Creative Resistance Tactics in the Work of English-Canadian Screenwriters

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This dissertation analyzes how eight successful English-Canadian screenwriters negotiate various systems of filmmaking practice, in particular the criteria for screenwriting structure, character development and closure as imposed by Hollywood normative practice, Canadian film producers and national funding organizations. The writers discuss their tactics for conciliating the interests of funders and producers while honouring their own interpretations of what they consider essential narrative elements in screenplay projects. Analysis of interview transcripts reveals that many of these writers take their inspiration from works of literature and theatre as much as from influential films; further textual analysis of films written by these same screenwriters shows that not one follows the exact dictates of classical Hollywood narrative, although all deploy various elements and permutations of the form for their own purposes. As per French sociologist Michel de Certeau’s position that society’s powerless both consciously and unconsciously adopt stealth tactics to make their way in the world, these screenwriters reveal the many ways they resist overt control of their writing, alternately by neglecting/ignoring rewriting strictures (provided through reader’s reports and/or producer’s notes), by instinctively taking up anomalous narrative structures provided by alternate genres, and/or by adopting new roles in the process via which they may better exert control over the filmmaking project. Finally, while many of the interviewees reveal a working knowledge of Canadian cinema and related national identity questions, few seem to consider it a relevant issue in their own work as screenwriters. The focus for most English-Canadian professionals instead is upon telling their own versions of contract story ideas in original ways, rather than devising a national ‘voice’ to communicate a cultural identity.
Cinema, Mass Communications, Canadian Studies
McArthur, K. (2017). Creative Resistance Tactics in the Work of English-Canadian Screenwriters (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/25484