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Professional and Personal Development

SCREENWRITING - Course Descriptions

1300 – Screenwriting

So You Want To Be a Screenwriter?
6 modules

Screenwriting, also called scriptwriting, is the art and craft of writing scripts for videos, feature films, or television productions. A writer can create a script that is based on an original idea, or they can create a script from a concept, true story, or an existing literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story, that they have the rights to adapt. A screenplay by itself is not a final product; it is used like a blueprint during the Video Production process by the Director to craft their vision for the story.

In this introduction course, topics covered will include the following areas:

  • dramatic structure and script elements for feature writing (can be somewhat adaptable for shorts and television),
  • dynamic action and strong dialogue,
  • developing characters,
  • the importance of rewrites and how to receive notes on your work,
  • how to craft a logline and pitch your idea.
  • We will also do writing exercises to use the skills acquired in the course and discuss other learning and community resources.
Participants are required to provide a writing sample (any style) to assess level overall and where to focus discussions during the class. Class is beginner, but could easily be beginner-intermediate.

All classes are presented in slide format, with use of the internet for showing movie clips from Youtube or other sources.

Course Objectives:
After successful completion of this course, students will:
     - Understand the different kinds of script formats (feature, TV, web series)
     - Understand the links between scripts and film production
     - Understand the screenplay format structure
     - Craft a short synopsis of their story
     - Understand what story beat sheets and treatments are in developing supporting
     - Develop interesting and dynamic characters (protagonist, antagonist, etc.)
     - Understand how to craft visually compelling action
     - Understand and use dialogue effectively


Module 1:
General overview of the entire process.
What is a script? What are the different kinds of scripts and their structures?
Preparing to write and pitch ideas for a script -- loglines, beat sheets, outlines, treatments
How to develop characters
Compelling storytelling
How to deal with book Adaptations
Pitching an idea
Feedback (exercises)
Assignment -- craft a logline for review during next class

Script and clip samples from the following films:
The Kids Are Alright
Lord of the Rings
(Films reviewed can be changed, based on script or story samples provided by the participants so that appropriate material is covered)

Module 2:
Character studies
Developing character backgrounds
Choosing character goals
Crafting character obstacles, tasks and conflicts
Secondary characters and other points of view on story
Pitching exercise
Class Feedback on Week 1 Writing
Assignment -- crafting great character introductions

Script and clip samples from the following films:
The King's Speech

Module 3:
Story development
Story structure and act breaks
Dynamic qualities of screenwriting;
Visual qualities of screenwriting
Writing action
Writing dialogue
Feedback on Week 2 Writing
Pitching exercise
Class Feedback on Week 2 Writing
Assignment -- coming up with the overall goal, tasks and obstacles through the second act

Script and clip samples from the following film(s):
The King's Speech

Module 4:
Starting the story strong
How to craft an inciting incident to kick-off the story
What are the tasks and obstacles through the second act
Story mid-point
Pitching exercise
Class Feedback on Week 3 Writing
Assignment -- Going back to the beat sheet to change story elements, revisions

Module 5:
Finishing the story strong
How to dive into the climax of the third act
How to resolve the goal (question) from the start
Story climax
Pitching exercise
Class Feedback on Week 4 Writing
Assignment -- Reflect on story elements, revisions

Module 6:
Class visit by working professionals from Gatineau/Ottawa (subject to availability)
Script Contests - the top ones to try
Queries to production companies
Gatineau and Ottawa Resources
Further study within the area
Pitching exercise
Class Feedback on Week 5 Writing
Assignment -- Reflect on story elements, revisions

Follow up from Week 6 is done over email only with the instructor.

Full participation and sharing of scripts and feedback with all participants is encouraged as everyone can learn from each other's projects.