Scriptnotes Podcast-logo

Scriptnotes Podcast

459 Favorites

More Information


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.






318 - Writing Other Things

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about writing projects outside the familiar constraints of screenwriting. We discuss the surprises and adjustments involved in the creative processes of different media: Aline’s graphic novel Jane, Craig’s HBO miniseries Chernobyl, and John’s original song, “Rise.” We also dig into why screenwriters sometimes need to be amateurs again. Then we answer listener questions about making fair deals as someone in a different country, and how...

Duration: 01:13:23

317 - First Day on the Job

Craig and John debut a new segment: This Kind of Scene, looking at how different movies handle similar situations. The Hudsucker Proxy, The Devil Wears Prada, Hidden Figures and Training Day all need to introduce their heroes to their new workplaces. We examine how those scenes work, both on the page and on screen. We then discuss what it means to write for an international market, and determine what a “therapy piece” is and how to avoid writing one. We also follow up on our discussion...

Duration: 00:58:56

316 - Distracted Boyfriend Is All of Us

John and Craig dive into another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories (and memes!) from around the world to figure out which ones might lend themselves to big-screen treatment. Will it be the forgotten French spy from World War II? The repentant racist in Arkansas? The fake male founder exposing startup sexism? Or should it be the monthlong meth trip in the Alabama woods? Help us decide. Plus, we follow up on how MoviePass actually works, and why their business model...

Duration: 01:04:34

315 - Big Screens, Big Money

John and Craig offer a 101 on how movies make money at theaters, and why a 1948 Supreme Court case changed everything. Then we look at two recent disruptions to the standard model: Movie Pass and Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. We also answer listener questions on waiting periods and creative rights. Links: The WGF 2nd Annual Texas Hold ’Em TournamentTuff TurfThe WarriorsPeter Stark Producing Program United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. National Association of Theater Owners CinemaCon...

Duration: 01:12:46

314 - Unforgiven

Craig and John take a deep dive into 1992’s Unforgiven, looking at how the David Webb Peoples script works on the page and on the screen. In the links below, you’ll find the PDF of the script we’re using. It’s also available in Weekend Read. Links: UnforgivenIMDbWikipedia The Unforgiven scriptWeekend ReadThe Addams FamilyGhostGroundhog DayFrozenThe Little MermaidRaiders of the Lost ArkTuff TurfThe Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide! The USB drives!John AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramFind...

Duration: 01:21:41

313 - Well, It Worked in the 80s

John and Craig look at four films from the past and discuss how we could make them today. Then we have more listener questions on internships and alternate jokes. Next week is a deep dive on Unforgiven, so get to watching if you haven’t seen it recently. Links: TriskaidekaphobiaUnforgivenYou Get MeRomancing the StoneFerris Bueller’s Day OffRain ManComing to AmericaWatch Toad get struck by lightning BuzzFeed News Trained A Computer To Search For Hidden Spy Planes. This Is What We...

Duration: 01:11:16

312 - The Magic Word Is In This Episode

Craig and John tackle a bunch of listener questions, along with follow-up on previous discussions. Are road trip movies just a series of coincidences? How do you start the second draft? Should you mention screenwriting awards in a query? Plus: a Redditor insists there is a secret password you have to write within a script for it to be purchased. After 311 episodes, the time has come. We reveal that magic word. Links: ‘Chernobyl’ Miniseries Set By HBO & SkyScriptnotes, 127Big Fish The...

Duration: 01:05:33

311 - Scriptnotes Live Homecoming Show

John and Craig welcome special guests Megan Amram (The Good Place), Tom Schnauz (Better Call Saul) and Matt Selman (The Simpsons) to talk about writing television, from staffing to breaking story to the challenge of short seasons. Then we try out two new segments: How Could This Be Funny and An Aubry Plaza Type. Do they work? It’s debatable! There is also a Q&A, which you can find as a bonus episode for subscribers at Recorded live at the Writers Guild Theater on July...

Duration: 00:35:04

310 - What’s in the WGA Deal

Craig and John talk with Chris Keyser, one of the co-chairs of the WGA Negotiating Committee, to learn what gains were achieved in the most recent deal, and what work lies ahead. Warning: it’s a super-wonky episode that presumes you’re familiar with the basics outlined in episode 289. Links: WGA Negotiations 101IMDbWikipediaTwitterepisode 138Poly BridgeApple Pencil PDF ExpertWeekend ReadMagpie MurdersSeason 1 of The Last Tycoon Get your tickets nowThe Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide! The...

Duration: 01:24:19

309 - Logic and Gimmickry

John and Craig step up to the whiteboard to look at the story logic in our scripts, then examine how tricks and gimmicks can help keep scenes interesting. We also answer listener questions about paying experts for research help, and whether hiring a writing consultant ever makes sense. Links: Get your tickets nowLiz MeriwetherMegan AmramJulie Buxbaum’s What to Say NextFridge logicThe perils of coincidenceFargo TV seriessplit screensanimationmusical numbersalternate timelinestalking to...

Duration: 01:14:20

308 - Chekhov's Ladder

Craig and John discuss the concept of affordances -- player expectations for what videogame characters can do -- and how writers can apply these principles to their film and TV scripts. Teaching the audience to know what is and isn’t possible can be hard to do artfully, but often makes all the difference. Also this week: reducing sexism in screenplays, plus answers to listener questions about writers on set and giving feedback on friends’ terrible scripts. Tickets for the July 25th live...

Duration: 01:28:22

307 - Teaching Your Heroes to Drive

John and Craig explore how story develops from a synthesis of character and plot, and why writers need to continually shift their frames of reference between “inside” and “outside” the experience of their heroes. We also tackle the idea of “you can’t teach funny” and what to do when you share a famous person’s name. The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide is out, and fantastic, and free! Plus we now have 300-episode USB drives in the store. Links below. Plus, don’t miss our live show in...

Duration: 01:10:51

306 - DRAMA!

Craig and John take a look at what happens when the drama is behind the camera, and the difference between what's reported and what's really going on. We also offer some advice on what one should do, should they find themselves caught up in the crazy. Finally, we answer a listener question on writing for specific actors and the challenges/opportunities this presents. Links: The Mummy Lord and Miller and Han Solo Joss Whedon on Finishing Justice League Joss Whedon on his unmade Wonder...

Duration: 01:10:25

305 - Forever Young and Stupid

Craig and John take on a new Three Page Challenge, looking at three listener scenes to see if they follow the exacting rules set by Screenwriters University. (Ahem.) We also answer listener questions on vintage screenplays, maturity, Smash Brothers and writing with a budget in mind. Links: Sony Won’t Release Clean Versions of Films if Directors Disapprove The History of the ScreenplaySteve ZissisWyatt CainAzhur SaleemAshley SandersSarah Silverman - A Speck of DustMark GatissJohn...

Duration: 01:15:38

304 - Location Is Where It's At

Craig and John look at how screenwriters describe locations, and how these choices impact production and the final product. Plus, we discuss how podcasts have become a new source of IP for adaptations. Finally, we address how to deal with the note to make your characters "more likeable." Links: Screenwriters University Clean Movie Versions Homecoming Alex, Inc.Paris Circle MapRoman RoadsMonument Valley 2Human Resource MachineJohn AugustCraig MazinJohn on InstagramFind past...

Duration: 01:10:59

303 - 75% of Nothing

Craig and John answer listener questions about writer agreements, videogame properties, and page one rewrites. How should a writer decide whether it’s better to keep revising an unmade project, or start on something new? We try to offer guidelines for when to buckle down and when to move on. Also, John coins a new term that will forever change film studies. Links: Scriptnotes Midnight Blue T-ShirtPortal: No Escape (Live Action Short Film by Dan Trachtenberg) This is why you want a...

Duration: 01:04:36

302 - Let's Make Some Oscar Bait

In a new installment of How Would This Be a Movie, John and Craig take a look at three stories in the news to discuss how to adapt them into award-winning movies. We also discuss why the studios are allowed to negotiate as one for the WGA contract. Midnight Blue Scriptnotes shirts are back up at Cotton Bureau for a short time, so don’t miss out. Link below. Links: Scriptnotes Midnight Blue T-ShirtThe Seed Vault is Fine You May Want to Marry My HusbandUnderground Railroad of Love The...

Duration: 01:09:15

301 - The Addams Family

Craig and John look at The Addams Family -- not just the 1991 film and its sequel, but the property itself to see what lessons we can learn when adapting for the big screen. We also answer listener questions on what makes a scene work and writing pilots based on existing IP. Links: Addams Family TV Show OpeningThe Addams Family Official TrailerAddams Family Values TrailerThe Moon And MeMaster of None - Season 2 | Official Trailer New Paint Colors Invented by Neural NetworkJohn...

Duration: 01:22:38

300 - From Writer to Writer-Director

Chris McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, VALKYRIE) joins us to talk through how he went from writing giant movies to directing them. We talk about the pitfalls directors face as they move from indie features to tentpoles, and the advice he gives them. Chris is currently, and conveniently, in Paris directing the next Mission: Impossible. Links: Chris McQuarrieValkyrie Official TrailerMission Impossible 5 - Rogue NationAutoDrawZip Zap Fidget CubeChris McQuarrieJohn AugustCraig MazinJohn on...

Duration: 01:26:55

299 - It's Always Sunny in Star Wars

Craig and guest host Dana Fox welcome Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to the live show at the Arclight. The four discuss breaking into Hollywood, handling rejection and sticking to your vision as a writer/director. We also answer audience questions on motivation and holding onto hope. Links: Rob McElhenneyThe Gang Tends BarRian JohnsonLooper TrailerThe Last Jedi TrailerDana FoxJohn AugustCraig MazinJohn on...

Duration: 00:33:26

See More