Want to start a career in screenwriting? We look at some of the best screenwriting courses based on content, structure, and price.
So, you’ve got a killer idea for a film or TV show – great, congratulations. Now it’s time for the hard work. Writing an engaging and properly formatted screenplay is no small feat. There are structures to follow and rules you need to stick to. If you don’t, you might find that when your wannabe blockbuster hits the screen, it flops like a fish out of water.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go back to school to get the know-how – this is where screenwriting courses come in.
Some of Hollywood’s best writers, such as Aaron Sorkin, Diablo Cody, or Quentin Tarantino, didn’t study screenwriting at college. Nevertheless, they did still need to learn the trade.
Reading the top ‘how to’ guides and rattling through as many great screenplays as possible is a good start. However, there are a wide variety of online screenwriting courses that can help you get through your first draft and beyond.
This article looks at the 10 best screenwriting courses out there. Some of them are paid, others are on subscription platforms and there’s even a freebie.
Our Best Online Screenwriting Courses
Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin brings his unique and snappy tone to this brilliant screenwriting course on MasterClass. The lessons in this course have less of a focus on the nuts and bolts of writing a screenplay.
However, it looks more into what makes a writer and their work unique. Sorkin shares many stories from his career, such as how he wrote his first movie on cocktail napkins.
On this tour of his writing history, he reveals some of his secrets to success along the way. He finishes the course by running a writer’s room exercise with some of the writing stars of tomorrow.
Inspirational, insightful, and utterly accessible. The number one online screenwriting course out there.
Advertised as the #1 screenwriting course on the Udemy platform. Taught by screenwriter Paul Castro in 20 brisk segments covering just 3 hours.
The course aims to give students all the knowledge they need to craft a solid screenplay from even the smallest of ideas. With a string of celebrity endorsements and over 13,000 students to date, you’d be hard pushed to find a better one-stop shop anywhere else.
No other writer has made as much of an impact on episodic TV as Shonda Rhimes (Greys Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder).
Much like the other MasterClass entry, the sessions focus less on the writing of a script, but more on how to make a success of it. Exploring things like life in a writer’s room and developing concepts, this course offers a unique insight for beginners and pros alike.
The best word to sum up this course on Skillshare is ‘bitesize’. It consists of 39 short lessons covering a lean 3h 34m, with downloadable workbooks and a variety of assignments and activities.
As far as online screenwriting courses go, this is one of the easiest to get on with. Short classes, simple and fun tasks, and plenty of instructor support.
The British TV legend Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard and Line of Duty) shares his pearls of wisdom in this well-respected screenwriting course.
It is 7 hours or 28 lessons long, covering everything from getting the initial idea, through to collaboration and career development. If you have a big idea and just can’t figure out how to get it ready to pitch to the industry, this could be the course for you.
This fully online course teaches all the basics needed to get your ideas onto the page. Also, it offers the opportunity to have your work looked at by industry professionals.
The Script University (if their name hasn’t already given it away) offers a wide range of courses for writers of all experiences. So once you’ve grasped the basics, you can progress to another one of their online classes to move forward in easy and manageable steps.
Run by two of Hollywood’s most sought-after script doctors, this screenwriting course focuses on the most important element of any screenplay – the story.
Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler teach this 8-hour online course and share their knowledge of how to craft a good narrative. They cover a variety of tried and tested methods, such as ‘Mythical Archetypes’ and ‘The Hero’s Journey’.
This course does exactly what it says on the tin. By learning the basics of drafting a screenplay through a structured process, students can start building a portfolio of work with confidence. This sizable 93-hour online course is written and taught by tutors from Michigan State University.
It’s one aim is for you to finish the class with a feature-length screenplay in hand, ready to share with the industry.
Working with The University of East Anglia, FutureLearn has created an online screenwriting course to help new writers get grips with the basics of the craft.
The course has been designed to allow students to learn at their own pace. Plus, you get the chance to be taught by a UEA tutor without having to pay through the nose for tuition fees. Better than that – it’s free.
Joshua Dickenson is a writer, actor, and director with credits in both the US and UK. In 15, short screenwriting classes, he takes you from nailing your initial idea through to writing your first draft.
In addition, he does it all in less than an hour. Covering the basics like act structures, beats, and scenes, this course is a great way to start writing screenplays to the industry standard.
In short, there is no lack of options out there. With a wide variety of screenwriting courses online catering for writers of all abilities (and wallet sizes), it shouldn’t be hard to find one that suits you.
If you’re not ready to splash the cash, then maybe start with a free course. If you’re in it for the long run and are hungry for content, then a subscription platform could be the one for you.
Furthermore, with new courses appearing online every day, the pool just keeps getting bigger. There’s never been a better time to jump in and try it out.