From The Journal Of Screenwriting V2 Issue 2: Lost and gone for ever? The search for early British screenplays by Jacob U. U. Jacob

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

Lost and gone for ever? The search for early British screenplays by Jacob U. U. Jacob

The systematic collection and preservation of film and TV scripts at a national level has never been implemented in the United Kingdom. While the British Film Institute National Library (BFI) has a respectable collection of around 25,000 scripts, this has been built up from donations over the 75 years of the BFI’s existence. The silent film period, to 1930, is particularly affected by this lack of national care; the BFI has less than 100 British scripts from this period. Researchers from the University of Leeds spent several months in 2007 and 2008 seeking and collating information from around the world, with grant-aid support from the British Academy. The intention was to find out if any British silent film scripts had found a home in both British and foreign institutional collections, or elsewhere. The results were in general as expected – no major new collections were unearthed – but in part surprising. As a result of this a database has been compiled. Why should we search for scripts? It is now being realized that screenplay and other documentation hold information about the provenance and development of the screen idea that a film cannot provide. For some, the script may be a useful substitute for a lost film, but more importantly understanding how the film was envisaged before principal photography can reveal much about the industrial assumptions associated with film production in general, and about that screen idea in particular.

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. 

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