Screenwriting Unchained:
Advanced Development

A new approach to story structure that will make you fall in love with screenwriting again, set you free from unnecessary creative constraints and give you the confidence to tackle any script development situation… It’s the first step to start developing stronger Film & TV projects, faster, for a wider audience!

Average Rating: 5.0 stars (based on 27 ratings)

Very thorough understanding of the inner workings of our craft.

True value for money. Well-suited for advancing and advanced screenwriters, including successful ones and those who think they have heard or read it all before. Don’t expect a gospel from a preacher or a showman. Oberg is a modest man who clearly resists becoming the next screenplay guru. Yet he delivers an amazing, almost complete and very thorough understanding of the inner workings of our craft, guaranteed to spark fresh thoughts that will benefit your next project, no matter how experienced you are. And there is a big bonus. The screenplay business is a fickle mistress that can often leave you frustrated. Oberg makes you remember why you fell in love with her in the first place and he makes you fall in love all over again.

Mike van Diem

A liberating revelation

So far I haven’t come across a take on story structure that has been as helpful and useful as this one.

Håkan Östlundh

Oberg has certainly shared some nifty moves

Emmanuel Oberg has certainly shared some nifty moves (NB tools, not rules) that I am sure will offer, if not “true ease in writing” then certainly a better understanding of the craft.

Roger Childs
RTÉ

It makes so much sense!

Emmanuel’s Story-Type method as explained in the [Screenwriting Unchained] course makes creative sense and deals with the real tasks and issues involved in developing a script/screenplay. The whole process has become more clear to me from following this course and I intend to wring every bit of wisdom and technique I can out of the full course over the next few weeks.

Tom Halton

Great self-learning experience

It was a great self-learning experience that was really flexible to get done because of the videos provided which allowed for watching in your own pace and time schedule. […] Highly recommended as a course to learn about strategic approaches to creating and checking the stories you work on – also as a producer!

Noah Bohnert

An extraordinary course!

The practical tools will be tremendously useful and the resources a huge bonus.

Natasha Carlish
Producer, Dreamfinder

The right kind of teacher for inherently creative people.

Emmanuel does not instruct, or impose, or prescribe. He displays and explains a box of first-class tools, and encourages the writer to use the ones that suit the work in hand.

Simon Perry

A stimulating and inspiring course.

The tools are already coming in extremely useful and I hope will transform my approach to any new project from now on.

Smita Bhide

I’m itching to write. I can think of no higher praise.

If you are a writer, an editor, a producer or a commissioner, you need to do this course. Every project you work on will be better – fact!

Blathnaid De Roiste

Reclaim Your Creative Freedom
And Master Story Structure in 15 Hours

Learn how to develop original screenplays for a wide audience at home and abroad without following prescriptive rules!

Based on Oberg's innovative Story-Type Method®, this online course leaves aside rigid rules that lead to predictable screenplays. It also steers clear of supposed formulas for commercial success that simply don't exist (or we'd know!) It focuses primarily on screenwriting for Film & TV but the principles explored apply to any dramatic story. Note: Our 'Writing a Successful TV Series' add-on builds on this main course and explores TV Series specifically.

This course is designed for writers, directors, creative producers, story editors, creators, showrunners, development executives... Anyone involved creatively in the script development process.

It aims to equip filmmakers with a set of storytelling tools that help develop each project as effectively as possible. It details how filmmakers can identify the story-type of their projects early on and adjust the development process accordingly, making it easier and faster to troubleshoot their scripts and leading to stronger screenplays.

The course puts a strong emphasis on each project reaching the widest possible audience, both at home and abroad, without limiting the filmmakers' creative freedom. Extensive course materials are also made available.

Many examples and case studies are used to illustrate each storytelling tool, from films such as: Gravity, Two Days, One Night, Silver Linings Playbook, Frenzy, Cloud Atlas, Dunkirk, Edge of Tomorrow, City Lights, The Lives of OthersMisery, Cyrano de Bergerac, RidiculeBirdman, The Bourne Supremacy, A Quiet Place, Billy Elliot, As Good as it Gets, There’s Something About Mary and more...

Emmanuel Oberg is a screenwriter, author and creative consultant. As a writer, he has worked for:

Practical Info

This CPD certified, self-led online course is open to individual participants, worldwide. There is no live interactive element included as standard but there is some interactivity through quizzes and gamification, as well as optional one-to-one feedback on projects.

Group licenses and cohort enrolment are available for groups or teams of five or more, along with optional live interactive elements (Q&A sessions, group work or one-to-one meetings), but these can't be purchased directly from the website. Don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

If you need more practical details, you'll find the answers to most questions in the FAQs below, after the testimonials. Otherwise, just keep reading...

What's Included in the Course?

  • One year access to Screenwriting Unchained - Advanced Development (15 hours of self-led content in 12 training modules).
  • Interactive quizzes at the end of each training module that help you check how much you've remembered and clarify your understanding. They also provide instant feedback depending on your answers, for example suggesting which topic you might want to revisit.
  • Hands-On videos focusing on project development, raising questions and suggesting practical tips so that you can apply the content of each module to your work as you go along. The last hands-on, 'The Rewrite Stuff: 12 Ways to a Stronger Screenplay', looks at twelve key areas for your upcoming rewrite.
  • 'Creative Freedom' Game. As you go through the content and take the quizzes, you earn points depending on your answers. You can check your progress on your way to creative freedom and see if you earn a spot on the 'All-Time Best' leaderboard... New: The reward points you earn during the course can be used to claim up to 25% off a future purchase ($100 max).
  • Suggested course schedule: Week 1 is for preparation (film watching), Week 2 is for Modules 1-6, Week 3 is for Modules 7-12, Weeks 4-52 are to revisit the content of the course and implement. In the end, it's up to you: The entire course is available right away, so you can binge it all in a week or take up to 365 days to go through the content and work the concepts into your project at your own pace.
  • Participants who finish the course will receive a certificate of completion (the course is CPD certified so a formal certificate can also be issued on request).

Bonuses

  • Permanent access to the Advanced Development Vault, extensive course materials including: all the slides shown during the course; case studies and recommended reading; STM framework, a story structure worksheet; free samplers (first 60-70 pages of Oberg's books plus a Story-Type Method glossary).
  • Participants who complete the course will receive 25% off a 'Script Chat' if they would like one-to-one feedback on a project within 30 days of the end of their access to the course. They also get a 25% off discount code to be used on their next purchase, in addition to the up to 25% discount they can claim using reward points earned during this course. This means that the TV Series add-on course for example could be up to 50% off.

Here's an Overview of Each Module

In this first module, we start by questioning what’s wrong with the 3-Act structure, a concept you’re most likely already familiar with given that it’s the most well-known story structure paradigm.

I don’t believe in any approach based on a set number of acts or sequences, insisting on act breaks or steps based on a set number of pages or minutes. That isn’t structure, it’s format (or formula). Story structure is at the same time more flexible and more complex than that, so we first need to clarify what it really is before we can harness its full power...

If we agree that the logistical 3-Act structure (based on a set number of pages or minutes) is a superficial and limiting paradigm, what can we replace it with? This is what we talk about in this second module.

Here we introduce a new approach to story structure that is both flexible and powerful. Freedom and power… What’s not to like?

Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation can have extremely powerful applications to screenwriting, from helping you to assess the potential audience of your project to making sure that its genre, story-type and budget tally in order to increase your chances of getting it made.

This is the focus of this third module.

As we start exploring the foundations of screenwriting and script development, we take a look at the most common story-type: plot-led stories.

This fourth module, along with the next four (Behind the Scenes I-III and Into the Script) forms the first section of the rocket that is going to propel your project to the top of the reading pile and hopefully get it made...

So even if you believe that your project is not plot-led, please bear with me. All the concepts, all the tools discussed in the ‘Foundations’ section can be used in any story.

Learning how to handle plot-led stories is the same as learning to walk before attempting to run and jump: if you don’t get the foundations right, you’re seriously limiting your chances of success when dealing with more sophisticated story-types.

This first ‘Behind the Scenes’ module explores the tools used to generate and manage conflict in a screenplay. We’re opening a toolbox that can be used in any story at scene, sequence and story level.

The great benefit of this approach is that it will help you to improve your scene writing, so you can master the craft at scene level before tackling larger story chunks at sequence or script level.

Think about managing conflict as a way to define the direction, the drive of your scene, sequence or story. This is one of the most essential parts of storytelling, yet it’s often mishandled.

When you manage conflict as explained in the previous module, you define the main direction, the story drive: a start point, an end point, obstacles and a question mark, raised by the dramatic question: Will the protagonist reach their goal or not?

That’s great and it’s a key part of storytelling, but if you stop there, you’ve defined a two-dimensional story. Just as you don’t want your characters to be two-dimensional, you don’t want your story to be flat either.

This is what this second ‘Behind the Scenes’ module brings to the party: How, using managing information, you can add a third dimension to the story, generate intellectual interest with mystery, create emotional tension with suspense, break linearity with surprise and sometimes even replace the dramatic 3-Act structure entirely at story level with dramatic irony. The old adage “Information is power” has never been more true…

Managing information is one of the keys to storytelling mastery, yet it’s a misunderstood or neglected topic in most screenwriting approaches. It’s time to change this!

The tools explored in this module might be less structural but they are nevertheless essential—especially if you’d like to reach a wide audience abroad—because they allow you to tell a moving, entertaining and meaningful story without relying primarily on dialogue.

Visual storytelling, planting and pay-off are tightly connected and will help you not only to cross borders but also to create meaning and emotion in your story.

In today’s world, where reaching a global audience is not only possible but often required, it’s a bad idea to develop projects without fully understanding—and then mastering—the power of these tools.

You most likely already know that screenwriters should “show rather than tell”. This module will not only explain why, it will also show you how you can achieve this, and much more.

Now that we’ve gone ‘behind the scenes’, opened the toolbox and given a name and a function to the main screenwriting and script development tools and principles, we can take a step back. In this module, we look ‘into the script’ and show how to bridge the gap between scene and screenplay.

To achieve this, we’re going to explore how we can ‘Sequence the Action’, then how to ‘Craft the Draft’. Finally, we’ll look at "Gravity", our case study for a plot-led story.

Character-led stories are often mistaken for “stories with strong characters”, or character-driven stories. It’s time to correct this misconception and explain what a character-led story really is and why, from a structural point of view, it is significantly different from a plot-led story.

This is key to avoiding aimless stories or artificial stories, because what’s at stake in a character-led story isn’t what the character wants but what the character needs.

When the unconscious need of the protagonist is more important than their conscious want, how do you design the story so that there is still something at stake, so that we still wonder what’s going to happen next? The answer lies in this module, along with additional tips and tools specific to character-led stories and a detailed case study of "Silver Linings Playbook".

When you don’t have a plot-led or a character-led story, when you don’t have a clear protagonist, often it’s because the main problem lies in society and is unsolvable, which leads to a multi-stranded narrative.

This has huge consequences from a structural point of view, the main one being that we can’t use the dramatic 3-act structure to design the whole story, given that there is no main dramatic action or evolution.

Theme-led stories tend to be in the minority if we look at feature films, but many TV Series have a strong theme-led element as most of them – especially serials or limited series - are multi-stranded.

So if you’d like to find out how Crash, Magnolia, Traffic, Cloud Atlas, Game of Thrones or Big Little Lies build on plot-led and character-led stories to create a more complex story form, this module is designed for you and comes with a detailed case study of "Dunkirk".

Up to this point, we’ve defined the foundations and have explored the most common story-types: plot-led, character-led and theme-led.

This is better than a simplistic, dogmatic paradigm, but it still doesn’t encompass all stories. Many successful stories are hybrids (they combine two story-types) or exceptions (they have no clear story-type).

These are the most advanced kinds of stories, hence often the most exciting, but also the most difficult to pull off. You need to understand a few key principles in order to handle hybrids or exceptions without either destroying them during the development process (if they were working in the first place) or failing to make them work.

This is what we’re exploring in this penultimate module, mostly through a selection of short case studies that illustrate how unconventional hybrids and exceptions often work brilliantly.

This was an intense – and hopefully exciting as well as rewarding – journey, it’s time now to bring it to a close in the most practical way. This last module explores how all the tools and principles introduced up to this point can be used during the development process, and adds a few more for good measure.

We’re going to look at the difference between selling tools and story design tools, and we’ll try to point you in the right direction for your next draft inThe Rewrite Stuff – 12 Ways to a Stronger Screenplay.

This module is designed to get you fired up and ready to go, so fasten your seatbelt… It might be the last part of the course but it’s the beginning of a whole new journey!

IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING PREPARATION

The 'Welcome to the Course!' section is freely accessible to allow you to look at the 'Preparation and Resources' topic and get a sense of how much preparation is involved. That way, should you want to, you can prepare ahead of your purchase in order to maximise your access window to the course.

You'll find more information about preparation (and everything else!) in the FAQs below, after the testimonials.

Screenwriting Unchained
Advanced Development Course

Average Rating: 5.0 stars (based on 27 ratings)

Screenwriting Unchained Advanced Development

One year access to the ‘Screenwriting Unchained – Advanced Development’ online course (15 hours of self-led content in 12 training modules).

Left to Use Discount Code SUAD2022 at Checkout and Get 50% OFF!
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Different currencies (USD, EUR, GBP and others) can be selected during checkout. Rates are updated daily.
In addition to any discount, reward points earned in a previous course can be redeemed for up to $100 OFF.
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What People Say

Average Rating: 5.0 stars (based on 27 ratings)

Very thorough understanding of the inner workings of our craft.

True value for money. Well-suited for advancing and advanced screenwriters, including successful ones and those who think they have heard or read it all before. Don’t expect a gospel from a preacher or a showman. Oberg is a modest man who clearly resists becoming the next screenplay guru. Yet he delivers an amazing, almost complete and very thorough understanding of the inner workings of our craft, guaranteed to spark fresh thoughts that will benefit your next project, no matter how experienced you are. And there is a big bonus. The screenplay business is a fickle mistress that can often leave you frustrated. Oberg makes you remember why you fell in love with her in the first place and he makes you fall in love all over again. [Advanced Development Workshop for the Netherlands Film Fund]

Mike van Diem

A liberating revelation

I took the Screenwriting Unchained-course as a live course at the Swedish Film Institute a few years ago. It was a great (and intense 3-day) experience. Not to say a revelation. After the Hero’s Journey, Truby and McKee with 9, 12 or 20-whatever steps (not bad at all and very useful – but still) it was very liberating.
The TV Series-course takes the same thoughts and applies them on ideas and stories (and storylines) that are meant to last for a whole season (or in some cases several seasons). So far I haven’t come across a take on story structure that has been as helpful and useful as this one. (Ok, Aristotle, but that’s where we all start.)

Håkan Östlundh

Oberg has certainly shared some nifty moves

Alexander Pope wrote:
“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.”
It remains to be seen if I will be a good writer after this course, but Emmanuel Oberg has certainly shared some nifty moves (NB tools, not rules) that I am sure will offer, if not “true ease in writing” then certainly a better understanding of the craft.
Thank you.

Roger Childs
RTÉ

It makes so much sense!

Emmanuel’s Story-Type method as explained in the [Screenwriting Unchained] course makes creative sense and deals with the real tasks and issues involved in developing a script/screenplay. The whole process has become more clear to me from following this course and I intend to wring every bit of wisdom and technique I can out of the full course over the next few weeks. Thank you Emmanuel for de-mystifying and clarifying the concepts!

Tom Halton

Great self-learning experience

It was a great self-learning experience that was really flexible to get done because of the videos provided which allowed for watching in your own pace and time schedule. I enjoyed the course taught by Emmanuel Oberg a lot and feel that I can use the tools provided very well for current and future projects in series but definitely also feature films. Highly recommended as a course to learn about strategic approaches to creating and checking the stories you work on – also as a producer!

Noah Bohnert

An extraordinary course!

I cannot thank you enough for such an extraordinary course full of so much wisdom mixed with a rare humility and delivered with real passion. The practical tools will be tremendously useful and the resources a huge bonus. [Advanced Development Workshop for Screen West Midlands]

Natasha Carlish
Producer, Dreamfinder

The right kind of teacher for inherently creative people.

Emmanuel is the right kind of teacher for inherently creative people. He does not instruct, or impose, or prescribe. He displays and explains a box of first-class tools, and encourages the writer to use the ones that suit the work in hand. In this way the work is improved, and the writer gains confidence at the same time, which in turn leads to even better work. Emmanuel is very tall, but he never talks down to you. [Advanced Development Workshop for Cologne Intl Film School]

Simon Perry

A stimulating and inspiring course.

Many, many thanks for such a stimulating and inspiring course. The tools are already coming in extremely useful and I hope will transform my approach to any new project from now on. [Advanced Development Workshop for Ealing Studios]

Smita Bhide

I’m itching to write. I can think of no higher praise.

Every once in a while, we need an update; whether it’s a software update for our phones or laptops, or an attempt to re-paint the kitchen cabinets.

This is the update for story on screen. If you are a writer, an editor, a producer or a commissioner, you need to do this course. Every project you work on will be better – fact!

I’ve been writing and editing for ten years, and I’ve done lots of different courses over the last decade, but this has completely revolutionized the way I think about my writing and the structure of story.

Not only is the Story Type Method enlightening, it’s as creative and fluid as the writing process itself. And it puts the audience at the heart of the discussion. Not in a slavish way that suggests pandering to the market or duplicating previously successful formulas, but in showing the best way to make the story you want to tell enjoyable for the different audiences that are out there.

I found this course inspiring and encouraging. Gone is the sense of dread that can accompany sitting down to tackle a scene or a treatment – I’m itching to write. I can think of no higher praise. [Advanced Development Workshop for Creative Europe Galway]

Blathnaid De Roiste

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