Course dates

Thursday 8 Feb 2024
6:30-8:30pm | 10-weeks

Course overview

Through a series of lectures and in-class workshops, this live online 10-week course will provide you with the tools to develop a 'based on a true story' script for a feature film or a multi-part television series. Our skilled and knowledgeable tutor, Ellin Stein, has a wealth of experience to share with you.

It was a fantastic group of people and the zoom element meant it could be open to all! The course was so well structured and the pacing was perfect. Ellin is very thorough and great at explaining topics. I really felt as though I learnt so much!

Cydney, Spring 2023

This course is for anyone currently writing a film or television script based on real events, or anyone thinking about starting one and exploring scriptwriting, however previous scriptwriting experience is not required.

Through a staged development process, you'll explore techniques for representing the 'truth' of a true story while at the same time creating compelling drama. You'll learn about basic story structure, identify your main plot points, and create a detailed step outline that will give you a scene-by-scene map of the story. You'll learn how to work with images and dialogue and the basics of script formatting. Finally, you'll discuss the next steps in terms of getting your script made.

By the end of the course, you'll have a document that you can further develop into a finished 'based on a true story' script, and a knowledge of how to move forward.

You'll develop your script editing skills through the practice of giving constructive feedback to fellow participants and in turn receive feedback on your own work in guided sessions.

Course structure

  • Session 1: Choosing your premise – your unique viewpoint.
  • Session 2: Character 1 – finding your protagonist.
  • Session 3: Character 2 – avoiding character clutter and character viewpoint.
  • Session 4: Structure 1 – three and five-act structures.
  • Session 5: Structure 2 – scene structure and sequencing.
  • Session 6: Research and exposition – what you need to research and how to incorporate it.
  • Session 7: Images, dialogue, action paragraphs and formatting – how to enhance your story.
  • Session 8: Avoiding traps, taking liberties – dramatic license and how to use it.
  • Session 9: Tutorials – 1-2-1 sessions with the course tutor.
  • Session 10: Next steps – taking what you’ve learnt to the next level.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you'll:

  • Develop basic scriptwriting skills.
  • Develop script editing skills.
  • Adapt a story based on real events into a dramatic narrative script.
  • Learn how to balance staying faithful to the historical record with creating an effective dramatic narrative.
  • Learn how to incorporate essential factual context without getting bogged down in it, how to assess whether a true story is suitable for screen adaptation, and how to inject emotion without devolving into propaganda.
  • Find your voice as a writer.
  • Develop enhanced film analysis skills.
  • Emerge with deeper insight into the films and shows you watch, especially those based on real events, through a better understanding of what choices the screenwriter made and how they resolved particular challenges presented by the true story.

You’ll receive a digital certificate of completion if you attend 80% of the course.


Early bird price: £306 Standard price: £360

Goldsmiths offers a 15% concession rate on short courses to Lewisham Local cardholders, Students and Goldsmiths Alumni. Please email for further information. Please note these concessions cannot be applied to early bird bookings.

Booking information

Please note our short courses sell out quickly, so early booking is advisable.

Thursday 8 Feb 2024
6:30-8:30pm | 10-weeks




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Disability Support

We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. If you require adjustments, please contact us at so we can respond to your requests as soon as possible.

Tutor information

Ellin Stein

Ellin Stein

Ellin Stein is an associate lecturer on the MA Scriptwriting program at Goldsmiths where she teaches screenwriting.  A former script analyst for Zoetrope and Miramax among others, her own based-on-real-events short has won awards at numerous festivals and is in the collections of the BFI, Lux, and the Getty. As a journalist, she’s contributed to publications including The Times, The Telegraph, and the New York Times and writes regularly on films based on a true story for Byline Times and Slate.


About the department

Our Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies is committed to asking the hard questions about the media that will change the world in the 21st century. We are ranked 12th in the world for communication and media studies, and 2nd in the UK for "world leading or internationally excellent" research. The Department works closely with a range of bodies including the Centre for Feminist Research and the Centre for Investigative Journalism, as well as housing important research centres in media democracy and political economy. 

The Department offers both a range of well-established undergraduate programmes and a series of dynamic and innovative postgraduate pathways. The Screen School houses a number of highly renowned filmmaking and scriptwriting programmes, and regularly hosts events in their state-of-the-art lecture theatres and studios in the Professor Stuart Hall Building. The Department is devoted to integrating criticism and creation, through a mixture and theory and practice at all levels of study. Industry speakers, networking events, careers fairs and the option to undertake work placements alongside international exchange programmes connect us to the wide world of media work. 

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