Course Title: Produce Writings - Screenwriting

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2009

Course Code: COMM5404

Course Title: Produce Writings - Screenwriting

School: 345T Creative Media

Campus: City Campus

Program: C4171 - Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing

Course Contact : Brendan Lee

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4368

Course Contact Email:Brendan.lee@rmit.edu.au


Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Roz Williams (teacher)
Room 6, level 2, bld 94
telephone:  61 3 9925 4974
email:  roz.williams@rmit.edu.au

Nominal Hours: 105

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

None

Course Description

This course covers the knowledge and skills required to complete a writing task and introduces students to the craft of Screenwriting. It explores the various components of film and television writing.


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBP552 Produce Writings - Screenwriting

Element:

Analyse the purpose of the writing task

Performance Criteria:

1.1 The purpose of the work is confirmed with relevant parties.
1.2 The form, media and technique most appropriate to the purpose of the writing task is selected.
1.3 The stylistic and cultural context of the writing task is proposed to meet the writing objective
 

Element:

Create the writing task

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Components of the information required and the form in which the writing will be developed, constructed and presented is resolved.
4.2 The intention of the writing task and the characteristics of the audience are reflected in the writing.
4.3 Appropriate processes and research are utilised to retrieve the necessary information.
4.4 The particular characteristics of the media are analysed to inform the writing in a way that is appropriate for the purpose of the writing.
4.5 Relevant information sources are employed to generate and inform the writing task.
4.5 (sic) Common literary devices and the metaphoric function of language are integrated into the writing task.
4.6 Writing task is produced in accordance with writing goals.

Element:

Investigate the scope of the writing task

Performance Criteria:

2.1 The level and scope of the writing task is analysed to determine the length and style of the work.
2.2 The level of research required to fulfill the agreed outcome to the required style and standard is analysed.
2.3 The resources necessary to retrieve or generate the relevant information is determined.
2.4 The type and level of information required to suit the context of the writing task is planned.

Element:

Plan the writing task

Performance Criteria:

3.1 The writing task is planned to reflect the media, scope, structure and content of the work.
3.2 Ideas are organised and developed into an ordered sequence.
3.3 All resources required to deliver the writing task are organised.
3.4 A timeline for the completion of the writing task that reflects the critical milestones is determined.

Element:

Realise the writing task 

Performance Criteria:

5.1 The writing task is appropriate for the media, the context of the brief and the style of the subject matter.
5.2 The language in which the writing task is written is suitable for the intended audience.
5.3 The writing task is proofed and edited to the standard required for presentation.
5.4 A draft is presented, if required, to the client to confirm that the work is acceptable.
5.5 Work is adjusted as required and presented in the agreed manner and timeframe.


Learning Outcomes


Not applicable


Details of Learning Activities

You will learn through classroom-based lectures, workshopping and group exercises. You are also expected to do your own research and writing off-campus.


Teaching Schedule

 
 This order of material covered in this schedule may change according to the needs of the class. 
WeekContent
Competencies covered
1Orientation and introduction
-CUSRAD01A
-Collecting, organising & analysing information
CUVCOR11A
-Communication ideas & information
2Differences between screenwriting and other forms of writing
Visual medium
Sparse use of dialogue
Getting ideas. 
Understand differences between writing for visual media and other forms of writing
How to recognise ideas which can be used to tell a visual story
CUSRAD01A
-Collecting, organising & analysing information
CUVCOR11A
-Develop concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing task
3The basic/main story
Plot and subplot – differences in film and tv
Synopses – story and marketing   
Be able to construct the story spine of a screen story
Recognise the difference between plot and subplots – differences in film and tv
Know how to write the different types of synopses
CUSRAD01A
-Collect relevant information
CUVCOR11A
-Communication ideas & information
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
VP552
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
4The classic (or 3-act) narrative structure   
Leaning how to create a screen story using the 3-act structure
CUSRAD01A
-Organise information
CUVCOR11A
-Communication ideas & information
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Plan the writing task
5WORKSHOP
Workshop draft synopses
VP552
-Create the writing task
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
CUVCOR11A
-Working with others and in teams
CUSRAD01A
-Communicate information
6SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Exposition
Narrative techniques of foreshadowing and planting   
Understand how to convey backstory and on-screen information to an audience
How to create dramatic tension through foreshadowing
Setting up and paying off of plot and characterisation elements
 CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collect relevant information
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Create the writing task
7Characters – creating screen characters, working out motivation, character arcs
The treatment (aka story outline)
Creating effective screen characters
Elements required in writing the treatment
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task

8One-on-one tutorials with teacher   
Feedback on marked synopses

-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Realise the writing task
9Character functions – exploring the 5 different groups
Creating character biographies and character notes – the differences   
Eliminating characters who have no function in screen story, thereby creating stronger dramatic pacing
Difference between character information required in film and tv
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
10Character biogs of 2 main characters, 250-300 words each    Workshopping and feedback from teacher and students CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
11SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Guest speaker
 CUSRAD01A
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Communicating ideas & information
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
12Revise work on treatments
Class workshopping on progress
Preliminary work on students’ own projects
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
13Basic genre
Point of view
Themes
Treatments – more work if needed   
Understand the basic principles of genre – an overview
How to use point of view in screen stories
Use of themes to create stronger stories – differences between film and tv
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
14WORKSHOP
Workshop treatments – in groups   
Feedback from teacher and students
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
15WORKSHOP
Workshop treatments – class as a whole   
Feedback from teacher & students
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
16SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Scenes - students’ choices
LAST CLASS OF TEACHING FOR 1ST SEMESTER
 
CUSRAD01A
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Communicating ideas & information
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing


 Semester 2

WeekContentCompetencies Covered
1Introduction to screen dialogue
Group exercises – construct characters from photos and create/workshop dialogue   
Creating individual voices/dialogue

CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
2More on dialogue
Class exercise – saunter up Lygon Street and eavesdrop
Group exercise: write screen dialogue from real dialogue   
Learning how to condense screen dialogue from real dialogue
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
3Subtext
Group exercise: write scene/s with and without subtext
Use of non-sync. dialogue: voice-over narration, post synching    How to use subtext for effect
Learn about non-sync. dialogue
CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
4Screen language
CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Solving problems
-Using technology
CUVCOR03A
-Develop concept
-Communicate concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
5Writing stage directions
Group exercise: reducing and re-writing stage directions.
Writing dialogue
Differences between film and tv dialogue.
Group exercise: reducing dialogue to create cinematic dialogue    Learning how to write stage directions and screen dialogue
CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Using technology
VP552
-Realise the writing task
6Creating scenes – scene breakdown
Scene structure and pacing
Class exercise:  students create scene breakdown of first 2 pages of their treatments   
Understand difference between a shot (or setup), a scene, a scene sequences
Starting the script process from treatment stage.

CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Using technology
VP552
-Realise the writing task
7Writing scenes

CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Using technology
VP552
-Realise the writing task
8WORKSHOP
First 10 pages of script to teacher for copying for workshopping.
TV scripts – writing to commercial breaks
Difference between tv and film scripts/commercial breaks/layout
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
9Class workshop of first 10 pages scripts   
Workshopping and feedback from teachers and students
Each writer gets a change to hear own dialogue
  CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
10Class workshop of first 10 pages scripts   
Workshopping and feedback from teachers and students
Each writer gets a change to hear own dialogue
 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
11Class workshop of first 10 pages scripts   
Workshopping and feedback from teachers and students
Each writer gets a change to hear own dialogue


  CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
12Scene functions   
Learn how to multi-layer scenes and to eliminate useless scenes
CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Using technology
VP552
-Realise the writing task
13Scene functions   
Learn how to multi-layer scenes and to eliminate useless scenes

CUSRAD01A
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Using technology
VP552
-Realise the writing task
14WORKSHOP

 CUSRAD01A
-Create the information
-Assess the information
-Organise the information
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Collecting, organisating & analysing information
-Communicating ideas & information
-Working with others & in teams
-Solving problems
CUVCOR03A
-Communicate concept
-Refine concept
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
-Investigate the scope of the writing task
-Plan the writing task
-Create the writing task
-Realise the writing task
15SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Guest speaker

CUSRAD01A
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Communicating ideas & information
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing
16Scenes - students’ choices
LAST CLASS OF TEACHING FOR 1ST SEMESTER

CUSRAD01A
-Communicate the information
CUVCOR11A
-Communicating ideas & information
VP552
-Analyse purpose of the writing


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Students will be expected to make full use of the Carlton Street library in accessing scripts, and will also be expected to view films and tv programs in their own time.

There are no set texts for this course.  The following is a recommended reading list:

•    Screenwriting Updated, by Linda Aronson, pub. 2000, Allen & Unwin
•    Story, by Robert McKee, pub. 1999, Methuen
•    Television Writing: The Ground Rules of Series, Serials & Sitcom, by Linda Aronson, pub. 2000 AFTRS
•    Big Screen Small Screen, by Coral Drouyn, pub. 1994 Allen & Unwin
•    Making a Good Script Great, by Linda Seger, pub. 1987 Dodd, Mead & Co., Hollywood
•    The Writer’s Journey – Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, by C. Vogler, pub 1992, Michael Weise Productions
•    The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, pub. 1993 Fontana Press*
•    Elements of Style for Screenwriters by Paul Argentini, pub. 1998 Lone Eagle Publishing Co.
•    Writing Your Screenplay by Lisa Dethridge, pub. 2003 Allen & Unwin

(*highly recommended for storytelling purposes, rather than for screenwriting)


References

See information above


Other Resources

  • Internet access through RMIT Library
  • Final Draft program on several computers in RMIT Carlton Library and Main Library
  • Publications and dvds/videos through RMIT Library, community libraries, video libraries and other sources
  • Handouts provided by teacher in class or on Blackboard


Overview of Assessment

Assessment includes a story synopsis, character biographies, a treatment and part of a script.


Assessment Tasks

Story synopsis

Write 1-page story synopsis incorporating 3-act structure for drama of 20 mins or longer. Work must be in single-line spacing. Assessment includes workshopping.

Due date: Workshop –  March; Task –  March

Percentage weighting: 10%

Character biographies

Write character biographies, 250 words each, of 2 major characters from above synopsis story. Assessment includes workshopping. 

Due date: Workshop –  May; Task –  May

Percentage weighting: 5%

Treatment/story outline

Write a treatment/story outline from above story synopsis.  Length:  up to 10 pages double-line or 1.5 line spacing. Assessment includes workshopping.

Due date: Workshop –  May; Task –  June

Percentage wighting: 25%

First draft screenplay

Write the first 10 pages of a screenplay from your treatment, set out in industry-accepted format, for class workshopping.

Due date:  August

Percentage weighting: 20%

Revised draft screenplay

Write the first 20 pages of your screenplay.  This includes the revised first 10 pages plus next 10 pages. Assessment includes workshopping.

Due date: Workshop –  October; Task –  October

Percentage weighting: 25%

Film review

Present a review to the class of a film currently in release or re-release at cinema. Students should prepare a minimum 250 words to be read out in class and handed to teacher for marking.

Due date: Semester 1, at a time negotiated with your teacher

Percentage weighting: 5%

TV review

Present a review of a tv program either on tv or on dvd/vcr. The presentation comprises showing the first 10 minutes of the program followed by a 5–10 minutes review by the student.

Due date: Semester 2, at a time negotiated with your teacher

Percentage weighting: 5%

Script reading and class exercises

Due date: Throughout the year

Percentage weighting: 5%

Submission of work for assessment

You must keep a copy of your assessment.
All assessment submissions require a completed School Cover Sheet. You can obtain this form from your course teacher or from the course site in the Distributed Learning System (DLS).


Late submission

If you are unable to complete your assessment project, assignment or essay by the due date, you can apply for an extension. If you are seeking an extension of up to 7 calendar days, please apply to your teacher who will let you know whether your request has been granted. Application for Extension forms are available from the Distributed Learning System (DLS) or from the Creative Media Office. The application must be submitted by email or in person, before the official due date together with supporting evidence such as a medical certificate.

If you are seeking an extension of longer than 7 calendar days, or if you are seeking an extension for a test or lab-based assessment, you will need to apply to the University for Special Consideration.

If you submit late work without an approved extension, 5% of the total marks for that piece of assessment will be deducted each week (or part of a week) it is late.


Assessment Matrix


Units of competencyLearning ActivitiesAssessmentDue DateGrading
CUSRAD01A
Collect and organise information*
Read scripts & view films & tv programs (off campus).
Present findings to class (on campus)
Presentation/discussion in classThroughout year5%
CUVCOR11A
Source information on history and theory and apply to own area of work*
Research background of and review film & tv programs.
Present to class
Film review:
Class presentation (minimum 300 words) of film currently in release or re-release at cinema
Throughout 1st semester5%
CUVCOR11A
Source information on history and theory and apply to own area of work*
Research background of and review film & tv programs.
Present to class
TV review:
Class presentation of tv program (including screening selected scenes) 15 mins
Throughout 2nd semester5%
CUVCOR03A
Develop, refine and communicate concept for own work
Develop concept for own work and workshop in classSet out script material (below) in industry-accepted format and present in workshop group/classThroughout yearGrade incorporated in VBP552
VBP552
Produce writings
Write story synopsis incorporating 3-act structure for screen story of 20 mins duration (or longer)1-page story synopsis (single-line spacing), including workshoppingMarch
(workshop)


March
(to teacher)
10%
VBP552
Produce writings
Creating screen characters2 character biographies of 250 words each (minimum) from synopsis, including workshoppingMay
(workshop)

May
(to teacher)
5%
VBP552
Produce writings
Treatment/story outlineUp to 10-page treatment/story outline from synopsis, set out in 1.5 or double-line spacing, including workshoppingMay
(workshop)


June
(teacher)
25%
VBP552
Produce writings
1st draft screenplay1st 10 pages of script from treatment, set out in industry format, for class workshoppingAugust
(to teacher for copying – workshop commences following week & will go for several weeks)
20%
VBP552
Produce writings
Revised 1st draft screenplay
Revised 1st 10 pages plus 2nd 10 pages of script, including workshopping
October
(workshop)
October
(to teacher)
25%

*Grade incorporated in VBP552

Course Overview: Access Course Overview