1st Edition

The Screenwriter Activist
Writing Social Issue Movies

ISBN 9780415897150
Published July 3, 2012 by Routledge
200 Pages

USD $44.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Hotel Rwanda. Philadelphia.  Silkwood. Some of the most important films ever made have tackled real-world social issues, from genocide to homophobia to corporate greed. As storytellers, activist screenwriters recognize that social issues make great stories that can be gut-wrenching, heart-tugging, funny, tragic, and interesting to watch. The Screenwriter Activist helps screenwriters tell those stories in compelling, non-preachy, and inspiring ways.

The Screenwriter Activist is an in-depth, practical guide, appropriate for students in intermediate or graduate screenwriting courses in Film and English Programs as well as professionals who want to write a movie that can make a difference in the world. Using examples from classic and recent popular films, The Screenwriter Activist:

  • Explores the motivation and sensibility a screenwriter needs to embark on a social issue project
  • Gives techniques for choosing compelling subjects
  • Provides historical context for social issue movies
  • Explains how characters legitimize social issue themes
  • Puts forward specific models for structuring advocacy screenplays
  • Lays out a roadmap for how screenwriters can get a social issue movie made

If you care deeply about social issues and recognize that films can be highly effective platforms for motivativng audiences to civic involvement and social action, this is the one screenwriting book you need to read.

Table of Contents


1. Motivation

2. Taking Action

3. Inspiration

4. Character

5. On the Shoulders of Giants

6. True or False

7. Plan of Attack

8. Research

9. Getting it Made


View More



Marilyn Beker is the Senior Screenwriting Professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the author of Screenwriting With A Conscience: Ethics for Screenwriters. She has written extensively for all forms of media—especially television and film and lectures internationally on screenwriting.


'Through her analysis and insight, Marilyn Beker inspires screenwriters to produce transformational, uplifting stories, stories that have lasting value. This book is essential reading for those writers who aspire to write screenplays with the power to make just this kind of positive, global impact.'

—Leslie Kreiner Wilson, Director, MFA Program in Writing for Screen & Television, Pepperdine University

'Beker’s The Screenwriter Activist offers much more than the usual rehash of standard screenwriting advice. Her inventive narrative models offer the writer seven systematically designed plans for crafting believable, relevant, and pointed advocacy screenplays.' —J. Dennis Bounds, Associate Professor of Cinema-TV, Regent University

'A step-by-step guide on how to write "social issue" films, this insightful, wonderfully crafted text provides screenwriters with a must-have tool for their writer's toolbox. Laid out in an easy to navigate format, the book not only demonstrates how to develop a social issue film through cleverly designed models but also provides myriad examples and how-to exercises. In addition, Beker (screenwriting, Loyola Marymount Univ.) examines and analyzes various social issue films, ranging from Casablanca to Hotel Rwanda, to illustrate how her models and techniques translate to the screen. With social justice and community activism at an all-time high, Beker's text proves timely, especially for screenwriters wishing to use their writing skills to make a difference in the world. Though not every writer will be interested in social issue films, the techniques Beker outlines translate easily to other film genres. This is an excellent resource for any screenwriter interested in learning more about the craft. Summing Up: Highly recommended.' —A. F. Winstead, CHOICE