Digital Development: Using the Smartphone to Enhance Screenwriting Practice

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Mobile Story Making in an Age of Smartphones, 2018, pp. 21 - 29
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In his chapter ‘Smartphone Screenwriting: Creativity, Technology, and Screenplays-on-the-Go’, Craig Batty argued that while technological advances might seemingly be breeding new types of screenwriting practice via apps and digital tools, in fact they are almost exclusively responding to market demands and facilitating existing, rather than inspiring new, practices: ‘every tool and app is still reliant on what the screenwriter brings to it’ (2014a: 113). The question still remaining is: if technology can determine the type, style and form of screen media being produced (e.g., smartphone filmmaking, the web series), can it also influence the ways these works are written, beyond replicating what happens in the analogue world? How might the capabilities of mobile media shape and enhance the story making practices of a screenwriter? In this chapter we focus on the specific practice of script development, to examine how the screenwriter’s methods for creating content could be made different by the smartphone. Tracing the journey of a ‘screen idea’ (Macdonald, 2013) from concept to screenplay, which can comprise many documents, notes, drafts and personnel that each position the screenplay in various creative, personal and social contexts (see Conor, 2013; Kerrigan and Batty, 2016), script development offers a useful lens through which to examine the screenwriting practitioner’s creative process in relation to digital media devices and their potential for change. Specifically, we ask: do smartphones and other portable devices enhance or inhibit practices of script development? Do they do anything beyond offer digital versions of what happens in the analogue world; and if not, what might a digital script development tool look like
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