John Collee

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John Collee
JC photo.jpg
Born John Gerald Collee
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Screenwriter

John Gerald Collee (born 1955) is a Scottish novelist, journalist and screenwriter whose film scripts include Master and Commander (2003), Happy Feet (2006), Creation (2009), and Walking with Dinosaurs (2013). Collee practised medicine and wrote several novels before he became a full-time screenwriter. He is married to Deborah Snow, with whom he has three children. He occasionally lectures on creative writing.[1]


Collee was born in 1955 to Isobel McNay Collee (née Galbraith) and J. Gerald Collee CBE,[2] the latter who was a professor of bacteriology at the University of Edinburgh.[3] Collee grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland and in India.[4] He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and began practising medicine in Cambridge, Bath, and Bristol.[5] In his third year of practice, he wrote the medical thriller Kingsley's Touch, which was published in 1984. Collee subsequently worked in emergency medicine and worked as a doctor in countries like Gabon, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka.[4] He then wrote a second novel titled A Paper Mask, which was published in 1987. Rights to the novel were acquired for a film adaptation, and Collee wrote the screenplay for director Christopher Morahan, who released the film Paper Mask in 1990. With income from screenwriting, Collee wrote his third novel The Rig, which was published in 1991. Around the same time The Rig was published, Collee became a weekly columnist for The Observer and wrote about travel, science and medicine. He kept the job for six years.[4] In London he was an early member of The Groucho Club and was part of an informal social group of British writers and film-makers which included Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis, Richard Rayner and Paul Greengrass

Collee met his wife Deborah Snow on the way to Azerbaijan; he was escorting a shipment of medical aid when he met Snow, who was a TV correspondent in Moscow, Russia for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. When he began writing a book about Soviet medicine called The Kingdom of the Blind. The book was unpublished, but when Collee went to the Solomon Islands for a year to work as a doctor, Snow went with him, and they had their first child, Lauren, on the islands.[4] He worked in London for a short time before moving to Sydney, Australia in 1996 to meet Australian directors like Peter Weir and George Miller. For Weir, Collee wrote the screenplay for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and for Miller, he wrote Happy Feet.[5] Collee and Snow have three children and live in Sydney. His most recent works to be screened include "Creation" about the life of Charles Darwin, and "Walking with Dinosaurs (film)" - an animated drama taking its title from the BBC documentary franchise.

The Production company "Hopscotch Features" is a partnership between John Collee, Andrew Mason [6] and Troy Lum [7] Their recent co-productions include, "The Water Diviner", "Adoration", "Saving Mr Banks" and "I, Frankenstein"[8]

Passionate about the environment, and the accurate communication of science, John Collee is a board member of the Australian branch of climate activist group[9][10]

Screenwriting credits[edit]



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  3. ^ Cornwell, Tim (December 6, 2003). "Interviews – John Collee: Master of the High Seas". The Scotsman. 
  4. ^ a b c d McMullen, Myles (Spring–Summer 2005). "Screenwriting 101 –Get a Life! John Collee thinks writers should get out more". Metro (146/147): 122–126. 
  5. ^ a b Sragow, Michael (November 23, 2003). "Man of the world wielded a pen for 'Master': Co-writer Collee can draw on his travels, medical-aid experiences". Baltimore Sun. 
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