Scriptnotes Podcast

By John August and Craig Mazin

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 Oct 7, 2019

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
459 - International Television
01:00:31

John and Aline Brosh-McKenna co-host a special panel with writers Anna Winger (Unorthodox, Deutschland 83), and Tony McNamara (The Great, The Favourite) for the French television festival Serie Series.

We cover writing coming of age stories, how to choose the best format for a story, and writing with act breaks. We also discuss the production challenges and opportunities of working internationally and how to find a common language on set.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 07, 2020
458 - Collapsing Scenes
01:03:00

John and Craig examine how and why it can be necessary to collapse scenes in a rewrite.

They also follow-up on returning to production, portrayals of police on screen and assistant pay.We then welcome Michelle Amor, Hilliard Guess, and Bianca Sams —  co-chairs of the WGA West’s Committee of Black Writers —  to discuss how Hollywood needs to change the way it hires and promotes Black writers.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about the return of professional sportsball.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 30, 2020
457 - Getting Staffed in Comedy Variety
01:02:09

John and Craig welcome writer and performer Ashley Nicole Black (Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, A Black Lady Sketch Show) to discuss comedy and variety shows — how they’re written and how to get a job writing them.

We also talk about studio diversity programs, why additional training can send the wrong message, and how to speak up in a writers room. Then we answer listener questions on idea ownership, writing police stories, and follow up on digital writer’s rooms.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about fireworks.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 23, 2020
456 - Too Much at Once
55:30

John and Craig follow up and give updates on the many topics we’ve been talking about the past few weeks, including police on screen, assistant pay, short seasons and restarting production.

We also hear from a past Three-Page participant on their experience post-challenge and cover highlights from the WGA’s Inclusion and Equity report.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we’ll be talking about computers: what we’re using, and what we’d like to see.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 
Jun 16, 2020
455 - Police on Screen
01:00:51

John and Craig discuss how police and policing are portrayed on screen, and writers’ responsibilities to thoughtfully reflect society.

Then, we answer listener questions about freaking out in meetings, how we deal with feedback, and whether to write books or movies.

And in our bonus segment for premium members, we’ll discuss the possibility that Craig does not exist.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 09, 2020
454 - That Icky Feeling
01:06:40

John and Craig explore that icky feeling something’s wrong with your script and what to do about it. They also discuss the difference between story and screenplay, both as official WGA categories and how we use those terms everyday.

We follow up on French hours, whether you should send editable documents to producers, and offer tips on discussing story ideas with friends and colleagues.

And in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig read erotic fiction.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 03, 2020
453 - Getting Back to Set
53:37

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Your Place or Mine) and Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re the Millers) to share how we’re thinking about the future of film and television production.

We talk about possible plans for getting back to set, how movies might change to adapt to the current circumstances, and how we want to see pandemic depictions in our media.

In our bonus segment for premium members we discuss puzzles: Craig’s controversial take on jigsaw, the Larchmont Puzzle Exchange, and why puzzles are good for families.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 26, 2020
452 - The Empire Strikes Back with Lawrence Kasdan
52:12

John and Craig welcome back Lawrence Kasdan for a deep dive on The Empire Strikes Back to celebrate this iconic film’s 40th anniversary.

We talk about the inspiration behind Yoda, keeping the Skywalker/Darth Vader connection a secret, and balancing competing storylines. We also take a look at Kasdan’s original handwritten script, accompanied by table reads from John and Craig!

And in our bonus segment for premium members, we answer audience questions with Lawrence Kasdan.

This special live show was produced in partnership with the Writers Guild Foundation.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 19, 2020
451 - There Are No Slow Claps
58:58

John and Craig offer guidance on how to “flip the script” on tropes without landing on your face.

We also answer listener questions about phone numbers, sluglines and short films.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our personal video game histories and the possibility that John was raised in a cult.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 12, 2020
450 - Only The Interesting Scenes
01:03:44

John and Craig propose a challenge for every screenwriter: only write interesting scenes. They discuss why following this precept is so important and offer tips for implementing it proactively.

We also answer listener questions about set pieces, virtual rooms, and juggling multiple projects.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we consider whether Covid-19 has changed the landscape about whether writers still need to live in Los Angeles.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 05, 2020
449 - The One with Sam Esmail
01:08:46

John hosts a discussion with writer/director Sam Esmail as a part of the Showrunner Sessions at the WGA. Sam describes his aversion to writing, where his inspiration comes from, and how he learned to run a room.

We also dig into craft, talking about parentheticals and mastering the tension between creating mystery versus confusing your audience.

Then, for our premium members on our bonus segment we air the audience Q&A from the Showrunner Panel. John and Sam cover the alchemy of surprising music in a scene and the importance of saying something with each character.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 28, 2020
448 - Based on a True Story
46:23

John and Craig welcome screenwriter Mike Makowsky to discuss the process of turning a story from the news into a movie and how he drew on real life experiences to create his upcoming film, Bad Education.

We also follow up on writing with neurological trauma, trailblazing female screenwriters, and answer listener questions on speaking theme vs. subtext.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about our own three page challenges, and why those early pages are so important.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 21, 2020
447 - Three Page Zoom
01:25:30

John and Craig host another Scriptnotes Livestream Show with special guest Dana Fox (Isn’t It Romantic, Couples Retreat). They discuss her new show, Home Before Dark, and her thoughts on why creating a feeling is so important to developing television shows.

Then we hold a Three Page Challenge and we invite each of our four participants on to discuss their script after we deliver feedback. We cover how to write momentum into action descriptions, ‘overwhelmers’ in a scene, and creating fantastical worlds.

Huge thank you to Dana for joining us, and a big thanks to all of our Three Page Challenge winners for their submissions!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 16, 2020
446 - Back to Basics
01:03:32

John and Craig take a step back to discuss what screenwriting actually is and explore its evolution. They cover the history of screenwriting, the construction of a scene, and what new and old writers need to keep in mind about the craft.

We also cover how to approach ‘No Writing Left Behind’ during the time of socially distancing and answer listener questions on how the pandemic will impact writers’ creative and career decisions.

And in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss charities looking at both the challenges of running a charitable organization and knowing where to donate your money.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 14, 2020
445 - The One with Phoebe and Ryan
54:51

John and Craig enlist Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Nines) to break the fourth wall on our first-ever live video Scriptnotes. We discuss when to address the camera, why Deadpool 2 is the saddest movie to watch on a flight, and how to take notes as an actor/writer.

Then we welcome a premium member to play a round of Bad Screenwriting Advice, where we compare internet advice to bogus advice made up by John. We also take listener questions from the Youtube livestream chat on writing with personal experiences and places to find inspiration.

Finally, in our bonus segment John and Craig pull the curtain back to do a post-mortem on the live-show, explaining how we did it and what we learned. Plus the trapped-in-Maldives story that will probably be a movie, and what’s likely going on in Russia.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 07, 2020
Scriptnotes Live(stream) Show April 4th @ 10am
03:08

Join John and Craig for the Scriptnotes Live(stream) Show, featuring special guests: Ryan Reynolds and Phoebe Waller Bridge, this Saturday, April 4th at 10am PT!

We will talk about writing material as actors, breaking the fourth wall, and of course, things that are interesting to screenwriters.

They will also answer questions live (check for the YouTube link at JohnAugust.com) and play games with listeners. Scriptnotes Premium Members — apply to participate in a game show segment at JohnAugust.com/contestant!

Email ask@johnaugust.come with any questions. Thanks and see you soon!

Apr 01, 2020
444 - Clueless
01:04:57

John and Craig analyze the iconic 1995 comedy Clueless.

A contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma set in Beverly Hills, Clueless follows protagonist Cher as she tries to do ‘good’ through make-over montages and match-making attempts. We discuss how the movie sets up the characters in the first ten minutes, why Cher’s voiceover works so well, and how Clueless ushered in a new era of teen movies.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig share their own experiences learning to drive and how they’re preparing to teach their teenage daughters driving.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 
Mar 31, 2020
443 - What We're Up To
01:12:35

John and Craig share their tips for working from home, from writing sprints to taking walks.

We also talk about how the recent shutdowns have affected Pay Up Hollywood, support staff, and what we’re doing about it.

Finally, we hear from Scriptnotes guests and friends about how they are managing this challenging time. Longtime listeners, buckle up.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 24, 2020
442 - Stop Counting Pages (and Touching Your Face)
51:42

John and Craig debunk the ‘rule’ that one page of screenplay equals one minute of film. They advise screenwriters on what this could mean for the industry and look forward to a future that moves beyond pages.

We also follow up on our discussion of professional readers (00:02:02) and suggestions for giving your friends feedback. Then, a look at how coronavirus (00:33:11) has impacted Los Angeles and how we’re thinking about the situation.

In our bonus segment (00:51:41), John and Craig debate which 1st level D&D spell we would choose to be able to cast in real life.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 17, 2020
441 - Readers
53:08

John and Craig talk about readers — both the friends you’d ask to look at your draft and the folks who professionally analyze scripts. They cover unions, state laws, and why companies should value good coverage.

We also follow up on how to credit improv in scripts, share #PayUpHollywood feedback, and explain if/come deals.

Stay tuned for our bonus segment, when John and Craig discuss their personal and general thoughts on baldness.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 10, 2020
440 - Beyond Bars
01:17:47

John moderates a panel discussion on the criminal justice system, incarceration and how to write about them. What’s real, what’s myth, and what stories need to be told? Guests include incarceration policy experts Aly Tamboura and Lovisa Stannow, writer Zach Calig of For Life, and documentarian Dan Birman (Me Facing Life).

Then in our bonus segment (01:17:45), John and Craig discuss coronavirus: what we know, what we should be worried about, and whether crystals will help.

Thank you to Hollywood Health & Society for organizing this event!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 03, 2020
439 - How to Grow Old as a Writer
01:06:57

John and Craig talk about how to grow old as a writer, specifically how your relationship with your art and craft can evolve with time.

Then we discuss tips for general meetings (00:26:13), and answer listener questions about character quirks and improv.

Finally, in our bonus segment for Premium Members, Craig discusses his acting debut on the new show Mythic Quest (00:55:55).

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 25, 2020
438 - How to Listen
01:06:57

John and Craig talk dialogue. How characters speak is an optimized version of real speech — but if you optimize too much you risk making your characters feel artificial. We listen to clips of real conversations to pick out patterns and tendencies you can incorporate to help improve written dialogue.

Then we dive into the mailbag for questions on perspective (48:03), submission agreements (51:40), and best practices for non-WGA writers during a strike (55:58).

In our bonus segment for premium subscribers (1:06:56), we get political and discuss the current state of the Democratic primary.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 18, 2020
437 - Other Things Screenwriters Write
47:32

John and Craig discuss the other stuff screenwriters write, from beat sheets to scriptments and everything in between. The differences are sometimes subtle, but each can have value — in the right circumstance.

After that, they dip into the mailbag (24:23) for questions on TV bibles, writing while traveling, and using “I” in titles.

Premium subscribers: stick around for a bonus segment (47:31) on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and how its questions may be useful to screenwriters.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 11, 2020
436 - Political Movies
01:10:07

John and Craig welcome back Liz Hannah to talk about her upcoming Netflix movie, All the Bright Places, and Hollywood’s often-frustrating reliance on IP. Particularly with non-fiction stories, has Hollywood warped journalistic ambitions?

All of which serves as setup for another round of How Would This Be a Movie? (00:41:54), where we look at the Jeff Bezos phone hack, Carlos Ghosn, and a romantic political showdown.

In our bonus segment for premium members (01:10:06), we discuss what is and is not okay to do with physical books, and situations where we’re willing to trade pixels for print.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 04, 2020
435 - The One with Noah Baumbach
01:14:27

John talks with writer-director Noah Baumbach about his film Marriage Story. With script in hand, we discuss his writing process, handling overlapping dialogue, and how to find balance in a two-hander.

We also answer a listener question about LA vs. New York apartments (01:05:16), and the challenge of making boring things interesting.

In our bonus segment for premium members (01:14:26), Craig returns to discuss escape rooms!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 28, 2020
434 - Ambition and Anxiety
01:21:36

John and Craig discuss the difference between ambition and anxiety, and how writers can find a balance. We also follow up on agency developments and a new study that shows the live-action Aladdin is good for your health.

Then we host another round of the Three Page Challenge, this time focusing on establishing the setting. Thank you to all of our participants, especially Janelle B. Gatchalian, Alex Beattie, and Linda Yardley.

And for our Premium Members, John and Craig express their views on gift bags, and in particular coffee mugs.

Special thanks to Bo Shim and Jacq Lesko.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 21, 2020
433 - The One with Greta Gerwig
01:08:23

John and Greta Gerwig (writer/director of Little Women and Lady Bird) discuss adaptation, ambition and authorship. With the screenplay in front of them, they look at specific scenes in Little Women and explore how its non-linear timeline changed how the movie works.

We also answer listener questions on writing for the page and starting a family as an aspiring writer.

Craig joins us for the post-credits bonus segment when he shares what it was like winning a Golden Globe for Chernobyl.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 14, 2020
432 - Learning from Movies
56:45

John and Craig discuss what screenwriters can learn from watching movies. They cover techniques for making the most of the movies they watch and the questions you should be asking afterward.

We also share more advice from listeners about moving to LA and lots of answers FOR listeners who’ve written in with questions.

And for Scriptnotes Premium members, we have a bonus segment discussing The Mandalorian.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 07, 2020
128 - Frozen with Jennifer Lee
01:27:44

In the tradition of the Raiders and Little Mermaid episodes, John and guest host Aline Brosh McKenna discuss and dissect the award-winning, record-setting, paradigm-shifting Frozen. But this time, we have the writer on hand to answer our questions.

Jennifer Lee not only wrote Frozen, she co-directed it. She talks us through all the twists, turns, and happy surprises on the journey. We go scene-by-scene and song-by-song to look at how it works and how it changed during development.

It’s an episode full of spoilers. But it’s also totally PG, so if your kids want to listen, let ‘em.

Craig will be back next week with an all-new episode and no recollection of what happened.

*This post originally aired on January 28, 2014

Links:

 

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 2-1-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Dec 31, 2019
296 - Television with Damon Lindelof
01:22:19

John sits down with Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) for a bonus-length discussion of all things TV.

We focus on getting that first job, breaking story, and how writing rooms work. We also answer listener questions ranging from knowing when to let a pilot script die, to crediting original ideas.

Finally, we talk about the notion of Idea Debt, and how to say goodbye to projects you’ll never complete.

This episode originally aired on April 18, 2017.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 4-24-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Dec 24, 2019
431 - Holiday Live Show 2019
01:28:19

John and Craig welcome Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), and Shoshannah Stern (This Close, Weeds, Jericho), to discuss creating an early aughts period piece, working with co-writers, and making genre movies out of comic books.

We also introduce Scriptnotes Premium and play games on Real vs. Fake Awards Shows and literal movie quotes. Stay tuned for our bonus segment after the credits when we answer audience questions about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and creative rituals.

Thank you to the Writers Guild Foundation and the LA Film School for hosting us!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 17, 2019
430 - From Broadway to Hollywood
01:04:04

John and guest host Aline Brosh McKenna welcome writer/showrunner Tim Federle (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series) to talk about his path from Broadway to Hollywood and how he came to create his first TV show.

Along the way, we discuss TV musicals, LA vs. New York and pitch decks. We also follow up on the #PayUpHollywood survey results with producer Megana Rao and the new Academy screener app. Stick around after the credits for a special bonus segment about online stan culture.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 10, 2019
429 - Cleaning up the Leftovers
01:02:34

John and Craig use Thanksgiving break to finally answer some long-gestating listener questions, ranging from writing television with act breaks to keeping your drafts organized. Plus we’ll look at two moves by the US Justice Department and their impact on screenwriters.

In this week’s bonus segment, we do a meme! We’ll compare and reflect on our beliefs at the start and end of the decade.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 03, 2019
Extra - Assistants Townhall
01:15:57

John moderates the first Assistants Town Hall with panelists Liz Alper and Jamarah Hayne from #PayUpHollywood, Allison Begalman from Young Entertainment Activists, and employment attorney Jennifer Kramer. The panel examines the current conditions for assistants in Hollywood, the need to determine an accurate livable wage, and next steps for assistants and employers.

We also open the floor to questions from assistants and viewers from the livestream. This recording is an abridged version of the event, if you’re interested in watching the whole thing please click the link below!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 03, 2019
428 - Assistant Writers
01:14:00

John and Craig talk about best practices for assistants who write and how to properly credit support staff.

We also touch on the state of WGA negotiations on both the studio and agency front, as well as a look ahead to the AMPTP deal. In our bonus segment, we’ll make our final ruling on cats.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 26, 2019
427 - The New One with Mike Birbiglia
01:11:10

John and Craig welcome back writer/comedian Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend) to discuss his one-man show “The New One.” When writing about yourself, how much has to be true? What responsibilities do you have to friends and loved ones?

Then it’s a new round of the Three Page Challenge, where we look at the first three pages in listeners’ scripts. We also address Akiva Schaffer’s concerns on movie screeners and try our first-ever bonus segment after the credits.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 19, 2019
426 - Chance Favors the Prepared with Lulu Wang
57:31

John and Craig welcome writer-director Lulu Wang (The Farewell) to discuss not explaining things and the recipe for creating your own luck.

We also answer listener questions on reactive protagonists, finding friends in LA, and Chris McQuarrie’s Twitter thread.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 12, 2019
425 - Tough Love vs. Self Care
58:12

John and Craig discuss when writers should practice tough love vs. self-care. Inspired by Chuck Wendig’s blog post, they examine how real-world issues impact writers’ ability to get work done — but how they can also be used as an excuse for procrastination and laziness. They offer a checklist for helping decide whether it’s time to be harder or easier on yourself.

We also follow up on the Austin Film Festival, fan backlash, and show-runner tips for championing assistant pay, especially during the holiday season.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 05, 2019
424 - Austin Film Festival 2019
01:06:50

Craig hosts Scriptnotes Live at The Austin Film Festival with guests Ayanna Floyd (The Chi, Empire), Liz Hannah (The Post, Mind Hunter), Nichelle Tramble (Truth Be Told, The Good Wife), Malcolm Spellman (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Empire), David Mandel (Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm), David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones). They discuss the power of television, writing for the binge model, and the value of telling stories you want to watch.

We also play a Craig and David Kwong puzzle on movie quotes and host a round of How Do You Follow THAT Up?

Huge thank you to all of our guests!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 29, 2019
423 - Minimum Viable Movie
01:02:01

John and Craig discuss how to figure out if a given idea can work as a movie. What are the minimum requirements for story and vision a writer should consider before starting on a screenplay?

We also invite Megana Rao and Bo Shim to follow up on our discussion of low assistant pay. Plus follow up from the WGA and video game industry awards, and a look ahead to the Austin Film Festival.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

 
Oct 22, 2019
422 - Assistants Aren’t Paid Nearly Enough
01:07:04

John and Craig tackle the issue of assistant pay in Hollywood. Last week they called for assistants to share how much they were getting paid and the impact of those wages. They received a record number of responses highlighting the inequities in the industry. Using these emails, they take a look at the biggest issues with current pay and the challenges ahead.

We also discuss videogame writing, spec features, and thesauri.

Thank you to all of the Hollywood assistants who wrote in for this episode!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Oct 15, 2019
421 - Follow Upisode
59:58
Oct 08, 2019
420 - The One with Seth Rogen
56:03

John and Craig welcome writer/actor/producer/director Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up, Good Boys) to the podcast. They discuss Seth’s writing process, evolving with a creative partner, and the cinematic origins of 420.

Seth then joins them for another edition of How Would This Be a Movie? looking at stories ranging from corruption, cattle mutilation, and geriatric thieves.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Oct 01, 2019
Extra - What's it like to win an Emmy?
23:25

John and Craig discuss Craig’s experience winning two Emmys this week.

Sep 24, 2019
419 - Professionalism
01:01:24

John and Craig discuss topics ranging from the Emmys to elections, professionalism to patronage, along with the state of #MeToo. We also answer listener questions on credits and ask for your thoughts on potential changes to our premium subscriptions.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Sep 24, 2019
418 - The One with David Koepp
01:05:24

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 17, 2019
417 - Idea Management
01:10:03

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 10, 2019
416 - Fantasy Worldbuilding
01:03:02

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Sep 03, 2019
415 - The Veep Episode
54:36

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Aug 27, 2019
414 - Mushroom Powder
01:03:52

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Aug 20, 2019
413 - Ready to Write
56:15

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Aug 13, 2019
412 - Writing About Mental Health and Addiction
01:24:42

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 health.

Special thanks to our incredible panelists, plus Kate Folb, Marty Kaplan, and the entire team at Hollywood Health and Society!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here

Aug 06, 2019
411 - Setting it Up with Katie Silberman
01:02:42

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 30, 2019
Wikipedia Movies
59:10

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 23, 2019
409 - I Know You Are, But What Am I?
01:16:11

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 producers.

Thanks to everyone who submitted to the Three Page Challenge, especially our participants: Edith Rodriguez, Carolyn Getches, Hilary C. Gish, and Christine Hoang!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 16, 2019
408 - Rolling Dice
01:08:26

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.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 09, 2019
407 - Understanding Your Feature Contract
01:12:43

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 
Jul 02, 2019
406 - Better Sex with Rachel Bloom
55:51

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 25, 2019
405 - Live at the Ace Hotel
01:10:39

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. Thanks to Hollywood Heart for organizing this event and to a great audience!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 18, 2019
404 - The One with Charlie Brooker
01:22:46

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 11, 2019
403 - How to Write a Movie
44:24

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 04, 2019
402 - How Do You Like Your Stakes?
01:00:38

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 28, 2019
401 - You Got Verve
01:08:05

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 going fast!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 21, 2019
400 - Movies They Don't Make Anymore
01:14:09

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 today.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 14, 2019
399 - Notes on Notes
01:01:01

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:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 07, 2019
398 - The Curated Craft Compendium
55:14

John and Craig present a special clip show with craft-focused segments hand-picked by Aline Brosh Mckenna.

We’ll start by asking ‘Where to Begin?’ in Episode 174 and explore how to enter a story. Then we’ll discuss establishing setting and perspective in episode 45. Finally we’ll take a look at voice and the four rules to creating authentic dialogue.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 30, 2019
397 - The Sound Episode
01:08:57

John and Craig welcome back Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton) to talk all things sound: how it works on the page, on the stage, and in the mixing room. Andrea shares her experience working with sound for her upcoming directing debut, The Kitchen.

We also follow up on WGA developments and deep dive Craig’s feelings on matzah.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 23, 2019
396 - Big Numbers
43:25

John and Craig talk big numbers, from the latest developments in the WGA/agency situation, to the announcement of Disney+ and the final installment of the Star Wars non-ology.

We also answer listener questions about writers who aren’t in the guild and how to spend your time writing.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 16, 2019
395 - All in this Together
54:08

John and Craig explore the challenge of creating a movie with a group of heroes and multiple points of view. They’ll discuss options for structuring competing storylines, when to check back in with characters, and managing personal versus group stakes.

We also answer listener questions on a bunch of topics including things Craig tweets!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 
Apr 09, 2019
394 - Broken but Sympathetic
01:03:39

John and Craig welcome back Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller to discuss the challenge of creating a hero the audience can root for while also establishing that the character must change.

We also answer questions from listeners about conflicting notes, meet-and-greets, and true-life stories.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 02, 2019
393 - Twenty Questions About the Agency Agreement
45:43

John welcomes WGA negotiation committee members Chris Keyser and Angelina Burnett to answer listener questions on what’s happening and what to expect. They offer insight into the history of the issues and new tools the Guild is rolling out for staffing season.

We also follow up on the Disney/Fox 2000 merger, why we won’t be saying ‘baby writers’ anymore, and upcoming meeting dates for the WGA.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 26, 2019
392 - The Final Moment
01:02:15

John and Craig examine the final moment in movies, what they do and why they change so often.

We also take on vaccines, corruption, and extreme weather in another installment of ‘How Would This be a Movie’ and follow up on important upcoming meetings for the WGA.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 19, 2019
391 - When It's All Said and Done
57:00

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about what she learned producing four seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Aline shares the importance of trusting your gut, building school spirit, and empowering the voices around you.

We’ll also talk about Emma Thompson, agency-affiliated producers, and more.

Links:

Mar 12, 2019
390 - Getting Staffed
01:08:26

John and Craig proudly welcome back former Scriptnotes producer Megan McDonnell to tell her journey from film student to getting staffed on her first television show.

We then review a batch of Three Page Challenge submissions, covering how to keep your audience engaged, build tension, and earn interesting characters. Plus, follow up on the WGA and recent Bones ruling.

Thank you to our Three Page Challenge participants, and special thanks to Megan McDonnell for all of your work on Scriptnotes!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 05, 2019
389 - The Future of the Industry
01:12:02

John and Craig invite back Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA’s 2019 Agency Agreement negotiating committee, to discuss the issues. Specifically, they look at the difference between “packaging” and “packaging fees,” and the impact of agencies acting as writers’ employers.

John then welcomes Michelle Satter to introduce Co//ab, the new online community from Sundance. Michelle shares how they’ve made Sundance digitally accessible and what she looks for in applicants to its prestigious labs.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 26, 2019
388 - The Clown Stays in the Picture
01:02:53

John welcomes Matt Selman, executive producer of The Simpsons, for a deep dive look at the three-year process of developing a single episode from initial idea to the finished product. We discuss the role of the writers room, the table read, producer notes, animatics, and the impact computer animation has had on The Simpsons workflow.

Set in the 90’s, “The Clown Stays in the Picture” spoofs high concept comedies, artist narcissism, creative insecurity, and the magic of movie-making.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 19, 2019
Scriptnotes, 387: Seattle Live Show 2019
01:15:45

John and Craig head north to host Scriptnotes Live in Seattle. They welcome Emily Zulauf to discuss the process of pitching projects at Pixar, creating stories with heart out of pure misery, and when to admit you “don’t have it” and start over.

We also hold our own Open Writing Assignment and play a game with the audience to create two new movie pitches. Then we answer questions about theme and why you should move to LA.

Thank you to the Northwest Screenwriters Guild and TheFilmSchool for hosting us!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 12, 2019
Extra: The Agency Agreement
01:43

John and Craig offer a special reminder to guild members to attend one of the upcoming WGA Agency Agreement meetings.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 07, 2019
386 - The Princess Bride
56:49

John and Craig host a live show at the WGA Theatre with a deep dive look at The Princess Bride. They discuss how the “abridged” structure brings us only the best parts of the story and what this means for the characters and world: less exposition and more time for the fire swamp, R.O.U.S., and the pit of despair. From the frame story to the myth of the Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride shaped decades of screenwriters but would be inconceivable to produce today.

William Goldman’s 1973 cult classic delighted audiences with a fresh take on fairy tale tropes, and also managed to convince viewers that storytelling is ultimately an act of love.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Feb 05, 2019
385 - Rules and Plans
58:04

John and Craig discuss when and how to break screenplay orthodoxy, from experimental formatting to narrative misdirects. They also examine why it’s important that your characters create, communicate, and break plans.

We also address follow up from our Raiders of the Lost Ark deep dive, and respond to questions about shared and international writing credits.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jan 29, 2019
384 - Plot Holes
57:15

John and Craig dive into plot holes: why they happen, how to fix them, why not to fix them, and how to turn them into opportunities.

We also respond to listener questions on outlining, servicing many storylines, and what screenwriting challenges go under-appreciated.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jan 22, 2019
383 - Splitting the Party
01:07:43

John and Craig talk about the trope of “Never split the party,” and why, as a writer, you often want and need to divide up your characters to better explore relationships, propel the story forward, give actors something to do, and simply fit everyone in the frame.

We also follow up on screenwriting scams, sequences, websites, and liking things that others don’t.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 15, 2019
382 - Professional Realism
59:59

John welcomes Derek Haas (Chicago Fire, 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious) to talk about writing accurate portrayals of different jobs, and when to sacrifice reality for storytelling. They also share their time-management strategies in honor of those New Year resolutions to get writing done.

We also answer listener questions about the necessity of entertainment lawyers, how to keep your energy high pitch after pitch, Story By credits, and how to stay alive after that first staff writing job ends.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jan 08, 2019
381 - Becoming a Professional Screenwriter
01:07:13

John welcomes Tess Morris, Christina Hodson, Nicole Perlman, and Jason Fuchs to discuss their paths to becoming a professional screenwriter. They track the progression from glass bead day jobs to navigating general meetings to planning inconsistent finances to actually calling oneself a writer and even getting paid.

We also answer audience questions about career longevity and leaving writing behind.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jan 01, 2019
380 - Double Ampersand
28:40

John sits down with Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens to discuss their new film Mortal Engines, and their approach to writing as a team, worldbuilding, and rewriting through production, because one does not simply walk into Mordor.

We also answer audience questions about the difference between ideas for television and movies, and working through dialogue out loud.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 25, 2018
379 - Holiday Live Show 2018

John and Craig welcome Pamela Ribon (Ralph Breaks the Internet, Smurfs: The Lost Village), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Into the Spiderverse, The Lego Movie), Zoanne Clack (Grey’s Anatomy) and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Family Guy, The Orville) to discuss writing animated features, breaking into television, and how to disappoint your parents.

We also rescue another genre, the big-screen holiday comedy, by playing a game about movies of Christmas past. Then we answer audience questions about useful notes and being the only woman in the room.

Thank you to the Writers Guild Foundation and the LA Film School for hosting us!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 18, 2018