Off the Page: Screenwriting in the Era of Media Convergence Available Now for Courses

Read the Introduction

View the Table of Contents

Ideal for the classroom:

Designed for students and writers who are looking to understand what studios want, as well as what kinds of opportunities exist beyond the outmoded three-act structure. There is no similar book that critically analyzes the diverse industrial, professional and craft practices of screenwriting today.

  • the authors are working scholars and screenwriters, who employ industry studies, production culture studies, textual analysis and interviews with working screenwriters
  • addresses specific genres and adjacent industries across a wide range of rapidly evolving media, such as online content creation and the development of the video games industry
  • couples the recent history of screenwriting with close analysis of scripts in the context of the screenwriting paraindustry—from “how to write a winning script” books to screenwriting software
  • provides an astute cultural-industrial analysis of the creative labor of screenwriters, whose contributions have been increasingly devalued in the post-1980s era of deregulation, conglomeration, and globalization

“A much-needed antidote to the plethora of ‘how-to’ books, workshops, and blogs currently flooding the marketplace.”—Denise Mann, University of California, Los Angeles

“An insightful must-read for writers across all emerging and converging media.”—David Howard, University of Southern California

“This book does a rare thing: it provides a compelling bird’s-eye view of how the industry’s recent technological and economic changes have disrupted conventional writing practices, even as it closely analyzes scripts and drills deeply into the thoughts and words of working screenwriters.”—John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture

Request an exam copy of Off the Page here.

Print Exam Copies:

  • Upon verification, we will send you an exam copy for review.
  • Online ordering is available for professors in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. International customers, please find out how to order at
  • If you have already adopted the book, you may request a complimentary desk copy.

VitalSource E-Exam Copies:

  • UC Press is happy to provide e-book examination copies for your review from our partners at VitalSource. You may select an e-exam copy during your online exam copy request.
  • Upon verification, we will send you an email with a redemption code to view your copy.
  • You’ll have 365 days to review your e-exam copy and do not need to purchase or return it.

Daniel Bernardi is Professor of Cinema in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. He is a documentary filmmaker, edits the War Culture book series at Rutgers University Press, and has published several books on film, television, and popular culture.

Julian Hoxter is Associate Professor of Cinema in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. He is a produced screenwriter and has published three books on the history and practice of screenwriting.

Tools of the Trade: Resources for Cinema and Media Scholars and Educators

As part of our “Tools of the Trade” blog series, we’re showcasing resources and reference materials for educators and scholars to help you in your research, writing, and prep work this summer. Here are a few titles that continue to shape key intellectual questions and ideas within various film- and media-related fields.

A Look at Globalization and Industry Studies

Hollywood Made in China

Aynne Kokas

“Combining her personal experience working on film productions in both China and Hollywood with her strong academic credentials, Aynne Kokas has given us a pioneering study on a subject that will undoubtedly increase in importance as the Sino-Hollywood connection deepens. Future researchers on this topic would do well to begin here.

—Stanley Rosen, Professor of Political Science, University of Southern California


Voices of Labor: Creativity, Craft, and Conflict in Global Hollywood

Edited by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson

Available worldwide through a free download at

“This remarkable collection of interviews with screen industry professionals—from costume designers to location managers—is essential reading for anyone interested in how Hollywood actually works. Voices of Labor is a unique account of the contemporary conditions, experiences, and organization of media workers and is an important contribution to media industry research.

—Ramon Lobato, author of Shadow Economies of Cinema


Topics in Documentary

Speaking Truths with Film: Evidence, Ethics, Politics in Documentary

By Bill Nichols

Bill Nichols is uniquely equipped to trace the genealogy of documentary studies—after all, he pioneered the field. Speaking Truths With Film is proof that he has yet to quit; filled as it is with his half-century chronicle of developments in both filmmaking and scholarship, it demands to not only be read, but also put to use.

—B. Ruby Rich, Editor of Film Quarterly



American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn

By Scott MacDonald

“A superbly original and informative work that takes as its project the creation of a cognitive map of a significant and geographically specific area within the larger field of independent documentary filmmaking. This book establishes a new path for documentary studies within a cultural landscape that widens to spatial media studies and beyond.

—Janet Walker, author of Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust


Putting Original Source Materials to Work

The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907–1933

Edited by Anton Kaes, Nicholas Baer, and Michael Cowan

Opening entirely new pathways to the research and teaching of German film culture, this carefully edited sourcebook reveals the fantastic wealth of early ideas and thoughts on cinema.”

—Gertrud Koch, author of Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction



Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology

Edited by Scott MacKenzie

“This book offers an exciting and productive way of thinking about cinema, allowing the reader to become acquainted with a large range of important declarations on film and on its mission from across its history. This is a volume that every film scholar will want to have.

—Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University



To save 30% on all Cinema and Media titles—enter discount code 17W7196 at checkout.

2017 Kraszna-Krausz Book Award Winners

We’re delighted to announce that multiple UC Press titles have been recognized at this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Book Awards! Celebrating excellence in photography and moving image publishing, the KKF Awards are the UK’s leading prizes for books published in the fields of photography and the moving image (including film, television and new media).

This year, we’re pleased to share that Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship, edited by Jacob Smith and Neil Verma, has been selected for the Kraszna-Krausz Best Moving Image Book award for 2017.

“At long last, the most important radio auteur of the twentieth century (and a gifted screenwriter to boot) has received the attention he deserves. This book is not only an indispensable guide to Norman Corwin’s work but also a foundational study of the aesthetics and politics of radio and screen.” —James Naremore, author of An Invention without a Future: Essays on Cinema


Other UC Press finalists include:

These titles, along with the other Moving Image award finalists, will be among the books exhibited at the Somerset House during the Photo London Exhibition this month.

Many congratulations to our authors, and to all other authors recognized at this year’s awards!

See the selection of UC Press titles that were recognized last year.

An Acquiring Eye: Mary Francis on Cinema and Music Books and Journals

In the newest Acquiring Eye feature, Humanities Publisher Mary Francis gives us her take on the music and cinema titles and journals coming out this spring.

Starting with one of the flagship publications from our Journals Division, Film Quarterly is always a treat to find in the mailbox.  Never an issue goes by when I don’t learn something new (even after years of working in cinema and media studies), or discover a terrific new writer, or am compelled to go find a local screening of one of the films discussed–or all of the above!

What could be better?  Film Quarterly online, of course.   Editor Rob White supplements FQs regular feast of articles, columns, and reviews with a range of in-depth web exclusives, including more reviews of films, dialogs between writers and filmmakers, festival reports, and much more.    My favorites are the dialogs around recent films and TV shows.  White and Nina Powers on Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” (a kind of continuation of their thoughtful response to von Trier’s controversial “Antichrist”) challenged me to revisit a film that confounded me on first viewing.  And the excellent discussion of Todd Haynes’s version of “Mildred Pierce” was a treat for fans of both Haynes’s interpretation and the classic 1945 version.

Ellington Century by David Schiff — Was Duke Ellington the greatest composer of the twentieth century?  It would be easy to say that he was the greatest jazz composer.  But David Schiff’s new book challenges readers to break down the false barriers between jazz, classical, and pop music to appreciate Ellington’s amazing music in the broadest possible context.  Schiff’s elegant, evocative prose opens our ears to the way that Ellington’s music is as vital to musical modernism as anything by Stravinsky, more influential than anything by Schoenberg, and has had a lasting impact on jazz and pop that reaches from Gershwin to contemporary R&B.




Weill’s Musical Theater by Stephen Hinton — Speaking of composers whose work crossed all barriers, Stephen Hinton’s new book is the first truly comprehensive treatment of Kurt Weill’s music. Hinton’s elegant prose and mastery of the history of twentieth century music finally give Weill his due as one of the century’s great masters. Weill wrote some of the world’s most fantastic songs (try to get “Mack the Knife” out of your head after reading this), and a huge variety of works for the stage, such as the Threepenny Opera, that are still performed today.  ‘’Variety” is the key: Weill’s output ranged across conventional operas, Broadway musicals, experimental forms, works for children, and more.  He was a self-conscious innovator (like his most famous collaborator, Brecht), and Hinton pays close attention to Weill as a ‘reformer’ with an important role in the history of opera and music theater.


Frontier Figures by Beth Levy — Composers have been as invested as anyone in the myths of the American West, and Beth Levy’s prize-winning first book looks at how American composers seized upon the American West as a creative cornerstone on which to build a uniquely American identity.  Composers such as Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, Charles Cadman, and Arthur Farwell were all city born and bred, educated in Europe, with little personal experience of life on the range, yet deeply invested in exploring how music could embody the sounds of the west.  Levy investigates what these composers knew (or thought they knew) about Indian music, the real life of farmers and cowboys, and the history of western expansion.  She ranges from Mexican music at Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Dvorak composing symphonies in Iowa, Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis, and the music played at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows to Hollywood westerns, Agnes DeMille’s ‘cowboy ballets,’ and what the American west did (and does) still mean to composers living more than a century after the close of the frontier.


Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth Century Music by Susan McClary — We often think of so-called early music as poised and quaint, distanced from our contemporary expectations of music’s emotional power.  But the music of the 17th century is quite charged: harmonically tense, virtuosic, lushly orchestrated, in a word, intense. What were the social and historical reasons that music of the period, sacred or secular, prized emotional intensity so highly?  And how was this linked to the many technical innovations of the period?  McClary’s clear, evocative prose brings the heady emotional quality of this music alive, showing how this music retains its powerful immediacy for listeners.



The Anatomy of Harpo Marx by Wayne Koestenbaum — Wayne Koestenbaum is a unique critical voice.  He is deeply engaged with the ways in which all the arts are in some way performing arts, whether one is the artist or the audience. All his writings grapple with the personal, lyrical dimensions of performing, listening, watching, remembering, and learning via poetry, prose, making music, watching films, gazing on artworks.  Kosetenbaum’s playful and astute approach makes him perfectly suited to write a critical love letter to the sublime performance style of Harpo Marx, whose mute physical comedy brought the style and affect of the silent era into the otherwise wildly noisy, anarchic world of the Marx Brothers films.  He blends close readings of the visual style of the films with more personal reflections on the Marx Brothers as vaudevillians, as modern movie stars, as Jews, as brothers, as both exemplifying and breaking all the rules of comedy.


Black Hole of the Camera by JJ Murphy — There are many books on the artworks of Andy Warhol, but there has never been a comprehensive book on Warhol’s films until now.  Given that there are hundreds of films (if you count the short, compelling Screen Tests), many of them challengingly long (Empire), rebarbative, subversive, or simply, arrestingly strange, the challenge of trying to see this vast and influential body of work on its own terms is great.  JJ Murphy, himself an award-winning filmmaker, does an amazing job of looking all the entire corpus of Warhol’s film and video work, and brings his own artist’s eye to these challenging, much-misunderstood works.




Poetics of Slumberland by Scott Bukatman — Why are comics and animation particularly suited to visualizing the fantastic, the impossible, the crazy and comic? From the start, animation, comics, and early cinema were about delight in seeing a fantastic creature (Gertie the Dinosaur, her contemporaries, Muybridge’s galloping horses, or the inhabitants of Little Nemo’s dreams) come to life. Bukatman looks a how animation and cinema were new technological realms for familiar aesthetic pleasures that go back to Frankenstein, Pinocchio, and Pygmalion. (Bukatman’s discussion of why My Fair Lady absolutely had to become a movie musical is quite amazing.) Part of the pleasure is ambivalent: the newly animated creature usually moves quickly beyond the control of the creator to comic, fantastic or scary effect (sometimes all three).  Bukatman carries his argument through related genres and phenomenon, from superheroes whose actions destroy the frames of comic books to CGI monsters in contemporary summer blockbusters and digital enhancements of live performers on stage.