Scriptnotes Podcast

By John August and Craig Mazin

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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.

Episode Date
378 - The Worst of the Worst
53:57

John and Craig examine why and how writers need to make bad things happen to their characters, and the ways in which hero suffering differs between features and television.

We also answer listener questions about WGA jurisdiction, becoming a signatory, timing a script for television, and why all scripts aren’t available online.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 11, 2018
377 - The Second Draft
50:38

John is joined by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (The Invitation, Ride Along, the upcoming Destroyer) to talk about the second draft, offering some practical tips for the first big rewrite.

We also answer listener questions about getting scripts to actors, how to label characters with job titles, and the cooler way to describe a montage. We’re also still trying to make “re-quel” happen.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 04, 2018
73 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
01:13:29

Craig and John spend the entire episode discussing and dissecting Raiders of the Lost Ark, looking at both its structure and scene work.

This amazing and iconic 1981 film established so much of what we expect of out movie heroes and set pieces -- but a lot of what it does would have a hard time getting through modern studio development. Five-minute exposition scenes! Nazi monkeys! Helpless heroes at the climax!

And yet it works so well. There are great lessons to be learned for screenwriters in every genre.

This episode originally aired on January 22, 2013.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 1-25-13: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

 

Nov 27, 2018
376 - Commencement
58:25

John and Craig discuss commencement, the official moment to start writing. It can be easy to get pressured into free producer rewrites, starting to write before a deal is done and other pitfalls of blurry boundaries, so the WGA is introducing the Start Button, designed to help writers define their timeline and let the Guild be the bad guy.

We also answer listener questions about procedural television, binge-watching, and crossing the line in dark comedy.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 20, 2018
375 - Austin 2018 Three Page Challenge
01:10:57

John and Craig review three Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Lindsay Doran (producer of Stranger Than Fiction, Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, Dead Again) and Jewerl Ross (manager and founder of Silent R Management). They then invite the writers up to discuss the notes, including the importance of geography, setting up relationships, and the danger in feeding kittens to sharks.

We also answer listener questions about “emotional math,“ breaking rules, the evolution of screenwriting and trying to be clever, but failing.

Thanks to the Austin Film Festival for hosting us and to our brave participants!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 13, 2018
374 - Real-World Villains
59:20

John and Craig investigate actual villains in this installment of How Would This Be a Movie? From the eerily prescient writer of “How to Murder Your Husband” to the dark comedy of Jacob Wohl, sometimes reality provides the character — now you just need an actual story.

We also look at the craft behind writing for ensemble, plus follow-up on the end of FilmStruck, “No Writing Left Behind,” specifying character race in scripts and the hopeful resurgence of family-friendly Christmas movies.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 06, 2018
373 - Austin Live Show 2018
01:16:55

John and Craig invite Wendy Calhoun (Station 19, Empire), Phil Hay (The Invitation, Ride Along), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift) to join them onstage for a discussion about the death of the writing middle class, why we get bored during a film or episode of television, and the consequences of handing over unpaid writing.

We also play a game called “Why is Craig So Mad?”

Recorded live from the Driskill Ballroom at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. Thanks to the Austin Film Festival for hosting us, and to a great audience!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 30, 2018
372 - No Writing Left Behind
52:58

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone.

We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 23, 2018
225 - Only Haters Hate Rom-Coms
01:03:37

John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre.

We discuss what distinguishes rom-coms from other comedies, and why they get singled out for disdain and death-of articles.

Also this week: Amazon Storywriter, overused dicks, and follow-up on Whiplash.

This episode originally aired on November 24, 2015.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 16, 2018
371 - Writing Memorable Dialogue
56:52

John and Craig have a dialogue about dialogue. They discuss how thinking about memorizing lines can help write them, and how to service quieter characters in a scene.

We also answer listener questions about adapting plays for the screen, creating a different experience for your reader than your viewer, and whether to trust sketchily worded release forms.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 09, 2018
370 - Two Things at the Same Time
01:06:16

John and Craig look into simultaneity and how to visually articulate two things happening at once with the temporally-limited medium of written word.

We also explore how simultaneity can ramp up tension, fracture narrative and play with expectations. Then we apply what we’ve discussed to three new entries in the Three Page Challenge.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 02, 2018
369 - What Is a Movie, Anyway?
41:21

John and Craig welcome Franklin Leonard to weigh in on the current definition of “movie.” In the age of streaming, this distinction is not only important for audiences and awards, but has a meaningful effect on how writers are paid.

We also take umbrage with Awards Season as a Hollywood fixture, and follow up on a five year-old prediction about iPads in movie theaters.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Sep 25, 2018
368 - Advice for a New Staff Writer
01:01:42

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and what’s for lunch.

In follow up, we look at disappearing digital purchases and the further fallout from Les Moonves.

We have new Scriptnotes T-shirts available -- Colored Revisions! Thanks to Alison, Ryan now knows about magenta.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Sep 18, 2018
367 - One Year Later
59:21

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the progress made in the year following the Weinstein revelations. Have the systems for reporting and preventing sexual harassment improved, or are we still just dealing with hurricanes?

We also follow up on The Academy’s decision to nix the Popular Film category, the IATSE agreement, missing movies, and Craig’s distaste for ventriloquism. And Final Draft teaches us that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Sep 11, 2018
Extra: WGA Elections 2018
28:20

John and Craig discuss their choices for WGA Board Elections and misinformation about proposed revisions to the Screen Credits Manual.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Sep 06, 2018
366 - Tying Things Up
01:00:30

John and Craig cover endings, both for craft and for business. First they articulate the importance of the denouement and the social contract it fulfills with the audience. Then they discuss what happens to a writer’s work after their death.

We also follow up on pitching, and introduce a new segment: Change Craig’s Mind. This week: Ventriloquists!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Sep 04, 2018
365 - Craig Hates Dummies
01:06:13

John and Craig are back at it with another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? They consider the story of a competitive mass Tinder date, a retirement home for ventriloquist dummies and the McDonald’s Monopoly heist.

We also revisit John’s WGA Corner for updates, follow up on the conflict within IATSE, and get a great sense of Craig’s passionate beef with ventriloquism.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Aug 28, 2018
364 - Netflix Killed the Video Store
50:50

John welcomes Kate Hagen to talk about missing movies and the role that video stores play in archiving film history, preserving access to all movies and creating a sense of community. They discuss some of the barriers to films getting digital distribution, from limited music licenses to struggles with chain-of-title when companies fail.

We also discuss what it is to be a script reader, write coverage and clash with a boss’ taste. And we follow up on Moviepass and its legacy.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 21, 2018
363 - Best Popular Screenwriting Podcast
58:49

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Aug 14, 2018
Extra: My Abortion Story
09:00

In this extra mini-episode, John and Craig discuss John’s abortion article.

We’ll be back with a normal episode on Tuesday.

Links:

 

Aug 13, 2018