2021 Scriptwriting: All Media Syllabus

  • DMS 535/435 Script Writing: All Media Seminar
  • Spring 2021, Class Number 24055, 4 credits
  • Online Zoom Meeting, Tu 10:00 – 11:40AM
  • Instructor: Josephine Anstey, jranstey at buffalo,
  • Office hours: request telephone or zoom meeting by email


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 material.

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.

MATERIALS – see links on SCHEDULE . All the readings and media material for this class are available online or will be provided by instructor. Except for:

  • Karen by Blast Theory – mobile phone or tablet ($1)
  • Her Story Game by Sam Barlow – phone or steam ($4-9)
Learning Outcomes Teaching/Assessment
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


Attendance and Participation 15%:

  • Reading, Watching, Playing : Please make notes about readings and media. Bring your notes to class so that you can join in the discussion.
  • Reading/Presenting own material: Please practice beforehand.
  • 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.

Writing Assignments: 75 % Submit to UB learns

  • 1: Self Portrait – think about genre/tone/presenting a character. Feb 4. 5%
  • 2: Write or script Every Day about beans or electrons – exercise to push beyond the obvious/stereotypical. Feb 16. 10%
  • 3: Script Concept – generating and developing ideas. Feb 25. 15%
    • elevator pitch
    • one page description
    • other “idea growing” notes and drawings as relevant
      • e.g. storyboard, diagrams, maps, back stories, scene snippets, descriptions, game mechanics, arguments, chapter headings
  • 4: Treatment or Spec. March 9. 15%
    • Students will produce a 2-5 page treatment for linear scripts (play or film)
    • Students will produce 2-5 pages of spec for interactive projects (games, installation, electronic literature)
  • 5: First Draft. April 6. 15%
    • Each student will structure concept into a well-written first draft.
    • ~ 10-15 pages minimum for linear 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 15%
    • Each student will Redit/Restructe/Refine 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

Presentation 10%

Each student will choose a piece of inspirational material and present it analytically, explaining how it is “good” writing, how it makes meaning, how it’s structured. Please refer back to the ideas and texts that we have discussed. Presentation is PechaKucha Style ~ 6 min using power point or prezi or similar. Start with a short description of the work before moving onto the analysis. You may use no more than 1 minutes of video to help describe the work.


  • Attendance and Participation 15%, Writing Assignments 75%, Presentation 10%
  • Attendance and Participation is graded on 1) attendance 2) in class contributions (spoken or chatted) that demonstrate the student has thoroughly read/played the material (not simply skimmed) and is prepared with written comments/questions about media and readings 3) thoughtful and constructive criticism of other students work.
  • Written assignments are evaluated by 1) evidence of consistent effort and 2) creative excellence including solid word-smithing, considered structural and editing choices, innovative content, appropriate script form.
  • Presentations are graded on 1) clear, concise description of media/text presented 2) substantive analysis of writing which refers back to class readings and discussions.



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.


  • Video:: ON.
  • Head in the middle of the frame.
  • Camera steady/fixed in quiet and well lit space.
  • Stay muted unless talking to reduce background noise.
  • All materials shared on zoom will be applicable to the class and appropriate according to student code of conduct.


This class may include material dealing with ethical, political and moral concerns. I will make every effort to advise of any content that may be disturbing.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY – Students must be familiar with and abide by the university’s policies and procedures on Academic Integrity, available at the following link: Academic Integrity: https://catalog.buffalo.edu/policies/integrity.html

ACCESSIBILITY RESOURCES – If you have any disability which requires reasonable accommodations to enable you to participate in this course, please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources in 60 Capen Hall, 716-645-2608 and also the instructor of this course during the first week of class. The office will provide you with information and review appropriate arrangements for reasonable accommodations, which can be found on the web at: http://www.buffalo.edu/studentlife/who-we-are/departments/accessibility.html

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.

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.