Skip to main content
Belmont University logo
A photo of a script being held on set.


Film History (or History of Television & Digital Media)

Every artist stands on the shoulders of giants. The more film and television history you know, the better your writing . To create your version of MODERN FAMILY meets `BLACK-ISH, you must be familiar with THE HONEYMOONERS. Digging into the French New Wave may revolutionize your writing.

"A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order."
Jean-Luc Godard 

Art of Storytelling lays the foundation for what makes a good story:  character, structure, and conflict. While three act structure is not the only way to tell a story, it's the correct place to begin. Telling stories out loud helps remove fear of the printed page. You'll spend the semester telling stories to the class. One minute stories, two minute stories, with a main character who wants something more than anything in the world, a relentless human opponent, and conflict, conflict, conflict. In Art of Storytelling, you'll learn to give useful, constructive notes, not just "I really liked it." The final exam is a five minute story created to a rigorous set of guidelines.

Cinematic Storytelling is a filmmaking class. When you're finished, you'll see character differently, see films differently and see storytelling differently. 

In addition to analyzing short films in detail, you'll work on intensive projects in preproduction, visual storytelling, and using audio to enhance character and mood. With the movie camera equivalent of a pencil (which anyone of any skill level can use to create), you'll explore the simple and direct vocabulary of filmmaking by creating short films that progress from a purely visual silent to a scene with sync sound.

After the Freshman Three, you'll take WELL Core (GenEd) classes, fulfill your minor, and write, write, write.

The lessons learned in Art of Storytelling provide a springboard to Screenplay Analysis

You and your fellow writers will watch a lot of movies. You'll read a lot of scripts. You'll break down a whole lotof scripts. You'll learn a screenplay is not just about dialogue and character, but is built on solid dramatic structure and an idea that's worth your time. You'll use your growing understanding of the need for conflict, story tension, character arc, etc., plus the nuances of screenplay format. You'll study screenwriting styles (like Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Ryan Murphy) and will start to develop your own distinct style and voice -- a difficult and crucial ability to master.

You'll critique each other's work and come up with a killer idea for a feature film, ending with a well-workshopped plan for your characters and the beats of a detailed feature screenplay outline. Now it's time to start writing pages. Pages and pages and more pages.

In Screenwriting I, you'll write the first 40 pages of a feature film and an outline for the rest of the script, telling a complete story. Workshopping with your classmates, you'll discover how to construct a fiendishly interesting screenplay and how to create actor bait -- living, breathing characters that actors will clamor to play. 

Attention will be paid to physical writing:  clear, clean, concise sentences, the sign of a writer who cares deeply about the work, which managers, agents, directors, producers and actors notice


After Screenwriting I comes Story Visualization Workshop. A work written is monumentally different from a work filmed. Before you complete your first script, you must understand what the filmmaking process involves. Communicating an intended emotion from the written page to someone watching on a screen is not a simple process.

Story Visualization Workshop (only for Film & Television Writing majors) will improve your writing permanently. The auditioning and casting process, the fundamental skills of directing, and experiencing how the exigencies of production affect a script, will give you powerful tools for how to communicate your ideas. You'll learn that, while more difficult to create, a visual image is more emotionally affecting than dialogue-driven storytelling. All this, combined with witnessing the editing process's ability to radically alter and improve the story, will have an indelible effect on how you approach the page.

Next up, Screenplay Genres.

It's essential you understand the main marketable genres' story rules and figure out which genres are in yourwheelhouse. You'll learn and evaluate structural elements of the main narrative genres to create new and original screen stories. You will develop ideas and workshop your material with your fellow students, writing scenes as you grow to understand genre and determine which ones are most suited to your writing strengths. 

Screenwriting II
Now that you "get" the fraught journey from idea to screen as well as genres, in Screenwriting II you'll continue the work begun in Screenwriting I by writing a complete 110 page feature screenplay. At the top of the semester, you'll pitch your idea, "sell it" to the class, and it's off to the races! The work is coming easier, because you're getting used to story flowing from the main character's desire and the need to create that character's perfect opponent. You'll also add the power of targeted research to your burgeoning writer's toolbox.

Television Spec Script 
The class will run like a writer's room for a Hollywood (or New York) television series, with each student taking turns running the room. The course examines the characters, structures, and techniques for writing hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies. You'll analyze season arcs for multiple current shows. You'll develop and write a spec for a current show -- either a one hour, or two half hours:  one single camera, one sit-com. 

Television Pilot Script
Again, with the classroom operating like a writer's room, you'll develop and write an original one hour-long drama or half-hour comedy -- a show that no one but you could write. You'll break and develop the story in and outside class with your writing group, ending with a distinctly original and emotionally affecting pilot script and show bible. 

Rewriting the Screenplay
Starting with a first draft -- either a new script or the one you wrote in Screenwriting II -- you'll spend the semester immersed in the rewriting process. You'll learn to look objectively at your own writing, pinpoint flaws (such as failure to set up and payoff), and execute solutions. You'll continue to receive crits from other students and your professor (as well as give constructive, helpful notes) as you workshop your script and develop the complex set of skills required to effectively rewrite. 

Senior Screenwriting Project
The last required class and the most demanding. You’ll rotate through three writing groups, giving notes to and receiving notes from other students and your teacher. You'll write a 110 page feature screenplay or 60 page television pilot and bible for the first two seasons. You'll start with an idea, develop and write a first pass, receive and execute a complete set of notes, and end the semester with a polished first draft, ready to submit for representation or production.