Screenwriting Institute

Learn about Screenwriting!

Screenplays are where cinematic stories are born! Screenplays provide the blueprint for a movie or TV show. Use your creativity to craft the stories you want to tell through dialogue, plot, and tone.

Do you have an interest in screenwriting and are curious about writing your own? Are you passionate about storytelling? Do you love creative writing and dream about creating the next great movie, documentary, or television series? If so, then the Screenwriting Institute is for you. The Screenwriting Institute is a week-long program designed for high school students to gain an understanding of the art and craft of writing screenplays for film, television and/or video games. Students will learn how to write their own screenplay, meet with Screenwriting professionals, and create two short original screenplays by the end of the week.

At a Glance


2023 Dates: July 23-28

Program Length: Sunday – Friday

Who Can Apply?: Current 9th – 12th grade students

Location: Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest University Campus

Overnight Tuition: $2,800

Overnight or Day: Overnight Program

*Courses carry no secondary school or college credit. Upon completion of the program, an official Wake Forest University Certificate of Completion will be awarded to all Screenwriting Institute participants.


What You’ll Experience

Topics Covered:

  • Structure – Set-up and Pay-Off
  • Storyboarding and Screenwriting
  • Character Development – Goals, Obstacles and Flaws
  • Workshopping and Editing
  • Genre and Tone

Hands-On Experiences:

  • Work to write a screenplay 
  • Watch and analyze different styles of filmmaking
  • Engage in discussion with professional screenwriters
  • Hear about trends and see behind the scenes
  • Learn to use Final Draft software – what the pros use!

*Hands-on experiences are subject to change.


Screenwriting Institute Cost

Overnight | $2,800

Students Preparing to film on the quad at WFU

A Day in the Life

  • 8:00 am – Morning Meeting and Breakfast
  • 9:00 am – Welcome and Program Introduction
  • 9:30 am – Special Guest Lecture: Screenwriting
  • 10:00 am – Technical Skills: Creating the Premise and Plot
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch and Learn: Screenplay Examples
  • 1:00 pm – Field Trip: UNCSA
  • 4:30 pm – Debrief for the Next Day
  • 5:30 pm – Dinner
  • 6:30 pm – Evening Activities
  • 7:30 pm – Free Time
  • 9:00 pm – Prepare for Bed
  • 10:00 pm – Lights Out

*The “A Day in the Life” sample schedule is subject to change.


Meet Your Academic Leader

Thomas Southerland

Academic Leader, Screenwriting Institute

Thomas Southerland is a graduate of the American Film Institute and an Assistant Professor of the Practice at Wake Forest University where he teaches Screenwriting, Introduction to Film, and Media Production classes. He’s written and directed two award-winning narrative features, Proud Citizen and Fort Maria, several feature documentaries, and numerous short documentaries. His work has screened at film festivals nationwide. He’s currently working on his third narrative feature.