Department Directrice Kira Kitsopanidou had a Ph.D. student who was using the book I edited – When Women Wrote Hollywood – so they looked me up online and found all those marvelous lecture clips that Doug posts for me and decided to ask me to deliver a lecture on Early Women Writers and Writers Rooms in the U.S.
They wanted an international focus for their students who already know some of the great French female screenwriters in history so they ask academics from other countries to speak about their industries. It was lovely and will result in having an article I wrote for them translated into French, which will be a new experience for me.
Then I capped the week off as an online guest panelist for one of the Kopenhaver Center Conversations along with my friend, colleague, and MFA mentor Rashaan Dozier-Escalante as we discussed Writing as Activism: Creating for Inclusion on the Screen. Moderated by Dr. Bethanie Irons of Stephens College we discussed the lack of representation for writers of different genders, races, ethnicities, and abilities and how writers can make the needed changes because we all recognize that Representation Matters.
I’m happy to announce the public table reading of a new script I’ve co-written with 3 alums of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting (Betsy Leighton, Misty Brawner, Adam Parker). We were all involved in a mini-writers room earlier last year to come up with the outline for a 4-hour mini-series based on a book about the life of Edwin Hubble (of Hubble Telescope fame) – and we did. Then the 4 of us wrote the pilot. Now we’ll all be attending the reading at the Gates Planetarium in Denver as part of SeriesFest.
In honor of that project Douglas and I recently visited Mt. Wilson once again in this almost-post pandemic world and took photos of things like Hubble’s desk, and the wooden ladder they used to reach the platform – and, of course, the 100-inch telescope from which he made his major discoveries about the galaxy.
What were these discoveries? Well, you’ll have to attend the table reading – or watch the series when it sells – to find out.
Sian Heder reminded us how hard it is to be both a writer/artist AND a Mom – but we do it anyway — So do it anyway.
AND she won 2 major awards for a film about a young woman chasing a dream. That has happened only 3 other times in Oscar history (for Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady – all musicals). Don’t let them tell you female stories aren’t powerful enough to earn awards – or audiences.
It was a pleasure sitting down in front of some microphones with Lucas Cuny who now teaches Film, TV, and media full time at San Bernardino Valley College.
He also hosts this podcast interviewing people from those areas and he invited me to be the first guest of his second season.
We had the chance to chat about my background as well as the state of the media industry today – and I had the chance to relish the success of this former MFA candidate of mine. One of the best things about being a professor is seeing careers take off like Lucas’ has.
Rosanne Welch is a screenwriter, author, professor, and all around iconoclast in the field of media education. She wrote on Beverly Hills 90210, written a book about The Monkees, but got her start as a teacher. Hear her journey from the classroom to the writers room.
In researching a chapter on the film Hidden Figures (for a new book on Women’s History on Film) I was happy to read this clip that supports the fact that there IS an audience for films that are not explosion-packed blockbuster tentpoles meant for young male audiences…. But I was really taken aback when I learned that while the studio allotted 25 million to Hidden Figures… that same year they had allotted 125 million to a movie no one even remembers…Monster Trucks. When, oh, when, will THAT craziness end?
In an article in The Atlantic by David Sims:
“In its first weekend of wide release, Hidden Figures defied tracking numbers and for the subsequent four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, Hidden Figures increased its gross, making $26 million and staying at number one, holding off the expansion of La La Land and Paramount’s broad-skewing children’s adventure Monster Trucks. And yet Monster Trucks is a patently silly piece of kids entertainment about a young man who finds a squid-like monster living in his truck. It stars Lucas Till, hardly an A-lister (though he had a small role in the recent X-Men movies), and cost $125 million to make—$100 million more than Hidden Figures. Devoting such a large budget to a film with little brand recognition that was basically guaranteed to get terrible reviews was quickly regarded as a disastrous decision. Viacom, the company that owns the Monster Trucks studio Paramount Pictures, took a $115 million write-down in earnings last September in anticipation of its failure (it opened to a lackluster $15 million last weekend). This is what Hollywood’s emphasis on big-budget films with “broad appeal” inevitably leads to: hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on toy-focused action films with no real audience. For the cost of Monster Trucks, Paramount could have made five Hidden Figures—smaller films, focused on telling grounded stories to fill a market gap that studios continue to ignore. That Hidden Figures’s success has to serve as a lesson to Hollywood in 2017 is ridiculous, but the lesson is nonetheless there to be learned. Audiences are hungry for films that look beyond the movie industry’s narrow worldview. It’s time to start delivering them.”
All I can say about that is its fodder for every writer out there pitching a new project to shut down any executive’s questions about audience numbers. And writers need all the fodder they can find to fight back when they know they are correct.