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Course Title: Your Screenwriting Career
Instructor: Skip Press
Curriculum: 24 units, plus Syllabus and Final Exam
Time Required: 8 weeks
Textbooks: None
Prerequisites: None. All students may enroll in this class
CEU Eligibility: Students who pass an exam will earn 2 CEUs
Course Fee: $48.00
Start Date: No waiting...Enroll now and start learning today!
What You Will Learn in This Course

This very thorough course will give aspiring screenwriters an insider view of the business of screenwriting, as well as an overview of industry trends, historical perspectives, and a first-hand knowledge of the structure of a screenplay. Participants will learn how to successfully write for this glamorous and lucractive market. Veteran screenwriter and multi-title author Skip Press has been teaching this popular course to thousands of writers over the past twenty years. Topics covered in the course include:

The History of Storytelling - Too many aspiring screenwriters don't know the influences from which many feature films are drawn—some of those influences are ages old! After this lesson, you'll understand the full arc of Western storytelling, from the ancients to the beginning of film.

The Life of Hollywood - Great scenes in today's Hollywood movies are often reworked from classic earlier films. Starting with the early screenwriters known as scenarists you'll learn how the classic Hollywood movie formula came to be. In this lesson, we'll take a close look at filmmaking's beginnings, not only in the United States, but in France and Russia as well.

The Evolution of Screenwriting - When television became prominent, people thought the film business would die. The same was said about the Internet's impact on film and TV. In this lesson, you'll learn about the changes that new media have brought to screenwriting over the years, and we'll discuss how to use it all to your advantage as a screenwriter today.

Mining the World to Find Your Heart - Ultimately, great filmmakers create the films they truly want to see on screen. Since you'll write your best screenplays from the ideas you're passionate about, today we'll cover how to find the best ideas to help you create a marketable screenplay that could jumpstart your career.

Superstar Screenplay Structure - The greatest buildings are born from a detailed blueprint. The same is true of great films, so today you'll create your screenplay blueprint. A screenplay is very different from some forms of writing—a workable screenplay structure is a must! From a premise to an outline to the mechanics of successful screenplays, this lesson will provide you with an array of tools to help you build your dream.

Inside the Hero's Heart - People who love movies often love them because of great protagonists, but the best heroes and heroines don't appear by accident. In this lesson, you'll discover proven methods of developing main characters that will thrill everyone, from script readers to movie audiences.

Inside the Villain's Brain - Every great bad guy is the hero of his own movie. That's just one example of the tips you'll gain from this lesson, which will help you create a wonderfully terrible villain that will help your story conflict seem built-in and logical.

Organizing Your World with 3x5 Cards - Successful screenwriters use a logical method to organize both their movies and their lives so they can write in peace. You'll learn how to do just that in this lesson. You'll also discover the secrets of the all-important first 10 pages, and how to keep working your script toward perfection.

Structure Outside the Lines - There are many theories about screenplay construction, but some of them are worn-out or a waste of time. In this step-by-step screenplay creation lesson, you'll discover the Shaping Force, an aspect of all successful movies. This knowledge will allow you to be as creative as possible without restricting your imagination like some methods inevitably do.

Making the Perfect Screenplay Better - In this lesson, I'll show you how to read your screenplay with a Hollywood reader's eye so that you can see your screenplay as it will be viewed by a Hollywood production company. Thus equipped, you'll be able to rewrite your screenplay to greatly enhance your chances of a sale.

Reading, Polishing and Reality - Once you've written your screenplay, it's like a new baby and you'll likely be overly protective of it. That's only natural, so in this lesson I'll show you how to get past such emotions and keep yourself progressing toward a potential screenwriting career.

Getting Your Script Out to People Who Matter - Just as there exists a step-by-step formula for creating a saleable screenplay, there is an easily followed method for marketing your work for maximum results. After this lesson, you'll feel much closer to your dream than you might have thought possible when you began!

About the Author/Instructor

Screenwriter and author Skip Press began teaching at UCLA Extension Writers Program in 1992 with How To Write What You Want & Sell What You Write, which became his first published writing book. The electronic version of this book was a finalist in the first Epic Awards for ebooks in the United States.

Three editions of Skip's Writer's Guide to Hollywood Producers, Directors and Screenwriters' Agents became Hollywood how-to bibles for aspiring screenwriters and put him in touch with hundreds of aspiring writers all over the world.

Skip's Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting was reviewed as best of its kind by the Writers Guild of Canada and translated into Russian and published by Triumph Publishing of Moscow. He quips: "You don't read Russian? Me neither, but they actually paid for the rights."

Giving Hollywood advice led to Skip being asked to create an eCourse on Your Screenwriting Career. He taught the course online for eight years and it was offered through an extension program at 1,500 colleges around the country. Thousands of aspiring writers are graduates of this popular course.

Skip, a single dad, lives in beautiful almost downtown Burbank, California with his teenagers. He says, "I try to write something brilliant every single day, because I'm too dumb to quit and no one will hire me at a real job, anyway. I'm not complaining..."

Lesson Plan
Syllabus: Getting Started (Course Syllabus)

Unit 1: The History of Storytelling

Unit 2: The Outer Story of a Screenplay

Unit 3: The Life of Hollywood

Unit 4: More Hollywood History and Your Road Forward

Unit 5: The Evolution of Screenwriting

Unit 6: The Business of Screenwriting

Unit 7: Mining the World to Find Your Heart

Unit 8: The Magic of an Unforgettable Screenplay

Unit 9: Superstar Screenplay Structure

Unit 10: Format and Structure of a Screenplay

Unit 11: Inside the Hero's Heart

Unit 12: Kids, Heroes and Memorable Characters

Unit 13: Inside the Villain's Brain

Unit 14: A Touch of Nostalgia

Unit 15: Organizing Your World with 3x5 Cards

Unit 16: Outlining a Screenplay

Unit 17: Structure Outside the Lines

Unit 18: A Closer Look at Structure

Unit 19: Making the Perfect Screenplay Better

Unit 20: Rewriting and the Road to Improvement

Unit 21: Reading, Polishing and Reality

Unit 22: Getting Feedback and Making the Best of It

Unit 23: Getting It Out to People Who Matter

Unit 24: Making Connections and Final Review

Unit 25: Final Exam

When you have completed this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles of storytelling that have evolved in the Western world over the ages as well as the basic screenplay structure.
  • Have an understanding of the evolution of Hollywood screenwriting.
  • Know how screenwriting has changed through the development of television and the Internet.
  • Learn how to develop the best possible screenplay for you to personally write.
  • Possess a comprehension of basic screenplay structure.
  • Develop a compelling protagonist for your first screenplay.
  • Create a memorable villain that any actor would love to play.
  • Get your screenwriting life organized, so that you can get your screenplay written.
  • Discover a formula for building a great screenplay.
  • Gain a grasp of tools to use as much as necessary to improve a screenplay.
  • Complete a self-paced assessment of your screenplay that sheds even more light on improving it.
  • Gain an understanding of screenplay marketing that will allow you to approach Hollywood with confidence.
How to Participate in this Course

Enroll and start learning today! All course materials will be available when you start the class, so you don't have to wait for weekly lessons and you can truly learn at your own pace. You don't have to be online at any set time; study at your leisure from the comfort or your home or office.

The course curriculum will include tutorial lessons, suggested readings, and optional homework activities. If you are taking the class for enjoyment or self-enrichment, homework is optional but participation is encouraged. Students who approach online learning as an adventure and actively participate will derive the most benefit and enjoyment from online learning. Homework projects, if completed satisfactorily, will earn Extra Credit points which will be added to your Final Exam score and may increase the overall grade you earn in the course.

The Student Handbook provides useful information on how to make the most of your online learning experience at KSURF's Virtual University. Refer to this guide for helpful tips on how to access classrooms, post homework, and answers to most frequently asked questions.