MasterClass: who's tried it?

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:30 pm Post

For some time now, ads for something called "MasterClass" have been appearing in my Facebook feed. I'm sure that's a result of the different groups and subjects I'm interested in; the site's algorithms are pretty spot-on. In particular Neil Gaiman's storytelling class keeps popping up and I've watched the promotional video for it because he's a hero of mine.

It impressed me enough to go to the site and look around a bit. I see there are classes offered by several popular writers, such as James Patterson, Dan Brown, and Margaret Atwood. While the prices are out of the question on my budget, I wondered whether anyone has tried this program out and if so, how did you like it?

And if you're curious, here's the link:

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:29 pm Post

I’ve seen the Aaron Sorkin one on screenwriting (I’m a Sorkin fanboy). It was a fascinating insight into his approach, but ultimately it didn’t change the way I approach my own writing. Then again, I’ve got my “philosophy of writing” down, so was perhaps less in the market for a life-changing lesson. Also, there was quite a bit of overlap between Aaron’s story fundamentals (“Objective and Obstacle”) and what I’d worked out for myself (“Protagonist, Objective, Obstacle, Escalation, Ending”), so again perhaps I was less inclined to see it as transformative.

That said, it was well produced, intelligently structured, and thoroughly entertaining. In short I’m glad I spent the money.

It’s worth noting that it also comes with a community forum for others that have signed up to the class. I’ve not availed myself of that at all.
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Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:19 pm Post

I heartily recommend the $180 All-Access Pass.

The classes are all very interesting and well-produced; some are more superficial than others, but there's always some facinating insight.

I've found that since I've been a pro screenwriter for a long while, the writing classes didn't surprise me much. That being said, I've found some amazing insight in the non-writing classes. Steve Martin's Comedy Class contains some world-class advice about how to be a better artist of any kind, and how to navigate the business. Martin Scorcese's Filmmaking Class teaches how to find your unique artistry and nurture it -- because it's your ultimate competitive advantage. Usher's class on Performance gives some great insight into building a work ethic and how to conduct yourself in success, and how to drive yourself when success seems elusive.

They now have an iOS app and an AppleTV app as well. When I have a long drive to a meeting, I often listen to MasterClass on my iPhone.

I don't think one class for $99 is a good bet, because they are a little uneven. The $180 All-you-can-eat plan is a treasure trove.