Write or Perish : How Screenwriters Author their Careers

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för mediestudier

Abstract:

The aim of the present study was to investigate how the impermanence of contract work affects working lives, self-perceptions and the career strategies of Swedish screenwriters of finding and keeping work. Furthermore, it also explored how screenwriters experience their abilities to exercise authorial leverage over media content.

Introducing the concept of “career authoring” to cover different aspects of the professional lives of screenwriters such as managing a career, establishing authorship and contractual negotiations, the study was able to embrace various mind-sets and strategies for career success. Combining ethnographical studies and textual analyses the study was able to ascertain that the contingency of the Swedish film and television industries necessitates strategies to cultivate reputations, industrial visibility, consciously receive writing credits and conform to a traditional division of labour. Moreover, the study illuminated the importance of contractual negotiations for career success in terms of both retaining and wavering rights to their work. Strategies for exercise increased authorial leverage were not only confined to the script, but extended beyond the page, where the latter  accentuated processes of reconfiguring traditional conceptions of screenwriters’ abilities to influence media content. 

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