Spring 2024 - CA 238W D100

Screenwriting I (3)

Class Number: 6405

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 10:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Liz Cairns
    Office Hours: I will hold regular office hours on Wednesday (2:00pm-4:00pm) of each week and by appointment only.
  • Prerequisites:

    One of CA (or FPA) 136, 137 or 253 and prior approval.



This course introduces the methodologies of writing for the screen in various styles, including dramatic, documentary and experimental forms, with an emphasis on structure and the creative expression of visual ideas. Students will perform a variety of writing assignments and each will be expected to complete one or more short original scripts. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 332 or 238 for credit may not take this course for further credit. Students with credit for FPA 238W may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


This course introduces the principles and practices of writing for the screen, including narrative, nonfiction and experimental structure. Classes will consist of lectures, screenings and analysis of short films and longer work, in-class writing exercises (individual and collaborative), as well as in-class reading and discussion of student screenplays. Students will produce a first draft and a second draft of a short, original screenplay. This will be a project-oriented course which requires a significant amount of writing and re-writing.


  • Participation 20%
  • Writing Assignment 15%
  • Treatment for Screenplay 15%
  • First draft 20%
  • Second draft 30%


Content Warnings

Some of the films we watch together will be challenging. Some films may contain images, sounds, or scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. These include scenes, images, or sounds that contain nudity, violence, strong languages, scenes of a sexual nature, racist or sexist portrayals of a certain race/ethnic group, and so forth. I will do my best to provide content warnings at the start of each course and I encourage you to reach out if you would like to discuss triggers with me. With that said, you always have the option to excuse yourself from a film, or step out before it begins. If you have specific concerns, please reach out to me directly by email or during my office hours. 



Students are required to bring writing tools to class (notebook and pen, laptop, tablet, etc)


Readings will be posted in Canvas each week


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html