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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.






418 - The One with David Koepp

John and Craig welcome legendary screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Death Becomes Her, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and Panic Room) to talk about adaptations, embargoes, books and the modern blockbuster, which David has had an outsized role in shaping. We also cover exposition in science fiction and how action writing has evolved over the last twenty years. Links: David KoeppAlex Billingtonembargoes Cold StorageSpark Email AppFreedom App The Intelligence Trap: Why...


417 - Idea Management

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to tackle the issue of idea management. What do you do with all those half-formed ideas and how do you decide which ones to pursue? They share best practices and their approach to middle-of-the-night inspiration. We’ll also discuss how screenwriters quotes are determined and answer some listener questions. Links: linkThe Shadows Casting CallDungeon World Crazy, Rich Asians Pay DisparitySearching for Bobby FischerAfter Dark My SweetReg Ex...


416 - Fantasy Worldbuilding

John and Craig welcome Alison Luhrs, a senior narrative designer at Wizards of the Coast to talk about fantasy world-building as a profession. It is a great conversation about what is probably a lot of listeners’ dream job. We also follow up on the WGA elections, John’s decision to cast a blind actress, and the universality of ice-cream truck wars. Links: The Shadows Casting CallThe Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit: The RespectAbility Guide to Inclusion in the Entertainment...


415 - The Veep Episode

John and Craig welcome Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Mandel, two of the executive producers of HBO’s award-winning comedy series Veep. They discuss the writing process from blue-sky brainstorming to the final edit, how the show has evolved over the seasons, and striking the right tone during an unpredictable political climate. We also take a look at why unlikeable characters are important for conflict and what we can take away from the ending of Seinfeld. Links: VeepJulia...


414 - Mushroom Powder

John and Craig host How Would This Be a Movie with four stories in the news covering ice-cream truck wars, female rangers, con-artists, and deadly in-laws, imagining how they could become feature films. We also answer listener questions about narrators, personal crises, and song titles. Links: The Shadows Casting Call Bonus Episode, Chernobyl PodcastScriptnotes Ep 50, How to Not Be Fat Decoder Ring: Ice-Cream Truck Wars The Pushcart War Akashinga Women Rangers Fight Poaching in Zimbabwe...


413 - Ready to Write

John and Craig tackle the question, “How do you know when you’re ready to write a given script?” They propose a list of details a writer should know before diving in, and look at why starting too soon can be a recipe for failure. (So can waiting too long.) We also discuss the WGA’s “refusal to negotiate” myth and answer questions about rewrites vs polishes, and whether writing a bad script could put you on a Do Not Hire list. Links: Myth of No NegotiationJohn’s Blogpost John Milton,...


412 - Writing About Mental Health and Addiction

John moderates Breaking the Stigma, a panel on addiction and mental health with guests Gemma Baker (creator of CBS’s Mom), Dr. Corey Waller (specialist in pain, addiction and emergency medicine), Dr. Holly Daniels (specialist in eating disorders and mental health issues), and journalist Zachary Siegel. We discuss how addiction and mental health issues are portrayed in film and TV, more authentic ways of telling these stories, and how writers and creators can take care of their own mental...


411 - Setting it Up with Katie Silberman

John and Craig welcome screenwriter Katie Silberman (Set It Up, Isn’t It Romantic and Booksmart) to discuss writing a two-hander, practicing dialogue, and how she got her start in Hollywood. We also follow up on ‘liked, not love’ and answer listener questions on character development. Links: Facebook livestream WGA West Unveils Officer Board CandidatesMember meetings Booksmart Reunion Olivia Wilde Katie Silberman New Project Universal PicturesThe Alamo Drafthouse Downtown LALupetti...


Wikipedia Movies

ohn and Craig host a new round of How Would This Be a Movie. Instead of three stories in the news, this time they tackle three articles from Wikipedia to look at what you get using just those facts versus using a more detailed article. We also answer listener questions about real-life subjects, showing your work and applying the Mazin method to television. Links: Hollywood, Health & SocietyherePinboard for bookmarksWikipedia 8chanDestroyer of WorldsMultiverseMirror Universe Scientists are...


409 - I Know You Are, But What Am I?

John and Craig discuss whether and how heroes can understand themselves. Is self-awareness an intrinsic aspect of a character, or something they achieve over the course of the story? Both heroes and villains are often wrestling with their identity. We look at why it’s more difficult (and sometimes more rewarding) to explore these issues in screenwriting than prose fiction. Then it’s time for another round of the Three Page Challenge, followed by listener questions about meddling actors and...


408 - Rolling Dice

John and Craig tackle eight topics ranging from WGA negotiations to overlapping dialogue, to John’s new agency. We also follow up on Better Sex, Chernobyl, and Craig’s solo episode. Scriptnotes Episode 406, Better Sex with Rachel BloomVerve Talent and Literary AgencyJohn’s TweetshereChernobylhereWGA FinancialsDots, Dashes, and ParentheticalsScriptnotes Episode 403, How to Write a MovieAladdinRodecaster Pro Sound BoardRussian DollJohn AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramOutrosend us yours!...


407 - Understanding Your Feature Contract

John and Craig are joined by attorney Ken Richman and Laurie Espinosa of the WGA West for a detailed discussion of screenwriting contracts. They look at what to expect, where you can negotiate, and what to watch out for. Follow along with the example contract on the episode page or here. Links: Example ContractHighland 2.5(Light)(Dark)John AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramOutrosend us yours! Email us at You can download the episode here.


406 - Better Sex with Rachel Bloom

John and Craig welcome back longtime friend of the podcast Rachel Bloom (co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) to discuss how sex and sexuality are portrayed on both the big and small screen. They cover ways to approach sensitive topics in a writers room and the moments we still haven’t seen on screen. Links: InterviewSex Education TV Series Moan: Anonymous Essays on Female OrgasmHow to Draw a HorseDig it!Hello from the Magic TavernA Very Fatal MurderRachel on TourJohn AugustCraig...


405 - Live at the Ace Hotel

John and Craig host comedy titans Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), Ben Falcone (The Boss, Tammy), Kourtney Kang (Fresh Off the Boat), Rob McElhenney (Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) onstage to discuss writing jokes, what they look for in a writing partner, and the heartbreak of movie endings. We also record our first ever Scriptnotes commercial and introduce a new game called ‘Bot or Not.’ Recorded live from the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles....


404 - The One with Charlie Brooker

John talks with Charlie Brooker (creator, writer, and executive producer of Black Mirror) about his groundbreaking series and the opportunities and challenges of writing an anthology. We also touch on the nature of reality, the difficulty of reflecting culture while you influence it, and experimental storytelling. Our live show is in two days on June 13th, buy your tickets now! Links: Scriptnotes LIVEhereBlack MirrorLa CabinaRussian DollMoney HeistMatthew ZalkindBaba is...


403 - How to Write a Movie

In a Scriptnotes first, Craig hosts a solo episode presenting his general theory on screenwriting. He covers the central dramatic argument, the ‘why’ behind plot points, and of course, provides some umbrage on common script diagrams. Good luck, and go torture your heroes! Links: Scriptnotes LIVEhere Aristotle’s PoeticsJosé FernándezLava, Pixar ShortFinding Nemo(Light)(Dark)John AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramOutrosend us yours! Email us at You can download the...


402 - How Do You Like Your Stakes?

John and Craig discuss stakes, how to create them and what that means for your character. They also talk a little about Aladdin, the Game of Thrones ending, and of course, the agency stuff. Don’t forget to join us for our live show in Los Angeles on June 13th with special guests including Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley), Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Kourtney Kang (Fresh Off the Boat). Tickets are going fast! Links: Scriptnotes LIVEhere(Light)(Dark)Aladdin...


401 - You Got Verve

John and Craig introduce a new segment: The Scriptnotes Pitch Session! They listen to five listeners’ 90-second pitches and share their feedback on substance and style. We also discuss the implications of Verve signing the WGA agreement and get special insight on an important creative decision in Chernobyl. Join us for our live show in Los Angeles on June 13th with special guests including Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Tickets are...


400 - Movies They Don't Make Anymore

John and Craig welcome back writer/director Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, the last two Mission: Impossibles) to celebrate the 400th episode with a new round of ‘This Kind of Movie.’ Given our success saving the romantic comedy, we focus on other movie genres that aren’t getting made anymore and discuss how to bring them back. From sports comedies to erotic thrillers, we examine the classics of each genre and find ways to approach making these films...


399 - Notes on Notes

John and Craig talk to an audience of development executives about the experience of getting notes as a writer. They cover why these conversations kick in our fight or flight responses, how to frame notes through story, and ways to motivate writers towards a creative vision. We take questions from the audience and discuss ‘the bad pitch,’ likable characters, and how to stay friends with a writer after a breakup. Links: Psychotheraphy for ScreenwritersBroken but SympatheticListener’s...