SJ6085 - Writing for Film and Television (2019/20)
|Module specification||Module approved to run in 2019/20|
|Module title||Writing for Film and Television|
|Module level||Honours (06)|
|Credit rating for module||15|
|School||School of Computing and Digital Media|
|Total study hours||150|
|Running in 2019/20||
This module will develop students’ understanding of and practice in screenwriting. The module will focus on writing for television series and other complex screen narrative patterns. Students will be introduced to a range of texts and approaches which develop their understanding of both the specifics of writing for television and alternative approaches to writing for film. Students will produce their own treatment and script showing the influence of one or more of the approaches discussed.
This module aims to:
• develop students' understanding of and skills in writing for film
• develop students’ understanding of the conventions of television writing, including character and story world creation, and plotting multiple storylines
• develop students’ skills in writing for television
• introduce students to alternative approaches to writing for film
• promote critical analysis of modes of storytelling, structure and plot
• develop students’ awareness of the commercial demands of writing for film and television
• interrogate means of visual storytelling in film and television
• develop students’ skills in reflective evaluation of their work
Prior learning requirements
Early classes will consider the conventions of screenwriting for film based around narrative structure, plots, genre, characterisation, dialogue, style and other essential aspects of the film script. LO2
This will form a basis for the further consideration of the specifics of writing for television as well as alternative strategies for film. LO3
Through lectures, screenings and workshops, students will explore the various approaches to writing in relation to television genres such as the episodic drama and the situation comedy, as well as the ways in which contemporary television has challenged existing formats. LO4
Similarly, students will explore alternative approaches to screenwriting for film, critically analysing the strategies of particular films and filmmakers. Films and television shows considered may include, for example, Frasier (1993-2004), Hill Street Blues (1981–1987), Six Feet Under (2001-2005), Breaking Bad (2008-2013), No Country for Old Men (2007), The Affair (2014-), The Descendants (2011), American Beauty (1999) LO4
The above knowledge will enable the development of skills necessary for students to develop their own film or television step outline and script. LO1,5
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
The module will be conducted via weekly lectures, workshops and screenings. Students will be encouraged to actively partake in their learning by watching recommended films and television shows outside of class time and preparing for class through required readings. Workshops in which students will develop and discuss their work and progress will form a key part of their learning, providing them with opportunities for peer and tutor review and reflective learning. Module materials and further guidance will be provided via WebLearn.
On successful completion of this module, the student will be able to:
(1) Exhibit key skills in writing for film and television
(2) Demonstrate an understanding of the conventions of television writing
(3) Demonstrate knowledge of various approaches to writing in television series
(4) Critically analyse various modes of storytelling, structure and plot
(5) Produce a step outline and script for film or television influenced by a specific approach to storytelling
The assessment strategy for the module encourages both critical analysis and the development of screenwriting skills. The first assignment is designed to enable students to demonstrate knowledge of a chosen approach to writing for film or television and to critically analyse this via both a presentation and written coursework. The final assignment will enable students to demonstrate their ability to incorporate the influences of learned approaches to storytelling into their own work through the production of a screenplay for film or a television pilot and reflectively analyse their own work.
Pamela Douglas, Writing the TV Drama Series, 3rd ed (Studio City, CA: Michael Weise Productions, 2011).
Richard Walter, Essentials of Screenwriting (New York: Plume, Penguin Group, 2010).
Linda Aronson, The 21st Century Screenplay (NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2010).
Craig Batty (ed.), Screenwriters and Screenwriting: Putting Practice into Context (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
Stephen V. Duncan, Genre Screenwriting: How to Write Popular Screenplays that Sell (New York: Continuum, 2008).
Syd Field, Screenplay, revised edition (New York: Bantam Dell, 2005).
Lee Goldberg, Successful Television Writing (New York and Chichester: Wiley, 2003).
Christina Kallas, Inside the Room, Conversations with American TV writers (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014).
John Yorke, Into the Woods (London: Penguin, 2014).