School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) 335

CTWR 404 Foundations of Comedy - 2 units (SCWR)*

Comedy is not accidental, it is a delicately constructed art form. A uniquely human and social endeavor aimed at creating the laugh - that involuntary acknowledgment of life's imperfection that ultimately brings humans together so that we might make peace with a confusing existence.

This course seeks to define comedy, its architecture, and sources, by exploring where jesters, writers, actors, clowns and stand-ups throughout history have looked to find humor, and the techniques they have employed to capture the funny and conjure the laugh. We'll explore films, television shows, standup acts and readings, drawing examples from comedy's earliest human expression in rite and ritual to the latest viral posting on You Tube.

Warning: Comedy is, at its heart, controversial. Testing moral and social boundaries is its nature. Material shown and discussed in class may offend.

CTWR 321 Introduction to Hour-Long Television Writing - 2 units (SCWR)*

Learn the basics of writing scenes from popular television shows and how to build a story within the confines of a television series.

Prerequisite: CTWR 412
Multiple Instructors

CTWR 410L Character Development and Storytelling for Games - 4 units (SCWR)*

Explore characters and story worlds as they relate to gaming with an emphasis on emotionally rich environments in interactive entertainment.
Taught by Danny Bilson

CTWR 412 Introduction to Screenwriting - 2 units (CART, CNHP, SCWR)*

Learn the basic building blocks of any screenplay: visualization, character, dialogue, scene structure, conflict, and sequence. After writing short premises, students will progress to combining scenes into sequences and a short script.
Multiple Instructors

CTWR 415AB Advanced Writing (SCWR)*

Now that you know the fundamentals, start and finish your feature script!
a: Principles of the feature film; creating theme, character and structure that combine into a feature-length story treatment.
b: Creation of script with extensive work-shopping of scenes in class leading to a first draft and revision as a final assignment.

CTWR 415A 2 units
Prerequisite: CTWR 412, recommended preparation: CTWR 416

Multiple Instructors
CTWR 415B 4 units, Prerequisite: CTWR 415A

CTWR 416 Motion Picture Script Analysis - 2 units (CART, CNHP, SCWR)*

Critical analysis of story structure from classic films to contemporary works. Identification of key story concepts and elements of three-act structure.

CTWR 417 Script Coverage and Story Analysis - 2 units (SCWR)*

In-depth analysis course where students constructively analyze a novel or screenplay from a production company's point of view.
Taught by Peter Exline

CTWR 421 Writing the Hour-Long Dramatic Series - 2 units (SCWR)*

Introduction to the principles of writing network-style episodic drama. Outline and write a "spec" script for an existing hour-long television show such as The Walking Dead, The Good Wife, or Breaking Bad.
Multiple Instructors
Prerequisite: CTWR 321

CTWR 431 Screenwriters and their Work - 2 units (SCWR)*

Detailed investigation of a specific screenwriter's style and the works they've influenced. Lectures include screenings and visiting screenwriters.

CTWR 434 Writing the Half-Hour Comedy Series 2 units (SCWR)*

Exploration into situation comedy, writing by committee, developing comedic timing, and using humor as a style of filmmaking. Outline and write a "spec" script for an existing half-hour sitcom.
Multiple Instructors
Prerequisite: CTWR 321

*Minor Legend

  • ANDA designated classes apply toward the
    Animation & Digital Arts Minor.
  • CART designated classes apply toward the
    Cinematic Arts Minor.
  • DGST designated classes apply toward the
    Digital Studies Minor.
  • SCWR designated classes apply toward the
    Screenwriting Minor.
  • CNHP designated classes apply toward the
    Cinema-Television for the Health Professions Minor.
  • VGDM designated classes apply toward the
    Video Game Design & Management Minor.

Check the USC Catalogue for official program requirements.
For course updates and additions, please see cinema.usc.edu/NonMajorCourses.