Monday, April 11, 2016

The truth about screenwriting schools


First of all, my book is finished. We just received the go sign, in other words, Amazon is going to post it in the next few days. We're using the cover a few blogs back as it fits well.

So, I have a few people who send me screenplays, mostly beginners. Of the half-dozen there's probably one or two that might get a shot at selling a screenplay. So what's my idea of the chances that students who take courses for hundreds of dollars.

Not very much.

Because there's so many aspiring writers?

Listen to this; I taught screenwriting at one of the best schools for screenwriters - and that's UCLA. My course was an extension class in which both UCLA students and extension students - almost anybody. 

And they got a really good class, I found that extension classes (meaning they learn at home) was a better method of learning how to write screenplays.


I had a few on-site classes to watch before I started teaching and noticed this; each weekly class was four hours in which the teacher talked about screenwriting and towards the end of that first two hours, some discussion.

Then the second part of the class is where one of the students, or two sometime, would face the other students with his/her screenplay, most likely in early stage. 

Then they would face the other students of whom some of them always liked to tear the poor guy's script apart. 

Nice, huh?

Okay, not everyone, but those who think they're smarter than anyone else. Usually there are arguments and depending on the teacher, and what credits he/she has or had in their life.

Because, mostly they haven't sold a script for a long time.

I've always said that all you need to learn how to ride is Syd Field's book and the better one which is The Art Of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Field's book can show you how to write and Egri's book shows you what to write.

Nothing else.

Well, my book, not as great as those two, but just as good and better than some, gives aspiring writers more of a journey from starting to write to make your way through the business.

And I've had 40 years of experience.

Yeah, sure Jim, you know everything.

I wish I did, I'd be richer. 

There are around 80 screenwriting books of almost every kind of cute name or odd name or God knows what. (I'm still Catholic).

So, one other thing about classes, is that there's always one or two or more who think they know much better than anyone else in class, usually called bullies or a-holes. They're often teacher's pets and look down on 90% of the others in the room.

And that's because the others aren't as loud, everybody knows that. You don't want to argue with those people. 

I used to be one of the quiet ones, mostly because I stammer a bit. But after writing a lot of screenplays that got sold, I can become one of the loud ones, usually when I hear some of those bullies.

By the way, I've never taken a screenwriting class, mostly because there wasn't a lot of screenwriting classes in the mid 70's. I learned the hard way.

By writing.

Of course, I also worked as a writer/producer for three TV stations, making commercials and documentaries.

So Jim, how did you teach?

That's my next blog, probably Thursday or Friday. I'm in a mood to write so the sooner the better.

So hang along, let's see what we can find.

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