Project Title

Don't Write Around the Monster: Understanding the Value of Worldbuilding in Screenwriting

Presenters

Lever StewartFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - English

Faculty Sponsor Name

Anna Weinstein

Abstract (300 words maximum)

In the wake of increasingly monopolized TV and film production companies and commonly digitized special effects, mainstream movie monsters continue to be and are at risk of permanently being hollow, interchangeable props that actors and screenwriters work around rather than with. Contemporary monster-starring media such as A Quiet Place (2018), Jurassic World (2015), and Stranger Things (2016–) all present fantastical and horrific creatures, but none show interest in their monsters' conceptual designs from a storytelling perspective. In this analysis, the scripts of these films will be compared and contrasted to Joe Cornish's script for Attack the Block (2011), a film that–by evidence of its dialogue and technical storytelling–closely integrates the worldbuilding (the process of constructing fictional worlds and concepts from a broad perspective) of its alien monsters with its screenplay and, by consequence, its cut-and-printed final product. An established, deeper knowledge of the details these monsters bear encourages complexity in not only the script's environment, but also its characters and theme. Cornish's monsters go from interchangeable to irreplaceable in the context of his story and thus their presence in the film is elevated and made more nuanced. This analysis will also briefly explore the benefits these specific screenwriting strategies have on a grander scale, both for audiences and the entertainment industry as a whole, by studying published reviews and peer-reviewed papers of all mentioned films.

Disciplines

Screenwriting

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Don't Write Around the Monster: Understanding the Value of Worldbuilding in Screenwriting

In the wake of increasingly monopolized TV and film production companies and commonly digitized special effects, mainstream movie monsters continue to be and are at risk of permanently being hollow, interchangeable props that actors and screenwriters work around rather than with. Contemporary monster-starring media such as A Quiet Place (2018), Jurassic World (2015), and Stranger Things (2016–) all present fantastical and horrific creatures, but none show interest in their monsters' conceptual designs from a storytelling perspective. In this analysis, the scripts of these films will be compared and contrasted to Joe Cornish's script for Attack the Block (2011), a film that–by evidence of its dialogue and technical storytelling–closely integrates the worldbuilding (the process of constructing fictional worlds and concepts from a broad perspective) of its alien monsters with its screenplay and, by consequence, its cut-and-printed final product. An established, deeper knowledge of the details these monsters bear encourages complexity in not only the script's environment, but also its characters and theme. Cornish's monsters go from interchangeable to irreplaceable in the context of his story and thus their presence in the film is elevated and made more nuanced. This analysis will also briefly explore the benefits these specific screenwriting strategies have on a grander scale, both for audiences and the entertainment industry as a whole, by studying published reviews and peer-reviewed papers of all mentioned films.

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