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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Read Rosanne Welch‘s answerWhat is the best theory of story structure for screenwriting, and why? on Quora

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



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

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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From The “When Women Wrote Hollywood Archives 03: Anita Loos Papers 1917-1981., Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library

Months of research went into the creation of the essays in “When Women Wrote Hollywood.” Here are some of the resources used to enlighten today’s film lovers to the female pioneers who helped create it.


Anita Loos, screenwriter and novelist, was born on April 26, 1893, in Sisson, CA, the daughter of R. Beers and Minnie Ellen Loos. Miss Loos wrote the subtitles for D. W. Griffith’s film, Intolerance, in 1916. Her best known work is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She died on August 18, 1981, at the age of 93. The Anita Loos Papers consist of scripts, essays and articles from her career as a screenwriter and novelist. The bulk of the collection dates from 1917-1969. There are also adaptations of her works, unfinished scripts and research notes.


Buy “When Women Wrote Hollywood” Today!

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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V10 Issue 1: Intellectual spaces in screenwriting studies: The practitioner-academic and fidelity discourse by Terry Bailey

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


Intellectual spaces in screenwriting studies: The practitioner-academic and fidelity discourse
AuthorTerry Bailey

As Craig Batty argues, traditional screenwriting research predominantly concerns itself not with the practice of writing, but its end product. This can lead to the actual process of writing being overlooked. The advent of the practitioner-academic within screenwriting studies has led to the foregrounding of the interests of practice over those of more traditional academic research. According to Batty, the intent of the practitioner-academic’s research is to generate knowledge that can influence the work of screenwriters directly. This article argues that additionally, practitioner-academics can make a valuable contribution towards more ‘traditional’ research, simply by occupying the same unique intellectual space from which they might influence practice. The article uses debates surrounding fidelity within adaptation studies to examine the ways in which the practitioner-academic’s unique approach can enhance ‘traditional’ research, and draws on examples from practice to do so, namely the book to film adaptation Starship Troopers (1997).

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!



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

From The “When Women Wrote Hollywood Archives: Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood by Robert S. Birchard

Months of research went into the creation of the essays in “When Women Wrote Hollywood.” Here are some of the resources used to enlighten today’s film lovers to the female pioneers who helped create it.


Cecil B. DeMille was the most successful filmmaker in early Hollywood history. Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood is a detailed and definitive chronicle of the screen work that changed the course of film history and a fascinating look at how movies were actually made in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Drawing extensively on DeMille’s personal archives and other primary sources, Robert S. Birchard offers a revealing portrait of DeMille the filmmaker that goes behind studio gates and beyond DeMille’s legendary persona. In his forty-five-year career DeMille’s box-office record was unsurpassed, and his swaggering style established the public image for movie directors. DeMille had a profound impact on the way movies tell stories and brought greater attention to the elements of decor, lighting, and cinematography. Best remembered today for screen spectacles such as The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah , DeMille also created Westerns, realistic “chamber dramas,” and a series of daring and highly influential social comedies. He set the standard for Hollywood filmmakers and demanded absolute devotion to his creative vision from his writers, artists, actors, and technicians.


Buy “When Women Wrote Hollywood” Today!

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

#MentorMonday 6 – Jennifer Maisel – Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Jennifer Maisel (IMDB) is our featured mentor at the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting for #mentormonday this week!

#MentorMonday 6 - Jennifer Maisel - Stephens College MFA in TV and ScreenwritingJennifer Maisel most recently developed an original pilot called “The 626” with Super Deluxe and adapted two Jane Green novels—Tempting Fate and To Have and to Hold, which aired in June. She currently is working on a two-hour about campus rape and institutional betrayal with Just Singer Entertainment. Her screenplay “Lost Boy” was filmed starring Virginia Madsen. She wrote The Assault and The March Sisters for Mar Vista Entertainment and Double Wedding for Jaffe Braunstein. She has written movies for NBC, ABC, MTV and Lifetime, was a staff writer on the television series Related, wrote a pilot for ABC Family and an animated feature for Disney. Maisel has developed original pilots with Bunim-Murray, Ineffable, Stun Media and MomentumTV and co-created the critically acclaimed web series Faux Baby with Laura Brennan and Rachel Leventhal. The screenplay adaptation of her play The Last Seder won Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenwriting Award, meriting her a month’s stay in a haunted farmhouse at the Nantucket Screenwriter’s Colony. A graduate of Cornell University and NYU’s Dramatic Writing program, Maisel is also an award-winning playwright whose Eight Nights will premiere at Antaeus Theatre in October 2019; the play is currently part of a nationwide event called 8 Nights of Eight Nights, raising funds and awareness for HIAS.


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From The Journal Of Screenwriting V10 Issue 1: Screenwriting for new film mediums: Conceptualizing visual models for interactive storytelling

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


Screenwriting for new film mediums: Conceptualizing visual models for interactive storytelling
Gwendolyn Ogle

Journal of Screenwriting, Volume 10, Issue 1

This article considers challenges specific to screenwriting for interactive storytelling in new film mediums, and proposes fifteen visual, conceptual models for interactive storytelling. The models are placed on a continuum with increasing degrees of interactivity. Three arguments are posed for the necessity of visual, conceptual models and a review of literature is presented that lends credence to these arguments. Though technology’s ability to provide interaction is an important factor, technology is not the focus of this article. Instead, the focus is on the need for authors to have a voice and a process in this new, interdisciplinary domain of interactive storytelling in new film mediums. The models proposed in this article help establish a common vernacular from which authors, programmers and others can communicate and direct interactive storytelling efforts towards the design of interactive storytelling systems.

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!



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!