Title

Script Doctoring and Authorial Control in Hollywood and Independent American Cinema

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1-2017

Publication Title

Journal of Screenwriting

Keywords

Independent cinema, Screenplay, Script development, Script doctor, Script editor, Script guru

ISSN

1759-7137

Volume

8

Issue/No.

3

First Page

249

Last Page

265

Abstract

This study seeks to elucidate the role of the ‘script doctor’ in both Hollywood and independent American cinema. It attempts to reveal how script doctors, considering them to be cultural producers in their own right, create meaning in their doctored works. It poses several questions: Who are script doctors and how do they perceive their work as meaningful or not? Has this changed over time? Is this different for independent film producers, where the practice may be less formalized and institutionalized? Is the role of script doctor perceived in a certain way, either as a prestigious practice only conducted by seasoned screenwriters or as a lower form of professional writing? Finally, does their role in the production process problematize how we attribute authorship to some writers and not others? Archival material will be analysed in order to trace this practice historically, while this study will also draw from my own personal experience editing scripts for independent filmmakers, thus attempting to compare how historical, institutional script development practices may differ from independent practices where the role may be defined differently, in my case as a ‘script editor’, not a ‘script doctor’. Beyond considering script doctors as cultural producers who create meaning in and through their work, this study shall additionally examine how and where credit is given to various participants involved in the writing process, problematizing typical authorial associations.

DOI

10.1386/josc.8.3.249_1

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