Filming The Unfilmable

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311UNF Z 2 2H/W English winter and summer

Subject guarantor

Neil Andrew TAYLOR

Name of lecturer(s)

Neil Andrew TAYLOR

Learning outcomes of the course unit

Improving screenwriting skills.

Mode of study

Lecture, Seminar d in-class practice exercises.

Prerequisites and co-requisites

Students to have read some material from the list of suggested authors.

Course contents

This course is focused on exploring and developing the dramatic and creative writing techniques plus the critical thought required to enable screenwriters to adapt a range of source material into a format suitable for screen production. The student will develop a screenplay suitable for production and filming in the following semester. The first half of the course will focus on creative techniques and in-roads for developing style and content. The second half will focus on script production, subject choices and structure. Students are expected to view/read the range of material suggested plus bring awareness to the group of material from their own cultures and cinematic heritage.

Recommended or required reading

Please read notes.

Assessment methods and criteria

Attendance: Students are allowed to have two absences. Barring unforeseen circumstances, students should notify the instructor in advance. Exceptional circumstances will be considered, but additional work may be required.

Participation: Students will be expected to contribute to in-class discussions.

Completion policy: To complete the course, a student must comply with the attendance and participation requirements and write a screenplay adapted from source material with the expectation that the screenplay will be filmed, produced and screened by the end of the following semester. Screenplay duration no less than 25 minutes to a maximum of 40 minutes.


  1. Introduction: Lecture plus in-class exercises; 'Creative play on the page' Intro to Creative Writing for screenwriters - chronology, narrative structure, character, dramatic principles, cinematic requirements, why write?

Prior reading/screening - none this session but students to screen two music videos of their choice on YouTube

  1. The range and commonality of adaptation. Principles of creative writing/thinking - thinking the unthinkable.

Reading: Students to bring one short story of their choice to the session and be prepared to defend its qualities as a piece of literature of interest and literary merit.

  1. Launch of 1st set exercise plus lecture - influences and usefulness of associated artforms - 'lifted' dialogue and image. The development of franchise characters.

Screening extracts from:

James Bond

Marvel / DC comics characters


Jason Bourne


Esslin: The Field of Drama. Methuen ISBN 9780413192608

4 Camera stylo, improvisation and research, life experience - Zeitgeist and contexts of source material v adaptation for current screening.

Screening: Extracts from the work of Mike Leigh. Students to have viewed Abigail's Party, Topsy Turvy, Vera Drake, Mr Turner (trailer or excepts if released).

5. 2nd set exercise. The challenge of what the writer 'cannot have' Adapter v author (how much to respect source material). Use of the Epic format.

Screenings: extracts from

The Life of Pi: Dir Lee

Jason and the Argonauts: Dir Chaffey

O Brother Where Art Thou: Dir Coen Brothers

Beowulf: Dir Zemekis

The Mahabharata: Dir Brook 1990

Life of Brian: Dir Pythons

Reading: Peter J, Vladimir's Carrot. Methuen 1987

  1. Adapting from novel/short story - examples of the 'unfilmable'

Readings: Stories by Maugham, Chekhov, Turgenev, Mann, de Maupassant, Gustav Meyrink, Hrabal, Thurber, Hawthorne, Woody Allen, Hardy, others of choice. Translations in English must be available for inclusion.

Screening extracts from:

Love In The Time of Cholera: Dir Newell

Pride and Prejudice: Dir Wright

The Handmaids Tale: Dir Schlondorff

The 39 Steps: Dir Hitchcock

Kidnapped: Dir Stevenson 1960

7. 3rd exercise launch. Screenplay tasks - literary narrative versus visual narrative. Classical literature techniques in screenplay and the use of 'historical' language.

Shakespeare in Love: Dir Madden

Moliere: Dir Tirard

Richard III: Dir Olivier

Henry V: Dir Olivier and Branagh

Ran: Dir Kurosawa

Macbeth: Dir Polanski

  1. Adapting from stage material

Madness of George III; Dir Hytner

The King's Speech; Dir Hooper

Amadeus; Dir. Forman

Vanya on 42nd Street; Dir Malle

Reading: Brook P, The Empty Space. ISBN 9780684829579

  1. Group workshop. Students to bring extracts of material specifically adapted to children's market and animation (adult and children)

No reading or screening prior to this session.

  1. Adapting biography, interface of selected adapted material with adapter's appropriate personal experience.

Screenings: Students to have viewed:

Lust for Life: Dir Minnelli

The Music Lovers: Dir Russell

Students to bring screen excerpts of 2 biopics of their choice. One must be a biopic of an artist, the other not.

  1. The writer /director relationship

Prior reading/screening - none this session

  1. Final class: Review and preparation/ expected requirements for next semester.

Schedule for winter semester 2020/2021:

room 241
Room No. 3

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel1)
room 344
Room No. 7

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel2)
Date Day Time Tutor Location Notes No. of paralel
Tue 13:10–14:45 Neil Andrew TAYLOR Room No. 3
Lažanský palác
on-campus lecture parallel1
Wed 13:10–14:45 Neil Andrew TAYLOR Room No. 7
Lažanský palác
on-campus lecture parallel2

Schedule for summer semester 2020/2021:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans