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The western screenwriter in Japan: screenwriting considerations in transnational cinema.

McAulay, A., 2018. The western screenwriter in Japan: screenwriting considerations in transnational cinema. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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MCAULAY, Alexander_Ph.D._2017.pdf



This PhD investigates the writing of a feature film screenplay for mainstream Japanese-language cinema by a British screenwriter. As a long-term resident of Japan with production credits in Japanese cinema, I have for many years been interested in how to write stories set in Japan that will appeal to domestic and international audiences. The study examines the challenges I face as a Western screenwriter writing a screenplay for Japanese cinema, and how those challenges inform my creative practice, bringing into being a screenplay that is intended to enhance screenwriting craft in mainstream Japanese cinema and provide new knowledge to transnational cinema and screenwriting research. The critical commentary that accompanies the screenplay takes a dialogic approach in practice-led research to explore how various issues emerge for the Western screenwriter in Japanese cinema. These problems are examined with regard to relevant theory, and contextualised in considerations of various films in Japanese-language cinema written by non-Japanese screenwriters. One salient issue is the application of the Hollywood ‘universal’ model of screenwriting to stories about Japan. I also explore the role of agency in screenplay authorship, in particular with regard to notions of ‘Japaneseness.’ I suggest notions of ‘Japaneseness’ are a particular challenge for my creative practice, and examine them in the context of national-transnational tensions in cinema. I draw on theories of transnational cinema to argue that the screenplay written for this PhD, Welcome to Prime-time, is an ‘accented Japanese screenplay.’ I go on to outline how accented Japanese screenplays might be positioned in relation to Japanese national cinema and transnational cinema discourses. I then discuss ‘Japaneseness’ in terms of a related issue: Orientalism. I show how Orientalism remains a trenchant concern for non-Japanese screenwriters representing Japan. This leads to a discussion of how a process of reflective authenticity might equip such screenwriters to depict ‘the Other’ in ways that circumvent Orientalist tropes in order to synthesise both local and global concerns. The process of critical reflection is threaded throughout the PhD, and concludes with a consideration of the notion of ‘becoming Japanese’ as it is depicted in my screenplay, and in my own journey within practice-led research. I posit that this PhD adds to our understanding of transnational screenplays and the contexts transnational screenwriters work within. Furthermore, I suggest the screenplay exhibits a new approach to achieving an ‘authentic’ representation of Japan and the Japanese by Western screenwriters. Note: It is recommended that the reader start with Chapters 1-4 of the critical exegesis. Ideally, the screenplay should be read after Chapter 4 and before Chapter 5. This is indicated in the text.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:screenwriting; film; cinema; creative practice; orientalism; japan
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30896
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:22 Jun 2018 08:50
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:04


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