SQ News

Queensland Writer/Producer wins prestigious Greg Coote Scholarship. Will be mentored by high-profile Executive Producer on top-rated US show.

Writer/Producer Megan Doneman has been awarded the inaugural Greg Coote Scholarship, established by Screen Queensland and Australians in Film, with a prize of $30,000 to support her placement on hit US television show NCIS: Los Angeles.

Megan will be mentored by high-profile executive producer Shane Brennan, creator of NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), in the Los Angeles writers’ room for the next series of the top-rating show.

Megan was selected after a competitive search of Queensland’s creative talent. She honed her storytelling skills over a decade working in the editing department on Hollywood films including King KongThe Lord of the Rings trilogy and Babe 2.

Her first independent film, which she wrote, directed and produced, was Yes Madam, Sir – narrated by Helen Mirren – and premiered to critical acclaim as official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.

She is currently working on a slate of feature film scripts – including a dramatisation of Yes Madam, Sir – and television series Hades, based on an award-winning book series.

Screen Queensland Chair Linda Apelt said the Greg Coote Scholarship supported Screen Queensland’s focus on developing skills in the sector and cultivating new Queensland voices on and off screen.

‘Megan is an outstanding talent, who combines powerful storytelling with a determined work ethic. The opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the United States – at the height of television’s new golden age – is a great honour,’ Ms Apelt said.

‘CBS and Shane Brennan have been incredibly generous in stepping up to mentor Megan’s placement in the NCIS: Los Angeles writers’ room and we look forward to continuing to support her on her return to Queensland.

‘This Scholarship reflects the spirit of Greg Coote’s legacy as someone always willing to open doors for fellow Australians in the United States.’

‘In line with the mission of Australians in Film, to provide career development pathways for rising Australian stars, this Scholarship will help Megan gain invaluable experience, knowledge and skills to develop her distinct voice and inform her work as a writer,’ said Kate Marks, President of Australians in Film.  ‘Australians in Film is excited and proud to be associated with this Scholarship and the continuing legacy of one of Australia’s most prolific screen industry practitioners.’

‘I’m delighted to be involved in this initiative,’ said Shane Brennan, Executive Producer, ‘Greg Coote was a great friend and mentor going back to when we first worked together in the 1990s. When I moved to Los Angeles to work, Greg was always there with advice and wise counsel. I can think of no better memorial for Greg than this scholarship and I look forward to mentoring Megan as she begins her Hollywood odyssey.’

Australian writer and producer Shane Brennan is one of the most successful television drama producers in America. In 2007 he was the first Australian writer to become the show runner of a U.S. network television drama series when he took over as Executive Producer on the CBS series NCIS which went on to become the number one scripted drama on network television and is now entering its 13th season.

Brennan created the hit spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, which became the number two scripted drama on network television and is now in its seventh season.  Brennan has his own production company in Hollywood, with numerous projects in development.  His other credits include King & Maxwell (Creator-Executive Producer); One Tree Hill (Co-Executive Producer); CSI: Miami (Supervising Producer); and Summerland (Supervising Producer).

Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Brennan worked on Australian television series including The Man From Snowy River: The McGregor SagaStingersAll Together NowLaw of the LandTales of the South Seas and The Flying Doctors.  He has been awarded numerous national and international awards.

The Greg Coote Scholarship will fund the costs of the placement, including travel and visas, and provide a small weekly wage to the recipient.

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About Greg Coote

Greg Coote was one of Australia’s most prolific industry figures.  Greg ran LA-based Larrikin Entertainment with David Calvert-Jones; he was a producer and financier of theatrical movies, television programs and digital entertainment content.  He was also a non-executive director of Bollywood distributor Eros International, Chair of US distributor China Lion, chairman of the ScreenSingapore convention and a member of the advisory board of the Singapore Government’s Media Development Authority.  Previously Greg was Chair and CEO of Dune Entertainment, which co-financed more than 60 movies with 20th Century Fox, including Avatar; Managing Director of Roadshow Films and Managing Director of Network Ten in Australia; President of Columbia Pictures International Theatrical in Los Angeles; founding president and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in Los Angeles.  Greg founded an arts endowment campaign to fund arts programs in perpetuity and to create a model for other school districts around the state and country. He was a generous and strong individual who was able to bring people along with him when it came to making sure that the arts remained part of the public school curriculum.