Course Title: Write a feature screenplay

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2012

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: Ian Pringle

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

Delivery of this course at RMIT requires you to have completed all first year courses.

Course Description

This course delivers the skills and knowledge required to work on a first draft of of a feature screenplay. Working in a supportive and critical environment you will develop your draft to the next stage. 

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VPAU309 Write a feature screenplay


1. Prepare to write script.

Performance Criteria:

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


2. Write a synopsis.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Story outline is developed from original concept showing setup, development and resolution.
2.2 Story demonstrates 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 Dimentional 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 builds 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.
5.8 Feedback is used a basis for review.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to write and review/edit a screenplay, using a comprehensive knowledge of the screenwriting craft.

Details of Learning Activities

You learn through:
1. In-class activities:

  • teacher directed group activities/projects
  • peer teaching
  • group discussion
  • class exercises to review discussions
  • 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


Write a Feature Screenplay is broken into 6 distinct phases:

Phase 1 - In this phase, you work on synopses of your own film script. You create synopses of one line, one paragraph, one page. These are presented in class in order to give you an opportunity to decide which scripts you want to work on. This will be part of the process of deciding on an editing partner for the course. ( Element 2)

Phase 2 - This phase involves a revision of script editing practice. There is discussion around examples and practice of the editing protocol to be used in this course. You will be taken through the editing of a feature by completing breakdowns, analysis and preparation of editing notes on an Australian feature. (Element 1)

Phase 3 - In this phase, you work in partnership with another student, each of you preparing a breakdowns of the other’s scripts. Each prepares a script editor’s report on the draft, detailing areas for improvement, sketching out plans for the next draft. These reports 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. ( Element 1)

Phase 4 - This phase involves preparation of a treatment for new draft  breakdowns on each others’ scripts. Each prepare a script editor’s report on the draft, detailing areas for improvement, sketching out plans for the next draft. (Element 3)

Phase 5 - This phase consists of presentations by editing teams of the scripts and new treatments they have worked on in first semester. (Element 3)

Phase 6 - Here you work on your script with editing partner . There will be a series of two to one sessions: Lecturer, writer and editor of each project. (Element 4)

Phase 7  - In this phase, you present your completed second draft. (Element 5)

Phase 8 - Final phase involves discussion and review of changes made and rewriting of synopsis. ( Element 5)


Content <meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="content-type" />                                                                                             
Semester 1
Finalising student’s synopses for 1st draft – one-line, one paragraph & half page.

On the basis of the scripts and synopses, students decide on editing partner.

3-8Commence class breakdown of designated feature script. In class examination of the script, line by line, scene by scene, act by act; to determine the nature of the structure, strength of plotting and storytelling, distinctive quality of dialogue, established POV’s, genre and tone.

Commencement of in-depth discussion with lecturer regarding individual scripts. This carries through until the end of 1st semester
9-14Breakdown of partner’s script, utilising the informed technique established for breakdown of designated script.

Students study of a range of feature films and discuss ways in which those films can inform script writing. Students build a class resource by nominating and showing films that have influenced or provided inspiration for their script and lead class discussion.
15-16 <meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="content-type" />Partner’s breakdown checked by lecturer.

Students discuss with editing partner and lecturer their strategy for 2nd draft.
<meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="content-type" />  
Semester  2   
1-2Delivery of student’s one page strategy for 2nd draft – outlining, if applicable, changes to: structure, plot, storytelling, tone, POV, etc. 3/4
13-15Students writing of 2nd draft. One on one sessions with lecturer dealing with problems encountered in the writing process. 5
Delivery of 2nd draft.
2/ 5

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Extracts, readings and additional references are provided throughout the course. In addition to hard copy handouts, some readings are made available on the class website, Blackboard, and others can be accessed via the web.
Recommended books will be discussed in class.


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. You will also need access to Final Draft or equivalent software

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, workshopping, 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 1. Breakdown and analysis of feature film script for editing. Due week beginning April 16 (15%)

Assessment 2. Breakdown of partner’s script and script editor’s report  Due week beginning June 4 (15%)

Assessment 3. Second draft treatment . Due week beginning Oct 8 (10%)

Assessment 4. Second draft of a feature film script Due week beginning October 15 (60%)

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