Course Title: Refine writing and editing techniques - Screenwriting

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2008

Course Code: COMM5411

Course Title: Refine writing and editing techniques - Screenwriting

School: 345T Creative Media

Campus: City Campus

Program: C5181 - Diploma of 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

Contact name:             Roz Berrystone
Location:                       Building 94, level 2, room 6, 23-27 Cardigan Street, South Carlton
Phone:                           9925 4974
Fax:                                9925 4362 
Email:                             roz.berrystone@rmit.edu.au

Nominal Hours: 85

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

Enrolment into this course at RMIT requires the completion of Produce Writing - Screenwriting

At RMIT Refine Writing and Editing – Screenwriting is delivered and assessed along with the following competencies.
CUVCOR04A - Originate concept for own work and conduct critical discourse
CUVCOR13A - Research and critically analyse history and theory to inform artistic practice
CUECOR01B - Manage own work and learning
CUSADM03A - Manage a project
CUVDES05A - Interpret and respond to a brief
CUSRAD02A - Conduct Research


Through the development of these competencies, you gain the skills needed to manage your work and learning while responding to a project brief. You research the work of other writers and apply your findings to your own projects through the development of a concept into a written work.

Course Description

This unit covers the knowledge and skills required to research and experiment with writing and editing techniques to write for the screen.  It develops the skills used in film and television writing and examines storytelling methods and techniques used to engage audience emotions.


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBP553 Refine writing and editing techniques - Screenwriting


Learning Outcomes


On successful completion of this course, you will be be able to use storytelling methods and techniques  to develop a concept into a piece of writing  suitable for the screen.                   
                     


Details of Learning Activities

Screenwriting 2 is a continuation of Introduction to Screenwriting (Screenwriting).  The course examines storytelling methods and craft techniques used to engage audience emotions.  Adaptation will be examined. Characterisation and its impact on structure to create a multi-layered story will be explored.
Classes will include planned lectures, weekly class exercises to review what has been learnt in class, workshopping of students’ own projects, screening of video/dvd excerpts to provide examples of screenwriting elements, analysis/critique of scripts, films and television programs of students’ choices, and film & tv review presentations.


Teaching Schedule

WeekContent - 1ST SEMESTEROutcomes
1Orientation 
2Character needsIdentifying character needs (Maslow) and how they impact on screen story
3Writing for the Australian market
How the industry works
Pitching your script
Understanding the industry and the screenwriter’s position in it
Learning most effective ways of pitching script
4Writing for the Australian market
How the industry works
Pitching your script
Understanding the industry and the screenwriter’s position in it
Learning most effective ways of pitching script
5Screen stories that don’t have obvious 3-act structure
Character-centred screenplays
Understanding how non 3-act structured screen stories are constructed
62nd Act StoryUnderstanding how to multi-layer that long 2nd act to create more universal story
7Refining screenwriting processesRefining screenwriting processes
8Script assessmentLearning how to assess a script/reader’s reports
9Refining screenwriting processesRefining screenwriting processes
1010 script pages to teacher for photocopying
GUEST SPEAKER
10 script pages to teacher for photocopying
GUEST SPEAKER
11Workshop 10 pages scriptRefine/edit script
12Workshop 10 pages scriptRefine/edit script
13Workshop 10 pages script
Refining screenwriting processes
Refine/edit script
14Workshop 30 pages script in small groupsRefine/edit script
15Workshop 30 pages script in small groupsRefine/edit script
16Submit assignment to teacher for marking
Heroes & villains
The anti hero
Learn how to match right protagonist with right antagonist
Identifying the anti-hero
17Tutorials with teacherFeedback on marked material
18ReviewFeedback on marked material

WeekContent - 2nd SemesterOutcomes
1Introduction to adaptation
Material sources
General techniques
Adapting novels
Identifying methods
How to find sources for adaptation
Generic methods used by screenwriters
Learn how to condense, identify cinematic structure, characterisation in novels
2Adapting short stories
Plays & musicals
Identifying methods
Learn how to expand/invent from source material into screenplay
3Progress reports
Non-fiction – different sources
Touching base with students’ progress on projects
Identifying different methods needed to source material in non-fiction (current affairs, historical events, biography, magazine articles, etc.)
4Completion of non-fiction
How to create marketing synopsis, adaptation notes
Identifying different methods needed to source material in non-fiction
Learn difference between story synopsis and marketing synopsis
5Cartoon characters
Franchises
Fairy tales
Songs & poetry
Legal aspects
Identifying methods used when adapting from cartoon scripts & franchises
Legal aspects in adaptation
6Acquiring rights/options
Public domain
Legal aspects cont.
Acquiring rights
Options
Searching public domain
Copyright, etc
7Workshop synopsis, character notes & adaptation notesRefine/edit writing
8More workshopping if neededRefine/edit writing
9Submission of assignment for marking
Guest speaker
SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Guest speaker
10Tutorials with teacher
Discuss progress on treatment
Feedback on marked assignments
11Discuss progress on treatment
Transitions
Manipulating screen time
Learning how to move between scenes & how to expand/condense time to create best dramatic effect
12Hand in treatment copies for photocopying
Hero’s journey & symbolism in film
Understanding the importance and universality of using mythology & symbolism in screen storytelling
13Workshop treatmentsRefine/edit writing
14Workshop treatmentsRefine/edit writing
15GenreUniversality & differences in genres
Identifying motifs writers need to know in order to create stronger screen stories
16Submit assignment
More on genre
SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT
Pushing genre boundaries, & mixing and matching genres in order to create less formulaic and more interesting screen story
17Analysis/screening of scenes from screen adaptations (students’ choices)Review of knowledge learnt this semester
18ReviewFeedback on marked work if required (with teacher)


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.

Books/plays/films to be examined in adaptation in 2nd semester are:

•    CHOCOLAT (novel by Joanne Harris) plus film of same name
•    THE QUIET AMERICAN (novel by Graham Greene) and film of same name directed by Phil Noyce
•    CHICAGO (play by Maurine Watkins) plus film of same name
•    LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES (play by Christopher Hampton) and film DANGEROUS LIAISONS (starring Glenn Close and John Malkovitch)
•    Elizabeth I (any history on Queen Elizabeth I of England) plus film ELIZABETH (1st one with Cate Blanchett – not Elizabeth and the Golden Age)
•    Battle of Stalingrad in 2nd World War (any history) plus film ENEMY AT THE GATES
•    Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962 (any history) plus film THIRTEEN DAYS
•    PROVED INNOCENT (autobiography by Gerry Conlon) plus film IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
•    Familiarity with the usual blockbuster franchises:  adaptations from authors like Ian Fleming (JAMES BOND), adaptations from comic books/strips like BATMAN, SPIDERMAN, etc.
•    Students to research one or two films of their choice that have been adapted from a short story.

If students have difficulty in tracking down some of the above texts, please discuss with teacher.


References


Other Resources

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.


Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge and understanding of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises and workshopping and through class presentations and written assignments.                     


Assessment Tasks

1. Film review
15 minute class presentation with partner (David & Margaret style) of film currently in release or re-release at cinema
Due date
tba (first semester)

Percentage weight
5%

2. TV review
20 minute class presentation with partner of tv program (current or non-current).
Presentation to comprise 10 mins screening of material in class followed by 10 min presentation & discussion
Due date
tba (second semester)

Percentage weight
5%

3. 10 pages of script for class workshopping (taken from 1st 30 script pages of new original project or 2nd 30 script pages of project commenced in Screenwriting 1)
Due date
23 April (workshopping will commence 30 April for several weeks)

Percentage weight
20%

4. 1st 30 script pages of new project or 2nd 30 script pages of project commenced in Screenwriting1
Due date
21 May for workshopping
4 June submitted to teacher

Percentage weight
20%

5. Creating 1-page marketing synopsis & 1-page story synopsis of adaptation from another source.
Notes on why student has chosen this story for adaptation and what methods of adaptation will be used.
Character biogs & notes
Due date
20 August for workshopping
10 September  submitted to teacher

Percentage weight
25%

6. Treatment/story outline of adaptation
Due date
8 October for workshopping
29 October submitted to teacher

Percentage weight
25%


Assessment Matrix

Other Information

All relevant education/administration fees with this course are to be met by student (as outlined in RMIT invoice/s), plus any film/tv viewing and texts.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview