Splashing success for Barracuda writer and UTS alumnus
Blake’s path to the professional success was not straight-forward. Find out how he became an award-winning scriptwriter cementing his place in the competitive television landscape in Australia.
In Australian film and television, UTS graduate, Blake Ayshford is kind of a big deal. For starters, he’s written for critically acclaimed shows such as Barracuda, The Code, Devil’s Playground and Love My Way. His work has won numerous accolades and been performed by award winning actors such as Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths.
But he was not always a writer. He worked as a farm labourer, postman and moved furniture for a living after university. Growing up in Gosford, Ayshford’s mother was a nurse and his father was in the air force. “Becoming a writer was a very unusual idea and my parents worried I’d struggle to make a living. They were right for a long time!” says Ayshford.
“The life I lived before I became a writer - childhood, school, uni, in the post office - is the well I constantly draw from. Breaking into the TV and film industry is just as hard as it ever has been. But time spent ‘not working’ is actually the time you are learning to write and living the life you’ll need to draw on when you are paid to write.”
Of his time at UTS, he says “writing was the only important thing in my life. I lived it, breathed it, all day every day. The Bachelor of Communication provided the bedrock for how I would think about writing for many years after and provide a place where my deep inspirations still come from.”
In 1998, he wrote a play based on dialogue from one of his unpublished novels that won that year’s Sydney Fringe’s playwriting competition. Later, the play was performed at the Australian National Playwrights Conference giving him the confidence to be quit his job to concentrate on writing full time. Looking back, he says it was reckless.
An opportunity to write an episode of Home and Away soon followed, a process that confirmed a new belief that he was meant to be a screenwriter, and not a novelist. Ayshford went on to write for more TV and films. His impressive resume lists numerous awards including Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) and Australian Writer’s Guild (AWGIE) awards. He is currently working on a few projects in the UK.
Ayshford is candid about the challenges writers face. These range from financial insecurity to how ignored screenwriters are in general compared to other countries. “It’s not uncommon for a film review not to mention the scriptwriter at all. This just leads to a cultural disrespect I feel.” However, Ayshford has said it is a privilege he is able to work in entertainment and his love of writing surpasses the hurdles he and other artists face.
“Allowing your own curiosity, life experiences, and observations form the basis of your work life. I love it. You never know how any month, let alone year will turn out.
“The fact you open a blank page and by the end it is full of drama and action and you had no idea how or where it came from. That’s magic and that’s very addictive. “
Byline: Tresa Ponnor
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Alumni
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