A page from Kevin Artigue's ACHILLES

Screenwriting and Writing for Television

The Department of Theatre Arts, and the Department of Cinematic Arts, offer courses in screenwriting, writing for television, playwriting, and related topics. Students may take any and all courses without worry of duplication. There are differences in emphasis among the courses, though, and students may be more interested in some than in others. Below is a brief description of existing courses and a list of anticipated courses that may be offered in future years.

Existing Courses

Theatre Arts

  • THTR 3320. Writing for Film. Rigorous writing for film with a focus on the feature length screenplay. For students with experience in dramatic writing, fiction or screenwriting. Requirements: completion of at least 60 hours or graduate standing. This course has some similarities to Cinematic Arts Screenwriting: Long Form but as the classes are writing centered and workshop based, they can be taken without worry of duplication. Students explore both the three and five-act structures.

Cinematic Arts

  • CINE 2861. Screenwriting: Short Form. Introduction to basic principles of screenwriting; develop, write, and workshop screenplays for short film/video projects including fiction, nonfiction, and experimental work. Prerequisites: CINE:1834.
  • CINE 2867. Screenwriting: Long Form. Introduction to basic principles of screenwriting; develop, write, and workshop screenplays for longer form film/video projects including fiction, nonfiction, and experimental work. This course has some similarities to Theatre Arts’ Writing for Film but as the classes are writing centered and workshop based, they can be taken without worry of duplication."Prerequisites: CINE:1834.
  • CINE:3877 Advanced Screenwriting: Short Form.  Developing, writing, and workshopping screenplays for short film/video projects including fiction, nonfiction, and experimental work; introduction to preproduction activities; exercises and journal assignments. Prerequisites: CINE:2861 with a minimum grade of C or CINE:2865 with a minimum grade of C or CINE:2866 with a minimum grade of C or CINE:2867 with a minimum grade of C or CINE:2868 with a minimum grade of C. At present this course is infrequently offered.
  • CINE:4836 Advanced Screenwriting: Long Form. Write a feature screenplay (105‑115 pages) within the industry standard contract guidelines for independent and studio projects; completion of outline, beat sheet, treatment, first draft, one re-write. Prerequisites: CINE:2861 with a minimum grade of C or CINE:2867 with a minimum grade of C. At present this course is infrequently offered.

Anticipated Courses

(dates may be revised)

Theatre Arts

  • Writing for Film: Graduate Level (fall, 2017). Students will outline, develop and complete a feature length screenplay. For graduate students with experience in dramatic writing, fiction or screenwriting and upper level advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor.  This course has some similarities to Advanced Screenwriting, but it is more “writing centered” than directed squarely at the film industry. Students explore both three and five- act structures.
  • Writing for Television: The 30 minute Pilot  (spring, 2018).  Students will develop and complete an outline, first draft and a rewrite of a 30 minute television pilot on their own and in collaborative groups.
  • Writing and Making Short Smartphone Films  (spring, 2019 ). Introduction to the fundamentals of writing for films, working from short form screen plays and using smart phones and simple cameras.  Emphasis is on development and writing, but students will film and edit their work for the screen.

Related Courses in Playwriting

Students interested in screenwriting may find courses in playwriting valuable. Below is a list of playwriting courses offered by the Theatre Arts Department.

  • THTR 2301. Playwriting 1. Elements of playwriting; emphasis on analysis and discussion of original student writing.
  • THTR 3301. Playwriting 2. Application of fundamental skills learned in THTR:2301 to more advanced study of dramatic structure and style; reading of plays, weekly writing assignments; focus on writing one-act play. Prerequisites: THTR:2301.
  • THTR 3300. Advanced Playwriting. Workshop discussion of original full-length plays, collaborative creation of new plays, work with guest artists. Prerequisites: THTR:2301 and THTR:3301. Requirements: submission of writing sample.
  • THTR 3310. Undergraduate Playwriting Workshop. Workshop discussion of original full-length plays, collaborative creation of new plays, work with guest artists. Prerequisites: THTR:2301 and THTR:3301. Requirements: submission of writing sample.
  • THTR 3421. Performing Autobiography. Write and perform original pieces stemming from personal experiences and interests; readings and videos; genre of contemporary autobiographical performance as established artists have developed it; improvisational performance and writing exercises to foster deeper reflection on personal experiences; final staging of students' original work.
  • THTR 6310. Special Topics in Playwriting. For advanced undergraduate and graduate students.
  • THTR 7300. Playwrights Workshop. Development of works by Iowa Playwrights Workshop members. Requirements: playwriting or dramaturgy M.F.A. enrollment.