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December 10, 2021

Top Screenwriting Classes: Paid & Free Options

Are you stuck with where to start with your screenplay? Every writer faces the daunting prospect of a blank page at some point in their life.

But rather than suffering in silence, there are loads of things you can do to take action and get your screenplay back on track. One of those action points is enrolling in online screenwriting classes or classes in your local area.

But which are the best online screenwriting classes? And how do you even know if screenwriting courses are going to help you?

Let’s explore the pros and cons of the different options available today.

Paid screenwriting classes

If you have the time and the money, you might consider enrolling at a university or college film course.

University screenwriting programs

If you have the time and the money, you might consider enrolling at a university of college T.V. and film course. Remember, this is a big commitment. You will spend years of your life on this course, so you have to know that this course is right for you and will help you become a better writer. So how do you know whether the course is for you? First, think about what you struggle with. Some writers struggle with their ideas or literary theory. Others need experience in a studio to understand the process of making a film or T.V. show and how their script fits into the production line.

All writers trying to make it also need to be surrounded by a strong network: other students on your course which are just as committed to getting their work out there and professional mid-level writers, directors, and producers who can nurture you and take an interest in your career.

Top screenwriting programs:

However, to view a complete list of top screenwriting programs, check out this compilation by Screencraft.

Unless you get a scholarship - which can be very hard to obtain - you can soon see your bills of a year of tuition reaching $50,000 - $60,000. Most people have to take out a student loan to be able to afford to attend.

Before you commit, ask yourself if you can make it on your own steam? Question the value of what you are getting and contact some recent alumni to see if attending the school has enhanced their careers.

Online screenwriting classes

The internet has revolutionized the way we access information fundamentally. If you’re willing to pay, you can watch in-depth classes on screenwriting from people at the top of their game for less than $100 a year and get individual feedback on your script for a few hundred bucks.

Screenwriting classes:

If you haven’t watched Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass on screenwriting and have the money you’ve set aside to invest in your screenwriting education, then this is a must. Be also sure to read our interview with him.

He outlines his writing process, from coming up with initial ideas to conducting a table read with some students to dealing with criticism.  

Affordable screenwriting courses

We listed a few options above however, if you are looking to save money while learning, take a look at what's available on platforms like Skillshare and Udemy. Platforms like these offer a variety of courses for low costs. While the quality may vary, there are plenty of options and several diamonds in the rough! Industry professionals often create courses like these, and especially if you are breaking into the screenwriting world, these could be a great stepping stone. Just make sure you read the reviews before purchasing.

You won’t get the networking opportunities you get by attending college or film school, but you can create these opportunities yourself; you can move to cities with significant film industries such as L.A., New York, London, Seoul, Singapore, or Mumbai and attend local events.

With the pandemic, most people you want to chat with are also available for a Zoom call or connect with on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Getting editorial feedback

Following a course is one thing, but at some point, you’re going to need some honest and raw feedback on your script. In today’s industry, executives and agents aren’t going to accept a rough diamond script.

By and large, they want the finished product straight off the bat that they can sell to their bosses. You can’t get to that standard on your own. Film courses might provide this, but even the top film courses are unlikely to give you in-depth feedback on the scripts you require.

When you’re more experienced and have your network more established, you can get this feedback from your peers or directors and agents interested in working with you.

For now, your best option could be to pay for it. There are many editorial consultancy services, and some agents also moonlight as consultants.

As with anything where a fee is involved, be careful in handing over your cash. Be clear with what you want. You don’t want an agent to tell you your work is wonderful; you need an honest assessment of your script.

Some consultants can also keep you hanging on with endless rounds of revisions that they charge for you when the truth is you’d be better off putting that script aside and working on something else.

Free screenwriting classes

Free classes are the most obvious place to start searching for assistance with your screenplay. They don’t cost anything, so you might consider that you might as well turn up to one, seeing as you’ve got nothing to lose.

You might want to consider one free course is the University of East Anglia’s screenwriting course on Future Learn. You can access the basic version of this course for free. It lasts four weeks, and you can study at your pace, learning about the three-act structure, screenplay formatting, and workflow tips.

A reputable U.K. university backs it, and it’s free. If you find the course valuable, you can upgrade it for a fee.

Free online courses are often not led by an instructor; they are merely pre-designed courses that you can follow at your own pace or complete in a suggested time frame. For example, it might be hard to get any advice with specific questions, so this might not be the best option for you if you want this option. Remember, the problem with free courses is that the center will try and sell you to their paid course more often than not.

This is not a problem if their basic course provides you with value and their premium course only adds to this. So be wary of investing time in free courses if the course material is limited and most of the time is spent upselling you.

Free resources for screenwriters

If your budget is tight and you know you don’t want to pay for an online screenwriting course, consider what free resources are available to help you with your problems.

Suppose you have a technical issue, such as being unsure about formatting your screenplay correctly or what the three-act structure entails. In that case, you can generally find this information available. This blog is a great resource that you should use to your advantage.

Most major film schools also have blogs and websites full of great advice. You can use The Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDB) to see how other scripts are formatted and how your favorite films and T.V. series look on paper.  

Screenwriting software like Arc Studio Pro can assist you in formatting your screenplay automatically.

Consider your network in the industry and whether you could grow it. The bigger and stronger your network, the easier it is to get what you need to progress in your career.

Are online screenwriting classes for you?

Deciding if online screenwriting classes are for you depends on your budget and your issues with your script and in your career.

Diagnose the issues you are having first and what you can do to resolve them.

Some final top tips. Remember, the internet is a great free resource that can help you if your budget is low. Courses can be great, but no course is going to write your script for you. You still have to do the work.

Get started writing for free today with Arc Studio Pro!


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Top Screenwriting Classes: Paid & Free Options
Harry Cunningham

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. In addition, he was a senior ghostwriter at Story Terrace from 2015- 2021, the private memoir firm.

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