Thinking through the screenplay: The academy as a site for research-based script development | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 9, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1753-5190
  • E-ISSN: 1753-5204



Script development is a creative, commercial and social process in which ideas, emotions, people and personalities combine, cohere, clash and are contested by the practicalities, policies and rapid movements of the screen industry. It is an activity often controlled by hierarchical and financial powers, yet experienced by individual and usually sensitive practitioners trying to tell their stories to an outside world. Script development is a highly exciting yet potentially very daunting aspect of screen production and in recent times has crept into the university, with academics and academics-in-training developing screenplays for research projects and degrees. In this article we discuss and provide examples of the academy as a site for researchbased script development, an activity that draws on creative practice research methodologies to find ways of conceiving and executing screenwriting differently. By taking away the commercial constraints of the industry and instead incubating ideas in a research environment, we consider the potential of the screenwriter to use the academy as a space in which their practice can be broadened, deepened, expanded and experimented with. While this practice might sit outside of the industry while in process, we see its results as having the future potential to be used in – or at least valued by – that very industry. As creators, writers, storyliners and script editors of a range of screen works across a range of industry settings, we draw here on our collective screenwriting practice experiences within the academy to focus on the notion of thinking through the screenplay – using research to underpin creative practice, resulting in what we might call an ‘academic screenplay’ – as a way of writing differently for the screen.


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