Scriptnotes Podcast-logo

Scriptnotes Podcast


Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.

Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.


Los Angeles, CA


Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.






575 - The Billion Dollar Episode

John welcomes writer/performer Matt Rogers (Fire Island, Las Culturistas) for a new installment of How Would This Be A Movie. From crypto crashes to lotto longshots, this week they look at money-themed stories in the news and why they’re worth adapting. Matt shares his background getting started as a comedy writer and tips for non-icky networking. We also answer listener questions on neglectful agents and pitching in drag. In our bonus segment for premium members: What is culture? John and...


574 - Difficult Scenes

John and Craig investigate why some scenes are so much harder to write than others, with strategies for tackling (or surrendering) to the difficulty. We also follow up on virtual rooms, act breaks, and diversity workshops. Listener questions this week include introducing twists, getting elbowed out of your project, and whether it’s possible to be too meta? In our bonus segment for premium members, Megana shares her experiences attending the Austin Film Festival for the first...


573 - Three Page Challenge Live in Austin 2022

John welcomes Marc Velez, SVP, Head of Development at UCP, on for an in-person round of the Three Page Challenge. As always, we look at listener-submitted pages and offer honest feedback, at the Austin Film Festival. We’re joined live by each of the writers who add context and pitch their vision for each project. From near-future sci-fi to a familiar Hollywood horror story, John and Marc offer advice on how to craft a compelling opening. In our bonus segment for premium members, we answer...


572 - Live at the Austin Film Festival 2022

John and Craig return to the Austin Film Festival for a raucous show with a full house. They invite Brenda Hsueh (The Afterparty, How I Met Your Mother) and Chuck Hayward (Ted Lasso, Wandavision) on to discuss breaking in, staff-able samples, and the dangers of losing your voice (literally!) in the room. Then we welcome back Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) and Phil Hay (Mysterious Benedict Society, The Invitation) to discuss showrunning the modern comedy and making multiple seasons on...


571 - Scriptnotes Live in LA

In our first live show since 2019, John and Craig welcome guests Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island), Ike Barinholtz (History of the World, part 2), Megan Ganz (Mythic Quest), and Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). They discuss writing scripted comedy vs. standup, representation, and the difficulties of being the boss. They’re joined by The Manager We Told You to Fire, who has some choice words for the guys. Megana asks audience questions on storyboarding, pet peeves, and...


224 - Whiplash on Paper and on Screen

John and Craig take an in-depth look at two scenes in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH to see how conflicts were structured and what changed from script to shooting. We also discuss the myth vs. reality of Zola, and what we mean by a character having agency. In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana discuss the seemingly sudden rise of artificial intelligence tools in creative industries. Links: livestream Warner Brothers Writers Workshop Program News The true story behind...


570 - How Much Progress?

John and Craig welcome back Liz Alper (Day of the Dead, The Rookie) and Brittani Nichols (Abbott Elementary, A Black Lady Sketch Show) to discuss how much progress has been made on issues from #MeToo, #PayUpHollywood, and depictions of police on screen. We look at common threads between the movements, and the difficulty of maintaining momentum once the initial impetus has passed. We also answer listener questions on how to deal with ethically complicated projects and why there’s still so...


569 - Inspiration vs. Motivation

John and Craig compare the romanticism and reality of writing. They discuss why inspiration is overvalued, why ‘bad motivations’ aren’t necessarily bad, and the rare bliss that occurs when inspiration and motivation align. We answer listener questions on act breaks, cover the phenomenon of show-runners as promotional vehicles, and John attempts to manifest a Van Halen movie. And in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk creepy crawlies. Links: Starbucks Seam Life Hack John...


568 - Writing as Acting

John and Craig analyze what lessons writers can learn from acting techniques (such as staying present) and working with actors (like staying open). We also discuss writer retirement, how Craig’s “central dramatic argument” applies to TV, and the skill of cutting a character to save a scene. In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss The Future and what we owe it. Links: Writer Emergency Pack XLhere on Kickstarter!Green Burial CouncilIs California ready for ‘human composting’ as...


567 - No Stars, Please

John and Craig discuss movie and television stars. When do you want to cast a huge star, and when is it not a good idea? From big names in small parts to new names in big parts, they try to calculate how much fame a role requires. We follow up on the editing process and share advice on staying nimble. We also answer listener questions on recorded pitches, writing left behind, and time management with multiple contracts. In our bonus segment for premium members, we play a round of Two...


566 - Not Controversial At All

John invites writer/producer/actor Ashley Nicole Black (Ted Lasso, Black Lady Sketch Show) to discuss fandoms, cultural appropriation and boycotts over abortion access. They also answer simpler listener questions: What do TV producer titles really mean? When should you attach a showrunner? And what happens when you disagree with your manager? In our bonus segment for premium members, they talk parties! John and Ashley discuss the new norms for hosting people...


565 - Sorry to Splaflut

John and Craig host a round of the Three Page Challenge, a segment where they offer feedback on listeners’ scripts. This week they discuss the whiplash of cutting too quickly, captivating title pages, and V.O. narration that actually works. We also cover the return of MoviePass, 25 years of Netflix, and AI generated language. In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss senior year. Links: Order your new Scriptnotes Shirt here! Things I Think Are Awesome: Hunger Stones and...


564 - Brocal Fry

John and Craig answer questions from listeners teetering on the precipice of success. What projects do you take after a big win? How can you make the most money in your career? And how do you move forward when your dream project dies? We follow up on vocal fry/linguistic tics, HBO Max’s recent announcements, and the trades. In our bonus segment for premium members, the guys look at whether the start-up mentality of ‘failing fast’ can be applied to screenwriting. Links: HBO Max to Remove...


563 - VFX Deep Dive

John and Craig welcome VFX supervisor Alex Wang (The Last of Us) and VFX producer/writer Addie Manis (Foundation) to pull back the (green screen) curtain on the visual effects production process. We ask the VFX experts to break down a sample scene, line by line to explain how they’d turn scene description into an actual scene. From their first read to the edit, they describe how the script guides the visual language for their projects. In our bonus segment for premium members, John and...


562 - Finish Line Blues

John and Craig discuss the confusing phenomenon of post-scriptum depression. They explain why even a good experience can feel like loss and offer tips for how to move on. We also cover the difficulty of balancing timelines in parallel storylines. Follow up this week includes a fuller explanation of the Monty Hall and a passionate defense of short films. In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our favorite party game: Codenames. Links: WGA Animation PledgeScriptnotes Seasons...


561 - Why Now?

John and Craig tackle the third question every development executive asks: “why now?” What makes an idea relevant to the moment? They offer ways writers can think about this early on in their process, including reframing it as “how now?” instead. We then talk about reversals and look at how they work on the page, using a scene from Chernobyl. This week’s follow up includes discussions on abortion access, post-release editing, and the impact of cancelling an almost-finished movie. In our...


560 - Books and VFX

John and Craig look at visual effects from both a creative and budgetary perspective. From set extensions to blue screens, the guys discuss the hidden costs and tricks of post-production. We also cover the options screenwriters have when optioning books. We cover formal (and less-formal) arrangements, loose adaptations and answer a listener question on making shorts. In our bonus segment for premium members, we share our experiences with nightmares and the secret behind Craig’s...


559 - Dating Your Writing Partner

John and Craig weigh in on writing partner romances, voice-y scripts, character chemistry and end-of-draft treats in this week’s listener questions. We also host a round of How Would This Be A Movie, featuring stories on treasure hunts, jailed activists, and a sports scam. We look at how these news articles would translate to film/television and most importantly, whether they should be adapted at all. In our bonus segment the guys share hacks for remembering new people and make a pitch for...


558 - Magnetic Characters

John and Craig are back together! They discuss the magnetism that draws viewers into a story, pulls characters together and pushes them through the narrative. We follow up on adulting, gun violence and remote writers rooms. We also look at the new animation writer contract and the CW sale. For our premium members, check out our bonus episode with the creator of Wordle and the author of 50 Years of Text Games about ways to use words for fun and profit. Links: Animation Guild Members...


444 - Clueless

John and Craig revisit their analysis of the iconic 1995 comedy Clueless. A contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma set in Beverly Hills, Clueless follows protagonist Cher as she tries to do ‘good’ through make-over montages and match-making attempts. We discuss how the movie sets up the characters in the first ten minutes, why Cher’s voiceover works so well, and how Clueless ushered in a new era of teen movies. In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig share their own...