Here’s a blast from the past: while watching the final episode of Growing Up Gracefully, the ABC’s latest not-quite-comedy to combine interviews with relationship experts with somewhat pointless sketches demonstrating not very sexy sex stuff, we noticed Marieke Hardy listed in the end credits as script supervisor.
Script supervisor is a job that, as far as we can tell, basically means “make sure the people actually making the show don’t screw it up”, which led to a bit of head scratching at Tumblies HQ. This is Marieke Hardy we’re talking about, right? The creator of the extremely unfunny and somewhat creepy Laid? Making sure a comedy series doesn’t go off the rails? Huh?
At first we figured her qualification for the gig was that she, like Growing Up Gracefully hosts Hannah & Eliza Reilly, comes from an Australian television background: while the Reillys are the daughters of Hey, Dad…! creator Gary Reilly, Hardy’s parents were both television producers with credits including The Sullivans and All The Rivers Run. No doubt they could sit around and talk about all the ways that they clawed their way up the media ladder and through hard work and effort managed to be given their own television shows on national broadcasters by the time they were in their mid-twenties. It’s a hard knock life.
But hang on a second. The Reilly’s have extensive media experience (Hannah was a long-time Chaser contributor and currently hosts a radio show on Triple J, for example): exactly how much supervising would their production need? Would this have been a full-time, hands-on job for Hardy – in which case our eyebrow over hiring her would have remained raised – or could this have been more of a casual, check-collecting affair, in which case her recent resume of co-writing Hoges and appearing somewhere down the credits of series like Packed to the Rafters and Wonderland might have qualified her for the gig?
Based on her recent TV credits, she certainly had time to devote herself fully to Growing Up Gracefully, as her only work this year has been an episode of Seven Types of Ambiguity – though she’s reportedly also on the writing staff for the upcoming third series of Cleverman as well. But it turns out she’s been busy elsewhere these last few years:
Hardy, a television writer, and regular panellist on ABC TV’s The Book Club, has spent much of the past two years working anonymously in “immersive theatre, live art and experiential theatre” at Dark Mofo, Brisbane and Melbourne festivals and the Melbourne and Adelaide fringe festivals. Two years ago she received the $160,000 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship.
It’s fair to say we were, um, somewhat surprised to read that Hardy was given a $160,000 grant, considering her creativity was fairly well plumbed over two series of Laid and it’s not like anyone was clamouring for more after that wrapped up. There’s also the small matter of her being gainfully employed as a television writer, a job that last time we checked paid more than the fuck-all most artists in the country are trying to live off. Oh, and she’s a television panellist: since when do those guys get “creative fellowships”?
But then we remembered this post we wrote a few years back detailing the numerous grants she’d been given over a number of years for various film and television projects that never materialised and in at least one case seemed certain never to materialise even before the money was handed over.
So why are government funding bodies throwing good money after bad?
At a guess, it’s because Hardy knows how to fill out the right forms and – thanks to her previous two shots at the big time – she technically qualifies as the kind of experienced television producer they want to encourage. As people who have seen pretty much all of her television output to date, may we respectfully suggest they reconsider.
(if you follow that link, you’ll see we were left wondering if Film Victoria would cough up more development cash for Hardy for the fifth straight year in a row. Turns out they did – $10,000 for something called Family Man which, like the previous three years’ projects, never materialised)
Hey, let’s go check out the requirements for the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, shall we?
The Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships provide grants to individual artists, arts managers, and thought leaders in the humanities.
The two criteria used to select Fellows are: outstanding talent and exceptional courage. Specifically, this talent and courage relates to the professional practice of the Fellows and not to cases of personal hardship.
“Outstanding talent”. That’s maybe not the two words we’d direct towards the creator of Laid. But they did stress that these criteria have nothing to do with “personal hardship”, which are also not two words we’d direct towards the creator of Laid.
The Fellowships are intended for artists in their ‘early mid-career’ – to be eligible, nominees must be in the first seven to fifteen years of their creative practice. They are also intended for artists who will primarily be resident in Australia for the two years of their Fellowship.
Hardy was awarded this grant in 2015 at the age of 39. It’s fairly safe to say by any objective standard her “creative practice” (that is, the creative endeavor in which she’s best known for and most successful at) is television writing* – her one book, a collection of personal essays notable largely for her getting the co-subjects of said essays to write afterwords praising her, was published in 2011, with a follow-up novel never appearing.
As a television writer, her first credit as a “series writer” was for Short Cuts in 2002. Though her first television writing credit was for Thunderstone in 1998 and she wrote for a range of series in 2001, so while she made it under the 15-year wire she was definitely cutting it pretty fine.
That’s only if you ignore the whole “early mid-career” thing, of course – having two seasons of your own sitcom is pretty much as good as it gets for a television writer in Australia, and by any reasonable standard Hardy’s television “creative practice” in 2015 was well and truly past any kind of “early mid-career”.
But of course, she wasn’t given this cash for her television writing: she got it because she’s Marieke Hardy, television panellist, newspaper columnist, radio host, event organiser, former topless blogger and high profile public figure-
-at various festivals.
(not Meredith music festival, obviously)
Anyway, while exactly how the money was spent remains a mystery – it seems the details of her festival work from the above article actually comes from a 2015 article announcing her win:
She couldn’t detail exactly how she would use the two-year fellowship, but said: “I want to be able to keep collaborating and keep working in new mediums.”
It does seem somewhat fortunate timing that just as the two year grant ran out she scored a gig as the new co-head of the Melbourne Writers Festival. All we really need to say about that is that the article praising her “strong literary lineage” that we quoted above is written by her co-panellist on The Book Show, who also happens to be The Age‘s books editor. It’s not what you know it’s who you know – unless what you know is how to fill out a grant form.
We could go on – “Working without my name attached has been the most beautiful thing I’ve done.” says a person who clearly craves anonymity – but let’s (finally) cut to the chase: unlike other areas of the Australian arts, comedy is an area where success is (somewhat) measured in laughter, not rampant self-promotion and empty hype. People’s careers tend to take them where their particular skills are best suited. And if there’s a second series of Growing Up Gracefully, they probably won’t need a script supervisor.
*it’s most definitely not her online writing.