Learning how to properly write a screenplay can be a challenge. Luckily, you don’t have to go at it alone. Film school and other screenplay classes are always an option but they can be expensive, time-consuming, and of questionable quality. There are plenty of educational resources to learn screenwriting online but they are not all created equal. We’ve parsed through dozens of online script writing classes to deliver you the cream of the crop. Some of these are beginner screenwriting classes while others are for more intermediate and advanced writers. A couple of these programs are free screenwriting classes while others cost money. These are the best online screenwriting courses to learn the trade and develop your craft.
Online screenwriting class
Free screenwriting resourcesBefore jumping into our list of recommended script writing classes, there is plenty of screenwriting information to be gleaned from our various educational and instructional writing posts. Learn how to format a screenplay, tips on writing better dialogue, and catch up on all the industry lingo with our guide to screenwriting terminology.
And, of course, when you’re ready to jump into your next screenplay, you can write it with StudioBinder’s screenwriting software. Here's a preview that highlights the benefits and features of using an app dedicated to screenwriting.
There is much to be learned by reading great screenplays, and our script library is packed with excellent reads. You might also find it helpful to follow along with our screenplay analysis for films like The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men or The Dark Knight (download the full script below).
Online screenwriting course
This introductory set of screenplay classes is an online program offered through the University of East Anglia, which is known for establishing the first creative writing programs in the UK. Don’t worry, you don’t need any sort of enrollment in the university, and the program is 100% free.
This online screenwriting class consists of video lessons that focus primarily on writing and storytelling theory but are a bit light on the practical side of screenwriting. The videos themselves can be a bit dry at times, but the information is always solid and provides a good primer for further screenwriting education.
This is a pretty hefty offering for a free course as well, clocking in at about 6 hours. The class is recommended to be taken over the course of two weeks with a few substantial lessons each week.
Screenwriting classes online
This is essentially a screenwriting 101 course that walks you through the basics. The class is offered through the Udemy learning platform and consists of a mix of video lessons and written articles.
You can make it through the full course in about three hours, and at the end, you’ll have a solid grasp of the basics of screenwriting.
The instructor is knowledgeable and encouraging, and the information is doled out at a good pace for beginners. Anyone who already has a thorough understanding of screenwriting basics should opt for one of the more advanced courses in this list instead, but newer screenwriters will find plenty of worthwhile information in these lessons.
Screenplay writing classes online
Writing the Short is a program offered by John Warren through his Young Screenwriters brand. This is one of the best free screenwriting courses for absolute beginners. If you already have a degree of screenwriting knowhow, then this course might not provide too much information, otherwise, this is a great place to start.
John Warren is a professor in the NYU film program but he offers this Young Screenwriters course online for free. The program is designed to be taken over the course of five weeks, at the end of which you will have a short film script that is ready to shoot.
Screenwriting classes online
Unlike other entries on this list, this course is not actually presented by the Masterclass brand. Instead, it’s hosted on Skillshare and led by screenwriter and copywriter Brian Birmingham. The skill level for this class is a slight step up from the previous entries on this list.
This guide to screenwriting is simple enough for beginners to follow along with but also offers enough depth for more experienced, intermediate writers to still find something worthwhile.
This class covers the basics, then delves a bit deeper. Something you get more of with this class than the previous entries is an emphasis on storytelling and theory aside from the rigid formatting and structure lessons offered in the other entries. Beginner and intermediate writers can expect to sharpen their storytelling skills with this course.
Screenplay writing classes online
This is a great online writing course produced by the trustworthy and reliable Masterclass brand. There is however one factor holding this class back from tying for the number one spot: it’s aimed specifically at writing for television. If your goal is to write films, there are more directly tailored feature-film writing courses out there, but you will still find plenty of applicable advice in this course if you know how to parse information between the two mediums.
Shonda Rhimes is the creator of series like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and Private Practice. If you are interested in writing for television, then Shonda Rhimes makes for just about the best teacher you’re likely to find. Masterclass courses are always slickly produced and broken into digestible video lessons. The full course runs just short of 6.5 hours in total.
Best online screenwriting classes
The best online course for serious screenwriters is Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting Masterclass. Just like the Shonda Rhimes course, this program was also produced by the Masterclass brand, which also brings a high level of professionalism and quality.
Sorkin provides wisdom for film writing as well as writing for television, so you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of both mediums. You would be hard-pressed to find a more reputable instructor than the great Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and The Social Network. Check our our Social Network script breakdown to learn more about Sorkin’s writing style.
Be warned, this is not a class for absolute beginners. The class assumes you already have an understanding of proper script formatting and the basics of storytelling. If you are just starting out with your first screenplay, you may want to opt for one of the other classes on this list. But if you’ve already gotten a script or two under your belt and are looking to take your screenwriting to the next level, Sorkin makes for a great mentor.
Start writing your script today
After everything you'll learn in your next screenwriting class, you'll primed and ready to tackle that script idea you've had burning in your mind. Your next step is start writing and StudioBinder's free screenwriting software is ready to help. Follow the link to get started.