Sept 14 - Nov 7
Screenwriting: Writing Your First Act
Registration is now closed for this session.
Deborah Goodwin

Course applications are now being accepted.  APPLICATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, August 25 at 2pm PT. 

Acceptances start after the deadline, and occur on a rolling basis.

Learn how to give shape and form to the first act of your screenplay with experienced screenwriters as your guides. In this intensive live, online course, you will complete the first act of your screenplay through assignments and small group workshops.

In class sessions, you will discuss successful screenplays’ first acts, watch how they move from script to screen, and discuss core concepts. You will then move into a small group breakout session with a course advisor where you will workshop your writing and those of your peers, and work to complete your first act. The course concludes with a one-on-one mentoring session with your advisor focused on your project.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • sharpen your understanding of screenplay sequences and structure, specifically the first act, inciting incidents, and dramatic problems.
  • understand how to establish the rules of your fictional universe.
  • discover how to build tension.
  • develop your characters, their dramatic problems, and worthy antagonists.
  • learn how to give notes to your peers and process notes from your peers and advisors.

This course is ideal for:

  • writers who have completed an outline of their feature-length screenplay and are looking for guidance from other writers and/or experienced screenwriters in writing their first act.
  • writers who have completed a full draft of their feature-length screenplay, but want to receive more formal education about the structure of the first act and/or want to take their first act into a workshop setting.

Participants will be placed in small group workshops of about nine.. To apply, you must have a completed outline or treatment for the feature-length screenplay you plan to work on in this course. We recommend that you complete Sundance Collab’s Screenwriting: Core Elements prior to taking this course.


The course will be held live in our virtual classroom. All sessions are recorded for registered participants who are unable to attend live. If you have any questions about the course, please email

  • DURATION: Eight weeks, September 14 - November 7
  • SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 9:30am - 12pm PT
    • Extended last class session: Tuesday, October 26 - 9:30am - 12:30pm PT
    • One-on-one mentoring sessions are held between Nov 1 - Nov 7
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, August 25 at 2pm PT

Sundance Co//ab provides accommodations and support services to participants with disabilities. Accommodations and services are designed to meet the needs of each participant. Please email us at to arrange for services. 


Click the yellow “Apply Now” button on the top right of the page.

New York, NY, USA
Deborah Goodwin is a writer-producer-director, who’s work in film and television began as a Development Executive for Sanford-Pillsbury Productions (DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, RIVER’S EDGE, HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT). Deborah’s Urbanworld Film Festival, Best Screenplay win for her darkly provocative family drama CHERRY’S, launched her filmmaking path. more...
Caleb Aldrich is a TV writer who was born in Hawaii, but lived a true nomad life growing up in Louisiana, California, Texas, and Colorado. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University where he wrote the award winning short story SPINNING PLATES, inspired by his own coming out process. more...
Julia Camara is a Brazilian writer/filmmaker. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, she freelanced for years as a Portuguese translator for film and television subtitling. She has written and directed several award-winning short films. Her feature directorial debut IN TRANSIT, an experimental drama shot mostly in one day and with improvised dialogue, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. more...
Celia C. Peters is a filmmaker and visual artist creating thoughtful futurist stories about intriguing, authentic characters. She is the curator of Blackness Revisualized, WNET/'s inaugural afrofuturist film festival launching March 2021. She is also the director of SHUTDOWN, a short historical documentary produced by Ohio State University, currently in production. more...

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