Comic Art

7 Week online Course | Instructor: James Janowsky

Advanced Screenwriting

James Janowsky moderators a Q&A with Kabir Bedi at the 2012 South Asian International Film Festival Source:

In James’ seven-week intensive advanced course for screenwriters, an emphasis will be placed on learning how to write a professional and engaging feature length screenplay. Each class will go more in-depth about structure, themes and storytelling. You will learn the elements of cinema and how to effectively use them in your writing. An intense focus will be placed on imbuing your screenplays with intellectual ideas that will turn a good screenplay into a great screenplay.

Weekly writing assignments will take you through the stages of preparing and eventually writing a feature length screenplay. Techniques on writing a story synopsis and character bios will be covered. Importance will be placed on making sure the first ten pages, the first act turning point, and the overall first act of your screenplay skillfully sets up your story.

After taking James’ advanced screenwriting course, you will have a better understanding of the film medium and its language, and be equipped to successfully strategize and problem solve before and when you are writing your feature screenplay.

This course is currently closed.

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  • You will learn from writer and educator James Janowsky.
  • You’ll get James’ wealth of experience and training.
  • You will learn and write the first act of a feature length screenplay under James’ expert guidance.
  • You also get exclusive access to a dedicated class member-only online forum.
  • You’ll have access to recordings of any class in the series for the duration of the class and a few weeks after its conclusion—so you never have to miss a class!
  • Class size is limited to keep it awesome!

James Janowsky

James Janowsky is a writer and educator.

He is currently working on several screenplays, a T.V. pilot, and an eight issue comic book miniseries, “A.O.A.: Angle of Attack,” that will be released in 2018. Another T.V. pilot that he co-wrote, “The Hunt,” was a recent featured script on The Black List, a Table Read My Screenplay semi-finalist, a ScreenCraft Pilot Launch semi-finalist, and a Big Break quarter-finalist.

He taught screenwriting and film business at New York’s School of Visual Arts for six years. He has participated in film and writing seminars at the Independent Filmmaker Project, Film Interchange and the South Asian International Film Festival. In 2013 and 2014 he was selected to be a judge for the Student Academy Awards.

He has been hired by Fox, Fox Searchlight and Warner Bros. to moderate Q&A’s with Hollywood talent for such films as “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Prisoner,” “Trance” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Since 2005 he has moderated over 200 Q&A’s and he is hired yearly to teach moderating to SVA students for their After School Special Film Festival.

From 2001-2012 he was a part of the NBRMP, a screening member for four years and their Creative Director and Student Grant Committee Chair for seven. While working there, he established the student grants at NYU, Ringling College of Art and Design, the Ghetto Film School, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, and Educational Video Center.

In 2012 he established the James Richard Janowsky Awards to honor talented film students. Since then, over 50 students at Columbia University, New York University and School of Visual Arts have received the JRJ Award. In 2017 two of the awardees won Student Academy Awards.

He is currently a member of the Independent Filmmaker Project, New York Women in Film and Television, and a voter for the Independent Spirit Awards. In 2000 he received his M.F.A. from the Columbia University Film Program with a concentration in screenwriting.

Screenwriting is a dream for so many! This is the best place to get started making that dream a reality! James developed this class to make sure you could learn everything he can possibly cram into seven weeks.

What is the difference between the introductory class and the advanced screenwriting course?

The introductory course was about learning the basic fundamentals of screenwriting through class and weekly writing exercises. The advanced course, on the other hand, is about expanding your screenplay knowledge of structure, character development, themes, and film language.

While the introductory course was about learning through writing exercises, the advanced course will concentrate on you coming up with an idea and then writing an effective and compelling first act (roughly 30 pages) of a feature length screenplay.

What is the ultimate goal or goals of the advanced course?

There are two goals. The first, that you have a greater knowledge and appreciation of the film medium and how you can then effectively use that knowledge in your screenwriting. The second goal is that after the seventh week of class you have at least 30 pages (the first act) of a feature screenplay that you feel confident enough in to start writing the remainder of the script.

Why is the course focusing on students writing only the first 30 pages of a feature screenplay rather than having an entire first draft?

Too often novice screenwriters will get discouraged and abandon a script if things are not working storywise or structurally. So tackling a smaller unit rather than an entire 90-120 screenplay is less daunting. The hope is that after seven weeks you will want to continue to develop and write your script, and there is better chance of that happening if you have a solid first 30 pages rather than 120 pages that aren’t that good.

Will I be able to write more than 30 pages during the seven week course?

Yes, of course. But the key is that you have a first act that effectively sets-up the second and third act of your screenplay. If you have 30 great pages after the fourth or fifth week of class, by all means continue writing.

Will I receive feedback on my screenplay?

Yes! Deliberate practice is a vital component to becoming a better screenwriter. And just like in the introductory course, there is a forum where you’ll be able to post your work for James and your classmates to review, comment on, and make suggestions. And likewise, you’ll be asked to comment on your fellow students’ stories. You’ll problem solve together and find new methods to develop a character and punch up the professionalism in your work!

What do I do after the class?

During the final class, James will cover how you should approach becoming a paid professional screenwriter. He will discuss the entertainment industry, screenwriting contests, and how to write a query letter to get a production company, an agent and/or a manager interested in you and your work. And of course, after the class you should write, write, and then write some more! The more you write, the better a writer you will become. Makes sense, right?

Are there any films I should watch before the class?

No. Not really. But during the course James will be showing movie clips to emphasize and reinforce certain screenwriting concepts that he will be covering. But no, there are no particular films you need to watch before the class.

Do I need to be a computer wiz for the class?

Nope. Not one bit. You need to have a computer, high-speed Internet access, and screenwriting software to write your screenwriting assignments.

What computer programs do I need for this course?

Just like in the introductory class, we highly recommend using Final Draft. There are other software programs out there, some are free, but if you are serious about being a screenwriter, then you should be using Final Draft. It also helps with exchanging of files if you are co-writing a project with someone.

What if I miss a class?

All of our classes are recorded and available to view via streaming link for the duration of the course. And on top of that, you’ll have exclusive access to the Comics Experience forum set up just for the class. You’ll be able to interact with the rest of your class all week long at any time!

If I don’t live in the United States, can I still take the course?

You bet. We’ve had students jump in other Comic Experience classes from from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America–so all over the world. Some of these students have not been able to attend live, but they’ve viewed the recordings and interacted with their classmates online!

How do I sign up?

Click on the Paypal button and you’ll get an email confirmation and instructions within two business days giving you everything you need to get started with the course.

If you want to start designing stand-out and dynamic characters, then reserve your spot today! Space is limited.

To participate in our live online sessions you will need

  • Screenwriting Software (Final Draft is highly recommended)
  • A computer or mobile device that meets Zoom’s minimum requirements
  • to agree to the terms included in Comics Experience’s User Agreement.
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Headphones/ear buds with microphone (optional, but strongly suggested)
  • A mind like a sponge!

Do I need to be a computer wiz for the class?

Nope. Not one bit. You need to have a computer, high-speed Internet access, and screenwriting software to write your screenwriting assignments.

What computer programs do I need for this course?

We highly recommend you use screenwriting software, preferably Final Draft (“Used by 95% of film and television productions”), to write your screen and teleplays.

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