Celebrating the Female Screenwriters Who Came Before Us by Dr. Rosanne Welch — Script Magazine, March 2021

It seems quite appropriate that in March, the month we set aside to commemorate all the many marvelous contributions women have made in the arts, I’ve begun a monthly column for Script Magazine celebrating famous female screenwriters of the past.  The first column posted today. Come along and learn the names of the many wonderful women who wrote Hollywood. 

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I’m pleased to begin this new column in March, the month we set aside to commemorate all the contributions women have made – and will continue to make – as writers in media forms ranging from silent films to talkies to television to video games.

People often ask me why I created a series of History of Screenwriting courses and not courses on the History Film. I tell them that the History of Film most often becomes the History of Directors which in turn becomes the History of Great Men and I am done with that version of history. I’m also done with the auteur theory that came from French film critics deciding directors were the ‘authors’ of the movies – a theory that has been disproven over and over again but still refuses to die. The word writer comes before director in the job title writer-director because when people talk about the film and TV shows they love they rarely recollect a director’s camera angles but they always quote the writer’s dialogue.

Read Celebrating the Female Screenwriters Who Came Before Us on the Script web site

(L-R) Dorothy Parker, Jeanie Macpherson and Anita Loos

Directing on the page…On Screenwriting – 7 in a series

Directing on the page...On Screenwriting - 7 in a series

 

Some like to teach that writers shouldn’t “direct on the page.”

But in fact, most of the screenwriters who sell and win Oscars are people whose voice on the page is recognizable.

Those are the screenplays that sell because a person at a studio has to read the script and envision the movie. If they don’t see it, they don’t buy it.

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47 More On Screenplays As Literature from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (51 seconds)

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47 More On Screenplays As Literature from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (51 seconds)

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Transcript:

In my family, we like A Christmas Carol — Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — and it’s been made into movies several times and for us, the best version is the one made by The Muppets because in that version Gonzo the muppet gives the action dialogue — the narration — that you would not see in any other version of the film but he narrates — he walks around town — as Dickens narrating. So you hear language that you miss in the other movies. So, to me, that’s what’s happening when people start reading actual screenplays. They’re seeing the craft as it exists on the page. Yes, of course, we’d like it made into a film and we want to see the beautiful vistas and we want to see actors who are wonderful but I just really need the story. That’s enough for me. That’s gonna make me feel something.

Watch this entire presentation

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

45 Universal Themes in Samantha! from Brazil from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (37 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

45 Universal Themes in Samantha! from Brazil  from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (37 seconds)

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Transcript:

So when I watched Samantha!, I thought, “Okay so how does this work? Oh, you know what? Pretty universal. She wants to be important. She wants to matter in the world. That’s what everybody wants, right, and she wants to be loved. That’s — that’s ridiculously universal but every story that teaches that theme just gives you the details the writer had to offer and to me, that’s one of the most beautiful things because that’s how we learn we’re all the same. All this nonsense — about borders and walls and things I don’t want to talk about — it’s nonsense because we’re all the same right? That’s what we need to learn.

Watch this entire presentation

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

44 Samantha! from Brazil from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (1 minute)

Watch this entire presentation

44 Samantha! from Brazil  from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (1 minute)

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

 

Transcript:

In watching Brazilian television I found Samanta! which I thought is adorable. I’m amazed we haven’t copied that in the United States yet because this experience of being a child star is something that is, sadly, universal and I think that it’s important to realize that a program can travel to many cultures because themes are universal and that’s why when we start writing from a theme we know that it’s something that going to work. We talked about Harry Potter this morning. It amazes me that we’re talking about a billion-dollar piece of merchandise that is entirely built around the theme, you have to have friends. You have to have friends you can trust. That’s all. That’s the theme of every single book and every single movie and look how powerful that has been. We need that message. We go to movies and television shows, we go to stories, to learn those messages.

Watch this entire presentation

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

41 UK TV In The US from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (39 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

41 UK TV In The US from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (39 seconds)

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

 

Transcript:

Just in the United States, this show finished a six-season run. It’s from England and we’d always had programming from England because we had that in our national channel always brought in stuff from England because in the United States we think the English folks are smarter and more intellectual than we are right? We think that they’re just better because they have Shakespeare and we don’t. So we like English programming but what I liked was it taught me about a book series I had never heard of right? So I was exposed to some literature from another country that way. likewise, this is from years ago but this book series was a tv show in England that aired in the United States which I liked a lot.

Watch this entire presentation

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

A Woman Wrote That – 6 in a series – The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

This new “A Woman Wrote That” post is an echo of the Writers Guild campaign of a few years ago (“A Writer Wrote That”) where they noted famous movie quotes and credited the screenwriter rather than the director.  The difference here being that we will be posting lines from films written by female screenwriters.  Feel free to share! — Rosanne

A Woman Wrote That - 6 in a series - The Joy Luck Club by AmyTan

WAVERLY: “You don’t know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look, and I’m four years old again.”

40 The Almighty Johnsons from New Zealand from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (1 minute 12 seconds)

Watch this entire presentation

40 The Almighty Johnsons from New Zealand from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (1 minute 12 seconds)

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

 

Transcript:

This is actually a program from New Zealand. Who knew New Zealand made television, but I have my students write spec scripts — speculative scripts — which are their own versions of a show that already exists to teach the art of copying, because if you’re going to write television you have to copy what exists and then you make your own story, but you have to know how the characters sound. So, I have them pitch ideas from programs they are watching, but they have to write a United States show because that’s what the people are going to read in the United States. This young man pitched an episode of this show because he saw it on Netflix and he didn’t even realize it wasn’t from the United States. he didn’t even notice that they were using city names from New — he didn’t know what New Zealand was really, but the TV showed him and I stay that we learn the mythology of other cultures. This is a show about Norse mythology. the young boys on the program discover that they are the re-born versions of Norse gods and their goal is to get together with the other Norse gods and eventually go back to heaven together and rule the world. It’s adorable and I wouldn’t have heard about it except for Netflix.

Watch this entire presentation

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

Where’s Her Movie? Astronomer, Margaret Harwood – 4 in a series

“Where’s HER Movie” posts will highlight interesting and accomplished women from a variety of professional backgrounds who deserve to have movies written about them as much as all the male scientists, authors, performers, and geniuses have had written about them across the over 100 years of film.  This is our attempt to help write these women back into mainstream history.  — Rosanne

Where's Her Movie? Astronomer, Margaret Harwood - 4 in a series

Observatory Photo By Versageek – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

from Wikipedia…

After graduating college, she worked at the Harvard Observatory and taught in private schools in the Boston area. In 1912, an astronomical fellowship was created for women to work at Maria Mitchell Observatory; Harwood was the first recipient of the fellowship, receiving $1,000.[2][3] In 1916, at 30 years old, Harwood was named director of Mitchell Observatory, and worked there from 1916 until her retirement in 1957.[2] Her specialty, photometry, involved measuring variation in the light of stars and asteroids, particularly that of the small planet Eros. A member of the American Astronomical Society and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, she traveled widely in Europe and the United States. She was the first woman to gain access to the Mount Wilson Observatory, the world’s largest observatory at the time.[4]

In 1917, she discovered the asteroid 886 Washingtonia four days before its formal recognition by George Peters.[5] At the time, “senior people around her advised her not to report it as a new discovery because it was inappropriate that a woman should be thrust into the limelight with such a claim”.[6][7] However, Harwood did send her photographs of her discovery to Peters for him to include in his study of the asteroid’s orbit.[6] In 1960, an asteroid discovered at Palomar, was named in her honor, 7040 Harwood.[6][3]

The Civil War On Film – 9 in a series – The earliest films were pro-Union…

The Civil War On Film - 9  in a series - The earliest films were pro-Union...

Between 1908 and 1910 filmmakers released seventy Civil War films, and another hundred by 1916. The earliest films were pro-Union, or at least featured a Union victory, but in 1909 southern theater owners began to complain about Northern bias. Filmmakers saw a market for pro-southern movies.

Movies profiled in this book: