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Adaptation: Screenplays and Source Material

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number ELEC-GG2581
Section 001
Instructor Selma Thompson
Days R
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level G


Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor (


How does a story change when re-imagined for a new medium? Why are some film adaptations more successful than others? What is the screenwriter's responsibility to the work being adapted and to its author? Should one always strive to be "true" to the source? How do screenwriters contend with elements of prose such as first-person narrative, point-of-view, authorial voice, and non-linear time? We will examine novels, short stories, memoirs, graphic novels—and the screenplays they inspired—from a screenwriter's perspective, as we consider various adaptation strategies. We also analyze the writing choices behind what might be called "faux adaptations"—original screenplays written as if they were adaptations. A guest speaker from Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts will explain how to correctly secure rights to underlying material. Students keep a journal, part of which may include, with instructor's approval, a short film screenplay adaptation, if the student holds the necessary rights.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Graduate Electives (ELEC-GG)