Honey, You Know I Can’t Hear You When You Aren’t in the Room

Key Female Filmmakers Prove the Importance of Having a Female in the Writing Room

  • Rosanne Welch Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting; California State University, Fullerton
Keywords: Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker, Frances Goodrich Hackett, Ruth Gordon, Joan Didion, female screenwriters

Abstract

The need for more diversity in Hollywood films and television is currently being debated by scholars and content makers alike, but where is the proof that more diverse writers will create more diverse material? Since all forms of art are subjective, there is no perfect way to prove the importance of having female writers in the room except through samples of qualitative case studies of various female writers across the history of film. By studying the writing of several female screenwriters – personal correspondence, interviews and their writing for the screen – this paper will begin to prove that having a female voice in the room has made a difference in several prominent films. It will further hypothesise that greater representation can only create greater opportunity for more female stories and voices to be heard.

 Research for my PhD dissertation ‘Married:  With Screenplay’ involved the work of several prominent female screenwriters across the first century of filmmaking, including Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker, Frances Goodrich and Joan Didion. In all of their memoirs and other writings about working on screenplays, each mentioned the importance of (often) being the lone woman in the room during pitches and during the development of a screenplay. Goodrich summarised all their experiences concisely when she wrote, ‘I’m always the only woman working on the picture and I hold the fate of the women [characters] in my hand… I’ll fight for what the gal will or will not do, and I can be completely unfeminine about it.’ Also, the rise of female directors, such as Barbra Streisand or female production executives, such as Kathleen Kennedy, prove that one of the greatest assets to having a female voice in the room is the ability to invite other women inside. Therefore, this paper contributes to the scholarship on women in film and to authorship studies. 

Author Biography

Rosanne Welch, Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting; California State University, Fullerton

Dr Rosanne Welch teaches One-Hour Drama Writing and History of Screenwriting for the Stephens College low residency MFA in Screenwriting. As a television writer/producer her credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Picket Fences and Touched by an Angel and Bill Clinton and the Boys Nation Class of 1963 for ABC NEWS/Nightline. She is the Book Reviews Editor of the Journal of Screenwriting; has a chapter in Torchwood Declassified: Investigating Mainstream Cult Television (I.B.Tauris) based on a paper she co-presented at the Torchwood Symposium, University of Glamorgan in Wales, UK; and an essay in Doctor Who and Race: An Anthology. In 2016 Welch published Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture (McFarland), co-edited Women in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio) and delivered her TEDx Talk on The Importance of Having a Female Voice in the Room.

Published
June 14, 2017
How to Cite
Welch, R. (2017, June 14). Honey, You Know I Can’t Hear You When You Aren’t in the Room. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 10(2), 69-78. Retrieved from http://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/509