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Scriptnotes Podcast

Film

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.

Location:

Los Angeles, CA

Description:

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.

Twitter:

@johnaugust

Language:

English


Episodes

495 - The Title of This Episode

4/6/2021
John and Craig tackle the tricky territory of movie titles: what makes them great, why they’re important, and how a bad one can tank a good movie. We answer listener questions on writing diverse characters, surprising movie expenses, and residuals. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members Craig outlines how to behave in a restaurant. Links: 12 Great Movies with Terrible TitlesThat Song In Every Musical That No One LikesFacerCarrotGet a Scriptnotes T-shirt!Gift a Scriptnotes...

Duration:01:11:42

494 - Screenwriting in Color

3/30/2021
John and Craig discuss the use of color in film by highlighting iconic scenes and sharing how they think about color palettes in their own writing. We then host another Three Page Challenge, this time focusing on how well these opening scenes set up expectations for the script. We now ask for loglines, which are kept secret from John and Craig! Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss their Olympic ambitions. Links: WGA StrikeHighland 2 Student License The...

Duration:01:13:15

493 - Opening Scenes

3/23/2021
John and Craig discuss the craft of constructing beginnings: what they consider when writing the first line of a script and how opening scenes have evolved with audience expectations. We also investigate a question from former producer Stuart Friedel and dive into the history of foreign levies. We then make predictions on the future of movie-going by analyzing the history of megaplexes. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we look at cliches versus conventions. Links: WGA...

Duration:00:57:19

492 - The Gray Areas

3/16/2021
John and Craig wade into the murky ethical challenges screenwriters face in Hollywood: When do you speak out against a peer? How do you claim an idea? Should you accept money from shady sources? They share their own experiences navigating these questions. We also follow up on female redemption arcs, NFTs, and joining the WGA. We answer listener questions on topics from ‘the director’s pass’ to creating personal websites. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig...

Duration:01:20:01

491 - The Deal with Deals

3/9/2021
John and Craig talk about writer deals of various types, including a deep dive into new data published by the WGA on feature writer pay. We also follow up on female redemption arcs and John shares his theory with Craig on how Disney will make its next trillion dollars. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we wade into the discourse on writers tweeting about writing, and whether it’s okay to judge a line of dialogue. Links: WGA Writer’s Deal HubScreen Guide Tony on Twitter’s...

Duration:00:56:36

490 - Secrets and Lies

3/2/2021
John and Craig investigate the cyclical relationship between secrets and lies. They discuss character motivations for lying and how the tension of a secret can hold a story together. To illustrate the discussion, John invites Craig to solve our first-ever How Would This Be a Movie mystery, the Case of the Fatherless Child. We also talk about the dreaded “why now?” note, the questionable wisdom of “you either have it or you don’t,” and whether we are team PRE-LAP. Finally in the bonus...

Duration:00:59:55

489 - Kingdom of Cringe

2/23/2021
John and Craig tackle the growing mailbag to answer listener questions on writing uncomfortable scenes, options vs. sales, and portraying internet stories on screen. We also follow up on screenwriting structure and address what’s missing in text messages on television. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we offer advice on living in small towns versus big cities. Links: TV Characters Don’t Have Text History. This Is Not OK John’s post on feature residuals Chris Lee for...

Duration:01:10:52

488 - What Actually Happened in the Agency Battle

2/16/2021
John and Craig take a look back at the WGA-Agency campaign, revisiting the initial assumptions, what went right, what went wrong, and what lessons were learned. Then they finally decode the encrypted USB drive John handed Craig a year ago. We also follow up on social media and answer listener questions on cold feet and how screenwriters take vacations. In our bonus segment for premium members, we offer advice to our 20-year-old selves. Links: Last of Us casts Pedro Pascal and Bella...

Duration:01:21:17

487 - Getting Staffed in 2021

2/9/2021
John and Craig debate best practices for writers looking to staff for television rooms–including whether you should be on social media and how to approach a showrunner meeting. We also take a look at the GameStop story and discuss whether and how this should be a movie. Then Liz Alper and Jamarah Hayner join us to discuss the impact of covid shutdowns on assistants. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we share our awkward dating stories. Links: Lil Yachty Uno Movie...

Duration:01:08:08

486 - Sexy Ghosts of Chula Vista

2/2/2021
John and Craig discuss how screenwriters use irony to build tension and texture, and why the term should be freed from its pedantic literary shackles. Then it’s another round of the Three Page Challenge, where we look at the first three pages of listener-submitted scripts ranging from multidimensional ghost stories to erotic pleasure principles. We also follow up on ethical female characters and why Craig left Twitter. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss money and...

Duration:01:12:59

485 - Unions and Guilds

1/26/2021
John and Craig explain Hollywood’s guilds and unions. They cover the history, the challenges, and their hopes for the future. We also look at character alignments and whether it’s helpful for writers to chart out their character’s traits. We follow up on eight sequence structure and mockable IP and Throughout the episode, Craig tries to solve the mystery of John’s sweet fingers. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about the screenwriting guru turned Qanon...

Duration:01:08:04

484 - Time Lords

1/19/2021
John and Craig look at how writers manipulate time on macro and micro levels, and the impact of these choices on narrative. We then share our strategies for compressing, twisting, and trimming time in scripts. We also discuss continuous dialogue, subtext and which kinds of stories are best suited for animation. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we explore which moments in time we’d choose to visit if time travel were an option. Links: DGA tells WME to get rid of its...

Duration:00:53:47

483 - Philosophy for Screenwriters

1/12/2021
John and Craig discuss their personal philosophies and how writers can approach philosophical questions in terms of theme (central dramatic question) and character (moral codes and motivation). Then we cover virtual pitches and listener questions on eight-sequence structure and how to read a script. We also follow up on the agency campaign, failed insurrections, and bad IP. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we revisit our disagreement in episode 481 about whether it’s okay...

Duration:01:07:07

482 - Batman and Beowulf

1/5/2021
John and Craig explore Batman’s strange and unique position as a fantasy of American frontier justice and how filmmakers have approached this IP. Then they invite author Maria Dahvana Headley to discuss the original Dark Knight — Beowulf — and why these odd heroes continue to resonate with modern audiences. We also answer listener questions on using pen names, whether the coolest plot can save a weak character, and John’s Eagle Scout project. In our bonus segment for premium members, John...

Duration:00:46:06

481 - Random Advice 2020

12/29/2020
John and Craig welcome back writer/producer Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Truth Be Told, The Good Wife) to share wisdom on listener questions that are interesting but unrelated to screenwriting. We discuss how to know if you’re marrying the right person, open relationships, and how to deal with being the ‘starter’ girlfriend. We also cover jealousy, laughter, the ethics of lying to the Red Cross, and disappointing Secret Santas. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss...

Duration:01:12:23

480 - The Wedding Episode

12/22/2020
Craig and John talk movie weddings with special guest Aline Brosh McKenna. We look at the tropes, the challenges and the unique opportunities wedding scenes provide. We also look at the agreement between the WGA and CAA, and answer listener questions about writing the weather and bombing a pitch. And in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our post-vaccination hopes and plans. Links: CAA and WGA AgreementJapanese Rent A Family on Twitter Japan’s Rent A Family Industry Crazy...

Duration:01:03:40

479 - On Losing A Parent

12/15/2020
John and Craig talk about losing a parent on screen and in real life, with a look at the emotional journey and some practical advice for navigating the experience. We also discuss updates to the Warner Bros announcement, tips for managing idea scraps, and answer listener questions about when to discuss paid versus spec writing and slow-to-respond producers. In our bonus segment for premium subscribers, we talk power, including Craig’s controversial opinions on nuclear energy and the...

Duration:00:56:31

11 - How Movie Money Works, Rebroadcast

12/8/2020
John and Craig discuss the trend of studios releasing movies straight to streaming by revisiting an old discussion on movie accounting. We cover above the line and below the line costs, how distribution fees work, and why all this is important to screenwriters. Finally, in our newly recorded bonus segment we discuss the 2020 Macs and the future of computing. Links: Find the original post herePay Up Hollywood Survey The Paramount Decree Warner Bros. to Debut Entire 2021 Film Slate,...

Duration:00:44:27

478 - The One Hour Drama

12/1/2020
John welcomes writer-producers Dailyn Rodriguez (Queen of the South, Ugly Betty) and Chad Gomez Creasey (NCIS: New Orleans, Castle) to talk about writing network dramas and production during a pandemic. We answer listener questions on act breaks, politics on tv, and sustainable story engines. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss ‘ambient television’ and our favorite comfort-shows. Links: Beowulf: A New TranslationWGA Health Plans Calida Garcia Rawles “Emily in...

Duration:00:58:45

477 - Counting Clowns

11/24/2020
John and Craig host another round of the Three Page Challenge. This week they cover how to use voice over, build suspense, and write alter egos for the screen. In follow up, we look at the day-and-date release of Wonder Woman 1984, updates in the WGA agency negotiations and of course the newly announced Uno game show. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss autobiographies and what we’d include in our own. Thank you to all our Three Page Challenge...

Duration:01:07:02