August 1-8, 2015
La Canada, California


The creation of every great movie starts way before the writer types “FADE IN.” The concept must brew in the heart and mind of the writer in a prequel to the writing that will have everything to do with if the finished screenplay will work. At Catharsis, we are invested in you as a writer first of all – what do you bring to the table as a visual storyteller? What are your strengths in talent and training? What skills and information do you need to set you on a successful course? What medium of screen storytelling is the best starting point for you and the stories you have to tell?

The Prequel experience will provide you three of the key elements every screenwriter needs: information about the craft and business, skill-training to build your storytelling muscles, and feedback to move you and your projects to the next level.

At Catharsis, we have been on both sides of the screen storytelling table as producers, development executives and writers. We commit to you that if you give us eight days of your life, we will share with you a lifetime’s worth of smart, inspiring and practical training. If you want to write for the screen this is your next step.

ONLY FIFTEEN WRITERS WILL BE ACCEPTED! We don’t want to waste your time or ours and we want to give everyone plenty of personal feedback.



  • What are the basic skill sets of screenwriting?  How do your skills rate?
  • What is your writing process?  How can it be more productive?
  • What are the essential elements of a story?  What makes a story cinematic?
  • What makes a story matter?  What makes it unforgettable?
  • Do you have a feature idea? A short? A teleplay? A web series?
  • How do you make a character better than the real?
  • How can you make the audience care about your character?
  • How is formatting a screenplay an art and a science?
  • What is the right structure to support your plot? To highlight your theme?
  • How do you find and work with writing partners, producers, investors?
  • (Extra for writing teachers) How do you develop a syllabus for an effective screenwriting program?

Each writer will have the opportunity for an introductory and exit interview in which we tailor particular help according to their career hopes and plans. We will help each draft a “What Comes Next?” plan for after the program.

Post-Workshop Mentoring: Writers who complete the eight-day workshop will have the opportunity to contract with Catharsis at a special rate to continue a mentoring phase on a project or projects for the next ten months. Mentoring will consist of monthly page number targets for the writer and feedback from Catharsis on the student’s work. Writers will complete two projects during their mentoring period: either a short film and a feature or two TV projects; We will also consider proposals for web series.

Faculty: The Screenwriter’s Prequel is the passion project of Barbara R. Nicolosi and Vicki Peterson, the founders of Catharsis ( and the authors of the January 2015 release Notes to Screenwriters, published by Michael Wiese. Barbara and Vicki have a combined 35 years of experience in Hollywood as screenwriters, producers, consultants, development executives and screenwriting professors. They will be joined on the faculty by a core team of industry professionals who are also excellent and experienced instructors.



8 Day Screenwriter’s Prequel program with approximately 60 hours of classroom time – $1995.00
One year Mentorship Program (September- May) – $2995 (or $1595 each semester)


How to apply:

Click on Apply Now to pay the $25 application fee, then you’ll be directed to the online application.
If you want to first look over the application, it’s here.


Questions about the program?

Email or call 310-499-6726.



  1. What kind of students are you looking for?
    We want students who are ready to get serious about screenwriting. Preference will be given to applicants who show real promise in pursuing the craft long term, and are interested in developing their skills to compete at a professional level. We are looking for both talent and commitment.
  2. What kind of projects may I work on?
    You may develop any narrative projects intended for the screen: features, television (specs and pilots), shorts, and web series.
  3. Where will classes be held?
    Classes will be held at a private retreat-like location in the beautiful city of La Canada Flintridge. Address and directions will be provided upon acceptance into the program.
  4. What will the daily schedule be like?
    Class sessions will start promptly at 9am and run until 5 pm on most days, with breaks and lunch scheduled in between. Additional evening sessions will run from 7-9 pm. Plan to clear your entire schedule for the week.
  5. I’m coming from out of town. When should I plan to arrive/leave?
    Plan to be ready for class in La Canada by 9 am on Saturday, August 1st. Schedule outgoing travel for August 9th or later.
  6. What are some local housing options?
    In addition to hotels in the Pasadena/ Glendale area, we recommend sites such as
  7. When is tuition due?
    A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required upon acceptance to hold your spot. The remainder of tuition is due by July 15th.
  8. Do you offer scholarships or payment plans?
    Not for the Screenwriter’s Prequel. Monthly payment plans for One Year Mentorships may be scheduled.
  9. I am new to the craft of screenwriting. How should I prepare for the program?
    We will send a list of preparatory activities along with your acceptance letter. In the meantime, read our book, Notes to Screenwriters and refer to the recommendations therein.
  10. I am an experienced screenwriter. Is this program for me?
    Absolutely. The strongest writers are constantly building their skills and growing in their craft. We will challenge each student according to his or her individual needs.
  11. I’m interested in the year-long mentoring, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit to it yet. Can I decide later?
    Yes, but we give preference to applicants who show long-term commitment to studying the craft. You may opt to be mentored at a later time, pending availability. Mentoring spots will be first offered to students in the Screenwriter’s Prequel upon acceptance, then opened up to the general public.



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