Leveraging collaboration: script development processes in low budget Australian feature filmmaking

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This article reviews the use of case study research for both practical and theoretical issues especially in management field with the emphasis on management of technology and innovation. Many researchers commented on the methodological issues of the case study research from their point of view thus, presenting a comprehensive framework was missing. We try representing a general framework with methodological and analytical perspective to design, develop, and conduct case study research. To test the coverage of our framework, we have analyzed articles in three major journals related to the management of technology and innovation to approve our framework. This study represents a general structure to guide, design, and fulfill a case study research with levels and steps necessary for researchers to use in their research.
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As screenwriting continues to establish itself as a discrete discipline in academia, either in alignment with creative writing departments or film and media practice departments, there is a danger that such developments may entrench a distancing of the craft from the cinematic form itself and that such a distancing may ultimately reinforce the screenplay's propensity for dramaturgy and the dramatic, rather than the sensory and experiential of the cinematic. Closely related creative stages in telling cinematic stories include directing and editing and this article seeks to argue, with reference to personal screen practice, that screenwriting, directing and editing are, in fact, three variations of the same thing. The article proposes the notion of the Total Filmmaker who embraces all three aspects of the cinematic storyteller. If the ultimate aim is to create a narrative that fully utilises the unique properties of the cinematic form in telling a story, rather than being dominated by the theatricality of dramatically driven classical narratives, how might one explore the relationship between screenwriting, directing and editing? Can an integrated approach to creating the cinematic blueprint change the way we think of pedagogy and screenwriting?
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In the last decade screenwriting as a profession has changed significantly, with the writing of a screen idea no longer a singular individual pursuit. Screenwriting has become a truly collaborative practice, and even though the screenplay is considered by some as being ‘authorless’ or a ‘signpost not a destination’ , it is also an activity that inherently recognises writers as the creators of novel and original content. This re-examination of screenwriting situates the practice inside the academy as a place where future practitioners can understand the industry they aspire to work in, and the contexts within which it operates. To this end, the screenwriter steeped in the traditions of creative writing can become more creatively responsive to the industrial and economic factors driving the processes of screen production. By re-conceptualising the screenwriter as a creative and conditioned agent who plays a specific part in the realities of the contemporary screen industry, we can better prepare students for professional practice scenarios that will enable them to make creative contributions that shape and change the industry.
This book offers the first international look at how script development is theorised and practiced. Drawing on interviews, case studies, discourse analysis, creative practices and industry experiences, it brings together scholars and practitioners from around the world to offer critical insights into this core, but often hidden, aspect of screenwriting and screen production. Chapters speculate and reflect upon how creative, commercial and social practices – in which ideas, emotions, people and personalities combine, cohere and clash – are shaped by the practicalities, policies and rapid movements of the screen industry. Comprising two parts, the book first looks ‘into’ script development from a theoretical perspective, and second looks ‘out from’ the practice to form practitioner-led perspectives of script development. With a rising interest in screenwriting and production studies, and an increased appetite for practice-based research, the book offers a timely mapping of the terrain of script development, providing rich foundations for both study and practice.
This chapter provides a case study of script development in Australia. It examines the nexus of the development practice of feature screenwriters and the script development culture of Screen Australia, the federal funding agency. The study is based on a survey of agency documents as well as interviews with key agency executives and 22 of Australia’s most successful feature screenwriters. The criterion for judging the writers’ “success” is based on box office returns; the writers interviewed wrote the 20 films which attracted the largest audiences for Australian films between 1994 and 2013. The interviews illuminate the writers’ creative processes and provide critical insights into how creativity can be undermined by applying a narrow, prescriptive definition of script development. The study also highlights the tensions between global and local influences on screenwriting and development, demonstrating the continuing strength of an Australian-specific form of cinematic narrative despite the ubiquity of Hollywood’s classical model and its promotion by Screen Australia.
This chapter presents a discourse analysis of publicly available documentation from two national screen funding bodies, focused on how they conceptualise script development. State funding agencies play significant roles in the screen industries, ecologies and practices of many nations, especially the development of feature films in smaller countries like Australia and Denmark. This analysis traces the language and frameworks embedded in public documents around feature film script development—which includes funding—as a means to better understand the cultural logics and industrial values they reflect and legitimise. By offering a comparative analysis of the discourse presented by Screen Australia and the Danish Film Institute (Det Danske Filminstitut; DFI), this analysis explores the differences and similarities in how script development processes are discursively imagined, justified and practiced.
This paper presents demonstrable insights from the creation of a microbudget feature-length narrative drama film with high production values. As a case study, I am using a feature film I have written and directed titled “Don't Read This on a Plane”, which was filmed in 10 countries, produced on a budget of A$125,000 including all post-production, fees, and deliverables, and has been acquired for international distribution. I argue that by practicing pragmatism and bricolage, and by utilising a small professional crew who handle multiple roles, a microbudget filmmaker is able to transcend financial limitations. To support my argument, I detail my lived experience as a filmmaker from the project's conception in 2016 to its completion in 2020. In additional to describing my roles as the film's writer, co-financer, co-producer, director, editor, composer, and sound mixer, I also outline the involvement of key crew members. “Don't Read This on a Plane” embodies my tacit understanding of pragmatism and bricolage, and this paper shares my demonstrable approach to microbudget filmmaking.
Both a process and a set of products, influenced by policy as well as people, and incorporating objective agendas at the same time as subjective experiences, script development is a core practice within the screen industry –yet one that is hard to pin down and, to some extent, define. From an academic research perspective, we might say that script development is a ‘wicked problem’ precisely because of these complex and often contradictory aspects. Following on from a recent Journal of Screenwriting special issue on script development (2017, vol. 8:3), and in particular an article therein dedicated to reviewing the literature and ‘defining the field’, an expanded team of researchers follow up on those ideas and insights. In this article, then, we attempt to theorize script development as a ‘wicked problem’ that spans a range of themes and disciplines. As a ‘wicked’ team of authors, our expertise encompasses screenwriting theory, screenwriting practice, film and television studies, cultural policy, ethnography, gender studies and comedy. By drawing on these critical domains and creative practices, we present a series of interconnected themes that we hope not only suggests the potential for script development as a rich and exciting scholarly pursuit, but that also inspires and encourages other researchers to join forces in an attempt to solve the script development ‘puzzle’.
This article seeks to bring screenwriting research and screenwriting practice studies into closer proximity. It outlines arguments for seeing them as distinct fields, but suggests that doing so has contributed towards significant misunderstandings between practitioners and researchers. They are united in relying on both textual and non-textual materials, including anecdotal and first-person testimony; they face common problems in aligning these materials with traditional scholarly standards and overcoming the fragmentation of a field that is currently dominated by individual case studies; and they share some of the methodological and theoretical concerns of adaptation studies, with the term ‘script development’ itself risking the marginalization of intermedial and non-linear iterations. It concludes that collaboration between practitioners and researchers is essential if the study of script development is to flourish.
'Screenwriting in a Digital Era' examines the practices of writing for the screen from early Hollywood to Dogme, the new realism and beyond. Looking back to prehistories of the form, Kathryn Millard links screenwriting to visual and oral storytelling. From the shadow playwrights if twelfth century Egypt to semi-improvised ensemble films played out on the streets of cities around the globe, she draws on a wealth of insights from music, photography, performance, writing, psychology and organisational studies to explore the creative processes underlying writing for the screen. Looking also to the future, 'Screenwriting in a Digital Era' examines the blurring of genres, production stages and roles in digital ecologies and the rise of sustainable screenwriting.
The development of a film screenplay is a complex and collaborative process, beginning with an initial story and continuing through drafting and financing to the start of the shoot. and yet the best ways of understanding and managing this process have never been properly studied. The Screenplay Business is the first book to do exactly that, addressing such questions as:
This article contributes to the emerging body of research on screenwriting practice by drawing together perspectives from industry that reveal an often hidden aspect of the creation of a screen work – script development. Using the same set of interviews that informed a previous work, this article mines those same discussions for insights relating specifically to what is to date a largely unexplored element of screenwriting practice. The perspectives we draw together – from our pool of screenwriters, script editors, script executives and script consultants – serve to both highlight the ambiguity that troubles the term ‘script development’, and also contribute to wider research seeking to define both the concept and the practice for screenwriting scholars and practitioners from an industry outlook. It has been 10 years (at the time of writing) since Peter Bloore wrote of his research that, ‘none of the books available about the film industry and scriptwriting really covered the reality of development [and none] really dealt with the development process as I knew it’. His book is still one of only a few attempts to address this gap in screenwriting research, and so by focussing specifically on the people who experience it, the intention of this article is to try and articulate how we might better understand extant practices of script development.
This article examines a discovery-driven process to script development as opposed to a formula-driven one. It is an investigation into the uncertain nature of the creative process in general, and the all-pervasive quest for certainty in film development in particular. Development strategies that value a discovery-driven process are few and far between, as are strategies to explore the gaps, or elisions, within a screenplay where subtext thrives, yet these are transformative spaces that invite an active and creative response. In this article I engage in practice-based research as a writer/director and as a teacher, and investigate two particular areas of film development. The first is early-stage script development where ideas are still struggling to find form; the second is latter-stage script development where a screenplay is refined in order to create spaces where others might respond imaginatively. I advocate risk taking, and the use of unconventional models, in order to create new spaces for students to explore their creativity, and I examine the 'unknown' and the 'uncertain' as active spaces, both for a screenwriter developing new work and for those who engage creatively with a screenplay as it transforms into a film. I argue that gaps or spaces within a screenplay offer opportunities for directors, actors, key creative crew and eventually an audience to actively participate, and that a development process that values the unknown offers the screenwriter a gateway to adventure and innovation. Screenwriting textbooks rarely enter the unknown and uncertain spaces of creativity yet, as many artists (albeit working in less-expensive mediums) seem to know instinctively, it is within the interplay of the known and the unknown, of passion and reason, and of logic and intuition-that creativity lies.
One of the most interesting trends in recent independent cinema has been for film-makers to avoid using traditional screenplays in making their films. Not only have emerging film-makers associated with the so-called mumblecore movement, such as Joe Swanberg, Aaron Katz and Ronald Bronstein, veered away from depending on conventionally written screenplays, but other critically acclaimed films, including The Pool (Smith, 2008) and Ballast (Hammer, 2008), have as well. Indeed, some of the most notable American indie film-makers Gus Van Sant, David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch have employed alternative strategies to the screenplay in such recent films as Elephant (2003), Inland Empire (2006), and The Limits of Control (2009). What is behind these developments and why has the conventional screenplay been under attack? What are the aesthetic benefits of choosing not to rely on a traditional script? Is this a completely new phenomenon or has the industrial screenplay always been an obstacle? I explore these issues by looking at three major strategies that indie film-makers have used in place of the traditional screenplay: improvisation, psychodrama and visual storytelling. Finally, I argue that for current independent film-makers in the United States of America these methods provide an appropriate model for a practice that is attempting to create a truly viable alternative to Hollywood cinema.
This paper takes the concept of the screen idea (as outlined by Philip Parker 1998) and uses it to mean ‘any notion of a potential screenwork held by one or more people, whether or not it is possible to describe it on paper or by other means’, and whether or not that notion has a conventional shape. This concept leads towards a clearer understanding of the process of screenwriting, which in turn helps consideration of what is being evaluated when looking at the products of that practice. The screen idea is the essence of the future screenwork that is discussed and negotiated by those involved in reading and developing the screenplay and associated documents; it is shared, clarified and changed through a collective process. This concept of the screen idea is developed with reference to the work of Roland Barthes in order to clarify the influence of norms and assumptions used during that process that may otherwise be hidden or unacknowledged. The process of script development has been explored in the CILECT conference ‘Triangle 2’ (Ross 2001), and this article takes two of these projects to examine how the screen idea is ‘rewritten’ by the collective process. In these examples it is not possible to attribute single authorship in the face of this dynamic and complex process of creating meaning. The underlying normative drive for a readerly text is made according to assumed, though often unacknowledged and unquestioned criteria.
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