The following is a letter one of my UCLA students wrote to Linda Venus who runs the UCLA Writer’s Program. I won’t feign false modesty and pretend part of my motivation here isn’t to pat myself on the back a bit — but I also share this to help point out that the conventional way to teaching screenwriting is simply not terribly effective. There is a better way.

Dear Linda,

I am writing you today to talk about Corey Mandell and his class, Creating Powerful Scenes for the Movies. I am currently a student in this course, and I can say straight out that Corey’s instruction is ground-breakingly brilliant. I truly think his method should be the first thing students learn when venturing into the craft of screenwriting, and I’ve had a lot of instruction from a lot of different sources to be able to make that claim.

I studied screenwriting at Vanderbilt University during undergrad. I took screenwriting courses at NYU. I worked as a writing assistant to a successful WGA screenwriter. I received my MFA in Filmmaking at FSU, where I took dozens of screenwriting courses. My thesis film, which I wrote and directed, won the Gold Medal at the Student Academy Awards. I have representation as a writer/director. I have written five screenplays in the last two years. I have taken countless meetings pitching my ideas to studio executives. I’ve read every book there is on the subject.

I don’t say all this to brag. I say all this to make a point. Corey Mandell’s class is the biggest wake up call of my life. I have devoted tremendous time, effort, and money to the craft of screenwriting, yet Corey’s class is proving to be the best investment of them all. That’s saying something.

The knowledge I am gathering from his approach to screenwriting is earth shattering for me, and the results speak for themselves. I’ve never witnessed such drastic improvement in my writing in just a few short weeks. I also feel as if my understanding of drama in film is growing exponentially. I’m kind of in awe over the whole thing, and my confidence has been restored as a result. I really can’t put a price on that.

Then again, maybe I can. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I signed up for two courses in the extended series this term. Corey’s class and Advanced Level Rewriting. This week, I finally came to a decision. I dropped out of the other class and ate the $500 (plus) bucks I spent. It is painfully clear to me that rewriting at this stage is a complete waste of time. I know I will be approaching my screenplay in an entirely new way once I finish Corey’s class, and it will be for the better. Why waste valuable time?

So now Corey’s class is a $1000 investment for me. And to be perfectly frank, I think it’s a bargain. Had I known I would discover what I am learning, I would have coughed up the $1000 without even flinching.

And if I ever do achieve my dream of becoming a professional screenwriter, I will credit Corey’s class as the key that unlocked the door.

Patrick Alexander

Posted in Corey’s Blog | November 2nd, 2010

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