Learning Overview



Sherwood Oaks can benefit ANYONE who is trying to break into Hollywood in just about ANY area in the industry.


At Sherwood Oaks, we have different course styles to suit the needs of different students. You will notice when reading the various course descriptions that a course style is listed. This allows you to choose which course best matches your needs and personal preferences. We leave the choice to you.

Close Encounters

This is our most popular class format thanks to its small size and high access to guests. Close Encounters courses usually have several industry professionals scheduled as guest speakers. Up to 18 students gather for a roundtable discussion with each guest who is centrally seated at the table. The guest will introduce themselves and share their own professional experiences and perspectives about the industry. Then a Sherwood Oaks facilitator opens a discussion and invites questions from the students. This process is repeated for each guest speaker, allowing the students to personally meet an average of five guests per each day of the course.

Rotating Roundtable

These courses open with a panel discussion where several industry professional guests introduce themselves, followed by our rotating roundtable format. Students remain at one table throughout the day while meeting every guest speaker in succession as the speakers rotate to different tables. This offers the 7 to 12 students at each table an opportunity to individually talk with every guest speaker. After the industry professionals are each seated at a table, the roundtable discussion commences for 20 – 30 minutes. (The time with each guest is dependent upon the number of guests on that day and each guest’s personal schedule.)

Then the guest speakers rotate to their next tables. Each class day features two to three panel discussions, followed by roundtable rotations. This means that a student can meet at least 10 speakers per day and often this number can be as high as 14 each day. Over a two-day course, a student can expect to converse with at least 20 industry professional guests personally — far more than in similar courses offered by other organizations.

This format presents students with the opportunity to learn from their fellow students as well as the numerous industry professionals. It also has the added benefit of being one of our most affordable class formats, since the course sizes are typically 50 – 90 students. Yet, with our rotating roundtable format, students still benefit from the smaller class sizes, thanks to the 1:7-12 student-to-guest ratio at each table.

Panel Discussion

This style of course features several industry professionals conversing with each other and a Sherwood Oaks facilitator in a seminar lecture format. The discussion is followed by questions from the students if time allows.

Note: We rarely offer this course format, since Sherwood Oaks believes in creating the best possible student-to-speaker ratio in a setting that allows each student to personally talk with each guest. However, due to some industry professionals’ time constraints and security requirements, we do use the Panel Discussion format for classes that feature famous directors and famous actors.


For almost 50 years Sherwood Oaks has been offering small face-to-face, personalized classes with successful professionals in the entertainment industry. These professionals share their experiences from screenwriting, acting, film production, directing cinematography, marketing and many more important aspects in the industry.

Agents & Managers

Meet at least ten agents and managers in a Close Encounter setting. To date, at every Agents & Managers course, at least one out of ten students get professional representation. Attend a course and be one step closer toward having your own agent or manager. Sherwood Oaks is the only place where you get the inside scoop about your work and your potential from top Hollywood execs. Live, in-person and face-to-face is where you experience real learning and create lasting relationships.

Agents and managers want to find people to represent. Agents and managers who have typically won major screenwriting contests or simply love your material and your personality. They will discuss what is selling, who they represent and how they work with writers. Agents want to sell your script — and they want to sell your scripts fast – within a year. Larger agents want to sell scripts within a few months or at least garner immediate interest. Managers are seriously interested in developing your script and writing talent. There is much more to learn when you personally interact with agents and managers, but you have to go to class to find out…


Producers are always looking for fresh, new material. They prefer to work with represented writers but often work with non-represented writers if they like your One-Sheet. They want to get a sense of your personality before they move forward. They must feel comfortable with you. This is why Sherwood Oaks Close Encounter classes work to jump-start your career. Producers want to make movies and are always looking for a hot, new script.

Will it be your script? Even better yet, can you and your creativity be a producer’s next investment?

Companies of Actors

Actors are looking for new material. Actors will create their own production company. This will allow them to find material (hopefully your script). Actors do not want to wait for their agent to give them material but want to see what is out there.

Actors have different interests. They will take on a role if they think it will help them expand their image and growth as an actor. They may take on these roles for a lower fee than they normally accept. If an actor is known for romantic comedy then they may be interested in a drama or thriller. For example, Jim Carrey who is known for comedy, may jump at the chance to star in a drama.

If actors like your writing they may want to develop your material, even though they may not be acting in the film. An example is Will Smith’s project “This Means War”. Smith’s company often comes to Sherwood Oaks classes.

Actors have to keep their resume fresh so they may take on a role if they have not worked for a year or two. Our student Megan Johnson got $250,000 in financing and made a film in 2011 with name character actors and a Sherwood Oaks producer.

Before choosing an actor for your project (script), we encourage you to attend a class to find out more of the pros and cons. When you have the right actor attached to your project, you can get financed more easily.


Most directors start as writers. Our famous alumni, James Cameron, Sylvester Stallone and Nancy Myers all attended Sherwood Oaks as writers and then became directors. Directors of films run the show. They are in charge. As a film writer, the director will have the final say on your script. Most studios consider the director as one of the most important aspects of the film. We highly recommend attending a director panel or listening to a director to learn what they feel is important, how they became successful and what skills you need to become a successful film director.

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All of our classes, due to the availability of the instructors, are scheduled kind of “last minute.” Almost all of our instructors that we get are not able to commit more than 3 weeks in advance. So when we get ready to schedule a class, if you are not on our mailing list, you will most likely NOT be notified in time to register.


Responsible emailing, limited outreach for real events only, and you can opt out at any time.


Familiarity creates recognition.
Attend seminars often… become known as an upcoming creative!

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