Course Title: Assess a film script

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: COMM5920

Course Title: Assess a film script

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6088 - Advanced Diploma of Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4368

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Chris Anastassiades

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

The competency Assess Film Scripts develops the skills and knowledge required to analyse and assess film scripts. By exploring the various stages of the script process and examining the elements necessary to deliver a screen story, you will be able to isolate and identify the flaws and strengths of various texts. This will enable you to provide feedback to others as well as develop your own work.


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VPAU305 Assess a film script


1. Assess script construction, style and content.

Performance Criteria:

Film genre and the elements establishing it in the script are identified
Premise and plot are determined
Consistency and strength of story structure, characterisation and character development are analysed
Effectiveness of narrative elements is evaluated
Style and genre are analysed for effectiveness
Script format is examined for compliance with industry requirements


2. Evaluate changes made in various drafts.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Any changes occurring in premise, theme or subject are delineated
2.2 Principal changes in plot, characterisation and character development are charted
2.3 Changes to narrative elements are identified
2.4 Effectiveness of changes is analysed


3. Write a script report.

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Overview of script’s strengths and weaknesses is prepared
3.2 Estimate is made of work needed to bring script to production quality
3.3 Strategies and/or options for re-writing are outlined
3.4 Report is formatted to company or funding body’s requirements
3.5 Report is provided punctually to agreed deadlines

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to analyse and assess a film script

Details of Learning Activities

You learn through:
1. In-class activities:
industry speakers
teacher directed group activities/projects
peer teaching and class presentations
group discussion
class exercises to review discussions/lectures
workshopping of students’ own projects
analysis/critique of writings of students’ choice

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

Teaching Schedule

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.

Week starting Class contentAssessment dueElements
Week 1
(7 Feb)

Introduction to the course
- Understanding audience expectations. The core central theme – Examining the connection point between audiences and characters and story. - The role of the screenplay in the film-making process.

Week 2
(14 Feb)
Exploring Genre
- Identifying the major genres and their characteristics. - Sub-genres, modern genres, “movements”, etc - Why is genre useful in relation to character, story, structure, theme, etc - Originality and predictability.

Week 3
(21 Feb)
Protagonist (1)
Examining the role of the protagonist in screenplays
- Protagonist as the prime mover for story and action
- Building a ‘relatable’ protagonist
- Models that don’t seem to have single protagonists
- Goal - Interior and exterior obstacles to the protagonist’s goal
Week 4
(28 Feb)
Protagonist (2)
- Summary of previous class and exercises
Defining the protagonist in the simplest terms possible
- Returning to the premise pitch from earlier classes, first identify and name your protagonist and then re-draft premise making the protagonist crucial. This done as a ‘whole class’ exercise as we take each person’s premise and re-write as a class.

 1, 2
Week 5
(7 March)
Characters (1) Examining the roles and functions of characters other than the protagonist
- Examining the terminology of scripts
- Defining each of the characters’ journeys/arcs/wants in relation to the protagonist and his/her journey
- Locations/institutions/etc, as characters.
 1, 2
Week 6
(14 March)
Characters (2)
Different approaches to creating characters including exercises designed to create richer characters.
Exercises include –
Creating a character from a list of flaws/attributes
Imbuing minor and support characters with “real” qualities
A POV document – eg, letter, journal entry
Interviewing your character

Week 7
(21 March)
Story Structure
Structure as a tool to help build and shape story
- Using structure to help inform story shape rather than dictate plot
- Major structural story models
- Identifying major ‘moments’ in traditional structure
-Various approaches to structure
- Mapping a story according to ascending and descending action, dramatic beats

Week 8
(28 March)
Constructing a Beat Sheet
Continuation of structure analysis - deconstructing an existing work by identifying and charting the dramatic beats in a beat sheet to determine who the protagonist is, the type of structure being employed, etc

Week 9
(4 April)
Writing a Synopsis
This session is a ‘reconstruction’ exercise the aim of which is to create a synopsis for a film story. This takes a beat sheet and examines it to create a ‘cause and effect’ document which charts the flow of action through the story
 1, 2, 3
Week 10
(11 April)
Plot Models
An examination of four different plot models and how they work, how this relates to structure, characters, etc
Emphasis is placed on using plot models as a re-writing and assessment tool.

 1, 2, 3
Week 11
(18 April)
Stages to Script
Summarising the process that takes a writer from idea to first draft and beyond
 1, 2, 3
 Mid-semester break (21/4 – 27/4)  
Week 12
(2 May)
Scene Structure
Looking at the requirements of scenes/sequences
 1, 2, 3
Week 13
(9 May)
The skill of dialogue writing and the various factors affecting both the nature and the amount of dialogue in a script.
 1, 2, 3
Week 14
(16 May)
This is a consolidation class that arms students with a checklist which allows them to assess a film script.
The semester’s work will be summarized and the checklist will be created and discussed as a tool for giving feedback and looking at your own work.

 1, 2, 3
Week 15
(23 May)
Giving (and Accepting) Constructive Feedback
This session focuses on delivering feedback to writers and also on accepting feedback from various sources including script editors, actors, directors, producers and distributors. It examines the kind of feedback likely from these sources and how to deal with it.
Also, we explore the differences between being a commissioned writer and developing another’s idea to a brief as opposed to working on your original idea in conjunction with a team.

 1, 2, 3
Week 16
(30 May)
Students will be required to a book a time with the teacher to discuss the feedback they have received in their assessment as well as receive feedback on their outlines.
Session duration dependant on class size.

 1, 2, 3
Week 17
(6 June)
Assessment Week  

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

References are provided throughout the course.


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

Other Resources

You require access to a computer and to the internet for this course

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, oral presentations and through the application of learned skills and insights to your writing tasks. 


Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.

Assessment Tasks
1. Class exercises:

  • Three paragraph synopsis (10%)
  • A beat sheet (no more than 2 pages) (10%)
  • A cause and effect document (no more than 2 pages) (10%)
  • A revised one page synopsis (10%)
2. One five page outline to be produced by May 30 (30%)
3. One assessment of another writer’s work to be produced by the May 30 (30%)

Grades used in this course are as follows:

80 – 100% HD High Distinction
70 – 79% DI Distinction
60 – 69% CR Credit
50 – 59% PA Pass
Under 50% NN Fail

For further details on these assessment tasks and the grading system and criteria used, 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 through the course contact in Program administration

Other Information

You will receive spoken and/or  written feedback from your teacher on your work. Where appropriate, this feedback also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

Late Submissions
Please refer to the course blackboard site for policy information on late submissions and plagiarism

RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension.
Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1;

Course Overview: Access Course Overview