Guide to Online Screenwriting Courses

Finding a good online screenwriting course may be overwhelming for the choice of distance courses for screenwriters on offer, but factors such as the film school itself and the screenwriting qualification required may help with the selection.


Which is the Best Online Screenwriting Class?


Many issues may obstruct the hopeful writer from gaining a degree in screenwriting or from attending a screenwriting workshop, such as the distance to travel to a London film school, for instance, or attending a fixed timetable of film lectures. An online film school may be the answer or even books on screenwriting, but selecting the most suitable online film course means addressing various issues.


Tips on Choosing an Online Scriptwriting School


The following pointers will help the screenwriter with selecting the right online course:
  • Think carefully about the level of the course. Is the applicant a beginner in screenwriting, or is the craft familiar? The absolute beginner will require modules on basic screenwriting lessons, such as character development, the story arc and how to format the screenplay.
  • Does the screenwriter require a particular screenwriting qualification, such as a degree or diploma in screenwriting to further his or her career? Some online workshops offer a certificate that may not be recognised, others may provide a stepping stone onto other courses.
  • Does the applicant have other time commitments, such as a job or family issues? This will dictate the pace of the course. Some are intensive and require the completion of assignments over several months; others spread the course over a year or so.
  • Which scriptwriting media is the applicant concerned with? Does the applicant wish to write for TV dramas or write screenplays for full length feature films? Both require a different set of skills and scriptwriting software.
  • Think about the resources needed. Some online screenwriting workshops require the applicant to have certain scriptwriting software such as Final Draft. Other software such as Skype or headphones may be required.

The Best Online Film School

Some research into the film institution itself is always wise. Questions should be welcome and any doubts should be satisfied before making the final decision. The following issues must be cleared up before paying for an online film course.

  • Does the screenwriting course offer value for money? The hopeful screenwriter should check other online writing sites to ensure that the course charges a reasonable fee for their services
  • Are the assignments and modules clear, and do they deliver? For instance, do they include the essential aspects of screenwriting, such as how to write dialogue, developing subtext, constructing the story arc and so forth?
  • Does the film course offer support where necessary, and is a point of contact provided, should queries arise?
  • Are the teachers and trainers properly qualified to oversee the course, and do they have the relevant experience?
  • Does the film school delivering the course have access to up to date information about film making and have connections with the film industry? Are they able to gain a contribution or are endorsed by a recognised filmmaker, screenwriter or producer?
  • Is support offered at the end of the course in order to help screenwriters in their career development, for instance in selling the screenplay, or simply to point them in the right direction?

If in doubt about the online screenwriting class, checking out customer forums or recommendations is always a good idea.


Where to Find the Best Online Courses for Screenwriters


Gaining a recognised screenwriting qualification does not always mean attending a film school in person. Travelling distance and time elements may get in the way. Finding a suitable online screenwriting school may be the answer. But first, the applicant must check that the film school is worth its salt. Basic questions such as the level of the course offered, the contents of the module, and value for money are only the beginning. Other issues such as the qualifications of the teachers and recommendations from the film industry will help the writer make the right decision.


Useful Links to Screenwriting Software


BBCWritersroom ScriptSmart Gold scriptwriting programme




© Rachel Shirley