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Script Development and Script Editing


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutorBarbara Cox
  • Assessment: a 2000-word script reader’s report (40%), 2000 words of script development notes (40%) and a 1000-word critical reflection essay (20%)

Module description

Development and pre-production are important stages in the life of a film or TV programme, when the writer interacts with the people who will take the script from the page to the screen. In this module we look at what happens in development and ‘prep’ and especially at the roles of the script reader, script editor and producer in working with the script and the writer.

  • How is a script judged?
  • What are the most important attributes of a potentially successful script?
  • How can production requirements affect the script?
  • How can different people’s ideas be brought together in a creative collaboration?

You will learn technical skills like writing a script reader’s report and preparing a correctly formatted shooting script. You will consider the commonly used templates for scripts and whether these are helpful or limiting for writers. You will study examples of scripts to identify flaws and discuss ways to improve them, and you will need to apply critical thinking and make constructive suggestions. Role-playing exercises will give you an idea of the experience of the different jobs in working with the writer.

As well as enhancing your own writing projects, this module will help you to consider possible careers in development, script editing and creative producing, and the insights gained will also have relevance to film and TV distribution and marketing.

Indicative syllabus

  • Aspects of a successful script: structure and narrative, character, genre, target market
  • What happens to a script between leaving the writer’s desk and the beginning of principal photography
  • The people who deal with the script: reader, commissioning editor, development executive, producer, script editor, director, continuity
  • Writing a professional script reader’s report
  • Writing notes on a draft script, focusing on constructive suggestions; discussing the notes with the writer and obtaining agreement; personal and ethical issues that can emerge
  • Pre-production: scheduling, identifying technical problems, finalising the shooting script and ‘locking off’ the script ready for shooting
  • Script theory and teaching: the influence of Hollywood and the ‘script gurus’; different approaches in different cultures; how and when writers can use less rigid structures
  • The psychology of creativity: how writers’ minds work and the psychological barriers they can encounter

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • write an industry-standard reader’s report on a script
  • understand the roles and functions of the script reader, script editor, producer, director, continuity and researcher or technical adviser
  • assess a script in terms of its creative quality and market potential
  • make constructive development notes on a draft script with suggestions as to how weak areas can be improved
  • understand how to negotiate script changes with a writer, producer or director and be aware of ethical or personal difficulties that can arise
  • prepare a script for production in the correct industry format.