Introduction to Screenwriting for Short Films

James Franco, Actor, Director, Writer and Producer

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16 Videos (1h 35m)
    • Trailer

    • Storytelling: Communicating a Narrative

    • Storytelling: Creative License

    • Storytelling: Finding Inspiration from Adaptation

    • Storytelling: Your Screenwriting Project

    • Impact Through Narrative: Delivering Impact

    • Impact Through Narrative: Dialogue

    • Impact Through Narrative: Screenwriting as a Collaborative Medium

    • The Details: Building Your Budget

      Tips for Keeping Budget Low.pdf
    • The Details: Building Your Crew

    • The Details: Timeline

    • The Details: Software & Formatting

      Tips for Screenplay Formatting.pdf
      Screenwriting Software Recommendations.pdf
    • Pitching: Writing a Logline

    • Pitching: Drafting a Treatment

      Tips for Drafting Your Treatment.pdf
    • Pitching: The Pitch

    • Pitching: Ask Yourself This


About This Class

I’ve been involved in the world of film since 2007 - acting, directing, producing, writing and teaching. In 2005 I started Rabbit Bandini Productions with my former acting school classmate, Vince Jolivette. Together we’ve produced upwards of 40 films, running the gamut from dramas to comedies; feature-length films to shorts.

Education has played an increasingly important part in my life, having had the opportunity to teach at USC, UCLA, CalArts and NYU. With this Skillshare class, Vince and I will make the lessons we’ve learned in the industry over the last decade accessible to students of any age, anywhere in the world.

This class is definitely geared towards beginners but designed for students of any skill level to find value. Never written for film before? Not a problem, we’ll walk you through our process for getting started. 

Project. Write a screenplay for an 8-minute short film adapted from one of the source texts listed below. As is the case with screenwriting generally, the most valuable part of this process will be giving and getting feedback on your work from your peers. 

Project Reward. Vince and I will review the top 10 most-liked projects and announce our favorite 3 writers, one of whom will receive 1-on-1 feedback on their work from us. Projects need to be submitted by July 24th, 2014 to qualify. 

Source Texts. I’ve chosen these texts specifically because they’re all written as vivid portraits or character studies which make for great short film fodder. 

  1. The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (Free download available)
  2. Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life by Sherwood Anderson
  3. Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck

What You'll Learn. 

This class will cover a variety of topics spanning the creative to the technical. Some of what we'll touch on includes: 

  • Concept Development & Adaptation. Articulating your screenplay vision when adapting from written works.
  • Budgeting for short films. The costs you'll need to keep in mind as you set out to write your screenplay. 
  • Screenplay formatting. The intricacies of proper screenplay formatting. 
  • Generating loglines and treatments. Pitching your screenplay to resonate with potential investors. 

86 of 90 students recommendSee All

It's awesome. If you are even slightly interested in this sort of thing then you would be a fool not to watch.
Legendary. Thank you Mr. James and Mr. Vince.
Pedro Torres

filmmaker & visual designer

It was a great class that motivate me to continue writing a feature as I treated the class as writing the first 10-pages of writing a script. I'm not good at writing short-form, but I did enjoy all the feedback in making my script tighter and how I can introduce the main characters in a story sooner...whether it is the first 10-pages up to the inciting incident or a stand-alone 10-page script, I've become a better writer from taking this class.
Stephanie Joyce






James Franco

Actor, Director, Writer and Producer

James Franco is an actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author. He began his career on Freaks and Geeks and received a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the biographical film James Dean. Notable film credits include Oz, The Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers, “Harry Osborn” in the Spider-Man trilogy, Milk and 127 Hours, for which he received Academy Award, SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. He has directed, written and produced several features and has been published in magazines and through his own books.

He is currently teaching university courses at UCLA, USC and CAL ARTS and acting classes at STUDIO 4, and has made his Broadway debut in Of Mice & Men this spring.

He founded Rabbit Bandini Productions with former acting school classmate, Vince Jolivette, in 2003. They've established a successful track record of making films that have performed financially, creatively and commercially both within the independent filmmaking community as well as in conjunction with major studios and foreign sales corporations.

The company's projects have premiered internationally in the most prestigious film festivals, including Cannes, Sundance and Berlin, earning critical acclaim and accolades in each.        

Screenwriting Writing Creative