28 D.C. Fontana from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (1 minute 9 seconds)

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The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

28 D.C. Fontana from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

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This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

I like novels but I also like TV a lot. I’m a pretty big pop-culture person. So I wanted to look a little bit into the women who’ve written science fiction on television. We don’t hear a lot about them. We know this show. Everyone’s heard of it even if you’ve never seen it. Everyone credits it to Gene Roddenberry, who is the man who invented it. He’s quite a brilliant man. That’s wonderful but along the way he hired this lady DC Fontana who went by the name DC because she didn’t think they’d hire a girl named Dorothy to write a science fiction television show. So she got the job as DC Fontana and did it – she’s worked in every iteration of Star Trek including the games, including the animated series on Saturday. She’s been involved in Star Trek forever and was involved in the very beginning — Wrote several episodes in the first original series. Wrote a few early novels that were out. So she was deeply embedded in that show and embedded in creating powerful female characters and also on creating the alien — the Vulcan guy, Spock, giving him a background. She created much of the background of his culture because culture was important to her. So she’s pretty cool and of course they loved her so much they made — they put her in the animated show. They made an animated version of her.



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Screenwriting Research Network Conference 2020 – Oxford, UK – September 9-12, 2020

Screenwriting Research Network Conference 2020 - Oxford, UK - September 9-12, 2020

Of all the conferences I attend, the Screenwriting Research Network conference has been the most valuable in both information I attain from the many panels – there are always too many to see and too little time to see them. (SMILE) But also from the connections I have made which have brought international guest speakers to my MFA program and new colleagues for me to collaborate with on articles, special issues of our journal – and books!  And I have been able to help publish several of the alums of my program as the Book Reviews Editor of our Journal of Screenwriting.

Yes, the conferences are typically held overseas, so travel can be costly, but they have also given my family the excuse to see Dunedin, New Zealand, Porto, Portugal, Milan, Italy and Leeds, England so the money has been well spent.

Most importantly, if you can’t make Oxford 2020 – I hope you mark your calendars for Missouri 2022 (on the beautiful campus of Stephens College).


From the Screenwriting Research Network

The 13th annual International Conference of the Screenwriting Research Network (SRN 2020) will be hosted by Oxford Brookes University in the UK, on Wednesday 9 through Saturday 12 September.

The Conference is organized by the Film Studies Research Unit with the support of the School of Arts of Oxford Brookes University through Quality-Related (QR) research funding. The main location of the Conference will be at Headington Campus. Oxford is well known for its history, culture and academic tradition.

In order to ensure timely notification of shortlisted delegates and subsequent travel planning, please note the deadline for the submission of all proposals/abstracts by 15 December 2019.
We will keep updating the website with useful information about the conference in the forthcoming months, so keep coming back!
 
Essential information
Calendar (summary of deadlines)

Submissions of abstracts by:                          15 December 2019

Shortlisting/notification of acceptance by:    End of January 2020

Early-bird registration:                                   From early March until 31 May 2020

Regular registration by:                                  15 July 2020

Late registration by:                                        25 August 2020

Conference:                                                     9-12 September 2020

Submissions via email and contact: info@srn2020.com

Keynotes speakers and special guests to be announced in early 2020

My Quora Answer: What is the best theory of story structure for screenwriting, and why?

What is the best theory of story structure for screenwriting, and why?

For the last several years I have taught using the 11 Steps of Dr. Jule Selbo’s “Screenplay: Building Story Through Character”. I find many of the other lists of Steps to be far too finicky while Selbo’s are streamlined to the most important moments to hit to illustrate character growth. Being both an academic AND a practitioner (having written scripts for everyone from Disney to Lucasfilm) she knows what she’s talking about and in her book she provides a huge section that shows how the 11 Steps appear in many classic and current films.

It is easy to use Selbo’s 11 Steps practically off the cuff in any classroom discussion on any movie by asking the questions and the moments are so ingrained in our minds that the answers come easily to questions like the master question “What does the lead character Want?” and even to trickier questions like “When do they receive their second chance at their want?”

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From The Journal Of Screenwriting V10 Issue 1: An insider perspective on the script in practice by Vincenzo Giarrusso

Highlighting the articles in the past editions of the Journal of Screenwriting, of which I am the Book Reviews Editor. Hopefully these abstracts will entice you to did a little deeper into the history and future of screenwriting. — Rosanne


An insider perspective on the script in practice by Vincenzo Giarrusso

The machinations of industry, the exigencies of film funding and the producer’s prominent role in setting fiscal and marketing objectives for film production seem incongruous with scriptwriting as a generative creative practice in the filmmaking process. This article presents a case study that investigates the agency of creative practice from the insider perspective of a scriptwriter. In mobilizing the concept of the boundary object, the case links the problematic and transitional status of the script – as it passes out of the hands of the writer – to other roles under the control of filmmaking practitioners. In combining a practice-based reflexive narrative with theoretical observations, the article explores the processes and imperatives that mediate the script and scriptwriting as an embodied experience for the scriptwriter.

Journal of Screenwriting Cover

The Journal of Screenwriting is an international double-blind peer-reviewed journal that is published three times a year. The journal highlights current academic and professional thinking about the screenplay and intends to promote, stimulate and bring together current research and contemporary debates around the screenplay whilst encouraging groundbreaking research in an international arena. The journal is discursive, critical, rigorous and engages with issues in a dynamic and developing field, linking academic theory to screenwriting practice. 

Get your copy and subscription to the Journal of Screenwriting Today!


Screenwriting Research Network Conference 2020

Join me at the Screenwriting Research Network’s Annual Conference in Oxford, UK



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Mentoris Project Podcast: Defying Danger: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Matteo Ricci with Author, Nicole Gregory [Audio]

 

Mentoris Project Podcast: Defying Danger: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Matteo Ricci with Author, Nicole Gregory

Read Defying Danger: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Matteo Ricci with Author, Nicole Gregory

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The Forbidden City—home to the opium-addicted Ming Dynasty emperor and protected by thousands of ruthless eunuchs—no European had ever been inside. Would a simple Jesuit priest be the first?

Armed with a homemade clock, a wealth of patience, and an uncompromising drive to share his faith with a new people, Father Matteo Ricci would overcome one barrier only to be met by another: treacherous seas, a complex language, and a culture with an unshakable mistrust of foreigners and rooted in the teachings of Buddha and Confucius.

In sharing European understanding of astronomy, Ricci garnered the respect of the Chinese and despite the urgency he felt to talk about his beliefs, he tread carefully and respectfully, adopting their ways rather than imposing his own. He was one of the first Westerners to speak and read Mandarin and compiled the first Chinese-Western dictionary. By translating Greek mathematics texts into Chinese and Confucian works into Latin, as well as drawing the first world map with Chinese characters, Ricci forged a path for future scholars, explorers, and missionaries.  

 


About the Author

 

Nicole Gregory is a writer and editor living in Southern California with her husband and son. She has been the Home and Garden/Travel editor at the Orange County Register, and has written and edited for numerous publications, including VIV magazine, Family Circle, The Boston Globe, Los Angeles magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and others. Recent features she’s written include stories about a treehouse designer, why we need a surgeon general, how a cocoa bean chemical can reverse memory loss, and reasons to take an inn-to-inn hike along the Southern California coast. When she’s not obsessing about her garden, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading fiction.

Gregory is the author of the Mentoris Project books, God’s Messenger, The Astounding Achievements of Mother Cabrini: A Novel Based on the Life of Mother Frances X. Cabrini and Defying Danger: A Novel Based on the Life of Father Matteo Ricci.

 

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Also from the Mentoris Project

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In Memoriam: D.C. Fontana and How William Shatner’s Chest Inspired one (or more) Female Television Writers to Succeed in the Boys Club of Hollywood

In fond memory of D.C Fontana, who died yesterday at the age of 80, I am reposting this homage I wrote for the Mindful(l) Media podcast in 2015. She will be greatly missed. – Rosanne


In Memoriam: D.C. Fontana, Star Trek & Women via Mindful(l) Media

How William Shatner’s Chest Inspired one (or more) Female Television Writers to Succeed in the Boys Club of Hollywood

As a child I didn’t come to Star Trek for the fantasy or for the fun futuristic optimism or even for the glory of the gadgetry of the tricorders and communicators. I came for William Shatner’s chest. Glimpsed quickly one day while changing channels, my pre-adolescent hormones screeched to a halt as I sat transfixed. That tight Star Fleet uniform shirt truly rippled across his chest, which seemed to strain to be released. We didn’t ‘flip’ in those pre-remote days. We sat in front of the set and manually spun the dial like the combination lock on our high school lockers, which brought us in to much closer contact with the (sometimes still black and white) pictures flashing upon our (compared to modern day frightfully small) screens. I don’t even remember which episode it was that first placed his pecs in front of me, but this obsession with Shatner’s chest focused me so much so that I never cared for the writers’ propensity for finding ways for his co-star to flaunt his own brand of sexuality. Forcing the unfeeling Mr. Spock to feel never moved me at all, so in second, third and fourth runs I never found “This Side of Paradise” much to my liking. In the epic mash up between Sexy Shatner and Sexy Spock, Shatner always won. But being a budding television writer even as a ten year old, I recognized in the idea the need to offer the actor a way out of the rigid character description enforced upon him by his creator.

Fontana 1970sViewed now from the perspective of a fifty-year old female television writer and scholar, no longer merely a fan, I find the episode fascinating for what it says about the history of women writers — and the female characters they create — in television. In those days of heady chest-worshipping I didn’t know that the D. C. in D. C. Fontana stood for Dorothy Catherine. When I later learned that information from reading The Making of Star Trek, I took her success as a beacon for my own journey, as did many other future female television writers I came to meet throughout my career. While countless books have been written about the influence of the program on science fiction and on television in general, what I came to learn was the influence Star Trek wielded on bringing women into the industry — and how their participation changes the way female characters are portrayed.

Because of Fontana, future writers of future Trek franchises invited other female writers to pitch ideas so that, to my great joy twenty years after I stumbled upon the original Trek, I found myself in the offices of Star Trek: The Next Generation pitching ideas for stories involving what was still largely a boys club of characters. Sure, they had accepted two women into their continuing cast — both in ‘soft’ occupations as ship’s counselor and medical doctor and still under the command of Captain Picard. But the franchise had proved a stepping stone for a variety of female writers I admired (including Jane Espenson and Melinda M. Snodgrass) and I was excited to be among them. I never sold a story to that iteration of the show, but I kept watching — and kept noticing — that written by women, female characters were (and sadly are still) often more developed (in ways other than their chest measurements).

In “Paradise” that is true of what actress Nichelle Nichols is given to do as our cast regular female, Lt. Nyota Uhura (whose first name I never knew until the writing of this essay) and what Jill Ireland is given to do as the guest character, Spock’s former girlfriend, Leila (who in the tradition of sex objects was never provided a last name). Normally confined to dialogue discussing ‘hailing frequencies’ and only seen taking orders from Captain Kirk, in “Paradise” Uhura commits mutiny against her captain. He has to state for the Captain’s log that, “Lt. Uhura has effectively sabotaged all communications.” While all the male starship members also commit mutiny, Uhura is given one-on-one screen time with the lead actor to do so. Likewise, while Leila seems at first to only be demonstrating that the most perfect, porcelain-faced blonde can even be sexy in overalls, she was also spouting Thoreau (as in Henry David) and his brand of 19th century Transcendentalist philosophy to Spock — and to the audience. For a show airing at the height of the hippie movement, Leila served as a mouthpiece for their dream of peaceful co-existence, one not yet shared by other generations. In several online interviews Fontana has chosen Leila as one of her favorite characters, so we know much of what Leila says comes from Fontana’s own philosophies.

Of course, in the end television was then (and still is now) a man’s world so Uhura’s and Leila’s interests are eventually subsumed by Kirk’s desire to prove, “Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.” This philosophy discounts ‘woman’ as part of ‘man’ and makes the female-gendered idea of creating peace and happiness submissive to the more male dominant idea of success defined by changing the world around him. Why is a love of nature, as evidenced in Spock’s line: “I have seen a dragon… but I’ve never stopped to look at clouds before, or rainbows” less of an ambition for man? Even the American Founding Fathers cared more for the land and its beauty than these final frontier founders seem to do as they travel the galaxy. Why is the existence of this previous girlfriend and the chance to hear “I love you” from a formerly feeling-less alien male, less of an ambition of (wo)man?

Fontana 2012Despite her straining to include her voice in this world, the male producer(s) still stamped their voice on the final product that became “This Side of Paradise”. Over the course of my career, I came to learn that Fontana shared that experience with many of the female writers who followed her, each one planting just enough seeds or dropping just enough breadcrumbs of her own opinion onto the fields of male creation for the rest of us ‘chick writers’ to follow. Where as a child I saw “This Side of Paradise” as an epic battle between sexy male leads, as an adult I see it as the continued battle for the hearts and minds of the audience waged by writers of different genders. It is a fight that several other sisters have carried on through the decades and one I’m willing to declare has been won by a relative newcomer to the scene, Shonda Rhimes. Through the creation of her own new frontier in Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes provides male and female audiences alike with an all-inclusive world entirely conceived in a female mind. What do both the male and female doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital hope to provide their patients everyday? As Rodenberry provided a masculine ‘trek’ for man into the final frontier, the feminine goal Rhimes provides her characters is right there in the title of the hospital, ‘grace’. (And thanks to D. C. Fontana, Shonda chose to use her first name in her credits.)

All this musing makes me wonder how many young female writers are now coming to their careers because of a love of the way Patrick Dempsey’s chest ripples under his uniform shirt?

#MentorMonday 7 – Jon Vandergriff – Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Today’s the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting #mentormonday goes out to Jon Vandergriff! (IMDB)

VandergriffJon Vandergriff received his MFA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California and immediately segued into professional sitcom writing with his debut freelance script for the ABC hit show, Coach.

That was followed by a six-year stint on the even bigger ABC hit, Home Improvement, where he rose from staff writer to supervising producer. He attained the title of co-executive producer on the popular WB show Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Along the way, Vandergriff wrote sitcom pilots for NBC and The WB and also has had two screenplays optioned by Hollywood-based production companies.

A lifelong lover of board games, Vandergriff also is a board game inventor who has had three games published, including Anger Management and A Way with Words, which also is an app and was recently picked up by Electronic Arts to publish on their website, pogo.com.


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30 Lillian Hellman from “When Women Wrote Hollywood” with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (55 seconds)

Part of the California State University, Fullerton Faculty Noon Time Talks at the Pollak Library.

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30 Lillian Hellman from

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Transcript:

Another woman — we’re moving kind of through — now we’re moving to the 40s and 50s — Lillian Hellman. More people know of her because she was a playwright. They know about her winning some Tony’s and then her stuff was transferred to film. The Children’s Hour was almost a Pulitzer Prize winner but it’s the story of two lesbian women who run a girl’s school and one is accused of lesbianism and the Pulitzer Prize committee actually came out and said “we’re not giving an award to a movie that discusses that” — Oh to a play, excuse me. So it was won that year by Zoe Akins for a play that has been falling out of — nobody cares about anymore — et people are still performing The Little Foxes and you can still of course watch the Bette Davis version, which is quite brilliant. So Lillian Hellman is a pretty amazing woman. She’s also famous to us because during the Blacklist there was a threat of blacklisting her and when she was asked to give names to the committee in Washington that’s what she said — which could have destroyed her career.

Dr. Rosanne Welch discusses the women in her new book “When Women Wrote Hollywood” which covers female screenwriters from the Silents through the early 1940s when women wrote over 50% of films and Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter (male or female) and the first to win 2 Oscars.  Yet, she fails to appear in film history books, which continue to regurgitate the myth that male directors did it all – even though it’s been proven that the only profitable movies Cecil B. de Mille ever directed were all written by Jeannie Macpherson film ever won for Best Picture was written by Robert E. Sherwood (who people have heard of, mostly due to his connection to Dorothy Parker) and Joan Harrison.


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15 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back from “Why The Monkees Matter: Even 50 Years Later [Video] (49 seconds)

Enjoy This Clip? Watch this entire presentation and Buy Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture

From Denver Pop Culture Con 2019.

Wherever you go, you find Monkees fans and the Denver Popular Culture Con was no different.  Amid rooms full of caped crusaders and cosplay creations, I was initially not sure how many folks would attend a talk on a TV show from the 1960s – but happily I was met by a nice, engaged audience for my talk on Why the Monkees Matter  – and afterward they bought books!  What more could an author ask for?

15 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back from

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Transcript

In this episode, it works because they’re showing us a girl rock band, which was a little odd at the time. There were individual female singer-songwriters but we didn’t have of course a giant female rock band. The only bummer about this episode — kind of a throwback — is when the two groups figure the way to win this contest, of course, is to combine since they’re four girls and four boys. All of a sudden the four girls who played their own instruments in their own band are are go-go dancers than the boy’s band. So, you know, two steps forward, one step back. It happens, you know, it happens but I’m impressed with the women that I found on the show. I really didn’t expect that in a way that I could do a whole nother talk on The Big Bang Theory and what happened to the women on that show who all started out as neuro-scientists and then became just nuts about Sheldon, which is fine, but yeah, that’s a whole nother story.



Buy Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture

A hit television show about a fictitious rock band, The Monkees (1966-1968) earned two Emmys–Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Acheivement in Comedy.

Capitalizing on the show’s success, the actual band formed by the actors, at their peak, sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined, and set the stage for other musical TV characters from The Partridge Family to Hannah Montana. In the late 1980s, the Monkees began a series of reunion tours that continued into their 50th anniversary.

This book tells the story of The Monkees and how the show changed television, introducing a new generation to the fourth-wall-breaking slapstick created by Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

Its creators contributed to the innovative film and television of 1970s with projects like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laugh-In and Welcome Back, Kotter. Immense profits from the show, its music and its merchandising funded the producers’ move into films such as Head, Easy Riderand Five Easy Pieces.

McFarland (Direct from Publisher) | Amazon | Kindle Edition | Nook Edition

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27 Nnedi Okorafor from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (23 seconds)

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The Sisterhood of Science Fiction: A Walk Through Some Writers and Characters You (Should) Know And Love

27 Nnedi Okorafor from The Sisterhood of Science Fiction - Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (23 seconds)

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

This one allowed me to riff on some of my favorite female science fiction writers across time, whether they be novelists or television writers. It also opened up a good conversation on what art we support and include in our lives – and what that art says to us and about us. — Rosanne

Transcript:

One of the most recent newer writers in the world is Nnedi Okorafor and she just won the World Fantasy Award in 201 — the World Fantasy Award for Best new novel Binti which is a fascinating novel but she’s got a couple out as well that I think are worth paying attention to. Again when he’s thinking about reading again she’s thinking about putting people of African descent in the future. That’s something she thinks of course is important so I think it was pretty cool. She’s Nigerian.



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