How do you find the right screenwriting workshop for you? Are they even worth attending? I’m here today to share with you my advice on finding and attending screenwriting workshops based on my personal experience, whether you’re a beginner or an expert or somewhere in between.
What should you be looking for in a screenwriting workshop?
Screenwriting workshops can be a great way to learn, grow, and hone your craft, but they’re not all created equal. Writers should research the workshop they’re interested in, read reviews, and understand what precisely this workshop aims to give you. Consider where you’re at with your writing. Are you looking to generally improve your storytelling, or do you need specific help with structure? Do you just want to network, or do you need help pitching? Compare the skills you’re looking to improve with what – and who – the workshop is providing. Do they line up? You don’t want to spend your money on a workshop and walk away feeling like you didn’t get much out of it, so do your research!
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What are some popular screenwriting workshops?
The following are some popular screenwriting workshops I’ve come across.
- The New York Film Academy 8-Week Screenwriting Workshop
The New York Film Academy offers an intensive eight-week screenwriting workshop that might provide a suitable alternative for a writer looking for a complete and immersive screenwriting education but who isn’t interested in a degree program. This workshop provides a strong foundational focus for screenwriting students with little or no experience. This screenwriting workshop is offered at New York Film Academy chapters in New York, Los Angeles, and Australia.
- On the Page with Pilar Alessandra
Pilar Alessandra is a former story analyst who’s gone on to teach classes and workshops worldwide. I was able to attend one of Pilar’s workshops when she came to a city near me, and I found it to be a very educational and encouraging experience! I mainly wanted to include Pilar on this list because it can be challenging for writers living outside Los Angeles to find workshops near you. So, when someone offers thoughtful and beneficial workshops like Pilar and travels to teach them, it’s worth mentioning!
- Gotham Writers Workshop
The largest adult-education writing school in the United States, Gotham Writers’ Workshop provides a diverse selection of programs for writers of all mediums. When it comes to screenwriting, they offer many different workshops, including a TV writing workshop, a workshop that focuses specifically on character, and a workshop centered on dialogue.
- Robert McKee
Robert McKee is a renowned author, lecturer, and story consultant who’s taught screenwriting workshops worldwide. His workshops are noted for their emphasis on story principles rather than mechanical lessons on structure. Alumni of McKee’s workshops have garnered more than 60 Oscar wins, 200 Emmy wins, and 100 WGA wins. Talk about great testimonials!
- Central Coast Writers Conference
While not as well-known as the workshops noted above, this SoCreate-sponsored workshop has been named “The Best in the West” for writers’ conferences. The Central Coast Writers Conference takes place in San Luis Obispo, California, which is conveniently located between Hollywood and San Francisco. So, if you’re looking for a West Coast getaway, consider this fall event. It is well-attended by screenwriters, and the casual environment makes networking a breeze. No pressure here! Past presenters include Screenwriter Doug Richardson (“Die Hard 2,” “Hostage,” “Bad Boys”), Jeanne Bowerman (Script Magazine Editor-in-Chief), and Disney writer Ricky Roxburgh. It’s an inspiring event, and you can get a taste of it here or sign up for 2020 (which is all virtual this year) here!
How to find screenwriting workshops
Event websites like Eventbrite can be helpful to find screenwriting workshops or classes happening near you. Another great way to find workshops is networking with other writers or through screenwriters’ associations in your area. Making friends with other writers and having them on your social media feeds means you’ll be made aware of many different writing opportunities and activities going on.
Screenwriting workshops can be incredibly beneficial, but writers should also do their research before spending money on attending one. Be sure that the workshop you’re interested in will help you grow in the areas you’re interested in improving in and is aimed at where you are in your screenwriting journey, from beginners to experts. Don’t forget to do your research and happy writing!