Building your Screenplay
Learn to strengthen you skills as a screenwriter, while diversifying your knowledge and understanding of the demands of global film and TV production. Find out how to become a powerful visual story-teller; understand how to build effective structure within your screenplay; develop professionally transferable writing skills and communication expertise.
This course will broaden your understanding of how to start a career successfully as a professional screenwriter, as well as offer you insights in how to maximise and enjoy the processes of your personal creativity.
About this courseSkip About this course
This course is part of the University of Cambridge’s MicroMasters program in Writing for Performance and Entertainment Industries.
We will be looking in depth at how to build a screenplay that communicates its central meaning through strong visual images. How do we write a script containing almost no dialogue? And when we do have to use speech, what constitutes successful dialogue for the screen? How will film genre and history influence your writing? What is the difference between a tagline and a logline? How do you write an effective outline of your script for a producer to read? What is a ‘story bible’ and when do you need one? All these questions and more will be answered.
We will be thinking comparatively about screenplay advice from film and TV industry gurus such as Robert McKee and John Yorke - as well as asking you to find your own habits and practices as writing methodology. We will critically analyse the work of filmmakers such as Jeremiah Mosese, Mustashrik Mahbub and Melina Matsoukas. How do our global film and TV industries reflect our social and cultural concerns and needs today? The work of James Frey ( Queen and Slim ), Michaela Coel ( I May Destroy You ) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge ( Fleabag, Killing Eve ) will inspire us to find the stories within ourselves than can change the world.
Successful visual communication is a vital skill in any workplace. Visual images are the fastest way to communicate the most information possible in the shortest possible time, and a strong intuitive and strategic grasp of this process will offer you an in valuable creative toolbox for expert communication in any professional sphere.
Skill transferability, flexible thinking, and expert language abilities are now essential in a diversifying global job market - come and learn essential new skills, and have fun doing it!
You will be set writing exercises over the course of the module, and you will asked to keep a brief creativity journal to note how your ideas progress and how your intuition leads you into productivity. By the end of this module, you will have completed several new scenes of a screenplay, with a considered plan for the structure of the entire piece of work. You will have reflected on how social and cultural mores can become useful themes to create commercially successful work.
At a glance
- Language: English
- Associated programs:
- MicroMasters® Program in Writing for Performance and the Entertainment Industries
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- Specialised knowledge of histories, forms, and traditions of writing for performance as well as the cultural contexts of innovative practitioners and practices within film and TV; of contemporary critical, analytical, and narrative theories of production;
- script-editing skills within screenwriting industries;
- developed advanced self-management skills to include working in planned and improvisatory ways, as well as the ability to anticipate and accommodate change, ambiguity, creative risk-taking, uncertainty and unfamiliarity;
- how to create effective structure within a screenplay; how to write powerful characters for the screen;
- advanced awareness of the relevant market and distribution demands of entertainment industries.
About the instructors
Frequently Asked QuestionsSkip Frequently Asked Questions
Does this course give me a Masters degree from the University of Cambridge?
No. If on completing this course you choose to apply to the Master of Studies (MSt) in Writing for Performance – based in Cambridge UK – and are accepted as a suitable candidate, then this MicroMasters® will be considered as 30 credits of the 180 credit award.
Do I need a Creative Writing degree to take this course?
No. This course is open to all, although we believe that you will get more from it if you are already involved, or hoping to be involved in writing and associated literary professions. The entry requirements for the full Master of Studies in Writing for Performance at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge are available on our website.
Will I be a successful YouTuber if I take this course?
This course teaches the skills involved in becoming a successful writer for different performance mediums. Honing these skills is ultimately up to you, but the guidance offered will enlighten you and provide you with a solid grounding to enter the entertainment industries as a writer.
Will I receive feedback on my writing?
We are not able to give feedback to any students auditing this course on their individual pieces of writing. For those on the verified track, the final assignment will be assessed and feedback sent. In addition, throughout the course, advice and training will be given on how to give and receive feedback to others. Ideas will be explored through discussion forums.
How long do I have to complete the course?
This instructor-led course runs for 4 weeks, and it is part of the MicroMasters in Writing for Performance and Entertainment Industries that runs for 7-8 months. There will be further iterations of the course, and therefore opportunities to work at a slightly slower or faster pace as preferred.
I want to write for YouTube, why do I need to know about the screenplay?
As writers we would always encourage you to broaden your horizons as it can only assist the creative process. In addition today’s documentary series could be tomorrow’s hit musical. If you are not interested in other genres there is also the option of studying modules on an individual basis.
What has resilience got to do with writing?
As a writer you should be prepared to have work rejected as well as accepted. The editing process alone may involve removing treasured words and phrases. In addition, world events can have an impact on the entertainment industries. This course will give you an understanding of how to cope and respond creatively to setbacks.