Call for Proposals: “TRUTH AND SOUL: THE FILMS OF ROBERT DOWNEY, SR.”

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Temporary Cover Art by Scott Campbell

Spectacular Optical Publications (www.spectacularoptical.ca) is a small-press publisher of cult film and pop culture books based in Canada. Following our earlier anthologies KID POWER! (2014), SATANIC PANIC: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (2015), LOST GIRLS: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017) and YULETIDE TERROR: Christmas Horror on Film and Television (2017), we are accepting proposals for essays and interviews for our sixth book (and fifth anthology project), tentatively titled “Truth and Soul: The Films of Robert Downey, Sr.” to be curated by Kier-La Janisse and Clint Enns.

Guidelines for Proposals:

We are accepting proposals for essays or interviews of 3000-5000 words relating to the work of Robert Downey, Sr. Essays can focus on a specific film, offer a comparative study of several films, or offer overarching analyses reflecting upon the social or political themes found in the films. We are looking for unique readings of Downey’s films that explore the historical context in which they were made, the legacy and influence of his work both in the mainstream and avant-garde, analysis of the race, class, and gender politics found therein (especially in relation to Downey’s subversive humour) and more. We are looking for writing that provides other Downey enthusiasts with new ways of thinking about his work.

The writing and tone of Spectacular Optical books aims to live in that space between academic and pop cultural (less formal than academic writing but not as colloquial as pop cultural writing), with all pieces rigorously researched to support a central thesis and offering new insight that will stand up to peer review. We are not looking for reviews or excessive plot synopses, but analysis that approaches the films from a unique or surprising angle.

First-hand research in the form of interviews with actors and other artists who have worked with Downey are also welcomed. Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate existing access to the intended interviewees.

Each accepted piece shall comprise a chapter of the book, which aims to provide a vibrant and informative overview of Downey’s body of work.

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If you would like to submit a proposal for Truth and Soul, please submit the following to bigsmashproductions@gmail.com. Submit the content below in one single document as either .doc, .docx or .pdf. Please put “Truth and Soul” in the subject line of the email.

Proposal requirements:

1. Your professional CV, including full contact details + a short biography (80-150 words). Please note if you identify as Canadian.
2. A working title and a 500 to 800-word summary of your chapter that includes your thesis statement and identifies your major points of discussion. This should be accompanied by a proposed bibliography (we understand this will change as research progresses)
3. Documents (Word/PDF) or online links to two recent pieces of writing in the 2000+ word range (essays or interviews, as applicable to your proposal).
4. Since Spectacular Optical is a commercial publisher, we do rely on book launch events and press coverage.  As such, we expect all writers to participate in the promotion of the book through a combination of their own networks and participation in any press/interviews coordinated by our publicist.  Please list some of the ways in which you would be able to aid in the promotion of the book.
5. Finally, list any sources for high-res images to accompany your chapter. Writers are not expected to cover or negotiate image costs or rights, but are expected to aid in image research.

Complete and final manuscripts are due Aug 1, 2019. If you submit a proposal, please be sure you are confident that you have the time and ability to hand in your chapter by this date. All pieces will go through a collaborative editing process, so please allow for up to a month of edits and rewrites following the hand-in date. You will be notified by email no later than 30 days following submission about the status of your proposal. If selected, you will be sent a contract, and there will be monetary compensation for your writing in the form of a royalty percentage following publication.

About the author:

Kier-La Janisse

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, Owner/Artistic Director of Spectacular Optical Publications and founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival (1999-2005) in Vancouver, was the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012) and contributed to Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), Recovering 1940s Horror: Traces of a Lost Decade (Lexington, 2014) The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale (PS Press, 2017). She co-edited and published the anthology books KID POWER! (Spectacular Optical, 2014), Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (Spectacular Optical, 2015) and Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017), and is co-editing Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television for release in late 2017. She is currently writing A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time: Children’s Programming and the Counterculture, 1965-1985, monographs about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter and Patricia Birch’s Grease 2, and is in development on a TV series based on her book House of Psychotic Women with Rook Films.

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