When Women Wrote Hollywood: The Movies – First in a series – Fanchon, the Cricket by Frances Marion

An on-going series highlighting the women screenwriters of early Hollywood.

When I was first asked to create a history course for a new MFA focused on the mission of bringing more female voices and female-centric stories to Hollywood, I knew we had to start at the very beginning, when women ran Hollywood. No other course I had ever taken or been asked to teach focused on these women, some of whom I had been reading about since the summers of my childhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Back then, I went to the library once a week to collect a stack of memoirs by women I had seen interviewed on The Merv Griffin Show, women like Anita Loos and Adela Rogers St. Johns. Their stories introduced me to moguls like Louis B. Mayer or Jack Warner, who make up most of the history courses I later found in academia. Knowing better, I found most of those courses, and their accompanying textbooks, glossed over these women with a paragraph if they mentioned them at all. I conceived a course that would begin with these women who began Hollywood and culminate in research by each graduate student into the life and career of one particular early female screenwriter. That is what you find here. A collection of herstories about how these women lived, loved and created the stories that gave their audiences reasons to live and love in their own lives. — Dr. Rosanne Welch, Editor. When Women Wrote Hollywood

When Women Wrote Hollywood: The Movies - First in a series - Fanchon, the Cricket by Frances Marion

Fanchon, the Cricket (1915) - 1.jpg
By Paramount Pictures – Variety (Apr. 1915) on the Internet Archive, Public Domain, Link

Fanchon, the Cricket is a 1915 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players Film Company and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is based on a novel, La Petite Fadette by George Sand. It was directed by James Kirkwood and stars Mary Pickford, now working for Adolph Zukor and Daniel Frohman. A previous film version of the story was released in 1912 by IMP (later Universal) and directed by Herbert Brenon.[1] Wikipedia

Frances Marion(bornMarion Benson Owens, November 18, 1888[1]– May 12, 1973) was an American screenwriter, journalist, author, and film director, often cited as one of the most renowned female screenwriters of the 20th century alongsideJune MathisandAnita Loos. During the course of her career, she wrote over 325 scripts.[2]She was the first writer to win twoAcademy Awards. Marion began her film career working for filmmakerLois Weber. She wrote numeroussilent filmscenarios for actressMary Pickford, before transitioning to writingsound films. — Wikipedia


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When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry

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22 Modern-Day Vampires from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (1 minute)

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22 Modern-Day Vampires from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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In honor of Halloween – and in service to my teaching philosophy —

“Words Matter. Writers Matter. Women Writers Matter.”

I presented this holiday lecture “When Women Write Horror” on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. Researching the many, many women who have written horror stories – in novels, films and television – brought new names to my attention who I am excited to start reading. I hope you will be, too!

Transcript:

We also then, of course, know about The Vampire Diaries. Julie Pleck put that out, but now she has Legacies which is a sequel to that and Origins which is another one. Interesting because here she’s also turning them more into the sexy dudes and we’re starting to talk about that concept. The problem behind it is at what point does the super-sexy guy really become a way to hide the toxic romance that’s going on when we think about vampires, because vampires are, in fact, capable of killing you. This is a boyfriend who can kill you and you are agreeing to be with him knowing how dangerous that is. That’s a definition of domestic violence in its own way and yet we’re turning it into pop culture hot oh boy which one do I pick? Which team are you on? Right? so is that, again, defanging them, or is that accidentally empowering those kinds of relationships?

21 Truffaut and The Auteur Theory from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video] (56 seconds)

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21 Truffaut and The Auteur Theory from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered

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Transcript:

So how did this happen in a town called Hollywood where we thought we were all about filmmaking and caring about writers and all of that. Few directors are as fair as JOhn Carpenter, who basically said “It is a collaborative effort. All I take credit for is the directing.” That’s the kind of guy we need more of, right? We don’t have enough of that. The problem was, I blame France, not to insult anyone who might be here from France, but it was, in fact, Francois Truffaut, early in his career as a film reviewer her came up with what we call “The Auteur Theory,” which told us that directors were the “auteur”, the author, the writer of the film and that was the end of that. From that point on that’s how people referenced films and this is a deep problem. He was writing for this — Cahiers du Cinema — and this is where the auteur theory was born. To me the biggest mistake ever made.

A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


 

* 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!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Panel Discussion: More Than A Period: Writing Girls Coming of Age Stories For TV – Wed, August 12, 2020, 430pm PDT

Stephens College MFA. in TV and Screenwriting

For each Workshop the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting hosts a panel with the Writers Guild Foundation which takes place at the Guild offices in Los Angeles. For this August it will be on Zoom which means many more attendees can RSVP to join us – and we hope you will because this panel is extra-special. 

It’s the second year in a row we’ve been able to invite an MFA alumna to be a panelist because they have become a working writer. Last year it was Class of 2019’s Sahar Jahani (who has written for Ramy and 13 Reasons Why) and on this panel we’ll be welcoming Class of 2020’s Christina Nieves to discuss Writing Girls Coming of Age Stories thanks to her new position as a staff writer on Generation.

We hope you can join me, Dr. Rosanne Welch, Executive Director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting as I moderate the discussion.

Panel Discussion: More Than A Period: Writing Girls Coming of Age Stories For TV - Wed, August 12, 2020, 430pm PDT

Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras on Unsplash

More Than A Period: Writing Girls Coming of Age Stories For TV

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
4:30 PM  6:00 PM

Beyond The Book Panel - Writers Guild Foundation

We at the WGF may have hit a pause on our live events, but thanks to technology, we’re aiming to provide more access to advice and knowledge from film and TV writers while we’re all social distancing. Over the last few months, we’ve been hosting free Zoom panels about craft and all things relevant to writers.

For this session, we team up with Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting for a discussion about crafting girls’ coming-of-age stories. The panel of writers will share how their shows address this formative period for its characters, how their own experiences informed their writing, and why coming-of-age stories are an endless source of stories.

Panelists:

Sonia Kharkar – Executive Story Editor, On My Block, Never Have I Ever
Christina Nieves – Staff Writer, Generation
Ilana Peña – Creator, Diary of a Future President
Moderated by Dr. Rosanne Welch, Director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.

Panel starts at 4:30pm Pacific time.

Space is limited so RSVP now. After signing up, you’ll receive information on how to access the Zoom panel.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at events@wgfoundation.org.

For anyone who was unable to RSVP for the panel, we will record and post it at a later date

21 Buffy and Masculinity from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (1 minute 9 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

21 Buffy and Masculinity from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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

 

In honor of Halloween – and in service to my teaching philosophy —

“Words Matter. Writers Matter. Women Writers Matter.”

I presented this holiday lecture “When Women Write Horror” on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. Researching the many, many women who have written horror stories – in novels, films and television – brought new names to my attention who I am excited to start reading. I hope you will be, too!

Transcript:

The other thing that was going on with Buffy and a couple of other shows we’ll talk about, is that we’re taking vampires who were the other and the scary and the bad and we’re making them sexy and hot, which is a female perspective but then we have to ask ourselves is that good or is that bad? Is that good because in a way when you make the men the objectified sexual object are you taking power away from them and therefore giving that power to the women? That’s a question because you can’t deny David Boreanaz was hot. This is all there is to it. He’s still hot. I know through Buffy through Bones and through Seal Team that man just… but I think it’s a great credit to this actor. We have to recognize he could manage to be deeply, deeply masculine while not being the most important person in the story. He could be the supportive man beside her and that made him all the more man and that’s a different way to define what manhood is and that’s I think a really important thing we’re seeing in some newer literature. So that I think is fascinating.

20 Ruth Gordon & Garson Kanin from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video ] (53 seconds)

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20 Ruth Gordon & Garson Kanin from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video ] (53 seconds)

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Transcript:

So the problem here is we’re missing the writers. This movie, also famous in the United States is called George Cukor’s movie because George Cukor directed it. However, it was written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, another married couple who wrote films together. Ruth Gordon is more famous as an actress. She was in Rosemary’s Baby. She got an Oscar for that. She did several films in her early career. She did Harold and Maude which is also a cult classic. They wrote this film specifically and they cast it as we had a casting director speak this morning. They purposely said we’re only going to sell you the movie if you put Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in it. So they’re doing the work of the director but it’s George Cukor’s film. Makes them crazy. They also wrote several films together and as I said Ruth won an oscar for being in Rosemary’s Baby. That’s her very young. She was a Broadway actress and then, of course, she worked all the way until her death.

A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


 

* 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!
† Available from the LA Public Library

20 Even More On Buffy from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (1 minute 16 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

20 Even More On Buffy from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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

 

In honor of Halloween – and in service to my teaching philosophy —

“Words Matter. Writers Matter. Women Writers Matter.”

I presented this holiday lecture “When Women Write Horror” on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. Researching the many, many women who have written horror stories – in novels, films and television – brought new names to my attention who I am excited to start reading. I hope you will be, too!

Transcript:

The other thing that’s important about Buffy is that we’re going to blend in some LGBTQ stories in the course of time. We’re going to blend in the fact that these men in her life help but never save the day. In any other story, it’s the men who come along and save the damsel in distress. In this case, it’s the chick who saves the dudes in distress or through sharing the work they make the solution happen. One of the special things about Buffy was it is about how a woman masters a problem in a feminine way right? Sadly we tend to think that when boys learn how to save the day they learn how to master a weapon and go one on one with the bad guy. That’s what they’ve seen in a million movies — many movies that i enjoy myself. The way women do it is they gather a group around them and they empower that group to be as good as they can be together and then as a group they go forward and they save the day and that’s a feminine way of doing things that’s a very that’s a very teacherly way of doing things. Together we will learn this and we will master this thing and move on in the world and succeed. So i think the show did so many things from a feminine perspective and i think it’s because of those two ladies. That makes a big difference.

19 Nunnally Johnson and John Ford from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video] (51 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

19 Nunnally Johnson and John Ford from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video] (51 seconds)

 

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

 

Transcript:

And journalists, who are writers, have made this mistake. They had dismissed writers in talking about Hollywood. I find it terrible. One time, John Ford pointed out that a particular shot that he was going to use in a script was written into the script. The screenwriter envisioned how the camera should move and John Ford said to Nunnally Johnson “I don’t know if the critics will recognize you or me for doing this work.” and Nunnally Johnson responded, “I don’t who’s going to get the credit, but Iknow I did it” and even John Ford said, ‘I know. I recognize it”, but that doesn’t mean that when John Ford was interviewed later in life he remembered to mention Nunnally Johnson. No, no, no. It was John Ford, right?

A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


 

* 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!
† Available from the LA Public Library

18 Nunnally Johnson and The Grapes Of Wrath from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video] (1 minute 11 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

17 Nunnally Johnson and The Grapes Of Wrath from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered

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

 

Transcript:

In this case — this gentleman Nunnally Johnson –I think got it even worse. He adapted this famous United States book, The Grapes of Wrath, into a film. You notice on the bottom it was directed by John Ford. We don’t see where — Nunnally Johnson’s name is right above it. Can you see the itty-bitty teeny-tiny print? John Steinbeck, the author of the book, actually said he thought the script was better than his book. He thought that the writing of the script improved this novel that is quite famous and taught in many American classrooms. When the woman who starred in the film — who married Nunnally Johnson — died just a few years ago, the obituary — her very own obituary — read that she was famous for John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and she left acting when she married the film’s screenwriter. It’s his wife’s obituary and it doesn’t list his name because he’s just a screenwriter. He can’t possibly count as much as John Ford does. She wasn’t married to John Ford.

A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


 

* 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!
† Available from the LA Public Library

19 More On Buffy from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (39 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

19 More On Buffy from When Women Write Horror with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (39 seconds)

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

 

In honor of Halloween – and in service to my teaching philosophy —

“Words Matter. Writers Matter. Women Writers Matter.”

I presented this holiday lecture “When Women Write Horror” on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. Researching the many, many women who have written horror stories – in novels, films and television – brought new names to my attention who I am excited to start reading. I hope you will be, too!

Transcript:

Importantly, Jane Espenson eventually went on and created Warehouse 13 which is an adorable little show also in the sort of sci-fi world. Really good show. So I think it’s really important to think about everything that Buffy did to throw all the tropes of horror to flip them. So now we have the blonde is saving the world. This rarely happens. The blonde is usually the one who gets dead first right? So not only is she a girl who saves the world she has to be a blonde girl and she has to be a cheerleader because we have to take every single anti-female trope and say “no”, there’s power in who she is.