Screenwriting : Who are these experts and are you getting your money's worth? by Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Who are these experts and are you getting your money's worth?

I recently spoke with my friend about a pricey class they were taking and I read up on the instructor. My friend swears by this guy and so I researched his background and watched one of his videos. I also read my friends before and after screenplay and didn't notice much difference, and their plot line was suffering the same problems the course was supposed to help them eliminate. There are a lot of experts in screenwriting offering classes/seminars and I wonder how many customers are improving their work. Have you recently taken some screenwriting courses and what's been your positive and negative experience?

Craig D Griffiths

I watch Masterclass which is fun and informative. I read scripts.

Everything else seems like a scam.

A mentor may be nice. But someone telling you stuff you could hear on youtube or from a podcast seems wasteful. I know it makes people feel secure having a formula, template, framework or beats to follow. But that is writing, in my opinion.

Dan MaxXx

Years ago I signed up for Scott Myers’ classes on the Coen brothers - how they do what they do. Basically I learned I can’t compete with the Coen’s.

WL Wright

it wasn't formal but it was a lesson, here there and everywhere on the internet including here.

Debbie Croysdale

Years back I took a writing foundation course with Jurgen Wolff. He’s written features and sitcoms and is also writer of Benson. The guy was very organic in his craft and did not give out any bullshit templates. He has free websites also and used to host MAD weekends for writers. (Too long to explain here so check out web). I also recommend Linda Aronson and Scott Myers both of whom I’ve met personally. Writing is an art and like everything else in the world is capitalised on by chancers who pose as experts in the subject. There is no right or wrong way to write other than it has to grab reader by balls and never let them go.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I've heard good things about Masterclass and they offer them at a reasonable price.

Debbie Croysdale

Yeah your right @Phillip There are some writer gems in Masterclass. Dan Brown, David Baldacci my favourites.

Doug Nelson

The answer to your question as to who they are and are you getting your money's worth: They are self proclaimed experts, they're not and no, you're not.

Stephen J Fernbach

I am new to Stage32

Claude Gagne

You're right on the money, CJ Walley. You hit the nail on the head so to speak. And it isn't only in this industry, businesses, all political arenas, religions, sorry to say everything on this planet is corrupt. For me to pursue a correct match for my screenplays it would be like what you're doing with Script Revolution. Throw the minnow (script) out on the fishing line (Script Revolution) and wait for an enthusiastic individual to take the bait. Hope everyone has great bait. Good Luck to all.

Dan MaxXx

there's no fucking conspiracy. It's just hard to make a living writing full-time. Everyone is going to go through years with 0 income writing entertainment. That's why many pro writers, producers & fired Execs teach, consult, write books, blog- do whatever to stay relevant. But there are lots of BS script gurus & websites because it's easier to make money talking about movies than writing movies for a living.

WL Wright

I think at the end of the day it's not about how many or what classes you take or don't take. No matter how good your script might be it's still a long shot. It's always been that and I think it always will be. But with more platforms doing movies I think the odds on the long shot have improved.

Paul Grammatico

I took one class when I was starting out writing screenplays and I was very disappointed. I shouldn't say never but highly improbable that I would ever do it again.

Claude Gagne

I think I've come to a realization, it's all a game of "HAPPENSTANCE". Someone here said, not in these words though, "Writing is your teacher." It's like gambling. The more you gamble, the better you'll get at it. Anyway, it's better than a lot of insignificant things people do with their lives. We live in our little world (bubble) trying to pursue a dream, a fantasy, an ego, popularity! You name it. That's what we love to do! I ask my wife what's your favorite one. She laughs and then says, "I like that one better." I do have perseverance though! I saw a nice little patch of clover near a baseball field. I think I'll go and see if I can find a four-leaf clover. I did it once! We're experiencing a beautiful day. We had a hell of a thunderstorm last night, but today is fresh and pleasant. BTW Stay away from crowds.

Doug Nelson

It's a lot less work and risk to sell picks & shovels to miners than it is to go dig & mine for gold yourself...but then, where would the miners get their picks & shovels. There are a lot of carnival barkers out there. Due Diligence is the word of the day.

Dash Riprock

Or, as I heard someone once say..."Why would you pay for a course on how to make a living as a screenwriter from a guy who's never sold a script in his life."

Richard P. Alvarez

You learn ABOUT writing by taking classes and reading books. You learn TO write - by writing.

Talking with other writers, reading other writers, studying scripts - all very useful. But nothing succeeds like learning from your failures. Keep writing.

Julia Petrisor

I think we have to keep in mind the accountability of the individual taking the course before we slag off the teacher - sure, there might be hacks out there teaching, but with anything, no teacher can promise any results, period. You do the work, or you don't. Your pal without a big difference in his screenplay may have possibly failed to implement part of what he learned. I'd be more wary of a teacher promising a certain result, to be honest.

HB Duran

I used to jump for every screenwriting course and book I came across but after years of minimal improvement, I became very picky. I've had enough of theory and only pay to learn from those who work or have worked extensively in the Hollywood trenches. You just have to write, write, write as Richard P. Alvarez so nicely put - but I've already learned a lot from interacting with working professionals. It's like how you learn a language in high school only to realize no one really talks that formally in real life.

William Martell

Back in the early 90s, one of the first articles I wrote for Script Magazine was called "Your Resume Please" about all of the people and companies and businesses involved in film and screenwriting that did a lot of talking but often didn't know what they were talking about.

That was back in the dark ages before IMDB when lots of people called themselves producers but had never actually produced anything. After I sold a script to a (real) Production Company at Paramount I fired my agent - who had nothing to do with the deal. I had a lawyer do the negotiation and kept the agent out of it. Because he had never sold a script before! He did his best to bungle an earlier deal I had with a production company in Beverly Hills, but I saved it and gave him his 10% of the option money. I should have asked him what he had sold before signing with him...

And if you are ever in doubt, saying "I'm not familiar with your work, can you suggest one of your movies that I can watch?" is a polite way to get some information. But you can usually just IMDB a producer or Google someone and something will pop up.

For someone giving notes or something like that, you usually want someone on the other side of the desk: someone who works in development or as a reader for production companies. Just ask - people are happy to tell you their accomplishments. When they are evasive, run away! You probably want to avoid writers without credits - often there's a reason for no credits. Screenwriting is a commercial endeavor - you are writing something that millions of people worldwide will have to pay to see. Advice from someone who can't sell something might put you on a path to not sell anything.

It's so easy to look someone up or politely ask what movie of theirs you should watch.

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