Undergraduate Degree




DF2005 Writing for Film

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: NIL; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description

Learning Objective

Through practice-based learning and exercises to introduce students to fiction film writing and narrative film analysis.


Consisting of seminars and workshops on creative narrative development, this course provides an introduction to fiction film screenwriting. It covers the various professional practices, protocols and formats of cinematic storytelling during the development and pre-production of a film. Besides the importance to writing of explanatory narrative, this course also examines the role of such things as subtext, reference, timing and structure. Through practice and the analysis of appropriate examples of the genre, course work focuses on developing the student’s ability to conceptualise, develop and articulate a written cinematic narrative, as well as the critical and creative skills required of a film writer.

Course Outline




• Intro to course

2 - 6

• Overview of the role and responsibilities of a film writer or writer-director during film development and pre-production.

• How to use script writing software. 

• Principles of dramatic structure, narrative devices, point-of-view, plot and conflict.

• Genre and storytelling conventions in the creation of meaning and metaphor.


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• The various formats of screenplay, treatment, and shooting script.

• Fundamentals of fictional character archetypes, psychology of personality types and the colour of dialogue.

• Understanding writing techniques.

• Methodologies and procedures in professional screenwriting practice, such as pitching, collaborative development, script analysis, and pre-production.


• Final review of assignments


Learning Outcome

The students will have been introduced to the practice of writing for film and the importance of a well constructed script in the making of a film. The students will have an awareness of film writing as a practice that is subject to many formal and practical needs.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 30%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 70% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


  1. Michael Rabiger, Developing Story Ideas, Focal Press

  2. Marisa D’Vari, Creating Characters: Let Them Whisper Their Secrets, Michael Weiss Productions

  3. Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting, Harpercollins

  4. Dwight V Swain, Joy R Swain, Film Scriptwriting – A Practical Manual, Focal Press

  5. Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing, Wildside Press

  6. Scott MacDonald, Screen Writings: Texts and Scripts from Independent Films, University of California Press

  7. Jack Foster, How to Get Ideas, Berrett-Koehler Publishers