The Screenwriting Research Network Conference: An Interview with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Rosanne Welch, Ph.D., serves as executive director of Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting, where she created a set of History of Screenwriting courses and teaches courses in One-Hour Drama. She is hosting the Screenwriting Research Network Conference at Stephen’s College this fall, with the theme of “Gender and the Female Gaze.”

What is the Screenwriting Research Network Conference?

RW: The SRN is an international association of screenwriting professors and practitioners who have been meeting annually since its founding in 2006.
The Conferences link off the main menu shows where they’ve been held starting in Leeds, UK (2008), including) Sydney (2012), Dunedin, NZ, (2017), Milan (2018), Porto (2019), and Vienna (2022). We come together to share presentations on screenwriting to understand the power of the written word when turned into film.

Can you speak to the theme of this year’s conference, Gender and the Female Gaze?

RW: Stephens College won the bid to host the conference 3 years ago and since we are an all-female college we chose the theme “Gender and the Female Gaze”. There has been so many discussions recently from TV talk shows to academic journals and everywhere in between about the importance of representation – of women and of other underrepresented voices in media. Stephens College seemed the perfect place to delve deeper into those debates. We’ll hear presentations on indigenous female screenwriters and silent film female screenwriters from several countries and perspectives on the work done by Studio Ghibl, HBO’s Perry Mason, and newer rom-coms.

Are there any parts of the conference that are open to the public?

RW: On Saturday 23, 2023 at 7pm Ragtag will show the Pixar hit Inside Out with screenwriter Meg LeFauve (one of our Keynote Speakers) on hand for a Q&A. Separate tickets required – For more information click here.

A Costume Exhibition will be free and open by appointment (time TBD).

More ideas are still in discussion – but the fee for the full 3 days of keynote speeches and presentations is only $120 so I encourage arts educators and filmmakers from the area to attend.

What do you think the value of these conferences are?

RW: When professors and practitioners of the art of screenwriting come together we share ideas that enhance both the teaching of the craft – and the execution of it. New scripts are written, new books are written, and new screenwriters appear in our college courses so that underrepresented voices become part of the canon.

Can you share a favorite memory from a previous conference?

RW: Gosh, there have been so many for me. The conference has brought me and my family to wonderful locations from Leeds, where we toured the home of the famous veterinarian and writer James Herriott (the All Creatures Great and Small tv show is based on his books) and to Milan where I had the chance to visit a distant cousin – and to Dunedin, New Zealand where I saw little blue penguins one morning and albatross feeding their young that evening.

As to the conference itself, the sorts of friendships with colleagues from around the world which has led to my being invited as a guest lecturer in colleges in Oxford, UK and Sao Paolo, Brazil and to my contributing chapters to several books.

Is there anything else you want to share about the conference?

RW: The only other time the conference was granted to a college in the U.S. was granted to the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2013. So it’s a pretty big deal for Stephens, Columbia, and Missouri (I think).

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