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Each week, screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters, everything from the craft to the business to the best ways to actually get yourself writing.

Each week, screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters, everything from the craft to the business to the best ways to actually get yourself writing.
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Los Angeles, CA


Each week, screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters, everything from the craft to the business to the best ways to actually get yourself writing.






375 - Austin 2018 Three Page Challenge

John and Craig review three Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Lindsay Doran (producer of Stranger Than Fiction, Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, Dead Again) and Jewerl Ross (manager and founder of Silent R Management). They then invite the writers up to discuss the notes, including the importance of geography, setting up relationships, and the danger in feeding kittens to sharks. We also answer listener questions about “emotional math,“ breaking rules, the evolution of...


374 - Real-World Villains

John and Craig investigate actual villains in this installment of How Would This Be a Movie? From the eerily prescient writer of “How to Murder Your Husband” to the dark comedy of Jacob Wohl, sometimes reality provides the character — now you just need an actual story. We also look at the craft behind writing for ensemble, plus follow-up on the end of FilmStruck, “No Writing Left Behind,” specifying character race in scripts and the hopeful resurgence of family-friendly Christmas...


373 - Austin Live Show 2018

John and Craig invite Wendy Calhoun (Station 19, Empire), Phil Hay (The Invitation, Ride Along), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift) to join them onstage for a discussion about the death of the writing middle class, why we get bored during a film or episode of television, and the consequences of handing over unpaid writing. We also play a game called “Why is Craig So Mad?” Recorded live from the Driskill...


372 - No Writing Left Behind

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone. We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple. Links: Austin Film FestivalTexas Book Festival Boulder Book Store EventNo Writing Left Behind The Confidence GapYoutube TVhereColored RevisionsKaratekaHighland2 The USB drives!John AugustCraig...


225 - Only Haters Hate Rom-Coms

John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre. We discuss what distinguishes rom-coms from other comedies, and why they get singled out for disdain and death-of articles. Also this week: Amazon Storywriter, overused dicks, and follow-up on Whiplash. This episode originally aired on November 24, 2015. Links: Amazon StorywriterFountainWhiplash, on paper and on screenIMDbTwitterMan UpWikipediaRotten Tomatoes Why...


371 - Writing Memorable Dialogue

John and Craig have a dialogue about dialogue. They discuss how thinking about memorizing lines can help write them, and how to service quieter characters in a scene. We also answer listener questions about adapting plays for the screen, creating a different experience for your reader than your viewer, and whether to trust sketchily worded release forms. Links: series trailerChunking How Shrek 2 has been redubbed for the UK market You Might be the KillerTwitter threadEvercasthereColored...


370 - Two Things at the Same Time

John and Craig look into simultaneity and how to visually articulate two things happening at once with the temporally-limited medium of written word. We also explore how simultaneity can ramp up tension, fracture narrative and play with expectations. Then we apply what we’ve discussed to three new entries in the Three Page Challenge. Links: premium subscriber herehereColored RevisionsKaratekaHighland2Angelique GrossYohannes AshenafiJ. Gordon“How to Beat Any Escape Room” password handoff...


369 - What Is a Movie, Anyway?

John and Craig welcome Franklin Leonard to weigh in on the current definition of “movie.” In the age of streaming, this distinction is not only important for audiences and awards, but has a meaningful effect on how writers are paid. We also take umbrage with Awards Season as a Hollywood fixture, and follow up on a five year-old prediction about iPads in movie theaters. Links: Scriptnotes, Episode 108: Are two screens better than one?premium subscriber here Show Us Your RoomInstagram...


368 - Advice for a New Staff Writer

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and what’s for lunch. In follow up, we look at disappearing digital purchases and the further fallout from Les Moonves. We have new Scriptnotes T-shirts available -- Colored Revisions! Thanks to Alison, Ryan now knows about...


367 - One Year Later

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the progress made in the year following the Weinstein revelations. Have the systems for reporting and preventing sexual harassment improved, or are we still just dealing with hurricanes? We also follow up on The Academy’s decision to nix the Popular Film category, the IATSE agreement, missing movies, and Craig’s distaste for ventriloquism. And Final Draft teaches us that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Links: The Academy...


Extra: WGA Elections 2018

John and Craig discuss their choices for WGA Board Elections and misinformation about proposed revisions to the Screen Credits Manual. Links: WGA East ElectionsJonathan FernandezPatti CarrBetsy ThomasTravis DonnellyDante W. HarperEric HeissererDeric HughesDavid SlackAshley GableSpiro SkentzosVJ Boyd Deborah Amelon WGA Sets Referendum On Proposed Changes To Its Screen Credits Manual – Update The USB drives!John AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramFind past episodesScriptnotes Digital...


366 - Tying Things Up

John and Craig cover endings, both for craft and for business. First they articulate the importance of the denouement and the social contract it fulfills with the audience. Then they discuss what happens to a writer’s work after their death. We also follow up on pitching, and introduce a new segment: Change Craig’s Mind. This week: Ventriloquists! Links: Jordan, Jesse, Go!Mindy KalingSusanna Fogel and David IsersonNina Conti special rulesErin GibsonThrowing ShadeGay of ThronesFeminasty:...


365 - Craig Hates Dummies

John and Craig are back at it with another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? They consider the story of a competitive mass Tinder date, a retirement home for ventriloquist dummies and the McDonald’s Monopoly heist. We also revisit John’s WGA Corner for updates, follow up on the conflict within IATSE, and get a great sense of Craig’s passionate beef with ventriloquism. Links: Studios Back In Antitrust Spotlight As AMC Chain Loses Key Court Ruling Class Struggle in Hollywood,...


364 - Netflix Killed the Video Store

John welcomes Kate Hagen to talk about missing movies and the role that video stores play in archiving film history, preserving access to all movies and creating a sense of community. They discuss some of the barriers to films getting digital distribution, from limited music licenses to struggles with chain-of-title when companies fail. We also discuss what it is to be a script reader, write coverage and clash with a boss’ taste. And we follow up on Moviepass and its legacy. Links: Kate...


363 - Best Popular Screenwriting Podcast

John and Craig pack this business-centric episode with big picture conversations about guild negotiations, changes to the Oscars, the Disney/Fox merger, the Paramount Consent Decree, and the tragedy that is being unable to stream The Flamingo Kid. Links: SpotifyAustin Film Festival Changes are coming to the Oscars IATSE not backing The Department of Justice will review the Paramount Consent Decree In Search of the Last Great Video Store this form Antiheropuzzles The USB drives!John...


Extra: My Abortion Story

In this extra mini-episode, John and Craig discuss John’s abortion article. We’ll be back with a normal episode on Tuesday. Links: My Abortion Story


362 - The One with Mindy Kaling

John sits down with writer/actor Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project, Champions) to talk about her origin story, her big break as Ben Affleck, what it’s like to simultaneously showrun and star in a sitcom, and the nature of half-hour comedies. We also answer a listener question about point of view and its relationship with genre and medium. Links: Mindy KalingChampionsMatt and Ben Fringe Festival Four Weddings and a FuneralThe End of the Fucking WorldGodlessThe Visitors The USB...


361 - From Indie to Action Comedy

John welcomes Susanna Fogel and David Iserson to talk about making their new movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me. They discuss the transition from TV and indie film to blockbuster, the collaboration involved in crafting a comic action sequence, and the fun of production overseas. Susanna and David explain the advantages of spec scripts (this was one), and what it’s like writing with a partner. Links: Susanna FogelDavid IsersonThe Spy Who Dumped Me premiere suitBanvard’s FollyAmerican...


360 - Relationships

John and Craig discuss the importance and basics of developing relationships in storytelling. Characters are nothing without relationships, like Woody without Buzz, Shrek without Donkey, John without Craig... We then test these ideas about relationships against a fresh set of Three Page Challenges. Links: Arlo Finch coversAustin Film Festival“Big Bright Beautiful World”“If I Were a Rich Man”the movie versionThree pagesThree pagesThree pageshere Images of America Book...


359 - Where Movies Come From

John and Craig welcome Liz Hannah (screenwriter of The Post) to explore where movies come from, be it real life, storytelling social media sites, or all-powerful comic book IP. How do these story sources affect the writer’s relationship with the material and with the audience? We also follow up on the meaning of “Jackman Shot” and answer listener questions about using accents to indicate foreign language, where low-budget holiday movies fit into a blossoming writing career and the...