MI5002 - Screenwriting 2 - Writer's Room

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What will I learn on this module?

This is the second module in the Screenwriting pathway and this time allows you to take part in the TV Writer’s Room.

The TV writer’s room is a unique environment where lead by your tutor, you will work on a serialised television series from initial idea through to final draft stage of the script development process. This process uses the creativity of the whole class to break story’, create compelling characters, and structure a multi-episodic scripted drama. You will work on an individual script, from treatment stage through to first, and second draft stage with a final third draft polish. You will respond to notes, learn how to write believable dialogue and credible screen directions, you will also learn how to write to deadlines, construct an episodic treatment, and how to take creative direction from the series Showrunner – your module tutor. Each individual episode will have a twenty four minute runtime. This is an intense and advanced experience, essential for all students interested in a screenwriting or script editing career. It is also very useful for potential writer/directors, or creative producers.

How will I learn on this module?

Through practice, writing is rewriting, therefore the best way to learn is to write whilst under the guidance of an experienced professional. Through the early writer’s room sessions you will learn to ‘break story’ which is a term for creating the narrative structure of a series. It is the same process used on all US series such as Grey’s Anatomy and Breaking Bad. It requires the individual writer to become part of a creative team, to be able to speak out when appropriate, to be able to contribute opinions that are backed up by appropriate research and experience. You will be expected to hit strict deadlines for your treatment’s and scripts. You will be expected to read other people’s scripts in order to understand the SOP (State of Play) of the characters. At the writing stage you will respond to the Showrunner’s notes and rewrite your script accordingly. You will be offered support through meetings and project supervision sessions. Final Draft screenwriting software will be provided for the students in designated IT areas, though it is also encouraged that the students purchase their own copy if they are serious about a career as a screenwriter.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The Writer's Room is the most modern and advanced process in present day scripted television production. You will be led by a ‘Showrunner’ (or in this case ‘lead writer’) encouraging you in the early workshops to brainstorm ideas, create characters and possible storylines. As part of the module you are encouraged to research, read, and immerse yourself in related materials, for example, previous broadcast materials, journals, books and any other related materials. Working together with fellow students you will create a series of episodic television narratives. These episodes will be handed over to yourself and other students to write successive drafts in an approximation of the real scripting process on a broadcast television show. Through this you will learn to respond to creative notes, production notes and also the budgetary restrictions imposed upon writers. You will also learn how to use professional screenwriting software Final Draft, for formatting scripts and writing scripts. This software is available to students in designated IT spaces.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Understand the key components to create an original television series and the principles of television narrative.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. Show how the creative and critical contexts underpin practice in the creation of television series drama.

3. Evidence creativity and imagination in the writing of your episode.

4. Demonstrate the ability to action notes and hit deadlines.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. Show awareness of series broadcast narrative and its development.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment will be 100% project work (3000 words equivalent). You will produce an episode based on the work developed through the writer’s room. The portfolio will include at least two drafts of your script and associated materials e.g. set exercises. The portfolio will encourage you to critically engage with the process of screenwriting in an ongoing reflective and critical manner. The portfolio should clearly demonstrate that a range of strategies and approaches have been undertaken, covering such areas as characterisation, scenario and plot development and the importance of hitting deadlines within a production environment. The portfolio will demonstrate your capacity to understand these approaches and deploy them in the making of work of a professional standard and will address all of the MLOs.

Pre-requisite(s)

N/A

Co-requisite(s)

N/A

Module abstract

TV Writer’s Room: Together we will work to create a television series from scratch. Here you will learn how to work in serial formats. Picking up from the work of other writers, hooks, storylines, legs, state of play… all terms that you will come to learn the meaning of. This will be an interactive learning experience with the tutor as ‘Showrunner’ and with you as writer. Deadlines will be given to individual students in accordance with standard industry practice and consist of, synopsis, treatment and at least two drafts of an episode and a final polished draft. You will be expected to attend all scheduled sessions, to hit script deadlines and to fully participate in the writer’s room.

Course info

UCAS Code P310

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location Lipman Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2019 or September 2020

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