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Courses and Workshops


Screenwriting Essentials enables aspiring screenplay writers to fully explore the craft of dramatic writing for film in a relaxed and focused atmosphere. The course provides an overview of screenplay development from the first idea to story premise, treatment, step outline, synopsis, story concept, dramatic structure, character development, building and turning scenes and the ultimate
meaning of story.

Special attention is given to basic areas of script development through lecture, film clips and examples provided from the work of the class. Areas addressed include:

  • How your plot supports the story through the choice and arrangement of events, and use of compelling dramatic action and subtext to drive the story forward.
  • How character is developed primarily through the principles of choice and conflict.
  • How text serves you best by being implicit, focused and provocative.

Screenwriting Essentials offers writers an overall look at what Hollywood expects in a finished screenplay. The program includes over 18 hours of instruction, all materials, and the breakdown of two feature length films.

© 2006 The PlayCrafters Group


This course guides the writer through the important first steps of dramatic story creation. Each writer will formulate a viable Story Premise and from that, create a Story Treatment, Step Outline and Story Concept: all vitally important elements to the development of any screenplay.

The goal is to develop a 30-minute film script, detailing plot points and story arc, character goals and character arcs and meaning. By the end of the course, participants will have created a first draft of an actual 30-minute screenplay.

The workshop features extensive homework assignments throughout the entire course. Between classes, each participant will be encouraged to meet with a partner to provide feedback on structure and character development, logic and dramatic engine regarding each element and phase of their story’s development.

Each writer should come to the first class with several ideas they’d like to develop into a screenplay. Premises will be accepted according to which offers the most compelling advantages in terms of dramatic and character development.

© 2006 The PlayCrafters Group


Getting off to a strong start in your screenplay is essential in an industry that typically throws away scripts after reading or skimming only the first few pages. ACT I: SETTING UP YOUR STORY is designed to help film writers avoid that painful scenario by helping them identify and focus on what they are trying to accomplish in their stories, while staying true to the established principles of dramatic storytelling and script development.

This advanced course requires participants to bring to the first class a completed outline as well as the first act of their screenplay. Over the weeks ahead, we will examine each first act according to the essentials of dramatic writing, including structure, character development and text/subtext. Each act will be evaluated for opening images, genre, inciting incident, dramatic situation, point of engagement, character needs/wants/goals, major obstacles, emotional stakes and dramatic question. Formatting will also be critiqued through actual examples developed in class.

Homework includes preparation of coverage reports on the first acts of each member in class.

Halfway through the course, all students will have the opportunity to re-write their first act and to present it once again to the class. In other words, each first act will be presented twice; as a first draft and as a rewrite.

The course is presented through lecture, film clips and examples from within the class. The ultimate goal is for students to be able to apply what they’ve learned in their first act to the rest of their screenplay. as well as offering them an inside look at what Hollywood expects in a finished script.

© 2006 The PlayCrafters Group


Batter up! Whether we know it or not, all of us have pitched our entire lives. The purpose of this workshop is to help writers recognize those natural skills and apply them in a conscious and professionally viable way. This is an important step in the second phase of a script’s life because it’s not enough to write the script – you must learn how to sell it.

Pitching: Five Minutes to Fame is a professional workshop presented for advanced students. The course is designed to help writers improve their pitching skills by zeroing in on what studio executives need to know about their script. What they essentially want to hear is what the story is about; not every plot detail. The immediate goal is to grab their attention in such a way that it entices them into reading your script. To do this, really knowing what your script is about will prove just as important as the passion you show for it.

In the class, each participant will start by delivering their five minute pitch directly to Jim, just as one would in an actual pitch fest. The class will observe; taking notes on what they liked and what they didn’t.

Because it’s often hard to know how you’re coming across when pitching, all presenters will be videotaped. After each presentation have been made, we will gather as a class to review and break down the various components behind a
successful pitch and what it is that listeners need to hear from you.

After the group meets, Jim will meet with each writer to review their tape and decide what improvements might still be made. Between the end of the workshop and the following session, the homework assignment will be to apply the skills learned in class to their pitch – focusing and refining it for another go-round the next weekend.

During the final session, writers will again be taped and privately reviewed so that they can see for themselves the improvements made in their presentation. Pitches can almost always get better and that’s the purpose for this workshop – to make them the best they can be.

There is no other workshop that I know of that so quickly zeros in on what an individual writer needs to present their work in both a passionate and professional way.


- Those registered must have completed one screenplay that they are passionate about and/or a treatment that they feel they will be able to pitch in five minutes or less.

© 2006 The PlayCrafters Group