Film Script; A Study Of Techniques

Project and Seminar Material for Theatre Arts

Film Script; A Study Of Techniques


This research work examines the techniques of film script. The study attempts to give proper guidance to the film script writer and the would-be film script writer on the various techniques, components and element that should be employed in writing a good, acceptable and comprehensive film script. This study also examines various definitions of a film script, a brief history of the origin of film script, various theories of film scripts, the components, elements and techniques are also discussed. The theories of film script mentioned in this research includes, the three-act structure, the Hero’s journey, the sequence approach and the Sydfield paradigm. The components of film wich include; plot, characterization, dialogue and setting are also discussed. The elements of a film script such as scene headings, action, character, name dialogue, parenthetical, extensions, transition and shots were properly discussed in this study, narrative techniques such as backstory, flashback, flashforward, foreshadowing were also discussed.

Table of Contents

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Cover Page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Objective of the Study
  • 1.3 Rational
  • 1.4 Significance of the Study
  • 1.5 Scope of the Study
  • 1.6 Methodology
  • 1.7 Limitation of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Related Literature

  • 2.1 History of Scripting and Screenplay
  • 2.2 Definitions of Screen Play
  • 2.3 The Screenplay Writer
  • 2.4 Theories on Writing a Script or Screenplay
  • 2.4.1 Three–Act Structure
  • 2.4.2 The Hero’s Journey
  • 2.4.3 The Sequence Approach
  • 2.4.4 The Syd Field’s Paradigm

Chapter Three

  • 3.1 Basic Components of the Screenplay
  • 3.1.1 The Dramatic Component of the Screenplay
  • Story and Plot
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Characteristics of the place/setting
  • Functions of Place/Setting
  • Dialogue
  • Characterization
  • 3.1.2 Filmic Component
  • 3.2 Elements of Film Script
  • 3.4 Analysis of the Method Employed in Creating the Screenplay

Chapter Four:

A Screenplay Titled My Dream

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

A Script is a document that outlines every aural, visual, behavioural and lingual element required to tell a story. The script, or screenplay, outlines all the elements (audio, visual, behaviour and dialogue) that are required to tell a story through film. A script is almost never the work of a single person. Instead, it will go through revision and rewrites and ultimately will be interpreted by the producers, directors and actors. Film is a visual medium. This means that the research work is presenting a script in a way that encompasses the visual and auditory aspects of the story. Consequently, a script is the foundation of any production and occupies an important place in the success of any production.

According to Curran (2004:5):

Script writing is the art and craft of writing script for mass media such as feature film, television productions or video genres. It is frequently freelance profession. Screenwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay and delivering it in the required format, to development executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay.

Gulino (2004:3) states that, “screenwriters are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story”.

According to Robert A.B. (1988:7), “…a screenplay is also a structural plan for a motion picture encompassing seven primary components which are story, plot (structure), scenes, character, dialogue, emotional action and physical action…” Therefore, a screenwriter must adhere to the unique screen play form, the terse style of writing and demonstrate a great precision and skill in structuring and executing the story within a specific number of pages. Screenplay is a vision of the writer’s imagination and one of the influential medium there is in society today. While film is a collaborative art form dependent upon the skills and talents of many artists and technicians, the strength of every film project is in the screenplay. It is therefore crucial to remember that, preparing a script beforehand make the difference between a bad film and a good film.

1.2 Objective of the Study

The objective of this research is to examine the various techniques in creating a film script or a screenplay and elaborate on the components and elements involved in creating a screenplay or film script.

1.3 Rationale

It is true that many researches have been carried out on this topic across the globe. However, there is still no proper foundation on this subject matter among scholars, due to lack of basic foundational knowledge in writing of film or screenplay.

It is therefore, to this end that this timely and vital research work is being carried out to help students, especially those in Department of Theatre Arts to surmount the challenges of writing a good film or screenplay.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This research will be useful to undergraduates in Theatre Arts Department who are interested in becoming a screenwriter and generally to prospective screen writers and researchers who come across it.

1.5 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is on film script and its techniques. The study is therefore limited to:

  1. The history of scripting
  2. History of screenplay
  3. Theories, dramatic components and elements of screenplay
  4. Techniques the researcher used in writing the play

1.6 Methodology

This research employs the Historical, Literary and Artistic methodologies. The Historical method traces the beginnings that is, the origin of film or screen script, its role and current development.

The literary method review literature from different journals, books related to the research topics and online articles.

The Artistic methodology employs creative ability which propels the unseen action into a transmittable action on the screen.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Throughout the period of this study, several problems were encountered. Some of them include lack of access to essential textbooks, journals and magazines on the subject matter.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

Film script begins with an idea which is spiced in creativity to give a valuable product. So far in the preceding chapters, attempt has been made to analyse the process of developing the screenplay. From its imaginative film idea to the screen as a medium. It also narrated the history of film and script and enumerated the theories on writing a screenplay.

This study also discussed the dramatic component of film, such as plot, characterization, dialogue, setting and the function of each component to the developing and crafting or writing of the screenplay. Also discussed in this study are elements of film script which are scene heading, action, character, name dialogue, parenthetical, extensions, transition and shot. The method used in creating the screenplay was also discussed.

5.2 Conclusion

Conclusively, therefore, this study has focused on giving a proper guidance to the screen script writer and the would-be script writers on the various techniques, components and element that should be employed in writing a good, acceptable and comprehensive screen script.

5.3 Recommendations

In view of all that has been discussed in this study about film script writing and its film script writers, I wish to propose the following recommendations:

  1. That the Department of Theatre Arts in the various Nigeria institute should lay emphasis on training students on film script writing, by restructuring the curriculum to contain good numbers of film script writing courses.
  2. That the various institutes in Nigeria studying Theatre Arts should try to correct the imbalance in stage art and screenplay or even give more preference to screen plays in order to encourage more and more film script writers.
  3. Lecturers in-charge of media courses should be highly trained or retrained in order to be professional set to groom their student in the media arts.
  4. Our institutions should employ professionals in film script writing not just people who have written screen plays but have also had their screen plays produced as hit movies.
  5. That once in a session, a film script writing workshop should be held, in which writers of great and popular movies should be invited to give presentations to the Theatre Arts students
  6. Finally, that this project work should be a reference to all students who are aspiring to be film script writers as it will be a very good guide to them in that aspect.

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