woman holding a screenwriting book preparing to take screenwriting workshops

Top Screenwriting Workshops for Women & Girls Breaking Into Film

12 min read

Breaking into the film industry as a screenwriter can be both exhilarating and challenging, especially for women who often face unique hurdles. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top screenwriting workshops for women working to carve their path in the world of cinema. From addressing gender-specific challenges to honing creative skills, these programs offer invaluable opportunities for aspiring female screenwriters. Read on for the best screenwriting workshops available in the U.S., online, and abroad!

The Need for Gender-Specific Screenwriting Education

Men have long dominated the film industry, with women historically underrepresented in screenwriting and film production roles. According to statistics from various sources, women made up a significantly smaller percentage of screenwriters compared to their male counterparts just a few years ago. This disparity not only reflects systemic issues within the industry but also highlights the need for targeted educational initiatives to empower women in screenwriting.

However, times are changing. Women and Hollywood found that in the span of just ten years, “Women writers increased from just 17.2% of screenwriters in 2010 to 29.6% in 2020.” Of course, this is still far from where we should be, and women in the film industry continue to face unique challenges.

These include but are not limited to gender biases, limited networking opportunities, and unequal access to resources. Screenwriting education can play a crucial role in addressing these challenges by providing a supportive environment, relevant curriculum, and networking opportunities tailored to the needs of aspiring female screenwriters. Screenwriting workshops available at low costs from the New York Film Academy, US Film School, production companies, and more, can help bridge the gap.

Criteria for Selecting Top Screenwriting Classes

Expertise of Instructors

Look for programs led by instructors with a strong background in screenwriting, especially those with experience in successful female screenwriters. Their expertise and insights can provide valuable guidance and mentorship tailored to the unique challenges women may face in the industry.

Curriculum Addressing Unique Challenges 

Ensure that the curriculum of the screenwriting class specifically addresses the unique challenges encountered by women in the film industry. This may include topics such as character development from a female perspective, navigating gender biases in storytelling and understanding the dynamics of female-driven narratives.

Supportive Community and Networking

Choose classes that offer a supportive community of peers and industry connections. Networking opportunities can be instrumental in building relationships, collaborating on projects, and accessing mentorship from established professionals, all of which contribute to career growth and success.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

Consider the accessibility of the program, including whether it offers online options for remote participation. Online classes can provide flexibility for women, balancing other commitments while pursuing their screenwriting aspirations. Additionally, look for programs that offer scholarships or financial assistance to ensure inclusivity and affordability for aspiring female screenwriters from diverse backgrounds.

Our Selection of the Top Screenwriting Classes for Women

The Magic World: A Journey into Global Animation Screenwriting

The Magic World seminar, hosted on Zoom by Writing Workshops, is a dynamic exploration of animation screenwriting led by industry experts Brian and Jason Cleveland. This virtual workshop offers a comprehensive understanding of crafting compelling animated stories, making them accessible to writers from all locations.

The workshop spans two Zoom sessions, scheduled for May 7th and May 9th, 2024, each lasting two hours. Participants will delve into key aspects of animation screenwriting, including defining the “magic world” essential for animated feature screenplays, understanding story structure character development, and navigating the global animated film industry.

Enrollment is open to all aspiring writers, and payment options include Shop Pay, Affirm for equal monthly payments, or paying in full. The cost of the workshop and additional details can be found on the Writing Workshops website.

For women considering a career in screenwriting or screenwriting software, The Magic World offers a unique opportunity to write screenplays and gain insights from seasoned professionals and develop essential skills specific to animated storytelling. 

World Building: Crafting Screenplays You Can Step Into

The World Building workshop, an online course by Screenwriters University available on Reedsy, is a comprehensive journey into creating immersive worlds for screenplays. This self-paced course allows participants to look iReadernto materials and assignments at their convenience, making it accessible to writers with busy schedules.

The workshop looks into the intricacies of crafting captivating worlds within screenplays, a vital aspect across genres. Participants will learn to introduce unique customs, rules, and environments, captivating script readers and enriching storytelling.

Enrollment is open to all writers, including women pursuing screenwriting careers. The course covers research techniques, visual storytelling, setting development, character relationships, dialogue enhancement, and more, providing valuable insights for creating compelling own scripts.

The World Building workshop is priced at $19.99, offering excellent value for in-depth guidance on crafting immersive screenplays. 

An Introduction to Screenwriting on Reedsy

The University of East Anglia offers an enlightening online course titled “An Introduction to Screenwriting,” available on Reedsy. This course provides a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental elements and key concepts behind crafting a professional screenplay.

The workshop is virtual, allowing participants to engage with the course materials at their own pace. It spans a duration of 2 weeks, with an estimated commitment of 3 hours per week. Upon completion, participants will receive a digital certificate.

Enrollment in this course is open to anyone interested in screenwriting -including women pursuing careers in the field. It is particularly beneficial for beginners seeking to understand the basics of screenwriting and for experienced screenwriters aiming to elevate their skills to a professional level. The course covers essential topics such as screen story characteristics, storyline development, character creation, dialogue construction, screenplay formatting, and more, providing a solid foundation for aspiring screenwriters to build upon.

30-Day Outline Your Story from L.A. Writers’ Lab

The 30-Day Outline Your Story workshop, offered by L.A. Writers’ Lab through Coursehorse on Reedsy, is a transformative journey into outlining your story within five weeks. Led by acclaimed instructor and script reader Alan Watt, this workshop is designed to take writers from an initial idea to a solid outline, providing invaluable insights into story structure and character development.

This live-on-Zoom workshop spans from April 3rd to May 1st, 2024, meeting on Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) for five consecutive weeks. The workshop includes lecture sessions, writing exercises, film clips, and live Q&A sessions to address any questions that arise.

Enrollment in this workshop is open to all writers, including women considering a career in screenwriting. Participants will delve into unlocking their story’s core, exploring character dilemmas, protagonist journeys, thematic elements, and the integration of story structure. The workshop offers one-on-one story consultations with Alan Watt, providing personalized guidance to enhance storytelling skills.

Priced at $450.00, the 30-Day Outline Your Story workshop offers an immersive experience for writers seeking to connect with their characters and unlock the narrative potential within their stories. When students complete this course, they walk away with real solutions to narrative problems in their scripts.

Making Your Character Voices Pop

One of several film schools on this list, UCLA Extension offers an enriching course titled “Making Your Character Voices Pop” on Reedsy, which is designed to explore character voice development in screenplays. This course is a valuable opportunity for writers, including women aspiring to pursue a career in screenwriting, to delve into the intricacies of creating vibrant and authentic character voices.

The workshop is conducted remotely, starting at $485.00, with a duration of as few as 6 weeks. Led by instructor Dave Polsky, the course includes prompts and exercises to help writers spend time with their characters outside the story’s world, gaining insights into their voices and reactions in various situations.

Participants will learn screenwriting first to separate characters from the story, witness their interactions in everyday scenarios, identify unique traits that make each character distinct, and enhance their voices for impactful storytelling. The course offers a spring 2024 schedule from April 25th to May 30th, providing a structured and immersive learning experience in character development and voice enhancement for screenplays. Many former industry script readers and writers have either taken or taught this class, which is why it’s high on our list of recommendations.

Summer Institute Screenwriting Program

The Summer Institute Screenwriting program offered by the University of the Arts is a highly immersive three-week intensive designed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge needed for successful screenwriting in film and television. Taking place from July 8th to July 26th, 2024, this program offers three college credits and runs Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with additional evening workshop hours.

Led by award-winning filmmakers and screenwriters, the workshop covers key aspects such as story structure, character development, dialogue writing, and screenplay crafting. The program also emphasizes pitching skills, critical thinking, revision practices through peer review, and the analysis of current narrative strategies. Tuition for the program is $3,400, with additional fees for housing and meals for residential students. Scholarships are available for students demonstrating academic excellence, creative potential, and financial need, making this intensive workshop accessible and beneficial for women considering a career in screenwriting. 

USC School of Cinematic Arts Online Screenwriting Course

The USC School of Cinematic Arts Online offers an intensive screenwriting course titled “Screenwriting: From Ideation to Writing Your First Script.” Led by industry veteran Gabe Sachs, this virtual workshop provides aspiring screenwriters with the fundamentals of storytelling and guidance to draft their first script for a short film. The course format includes recorded lectures, readings, and assignments, totaling approximately 20-25 hours, completed at the student’s pace within a four-week timeframe (with 90-day access for flexibility). 

Eligible students must be at least 14 years old, with tuition set at $1990 plus a $35 application fee. This course presents a valuable opportunity for women considering a career in screenwriting to learn from experienced professionals and hone their craft.

Film Connection Screenwriting Program

The Film Connection Screenwriting Program offers a comprehensive approach to learning the art, craft, and business of screenwriting directly from industry professionals. This intensive 12-week workshop, priced at $3,500, includes live sessions with industry expert Ron Osborn and covers essential aspects like the Three Act Structure, developing your unique voice, mastering screenwriting formats, and perfecting your pitch to Hollywood decision-makers. The program provides one-on-one mentorship with a professional screenwriter, online lectures, real-time feedback, and guidance from concept to completion. 

For women considering a career in screenwriting, this program offers a valuable opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and develop the skills needed to succeed in the industry.

TheAFW Online Screenwriting Master Classes

The AFW Online Screenwriting Master Classes offer a diverse range of courses designed to enhance different aspects of screenwriting. Led by author and award-winning screenwriter Max Adams, these master classes cover topics such as dialogue writing, dynamic writing, and logline development. The classes are available both as live online sessions and video courses, providing flexibility for students. 

The 2024 schedule includes sessions on high-concept writing, mastering story momentum, visual writing, dynamic writing, character writing, and dialogue writing. These courses are ideal for women considering a career in screenwriting, offering expert guidance and practical insights into the craft of screenwriting.

Introduction to Screenwriting by UCLA Extension

UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Screenwriting is a comprehensive crash course covering writing for various mediums like films, TV, web videos, podcasts, and comics. This six-week workshop, taught by instructor Jacqueline Heinze, offers an overview of core script-based storytelling elements and introduces students to different writing formats, including feature films, television specs, pilots, and specialized forms like video game writing and animation. 

The course also looks into the business aspects of writing and includes guest speakers and lectures for deeper insights. With flexible remote sessions and a fee of $485, this workshop is an excellent starting point for women pursuing a career in screenwriting.

PageCraft, Italy Screenwriting Retreat

PageCraft’s Italy Screenwriting Retreat offers an immersive experience for women considering a career in screenwriting. The retreat takes place at Istituto San Lodovico in Orvieto, Italy, from May 26 to June 8, 2024. Led by Heidi Hornbacher, the retreat focuses on developing and refining scripts through workshop-style classes, practical lessons, and one-on-one consultations. 

Participants have the opportunity to work on new ideas or perfect existing projects, receiving guidance on pitch, outline, scenes, and overall script structure. The retreat also includes optional outings to explore the beautiful landscapes, cuisine, and culture of Italy, creating a conducive environment for creative inspiration and productivity.

Story Development Online Course by Bridge 17 Scriptwriters’ Studio

The Story Development Online Course by Bridge 17 Scriptwriters’ Studio, is a six-week virtual workshop designed to hone the skills of aspiring screenwriters, including women seeking a career in screenwriting. The course looks deep into various aspects of storytelling, focusing on character development and psychology. It covers topics such as script structure, plot exploration, point-of-view mastery, creating engaging hooks, character descriptions, dialogue functionality, revisions, and more. 

Participants will benefit from pre-recorded sessions that offer a comprehensive understanding of crafting compelling narratives, enhancing character depth, and refining scripts for maximum impact. The course provides valuable insights and tools essential for aspiring screenwriters to excel in the competitive world of screenwriting.

Weekend Workshop for Beginners by Bridge 17

The Weekend Writing Workshop for Beginners by Bridge 17 is an in-person, two-day introductory course to screenwriting. The workshop costs $297.50 and offers payment options. It will take place on February 24th & 25th, 2024, at Kennesaw State University (Marietta). This immersive experience is perfect for beginners, aiming to demystify screenwriting and ignite creativity. Participants will learn fundamental screenwriting skills, engage in practical exercises, receive personalized feedback, and network with fellow aspiring screenwriters. 

The single course covers screenwriting basics on the first day. It focuses on writing for production on the second day, teaching how to craft intriguing stories within production constraints and in one’s unique voice. Attendees are encouraged to bring an open mind, water, snacks/lunch, a notebook, a writing instrument, and a laptop if possible.

Improvisation and the Sitcom for Writers and Actors by UCLA Extension

The Improvisation Techniques for the Actor workshop by UCLA Extension is an in-person course focusing on enhancing comedy writing, particularly for sitcoms, through improvisational acting. The workshop costs $785.00 and is scheduled to take place from June 25th to September 3rd, 2024, on Tuesdays from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM PT at the UCLA Extension Lindbrook Center in Westwood. 

Participants will gain an experiential understanding of improvisational acting and develop a solid improvisational perspective essential to scripted work. They will learn to make active choices, think quickly while performing, and understand that the best comedy comes from listening and honest responses. This workshop is beneficial for women considering a career in screenwriting as it provides valuable skills in comedy writing, improvisation, and acting techniques essential for creating engaging and humorous scripts, especially in the sitcom genre.

Writing the First Feature Film Treatment Toolkit by UCLA Extension

The “Writing the First Feature Film Treatment Toolkit” workshop by UCLA Extension is a remote course aimed at teaching the creation of a feature film treatment. This one-day workshop is scheduled for June 1, 2024, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM PT, and it is designed to provide an overview of the craft of screenwriting for feature films. Led by instructor Koji Steven Sakai, participants will learn the basics of screenwriting in an easy-to-digest format, discover key elements of screenplay structure, and develop the skills to boil down their story into a short pitch and expand it into a complete treatment for a feature-length script. 

This course is offered at no cost and is ideal for women considering a career in screenwriting as it offers essential knowledge and tools for creating compelling and well-structured feature film treatments. You might just walk away with the perfect idea for your own script!

Have Kids? Consider NYU’s “Writing the Short” Course

NYU’s “Writing the Short” is a free online course taught by NYU Tisch Professor John Warren, aimed at teaching participants how to write a production-ready short script in just five weeks. This course is structured to be accessible and beneficial for both beginners and more experienced writers. Each participant will work on creating a complete short screenplay by the end of the course, receiving personalized feedback and opportunities for further development. The course is designed for aspiring screenwriters aged 12 and up, treating all students with the seriousness expected in adult education.

Participants will engage with a variety of content, including video lessons, readings, and practical assignments, culminating in a professional short script ready to be filmed. The course also offers certificates and possible letters of recommendation for outstanding students, enhancing their professional and educational profiles.

For more details on enrollment and course specifics, you can visit the Young Screenwriters website, where the course is hosted.

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Final Thoughts on Taking Screenwriting Courses

Specialized screenwriting education plays a crucial role in empowering women to pursue their ambitions in the world of storytelling. These courses and resources provide invaluable knowledge, skills, and guidance tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities faced by women in screenwriting. By honing their craft through dedicated education, women can confidently navigate the industry, amplify their voices, and contribute diverse perspectives to the cinematic landscape.

To all aspiring female screenwriters, we encourage you to take the leap and start your journey today. Whether it’s exploring the fundamentals of screenwriting, delving into specialized workshops, or immersing yourself in the world of improv and comedy, there’s a wealth of opportunities waiting for you. 

Your unique voice and stories deserve to be heard!

By Anila Hasnain.