Script Writing: All Media Spring 2016

DMS 435 Script Writing: All Media

CFA Room 235, M/W 11-12:50

TEACHER: Josephine Anstey, jranstey at buffalo, office hrs  Tues/Fri 1:30-2:30, CFA 248A


In this production workshop students will concentrate on writing and editing text/script elements for their media projects. The course will explore both traditional and experimental methods for generating and structuring text for fictional and documentary work. Texts may include original writing, interview material, collaged or found fragments, that will be performed, heard or displayed in the final piece. The texts may be linear, non-linear, interactive, poetic …

This opportunity to focus on the text is for students at any stage of a project (conception through finishing); in any media (film, video, animation, performance, game, interactive installation); and those working with English as a second language or with translated material. However all students will work through three basic writing stages: creating/generating material; assembling/structuring material; editing/restructuring

Syllabus subject to change to accommodate student interest.

SCHEDULE This schedule will be updated as the semester progresses. It is your responsibility to check the schedule so that you are completely prepared for that day’s class. Failure to do so will result in loss of participation points for that day.

Learning Outcomes


1. Students will explore standard and experimental methods of generating script concepts and organizing conceptual material.

In class writing, readings, viewings, assignment 1,2, 3, 4

2. Students will create first draft of a short script using appropriate script format.

assignments 3, 4, 5

3. Students will discuss techniques for script editing and write a second draft of their scripts.

In class writing, readings, assignment 6

4. Students will learn methods for de-constructing and analysing scripts.

In class analyses, presentation, readings





  • Participation, careful reading of assigned material, reading own material, thoughtful and constructive criticism to peers. 15%
  • Assignments (1-5%, 2-10%, 3-12%, 4-13%, 5-15%, 6-15%)
  • Presentation 15%



  • Reading: Please make notes about readings: comments and questions. Bring your notes to class so that you can join in the discussion.
  • Reading own material: Please practice beforehand. You are responsible for finding class members to read with you.
  • CRITICISM: we will discuss how to give and receive criticism constructively in the class, and you are expected to follow the criticism guidelines we co-evolve.

Assignments: Electronic hand in PDF format:

  • 1: Self Portrait – think about genre/tone/presenting a character
  • 2: Write Every Day about beans or electrons – exercise to push beyond the obvious/steretypical
  • 3: Script Concept – generating and developing ideas – DUE FEB 22
    • You will have produced.
      • one sentence description
      • one page description
      • storyboard, diagram, map
      • background material, snippets, back story, note book of ideas, descriptions, game play, conceits, mechanics, chapter headings
  • 4: Treatment or Plan – DUE MAR 7
    • Students will produce a 2-5 page treatment for straight scripts (play or film)
    • Students will produce 2-5 pages of description/plan for interactive projects
  • 5: First Draft Assembling/Structuring Project. DUE Apr 4
    • Each student will structure concept into a well-written first draft.
    • 10-15 pages minimum of description/dialog for straight scripts, i.e. ~10-15 minutes of reading time
    • 10-15 minutes of “play test time” for interactive scripts
  • 6: Second Draft/Staged Reading/Playing
    • Rediting/Restructuring/Redrafting Project.
    • For your in class reading please rehearse yourself and/or your actors. Each student has ~20 minutes, please allow some time for feedback, so your excerpt should be ~10-15 mins in length.
    • Interactive Projects – organize playtest for multiple players
    • Final Digital version of Second Draft DUE MAY 13

Presentation: Analysis: Each student will choose a piece of inspirational material and present it analytically, explaining how it is “good” writing, how it makes meaning, how its structured. Please refer back to the ideas and texts that we have discussed. Presentation is 15 minutes using power point or prezi or similar. Start with a short description of the work (2 mins) before moving onto the analysis. You may use no more than 2 minutes of video to help describe the work.


Attendance for every class is mandatory barring serious emergency or cultural/religious event. Each student is allowed two unexcused absences for whatever reason (e.g., illness, weather). If extenuating circumstances arise (e.g., serious medical problems, child care), please contact the instructor as soon as possible to address the situation. Barring emergency circumstances, each absence after two will drop lower the final grade by a full grade for each additional absence (i.e.,3 absences = B->C). Punctuality is also expected. For the purposes of grading, three tardies will equal one unexcused absence.


Criteria for Incomplete Grade:

It is the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Media Study to grant incompletes for a semester only under extraordinary circumstances. Under any circumstances, incompletes will be granted only to students currently in good standing (i.e., regular attendance and passing completion of assignments). Requests for a grade of incomplete need to be submitted in writing, and should include a rationale, documentation for the reason, and a proposed schedule for completion.


If you have a disability (physical, learning or psychological) which may make it difficult for you to carry out the course work as outlined, and/or requires accommodations such as recruiting note takers, readers, or extended time on exams and assignments, please contact the Office of Disability Services, 25 Capen Hall, 645 2608, and also your instructor during the first two weeks of class. ODS will provide you with information and will review appropriate arrangements for reasonable accommodations.


Plagiarism is literary theft and a betrayal of trust. The term is derived from the Latin word for kidnapper and refers to the act of signing one’s own name to words, phrases, or ideas which are the literary property of another. Plagiarism comes in many forms, all to be avoided: outright copying, or paraphrase, or a mosaic or disguised use of words and phrases from an unacknowledged source. To avoid plagiarism, make it your habit to put quotation marks around words or phrases, or to isolate and indent longer passages, that you are using from someone else’s writing. And be sure to cite the source, in a footnote or endnote, or within parentheses in the text. The penalties for plagiarism can be severe: from an F for the particular assignment, to an F for the course, to referral of the case to the Dean of Undergraduate Education for administrative judgment. If you are unsure about how to use and document sources, please consult your instructor.

Weapons as props:

If you are planning a student production which involves using any prop which could be interpreted to be a weapon [toy gun, BB gun, knife, etc.] and you are planning to shoot on the UB campus or any other public place, you must obtain written permission from Campus Police or the equivalent authority before you shoot. If you do not you will face serious problems including possible expulsion from the university.