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BA (Hons) Screenwriting - Course Modules

In the first year, students are introduced to both practical and critical approaches to their work. They explore connections between theory and practice and are encouraged to start and develop their personal professional portfolio.

In the second year, students will further develop their critical and analytical skills and their conceptual creativity and storytelling abilities, resulting in the creation of a diverse range of scripts, essays and even digital film material.

In the final year, there is a stronger focus on negotiated elements of work including a critical dissertation and an independent screenwriting project where students will write a 60 to 120 page feature, television pilot and series outline, or a portfolio of shorter screenplays. A professional practice module also enables students to undertake a work placement and reflect critically upon it.

Full downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Record.

 

Year 1

Film Studies One: Analysis and Issues

Rationale

This introductory module is designed to stimulate the student’s intellectual curiosity. It will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in other Level 4 modules. The module introduces Film Studies as an academic discipline, provides the student with a toolkit of concepts for the close analysis of a range of film texts and genres, links concepts to longstanding issues within film criticism and theory, and sets the student on the path of historical and contextual film enquiry through the study of a diverse range of films. The student will be introduced to a range of subject-specific and generic skills needed for the development of effective academic study. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts within appropriate historical, cultural and other contexts. These are vital in developing the student’s intellectual capacities as a confident independent learner with a critical voice of their own and as a knowledgeable reflective practitioner.

Indicative Content

The module begins with a session on the nature and scope of Film Studies, introducing the subject’s emergence as an academic discipline and outlining some of its key concepts. Full length screenings and clips from a diverse range of films will be linked to particular concepts and theoretical issues in the field.

The first half of the module will focus on concepts such as form, narrative and non-narrative, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound (several of which can be linked to production ‘craft skills)’ and genre.

In the second half of the module the focus will be on representation and issues of race and ethnicity in American film and how these representations of certain groups of people compare to examples from other national cinemas.

The module also focuses on developing essential academic skills for film study, so attention is given to the requirements of independent and self-directed study, using the VLE, viewing films, reading, note-taking, researching in the library and online, discriminating between different types of sources, planning and writing essays, referencing and plagiarism and exam skills.

Assessment

  • Practical Analysis, 1500 words, 35%
  • Essay, 2500 words, 65%

 

Creating Memorable Characters

Rationale

This module introduces students to the importance of character development and its centrality within the screenwriting process as a whole. While links are made to the importance of narrative structure, students will focus on how story can be developed through character rather than plotting. Thus, this module complements and supports the concurrent work in Developing Screen Ideas, which is more focused on narrative structure and industry standard development documents.

Students will critically engage with produced feature-length scripts, analysing how a screenwriter has brought a character to life and considering whether any of these methods may be appropriate for their own creative practice. Students will also engage in critical debate around the interpretation of a writer’s character(s) by actors and directors, and if any inferences can be made, particularly in terms what influence a writer may be able to have on the final film through the language and screenwriting methods s/he employs.

Critical engagement with scripts will inform students’ creative work, which will be developed over the course of the semester. Students will complete a portfolio of character development work, including biographies, profiles, monologues, speeches, character environment, and short script exercises. The script exercises will be geared towards online content, so that students will be able to work with Digital Film Production students (subsequent to the module) to produce webisodes, and thus augment their portfolios.

Indicative Content

The module begins with the critical analysis of case study scripts such as Capote (2005), Infamous (2006) and As Good As It Gets (1997). These case studies will be used to analyse and evaluate how characters can be developed within a screenplay. The initial focus will be on description, action, dialogue, character environment and interaction. Students will then be expected to source and present on a script in which they believe the writer demonstrates particularly good character development skills, as the character(s) is well-honed and distinctive. The presentation should evaluate the methods and language the screenwriter uses, and the student may even wish to explore whether the screenwriter has a particular style or method to writing characters that is evident throughout his/her body of work.

As the module progresses, students will employ methods of writing and developing characters gleaned from their critical analysis of cases studies, to produce a portfolio of character development documents.

The types of exercises, tasks and document that students will present and critically review in workshops may include:

• Character profiles

• Biographies

• Monologues

• Script exercises on character environment

• Speeches

• Script pages introducing a character

• Mood boards

All script exercises will be short, and geared towards online content, so that students will be able to work with Digital Film Production students to produce webisodes once they have completed the module.

Assessment

  • Presentation, 10 mins (20%)
  • Portfolio of Character Development Documents, 2500 words equivalent (80%)

 

Developing Screen Ideas

Rationale

This module introduces students to the developmental process within the film industry and is fundamentally concerned with the generation of ideas and the creative processes involved in their realisation.

Initially, students will explore key concepts and practices within screenwriting, critically analysing narrative structure, story types and themes, conflict, action, character, dialogue, genre and style. This critical study will be complemented by screenwriting tasks on, for example, action, character, dialogue and genre, which will be included in students’ portfolios.

Students will start to develop ideas for drama, building a portfolio of industry standard development documents that will include synopses, outlines, treatments, beat-sheets, step-outlines, premises and pitches. This second part of the module, in particular, will complement and support subsequent screenwriting modules and provide foundational knowledge of narrative theory which will inform film studies and creative work.

Indicative Content

The format and function of the screenplay in the filmmaking process

This section will focus on the critical analysis and discussion of the screenplay’s function in the filmmaking process, and the format and construction of a screenplay, focusing on slug lines, dialogue, action, beats, scenes, sequences and acts.

Narrative Structure

In this segment students will examine a number of narrative structures, including three-act, linear, episodic, thematic, associational and circular, and how the cinematic storytelling structures of the western world correspond and/or differ to other national cinemas. In addition, students will critically analyse the theories, concepts and/or models of Aristotle, Field, Vogler and Truby, applying them to a number of produced film scripts to consider each ones strengths and weaknesses.

Conflict, action and rising action

In this segment students will develop their knowledge of narrative structure by critically analysing how screenplays use conflict and action to create drama, which in the three-act structure builds to the final climax and resolution.

Story types and themes

In this section students will critically analyse the common and recurring story types and themes within screen stories and how and why they are used, focusing on the human experience and Aristotle’s concepts of imitation, error and catharsis.

Character, dialogue and exposition

Students will critically analyse the characters, dialogue and exposition in a number of films and screenplays, focusing on the differences between characters’ needs and desires, how character types and stereotypes can be employed, character point-of-view and the difference between effective and ‘on-the-nose’ dialogue and exposition. Once students have gained this knowledge and understanding they will apply it practically by creating short character profiles and scenes, which will be part of their final portfolio.

Developing screen ideas

This segment will be a substantial portion of the module where students will critically analyse and produce loglines, synopses, outlines, treatments, beat-sheets, step-outlines, premises and pitches. Students will constructively criticise and evaluate one another’s pre-production documents throughout the semester, enabling them to gain formative feedback on work they will later submit in a portfolio at the end of the module.

Assessment

  • Practical analysis, 2000 words (40%)
  • Portfolio of Development Documents, 2000 words equivalent (60%)

 

Film Studies Two: Film History

Rationale

This introductory module is coupled with and follows directly on from Film Studies One. The module is designed to stimulate the student’s intellectual curiosity in the field of Film Studies. It will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in Video Practice and Production: Introduction, as well as students’ work in the other Level 4 modules. The module introduces Film Studies as an academic discipline, provides the student with a toolkit of concepts for the close analysis of a range of film texts and genres, linking concepts to longstanding issues within film criticism and theory, and sets the student on the path of historical and contextual film enquiry through the study of a diverse range of films from around the world. The student will be introduced to a range of subject-specific and generic skills needed for the development of effective academic study. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts within appropriate historical and other contexts. These are vital in developing the student’s intellectual capacities as a confident independent learner with a critical voice of their own and as a knowledgeable reflective practitioner.

Indicative Content

This module introduces students to the study of Film History. After an initial session on varieties of film history in Film Studies, the screenings are linked to key phases, moments or issues in the history of Hollywood and world cinema. These may include the silent era, the emergence of the studio system and the classical Hollywood narrative film, the advent of sound, key production cycles, the historical development of the representation of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, the emergence of post-classical Hollywood after the breakup of the studio system and the growth of blockbuster culture since the 1970s.

The module also focuses on developing essential academic skills for film study, so attention is given to the requirements of independent and self-directed study, using the VLE, viewing (including viewing foreign language films), reading, note-taking, researching in the library and online, discriminating between different types of sources, planning and writing essays, referencing and plagiarism and exam skills.

Assessment

  • Test Papers, eight short quizzes equivalent to 1500 words, 35%
  • Historical Case Study, 2500 – 3000 words, 65%

 

Screenwriting Film Genre

Rationale

Throughout the semester students will develop their knowledge and understanding of how genres evolve, and the debates surrounding the classification of genres. Students will develop in depth knowledge of three to four key genres within film and the codes and conventions associated with them through the critical analysis of a number of feature-length produced scripts. The genres studied may include, for example, horror, thriller, romantic-comedy, western, or science-fiction.

This will then allow them to experiment with sub-genres and genre hybridity, and to consider whether, on a case by case basis, it is appropriate to adhere to or subvert generic conventions.

Indicative Content

The module begins with the critical analysis of scripts within three to four different film genres. Genres which may be studied include horror, thriller, romantic-comedy, western, and science-fiction. These case studies will be used to critically analyse the codes and conventions which are typical to a genre, and how the screenwriter has deployed these within the script. Where appropriate the analysis will focus on how genres have evolved through experimentation with and subversion of generic conventions. Students will then be expected to research in pairs or small groups a genre selected for study by the module tutor.

As the module progresses, students will undertake set screenwriting tasks relating to genre, which will be reviewed in weekly workshops. All script exercises will be short, and geared towards online content, so that student will be able to work with Digital Film Production students to produce webisodes once they have completed the module.

Assessment

  • Presentation, 10 mins (30%)
  • Portfolio of Genre Exercises, 2500 words equivalent (70%)

 

Introduction to Writing Television and Radio Drama

Rationale

This module introduces students to writing drama for television and radio. It is designed to build on the students’ knowledge of character development and story structure and design gained from the Creating Memorable Characters and Developing Screen Ideas modules.

The differences in script conventions and dramatic principles of television and radio drama will be introduced via the critical study of key texts and practical script exercises.

The module will enable students to apply and develop their knowledge of storytelling to the differing mediums of radio and television, and recognise the various career paths (outside of film) open to new screenwriters. 

Indicative Content

First half of semester is devoted to the study of radio drama. Three to four key texts such as Spoonface Steinberg (1997), Cigarettes and Chocolate (1988) and/or selections from afternoon plays scheduled to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 will be studied. This critical analysis of radio plays will enable students to learn the conventions and format of radio scripts, whilst they are also introduced to the freeing aspects and limitations of the medium. For example, the freedom of having no, or very few, budget constraints in terms of choice of location or possible action sequences in comparison to film and television, yet the need to orient the listener to where they are and how to decipher between characters with no visual cues. Concurrently students will undertake radio script exercises and develop ideas for their own radio drama, which they will be able to receive formative feedback on during workshops.

The second half of the semester introduces students to television drama. The focus will be limited to the study of one or two television drama series such as The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Killing (2007-2012), House of Cards (UK 1990 / US 2013 - ), Broadchurch (2013 - ) or The West Wing (1999 – 2006), as students will develop their understanding of television as medium with a variety of formats and genres, both critically and creatively, at level five. The analysis of selected television dramas will enable students to learn the conventions and formatting of television scripts, whilst also introducing them to the dramatic principles particular to the medium such as teasers and acts, multi-episodic story lining, and multiple character arcs and relationships. Simultaneous to this critical study, students will undertake television script exercises and develop ideas for their own episode of television drama, which they will be able to receive formative feedback on during workshops.

Assessment

  • Critical Paper, 1500 to 1800 words (40%)
  • Short Script and Outline, 15 script pages with outline (60%)

 

Year 2

Adaptation and Interpretation

Rationale

This module explores how literary texts can be adapted for the screen. Students consider filmic rewritings of major literary forms including drama, the novel and short fiction and engage in the debate about the ‘fidelity’ of adaptation. The module combines a theoretical approach to the study of adaptation with contextual approaches to specific films, presented as case studies. Students have the opportunity to consider processes of interpretation, adaptation and transposition. They investigate the ways in which differing conditions of production will inevitably result in change when adapting a literary ‘source’ text from one medium to another. Students will also be required to plan and present how to adapt a literary text to the medium of film and will write a critical essay on one of the course case studies.

Indicative Content

The module will begin by defining the ‘page to screen’ debate, focusing on a range of theoretical approaches and setting out the fundamental issues of adaptation. A series of case studies will examine the factors influencing the interpretation and adaptation of several films.

Assessment

  • Essay, 1500 to 2000 words (35%)
  • Adaptation Portfolio, 2000 words equivalent (65%)

 

Writing for Television

Rationale

This module uses the introductory knowledge of writing television drama from level four and theoretical knowledge students gained in the Autumn semester in Television: Contextual and Critical Studies as a foundation for students to develop their own ideas and scripts within the medium of television.

The module is designed as an intensive writing workshop where students will have the opportunity to develop work for a sitcom, soap or long-running drama series. Students will learn the industry standard practices, techniques and methods involved in writing for each of the three formats through their own creative work and the group critique of their peers’ work.

By the end of the module, students will have produced a number drafts of an episode in their chosen format (and genre) with outlines for subsequent episodes and/or supporting research documents, providing them with the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake a longer television project as their final script project in level six if they so wish.

Indicative Content

The module will begin with analysis and discussion of industry standard practices, techniques and methods involved in writing for sitcom, soap and drama series. Students will pitch ideas for each of the different formats to the class for constructive criticism and review. In negotiation with the module tutor projects will be ‘greenlit’, and students will have the opportunity to work in small writing teams of three to four on an original drama series or sitcom, or independently on a soap or sitcom. The module tutor will try to accommodate the preference of all, but will have final decision in the designation of groups.

Students will engage in weekly workshops on the episodes and series character arcs and storylines they will be writing and redrafting throughout the module. Feedback and constructive criticism will play a significant part within the module, and students will work in ‘script buddy’ pairs or groups. Script buddies will analyse and review one another’s work throughout the semester, formally for workshops and assignment two, and informally as a mutually supportive mechanism as needed. Students working in small teams will each write an episode, which will then receive feedback and script editing by other members of the team and will be rewritten in accordance with the agreed, overall group suggestions. Students working independently will work in designated ‘script buddy’ pairs or groups. 

Assessment

  • Feedback and Drafts Portfolio (30%)
  • Script Portfolio (70%)

 

Contemporary Television: Studies in Format and Genre

Rationale

This module builds upon students’ knowledge of critical textual studies from the first year modules Film Studies One: Analysis and Issues and Film Studies Two: Film History, and serves to introduce students to the critical study of television.

The module will focus on the textual and contextual study of three of contemporary television’s key fiction genres – drama, sitcom and soap opera. Students will be required to critically examine each of these televisual categories in terms of their format, generic conventions and narrative structures whilst also engaging in key critical debates and issues associated with them, including representation, ideological implications, aesthetics, technology and audience and address.

The primary focus will be on contemporary British programming, although material from the U.S. and other broadcasting contexts will be drawn upon, particularly for comparative purposes. The vast majority of the textual study will be on recent or current television. However, students will still be required to investigate the history of these three popular formats to understand their evolution and popularity with audiences.

Indicative Content

The module begins by introducing students to the concept of television genre, and the various approaches which can be used to study it. After these introductory sessions the module is divided into three blocks – television drama, sitcom and soap. Television drama will comprise approximately five weeks of the module, while the remaining five to six weeks will be spent on sitcoms and soaps.

Each section will initially examine the defining characteristics of the format, and the generic and narrative conventions associated with it. This will provide students with the necessary analytical tools to undertake further theoretic enquiry. The focus will then turn mainly to the issues of representation, address and aesthetics.

Case studies will be used throughout the module. The section on drama will include the study of genres such as police and crime drama, hospital drama, period drama, science fiction, and political drama in the UK and US. Programmes such as Friends (1994 – 2004), The Thick of It (2005 – 2012), Seinfeld (1989 – 1998) and Blackadder (1982-1989) will be used in the study of sitcom, while the study of soap opera will focus on UK programmes such as East Enders (1985 - ), Coronation Street (1960 - ), and Doctors (2000 - ).

Assessment

  • Group Presentation, 15 mins (35%)
  • Essay, 3000 words equivalent (65%)

 

Screenwriting: The Ten Minute Short

Rationale

This module explores the theory and practice of writing for the screen, specifically the ten minute short. Students will engage with key practical manuals and critical studies of the screenwriting process and study a range of globally diverse shorts. The culmination of this work will be the production of a ten page screenplay which students will have the opportunity to have filmed by the Digital Film Production students in semester two. The module allows students to participate in debates by critically reading theoretical works as well as reading and watching a variety of examples of dramatic texts.

Reading and writing film scripts will help develop critical, interpretative, and evaluative capabilities. Students keep a notebook detailing short films and screenplays that they have chosen to read independently, as well as those viewed and read in the teaching sessions. These examples will be discussed alongside other critical and theoretical texts about the form.

Indicative Content

The module will initially revolve around the close study of a number of short films and published (short) screenplays focusing on areas such as:

  • Narrative and story structure in the short film
  • Form and style of the short film
  • Action and conflict
  • Characterisation
  • Dialogue and exposition
  • Slug lines and scene description
  • Writing for actors and directors

Later in the module these key areas will then be employed as guidance in the creation of the students’ original screenplays with particular attention to skills in writing accurately, using punctuation effectively, editing, layout, formatting and presenting copy for production. One of most important factors that will drive this process is that the screenplays they produce will be taken forward and produced later in year in the drama segment of the Video Practice and Production module.

Assessment

  • Feedback and Drafts Portfolio, (30%)
  • Ten page screenplay, equivalent to ten minute running time, (70%)

 

Researching Film: Theories and Methods

Rationale

This Level 5 module is designed to continue the focus on textual and contextual study and the development of subject-specific and generic skills established especially in Level 4 Film Studies: Analysis, Issues and History. As with the Film Studies module, it will develop the student’s critical knowledge and skills base in ways which complement and inform the conceptual and practical work being done in the Level 5 Video Practice and Production: Documentary and Drama. The module addresses theoretical and critical approaches to the study of film texts and provides a preparation for students’ own independent research. Focusing on a range of film theories, approaches and methods which have been influential in the development of Film as a field of academic study, it will enable students to examine various ideas, assumptions and procedures and try them out on a diverse range of films. Links between criticism, theory, practice and creative work will be stressed throughout, with the overall aim of developing the student’s critical abilities in the close analysis of texts drawing on appropriate theoretical and critical perspectives. Examining and trying out differing approaches will further develop students’ capacities as independent learners and prepare them for making explicit their own critical approach when formulating their research proposal for the Dissertation at Level 6.

Indicative Content

The module begins with a brief overview of different theoretical and critical approaches to the study of film texts, highlighting the characteristic orientations and concerns of each and beginning to unpick how text and context are related in each. Continuities and discontinuities in the history of issues addressed by film theory will be raised, as will the changing scope of film theory as societies and technologies change. Thereafter a variety of approaches is introduced, explaining the work of the foundational thinker or thinkers in each case and surveying examples of the kinds of film theoretical and critical work each has stimulated before moving on to consider the application of ideas to a particular film or ways of situating a film. Examples of selected topics to be covered could include: narrative, genre, postmodernism, authorship, spectatorship, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, Marxism and postcolonial theory.

Assessment

  • Analysis, 2000 words (40%)
  • Essay, 3000 words (60%)

 

Screenwriting Workshop

Rationale

This module consolidates knowledge and skills relating to form, structure, style, character, genre, setting and visual writing, which students have acquired in previous screenwriting modules, and ensures they are able to understand and use concepts they may have yet to use in quite so much detail such as subtext, dramatic irony and theme.

The module is designed as an intensive writing workshop to introduce students to writing in the longer form. Students will develop ideas for feature-length films, which will be critiqued for their viability and originality. Although students will not take these ideas through to fruition, they will write longer scenes and sequences, focusing on scene objectives and turning points, setups and payoffs, emotional transitions, and scene, sequence and act climaxes. Through the drafting and redrafting of scenes and sequences students should also begin to develop their own voice and style.

Throughout the module students will further develop their abilities to critically analyse their own work and that of their peers, as they will work in “script buddy” groups, providing constructive feedback on a weekly or bi-monthly basis.

By the end of the module, students will have produced a number drafts of twenty to thirty page sequences, honing their creative, critical and analytical skill and developing the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake their final script project in level six.

Indicative Content

The module will begin with a review of concepts and skills students should have acquired in previous modules, and an introduction to, or further work on, concepts such as subtext, theme and dramatic irony, which students may be less familiar with. After this introduction and consolidation of knowledge students will engage in weekly workshops on the scenes and sequences they will be writing and redrafting throughout the module. Feedback and constructive criticism will play a significant part within the module, and students will work in ‘script buddy’ pairs or groups. Script buddies will analyse and review one another’s work throughout the semester, formally for workshops and assignment two, and informally as a mutually supportive mechanism as needed.

Assessment

  • Feedback and Drafts Portfolio, (30%)
  • Script Portfolio, (70%)

 

Year 3

Dissertation

Rationale

This year-long module represents the culmination of the student’s critical development on the course. It provides an opportunity for students to explore a chosen area of Film studies. Students design and carry out a sustained and coherent piece of independent research in an area of scholarship that they wish to pursue. While every effort will be made to accommodate students’ choices, it is anticipated that the topics chosen will generally relate to work undertaken in previous modules or possibly in other concurrent Level 6 modules. In each case, the work will draw on the appropriate methodological approaches introduced at Level 5.

Students undertaking a Film dissertation will work initially as a group with the Module Leader to formulate preliminary research proposals, to consider the feasibility of the chosen research area and propose an appropriate methodological approach. As well as meeting as a group to consider common research issues, students will then work independently, guided by specialist subject supervisors who will be assigned once proposals have been formulated.

Students will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal of their research activities, viewing and thought processes during the year, in order to discuss them within group and individual tutorials.

Indicative Content

The dissertation group will be introduced to the guidelines for writing a proposal, researching and writing up the dissertation, and keeping a reflective journal. Students will be reminded of the academic conventions for referencing and producing bibliographies. The first few weeks will be taken up in discussing students’ initial proposals and supporting them to formulate individual detailed and considered research proposals to include defining the object of study, clarifying the critical approach or method and thinking about the aims of the research. Students will be reminded of methods for accessing and evaluating on-line resources and supported in identifying other resources.

The research proposal is submitted using the following headings:
• Title
• Brief outline of the work
• Rationale
• Historical, contemporary and theoretical context
• Methodology
• Chapters and structure
• Literature review and initial bibliography
• Indicative bibliography

The proposed content of a student’s research project will need to be agreed with tutors but will typically involve the analysis of a film text or texts or other objects of film study which can elicit close analytic reading situated in an appropriate critical and theoretical framework, whether aesthetic, formal, generic, ideological, representation, contextual or historical.

Once proposals have been agreed, students will work individually with their allocated specialist supervisors. It has been agreed that students will be able to see their tutors for a maximum of six tutorial sessions during the year. Students continue to convene occasionally to discuss conducting literature searches, focusing on key texts, refining aims, formulating research questions, and establishing the place of the student’s own argument or analysis within the field of study.

The dissertation group meetings will provide opportunities for students to develop and test their ideas by presenting them informally to their peers and to gain formative peer and tutor feedback. The sessions will encourage students’ critical self-reflection and evaluation of the process of work. 

Assessment

  • Proposal, 2000 words (20%)
  • Dissertation, 8000 words (80%)

 

Development and Story Design: Final Project

Rationale

This module builds on the students’ knowledge of the development, story design and outlining processes within screenwriting and is fundamentally concerned with the generation of ideas and the creative and practical processes involved in their realisation.

Students will develop two ideas for film, television and/or radio. These ideas will be for extended pieces of screenwriting such as a feature film, television drama series or sitcom, or radio drama. Intensive weekly workshop and feedback sessions will be provided during which students will submit development documents such as premises, outlines, treatments, step-outlines, synopses and draft script pages for critique by their peers and module tutor.

By the last third of the module students will begin to assess which of the two projects under development they wish to use as the basis for the final project, which they will undertake in the IMDSFS3xx Screenwriting: Final Project module. This evaluation of the projects will form part of the class discussion and the summative assessment for this module.

While every effort will be made to accommodate students’ creative choices, it is anticipated that the script ideas will be negotiated (throughout the module) in order that students will be able to produce a screenplay which is of special interest, and is researched in relation to genre, audience expectation and target markets.  

Indicative Content

The module will begin with the intensive pitching and workshopping of a number of ideas that students will submit for film, television and/or radio projects. Over the first few weeks the students will critically evaluate these ideas as a group and also each other’s pitching abilities. In negotiation with the module tutor students will decide which two projects, from the ideas they have individually pitched, will be developed throughout the rest of the semester.

Students will submit their development documents (scripts, treatments, etc.) at least every other week for critical review and peer and tutor feedback as part of weekly intensive workshops. One of most important factors that will drive this process is the fact that screenplays, treatments and proposals students produce will be taken forward and produced in the Screenwriting: Final Project module.

Assessment

  • Final Project Development Documents (80%)
  • Portfolio (20%)

 

Screenwriting: Final Project

Rationale

This module uses the summative work from the Development and Story Design: Final Project module as a point of departure, and represents the culmination of the student’s creative and self-reflexive development within screenwriting. It provides an opportunity for students to write the original feature-length film script or the initial episodes and series outline for a television drama or sitcom or radio drama they developed during in the Autumn semester. On completion, students will be able to use this extended piece of work as a ‘calling card’ screenplay.

Students will work independently, meeting at set intervals with the group and module tutor to review and provide constructive criticism on one another’s work. Students will work in ‘script buddy’ pairs or small groups and be assigned a supervisor from within the Film Team who will provide tutorial support. Script buddies will provide constructive feedback for workshops as part of a formal assessment process, and will also work informally to support one another. Students will also have the opportunity to receive feedback via a professional reader and/or script editor, who will provide an industry standard reader’s report on a first draft mid-way through the semester.

Students will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal of their research, development, writing and thought processes during the year, in order to discuss them within group and individual tutorials.

Indicative Content

Students will work independently, submitting development documents and draft pages at set intervals for review in class. Feedback and constructive criticism will play a significant part within the module, and students will work in ‘script buddy’ pairs or groups. Script buddies will analyse and review one another’s work throughout the year, formally for workshops and assignment two, and informally as a mutually supportive mechanism. The sessions will develop students’ writing and encourage students’ critical self-reflection and evaluation of the process of work. Students will also meet individually with their allocated specialist supervisors and receive an industry standard reader’s report on their first draft.

Assessment

  • Screenplay Final Draft (80%)
  • Feedback and Drafts Portfolio (20%)

 

Professional Practice

Rationale

This module will provide an opportunity for students to research progression routes into a career in screenwriting and/or related fields where they could transfer their skills, and will also develop the knowledge and skills that underpin their own creative, professional and personal self-development. Building upon level four and five practical screenwriting modules, this module prepares students for professional life after graduation and establishes the skills and resources needed to develop a sustainable practice and work in either a self-employed or employed capacity. 

Indicative Content

Business Management, Marketing and Promotion for Screenwriters:

This segment of the module will provide introductory skills to manage a business as a freelance scriptwriter and/or script editor. Students will be introduced to the processes involved with marketing and promoting themselves, understanding writers’ fees, VAT and the realities of working as a freelancer.

Script Reading and Editing:

Students will learn what about the roles and responsibilities of script readers and editors in the industry, and how they might apply their dramaturgical knowledge and analytical and critical skills in order to undertake such a career.

Writing Across Platforms:

Students will develop their knowledge of other forms of writing and how they may be able to transfer their skillset to another platform. Platforms and mediums examined may include theatre, webisodes and direct internet release content, interactive content, writing marketing and promotional copy, adverts for television and web content, blogs, articles, books and ebooks.

Creating a Digital Portfolio:

This segment aims to deal with enhancing the presentation of students’ portfolio of work. Students will explore the best and worst portfolio design practices so that they can identify the most appropriate way to visually present their work and experience in a dynamic and professional way. They will learn how to plan and create a (primarily online) digital portfolio to be used as an interactive personal marketing tool. The portfolio will include: script samples, website, profiles on networking sites, CV and business cards.

Assessment

  • Research Paper, 2500 words (50%)
  • Digital Portfolio, 2500 word equivalent (50%)