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Writing for Film & Television - TFT00007I

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Simon Van Der Borgh
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Comprising 10 x weekly lectures, screenings and 2 hour seminars, this module aims to introduce participants to the skills and tools that are required to write for the screen. Through a combination of screenwriting theory, practical exercises discussed in class and self-directed learning, students will develop their own 30-minute film or TV script, in a genre or story type of their choosing, from initial idea to first draft. Though few 30-minute films are made today, the emphasis of this module is on development – of characters & stories; of genre & story-types; of skills & tools required for screenwriting. Students are therefore encouraged to view the module as a testing ground in which they will be supported to write their preferred stand-alone screen story – be it a ‘mini’ genre film, drama, sit-com, experimental film or ‘short’. N.B. Students are recommended to undertake this module if they plan to undertake a screenwriting option in the Individual Project module in their final year.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • To provide students with a range of strategies for generating script ideas
  • To provide guidance and support in writing scripts for film and television
  • To enable students to understand and participate actively in the process of story & script development
  • To situate the creative act of scriptwriting within its industrial context (e.g., target audience, medium, genre, pitching, development, formatting, etc.)

Module learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of common narrative structures (including three-act structure) of scripts for film and television.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the process by which a television programme or film develops from initial idea to first draft script.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to create and then develop characters through action.
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with pitching and the use of short documents in film and television story development.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to write scenes for a film or television script.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the form, structure & formatting of scripts for film and television.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
30-minute Film / TV Script
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Formative work week by week has been embedded in this module since 2013.  The proposed new in-class formative exercise replacing the current first assessment extends this formative work.  The ‘Step Outline’, a scene by scene description / breakdown without dialogue (4-6 pages) of the proposed film, is deliverable early in Summer term and students will discuss this document with teachers and classmates in seminars, receiving feedback designed to move them and their projects forward quickly at a busy time of the academic year for them. This industry-standard development document will provide an excellent launching pad for students to then undertake their scripts.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
30-minute Film / TV Script
N/A 100

Module feedback

There will be an extended range of formative writing exercises across the module. These all receive feedback. Students will also receive extensive written feedback on the final summative assessment within the specified time-frame, designed to inform choices in the third year.

Indicative reading

  • Bordwell, D. (2004) The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. London and Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Thompson, K. (2003) Storytelling in Film and Television. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.
  • Tierno, M. (2002) Aristotles Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization: Hyperion.
  • McKee, R. (1999) Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. London: Methuen.
  • Howard, D. & Mabley, E. (1995) The Tools of Screenwriting: A Writer's Guide to the Craft and Elements of a Screenplay, St. Martins Griffin.
  • Moran, A. and Malbon, J. (2006) Understanding the Global TV Format. Bristol: Intellect Books.
  • Thornham, S. and Purvis, T. (2005) Television Drama: Theories and Identities. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Maras, S. (2009) Screenwriting: history, theory and practice. London: Wallflower.
  • Seger, L. (1990) Creating Unforgettable Characters, Owl Books, Henry Hold & Company.
  • Field, S. (2003) The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting. London: Ebury.
  • Field, S. (1998) Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.
  • Snyder, B. (2005) Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You ll Ever Need, McNaughton & Gunn, Michigan.
  • Argentini, P. (1998) Elements of Style for Screenwriters: the Essential Manual for Writers of Screenplays. Lone Eagle Publishing

The following films and episodes from television series may be screened as part of the module:

  • Headhunters (2011)
  • Juno (2007)
  • Die Hard (1988)
  • The Walking Dead (2010)
  • The Returned (2012)
  • Nurse Jackie (2009)
  • Spaced (1999)
  • The Office (2001)
  • The Inbetweeners (2008)
  • Modern Family (2009)
  • Anna Karenina (2012)
  • Broadchurch (2013)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Five Easy Pieces (1970)
  • The Apartment (1960)
  • The Intouchables (2011)
  • Shrek (2001)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students