While riding the 2020 ‘corona-coaster’ the world not only became collective experts in baking sourdough, but also in finding new ways to keep our momentum and connection. This has resulted in an incredible amount of content and industry events being moved into the online space. It is my absolute favourite thing about 2020.
Exclusive industry events started broadcasting live online; incredible artists once too busy to talk had time for webinars; and a flood of good will for humanity meant that many of these incredible resources were free. In 2020 I have been able to ‘attend’ the Toronto Screenwriting Festival, MIPCOM and C21; watched pitches broadcast live from LA; had coffee with people all over the world through Australians in Film morning coffee program; and listened to Judd Apatow chat casually about how he builds stories while his son kept begging him to come and play ball, most of which I did in my slippers.
So if you have not got onto it yet, or are looking for some more great recommendations to boost your learning into 2021 here are my top FREE online learning resources (in no particular order). They cover a range of topics from writing to industry overview.
Free masterclasses from world leaders. Listen to Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) do a mock writers room for half hour comedies. There are also free masterclasses on pitching, immersive writing, documentary, producing and lots more.
Media Mentors have done and incredible job this year of bringing our domestic industry leaders to us. Heads of all the major networks and many of the local industry bodies have given live webinars about everything from pitching to their slate. This kind of accessibility is invaluable. Hopefully it is something that continues into the future.
So many great resources! This site includes a script library when you can download a whole range of BBC scripts in a variety of genres. There are also podcasts and interviews with some of the UK’s best writers.
Screencraft have a newsletter that can keep you across the many things they offer. If you are a writer they have a great range of script competitions in every genre which can launch you onto the global stage, you can also watch live pitches attend their virtual summits. Join their Facebook page for the back catalogue of the many fabulous offerings they have had over the year.
In this completely engaging animated lesson, writer Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) talks you through what he learned about writing a feature from Toy Story 3. It is a great insight into the structure of features as well as the workings of Pixar.
A great resource of, quite frankly, 21 show bibles that every writer and producer or development exec should read. They include Battlestar Galactica, Freaks and Geeks, Lost and New Girl.
A YouTube channel that interviews an incredible range of people in the industry. Based in LA, but a lot of what they discuss is global. Subscribe, or pick and choose what interests you:
Subscribe to their free newsletter for the best and easiest way to stay across the Aussie industry. (Editor’s note: I swear, Julie wrote this of her own volition!)
Australia’s connection to LA. This has been free all year and while there is now a small joining fee ($65) this is a fabulous way to get connected to talented Aussies all around the globe. They have been running monthly coffee chats which is an incredible networking opportunity. They are also an invaluable support system if you are wanting to build connections in LA.
Of you would rather listen, here are my top picks for industry podcasts:
Two working writers in LA talk about their weekly challenges, offer practical craft advice on writing and have some brilliant guests. I love this podcast as it’s so down to earth and real. It gives and honest insight into the professional writer’s life. There is a very helpful Facebook page that goes alongside it where the hosts and writers from around the world discuss a range of topics and answer questions. A great way to feel part of the global writing community.
A podcast from Final Draft. Interviews with an incredible range of global heavyweights including writers, showrunners, directors and agents.
An insider’s guide into breaking into and navigating Hollywood. Topics include development, budgeting, selling, networking and even crowdfunding.
A great podcast for a global overview of the industry (not just writing). This is the place to go for hearing from network executives and producers as well as the full scope of creatives.
Incredible interviews on an astounding range of topics from documentary to games, on Killing Eve to Normal People and with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Taika Waititi.
Screen Australia podcast
A fabulous podcast to help keep you up to date with the Australian industry. There are interviews with writers as well as directors, producers etc. Essential listening to hear from locals as well as international guests.
While not all of these were started in 2020, there certainly has been a global shift to see the value and accessibility of online learning, sharing and participating in our industry. Another fabulous upcoming example is SPA’s 2021 Screen Forever conference, which will for the first time have a low-cost option for attending only online. Lowering the barrier for entry means more shared knowledge and growth, and higher participation. Surely this is a great way to make our industry stronger than ever.
And if this list hasn’t filled your ears, eyes and mind with enough learning then firstly, you are someone after my own heart – a lifelong learner! And secondly, head to your favourite search engine and search away. The generosity of our industry has been incredible this year and if you are up for the learning then there is an abundance of riches out there.
If you find something brilliant please tag me @productivewords. I want in.