Scriptwriting Handouts BFI Complete

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)




  • TeachingScriptwriting, Screenplays

    and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    S E R I E S T E A C H I N G F I L M A N D M E D I A S T U D I E S

    Mark Readman




    Series Editor: Vivienne Clark

  • Page 1 of 2 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    worksheet ?worksheet 1 Screenplay format



    n 2003

    Key terms in screenwriting

    Scene: screenplays are divided into scenes. (This is a technicaldefinition, rather than the dramatic definition Robert McKeedescribes in Story which he also calls a story event.) A scenecan be defined as a unit of dramatic action which takes placein a specific location in continuous time.

    Slug line or scene heading, eg EXT. MARTHAS HOUSE. NIGHT:This tells us whether the scene is inside or outside, where it isand whether its day or night. If more information about thelocation is needed it can go from the general to the specific orvice versa, eg INT. JACKS CAR. HIGH STREET. DAY.

    Scene direction: always written in the present tense, thiscontains descriptions of the characters actions and eventsrelevant to the story. Characters names are usually capitalised,eg

    JACK notices MARTHA standing at the side of theroad. He slams the brakes on and the car screechesto a halt.

    Character cue: the name of the character who speaks. Alwayscapitalised and centred above their speech.

    Actor direction: in brackets under the characters name, usedto describe the way, or to whom, they speak. Mostlyredundant, and disliked by actors, but can be useful if themanner of speaking contradicts what appears to be themeaning or if there is potential uncertainty about who is beingaddressed.

    Dialogue: what the characters say.

    Camera shots and angles should not appear in the screenplay(although some writer/directors writing for themselves willinclude them).

    On the page of thescreenplayattached, usearrows or bracketsto indicate theposition of thefollowing:

    Scene Slug line Scene direction Character cue Actor direction Dialogue

  • bfiE


    n 2003

    worksheet 1

    Page 2 of 2 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    Screenplay format

  • Screenplay format



    n 2003

    worksheet 2

    Page 1 of 1 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    In small groups:

    1 Read the following short story.

    2 Construct a short screenplay based on the story making sure youuse standard screenplay format. This should include:

    More than one scene; Screen directions; Dialogue.

    3 Allocate parts (including a narrator for slug lines and directions) tomembers of the group and prepare a reading of your script forpresentation to the class.

    A girl and her father were driving along a country road on their wayhome when they saw a young girl hitchhiking. They stopped andpicked her up and she got in the back seat. She told the girl and herfather that she lived in a house about five miles up the road. She didntsay anything after that but just turned to watch out the window. Whenthe father saw the house he drove up to it and turned around to tell thegirl they had arrived but she wasnt there. Both he and his daughterwere really mystified and decided to knock on the door and tell thepeople what had happened. They told him they had once had adaughter who answered the description of the girl they supposedly hadpicked up, but she had disappeared some years ago and had last beenseen hitchhiking on this very road. Today would have been her birthday.

  • bfiE


    n 2003


    Page 1 of 1 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    Story structure3

    A Slave ran away from his master, by whomhe had been most cruelly treated, and, inorder to avoid capture, betook himself into thedesert. As he wandered about in search of foodand shelter, he came to a cave, which he enteredand found to be unoccupied. Really, however, itwas a Lions den, and almost immediately, to thehorror of the wretched fugitive, the Lionappeared. The man gave himself up for lost. But,to his utter astonishment, the Lion, instead ofspringing upon him and devouring him, cameand fawned upon him, at the same time whiningand lifting up his paw. Observing it to be muchswollen and inflamed, the Slave examined it andfound a large thorn embedded in the ball of thefoot. He accordingly removed it and dressed thewound as well as he could: and in the course oftime it healed up completely. The Lionsgratitude was unbounded: he looked upon theSlave as his friend, and they shared the cave forsome time together. A day came, however, when

    the Slave began to long for the society of hisfellow men and he bade farewell to the Lion andreturned to the town. Here he was presentlyrecognised and carried off in chains to hisformer master, who resolved to make anexample of him, and ordered that he should bethrown to the beasts at the next public spectaclein the theatre. On the fatal day the beasts wereloosed into the arena, and among the rest aLion of huge bulk and ferocious aspect: andthen the wretched Slave was cast in amongthem. What was the amazement of thespectators, when the Lion after one glancebounded up to him and lay down at his feetwith every expression of affection and delight!It was his old friend from the cave! Theaudience clamoured that the Slaves lifeshould be spared: and the governor of thetown, marvelling at such gratitude and fidelityin a beast, decreed that both should receivetheir liberty.


    Read these alternative versions of thestory and, in your group, discusswhether or not you think they are betteror worse than the original and why.

    a The Slave escapes, finds the cave,meets the Lion, removes the thornand lives happily ever after in thecave with him.

    b The Slave escapes and meets theLion, as in the original, but, uponreturning to town his master tells himhow much hes missed him andpromises to be much kinder in future.

    c Everything happens exactly as inthe original except that the Lion killsthe Slave in the arena.

    In small groups, discuss the story, TheSlave and the Lion in relation to thefollowing questions:

    1 Who is the main character in thisstory? Why?

    2 What is the difference between theSlave at the beginning and theSlave at the end?

    3 What are the different goals or aimsthat the Slave has during the courseof this story?

    4 Does this story feel finished?Why?

    5 What is this story about? Have thecharacters learned anything?

    Read the following story and complete the activities which follow.

    The Slave and the Lion

    Activity 1 Activity 2

  • Story structure analysing Friends



    n 2003

    student notes

    Page 1 of 2 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    (Worksheet 4)

    Scene 1 (teaser)B Monica is unemployed and short of

    money. Shes been watching thebusiness channel and has noticed thatthere is some stock which correspondsto her initials.

    C Phoebe decides to visit her estrangedfather because she has beeninterpreting a range of everydayoccurrences as signs which are tellingher to go.

    Scene 2A Ross and Chandler are moved from

    their usual seat in the coffee house,Central Perk, by two intimidating menwho claim to have been sitting therebefore them. One of them takesChandlers hat and refuses to return it.

    Scene 3B Monica has had an interview for a

    terrible job at a fifties themedrestaurant. She cant bear to thinkabout taking it but she is desperatelyshort of money and may have to.

    A Chandler and Ross return and describehow they were bullied.

    B Monica notices that the stock with herinitials has gone up and suddenlydecides to play the market.

    Scene 4C Phoebe arrives at her fathers house

    with Joey and Rachel, but is chasedaway by an aggressive dog.

    Scene 5A Ross and Chandler meet the bullies

    again in Central Perk. The bullies claimownership of the sofa and, after someverbal sparring, suggest that they taketheir dispute outside. Chandler andRoss back down and the bullies tellthem never to return to the coffee shop.

    (Season 2 Episode 21 The one with thebullies).

    Like many recent US sitcoms Friendsexemplifies a highly condensed economicalmode of story telling. In 22 minutes of screentime, this episode contains three distinctstories, each of which reaches a resolution.Each story is told in five or six scenes and,as there is no room for superfluous narrative,they provide excellent material for investigatingstory construction and causality.

    For ease of reference, the followingbreakdown of the episode includes only theessential bits of narrative information andeach element is preceded by an A, B or C,depending on which story it relates to (nohierarchy of stories should be inferred fromthis).

    There are three distinct stories in thisepisode of Friends:

    A The bulliesB Monicas moneyC Phoebes father


  • Story structure analysing Friends



    n 2003

    student notes 1

    Page 2 of 2 Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production

    (Worksheet 4)

    Scene 6C Night has fallen and the dog has

    disappeared, but Phoebe thinks thatthe dog was a bad sign and thatperhaps the meeting is not meant to beafter all. She drives away andaccidentally runs over the dog.


    Scene 7B Monica has been transformed into an

    enthusiastic trader and is confidentlybuying shares over the phone.

    C Phoebe reveals that the dog is at thevets and will be OK. She feels obligedto let the dogs owner know, butdoesnt wan