Off the Page examines the business and craft of screenwriting in the era of media convergence. Daniel Bernardi and Julian Hoxter use the recent history of screenwriting labor coupled with close analysis of scripts in the context of the screenwriting paraindustry—from “how to write a winning script” books to screenwriting software—to explore the state of screenwriting today. They address the conglomerate studios making tentpole movies, expanded television, Indiewood, independent animation, microbudget scripting, the video games industry, and online content creation. Designed for students, producers, and writers who want to understand what studios want and why they want it, this book also examines how scripting is developing in the convergent media, beneath and beyond the Hollywood tentpole. By addressing specific genres across a wide range of media, this essential volume sets the standard for anyone in the expanded screenwriting industry and the scholars that study it.
INTRODUCTION: SCREENWRITING OFF THE PAGE
1. MILLENNIAL MANIC: CRISIS AND CHANGE IN THE BUSINESS OF SCREENWRITING
2. ATOP THE TENTPOLE: HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITING TODAY
3. RUNNING THE ROOM: SHOWRUNNING IN EXPANDED TELEVISION
4. NEW MARKETS AND MICROBUDGETS: “INDEPENDENT” STORYTELLERS
5. SCREENWRITER 2.0: THE LEGITIMATION OF WRITING FOR VIDEO GAMES
CONCLUSION: SCRIPTING BOUNDARIES
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.
"Bernardi and Hoxter provide 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, as blockbuster media franchises and tentpole marketing have prompted a type of corporate group-think. Screenwriters have been historically undervalued in favor of directors, whose work has been lionized by industry trades and scholarly accounts alike ever since auteur theory first landed in the United States in the 1960s. This highly accessible but knowing production study of screenwriters provides a much-needed antidote to the plethora of 'how-to' books, workshops, and blogs currently flooding the marketplace."—Denise Mann, Professor, Department of Film, Televison, and Digital Media, University of California, Los Angeles
"Screenwriters work in a universe of rapidly evolving media platforms while buffeted by artistic, corporate, marketing, and production demands. Bernardi and Hoxter explore these murky waters in depth, along with the careers, hopes, and frustrations of seasoned screenwriters. An insightful must-read for writers across all emerging and converging media."—David Howard, author of The Tools of Screenwriting and How to Build a Great Screenplay
“At last, a book about screenwriting that breaks-out of the ‘how-to’ echo chamber of tired orthodoxies about story, plot, and career. 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. Each chapter details how one current mode—the tentpole picture, the TV writers room, independent and micro-budget filmmaking, and videogames—have impacted the kinds of stories written, the types of funding involved, the role of guilds, and the precarious nature of the writer’s labor since 2000. A must-read in screenwriting and media industry studies.”—John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television