SHOULD I TAKE A SCREENWRITING CLASS?
With so many resources at your disposal it can be difficult to decide what the best way is to learn the craft of screenwriting. You can read books, take a class in person, take an online webinar or simply scour the internet for free resources. There are a ton of options and that’s a beautiful thing.
The internet has allowed the world to come closer together, making resources readily available to those looking to learn. Before, you had to go to film school to educate yourself but that’s no longer the case. So, what is the best way to learn this art? Where are you going to get the best bang for your buck?
I first learned the art form by just sitting down and writing. I didn’t read a book, I didn’t research the internet, I didn’t know anything about formatting. I just wrote and this was okay for me. I wasn’t sharing my scripts with anyone, other than the cast of the film. I wasn’t trying to be a screenwriter, so I didn’t give a shit what the format looked like. It wasn’t until after my first two films that I decided I needed a little help. That’s when I turned to books.
Before writing Pink Heat, I decided it was time to become a better writer. If I was going to make a feature length movie, I should probably learn how to write an effective, feature length script. So I bought Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting and it opened my eyes to the world of affordable education.
I was able to work 40 hours a week and have a social life, while also utilizing my lunch hours to read books and educate myself on screenwriting. This was amazing. I didn’t have to go to school, I didn’t have to meet with a class. I could get an amazing education and I could get it for under $30. I love books.
I will always be a huge advocate of books. Someone literally took the knowledge from their head and put it into a manual for you to devour. It’s simple, it’s affordable, you don’t have to go to a classroom and you don’t need an internet connection. Hell, you can sit on the beach, enjoying the ocean while simultaneously learning something new. It’s an amazing sense of freedom but that freedom does come with a caveat. You must be self driven and motivated to learn on your own. You have to be willing to push yourself, to put in the time. If you aren’t disciplined enough, perhaps a classroom is a better option for you.
After reading several books on screenwriting, I decided to venture out and take a screenwriting class. I wanted to get that personal attention one gets from a classroom setting. I wanted to take my craft to the next level. Hell, if a book costs $30 and I got a great education from that, then I should REALLY benefit from a $400 screenwriting class, right?
Not for me. In this case, I didn’t get more bang for my buck. The reason a class costs so much more is because you’re buying the educators time. They sit for 20 hours(over 10 weeks), walking a class of students through the process, working on exercises and answering questions. The content is the same education you get from a book but with books, you no longer pay for the educators time.
I’m not saying a screenwriting class is a waste of time and money. I’m stating that I didn’t see any benefit for ME. I didn’t gain anything more from the class than I did the books I read previously. This might not be the case for YOU. You might prefer a classroom experience. It might be what you need.
Hate both these methods of education? Neither is speaking to you? Worry not friend! Let’s take a look at webinars.
This might very well be the sweet spot. You don’t have to be too self driven to sit for hours reading and digesting a book. You also don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to sit in a classroom for several weeks. You can take a webinar, learn the craft affordably and from the comfort of your own home.
The reason I think webinars are one of the best options is because you can get the information directly from the educator and you can get it quickly. It also comes with a lower price because you no longer have to pay for the educators time. They already put the time in and can reach a wider audience than 10 people in a classroom, so they can offer the class at a lower price. Like I said, it might be the sweet spot.
At the end of the day, no matter which path you choose, education is the key to progression. But so is action. You can get the best education in the world but if you don’t put it into practice, it’s all for not. Without practice, you will not learn, you will not fail and you will certainly not grow. So, pick a method of education that works best for you, dive in and get to work. Get some knowledge and then get writing.