title Rationale Lesson 1
menu Conclusion Lesson 7 Lesson 6 Lesson 5 Lesson 4 Lesson 3 Lesson 2 Lesson 1


  • IL.3.B.2a Generate and organize ideas using a variety of planning strategies (e.g., mapping, outlining, drafting).

  • IL.3.C.2a Write for a variety of purposes and for specified audiences in a variety of forms including narrative (e.g., fiction, autobiography), expository (e.g., reports, essays) and persuasive writings (e.g., editorials, advertisements).

  • IL.3.C.2b Produce and format compositions for specified audiences using available technology.


  • Brainstorm as a group and write a complete screenplay.


  • While not necessary, a screenwriting program such as Final Draft (commercial) or Celtx (open source) may help students better understand the components of a screenplay – and help them get the full experience.

  • Beal, G. Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Screenplay Format Sample. Retrieved from http://www.oscars.org/nicholl/script.pdf.


  • Grieco, A. How to Write a Screenplay. Retrieved on November 22, 2007 from http://www.screenwriting.info/.

A. Purpose: Students will be able to brainstorm as a group and write a complete screenplay.

B. Activity: Before beginning, students should be oriented with the final product they are expected to produce: a school-appropriate 5-minute short film based in the developing West.

The teacher should gather students around to generate story ideas. Students may already have ideas, or they can be generated by performing separate brainstorming for characters, place, time, and plot. The teacher should make sure discussion is limited to reasonable Western settings (for example, a large factory would be a poor setting in the developing West). After a short brainstorming session (limited to 20 minutes or so), students should be grouped by interest in groups of approximately 8 (this number can be easily adjusted depending on the size of the class, though it is important that each team has enough persons to fill all character roles and that there are no more than 3 total groups).

Screenwriting is writing in the format of a screenplay, which includes all the elements of a typical story, but is arranged so that each part of a film team can easily find what they need. The teacher should use Beal's Screenplay Format Sample or a sample of their own to describe the elements of a screenplay.

  • Scene Headings – Flush with the page margin, all CAPS. Describes the location of scene.

  • Dialogue – Centred in the page. First line, character name in CAPS followed by parenthetical if necessary. No quotes.

  • Parenthetical – Immediately following or below the character name. Parentheticals can be used to show mood (ex. Carefully, loudly, surprised) or quick action (ex. Running into the next room, doing a happy dance).

  • Action – Flush with the page margin.

  • Shot - (will be written later) Flush with the page margin, all CAPS. Precedes the scene heading.

In addition to the key components of a screenplay, the teacher should make students familiar with commonly used abbreviations.

  • (V.O.) - Voice Over, used when dealing with narration.

  • (O.S.) - Off Screen, used when the character is still in the scene but may be off-camera.

  • Ext. - Exterior, referring to a shot outside of the specified location.

  • Int. - Interior, referring to a shot inside of the specified location.

Note: Students are not expected to complete their screenplay by the end of the day, though they should have a clear idea of the whole story in their heads if not on paper.