Lucy Drives a Car: art cinema and dramedy as a framework for the practice of screenwriting


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Capó Valdivia, Jordi ORCID: (2022). Lucy Drives a Car: art cinema and dramedy as a framework for the practice of screenwriting. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This practice-based PhD explores the writing process for an original screenplay titled Lucy Drives a Car, a 65 page script written within the style and sensibilities of art cinema combined with dramedy, a genre that blends both drama and comedy. The thesis carries out a detailed analysis of selected screenplay fragments from the film Ratcatcher (1999), and the television series Atlanta (2016-18). Both of these objects of study illustrate how the narrative modes of art cinema and dramedy function at a creative, formal and practical level. This allowed me to determine how I could incorporate these film narrative modes into my screenplay.

The introduction of the essay examines the predominant features of art cinema and dramedy, and presents an overview of Ratcatcher and Atlanta that outlines how these narrative trends are used. The key research question, separated into four key aims, is introduced and the methodology implemented to achieve each of them is explained.

Chapter One investigates Ratcatcher’s narrative structure, and carries out a deeper analysis of its ‘James and Margaret Anne’ storyline. It distinguishes the plot’s narrative elements and how they are used to imbue emotional significance to unimportant events. Specific sections from the screenplay are studied to resolve how they convey the film’s melancholic mood, and how the script communicates the character’s feelings with minimal use of dialogue. Other strategies, such as the handling of open and unresolved narratives, the implementation of ellipsis, the use of close ups, and how it conveys an ambiguous sense of time are also analysed.

Atlanta is examined in Chapter Two with the analysis of the series’ comedy and drama elements. It discusses how the show comments upon social themes within relatable, everyday situations, and how it handles surrealist elements in hyper realistic settings. A scene by scene analysis of the Streets On Lock episode examines the series’ blend of societal observations with comedic moments, and how this combination may be both copious and nuanced.

Chapter Three looks into the writing process of the Lucy Drives a Car screenplay which deals with the emotional repercussions of a family trying to continue with their daily lives after the disappearance of a loved one. It examines the development of the early story ideas from a plot-driven narrative to an art cinema style, and the use of a free writing approach that highlights character development. It also discusses narrative qualities, including the use of commonplace situations, surrealist elements and how the screenplay attempts to present social commentaries without infringing on the audience.

The fundamental ideas framed in this research are the detailed analysis of selected screenplay texts. This analysis, performed at a granular level, aids the comprehension of the narrative strategies found within specific scenes, yet it is an uncommon method in screenplay studies. The thesis also delves into seemingly uneventful story situations to develop deeper meaning within the mundane. Furthermore, it explores how humour can expound on a film's themes and accentuate a story's dramatic elements. The findings within this thesis may be useful for screenwriters that develop scripts in the art cinema or dramedy style.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of Film and Creative Writing
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Universidad de Guadalajara
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater


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