A Philosophy of the Screenplay by Ted Nannicelli

By Ted Nannicelli

Recently, students in numerous disciplines―including philosophy, movie and media stories, and literary studies―have develop into drawn to the aesthetics, definition, and ontology of the screenplay. To this finish, this quantity addresses the elemental philosophical questions about the character of the screenplay: what's a screenplay? Is the screenplay art―more particularly, literature? what sort of a specific thing is a screenplay? Nannicelli argues that the screenplay is a type of artefact; as such, its obstacles are decided jointly via screenwriters, and its ontological nature is set jointly through either writers and readers of screenplays. Any believable philosophical account of the screenplay has to be strictly limited by way of our collective artistic and appreciative practices, and needs to realize that these practices point out that at the least a few screenplays are artworks.

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My proposed definition of the screenplay, then, is this: x is a screenplay if and only if x is a verbal object intended to repeat, modify, or repudiate the ways in which plot, characters, dialogue, shots, edits, sound effects, and/or other features have historically been suggested as constitutive elements of a film by a prior screenplay(s) or screenwriting practice (in accordance with recognizable and live purposes of that practice). I anticipate a few immediate objections to the definition and address each in turn.

Things such as shot lists may be intended to change the ways in which shots have been suggested as constitutive elements of a film by screenplays, but not in accordance with recognizable and live purposes of screenwriting practice. Countering this objection hinges on a distinction between defining screenwriting practice and identifying screenwriting 32 A Philosophy of the Screenplay practice. But while defining the screenplay (and screenwriting practice) has required extended conceptual analysis, identifying screenplays and instances of screenwriting practice is not so difficult.

28 There just does not seem to be a physical feature (or set of them) that determines screenplay-hood that will allow us to correctly judge whether the hard cases are actually screenplays or not. But even if we limit our focus to the pool of uncontroversial screenplays, then wide variations in formatting and content stymie an attempt to find even one essential physical feature beyond the use of words. Of course, one might, by fiat, declare that most of the examples I have given above are not really screenplays because being a screenplay is actually a matter of conforming to certain industry standards and conventions.

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