Anita Loos: An Introduction with Dr. Rosanne Welch, Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting and the Retroformat Silent Film Society [Video]

Anita Loos: An Introduction with Dr. Rosanne Welch, Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting and the Retroformat Silent Film Society [Video]

During each of our Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting we take our MFA candidates on field trips around Los Angeles and this January that included the screening of a silent movie – “The Social Secretary” – hosted at the Historic Women’s Club of Hollywood with a full audience. Many attendees had never watched a film shown from a projector, much less a silent film on such a large screen with live piano accompaniment. The MFA co-sponsored the event with the , a group dedicated to promoting education and enthusiasm about the art of silent film.

I was happy to be asked to deliver this introduction to the work of screenwriter and novelist Anita Loos whose work bridged the worlds of silents – where she was instrumental in creating the swashbuckling character for Douglas Fairbanks – to talkies and screenplays to novels to Broadway plays. Her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes remains a classic, never having gone out of print, and it led to several film versions including the famous one starring Marilyn Monroe. Her book for Gigi helped give the play a successful transition to the well-known film that showcased Leslie Caron.

If you don’t know much about this prolific woman writer, check out my introduction and then go watch some of her films, many of which are on YouTube. Yet the experience of seeing it on the big screen became one of this Workshop’s most appreciated events.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

 

Transcript:

…Rosanne Welch. [Applause]

Hello everybody. I am Dr. Rosanne Welch. I run the Stevens College MFA and TV and Screenwriting where we study film with a female gaze.

So we study Anita Loos and so I’m gonna –– we’re here for an hour and a half lecture right?

Very quickly, I just want to make sure people who are here know what we’re talking about. First of all, what we do in our program is we teach the history of screenwriting because in most places they teach you the history of film and that tends to be the history of directors which becomes the history of Great Men. While we love men, women founded Hollywood and need to be remembered.

So I was really pleased when Tom said I have the Anita Loos print and I was like, oh yeah Anita Loos. We study her. We love her and it would be lovely to see it with real live accompaniment. 

[Applause]

I’m gonna say a very quick things about Anita. I want people who don’t know her to know these things. First of all, we have to remember her as the first person to put wit in her title cards and today when someone writes a television or film script, in their action lines they use that technique. They use their own voice. They say funny things. They don’t just say the door opens right? They are still doing something essentially we learn from Anita. So I think that is a reason that she should stay with us. I think it’s also important to remember her as a star maker. She’s the reason you know who Douglas Fairbanks is. He was just the stumblebum actor until she made him a swashbuckler and then he became the Douglas Fairbanks –– the founder of the Academy right? She also –– I’m sure many of you can think about Carol Channing and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Talk about a character that lived forever in that actress. So I think that’s brilliant for Anita. She was also known for her diligent work ethic. The woman got up at five o’clock and wrote until two or three in the afternoon and then dealt with business ––  that and she would tell people she didn’t work very hard. It wasn’t very hard at all. Think about that. So I think that’s really beautiful. I think it’s important to think about all the literary friends she had. She was friends with Theodore Dreiser , and H.L. Mencken –  these are major names of their day. Interestingly enough her name is still a little more famous than theirs are. So there’s something about her work. Though people made fun of films and film writing clearly she survived where some of their stuff isn’t read that much anymore and also she was a brilliant friend to other women in the business and we know that that’s how everyone who moves up in the world by taking the next person below you and bringing them up right? So she was friends with the young Ruth Gordon. Y’all don’t remember when she was young but she was and Anita was someone who helped her move forward in the business. She was best friends with Helen Hayes who many people remember. So the idea that she understood that sisterhood was the way to help everybody. So those are the reasons that I still admire Anita. I always say that I met her when I was six years old – not the person but in her memoirs and so if you haven’t read A Memoir of hers you should because they’re funny and witty and teach us a lot about this time period and also we’ve written about her in this book which we will have for sale afterward. There you go. I’ll teach Tom how to sell. Which was written by the first inaugural students in our program about seven years ago and there’s a chapter on 25 different famous female screenwriters of that period. So if you’re interested we’ll have some more of those and we’ll talk afterward and we have three of the original authors of chapters right here with me tonight. So with that, I hope that everybody adores if you haven’t met Anita Loos before you will listen to her voice today and laugh. Have a great night.

[Applause]

 

03 Fifty Years on the Air from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

03 Fifty Years on the Air from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

 

Transcript:

Face it. there is not another show that got a 50-year anniversary on television that was a narrative piece of work. This is not something that happened. Every time, even when we checked in the hotel the other day and we were trying to explain “Doctor Who” to the lovely women behind the counter. Well, how can a show be on the air for 50 years? Because the writers were so smart that when – as we all know Hartnell was feeling ill and they thought oh no we’re gonna have to stop – they said wait a minute. He’s an alien. He doesn’t have to die. He can change completely. Which is a beautiful writer’s idea which has given us the chance to enjoy so many different actors over the years including of course Tom and we’ve gone all the way through to my favorite is Peter Davidson of the old Who and then the fact that they could reboot and be something that children two generations later are still enjoying. So this 50-year thing, let’s face it, doesn’t happen and they’re gonna have a 60th-year anniversary. 60 years on television with the same general format. This isn’t done. The only other people that have been on the air that long are soap operas and game shows and they stay and stay and stay. The funny thing is, in the game shows they’ve had some of the same lead men for all those years. It’s fascinating when that’s a changeover. I mean sadly we lost Alex Trebek. So now there’s this great change over but “Jeopardy” is not going away. So because they’re not narrative they can continue for all these years.

 

In this presentation given at the 2022 San Diego WhoCon I had the chance to trace the many ways Doctor Who changed the TV universe. By focusing on the interesting and innovative things the many writers did with the show across the years we were able to see the Who footprint by becoming the first narrative program to reach 50 years on the air, the first to create a spin-off across the ocean, and a show alongside Star Trek that created the Con-craze that brought the world of cosplay to the mainstream. Perhaps most importantly, a love of Doctor Who lead more Americans to watch programming from other countries – from Korean dramas to Mexican telenovelas – which has so enriched our culture.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

Watch this entire presentation

Watch Panel: Anatomy of a Meet Cute: Writing Romantic Comedies – WGA Foundation – Hosted by Dr. Rosanne Welch. Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

One of my favorite events during each of our Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Residency Workshops is when I have the opportunity to moderate a panel of WGA writers on a topic of interest to our MFA candidates. This January it was Anatomy of a Meet Cute: Writing Romantic Comedies.

 

Panel: Anatomy of a Meet Cute: Writing Romantic Comedies – WGA Foundation – Hosted by Dr. Rosanne Welch. Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Panel: Anatomy of a Meet Cute: Writing Romantic Comedies – WGA Foundation – Hosted by Dr. Rosanne Welch. Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Panelists included MFA alum Sahar Jahani (Writer, Hana Khan Carries On, The Bold Type, Ramy), Tracy Andreen (Writer, The Holiday Sitter, All Saints Christmas, Two Tickets to Paradise); Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (Writer/Producer, Trinkets, Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Ugly Truth); and Nia Vardalos (Writer/Director/Actor, My Big Fat Greek Wedding films, Larry Crowne, I Hate Valentine’s Day).

It was an engaging, entertaining, and especially supportive group of women talking about the importance of stories about choosing our partners in life.

15 Conclusion From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. [Video]

15 Conclusion From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. [Video]

Transcript:

…and I think it takes it all back globally because, of course, he’s going to become the judge. He’s going to bring all his movies to Cannes and so he’s going to get international fame from doing this and of course then he’s going to become the first African-American judge in the Cannes Film Festival and I think just seeing that circle to me is – it fills in this whole global idea and while he’s judge, we’re going to see an award go to a Japanese film right? Something that had – I can’t even remember if that had happened in the past – and then to a female, only the second female to come up with a Palme D’Or and that’s because – partially because he was on the judging team and I think it’s important to think that Jeannie and Cecil and all these women in the past to be proud and look at the judging group that year. It’s split 50/50 women and men. So we’re getting to a place where we’re getting all the perspectives in the room. So I think that’s it. There you go. That’s it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Watch this entire presentation

At the recent Screenwriting Research Network conference in Vienna, I gave this talk titled “From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S.”

In the talk, I trace the ways a manual about screenwriting by silent film writer Jeanne Macpherson influenced Suso Cecchi d’Amici who began to utilize Macpherson’s ideas and became the queen of Italian neorealism screenwriting in Europe. Then those Italian neo-realist screenwriters in turn inspired the Los Angeles School of Black Independent Film Makers (the L.A. School). In turn, such as Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry, Haile Gerima, and Julie Dash and their ideas fueled Spike Lee. Finally, when he became the first Black man to head the jury at the Cannes Film Festival (where Suso had once served) his choice of films influenced yet another generation of screenwriters.

From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike:  How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. (Complete)

02 Writers Rooms: US vs. UK from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

 02 Writers Rooms: US vs. UK from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

Transcript:

…and he wanted to test the waters of how our American Show is done because we do a writer’s room where there’s a showrunner and everyone sits in the room and talks all day. In England they still do a story editor from the network – so BBC or ITV whatever you’re from – and that person is kind of the overall person in charge. They hire a head writer. So our Davies and our Steven Moffats, but they talk with them. So it’s almost like a team working and then you hire freelance writers. You don’t do a room the way we do. So he wanted – Russell Davies –  wanted to come and have that experience and see what it would do for his writing and would he want to bring that idea back to England and some people there are doing it, but they’re still pretty steady in the way they’ve done. So I think just the idea that they took that chance is really a very fascinating thing. So to me, that’s a big step.

 

In this presentation given at the 2022 San Diego WhoCon I had the chance to trace the many ways Doctor Who changed the TV universe. By focusing on the interesting and innovative things the many writers did with the show across the years we were able to see the Who footprint by becoming the first narrative program to reach 50 years on the air, the first to create a spin-off across the ocean, and a show alongside Star Trek that created the Con-craze that brought the world of cosplay to the mainstream. Perhaps most importantly, a love of Doctor Who lead more Americans to watch programming from other countries – from Korean dramas to Mexican telenovelas – which has so enriched our culture.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

Watch this entire presentation

14 Julie Dash and Spike Lee From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. [Video]

 14 Julie Dash and Spike Lee From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. [Video]

Transcript:

Then we get “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash. So now a female coming into that rebellious you know LA rebellion was largely a male thing but now Julie Dash comes to it and tries to give the real story of the Gullah family –  using their language and their conversation, which is really quite beautiful and we move over to Spike Lee. I would argue that “Do The Right Thing” is kind of the ultimate American – African-American – neo-realist film. Looking at the trouble in his area again due to poverty and then the heat and all of that that goes on and I think it’s important to look at Spike in the new Museum to the academy that they built in Los Angeles – which we finally got to visit after the pandemic – they have a room for directors and I would call this writer’s inspiration. I’m really tired when they call it director’s inspiration and he’s the director but you know what he got his only Oscar for – writing. Let’s just remember that. They gave a couple of writers writers yes writer/directors rooms to show their Inspirations and you’ll see right here “8 1/2” and “Rome Open City.” The man’s whole career is built around what he studied at New York Film Academy.

Watch this entire presentation

At the recent Screenwriting Research Network conference in Vienna, I gave this talk titled “From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike: How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S.”

In the talk, I trace the ways a manual about screenwriting by silent film writer Jeanne Macpherson influenced Suso Cecchi d’Amici who began to utilize Macpherson’s ideas and became the queen of Italian neorealism screenwriting in Europe. Then those Italian neo-realist screenwriters in turn inspired the Los Angeles School of Black Independent Film Makers (the L.A. School). In turn, such as Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry, Haile Gerima, and Julie Dash and their ideas fueled Spike Lee. Finally, when he became the first Black man to head the jury at the Cannes Film Festival (where Suso had once served) his choice of films influenced yet another generation of screenwriters.

From Jeanne to Suso to Julie to Spike:  How Jeanne Macpherson’s Manual on Screenwriting Influenced Italian Realism which Influenced Black Independent Film in the U.S. (Complete)

01 Introduction from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

01 Introduction from The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

 

Transcript:

Today is going to be about how our show “Doctor Who” changed the television Universe because it really has had great a great effect in what we see on TV today and I think people don’t even necessarily recognize the power of this one show. So that’s what we’re going to talk about. As we’ve discussed in the past and I always do this just because in case there’s new people but you all know me. So you know what I’ve done and blah blah that I have so I’m going to skip through all this stuff and get to the meat of what we’re doing which is how it changed the TV Universe. I’m gonna say right off the bat, we had never done a spin-off that would take place in another country. That we would take “Torchwood” and do “Miracle Day”–  which we all have our opinions on. I’m not a huge fan of “Miracle Day” – but the idea that they transported a show to another country right? It got a new staff of people and gave it that different feeling. That’s huge and I’ve not seen another show do that yet. So the power that they could say we want to try seeing what would happen if we moved to the States and got this other feeling. So to me that’s always big and of course, he really wanted to work with Jane Espenson who I love and adore from “Buffy (The Vampire Slayer)” and many other shows. So there was this cross-cultural respect for the kind of work that happens someplace else.

 

In this presentation given at the 2022 San Diego WhoCon I had the chance to trace the many ways Doctor Who changed the TV universe. By focusing on the interesting and innovative things the many writers did with the show across the years we were able to see the Who footprint by becoming the first narrative program to reach 50 years on the air, the first to create a spin-off across the ocean, and a show alongside Star Trek that created the Con-craze that brought the world of cosplay to the mainstream. Perhaps most importantly, a love of Doctor Who lead more Americans to watch programming from other countries – from Korean dramas to Mexican telenovelas – which has so enriched our culture.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

Watch this entire presentation

The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe (Full Presentation) – Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video]

In this presentation given at the 2022 San Diego WhoCon I had the chance to trace the many ways Doctor Who changed the TV universe. By focusing on the interesting and innovative things the many writers did with the show across the years we were able to see the Who footprint by becoming the first narrative program to reach 50 years on the air, the first to create a spin-off across the ocean, and a show alongside Star Trek that created the Con-craze that brought the world of cosplay to the mainstream. Perhaps most importantly, a love of Doctor Who lead more Americans to watch programming from other countries – from Korean dramas to Mexican telenovelas – which has so enriched our culture.

RMW Rosanne Signature for Web

The Doctor Who Changed the TV Universe (Full Presentation) – Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

23 The Importance of Archives from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

23 The Importance of Archives from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

…and women are terrible at keeping track of their own archives. So many of these women threw away material. They cleaned out their houses. They were busy with kids. They didn’t want all this clutter around when their career was over and it disappeared. I mean it’s a great story, Bess Meredyth – who wrote many, many films in the silent era – and then she married Michael Curtiz who is the director of Casablanca and there –as people study Casablanca often – he would be asked the question on the set and had to leave to figure it out and they knew he went home to call his wife to help him figure out the story problem. Then he’d come back and her son wrote a biography of her. He also became a TV writer. Problem was he never thought to ask his mother about her career. When she was older it was like I didn’t imagine she did anything interesting. So even within our own families we don’t talk about the work that we do women particularly and that’s a mistake because then the stories die. So we need you know in the places where we have things like the Library of Congress and all the catalogs of film, we have to start going backward and preserving as much of female work as we can and work by African Americans. We have a lot of early African-American screenwriters where we know they existed because there are advertisements for their movies but the movies don’t exist anymore. So how can we study stuff that we can’t have access to.

 

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

22 Preserving Women’s Film History from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

22 Preserving Women's Film History from What Is a Western? Interview Series: When Women Wrote Westerns from the Autry Museum of the American West [Video]

Transcript:

Host: So are there some ways that we as – like the work you’ve been doing with your research – that in terms of revising those kind of incomplete histories of the film industry. What steps can we take to actually repair that and have a more accurate Narrative of the past?

Rosanne: Oh wow. Well, of course, hire more women writers. Step one to get more of those stories that – hire more underrepresented voices to tell us the stories we haven’t heard before and once we’ve done that, we have to preserve this material. One of the issues again with why we don’t remember these women is when we started preserving films and doing the Library of Congress and the 100 Years of – all of that stuff – people kind of push the that wasn’t important. It was Charlie Chaplin and these other people and we preserved all their material. We didn’t really think about that when it comes to stuff done by women.

 

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