Authorship in Film Adaptation
Edited with an introduction by Jack Boozer University of Texas Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN1997.85.A92 2008 | Dewey Decimal 808.23
Authoring a film adaptation of a literary source not only requires a media conversion but also a transformation as a result of the differing dramatic demands of cinema. The most critical central step in this transformation of a literary source to the screen is the writing of the screenplay. The screenplay usually serves to recruit producers, director, and actors; to attract capital investment; and to give focus to the conception and production of the film project. Often undergoing multiple revisions prior to production, the screenplay represents the crucial decisions of writer and director that will determine how and to what end the film will imitate or depart from its original source.
Authorship in Film Adaptation is an accessible, provocative text that opens up new areas of discussion on the central process of adaptation surrounding the screenplay and screenwriter-director collaboration. In contrast to narrow binary comparisons of literary source text and film, the twelve essays in this collection also give attention to the underappreciated role of the screenplay and film pre-production that can signal the primary intention for a film. Divided into four parts, this collection looks first at the role of Hollywood's activist producers and major auteurs such as Hitchcock and Kubrick as they worked with screenwriters to formulate their audio-visual goals. The second part offers case studies of Devil in a Blue Dress and The Sweet Hereafter, for which the directors wrote their own adapted screenplays. Considering the variety of writer-director working relationships that are possible, Part III focuses on adaptations that alter genre, time, and place, and Part IV investigates adaptations that alter stories of romance, sexuality, and ethnicity.
Body Double explores the myriad ways that film artists have represented the creative process. In this highly innovative work, Lucy Fischer draws on a neglected element of auteur studies to show that filmmakers frequently raise questions about the paradoxes of authorship by portraying the onscreen writer. Dealing with such varied topics as the icon of the typewriter, the case of the writer/director, the authoress, and the omnipresent infirm author, she probes the ways in which films can tell a plausible story while contemplating the conditions and theories of their making.
By examining many forms of cinema, from Hollywood and the international art cinema to the avant-garde, Fischer considers the gender, age, and mental or physical health of fictionalized writers; the dramatized interaction between artists and their audiences and critics; and the formal play of written words and nonverbal images.
By analyzing such movies as Adaptation,Diary of a Country Priest, Naked Lunch, American Splendor, and Irezumi, Fischer tracks the parallels between film author and character, looking not for the creative figure who stands outside the text, but for the one who stands within it as corporeal presence and alter-ego.
Will Dunne first brought the workshop experience down to the desk level with The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, offering practical exercises to help playwrights and screenwriters work through the problems that arise in developing their scripts. Now writers looking to further enhance their storytelling process can turn to Character, Scene, and Story.
Featuring forty-two new workshop-tested exercises, this sequel to The Dramatic Writer’s Companion allows writers to dig deeper into their scripts by fleshing out images, exploring characters from an emotional perspective, tapping the power of color and sense memory to trigger ideas, and trying other visceral techniques. The guide also includes a troubleshooting section to help tackle problem scenes. Writers with scripts already in progress will find they can think deeper about their characters and stories. And those who are just beginning to write will find the guidance they need to discover their best starting point. The guide is filled with hundreds of examples, many of which have been developed as both plays and films.
Character, Scene, and Story is fully aligned with the new edition of The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, with cross-references between related exercises so that writers have the option to explore a given topic in more depth. While both guides can stand alone, together they give writers more than one hundred tools to develop more vivid characters and craft stronger scripts.
Imagine attending a fascinating film forum among a distinguished and varied panel of cinema legends. An afternoon or evening where contemporary filmmakers from around the world--Kazakhstan, Turkey, Macedonia, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Cameroon, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, the People's Republic of China, Mexico, Poland, the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France--gather together to discuss how they arrive at the creative choices that bring their film projects to life.
Can't spare the time from work or class? Travel expense too great? What? You can't even find such a collaborative event?
Then imagine curling up with a good book, maybe a shot of espresso in hand, and becoming engrossed in the exciting and informative conversation that Elena Oumano has ingeniously crafted from her personal and individual interviews with these artists. Straying far from the usual choppy question-and-answer format, Cinema Today saves you from plowing through another tedious read, in which the same topics and issues are directed to each subject, over and over-an experience that is like being trapped in a revolving door.
Oumano stops that revolving door by following a lively symposium-in-print format, with the filmmakers' words and thoughts grouped together under various key cinema topics. It is as though these experts are speaking to each other and you are their audience--collectively they reflect on and explore issues and concerns of modern filmmaking, from the practical to the aesthetic, including the process, cinematic rhythm and structure, and the many aspects of the media: business, the viewer, and cinema's place in society. Whether you are a movie lover, a serious student of cinema, or simply interested in how we communicate in today's global village through films that so profoundly affect the world, Cinema Today is for you.
Cormac McCarthy is renowned as the author of popular and acclaimed novels such as Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, and The Road. Throughout his career, however, McCarthy has also invested deeply in writing for film and theater, an engagement with other forms of storytelling that is often overlooked. He is the author of five screenplays and two plays, and he has been significantly involved with three of the seven film adaptations of his work. In this book, Stacey Peebles offers the first extensive overview of this relatively unknown aspect of McCarthy’s writing life, including the ways in which other artists have interpreted his work for the stage and screen.
Drawing on many primary sources in McCarthy’s recently opened archive, as well as interviews, Peebles covers the 1977 televised film The Gardener’s Son; McCarthy’s unpublished screenplays from the 1980s that became the foundation for his Border Trilogy novels and No Country for Old Men; various successful and unsuccessful productions of his two plays; and all seven film adaptations of his work, including John Hillcoat’s The Road (2009) and the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men (2007). Emerging from this narrative is the central importance of tragedy—the rich and varied portrayals of violence and suffering and the human responses to them—in all of McCarthy’s work, but especially his writing for theater and film.
bonnie lenore kyburz' reflective and deeply felt sense of (her) place in Composition creates room to consider some of the rhetorical dimensions and pedagogical implications of film work in writing classrooms and as digital scholarship. Invoking affect theorist Lauren Berlant's concept of "cruel optimism" to articulate the findings of her archival, analytical, and experiential methods, Cruel Auteurism describes a cultural shift within the discipline, from the primacy of print-based arguments, through an evolving desire to generate cinematic rhetorics, toward increasingly visible forms of textual practice currently shaping composition classrooms and digital scholarship.
What makes a film “work,” so that audiences come away from the viewing experience refreshed and even transformed in the way they understand themselves and the world around them? In The Death and Life of Drama, veteran screenwriter and screenwriting teacher Lance Lee tackles this question in a series of personal essays that thoroughly analyze drama's role in our society, as well as the elements that structure all drama, from the plays of ancient Athens to today's most popular movies. Using examples from well-known classical era and recent films, Lee investigates how writers handle dramatic elements such as time, emotion, morality, and character growth to demonstrate why some films work while others do not. He seeks to define precisely what “action” is and how the writer and the viewer understand dramatic reality. He looks at various kinds of time in drama, explores dramatic context from Athens to the present, and examines the concept of comedy. Lee also proposes a novel “five act” structure for drama that takes account of the characters' past and future outside the “beginning, middle, and end” of the story. Deftly balancing philosophical issues and practical concerns, The Death and Life of Drama offers a rich understanding of the principles of successful dramatic writing for screenwriters and indeed everyone who enjoys movies and wants to know why some films have such enduring appeal for so many people.
In just eight years, The Dramatic Writer’s Companion has become a classic among playwrights and screenwriters. Thousands have used its self-contained character, scene, and story exercises to spark creativity, hone their writing, and improve their scripts.
Having spent decades working with dramatists to refine and expand their existing plays and screenplays, Dunne effortlessly blends condensed dramatic theory with specific action steps—over sixty workshop-tested exercises that can be adapted to virtually any individual writing process and dramatic script. Dunne’s in-depth method is both instinctual and intellectual, allowing writers to discover new actions for their characters and new directions for their stories. The exercises can be used by those just starting the writing process and by those who have scripts already in development. With each exercise rooted in real-life issues from Dunne’s workshops, readers of this companion will find the combined experiences of more than fifteen hundred workshops in a single guide.
This second edition is fully aligned with a brand-new companion book, Character, Scene, and Story, which offers forty-two additional activities to help writers more fully develop their scripts. The two books include cross-references between related exercises, though each volume can also stand alone.
No ordinary guide to plotting, this handbook centers on the principle that character is key. “The character is not something added to the scene or to the story,” writes Dunne. “Rather, the character is the scene. The character is the story.” With this new edition, Dunne’s remarkable creative method will continue to be the go-to source for anyone hoping to take their story to the stage.
Moss Hart once said that you never really learn how to write a play; you only learn how to write this play. Crafted with that adage in mind, The Dramatic Writer’s Companion is designed to help writers explore their own ideas in order to develop the script in front of them. No ordinary guide to plotting, this handbook starts with the principle that character is key. “The character is not something added to the scene or to the story,” writes author Will Dunne. “Rather, the character is the scene. The character is the story.”
Having spent decades working with dramatists to refine and expand their existing plays and screenplays, Dunne effortlessly blends condensed dramatic theory with specific action steps—over sixty workshop-tested exercises that can be adapted to virtually any individual writing process and dramatic script. Dunne’s in-depth method is both instinctual and intellectual, allowing writers to discover new actions for their characters and new directions for their stories.
Dunne’s own experience is a crucial element of this guide. His plays have been selected by the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center for three U.S. National Playwrights Conferences and have earned numerous honors, including a Charles MacArthur Fellowship, four Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, and two Drama-Logue Playwriting Awards. Thousands of individuals have already benefited from his workshops, and The Dramatic Writer’s Companion promises to bring his remarkable creative method to an even wider audience.
Theorists, scholars, and critics usually consider literary works to be fixed objects, assuming that any variations in the text of a work should be stabilized, reduced, eliminated. John Bryant urges that these variations create valuable records of the interactions between the artist and society. Preprint revisions, revised editions, adaptations for film, and expurgations for children are among the many forms of flux that shape literary works and position them relative to their audiences. Fully understanding the life of a literary work in its cultural situation requires recognizing the fluidity of text, and the present work makes the first coherent theoretical, critical, and editorial approach to the study of revision.
The author develops his theory and its critical application drawing upon the example of Melville's Typee, using its various versions to present protocols for fluid text analysis. He shows how the mountain of scholarly material comprising the fluid text can be presented by a partnership of book and computer screen, in ways that offer new opportunities, insights,and pleasures for scholars and readers. The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen is written in a clear and accessible style and will appeal to scholars and students in editorial theory, literary criticism and analysis, and anyone concerned with the information architecture of complex literary works in digital media.
John Bryant is Professor of English, Hofstra University. His most recent book is an edition of Melville's Tales, Poems, and Other Writings.
Over the past decade, movie audiences have become hungry for films based on real people and historical events. Never was this more evident than during the best-picture showdown between The King’s Speech and The Social Network during the 2011 Academy Awards, a scene then repeated, with Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty in the 2013 awards.. While Hollywood moguls have come to recognize the box-office revenue and critical acclaim that accompany such films and are now fast-tracking many docudramas into theaters, there remains a need for more reality-based film scripts.
In From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech,” writer, director, and producer Alan Rosenthal presents a manual for screenwriters to develop their bio-pic or docudrama from concept to completion. This comprehensive guide begins with an overview of the genre before providing screenwriters with all the techniques and insights needed to navigate the often intimidating landscape of screenwriting for reality-based scripts. Included within the volume are tips for such challenges as inception and research, developing dialogue and narration, and capably addressing any legal and rights issues that may arise. Also included are appendixes containing useful marketing tips and broadcast guidelines.
A practical, down-to-earth manual for experienced and novice screenwriters alike, From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech” is the only manual dedicated explicitly to writing the bio-pic and docudrama. Rosenthal shares his decades of experience in the film industry, along with hands-on tools and maps, to help screenwriters completely master this popular film genre.
How Scripts are Made
Inga Karetnikova Southern Illinois University Press, 1990 Library of Congress PN1996.K24 1990 | Dewey Decimal 808.23
Inga Karetnikova’s method is that of the art teacher: she asks students to study great works in detail, to analyze them, and then to create their own. She stresses that her examination is "interested only in how the scripts are written and what makes them work, not in a cultural or scholarly examination of them." Karetnikova analyzes eight screenplays—TheGodfather, Rashomon, La Strada, Bicycle Thief, Nosferatu, The Servant, Viridiana, Notorious—anda novel written in screenplay form, Kiss of the Spider Woman. Each serves as an example of a particular aspect of screenplay writing: composing scripts, developing characters, constructing suspense, adapting literature to cinematic space and time, and weaving details and motifs within a script.
Karetnikova urges film students to work on their own screenplays while studying her book, reading the suggested scripts and viewing the films based on them to get the most from her method. She provides a series of exercises for each chapter to help students master the skills of composing and writing film treatments, developing screen stories and their characters, organizing scenes, and writing dialogue. Each of the exercises has worked successfully in her own screenplay-writing classes.
Winner, Best First Monograph, British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies
In the 1980s and 1990s, John Hughes was one of Hollywood's most reliable hitmakers, churning out beloved teen comedies and family films such as The Breakfast Club and Home Alone, respectively. But was he an artist? Hughes, an adamantly commercial filmmaker who was dismissed by critics, might have laughed at the question. Since his death in 2009, though, he has been memorialized on Oscar night as a key voice of his time. Now the critics lionize him as a stylistic original.
Holly Chard traces Hughes's evolution from entertainer to auteur. Studios recognized Hughes's distinctiveness and responded by nurturing his brand. He is therefore a case study in Hollywood's production not only of movies but also of genre and of authorship itself. The films of John Hughes, Chard shows, also owed their success to the marketers who sold them and the audiences who watched. Careful readings of Hughes's cinema reveal both the sources of his iconic status and the imprint on his films of the social, political, economic, and media contexts in which he operated.
The first serious treatment of Hughes, Mainstream Maverick elucidates the priorities of the American movie industry in the New Hollywood era and explores how artists not only create but are themselves created.
This is the first study of Hollywood by an anthropologist. Jorja Prover examines how different groups of individuals, separated from one another superficially by ethnicity, race, and sex, function as writers in Hollywood. She describes the white “majority” Hollywood writers and explores their concerns and creative processes, and then discusses other writers who, until recently, have been virtually invisible in the entertainment industry—women, the physically challenged, gays, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. In detailing their efforts at gaining professional acceptance, these writers introduce new, previously unmentioned issues involving access, advancement, talent, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
Much of the writing in film studies published today can be understood as genre criticism, broadly speaking. And even before film studies emerged as an academic discipline in the 1970s, cultural observers within and beyond the academy were writing about genre films and making fascinating attempts to understand their conventions and how they speak to, for, and about the culture that produces them. While this early writing on genre film was often unsystematic, impressionistic, journalistic, and judgmental, it nonetheless produced insights that remain relevant and valuable today.
Notions of Genre gathers the most important early writing on film genre and genre films published between 1945 and 1969. It includes articles by such notable critics as Susan Sontag, Dwight Macdonald, Siegfried Kracauer, James Agee, André Bazin, Robert Warshow, and Claude Chabrol, as well as essays by scholars in academic disciplines such as history, sociology, and theater. Their writings address major issues in genre studies, including definition, representation, ideology, audiences, and industry practices, across genres ranging from comedy and westerns to horror, science fiction, fantasy, gangster films, and thrillers. The only single-volume source for this early writing on genre films, Notions of Genre will be an invaluable resource for scholars and students of film genre, film history, film theory, cultural studies, and popular culture.
Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don’t know how to tell a story. These writers may know how to format a script, write snappy dialogue, and set a scene. They may have interesting characters and perhaps some clever plot devices. But, invariably, while they may have the kernel of a good idea for a screenplay, they fail to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.
Now, for the first time, Chamberlain presents her unique method in book form with The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting. Using easy-to-follow diagrams (“nutshells”), she thoroughly explains how the Nutshell Technique can make or break a film script. Chamberlain takes readers step-by-step through thirty classic and contemporary movies, showing how such dissimilar screenplays as Casablanca, Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo all have the same system working behind the scenes, and she teaches readers exactly how to apply these principles to their own screenwriting. Learn the Nutshell Technique, and you’ll discover how to turn a mere situation into a truly compelling screenplay story.
Austin Film Festival (AFF) is the first organization of its kind to focus on the writer’s creative contribution to film. Its annual Film Festival and Conference offers screenings, panels, workshops, and roundtable discussions that help new writers and filmmakers connect with mentors and gain advice and insight from masters, as well as refreshing veterans with new ideas. To extend the Festival’s reach, AFF produces On Story, a television series currently airing on PBS-affiliated stations and streaming online that presents footage of high-caliber artists talking candidly and provocatively about the art and craft of screenwriting and filmmaking, often using examples from their own films.
This book distills the advice of renowned, award-winning screenwriters who have appeared on On Story, including John Lee Hancock, Peter Hedges, Lawrence Kasdan, Whit Stillman, Robin Swicord, and Randall Wallace. In their own lively words and stories transcribed from interviews and panel discussions, they cover the entire development of a screenplay, from inspiration, story, process, structure, characters, and dialogue to rewriting and collaboration. Their advice is fresh, practical, and proven—these writers know how to tell a story on screen. Enjoy this collection of ideas and use it to jumpstart your own screenwriting career.
“On Story is film school in a box, a lifetime’s worth of filmmaking knowledge squeezed into half-hour packages.”
—Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times
Austin Film Festival (AFF) is the first organization focused on the writer’s creative contribution to film. Its annual Film Festival and Conference offers screenings, panels, workshops, and roundtable discussions that help new writers and filmmakers connect with mentors and gain advice and insight from masters, as well as refreshing veterans with new ideas. To extend the festival’s reach, AFF produces On Story, a television series currently airing on PBS-affiliated stations and streaming online that presents footage of high-caliber artists talking candidly and provocatively about the art and craft of screenwriting and filmmaking, often using examples from their own films.
On Story—Screenwriters and Filmmakers on Their Iconic Films presents renowned, award-winning screenwriters and filmmakers discussing their careers and the stories behind the production of their iconic films such as L.A. Confidential, Thelma & Louise, Groundhog Day, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Silence of the Lambs, In the Name of the Father, Apollo 13, and more. In their own lively words transcribed from interviews and panel discussions, Ron Howard, Callie Khouri, Jonathan Demme, Ted Tally, Jenny Lumet, Harold Ramis, and others talk about creating stories that resonate with one’s life experiences or topical social issues, as well as how to create appealing characters and bring them to life. Their insights, production tales, and fresh, practical, and proven advice make this book ideal for film lovers, screenwriting students, and filmmakers and screenwriters seeking inspiration.
In Rewrite Man, Alison Macor tells an engrossing story about the challenges faced by a top screenwriter at the crossroads of mixed and conflicting agendas in Hollywood. Whether writing love scenes for Tom Cruise on the set of Top Gun, running lines with Michael Keaton on Beetlejuice, or crafting Nietzschean dialogue for Jack Nicholson on Batman, Warren Skaaren collaborated with many of New Hollywood’s most powerful stars, producers, and directors. By the time of his premature death in 1990, Skaaren was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid writers, although he rarely left Austin, where he lived and worked. Yet he had to battle for shared screenwriting credit on these films, and his struggles yield a new understanding of the secretive screen credit arbitration process—a process that has only become more intense, more litigious, and more public for screenwriters and their union, the Writers Guild of America, since Skaaren’s time. His story, told through a wealth of archival material, illuminates crucial issues of film authorship that have seldom been explored.
Horton, Andrew Rutgers University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PN1996.S38 2014 | Dewey Decimal 808.23
Screenwriters often joke that “no one ever paid a dollar at a movie theater to watch a screenplay.” Yet the screenplay is where a movie begins, determining whether a production gets the “green light” from its financial backers and wins approval from its audience. This innovative volume gives readers a comprehensive portrait of the art and business of screenwriting, while showing how the role of the screenwriter has evolved over the years.
Reaching back to the early days of Hollywood, when moonlighting novelists, playwrights, and journalists were first hired to write scenarios and photoplays, Screenwriting illuminates the profound ways that screenwriters have contributed to the films we love. This book explores the social, political, and economic implications of the changing craft of American screenwriting from the silent screen through the classical Hollywood years, the rise of independent cinema, and on to the contemporary global multi-media marketplace. From The Birth of a Nation (1915), Gone With the Wind (1939), and Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) to Chinatown (1974), American Beauty (1999), and Lost in Translation (2003), each project began as writers with pen and ink, typewriters, or computers captured the hopes and dreams, the nightmares and concerns of the periods in which they were writing.
As the contributors take us behind the silver screen to chronicle the history of screenwriting, they spotlight a range of key screenplays that changed the game in Hollywood and beyond. With original essays from both distinguished film scholars and accomplished screenwriters, Screenwriting is sure to fascinate anyone with an interest in Hollywood, from movie buffs to industry professionals.
Screenwriting for Neurotics is a quirky and accessible handbook for beginning screenwriters. Whether you are a student in a screenwriting class or just someone who wants to try their hand at writing for film or television, this handy guidebook makes the entire process simple and unintimidating. Scott Winfield Sublett, a veteran screenwriter and screenwriting teacher, walks you step by step from start to finish and helps you navigate potential and unforeseen difficulties along the way, offering handy tips and suggestions to keep you from becoming blocked or stalled.
Rather than throwing you into the writing process headfirst, Sublett guides you through the various decisions you need to make—about plot, character, structure, conflict—in the order you need to make them. He explains in straightforward terms the terminology and jargon, the theory and industry standards, and dispels common myths about screenwriting that can discourage or hold back a beginning writer.
Balancing theory and practice and offering valuable and insightful examples from recognizable and well-known classic and contemporary films, ranging from Casablanca to A Christmas Story to Clerks, Sublett provides the new writer with the necessary tools to successfully write a feature-length screenplay and offers a roadmap of where to go next. With an emphasis on helping a writer not just to begin, but also to finish a script, Screenwriting for Neurotics is the screenwriting book to help you actually write one.
Scripting Hitchcock explores the collaborative process between Alfred Hitchcock and the screenwriters he hired to write the scripts for three of his greatest films: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie. Drawing from extensive interviews with the screenwriters and other film technicians who worked for Hitchcock, Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick illustrate how much of the filmmaking process took place not on the set or in front of the camera, but in the adaptation of the sources, the mutual creation of plot and characters by the director and the writers, and the various revisions of the written texts of the films.
Hitchcock allowed his writers a great deal of creative freedom, which resulted in dynamic screenplays that expanded traditional narrative and defied earlier conventions. Critically examining the question of authorship in film, Raubicheck and Srebnick argue that Hitchcock did establish visual and narrative priorities for his writers, but his role in the writing process was that of an editor. While the writers and their contributions have generally been underappreciated, this study reveals that all the dialogue and much of the narrative structure of the films were the work of screenwriters Jay Presson Allen, Joseph Stefano, and Evan Hunter. The writers also shaped American cultural themes into material specifically for actors such as Janet Leigh, Tippi Hedren, and Tony Perkins. This volume gives due credit to those writers who gave narrative form to Hitchcock's filmic vision.
Derided as simple, dismissed as inferior to film, famously characterized as a vast wasteland, television nonetheless exerts an undeniable, apparently inescapable power in our culture. The secret of television's success may well lie in the remarkable narrative complexities underlying its seeming simplicity, complexities Kristin Thompson unmasks in this engaging analysis of the narrative workings of television and film.
After first looking at the narrative techniques the two media share, Thompson focuses on the specific challenges that series television presents and the tactics writers have devised to meet them--tactics that sustain interest and maintain sense across multiple plots and subplots and in spite of frequent interruptions as well as weeklong and seasonal breaks. Beyond adapting the techniques of film, Thompson argues, television has wrought its own changes in traditional narrative form. Drawing on classics of film and television, as well as recent and current series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, and The Simpsons, she shows how adaptations, sequels, series, and sagas have altered long-standing notions of closure and single authorship. And in a comparison of David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, she asks whether there can be an "art television" comparable to the more familiar "art cinema."
In a book as entertaining as it is enlightening, Kristin Thompson offers the first in-depth analysis of Hollywood's storytelling techniques and how they are used to make complex, easily comprehensible, entertaining films. She also takes on the myth that modern Hollywood films are based on a narrative system radically different from the one in use during the Golden Age of the studio system.
Drawing on a wide range of films from the 1920s to the 1990s--from Keaton's Our Hospitality to Casablanca to Terminator 2--Thompson explains such staples of narrative as the goal-oriented protagonist, the double plot-line, and dialogue hooks. She domonstrates that the "three-act structure," a concept widely used by practitioners and media commentators, fails to explain how Hollywood stories are put together.
Thompson then demonstrates in detail how classical narrative techniques work in ten box-office and critical successes made since the New Hollywood began in the 1970s: Tootsie, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs, Groundhog Day, Desperately Seeking Susan, Amadeus, The Hunt for Red October, Parenthood, Alien, and Hannah and Her Sisters. In passing, she suggests reasons for the apparent slump in quality in Hollywood films of the 1990s. The results will be of interest to movie fans, scholars, and film practitioners alike.
This unique, comprehensive introduction to screenwriting offers practical advice for the beginning writer, whether college student or freelancer. Based on their experience as professional writers and as teachers in a large, successful screenwriting program at California State University, Northridge, the authors provide a progression of assignments at manageable screenwriting lengths for beginners. They lead students through development of a premise, treatment, stepsheet, and, finally, miniscreenplay—essential elements in writing a longer script.
A major feature of the text is the use of many example scenes from contemporary and classic American films, such as On the Waterfront, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Godfather, The Graduate, Tootsie, and more. Other scenes are drawn from international films and dramatic literature. The criticism of these scenes invites students to develop their own comparative models, while simultaneously providing exposure to the central analytical terms of good dramatic writing.
The authors also place screenwriting within the larger tradition of dramatic writing in order to put the beginning writer in touch with the wealth of art, experience, and practical ideas the drama contains. They provide an up-to-date, practical discussion of marketing and copywriting a screenplay, with addresses of relevant professional societies. Most importantly, they never offer an ill-advised shortcut or restrict students to only one way of thinking about a character, situation, or scene. In The Understructure of Writing for Film & Television, the student's thought and creativity are central.
Conversations about gender equity in the workplace accelerated in the 2010s, with debates inside Hollywood specifically pointing to broader systemic problems of employment disparities and exploitative labor practices. Compounded by the devastating #MeToo revelations, these problems led to a wide-scale call for change. The Value Gap traces female-driven filmmaking across development, financing, production, film festivals, marketing, and distribution, examining the realities facing women working in the industry during this transformative moment. Drawing from five years of extensive interviews with female producers, writers, and directors at different stages of their careers, Courtney Brannon Donoghue examines how Hollywood business cultures “value” female-driven projects as risky or not bankable. Industry claims that “movies targeting female audiences don’t make money” or “women can’t direct big-budget blockbusters” have long circulated to rationalize systemic gender inequities and have served to normalize studios prioritizing the white male–driven status quo. Through a critical media industry studies lens, The Value Gap challenges this pervasive logic with firsthand accounts of women actively navigating the male-dominated and conglomerate-owned industrial landscape.
The Writers is the only comprehensive qualitative analysis of the history of writers and writing in the film, television, and streaming media industries in America. Featuring in-depth interviews with over fifty writers—including Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, and Frank Pierson—The Writers delivers a compelling, behind-the-scenes look at the role and rights of writers in Hollywood and New York over the past century.
Required to sign away their legal rights as authors as a condition of employment, professional writers may earn a tidy living for their work, but they seldom own their writing. Writing for Hire traces the history of labor relations that defined authorship in film, TV, and advertising in the mid-twentieth century. Catherine L. Fisk examines why strikingly different norms of attribution emerged in these overlapping industries, and she shows how unionizing enabled Hollywood writers to win many authorial rights, while Madison Avenue writers achieved no equivalent recognition.
In the 1930s, the practice of employing teams of writers to create copyrighted works became widespread in film studios, radio networks, and ad agencies. Sometimes Hollywood and Madison Avenue employed the same people. Yet the two industries diverged in a crucial way in the 1930s, when screenwriters formed the Writers Guild to represent them in collective negotiations with media companies. Writers Guild members believed they shared the same status as literary authors and fought to have their names attached to their work. They gained binding legal norms relating to ownership and public recognition—norms that eventually carried over into the professional culture of TV production.
In advertising, by contrast, no formal norms of public attribution developed. Although some ad writers chafed at their anonymity, their nonunion workplace provided no institutional framework to channel their demands for change. Instead, many rationalized their invisibility as creative workers by embracing a self-conception as well-compensated professionals devoted to the interests of clients.