Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words

Overview

The question of whether women write from a unique perspective has been debated since the silent era. McCreadie examines how this female sensibility has been defined and whether, in fact, it exists at all. Such films as Lost in Translation and Monster suggest that women screenwriters are moving in a new direction, heading away from the big-budget action movies that dominate Hollywood today. But action-driven genre films, like the thrillers of Alexandra Seros, seem to belie the perception that women write films ...

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Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words

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Overview

The question of whether women write from a unique perspective has been debated since the silent era. McCreadie examines how this female sensibility has been defined and whether, in fact, it exists at all. Such films as Lost in Translation and Monster suggest that women screenwriters are moving in a new direction, heading away from the big-budget action movies that dominate Hollywood today. But action-driven genre films, like the thrillers of Alexandra Seros, seem to belie the perception that women write films that are more dialogue- and character-driven than those of male screenwriters. Whether or not women actually write differently from men and about different topics, the author's unique approach—working with and through the words and lives of the women screenwriters themselves—allows both readers and writers an otherwise unattainable look into the ever-growing and ever more essential world of women in Hollywood.

Over the course of cinematic history, women screenwriters have played an essential role in the creation of the films we watch. The question of whether women write from a unique perspective has been debated since the silent era. Marsha McCreadie examines how this female sensibility has been defined and questions whether, in fact, it exists at all. The emergence of such films as Lost in Translation and Monster would seem to suggest that women screenwriters are moving in a new direction, heading away from the big-budget action movies that dominate Hollywood today. But there can always be found an Alexandra Seros, for instance, whose thrillers would seem to prove the opposite case. Working through these contradictions, Marsha McCreadie takes a captivating look at the words and lives of women screenwriters, allowing readers an otherwise unattainable look into the ever-growing and ever more essential world of women in film.

Readers interested in film and women's studies will especially enjoy reading Marsha McCreadie's discussions of such films as Little Women, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Piano, Pollock, and Under the Tuscan Sun. Interviews with major women players in the movie business, including Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility), allow readers a unique chance to learn firsthand how women are trying to enter the business, how they pursue and approach the topics they love, and how they have managed to survive and prosper in the unforgiving world of modern cinema. By talking with writers working in Hollywood, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, Marsha McCreadie provides film fans with an international perspective on the increasingly global film industry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[T]he book offers an engaging combination of industry anecdotes, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of specific films, and useful tips for budding writers. Women Screenwriters Today is aimed at women pursuing careers in screenwriting specifically and filmmaking and television production generally, but it is also a potentially useful scholarly resource for quotations and production history details….[I] would without doubt recommend Women Screenwriters Today to any aspiring screenwriter male or female, and I will suggest it as outside reading when next I teach a course on women and film. It touches upon several issues that are highly relevant to the study of women in the arts, and it does a good job of highlighting (without delving deeply into) the problems facing women in the film and television industries today."

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Film Criticism

"This breezy, accessible book contains a good deal of fascinating information on the lives of women who work not only as screenwriters but also as producers and directors. McCreadie interviewed a wide variety of women in the fields of cinema and television, from beginners to seasoned professionals, and got the inside story on what working in the rough-and-tumble world of Hollywood is really like. Some of the women she talked to are independent filmmakers; others are longtime denizens of the studio system. McCreadie tells the story in a straightforward way; she allows all of her subjects space in which to talk about their work….[t]his slight but affectionate book gives a voice to those who work in an industry that is still remarkably sexist and unforgiving, telling their story directly, truthfully, and with a minimum of editorializing. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates, researchers and faculty, general readers."

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Choice

"Through interviews and close scrutiny of screenplays for both film and television, McCreadie pursues the question of whether women write from a unique perspective. She discusses such films as Little Women, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Under the Tuscan Sun and talks to actors and directors including Sofia Coppola and Emma Thompson. McCreadie also discusses how women have managed to survive and prosper in the unforgiving world of cinema."

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Reference & Research Book News

"Women Screenwriters Today demonstrates the variety of experiences for women within the business: from Oscar winning writers to jobbing hacks to highly renumerated script doctors. It may fail to address the larger questions, but McCreadie's accessible survey is littered with insightful interviews, stories and anecdotes which allow the small number of women screenwriters to record their experiences of the industry. Women Screenwriters Today illuminates this often overlooked area of the film industry. In drawing attention to the spectrum of work being done by contemporary women screenwriters, McCreadie not only rectifies this, but also demonstrates how little the business has changed since Frances Marion carried her scripts around the MGM lot in an unmarked folder."

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Scope

Darnell M. Hunt
"As anyone who has looked closely at the Hollywood entertainment industry knows, men dominate today's screenwriting positions in both television and film. Marsha McCreadie's Women Screenwriters: Their Lives and Words takes us inside this exclusive world, introducing us to women writers who have made it against the odds, who have perfected their craft, and who have been able to tell women's stories. Along the way, we learn about how these women have negotiated the tricky task of working with men, about their personal inspirations for the stories they tell, and about the work habits that seem to facilitate their successes. A must read for any woman seriously hoping to make it in this industry and for anyone else hoping to understand the unique challenges they face."
PhD Professor of Sociology University of California, Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275985424
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

MARSHA McCREADIE has written about women and film throughout her career as a professor at Rutgers University and as a film critic at the Arizona Republic. She has published numerous reviews and essays for such publications as Films in Review, American Film, Premiere, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, and is the author of three books on women and film, one of which, Women on Film: The Critical Eye, won the Dartmouth College Award for Best Dramatic Criticism and the Choice Outstanding Book Award for 1983.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

The Film of Sensibility: Giving Melodrama a Good Name

Vets and Lifers: How They Got and Stayed in

The New Professionals

Breakaway Queens and Genre Benders

Adaptation

The Independents: Finding a Perch, Having Your Say

The Pragmatists

The Smaller Screen: TV--A Better Fit for Women?

The View from Abroad

Conclusion and Brief Bibliography

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2006

    Great read, great fun

    It's easily her best book yet, with wide-range appeal. It's sufficiently analytical and well-researched to pass muster with critics and academics -- I'm recommending it to my scriptwriting students at University of Houston ¿ but it¿s also accessible enough to be a fun read for movie buffs.

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