ScreenwritingU ProSeries: Is It Worth It?

I’ve been thinking about trying the ProSeries, a six month online screenwriting course offered by ScreenwritingU. From what the website has to say, it sounds like the best possible investment in a serious screenwriters future. But the course costs a whopping $1100. So I’m left asking, is it worth it?

Of course, there are discounts to be found throughout the site that bring the cost down to $700. But this makes me leery — if they make it so easy to get the course at a discount, why not just offer it at the discounted price all the time? I realize many of us only like to buy things on sale, but it still aggravates me when companies up their regular prices to make their discounted prices look better.

All in all, the course sounds like a worthwhile experience, but I’d like to hear from those of you who have taken it and don’t have testimonials on the site.

So tell us, ProSeries-ers — is it worth it??

Please leave your comments below. In the meantime, I’ll try some of their free courses and see what I think. I’ll let you all know how things go.

9 Comments to “ScreenwritingU ProSeries: Is It Worth It?”

  1. Yes, it’s well worth it! But, you’re doing the right thing. Try the free teleconferences and you’ll see the content. ScreenwritingU gives a lot of good information away for free! Should tell you something about them. I did all the free stuff, then took four of the stand-alone classes, then the ProSeries. Took my writing to a whole new level!

  2. I hear mixed things. People have learned new techniques and new information, but there’s no one to give you feedback so you don’t know if you’re doing it correctly. Personally, I would be careful of too much information because it makes you a better critic, not a better writer.

  3. I think the ProSeries is ‘good’ if you already have some experience. The course does provide some lessons that I haven’t seen any other book touch on. Those skills are HUGE! However, in my opinion, that only accounts for 20% of the course. The course misses some pretty key topics, such as Formatting and doesn’t go into enough detail to get a novice to properly understand structure. My biggest complaint is that your at the mercy of 45 colleagues to give you good advice. There is ZERO instructor feedback. The class is 100% on ‘auto-pilot’ email distribution. In my class, I’m fortunate to have about five people who are quality writers who have helped me elevate my writing. If you want to get the most out of the ProSeries, I suggest you read “The Hollywood Standard” and a few good screenplay books first. Also, you should probably have finished at least one or two scripts that have been reviewed by a professional consultant — so that you are prepared for constructive criticism.

    Note: Be prepared for ten days straight of assignments, followed by a 6-10 day break. That’s one cycle and then multiply that by 9 modules. When they advertise that the assignments take 1hr. Yes, some of them do, but in reality… likely 60% or more will take more than an hour. Our class of 45’ish is down to 35? People can’t keep up.

  4. My conclusion – no.

    There are some very interesting lessons in the ProSeries that you won’t find in most “How to” guidebooks, but they could be covered in one decent new book, or a course lasting a week rather than the best part of a year. The claim is that you’ll come out the other end with a completed screenplay – but by almost entirely ignoring structure (to me this omission is unthinkable) there’s pretty much no way that aim can be achieved by the course alone. My own resultant effort is flimsy and deficient, and having read others I know I’m not alone. Another problem is the total lack of feedback that they actually advertise as a positive – you receive daily emails with the lessons, giving assignments that you post to a forum, but NO-ONE even reads them, let alone letting you know if you’re on the right track (those instructors have an easy life – ker-ching). The only feedback you do eventually get is from your fellow students who by their nature know no better than you do – with all due respect I don’t have to pay around $1,000 to get that. Add to that the user-unfriendly forum structure, the arrogance on the few conference calls when a question is asked (Hal gets flustered when challenged), and failed promises (I didn’t receive my second of two ‘coaching calls’ (but after the first one I know I didn’t miss much) and also kept hearing “When you complete the course you’ll be walked into THE ALUMNI” as if its some great hallowed hall of writing fame (doubtful, to be honest) but after completing all assignments I never heard another word from ScreenwritingU (aside from spam trying to sell me more classes).

    So no, in conclusion, despite a few golden nuggets picked up along the way (eg the Concept and Marketing classes – excellent) it’s not worth your time or money.

    And if you don’t believe me just check out the “Buzz” they use to promote themselves. It’s supposed to highlight all the many successes their students enjoy in the market – yet when you analyze it, comparing the number who even get an agent (let alone a deal – especially a deal that doesn’t involve someone they already knew) with the number who go through each course (look at the number of your class and how many fellow students are in it to work this out) you’ll see how slim the ‘success’ rate actually is.

    I don’t enjoy being negative, but if you’re considering paying a significant amount of money of the ProSeries, I would be seriously hesitant – especially if you could be spending your time actually writing, with the simpler more effective help of a few well chosen guide books.

  5. Daniel, that’s such a shame that you didn’t get enough out of the PS to make it worth your while. But it is an individual thing, and I for one, got a tremendous amount from the course. I’ve done a lot of various things to learn how to write at a professional level, and SU’s PS is one that I am very grateful I did.

    I had written 9 scripts before doing the course, and so for me, I was quite relieved that we didn’t spend any time on formatting, or the basics that any screenwriting book could give you. I agree that there were some segments I wished we’d spent more time on (outlining), and I felt we spent too long on others, but hey, you’re never going to please all the people all the time. Overall, I found the material to be insightful and practical, and two years later, I find I still refer to the information and use a lot of the techniques.

    I know that SU had some technical difficulties, not so much when I took the course, but I *think* they have them sorted with some new servers or sites or something. I’m not sure, as I haven’t taken any classes recently.

    There were a LOT of people in my class, 2 years ago. 80-ish people. And I know another class was running at the same time, as they split our group into two, there were so many that signed up. And yes, it’s VERY hard to keep up. Only the serious need apply. We ended up with about 35 (?) that actually finished the class, and only about 5 (?) that had a completed script. That said, the goal is not to finish a script that’s ready to go to market, it’s to finish the assignments so that you have the knowledge to write at a professional level. It’s an investment into your future as a writer.

    Yes, you’re right, there is no feedback on your writing during the class from the instructors, except a few calls (which I did get a lot from). But the information is gold, and doing the assignments is invaluable. The feedback from other classmates can be hit and miss. But I found my “group” and I trust them. This class isn’t for professional critique, it’s to gather information, and practice using it. You can get the professional critique after, which is what I’ve done. It’s the way it’s set up, and that’s that.

    In terms of the PSA (alumni) it is pretty great. I have made some amazing friends from the PSA, outside of my incredibly close-knit group of 7 from our PS class. (I’d be lost without these guys.) But just from the PSA, I’ve met some fantastic writers that have become a source of great support.

    And finally, in terms of success… well you know that’s a very individual thing. For me, my PSA script went on to win 3rd place at the PAGE awards last year (2012) and from that, I was introduced to a manager, who is now representing me. Sure, I worked my ass off for that, but the PS certainly was a big part of that success for me, as it continues to be from the lessons learned, and the friendships I’ve made.

    I think, like everything, this is an experience that is very individual. Each person will have a different take, and there are no guarantees. It works for some, not for others. Some people like chocolate, some like vanilla. 😉

  6. After they have your money, they choose who they will work with and who to ignore. Very arrogant. “Make bricks without straw.” Imagine a teacher stands with books in her hand, tells you to do an assignment but “all the keys are in these books I won’t let you see”.

    If the teleconferences are so important, why aren’t they posted in a timely manner for those of us that don’t start our workday at 8:00 pm. I would much rather listen online so I can write notes, rather than juggle a telephone and papers for three hours.

    I received an email apologizing for their lack of organization, but somehow that’s my fault……. Now, you’d have a hard time convincing me they care about anything but their bling.

  7. Hi there… I took the ProSeries. Of course there’s some positives and some negatives, but the most important thing I can leave you with is that the ProSeries is ABSOLUTELY WORTH the $850-$1,000 if you are serious about screenwriting.

    The Negatives: The course is a series of daily email lessons and assignments and you rely 100% on the feedback from your peers who may no nothing about screenwriting, or they may know a whole lot… you just have to figure out who to pay attention to. I personally believe that if you have not made a serious effort in your screenwriting (i.e. read as many quality screenwriting books as you can get your hands on, had a handful of your scripts reviewed by a professional, are comfortable with constructive feedback — that may rip your heart out and your story apart) the investment won’t be as useful. For instance, you don’t want to hop into a Ferrari on a race track, having only driven Grandma’s K-car around the block.

    The Positives: I found that 75% of the course was a repeat of information that is in plenty of $20 screenwriting books; however, the information is presented in an original way with assignments for you to apply your knowledge. I feel that it’s easy to read something, but if you don’t practice the techniques… do you really absorb the information? 25% of the information will be totally new and you won’t find it anywhere in a screenwriting book. In the ProSeries you will also meet 40+ (thousands?) screenwriters from all over the world who will support you along the way.

    If you want to learn how to write a screenplay… buy a book. If you want to improve your writing skills and learn HOW TO MARKET AND SELL YOUR SCREENPLAY TO MAKE MONEY… take the ProSeries.

    • If you want to teach 300 promised skills, you give people the material they need to fulfill the assignments. The emailed assignments are sporadic IF they arrive at all, and the VITAL information is given (maybe) when they feel like it, after the assignments are due.

      I didn’t just jump into this – considered ScreenwritingU after years of advertisements. If the teleconferences are so full of information, why would they get access to people that aren’t in the PST zone a week later, when they get around to it?

      Why do they hold the teleconferences at night? When they sold the program, the teleconference ran during the day. Those all do.

      As I wrote before, juggling a phone and paper for three to four hours during the night is not near as easy as listening online, making notes during one’s working day And if these teleconference hours are not VITAL, why bother?.

  8. No. This course is a SCAM. Nothing you can’t learning from reading and writing scripts and watching movies. They really have a nerve to charge so much. Just…move on.

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