harpur says: “I never thought I’d write a screenplay about a bunch of middle-aged men in 1980’s Ireland, but I was lucky enough to come across some incredible stories from my late father-in-law. He was extremely generous in that he gave me permission to do two things: tell the truth; but also to not let the truth get in the way of a good story. I really didn’t think I could pull it off, so it’s very gratifying to receive this award.”


Fellow Master of Arts student Richard Dey has won the Brad McGann Film Writing Award for his feature film script Ngawi. The film tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who must learn to cope with his anger when he and his troubled mother travel to the small Wairarapa town of Ngawi for his grandfather’s funeral.

Examiners described the script as ‘moving and original’, ‘a powerfully cinematic vision’ that ‘mixes humour with family tragedy and some literally awesome elements’ to create the ‘most beautiful telling of the story of a boy who can finally recognise his anger for what it is, and let it go in order to have a chance at life’.

Richard Dey says “This has been a rewarding year creatively and I’m honoured to receive this award in Brad’s name. His work was a touchstone for me whilst writing my Masters and I felt a strong connection to his want to share secrets we are all so scared to face.”

Named in honour of the late Brad McGann (writer/director of In My Father’s Den) the award is worth $2,800.

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