Screenwriters Online "Master Class"



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  • Screenwriters Online "Master Class"

    I keep getting these emails from Screenwriters Online about their online screenwriting seminars ("Master Class"). I wondered if anyone had ever tried one and found it useful. They are generally 2-night deals, with a successful screenwriter one night and a agent or production exec the following night (usually a promise of allowing coded queries from participants to said agent/exec). They look potentially interesting, though a little pricey ($80 each). I couldn't find any info about them here on the boards.

  • #2


    • #3
      screenwriters online

      They are now offering the 3 night classes again. This week they offered one with a writer from Shrek, Susan Kouguell analyzed Memento, and they had agents from the Writers and Artists Agency. The classes are really good. The 3 night classes are $98, which is getting pricey for me, personally. But a lot of my "acquaintences" from the classes are getting requests for their screenplays from places like the William Morris Agency. Gersh Agency, and Caren Bohrman. They also have prod.cos.

      They offered a great class this summer called STORY and SCREENPLAY. Susan Kouguell was the instructor, and it was wonderful. We hammered out details of our stories, then wrote the screenplays with feedback after each act.

      Although it's expensive, I recommend it. It's as good or better as a college class.
      The smaller master classes are fun, but I totally recommend their writing classes.
      I would have more to say about the master classes, but I haven't yet heard "yes" or "no" from a query letter... still sitting on the mailbox.


      • #4
        screenwriter's online?

        Do they have a site/URL?


        • #5

          Their website is


          • #6

            Actually their website is

            I was a little disappointed in the query letter class. We did get a pretty good lecture on what constitutes a good query, but the bulk of the workshop involved them posting our loglines and synopsis, and the rest of the class making up new loglines, few of which were any better than the original. And the instructor never said why one was better than the other, or gave any real feedback. (I personally feel she was really too nice to people, and could have been more honest about the weaknesses in some of them.) I don't see how one can learn from reading a bunch of bad loglines.

            On the other hand, the masterclasses can be very enlightening. If you have a particular burning question about the biz, you can get an answer from a real player. And being allowed to query these people is really fantastic. Yes, the price is kind of high, but how else are you going to get your query into the hands of an actual producer or agent--especially the ones who don't accept queries on a regular basis??

            I agree, your money would best be spent by researching the masterclass teacher ahead of time to know whether they might truly be interested in your script.

            One other thing about the summer workshop: they chose five scripts from the workshop and gave them to major studio types to be read. That's not shabby!!!


            • #7
              It's well worth the money if the speakers (pros) are good. I took only one or two of the classes about a year ago because it was pretty pricey but I learned so much.

              I asked Ron Bass about four questions that helped me immensely (hear Wowser groan). Then an exec at Paramount, the producer speaker, was exactly my genre, and humor, and she asked for my script after liking my coded query.

              So pick and choose these, and I'm not sure if they're as informal now as they were, but several of them stayed late and were very honest and not "on." I didn't take the query class as I had a killer query at the time.

              The thing I would have done differently though is to polish my spec BEFORE I took the class. I had a big big name ask for a script that wasn't close to ready. She took the time to give me two pages of feedback, loved parts and told me basic things I'd know now, but at the time I was positively thrilled to have been read at Paramount. Most of the guests really do make an effort to ask for scripts, if only to be paid to return, but I was very impressed with this Production Exec, as she helped me more than anyone had at the time.

              And when I came on this board long ago, I could say I'd chatted with Ron Bass. Wowser still gives me crap about that. My hero...


              • #8
                Screenwriters On line, hooked and sinking

                The biggest scams in Hollywood are taking advantage of the thousands of wannabee screenwriters. Just give someone $100 to read your script, pay someone else $90 for advice in the form of a 'class', then pay $30-$50 to a 'contest manager' who will give you 'exposure' and tell you that you are a finalist.

                Wise up people. Screenwriters are fodder for every con artist because they're never honest enough with themselves to admit they'll never win the lottery.


                • #9
                  SOL contest

                  Their Story/Screenplay Imagine Entertainment contest was judged by Mitchell Burgess, the executive producer of the Sopranos. The top 5 went on to be read by a VP at Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment, and a William Morris agent is also reading all the top 5 screenplays. I wouldn't call that a scam.


                  • #10
                    On line, hooked and sinking

                    So you're the producer who gets to read the contest winner's script. Do you now risk millions, your reputation and livelihood on a newbie or choose from the hundreds of proven writers who know how to make money? Oh, wait. Your script is uniquely clever, well-written and inspirational. Guess again and think about where your plot came from.


                    • #11
                      Re: On line, hooked and sinking


                      I agree, most are scams or at the very least, useless as far as promoting your work. However, some out there are quite beneficial at getting you exposure to industry pros. A friend of mine was one of the five who won a reading with Imagine Entertainment. That reading led to a meeting which has now led to several more. That is a fact, not a scam. Believe it or not, some execs and other industry pros are generous and do take the time to lend their expertise to panels, contest readings and the like - an executive does not waste millions, his reputation and livelihood just by reading or judging contest scripts.

                      Several things could come out of being read by an exec/ producer or from winning a reputable contest - getting an agent, a manager, a meeting - they might pass on your script, but think you're perfect for a writing asignment, and just the simple, highly valuable contacts you could make, any of these things can help get you in the door.

                      The one thing anyone must do when thinking about paying for anything is RESEARCH, what are the benefits, the payoff, is it worth the money? And if you, as the writer, think it is, then go for it. Just be wise in your decisions.


                      • #12

                        I started out by entering screenwriting contests, won a few, got my agent through those experiences, and now am getting paid to write a feature film.

                        I had no connections in the business prior to my contest wins, and no idea how to get them.

                        Why so bitter, 87?


                        • #13
                          On line, hooked and sinking

                          And these are the stories that keep people entering the lottery and returning to Las Vegas. But, you're right about the research, Hildie. Once you become disillusioned with 'shortcuts', take a job as a reader (there are plenty available), then add it to your resume and get a job as an assistant in the script department of a studio. In a few years, opportunities will begin to open up.


                          • #14
                            I've never bought a lottery ticket in my life.

                            If you're entering a well known, respected competition, the lottery comparison is completely inaccurate (unless of course, you're talking about Project Greenlight )

                            These contests are judged by experienced readers and industry professionals. No one wins the Nicholl or the Austin by luck, they win by having talent and a unique voice.


                            • #15
                              Re: I've never bought a lottery ticket in my life.


                              This year I made the top ten percent In Austin, was among the top twenty scripts in Red Inkworks and am currently a finalist in the Hollywood Symposium Competition. I am also a past Chesterfield semi-finalist. This has led to many connections and finally a referral which has gained me a meeting next month in LA. I would not consider this a "short cut" as you put it, nor would I consider myself simply lucky - as if it's a lottery. I have worked very hard for eight years writing and learning this craft. I have earned the little success that I claim. Being a reader or winning in a contest - what does it matter how you get there as long as you do?

                              qparrish - thanks! (my password isn't working, so I couldn't PM you back).