See also:
Screenwriting Intensive
Up next:
Screenwriting II
Screenwriting I

Screenwriting I is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Movies are the modern mythology—the stories we all watch for excitement, inspiration, and entertainment. So many genres and types...drama, comedy, action/adventure, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, horror, crime, noir, epic, western, war, romantic comedy, musical. Larger than life blockbusters or down-to-earth depictions of reality. Tales told with emotional verve and visual imagery we never forget.

A movie isn’t great unless it starts with a great blueprint—the screenplay. Here you’ll learn how to write for the movies and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write shorts or features, Hollywood glamor or indie grit, we’ll show you how to write screenplays that light up the screen.

About Screenwriting
Screenwriting I

There were so many “Oh, I finally get it!” moments for me.

Sara Snyder

public relations

Upcoming Classes

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Also, we will require masks in the classrooms and Gotham premises.

More Covid details

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.

10-Week

Syllabus

This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of screenwriting craft and gets you writing a screenplay. Course components:
     Lectures
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Introduction to Screenwriting: The visual nature of movies. Screenplays as blueprints. Where to find ideas. Forming a premise. High and low concept. Hollywood vs. indie. Genre. The usefulness of outlines.

Week 2
Plot I: Finding a major dramatic question. The three-act structure. The difference between classic plots and subtle plots. Making a story map.

Week 3
Character: Finding a strong protagonist. Handling other characters. Making characters dimensional through desire and contrasts. Creating character profiles. Showing characters through their actions.

Week 4
Format/Description: How to format a screenplay. Writing effective screenplay description.

Week 5
Scene: Scene defined. Length of scene. Tenets of a good scenes—importance, desire/conflict, structure, compression, visual storytelling. Sequences. Making a step outline.

Week 6
Dialogue: Dialogue’s illusion of reality. Compression. Characterization through dialogue. Subtext. Exposition. Stage directions. Voice over.

Week 7
Subplot: The value of subplots. Romantic subplots. Other kinds of subplots for the protagonist. Non-protagonist subplots. Subplot structure. Finding subplots in your story.

Week 8
Plot II: Creating an effective opening section. Techniques for sustaining Act II. Creating an effective climax. Flashbacks.

Week 9
Tone/Theme/Revision: Developing tone through genre, world, and lightness/darkness. Consistency of tone. Theme defined. Types of theme. Weaving theme into a story. Exploration of the various stages of revision.

Week 10
The Business: Creating pitches. Studios, producers, and representation. How to get your pitch to players in the industry. Query letters. The life of a screenwriter.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Teachers

Jason Greiff
Jason Greiff

Jason Greiff wrote the feature screenplay The Godparents, which was developed with Universal Studios and Marc Platt Productions. He has produced credits in children’s animation in China and Portugal, and has helped develop shows for Disney Asia and China’s largest media company CCTV. His screenplays have won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, the Lew Wasserman Award for Best Comedy, and a national competition sponsored by the Writers Guild of America. He authored the chapter on Tone/Theme in Gotham’s book Writing Movies (Bloomsbury USA). He has taught at NYU. He holds a BA from SUNY Purchase and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU/Tisch.

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Lisa Namdar Kaufman
Lisa Namdar Kaufman

Lisa Namdar Kaufman wrote the animated feature film Baldy Heights (Bleiberg Entertainment/Pitchipoy Productions), and the TV drama In the Prime of Her Life, which aired on Israel’s public broadcasting station. She has written short films that have been shown at festivals around the world, from the Cannes International Film Festival to the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival. She has served as story editor on the documentary film 8000 Paper Clips and TV shows in development with Sony, ABC, and Happy Madison. She has taught at Columbia University and the New York Independent Film Workshop. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA in Film from Columbia University.

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