Screenwriting Essentials

Certificate Program

This online program shares key topics and skills in screenplay development for those new to the art and craft of screenwriting. 

The screenplay serves as the basis for most major motion pictures in the modern era. A well-crafted screenplay captures the imagination and inspires other artists to create, while also serving as a basis for budgeting and logistical planning. A mystery for some, the work of the screenwriter requires brainstorming, experimentation, collaboration, and problem-solving. 

The Screenwriting Essentials program at California State University, Long Beach provides students with the tools to write and analyze scripts from story conception to a realized first draft of a feature film. In this fast-paced program, material will reference successful motion picture screenplays and notable books on the art and craft of screenwriting. Students will have the opportunity to craft an original screenplay by the end of the program. 

Please note: There are no prerequisites for this program. Courses must be taken in consecutive order.

  • How to generate written story ideas in multiple film genres
  • How to construct a screenplay from an outline
  • Composition of a three-act structure
  • Construction of a character arc
  • How to develop scenes based on theme and character
  • How to share and receive feedback that advances your writing craft and that of your peers
  • Strengthen problem-solving skills
  • Develop creative and ideation processes
  • Understand and develop professional standards and practices 
  • New and first-time writers seeking an introduction to screenwriting
  • Emerging writers wanting the structure, schedule, and feedback to develop a new idea
  • Individuals exploring a career change in motion pictures
  • Professionals seeking to develop visual storytelling skills to augment current work assignments
  • Timely and industry-relevant curriculum
  • Applying theory toward the development of a screenplay
  • Structured learning environment facilitated by an industry professional
  • Networking opportunities for ongoing peer-to-peer relationships
  • Common analysis language within your course peer group
  • Convenient course schedule with remote learning
  • Complete courses 1 and 2
  • Complete story development exercises (Character, Plot, Theme, Scene Craft, etc.)
  • Complete skills development exercises (ideation, outing, analyzing, drafting, rewriting, etc.)
  • Provide feedback to course peers
  • Complete development assignments:
    • Draft and pitch a logline
    • Compose a story outline
    • Draft a feature length screenplay (90-120 pages)