So I teach history and I start in the silent film world, so I disagree with Warren. I go chronologically. This is a period they have never heard of and all the movies are free on YouTube. Nothing like telling them they can watch whatever they have to watch for free. That works, right? And so here they meet Anita Loos, Gene Gauntier — the first women — the first person to do filming on location. She went to Jerusalem to film the story of Jesus Christ — the first time it was put on film and it’s a really beautiful film you can see, for free, on YouTube. Then Jeanie MacPherson who wrote all of Cecil B. DeMille’s early movies that were successes. When she stopped working for him all his stuff failed. Nobody knows her name and she’s quite brilliant. So I thinks it’s important for women students today to know that women once ran Hollywood so all this discussion about “I don’t know if women should direct a movie” is not worth having, because they did and they were. They were the highest paid people in this town, so I think that’s important an important think for them to remember.
You got to the next question which is my first exercise in class — Name the writer. Lucky if they can. If it’s a writer/director, they can. Otherwise, they can’t and they suddenly are embarrassed because they adore the words of a person whose name they can’t tell you. If they have a favorite book they can tell you who wrote it, but they don’t know who wrote their favorite film. So it’s my goal to make them know that. I can’t stand the Auteur Theory because I think it’s bullshit. Directors aren’t the authors of their film. I don’t want to insult any directors in the class but you can’t direct something that doesn’t exist on the page first. It’s a collaborative thing and directors have lovely, but they’ve been given all the credit for far too long because, as we know, it goes back to all the book reviews in Cahiers and they came up with that theory. It’s nonsense.
This is about strategies in teaching film and television history and current events — which is what David will do when I am done — and so, gee, I’m all about the chicks so we have Dorothy Parker and we have Tina Fey. There is a direct line between those women and if you love Tina Fey then you had better study a little bit of Dorothy Parker or you don’t understand why Tina Fey works today. So, why study screenwriting history? That’s actually the first screen of a lecture that I give on this very topic to my students on opening day because when you mention movies nobody says, “You know I love that shot in… ” They say, “My name is Inigo Montoya.You killed my father. Prepare to Die.” They remember the words in the movies. They remember the screenwriting, but when we look at the history of tv and film, we’re not doing that. We’re teaching directors. Everyone can name their favorite films and they can normally name the director of those films.
I am also on the editorial board for Written By Magazine and the book review editor of the Journal of Screenwriting so if anyone’s interested in writing book reviews for the Journal of Screenwriting which publishes out of the UK, please let me know because I am always looking for book reviewers and you get the book for free, but also I have — the schools that I teach at have subscription to the journal. I have students read journal articles because I want them — it is a Masters Program — I want them to have a comfort level with that, but I have my undergrads at least do one journal article reading as well to have an accessibility to that. And then I get the schools and/or the kids to read Written By Magazine every month. We do a different screenwriter or television writer on the front cover. It’s a wonderful inside look at how the process of writing is done. The subscription is not that expensive, rather than a textbook for undergrads, but we also publish most of that online for free at the Written By web site, so they can read these articles on their own as assignments and learn about these writers. So I think all that stuff is valid for the class.
This is my background in the business. These are all the different shows that I worked on. Always with a focus on the female characters. How can I make the female characters stronger? I’m a girl. Interesting enough I have a boy — a son — and when I had him I thought, “Oh no, I’m supposed to have a girl so I can teach her to be a feminist.” and then someone went “No let me teach him to love a feminist.” and I thought, ‘Oh yeah.” So, and this is the stuff that I have written. Mostly focused on women — women in Doctor Who and how race is portrayed. Women in Aviation. I’ve just got a second encyclopedia set of women in History. I am part of the Women Screenwriters Encyclopedia and my latest book is on The Monkees and feminism in The Monkees because it was actually there in the show if you look hard enough.
This whole conference is about inclusion and convergence which made this topic seem useful to me and hopefully to you. I’ve always gone back from my childhood to learning about Abagail Adams — the woman who told John while you’re working on that Constitution, could you please “remember the ladies.” We tend to forget them in this town and int he history of this town. The other book that I’ve got there is “What Happens Next” which everyone uses in their classes and has a paragraph about the women that that entire book covers. He finds time to cover them in a paragraph and that makes my students crazy. They read 5 different books on the history of screenwriting and chronologically and they come to Frances last and they are like why, why have I not heard of her until now and that book was written in the middle so you know some men write books before that book came out. They didn’t know the women existed. Then they knew and they still didn’t’ write about them and it’s important that we are in these books. So. I thought that was my background.
Citizen Jane Film School An afternoon of educational- and fun!- film industry discussions!
Studio A @ Stephens College, 1405 E Broadway
Screen Grab: From Screenplay To Big Screen, Who Will Win? Judges: Sarah Haas, Ken LaZebnik, Steph Scupham, Kimberly Skyrme
Screenwriters vie for an exclusive production deal pitching their films to a panel of esteemed judges. The top five entries will be discussed and critiqued live before the audience. The winner will be announced before panel’s end. Producer, Sarah Haas, awaits to bring the project to life-a screenwriter’s dream come true!
Moderator: Dr. Rosanne Welch Panelist: Amy Banks, Krista Dyson, Cara Epstein, Betsy Leighton, Laura Kirk, Sarah Whorton
The Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting Program is proud to present six of our fabulous students who will introduce the audience to six female screenwriters whose bold, brash, brilliant words have enhanced our film experience, but whose names have been left out of the textbooks. Help us write them back in and remind us all that Women Ran Hollywood once and are on their way to doing it again!
REHERSED: A CJ TABLE READ WITH GREENHOUSE THEATER PROJECT Sager Braudis Gallery, 1025 E. Walnut
Sun / Oct 29 / 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
A staged reading of this year’s Screen Grab competition winner. Experience the art of Sager-Braudis Gallery, and watch as one of Columbia’s favorite theater companies reads a short screenplay. Refreshments provided by Harold’s Doughnuts and Fretboard Coffee.
I teach the history of screenwriting, not film, to an MFA program for Stephens College, a low residency program. We do workshops at the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood for 10 days twice a year and then the students do the rest of their work online. I’m also an adjunct at Cal State Fullerton, so I’ve had the pleasure of teaching all three of these gentlemen. So that’s been a lovely thing but I don’t teach this class there, so they haven’t actually seen me do this. With them, I’ve done screenwriting and workshopping, but here I’m going to talk about why I teach this class for a couple of reasons and I gave it this particular name, “Giving Voice to Silent Films…and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them” – you’ll see that one of those books is by Carrie Beauchamp and it is, “Without Lying Down.” The life story of Frances Marion and the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood in the entire Silent and early talkie period and none of my students have ever heard of her and I think it is very important that we hear about her and Anita Loos and a bunch of other important women.
I was pleased to be asked to participate in a panel designed by former student (and current kick-ass professor) Warren Lewis. The panel included two other former students from the MFA in Screenwriting program at CSUF: David Morgassen and Lucas Cuny. For the panel’s theme — “What Else Do We Teach When We Teach Screenwriting: Context And Controversy: Strategies For Teaching Film And Television History And Current Events To Screenwriters” — I chose to present on: “Giving Voice to Silent Films and the Far From Silent Women Who Wrote Them”.
It involves the fact that when teaching screenwriting history, I begin chronologically. In essence I force students to watch the classic films of the silent era (happily accessible for free on YouTube) first because that is when women ran the town as evidenced in Cari Beachamp’s Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood”.) Beauchamp’s book is on my reading list so that they can encounter the careers of Frances Marion, Anita Loos, Lois Weber, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Eve Unsell and a host of other women who ran their own production companies for many years.
Secondly, knowing women once ran Hollywood makes it harder for today’s executives to wonder if today’s women can do the same.
Third, I have learned that teaching silent films reminds modern students that in screenwriting the visual is as important as the verbal.
Fourth, recognizing the birth of major iconic archetypes helps them recognize those archetypes in modern films and develop their own characters more three-dimensionally.
Fifth, I had to embarrassingly realize that in my zest to focus on forgotten females, I forgot to cover the careers of forgotten men and women of color and so expanded my viewing list to include the work of Oscar Mischeaux and other artists of color from the era.
Finally, I stretch back to the silents as a reminder that all artists stand of the shoulders of those who came before them – be they women or men.
Rosanne Welch, PhD has written for television (Touched by an Angel, Picket Fences) and print (Three Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work and Kids and The Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space). In the documentary world she has written and produced Bill Clinton and the Boys Nation Class of 1963 for ABC NEWS/Nightline and consulted on PBS’s A Prince Among Slaves, the story of a prince from West Africa who was enslaved in the 1780s, freed by order of President John Quincy Adams in the 1820s and returned to his homeland.
Welch teaches the History of Screenwriting and One-Hour Drama for the Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting. Writing/producing credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Picket Fences,ABCNEWS: Nightline and Touched by an Angel. In 2016 she published the book Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop; co-edited Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia; and placed “Transmitting Culture Transnationally Via the Characterization of Parents in Police Procedurals” in the New Review of Film and Television Studies. Essays appear in Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television and Doctor Who and Race: An Anthology. Welch serves as Book Reviews editor for Journal of Screenwriting and on the Editorial Advisory Board for Written By magazine, the magazine of the Writers Guild.
“How Gidget Got Into the Girl Ghetto by Accident (and How We Can Get Her Out of it): Demoting Gidget: The Little Girl with Big Ideas from Edgy Coming of Age Novel to Babe on the Beach Genre Film via Choices made in the Adaptation Process.”
It’ a long title, as I joke up front, but covers the process of adapting the true life story of Kathy Kohner (nicknamed ‘Gidget’ by the group of male surfers who she spent the summers with in Malibu in the 1950s) into the film and television series that are better remembered than the novel. The novel had been well-received upon publication, even compared to A Catcher in the Rye, but has mistakenly been relegated to the ‘girl ghetto’ of films. Some of the adaptations turned the focus away from the coming of age story of a young woman who gained respect for her talent at a male craft – surfing – and instead turned the focus far too much on Kathy being boy crazy.
Along the way I found interesting comparisons between how female writers treated the main character while adapting the novel and how male writers treated the character.
Dr. Rosanne Welch teaches the History of Screenwriting and One-Hour Drama for the Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting.
Writing/producing credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Picket Fences, ABCNEWS: Nightline and Touched by an Angel. In 2016 she published the book Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop; co-edited Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia; and placed “Transmitting Culture Transnationally Via the Characterization of Parents in Police Procedurals” in the New Review of Film and Television Studies. Essays appear in Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television and Doctor Who and Race: An Anthology. Welch serves as Book Reviews editor for Journal of Screenwriting and on the Editorial Advisory Board for Written By magazine, the magazine of the Writers Guild.
The Screenwriting Research Network is a research group consisting of scholars, reflective practitioners and practice-based researchers interested in research on screenwriting. The aim is to rethink the screenplay in relation to its histories, theories, values and creative practices.
It was quite satisfying to receive my copy of The Journal of Screenwriting yesterday (Issue 8.2) with my first efforts as the Book Reviews Editor.
The issue also contains the conference report I co-wrote on the 9th Annual Conference, held in Leeds last year. I really enjoyed participating in the writing of that report because it gave me a chance to mention the many wonderful paper presentations that I saw. It also happens to include a wonderful article by my friend Rose Ferrell from Australia (who just completed her Phd thesis which you can access here) about the concept of National voice and how much of our national voice filters into our writers voice
Of course my mind is already rolling with ideas about how to write about this most recent conference at a Otago University. Right now I will enjoy this copy of the Journal looking at the book reviews and the articles with a new kind of focus. The new goal is to find reasons to bring students to read these types of academic journals and discuss them in class — and to find more college libraries that will subscribe so they can have the Journal on hand for their screenwriting students!
If you work for a university – give The Journal of Screenwriting a read!