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A screenwriter's journey into theme, and how creative writing research might help us to define screen production research
journal contributionposted on 13.08.2018, 00:00 by Craig Batty
Although critical works relevant to screen production research exist, they are often fragmented (screen production placed alongside general media production) and, I want to suggest, not brave enough to embrace the term screen production research. With ‘dirty’ connotations to an industry some see far removed from the academy, screen production research has not yet been able to justify its existence, unlike, for example, the discipline of creative writing, which has achieved a lot in regard to its research agenda and footprint. This article thus proposes definitions and examples from which we might build the foundations for a better understanding of screen production research and its future potential in the academy. This will be achieved by offering a critical and reflective discussion of how theme can be used as a creative and collaborative tool for use in the development of a screenplay. By doing this, the article seeks not to theorise practice per se, but rather to intellectualise it for the benefit of practitioner-academics with interests in screen production research specifically, and creative practice research more broadly. As an important aspect of screen production, screenwriting is a useful lens through which to consider this type of research, partly because of how it is often positioned between creative writing and screen production. For example, the practice of screenwriting might be understood as creative writing, and the development of a screenplay might be understood as screen production. Similarly, the processes undertaken by the screenwriter might be understood in relation to other types of creative writer, and the role played by the screenwriter might be understood in relation to the role played by the producer or director. Furthermore, because the discipline of creative writing has a highly developed understanding of creative practice research, discussing the ‘sub-discipline’ of screenwriting allows us to draw from its rich literature, which as a result helps to define some of the parameters by which we might understand screen production research.