Course Title: Write a feature screenplay

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2010

Course Code: COMM5924

Course Title: Write a feature screenplay

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 contact details: Ian Pringle
Location: Building 94, level 2, room 06, 23-27 Cardigan Street, South Carlton
Phone: 9925
Fax: 9925 4362

Nominal Hours: 140

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

First year core subjects.

Course Description

This course delivers the skills and knowledge required to write a feature screenplay as a commissioned script or as a speculative venture.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VPAU309 Write a feature screenplay


1. Prepare to write script.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Market is investigated and potential of story idea is assessed
1.2 Story background is researched and details of period or setting clarified
1.3 Copyright and legal issues are clarified and resolved
1.4 Structure of screenplay is determined
1.5 Script length is determined


2. Write a synopsis.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Story outline is developed from original concept showing set up, development and resolution
2.2 Story demonstrates a strong inciting incident
2.3 Dominant genre, basic premise and theme of the feature are established
2.4 A sustainable dramatic question is created
2.5 Dimensional characters are drawn up.


3. Develop an extended treatment.

Performance Criteria:

3.1 The main plot is written in definable sections with strong turning points
3.2 Subplots are integrated with main plot
3.3 Choices are created for characters which pose genuine dilemmas
3.4 Stakes appropriate to the drama of the story are established


4. Create a first draft.

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Scenes that drive the story forward are written
4.2 Where appropriate, scene sequences are developed to create plot momentum and dynamic
4.3 Story is reviewed to ensure cause and effect are visible and plausible
4.4 Dramatic beats in the plot are further delineated


5. Revise draft.

Performance Criteria:

5.1 Draft is reviewed to ensure dramatic question drives the story from beginning to end
5.2 Turning points are further developed to ensure plot build towards a climax
5.3 Exposition is dramatically integrated into dramatic action
5.4 Theme is effectively woven into narrative
5.5 Draft is examined for consistency and continuity
5.6 A transformational arc is developed for characters
5.7 Consultations take place with appropriate production personnel or informed critics
5.5 Feedback is used as basis for review

Learning Outcomes


Details of Learning Activities

• lectures
• demonstrations
• guest lecturers
• peer teaching and class presentations
• exercises
• discussion
• group activities/projects
• workshopping

Classes will include planned lectures, class exercises to review what has been learnt in class, practical demonstrations, workshopping of students’ own projects, analysis/critique of screenwriters’ work.

Teaching Schedule

Course is broken into 6 istinct phases: Phase 1 to 4 will take up Semester One and Phases 5-to 6, the second semester.

1. Synopses of student’s own films. One line, one paragraph, one page (Assign #1) These are presented in class in order to give students an opportunity to decide which scripts they want to read by way of deciding on an editing partner for the course.
1, 3, 4
2Revision on script editing. Examples and practice of the editing protocol to be used in this course. (see attachment) Students will be taken through the editing of a feature. Students do breakdowns, analysis and preparation of editing notes on an Australian feature. (Assign #2. ) 4, 5
3Students choose a partner and prepare breakdowns on each other’s personal scripts. They prepare a script editor’s report on the draft, detailing areas for improvement, sketching out plans for the next draft. (Assign #3.) These are exchanged between partners, discussed and a final set of notes for the revision prepared.

The notes and plans for the new draft are discussed in individual sessions with the lecturer. Students prepare revised, agreed upon notes for the Treatment of their script. Joint assignment. (Assign #4.)
4Students prepare a Treatment for their new draft. (Major Assign #5), due at the end of semester one.
5Four initial classes consist of one hour presentations by editing teams of the scripts and new treatments they have worked on in first semester. First 30 pages of script due in week 8 Remainder of the semester is taken up with two to one sessions: Lecturer, writer and editor of each project. 3
6Presentation of completed second drafts. Due in Week #14 (Major Assignment #6) Each student must prepare a script editor’s report on the 2nd draft of the film they worked on as editor. This Report must contain a summary of the decisions taken in moving to the second draft as well as a critique of the draft. (Assign # 7) 5

Editing sessions. Students must book in their editing sessions with the lecturer. Editing sessions will take place in the classroom setting but with only the writer, the editor and the lecturer present. Bookings are for one hour sessions, but the same two students might switch editor-writer roles in the second hour of their booking.

However, students may choose not to deal with both scripts back to back in two sessions. When making bookings specify in advance which project is going to be worked on in the session.

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

You will assessed on your ability to develop a feature screenplay through consultation and re-drafting, to contribute to screenwriting critique sessions and an ongoing assessment of film knowledge and use of learned techniques.

Assessment Tasks

1. Synopsis
2. Breakdown and & Analysis of Feature for editing.
3. Breakdown of Partner’s Script and Script Editor’s Report
4. Second Draft Treatment
5. Second Draft
6.. Second Draft Script Editor’s Report 
7. Classroom exercises

Assessment Matrix

VPAU309 Write A Feature ScreenplaySynopsisBreakdown
And Analysis
Breakdown and Editor’s ReportSecond Draft TreatmentSecond DraftSecond Draft Editor’s ReportExercises

1. Prepare to write script.

X     X
2. Write a synopsisX     X
3. Develop an extended treatment XXX  X
Create a first draftX     X
Revise draft   XXXX

• Story telling skills

• Research skills XXXXXXX
• Dialogue writing skills
• Consultation skills
 XX  X 
• Visual techniques XXXXXXX
• Australian and international cinema XXXXXXX
• Classic and experimental film XXXXXXX
• Scriptwriting techniques and conventions XXXXXXX
• Sreenwriting terminology XXXXXXX
• Production roles and protocols XXXXXXX
• Current market and industry expectations XXXXXXX
• Feature screenplay formats XXXXXXX

Other Information

These assessment tasks are designed for you to demonstrate competency in the required skills and knowledge of this unit.

This unit will also be graded. Your teacher will provide a grading guide for you at the commencement of the course.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview