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377463: Writing the First Screenplay II
SCRIPT-X 410.2

  • Winter 2021
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 01/06/2021 to 03/16/2021
  • Modified 01/01/2021


This second in a four-part sequence in writing a feature film script has you hit the ground running. You begin by pitching your story based on your outline and revising it to make sure the premise can carry the entire movie. Armed with a workable outline, you then flesh it out into either a beat sheet or treatment (at the instructor's discretion) and begin writing your screenplay. Personalized feedback along with mini-lectures on key craft points, including character development, story structure, and conflict, help you to meet the course goal, which is to write Act I (approximately 30 pages). May be repeated for credit.


The first five weeks will be spent refining and prepping your outlines for script.  The next three, we will progress in increments of approximately ten script pages per week, to arrive at our goal, a solid Act One draft. The final two weeks we will rewrite and set course for launch into Act Two.

Students are expected to arrive in class with a completed outline/beat outline or treatment, the blueprint for the story you intend to write, and a firm commitment to see that story through. In addition to scripting Act One, each week we will review the fundamentals of structure, character, theme and dialogue through sheet lectures and exercises. 

Students are required to read/view weekly topics and complete assigned tasks, which include mandatory Workshop participation. Peer feedback is important here and beyond. Working writers, myself included, depend heavily on feedback from friends and associates throughout the development process. You get back what you put in.  

Assignments are due Sunday, 8 pm, to allow time for Workshop comments. Instructor comments will follow through the week in order of posting.


Formatting:  Useful books on formatting. Recommended, not required.

The Complete Guide to Standard SCRIPT Formats – Part 1: The Screenplay by Judith H. Haag and Hillis R. Cole
The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier
Also, formatting guides and articles are everywhere on the internet.  That said, I strongly recommend investing in a screenwriting program. Industry standard is Final Draft, but the myriad of others perform just as well. 

Required film viewing/reading:

Read and view, preferably both, scripts/films in assigned weeks. If movie access is a problem, reading the script will suffice. Links to assigned scripts are provided in the weekly modules. 

Films to review:

  • Bridesmaids
  • Thelma & Louise
  • Almost Famous
  • As Good As It Gets


Course Requirements

Come prepared to write and rewrite. Students are required to read materials and complete Assignments posted in the weekly modules.  

Workshop is mandatory as noted.  Responses should be clearly thought-out and when possible, followed up with solutions to areas cited. Feedback across the board is encouraged.


  • Read lectures and complete assignments – reading, writing and/or film viewing.
  • Post Assignments by Sunday 8:00 pm.
  • Comment on Workshop assignment posts and beyond.

Note:  This syllabus is subject to change by instructor according to the needs and evolving dynamics of the class.


Grades: Letter grade or Pass/Fail:

If you are taking this course for a grade or pass/fail, grades are based on turning in your assignments on time and Workshop participation. I feel the nature of screenwriting is too subjective to judge on critical standards this early on. 

Instructor comments on unexcused late work is at my discretion.

Note that I do not give plus/minus on letter grades.

Course Policies

Underage Students

As UCLA's principal provider of continuing education, the majority of UCLA Extension courses are designed for the post-baccalaureate professional-level student. Enrollment is therefore normally reserved for adult students 18 years of age and older. The Writers’ Program may consent to enroll younger students based on special academic competence and approval of the instructor. Minors who enroll in a Writers’ Program course without first receiving permission from both the department and the instructor are subject to withdrawal.  To request approval, please contact the Writers’ Program at 310/825-9415.

Institutional Policies

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at:

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Service for Students with Disabilities Office at (310) 825-7851 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:


Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see:

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, 1145 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Additional Items

Course and Instructor Evaluation

UCLA Extension values your feedback on course and instructor evaluations. We ask all students to take a few minutes to complete an end-of-course evaluation survey. Updates to the course and instruction are influenced by your feedback. Understanding your student experience is essential to ensure continuing excellence in the online classroom and is appreciated by your instructor and the UCLA Extension academic leadership.

Your participation in a survey is voluntary, and your responses are confidential. After instructors submit grades, they will be given an evaluation report, but this report will not contain your name.

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    To download all your assignment submissions in Canvas, please refer to the online support guide. for more information or contact Canvas Support via the help menu within Canvas.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:


Canvas access opens Monday, January 4, 2021. Class officially starts on the 6th.