Illinoisans! Have you recently found yourself googling “screenwriting classes near me” with meh results? Well, don’t sweat it! Today I’ve compiled a list of the best screenwriting classes in Illinois, along with some information about why each of these options deserves your attention. Know of other screenwriting courses or resources in the state of Illinois? Feel free to drop the information in the comments, and we will update this post.
Chicago Screenwriters Network
Chicago Screenwriters Network (CSN) is a nonprofit organization assembled by writers for writers, that aims to provide educational programming, develop access and opportunities for writers, and teach the realities of the film industry. CSN hold monthly events to educate and elevate local screenwriters such as writers’ workshops, table reads, a script to screen program, as well as guest speakers. Events range from $10-$15, but if you join CSN ($75 per year, or $50 for students), you get access to monthly events, an annual cocktail party, submission to table reads, and more included in the yearly price. Solely for the network of writers that you’ll meet and the access you’ll receive, the fee seems worth it. Check here to see what sort of event offerings they have coming up soon.
Chicago Filmmakers is a nonprofit that offers online classes (usually in the $200-$300 USD range for weeks-long courses) to help foster the creation, appreciation, and understanding of the film medium. They have an impressive list of instructors, including Jean Young (she’s worked for Spike Lee and has taught at premier institutions including Cornell University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Columbia College), Josh Romero (National Geographic, PBS, Telemundo and more), Emmy-nominated TV producer Joseph R. Lewis, and many more. Some screenwriting classes of note include Writing for the Web Series and Designing Pitch Packages. They also offer workforce training for film and TV production assistants that could help you land your first industry job. Keep an eye out for new course offerings here.
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Chicago offers a unique education, particularly for writers interested in television. Their television program gives students the ability to create portfolios in one of four concentrations; Writing/Producing, Directing/Production, Post-Production/Effects, and Internet and Mobile Media. I don’t know about you, but walking away with a portfolio sounds like the ultimate return on investment! Of course, education like this will cost you: full-time undergraduate students can expect to pay around $27,000 per year at Columbia College. You can also choose to take one of your semesters (15 weeks) in Los Angeles for hands-on industry experience. The school also offers Writing for Television as a minor. Any television writer who goes through Columbia’s program is sure to come out with a thorough knowledge of how the industry works, and a body of work demonstrating their abilities.
Fun fact: Screenwriter Lena Waithe (“Master of None,” “Dear White People,” “Bones,” “The Chi”) is an alumnus of the school’s Television program.
The Second City
While known for its hilarious improvisational troop and famous alumni (Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and more), The Second City also provides an array of educational courses in performance, directing, writing, and production in the film, television, and digital fields. Many courses are offered online, and when it’s safe to do so, The Second City will continue offering in-person classes as well. What’s better? Many of its online courses are live, so you get that in-the-moment education you may have been missing during COVID-19. For years, The Second City writing program was acclaimed for providing comprehensive education on comedy writing. Now revamped, the program aims to delve into how comedy works, exploring joke structure, and how to create comedic characters with specific points of view. Other exciting courses include Writing for People With Anxiety, Writing Sadness Through Humor, and Mastering the Pitch.
The Second City provides a slew of other writing classes, including intensives, labs, and courses specifically on writing for television and film. Check out all of their course offerings here.
I hope this list was helpful for all the Illinois screenwriters out there! Do you have an interesting screenwriting class or class experience to share? Comment below to share your knowledge with the writing community and help us build out this list with the very best screenwriting education opportunities in Illinois. Happy writing!