TV comedy series by Mark Joyce wins 2020 David Carson-Embassy Prize – IIML

 9 December 2020

A television comedy series about an odd-couple Hollywood writing duo fighting to protect their creativity has been awarded the 2020 David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.


Winning series The Delegate was written by Mark Joyce as part of his 2020 Master of Arts (Scriptwriting) folio at the University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML). Its examiners describe it as “laugh out loud funny, well-structured, thought-provoking, with excellent characters”.

The $3,000 prize is named in honour of David Carson-Parker, who established the prize to support the Master of Arts (Scriptwriting). It is continued by David’s partner Jeremy Commons through the University’s Development Office.

The Delegate features Adi, a woman trying to sell a television series in Hollywood. When Adi is matched with Tim, a burned-out hack of a co-writer, sparks begin to fly.

Mark says the MA course “puts you in a room with superb teachers and amazing, talented classmates. It’s a nurturing environment which really helps to develop your writing.”

An examiner of the winning script wrote, “The Delegate is a thoughtful, heartfelt piece about the joys and terrors of creative compromise, featuring two very funny, crazily neurotic, and thoroughly likeable characters.”

Fellow Master of Arts student Matthew Darragh has won the Brad McGann Film Writing Award for his feature film script The Holy Bungalow, a relationship comedy / drama about a widowed father trying to restore a Wellington house. The examiners describe the film script as a “charming, sensitively written, really enjoyable read”.

Named in honour of the late Brad McGann (writer/director of In My Father’s Den) the award is also worth $3,000.

“Joan Didion’s description of the mystery of grief as ‘my year of magical thinking’ evokes much of the charm of this script,” say the examiners. “There is warmth, emotional depth, and a lightness of touch in the writing which defies its dark subject.”

Matthew says, “I’ve loved this year at the IIML. It has been stimulating and inspiring, and I’ve been constantly encouraged to be braver and more truthful with my work. It’s also been a joy to share the time with such a talented and generous group of writers. I feel very grateful to receive the Brad McGann award, which will help so much to further the telling of this story.”

Photo from left: Matthew Darragh and Mark Joyce.

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