RTVF's screenwriting program is one of the most successful in California, and student writing is the bedrock of film production at SJSU. Numerous feature films based on scripts written in our classes have been completed, 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 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.