Want to be a screenwriter? Check out these five things to consider when picking which screenwriting school is best for you.
By Kennedy Randall
Say you have a passion for writing or a natural way with words. Maybe you are a film buff and want to see your imagination play out from the page to the screen. Choosing the right screenwriting school may not only help you tune up your writing skills, but teach you a handful of other skills that can aid your professional growth.
During screenwriting school, you will develop your storytelling skills, understand the inner workings of the film industry, and make connections that will help your personal and professional goals. Here are five things to consider when choosing what screenwriting school will be the best fit for you.
Instruction During Screenwriting School
One of the most important things about any education is your instructors’ ability to make a creative impact on you. There are some online, prerecorded screenwriting workshops you could check out if you wanted to dip your feet in.
Having the opportunity to learn storytelling skills directly from an industry professional in screenwriting school is invaluable. You will learn how to screen write side by side with your teacher. This teaches the accountability needed to create great first drafts on time. With face to face instruction, you get carefully crafted workshops and exercises, as well as always having a professional to turn to with questions or ask for creative advice.
You can always look up the teachers on IMDB or Linkedin while researching programs. Researching to see if they have industry connections and experience that will help you with your goals is always a good idea. Having an experienced instructor give you feedback and constructive criticism will undoubtably make you a better writer.
Variety of Skills Learned
Who you are learning from matters. Your instructors are the ones who know the field, therefore, they know what makes a successful portfolio or pitch. When picking your screenwriting school, make sure that you will learn a variety of skills. Some basic online screenwriting programs may only teach you writing, only one out of many important aspects of becoming a professional screenwriter.
For example, learning how to pitch your idea is a valuable skill that may not be found on an online screen-writing school. Your ability to pitch your great idea is what is going to bring home the money in the long run.
In screenwriting school, you also get the opportunity to network with other top industry screenwriters. Teachers often bring guest lectures from their professional network to chat with students. Meeting more professional screenwriters means learning more skills from talented individuals. In an online program, you miss this opportunity to network and learn from various people in the field.
Connecting With Peers
During screenwriting school, your peers become your team and your instructors are your mentors. With an online program, you may not even get to meet anyone. This may be good if you are an introvert and enjoy working by yourself.
Working with your peers is an important aspect of developing your talent. Your peers in screenwriting school allow you to grow as an artist. Sharing your work with each other and providing feedback is great way to learn more. This peer editing process gives you a unique opportunity to meet students that you could befriend. They could even become future co-workers or business partners!
When choosing your program, look for team based exercises, as they allow you to connect with your peers. These kinds of exercises are seen throughout in-person screenwriting school, giving you an opportunity to connect with students throughout the writing process. These relationships you build will help propel you into strong creative and professional relationships.
Building Your Portfolio
Having a portfolio to show future business ventures after you finish your program is essential. Some programs will focus solely on getting one script written from start to finish. This can result in a very strong end product that you can take to a producer. This is fast and efficient, but in reality, screenwriting does not finish on the last page of the script.
Some screenwriting schools however, will leave you with a diverse portfolio containing many different projects including TV pilots, feature screenplays, and short film scripts. Learning the fundamentals of all aspects screenwriting prepares you to work in many different companies and jobs.
Though you don’t need film school to get your script picked up, having a variety within your writing samples is useful. As well, learning how to multitask by writing multiple scripts at once is a great skill to have later on in your career. Ending your screenwriting course with a diverse body of work opens up your career to multiple opportunities.
If you already have a passion for writing, you may be surprised about the paths you can take within screenwriting. In any screenwriting school, you will be learning the most fundamental skill of all, storytelling. This not only opens up your writing opportunities in the film industry, but the skills you learn can be applied to other industries like journalism, advertising, and literary writing. By learning professional screenwriting skills your ability to tell a captivating story will set yourself up for success.
Networking is also a great way to see what opportunities are out there. You can always do this through platforms like Linkedin, but your teachers are a great resource for networking. They can share opportunities they may have heard about from their professional circle or even pass along your name to other industries. As well, a good tip would be looking at the ‘student success’ page on film school’s websites. You can often see what films or companies their students worked on after graduating from school. This can give you an idea of where your career and education take you.
Kennedy Randall is a Content Writer for InFocus Film School