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Online Courses

Shonda Rhimes Masterclass

There are tons of online courses for filmmaking, but if you’re the kind of person who wants to go straight for the best, you should definitely be looking at MasterClass.com.

I signed up early on and completed the Werner Herzog masterclass on filmmaking (which I’ll review separately soon), and have also been working through the ones by Aaron Sorkin (on screenwriting) and Kevin Spacey (on acting). I paid $90 a pop for these courses individually, so when MasterClass recently began offering their all-access pass at $180 a year, I received the first year for free!

I immediately signed up for the Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television course and binged my way through it within a couple of weeks. Like many of the other students, I plan on going back through the course again at a slower pace because there’s so much information to absorb. A huge benefit of this style of video course is the ability to go back and review specific sections over again, and I’ve already taken advantage of that with the Herzog course.

This course, as with all the MasterClass offerings I’ve sampled so far, benefits from top-notch production. The lessons are well-structured, with case studies of actual episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Shonda is brilliant and a better teacher than most, making the lessons almost entertaining to watch. Fans of Shonda’s shows definitely won’t want to miss this unique behind-the-scenes perspective, but even if you’ve never seen an episode, the included clips, scripts, and other provided materials will get you through.

Shonda covers writing topics like character creation, story structure, and dialogue, as well as pitching, creating story bibles, showrunning, and working in a writers’ room. The 30 video lessons are packed with amazing tips and anecdotes that make the lessons truly memorable and give a rare insider’s perspective on showrunning.

Even among other MasterClass offerings, this is the best online class on filmmaking I’ve taken so far (sorry, Mr. Herzog), and I can’t recommend it highly enough.