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Advanced Screenwriting – Independent Features [ONLINE]

Starts July 12

10 sessions: Mondays, July 12-September 20 (no class September 6), 7-9:30pm CDT

Writing independent feature films is no easy task. Balancing character, pacing, plot, and audience expectations with the real-world struggles of making independent films is a balancing act. Adding to all of this, are questions of how to navigate the industry while staying true to your original voice. Focused on helping students strengthen their own skills in the art and craft of independent feature film screenwriting, this workshop-based, ten-week course gives students the opportunity to write and refine an original feature length screenplay with independent production in mind. From tools to avoid common pitfalls to breaking into the industry, students will learn real-world tools to help bring their screenwriting to the next level of sophistication no matter the subject, genre, or budget. At the end of the course, each student will have completed an original feature length film script.

The primary focus of this course is strengthening each participant’s original voice and skills as a feature film screenwriter while also learning:

  • Writing for Independent Productions
  • Genre Expectations
  • World Building
  • Writing Three-Dimensional Characters and Conflicts
  • Plotting and Pacing
  • Using Act Structures to Your Advantage
  • Treatments
  • 9 Beat, 12 Beat, and Other Outlining Techniques
  • Understanding and Subverting Audience Expectations
  • Edits, Drafts, and Notes
  • Professional Standards for Formatting
  • Adaptations and Intellectual Property
  • Independent vs. Studio Screenwriting Approaches
  • Competitions, Representation, and Breaking into the Industry

By the end of the course, students will have a fully realized feature script ready for submissions or filming!

Previous screenwriting experience recommended.

NOTE: Participation in this online course requires that you use the free Zoom cloud-based video conferencing service. For optimal performance it is recommended that you install Zoom on your computer rather than running it from a web browser. We’ll e-mail you a course reminder and Zoom link a few days prior to the first session. Click here for a Zoom tutorial.

Tuition: $280 | $210 low-income

Jake Yuzna is a Minneapolis based writer, director, and curator. Their films have screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, London Film Festival, New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC), and the British Film Institute, among others. Yuzna is the first American feature director to win the Teddy Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival and has received additional awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital Foundation, Frameline Foundation, McKnight Foundation, IFP, FilmNorth, as well as a Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Film Institute. Yuzna founded the cinema program at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC where they curated the first American retrospectives on Italian Zombie Films, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dario Argento, Sion Sono, and the medium of VHS. In addition, Yuzna has curated retrospectives on Andrei Tarkovsky, Godfrey Reggio, Crispin Glover, VHS, HR Giger, Roy Andersson, and Science Fiction cinema of the 1990s. His curatorial work on filmmaking has been collected by the libraries at Yale University and NYU.

Class Registration Guidelines & Cancellation Policy

  • Space is assigned on a first-come basis. Registrations must include payment in full. Registrations are accepted after registration deadlines if space is available.
  • If minimum enrollment has not been reached by 7 days prior to the start date of a class, FilmNorth may cancel it, in which case registrants will immediately be notified and receive a full refund within 2 business days. A check will be issued for registrations that were paid in cash. In lieu of a refund, students have the option of applying their tuition to another class scheduled in the same calendar year.
  • For those wishing to cancel a registration prior to the class registration deadline, 100% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. For registration cancellations received after the registration deadline but prior to the first class session, 50% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. As of 5:00 pm the day prior to a class start date, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given (Friday at 5:00 pm for Sunday classes). 
  • Tuition is not prorated for missed class sessions.




July 12 @ 7:00 pm
September 20 @ 9:30 pm
Event Categories:


Jake Yuzna
Registration Deadline
Maximum Enrollment
Class count or Info
10 sessions: Mondays, July 12-September 20 (no class September 6), 7-9:30pm CDT