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Script development as a ‘wicked problem’

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Both a process and a set of products, influenced by policy as well as people, and incorporating objective agendas at the same time as subjective experiences, script development is a core practice within the screen industry – yet one that is hard to pin down and, to some extent, define. From an academic research perspective, we might say that script development is a ‘wicked problem’ precisely because of these complex and often contradictory aspects. Following on from a recent Journal of Screenwriting special issue on script development (2017, vol. 8:3), and in particular an article therein dedicated to reviewing the literature and ‘defining the field’, an expanded team of researchers follow up on those ideas and insights. In this article, then, we attempt to theorize script development as a ‘wicked problem’ that spans a range of themes and disciplines. As a ‘wicked’ team of authors, our expertise encompasses screenwriting theory, screenwriting practice, film and television studies, cultural policy, ethnography, gender studies and comedy. By drawing on these critical domains and creative practices, we present a series of interconnected themes that we hope not only suggests the potential for script development as a rich and exciting scholarly pursuit, but that also inspires and encourages other researchers to join forces in an attempt to solve the script development ‘puzzle’.
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Keywords: research methods; research paradigms; script development; wicked problem

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: RMIT University 2: University of Melbourne 3: La Trobe University 4: Swinburne University of Technology

Publication date: June 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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