Scriptnotes Podcast

By John August and Craig Mazin

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Subscribers: 1515
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
585 - Do Muppets Bleed?
01:01:07

John and Craig take a look at ‘writer fingerprints.’ They break down how idiosyncratic choices make up an individual’s style on-the-page and offer advice on how to mimic someone else’s voice.

Follow up includes pet rock, a defense of script consultants, the preface page in Tár, and the anti-“actually” mindset.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we offer advice to a producer who needs help working with a writer who can’t seem to finish — or deliver — a script.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 31, 2023
584 - Adapting Your Own Novel
01:03:00

Taffy Brodesser-Akner joins us to discuss her journey adapting her bestselling novel “Fleishman Is in Trouble” into an acclaimed limited series. We chat about drawing inspiration from the familiar, learning how manage others, and presenting multiple sides to a story.

We also answer listener questions about naming characters, decorative dialogue, and the renaissance of the television half-hour.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we dig into the art and structure of the celebrity profile, a genre in which Taffy is herself an expert.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 24, 2023
583 - The One with Sarah Polley
01:01:26

John and Craig invite writer/director Sarah Polley to discuss her critically acclaimed feature “Women Talking.” They cover twice-removed adaptations, the world’s best eye-roll, and the power of narration.

We also look at “Run Towards the Danger” — the title of Sarah’s book as well as her personal philosophy.

In our bonus segment, we talk about child actors. Sarah shares her perspective as a former child actor and what it’s like to have her own kids on set.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 17, 2023
582 - Who Can You Trust?
50:09

John and Craig dissect expertise and “why you should think twice or thrice before taking someone’s advice.” They look at how survivorship bias, pride, and luck should factor into how we judge sources of authority.

We answer listener questions on raising kids in LA, writers for videogames, and Megana asks about creative-comedowns.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss natural disasters in Los Angeles and preparation plans. 

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 10, 2023
581 - A Guide to Good Writing
01:22:36

John and Craig (and Aline!) discuss the elements of quality writing in this collection of craft conversations.

As we work on the Scriptnotes book, producer Megana Rao has been collecting wisdom from the archives to write an introductory chapter to define good writing. In these segments we cover how to find your voice, spot confidence on the page, and actively watch films.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana discuss the Scriptnotes book and rumors of upcoming industry strife.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 03, 2023
580 - Finding a Way In, and Out
01:09:52

In this How Would This Be a Movie case study, John interviews screenwriter William Nicholson (Les Misérables, Gladiator) on the challenges he faced with his script for Thirteen Lives, a film that follows the attempted rescue of a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave in 2018. They cover issues of life rights, competing projects, narrative point of view and cultural sensitivity.

Before that, John and Craig discuss end-of-year news in Hollywood, the recent changes to HBO Max, and what that means for creators and audiences in the new year.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our aspirations and resolutions for 2023.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 27, 2022
579 - Rian Johnson Returns
01:00:51

John and Craig welcome back writer/director Rian Johnson (Glass Onion, Knives Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to discuss the difference between developing a mystery vs. designing a story. Rian shares how his writing process begins with structure and how the needs of the story inform the tone of his films.

We then test ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that’s been thrilling and terrifying screenwriters, to assess how worried we should be for the future of the profession. We also answer questions on variable frame rate and politics on set.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we dive into theories and spoilers for Glass Onion. Don’t listen until you’ve watched the movie!

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 20, 2022
578 - Any Given Wednesday
01:09:28

John welcomes writer/producers Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville, Shanghai Noon, Into the Badlands) to discuss their process of discovering new stories within familiar worlds, like in their Addams Family hit series Wednesday.

We discuss casting actors, shooting overseas, and the difference between writers’ block and story block. We also answer listener questions on one-pagers and whether aspiring screenwriters should focus on feature or television writing samples.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John asks Al and Miles their thoughts on film school and what decisions they’d make if they had to go back.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 13, 2022
577 - The One with Daniels
56:46

John and Craig welcome Daniels, writing-directing duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man, Everything Everywhere All at Once) to discuss making big, ambitious movies. The filmmakers share their process of chasing challenging ideas and the importance of novelty seeking.

We also talk about having faith in your future self, bravery, the narrative structure of pop songs, and idea generation as a fish net.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we learn about directing music videos and the unlikely flashpoint of many of their ideas. (It’s Maroon 5. No really, it is and you have to hear the explanation.)

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 06, 2022
576 - What You're Looking At
48:13

John and Craig get crafty! They examine how sentence structure and word choice translate to camera direction, allowing writers to direct the reader’s eye. They offer advice on how to think about the visual and aural idea behind each noun and verb, and why the screenwriter’s task is unique.

We also discuss Disney’s leadership changes, follow up on Craig’s outline process, and answer listener questions on montages and villainizing ordinary citizens.

In our most contentious bonus segment yet, sixteen sweet treats battle it out in the first-ever Scriptnotes dessert bracket.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 29, 2022
575 - The Billion Dollar Episode
01:02:55

John welcomes writer/performer Matt Rogers (Fire Island, Las Culturistas) for a new installment of How Would This Be A Movie. From crypto crashes to lotto longshots, this week they look at money-themed stories in the news and why they’re worth adapting.

Matt shares his background getting started as a comedy writer and tips for non-icky networking. We also answer listener questions on neglectful agents and pitching in drag.

In our bonus segment for premium members: What is culture? John and Matt define and test the bounds of what constitutes culture.

Links:

 

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 22, 2022
574 - Difficult Scenes
56:36

John and Craig investigate why some scenes are so much harder to write than others, with strategies for tackling (or surrendering) to the difficulty.

We also follow up on virtual rooms, act breaks, and diversity workshops. Listener questions this week include introducing twists, getting elbowed out of your project, and whether it’s possible to be too meta?

In our bonus segment for premium members, Megana shares her experiences attending the Austin Film Festival for the first time.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 15, 2022
573 - Three Page Challenge Live in Austin 2022
43:13

John welcomes Marc Velez, SVP, Head of Development at UCP, on for an in-person round of the Three Page Challenge. As always, we look at listener-submitted pages and offer honest feedback, at the Austin Film Festival.

We’re joined live by each of the writers who add context and pitch their vision for each project. From near-future sci-fi to a familiar Hollywood horror story, John and Marc offer advice on how to craft a compelling opening.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we answer listener questions on noisiness, specs, and preparing other pitch materials.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 08, 2022
572 - Live at the Austin Film Festival 2022
57:55

John and Craig return to the Austin Film Festival for a raucous show with a full house. They invite Brenda Hsueh (The Afterparty, How I Met Your Mother) and Chuck Hayward (Ted Lasso, Wandavision) on to discuss breaking in, staff-able samples, and the dangers of losing your voice (literally!) in the room.

Then we welcome back Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) and Phil Hay (Mysterious Benedict Society, The Invitation) to discuss showrunning the modern comedy and making multiple seasons on streamers. We also play a game of ‘Nothing is Scary When Everything is Terrifying.’

In our bonus segment for premium members, the group answers listener questions on developing experience, development experiences, and writing turn-offs.

Special thanks to our guests and the Austin Film Festival!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

Nov 01, 2022
571 - Scriptnotes Live in LA
01:30:58

In our first live show since 2019, John and Craig welcome guests Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island), Ike Barinholtz (History of the World, part 2), Megan Ganz (Mythic Quest), and Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). They discuss writing scripted comedy vs. standup, representation, and the difficulties of being the boss.

They’re joined by The Manager We Told You to Fire, who has some choice words for the guys.

Megana asks audience questions on storyboarding, pet peeves, and advice/inspiration for aspiring writers.

Big thanks to our live audience, the staff of Dynasty Typewriter, and everyone at Hollywood Heart for putting the event together.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 25, 2022
224 - Whiplash on Paper and on Screen
01:11:22

John and Craig take an in-depth look at two scenes in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH to see how conflicts were structured and what changed from script to shooting.

We also discuss the myth vs. reality of Zola, and what we mean by a character having agency.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Megana discuss the seemingly sudden rise of artificial intelligence tools in creative industries.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 18, 2022
570 - How Much Progress?
01:16:27

John and Craig welcome back Liz Alper (Day of the Dead, The Rookie) and Brittani Nichols (Abbott Elementary, A Black Lady Sketch Show) to discuss how much progress has been made on issues from #MeToo, #PayUpHollywood, and depictions of police on screen. We look at common threads between the movements, and the difficulty of maintaining momentum once the initial impetus has passed.

We also answer listener questions on how to deal with ethically complicated projects and why there’s still so much copaganda on television.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John tells Craig a real life fairy tale about ‘The Writer Who Left his Reps.’ It’s magical and full of hope.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 11, 2022
569 - Inspiration vs. Motivation
57:16

John and Craig compare the romanticism and reality of writing. They discuss why inspiration is overvalued, why ‘bad motivations’ aren’t necessarily bad, and the rare bliss that occurs when inspiration and motivation align.

We answer listener questions on act breaks, cover the phenomenon of show-runners as promotional vehicles, and John attempts to manifest a Van Halen movie.

And in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk creepy crawlies.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 04, 2022
568 - Writing as Acting
50:05

John and Craig analyze what lessons writers can learn from acting techniques (such as staying present) and working with actors (like staying open).

We also discuss writer retirement, how Craig’s “central dramatic argument” applies to TV, and the skill of cutting a character to save a scene.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss The Future and what we owe it.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 27, 2022
567 - No Stars, Please
56:12

John and Craig discuss movie and television stars. When do you want to cast a huge star, and when is it not a good idea? From big names in small parts to new names in big parts, they try to calculate how much fame a role requires.

We follow up on the editing process and share advice on staying nimble. We also answer listener questions on recorded pitches, writing left behind, and time management with multiple contracts.

In our bonus segment for premium members, we play a round of Two Truths and a Lie to test our deception skills.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 20, 2022
566 - Not Controversial At All
59:10

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Sep 13, 2022