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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "CW/DMA 348"
COURSE NAME: "Creative Writing Workshop: Screenwriting"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Erika Tasini
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This creative writing workshop helps students to develop the creative, editorial and reading skills needed for the production of a screenplay, based on the following principles: focus on visual story telling using minimal dialogue, introduction to story analysis using published screenplays and clips, and the exploration of narrative development. Material will be presented in the form of lectures, discussions, handouts, writing exercises, as well as screenings. In the context of a creative writing workshop, students will complete in-class and at home writing exercises. Students will also be required to provide their fellow writers with thorough feedback. Finally, students will pitch ideas in preparation for a full script, to be presented and critiqued at the end of the term.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:


SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

Material will be presented in the form of lectures, discussions, handouts, writing exercises as well as screenings. Students will read a wide variety OF SCREENPLAY SAMPLES. In the context of a creative writing workshop, they will complete in-class AND AT HOME writing exercises. They will ALSO be required to provide their fellow writers with thorough feedback. Finally, they will PITCH ideas in preparation for a full script (first draft), to be presented and critiqued at the end of the term.

 

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

 

1) By exploring a number of story-ideas DURING THE SEMESTER, students will LEARN TO identify which narratives are best suited for visual storytelling.

2) By oganizing an idea into a story, from initial conceptualization to final screenplay format, students will comprehend the paramount importance of the ‘development’ process.

3) Students will learn the discipline of writing through weekly assignments and APPRECIATE THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF FEEDBACK.

4) Students will understand the SPECIFIC APPROACH and strategies which are the basis of visual storytelling (DRAMATIZING, ACTION, WRITING CHARACTER ONLY THROUGH IMAGES AND SOUNDS)

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Screenplay: The Foundations of ScreenwritingS. FieldDelta TradeISBN-10: 0385339038; ISBN-13: 978-0385339032  
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Attendance/ Discussion/ Participation  30%
Weekly writing assignments  25%
Feedback towards other students 20%
Final SCRIPT and Complete portfolio  25%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the co
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

This class is a WORKSHOP -- Attendance and partecipation constitute 30% of your final grade. More than 3 unexcused absences will result in an F (Fail) grade for Attendance & Participation. More than 5 unexcused absences will result in failing the course. If unexcused, a tardy of more than 15 minutes will be counted as an absence. Leaving class early will also affect your grade.

 

 

NB: The use of laptop computers in class for writing purposes is permitted. However, NO INTERNET ACCESS is allowed. Surfing the Internet/Facebooking etc will result in FAILING THE CLASS at once. No other electronic devices (cell phones, texting etc) are permitted.

 

WEEKLY ASSIGNMENTS:

Constitute 25% of your grade. 3 or more MISSED weekly assignments will result in an F (Fail) grade for this section. 5 missed weekly assignments will result in failing the entire course – even if the student hands in his/her final script.

 

ORGANIZATION:

Do not wait until week 14 to organize your portfolio! Each day, insert ONE COPY of your written assignments in a folder/binder. An incomplete portfolio will reduce your grade! For class organization, you will need at least THREE copies of each written assignment. Students will not be able to read their assignments in class every week, but everyone must always have their three copies READY.

For all your assignments, you MUST bring enough copies for the entire class and the instructor.

UNLESS EXPLICITLY STATED, WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE ON THE FOLLOWING CLASS. THIS MEANS THAT IF AN EXERCISE IS ASSIGNED ON A TH. IT WILL BE DUE ON THE FOLLOWING TU. IF IT IS ASSIGNED ON THE TU. IT WILL BE DUE ON TH. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED!

ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

 

 

CLASS SCHEDULE:

 

WEEK ONE

INTRO TO CLASS. requirements/organization/writing is rewriting/feedback

DECIDE FEEDBACK TEAMS (Of three people)

ASSIGNMENT 1:screening of scenes, selected by students, as examples of effective storytelling. What is effective storytelling? Why? Analysis of the relationship between the selected scene and the entire film.

ASSIGNMENT 2, due on Mon Week 2:  each writer is given a beginning PARAGRAPH by the instructor. From that starting point, develop a story. READING and feedback.

 

WEEK 2

 

Reading and Feedback on Ass. 2

The basis of writing: inspiration, description, discipline. Writing is rewriting.

-WHY DO WE TELL STORIES? WHY THAT STORY? –

find your personal connection to your material.

-WHERE CAN WE FIND IDEAS? Stories can come from – tracking publications, personal experience, biography, published materials (adaptations).

-WHAT DO WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT? GUIDING the audience through a vivid description of details.

-What is POINT OF VIEW? Difference between protagonist and perspective: whose story do you want to tell? From which perspective?

-What is TONE? What is the emotional experience you want to induce in your audience?

---------------------

Writing for the screen.

Writing ONLY through images and sounds.  The importance of dramatic action.

Reading:  “A PLAYWRIGHT’S GUIDEBOOK” Chapter 2: ACTION

 

WRITING ASSINGMENT due on week 3: USING A STILL IMAGE, WRITE SIMPLY WHAT YOU HEAR AND SEE. Keep adding details about the content of the image and its mood. Try to connect a feeling, an emotion or an impression you want to convey through this image. If it’s a place, express the feeling you associate to that space. If it’s a person, create a strong portrayal of the character. Reveal something about that image, as a tableau, but WITHOUT TURNING IT INTO A STORY.

 

WEEK 3

Reading and feedback on ASS. 3

LECTURE/DISCUSSION

Writing for the screen (CONTINUED). Writing ONLY through images and sounds.

n             Always in the present tense

n             Only events which can be seen or heard.

n             Turning what is invisible into something visible and audible. Dramatizing. Externalizing.

n             Only characters in action (the reader will infer the emotional state from the action)

n             Show/Don’t tell: an action is more meaningful than a 100 lines of dialogue!

Screening of shorts:

PEEL BY JANE CAMPION

TWO MEN and A WARDROBE by R. Polanski

MEAT LOVE BY Svenmaker

Writing assignment 4 Due on week 4

Extend the image from previous assignment into a story. The image can be placed at any point of the story, but it should be a substantial part of the narrative, WITH NO DIALOGUE – focus on images, sounds, and characters’ actions.

Reading and feedback on ASSIGNMENT 3.  Detailed analysis of each story:

1)           WHAT IS THE EVENT IN YOUR STORY?  What are your ‘actions’?

2)           WHAT ARE THE CINEMATIC ASPECTS OF YOUR STORY? WOULD IT WORK ON THE SCREEN?

WATCHING ASSIGNMENT, Due on Wed week 4:

WATCH THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Cohen)

 
WEEK FOUR

Mon: Reading and feedback writing assignment 4

Wed: discussion of THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Cohen), in relationship to  THE ARCHITECTURE OF SCREENWRITING: THREE ACT STRUCTURE.

-Review chapter on ACTION after lecture/discussion.

Reading: SCREENPLAYS that SELL: Chapter 8 WHAT STORY IS.

SCREENPLAY, Syd Field. Chapter 1 WHAT IS A SCREENPLAY?

                                              Chapter 11 BUILDING THE SCREENPLAY.

Screening of short “WASP”

At home assignment:

Regarding WASP: answer these questions in writing:

1)           Identify the three-act structure:

2)           what is the inciting incident?

3)           what are the act breaks?

4)           What is the climax and resolution of the story?

5)           Finally, whose story is it? From which perspective is the story told?

 

WEEK 6

REVIEW of THREE ACT STRUCTURE

Read screenplay THE APARTMENT.

 

LECTURE/DISCUSSION

SCENE WORK – SCENE AS THE CENTRAL UNIT, THE BUILDING BLOCK OF A SCREENPLAY

– characters, drives, conflict, dialogue, text and subtext. What drives the scene? What is the scene about? What is the resolution of the scene?

 

Screening: clips from:

MINNY AND MOSKOWITZ, by J. CASSAVETES  (the date)

GOODFELLAS, by M. SCORSESE (the bedroom scene)

WELLCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, by T. SOLONDZ (the bathroom scene)

THE APARTMENT, by B. Wilder (the bedroom scene; the key scene)

 

Reading: THE PLAYWRIGHT’S GUIDEBOOK: Chap. 3 Motivation and subtext.

Chap. 4 Conflict.

SCREENPLAY: Chap. 10 the Scene.

 

SCENE WORK (continued): is it as easy to understand what the scene is about from just reading the screenplay?

 

IN CLASS EXERCISE: We will be reading scenes from screenplays then watching clips from the same films.

Scenes from scripts: TRUST THE MAN, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, THE MARATHON MAN. Clips from YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, THE MARATHON MAN.

 

Writing assignment , due on week 7

Write a scene between two characters, applying the notions explored in class.

 

ASSIGNMENT IN PREPARATION FOR YOUR FINAL:

PREPARE YOUR PITCH for a SHORT FILM IDEA. you will present it in class and receive feedback on.  Present two ides, and you will decide what to work on based on the feedback.  Students won’t be able to hand in their final SCRIPT unless they first discuss their ideas in class.

 

WEEK SEVEN

READING AND FEEDBACK ON SCENES WRITTEN BY STUDENTS.

 

PITCH OF IDEA FOR SCRIPT – students 1-5

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN FEEDBACK on THE IDEA PRESENTED BY YOUR ASSIGNED PARTNERS.

STUDENTS. (EMAIL THEM AND CC ME ON IT)

HOME ASSIGNMENT for PRESENTERS 1-5: WRITE ONE SCENE FROM YOUR FILM (due on week 8)

 

WEEK EIGHT

PITCH OF IDEA FOR SCRIPT – students 6-10

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN FEEDBACK on THE IDEA PRESENTED BY YOUR ASSIGNED PARTNERS. (EMAIL THEM AND CC ME ON IT)

HOME ASSIGNMENT for PRESENTERS 6-10: WRITE ONE SCENE FROM YOUR FILM (due on week 9)

 

WEEK NINE

PITCH OF IDEA FOR SCRIPT – students 11-15

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN FEEDBACK on THE IDEA PRESENTED BY YOUR ASSIGNED PARTNERS. (EMAIL THEM AND CC ME ON IT)

HOME ASSIGNMENT for PRESENTERS 11-15: WRITE ONE SCENE FROM YOUR FILM (due on week 10)

 

NB. BY THE END OF THIS WEEK EVERY STUDENT WILL HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT THE FILM SCRIPT SHE/HE WILL WORK ON.

 WEEK TEN

LECTURE/DISCUSSION

How to develop and portray characters: Scene’s focus on CHARACTER work.

 

Screening of clips from:

WELLCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, by T. Solondz

THE SAMURAI By J. P. Melville

HAROLD and MAUDE, by H. Ashby

IF by L. Anderson

 

READING: THE PLAYWRIGHT’S GUIDEBOOK

Chapter 10 CHARACTER

DIALOGUE (use it sparsely/wisely/on the nose/exposition/text vs subtext)

Plus… a few notes on SCREENPLAY FORMAT.

Screening of opening sequence of RESERVOIR DOGS (Tarantino).

 

READING: THE PLAYWRIGHT’S GUIDEBOOK: Chapter 13. EXPOSITION

READING:  WRITE SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL: Chapter 5 WHAT A SCREENPLAY ISN’T

Chapter 6 WHAT A SCREENPLAY IS

 

HOME ASSIGNMENT

Define the psychology and back-story of the protagonist of your story (it can be from one of past written exercises or new story).

Once you feel that you really know your character, let’s see him/her in action. Write a scene or a sequence where you explore the character whose backstory you created. The scene should give us some sense of character.

You can also do the opposite: first you write the scene, get a glimpse of that character, then extend him/her beyond the scene. Build his/her character and backstory.

 

 

WEEK ELEVEN

Reading and feedback on character’s assignments

 

PLUS… a few notes on:

-DIALOGUE (use it sparsely/wisely/on the nose/exposition/text vs subtext)

-SCREENPLAY FORMAT.

Screening of opening sequence of RESERVOIR DOGS (Tarantino).

 

READING: THE PLAYWRIGHT’S GUIDEBOOK: Chapter 13. EXPOSITION

READING:  WRITE SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL: Chapter 5 WHAT A SCREENPLAY ISN’T

Chapter 6 WHAT A SCREENPLAY IS

NOTES ABOUT HOW TO FORMAT YOUR SCREENPLAY, IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE:

SCREENPLAY, Field: CHAPTER 13: SCREENPLAY FORM

 

WEEK TWELVE

FINAL DUE:  READING AND FEEDBACK on scripts 1-5.

BRING ENOUGH TYPED COPIES FOR EVERYONE IN CLASS: 16 COPIES!

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN feedback on SCRIPT presented by your assigned partners.

 

                 WEEK THIRTEEN

FINAL DUE: READING AND FEEDBACK on scripts 6-10.

BRING ENOUGH TYPED COPIES FOR EVERYONE IN CLASS: 16 COPIES!

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN feedback on SCRIPT presented by your assigned partners.

 

WEEK FOURTEEN

FINAL DUE: READING AND FEEDBACK on scripts 11-15.

BRING ENOUGH TYPED COPIES FOR EVERYONE IN CLASS: 16 COPIES!

Home assignment: GIVE WRITTEN feedback on SCRIPT presented by your assigned partners.

 

YOUR FINAL PORTFOLIO IS DUE on WED. WEEK 14. No portfolios will be accepted after that date!

You are required to HAND IN your complete PORTFOLIO, containing all writing exercises, all feedback and final script on THURSDAY, WEEK 14.  Everything needs to be TYPED!

 

On the final exam session, we will meet to discuss and evaluate if/how each student plans on continuing writing process!