Creative Practice Theory
and
Feature Film Screenwriting
JT Velikovsky
Doctoral candidate:
Doctorate of Creative Arts
(Film...
THIS PRESENTATION:
(1) RESEARCH PRACTICE
(2) METHODOLOGY
(3) FINDINGS
3http://storyality.wordpress.com/
DOCTORAL RESEARCH BLOG:
THESIS (Title):
“UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN: CREATIVITY; THEORIES OF NARRATOLOGY;
SCREENWRITING;...
THESIS TITLE (EXPLANATION)
“UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN:
CREATIVITY;
THEORIES OF
NARRATOLOGY;
SCR...
INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - JT Velikovsky
• 91-94 – Newcastle Uni (B.A. Comms - Screenwriting)
• 95-96 – Screenwriting & Filmmak...
THE QUESTION:
HOW TO CREATE… A FEATURE FILM… THAT REACHES ITS INTENDED AUDIENCE?
AS A SCREEN STORYTELLER:
AND, DOES IT MAT...
LITERATURE REVIEW:
(1)There are 2500+ Screenwriting books on Amazon.com
(2) Also, 18 years ago @ AFTRS – I did a Lit Revie...
FINDING: 3-ACT
COMPARISON
See also: Truby, J (2009), “Why 3-Act Will Kill Your Writing”, www.Raindance.co.uk
ARISTOTLE…
Aristotle (1996) Poetics, Penguin, London.The School of Athens, Raphael, c1510
THE 3 HARD PROBLEMS
IN FILM…
THE PROBLEM(S):
(1)7 IN 10 FILMS LOSE MONEY
“…of any ten major theatrical films produced, on the average, six or seven
may...
THE PROBLEM(S):
(2) 98% OF SCREENPLAYS GO UNMADE
`Less than 2% of scripts and proposals for screen ideas
received go into ...
THE PROBLEM(S):
(3) “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING”
`Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire
motion picture field...
2011 – INTERESTING:
Simonton, DK (2011),
Great Flicks: Scientific Studies
of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics,
Oxford U...
CRITICAL vs RoI SUCCESS
• There is little overlap in critical and commercial success (virality)
• Writer-Directors are ove...
THE 3 HARD PROBLEMS:
(1) >2% OF SCREENPLAYS GET MADE
(2) 7 IN 10 FILMS LOSE MONEY
(3) “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING”
A POSSIBLE SOLUTION (?)
RETURN ON INVESTMENT (RoI)
1. Story
2. Screenplay
3. Film
4. Film-making
5. Creative Individuals
C...
THE DATA SOURCE:
http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php
• Box Office Mojo (?)
• IMDb (?)
• The Numbers
(Nas...
THE TOP 20 RoI FILMS
http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php
FINDING #16
All the 20 key creatives are writer-hyphenates:
• Writer-Director; or Writer-Producer; or Writer-Actor,
• (and...
FINDING #21: …A System?
FREQUENCY OF TOP 20 RoI FILMS = 2.05 YEARS (R2=96%)
EVIDENCE: A FILM SYSTEM…?
CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY – AGENT-BASED MODEL OF THE FILM SYSTEM
(Velikovsky 2013)
http://storyal...
Figure 5-2 - The increasingly large concentric circles in this simplified schematic represent the
major levels at which cr...
CREATIVITY: SYSTEMS MODEL
Creativity: Flow and the
Psychology of Discovery and
Invention (1st ed.) New York:
HarperCollins...
26
`For creativity to occur, a set of rules and practices must be transmitted from
the domain to the individual. The indiv...
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Distinguished Professor of
Psychology and Management,
Claremont Graduate University
Dean Keith Sim...
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
(Psychology)
 Field
 Individual (c.f.: `agent’)
 Domain
 Internalizing the
Domain (10 years)
M...
Pierre Bourdieu
(Sociology)
 The Field
 Agents (Individuals)
 The field of works (Domain)
 Habitus (practical sense)
...
The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the
new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit o...
GENES = MEMES
Creativity, Genes and Biological Evolution
Figure 1: Model of Biological Evolution
(M. Csikszentmihalyi and ...
(Velikovsky 2012)
http://storyality.wordpress.com/creative-practice-theory/
CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY
33
1. Bio-Psycho-Socio-Cultural background / `talents’
2. Develop a habitus (a `feel for the game’- of Film)
3. Absorb the...
34
Consilience: Science & Humanities 30+ Guidelines…
NEXT:
TEXTUAL ANALYSIS:
For common elements in their: Story; Screenplay; Film…
METHOD / FINDINGS
Inverse Agonistic structure: Hero (antag-) vs Villain (protag-)
FINDINGS #1-10
In the Top 20 RoI Films: STORY / SCREENPLAY / FILM
1. All are `Villain Triumphant’ stories
2. These films h...
FINDINGS #11-17
PRODUCTION:
11. 17 / 20 are independent films
12. Budget Range: $7k - $11m (Avg. Budget = $1.9m)
13. None ...
GENRE in the Top 20 RoI
FINDING #18: There are no “Drama” genre films in the Top 20
But - there are several Dramas in the ...
FINDING #19 (DURATION)
HIGH RoI - TRENDING TOWARDS 90 PAGES / 90 MINUTES
FINDING #20: THE STORY
THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE / THE GOLDEN SPIRAL
FINDING #21: On Frequency
FREQUENCY OF TOP 20 RoI FILMS = 2.05 YEARS (R2=96%)
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
STORYALITY PREDICTIONS:
StoryAlity Theory predicts - a Top 20 RoI Film:
CRITERIA PROBABILITY
• Will arrive in 2014 (every ...
FINDING #3 (ON: THEMES)
Top 20 RoI Films - all have the same Themes:
(1) Survival, (2) Family/Community, (3) Justice (Reve...
VIRALITY
FINDINGS: KEY GUIDELINES
48
Consilience: Science & Humanities 30+ Guidelines…
NEXT:
THESIS:
“UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN: CREATIVITY; THEORIES OF NARRATOLOGY;
SCREENWRITING; AND NAR...
• Psychology – the systems model (Csikszentmihalyi)
• Sociology – practice theory (Bourdieu)
• Philosophy – holons (Koestl...
51http://storyality.wordpress.com/
For more see:
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Creative Practice Theory and Feature Film Screenwriting - JT Velikovsky

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My PPT from my paper/presentation on Creative Practice Theory and Feature Film Screenwriting at the 2013 UWS Postgraduate conference - which is excerpts from my thesis: “Understanding and Exploring the relationship between: Creativity; Theories of Narratology;
Screenwriting; and Narrative Fiction Feature Film-making Practices.” - See the first 18 mins of the presentation, here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJVdqgbrXQ0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUIPc-Pf5SPMlD9pLalykQdg

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Creative Practice Theory and Feature Film Screenwriting - JT Velikovsky

  1. 1. Creative Practice Theory and Feature Film Screenwriting JT Velikovsky Doctoral candidate: Doctorate of Creative Arts (Film/Screenwriting/Transmedia) Supervisor: Assoc Prof Hart Cohen School of Humanities and Communication Arts University of Western Sydney
  2. 2. THIS PRESENTATION: (1) RESEARCH PRACTICE (2) METHODOLOGY (3) FINDINGS
  3. 3. 3http://storyality.wordpress.com/ DOCTORAL RESEARCH BLOG:
  4. 4. THESIS (Title): “UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN: CREATIVITY; THEORIES OF NARRATOLOGY; SCREENWRITING; AND NARRATIVE FICTION FEATURE FILM-MAKING PRACTICES.” 30,000-WORD EXEGESIS 20,000-WORD FEATURE FILM SCREENPLAY (90 PAGES = 90 MINUTES) + THESIS (Output):
  5. 5. THESIS TITLE (EXPLANATION) “UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN: CREATIVITY; THEORIES OF NARRATOLOGY; SCREENWRITING; AND NARRATIVE FICTION FEATURE FILM-MAKING PRACTICES.”
  6. 6. INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - JT Velikovsky • 91-94 – Newcastle Uni (B.A. Comms - Screenwriting) • 95-96 – Screenwriting & Filmmaking - AFTRS, 2 years • 98 – Story Analyst (Fox, Polygram, Screen NSW, etc) • 2000 - Inform P/L – National Games Market Analyst • 2000-2002 - Game Writer/Designer @ Ratbag Games • 2004-5 - Director/Game Designer, A-Rage/UniSA • 2005-7 - Game Designer/Writer – Red Tribe Games • 2008 – Transmedia Consulting, Film, TV, Comix, ARGS Writing Feature Film Scripts (30) • 2010-2013 • XCOM (Game) – 2K Games - screenwriter • CAUGHT INSIDE (2011) – film screenwriter • THE JUNGLE (2013) – script editor, directing attach • Script Assessor & Judge - Australian Writer’s Guild
  7. 7. THE QUESTION: HOW TO CREATE… A FEATURE FILM… THAT REACHES ITS INTENDED AUDIENCE? AS A SCREEN STORYTELLER: AND, DOES IT MATTER: A) WHAT STORY YOU TELL B) HOW YOU TELL IT? OR, CAN YOU JUST MAKE ANYTHING …DO WE HAVE: FREE WILL? (SEE: `AGENCY & STRUCTURE’)
  8. 8. LITERATURE REVIEW: (1)There are 2500+ Screenwriting books on Amazon.com (2) Also, 18 years ago @ AFTRS – I did a Lit Review… (4 Edns) Velikovsky, JT (2011), 4th Edn., The Feature Film Screenwriter's Workbook (Free: Google) Aristotle, Poetics (c 335 BCE)
  9. 9. FINDING: 3-ACT COMPARISON See also: Truby, J (2009), “Why 3-Act Will Kill Your Writing”, www.Raindance.co.uk
  10. 10. ARISTOTLE… Aristotle (1996) Poetics, Penguin, London.The School of Athens, Raphael, c1510
  11. 11. THE 3 HARD PROBLEMS IN FILM…
  12. 12. THE PROBLEM(S): (1)7 IN 10 FILMS LOSE MONEY “…of any ten major theatrical films produced, on the average, six or seven may be broadly characterized as unprofitable and one might break even.” (Vogel 2011, p. 71), Entertainment Industry Economics, (8th Ed., 2011) Cambridge University Press, New York. Also: (Vogel 1990, p. 70), Entertainment Industry Economics (2nd Ed., 1990) Cambridge University Press, New York.
  13. 13. THE PROBLEM(S): (2) 98% OF SCREENPLAYS GO UNMADE `Less than 2% of scripts and proposals for screen ideas received go into production’ (Macdonald, 2003 p.31). Macdonald, I.W. (2004), 'The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-making', PhD Thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University.
  14. 14. THE PROBLEM(S): (3) “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING” `Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.’ (Goldman 1983, p. 39)
  15. 15. 2011 – INTERESTING: Simonton, DK (2011), Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics, Oxford University Press, New York; Oxford. Distinguished Professor Dean Keith Simonton Department of Psychology University of California, Davis
  16. 16. CRITICAL vs RoI SUCCESS • There is little overlap in critical and commercial success (virality) • Writer-Directors are over-represented Simonton, Great Flicks (2011)
  17. 17. THE 3 HARD PROBLEMS: (1) >2% OF SCREENPLAYS GET MADE (2) 7 IN 10 FILMS LOSE MONEY (3) “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING”
  18. 18. A POSSIBLE SOLUTION (?) RETURN ON INVESTMENT (RoI) 1. Story 2. Screenplay 3. Film 4. Film-making 5. Creative Individuals COMMON PATTERNS?
  19. 19. THE DATA SOURCE: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php • Box Office Mojo (?) • IMDb (?) • The Numbers (Nash Information Services 1997-2012)
  20. 20. THE TOP 20 RoI FILMS http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php
  21. 21. FINDING #16 All the 20 key creatives are writer-hyphenates: • Writer-Director; or Writer-Producer; or Writer-Actor, • (and/or, all 3) What does it mean? It pays to stay involved in production.
  22. 22. FINDING #21: …A System? FREQUENCY OF TOP 20 RoI FILMS = 2.05 YEARS (R2=96%)
  23. 23. EVIDENCE: A FILM SYSTEM…? CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY – AGENT-BASED MODEL OF THE FILM SYSTEM (Velikovsky 2013) http://storyality.wordpress.com/creative-practice-theory/
  24. 24. Figure 5-2 - The increasingly large concentric circles in this simplified schematic represent the major levels at which creativity forces operate. (Hennessey & Amabile 2010, p. 571) CREATIVITY: SYSTEMS THEORIES `What we need now are all encompassing systems theories of creativity designed to tie together and make sense of the diversity of perspectives found in the literature - from the innermost neurological level to the outermost cultural level.’ (Hennessey & Amabile 2010) Annual Review of Psychology, 2010
  25. 25. CREATIVITY: SYSTEMS MODEL Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1st ed.) New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (1988, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2006) A systems model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi in Henry, 2006: 4)
  26. 26. 26 `For creativity to occur, a set of rules and practices must be transmitted from the domain to the individual. The individual must then produce a novel variation in the content of the domain. The variation then must be selected by the field for inclusion in the domain’ (Csikszentmihalyi 1999: p 315) THE SYSTEMS MODEL OF CREATIVITY
  27. 27. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University Dean Keith Simonton Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California Creativity: something that is “Novel and Appropriate” • Idea • Process • Product 2 MAJOR CREATIVITY SCHOLARS: 2004 2011
  28. 28. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Psychology)  Field  Individual (c.f.: `agent’)  Domain  Internalizing the Domain (10 years) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s DIFi systems model of creativity (1988, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2006) A systems model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi in Henry 2006: 4) CREATIVITY: THE SYSTEMS MODEL
  29. 29. Pierre Bourdieu (Sociology)  The Field  Agents (Individuals)  The field of works (Domain)  Habitus (practical sense)  4 forms of capital: Economic, Social, Cultural, and Symbolic Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory (1977, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1996) Figure 1 Diagram from "Art Rules; Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts" by Michael Grenfell and Cheryl Hardy. 2007. Berg Press. New York. : PRACTICE THEORY
  30. 30. The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation… Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene – (1976) & 2006, p. 196 MEMETICS Meme = Idea, Process, Product e.g.: A Film. A Story. An Idea.
  31. 31. GENES = MEMES Creativity, Genes and Biological Evolution Figure 1: Model of Biological Evolution (M. Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe 2000: 83) `Creativity is the engine that drives cultural evolution.’ (M. Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe 2000: 84) Creativity, Memes and Cultural Evolution Figure 2: The Systems Model of Creativity (M. Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe 2000: 84)
  32. 32. (Velikovsky 2012) http://storyality.wordpress.com/creative-practice-theory/ CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY
  33. 33. 33 1. Bio-Psycho-Socio-Cultural background / `talents’ 2. Develop a habitus (a `feel for the game’- of Film) 3. Absorb the Domain/s (films, books, courses, the web, etc.) 4. Internalize the Domain/s (e.g. Feature Films, Writing, Story) 5. Practise their craft skills (the `10-Year Rule’…) 6. Navigate the Field, and assume a position within it 7. Acquire 3 forms of Capital (economic, social, cultural) 8. Implement a `creative’ work (a Feature Film) 9. The work is judged `creative’ by The Field… 10. Acquire symbolic capital (e.g. awards) 11. Continue the cycle from # 1) above – AND/OR: 12. Retire / Die Velikovsky (2013) CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY As per the Top 20 RoI writer-hyphenates:
  34. 34. 34 Consilience: Science & Humanities 30+ Guidelines… NEXT:
  35. 35. TEXTUAL ANALYSIS: For common elements in their: Story; Screenplay; Film…
  36. 36. METHOD / FINDINGS Inverse Agonistic structure: Hero (antag-) vs Villain (protag-)
  37. 37. FINDINGS #1-10 In the Top 20 RoI Films: STORY / SCREENPLAY / FILM 1. All are `Villain Triumphant’ stories 2. These films have no `character arcs’ 3. All same Themes: Survival, Family/Community, Justice 4. 2 parts: Before the `tragedy’ strikes - and, After 5. None are adaptations – all are `original screen stories’ 6. Set in Present Day (except: Mad Max, American Graffiti) 7. Temporally linear (no `alternate’ structures) 8. 90 screenplay pages / 90 minutes of screen time 9. Settings: US, Australia, Ireland, UK, Mexico 10. 19/20 are spoken English-language (one is in Spanish)
  38. 38. FINDINGS #11-17 PRODUCTION: 11. 17 / 20 are independent films 12. Budget Range: $7k - $11m (Avg. Budget = $1.9m) 13. None have stars 14. None have big marketing budgets 15. 13/20 had sequels THE CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS: 16. All Writer-hyphenates (Writer- Director/Producer/Actor) 17. 19 / 20 are male, and 1 is female
  39. 39. GENRE in the Top 20 RoI FINDING #18: There are no “Drama” genre films in the Top 20 But - there are several Dramas in the `Bottom 20 ROI’ films
  40. 40. FINDING #19 (DURATION) HIGH RoI - TRENDING TOWARDS 90 PAGES / 90 MINUTES
  41. 41. FINDING #20: THE STORY THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE / THE GOLDEN SPIRAL
  42. 42. FINDING #21: On Frequency FREQUENCY OF TOP 20 RoI FILMS = 2.05 YEARS (R2=96%)
  43. 43. THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
  44. 44. STORYALITY PREDICTIONS: StoryAlity Theory predicts - a Top 20 RoI Film: CRITERIA PROBABILITY • Will arrive in 2014 (every 2.05 yrs) 96% chance • Will be by a writer-hyphenate 100% chance • Will follow StoryAlity structure 100% chance • Will be 90 mins/ 90 scenes 80% chance • Will be a Horror genre film 50% chance • Will be `found footage’ 15% chance • Will be a Drama genre 0% chance • Will be a `monomyth’ story 15% chance • Will be a `Villain Triumphant ‘ 100% chance • Will have `character arcs’ 0% chance • Will have the `3 primal Themes’ 100% chance
  45. 45. FINDING #3 (ON: THEMES) Top 20 RoI Films - all have the same Themes: (1) Survival, (2) Family/Community, (3) Justice (Revenge) Biopoetics / Literary Darwinism (Joseph Carroll, 1995, 2004, 2011) Consilience (EO Wilson, 1998)
  46. 46. VIRALITY
  47. 47. FINDINGS: KEY GUIDELINES
  48. 48. 48 Consilience: Science & Humanities 30+ Guidelines… NEXT:
  49. 49. THESIS: “UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN: CREATIVITY; THEORIES OF NARRATOLOGY; SCREENWRITING; AND NARRATIVE FICTION FEATURE FILM-MAKING PRACTICES.” 30,000-WORD EXEGESIS 20,000-WORD FEATURE FILM SCREENPLAY (90 PAGES = 90 MINUTES) + THESIS (OUTPUT):
  50. 50. • Psychology – the systems model (Csikszentmihalyi) • Sociology – practice theory (Bourdieu) • Philosophy – holons (Koestler) • Memetics – memes (Dawkins) • Narratology – story theory • Communications – communication theory models • Statistics – analysis of the story elements in top 20 films • Probability Theory – high-ROI film predictive theory • Complexity Theory – modelling the feature film system • Computer Modelling – agent-based modelling • Film Screenwriting Theory – since 1913 & `script gurus’ • Film Production Case Studies – Top & Bottom 20 RoI • Evolutionary Literary Theory – Darwin (Carroll) Interdisciplinary Components of: Creative Practice Theory Narratology
  51. 51. 51http://storyality.wordpress.com/ For more see:
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