'Here the authors discuss the role of fiction in screenwriting practice research. The screenplays included in the ‘Screenplays as Research Artefacts’ special issue of TEXT present a range of stories, worlds, characters, visual scenarios and dialogue exchanges that function as vessels for theories and ideas. These eleven screenplays all use creative practice approaches to research across a wide variety of discourses. All of the works embrace fiction as an important method to convey their respective critical concerns, which, the authors argue, evidences an emerging hallmark of screenwriting (as) research when compared with associated forms in the creative writing and screen production disciplines: fiction as a staple of its storytelling, creative practice and research methodology. The authors suggest that the use of fiction to perform research and present findings illuminates the ways that knowledge can be affective, not merely textual or verbal, something that is exemplified in the selected screenplays.' ( Craig Batty and Dallas John Baker : introduction)
Only literary material by Australian authors individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:
Bryan Wade (University of British Columbia) : Seven ways to fate and all
'In the ‘Screenplays as Research Artefacts’ special issue of TEXT (Baker & Batty 2018), which is the fourth in a line of those focussed on scriptwriting as research, but the first to focus exclusively on writing for the screen, we present a range of stories, worlds, characters, visual scenarios and dialogue exchanges that function as vessels for theories and ideas. The eleven screenplays included in this issue use creative practice approaches to research across a wide variety of discourses, from archival work on historical subjects, to notions of gender, sex and sexuality, to more meta concepts regarding screenwriting craft and researching in the academy. But all of these screenplays have one important aspect in common: the use of fiction to do this research work. Whether parody, speculative biography or straight-forward drama, all of the works in this special issue embrace fiction as an important method to convey their respective critical concerns. Perhaps this is one of the hallmarks of screenwriting (as) research when compared with associated forms in creative writing and screen production: fiction as a staple of its storytelling. There are, of course, those who use non-fiction in screenwriting (as) research; but comparatively, and considering the affectual nature of screen drama and comedy, is fiction one of the defining features of this creative practice research endeavour? Let us consider this idea before we outline the works that appear in the issue.' (Introduction)
'A university professor with a reputation for creative practice research finds himself at a crossroads when, en route to an international conference, he meets a younger and somewhat modest dementia researcher whose work is clearly having an impact on people’s lives. A keynote at a creative writing conference in Hawaii, the professor is impelled to reflect on his own research practice and piece together fragments of his work history to reassure himself that what he does is not only valid as research, but also that it has rigour. With flashbacks to a variety of painful and often comic encounters with colleagues trying to articulate their practice as research, he is able to overcome his midflight, mid-career crisis and come to a renewed and satisfactory understanding of what good creative practice research is, and how that can be articulated clearly and confidently to others. Originally performed at the University of Southern Queensland’s inaugural ‘Scriptwriting as Research’ symposium in 2016, A Vacuous Screenplay in Search of Rigour thus interrogates not only the very mode of creative practice research, but also the broader (and varied) institutional research cultures within which it operates.
'This short screenplay casts the screenwriter as investigator of screenplay formatting, through the writing of a script within which she performs this practice. That is to say, the writer uses a creative practice methodology to critique and examine screenplay formatting conventions through screenwriting practice itself. Specifically, she explores the role of the slugline (or scene heading) and the creative possibilities of this element of ‘scene text’ (Sternberg 1997), beyond its practical function in screenwriting and screen production. The writer drinks with authors, theorists and the fabled typing monkeys in her exploration of the slugline as punctuation; asking how it might contribute to rhythm and transitions in screenplays. She considers the slugline in its capacity as ‘extrafictional voice’ (Ingelstrom, 2014) and asks: can sluglines guide editing and mise-en-scene, as Claudia Sternberg suggests of the impersonal narrative voice? Can sluglines be used repetitively (as in songwriting) to reinforce imagery and rhythm? The work critically engages with the traditional INT. and EXT. and also floats a broader question: what might the language of online abbreviations have to offer screenwriting conventions? A subplot sees a cast and crew meet for a table read, putting voice to an industry potentially suspicious of such an endeavour, and providing a playful commentary on the different ways in which the roles within screen production engage with the traditional screenplay.'
'Inside the writer’s head is a response to Ian Macdonald’s discussion of alternative approaches to assessing screenwriting within Higher Education (2001). Macdonald argues for consideration of the reflective work of students when assessing their screenplays. As both an assessor of student screenplays and a doctoral student engaged in creative practice-led research, this prompted me to consider how my own narrative comedy screenplays might be assessed as research outputs. My methodology of writing narrative comedy screenplays mirrored McKee’s (1998) writer’s method and occurred within an action research cycle of ideation, planning, writing, analysing, reflecting and evaluating (Christie et al. 2015). Reflective and creative writing processes such as idea generation, concept development, research and critical feedback were documented in a reflection journal. This action research cycle generated numerous ideas for screenplays. The screenplay discussed in this paper uses characters to explore the often competing rational, intuitive and emotional aspects of screenwriting and in doing so, contributes to the body of screenplays-as-research artefacts (Baker and Beattie 2013; Baker 2013, 2016; Batty 2014). The characters in Inside the writer’s head articulate thought processes behind ideation, the role of research and consideration of audience in developing screenplays. Inside the writer’s head challenges learners of screenwriting to consider why we write. The screenplay embodies critical reflection and demonstrates how reflective and creative perspectives can be integrated within the screenplay form. In doing so, Inside the writer’s head illustrates a hybrid form of screenplay for how screenplays might be assessed within an academic context.' (Publication abstract)
'This creative work - an hour-long television pilot "dramedy" screenplay entitled Ordinary Pain – emerges out of a scriptwriting as research project within the academy, and seeks to reposition characters with an intersex variation as 'an everyday social type'. Ordinary Pain is the story of Zoe, a hermaphrodite and creative type based in the bohemian suburbs of the Brisbane postcode of 4101. She is a rare blend of both male and female, and, and is overcoming traumatic experiences of growing up. This subject could be perceived as unwieldy and sad. Yet the core character of Zoe is an extraordinary one, trying to live in the ordinary world with the courage to overcome shame and adversity. Ordinary Pain explores family, gender, sexuality and place in engaging, inspiring and funny ways, and is informed by reflection on and within screenwriting practice.' (Publication abstract)
'This creative work (screenplay) is informed by queer theory relating to gender and sexuality and explores the complex negotiations and disclosures that gender nonconforming persons are often forced to undertake in social situations that are largely structured by heteronormativity. The screenplay foregrounds the mutable nature of sexual attraction and actively imagines a scenario in which gender non-conforming persons are not confronted with fraught, and often dangerous, social navigations and disclosures about their gender status. The screenplay foregrounds dialogue and direct address as a subversion of mainstream (masculinist) screen conventions that accentuate the visual (masculine) over the verbal (feminine) and verisimilitude over self-reflexivity. The script also makes a contribution to the rethinking of attraction itself, presenting it as fluid and negotiable rather than fixed. The script deploys these ideas in an accessible way, in the form of a LGBTIQ romantic drama.' (Publication abstract)
'Using my draft novel, Flying, as a source work, the writing of the adaptive screenplay explores adaptation of the modern novel as both process and product from the perspective of a single creator of both works. Flying employs the literary tropes that make the modern novel challenging to adapt for the screen, including shifting internal realities, dreams, fluid frames of reference, stream of consciousness, multiple points of view, and subjective and objective time. This research project involves reflecting on the process and engaging with the dissonance that exists between the scholarly discussion of adaptation and professional practice. This is nowhere more contentious than in regard to the concept of fidelity – the “faithfulness” of the adaptive work to the source work. While the concept of fidelity has been widely critiqued in the academic world, in my experience the issue of fidelity is central to professional practice and therefore should be interrogated rather than dismissed.' (Publication abstract)
'Urban Girl is a creative exploration of the use of metaphor and imagery to create thematic layering in a screenplay by its “power to involve, influence, and instruct by the combination of form and content” (Mehring, 1990). In writing the short romantic comedy, Urban Girl, I explore the love travails of a country girl who works in the city. Maddy is the quintessential successful twenty-something corporate girl. Pretty much an urban cliché. But in the love stakes she’s cactus. To make it worse, every time she rents out her spare room, her flat mate finds love. Determined to sort the problem, Maddy embarks on a one-day makeover of her inner-city apartment. The Feng-Shui way. But she doesn’t reckon with the forces of nature to disrupt her plans. Urban Girl owes its inspirations to the landscape and characters of my country childhood and the image of the female figure in the landscape - urban or rural. In her discussion of the Female Gothic, Eva Rueschmann (2005) notes that the Gothic in the landscape is both “character and metaphor, setting and psychic space” expressing the “colonialization of the land through stories about women who find themselves geographically and psychologically displaced”. In this script, the imagery of the Gothic with its sense of foreboding and entrapment (Davies, 2016) and the lyrics of the over-the-top country music soundtrack, serve as metaphors for how a young woman may be trapped by roles and expectations that thwart her in her quest for true love.
'Despite widely documented innovations integrating theatrical approaches into secondary school in-classroom engagement with the works of Shakespeare, evidence remains that students and teachers struggle with applying those techniques to the pedagogy of interpretation. Who Killed Desdemona? introduces a clown-based approach to an interpretation of Shakespeare’s play, Othello, within a school familiar setting. The screenplay is undergirded by the theories of John Dewey and Jerome Bruner in scaffolding collaborative processes of situated and authentic learning, and integrates the social and peer-learning paradigms of Lev Vygotsky and Etienne Wenger. The screenplay introduces clown-based play and interactivity with both text and live/video attendant audience in negotiating a process of performance-in-rehearsal, where the clowns critically and irreverently unpack and interpret Shakespeare’s text through intermittent discourse and enactment.' (Publication abstract)
'The feature film script The Art Lovers is the story of the struggles and the triumphs for an early Australian female artist, the ‘girl sculptress’, as Daphne Mayo was known in the early twentieth century, at a time when very few women took on this physically demanding occupation. This excerpt is from that feature screenplay and highlights the challenges she faced especially as an Australian within a rigid British culture when she was the only woman studying sculpture at the Royal Academy in London. Daphne Mayo is engaged in these scenes in a daily prosaic acculturated event, that of a morning breakfast in a patriarchal London establishment in 1923. The excerpt is inspired by a story that Daphne herself penned as prose and which was discovered during research conducted over months in the Fryer Collection of the University of Queensland. The Fryer holds almost 100 boxes of ephemera, newspaper stories as well as correspondence to, and from, Daphne Mayo. The nuance of the voices of all three of the lead characters included in this dramatic recreation, that is to say, those of Lloyd Rees, Vida Lahey and Daphne, were discovered by listening to the 1960s interviews conducted by ABC journalist Hazel de Berg. These interviews are lodged in the Oral History Section of the National Library of Australia in Canberra.' (Publication abstract)
'This screenplay is a fictionalised version of the events in Sydney, Australia, in 1894, that led to the criminal sensation that was known as ‘The Dean Case’. When, on the date of George Dean’s first wedding anniversary, he was arrested for attempting to murder Mary, his 20-year-old wife and mother of his 10-week-old baby girl, this case aroused intense public interest. This screenplay dramatises those events, suggesting both a range of motivations for George Dean’s crime as well as emphasising Mary Dean’s vulnerability and bravery in the face of the prolonged domestic abuse she suffered. This screenplay is a result of sustained enquiry into the following research question: What forms of biographically-informed writing can express the lives of women who are not well represented in the documentary archive?' (Publication abstract)