Science Fiction Film & Television

The art of interpretation

Women, directing and sf television

Science Fiction Film & Television (2018), 11, (2), 203–231.

Abstract

While there is an established tradition of women writers of sf literature, it is more difficult to identify a similar pantheon of women creators of sf television. This is because authorship tends to be located within a single figure, usually a male writer/producer, despite the collaborative nature of television production. This article examines the contribution of women to sf television by re-evaluating the role of the director. By surveying a sample of sf television, it identifies a selection of women - such as Doctor Who directors Hettie MacDonald, Alice Troughton and Rachel Talalay - who have helped shape contemporary sf television through their aesthetic sensibilities and continued presence in the industry. This article thereby aims to destabilise conventions that position creativity with one, usually male, creator.

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Pearson, Roberta and Máire Messenger Davies. Star Trek and American Television. Berkeley and London: U of California P, 2014. Star Trek and American Television. Google Scholar

Rooney, Bethany and Mary Lou Belli. Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing Google Scholar

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Sleight, Graham. The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012. The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who Google Scholar

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Birnbaum, Debra. ‘Conversation: Lesli Linka Glatter & Marti Noxon’. Variety 18 Aug 2016. 12-15. ‘Conversation: Lesli Linka Glatter & Marti Noxon’ Variety 12 15 Google Scholar

Brew, Simon. ‘Rachel Talalay Interview: Directing Doctor Who Season 8’s Finale’. DenofGeek 30 Oct 2014. http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/doctor-who/32726/rachel-talalay-interview-directing-doctor-who-series-8s-finale. Accessed 29 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Brownfield, Paul. ‘Piloting Television’s Future: Six Directors Sound Off on Forging a Series Template in the Platinum Age of Television’. DGA Quarterly (Fall/Winter 2016-17). https://www.dga.org/Craft/DGAQ/All-Articles/1701-Winter-2017/Piloting-televisions-Future.aspx. Accessed 28 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Caldwell, John Thornton. Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television. Durham: Duke UP, 2008. Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television Google Scholar

Caughie, John, ed. Theories of Authorship: A Reader. London: Routledge, 1990. Theories of Authorship: A Reader Google Scholar

Cavallero, Jonathan J. ‘Written out of the Story: Issues of Television Authorship, Reception, and Ethnicity in NBC’s “Marty”’. Cinema Journal 56.3 (2013): 47-73. ‘Written out of the Story: Issues of Television Authorship, Reception, and Ethnicity in NBC’s “Marty”’ Cinema Journal 56 47 73 Google Scholar

Collis, Clark. ‘Rachel Talalay Talks Going from Tank Girl to Sherlock’. Entertainment Weekly 19 Jul 2017. http://ew.com/article/2016/07/19/sherlock-doctor-who-rachel-talalay-tank-girl/. Accessed 28 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Conrad, Dean. ‘Femmes Futures: One Hundred Years of Female Representation in SF Cinema’. Science Fiction Film and Television 4.1 (2011): 79-99. ‘Femmes Futures: One Hundred Years of Female Representation in SF Cinema’ Science Fiction Film and Television 4 79 99 Google Scholar

Collis, Clark. ‘Rachel Talalay Talks Going from Tank Girl to Sherlock’ Tank Girl Google Scholar

Collis, Clark. ‘Women in Science Fiction Film: A Viewer’. Dean Conrad (2016). http://deanconrad.com/writing/sfflists/wisff_viewer.htm. Accessed 15 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Corliss, Richard. Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in the American Cinema. New York: The Overlook Press, 1985. Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in the American Cinema Google Scholar

CUES (Canadian Unions for Equality on Screens). ‘What’s Wrong with This Picture? Directors and Gender Inequality in the Canadian Screen-based Production Industry’. Report. Sept 2016. ‘What’s Wrong with This Picture? Directors and Gender Inequality in the Canadian Screen-based Production Industry’ Google Scholar

Davies, Russell T. and Benjamin Cook. Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale. BBC Books, 2008. Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale Google Scholar

Davies, Russell T., David Tennant and Alice Troughton. Audio Commentary ‘Midnight’. Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series. DVD. BBC Worldwide 2008. ‘Midnight’ Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series Google Scholar

DGA 2015-16 ‘Episodic Television Diversity Report’. Report. https://www.dga.org/News/PressReleases/2016/160912-Episodic-Television-Director-Diversity-Report.aspx. Accessed 15 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Directors UK. ‘Women Directors - Who’s Calling the Shots? Women Directors in British Television Production’. Report. May 2014. ‘Women Directors - Who’s Calling the Shots? Women Directors in British Television Production’ Google Scholar

Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr and Tise Vahimagi. ‘Introduction’. MTM ‘Quality Television’. Ed. Feuer, Kerr and Vahimagi. London: BFI Publishing, 1984: ix-x. ‘Introduction’ Google Scholar

Halfyard, Janet K. Sounds of Fear and Wonder: Music in Cult Television. London: I.B. Tauris, 2016. Sounds of Fear and Wonder: Music in Cult Television Google Scholar

Hayner, Chris E. ‘“Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat: Female Writers and Directors Turn the Show Down More than You Think’. Screenertv. http://screenertv.com/blogs/doctor_who_steven_moffat_female_writers_directors_turn_show_down-2014-12/. Accessed 15 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

Jowett, Lorna. Dancing with the Doctor: Gender Dimensions in the New Doctor Who Universe. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017. Dancing with the Doctor: Gender Dimensions in the New Doctor Who Universe Google Scholar

Jowett, Lorna. ‘The Girls Who Waited? Female Companions and Gender in Doctor Who’. Critical Studies in Television 9.1 (2014): 77-91. ‘The Girls Who Waited? Female Companions and Gender in Doctor WhoDoctor Who 9 77 91 Google Scholar

Jowett, Lorna and Stacey Abbott. TV Horror: The Dark Side of the Small Screen. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. TV Horror: The Dark Side of the Small Screen Google Scholar

Kompare, Derek. ‘More “Moments of Television”: Online Cult Television Authorship’. Flow Television: Television in the Age of Media Convergence. Ed. Michael Kackman, Marnie Binfield, Matthew Thomas, Allison Perlman and Bryan Sebok. New York: Routledge, 2011. 95-113. ‘More “Moments of Television”: Online Cult Television Authorship’ Flow Television: Television in the Age of Media Convergence 95 113 Google Scholar

Lowry, Brian. ‘Giving Television Directors Their Due’. DGA Quarterly 5.1 (2009): 71-2. ‘Giving Television Directors Their Due’ DGA Quarterly 5 71 2 Google Scholar

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York UP, 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling Google Scholar

Newman, Michael Z. and Elana Levine. Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status. London and New York: Routledge, 2011. Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status Google Scholar

Pateman, Matthew. Joss Whedon. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2018. Joss Whedon Google Scholar

Pearson, Roberta. ‘The Writer/Producer in American Television’. The Contemporary Television Series. Ed. Michael Hammond and Lucy Mazdon. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2005. 11-26. ‘The Writer/Producer in American Television’ The Contemporary Television Series 11 26 Google Scholar

Pearson, Roberta and Máire Messenger Davies. Star Trek and American Television. Berkeley and London: U of California P, 2014. Star Trek and American Television. Google Scholar

Rooney, Bethany and Mary Lou Belli. Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing Google Scholar

Ryan, Maureen. ‘Showrunners for the New Season Remain Mostly White and Male’. Variety 8 Jun 3016. http://variety.com/2016/tv/features/diversity-television-white-male-showrunners-stats-fox-nbc-abc-cbs-cw-study-1201789639/. Accessed 27 Jun 2017. Google Scholar

Ryan, Maureen. ‘“Jessica Jones” Hires All Women Directors for Season 2, Showrunner Says’. Variety 22 Oct 2016. http://variety.com/2016/tv/features/jessica-jones-women-directors-season-two-melissa-rosenberg-1201897203/. Accessed 27 Jun 2017. Google Scholar

Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System. London: Simon and Schuster, 1989. The Genius of the System Google Scholar

Sleight, Graham. The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012. The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who Google Scholar

Spencer, Amanda. ‘Big Drama: Little Screen’. Film Ireland 134 (Autumn 2010): 16-19. ‘Big Drama: Little Screen’ Film Ireland 34 16 19 Google Scholar

Women in View On Screen 2015. Report. http://womeninview.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Women-In-View-On-Screen-2015.pdf. Accessed 28 Mar 2017. Google Scholar

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Author details

Abbott, Stacey

Abbott, Stacey