Category: Screenplay

Constructing Character & Dialogue

Screenplay complete draft deadline = Friday 15th December.

Character is constructed in a screenplay in three ways:

  1. What the character says
  2. What the character does
  3. What the character looks like

It is now time to develop those aspects of the characters in your screenplays.

Watch this sequence from Oh Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) Coen Brothers with the sound turned down.

  • How much of the character is visual?
  • Can you make sense of the story without the sound?
  • Calculate the amount of time characters spend speaking and the amount of time they spend in action.

Watch the sequence again with the sound back on.

  • How much of the dialogue is pushing the story forward, and how much is revealing developing character?
  • How much story information is expressed through dialogue?

Activity – Developing your characters

Flesh out your central characters by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who are they?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What are their values, attitudes & beliefs?
  • What do they want?
  • How does the world they inhabit shape their character?

Here is a document designed to help you think of more of the detail for characters.

Even if the detail is not used in the screenplay it’s still helpful in visualising the characters and considering how they might respond to events in your screenplay.

Use this blank version of the profile document to give detail to your characters

Previous Students’ Work

To understand how to succeed in this unit, we will look at some previous students work and consider why it was successful.

Here is the assessment description for a top grade screenplay:

Product (screenplay)

  • Product fulfills its aims highly creatively and effectively
  • An excellent understanding of the form and conventions of the chosen medium
  • An excellent, highly creative and confident use of the relevant medium with a strong sense of reaching its intended audience.

Quality of written communication

  • Excellently structured and accurate use of appropriate language to communicate clearly.

Okaaaay, sooo…what does this mean in practice? Here are the things we look at when marking your screenplay:

  • Your use of the screenplay format
  • Your description of the locations in your screenplay
  • The narrative sense and development
  • The use of genre (repertoire of elements)
  • Visual sense – I can see the scene (like a film)
  • I can hear the music and diegetic sounds in your sequence
  • The description of the characters and their voice
  • The rhythm of the scene and variety between scenes


Read through a previous students’ screenplay and consider the features above.

Screenplay 01

Screenplay 02

Screenplay 03

Screenplay 04


Here is a level ladder for the screenplay. Highlight or underline moments in the screenplay, when you think it meets those assessment criteria.

Screenplay Format

One of the things you need to learn is how to correctly format a screenplay.

The rules we are going to follow are set down in this section from a book on screenwriting, called ‘On Screenwriting’ by Freddie Gafney. There is some difference in some of the advice on the web, but this is the document we will use when assessing your coursework.

Screenplay format by Freddie Gaffney

Here is a summary of those formatting rules:


We are going to have a practice using these rules.

Here is an extract from the film American Beauty (1999) Mendes, which has had its formatting removed. Take a copy and then use the formatting rules given by Gaffney to reformat the screenplay correctly.

Here is the scene from the film in real life.

Visualising & Developing your Scene

This week is all about developing your ideas further into something that will work for the screenplay format.

Lesson 1/2

As we know the screenplay is a visual script and the really successful ones are those that allow an image to be painted for the reader – so that they can SEE what the screenwriter is intending.

Because of this it is essential that you have an idea of the visuals that you are going to include.

We will be creating moodboards full of images of:

  • characters,
  • settings,
  • props,
  • costumes,
  • colours,

… etc etc that will allow you to show what you want your screenplay to look like.

Here is a really excellent example from a previous student. You should be aiming for at least 20/25 images and you can present these as below or in a one page collage.

Lesson 3

Once you have got a more visual idea of your scene it is time to start developing it in more depth and detail, considering what will happen step by step and what the audience will SEE and how the scene will unfold.

Use this document to start developing this. Once you have completed this you should start plotting out your scene step by step using this document.


Using Genre & Your Film Synopsis


Using some of the ideas we have come up with so far – think about how you could flesh them out using genre conventions.

Use this proforma to add in your initial ideas and start fleshing out what other elements of the genre you could include.


It is now important that we flesh out our ideas a little more in order to consider whether they have legs to be developed into a screenplay.

We will therefore be writing up a synopsis for TWO distinct ideas, that we will go through and decide which one will be best to use. Please use classroom to submit this document.


Introduction to The Screenplay

Your submission for the creative element of your Film Studies coursework is comprised of two elements:

  1. A screenplay (1800 words) for the opening of a feature-length film or a complete screenplay for a short film. (45 marks)
    1. The standard conventions of screenplay writing should be observed. 
  2. An analysis (approximately 1,000 words) that selects key features of the screenplay and reflects critically on both the creative process and the product. (15 marks)

Here is the first page of a good example so you can see the sort of thing you are aiming for and I will be looking for the following:

  • Your use of the screenplay format 
  • Your description of the locations in your screenplay
  • The narrative sense and development
  • The use of genre (repertoire of elements)
  • Visual sense – I can see the scene (like a film)
  • I can hear the music and diegetic sounds in your sequence
  • The description of the characters and their voice
  • The rhythm of the scene and variety between scenes

The first step though is developing some ideas for a scene. Here is a slideshow on ideas:

Film Inspiration

Take a copy of this document and choose the following:

  • A location
  • A sound – Freesound.Org
  • An item of clothing
  • A character

Reflective Analysis (Previous Students’ Work)

The assessment criteria for the Reflective Analysis are (as ever) somewhat vague and a bit obscure.

Reflective analysis

  • A detailed and perceptive account of the creative process and production
  • Excellent, perceptive consideration of the relative success of the product in relation to its aims, audience and context
  • An excellent sense of how far it has been possible to work creatively within the conventions of the chosen product’s medium.

Quality of (written) communication

  • Excellently structured and accurate use of appropriate language to communicate clearly.

We need to define what this means in practice.

Please read through the following examples of reflective analysis:

As you are reading you should be highlighting moments where it appears to meet these assessment criteria. You should copy and paste examples from the examples and highlight elements which you are prepared to share with the class.

The Reflective Analysis

The final part of your coursework submission is The Reflective Analysis.

From the specification: ‘The reflective analysis should select key features of the creative product and reflect critically on both the creative process and the product.’

The Reflective Analysis is a precise engagement with your work. It is closer to a micro analysis (like you did way back in year 12) than some kind of broadly based production report.

You should bring to bear all your Film Studies knowledge in order to evaluate your work, for example, what you were trying to achieve and do the creative decisions proved to be appropriate?

Given the limited length of this analysis, you are strongly recommended to focus on precise moments in the script, and particular key decisions made.

These are some of the discussion points:

What narrative function does your sequence have?

  • Where in the narrative does you sequence happen?
    • How is the narrative structured around your scene?
  • What are the key conflicts (binary opposites) that drive the narrative?
  • What are the actions/events which move the narrative forward?
  • Are their enigmas resolved or to be resolved

Are the characters clearly defined?

  • Are they recognisable types?
  • How did you encode your characters through appearance, mannerisms and dialogue (vocabulary)
  • Do they have clear motivation for their actions?
  • How does their dialogue (delivery) and actions communicate their motivations and intentions?

Is the genre of the film evident?

  • What generic features are evident in the narrative, characters, themes and micro features?

What sort of tone and atmosphere did you want to create?

  • What is the mood and tone you are going for?
  • How did you create tension and conflict?

Who would be the likely target audience?

  • Age, gender, existing cultural (film) knowledge, ideology

Does the screenplay reflect any possible influences from other films

  • Iconography, narrative, character, filmic technique

How would you hope the screenplay would be realised technically?

  • Cinematography
  • Sound
  • Editing



Screenplay Read Through

Over the next two or three sessions you will be completing a read through of your screenplay.

You will need:

You should record the whole session:

  • Your introduction
  • The read through
  • The feedback you receive

Mr Gregson will process the file and share them with you. This is the feedback you need to act on for the next draft, whether it be draft 3 (Miss Hales class) or the final draft (Mr Gregson’s)

Screenplay Deadlines

Here are the deadlines for the Screenplay:

  • Monday 7th Nov: Draft 2. Ready for 1-1 feedback with teacher
  • Monday 14th Nov: Draft 3. Ready for small group read through & peer feedback
  • Monday 21st Nov: Final Draft

Here are the deadlines for the Reflective Analysis:

  • Monday  28th Nov: Draft 1
  • Friday 9th Dec: Final Draft