Course Syllabus

Media 22/Media 123

Imagination is a force.png 

Instructor: Contact: Eric J. Adams


Office Hours: Thursdays 10-12, please send advance email to reserve a time. 


Course Description


SCREENWRITING is a foundational course for beginning and intermediate writers interested in crafting an original feature screenplay, episodic series, and/or streamed programming.  We’ll begin the class with the fundamentals of storytelling, story structure, and screenplay formatting.  We’ll practice developing and pitching stories ideas.  We’ll continue by exploring the essential elements of story, including theme, plot, character, and conflict.  We’ll learn the dramatic units of a script, such as beat, scene, sequence and act, and polish the fine art of writing dialogue.  And we’ll put all these together by end of term in a full story “treatment” and a completed Act 1 (of 3) of a screenplay (and a full screenplay for Media 123 students).  

Throughout the semester, we will read scripts, watch films, and practice how to analyze scripts and films, much like professional readers do in the industry. 

Just as in a Hollywood writers’ room, you'll  share your work (both written and verbally) with your fellow writers and be expected to provide feedback.  You’ll pitch your ideas and listen as we “table read” your pages. This is a non-judgmental, collaborative class.  The more you participate the more you will learn. 


Upon completion of the course, you'll be able to:

  1.  Understand the fundamentals of storytelling
  2. Compose a well-developed and properly formatted screenplay
  3.  Evaluate a theatrically-produced film script




If you participate fully, you will:


  1. Understand the fundamentals and building blocks of a screenplay
  2. Learn to develop and improve commercial story ideas
  3. Write compelling log lines and treatments
  4. Create, revise and complete a properly-formatted screenplay
  5. Understand the elements of commercial screenplays
  6. Learn how to market yourself as writers and your scripts to Hollywood producers and studios
  7. Have a new appreciation of the films you watch


Required Texts


Save The Cat!  The Last Book on Screenwriting That You'll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet


Screenplay Software

Be prepared to deliver scenes and scripts typed and proofread in proper screenplay format.  Suggested programs:

  • Celtx (least expensive)
  • MovieMagic Screenwriter (best user interface)
  • Final Draft (industry standard)
  • WriterDuet (great for online collaboration)



  • Writing Assignments (script analysis/coverage) 15%
  • Quizzes 10%
  • Collaboration and group participation 15%
  • Writing Assessment (Media 22 final treatment and Act 1; Media 123 full screenplay) 60%  



Please budget to rent or download several films throughout the semester (some of which may be viewed at the library).

All films either read or screened in class have been carefully selected for their artistic value and because they provide fitting examples of form, style, and narrative. As every student, with no exception, will be required to watch or read every movie, it is important that you understand that some of the movies in class may be rated R or unrated.

If you can't, or choose not to, tolerate scenes involving adult content, such as nudity, sexuality, violence, or coarse language, please consider enrolling in a different class.




Attendance is required for the course. Zoom video participation is strongly preferred.  You will be allowed to miss one class period without penalty. For each class additional period missed without consent, your grade will be lowered by one letter grade.  You are responsible for all lecture material presented in class regardless of attendance.

I love communication.  If you're going to miss a class or are having a problem, let me know and we'll see what we can work out.  If you need to miss more than one class/homework deadline in a row, please contact me to avoid being dropped from the class.




PLEASE BE READY TO APPEAR ON ZOOM VIDEOCONFERENCE DURING THE COURSE OF EVERY CLASS.  And please anticipate changes in curriculum and process as we learn together the dynamics of distance learning. 

Dropping the Class

If you decide to discontinue this course, it is your responsibility to officially drop it to avoid getting no refund (after 10% of course length), a W symbol (after 20%), or a grade (after 60%). Also, for several consecutive, unexplained absences, the instructor may drop a student.


Instructor Announcements and Q&A Forum

The instructor will post announcements on the “Instructor Announcements” page in Canvas throughout the semester. Canvas notifies students according to their preferred Notification Preferences as soon as the instructor creates an Announcement. A “Q&A Forum” is also on Canvas to ask for assistance of your classmates or your instructor.


Late Policy

All assignments are due at midnight PSTon the due date. A late submission will receive a 20% penalty. Submissions more than one week late are not accepted without prior arrangement. Late work will not be graded unless student sends instructor an email with URL for late work.


Standards of Conduct

Students who register in SRJC classes are required to abide by the SRJC Student Conduct Standards. Violation of the Standards is basis for referral to the Vice President of Student Services or dismissal from class or from the College. See the Student Code of Conduct page.

Collaborating on or copying of tests or homework in whole or in part will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and result in a grade of 0 for that test or assignment. I encourage students to share information and ideas, but not their work. See these links on Plagiarism:
SRJC Writing Center Lessons on avoiding plagiarism
SRJC's policy on Academic Integrity

Other Important Policies and Practices

Avoid Plagiarism Like the, er, Plague

Although most students have likely heard about plagiarism during their years of schooling, it still is prevalent-even in higher education.

The video below reviews what plagiarism is and how not to do it.

Plagiarism: How to avoid it

Netiquette, or Why Is It Harder to Be Polite Online?

Netiquette refers to using common courtesy in online communication. All members of the class are expected to follow netiquette in all course communications. Use these guidelines:

  • Use capital letters sparingly. THEY LOOK LIKE SHOUTING.
  • Forward emails only with a writer's permission.
  • Be considerate of others' feelings and use language carefully.
  • Cite all quotations, references, and sources (otherwise, it is plagiarism).
  • Use humor carefully. It is hard to "read" tone; sometimes humor can be misread as criticism or personal attack. Feel free to use emoticons like :) for a smiley face to let others know you are being humorous.
  • Use complete sentences and standard English grammar to compose posts. Write in proper paragraphs. Review work before submitting it.
  • Text speak, such as "ur" for "your" or "ru" for "are you" etc., is only acceptable when texting.

Special Needs

Students with disabilities who believe they need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disability Resources (527-4278), as soon as possible to better ensure such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.