Research Update: LA

In August and September of 2018, I’m making the pilgrimage to Los Angeles to complete the data collection for my PhD research on women writers for SVoD original scripted series. These small updates will tell you about my progress.

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The Getty Center, Los Angeles

It’s Day 3 in Los Angeles, and I can see why people fall in love with this place. Apart from the outstanding weather, fantastic food and gorgeous scenery, everyone is so friendly. Not a single neighbour at our Air BnB has failed to smile and say hello, and everyone we pass in the street has a smile for us. It’s so refreshing. Yesterday we went to the Getty Center and I can honestly say that, although the exhibits themselves were wonderful, the sheer beauty in the design of the center itself was the most breathtaking thing I’ve seen in a while. And what a view! Driving on the right hand side of the road has been interesting, too – but I think I’m getting into the swing of it.

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This is the face of someone enjoying the most spectacular LA view.

Research-wise, I’ve got a couple of interviews with really special writers lined up and I can’t wait to meet them in person after exchanging emails (one of them for over 2 years!). I’m still working on cracking the code of contact; Twitter has been great for me, and I’m messaging on Instagram, but, to be fair, these are very busy people, and probably have overflowing inboxes.gettyimage2

 

I’m so thankful for the kind writers who have donated their time already to my research. I feel passionately about the work I’m doing (well, one would hope so, I suppose) and I want to do everything in my power to make it inclusive and representative of the diversity that is a) present already but b) not present enough in this industry. My work is about women writers, but that means all types of women. It means women of colour, it means trans women, and it means women from different backgrounds.

 

I have three weeks to make this time in LA count, and I’m crossing all my fingers that it will be as fruitful as I’ve hoped.

 

If you’re reading this and you think you can help make some connections for me, please do direct your friends, colleagues, connections and family to this link.

 

Off to enjoy some writing in the sunshine!

 

K.

Research Update: History of Women Screenwriters

Mary McCall was the first female president of the Writers Guild of America.

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Ida Lupino

Now in the fourth month of my doctoral research journey, I’ve been taking an in-depth look at the history of women in screenwriting. It’s interesting to note that, despite my passion for this subject, I had barely ever scraped the surface of the history of the contribution of female filmmakers to the industry as a whole. While I had heard of and read about the big names like Mary Pickford, Frances Marion and Ida Lupino, I had never heard of Mary McCall, Jr., who was, apparently, quite the saleswoman of her own work. These women were pioneers (to use a cliche), and not only wrote, acted, directed their own films, but built their own companies. During the first World War, as with all industries, filmmaking was rather a woman’s game. Of course, it wasn’t entirely considered big money then, but, with the return of the menfolk, there was a sudden shift, and the studio system came into play. This, among many other factors (the developing income stream from cinema attendance, the debut of the talkie etc), led to a new age in movie-making, which, in turn, saw the golden age of the woman screenwriter (or ‘scenarist’) come to a close, and female auteurs relegated to small offices where they were paid to fix ‘broken’ scripts and inject a little female energy into male-dominated stories.

Mary Pickford

More to come on this at a later date, and a big thank you to the two fantastic and invaluable books that have dominated my time over the last couple of months; Lizzie Francke’s Script Girls, and Marsha McCreadie’s Women Who Write the Movies.