From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: The pragmatic modernist: William Faulkner’s craft and Hollywood’s networks of production by Ben Robbins

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


The pragmatic modernist: William Faulkner’s craft and Hollywood’s networks of production by Ben Robbins

This article analyzes the screenplays and treatments for two highly popular and critically acclaimed films, To Have and Have Not (1944) and Mildred Pierce(1945), on which Faulkner worked as a salaried screenwriter for Warner Brothers. Faulkner’s collaborative writing for To Have and Have Not demonstrates his ability to participate in and extend the construction of the cinematic archetype of the Hawksian woman on the level of action and language, a portrayal that both develops and transcends the portrayal of women within his own fiction. The article also illuminates the process through which Faulkner recycled content across the high–low cultural divide, borrowing from himself to include a hybrid scene from his modernist masterwork Absalom, Absalom! (1936) in Mildred Pierce, a noir melodrama starring Joan Crawford. The article further illustrates how Faulkner reconciled himself to the narrative mode of Hollywood through his use of ‘charged realism’. As such, Faulkner’s work for the screen would seem to confound a number of presumed modernist imperatives for artistic practice: autonomy, organic production, breaking with the past, formal innovation and disdain for objective realism. The article concludes by suggesting a way to reconcile the divergent skill bases of Faulkner’s screenwriting and modernist fiction by showing how he was able to imaginatively adapt his craft to inhabit and revisualize the structures of both genres.

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: The pragmatic modernist: William Faulkner’s craft and Hollywood’s networks of production by Ben Robbins

 


Journal of Screenwriting Cover

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. 

Get your copy and subscription to the Journal of Screenwriting Today!



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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

23 Being True To Your Ideas from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

23 Being True To Your Ideas from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript:

In this particular episode, I was doing a piece about a married couple that I were using their children as weapons during the divorce and I wanted that lesson to be don’t do that and I had to bring in memories of Mrs. Doubtfire because on my show I was afraid the answer would be don’t get divorced and that’s not an honest answer to young children whose parents are getting divorced. So happily when Robin Williams did this film he only agreed to do it if in the end the couple never got back together. Since he was a divorced man and he didn’t want to lie to his kids. So i took that lesson and I made sure that one of the parents was already remarried so I thought that was kind of fun but I had to go around the desires of my executive producer in order to make sure that I got what I wanted right? So you have to learn the people in the room.

 

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network, visit

Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Porto, Portugal, All Sessions


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The Importance of Endings

The Importance of Endings

I had typed out one of those quotes I tend to use all the time –

“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”

— and in my habit I wanted to credit the writer of the quote, which we all know comes from the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, adapted by David Seltzer from the book by Roald Dahl. 

My question became “Did that line come from the book OR the film OR both?”  I couldn’t find any clarification on that right away – but I did find this great NPR interview with Seltzer about how he changed the ending of the film because the director felt “It ends with the word, yippee? He said that’s not a screen play. That’s not a movie. You can’t do that” so Seltzer rewrote the ending to be this:

Mr. SELTZER: It ends with the word, yippee? He said that’s not a screen play. That’s not a movie. You can’t do that.

COHEN: So, what did you do?

Mr. SELTZER: I said, well, let me think about it. You know, how long do I have? He said, how long? We’re standing here. It’s $30,000 an hour. You tell me. And, I said, well, give me a second. And I think it was about 6 in the morning. And I walked down, literally, looked over the lake in Maine. I thought, what the hell am I going to do? My head space was totally out of this movie. I could barely remember what had led up to this but I thought, OK, it’s a fairy tale. It’s a children’s story, and how do children’s stories end? I don’t know. How could – how do they end? They end with, they all lived happily ever after. But that’s not good. That’s not what a screenwriter writes. And so I took a deep swallow and I went to the phone. I said, Mel, OK, listen carefully. They’re going up in the spaceship and looking at the ground disappear. And Willy Wonka announces to Charlie that the chocolate factory is his. Then, Willy Wonka looks at him and he says, but Charlie – in a very cautious voice – you do know what happened to the little boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted, don’t you? And fear comes across Charlie’s face and he says, no, what? And Willy says, he lived happily ever after. And it was a long pause, and I thought my career as a screenwriter is over.



 

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: ‘A story is not a story but a conference’: Story conferences and the classical studio system by Claus Tieber

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


‘A story is not a story but a conference’: Story conferences and the classical studio system by Claus Tieber

In analyzing the script development of Grand Hotel (1932, Edmund Goulding), this article brings an insight into the workings of the classical studio system and the way screenwriting was organized and understood during this era. The protocols of story conferences that took place at MGM under the leadership of producer Irving Thalberg deliver an exhaustive picture of the whole process, from the first screen idea, to getting the rights for a novel, to the final discussions after the screening of a rough cut. The protocols deliver evidence of screenwriting as an ongoing work in progress that was done not by a single screenwriter, but by a group of film-makers, constantly discussing all elements of the production. The concerns of the participants of these conferences included more than just storytelling; they also focused on the emotional reactions of the audience and the presentation of stars. The criteria these decisions were based upon are not ‘rules’ of storytelling, but reasonable assumptions about the audience’s reactions. Screenwriting within the studio system was not an ongoing fight between screenwriters and producers, but an ongoing discussion about every detail of a film, constituting a rather modern and democratic system of film development.

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: ‘A story is not a story but a conference’: Story conferences and the classical studio system by Claus Tieber

 


Journal of Screenwriting Cover

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. 

Get your copy and subscription to the Journal of Screenwriting Today!



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

22 Getting What You Want In The Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

22 Getting What You Want In The Room from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

 

When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript:

In all of them, I learned something about how a room should be run, and one of the first things I teach my students is that you have to — you should take a class in psychology. You need you need to know how to read a room and know how to behave in the room with people and that’s something that sometimes people don’t know. So it’s a silly thing but it’s true. This — on this episode, Smokescreen, we have two people, Roma Downey who is an Irish-American woman and Della Reese, who is an African-American woman. They would pretend to be other people in people’s lives. In this particular episode, Roma always did more work because she was younger and Della only worked three days a week because she was in her 70s. They were going to have Roma portray this gentleman’s lawyer and Della portray his maid and I understood how upsetting that would be to my African-American friends if yet another maid character was portrayed by an African-American woman. So I said we shouldn’t do that. What if we switched it and the problem was production, Della didn’t have many hours in the week to do that filming. So we could have ended the idea there but I was a little pushy then and and I wanted the movement and i suggested we ask her, would she be willing to work an extra day that week for the chance not to play a maid and guess what she said. Exactly.

 

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network, visit

Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Porto, Portugal, All Sessions


Ready to present my talk yesterday at the Screenwriting Research Conference here in Porto, Portugal via Instagram

Follow me on Instagram



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: Normatizing the silent drama: Photoplay manuals of the 1910s and early 1920s by Terry Bailey

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


Normatizing the silent drama: Photoplay manuals of the 1910s and early 1920s by Terry Bailey

The first instructional manuals to cover the writing of photoplays for silent drama emerged in 1911. In the wake of ‘Scenario Fever’, their style was often hyperbolic, and they claimed a great need in the film industry for new dramatic scenarists. In truth, few readers of manuals, or clients of the ‘schools’ that often distributed them, attained professional status. This article uses primary and secondary sources to examine the origins and content of the silent screenwriting manuals, and determines that, despite their poor record in fulfilling their ostensible purpose, they served valuable social functions. By overlooking screen drama’s debt to Victorian theatre and vaudeville, they served to normatize screenwriting practice in its own right, and thus helped to legitimize film’s sense of itself as a new medium. The uniform nature of their content, shaped by manual writers who were often working scenarists, suggests their reliability in clarifying aspects of screenwriting practice that lay behind the creation of silent films, and justifies their use as resources in film studies.

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: Normatizing the silent drama: Photoplay manuals of the 1910s and early 1920s by Terry Bailey


Journal of Screenwriting Cover

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. 

Get your copy and subscription to the Journal of Screenwriting Today!



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

21 In The Room Where It Happens from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

With the full recording of “How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television”

21 In The Room Where It Happens from How The Chaos Of Collaboration in the Writers Room Created Golden Age Television [Video]

Subscribe to Rosanne’s Channel and receive notice of each new video!

 

 

When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.

Transcript:

Tina Fey obviously has run a couple of shows quite well and I like what she has to say about what happens in the room.

Her voice is always so clear. You know that’s her — that humor she can’t keep away from. That’s really kind of interesting and they run the room together — and a married couple — that’s a unique and interesting way to run a room right and that’s true for 30 Rock and Kimmy Schmidt and he did the music for her broadway play on Mean Girls. Now when I was on Touched by Angel, we had a whole lot of other things that we learned. I began in the business as a receptionist and then I became a writer’s assistant on these shows, so I sat in these rooms as these ideas were being broken. I got to watch the evolution of that job which was a new thing letting someone in the room with the writers. They hadn’t done that before but with the advent of computers, they wanted someone to keep a log of who said what. So we always had that information. So that was interesting to me. Then I was I did freelance writing and all the shows before I got on staff.

 

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network, visit

Screenwriting Research Network Conference, Porto, Portugal, All Sessions


Ready to present my talk yesterday at the Screenwriting Research Conference here in Porto, Portugal via Instagram

Follow me on Instagram



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

William Blinn, Brian’s Song, Purple Rain, and Screenwriting

William Blinn, Screenwriting, Brian's Song, and Purple Rain

Sometimes I love the way the internet lets you drill down layer after layer of research when you only had one small question – but you learn things you forgot you wanted to know.  When I saw a question on Quora’s Ask a Screenwriter forum about the best “Based on a True Story” films the one that came immediately to mind was Brian’s Song so first I found the trailer:

Naturally then, I wanted to know who wrote it, which brought me to the film’s Wikipedia page, which brought me to William Blinn’s Wikipedia page

There I came to find that not only did he win an Emmy for writing that TV film but also one for writing on the original Roots.  Here he receives the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television for “a WGA guild member who has advanced the literature of television and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer.”

His advice to young writers is to “get off you’re a** and do the work” and to “Tell the truth in an interesting way.”

(If you listen to nothing else in this blog post – listen to that speech!).

Blinn was nominated 3 times for episodes of Fame. And he won Humanitas and Peabody Awards along the way.   Blinn also produced Starsky and Hutch (both the TV show and the 2004 movie!). Finally, he co-wrote Purple Rain

THAT is a career –  and you probably have never heard of him. 

Finally, I came to remember how much I had resisted watching “a football movie”  but I kept hearing how much other people loved it so when it re-ran on the 11:30pm film one night I snuck out of bed in the childhood home I shared with my grandparents and watched the film – finding myself sobbing as it ended.  I had never seen a film about such a strong male friendship – and I have rarely seen on as strong since.

Yay for the internet – and Yay for William Blinn.

Online Panel Discussion: It’s All Relative: Writing Diverse Television Families, Friday, August 6, 2021, 5:30 PM 7:00 PM – Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Online Panel Discussion: It's All Relative: Writing Diverse Television Families, Friday, August 6, 2021, 5:30 PM  7:00 PM - Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

It’s All Relative: Writing Diverse Television Families
Friday, August 6, 2021
5:30 PM  7:00 PM

Online – RSVP Required

At every MFA Workshop we host a panel of writers in a joint event between the Writers Guild Foundation and the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.

Our next will be focused on Writing Diverse Television Families.

Join us on Zoom on August 6th to hear from these writers:

  • Moderated by Dr. Rosanne Welch, Executive Director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting
  • Sheryl J. Anderson – Creator and Executive Producer, Sweet Magnolias
  • Lang Fisher – Co-creator and Executive Producer, Never Have I Ever
  • Marja-Lewis Ryan – Executive Producer, The L Word: Generation Q
  • Anthony Sparks – Executive Producer, Queen Sugar.

Online Panel Discussion: It's All Relative: Writing Diverse Television Families, Friday, August 6, 2021, 5:30 PM  7:00 PM - Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 2: Written to be read: A personal reflection on screenwriting research, then and now by Claudia Sternberg

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


Written to be read: A personal reflection on screenwriting research, then and now by Claudia Sternberg
 
Having been identified as an early contributor to the intensifying academic study of the (American) screenplay and screenwriting, the author presents a personal account of the circumstances which led to her own research in the 1990s and the publication of Written for the Screen: The American Motion-Picture Screenplay as Text in 1997. Additionally, she offers some reflections on the consolidation and institutionalization of screenwriting research and sketches a number of possibilities for future work in the field.

Having been identified as an early contributor to the intensifying academic study of the (American) screenplay and screenwriting, the author presents a personal account of the circumstances which led to her own research in the 1990s and the publication of Written for the Screen: The American Motion-Picture Screenplay as Text in 1997. Additionally, she offers some reflections on the consolidation and institutionalization of screenwriting research and sketches a number of possibilities for future work in the field.


Journal of Screenwriting Cover

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. 

Get your copy and subscription to the Journal of Screenwriting Today!



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!