Key Domain Problems in Film/Screenwriting - A Field Survey (Survey #2 - 2013)
This online survey was created by JT Velikovsky, screenwriter and academic.
For more see: http://storyality.wordpress.com/

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All responses to / results of this survey will remain anonymous. (Unless individual respondents request otherwise.)

(Please take note of the current time, as at the end of the survey, you are asked to estimate how long the survey took to complete. The time taken would include reading the information in the Introductory text, below).

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of the survey is to try and determine which questions/problems the academic Field of screenwriting see as more, or less, important (or alternately, non-existent)

Specifically, the survey is relevant to the members of such organisations as http://www.meccsa.org.uk/ and the Screenwriting Research Network (please see below, for more information on the SRN).

In other words, the aim is to identify which Domain problems in Screenwriting are viewed as most in need of solving, by the members of the academic Field of Screenwriting (or possibly, even by those outside it).

As a result of this (and possibly, subsequent) surveys, it is hoped that the Field (including screenwriting academics, teachers, critics, journal editors, textbook authors, foundation officers, funding body officers, etc) might reach a consensus on what the biggest / "most difficult to solve" / most important Domain questions or problems are.

These (potential) Screenwriting Domain problems may also possibly/potentially be identified as Domain questions/problems that are deemed pertinent for further postgraduate research by the Field. (Please note that, it is likely that these potential problems may also change in relative importance, as the Culture and the Domain evolves.)

The survey also aims to identify the structure of the Field, in terms of the positions occupied by agents (i.e. academics, writers, etc) in the field, although the identities of those agents in these positions will remain anonymous.

It is envisioned that the results of this survey would possibly be presented at a conference, and/or published on the Screenwriting Research Network website.

The survey contains 65 questions (many of which are Multiple Choice), and it is estimated that the survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

The survey includes questions relating to the following screenwork media: feature films, TV, documentary, videogames (or similar interactive media of over 1 hour in duration) and short films (films of less than 60 minutes in duration).

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

By way of some background information regarding the survey questions below, and as to their formulation / phrasing:

Ian Macdonald's 2004 PhD thesis identifies various issues / problems in the Domain of Screenwriting.

Please see:

"The Presentation Of The Screen Idea In Narrative Film-Making" by Ian W. Macdonald
http://www.worldcat.org/title/presentation-of-the-screen-idea-in-narrative-film-making/oclc/500322681

In the British Library:
http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.412852

Reading the above thesis would provide respondents more context to the survey, however this is not necessary, in order to complete the survey.

Please note that below, you are asked to provide your name and a contact email address, as well as your age and gender. The results of the survey will remain anonymous, but this identifying/contact information is to ensure there are not duplicate responses. (i.e. - Participants filling out the survey multiple times, anonymously)

JT Velikovsky
http://storyality.wordpress.com/
Transmedia Writing Blog: http://on-writering.blogspot.com
Email: joetv (at) bigpond.com

For more information on the Screenwriting Research Network (and how to join it), please see:

http://ics-www.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=llp&folder=56&paper=57

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THE SURVEY:

Key Domain Problems in Film / Screenwriting - A Field Survey (Survey #1 - 2013)

(Reminder: Please take note of the current time, as at the end of the survey, you are asked to estimate how long the survey took to complete).

Questions marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Questions without an asterisk (*) are optional.

Note - Please read the Survey Instructions above, if you have not yet done so.
(This webpage loads at the start of the survey form, which is halfway down the webpage itself.)
Your name please *
Please identify yourself, with your full name.
Your answer
Please provide a contact email address. *
Your answer
How many years have you been in the Screenwriting Field, professionally? *
This may be as a professional screenwriter, as an academic, or both.
How many feature film screenplays (films over 60 mins in duration) have you had produced? (i.e. as a credited screenwriter or co-writer) *
On how many produced feature film screenplays are you credited as a Script Editor? *
On how many produced feature film screenplays do you have a `Story by' credit? *
If you are a produced feature film writer, how many feature film screenplays did you write, before your first in that format (feature film) was produced?
How many TV episodes (of over a commercial half-hour in duration, ie 22 mins) have you had produced? (i.e. as a credited screenwriter or co-writer) *
On how many produced TV episodes do you have a `Story by' credit? *
If you are a produced TV writer, how many TV screenplays did you write, before your first TV episode was produced?
How many documentary screenplays (of over one commercial half-hour in duration) have you had produced? (i.e. as a credited screenwriter or co-writer) *
On how many produced (half-hour or more) documentary screenplays/treatments are you credited as a Script Editor? *
On how many produced (half-hour or more) documentaries do you have a `Story by' credit? *
If you are a produced documentary writer (half-hour or more), how many documentary screenplays/treatments did you write, before your first in that format (documentary) was produced?
How many short film screenplays (of under 60 minutes in duration) have you had produced? (i.e. as a credited screenwriter or co-writer) *
How many videogame (or similar interactive screen media of over 1 hour in duration) screenplays have you had produced? (i.e. as a credited screenwriter or co-writer) *
What format/s have you had produced screenwork released in?
Please rate the following (potential) Domain problems in Screenwriting discourse. *
Note that the order/numbering of this list below (from #1 to #30) is currently arbitrary. The numbers are for ease of reference in case participants would like to make comments further below. The survey results will identify which problems are more - or less - important.
Extremely problematic (very important)
Moderately problematic / important
Slightly problematic / important
Not problematic / not important
Non-existent (not a problem)
1. The dominance of US screenwork discourse in non-US cultures (eg the UK, Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Africa, India, Nigeria, etc)
2. Quasi-Aristotelian ideas of screenwork drama (that the discourse is based on Aristotle's "Poetics", and not other theorists' work)
3. The possible myth / misconception of “(Aristotelian) Three-Act Structure”. (i.e. Did Aristotle ever say "3 Acts"?)
4. “Average Scene Length” Prescriptions (eg: McKee, in STORY: "Film scenes should be 2 min 30 secs on average")
5. That `transformational character arcs' / emotional growth is seen as generally obligatory in lead characters
6. That mythic structure (a la Vogler / Campbell / Hauge) – the heros journey `monomyth' dominates the screenwriting convention / underpins many of the manuals
7. The currently-unsolved problem of a “screen grammar / language” (semiotics potentially does not solve the problem, as screen language is not necessarily the same as other language/s)
8. The status and interrelationship of the UK film and TV drama industry with the global film economy, particularly in relation to Hollywood
9. The US (Hollywood) dominates global media production, and screen industries
10. Screenwork readers (producers, script assessors, directors, actors, etc) say they want “unique and original”, yet they also cannot define what that means.
11. The definition of a “good” screenwork is still contested. (i.e. "Movies are `good', because they are admired, by someone.")
12. Writers feel that screenworks are frequently `dumbed down’ by financiers in a quest for overall audience reach - yet - at the expense of core story values or themes that are/were important to the writer.
13. The Field still operates under the (incorrect) assumption that other factors - beside the Story alone - contribute significantly to the success or failure of a screenwork (such comparatively-trivial factors as `marketing’ or `star power’).
14. Since Aristotle and the screenplay gurus (Syd Field, Seger, McKee, et al) currently dominate the discourse of screenwriting convention, the screen industry does not value or employ an empirical method in the study of screen story.
15. Producers (and Financiers / Studios) sometimes overrule screenwriters for illogical reasons, or simply because they can, given the power structure.
16. Less than 2% of scripts and proposals for screen ideas received go into production.
17. A standard Writers fee is 3% of a feature film budget. In the US, it is 5%. (Either way, if the Story/Screenplay is paramount to the success of a screen work, is 5% enough?)
18. In the dominant discourse of the screenwriting convention (especially in guru screenplay manuals), little attention is paid to constraints such as “writing to a budget”
19. Screenwriters are at the bottom of the screenwork hierarchy in film, despite that the story is the reason a film succeeds or fails to find an audience.
20. Possibly, a Romantic view (i.e. mystical: Coleridge, Rousseau, Blake) - rather than a Rational view of Creativity (logical, eg. Bourdieu, Csikszentmihalyi) - by readers in screen storytelling means that screenwriters are often speaking a different language to that of financiers, producers, and screenwork readers.
21. Terminological inconsistency in the field (different terms may be ambiguous / mean different things). A screenplay structure "paradigm" in Syd Field's terms may be more correctly called a syntagm.
22. There is possibly a gap between the discourse on screenwriting in "academia/theory" and in "the industry/practice".
23. The current dominant view of screenwriting theory and practice is a linear, micro, structuralist view, which for the most part ignores “the bigger picture” - that the screen industry is a set of overlapping systems, and largely ignores Bourdieuian concepts of social trajectories, habitus and `agency and structure'.
24. On average in the US, of approximately 600 movies (feature films) released each year, seven in every ten movies lose money, one breaks even and two are profitable. (Entertainment Industry Economics, H Vogel, 2011)
25. As a screenwriter, there are normally just two decisions a writer can make without reference to others: to refuse to sell the screen idea as proposed, or to insist on the removal of his/her name from the credits on the screenwork.
26. The status of the screenwriter is the lowest in the screen idea hierarchy/screen idea work group (compared to say, a Director, Actor, Producer).
27. The screenwriting convention generally dictates Courier 12-point font and a specific screenplay layout.
28. Screen ideas require scripts (words) whereas screenworks are primarily visual and audio.
29. US screenwriter William Goldman famously said "Nobody knows anything" (suggesting that nobody knows in advance what will make a film successful) and this phrase is invoked when one person wishes to disagree with another about an issue within a screen idea.
30. There is, as yet, no academic, peer-reviewed Encyclopedia of Screenwriting.
What do you see as additional Domain problems in Screenwriting? (whether important or otherwise) *
Please indicate how important you believe this problem is, and why. (This question will likely be added to the above questionnaire)
Your answer
Do you feel that the current "state of play" (or, `evolution') of the Domain of Screenwriting is comparable to specific points in the evolution of other Domains in the past? If so, which Domain/s? Do you feel that the way other Domain problems (in another Domain) were solved might have particular relevance for (or, may suggest possible solutions to) the current Domain problems in Screenwriting? (If indeed, you agree that problems currently exist in the Domain of Screenwriting) *
For example, the Domain of novel-writing, or poetry, song-writing, music, visual arts, photography, painting, sculpture, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, etc.
Your answer
Do you agree that a Field of Screenwriting exists? *
Such a Field would include: screenwriting academics, teachers, critics, journal editors, textbook authors, foundation officers, screenwriters, etc.
If `Yes' (i.e. If an academic Field of Screenwriting exists) then when do you believe it emerged, and how many members (roughly) would you estimate are in the Field? *
Note that the first academic peer-reviewed journal devoted to screenwriting (The Journal of Screenwriting) began in 2010.
Your answer
What budget ranges have you had screenwork produced in?
This refers to the production budget, and does not include Marketing & Distribution costs.
Has your credited screenwork (as a writer, or script editor) won awards? *
Please note - this question does not include short films, but includes the categories (as defined above): feature film (over 60 mins), TV (over 22 mins), videogames (over 1 hour) and documentary (over 22 mins).
Have you published a screenwriting manual? *
If `Yes', how many screenwriting manuals have you published?
Your answer
Have you published a peer-reviewed article/paper on screenwriting? *
If `Yes', how many peer-reviewed articles/papers have you published?
Your answer
Have you ever found a reference where Aristotle actually said (or prescribed) that Greek drama / plays should in fact have "3 Acts"? *
If "Yes" (if Aristotle said "3 Acts"), please provide the exact details of this reference
(i.e. the page number, publication title and publisher, year, name of translator)
Your answer
Prior to completing this survey, had you read Ian Macdonald's PhD thesis "The Presentation Of The Screen Idea In Narrative Film-Making"? *
Please note that reading the thesis is not a prerequisite for completing the survey.
Would you consider yourself to have a Romantic - or a Rational - view of Creativity? (with regard to Screenwriting) *
By way of explanation: a Romantic view would suggest that screenwriting creativity / talent / `genius' is mystical / "God-given" and cannot be studied, an idea that originated with the Romantic movement (Coleridge, Rousseau, Blake, et al). Conversely, a Rational view of creativity would suggest that screenwriting creativity / talent / "genius" is the result of various processes and systems that can be studied, an idea that originated with Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi.
What is your gender? *
What is your age? *
Please add any other Comments you would like to make, below.
As with the entire survey, this will remain anonymous (unless you indicate that you would desire otherwise)
Your answer
Many thanks for your participation in this survey. It is hoped that the information and data resulting from this survey will benefit both the Field and Domain of Screenwriting.
Please feel free to add any Feedback or Suggestions below (this is optional).
Your answer
Please estimate how long this survey took you to complete. *
Please include the time it took to read the Introduction at the start of the survey.
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