Comic Art

6 Week online Course | Instructor: James Janowsky

Introduction to Screenwriting

James Janowsky moderates a Q&A at the New York City Apple Store with Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle.
James Janowsky moderates a Q&A at the New York City Apple Store with Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle.

In this six-week course, screenwriter and educator James Janowsky teaches you all the necessary tools and tricks to strategize and write an effective screen story.

Developed by James, this six-week intensive introductory screenwriting class not only teaches you all the necessary fundamentals on how to effectively write a screenplay, but you will also learn how to create compelling characters and engaging stories in several genres. 

Each class focuses on different screenwriting fundamentals: properly starting a screenplay, writing a good scene and sequence, and creating believable characters and sustainable conflict. Techniques for writing a story synopsis and character bios will also be covered.

Each writing assignment focuses on different aspects of script writing: the first ten pages, scenes, sequences, third act resolutions, etc. You will also learn genres, and each assignment you will write in a particular genre. Genres covered will be the adventure, Western, gangster, science fiction and horror.

After taking James’ introductory screenwriting course, you will have a better understanding of the film medium, and be equipped to successfully strategize and problem solve before and when you start to write a screenplay.

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  • You will learn fromwriter and educator James Janowsky.
  • You’ll get James’ wealth of experience and training.
  • You will learn and write several screenwriting exercises in different genres 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 moderates a Q&A during his SVA film class with actor James Franco.

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 six weeks.

What if I don’t know anything about screenwriting?

This class is perfect for a beginner, but also for writers that want to strengthen their core understanding of screenwriting. James will take you through all the important intricacies of a screenplay: character development, structure, dramatic action, etc. Then, after each class you will apply what James has taught you with writing exercises. So have no fear! If you are a beginner, this is the perfect class for you. If you have taken a few writing class somewhere else, this class will make you a better screenwriter.

Why does the class focus on screenwriting exercises rather than completing a screenplay?

Too often screenwriting classes are about completing a short or feature screenplay, and not truly focusing on learning the craft of screenwriting. But that is what this class is about–learning the screenwriting craft! By focusing on different screenplay elements each week–the first ten pages of a script, writing a scene and a sequence, etc.–will help you learn the screenwriting fundamentals so you can better tackle a 120 page feature length screenplay in the future.

Why are we also learning about genres in a screenwriting class?

There are several good reasons. First, knowing more about each genre’s own particular content and form will make you a better writer.  Also, when you go to write your weekly assignment, you’ll have a ready-made context for your homework so you can focus more on the actual craft of screenwriting. And hopefully, by the end of the six weeks, one of the genre ideas you came up with will inspire you to expanded it into a feature length screenplay.

Will I receive feedback on my writing exercises?

Yes! Deliberate practice is a vital component to becoming a better screenwriter. The forum is 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!

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.

Are there any films I should watch after the class?

Yes! Watching movies with an analytical eye is always good to increase your screenwriting muscles. So during the final class James will share with you an extensive list of films and the reasons why you should watch them.

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 and networking. But the key thing for you to do after the class will be to write, write, and then write some more! The more you write, the better a writer you will become. Makes sense, right?

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 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 don’t know screenplay formatting?

The very first class we will be covering formatting, and the reasons why screenplays are formatted this way. Also, when you sit down to write, your screenwriting program will do the majority of the work for you so you can focus on writing rather than formatting. So don’t worry!

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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