Give the girl a line: methods of feature film screenwriting for the satirical female voice

Tofler, M 2011, Give the girl a line: methods of feature film screenwriting for the satirical female voice, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Give the girl a line: methods of feature film screenwriting for the satirical female voice
Author(s) Tofler, M
Year 2011
Abstract My project, Yummy Mummy, is a feature length comedy screenplay in the genre of satire. The screenplay satirises marriage and parenthood and has a female protagonist. The plot satirises women’s struggles to have both family and a meaningful career. I attempt to put a contemporary spin on some traditional themes, those of marriage and the pretences of contemporary society and its judgment of women.

My research explores and examines the genre of satire for feature film with a focus on a female protagonist. Theories relating to satire primarily refer to the arts of theatre and literature. There is very little research available on the cinematic genre of satire and a lack of theory relating to the screenwriting technique of satire for the female voice. In addition, many contemporary film theorists, critics, actresses and audiences agree that it is high time for some strong female comedic roles to be produced, with the female protagonists both spiritually and intellectually matched to their male counterparts (Burr 2005, Denby 1997, Henderson 1978). It is therefore a goal of this study to contribute an understanding of satire as it relates to screenwriting and specifically to the understanding of the methods of screenwriting for the satirical female voice. My research firstly analyses and defines the generic features of satire according to Northrop Frye. In Anatomy of Criticism, Frye asserts that two elements are essential to satire; “one is wit or humour founded on fantasy or a sense of the grotesque or absurd, the other is an object of attack” (Frye 1957, p. 234).

Secondly, in order to gain a better understanding of how to write a strong satirical female protagonist, I apply Frye’s theories to theatrical case studies derived from Congreve’s Restoration comedies, known for their strong satirical female protagonists (Gill 1994, Young 1997). By observing Frye's six principles of satire in the female protagonists in Congreve's comedies, I will analyse, examine and discuss aspects of creating strong comedic roles for women. Thirdly, I observe and analyse how Frye’s principles of satire have been applied in the feature film screenplay Something’s Gotta Give in order to examine a satirical female protagonist in a feature film. Using Frye’s key terms, I will analyse how screenwriter, Nancy Meyers, has applied satire to her female protagonist and compare the generic features between the protagonist in Something’s Gotta Give and the protagonists in Congreve’s Restoration comedies. Fourthly, I will explore how useful Frye’s theories and Congreve’s techniques are to my feature film screenplay project, Yummy Mummy. By analysing and exploring Frye’s principles of satire and applying these to the composition of my feature screenplay, I plan to discover how to create a modern day satirical female protagonist who is as spirited and independent as her sisters from the Restoration era.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) screenwriting
satire
comedy
screenplay
Northrop Frye
feature film
female protagonist
William Congreve
Nancy Meyers
Lisa Dethridge
Anatomy of Criticism
female character
actress
women in film
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Created: Fri, 01 Aug 2014, 13:32:55 EST by Denise Paciocco
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