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BA Art History and English Literature

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Creative Writing Screenwriting

Unit code ENGL31951
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This course offers Level 3 students a practical introduction to writing for the screen, and will result in writing a short film. Students will learn about the core techniques of visual story-telling through watching and analyzing  short films and watching clips of feature films.  We will question how writing for the screen is different than any other form and is both industrial and an art form. 

Students will develop and hone their own writing skills through a series of focused writing exercises that will be critiqued in class. Students will be introduced to the most important theories of story design, and through peer and tutor critiquing in class they will develop their work. Weekly classes will cover the classic three act structure, beginnings and endings, the importance of genre, universal themes and their audience relevance, and dialogue. 

Students will be expected and encouraged to develop and extend their own knowledge of film and television history: there will be weekly viewing and reading requirements, and a recommended viewing list will be provided. Each student will write an original short film script for the final assessment.  The first draft will be read out in class to get feedback and to learn from each other.  There will then be a short amount of time before the deadline for the student to develop and rewrite the script, taking on board the comments and improving the screenplay.

This module will encourage positive peer critiquing, improve confidence in public presenting,  and offer an insight into the film and television industry.

Aims

  • to introduce students to some of the core techniques of visual story telling
  • to give students a basic understanding of the role of screenwriting within the contemporary  film and TV industries.
  • to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of the short film as a genre.
  • to encourage students to develop their own screenwriting skills through a supervised process of drafting and revision.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught by a weekly three hour seminar. Discussion will be encouraged at all points.  Students will critique each other’s work in workshops and will give group presentations (non-assessed) on key aspects of the syllabus. There will be directed reading and viewing and students will be strongly encouraged to work together inside and outside the class.  There will be live readings of students’ work. Students will use Blackboard Discussion Boards to peer review each other’s work. There will be weekly film/TV viewings.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will:

  • Have a wider knowledge of short films and the history of the genre.
  • Understand the core structure of a screenplay.
  • Have a strong understanding of how stories work and how and why audiences respond to them.
  • Understand how genre affects and guides story. 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Critique their own and others’ work effectively and constructively.
  • Use their extended knowledge of short film history as a resource to develop and refine their own writing practice.
  • Better understand the core techniques of visual story-telling

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Express themselves effectively in written and oral form
  • Effectively revise their own work based on constructive criticism from their peers.
  • Write a short film script which demonstrates an understanding of some of the core techniques of visual story-telling.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Write to a deadline and within the conventions of a certain genre.
  • Understand storytelling skills which could be transferred to advertising, journalism, theatre or any other writing which is to persuade an audience.
  • Work both independently and within a creative team.
  • Express their own ideas with confidence and clarity.

 

Employability skills

Project management
Having taken this course students will be able to demonstrate an ability to formulate, refine and complete an extended project by acquiring specialist knowledge and by workshopping ideas in a group environment.
Oral communication
Having taken this course students will be able to demonstrate an enhanced capacity to communicate effectively in speech.
Written communication
Having taken this course students will be able to demonstrate an enhanced capacity to communicate effectively in writing.
Other
This course unit will give students an initial, basic training in screenwriting craft. If students are interested in pursuing a career in the film and TV industries, and wish to learn more about writing feature films and TV scripts, this course is a very good preparation for further study at MA level. The visual story-telling techniques discussed in the seminars may also be useful and relevant for students thinking of careers in advertising or marketing.

Assessment methods

Short film script (15-20 pages) (80%) 

Self-evaluation essay (1000 words) 20% 

Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on group presentation
  • Written feedback on draft short film script
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)
  • Written summative feedback at the end of the module

Recommended reading

Please contact the course unit director to confirm specific texts for next year.

Syd Field, Screenplay

Blake Snyder, Save the Cat

Robert McKee, Story

John Yorke, Into the Woods 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Demonstration 20
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 147

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Emma Clarke Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Timetable for 2019/20:

Workshop 1: Tue 9am - 12pm

Workshop 2: Mon 1pm - 4pm

Please note, to take this course unit you need a mark of 60 or above in ENGL20001/2 (Creative Writing: Fiction), ENGL20901/2 (Creative Writing: Poetry) or DRAM21141/2 (Playmaking)

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