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Scriptnotes Podcast

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.
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Jul 17, 2018

John and Craig welcome Liz Hannah (screenwriter of The Post) to explore where movies come from, be it real life, storytelling social media sites, or all-powerful comic book IP. How do these story sources affect the writer’s relationship with the material and with the audience?

We also follow up on the meaning of “Jackman Shot” and answer listener questions about using accents to indicate foreign language, where low-budget holiday movies fit into a blossoming writing career and the responsibilities of adapting the work of someone with a questionable moral legacy.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jul 10, 2018

John and Craig discuss the power of point of view in scripts and how the choice of which characters have storytelling power changes how we experience a movie. Point of view has a meaningful role in creating mystery, expanding scale, elevating characters, and energizing a story.

We also answer listener questions about “Jackman shots,” renaming a character in the middle of a story, and supporting a child who writes.


Links:


* Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are now available!
* Margin Call uses the ”plain English” trope a little differently.
* Justin Dise walks through the basic shot types in a blog post for B&H.
* Bubble, a podcast by Jordan Morris
* Alleys, an immersive escape mobile game
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Luke Davis (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jul 3, 2018

John and Craig debate and defend one of the most-maligned elements of screenwriting: Exposition. How do you tell an audience what they need to know without being labeled a hack? We offer tips for getting viewers up to speed without them realizing they’re getting fed exposition.

We also follow up on screenplay competitions, the psychology of toxic fandom, fridging as a trope, and the market for lesbian love stories.


Links:


* Michael Arndt’s thoughts on Endings (and Beginnings)
* Midnight blue typewriter Scriptnotes t-shirts are back on Cotton Bureau for a limited time!
* “Fridging” is the trope of violence against women motivating a male protagonist’s plot.
* These seven lesbian movies are coming out in 2018.
* This exposition scene in Aliens does it right.
* American Animals, written and directed by Bart Layton
* Isoland 2: Ashes of Time for iOS and Android
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Timothy Vajda (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jun 26, 2018

 

John welcomes Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Homeward Bound) to talk about her experience writing animated features, from the parallel processes of writing and production to her paltry paycheck for Beauty and the Beast. They consider the blurring lines between live-action and hyperrealistic CGI, as well as the history of animation writers’ exclusion from the WGA.

We also answer listener questions about whether there is such a thing as a bad character want and how to manage story days within a screenplay, which prompts exploration of wardrobe changes, thinking in terms of color rather than time and Linda’s penchant for naked characters.


Links:


* Thanks for joining us, Linda Woolverton!
* Adjusted for inflation, Beauty and the Beast ranks #133 in domestic grosses, above Toy Story, Iron Man, and other huge films.
* In Episode 317: First Day on the Job, we talked about the history of why animation writers are not represented by the WGA.
* In Episode 92: The Little Mermaid, we did a deep dive on the animated film that changed the game.
* Shanghai Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride is amazing. This POV video of the ride is definitely a spoiler.
* Climate Central is an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public. It helps localize reports of the effects of climate change.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jun 19, 2018

In light of the dust-up over Coverfly, John and Craig discuss why most screenwriting contests are essentially useless and should be avoided.

We then look at destructive fandom and ponder how today’s entitled enthusiasts might have responded to the classics.

Plus we answer listener questions about the “gutters” between scenes, whether an employer owns your idea, what the business of big talent-led production companies looks like, and how to maintain momentum after your first sale.


Links:

* Coverfly’s response to accusations in a now-deleted blog post. Here’s a conversation on the Screenwriting Reddit page about it.
* In 2015’s Episode 191: The Deal with Scripped.com, we invited John Rhodes from ScreenCraft and Guy Goldstein from WriterDuet to investigate a data management crisis with Scripped.com.
* Toxic Fandom Is Killing ‘Star Wars’ by Marc Bernardin for the Hollywood Reporter
* Apple has made a deal with the WGA
* Evan in Philadephia recommends Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art for a great explanation of “gutters.”
* JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot is an example of a big production company led by a creative.
* The worst sex in the world is anglerfish sex, and now there’s finally video by Avi Selk for the Washington Post. This video’s upsetting animation shows what the process would look like for humans.
* Bethesda’s Starfield has been announced
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Jeff Mooney (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jun 12, 2018

Craig welcomes Leigh Whannell, writer of the Saw and Insidious franchises, to discuss low-budget filmmaking, sequels on sequels, the horror landscape and his new movie, Upgrade.

We also answer listener questions about sharing an agent with your writing partner and the ethics of hiring someone to punch up your own script.


Links:

* Thanks for joining us Leigh Whannell!
* Leigh wrote Saw, Insidious, and, most recently, Upgrade, (here’s the fairly violent trailer).
* I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
* Matthew Lillard’s company, Beadle & Grimm’s Pandemonium Warehouse, is releasing a luxury Dungeons and Dragons campaign called Platinum Edition Dungeons & Dragons: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, which is available to pre-order.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* Leigh Whannell on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jun 5, 2018

John and Craig discuss the hot new trend of firing jerks from successful TV shows. Why is it happening now like never before? Is there an important distinction between being “difficult” and being a jerk?

We also follow up on listener suggestions for outlining tools, and answer questions about the landscape of feature comedy, the art of biopic postscripts, shopping agreements, and the etiquette around replacing another writer.


Links:


* A series is in development based on Elif Batuman’s New Yorker article about rental families.
* Some listener-recommended outliners include Workflowy, Gingko, Cloud Outliner, OmniOutliner from Omni Group, Pages, Causality, and good old index cards.
* Some recently fired examples include Roseanne Barr, Jeffrey Tambor, Clayne Crawford, and Bryan Singer
* A question of etiquette regarding replacing another writer
* No Thanks!, a game by Thorsten Gimmler
* Faraway 3, a puzzle game for iOS
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Jon Spurney (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

May 29, 2018

John and Craig welcome Lisa Joy & Jonah Nolan (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) to our annual live show benefitting Hollywood Heart.

We discuss worldbuilding, the challenges and delights of serialized storytelling, and the extreme measures taken to keep secrets.

We also answer audience questions on villains as protagonists, music supervision, and research as procrastination.

Recorded May 22, 2018 at the ArcLight in Hollywood


Links:

* Thanks to the ArcLight, Hollywood HEART, and everyone who came out for this Live Show!
* Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan are on the second season of Westworld on HBO.
* Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus’s Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Matthew Chilleli (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 22, 2018

John and Craig talk about the way that movies tend to bring their stories full circle, and what that means for writers trying to figure out their story beats. They discuss rhyming, bookending and how properly setting up the central thematic question helps make the answer feel meaningful.

We also answer listener questions about putting one’s work on YouTube, annotating scripts, and arbitration.


Links:

* Our next live Scriptnotes with Jonah Nolan & Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) is TONIGHT, Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Proceeds benefit Hollywood HEART, which runs special programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
* John’s statement on one theater’s choice to cancel their performance of Big Fish over the inclusion of same-sex parents.
* Highland 2 is officially out! This is the New York Times article about our Gender Analysis feature.
* Names on the Globe by George R. Stewart discusses the pronunciation of L.A.
* One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong. is a Washington Post article by Avi Selk about whether to put one space or two after a period.
* According to Craig, Fun Home is a good example of a moving bookending.
* The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman
* Dan Harmon’s Story Circle
* 21 Things to Know Before Losing Your Gay Virginity by Alexander Cheves
* Moodnotes is an app that tracks your mood
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Olufemi Sowemimo (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

May 15, 2018

John and co-host John Gatins sit down with Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom to discuss the experience of writing the third season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, from breaking story in hot tubs to adjusting genital-related dances in compliance with Broadcast Standards and Practices.

With spoilers aplenty, we discuss the challenges of a TV protagonist’s Act 2 “rocky shoals,” the nuance of exploring mental illness with comedy, the process of writing surprising musical numbers, and the opportunities of turning the rom-com genre on its head.

Recorded live on May 9th.


Links:

* Our next live Scriptnotes with Jonah Nolan & Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) will be Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now -- proceeds benefit Hollywood HEART, which runs special programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
* Some Crazy Ex-Girlfriend context may be helpful for this episode. You can watch it here! Otherwise, here’s the Wikipedia entry.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

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