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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Screenwriting
Module Code CM531
School School of Communications
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Declan Tuite
Semester 2: Declan Tuite
Autumn: Declan Tuite
Module TeachersDeclan Tuite
Ferdia MacAnna
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

The course explores screenwriting in its various forms. The form and structure of feature films and short films are studied and analyzed. The course assignment (writing an original short film script) enables students to discover a story they want to tell in their own unique style using various writing assignments, screenings of films, and story telling. The emphasis is on creating visual, cinematic pieces of work. The process of developing a script prepares students for future employment in writing for film and television, script development or production as well as aiding their understanding of the role of the script in film in academic studies.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the visual nature of screenwriting
2. Write a cinematic short film
3. Develop screenplays for either film or television production
4. Explain the narrative structure of both Hollywood and Art House films
5. Analyse and criticise completed scripts in a constructive manner

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture44No Description
Assignment Completion60The nature of screen-writing means that the best way to learn is to do. Hence students are constantly revisiting the material that will form the basis of their final submitted screenplay.
Independent Study21No Description
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Lecture 1
Introduction to screenwriting in general and the short film in particular. What makes a short different from feature films? What are the qualities of a good short? The visual nature of the short film will be explored.

Lecture 2
Story, the nature of the beast. What are the possible sources of story? Can your story be original? The source and use of mythology and fairy stories in cinema.

Lecture 3
Story continued. Other sources of stories - real life stories, personal experiences. The process of developing an idea into a script. Look at action and plot. Conflict. How to bring an idea to an outline to a treatment to step outline to script. Breakdown of the dramatic scene.

Lecture 4
Structure. The classical three act structure. Turning points and pinch points. Can we apply this to the short film form

Lecture 5
Character. The transformational arc. Use of Voiceover. Watch The Squid and The Whale.

Lecture 6
Character - how to develop it for a short film? How to create a rounded character in ten minutes? Goal and motivation.

Lecture 7
Structure continued. The beginning. Where to start your script? Dramatic openings. Act One development. How to set up your story, main character, the central drive and engage an audience. The catalyst or inciting incident. Sound and how to use it dramatically.

Lecture 8
Dialogue. Subtext.Genre and the short film. Alternative forms of screenwriting – the minimalist script. Homework - First draft of screenplay.

Lecture 9
Act 2. How to keep the drama moving? Look at revisions of first draft. Class discussion

Lecture 10.
Act 3. The finale. The climax.

Lecture 11
Script workshop.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
ParticipationContinuous exercises and homework(including treatments etc of final original script)45%
ParticipationFinal submitted script45%
Oral ExaminationClass attendance and participation10%
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Aristotle (translated with an introduction and notes by Malcolm Heath): 1996, Poetics, Penguin Books, London, 0140446362
  • Pat Cooper and Ken Dancyger: 1994, Writing the short film, Focal Press, Boston, 0240801652
  • Linda Seger: 1994, Making a good script great, Samuel French Trade, Hollywood, 0573699216
  • Syd Field: 2005, Screenplay, Delta Trade Paperbacks, New York, N.Y., 0385339038
  • Christopher Vogler: 2007, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd, Michael Wiese Productions, 193290736X
  • Viki King: 1988, How to write a movie in 21 days, Perennial Library, New York, 0062730665
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
GDEMEDGraduate Diploma in Emerging Media
MSCEMMSc in Emerging Media
Date of Last Revision08-OCT-10

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