Screenwriter Class: 20 Best Classes to Consider

A screenwriter class teaches you what you need to know when writing for television or film. Aspiring filmmakers take this type of class to sharpen their skills and receive feedback that can help them grow their craft.

Best Screenwriter Classes

Enrolling in a good screenwriter class can set you up for success in your future career in the film industry. Here are some of the best screenwriter classes to consider joining:

Online classes

If you thrive in a virtual setting, consider taking one of these online courses:

  1. Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting (Masterclass): Learn the art of screenwriting for film and television from this Oscar-winning screenwriter.
  2. Online screenwriting courses (New York Film Academy): Taught by screenwriters and industry professionals, these high-end courses cover various topics, like structure, revision strategies, and even writing for comic books.
  3. Top screenwriting courses (Udemy): Udemy offers a diverse set of courses for both new screenwriters and expert-level writers.
  4. Screenwriting for beginners (Screenwriters University): This online university offers classes from award-winning screenwriters that teach you the basics and provide insider industry info.
  5. Screenwriting workshop (Writing Classes): With a focus on movie screenwriting, this workshop helps you create engaging content while learning about key elements like story maps and various genres.
  6. Online screenwriting course (Script Reader Pro): Learn how to write like a pro using theory hacks and effective exercises with their course, Script Hackr.

Programs and schools

If you want more of a classroom setting, consider enrolling in a screenwriter course from a film school. Many of these courses offer online instruction, too:

  1. Screenwriting course (Nashville Film Institute): Learn about various storytelling techniques, character development, and sequences with this professional screenwriting course.
  2. Adaptation for Screenwriters I (UCLA Extension): Learn how to adapt literary work into a film or tv script.
  3. Crafting Powerful Dialogue (UCLA Extension): Learn how to write the best lines for your character in this exercise and workshop-based class.
  4. Beginning Writing for the Half-Hour Spec I (UCLA Extension): This course teaches you how to create a story and outline for a half-hour TV series.
  5. Breaking Through Writer’s Block (UCLA Extension): Learn how to get past writer’s block with this course that covers brain science and overcoming procrastination.
  6. Building Compelling Story Settings (UCLA Extension): This course teaches you how to create engaging content to keep viewers interested.
  7. Fundamentals of Story (UCLA Extension): Learn how to develop your story ideas with basic screenwriting principles to create an engaging script for film or tv.
  8. Introduction to Screenwriting (UCLA Extension): Get an overview of how to write for a variety of mediums, including podcasts, silver screens, and web video.
  9. It Takes Two: Relationship Driven Screenwriting (UCLA Extension): This course teaches you how to create powerful character relationships throughout your script.

For even more classes from UCLA Extension, check out this compiled list. And for more schools and programs to consider, check out Backstage’s list here.

Lectures

If you want to take a podcast approach to learn about screenwriting, consider the following lectures:

  1. Screenwriting Master Class – Joss Whedon (Indie Film Hustle): Learn the tricks of the trade from acclaimed screenwriter Joss Whedon, who has worked on everything from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Toy Story” and “The Avengers.”
  2. Screenwriting Master Class – Nancy Meyers (Indie Film Hustle): Learn beginner’s tips from this Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director who has worked on projects including “The Parent Trap” and “The Holiday.”
  3. Screenwriting Master Class – John Logan (Indie Film Hustle): Learn about various film writing techniques from this prolific screenwriter who has worked on a diverse collection of films including the Academy Award-winning film, “Gladiator.”
  4. Screenwriting Master Class – Charlie Kaufman (Indie Film Hustle): Learn from this contemporary screenwriter who’s earned the BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay on many occasions.
  5. Screenwriting Master Class – Brian Helgeland (Indie Film Hustle): With a background in crime films, Helgeland offers his expertise to budding screenwriters and stresses the importance of confidence in the industry.

For more lectures, check out this list.

What You Gain From a Screenwriter Classes

If you’re interested in taking a screenwriter class, you have several options to consider that offer different benefits. Here’s what you gain from online classes, workshops, and degrees:

Online classes

Consider the following benefits of enrolling in an online screenwriter class:

  1. Online classes let you gain knowledge from professionals in a virtual learning environment.
  2. Online classes let you work at your own pace.
  3. They can cover many topics at once.

Workshops

Here are the benefits of joining a screenwriter workshop:

  1. Workshops allow you to get instant feedback on your work without paying for a full screenwriting degree.
  2. There are specialized workshops that focus on certain areas of screenwriting, like character development or dialogue.
  3. You can focus on your weak points when you choose a specialized workshop.
  4. They’re great for all skill levels.

Degrees

Consider the following benefits of earning a screenwriter degree:

  1. Attending film school allows you to learn from an experienced professor in a professional setting alongside like-minded peers.
  2. Earning a screenwriting degree lets you make valuable and often life-long connections in your field that can lead to job opportunities.
  3. Having a degree can increase your chances of landing a job since many companies ask for a degree as a base-level requirement.

Here’s an even better look at the pros and cons of each of your options.

What to Expect In Your First Screenwriting Class

While a screenwriter class teaches you how to use your talent and creativity, it also gives you the chance to learn about the field and required skills for success. Here are some additional areas that you’ll likely learn about:

  1. Proper formatting: You’ll likely learn how to format a screenplay using margin sizes, parenthetical directions, voiceovers, and off-screen tags.
  2. Fundamentals of storytelling: An introductory course may focus on non-script work at first to learn about the importance of the story elements rather than just the visuals or concept.
  3. Screenplay structure: Rather than writing a full screenplay, you may start out with just scenes to learn about story structure.
  4. Character dialogue: Depending on the program, you may learn about dialogue in a screenplay since it’s more heavily used in screenwriting than works of fiction.

Biggest Hurdles Most Aspiring Screenwriters Face

As with any career, screenwriters may face several challenges whether they’re new or experienced. Consider the following hurdles up-and-coming screenwriters face and how to overcome them:

  1. They think all they need to do is write: While it’s important to continue writing, make sure you’re making improvements in your craft along the way.
  2. They don’t know how to apply what they’ve learned: Avoid listening and reading passively to ensure the knowledge you gain is actively applied to your writing.
  3. They don’t realize you need hands-on practice. As opposed to writing every day on a whim, use structured, hands-on screenwriting exercises that help you sharpen your skills.

How to Become a Screenwriter

There are several avenues you can take to become a successful screenwriter, whether you choose to earn a degree or learn the craft online. Follow these general steps to help you find success in the industry:

  1. Though you don’t need a degree, going to film school can help you make connections while giving you the chance to work alongside other individuals with the same passion.
  2. Getting an internship gives you an opportunity to learn outside of a classroom setting as you observe professional writers in their element.
  3. Write several screenplays to increase your chances of future success, sharpen your skills, and get your work in front of producers and directors.
  4. No matter how far you are in your career, continue to make valuable connections in your field through festivals and mixers.

How to Choose the Best Screenwriter Class for You

Since there are several screenwriting schools to choose from, it’s important to narrow down your choices. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Since many schools have programs that focus on a particular area of screenwriting, opt for a school that caters to what you want to learn.
  2. When you go to a school with a smaller class size, it allows you to get a more personal learning experience and added attention from your professors.
  3. Opt for a school that offers diverse course material that piques your interest.

To learn more, join our screenwriting course that teaches you about story development and various techniques to use in your craft. Whether you want to learn more about character development or sequences, the Nashville Film Institute is dedicated to teaching you it all.

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