Screenwriting by Karol Hoeffner, Loyola Marymount professor at the Budapest Film Academy

Writing a feature screenplay

Course goal:

Building on the skills developed in SCWR 220 (Beginning Screenwriting), students will take a fully developed treatment for a feature-length screenplay and turn it into a completed rough first draft. We will explore long form narrative in a writer workshop that focuses on character development, scene construction, dialogue and story structure. A completed draft is required to receive a passing grade in the course.

Learning objectives:

  • Students will refine their knowledge of screenplay structure as it applies to acts sequences and scenes.
  • Students will practice visual storytelling techniques.
  • Students will expand their knowledge of scene writing and construction, including
  • action, atmosphere, and dialogue.
  • Students will refine the practice of giving and receiving notes from the professor and classmates, as well as incorporating them into their work.
  • Students will and utilize the principles of character in terms of dramatic roles and plot progression.
  • Students will increase their ability to use standard screenplay format in narrative style.
  • Students will deepen their understanding of professional standards and expectations for screenwriters “in the real world.

Course outcomes:

A completed rough first draft of a long form screenplay


This course will focus on building the skill set necessary to become a working writer. Because the class is largely based on a workshop environment, participation is key. Constructive criticism and feedback are required from each student. One of the most valuable aspects of being in a workshop class is to share ideas with other writers, to support and learn from one another as we delve into the creative process. As the writer, you are in the unique position of taking the suggestions that make sense to you and discarding the rest. Use criticism to spur you to greater work, to create a richer screenplay. And when it is your turn to comment, offer only constructive criticism. Be honest; be supportive; be kind.


Feature film adaptation

Course Objectives and Goals:

Adaptations of existing novels, plays, short stories and historical events have long been important sources for Hollywood in creating feature films for screen and television. This course explores the process for choosing and adapting pre-existing source material to the screen. Through careful analysis, students will study how others have solved the problems of adaptation. By examining what works and what does not work in various adaptations, students will learn how to approach source material and develop their own unique perspective as they develop screenplays based on adapted sources.

The Students will:

  • Develop critical skills in analyzing the process of adapting one medium to another and the influence of film and television on culture and vice versa
  • Improve oral presentation skills and demonstrate the ability to pitch story ideas and projects in a simulated industry/professional setting
  • Develop entrepreneurial skills through creating a portfolio of work (conceptualization guides) that could be pitched to producers, managers, agents, studios cable outlets and networks.
  • Develop a personal strategy for discovering and choosing “adaptable” material
  • Demonstrate mastery of story development, character development, storytelling structure and cinematic style through writing the first act of a feature length film or a thirty-minute short film based on another medium.

Assignments are expected to be delivered on time and to be written in a professional manner. All scripted work must be in standard screenplay format. The work we do together in class is essential; therefore, it is of utmost importance to attend class and to be on time.


Upon request we will provide further details about these courses.