Date of Award

Winter 12-14-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Anna Weinstein


Chris Palmer


Family films are something that have been enjoyed for many decades. They often create a fantastic world that will enchant audiences and eventually become beloved stories. A big aspect often seen in these films is a protagonist that possesses some kind of gift. Where does this gift come from? How does it grow? Most importantly, how do the screenwriters who are responsible for bringing these gifted heroes to life go about it?

Using the screenplays of Kubo and the Two Strings, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Encanto, and Coraline, I take a deep dive into the portrayal of gifted children. The gifts that these protagonists have range from inherited magic to psychological ones focusing on curiosity and being able to appreciate the oddities of life. Analyzing a screenplay allows an audience to learn more about the inner workings of the story and provides glimpses into the thoughts of the screenwriters. For instance, some of the lines of character description and certain wording in the action can allude to why a character behaves a certain way. By analyzing screenplays to better understand the gifted hero, it helps bring a portion of the population to light, a population that many look over. What can the screenplay do that, when the film is fully produced, can make an audience member look at the hero and go “I see myself in them.” That is why it is important to study screenplays. Despite not being a traditional medium, screenplays are a form of literature. There is much more beyond the finished product that a film can offer. Family film screenplays can showcase their journey to strengthen their give through intense emotion and a gendered lens to show how extraordinary these children are. Utilizing shooting scripts and final drafts, the powerful lines of action, and what was cut can help bring these protagonists to life.