John Collee

Tanna, Photo courtesy of Contact Films, photographed by Philippe Penel

John Collee is one of the most formidable screenwriters in Australian history, with credits including Happy Feet and Master and Commander.

Prior to his current career as a screenwriter John travelled widely as a doctor and as a medical journalist with The Observer newspaper. Raised in Scotland, a year of John’s childhood was spent in India, which also provided the inspiration for his first novel “Kingsley’s Touch” followed by “A Paper Mask” and “The Rig“, all published by Viking/ Penguin.

His feature films – often co-written with their respective directors – range from blockbuster action – the Oscar nominated “Master and Commander” – to historical dramas such as “Creation”, and animated family movies such as  “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D” and the Oscar winning “Happy Feet” .

His foreign-language films include Chinese language hit “Wolf Totem” (2016) and the love story “Tanna” which was made in collaboration with a remote tribe in Vanuatu and nominated in 2017 for best foreign language Oscar.

Current projects in development/ pre-production include Dev Patel’s directorial debut “Monkey man”, plus a WW2 story “Tobruk” to be directed by Phil Noyce and an 8-part adaptation of the wildly successful novel, “Boy Swallows Universe”. 

A Sydney resident for the last 20 years, John is married with three children. He is co-founder and board member of the climate action group Australia.

For full list of credits, and access to selected screenplays visit

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John Collee

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