What is Screenplayology?
While the screenplay, in some form, has been the foundation of most narrative cinema in the U.S. for nearly 100 years, it has been all but entirely neglected by academia as an object of study or a literary work in its own right. In recent years, a few scholars have begun to beat the drum for recognition of the American screenplay as literature, and this site aims to support that movement.
Succinctly put: Screenplayology exists to promote the reading and enjoyment of American screenplays as literature, particularly among college students, and to advance the cause of screenplay studies as an academic discipline in its own right.
To put a finer point on it, this is a site about READING screenplays, not writing them. While to be sure, screenwriters will find much of interest and benefit here, this is not a how-to guide for writing screenplays. Indeed, the majority of books published about screenplays are, in fact, just such how-to guides, something we hope to change.
In order to outline the parameters of this project, we will steal from Kevin Alexander Boon’s Script Culture and the American Screenplay, in which he writes:
Three characteristics distinguish screenplay studies from traditional film studies. First and foremost, the primary object under examination in screenplay studies should be the written text. [. . .] Second, screenplay studies posit the writer (or writers) as the author of the work (i.e., the screenplay), and, at least, an author of the film [. . .] Third, screenplay studies, like literary studies, should illuminate a reader’s understanding of a text, and thereby differentiate itself from pedagogy. The primary objective of screenplay studies should not be to help readers write screenplays any more than the primary objective of Hemingway scholarship is to help the reader write novels and short stories.”1
How does this site work?
Screenplayology is organized around a blog and three primary content sections, each of which contains individual topic pages. Each topic page, in turn, begins with an overview of the topic, followed by a hyper-linked list of subtopics covered, a section for each subtopic, and finally a list of key terms and suggested discussions for educators and students to review after reading.
The first content section, Screenplay Style & Use, explores the unique stylistic evolution of the screenplay in light of its function in the process of film production. The second section, Paths & Problems in Screenplay Studies, addresses some of the impediments to screenplay studies and strategies that some have used to successfully analyze screenplays. The third section, Elements of Screenplay Form, addresses the specific narrative properties of the screenplay text, such as structure, time & space, character, etc. At this time, some of these areas are still under construction, and the site is always evolving. If a topic of interest is not yet covered (or covered inadequately), please come back at a later date.
About the Author.
Andrew Kenneth Gay is an independent filmmaker and a visiting assistant professor of convergent media at Southern Oregon University. He is an award-winning writer/director whose films have played over 50 film festivals around the world, and he is the director of the StarLite Film Festival. He has an MFA in Film & Digital Media, a BFA in Film Production, and a BA in English Lit and Philosophy/Religion.
- Boon, Kevin Alexander. Script Culture and the American Screenplay. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008. Pg. ix-x. ↩