The screenwriting student develops and writes the storyline in the medium used specifically for film. He must find a balance between artistic self-possession and a cooperative attitude. He has a realistic grasp of the limits set by the production. Learning to write personal and authentic stories is stimulated. The screenplays show insight into the technical skills and dramatic structures. This programme offers the student the unique opportunity of seeing his screenplay actually filmed as well as the opportunity to work closely with students in other disciplines.
The NFTA primarily wants to help the student to assess and develop his own artistic potential while simultaneously learning about the profession up to its most common expression. The need for cooperation between screenwriting, directing and production students is predominant in both these aspects. The screenwriting student will continually have to find a balance between artistic convictions, a cooperative attitude and a realistic grasp of the limits set by the production.
- The ability to tell stories in images
- The ability to express a personal view of the work
- Expressing an interest in the profession
- Life experience
- Social skills: the ability to talk about own work, ability to deal with criticism,
ability to delegate
- General knowledge
Key attributes of a good screenwriter
The three most important attributes are imagination, discipline and finding his or her own voice (authenticity). The ideal screenwriter tells original stories and can work with others without losing his authenticity.
During the joint exercises students learn to work with deadlines. In the workshop ´The own voice´ students learn to tell their own (authentic) story. During a film of five minutes written without a dialogue students learn to build on the screenwriter´s imagination. The film exercises last 3 to 5 minutes in the first year, 5 to 10 minutes in the second year, 10 to 15 minutes in the third year and 25 minutes in the fourth year.
One of the key terms at the NFTA is cooperation. The best way in which students can be taught to cooperate is to convince them that making a film is a ´gesammtkunstwerk´ in which each department is vital to the end product. At the same time it is very important that the directing student develops a vision of the screenplay that is going to be filmed. His or her vision is the guideline for the other departments whereby they also have to learn to maintain some autonomy. The students also learn to work together within the production, directing and screenwriting triangle.
In the ´The own voice´ workshops, in which they make highly personal film each academic year, screenwriting students are challenged to turn themes and topics that affect them personally into a screenplay. The department is convinced that it is important to the personal development of the screenwriter that he finds themes that inspire him to write. The department is also convinced that a film is an art form that is eminently suitable for topics and themes of everyday reality.
A great deal of attention is devoted to the difference between critical, analytical thinking and creativity. The students have been educated in schools where analytical thinking was developed. There it was 1+1= 2 while in creative thinking 1 + 1 could very well be 11.
The screenwriting course can be divided into two elementary parts: the writing itself and the dramaturgy, the analytical part of the writing. In the ´writing part´ of the course the students study subjects such as writing training, the ´looking for personal material´ workshop and prose processing (25 minutes). They also write a script of five minutes (three scripts of five minutes without dialogue), a ten-minute scenario (with a beginning, a middle and an end), and a 25 and 40-minute scenario.
In the analytical part of the course, the students are taught from Poetica, Story (Robert Mc Kee), film and script analyses (sequences, sub-plots, genres, style), multi-scene structure, character-versus-dialogue, plot and arena, the structure of the short film (5 to 10 minutes), the structure of the medium-length film (25 to 40 minutes) and the structure of the movie (three acts).
The student has to do four 'Major Exercises' during the four years at the NFTA. These are the one-day fiction exercises, the 5, 10 and 25-minute films. All these exercises are developed in pre-production in the directing-production-screenwriting triangle. Exceptions to the triangle are conceivable, namely in the case of students with a double talent. For example a directing student with a talent for writing, but the opposite also occurs: a screenwriter who films his script.
During the first year the screenwriting students develop six scripts of 3 to 4 minutes: three internal and three external. The directing department forms teams in consultation with production and screenwriting. In the third phase the scripts are discussed by the triangle. During the subsequent three weeks the scripts are revised and then filmed in one day.
During the second year, the directing, screenwriting and production departments form the triangles in advance. They start off with an inspiration workshop during which five-minute films are screened. Then the triangles meet to discuss, process or develop ideas into a synopsis with a logline and a premise. The screenwriting student then works out two or three synopses into five-minute scripts with the assistance of a coach. These versions are again discussed by the triangle and then filmed.
The development phases during the third and fourth year are similar but longer as then films of 10 and 25 minutes are made. We have opted to develop projects in steps to prevent some phases from becoming too long because they are at the end of the production schedule.
During the first year, the course takes a more general approach and offers an introduction to all the disciplines in theory and practice. The practical side focuses on subjects such as camera, sound and editing and includes various exercises and assignments that the students must complete during the course of the year. Furthermore, general subjects such as film and art history, literature and television history are included. Part of the programme during the first year is devoted to the chosen specialisation. In these blocks, lessons are given in the discipline for which the student has been admitted.
No guarantee is given for the minimum number of scripts that are filmed during the course. However, the acceptance policy is geared to accepting one screenwriting student for each directing fiction student. In general about five scripts per student are filmed, varying from 3 to 25 minute screenplays. This depends, amongst others, on the extent to which it can be produced. Quality becomes an increasingly important criterion during the course of the study.
It is not customary for screenwriters to make an active contribution to the editing and completion of film exercises. Usually the screenwriting student is asked for his or her opinion during editing, but this is mostly confined to only a single contact.
Classes in Screenwriting theory and history of screenwriting takes place in the workshop Poetica and after that the workshop Story on the basis of the book by Robert Mc Kee, the film history blocks, the compulsory looking and reading lists and the workshops dealing with great European filmmakers.
- Alan Plater ´Speaking to nations´. In Elsaesser, Somin & Bronk (Eds.), Writing for the Medium: Television in Transition. Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, p. 118-130
- Fay Weldon ´On achieving good television´. In Elsaesser, Simon & Bronk (Eds.), Writing for the Medium: Television in Transition, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, p. 107-117.
- Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush, Alternative scriptwriting. Writing beyond the rules, 1985.
- Lajos Egri, The art of dramatic writing,
- Margaret Mehring, The screenplay, A blend of film form and content,
- Linda Seger, Making a good script great
- Philip Parker, The art of science of screenwriting
- Robert Mc Kee, Story: substance, structure, style and principles of
- Aristotle, Poetica
- Michael Halpering, Writing great Characters
- Julian Friedman & Pere Rocca (Eds.), Writing long-running television series
- William Goldman, Adventures in the screen trade
- William Froung, Zen and the art of screenwriting
- Syd Field, Screenplay: the foundations of screenwriting
- William Miller, Screenwriting for narrative film and television
- David Mamet, On directing film
- Hitchcock Truffaut, Francois Truffaut
- Dwight V. Swain, Film Scriptwriting: a practical manual
- Christopher Vogler, The writer?s journey, mythic structure for storytellers and
If one assumes that the structure of traditional drama has a beginning, a middle and an end, then 90% of the programme consists of traditional drama. The idea behind this being that a writer can only deviate from the laws if he knows the laws. Very little attention is devoted to experimental film and experiments with structure and content.
4 years, full-time
Language of instruction
34733 (B Film and Television)
Bachelor of Film and Television
Zij gingen je voor
“Voor mijn 32ste wil ik een Gouden Kalf winnen” - Anne Barnhoorn over haar ambities in het schrijversvak - lees verder