Scriptnotes Podcast

By John August and Craig Mazin

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Category: TV & Film

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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
521 - Action Density
01:00:34

John and Craig talk action! They examine iconic scenes in classic movies to illustrate the relationship between intensity and density on the page.

We also host a Three Page Challenge: Spooky Edition, our segment that invites listeners to submit writing samples for critique. This week we’re specifically looking at thrilling and chilling scenes. Follow up for the week includes updates on IATSE and predatory writers.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk scary movies, things that scared us as kids, and what’s continued to haunt us.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 19, 2021
520 - You Can't Even Imagine
55:57

John and Craig discuss how the screenplay guides production — not just in what happens, but how it feels. They look at how the words on the page steer and inspire other departments, starting with the very first hires.

We also cover predatory writers, getting in over your head, and what it’s like to have no visual imagination.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we wade into the Bad Art Friend discourse.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 12, 2021
519 - How to Forget
01:00:36

John and Craig discuss the art of planning and forgetting. How do you stay present in a scene when you know where the story is going? The guys offer tips for making sure your characters are driving the story — but on roads you built.

We answer listener questions on setting the mood, manager requests, and insurance struggles for writing partners. We also follow up on the IATSE strike, the CAA-ICM acquisition, and streaming data.

In our bonus segment for premium members we discuss fame in 2021: one-sided relationships, attention vs. recognition, and advice for writers managing a public persona.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 05, 2021
518 - Knives Outback
58:17

John and Craig brainstorm How Would This Be A Movie, looking at articles featuring kangaroo feuds in Australia, squatters in the Hamptons, and ghost historians in Palestine. Plus a romance between the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

We also cover the potential IATSE strike, Tudum Day, and managing money.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana defend sweater weather as Craig decries the commercialization of autumn and other things he blames on millennials.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 28, 2021
517 - Smart People Talking About TV
01:30:37

This week, we revisit some of our favorite conversations with TV writers, including Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Alison McDonald (American Dad!), Ryan Knighton (In the Dark), Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). They share their philosophies and practical advice for writing television.

We talk about getting staffed, the first day in a writers room, when to speak, development heartbreak, and mapping out a story across seasons. Other important topics include lunch, how to dress, and hot tub brainstorm sessions.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana answer listener questions about Scriptnotes production.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 21, 2021
516 - 10 Year Anniversary
01:13:17

Editor and critic Julia Turner puts John and Craig in the hot seat to review the past ten years of Scriptnotes. They cover the original mission, behind scenes fights, notable guests, and their biggest regrets.

We also predict what we think the next ten years will bring and share a Scriptnotes love story.

In our bonus segment for premium members, Julia has John and Craig play “How Would This Be A Movie?” with the past decade of Scriptnotes. From casting to romance and rivalry, they outline the Scriptnotes Cinematic Universe.

Special thanks to Julia Turner for hosting! Listen to her every week on Slate’s Culture Gabfest.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 14, 2021
515 - Ashley is Back
57:12

John welcomes back writer/performer Ashley Nicole Black (A Black Lady Sketch Show, Ted Lasso, The Amber Ruffin Show) to prove good things come in twos. They dive into her two Emmy nominations, joining a show in its second season, and the opportunities of both writing and acting in a series.

We follow up on the WGA East elections and ghosting producers. We also answer listener questions on problematic female character intros and writing sports scenes.

In our bonus segment we take a look at TV’s white guy problem.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 07, 2021
514 - Looking Back and Forward
59:12

John and Craig take a look at the WGA East elections, specifically the debate over who the WGA should represent and how to prepare for new trends in digital media.

We revisit predictions we made about superhero movies and break down logical fallacies in a follow up to our conspiracy discussion. We also answer listener questions about ethical writing assignments, reading lists, and bored executives.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about how life has gotten better in the past few decades. Craig highlights the technological improvements in diapers and car stereos.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 31, 2021
513 - Writing for Stars
50:57

John welcomes back writer/producer Kelly Marcel (Venom, Cruella) for an action-packed episode. They break down a scene on the page, and then Kelly walks John through how she adapts and rewrites scenes in real time on set.

We also discuss writing scripts with a star and why you should always cast your movies before writing them (at least in your mind). We follow up on day-and-date releases, taking a look at this year’s box office and streaming numbers.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss dealing with visas as an international writer and the struggle of proving “exceptional ability.”

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 24, 2021
512 - There is No Conspiracy
01:07:29

John and Craig host another round of the Three Page Challenge, analyzing a range of listener submissions from scripts set in rural Japan to Manhattan strip clubs. They discuss establishing setting, grounding big characters, and introducing narration.

We also take a look at the lecture scene: how it can fall flat and tips for making it work. Then we answer a listener question on whether writers have an ethical responsibility to stop writing conspiracy theory stories.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John invites writer/comedian Sara Schaefer (The Schaefer Shakedown) to discuss her three steps for selling your TV show.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 17, 2021
378 - The Worst of the Worst
54:26

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.

Then in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana discuss why she picked this episode to replay, what she’s learned from the archives, and how to follow up on a general meeting.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 10, 2021
511 - Framing the Episode
52:16

John and Craig zoom out to analyze how the cultural context affects the perception of a movie, and the choices writers have to make.

We look at vaccine mandates for productions and answer listener questions about cheesy writing, zombie references, and diversity fellowships.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss the Black Widow lawsuit and what it means for writers financially.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Aug 03, 2021
510 - Craft Compendium
01:25:36

John and Craig curate a collection of craft topics: character wants and needs, point of view, and letting your heroes drive scenes. From internal struggles to the external obstacles, they share how to design a story that best serves a character’s journey.

We wrap up our clip show with a discussion on what we are still learning about craft. Defensive writing, the demons of perfectionism–John and Craig also face these obstacles and share advice on overcoming them.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss how they deal with ‘want versus need’ in real life.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 27, 2021
509 - Foreshadowing
58:04

John and Craig hint at the best ways to tease expectations in their discussion of foreshadowing. They take a look at popular examples, the difference between foreshadow and symbolism, and techniques for executing it well.

We answer listener questions on bad premieres, bad bosses, and good home theatre set-ups. We also double-down on on our pro-spoiler platform, using scientific research to explain how spoilers benefit audiences.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we analyze the death of the DVD commentary and Craig’s role in its reincarnation.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 
Jul 20, 2021
508 - Creating a TV Comedy
01:24:11

John welcomes writer/producer/creator Jen Statsky to discuss getting started writing comedy, from late night to The Onion to The Good Place. Then it’s a deep dive on the Hacks pilot, looking at how jokes change from the page to the edit.

We follow up on the best way to get fired, the WGA pilot guide, and answer listener questions on working in comedy.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Jen take a look at artistry and ownership through the latest development in the Cat Person saga.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 13, 2021
507 - Preproduction
53:42

John and Craig discuss preproduction, with Craig sharing how he’s prepping for an entire season of television. From costumes to casting, we look at the showrunner’s decisions beyond just the words in the script.

Then it’s another round of How Would This Be A Movie, with further analysis on why certain movies get made.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig debate what information belongs on a time traveller’s cheat sheet.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jul 06, 2021
506 - Good News, Bad News
55:04

John welcomes back Liz Hannah (The Post, The Long Shot, All the Bright Places) to explore the bad side of good news. They discuss the challenges of celebrating accomplishments in a mercurial industry, and follow up with a discussion on how to handle being fired.

We also answer listener questions on becoming successful before your friends, multiple timelines, spoilers, and weigh in on the IATSE negotiations.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we talk about our pets. We cover pocket pets and why ultimately dogs are a screenwriter’s best friend.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 29, 2021
180 - Rebroadcast: Bad Teachers, Good Advice and the Default Male
58:30

In this rebroadcast, Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss how movies featuring good mentors (Dead Poet’s Society, To Sir with Love) differ from films with bad mentors (Whiplash, The Devil Wears Prada). It’s not just that the teachers are bad guys; rather, the stories are structured completely differently.

We also discuss the “default male problem,” especially how it relates to comedy and the cleanest version of a joke. John asks Craig and Aline about some ethical quandaries he’s been facing, ranging from awards voting to who is a “friend.”

And in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig have a dialogue on dialogue. They discuss the process of developing the Scriptnotes book and the differences between how we speak/write/write speech.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 22, 2021
505 - Making TV Like Features (But Better)
01:03:43

John and Craig welcome back writing partners Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (The Invitation, Ride Along, The Mysterious Benedict Society) to discuss their transition from film to television. They chat about structuring a full season, adapting a novel, and the hierarchy of power in TV.

We follow up on MoviePass, take a look at a monster showrunner, and enlist Phil and Matt to answer our backlog of questions on writing partners.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John asks the guys how they shot during the pandemic and what practices are worth continuing.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 15, 2021
504 - Writing a Script in (insert number) Days
56:32

John and Craig discuss what comes after you land a movie deal–writing the script by a certain date. They offer tips, strategies, and calculations for budgeting time to deliver a draft.

We also consider the statute of limitations on spoiler warnings and follow up on child prodigies, movie theaters and free will. Our listener questions this week include POV in a two hander and how to get out of a nightmare development trap.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members John and Craig share their views on UFOs and extraterrestrial life. Spoiler: it’s all a simulation.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 08, 2021
503 - When You're Given the Character
01:25:19

John welcomes writer/showrunner Dana Fox (Cruella, Home Before Dark, Isn’t it Romantic), writer/director Jac Schaeffer (WandaVision, Black Widow, Timer), and filmmaker/producer Lance Oppenheim (Some Kind of Heaven) to discuss characters you don’t control. From classic villains, comic book heroes, to real life subjects, we take a look at creating narratives around established characters.

We introduce a new segment on the trades called “Didja see in Deadline…” and answer listener questions on writing at work.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss naps! Dana Fox shares her recipe for the perfect nap and tips for getting better sleep.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 01, 2021