Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words

By Marsha McCreadie | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight
The Smaller Screen—TV:
A Better Fit for Women?

In the early days of movies, the spontaneous interchange of roles often resulted in an easy exchange of energy and ideas. A script girl could become a writer who would be on the set making suggestions to the director. Perhaps in fact she was the director. Or an actor might ask a writer to change or add some lines.

No longer. Corporate control, union rules, the studios, and bureaucracy in general have obviated this for many writers, not just women. Writers haven’t been welcome on the set in most cases, one of the sticking points in the recent Writers Guild negotiations. The issue has become so pressing that an entire seminar was devoted to the problem in the third “Film and Television Writers Forum,” presented by the Writers Guild Foundation. The seminar is called “Run, Writer, Run: Making Your Film Outside the Corporate Culture” and is advertised this way: “It’s not a game, a toy, a theme park ride or a sequel. It’s just a great script. How does a writer bring innovative work to a mass audience?”

One answer seems to be: TV. In recent years, more than a trickle of talented writers has gone to television. Many are now working for Showtime, Lifetime, HBO, and various other movie channels. Still others go for eposodic television or a long form such as a feature film. Tom Rickman, for instance, who won an Oscar for Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980, has completely switched over to television, saying that far too many years are required to see a movie actually get made.

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