Scriptnotes Podcast

By John August and Craig Mazin

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Subscribers: 1369
Reviews: 1


 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
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
502 - Free Will (Or, It's Okay to Not Be a Screenwriter)
01:03:20

John and Craig discuss the concept of free will, specifically how it relates to fictional characters. They outline the tightrope screenwriters walk balancing characters with agency against obstacles that feel true.

We also talk about decisions screenwriters face in their careers and why it’s okay (and difficult) to change paths. We answer listener questions about optioned scripts and child screenwriting prodigies.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss AP exams. Warning: Craig has umbrage.

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 25, 2021
501 - Patterns of Success
01:06:20

John and Craig reflect on the traits they’ve noticed in successful writing careers. Should you write everyday? Do you have to be good in a room? Is it more important to be original or flexible?

We also follow up on genres, typos and address a listener question on harassment.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our preferences in books from paper to bindings to jackets. No shock: we have opinions.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 18, 2021
500 - The Quincenterary
56:31

John and Craig celebrate the 500th episode of Scriptnotes by welcoming back former Scriptnotes producers Stuart Friedel (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Vampirina), Godwin Jabangwe (Tunga), Megan McDonnell (WandaVision), and longtime editor Matthew Chilelli (Escape the Dark). The guys ask the producers questions about development, feedback, and writers rooms, uncovering Scriptnotes secrets along the way.

We also share a special announcement! Then we invite two superfans to play a game of trivia–do you know which guest was asked never to return?

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, the producers flip the script and ask John and Craig questions about the past 500+ hours of Scriptnotes.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 11, 2021
499 - Live and In Person!
01:09:04

John welcomes Craig back into the studio to chat face to face for the latest How Would This Be A Movie, looking at trapped Russian pop stars, relationship saboteurs and an abandoned Cinderella city.

We also answer listener questions on writing schedules and supporting characters, including a deep dive on Sebastian the crab’s personal life.

In our bonus segment for premium members, Craig shares how he’s been getting ready for production in Calgary.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 04, 2021
498 - Small Plates
01:04:27

John and Craig offer a tasting menu this week starting with comedy/rejection, followed by a meaty discussion on copyright and topped with a sampling of listener questions.

We get an update from Oops — our conversation on workplace crushes evolves into a broader discussion on the patriarchy and how to savor first experiences.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we compare remakes versus reboots.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 27, 2021
497 - When You're the Boss
01:07:22

John and Craig welcome back writer-producer Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Devil Wears Prada), who brings a basket of topics for the guys to unpack. They discuss the best way to give notes as a producer/boss and why Hollywood only takes serious genres seriously.

We follow up on female figures in ethical conflicts, bad bosses, and specifying race in character descriptions. We also get an update from Oops on dealing with the onset of an on-set crush.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, Aline shares what her 23 and Me uncovered about her relationship to Craig!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 20, 2021
496 - The Thing You're Not Writing
01:06:54

John and Craig discuss the projects they’re not currently working on. From the sunk cost fallacy to grudge writing, they offer advice for when you should rescue an idea from the Maybe-write list.

We follow up on bad bosses, Ponzi schemes and answer listener questions about what to do when you have a crush on your producer.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss which words they’d be willing to lose forever and the many interpretations of “Sure.”

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 13, 2021
495 - The Title of This Episode
01:00:16

John and Craig tackle the tricky territory of movie titles: what makes them great, why they’re important, and how a bad one can tank a good movie.

We answer listener questions on writing diverse characters, surprising movie expenses, and residuals.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members Craig outlines how to behave in a restaurant.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Apr 06, 2021
494 - Screenwriting in Color
01:13:17

John and Craig discuss the use of color in film by highlighting iconic scenes and sharing how they think about color palettes in their own writing.

We then host another Three Page Challenge, this time focusing on how well these opening scenes set up expectations for the script. We now ask for loglines, which are kept secret from John and Craig!

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss their Olympic ambitions.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 30, 2021
493 - Opening Scenes
57:20

John and Craig discuss the craft of constructing beginnings: what they consider when writing the first line of a script and how opening scenes have evolved with audience expectations.

We also investigate a question from former producer Stuart Friedel and dive into the history of foreign levies. We then make predictions on the future of movie-going by analyzing the history of megaplexes.

Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we look at cliches versus conventions.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 23, 2021
492 - The Gray Areas
01:20:02

John and Craig wade into the murky ethical challenges screenwriters face in Hollywood: When do you speak out against a peer? How do you claim an idea? Should you accept money from shady sources? They share their own experiences navigating these questions.

We also follow up on female redemption arcs, NFTs, and joining the WGA. We answer listener questions on topics from ‘the director’s pass’ to creating personal websites.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig share their personal origin stories about the moment they decided to become screenwriters.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 16, 2021
491 - The Deal with Deals
56:37

John and Craig talk about writer deals of various types, including a deep dive into new data published by the WGA on feature writer pay.

We also follow up on female redemption arcs and John shares his theory with Craig on how Disney will make its next trillion dollars.

Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we wade into the discourse on writers tweeting about writing, and whether it’s okay to judge a line of dialogue.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 09, 2021
490 - Secrets and Lies
59:57

John and Craig investigate the cyclical relationship between secrets and lies. They discuss character motivations for lying and how the tension of a secret can hold a story together. To illustrate the discussion, John invites Craig to solve our first-ever How Would This Be a Movie mystery, the Case of the Fatherless Child.

We also talk about the dreaded “why now?” note, the questionable wisdom of “you either have it or you don’t,” and whether we are team PRE-LAP.

Finally in the bonus segment for premium members, we discuss travel and our plans post-pandemic.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 02, 2021