The hardest thing to do now — we’re having trouble reviving some of these female names but it is far more worse reviving African-American female names because these folks have had no paperwork left about them and even the men they worked with haven’t been cataloged in a way that we can look to them for information. Tressi Souders, we only have through newspaper accounts of films of hers that were opening in African-American neighborhoods. So we can see advertisements that she had product but the product doesn’t exist. You can’t find it even on — most of the women I’m gonna mention, the Caucasian women — the European women — and you could find some of their movies on YouTube because stuff has been kept in the Library of Congress. Sadly some has been saved because of men it’s connected to but at least it’s been saved. These women, none of their work exists anymore and that’s one of the most depressing things.
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.
My Second-year MFA candidate Randi Barros and I spent the morning on set at the Manhattan Beach Studios watching a filmed table read of Barros’ script “Springtime in September.” A winner of this year’s ‘She Called Action’ 35 Pilot Table Read Contest, the script concerns a suddenly single mother dealing with dating in the new era.
This “She Called Action” event was created by Cheryl Rodes of the women-owned production company Rodes Unpaved, dedicated to putting women as the heroes of the story.
One of the fun-nest things about many fun things at the Denver PopCon was the chance to see Stephens College film professor (and MFA alum) Chase Thompson debut his film Tampsen Air. He shared fascinating stories about the concept and the production work in the film with the audience- and the various other Screenwriting MFA alums who came out to show their support.
Thanks to another invite from Kris Zoleta and the wonderful staff at the CPP Library I presented another lunchtime lecture yesterday.
This talk was on famous female writers of science fiction both in books (from Mary Shelley to Octavia Butler) and on television with a side tangent on important and influential female characters of science fiction (from Lt. Nyota Uhura to Dana Scully).
The audience responded well, many asking me for recommendations for summer reading) and the nicest compliment I received came from an engineering student who came up to me afterward to say she was either going to do homework or come to my talk during her lunch break and she was ever so happy she had chosen to come to the talk.
Paolo Russo, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, has twice spent a week as a guest lecturer here in Los Angeles and now I get a chance to spend a week with his students. This Master Class is just one part of my activities there. I’ll be working closely with his screenwriting students individually and also get a chance to visit some important research locations like the Bodleian Library.
On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.
Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.
Many, many thanks to the soon-to-be-graduating Class of 2019 from the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting who presented me with a marvelous photo of them all posed in front of the mural that adorns the conference room where we hold so many of our classes. It was a great final week of workshop for this low residency program, topped off with excellent Q&A sessions with producer Karen Loop (“On the Basis of Sex”), executive producer Aaron Thomas (SWAT), producer (and current mentor) Valerie Woods (Queen Sugar), writer (and alum) Sahar Jahani (Ramy) — and lectures on Italian neorealism from visiting professor Dr. Paolo Russo (Oxford-Brookes).
I look forward to working with all our future alums as they move forward in their own exciting careers!