Screenwriting is much simpler than we think. That doesn't mean it's easy, but we make it far more complicated than it needs to be.
About Story and Plot
Through these courses, I will give you something I did not have early on in my career: a tangible, repeatable process to outline, write and rewrite.
I am going to teach you how to develop material.
When you're done, you're going to feel liberated. You're going to feel more confident. You're going to be more decisive. And it's going to be far easier for you to find your own voice.
You will also have a process to fall back on that will last the rest of your career.
My focus is on practical skills. You will not get much theory here. We don't talk much about the majesty of cinema or how to be a better critic. What I teach is next steps. How to create, how to figure out what isn't working...
And then how to fix it.
This is a nuts-and-bolts framework from a working writer.
I've written screenplays professionally for 27 years and taught the subject for 21.
You don't kick around this business for this long without plenty of ups and downs. My first seven years were somewhat of a blur. I came screaming out of the gate, making good money and working with A-list actors and directors. But too immature and hungover, I wore out my welcome. Work dried up, and I thought I should probably do the same.
I went back to school full-time and finally got my bachelor's degree in my 30s. It was a wonderful, albeit humbling, experience. Just as I was starting to miss writing for a living, an old script of mine sold, and I was somehow back writing again.
I was determined not to repeat the same mistakes I made in those early years, and so far (*knock on wood*) I haven't.
One thing I have done consistently through this time is teach. It has become one of the great joys of my life. My focus is on practical skills that make a difference. I know they work, because I use them myself, and I've seen students turn pro using these processes.
I have written for, among others, Phoenix Pictures, TNT, MTV Films, Castle Rock Entertainment, ABC, NBC, CBS, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Disney. I've developed screenplays for Matthew McConaughey, Nicolas Cage, Barry Sonnenfeld, Chow-Yun Fat, and others.
WINCHESTER, the film I co-wrote starring Helen Mirren and Sarah Snook, about the infamous Winchester Mystery House, opened nationwide in 2018. My eighth film, THE HAUNTING OF THE QUEEN MARY will release later this year, and DADDY'S GIRL for XYZ Films will shoot in the fall (WGA strike willing.) I recently set up MOST WANTED at Miramax with director Ruben Fleischer (ZOMBIELAND, VENOM) attached.
Some other films I've written include UNSTOPPABLE with Wesley Snipes, PLAYING HOUSE, which I directed, BLACKOUT with Jane Seymour, CRITICAL ASSEMBLY with Katherine Heigl, and a couple of others.
One of my big life goals was to teach screenwriting at my beloved alma mater, The University of Houston.
Which I now do. Go Coogs!
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Never written a word? Never read a screenplay? Your best bet is to start with Basic Screenplay Format. That class is 100% free.
A little more experienced? You might want to check out Mastering Structure first. Mastering Structure will change the way you approach storytelling.
If you want to start with a slightly smaller financial commitment, you can enroll in PERFECTING THE LOGLINE, which is a much more narrow topic but will allow you to get a feel for the pace and style of the classes.