Writing for Film & TV Associate Diploma
Turn your writings into saleable, commercial formats ready for production.
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Write Your Screenplay
Become versed in the techniques that will enable you to effectively pitch, write and produce your own stories. Perfect your writing portfolio under the guidance of real screenwriters, while learning in online classes styled after industry writing rooms. And graduate ready to write your own sitcoms, dramas, feature films, commercials, factual entertainment, and more.
Michelle Daly | Program Director
Michelle Daly | Program Director
Michelle was director of content at the Comedy Network, and she followed that with senior roles at the CBC. She has contributed to the success of such popular shows as Corner Gas, Kim’s Convenience and Schitt’s Creek.
Blain Watters | Instructor
Blain Watters | Instructor
Blain is an accomplished screenwriter. He wrote multiple episodes of Netflix’s sci-fi drama Between, and the screenplay for the film Sleeping Giant (which premiered at Cannes). His web series Haunters: The Musical has had over a million views.
Brandon Firla | Instructor
Brandon Firla | Instructor
A graduate of the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, Brandon specializes in comedy and sitcom writing. He has sold several comedy pilots to TV networks in Canada, and he is also an actor (Suits, Modern Family and Never Have I Ever are some of his credits).
Balahan’s short film Love, Death and Tomatoes was screened at film festivals in the United States and Spain while he was still a student. He is a content creator for Content Montent in Turkey, and is currently developing his first feature film.
Writing for Film & TV ’21
Monica is an award-winning filmmaker and actress. Her work has been screened internationally at prestigious film festivals, and she currently has a TV series in development with Bell Media.
Writing for Film & TV ’22
Andrew was a recipient of the Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship for his sci-fi comedy pilot Time Hustlers. His screenplay ThunderKids was a finalist in the Raindance Script Competition.
Writing for Film & TV ’21
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Term 1 (2)
Have a story to tell? Start with an introduction to the basic concepts and formatting of the screenplay, including character creation, dialogue writing, screen structure and more. Learn to create complex, layered characters and write them into a scene that reveals character traits through subtext. Your story continues as you write a second scene in sequence, considering audience expectations and the opportunity to go against them in order to create a more compelling narrative.
CINEMATIC LANGUAGE STUDIES
Take an in-depth look at the language of film, its origins and genres. Significant innovations and major cinematic movements will be studied, as well as popular techniques, styles and storytelling formats. Ultimately, you will discuss and deconstruct a historic film using the techniques learned in class.
Term 2 (3)
STORY EDITING 1
Jump into the role of the story editor as you learn to critically analyze the scripts and development materials of others. You will focus on the collaborative process of writing and the role of notes delivered from story editors, executives, producers, directors and even actors. You will also be taught the professional way to give notes both in meetings and in private, so as to get the best results from the writer.
What is the three-act structure and story arc? Dive into these pillars of screenwriting and learn to create and highlight fundamental plot points. Building on your structural knowledge, you will create a beat sheet for a short film, expand that into a treatment, and finally write a first draft focusing on rising action, tension and creating a compelling narrative.
BROADCAST WRITING 1
Tune in and discover various formats, styles, and approaches associated with writing for a studio broadcast. Your focus will be on news reporting, becoming familiar with broadcast terminology, and training to ‘write for the ear’. Subject areas include preparation and research, interviewing, and composing scripts. Specific broadcast formats for news reports, commentaries, and mini-features will be examined.
Term 3 (3)
FEATURE WRITING 1
Writing for the big screen is a whole different game. This course teaches how words translate into images and how filmic elements create a visual narrative. Key concepts taking you deeper into the traditional three-act story structure for film include conflict, theme, subtext, tone, dialogue and genre. The importance of research and developing a deep knowledge of your characters and world will be stressed. You will develop your own concept proposal (log line & synopsis), which will be expanded to beat sheet and then treatment by the end of the course.
Have a flair for the dramatic? Explore the unique style and structure of the 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, paired with an analysis of various current dramatic series. The structure for hour-long series will be introduced, and you will examine how it is applied to some of your favourite series. Throughout, you will write a spec script for an existing dramatic series from proposal to first draft, and your script will be used as a portfolio piece after graduation.
STORY EDITING 2
Refine your story as you focus on reader coverage and specific considerations when story editing projects in various formats. Learn to analyze the premise, story, characters and controlling idea of a script, and present concerns to the writer in the most effective way. You will also focus on the creation of story elements that grab and hold an audience which you will later incorporate into your work.
Term 4 (3)
Your journey to becoming a comedy writer begins with sketch, talk-show, and sitcom writing. Become familiar with the language and process of television comedy writing and rewriting as you analyze the various formats of television comedy. You will be encouraged to develop your own comic voice and point-of-view, while preparing a series of monologues, desk jokes, sketches and a spec script for an existing sitcom to add to your portfolio.
ONE-HOUR DRAMA WRITING 1
Dream of being a staff writer on an award-winning drama? Building on the base you established in Drama Writing, this course will push you to write a complete one-hour dramatic television script. You will conceive an original pilot, its rules, an outline, then write a draft of your pilot script. With the market-driven nature of dramatic television in mind, you will learn to accommodate external influences, and extend your story to digital platforms.
BROADCAST WRITING 2
It’s time to focus on story development and broadcast scripts that grab and hold your audience. Through the examination and analysis of current trends, you will also learn fundamental considerations in the production of advertisements, promos, and corporate videos. By course’s end you will have built a portfolio of corporate video scripts, commercials, promos, and PSAs for your professional use later on.
Term 5 (3)
FEATURE WRITING 2
Building on the base established in Feature Writing I, you will focus on story structure, specifically on how to construct and deconstruct a story in various ways. More complex structures will be explored to give you a solid foundation in the language of feature film story. Scene structure will also be examined in greater depth. Equipped with this new knowledge, you will take your feature outlines written in part I and begin writing a first draft. Standard industry formats for various development documents will be reviewed, as you also revise your pitch documents from part I (log lines, synopses, etc.) for future use.
SITCOM WRITING 1
Building on the base established in Comedy Writing, you will analyze the structure, scripting and pacing of the sitcom in greater depth. Both single-camera and multi-camera shows will be examined. The importance of likeable, well-defined characters in a compelling, comfortable world (with consistent rules) will be stressed. The course culminates with you writing your very own original sitcom pilot from proposal to outline to draft.
FINANCE FOR FILM AND TV
Ever wonder how modern films are funded? Here’s your introduction to the business techniques and language involved in securing available funding from various agencies. Familiarize yourself with the numerous types of funding at different levels of government and through private institutions, including grants and tax incentives. You will also explore the different avenues and methods for raising capital as well as the different strategies for financing a project.
Term 6 (3)
SITCOM WRITING 2
Examine the structure of real-world story departments and equip yourself with the skills needed to secure a staff position in one. Using the original pilot drafts written in Sitcom Writing 1, you will be guided through the process of story editing and ‘punching up’ scripts to create a tight, refined product.
ONE-HOUR DRAMA WRITING 2
Here’s your inside look at the ins and outs of working in a creative writing department. The essential skills you learn in this course will help you secure a staff position. Using the original pilot drafts written in One-Hour Drama Writing 1, you will learn how to give proper story notes, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of having additional perspectives on a project as you collaborate, rework, and rewrite scripts.
Canadian copyright laws are constantly evolving to meet an ever-changing global and technological landscape. Stay in the know through the study of primary contracts associated with film production, as well as copyright infringement and clearances. Explore other essential elements of copyright law including violations, ownership and payments.
Term 7 (3)
FEATURE WRITING 3
Ready for the next phase of writing your feature film? With the increasingly collaborative nature of feature writing, you will rethink your work by taking into consideration the feedback from 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. You will finalize pitch materials from parts I & II (log lines, synopses, etc.) so that, along with a polished script, you will possess the documents necessary to get people interested in reading your work.
Take on the role of showrunner and discover what it’s like to showrun a series you’ve written. You will finalize your pilot script, create audition materials, and finally conduct a mock casting and selection of actors on TFS’s version of Casting Workbook.
Film distribution and marketing is its own art form. You will make simulated production and distribution choices while developing an understanding of the TV sales process and how it relates to the global marketplace. Learn the language of broadcast and film sales, create an effective sell sheet, and develop both a sales forecast and a marketing and promotion plan for a project. Identify accessible and profitable markets and familiarize yourself with emerging markets including mobile, web and video on demand.
Term 8 (3)
FEATURE WRITING 4
It’s all come down to this. This final Feature Writing course will highlight the challenges faced by screenwriters today, and see you complete your feature draft. You will receive notes from colleagues and instructors, and use this feedback to make your draft as tight and polished as possible. Instructors will discuss the industry realities of table-reads, casting a film, and managing actors on set.
ONE-HOUR DRAMA SHOWRUNNING
This true-to-life, real-world-style exercise will teach you the skills and set protocols needed to act as a TV showrunner today. Using scenes from pilot scripts developed in WRT 530, you will oversee a mock tv production, finish your pilot with input from online story rooms, participate in a detailed tone meeting with the director, and prepare written materials for a virtual casting session. Familiarize yourself with all aspects of production, including call sheets, schedules, and shot lists. You will also compare different visual styles of cinematography and editing, and choose an approach best suited to the script being developed.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR WRITERS
Build your career in the film & television industry, both from a business and creative standpoint. On the business side: understand the role of agents, lawyers and managers in your career. On the creative side: optimize your portfolio for various goals and strike the right balance of including both original and spec scripts. Formats for pitch documents will be reviewed, including log lines, synopses, treatments, bibles, and pilot scripts. You will also learn pitching techniques and create a submission package to be used after graduation.
Our Admissions Process Made Easy
Complete Toronto Film School’s online application form.
Pay the application fee of $100.
Provide original or notarized translated academic transcripts.
Submit two or more short assignments, your choice of:
- Journal Entry (two pages)
- Short Story (two pages)
- Opinion Article (two pages)
- Short Film/Sketch script (not to exceed 5 pages)
For a complete break-down of this program’s admission requirements, please visit our admission requirements page. The application fee will be deducted from your tuition total.
Tuition Fees as of October 2022
Tuition rates are confirmed 3 months prior to the start of each term. For more information, please contact the Bursar’s office at 1.888.886.1882.
The tuition fee and cost breakdown for the Writing for Film & TV online program are as follows:
Writing for Film & TV
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*Each course in the program is $960. There are 23 courses in total.
Note: Tuition Fees do not include books, expendable supplies, equipment, software, and resources.
Final Draft (Final Draft Educational is available at a discount for students) OR other industry-standard screenwriting software.
Are you in
Request a call with one of our admissions advisors if you have any questions about this program or the enrolment process.
Start your application now to secure your spot.