The Department of Film and Theatre's screenwriting program is one of the most successful in California, and student writing is the foundation of film production at SJSU. There have been numerous feature films based on scripts written in our classes, and our students regularly dominate the annual CSU Media Arts Festival feature-length screenwriting competition as well as frequently placing highly in the Broadcast Education Association's annual national student feature screenwriting competition. Our classes emphasize time-tested principles and full-length writing, the principle being that students who can write full-length work can easily write something shorter.

The Radio-Television-Film (RTVF) Major offers a screenwriting track that consists of two classes. The basic screenwriting class, RTVF 160, uses the principles and methods of the course reader written by Professor Scott Sublett, which divides the creation of a screenplay into small, incremental steps that are ordered in such a way as not to overwhelm the novice writer. The process outlined in the course reader is unique in the way it breaks down the process of planning and writing, and that unique approach is one of the things that makes our RTVF program unique in the nation. Our instruction refuses the myth that writing "can't be taught" and that people are simply "born to write," but rather flows out of a belief that any normal, reasonably intelligent, and properly taught person can write a screenplay. Many students find that RTVF 160 is all the screenwriting instruction they ever need. The advanced screenwriting class, RTVF 161, tailors the classroom experience to the needs of the writer who has already completed RTVF 160. Through a cooperative arrangement with the English Department's MFA Creative Writing Program, graduate students learn screenwriting alongside undergraduates, enriching the experience for both.

Courses in Support of the RTVF Screenwriting Pathway

The courses listed below are classes that are regularly taken by not only RTVF Majors, but majors from the Department of Animation and Illustration and MFA Creative Arts students from the Department of English and Comparative Literature, which has a concentration in playwriting or screenwriting. For the Department of Film and Theatre, our screenwriting pathway has produced a long history of dominating important student screenwriting competitions and multiple scripts written in its classes have been made into feature films.

Required for the Major

  • RTVF 160: Introduction to Screenwriting (3 units)

    This course offers basic principles and practices in writing scripts for film and/or television. This class can be taken twice for credit. Prerequisites: RTVF 20, RTVF 30, and TA 100W, plus upper division standing or instructor consent (instructors can waive the prerequisites in order to make the class available to students from other majors). This class is required of BA candidates in the Radio-Television Film major, and is usually offered every semester and during the summer session.

Degree Completion Options

  • RTVF 161: Advanced Screenwriting (3 units)

    In this course, each student will develop an original screenplay through several drafts, all while drawing on constructive feedback from classmates and the instructor. The course focuses on dramatic structure and character and plot development as well as the visual language of the screen.

RTVF 160 is a prerequisite for RTVF 161, but each course is repeatable for credit. RTVF 161 is an elective in the major while RTVF 160 is a required course. However, RTVF 160 can also be used as an elective if taken for a second time. Courses are offered in both fall and spring semesters.