This course develops the creative skills students bring to script writing through the completion of their first writing assignment over the first term. Students start the course with several premises for short films and then select one to develop to final draft during the module.
The module also emphasises analysing what makes a short script effective by looking at screenplays as much as finished films. We will consider the different requirements of shorts and features, how shorts can offer more latitude in terms of formal experimentation, genre and tone, and the useful discipline imposed by the short format’s limitations.
The course will develop students’ script editing skills, along with their ability to listen to notes, through ongoing workshops in which they will provide feedback on each other’s work. In addition, we will consider avenues for distribution and exhibition, and what role shorts play in a screenwriter’s career development.
All student scripts on this module receive a rehearsed reading from professional actors prior to completion of the script. The Department runs an annual script competition for which scripts completed on this course are eligible. Two scripts are then selected to go into production as part of the undergraduate film production course and another two for MA Film Production.
Aronson, Linda The 21st Century Screenplay (Allen & Unwin, 2010) (Good exploration of alternatives to the three-act structure and unlocking character through action)
Cooper, Patricia and Dancyger, Ken Writing the Short Film, (Focal Press 2004) (based on NYU course, has interesting short screenplays)
Cowgill, Linda J Writing Short Films - Structure & Content for Screenwriters (Lone Eagle Publishing Co., 2005) (good practical guide with exercises and sample screenplay)
Egri, Laglos The Art of Creative Writing (Kensington Publishing Corp., 2001) (especially good on motivations and how they shape character. Former teacher of Woody Allen)
Goldman, William Adventures in the Screen Trade (Abacus, 1996) (Still the most perceptive book about the screenwriter’s life in Hollywood, and the funniest)
Mackendrick, A, On Film-making, (Faber and Faber, 2006) McGilligan, P, Backstory 2, Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s (Univ. of California Press, 1997)
McGilligan, P, Backstory 3, Interviews with Screenwriters of the '60s (Univ. of California Press, 1997)
Parker, P, The Art and Science of Screenwriting (Oxford Intellect, 1997)
Phillips, W Writing Short Scripts (Syracuse University Press, 1991) (comprehensive overview of short films)
Yorke, John, Into the Woods: How Stories and Why We Tell Them (Penguin, 2013) (good overview of structure from one of UK’s best television producers and story editors)