Writing for Film & Television


Term 1 Course Descriptions



The concept of story is as old as human experience, language, and the desire to make sense of existence. Students explore the origins of story and its archetypal structure in myth, while also examining the evolution of structure in a variety of forms and how that structure ultimately lends itself to providing the template for screenwriting.



It's impossible to tell a story without characters, and the more engaging they are, the more compelling a story will be. Through lectures, discussions, screenings, and in-class assignments, students develop an arsenal of techniques useful for creating well-developed characters. The main focus is on creating fully formed people whose motives and actions are organic to the plot, relevant to the story’s thematic intentions, and a delight for actors and audiences alike. Students apply these techniques and explore their own characters further within a specific dramatic context.


Script Structure

This course stresses the fundamentals of three-act film structure and how a script is constructed by studying the scripts of well-known, soundly structured films.


Biz Format

Professional screenplay formatting is incredibly important for any aspiring writer to be taken seriously. Students become completely comfortable with leading screenwriting software, and learn to write using current industry-standard formatting. The focus here is on writers' drafts, not on shooting scripts, although students learn the differences between them, as well as feature film and television formats.


Biz Pitching

Even the best ideas can't be realized without the right pitch. This course focuses on the content and style of pitching, moving from the various forms of pitching to how to structure ideas and present them dramatically and effectively. Instructors offer constructive critiques to improve each student’s presentation.


TV Genre

The structures and conventions of television shows can vary widely depending on the genre of the program. Before students begin writing their TV Spec scripts in Term 2, they first study different genres of television – from police procedurals to three-camera comedies to family dramas to science fiction.


Term 2 Course Descriptions


Advanced Story and Character

In this follow up course to Story and Character, students concentrate on further developing their characters and plotting their arcs to fulfill expectations of the low budget feature script assignment from Term 1. Through lectures, screenings, discussions, and workshops, students explore story possibilities and potential, and address problem issues within their own feature scripts.


Feature Development

Students are guided through basic story principles and encouraged to develop two feature script pitches which they workshop into one-sheets and beat sheets. Students present their scripts to a panel of instructors, who offer feedback and recommend which story concept to pursue. The emphasis is on viability of projects and stories that offer the best opportunities to learn the craft of screenwriting.



By concentrating on the art of great dialogue, students improve their writing on the page to make it actually sound the way people speak. Through lectures, exercises, and film clips, writers learn to create believable dialogue and complex characters. There is also an exploration of how to speak volumes without saying a word.


Script Genre: Crime

This series of courses in script genres continues with a close textual study of seminal crime dramas, traversing the latitudes and limitations of the genre through a variety of its sub-genres. Instructors help students discover how genres fulfill specific conventions while generally conforming to the three-act structure and the hero’s journey. Writing style, character functions and arcs, dialogue, setting, premise, scene design, and management are also examined but the main focus is on exploring the elements of the first act (also known as “the setup”).


TV Spec Script

Various TV writing techniques are explored to ignite the creative spark and encourage students to develop stories for the small screen. They craft an original concept for an existing TV series of their choice, take it to the first draft stage, and develop skills in pitching, writing, and selling their work.


Writing for Animation

The fundamentals of writing for animation projects make up the core aspect of this course, challenging students to prepare and pitch episode springboards. They also write beat sheets, outlines, and an original script for an animated TV series. Instructors stress the principles of writing for animation, from genre to format, structure, character, story, and humour.



Term 3 Course Descriptions


Script Genre: Comedy

This course provides an overview of the narrative elements that define film genre, and applies it to comedies by examining specific sub-genres such as romance, teen, gross-out, dark comedy, family, and buddy/road comedies. Students study comedy screenplays to gain an understanding of how narrative elements combine to tell a story. They also learn what makes a screenplay readable, how to create comedy on the page, and what inspires the reader to move forward.

Feature Script

Students write a first draft of their feature script in the first four weeks of this course with meetings with their instructor to help them. After the draft is finished, each student gets a threehour workshop with their instructor and a small group of their peers to discuss the script.”

Sketch Comedy

Sketch comedy writing is one of the most popular forms of comedic writing, and can open unique career possibilities as a writer. In this class, students learn how to create original ideas and concepts for sketches. They focus on kickstarting their imaginations, identifying their own style of humour, and expanding their comedic tools. In the second part of this course in Term 4, students experience the production aspect of sketch comedy writing and see their sketches performed by actors in a live environment.


The Second Act

The second act is a critical part of every feature script, as it's the place that can cause the most trouble in a script. This course challenges students to learn how to construct a strong second act, and prevent common mid-story issues. (Optional for TV Stream.)



Term 4 Course Descriptions


Story Editing

This course is designed to familiarize students with the breakdown and analysis of feature screenplays. Students discover how to apply analytical skills in the assessment of other students’ scripts and inform the writing process itself for their own work. (Both Streams.)


Script Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Students examine the history, conventions, and storytelling styles of sci-fi and fantasy genres. They read six major screenplays that best represent the major aspects of the genres, accompanied by lectures, film clips, student presentations, and written assignments. (Optional for TV Stream.)


Final Feature Project

This course focuses on the development of one treatment for a second feature script or two TV spec scripts with the assistance of a faculty advisor, thus giving students a taste of what the writing process will be like primarily under their own guidance. Extends through Term 6. (Film Stream only.)


TV Pilot 1

Students create an original premise for a TV series using examples from existing series. They learn how to pitch their idea, create a series bible, and write outlines for original pilot episodes. To help this process along, instructors use produced pilot scripts and screenings to identify key techniques that assist students in writing scripts for their pilot concepts. (TV Stream Only.)



 Term 5 Course Descriptio

TV Rewrites

Taking the first draft of a TV spec script into a second draft requires the support and constructive feedback of a real television story department. Students discover that in order to become a valuable contributor to a story department, they need skills in story editing and experience in rewriting their own and other students' work. (TV Stream Only.)



The adaptation process can be difficult. Often the original writer is quite close to their source material and, in trying to remain faithful to the specifics of their work, he or she creates a technically proficient but often lifeless imitation. This course is designed to provide students with the basic understanding of the problems of adaptation and some fundamental tools with  which to solve them. (All students.)


Script Genre: Action

The fourth course in this series introduces students to scripts in the action, western, and blockbuster genres. (Optional for TV Stream.)


Final Feature Project 2

Students work on beat sheets for their second feature script with the assistance of a faculty advisor, giving them a taste of what the writing process is like after graduation when they'll be under their own guidance. Extends through Term 6. (Film Stream only.)


Feature Rewrites

The best writers are never satisfied, which is why the rewrite is a natural part of the writer's life. This course focuses on rewriting feature screenplays through lectures, discussions, workshops, work groups, and in-class computer labs. Students learn a tactical approach to rewriting, beginning with lifting the story off the page and further developing its potential. Extends through Term 6. (Film Stream only.)


TV Pilot 2

Taking the outlines and bibles created earlier, students write the first draft of their TV pilot script with instructor guidance. (TV Stream only.)


Writing for Comics

Students learn the fundamentals of writing for comics and graphic novels as well as the basics of online comic production. As part of the course, each student writes, and produces, a segment of an online comic anthology in conjunction with the VFS Foundation Visual Art & Design program. They also write an industry-standard script for a mini-series or graphic novel.


Writing for Games

The focus of this course is to introduce students to the unique structures and storytelling techniques in writing for video games.



Term 6 Course Descriptions


Career Launch

Writing “Fade Out” at the end of a feature screenplay isn't the end of a screenwriter's work, but the beginning of a new phase. Students discover how to properly assess an option agreement, why networking is critical, and everything else writers need to know about the nuts and bolts of the industry. (All students.)


Script Genre - Horror

Students examine the history, conventions, and storytelling styles of sci-fi and fantasy, and horror genres. They read six major screenplays that best represent the major aspects of the genres, accompanied by lectures, film clips, student presentations, and written assignments. (Optional for TV Stream.)


TV Pilot 3

All writing is rewriting. Students take the first draft of the TV pilot they wrote in Term 5 and rewrite it, taking their work one step closer to being ready to send to producers and/or screenwriting contests. (TV Stream only.)


Advanced TV Spec

This course focuses on the tools students learned in Term 2's TV Spec course. Those who have chosen the TV Writing stream write an outline, beat sheet, and first draft of a second television spec script for an existing series. Extends through Term 6. (TV Stream only.)