Course Title: Research and critically analyse history and theory to inform artistic practice

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: VART5797C

Course Title: Research and critically analyse history and theory to inform artistic practice

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: George Viscas
Phone: 0412 589 438

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

This course provides a comprehensive view of screen language, by researching and critically analysing the history and theory of screenwriting in order to inform the artistic practice of students of professional screenwriting.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CUVCOR13A Research and critically analyse history and theory to inform artistic practice


1. Research history and theory.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Identify relevant sources of information on history and theory
1.2 Identify and explore potential new and alternative sources which provide different views to traditional information sources.
1.3 Use formal and informal research techniques appropriately to address questions.
1.4 Organise research materials and findings for current and future artistic practice.


2. Link research to artistic practice

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Critically evaluate information in the context of own artistic practice.
2.2 Assess ways in which different aspects of history and theory inform artistic practice.
2.3 Develop positions in relation to history and theory to inform current practice.


3. Update and maintain knowledge of trends within own area of artistic practice.

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Identify and use opportunities to update and expand knowledge of theory and history.
3.2 Incorporate and integrate knowledge into artistic practice.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to inform your own artistic practice through a knowledge of the history and theory of screenwriting.

Details of Learning Activities

You learn through:
1. In-class activities:
• lectures
• industry speakers
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• reading of excerpts of writings and set texts to provide examples of writing elements
• 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

Week starting Class contentAssessment dueElements
Week 1
(7 Feb)

Introduction: Course Outline.
[Assessment Brief 1 and Assessment Brief 2]
Early Film History: Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies and D.W. Griffith.
Introduction to Screen Language: Production and Story Elements.


Week 2
(14 Feb)
German Expressionism and Russian School of Montage. Discussing the characteristics of these periods in film history and key contribution of selected filmmakers. Screening excerpts from selected films. Class discussion and exercises.
Structuring the Narrative: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction: ‘Narrative as a Formal System’.
Monitoring progress and consultations of


Week 3
(21 Feb)
Classical Hollywood Era: Introduction. Discussing historical and cultural contexts, production and distribution patterns during the Classic Hollywood Era (1916-1960). Screen excerpts from selected films. Class exercises focusing on story elements. Presentations.Monitoring progress and consultations of Assessment1.CUVCOR13A


Week 4
(28 Feb)
Genre: Introduction: Discussing historical and cultural contexts, production and distribution patterns during the Classic Hollywood Era (1916-1960). Screen excerpts from selected genre films. Class Exercises focusing on story elements. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentations (ongoing).


Week 5
(7 March)
Romantic Comedy: Examining generic conventions of Romantic Comedy. Screen excerpts from selected romantic comedies. Class discussion and exercises. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentations (ongoing).


Week 6
(14 March)
Film Noir: Examining generic conventions of Film Noir. Screen excerpts from selected noir films. Class discussion and exercises. Presentations.
Screening Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944).
Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 7
(21 March)
Focus on Story Elements:
Comparative analysis and discussion of story elements in the published script and selected scenes (including alternative ending) in Double Indemnity. Presentations.
Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 8
(28 March)
Focus on Thriller:
Screen excerpts from selected films by Alfred Hitchcock. Class discussion of Opening and Closing Sequences, and Patterns of Development in Hitchcock’s films. Class exercises. Presentations. [Brief 2]
Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 9
(4 April)
French New Wave: The Auteur Theory: Introduction. The social, cultural and political contexts for the emergence of French New Wave and the key filmmakers. Screening excerpts from Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961) and 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1962). Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 10
(11 April)
The Hollywood New Wave and the ‘Unmotivated Hero’: Screening excerpts from the key films of New Hollywood. Exercises focus on analysis of themes, discussion of narrative structure, and compiling character profiles. PresentationsAssessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 11
(18 April)
The Mastery of Style and Subtext in French Genre Film: Melville’s Stories of Honour Amongst the Thieves and Irony and Coincidence in Chabrol’s Bourgeois Thrillers: Excerpts from selected films. Exercises focusing on the role of generic conventions, selection of locations, props, and establishing characters using language of silence. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


 Mid-semester break (21/4 – 27/4)  
Week 12
(2 May)
Neo-Noir: Postmodern Joviality and Con-Games: Screening excerpts from selected neo-noir films. Analysis of the narrative, dialogue/subtext and organization of time in neo-noir films. Class exercises: Analysing dialogue/subtext and discussing and attempting alternatives. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 13
(9 May)
In the Archive of Cinematic Memories: Film Essays of Chris Marker. Excerpts from La Jette (1962) and Sans Soleil (1982). Class discussion and exercises focusing on the use of voice over and still images. Das Neue Kino: Discussion of work of key filmmakers and screening excerpts from their work. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 14
(16 May)
Generic Crossovers: A Disarming Comedy About a Murder Case. Screening Fargo (Joel Cohen, 1996): Comparative analysis of selected scenes in the script and the film, focusing on structure, characters, dialogue and subtext. Presentations.

Assessment 2 due



Week 15
(23 May)
Documentary Film History: Introduction. Screening excerpts and discussing the treatment of documentary subjects and different narrative and production devices used in five documentary modes. Presentations.Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 16
(30 May)
New Hong Kong Cinema: Elegiac Romances of Wong-kar-Wai. Screen excerpts from Wong-Kar-wai’s films. Exercises and class discussion focusing on repetition as the key poetic motif in Wong’s work. Presentations.
The Poetics of New Iranian Cinema: Screening excerpts from the films of Abbas Kiarostami and Jafari Panahi. Discussing the seemingly naturalist plot and character development in contemporary Iranian cinema. Presentations.
Assessment 1:
Presentation (ongoing)


Week 17
(6 June)
Assessment Week CUVCOR13A


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Recommended Reading:
While there are no prescribed texts it is strongly recommended you make use of the recommended references


A list of recommended reading and viewing will be up on blackboard

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.

A1 Research Assignment and Presentation: You will focus on one story element in a selected film text and present outcomes of your research. Due on date to be arranged with teacher. (30% )

A2 Genre Assignment: You will research and discuss a selected film genre (analytical essay) and complete a scene adhering to selected generic conventions (practical exercise).   Due May 18  (70%)

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 by 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 including 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