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

I learned things I have never learned before, and feel like a stronger storyteller after this workshop.

Scott Feinstein

television editor

Upcoming Classes

  • Starts Sunday, January 8
    Zoom, 10am – 1pm ET
    10-Week Workshop
  • Starts Monday, January 9
    Zoom, 6:30pm – 9:30pm ET
    10-Week Workshop
  • Starts Tuesday, January 10 3 spots left
    Online, anytime
    10-Week Workshop

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

Doug Katz
Doug Katz

Doug Katz wrote and directed the award-winning feature film Life in the Food Chain and the children’s video series Alphabet Factory, hosted by NY Times best-selling author Garth Stein. He is producing The Fabian Waltz, an original limited series about George Bernard Shaw. He has taught at St. John’s University. He holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Screenwriting and Directing from Columbia University.

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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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Jeremy Wechter
Jeremy Wechter

Jeremy Wechter is the writer and director of the feature film e-Demon, and the short films “Shake Things Up,” “Popcorn,” “Skewed,” “Hand Off,” “Big Decisions,” and “Bad Connection.” He has directed numerous commercials, and written and directed numerous plays, including the Off-Broadway musical Little House on the Ferry, and he served as artistic director for Directors ‘n’ Actors Collaborative. He has taught at the New York Film Academy, 3rd Ward Art Center, and the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. He holds a BFA from NYU.

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Max Adams
Max Adams

Max Adams has written scripts for Columbia, Sony, Tri-Star, Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone, Walt Disney Studios, and Universal . She is the author of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide (Academy of Film Writing). She has served as a WGA west mentor; lectured at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Film Arts Foundation, and USC; and taught at the University of Utah and the New York Film Academy. She holds a BFA from the University of Utah.

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