CINE201: Introduction to Screenwriting

11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 03/20/2024

Course Description

This is a methods course intended to provide instruction in the fundamentals of screenwriting. Basic three-act structure, writing techniques, character development, and screenwriting software will be covered. This class may be used as part of the required CORE curriculum needed for students to apply and enter into the residential Center for Cinematic Arts cohort their Junior year.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Writers write because they have to. Filmmakers make movies because they must tell stories. Screenplays are the engine that drives the movie industry. For the student, the obstacles that seem so big on this side of his/her dream will be grains of sand when seen from the other side where his/her dreams are fulfilled. Our curriculum is designed to give the student the leading edge in the world of professional screenwriting by providing a balance between creative exploration and practical industry skills. Everyone has a story to tell, and screenwriting is a great foundation for understanding how to structure a story in written form.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings, websites, and video presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Video Discussion: Class Introductions

Each student will create and post a 2-4 minute video introduction of themselves. Each student will reply to two of their classmates’ introductions.

Discussions (2)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will complete two Discussions during this course. The student will post a previously completed assignment as a thread and post replies of at least 150 words each to two classmates’ threads. All Discussions must be supported by course content, outside materials and/or Scripture references using correct APA formatting.

Character Backstory Assignment

The student will develop the Character Backstory of two characters to be used in the script assignments.

The student will write a standard pitch and two (2) elevator pitches. An elevator pitch should never be longer than three sentences and is best told within one sentence. The standard pitch could be one to two pages in length.

Time a Movie Assignment

The beats in a movie impact its pace and flow. In this assignment the student will identify the beats in a film they choose.

Script: Pages 1–2 Assignment

The student will be required to choose a specific idea and write a 1-2 page script in Writers Guild of America (WGA) properly formatted page form. 

Logline and Synopsis Assignment

The student will create a one to two-line logline and a synopsis in 3 paragraphs with each paragraph representing the beginning, middle, and end of his/her story. Introduce the main characters, create the setup, and tell the main events of the story’s plot. This synopsis should be only one page, single-spaced, in three paragraphs that represent the gist of the story. It must be a PDF.

Script: Flip Genre Assignment

Choose a classmate’s Script 1-2 page assignment and rewrite according to three of five listed elements: Main Character, Location, Gender Character Gender, or Time Period.

Script: Pages 3–4 Assignment

The student will be required to write pages 3-4 to continue their 1-2 page script in Writers Guild of America (WGA) properly formatted page form. 

Quiz: Final

The student will complete an open-book/open-notes exam that consists of 20 multiple-choice questions based on the Learn information. The student will have 1 hour to complete the exam.

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