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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.






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...


358 - Point of View

John and Craig discuss the power of point of view in scripts and how the choice of which characters have storytelling power changes how we experience a movie. Point of view has a meaningful role in creating mystery, expanding scale, elevating characters, and energizing a story. We also answer listener questions about “Jackman shots,” renaming a character in the middle of a story, and supporting a child who writes. Links: * Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are now available! * Margin...


357 - This Title is an Example of Exposition

John and Craig debate and defend one of the most-maligned elements of screenwriting: Exposition. How do you tell an audience what they need to know without being labeled a hack? We offer tips for getting viewers up to speed without them realizing they’re getting fed exposition. We also follow up on screenplay competitions, the psychology of toxic fandom, fridging as a trope, and the market for lesbian love stories. Links: * Michael Arndt’s thoughts on Endings (and Beginnings) *...


356 - Writing Animated Features

John welcomes Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Homeward Bound) to talk about her experience writing animated features, from the parallel processes of writing and production to her paltry paycheck for Beauty and the Beast. They consider the blurring lines between live-action and hyperrealistic CGI, as well as the history of animation writers’ exclusion from the WGA. We also answer listener questions about whether there is such a thing as a bad character want and how...


355 - Not Worth Winning

In light of the dust-up over Coverfly, John and Craig discuss why most screenwriting contests are essentially useless and should be avoided. We then look at destructive fandom and ponder how today’s entitled enthusiasts might have responded to the classics. Plus we answer listener questions about the “gutters” between scenes, whether an employer owns your idea, what the business of big talent-led production companies looks like, and how to maintain momentum after your first...


354 - Upgrade

Craig welcomes Leigh Whannell, writer of the Saw and Insidious franchises, to discuss low-budget filmmaking, sequels on sequels, the horror landscape and his new movie, Upgrade. We also answer listener questions about sharing an agent with your writing partner and the ethics of hiring someone to punch up your own script. Links: * Thanks for joining us Leigh Whannell! * Leigh wrote Saw, Insidious, and, most recently, Upgrade, (here’s the fairly violent trailer). * I’ll Be Gone in the...


353 - Bad Behavior

John and Craig discuss the hot new trend of firing jerks from successful TV shows. Why is it happening now like never before? Is there an important distinction between being “difficult” and being a jerk? We also follow up on listener suggestions for outlining tools, and answer questions about the landscape of feature comedy, the art of biopic postscripts, shopping agreements, and the etiquette around replacing another writer. Links: * A series is in development based on Elif...


352 - Infinite Westworld

John and Craig welcome Lisa Joy & Jonah Nolan (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) to our annual live show benefitting Hollywood Heart. We discuss worldbuilding, the challenges and delights of serialized storytelling, and the extreme measures taken to keep secrets. We also answer audience questions on villains as protagonists, music supervision, and research as procrastination. Recorded May 22, 2018 at the ArcLight in Hollywood Links: *...


351 - Full Circle

John and Craig talk about the way that movies tend to bring their stories full circle, and what that means for writers trying to figure out their story beats. They discuss rhyming, bookending and how properly setting up the central thematic question helps make the answer feel meaningful. We also answer listener questions about putting one’s work on YouTube, annotating scripts, and arbitration. Links: * Our next live Scriptnotes with Jonah Nolan & Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Stephen...


350 - Limerence

John and co-host John Gatins sit down with Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom to discuss the experience of writing the third season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, from breaking story in hot tubs to adjusting genital-related dances in compliance with Broadcast Standards and Practices. With spoilers aplenty, we discuss the challenges of a TV protagonist’s Act 2 “rocky shoals,” the nuance of exploring mental illness with comedy, the process of writing surprising musical numbers, and the...


349 - Putting Words on the Page

John and Craig discuss the digital tools of the trade. From outline to first draft to production rewrites, screenwriters find themselves facing different challenges. We talk about what works for each of us. We also speculate on what impact Highland 2’s gender analysis tool will have. Then we answer listener questions about following the “rules” of formatting, from creative scene headers to “hey reader” notes and tips for introducing characters who play important roles later in the...


348 - All About Family

John and Craig partake in another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? Which story is destined for the big screen: The millennial mother with her surprise, Youtube-guided childbirth? The couple that has the same fight for decades? The Japanese families-for-hire? We also follow up on the logic of multi-cam formatting, Georgia’s success in diversifying crews through training programs, and effective character descriptions. Tickets are now on sale for our next Scriptnotes Live Show on...


347 - Conflict of Interest

John and Craig examine the myriad conflicts of interest that arise in Hollywood, from self-dealing studios to packaging fees to pilot season. But it’s not just other people with issues. Writers grapple with their own conflicts of interest. We discuss what situations screenwriters might face and how to deal with them ethically. We also answer listener questions on multicam formatting and elegantly establishing the time period in a historical piece. Links: * To win an invite to the Crazy...


346 - Changing the Defaults

John sits down with screenwriter Christina Hodson to discuss race, gender, and representation in Hollywood, and how screenwriters can help correct the status quo with the one thing they can control: the words on the page. We tackle the nuances of designating race for open-ethnicity characters, the assumption of whiteness, the pros and cons of feature writers rooms and the promise of inclusion riders. We also answer a listener question about why some movies are timeless and some feel...


345 - Love, Aptaker & Berger

John and Craig welcome Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the writing team that showruns This Is Us and just made history with Love, Simon. We discuss their experience of breaking into the industry, writing with a partner, running a hit show, adapting YA novels for the screen, and the broccoli/marinara/pudding meals that got them here. Links: * Thanks for joining us, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger! * Love, Simon is in theaters now! Isaac and Elizabeth also run This Is Us on...