Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2024

  • Advanced Film Writing

    194 001 | CCN: 32119

    Dolores McElroy

    Location: Dwinelle 226

    Date and Time: M, W 3:30pm - 4:59pm

    4 Units

    Interested students should be pursuing ONE OR MORE of the following eventual goals:

    1. Have a challenging “capstone” experience that involves honing the writing skills already learned doing coursework in the Film & Media or other majors

    2. Apply to graduate school in film and media studies

    3. Prepare for professional opportunities and film-related careers that require advanced writing skills

    4. Learn how to conceptualize, prepare, and write a research proposal

    This course is open to juniors and seniors only.

    How does one translate cinematic experiences into words? How does one evoke and evaluate the visual and narrative elements of moving image media, using written language? Different forms of film and television writing serve a variety of professional functions, engaging different audiences to different ends, but all writing about cinematic texts must grapple with these basic questions.

    This course orients students to the conventions and standards of different forms of evaluative criticism, with special attention to the specific forms of film and television writing required in journalism, film festivals, film archives, and universities. The course addresses the following questions: What are the unique purposes of each form of writing? How should writers adjust their tone when addressing different audiences? When writing about film and television, how does a writer balance elements of narrative description and analysis, with aesthetic appreciation and critical evaluation? How does writing a preview piece, with an aim to gathering an audience for a film or show, differ from addressing a shared viewing experience after the fact?

    This course gives students an awareness of and practice in composing written work for the various modes and genres of professional film writing. There is also substantial attention devoted to the revision. As in the professional world, writing is a process of revision and entails substantial interaction between writers and editors. To this end, the course emphasizing drafts and revisions, and trains students to compose and incorporate meaningful peer feedback.

    The units for the course will include an analysis of accomplished examples of writing within a given genre; a group screening or other encounter with a “prompt” piece or experience; and an opportunity for each student to compose a piece of writing within the given mode. The course culminates in the creation of a research proposal, which requires preconceptualization, serious and substantial preliminary research, project design, and strong persuasive skills.

    Seats are reserved for standing Juniors and Seniors who are declared in the major. For Film & Media majors, the proposal process could serve the function of advance planning for an Honors Thesis or other substantial capstone project; for non-majors (who are equally welcome in the course), the proposal project will serve individualized purposes pertaining to the student’s area of study and interests.