Screenwriting 101: Are Workshops Worth It?

A workshop can be a tremendous help to the writer just starting his screenplay journey. It can also help those with a complete script that needs polishing.

By Brock Cooper (doddleNEWS)

My start in screenwriting was a thrown in the pool kind of situation. A story I had wrote was optioned for a movie and they wondered if I could take a crack at the screenplay. I bought a few books, did a lot of research and was off to the races.

My first few drafts were complete crap. As I got used to the format, my writing improved and I was able to produce something I was proud of. Was it perfect? Probably not. Since then, I’ve endeavored to improve my craft, and one of the best ways was through a screenwriting workshop.

A seminar is an intensive hands-on class to help you learn and perfect your screenwriting. Some help improve existing screenplays and others are more for a general overview. They can take the form of a course that stretches over several weeks or one that lasts a weekend at the local community college.

Online or Offline

We live in a digital world, and seminars are offered both online and offline. Online versions are perfect for people who don’t live in an area where offline seminars are available. They are very structured and include online chats and other resources as well as projects and homework. Online workshops are very class-like and lack the one-on-one touches that the offline workshops offer. The major benefit is there are so many of them out there which have different focuses, such as mechanics, genre, etc.

Offline classes come in two varieties: large and small. The larger workshops are more for general screenwriting and take on the format of many of the online classes. The one benefit is you may have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the teacher and make a few friends in the process.

The smaller workshops are the cream of the crop. You get intensive service and personal instruction from the workshop leader. There is a workshop in Chicago where you go to his house for a few hours a week and he is available by phone anytime to answer questions. Sundance also has a workshop that is the best in the business, but good luck getting into that one.

Is it Worth It?

Anyone that doesn’t have formal training in screenwriting can definitely benefit from a workshop or multiple workshops. The price of each workshop varies on what and who is taught, but with a little research you should be able to find one that fits your needs.

A beginner with no training can get away with a lower price general workshop and work his or her way up. You can learn by simply buying a book and reading it over and over again, but nothing can surpass the knowledge of an experienced teacher.

Comments

  1. Newman says:

    Yes, screenwriting courses are worth it – as long as you’re in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing. You learn a lot tacitly. There are also lots of free sites such as http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html and http://www.gointothestory.com/ that are worth visiting.