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WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

SCREENWRITING FUNDAMENTALS

You will learn the basics of screenwriting, including character creation, dialogue writing, scene construction, story editing, documentary writing, short format writing, commercials, broadcast news, factual entertainment and new media writing. You will develop an understanding of the script as the blueprint for production and how writing fits into the production and editing process.

COMEDY WRITING

You will develop late night comedy materials as well as spec and original sitcom scripts, from concept through to beat sheet, outline and draft. You will work with acting students to shoot a scene from your original pilot scripts.

DRAMA WRITING

You will examine one-hour drama series and write a spec script for an exiting series, from concept through to beat sheet, outline and drat. You will then develop the concept for an original dramatic series and write the pilot.

FEATURE FILM WRITING

High-level, industry story editors will take you through the collaborative process of writing an original feature film. You will write and re-write feature acts with regular feedback from your instructors and peer story editors. You final original script will be brought to life with an industry-style table read, by Toronto Film School acting students.

BUSINESS OF FILM

You will develop an understanding of the legal and business side of the industry, including copyright law, finance, marketing, distribution, funding projects and working with agents.

FPD126 |  SCRIPTS 1

Scripts 1 introduces students to the basic concepts and formatting of the screenplay – characters are explored, as well as dialogue, scene structure, and sequences. Students create complex, layered characters with an emphasis on dialogue without story exposition. Students write a scene that imparts information and reveals character through subtext – guiding the audience through the use of actions, as subtly and naturally as possible. Story conflict within a scene is stressed, as is the protagonist/antagonist relationship, culminating in the ultimate scene resolution. Students also write a second scene in sequence, discussing audience expectations, and the possibility of going against these expectations to build interest and create a more compelling narrative.

FPD108 |  CINEMATIC LANGUAGE STUDIES

An in depth look at the language of film, its origins and its genres. The innovations and major cinematic movements will be addressed, as well as the techniques, styles and storytelling formats that were pioneered. Students will discuss, break down and deconstruct a historic film using the techniques drawn from class.

WRT130 |  STORY EDITING 1

In this fundamental course students will learn the role of the Story Editor in the creative process, namely how to critically analyze the scripts and development materials of others. This in turn will give them an all new perspective on their own writing. The course will focus on the collaborative process of writing and the role of notes from story editors, executives, producers, directors and even actors. Students will be taught the ‘correct’ way to give notes both in meetings and in private, so as to make their point and get the best result from the writer. Introductory story analysis and the importance of creative brainstorming will be stressed, as students endeavour to improve one another’s work in a professional, true-to-life manner..

FPD136 |  SCRIPTS 2

Scripts 2 focuses on three act structure and story arcs as students learn to create and highlight fundamental plot points. With this structural knowledge students venture a ‘beat sheet’ for a short film. Using their beat sheets students are guided through the process of creating a treatment, which includes detailed story information and subtext. Finally students write the first draft of their script with a focus on rising action, tension and creating a compelling narrative.

WRT120 |  BROADCAST WRITING 1

This course will introduce students to the various formats, styles, and approaches associated with writing for studio broadcast, with a focus on news reporting. Students will be familiarized with broadcast terminology, and will be re-trained to ‘write for the ear’. Subject areas will include preparation and research, interviewing and composing scripts. Specific broadcast formats for news reports, commentaries, and mini-features will be examined, and students will learn the basics do’s and don’ts for the writing of each.

WRT320 |  FEATURE WRITING 1

This course will build on the base established in Scripts 1 & 2, as it introduces students to the unique considerations of writing for the big screen. Students will delve further into the creative process, looking at how words translate into images, and how filmic elements create a visual narrative. Focus will be on continued examination of the concepts of conflict, theme, subtext, tone, dialogue and genre, as students delve deeper into to the traditional three act story structure for film. Portions of classic and modern films will be screened and analyzed, to reinforce the theory learned. The importance of researching and/or knowing your characters and world will be stressed, as students come up with their own concept proposals (log line & synopsis), which will be taken to beat sheet and then treatment by the end of the course..

WRT330 |  DRAMA WRITING

In this course, students will be introduced to the unique style and structure of dramatic television series, with a focus on storyline and story development. Plot structure, narrative unity, characterization, dialogue, exposition and setting will all be studied in depth, as students analyze various dramatic series currently on the air. The traditional four-act structure for hour-long series will be introduced, as students examine the ‘rules’ in some of their favourite series, and the regimented way in which each functions. Through the course, students will write a spec script for an existing dramatic series from proposal to draft, to be used as a portfolio piece after graduation.

WRT230 |  STORY EDITING 2

This course will focus on reader coverage, and specific considerations when story editing projects in various formats.  Following on Story Editing I, the instructor will expand on the tools needed to analyze the premise, story, characters and controlling idea of a script, and how to present concerns to the writer in the most effective way. This course will also focus on the creation of story elements that grab and hold an audience, and how to analyze and facilitate these.

WRT310 |  COMEDY WRITING

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of sketch, talk- show, and sitcom writing, and to the required elements of a sitcom script. The notion of A, B & C plots will be examined, as will the traditional ‘Tease-2 Acts-Tag’ structure. Students will be familiarized with the language and process of television comedy writing and rewriting, as they analyze the various formats for television comedy, and study current sitcoms (animated and live-action), talk and sketch shows. Students will be encouraged to develop their own comic voice and point-of-view, while preparing a series of monologues, desk jokes, sketches and a spec script of an existing sitcom, for their portfolio.

WRT430 |  ONE-HOUR DRAMA WRITING 1

Building on the base established in Drama Writing, this course will move students from theory to practice in its focus on the writing of one-hour dramatic television. Students will conceive of their own ideas for an original pilot, contemplating how they’d like their series to function and the ‘rules’ of their world – en route to an outline, then a draft of a pilot script. The market-driven nature of dramatic television will be stressed, as students learn that writing drama demands flexibility, accommodation of external influences, understanding audience, and most recently extending story to digital platforms.

FPD235 |  DISTRIBUTION/MARKETING

This course will familiarize students with the business of film and television distribution and marketing. Students will make simulated production and distribution choices dealing with realistic projects and business partners. They will develop an understanding of the TV sales process, and the global marketplace they will be entering. Students will learn the language of broadcast and film sales, create effective “one/sell” sheets, and develop both a sales forecast and a marketing and promotion plan for a project. Students will learn to identify accessible and profitable markets, gain a greater understanding of the domestic and international film and television landscape, and familiarize themselves with emerging markets including mobile, web and video on demand.

WRT420 |  FEATURE WRITING 2

Building on the base established in Feature Writing I, this course will focus on story structure, as students learn to construct and deconstruct story in various ways. More complex structures will be examined, to give students a solid foundation in the language of feature film story. Scene structure will also be examined in greater depth. Students continue to work on the feature outlines written in part I, and begin writing the first act of their script. Standard industry formats for the various development documents will be reviewed, as students also revise their pitch documents from part I (log lines, synopses, etc.) for future use.

WRT410 |  SITCOM WRITING 1

Building on the base established in Comedy Writing, this course will analyze the structure, scripting and pacing of the sitcom in greater depth. Single-camera and multi- camera shows will be examined, compared, and contrasted, as students consider the ‘trajectory’ of the sitcom in recent years. The importance of likeable, well defined characters (and their ‘clowns’) and a compelling, comfortable world (with consistent rules) will be stressed as students write an original sitcom pilot from proposal through outline to draft.

FPD223 |  FINANCE FOR FILM AND TV

Students are introduced to the business techniques and language involved in securing available funding from various agencies. Students become familiar with numerous types of funding at different levels of government and through private institutions, including various grants and tax incentives.  They also become familiar with the different stipulations and approaches required by each, in order to access these funds. Students explore the different avenues and methods for raising capital as well as the different strategies for financing a project.

WRT510 |  SITCOM WRITING 2

This course will look at the structure of real-world story departments, and what can be done to put oneself in the best position possible to be hired in a staff position. Using the original pilot drafts written in Sitcom Writing 1, students will work with one another and the instructor in efforts to enhance their scripts. Instructors will guide students as they go through the process of story editing, and ‘punching up’ each other’s scripts to create a tight, refined product. Students will receive invaluable experience as they are forced to decide which of their colleagues’ ideas to leave and to take, all while trying to stay true to the voice of their show.

WRT530 |  ONE-HOUR DRAMA WRITING 2

In this course, students will learn the ins and outs of the dramatic story department, and the skills necessary to be hired in a staff position. Using the original pilot drafts written in One-Hour Drama Writing 1, students will give each other story notes, in efforts to improve and refine one another’s scripts. Instructors will consult with the groups on a regular basis, also giving producer/network style notes for each writer to follow. Students will learn the advantages and disadvantages of having additional ‘brains’ on their project as they collaborate, rework, rewrite, and do their best to keep a consistent style and tone in their pilots. Instructors will guide the process, but it will ultimately be up to each student to decide which ideas to take, and how to best use the resources available to them to improve their script.

FPD222 |  FILM CONTRACT/COPYRIGHT

Film Contract & Copyright focuses on the primary contracts associated with film production, as well as copyright infringement and clearances. Students will be guided through the essential elements of copyright law including what constitutes a violation, ownership and payments, and how Canada is continually adjusting its copyright laws to the ever-changing global and technological climate. Through the course, students will also discuss music rights, the various types of intellectual property, and brands. With these considerations in mind students will be able to safely and effectively prepare their projects for distribution.

WRT520 |  FEATURE WRITING 3

Rewriting and polishing is the next instalment in this area, as students will revise the Act 1’s written in Feature Writing II, rethinking as they receive feedback from instructors and their peers.  They will then move on to their second acts, adjusting as necessary given any changes to story structure.  Focus will be on the increasingly collaborative nature of feature writing today, and how to make the most of the criticism of others. The logistics of writing a commercially saleable script will be examined, as will the art of producing a compelling feature adaptation from a novel or other medium. Modern story structures for current saleable genres will be studied, including romantic comedies and thrillers. Students will finalize pitch materials from parts I & II (log lines, synopses, etc.) so that along with a polished script, they’ll have the short documents needed to get people interested enough to read.

WRT610 |  SITCOM SHOWRUNNING

In this final term of sitcom, students will consider the ultimate role of ‘showrunner’, and what that job would entail on the series they’ve written.  Instructors will discuss pre and post-production considerations with the class, to give a broad, realistic perspective regarding what would be involved in bringing each project to life.  Students will first finalize their pilot scripts, then create audition materials, and finally do a mock casting with actors on TFS’s internal version of Casting Workbook.  Students will ultimately select actors for their project, and justify the reasons for their selections, in this capstone sitcom course.

WRT220 |  BROADCAST WRITING 2

Building on the knowledge base established in Broadcast Writing I, this course will focus on story development, and broadcast scripts that grab and hold an audience. Students will be taught the fundamental considerations in the production of advertisements, promos, and corporate videos, as they examine and analyze current trends.  Throughout the course, students will build an introductory portfolio of corporate video scripts, commercials, promos, and PSA’s (public service announcements) for their professional use later on.

WRT620 |  FEATURE WRITING 4

This final Feature Writing course will have students complete their feature drafts, as they discuss the challenges faced by the auteur, writer-director filmmaker. After students re-write their second acts, they will move on to their third act climax and resolution, endeavouring a satisfying, complete-thought ending to their stories.  Once again they will receive notes from colleagues and instructors, and once again they will take these to try and make their drafts as tight and polished as possible.  Instructors will discuss the industry realities of table-reads, casting a film, and managing actors on set. Students will gain invaluable insight from this true-to-life, real-world analysis of the feature making process.

WRT630 |  ONE-HOUR DRAMA SHOWRUNNING

As in Sitcom Showrunning, students will consider the position of one-hour drama showrunner, and what that job would entail on their own projects.  Students will first finalize their pilot scripts, then create audition materials for key roles.  Once again, students will use TFS’s internal Casting Workbook to cast their projects, again giving a rationale for their decisions, in this capstone drama course.

WRB610 |  CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR WRITERS

This course will focus on building a career in the film & television industry, both from a business standpoint and a creative one. On the business side, how to obtain and/or deal with agents, lawyers and managers will be examined, as will the role of these people in the industry and one’s career. On the creative side, the type of portfolio needed for various goals will be focused on, as will the benefit of having both original and spec scripts, and the appropriate balance. Formats for pitch documents will be reviewed, including log lines, synopses, treatments, bibles, and pilot scripts. Students will learn pitch techniques, and have the opportunity to create submission packages to be used after graduation.