Gender and the Screenplay

Processes, Practices, Perspectives. An Introduction.

  • Louise Sawtell RMIT University
  • Stayci Taylor RMIT University
Keywords: screenwriting, screenplay, script development, gender, feminisms, masculinities


While plenty has been written about gender representation on screen, much less has been written about gender in regards to screenplays. Emerging scholarly research around screenwriting practice often focuses on questions of the craft – is screenwriting a technical or creative act? – and whether or not the screenplay’s only destiny is to disappear into the film (Carriére, cited in Maras 1999, 147). Thus there might be room for further exploration into screenwriters and their practice – to ask who (in regards to gender) is writing screenplays, especially considering the assertion of Dancyger and Rush that the three-act structure (a dominant screenwriting practice) is ‘designed to suggest the story tells itself’ (2013, 38). Moreover, questions of gender representation on screen might be considered from the perspective of screenwriting practice, given this same ubiquitous structure means that barriers, including those related to gender, ‘are still presented as secondary to the transcendence of individual will’ (Dancyger and Rush 2013, 36). This special issue of Networking Knowledge, then, brings together a collection of scholarly perspectives on screenwriting theory and practice through the lens of gender.

Author Biographies

Louise Sawtell, RMIT University

Louise Sawtell is an experimental filmmaker and current PhD candidate in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. Her practice-led research project explores a fictocritical and feminist approach to writing stories for the screen. Louise has published her research in New Writing, the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice and the Journal of Screenwriting. She has taught screenwriting, screen studies and media at various universities across Australia. As a writer-director she is passionate about telling female stories through her multidisciplinary film practice that challenges traditional and industrial screenwriting models.

Stayci Taylor, RMIT University

Dr Stayci Taylor lectures as the Industry Fellow with the Media program in Melbourne’s RMIT University’s School of Media and Communication. Her PhD explore gender, comedy and perspective in screenwriting practice, drawing from her industry background as a televsion screenwriter in New Zealand, which includes co-creating a prime time sitcom, and multiple writing roles on nine series of the award-winning bilingual soap Korero mai. Her publications include works in Senses of Cinema, New Writing and TEXT. She currently has a female-centred comedy screenplay in development with the New Zealand Film Commission.

June 14, 2017
How to Cite
Sawtell, L., & Taylor, S. (2017). Gender and the Screenplay: Processes, Practices, Perspectives. An Introduction. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 10(2), 1-3.