Course Title: Work as an independent screenwriter

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2014

Course Code: COMM7314

Course Title: Work as an independent screenwriter

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Cameron Clarke

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

Work as an independent screenwriter delivers the skills and knowledge required for building your career as a screenwriter. It introduces you to career planning, business and taxation requirements, cash flow, time management and networking within all aspects of the industry. You will focus on the creative ways in which you and your ideas can be presented to the marketplace and the wider audience in order to provoke, inform and entertain, using the communication skills you need as a freelance writer to promote your work and pitch your ideas.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWWWOR601A Work as an independent screenwriter


1. Develop career plan

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Personal strengths and weaknesses are identified
 1.2 Opportunities and threats within the industry are identified
 1.3 Short and long term goals are defined
 1.4 Study or experience required to meet industry standard is determined
 1.5 Paths to employment or project development are clarified
 1.6 Folio of past and present projects is created and maintained


2. Prepare funding applications

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Sources of development funding are identified and matched to project requirements
 2.2 Application formats and requirements are sourced and clarified
 2.3 Industry experience is clearly documented
 2.4 Project parameters are succinctly outlined
 2.5 Timely application is submitted in appropriate format
 2.6 Progress of application is monitored and feedback sought when appropriate


3. Manage time and resources

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Schedules, with due dates for deliverables, are established
 3.2 Resources necessary to achieve deliverables are clarified
 3.3 Resources and time are prioritised
 3.4 Additional resources are sought where necessary
 3.5 Extensions are negotiated where necessary, and in advance of deadline


4. Meet legal obligations necessary to business

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Business entity is established with appropriate regulatory bodies as necessary
 4.2 Insurance cover is obtained and liabilities clarified
 4.3 Business and taxation reporting requirements are met
 4.4 Copyright clearance is obtained where necessary
 4.5 Legal advice is sought when necessary


5. Develop networks

Performance Criteria:

5.1 Production and distribution companies, funding bodies and professional associations are identified
 5.2 Developments in the industry are monitored
 5.3 Funding opportunities are researched
 5.4 Industry contacts are established and maintained

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be familiar with the skills and knowledge required to plan and manage your career as a screenwriter.

Details of Learning Activities

In this course, 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
• analysis/critique of students’ writings

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

In the course Working in the Industry B, you will be working independently on building your own career plan. This will involve a great deal of background work: interviewing people working in different areas of the industry, looking at the industry in Australia and internationally, analysing trends, reading current literature and researching different career paths. You will be expected to spend a minimum of 2 hours a week working on this project and to bring your findings regularly to class to discuss with your teacher and your peers.

Teaching Schedule



Assessment due


Overview of course and discussion of course content.
Assignments explained.
Watch Case Study movie - Kenny


Guest Speaker - Clayton Jacobson, screenwriter/director of Kenny.


Graduate showcase website explained and discussed.
Introduction to Assessment #1: Your web page.
Begin work on individual web pages.


Establish groups to research a screenwriter and his or her career path.
Fine tuning the web page.
Guest Speaker - FilmVic.
Introduction to Assessment #2: Other people’s careers.
The back-up plan: an exercise
Career track and personal slate


Guest speaker  to discuss career plans
Introduction to Assessment #4: Career Plans.
Other people’s careers cont.
Begin work on career plans.
Students working on alternatives to their chosen pathways

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT #1 due: Your web page1,3,5

Guest speaker - Australian Writer’s Guild
Part of the union: Contracts and industrial clout, with the Australian Writers’ Guild
Other people’s careers: progress reports.
Continue work on career plans


Guest speaker - TBC - Legal obligations and the business of screenwriting
Making Hay (part #1): The financial side of a career as an independent screenwriter/filmmaker (including career planning and securing development funding).


Presentations: Other people’s careers

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT #2 due: Other people’s careers1

Presentations: Other people’s careers

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT #2 due: Other people’s careers1

Guest speakers - Advice from the front: Recent alumni
Choosing your electives next year/insight from industry professionals:
Finding the work: agents and managers


Coping with rejection
Survival strategies
Making Hay (part #2): The financial side of a career as an independent screenwriter/filmmaker (including career planning and securing development funding)
Guest Speaker - RMITV

 Mid semester break - 22 September to 3 October  

Guest speaker - Graeme Simsion on his rise and rise. MTIA Assessment.
Pitching and feedback.
Discussion of Assessment #3: Your Pitch
Group practice
Random pitches: an exercise


Performing your pitch: fine tuning
Graduate showcase website: final planning

14Pitching to the professionals (Day #1)FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT#3 due: Your pitch
15Pitching to the professionals (Day #2)FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT#3 due: Your pitch


Pitching - the wrap-up 
Final Review

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT #4 due: Your Career plan completed draft1-5

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Any prescribed reading material will be distributed in class


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

Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is on going throughout the semester. Assessment tasks include participation in a debate, in class exercises and the completion of written assignments.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment tasks in this course are either formative or summative. Formative tasks provide the basis for ongoing feedback and can be considered as essential building blocks for the more substantial summative assessment tasks. Summative assessment tasks in this unit are graded.

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

Formative assessment for this course comprises three activities. In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to complete these exercises to a satisfactory standard.

Assessment #1: Your web page (Due 8 August)
Design your own entry for the graduate showcase website, including photo, contact details, project slate and other information as decided, and submit it both as hard copy and in an electronic format.

Assessment #2: Other people’s careers (Due 29 August, 5 September)
In small groups, research the career of an Australian screenwriter or performance writer, and present your findings as to the reasons for their success to the class in a brief visual presentation.

Assessment #3: Your pitch (Due 24 October, 31 October)
After research, drafting and workshopping, present a 3-5 minute pitch for a particular project to industry personnel as if you were seeking to gain their involvement in the project. You will have 3-5 minutes to further discuss the project and field questions.
There is one summative assessment in this course.

Assessment #4: Career plan – completed draft (Due 7 November)

Summary of Assessment
Present the completed draft of a strategic plan of 1500–2000 words identifying your major goals, and steps for achieving them over a 3-8 year period.

Details of Assessment
Present your strategic plan as a written report and include the following:

  • Long term goals
  • Shorter term objectives
  • Analysis of the current industrial and professional environment and relevant opportunities and threats in the local and international screen industries
  • Analysis of personal strengths and weaknesses, personality type and values
  • Target organisations or projects for funding, production or employment
  • Include strategies for non-core employment to complete the career jigsaw
  • Identify training or resources required to pursue career goals and particular objectives e.g. business and financial plan, training, professional development, networks, teams and collaboration, work environment
  • Strategies for managing your professional life, including developing projects, maintaining focus and dealing with setbacks and rejection
  • Overall timeline

You will be directed to a range of resources to research the information to produce this report. You will also have an opportunity to discuss a draft of this report with your teacher. A detailed brief andassessment rubric will be given to you by your class teacher.

Assessment Submission
Career plans must be emailed to your teacher in either Word or RTF format. A signed cover sheet must be included in the email. On the program blackboard site you will find a copy of the cover sheet together with instructions on how to set up and use a digital signature.

Your teacher may also request a hard copy version of your assessment.


This competency is graded. The grades used are as follows:

CHD Competency with high distinction
CDI Competency with distinction
CC Competency with credit
CAG Competent graded
NYC Not yet complete
DNS Did not submit

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. This is available through the course contact in Program Administration.

Other Information

The major learning experience involves studio based exercises, demonstration and production. It is strongly advised that you attend all sessions in order to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring the maximum opportunity to gain the competency

Cover Sheet for Submissions
You must complete a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work. This signed sheet acknowledges that you are aware of the plagiarism implications.

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

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy to assist you to achieve your learning potential. Academic progress 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. You can apply in writing for up to a week’s extension from your course teacher. If you need a longer extension, you wil need to apply for special consideration. Special consideration, appeals and discipline

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Academic integrity and plagiarism

Work Placement
It is a requirement of this program that all students participate in authentic work related tasks. These may be either simulated or in a real work environment. On occasion, we are approached by industry and given opportunities for students to apply for short term placements. When these placement opportunities arise, students are required to negotiate the specific details with the relevant program coordinator or teacher. All industry placements require students, RMIT staff and host organisations to sign a written agreement prior to the commencement of the placement.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview