Screenwriting for Film 101

Learn the key ingredients of crafting a screenplay that draws audiences into your story. You'll learn strategies for generating new ideas and using cinematic techniques to create emotional connections with your characters and storylines.

The course begins with an exploration of story structure, where you'll master the screenplay format and dissect the elements of a compelling narrative. Through engaging exercises and analysis, you'll learn to identify the pivotal components that captivate audiences and drive your story forward. The course then delves into character development, exploring the nuances of protagonists, antagonists, and character arcs. From establishing conflict to crafting dynamic character transformations, you'll hone your ability to create rich and memorable characters.

The course will also immerse you in the diverse world of cinematic genres, from romantic comedies to thrillers and horror films. You'll learn the techniques that define each genre and how to engage audiences through different narrative relationships. You'll explore the art of crafting a satisfying conclusion, from planting and payoff, to building stakes and delivering a climactic resolution.

Armed with these essential tools, you'll write your own screenplay, receiving feedback from your instructor and peers, and refining your storytelling skills along the way. Whether you're a seasoned writer or new to the world of screenwriting, this course will empower you to express your creativity and bring your stories to life for the silver screen.

What you will learn:

✔ Identify the essential components of compelling screenplays for film and how to format them 
✔ Create rich and memorable characters that engage audiences on an emotional level and drive the story forward effectively 
✔ Analyze and apply the narrative qualities and techniques specific to various cinematic genres 
✔ Build tension and deliver narrative payoffs that provide a satisfying resolution 
✔ Write your own screenplay for film

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Prerequisite skills:

What you need to participate:

  • Computer or mobile device with Internet. Internet speed must be at least 1.5Mbps download and 800Kbps upload. For students using a mobile device, download the Canvas mobile app and select “Interlochen Online” as your school.
  • One of the following screenwriting software: 
  • Access to two films: Jurassic Park (1993) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). You can rent or purchase the films to stream from providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, or Apple TV. 

How the course works:

Interlochen Online courses are designed to be inspiring and flexible with weekly learning units that combine video segments and guided instruction that you can complete on your own schedule during the week. You will interact regularly with your teacher and peers inside the learning environment. 

You can also participate in an optional weekly hour-long video class meeting, where you can learn from the teacher and interact with your classmates in real-time. At the beginning of the course, you will complete a survey indicating your preferred times for the class meeting. The teacher will make every best effort to identify a meeting time that works for everyone. The teacher will also post recordings of the meetings and you can view them when it is convenient. 

The goal is that you walk away not only with practical skills and friendships but that you are inspired and motivated to pursue your art and realize your potential.

Program Snapshot

Upcoming Course Dates

June 10 - July 5, 2024 | Teen and adult sections

July 15 - Aug. 9, 2024 | Teen and adult sections




Teens: Grades 6-12

Adult Learners: 18+

Future Sessions

Academic Calendar

Meet the Faculty

Drew McClellan

Instructor of Film

Questions? Speak with an Advisor.


Phone: 231.276.5990 

You can also schedule an appointment.