Course Title: Script edit a feature film

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2018

Course Code: COMM7326

Course Title: Script edit a feature film

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 Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Luke Preston

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

In this unit you will develop the knowledge and skills required by a script editor to work with a writer, either through a film production company or independently, to edit and develop a feature length script.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWSEF613A Script edit a feature film


1. Build partnerships

Performance Criteria:

1.1   A working relationship with the scriptwriter, producer and/or director is developed and maintained

1.2   Assistance is given to the writer to clearly communicate his/her story and concept

1.3   A project schedule is negotiated concerning target dates for rewrites, revisions and the final deadline for delivery


2. Assist writer to develop script

Performance Criteria:

2.1   The structure, themes and genre of the story are identified

2.2   Consensus is built around the strengths and development needs of the script

2.3   Story, structure and character problems are identified

2.4   A review is undertaken of any rewrites and a written analysis given to the writer

2.5   Assistance is given to the writer in the preparation of logline and synopsis for the new draft

2.6   Goals for subsequent drafts are determined


3. Write a script report

Performance Criteria:

3.1   A script report is written to specifications of the funding body or production company

3.2   Feasibility of script is clearly evaluated

3.3   Story, theme, character development and structure are clearly assessed

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will have developed and applied the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate your competency in the above elements and will be able to edit a feature length film script. This is normally done in association with other screen professionals such as fellow editors, directors and a production team.

Details of Learning Activities

In this unit, you will develop the knowledge and skills required by a script editor to work with a writer, either through a film production company or independently, to edit and develop a feature length script.

Examples of learning activities:

  • class exercises – both written and practical
  • practical demonstrations
  • discussion regarding relevant web site and reading material
  • film viewing and analysis
  • group projects and working in pairs
  • guest presentations
  • research
  • independent project based work
  • ‘workshopping’ of student projects including peer/lecturer feedback.

Please note: in 2018, once students have completed this elective, they'll be able to undertake the core unit Establish the creative vision for screen productions in second semester by continuing to work on their feature screenplay.

Teaching Schedule

Teaching Schedule




Class Content


Week 1

Feb 8

Introduction: so what’s this script editor thing all about?

In the first week we’ll discuss what the role of a script editor is within the production team, what is expected of them and what is expected of the writer.

You will pitch your projects and be assigned a script editor to work with throughout the semester. Time will be allotted for editors and writers to get to know each other’s projects during this class via an informal chat.

You are expected to have a completed first draft screenplay by week four. If you already have a completed first draft, great! Then you can send the screenplay to your editor and get started. If you are still working on your first draft, than send your editor the latest outline.

Homework: In your editor role, read your writer’s screenplay or outline. The document should be read twice. The first read is for a first impression and the second read is for a more analytical perspective.

Each week you will be assigned a film to watch which will be discussed the following week and incorporated into the class. This week the film to watch is Ghostbusters (2016).  


Week 2

Feb 15

The Five Pitfalls of Screenwriting

From week two onwards, each class will begin with a discussion of the assigned viewing. This is from the point of view of a script editor and with a focus on how the film could have been improved on a script level.

After the initial discussion of the homework movie, we will discuss the Five Pitfalls of Screenwriting. These are common issues that most screenplays struggle with which script editors can be on the lookout for whilst working with their writer.

  1. Structure
  2. Character
  3. Style
  4. Audience and Theme
  5. Dialogue & Subtext

Writers and script editors will get together and discuss their first and second impressions of each other’s projects.

Homework Movie: The Silver Linings Playbook


Week 3

Feb 22


Discussion of the previous homework movie, The Silver Linings Playbook with a script editor’s eye.

With that film in mind, there will be a discussion of the importance and purpose of a log line, followed by the key elements of how to craft a killer logline.

As an exercise you will craft a log line for The Silver Linings Playbook.

Then, working in your writer/editor groups, editors will write five loglines with their writer.

Homework Movie: Rogue One


Week 4

Mar 1


Discussion of the previous homework movie, Rogue One with a script editor’s eye.

“Send me the 1 pager.” This is probably the most uttered phrase from a producer to a writer who has ever pitched them a project. In this particular class we’ll discuss why producers, distributors and funding bodies require this document and the key elements involved in crafting an effective one.

Like a screenplay, a successful one page synopsis is has a strong basis in structure. Using examples, we’ll take a look at effective one page synopsis’ as well as dismal ones.

Writers with their editors, will work out the key turning points in their screenplays and put together an outline for their synopsis.

By week four, you are expected to have a completed first draft screenplay.

Homework Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark


Week 5

Mar 8


Discussion of the previous homework movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, again with a script editor’s eye.

Outline and discuss the following feature film structures:

  1. 3 Act Structure
  2. 5 Act Structure
  3. 8 Act Structure

In a group exercise, the class will break down the structure of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Working within your teams, writers and editors will discuss and dissect the structure their screenplays are using and whether it’s the best structure for their story.

Homework: In no more than 300 words, editors write down the major turning points of the screenplay they’re editing.

Homework Movie:Logan

Assessment #1 is Due: Short Documents

Week 6

Mar 15

Genre & Market Analysis

First up, we’re starting with a discussion of Logan where we cast a critical script editor’s eye over the film to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

We’ll have an overview of genre and why it’s important to either deliver on the promise of a genre or subvert it as needed. You will then discuss with your editor what genre your screenplay falls into and;

  1. if it delivers on the promise the genre makes to the audience.
  2. If not, can you pivot  the screenplay project to achieve that, or pivot their project to a more marketable genre.


Homework Movie: Blade Runner


Week 7

Mar 22

Next Draft Notes & The Script Report

Discussion of the homework movie, Blade Runner.

Writers hate writing Next Draft Notes, but if they want a producer or a funding body to invest (pay) for the next draft, the writer needs to present them with a pitch of what it is they’re going to get for that money.

In the first half of this class we will cover the following aspects of composing a set of Next Draft Notes that will be flawless in any application.

  1. Balancing the good and the bad
  2. Genre
  3. Story
  4. Structure
  5. Character
  6. Subtext
  7. Market
  8. Execution  

On the flip side of the Next Draft Notes is the Script Report. It’s not uncommon for both of these documents to be submitted together as part of the same application to a funding body.

In the second half of this class we will cover the following aspects of preparing the Script Report.

  1. The synopsis
  2. Story
  3. Character
  4. Structure
  5. Dialogue and subtext
  6. Marketability recommendation


Homework movie: Atomic Blonde


Week 8

Mar 29

Beat Sheets 

Discussion of the homework movie, Atomic Blonde.

What is a beat sheet? Why do we use them and how can they help writers from wasting weeks, if not months writing content that may see the delete button.

As a group, the class will beat sheet out the first fifteen minutes of Atomic Blonde.

Writers and editors break off into their groups and beat sheet out the first fifteen pages of their projects.

Homework Movie: Tin Cup.




Mid-semester break: Friday March 30 to Friday April 26 inclusive


Week 9

Apr 12


Discussion of the homework movie, Tin Cup.

Week 9 is all about character and how to develop the hero of a screenplay into an engaging protagonist that people will spend $20 and two hours on.

This will cover but is not limited to:

  1. Creating a character outline
  2. Creating empathy
  3. Building unique characters
  4. Character motivation
  5. The five types of goals and overcoming obstacles

Editors will then work with their writers on creating empathy for both their protagonists and antagonists.

Homework Movie: El Mariachi.


Week 10

Apr 19

Writing to Budget

Discussion of the homework movie, El Mariachi.

The parameters in which Australian films need to be made is for the vast majority of productions is pretty tight. The more budget conscious a screenplay is, the higher the likelihood it will be made. In this class we will be discussing the techniques which can be employed to bring the budget of a feature film down.    

Using El Mariachi as a case study, the class will explore how an action film can be made on $5000.

Working in their groups, editors and writers will take the most expensive scene in their screenplay and work out three cost effective alternatives to the scene. The results will be shared with the rest of the class.

Homework Movie: Mad Max

Assessment #2 is Due: Script Editor’s Report

Week 11

Apr 26

Open With a Bang

Discussion of the homework movie, Mad Max.

In detail, outline the seven different types of openings for a feature film.

Working with your editor, you will determine the type of opening your project currently uses and brainstorm five more alternate openings to ensure your story opens in the best possible way.

Homework Movie:Lethal Weapon


Week 12

May 3

End With a Bang

Discussion of the homework movie, Lethal Weapon.

Having last week focused on the importance of a unique and effective opening, in week 12 we’ll focus on the importance of having a satisfactory close to a movie.

As a group we will break down the third act of Lethal Weapon and work out not only why it is emotionally effective, genre specific but also the mechanics of how it works.

Working with their writers, editors will break down the climax of the screenplays which they are editing and assess if they are effective as they can be.

Homework Movie: Kill Bill.


Week 13

May 10


Discussion of the homework movie, Kill Bill.

The one thing a writer has that no other writer can do, is write like them. The writer’s personal style evolves out of a lifetime of experiences, education, family history and interests. In this class editors focus in on what they believe their writer’s style is and help them to enhance it so that their style stands out throughout the screenplay.

Using as handful of various examples of the writing style of successful screenwriters, students can identify why Quentin Tarantino writes like Quentin Tarantino or why Diablo Cody writes the way she does.

Editors will identify the style of the writer they’re working with and using a highlighter read through the first ten pages of their screenplay to isolate those moments of uniqueness. Sometimes a writer is unaware of their own style until it is pointed out to them.


Week 14

May 17


There’s no traditional class this week, although Luke will be available from 5:30 to 9:30 to help with any queries or to provide feedback on any of the assignments.

Assessment #3 is Due: Next Draft Notes

Week 15

May 24

No scheduled class - assessment



Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

While there are no prescribed texts you are strongly advised to make use of the listings of recommended reading and viewing posted on Canvas, which will be updated on an ongoing basis.


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

Other Resources

You will require access to a computer and the internet for this course. RMIT will provide you with further resources and tools for learning through our online systems and access to specialized facilities and relevant software. You will also have full access to the extensive RMIT library resources.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Assessment will incorporate a range of methods to assess performance and the application of knowledge and skills and will include: participation in class exercises, oral presentations and practical writing and script editing  tasks.

Assessment Tasks

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Assessment will incorporate a range of methods to assess performance and the application of knowledge and skills and will include: participation in class exercises, oral presentations and practical writing and script editing  tasks.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete all of the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all assessment (refer to your Canvas shell for assessment criteria). Once you have demonstrated competency, your work throughout the semester (covering both assessment tasks #2 and #3) will be graded (refer to Canvas for grading rubric). 

ASSESSMENT TASK #1. Short Documents

One line, one paragraph and one page synopsis to be completed by both the writer and the editor.

Assessment task #1 is due in week 5, Thursday March 8  

ASSESSMENT TASK #2. Script Editor's Report

A 1500–2000 word script report which includes an analysis of the screenplay’s main elements including plot, structure, character, genre, dialogue, subtext and marketability.  

Assessment task #2 is due in week 10, Thursday April 19. 

ASSESSMENT TASK #3. Next Draft Notes

A 1500–2000 report which outlines the proposed changes and approach which will be undertaken in the next draft.

Assessment task #3 is due in week 14, Thursday May 17

80 – 100% CHD - Competent with High Distinction 
70 – 79% CDI - Competent with Distinction 
60 – 69% CC - Competent with Credit 
50 – 59% CAG - Competency achieved – Graded 
NYC - not yet competent

For further information on the assessment and grading criteria, please refer to the course Canvas shell.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available from the course contact person (see above).

Other Information

Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters.

Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises. It is strongly advised that you attend all timetabled sessions. This will allow you to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring you the maximum opportunity to complete this course successfully.

Assessment Feedback
You will receive spoken and written feedback on all your work. Where relevant, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy designed to assist you in achieving your learning potential.

Adjustments to Assessment (eg. applying for an extension of time):
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment satisfactorily by the due date, you can choose to apply for an adjustment to your assessment. RMIT University offers a range of adjustments designed to support you in your studies, including an extension of time to complete the assessment.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning
Credit transfer is the recognition of previously completed formal learning (an officially accredited qualification).

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that allows you to demonstrate competence using the skills you have gained through experience in the workplace, voluntary work, informal or formal training or other life experiences.

Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) RCC applies only if you have previously successfully demonstrated competence in a unit of competency, and now require to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained.

Please speak to your teacher if you wish to discuss applying for Credit Transfer, RPL, or RCC for the unit(s) of competency addressed in this course.


Course Overview: Access Course Overview