How to turn your dreams into a killer script
A five-week, online crash course in the basic skills of writing like a professional
Of course Estelle loved watching movies. “Don’t we all?” she said. “The drama, the romance, the excitement?” She’d always wanted to try her hand at turning the stories that buzzed in her imagination into screenplays – but simply didn’t know how.
“I even bought a fat book on film structure – but almost immediately I was way out of my depth.”
She enrolled on the Crash Course. Five weeks later she had learned the technical skills necessary to create her characters and plan story – and now she’s all set to realise her dream. “I know now I can do it,” she told us triumphantly.
What benefits will the course give you?
The course will lay a foundation of understanding of the range of key skills you need to write a script.
It will excite you about the infinite possibilities of writing for the screen.
It will deepen your understanding of and appreciation for film and television drama by revealing the secrets that attend the birth of tv and film drama.
If you’re already a television professional, then it’ll give you insight into the challenges and potential of creative screenwriting.
(And it’ll be a whole lot of fun into the bargain.)
How the Crash Course works
The course consists of ten modules presented over five weeks. Each module contains notes, links to film and television clips, and online script resources.
We’ll post a module every Monday and Thursday. Assignments are due on Tuesday and Saturday evenings.
Wednesdays and Sundays are marking days.
Each module ends with an assignment to which we will give honest and constructive feedback.
You’ll be given online access to the assignments – and our feedback – of your fellow writers.
We will hold three Zoom sessions with you all to discuss issues that have arisen and answer questions.
MODULE ONE: What Exactly is a Screenplay?
What are the key differences between writing for the page and writing for the screen and the technical and dramatic differences between the different formats: movies, dramatic tv series, and soap operas. We consider what’s involved in adapting stories written for the page, for the screen and what a script looks like – and why.
MODULE TWO: The Killer Opening Scene
It’s the duty of the screen- or scriptwriter to capture the attention of the viewer in the opening scene – whether it’s a blockbuster super-hero movie, or the teaser opening of an episode of a soap.
MODULE THREE: Kick-Start Your Story
Stories only come alive when our characters are confronted with a challenge of some sort. But it all begins with The Inciting Incident.
MODULE FOUR: Creating Great Characters
Great stories are wasted on two-dimensional characters. Every story deserves a compelling and interesting protagonist who wants something – and a matching and equally compelling antagonist who wants to prevent her from getting it.
MODULES FIVE: Scenes
Scenes are the building blocks of any script. Whether they’re provocative, shocking, thoughtful or simply dramatically satisfying, they must maintain the momentum of the story you’re telling.
MODULE SEVEN: Visual Writing
Film and television are visual mediums, so it’s essential to learn how to write visually. We explore the techniques of writing a scene without dialogue, using the power of the image to tell the story and reveal character.
MODULE SIX: Dialogue
Dialogue plays an essential role in the unfolding of the story, and the presentation of character. Dialogue isn’t quite speech: it’s clearer, less repetitive and richer. But it has to sound like real dialogue. We’ll show you ways in which to achieve these apparently mutually exclusive objectives.
MODULE EIGHT: Tension and Suspense
Tension and Suspense in stories is created when questions are asked – and the answers are delayed. In film, foreshadowing is used quite deliberately to anticipate dramatic action, to “set the scene” for drama to come.
MODULE NINE: Upping the Stakes
Writers keep their audiences glued to the screen by constantly and incrementally upping the stakes. But the stakes are doubled and quadrupled by the internal contradictions within characters. Competing loyalties constantly push characters to and beyond their limits.
MODULE TEN: The Hero’s Journey
In this final module we reveal the secret magic of structure, using the popular method known as The Hero’s Journey.
I learnt a huge amount about screenwriting and was surprised ( and delighted) about how much I learnt about story telling… Mostly importantly for me, Richard and Michele presented even the toughest feedback with kindness and in the spirit of improvement.
The course came at a good time in my stage of life (recently retired, lockdown) which opened up the opportunity to explore new creative avenues and on-line learning generally… I enjoyed the prompt feedback as well as the efficient backroom administration of the course including the ready technical help when I needed it.
This has been a whirlwind trip through screenwriting, and I really appreciate the dedication and attention you and Richard have paid to us all.
Maryanne de Villiers
Who are your course designers and facilitators?
Michéle Rowe is a scriptwriter who has worked primarily as a head writer and story originator for television and film. Projects Michéle has originated, written or directed have been nominated for or won various awards, including an Oscar documentary and an International Emmy nomination. At present she works as a script editor, teaches screenwriting and is completing her third novel for Penguin. She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town.
Richard Beynon is a story consultant and an award-winning film and television scriptwriter with a long and accomplished career in the industry. He has written for – or headed the storytelling teams of – many of country’s most popular soaps, dramas and comedies. These include S’gudi snaysi, Going Up, Soul City, Isidingo, Scandal, Rhythm City and Isibaya.
A former journalist for the Rand Daily Mail, he has conceived, shaped and written scores of documentaries. He has lectured on writing for film and television at Wits.
With Michéle and Richard’s many decades of professional writing, film industry and teaching experience you’ll be in very capable hands.
Money back guarantee
We’ve seen our students get results time and time again so we’re proud to stand behind our courses. But your satisfaction is important to us, which is why we offer a Seven day refund period for our Crash Course in Screenwriting. To be eligible for a refund, you must complete the first three modules together with the assignments and submit these to us with your refund request.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can screenwriting be taught?
Like all the creative arts, screenwriting calls on a palette of skills each of which can be taught, and each of which improves with practice. We’ve broken down the process of writing scenes, developing characters, and so on into a series of lessons that are easily grasped.
If I wanted to write a screenplay, would this course help me?
The course will give you the technical skills you need, it will give you a deep understanding of scenes and how they are written, and it will give you an introduction to the subject of screenplay structure. Writing screenplays is not easy. The screenplay for almost every movie you’ve ever seen has been written, revised, rewritten, torn apart, and re-rewritten muiltiple times before the director gets to work on it. But without the basic skills, and the confidence that having them will give you, you can’t hope to get on the ladder at all!
What are the chances of me ever having a screenplay produced?
Not great, admittedly – but the industry is full of stories of writers who came out of nowhere with a great story and a burning ambition to tell it on the screen. Your passion will drive the answer to this question. And even if your first (or second, or third) screenplay is not produced, you will have a helluva lot of fun writing them.
Will it help me to read film scripts before I start the course?
Absolutely it will. It’ll attune you to the sort of writing that screenplays demand. It’ll attune you to the idea of writing visually. And it’ll help you develop your own unique writing voice.