Course Title: Work as an independent screenwriter

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2015

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: John Reeves
Phone: 9925 4895

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


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


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



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


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

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’ written and oral pitches

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 content and discussion of course content

Planning your career in the screen industry

Rejection - 3 methods for coping


Guest Speaker - TBA

Pitching yourself and your work via social media

Speed pitching: an exercise


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

Your visit to MIFF - groups formed


Introduction to Assessment task #2: Other people’s careers

Establish groups to research a screenwriter and her or his career path
Fine tuning the web page.
The back-up plan: an exercise
Career track and personal slate


Guest speaker to discuss Career plans - TBA
Introduction to Assessment task #4: Career plan

Begin work on Career plans
Students working on alternatives to their chosen pathways

Assessment task #1 due: Your web page

Guest speaker - Australian Writers’ 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 - TBA - Legal/financial 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

Assessment task #2 due: Other people’s careers

Presentations: Other people’s careers (cont’d)

Assessment task #2 due: Other people’s careers (cont’d)

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


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

Career plans: discussion and workshop

 Mid semester break - 21 September to 2 October 

The Art of Pitching: Guest speaker - TBA
Pitching and feedback
Discussion of Assessment task #3: Your pitch
Group practice
Performing your pitch: fine tuning



Pitching to the professionals (Day #1)

Assessment task #3 due: Your pitch

14Pitching to the professionals (Day #2)Assessment task #3 due: Your pitch (cont’d)
15Pitching to the professionals (Day #3)Assessment task #3 due: Your pitch (cont’d)

Pitching - the wrap-up 
Final Review

Assessment task #4 due: Your Career plan completed draft

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

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete the following assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all of the following pieces of assessment (refer to Blackboard for assessment criteria). Once you have demonstrated competency, Assessment #3 and #4 will be graded (refer to Blackboard for briefs and grading rubrics).

Assessment task #1: Your web page (Due Week 5)
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 task #2: Other people’s careers (Due Weeks 8 and 9)
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 task #3: Your pitch (Due Weeks 13, 14 and 15)(graded)
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.

Assessment task #4: Career plan – completed draft (Due Week 16) (graded)
Present the completed draft of a strategic plan of 1200–1500 words identifying your major goals, and steps for achieving them over a 3-8 year period.

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. Once you have demonstrated competency, your final assessment tasks (#3 and #4) will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric). 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 (see above).           

Other Information

The major learning experience involves studio based exercises, demonstrations and skill sessions. 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


Course Overview: Access Course Overview