Studied film to be a director before realizing screenwriting was my outlet. MFA student at DePaul University. @EmilyKalash

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Telling A Story Through Animation

    Animation has always amazed me. Everything from the artist who created the objects to the story blows my mind. For this specific topic, I think it would be interesting to examine how the absence of human actors changes the way a story or theme is perceived. For example, Zootopia is told from the point of view of animated animals. Yet, the film discusses heavy themes of preconceived judgment against specific groups. Most animated films are geared towards children. Why is this? What about those that are meant for adults?
    How does animation affect a film’s narrative?

    • I feel there has been more of a push to deliver important social messages to humans at younger, more vulnerable ages. We can, I think, see the effects of this on the generational political opinions, especially as younger voters start to stretch the elastic of the bipartisan system. Companies that embrace open-mindedness and project these ideas through their marketing are often praised for their messages. When Coca-Cola featured a gay couple in their Super Bowl ad, for example. As far as your point about animation goes, it seems like a vehicle for these same messages to more accessible. Not just for kids, but for everyone. Social change, equality, and similar ideas don't always have to be discussed in stuffy rooms by well-dressed politicians. They can be accessed and discussed by the common person, even if not everyone may agree on the particular topics. Brightly-colored, animated bunnies with cartoon eyes simply serve as a friendly, introductory face for these conversations. – Analot 4 years ago
    • A really interesting topic, and I feel like it could get into some real nitty-gritty stuff regarding animation as a visual medium. While I'm not nearly as versed in Western animation, there are several studies on anime that can be very useful. First and foremost I recommend checking out Thomas LaMarre's book "The Anime Machine", which particularly discusses the cell animation stand as anime's equivalent to the film camera, and how its technical qualities has shaped the visual and perceptual language of the medium in a wide variety of aspects. I also know that Christopher Bolton has written about the split between signifying form and signified content in anime in his essay "From Wooden Cyborgs to Celluloid Souls" - although I'm only familiar with it second-hand through Carl Silvio's essay "Animated Bodies and Cybernetic Selves" which relates Bolton's ideas to theories of posthumanism (a read that I also highly recommend). – blautoothdmand 4 years ago
    • This is a really interesting topic! And it is quite palpable how kid-oriented animation is, particularly when you come across animated films that are not geared toward children. There is a jarring, unsettling juxtaposition in animated films like Plague Dogs, Felidae, Watership Down and Animal Farm that deal with mature themes without the sugar coating we've been conditioned to expect with animation. Granted, these are older films so animation wasn't quite as established for children the way it is now in the west. I think taking a look at Animal Farm in particular might help with this topic, considering it follows similar concepts as Zootopia but with far more negativity on the matter (considering the environment Orwell was writing in). – caffeine 4 years ago

    Television and Masculinity

    We’ve been hearing a lot of the end of the angry male protagonist in modern-day television. Breaking Bad and Mad Men are over, plus other TV shows with those similar main character tropes. What does this say about masculinity? Are we seeing more diverse male characters? Does this allow for better representation of what a man is?

    • Reading your post, I've literally just clocked how Breaking Bad is a representation of toxic masculinity, and how a man can be made to feel emasculated through a failure to provide for his family, both in terms of security and monetarily. – mooreben92 4 years ago
    • Great topic-I really hope that the representation of masculinity branches out more. I think more 'complex' representation outside of angry and/or cocky white man trope (Harvey Specter in Suits, etc) needs to be incorporated into mainstream media, and especially in more popular shows. I think it would allow for better representation of masculinity/men. I think an analysis on an older show featuring the trope you described above in comparison to a newer show with a different kind of male character would be a great topic to write on as well. – jmclaren 4 years ago
    • Even in Breaking Bad, Walter White had two sides. One that was frightened (long before his cancer diagnosis), afraid of success and resentful of others accomplishments. We all know what the other side became: ruthless, yet with a habit of picking on those weaker than him, selfish and greedy. The show's character of Jesse Pinkman gave us a young man who had many flaws, mainly addiction and confusion, but who had extreme compassion, especially for kids, and tolerance of others. He only became a criminal because Walter manipulated him and he was too trusting and weak. This is the kind of guy I think we are seeing now. In Mr. Robot, Elliot Alderson, a practical orphan, takes out his rage at society and the death of his father by hacking people, snorting morphine and eventually bringing down a huge corporation. He tries (fairly successfully) to justify his actions due to the horrors of Capitalism and what his sister Darlene blithely calls "The Oligarchy". Yet even after a (more or less) successful revolution, he still doubts himself, still uses and spends most of his time fighting with his deceased father, who exists as his "dark half". The modern man is often just as broken by society as someone like Ray Milland in "The Lost Weekend" or the couple in "Days of Wine and Roses". The 1950's consumerism traps them and even the fight to escape or destroy it causes more destruction and pain. – SharonGenet 4 years ago
    • Oh, please please write this. And definitely bring up male characters that make a break with toxic masculinity, like Terry from Brooklyn 99. It's interesting that the male characters that tend to play with expectations of masculinity and tropes of male/female gender roles are often featured in sitcoms rather than action or dramatic movies/tv. – Eden 3 years ago

    Where should we get our knowledge?

    I’m sitting in a public metropolitan library as I type this, something I haven’t done since before I attended college. There are tens of thousands of books wrapped in clear protective plastic on metal shelves. Those walking around me and sitting near me range from young students to elderly men and women. In a time of advanced technology and "doing-it-yourself" mentality, they all came here to do their own private work.

    I’m curious as our culture changes, how do we continue to grow and learn? Why do the age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant.

    I would love to hear what others think. Please consider this is me throwing some ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks!

    • Great topic. I know that professional librarians have discussed it a lot, and libraries today are often community resource centers (with computers and internet, with workshops, etc.) as they are book collections. – JamesBKelley 4 years ago
    • First and foremost, it's important for one to have an open, clear mind. A mind in which does not discriminate and hold prejudice. With an open mind, one can gather knowledge through personal experience. Through personal experience, you are most likely to obtain the most meaningful knowledge, something that you understand and you can relate to. – paigethai 4 years ago
    • As our cultures continue to change, we grow and learn because of our innate curiosity. The age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant due to our longing to meet others, share, change and pass on our knowledge. Humans cannot help but attract to each other like magnets to share personal experiences, et cetera and then from these smaller or larger human groups, they repel like magnets to share and reshape the new knowledge they have accumulated. The pattern of accumulation and dissemination of information from one book or person to many others crosses the boundaries of time and space to advance our civilisations. – RipperWriter 4 years ago
    • Love this topic. I think it may be interesting, even important, to also explore how these mediums change with us in this 'time of advanced technology'. A pre-internet, pre-screens metropolitan library would differ from the modern library. However, something like the 'snail mail' letter is much rarer and more highly-valued now than when it was simply the best and fastest way to communicate. It's fascinating to see how things have evolved in either their use or value as we continue to embrace technology more and more. The growth is exponential now, so we have the opportunity to see history change before our very eyes in a way that is more apparent than ever before. – Analot 4 years ago
    • As someone who works in libraries, this is a vital question to me. What makes libraries remain relevant? I would say community. Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs - bookable group rooms, author readings, playdates for kids and new moms, etc. They are the places where we make connections. Sometimes it's technological - helping older people learn Facebook to connect with family - other times it's "real life" connections - book clubs, etc. Fascinating topic! Thanks for sharing! – nathanl 4 years ago
    • Libraries are inspirational. My favourite library is the 5th Avenue Library in New York City. I go there whenever I am in New York and write... It inspires me to be productive, and creative. – jdumay 4 years ago
    • As a former library assistant, I can attest to the fact that learning in libraries is still a huge thing! I love the environment, it's a place for learning and getting work done. I'd love to read and write more about this topic! – Kendra 4 years ago

    The Separation Between Predators and Their Art

    Those who have harassed and sexually assaulted others are finally coming to light. The skeletons are being flung out of many guilty people’s closets and those who have suffered are speaking out. While it is not cleaning out everything, there is progress.

    We have become familiar with publically "outing" abusers in the movie business. However, what do viewers, outside of the film industry, do to show their support for those who have suffered while protesting the offenders? Are we able to avoid a film because a director, producer or actor has harassed someone? Do we ignore the rest of the hard-working men and women attached to the set?

    Are we able to appreciate the art of someone who is an offender?

    • This is a great topic and one that could be expanded upon in philosophy and literature. So many authors in the established canon often had offensive views, owned slaves and perceived the Enlightenment as a sole privilege for Europeans. So what does one do with offenders, past and present? Do we throw the baby out with the bathwater? – Munjeera 4 years ago
    • This is SO important. Though you've placed this under Film, as a literature nerd I'd suggest to anyone who chooses to write on this to look at Roland Barthes' "The Death of the Author." Not the most exciting read but it basically asks this exact question. But someone, please write on this! – Heather Lambert 4 years ago
    • Unfortunately, this has always been a topical post. Fortunately, the issue has started to be addressed. However, what I find interesting is when someone moves past the "alleged" and into being convicted. For example, Mike Tyson. He was convicted of rape over twenty years ago yet he has been something of a minor pop-culture star for years, even starring in the successful Hangover series, ironically as apparently the cast and crew protesting Mel Gibson in the second film, they seemed to have no such reservations about a convicted rapist. Did the stigma ware off Tyson? Was it too fresh on Gibson? The latter conclusion would be supported by Gibson's resurgence in the last couple of years, notably in Daddy's Home 2- where many critics enthusiastically proclaimed "Gibson is family friendly again." – jackarthurgayer 4 years ago

    Adaptations: Are They Meant To Be?

    Film adaptations are the result of taking a story, usually a text, and adapting it to, well, film. Adapting a piece of work for the screen is not easy. A novel, for example, was created with specific detail. Taking a 300-page novel and condensing it into a 120-minute film is challenging. You are forced to remove or adjust certain characteristics to fit concerns, like financing. Otherwise, you may have a short story with hopes to create a full feature. That’s just the beginning. Imagine if there is a verbal story carried on through generations. What does a screenwriter do then?

    Can something that was created for another medium successfully "work" as a film, narratively and stylistically?

    • Optimally, art should be as protean as possible, and the borders between the various art media should be as porous, permeable, and flexible as possible, so as to foster dialogue (meta and otherwise) between media. Film adaptations at their best are a great reflection of this ideal, but it begs the question: why are the inverses--film novelizations, say--not nearly as prominent? Novelizations do not have nearly as great a critical reputation as adaptations; they are usually hastily written cheap paperbacks, sold as tie-ins and/or for franchise-building, out of print quickly. If filmmakers have frequently been able to distill novels into films--into effective unions of image and sound derived from text--then why can't (or don't) authors expand images and sounds into text that can interact meaningfully and/or provocatively with the film by addition, subtraction and/or alteration, as film adaptations do with their source texts? If novels are used as source material for other media but films aren't, what does that say about how our culture values (or not) those media in terms of art and entertainment? Of course films can expand upon novels, so could novels not expand upon films by, for instance, coloring in the characters' psychological states? Novelizations, qua adaptations, provide (I believe) a ripe opportunity for artistic renaissance, if there are any authors out there willing to consider it and take the plunge! – Alec Johnsson 4 years ago
    • Coincidentally I have recently watched 'Ten Canoes' (2006), an Australian film entirely in the Aboriginal languages used by those who appear in it. It's a morality tale told during a hunting expedition, which attempts to address the verbal story carried on across generations theme you suggested. Well worth watching. I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for something a little different. – Amyus 4 years ago
    • I think the worst decision you can make is to try to copy and paste a book scene for scene and make it a movie. With a completely different medium, screenwriters and directors need to make conscious cuts and changes because the books were never intended as a blueprint for a film. Changes have to be made. To see successful adaptions, I suggest you look at how screenwriters and directors make conscious changes to the source material. Example: Both Godfather book and film are successful but Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola make decisions about cutting material from the book and changing some things. L.A. confidential by James Ellroy was another successful adaption in 1997 by Curtis Hanson (with Russel Crowe, Kim Bassinger, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pearce. In order to adapt the 500-600 page book, clear changes were made to the source material, entire storylines were cut, but the movie captured the essence of the book and it was an impressive creation on its own right. Another fascinating adaption is Blade Runner, which is vastly different than its book counterpart (Do Androids Dream...By Philip K. Dick) yet was a huge influence on many films and books and has surpassed the popularity of the film. – Sean Gadus 4 years ago

    Childhood Literary Role Models

    I had to do some research to refresh my memory of this literature before starting this topic. I think children’s books are a very important part of the literature world. A writer has the ability to teach a child an important lesson while also entertaining them.

    One important author who transformed the way children were perceived in their respected genre was Beverly Cleary. She wrote long-standing series such as Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby. Throughout her series, where each character was under the age of 10, Cleary wrote about relatively mature conversations such a parent losing their job.

    With this topic, I think it would be interesting to take a look at some fictional childhood role models and speak about their significance. Perhaps we can even broaden this to reach countries other than the United States.

    • An interesting part of this would be to look at how the children's book has evolved and changed over time. A lot of early children's books were ettiquette and moral guides, whereas now more are becoming about diverse representations of society and dealing with big issues, such as grief, identity and sexuality. A great topic. – SaraiMW 4 years ago
    • I think this is a really cool topic! However, I hesitate at broadening it beyond North America (or just one country/area of your choice), as it already a fairly broad topic and could get out of hand. I think focussing on just one issue/theme and how it is treated in children's literature could be really interesting! – Heather Lambert 4 years ago
    • Heather- Very good point. Whoever decides to write this, take note! – Emily 4 years ago
    • Love this idea. When they were little, both my adult children (now 35 and 27) loved the Ramona books. Also, in my university-level creative writing class, just last week, two of my students referenced Charlotte's Web, and the importance those animal characters had--and still have--on their lives. The fictional characters of the books we read live with us, like family members. – worddog 4 years ago

    Is "Binge Culture" Ruining The Television Industry?

    Within the past few years, the way we watch television has completely transformed. Between releasing 15 episodes at once to specialized mini-series with only 8 episodes we are traveling in a new direction. Is this a positive force or negative? How so and who is affected? More creatives are finally being able to produce the shows they may have had difficulty with in the past. But is this all just recycled visual information coming out in a larger quantity? By simply hitting "next episode" are we focusing on the content or having a competition to binge the series in under a weekend?


    • I don't believe that the actual quantity of television has necessarily been changed by the rise of binge-watching (things like that are typically dictated by contracts and production costs). However, I do believe that it has created a dramatic increase in the production and popularity of serialized narratives (as opposed to self-contained narratives) which may make for an interesting topic from a creative point of view. – Ian Miculan 4 years ago
    • I'm not sure if it's ruining the television industry or the viewer's experience. It can be argued that the anticipation felt at the end of a crazy episode isn't as intense because the viewer knows that they can find the resolution in the next episode immediately. There's one show that I watch week to week, and I find myself needing to talk to friends about it and feeling more intrigued by the show's drama. Integrating the effect on the viewer might be an interesting twist to the article. I think this would make the article more intriguing to a reader because they can relate to it through their own experience. – lolsen 4 years ago
    • I think that binge culture can be damaging to the television industry. Because people can speed through series much more quickly, companies like Netflix are putting out dozens of new series everyday, instead of focusing on the ones that have held long-lasting success. – Sarah Bish 4 years ago

    Do Late Night Hosts Have a Responsibility to be Political?

    The past two years completely changed the way society speaks about politics. It seems everyone was speaking about anything that came out of the previous campaign. The country was divided and conversations of all human rights were lit on fire.

    The way the media was involved was unlike any political campaign. Local news stations and early morning shows recapped the day before like they always do. However, late night hosts took on a new role. While maintaining their comedy, the usual carefree atmosphere was unavoidably influenced by the stressful political world. Some late night hosts took advantage of it, others did not. Do you believe it is there responsibility to speak on the changing politics?

    • Certainly a timely topic. A lot has already been written about this; some articles that the prospective author might be interested in looking over include: http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/20/opinions/trump-thanksgiving-late-night-comedy-obeidallah-opinion/index.html ; https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/05/how-late-night-comedy-alienated-conservatives-made-liberals-smug-and-fueled-the-rise-of-trump/521472/ ; https://www.vox.com/2017/4/3/15163170/strikethrough-comedians-satire-trump-misinformation ; https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/how-trumps-win-is-changing-stand-up-comedy-w455263 ; https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/how-jokes-won-the-election ; https://www.gq.com/story/stand-up-comedy-in-donald-trumps-america ; https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/nov/08/donald-trump-comedians-parody-satire ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/07/13/is-trump-good-for-comedy-comedians-respond/?utm_term=.04a692c12aee ; http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/11/how-jon-stewart-and-the-daily-show-elected-donald-trump/ . This is just a small sample of what's out there (and there're quite a few other good ones that I remember reading but was unable to find now), trying to cover a variety of the differing perspectives on this subject. Hope it helps. – ProtoCanon 4 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    I really believe an adaptation is a whole new animal compared to the original piece. For example, when I started in film school, I was shocked at how many authors do not write their books screenplays. Why wouldn’t someone want full control over both? The truth is writing for the screen and writing for a paperback are beyond different.

    I think there are so many people who are very adamant about hating a movie about their favorite book because they don’t understand that these two mediums are not sisters. They’re more like acquaintances. Now, I understand why someone would be upset. They should be. That’s the power of art.

    The Art of Adaption

    I think anything that allows young creatives a door that opens up to a new audience for them is a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for new filmmakers to work their way into the network’s offices in the past. Nowadays there are so many different ladders they are able to climb thanks to the Netflix’s and Hulu’s.

    Personally, I am not a binger. Call it my inner old lady but the idea of watching episodes for more than 3-hours is terrifying. After a certain amount of time, I can’t imagine my brain is actually taking in all the creative aspects of film and television. I feel it all becomes moving lights, dialogue that I’m not really listening to, and action sequences.

    But hey, I love the endless catalog that we are all able to open with a push of a button. That’s truly amazing.

    Netflix and Impact

    I applaud you for taking such a divisive topic and comparing it with such detail and strong argument. It’s easy to just throw some buzzwords around and call it a day. I agree with what you say about art creates culture which creates politics. The Trump Administration saw an obscene trope and fully embraced it and now it’s biting them in the ass. The idea of Trump has gone from something as simple as a television rich-man to a governmental caricature.

    How Trump Won: Heroes, Villains and Surviving the Apocalypse

    I understand the purpose of an origin story. However, perhaps Hollywood, especially the superhero genre, is actually hurting itself but constantly prioritizing the past instead of focusing on the present and future of these films and series.

    I imagine it would also help grow and diversify the superhero universe by detailing new story arcs.

    Origin Stories: Do we need them?

    Gosh, I love this article. Perhaps it’s because it seems almost like a conversation I am having with myself.

    An interesting experience for modern-day writers is the stress that comes with writing for a financial purpose. What I mean is traveling is great and it does broaden your horizons but unless you are lucky to write for a well-established publication, being a young writer limits where you can “travel” to. I think that’s why it’s important for writers and nonwriters to educate themselves with the literature of all genres.

    Travel and literature: Broadening your horizons

    Congratulations! While it’s a goal I have for myself, I can’t begin to imagine the reality of starting and the process of continuing!

    Travel and literature: Broadening your horizons

    Thank you! That’s so cool. Be sure to message me about it. I would love to read it when it’s posted.

    Eat Drink Man Woman vs. Sense and Sensibility: A Feminist Observation

    Nicole, I love how you write with such strong conviction. Personally, I have always loved Sally Mann’s work. I gravitate towards artists who completely cut open themselves and create something that is undeniably them.

    A lot of the criticism towards these photographs originate from the way people were raised, especially how they were taught about bodies. I was raised to look at my body as a representation of anatomy and not sexualize it. Therefore, when I see her children naked, I see a child living without judgment and insecurity.

    Great analysis.

    The Controversial Art of Sally Mann