Hi. My name’s J.T. Velikovsky PhD – I’m a million-selling Transmedia Writer-Producer-Director (i.e. Films, Games, TV, Comix, Novels, Theater).
*        *        *

JT Velikovsky

*        *        *
JTV PhD grad photo 2017 - graded
Dr JT Velikovsky Ph.D graduating at University of Newcastle, in 2017.
More on my Transmedia writing is also, here: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
*        *        *
 My 2016 PhD thesis is on Film / Screenwriting / Transmedia,
StoryAlity PhD coverpage
and is free online, here.
(“doxa” just means: `orthodoxy’, or the accepted wisdom, or the way screenwriting is taught.)
Anyone interested in – or who is in the movie business – (and especially screenwriters, directors, producers, actors) would benefit from the consilient scientific research in it.
*        *        *
In the research study for my 2016 PhD, I was aiming to solve a `hard’ problem. Namely:

The “Less-Than-1%” Problem, in Movies.

The problem has 3 parts to it:

(1) 98% of screenplays go unmade… (Ouch.)

(2) Of the 2% of movie screenplays that ARE made, only 30% of them break even, (i.e., actually make a Return on Investment – aka, a `profit’ – as a movie.)

(3) This ultimately means: There is a [0.6, of 1%] chanceof any given screenplay `succeeding’ as a film, other things being equal, and where “success” is defined as a `break-even’ film.

Below is a diagram that may help to explain the problem.

In one way, it is indeed a very simple Problem:


The Less-Than-1% Problem in the domain of Movies (Velikovsky 2014)

The Less-Than-1% Problem in the domain of Movies (Velikovsky 2014)

And this simple Domain Problem in Movies thus leads to a very-simple Research Question:
Why are some Screenplays, and some Movies, successful –
and many more others, not?
Also, if you want a really simple answer to the question:
Just write – and make – and release – a movie, that many people will like.
The next question there is:
Why do people like some things (e.g. say, some stories, some screenplays, some movies) and, not others?
For answers to what people like we need to investigate: Human Nature.
And The Systems Model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2014) – which as it happens is the same evolutionary mechanism as in Evolutionary Epistemology (Popper 1963, DT Campbell 1974).
To investigate Human Nature, we can turn to extant knowledge in the domain of Evolutionary Psychology.
See: Prof Joseph Carroll’s model of Human Nature, derived from the domain of Ev Psych, for example, in the Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (Buss 2005).
A model of Human Nature (Carroll in Buss 2005, p.941)

A model of Human Nature (Carroll in Buss 2005, p.941)

We then need to examine both the successful films – and the unsuccessful films – in the light of human evolutionary psychology and also evolutionary sociology and evolutionary culture.
Consilience pancake stack JTV 2018
And the best way to do that is via the systems theory model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996) combined with Bourdieu’s practice theory of cultural production (1977-1996) and Evolutionary Epistemology (Popper, D T Campbell).
So, most simply: we examine the top 20 most-viral – and the bottom 20 (least viral) films – and work out how they’re different (i.e., common elements, and differences in the 2 sets of data) and, why people did – or, didn’t – like them.
StoryAlity Theory - Comparing the Top and Bottom 20 RoI Films (Velikovsky 2014)

StoryAlity Theory – Comparing the Top and Bottom 20 RoI Films (Velikovsky 2014)

And – a more accurate way to illustrate these statistics, is as follows:
This all leads us into Evolutionary Epistemology (e.g. Karl Popper, DT Campbell, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, etc.), or How units of culture – ideas, processes, and products (or, “memes”) – spread in culture, and, How we know what we know, in Culture (i.e., in Science and the Arts, in Language, and even, actually, in Religion, and especially in: Movies).
See also: Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014).
This then leads us to Memetics (e.g.: Csikszentmihalyi 1985, 1996, and Richard Dawkins 1976, 1982, and Daniel Dennett 1995, on: Why are some ideas/”memes”, more viral in culture? How does that actually work?)
And: How do they work?
See: a post on Evolutionary Culturology (Velikovsky 2017) and see the Evolutionary Culturology weblog (2017-2022)
Once we examine all of that, specifically regarding Stories (narratives, or `narremes’), and Movie Screenplays, and, Movies – in the light of Human Nature, and Human Culture – and, of Bio-Cultural Evolution – we finally come up with some empirical scientific answers, which result in: 30 x Guidelines for Aspiring Screenwriters and/or Filmmakers of High-RoI (or, highly-viral in culture) Movies.
The title and topic of my 2016 doctoral thesis was: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema.
StoryAlity PhD coverpage
The reason for that specific title is – here is one way I like to view, the medium of Film (or: `Movies):
Creativity - through to Film

Creativity > Narratology > Screenwriting > Film


That is to say, I see Storytelling (or, Narratology, if you prefer) as a subset of: Creativity. But creativity applies to all domains in culture, namely any unit of culture (idea, process, product) that is judged new, useful, and surprising by consensus in the Field [producers and consumers: audience] for that Domain in Culture. In this case, we are examining the cultural Domain of Cinema.
I also see Screenwriting as a subset of Storytelling (Narratology). I see Screenplays as `Screen Ideas’ (see Dr Ian W. Macdonald’s excellent 2004 PhD thesis, and also, his more recent (2014) book on Poetics of Screenwriting for more detail).
And, finally, in the Domain of Cinema, there are: Films (Movies) – including, the practices of how they were actually created, (the creative: person, process, product, and place) and, thus – we are now back to Creativity again. i.e., How creativity works
Importantly – all of the 3 key Domains in the diagram above (1. Story; 2. Screenplay; 3. Movies) involve: Creativity.
A creativeunit of culture is: a successfulunit of culture! (i.e., New, useful, & surprising!)
…Consider the opposite: …Would you really want to see, a movie that was judged (by, your friends who know and share your tastes), as: (1) derivative/cliched/an obvious “rip-off” (i.e., not: new/fresh/original), and useless (not: effective/useful, as a movie, not worth your time and money and opportunity-cost), and predictable (not: surprising) ? 
For creativity, we turn to the scientific study of Creativity, in the domains of Psychology and Sociology.
(See these standard Creativity Science texts, for example.)
Perhaps, most importantly:
`Creativity is not what most people think it is.’ (McIntyre 2012, p.3).
I’ve also posted about some of the key concepts in (`big-c’) Creativity, here:


On Creativity:

  1. StoryAlity #6 – What is Creativity and How Does It Work?
  2. StoryAlity #6B – Flow Theory, Creativity and Happiness
  3. StoryAlity #7 – On “the 10-Year Rule” and Creativity
  4. StoryAlity #8 – More on the 10-Year Rule” and Creativity
  5. StoryAlity #9 – How To Be More Creative
  6. StoryAlity #9B – Creativity in Science (and – The Arts, and Film)
  7. StoryAlity #10 – About The Creative Personality
  8. StoryAlity #11 – Wallas and the Creative Process
  9. StoryAlity #12 – Combining Practice Theory – and the Systems Model of Creativity
  10. StoryAlity #13- Creativity and Solved Domain Problems
  11. StoryAlity #14 – On some Romantic myths of Creativity
  12. StoryAlity #14B – Creativity – the missing link between “The Two Cultures”
  13. StoryAlity #14C – Two Crucial American Psychological Association speeches: J P Guilford (1950) and D T Campbell (1975).

So – the thesis and dissertation (and, this StoryAlity research blog) examines all of the above concepts and domains (i.e.: Creativity, Narratology, Screenwriting, Film) in more detail.


StoryAlity PhD coverpage

Click the link (the image above) to go to the free PDF of the PhD.

I know that it all seems very complex and convoluted – and, deep – but that’s actually the thing:
Did we expect that the many and complex reasons that some films succeed and others fail, to be: simple-?
If it were indeed simple, (or even: easy) then: 100% of movies would be successful, 100% of the time. And, this problem would not exist in the domain of film. (Yet it does.)

The “Less-Than-1%” Problem – in Screenplays and Movies (Velikovsky 2014)

As, quite clearly, in `the real world’: Less than 1%of Screenplays that become Movies, are successful.
So, this thesis (and research blog) looks at:Why. And – at How you (as, a screenwriter and / or filmmaker) can use that information, in your own professional (and/or, academic) practice.
*        *        *
The conceptual overview of the thesis is like so:
A synthesis of theoretical lenses for examining creativity in the domain of movie story (Velikovsky 2014)

A synthesis of theoretical lenses for examining creativity in the domain of movie story (Velikovsky 2014)

So, Systems Theory, and holon-parton theory underpins all of the above Domains.

So, that’s a summary of: my conceptual framework.
*        *        *
By way of some brief background to my past work, previously (i.e., four times, from 1995-2011), I published The Feature Screenwriter’s Workbook (2011)a literature summary of around 100 popular books on Screenwriting. The Workbook (2011) is used in many universities and film schools to teach film screenwriting, and there are also over a million copies of it on the web. Though it is free, if you’re a screenwriter, you may even want to (buy and) read all the screenwriting texts within it; they are all great in various ways (though – they also have their drawbacks; much like, anything.)
Feature Screenwriters Wkbk cover

The Feature Screenwriter’s Workbook (Velikovsky 2011)

Some Background to the Research Question, ie Towards Solving The Real-World Problem of `the Less Than 1% Problem in Movies’:
It was in 1995, at Film School (AFTRS) while studying Screenwriting / Filmmaking / Media / VideoGames, that I first started thinking about and formulating the research questions/problems that I examine in my thesis.
I kept wondering:  
Why were there over 100 books on Screenwriting? (Now, there are over 2,500 books on it…)
Why did they each use a different `system’?
– Why did some of them contradict each other?
– What were the film/screenplay data-sets they each used?
– Why didn’t they use a consilient (scientific and empirical) research method, in coming up with their `theories’ and their film story / screenplay `systems’?
– If they were called `screenplay systems’ then, Why weren’t they actual proper `systems’? (In terms of Systems Theory, e.g. von Bertalanffy, 1950, Laszlo 1972, etc)
The reasons later became clear; I believe that it traces back to C.P. Snow’s famous 1959 essay `The Two Cultures’ (regarding, the deplorable `split’, between science, and the arts)…
Thankfully, in 1998 E O Wilson published Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, and it appears that things are well and truly back on track now. – As it has been a huge influence on my thinking, I should point also towards Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd’s work on `cost-benefit ratios, in the Arts’ (see for example, his excellent On The Origin of Stories, 2009, and see also, his chapter on Speigelman in the excellent Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader, 2010).
So, I finally got around to applying to do a Masters Thesis on this Research Question (“the Less-Than-1%” Problem in Movies) at the RMIT (in Melbourne, Australia) in 2006 – i.e.: A study of the Top 20 RoI (Return on Investment) Films – and the common story/screenplay patterns within them. I was actually accepted into the RMIT Masters program – however – before I even began, Life got in the way; I got busy with other projects (making movies, games, novels, etc), and I had to put it aside, for a while…
But – having worked constantly as a professional story/screenplay analyst for over 20 years, it was also clear that `the Problem‘ never went away.
i.e.: Why didn’t the movie studios know, what would be a successful story/film in advance? Why did 7 in 10 movies lose money? Why was Aristotle’s `Poetics’, from 2200 years before the invention of Cinema, still used as `guidelines’ for “good” film drama…?
Since Philosophy is about Questioning Accepted Truths… This (questioning everything in the Domain of Film Screenwriting) is precisely what I found myself doing.
Even as a produced (and award-winning) feature film screenwriter, `the Problem‘ still kept nagging at me.
The answers include (a) They are indeed “hard” problems, and (b) The screenwriting convention has not been consilient (due to the problem of “the two cultures”, where Art is seen as separate to Science).
*        *        *
So – finally, in 2012, I once again decided to tackle this Hard Problem – and all of these `unanswered questions’ – and this time, within the rigorous academic framework of a formal doctoral study.
And so thus – in my doctoral research, (and my evolving thesis) I look at:Creativity – and, specifically, How Fiction Feature Films (i.e., Movies) are created.
The core Research Question is: “Why do some movies go viral?”
i.e., What makes them so popular?
– And what does that mean, for filmmakers/screenwriters?
(And also, by extrapolation, even for novelists, musicians and visual artists…)
In short: What – empirically – makes a great film story?
The answer is not what you’d expect, but like many great stories (given Aristotle’s notion of Peripety and Anagnorisis – or the critical moment of recognition and discovery) – it has a great twist at the end…
And it also involves:the Anna Karenina principle.
In the meantime, I am sharing some of my research – and thoughts – here, on this StoryAlity Doctoral Research Weblog.
Also – by way of some further explanation, my research is consilient (and therefore interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary), involving an intersection (or combination, or, bisociation) of: The Arts and Science.

Storyology (and StoryAlity) – at the intersection of the Arts and the Sciences

And, another way to summarize my research is:
I use the theory of Evolution (see: Evocriticism, and Laszlo's Systems Theory), and Bourdieu's practice theory, combined with Csikszentmihalyi's systems model of Creativity, and Narratology techniques (since Plato) and holon-parton theory (Velikovsky 2013) - to explain why the top 20 RoI films emerged in the domain of narrative fiction feature films, why they were the most viral film story Memes, and what that all means for screenwriters/filmmakers, in practice.
In short – the underlying question for movie creatives, is:
How do you write (and: make) a movie – that is more likely to go viral, and therefore – to reach the widest possible audience?
Importantly, this doctoral research / project of enquiry / approach, assumes that: movie storytellers tell film stories with the aim of communicating their message to the widest possible audience, no matter what their movie budget.
Therefore – the movies that have empirically done this, in the past (the 20 most, and also the 20 least, viral movies) are examined and compared – as well as 20 other `control’ movies. (As above, for more, see Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd‘s brilliant work on `cost-benefit ratios’ in art.)
By contrast – any given set of 20 (say) Oscar-winning films are not necessarily the most virulent films in culture, when their artistic (and also thus, production) budgets are compared to their audience-reach (i.e. using the RoI metric). Also, many critically-acclaimed (and/or award-winning) films also lose money, and are also not the most virulent. (See: Nash Information Services 1997-2012) (That is also not to say that, they aren’t great films.)
So, for (essentially – more or less) the chapter-and-subject headings of my thesis, see:The Index of Posts On This StoryAlity Blog. – If you read the posts in order (starting with this one that you’re currently reading, i.e. post #1) you’ll likely be taken, step-by-step, through my argument, the methodology and the evidence – and most importantly, some of the key findings of the research study.
In short: How To Increase the Probability of Writing/Creating A Viral Feature Film
And for more details of the theoretical underpinnings of the entire StoryAlity theory, see the page on Creative Practice Theory.
The Top 20 RoI Films - StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2013)

The Top 20 RoI Films – StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

A Summary of my StoryAlity Thesis Argument:

 “STORYALITY THEORY: Story and Screenwriting, Movies and Memes: Examining the Top Twenty Return-on-Investment (RoI) Movies using Systems Theory, Creativity Theory, and Applied Bio-Cultural Evolutionary Epistemology” – Summary (by JT Velikovsky) 

Problem: Less than 1 percent of screenplays become movies that break even.

Question: How were the top 20 most successful (in terms of artistic cost-benefit ratio*) films, created?

(`Benefit’ is here defined as audience-reach/production-cost ratio, aka `virality’.) * (See also (Boyd 2009) on cost-benefit ratios in art.)

With regard to the “Less-Than-1%” Problem, two key real-world problems in the domain of film are that

(a) 70% of films lose money,[1]


(b) 98% of screenplays go unmade.[2]

Given that feature films are a relatively expensive art form,[3] a financially-unsuccessful film also reduces the probability of the financing of subsequent films for the same creatives (screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, etc).[4] Mastering most `big-c’ Creative[5] domains takes ten years on average,[6] and thus a key real-world problem for filmmakers is: investing around ten years in learning the art and craft of filmmaking, to then `fail’ with a first attempt.

The extant research literature reveals that the reason a film succeeds – in terms of relative audience-reach – is the story alone, and that success is not correlated with (or `caused’ by) factors such as Marketing, or Stars (A-list actors), or other factors aside from the Story.[7]

Successful film stories are viral memes (Dawkins 1976, Dennett 1995, et al).

The logical steps of the thesis argument is, as follows:

(1) Screenwriting is a sub-domain of Film.

(2) Screenwriting and Film are acts of Creativity [8]

(3) Creativity (and, Evolution) works similarly in biology and culture, and in Science and the Arts (Simonton 2011, Csikszentmihalyi 1996, Koestler 1964, 1978, Campbell DT 1974).

(4) In order to create a film that goes viral, a study the 20 most-viral films (i.e. holons, see Koestler 1964, 1967, 1978) in history is herein undertaken, examining the common elements in their creative (a) persons (b) processes (c) products (d) places, with a focus on: story. Systems Theory applies, given: the systems model of Creativity.

(5) We thus arrive at: `possible winning strategies’ for filmmakers (not any guarantee, but rather: probabilities).

(6) Principles of how to create a `good’ story (one that the target audience will like) date to Plato and Aristotle, but such principles, to date, have not been consilient (scientific and empirical).

(7) `Consilience’ (Wilson 1998) showed the unification of knowledge: the Sciences, Social Sciences and the Arts/Humanities, is historically inevitable.

(8) Evocriticism[9] is a `new’ (1995) bio-cultural consilient paradigm which uses Science to examine and analyse the Arts – however `the screenwriting convention’ (or: How film screenwriting is taught)[10] has not yet comprehensively integrated the scientific study of `big-c’ Creativity – nor has Narratology (or, Theory of Story) been consilient in general, apart from in the domain of Evocriticism, and the Empirical Study of the Arts.

(9) From a bio-psycho-socio-geo-politico-cultural,post-positivist critical-realist perspective, we can see that there are 30 different common elements in the top 20 RoI (most viral) films, absent in the bottom 20 RoI (least-viral films).

And finally:

(10) The resulting Guidelines (herein called StoryAlity Theory) for film Creatives potentially can result in more sustainable film careers, in an extremely-competitive artistic environment – where 98% of screenplays go unmade and of the 2% made, 70% of those films then do not reach a wide enough audience, to avoid losing money, thus only 1% of screenplays have a chance of becoming a successful movie.

Q: How to improve the odds? A: See: StoryAlity Theory.



When some readers learn that this dissertation is “A study of big-C Creativity in the top 20 RoI films“:

(1) Some People assume: this is perhaps some kind of  `get-rich-quick scheme’; It is in fact, almost the opposite. Most importantly, see `the 10-year rule’ in Creativity (eg Hayes 1989, Simonton 2011). (Notably, these top 20 RoI filmmakers almost-all struggled in poverty, for many years. `Big-c’ Creativity is hard, and, often thankless work; yet see also: `Flow’ theory, Csikszentmihalyi 1975, 1990, 1996.)

(2) People tend to assume: The top 20 RoI films – given their titles (and, often without yet even seeing them) – are perhaps or even probably, all `mindless Hollywood blockbusters’. Yet very surprisingly, 17 of the top 20 RoI films are in fact, independent films. The sequels to these films however, were usually indeed: mindless Hollywood blockbusters (or, flops!). Those subsequent films (the sequels) appear to tend to colour readers’ perceptions of the original films. (Yet – had the original films not been so successful in the first place, obviously their less-impressive sequels would not exist.)

(3) Some people also tend to assume: that – `RoI’ (or, Return on Investment) simply means: `Money’. It does not. It rather means:`cost/benefit’ ratio, for a creative artist, in terms of audience-reach, for their Story (see: Boyd 2009). Also, ironically, the cinema exhibitors, studios, distributors and producers usually got most of the profits from these top 20 RoI films; and not necessarily the Creatives (the writers, directors, actors, etc).

(4) People assume: causes such as: Marketing, `Stars’, Merchandising, Timing, Cultural Zeitgeist, etc., are relevant to creative success, in film; they in fact are not. The extant literature – and also this, top 20 RoI study provides evidence. (This particular dataset also hasn’t been examined for Story / Creativity before.)

(5) Most importantly: `Creativity‘ is actually, not what most people assume it is. (See for e.g.: McIntyre 2012) Therefore, many of the findings of this study of movie success are also counterintuitive, and, surprising.


For the above 5 reasons – i.e. due to assumptions that are often initially made by most readers – it is not until an actual read-through of  the entire blog (or, the PhD thesis / dissertation), and absorbing all the evidence presented, that most people come to understand (a) What it is saying ; (b) Why; and (c) What it all then means, as a consequence.

Consequently, to date, my biggest time-expenditure (in talking to anyone about the thesis itself – unless they simply first, read the entire dissertation) is usually spent removing all of those incorrect assumptions, first. (A problem of: ontology and epistemology…!)


Then there are three other issues typically encountered, and, typically in need of addressing:

(1) The next issue is explaining Evocriticism (e.g. On The Origin of Stories, Boyd 2009), and `Literary Darwinism’ (1995). This approach is, (ironically), the opposite of what most people assume it to be when they see those two words placed together (e.g., `Literary’ and `Darwinism’). (Many people usually, and understandably, jump to many incorrect conclusions.)

(2) An erroneous assumption of `reductionism’ and also, `determinism’. – These are both the complete opposite of, this bio-psycho-socio-geo-politico-cultural approach. There are a great many explanations within the evocrticism literature, as to why it is not simply `reductionist’ (see, just for example, the first 3 pages of, Boyd 2009, On The Origin of Stories).

(3) The third key concept is, this approach, of:post-positivist critical realism. This is very much the philosophy of Sir Karl Popper. This approach also takes some explaining, i.e. See:http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/positvsm.php (Although, that page does not even mention Popper.

As Brian Boyd (2014) has noted:

`Popper has been expunged from the record there [in the US] but his ideas either lifted or, in straw-man versions, critiqued: he destroyed the logical positivists in the 1930s; he made critical rationalism the label of his own position (although I would have proposed to him creative rationalism, which I think he might have accepted: since he defines rationalism as openness to criticism, “critical rationalism” is pleonastic, and his real emphasis is on the creative imagination’s bold moves, which we then subject to rational criticism); and he was a lifelong champion of realism, including in his book Realism and the Aim of Science.’

(Boyd 2014, personal communication)

So, as we can see, one key problem with doing new research is – by definition, nobody else much knows about it, and thus, all the resulting assumptions (such as, all of the above) that first, need to be reversed. Importantly, Bayes’ Theorem also applies: i.e.: People changing (and even reversing) their opinion, on the basis of new information and evidence.

A key quote from this thesis on the creative person, process, product and place, in film:

`Hard-headed science puts the creative process at the very center of the motion picture universe… There is no reason for management to get in the way of the creative process.

Character, creativity and good storytelling trump everything else.

(De Vany 2004: 6)

The various nested domains of the interdisciplinary thesis, in the discipline of Communications, are therefore:

Consilience > Creativity > Biology > Culture > Cultural Evolution > Narratology > Screenwriting > Filmmaking > Memetics.

Nested domains of the StoryAlity Thesis

Nested domains of the StoryAlity Thesis

Key philosophers referenced in the thesis are:Ervin Laszlo, Daniel C Dennett and Arthur Koestler, and on (big -c) Creativity: DK Simonton, M Csikszentmihalyi, RK Sawyer, P Bourdieu, J Carroll, B Boyd, J Gottschall, EO Wilson. Key journals include:Journal of Screenwriting, and Scientific Study of Literature journal. Key film theorists include David Bordwell, and various film theorists in Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader (2010).

And the Epistemology of the research is: Evolutionary Epistemology, or the Popperian (and D T Campbell) view. Which is also, the Systems Model of Creativity (1988-2015).

From my (2016) thesis:

The learning process itself can also be seen as a systems-cybernetic process. Lovelock (1995) states:
“The attainment of any skill, whether it be in cooking, painting, writing,(135) talking or playing tennis, is all a matter of cybernetics. We aim at doing our best and making as few mistakes as possible; we compare our efforts with this goal and learn by experience; and we polish and refine our performance by constant endeavour until we are satisfied that we are as near to optimum achievement as we can ever reach. This process is well called learning by trial and error.” (Lovelock 1995, p. 47).

This understanding can be applied to integrating tacit knowledge and also Bourdieu’s habitus [`a feel for the game’, developed by a creative person over their lifetime] into learning successful screenwriting.

This “learning by trial-and-error” is also equivalent to the scientific method, or the process of: (1) theory (expectation), (2) trial (experiment), and then, (3) if required: error-correction.

In this Popperian view, all of life (i.e., all biological matter) is not merely problem-solving (see: All Life Is Problem Solving, Popper 1999) but also all of life – as an experience, including the tasks of writing a screenplay and making a movie – is also, informally: “doing science”.(136)

Velikovsky (PhD thesis, 2016, pp. 86-7)




De Vany, Arthur S. (2004), Hollywood Economics: How Extreme Uncertainty Shapes The Film Industry (Contemporary political economy series; London ; New York: Routledge) xvii, 308 p.

Gorny, Eugene (2007, 2014), ‘Dictionary of Creativity: The ten-year rule’, Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research<http://creativity.netslova.ru/Ten-year_rule.html>, accessed 27th Feb 2015.

Lovelock, J. (1995). Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth. Oxford Oxfordshire; New York: Oxford University Press.

Macdonald, Ian W. (2004), ‘The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-making (PhD Dissertation)’, (Leeds Metropolitan University).

Simonton, Dean Keith (2013), ‘What is a creative idea? Little-c versus Big-C creativity’, in Kerry Thomas and Janet Chan (eds.), Handbook of Research on Creativity (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing), 69-83.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema: A comparative study of the top 20 Return-on-Investment (RoI) Movies and the Doxa of Screenwriting’. PhD Thesis, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1324018

Vogel, Harold L. (2011), Entertainment Industry Economics – A Guide For Financial Analysis (8th edn.; New York: Cambridge University Press) xxii, 655 p.



[1] Harold L. Vogel, Entertainment Industry Economics – a Guide for Financial Analysis (8th edn.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011) xxii, 655 p.

[2] Ian W. Macdonald, ‘The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-Making (Phd Dissertation)’, (Leeds Metropolitan University, 2004).

[3] Feature films usually cost $7,000 or more (see the films: Primer 2004, El Mariachi 1993).

[4]  `Creatives’ here refers to key film creatives, such as writers, directors, producers, and actors.

[5] See: Dean Keith Simonton, ‘What Is a Creative Idea? Little-C Versus Big-C Creativity’, in Kerry Thomas and Janet Chan (eds.), Handbook of Research on Creativity (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013), 69-83.

[6] Eugene Gorny, ‘Dictionary of Creativity: The Ten-Year Rule’, Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research http://creativity.netslova.ru/Ten-year_rule.html, accessed 27th Feb 2014.

[7] Arthur S. De Vany, Hollywood Economics: How Extreme Uncertainty Shapes the Film Industry (Contemporary Political Economy Series; London ; New York: Routledge, 2004) xvii, 308 p. at 6.

[8] See the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988) and also, practice theory (Bourdieu 1993).

[9] For evocriticism, see Brian Boyd (2009), Joseph Carroll (1995), Jon Gottschall (2008) et al.

[10] For an excellent summary of `the screenwriting convention’ see: Macdonald, ‘The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-Making (PhD Dissertation)’, (2004).

And so, some key points that (I currently believe) are “new contributions to knowledge” from the thesis:
5) The StoryAlity High RoI Film/Story/Screenplay Structural Syntagm (and in fact, almost all of the data and research findings, in blog posts #50-#55)
6) A new interpretation of the monomyth: StoryAlity #73 – The `hero’s journey’ monomyth: It’s Not What You Think
Also, I would note that this Top 20 RoI – and Bottom 20 RoI Films, data set has not been used previously in any published study of successful film story structures.
– This also may sound obvious (in hindsight), but: looking at (identifying) The Top 20 RoI films data-set as the 20 most viral film stories – is itself, a new way of looking at Story.
Also, it should be clarified – in this context, film `Story’ includes:Premise, Character/s, Plot/s, Themes/, Structure, Dialog, Tone, Voice, POV, Style, Storyworld.
Also – I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that anyone else has yet identified the following three current (and long-standing) problems – as the two key domain problems in screenwriting – that:
1) 7 in 10 films lose money, (see Vogel 2011) and
2) 98% of screenplays presented for production go unmade (see: Macdonald 2004)
Leading to:
3) The “Less than 1%” Problem.
Most (if not all) people in the domain of film appear to (very reluctantly) accept this state of affairs. But – if you are a working, professional screenwriter, trying to make a living in the film business – you will very soon encounter these two very serious real-world problems. – You don’t even have to go looking for them, as… they will find you!
So – If you are a professional screenwriter, a student of cinema, or even just a fan of movies – I hope that this research blog is informative, interesting, entertaining and enjoyable. – It is intended for a general (not merely an academic) audience.
…Comments – and Feedback – on this Blog are of course, always extremely welcome.
And – I am always interested to hear from other scholars (or screenwriters, filmmakers, movie fans – anyone) who are also researching / interested in this area.
*        *        *
You think this is a GAME?

And now – on with the show…!

In my view the best published academic book chapter to emerge from my thesis was this one:
There is also a PDF of it online, here (free download, for academic purposes).
…Thanks for reading!
Dr Joe T Velikovsky (PhD, Communication)
High-RoI Film/Story/Screenplay/Transmedia Analyst
The above is an adapted excerpt from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema” It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting and filmmaking researchers.


JT Velikovsky is a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/


14 thoughts on “StoryAlity #1 – About my Doctoral Research on Film / Screenwriting / Transmedia

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #15: The `Screen-writing Con-vention’ – Defects of the present view | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity 17.2 – On the Death of Cinema | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity #22 – So – What Actually Makes A Movie Successful? | StoryAlity

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity #50 – The StoryAlity Screenplay Syntagm | StoryAlity

  5. Pingback: StoryAlity #51 – The StoryAlity High-ROI Film Story and Screenplay Checklist | StoryAlity

  6. Pingback: StoryAlity #53 – Patterns In The Top-20 ROI Films: Frequency | StoryAlity

  7. Pingback: StoryAlity #40: Is Screen-writing in a pre-Science state? | StoryAlity

  8. Pingback: StoryAlity #27 – Narratology since Plato – a Brief Lit Review | StoryAlity

  9. Pingback: StoryAlity #116 – StoryAlity Theory @ `Interventions and Intersections’ 2014 (UWS PG Conference) | StoryAlity

  10. Pingback: StoryAlity #70B – The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (Capra and Luisi 2014) | StoryAlity

  11. Pingback: StoryAlity#148 – Why’s movie screenwriting so tricky? | StoryAlity

  12. Pingback: StoryAlity #27 – Narratology since Plato – a Brief Lit Review | StoryAlity

  13. Pingback: StoryAlity #148A – Evolutionary Culturology (Velikovsky 2017) | StoryAlity

  14. Pingback: StoryAlity #160 – Reply to `Why are Australian films now so unpopular?’ | StoryAlity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.