Course Title: Assess a film script

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2012

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  Class contentAssessment dueElements
Week 1

Introduction to the course
What do audiences want? Explores the connection between the audience and the writer, the writer’s responsibility to the audience and the audience’s need for an ‘outcome’. Through exercises we explore the idea of a ‘core’ theme and generate a simple story.

Week 2

Premise/Genre – Explores the importance of identifying the genre of the piece on which we’re working by looking at the things we need to know about the genre and how to find them through viewing films.

Week 3

The Protagonist – Explores the protagonist as the prime mover in the story and defines him/her as the one who ‘makes’ the action of the story. Examining what this means, the importance of goals – interior and exterior, stakes, obstacles, voice, etc. Through exercises we examine the protagonist’s voice and attempt to frame the story in terms of their experience. The premise is re-written or refreshed to reflect this new information. Also looks at different models including ensemble and supposed ‘dual’ protagonist stories.
Week 4

The Antagonist – Identifies the role of the antagonist as the equal of the Protagonist. Looks at the confusion sometimes inherent in many stories where this character seems to ‘make’ the action. Also, we explore the use of an antagonistic force rather than a single antagonist. Through exercises we explore the antagonist of our stories in much the same way as the protagonist then re-work the premise to accommodate and reflect this new information.

 1, 2
Week 5

Defining and refining a character ‘set’ – Explores the roles and functions of characters other than the protagonist. Defining each of the characters wants/arcs/goals in relation to the protagonist. How to identify redundant characters. Through exercises we explore creating characters through lists of flaws/attributes, imbuing minor and support characters with ‘real’ qualities and getting to know your characters through p.o.v. documents. You will be asked to produce a one page synopsis for use in class the following session.
 1, 2
Week 6

Story Structure (1) – Explores the different structural models that can be employed to examine your stories. Stresses the notion that structure is a tool to identify deficiencies in a story. The malleability of structure. Looking at story as a series of questions of action.
Exercise – You will work on a common story using a particular structural model then look at their synopses and ‘locate’ structure in their stories.

Week 7

Story Structure (2) - Mapping your story – A workshop class in which you expand upon the work of the previous class, locking in the structure of their stories based on the resources they have created thus far, working in groups and individually.
Week 8
Story Structure (3) – Constructing a beat sheet. Examines the story as beats of action, explores the idea of beats as units of story development with causal links to one another.
Exercise - “My story is about…” students to produce a number of documents in class that define and redefine their stories.
Homework is the production of a final draft synopsis for assessment.

Week 9

Story and Plot ‘modelling’ – Explores the various ways in which a story can be ‘tested’ by looking at number of different sources including myths, theories regarding dramatic situations, ‘hero’ films. Exercises – you volunteer your work for whole class scrutiny and assessment.
Homework – you produce a ‘beat sheet’ of the key turning points in their stories for use in class.
 1, 2, 3
 Mid-semester break (5 April - 11 April)  
Week 10

Stages to Script (1) – The Five Page Outline – We explore the structure of this document and how to turn the beats of our story into an easily digestible piece that can be read by anyone. Also, we examine the criteria of funding bodies such as Film Victoria and what you, as a writer, are expected to know about your story.
Exercise – you outline some key turning points in their stories, using your beat sheets as a springboard. You also attempt to answer some of the ‘script questions’ on the Film Victoria application form.

Assessment 1
( Synopsis) due 
1, 2, 3
Week 11

Stages to Script (2) Turning outline to treatment. Explores the first ‘long form’ document that screenwriters have to produce, the kind of language that could be used, length, what to include and omit, etc.
Exercises – you will be asked to produce a treatment of a ‘scene’ and present it in class. Homework – produce a final draft of your five page outlines and choose a ‘buddy’ to whom it will be submitted (as well as to the teacher), for feedback.
 1, 2, 3
Week 12

Scene workshop. Explores aspects of scenes such as locating the viewer, dialogue, the structure of scenes.
Exercises - using prepared material, students will write and edit scenes.
 1, 2, 3
Week 13
Consolidation – the check list. A summary of the class and an exploration of the kind of feedback that is useful to writers and feedback that is damaging or unproductive. A checklist will be presented as a tool for giving feedback. Also, we will explore how to give and receive feedback from other key practitioners in the film-making process.
 Assessment 2 (Outline/treatment) due1, 2, 3
Week 14
Presenting 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.

Assessment 3
(Submission and delivery of assessment report) due
1, 2, 3
Week 15

Individual feedback sessions.  Each student will book a 15 minute session with the teacher to discuss their work through the semester and receive feedback on their projects.

 1, 2, 3
Week 16

Individual feedback sessions. As above.

 1, 2, 3
Week 17

Assessment Week - No classes

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.

There will be three pieces produced for assessment purposes –

Assessment 1: Synopsis. Due week beginning April 2, 2012 (10%)
A one page synopsis of a feature film idea

Assessment 2: Outline/treatment. Due week beginning May 7, 2012 (30%)
A five page outline/treatment of the same idea

Assessment 3: Assessment report. Due week beginning May 14, 2012 (40%)
3.1 A three page assessment report of another writer’s idea - 30%
3.2 Delivery of the assessment report as one on one feedback to the writer whose work has been assessed - 10%

Assessment 4: Class work. (20%)
Class work, in the form of exercises

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

Submission of Assessment Tasks
You are required to submit all assessment tasks in hard copy with a completed School of Media and Communication cover sheet. You are expected to keep a copy of all assignments submitted.

Late Submissions
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension before that due date.
Please refer to the course blackboard site for information on late submissions and on applying for an extension.

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

Academic Integrity
Academic Integrity is about the honest presentation of your academic work. Presenting work that fails to acknowledge other people’s work within yours can compromise academic integrity. For further information on academic integrity and plagiarism, please refer to the following URL.;ID=kkc202lwe1yv

Special Consideration Policy
Please refer to the following URL for information on applying for special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1

Course Overview: Access Course Overview