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Film and Literature

From Source, to Script, to Screen

Course Schedule:

Spring Qtr: Jan./Feb. - April | Summer Qtr: June/July - Aug.

Fall Qtr: Sept. - Nov. | Winter Qtr: Nov. - Jan.

Course Length: 10 hours 

Class Size: max 6 students

Course Overview

This course seeks to challenge and develop students’ analytical, critical, and creative writing skills through the analysis of films, scripts, and novels. 

Students will learn how to analyze films, including how narratives are formed, how scenes are composed, and how meaning is conveyed visually. They will then learn how film scripts are formatted and what is gained, and lost, from the transition from word to screen. Finally, students will read excerpts from the novels the films are based on to understand how these different mediums express and convey meaning. They will use all these new analytical tools to critically analyze the digital media that they engage with on a daily basis. 

Students will engage in a variety of written assignments. They will develop their analytical and critical writing skills through narrative deconstruction, close reading analysis of scripts and novel scenes, and in-depth breakdowns of film scenes. By adapting novel scenes into scripts, students will learn how to express themselves creatively. Knowing what is essential to one's story or essay versus what can be cut is a critical skill to master. These tools and techniques will help students craft their own narratives during college admissions and beyond.


** Course Levels: Level I & Level II

This course consists of two series: Level I and Level II. For students who have successfully completed Level I, they will be invited to join the Level II series for a more intense, in-depth analysis of a selection of films and classic literature on which they are based. Students will be challenged to fully utilize the analytical and creative tools of thinking and writing they have developed in the Level I course to accomplish a project of adapting a classic short story for the screen. During this process, students will have engaged in a thorough analysis of the story and learned how to edit their work for conciseness, clarity, and impact.  

Mentor: Mr. Donovan

M.F.A. in Theatre Directing; B.Ed Secondary in Social Studies and Drama
Award Winning Director, Playwright, and Actor


Mr. Donovan is an award-winning director, playwright, screenwriter, and actor. He has directed over 20 theatre and film productions and has acted professionally in a countless number of plays and films. His most recent work was directing the 2020 Citadel Theatre Young Company in an adaptation of The Wonderful World of Dissocia by Anthony Nielson that he adapted from the stageplay into a film production. Besides theatre and film, Mr. Donovan is passionate about teaching. He has been teaching online since the COVID-19 pandemic and works as a teacher in secondary schools. 

Questions to Explore

  1. Where do we find narratives in our everyday lives? What makes a narrative effective and how it is formed?

  2. What role do symbols and images play in film and literature, and how do we recognize them? 

  3. How can we use symbols and imagery in writing? What elements of scriptwriting can help liven our own writing? 

  4. How do we refine our writing to concisely convey our point? How can we show our readers our point instead of simply telling them?

  5. How can we use film analysis to better understand the digital media we consume on a daily basis?

Film Selection

Class will be structured around the analysis of three films and excerpts from their scripts and novels. Films are selected based on students' interest and English levels. 

Some case study options

  1. Atonement

  2. Blade Runner

  3. Call Me by Your Name

  4. Crazy Rich Asians

  5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

  6. Dune

  7. Fight Club

  8. Kiki’s Delivery Service

  9. Little Women

  10. Nomadland 

  11. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

  12. Snowpiercer

  13. The Great Gatsby

  14. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

  15. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

  16. The Prince of Egypt

  17. The Princess Bride

  18. The Shawshank Redemption

  19. V for Vendetta


“Mr. Donovan was the greatest teacher I had. Not only did he give me opportunities to improve but he also understood me as a student. We’re all very thankful of him because he made class way more fun than my previous classes. He made me grow as a student.”

“Mr. Donovan was an amazing teacher. He was very engaging, great energy, and gave us all the information we needed to succeed. Mr. Donovan was very organized each class and showed that he cared for each student. He came in everyday with the same energy as the first day.”

“Mr. Donovan is a wonderful and patient teacher. His teaching style is very enjoyable. He breaks down everything he teaches into basic terms so that students can understand it. He allows students to interact and demonstrate their understanding.”

“I love Mr. Donovan’s teaching style. I found it easier to understand and learn more efficiently. He has drastically changed my mindset in class and made my class experience more positive.”

“Mr. Donovan was a really good teacher. He kept me interested in the topics he was teaching and spoke very clear. He made many of the classes fun with many different activities. He also made the topics easy to understand with simple terms and broke them down well.” 

“Mr. Donovan’s methods of teaching has made learning in class more engaging and clear. His feedback on our work is also very helpful. He tells us what we did wrong and need to work on better for next time in a straightforward and friendly way.”

“Mr. Donovan has helped me a lot during his time here. He actually made coming to class enjoyable and understandable. He’s very patient with every student that had a little trouble with something. 

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