The Female Hero: The Research-led Screenplay

by Sophia Riley Kobacker


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Sophia Riley Kobacker at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 1st May 2018. Sophia’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Natalie Krikowa and involving the audience present on the day.

SOPHIA RILEY KOBACKER, Media Researcher and Creative Practice PhD Candidate, earned a BA-Media (2014) and Master of Research (2016) in Macquarie University’s Media Dept. (MMCCS), where she is a proud member of the Walanga Muru Indigenous community. Sophia has studied writing for film and television at NIDA and AFTRS in Sydney, published several short stories and directed short films. Her feature-length screenplay, Little Bit Long Way, is set in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region: A lost orphan, hunted by brutal and corrupt miners, sets out on a thrilling adventure across the Australian desert in search of her new home

The three stages in mythologist Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey narrative model have proven highly adaptable to the three-act screenplay structure, and, like Vladimir Propp’s character functions, are widely referenced in the humanities. Yet, filmmakers have applied the unique narrative model generated by Campbell’s work almost exclusively to masculine heroes in blockbuster films. Theorists have yet to agree upon a settled Female Hero narrative model which embraces Joseph Campbell’s mythological emphasis. My research addresses this gap by creating and demonstrating a socially constructive, culturally resonant narrative model for the contemporary, mythologically-based Female Hero’s Journey in screen narrative.

By engaging with existing knowledge in experimental development, my research constructs a new narrative template that can be applied by screenwriters in the writing of feature-length fictional screenplays that feature a Female Hero as protagonist. This valuable new narrative template is designed to support the box office success of future female-protagonist-led films. Using the screenplay for Little Bit Long Way as an example, this paper discusses how the new narrative model, devised through my research, can be overlayed upon the structure of an original screenplay to tell the story of a more authentic Female Hero’s Journey.

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