Course Title: Script edit a feature film

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2017

Course Code: COMM7326

Course Title: Script edit a feature film

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: Jutta Goetz
Phone: 03 9925 4307

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

In this unit you will develop the knowledge and skills required by a script editor to work with a writer, either through a film production company or independently, to edit and develop a feature length script.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWSEF613A Script edit a feature film


1. Build partnerships

Performance Criteria:

1.1   A working relationship with the scriptwriter, producer and/or director is developed and maintained

1.2   Assistance is given to the writer to clearly communicate his/her story and concept

1.3   A project schedule is negotiated concerning target dates for rewrites, revisions and the final deadline for delivery


2. Assist writer to develop script

Performance Criteria:

2.1   The structure, themes and genre of the story are identified

2.2   Consensus is built around the strengths and development needs of the script

2.3   Story, structure and character problems are identified

2.4   A review is undertaken of any rewrites and a written analysis given to the writer

2.5   Assistance is given to the writer in the preparation of logline and synopsis for the new draft

2.6   Goals for subsequent drafts are determined


3. Write a script report

Performance Criteria:

3.1   A script report is written to specifications of the funding body or production company

3.2   Feasibility of script is clearly evaluated

3.3   Story, theme, character development and structure are clearly assessed

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will have developed and applied the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate your competency in the above elements and will be able to edit a feature length film script. This is normally done in association with other screen professionals such as fellow editors, directors and a production team.

Details of Learning Activities

In this unit, you will develop the knowledge and skills required by a script editor to work with a writer, either through a film production company or independently, to edit and develop a feature length script.

Examples of learning activities:

  • class exercises – both written and practical
  • practical demonstrations
  • discussion regarding relevant web site and reading material
  • film viewing and analysis
  • group projects and working in pairs
  • guest presentations
  • research
  • independent project based work
  • ‘workshopping’ of student projects including peer/lecturer feedback.

Teaching Schedule

Please note: While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources.






Introduction to the writer / script editor relationship

Investigation of the creation of a script breakdown as a tool to aid editors and writers when moving between drafts, using templates and well-known feature film scripts.

Practical class exercise on writing a script breakdown.

HOMEWORK. Prepare a script breakdown of one sequence of a draft script from a known feature film as supplied.

Think about pair formation: choice of partnerships, which will be decided in the following week. Please bring your feature film script with you the following week.



Class reports on script breakdown, discussion on active and passive writing techniques and analysis of scenes identifying dramatic and thematic questions to use as tools.

Viewing of feature film sequence class has worked on.

Sequence Analysis: Investigation of sequences as structural narrative tools and powerful aids in story progression, using sequences from well-known feature films to discuss.

Formation of partnerships. Swapping of film scripts.

Teacher to discuss the keeping of a logbook as a tool to record decisions on which editor’s report is to be based on. Students are required to bring one in as of the following week.

HOMEWORK: Read each other’s film scripts at least twice. Editor to make brief notes of comments, questions, impressions, thoughts to be recorded in logbook. Writer to also prepare a list of films / shows / books / life events that have influenced the writing of his/her script so that the editor can better understand where it comes from. What is the writer’s intention?




Work groups allocated.

Logbooks as tool of record. Each editor to keep notes on script discussions, details of meetings and comments, and minutes at the end of session regards progress of the script. This logbook will be handed in at the end of the term for assessment.


Class time divided in half, so that each script has equal time. 

Working in pairs: quiz each other on sources of your stories, genre and influences, hopes and aims, etc. Discuss writer’s intention – is it palpable on the page?  Editor to orally outline first reaction to script. 

Identify dramatic and thematic question of current scripts.  What is the dramatic question?

The dramatic question describes the dramatic premise of the story. It includes information about the core conflict and action of the story, genre, the protagonist’s goal and the path they undertake to achieve that goal. It is prepared in the form of a question and is used as a tool by the writer and editor during the writing and rewriting of the script. 

Agreement upon a strong dramatic question creates a benchmark against which all aspects of the script can be tested. Discussion will isolate, and subsequent work should strengthen and may change the dramatic question.

Come to a consensus and write a paragraph outlining this. Does the script reflect it? Work together. Writer of script, with editorial input, writes the paragraph.

If time permits, present paragraph to the class and outline working process so far. Class discussion.

HOMEWORK Begin work on the script breakdown of the current draft. Aim to complete at least the first third.

ASSESSMENT 1 IS BRIEFED: (Entire script breakdown of partner’s script to be completed by editor for Week five.)

Name of assessment task: Write the script breakdown of the first draft.

Summary of assessment: As an editor you have worked with the writer to identify what the dramatic question of the first draft is. Create a script breakdown of this draft that describes the script scene by scene. This becomes the baseline tool to begin further work on the script. Use techniques identified in Weeks 1 and 2.



Continue to work on script breakdowns. Discuss each script in view of the breakdown.

Each editor to work on identifying and analysing concerns the script breakdown may raise, including plot holes, repetition of action, time frames, thematic inconsistencies, length, continuity problems, characterisation, what are the stakes (what happens next?) etc.


Discuss these in broad terms with the writer and assess writer’s view of own script

Begin looking at protagonist’s journey

HOMEWORK: Complete breakdown and highlight protagonist journey



Identify and present the protagonist’s goal and need / flaw and how this evolves and is addressed through your partner’s script.

Discuss inconsistency, inactivity; active v passive protagonist. Why do I care? 

Identify and discuss antagonist. How strong? How effective?

Break down script in relation to genre and identify areas that could benefit with more research.

HOMEWORK: Compile a viewing / reading list for your partner that you feel the writer needs to see / read, of any relevant films or books that can help the writer in terms of genre, tone, style, voice, content.


Assessment 1 due


Present reading / viewing list to partner with explanation of how you believe this would enhance the script.

Classwork. Script analysis of a well-known feature. How do script changes benefit the next draft? Compare and contrast an early draft of the known feature film with a later draft and note the changes within an opening sequence.

Discuss what kinds of changes were made and why the changes were made and what effect they had on the script. 

View sequence of the film under discussion.

HOMEWORK: Look at partner’s script again in view of work done in class. Identify major turning points and how they are achieved?  (Who is the architect.)? Choose two problematic scenes for discussion in next class and identify the problems.

ASSESSMENT TASK TWO IS BRIEFED. Begin work on a script editor’s report to writer, using logbook and discussions with writer, and outcome of decisions, to form basis of notes. This task will be assessed and is due to be given to teacher in Week 12




Present your feedback on the major turning points of partner’s script. Strengths and weaknesses discussed and adjustments work-shopped.

Review of scene structure by teacher.  Analysis of sample scenes presented.

Editor to work on the two problematic scenes from partner’s script and prepare a report of suggested changes to be presented to partner.

HOMEWORK. Writer to rewrite the two scenes according to the editor’s suggested changes.




Writing Style 

Writer / editor discussions of the rewritten scenes. Report to class.

Review by teacher of dialogue and big print – functions and pitfalls – with the emphasis on providing a smooth read. Work through sample scenes of varying styles.

Writer to choose two scenes from own script to present to editor. Editor to assist in ‘enhancing the read’ focusing on dialogue and big print. By end of class editor has prepared notes on two scenes for writer to follow.

HOMEWORK. Writer rewrites the two scenes according to editor’s feedback.


Reread first 15 pages and climax / ending of your partner’s script and ‘mark up’ pages for discussion.




Discuss the rewrites and give feedback to each other. Have the changes improved the read? Identify why, or why not.

Prioritise the first 15 pages and climax / ending of scripts as this is crucial in capturing the reader and leaving them with a strong impression of the script.

Class discussion on beginnings and endings using examples to show how changing an ending can affect the tone of the entire film.

Look at own films again and focus on beginnings and endings.  Is a clear dramatic question being posed, is there an obvious genre, a strong protagonist and an effective and consistent writing style? Are sequences clear in the questions they pose?  Work in pairs to make extensive notes of these areas of each other’s scripts, which the editor then writes up.

HOMEWORK Prepare a list of characters, locations, number of script days, day/night shoots, vehicle, action, FX scenes, special requirements (e.g. armory, animals etc.) in your partner’s script for next class.



Writing to a realistic budget.

Industry Professional to discuss editorial process at production stage of film – film is being rewritten whilst shooting. Working with actors, line producers, production personnel and production / budget requirements.

Teacher and Industry Professional discuss the importance of writing to a realistic budget, rationalising characters and locations, the number of days in a script, shooting at night, the cost and use of vehicles, FX, stunt crew, animals, guns, etc.

Discuss ideas on how to reduce the cost of the script you’re working on, without reducing the impact of the story, by consulting prepared lists.

Include proposed changes in editorial notes.

Assessment 2 reminder by teacher – the script report needs to be finalised by week 12. Notes to be handed to teacher. Subsequent presentation to writer at a later stage is also a part of the assessment.

HOMEWORK. Begin writing up final version of editor’s script report to writer, reflecting work / discussions during the semester…   * NOTE: In order to write final version of the report, the editor will need to create a new script breakdown indicating where script changes have been made. This may vary markedly from the breakdown of the first draft. 





Mid-semester break: no classes from Friday 14 April through to Friday 21 April inclusive.




Synopsis and Loglines

Writer and editor to begin thinking about their partner’s loglines. Discuss.

As an editor you have been working with the writer to negotiate and cement in place the dramatic question of the new script. The logline will be created from those discussions, and will describe the new script.

The logline will become the baseline for all further work the writer does on the script. It is a refinement of the dramatic question and is a tool that can be used to “pitch” the script to first time readers (such as producers and funding bodies.) As such, it will primarily become a marketing tool. It captures the dramatic premise of the script and may describe or hint at the action and genre.

Has the dramatic question changed over the course of the discussions and investigations?

Using script notes, discussions on writer’s intention, the identification of flaws and the subsequent discussions on changes, discuss the logline for the proposed film with the writer.

In class, writer and editor to each write a synopsis of only one paragraph of the partner’s film.   Swap and discuss.

HOMEWORK. Finish writing script editor’s report on partner’s script.





Finalise loglines for each other’s scripts – reach consensus.

Refine the one paragraph synopsis.

Pitch your partner’s script to class, using the one paragraph synopsis and the logline as basis for the pitch.

Class feedback presented.

Partner and editor to discuss feedback and final adjustments to one paragraph synopsis and logline made.

HOMEWORK. Begin work on one-page synopsis.


Assessment 2 Due (report and logbook)


Presentation of Script Editor’s notes to Writer

First Group.

Editor to present writer with the script editor’s report and to go through proposed changes.


Groups Two and Three will continue work on logline and synopses.

Assessment 2 (Observation)


Presentation of Script Editor’s notes to writer

Second Group.

Editor to present writer with the script editor’s report and to go through proposed changes.


Groups One and Three will continue work on logline and synopses.

 Assessment 2 (Observation)


Presentation of Script Editor’s notes to writer

Third Group.

Editor to present writer with the script editor’s report and to go through proposed changes.


Groups One and Two will continue work on loglines and synopses

Logbooks are also to be handed in.

Pitching the Project / Planning the Second Draft

Pitching the script includes verbal and written pitches such as a cover letter. The synopses and loglines are important tools in this process.

Discussion of the various approaches to re-drafting. 

Discussion of audience analysis – what our emotional reactions are to viewing films and how we can use this to help us as writers and editors, when analysing our own scripts.

Assessment 2 (Observation)

Assessment 3 Due


Semester review 




Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

While there are no prescribed texts you are strongly advised to make use of the listings of recommended reading and viewing posted on Blackboard, which will be updated on an ongoing basis.


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

Other Resources

You will require access to a computer and the internet for this course. RMIT will provide you with further resources and tools for learning through our online systems and access to specialized facilities and relevant software. You will also have full access to the extensive RMIT library resources.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Assessment will incorporate a range of methods to assess performance and the application of knowledge and skills and will include: participation in class exercises, oral presentations and practical writing and script editing  tasks.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete all of the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all assessment (refer to your Blackboard site for assessment criteria). Once you have demonstrated competency, selected tasks, as indicated below, will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric). 

ASSESSMENT TASK #1. Script breakdown of a first draft

Briefed in week 3: Script breakdown of partner’s first draft script to be completed by editor. This is due in week 5, Thursday 9 March.

ASSESSMENT TASK #2. Script editor's report and discussion

This assessment is in two parts.

Part One:
Script editor’s report to writer, using logbook and discussions with writer, and outcome of decisions will form basis of notes. This is due in Week 12, Thursday 4 May.

Part two:
Teacher’s observation of the editor discussing script changes with the writer during Weeks 13, 14 and 15 (Thursday 11, 18 and 25 May)

ASSESSMENT TASK #3. Logline and synopsis

Briefed in Week 12. In consultation with the writer, the editor is to create and write up a logline and a one-page synopsis for proposed new draft. This is due in Week 15 or 16, as negotiated Thursday 25 May and 1 June).  

Once you have demonstrated competency, your Assessment Task #3 will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric).

80 – 100% CHD - Competent with High Distinction
70 – 79% CDI - Competent with Distinction
60 – 69% CC - Competent with Credit
50 – 59% CAG - Competency achieved – Graded
NYC - not yet competent

For further information on the assessment and grading criteria, please refer to the course Blackboard site.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available from the course contact person (see above).

Other Information

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.;ID=kehn9bz22r41

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.


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