13 Writer Precedes Director from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

13 Wrier Precedes Director from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: Usually the directors become the heroes of film history. What’s different between the history of screenwriters and the history of directors or actors or actresses in what gets remembered?

Rosanne: Of course. We always grant you that people go first to see an actor or an actress. They fall for that person. That’s who they are going to see the movie for. That’s just the truth. The whole writer-director thing makes me crazy. Back in the day, they recognized writers more. Writers were in “Photoplay” magazine when they had marriages or they were taking vacations. We read about people like Lorna Moon and Anita Loos, obviously. All these people and then what happens is the “Auteur Theory” shows up and the “Auteur Theory” blows us away because François Truffaut over there in France decides directors are the real author of a movie. Even though they don’t write anything unless they’re writer/directors and I always tell my students the word Writer still comes before Director in that phrase.a

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

12 LGBTQIA+ in The West from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

12 LGBTQIA+ in The West from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

…and then really in the very modern-day what I think is really interesting is there’s a show on Sci-Fi called “Wynonna Earp” and it’s out of Canada. So we have a Canadian, Emily Andrus, and so female writer. She’s taking a western icon, Wyatt Earp and she’s flipping it and giving his great-granddaughter the job of using his big rifle – which is called Peacemaker – and killing the ghosts of all the bad guys that Wyatt Earp was once up against because they come back. All right? So oh what a flip of our story, right? I think that’s a really cool and people sort of dismiss it but it also has a really lovely LGBTQ storyline because they give Wynonna a sister who’s gay and she and the sheriff – who’s a girl – are a partnership and you’re like whoa – girl Sheriff having a relationship. The whole thing is like so all this new stuff and yet there’s a really cool book called “Roaring Camp.” It’s about the Gold Rush by Susan Johnson. Using primary documents she documented all these people who truly lived in the Gold Rush and I remember this great team of two men who ran a restaurant for like 40 years together and they lived together. Of course, there’s no paperwork that says they were a couple because nobody’s going to write that down in the day but you know that’s what was going on. It’s like all these people occupied the west and we don’t talk about them and for whatever reason, maybe because women are forgotten a lot, they also like to look for those other forgotten stories and bring them to life. So I think Emily’s a pretty cool person and I’m really interested in a Canadian looking at American history. Very interesting.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

11 Edna Ferber from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

11 Edna Ferber from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

I think we sometimes have to think about women who wrote western novels which were then adapted by men but the core characters are going to have come from the female perspective. So for me, that’s Edna Ferber and it’s always weird that she wrote you know “So Big” and “Cimarron” and “Giant” which is a huge sprawling thing and she’s an easterner. She’s a member of the Algonquin Round Table. She hangs around with you know Harpo Marx and you know Alexander Wolcott and she’s doing all that witty New York stuff but she’s writing about this period. Which is to me reminiscent of the fact that Teddy Roosevelt right is just a straight New Yorker but he comes out here and becomes I’m the West dude and I’m gonna do all that stuff. So anyone can claim to sort of own the West because it becomes our American Myth and everybody wants to be tied to that. Which is why I think Edna Ferb is someone I think you should read.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

10 Women Writing Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

10 Women Writing Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: When you look at all of the histories and biographies that you learned about of women screenwriters are there a couple in particular that you wish more people knew? Maybe these are some of the ones you’ve mentioned already, but are there a couple that you just want to sort of shout from the rooftops? This is a classic. This is a person who should be on the marquee.

Rosanne: Oh, yeah. Well, obviously I did mention Frances Marion. She wrote a series of westerns for her husband, Fred Thomson, who was a western star, right? He was right up there rivaling William S. Hart moving into the talkie world. The problem is he died young and when he died she lost her interest in writing westerns because, of course, it was too reminiscent of him. They were right up there with Pickford and Fairbanks except they were a writer/actor team. So I think that Frances Marion is someone who people have to look more into. I love Jeannie MacPherson and she wrote several westerns. Always about a woman going out west and having experiences and surviving the West. Which is really a western story. A lone person – doesn’t have to be a boy or a girl – a long person challenges themselves and succeeds. So I think she is a really big name.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

09 More On Women Writing Westerns For TV from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

09 More On Women Writing Westerns For TV from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

…but so these women have moved into tv they start doing these other sorts of westerns and then of course Leigh Brackett moves back into movies when she writes “The Empire Strikes Back” but also think about the era of tv as it expands and grows they’re done telling the same repetitive stories. So then we’re going to get Beth Sullivan and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, right which takes the West from that female perspective and is based in real life on a couple of women who couldn’t be doctors in the East, right, but it’s still Western. We got horses. We got cute guys and you know outlaw outfits. It’s a western. It’s just a female experience. So they see much more opportunity there and then slowly maybe they’re appealing back in the movies when it comes to westerns but not as much as we’d like.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

08 Women Writing Westerns For TV from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

08 Women Writing Westerns For TV from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

…and tv is a place where a lot of these women move because they get we’re doing westerns on TV. We start to do a few less westerns – even in the film world as science fiction and stuff takes over – and the women move into television and they’re doing episodes of “Bonanza” and “Wagon Train” and “High Chaparral.” Again, you have the David Dortort” papers there which are so interesting to read because “High Chaparral” is a really cool show when it comes to a female who owned the ranch and then she married – she’s an indigenous woman – she marries a white guy then he co-powers it with her. Really fascinating story. So the women start writing those kinds of things and eventually in the TV realm they move into places where I always rank D.C. Fontana because here’s a woman who wrote westerns on TV and then she got involved in “Star Trek” which as you know was sold as “Wagon Train” to the stars. So she’s just writing westerns with guys in you know tight suits and really the sad thing about that is takes years for people to realize D.C. Fontana is a girl because one of the things that producers and publishers still ask women to do when they’re writing male-focused stories is to use their initials because they don’t think boys or men will read or watch something by Dorothy Christine (actually, Catherine) Fontana I can’t remember Christine’s her middle name. I don’t remember but same thing is and you think we’re done with that except my kid grew up. He’s 22. He’s the generation that read “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling. I mean come on. Could we just not use women’s name right? I grew up reading “The Outsiders” by S.E Hinton. It’s ridiculous, right?

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

07 Women Writing Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

07 Women Writing Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

 

Host: You mention the Silent Era being this
really open, Wild West period of film writing.

If we sort of sketch a line across the 20th Century and now into the 21st Century how

did women’s opportunities kind of wax and
wane in different periods?

What new opportunities opened up?

What things were foreclosed?

How did those kind of trends go across the
history of film?

Rosanne: Wonderful.

Well.

first of all, of course, in the Silent Era
it was – everybody going at it and having

fun until there was too much money in it and
then the women segued out.

Again, they went into novels and literature
although a few people survived that period,

but they weren’t writing westerns.

right?

Except – as you all know from the Autry
Museum – Betty Burabge was writing Gene

Autry movies, right?

So there were some women.

Leigh Brackett – again who is coming in
handy when we’re talking about “Star Wars”

was a western novelist and write western serialization
and things.

So we have some women but it becomes a dude
thing, right, and then this is a problem for

writers all the time.

You get pigeonholed just like actors do.

Oh you did that one movie and your brilliant
at it?

We want you to do fourteen on the same movie.

It’s very few people who get to be William Goldman and do a variety of different things. You have to really reach that peak. So women – it wanes in movies. Although B Serial have a little more opportunity for them and then, yes, TV is invented.

 

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

Reading Leads to 6 Degree Games with Famous Names

Reading Leads to 6 Degree Games with Famous Names by Dr. Rosanne Welch

A funny thing happens when you read a lot of biographies – sometimes names you never heard of turn up in the lives of people who never met and you’re reminded that the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game could be played in generations in the past (with different names of course).

Rachel Carson, 1940 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee photo
Rachel Carson By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – This image originates from the National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at this page This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing. See Category:Images from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. http://training.fws.gov/history/carson/carson.html, Public Domain, Link

That’s what happened when I picked up William Souder’s biography of Rachel Carson On a Farther Shore. I had taught her book Silent Spring which reinvigorated the environmental movement in the 1960s so I wanted to know how she became a writer. As I was reading one of her influences was Hendrik Willem van Loon, a Dutch-American children’s book author, historian, and journalist (like Carson). He wrote The Story of Mankind in 1921 as a history of the world for children and won the first Newbery Medal in 1922. I’ve been reading Newberry Award winners all my life so it was fun to learn he won the first, but that’s not why I remembered his name.

Hendrik Willem van Loon
Hendrik Willem van Loon By Underwood & Underwood – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a02154. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link

That knowledge came from another biography I had delved into several years ago when I started teaching the History of Screenwriting. There I ‘met’ Frances Goodrich Hackett, co-screenwriter with her husband Albert of several classics including The Thin Man, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life before winning both the Tony and Pulitzer Prize for the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Then they adapted it into a film. Turns out Von Loon had been Goodrich’s second husband (Albert was her third and final since their marriage and writing partnership lasted over 50 years).

Hackett and Goodrich.jpg
Frances Goodrich Hackett, By not known Fair use, Link

I love accidental finds like that. Carson was influenced by Von Loon to become a writer and Frances became one after she left him. Interesting that both of these women and their writings are now more well-known than he or his works when, at the time, he was the more famous.

06 More On Women and Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

06 More On Women and Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Rosanne: Right. One of the great comparisons people will make – and I adore “Star Wars” and we’re going to talk about “Star Wars” and how that’s really a western – 

Host: Okay.

Rosanne: I adore “Star Wars” but of course, that’s the lesson that you know young Luke Skywalker learns whereas you compare that to – and there’s a lovely Ted Talk that does this – “The Wizard of Oz”, which is a female heroine and what she does is she takes the group around her, empowers all of them to do their best, and as a team they succeed and those – that’s a different look at our West but we know the West did not survive because one or two men took on one or two other people. It survived because great communities of people came together right and did that and on the flip side –when we think about Native Americans – they all fought together as well. It wasn’t just the male warriors. The women were upholding all these things and they also took the brunt of the disease that was passed and all those things. So the community idea is really what – I think – we all succeed at and by not seeing that side of a story, we’re telling men they have too much work to do all by themselves and that’s not fair.

Host: that’s a great way to tell – I’ll teach my daughter that.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West

05 Women and Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

05 Women and Westerns from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: So when we think about westerns in particular which seems like such a male-oriented genre – The cowboy is such a looming figure in that genre – how do we see them differently when we focus on the stories that women wrote or that are less often told?

Rosanne: Certainly the difference is that when we think of a female-focused story versus a male-focused story – and this is unfair to young boys and to men – we teach men in our literature – in our drama, in our movies – we teach them that the only way for them to succeed is to master a particular weapon – which, of course, in the west is a rifle, it’s the pistol, it’s the gun – and take on the bad guy all alone. We’re doing “High Noon” and it’s me and you, that’s it. If I die the whole world falls apart and that’s a lot of pressure to put on one character. Whereas female stories are generally centered in I have come to this new place with a bunch of other people. We are a community and we must all rise together. We must all help each other.

 

The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories.  Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that.  Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”

I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras.  If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. — RMW Rosanne Signature for Web


What this entire presentation

As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.

Find more information at the Autry Museum of the American West