Course Title: Work as an independent screenwriter

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2017

Course Code: COMM7314

Course Title: Work as an independent screenwriter

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact: Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: John Reeves
Phone: 9925 4895

Nominal Hours: 70

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

Work as an independent screenwriter delivers the skills and knowledge required for building your career as a screenwriter. It introduces you to career planning, business and taxation requirements, cash flow, time management and networking within all aspects of the industry. You will focus on the creative ways in which you and your ideas can be presented to the marketplace and the wider audience in order to provoke, inform and entertain, using the communication skills you need as a freelance writer to promote your work and pitch your ideas.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWWWOR601A Work as an independent screenwriter


1. Develop career plan

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Personal strengths and weaknesses are identified 
1.2 Opportunities and threats within the industry are identified 
1.3 Short and long term goals are defined 
1.4 Study or experience required to meet industry standard is determined 
1.5 Paths to employment or project development are clarified 
1.6 Folio of past and present projects is created and maintained


2. Prepare funding applications

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Sources of development funding are identified and matched to project requirements 
2.2 Application formats and requirements are sourced and clarified 
2.3 Industry experience is clearly documented 
2.4 Project parameters are succinctly outlined 
2.5 Timely application is submitted in appropriate format 
2.6 Progress of application is monitored and feedback sought when appropriate


3. Manage time and resources

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Schedules, with due dates for deliverables, are established 
3.2 Resources necessary to achieve deliverables are clarified 
3.3 Resources and time are prioritised 
3.4 Additional resources are sought where necessary 
3.5 Extensions are negotiated where necessary, and in advance of deadline


4. Meet legal obligations necessary to business

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Business entity is established with appropriate regulatory bodies as necessary 
4.2 Insurance cover is obtained and liabilities clarified 
4.3 Business and taxation reporting requirements are met 
4.4 Copyright clearance is obtained where necessary 
4.5 Legal advice is sought when necessary


5. Develop networks

Performance Criteria:

5.1 Production and distribution companies, funding bodies and professional associations are identified 
5.2 Developments in the industry are monitored 
5.3 Funding opportunities are researched 
5.4 Industry contacts are established and maintained

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be familiar with the skills and knowledge required to plan and manage your career as a screenwriter.

Details of Learning Activities

In this course, you learn through:

1. In-class activities:
• lectures
• industry speakers
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• analysis/critique of students’ written and oral pitches

2. Out-of-class activities:
• independent project based work
• writing and reading assignments
• online and other research
• independent study

In the course Working in the Industry B, you will be working independently on building your own career plan. This will involve a great deal of background work: interviewing people working in different areas of the industry, looking at the industry in Australia and internationally, analysing trends, reading current literature and researching different career paths. You will be expected to spend a minimum of 2 hours a week working on this project and to bring your findings regularly to class to discuss with your teacher and your peers.

Teaching Schedule




Assessment due


Overview of content and discussion of course content

Planning your career in the screen industry

Rejection - 3 methods for coping



Graduate showcase website New Screenwriters 2017 explained and discussed.

Introduction to Assessment task #1: Your New Screenwriters page

Introduction to Assessment task #2: Other people’s careers

Establish groups to research a screenwriter and her or his career path

Discussion of Assessment Task #3: Your pitch

Speed pitching: an exercise



Guest speaker - Australian Writers’ Guild

Part of the Union: Contracts and industrial clout, with the Australian Writers’ Guild




Guest speaker - the keys to pitching explained



Fine tuning your New Screenwriters page

The back-up plan: an exercise

Career track and personal slate

Pitching yourself and your work via social media

Face-to-face discussion, feedback and review



Face-to-face discussion, feedback and review

Assessment task #1 due: Your New Screenwriters page


Guest speaker - TBA

Introduction to Assessment Task #3: Career plan



Preparation: Other people’s careers


Presentations: Other people’s careers

Assessment task #2 due: Other people’s careers


Career plans: discussion and workshop 



Survival strategies
Making Hay: the financial side of a career as an independent screenwriter/filmmaker (including career planning and securing development funding)



Mid semester break – Monday 18 September - Friday 29 September inclusive



The Art of Pitching: group practice
Performing your pitch: fine tuning

Assessment task #3 due: Your Career plan 



Pitching to the professionals (Day #1)

Assessment task #4 due: Your pitch


Pitching to the professionals (Day #2)

Assessment task #4 due: Your pitch (cont’d)


Pitching to the professionals (Day #3)

Assessment task #4 due: Your pitch (cont’d)


Semester review



Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Any prescribed reading material will be distributed in class


You are advised to look at the course Blackboard site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources

This will be supplied in class.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is on going throughout the semester. Assessment tasks include participation in a debate, in class exercises and the completion of written assignments.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete the following assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all of the following pieces of assessment (refer to Blackboard for assessment criteria). Once you have demonstrated competency, Assessment #3 and #4 will be graded (refer to Blackboard for briefs and grading rubrics).

Assessment task #1: Your New Screenwriters page (Due Week 6;  11 August)
Design your own entry for the graduate showcase website, including photo, contact details, project slate and other information as decided, and submit it both as hard copy and in an electronic format.

Assessment task #2: Other people’s careers (Due Week 9; 1 September)
In small groups, research the career of an Australian screenwriter or performance writer, and present your findings as to the reasons for their success to the class in a brief visual presentation.

Assessment task #3: Career plan – completed draft (Due Week 12; 6 October)
Present the completed draft of a strategic plan of 700–800 words identifying your major goals, and steps for achieving them over a 3-8 year period.

Assessment task #4: Your pitch (Due Weeks 13, 14 and 15; 13, 20 and 27 October)
After research, drafting and workshopping, present a 3-5 minute pitch for a particular project to industry personnel as if you were seeking to gain their involvement in the project. You will have 3-5 minutes to further discuss the project and field questions.

Assessment Submission
Career plans must be lodged with your teacher in hard copy and also emailed to your teacher in either Word or RTF format. A signed cover sheet must be included in the email. On the program Blackboard site you will find a copy of the cover sheet together with instructions on how to set up and use a digital signature. 


Grades which apply to courses delivered in accordance with competency-based assessment (not graded).

CA   Competency Achieved
NYC Not Yet Competent
DNS Did Not Submit for Assessment

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. This is available through the course contact in Program Administration (see above).           

Other Information

Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters:

How to submit work
Your assessment brief will specify how you should submit your work – as hard copy, digital copy or electronically through Blackboard. When you submit your work, you must include a declaration of authorship. 

For submissions on Blackboard, you need to agree to an assessment declaration when you submit.

For all other submissions, you must complete and sign a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work.;ID=x3ddsmsrwa1hz

Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises. We strongly advise that you attend all timetabled sessions. This will allow you to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring you the maximum opportunity to complete this course successfully.

We request that you speak to your teacher if regular attendance becomes difficult.

Assessment feedback
You will receive spoken and written feedback on all your work. Where relevant, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.;ID=qwxbqbg739rl1

Student progress
Monitoring academic progress is helps us to assist you in achieving your learning potential.

Adjustments to assessment
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment satisfactorily by the due date, you can choose to apply for an adjustment to your assessment. RMIT University offers a range of adjustments designed to support you in your studies, including an extension of time to complete the assessment.

Academic integrity and plagiarism
Academic integrity is about the honest presentation of work that is your own. RMIT University has a clear policy on plagiarism (see web page for more detail).

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
Credit Transfer is the recognition of previously completed formal learning (an officially accredited qualification).

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that allows you to demonstrate competence using the skills you have gained through experience in the workplace, voluntary work, informal or formal training or other life experiences.

Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) applies only if you have previously successfully demonstrated competence in a unit of competency, and now require to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained.

Please speak to your teacher if you wish to discuss applying for Credit Transfer, RPL, or RCC for the unit(s) of competency addressed in this course.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview