A Living Sacrifice – The Susannah Birch Story

A case study on the screenplay that earned an Australian International Screenwriting Award in 2020


Adapt a true story based on an unpublished memoir into a screenplay.


While doing research for a story, I Googled, “Can you talk after having your throat slit?” The first result was an article about a 2-year-old Australian girl whose throat was cut by her mother during a psychotic episode in 1989. I read the article, clicked some links, and found Susannah Birch’s website. I was moved to tears by her story and her resilience and generosity to share it in such a judgmental forum as the Internet. On her site I read, “If you’d like to collaborate with me, send me a message.” I did. We signed an exclusive rights deal that granted me access to a Dropbox of crime scene photos, family photos, police reports, medical reports, and her unpublished manuscript. I conducted 15-hours of Skype interviews with Susannah and her father and wrote the screenplay.


First Prize Australian International Screenwriting Award, 2020.