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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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Now displaying: January, 2012
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Jan 31, 2012

Following up on their conversation about "five figure advice" for newly-employed screenwriters, Craig and John discuss the changes and challenges that come when writers start making six figures that is, more than $100K per year.

High-class problems? Sure. Not many aspiring screenwriters will reach that level of success, or sustain it. But in our experience, it's shortly after having "made it" that many writers find themselves flailing financially, because it's such a different experience than living paycheck-to-paycheck.

At what should point should you form a loan-out corporation? Should you pay off your student loans? Do you need disability insurance? How about a 401K? And how do you set up a line of credit at a Las Vegas casino?

Esoteric topics to be sure, but if you gather together a group of working screenwriters, this is what they'll eventually be talking about the career rather than the craft. Ultimately, a lot of what we discuss this week applies to anyone working for themselves.

Also touched on this week: the difference between casting TV and features, and The Cinema School in the Bronx.

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UPDATE 2-1-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Jan 24, 2012

Craig and John discuss the screenwriter's role in casting, then segue to the New York Times profile of producer/executive Lindsay Doran and her approach to story.

Doran argues (persuasively) that successful movies are often less about whether the hero wins or loses, but rather how his achievements are measured. For example, a character's victory is much more satisfying when there is someone to share it with the real moment isn't the game-winning touchdown, but when the quarterback kisses his wife afterwards.

She's not pitching happy endings, but rather positive outcomes. It's an interesting way to look not just at how we tell stories, but also which stories we tell.

We also touch on the advantages of mentally casting your movie as you write, writing (or rewriting) for the cast you are given, and the delicate art of making someone think he came up with an idea on his own after you plant it in his head.

This and more mind-control tips on the 21st episode of Scriptnotes.

LINKS:

UPDATE 1-26-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Jan 17, 2012

John and Craig take an in-depth look at how screenwriting credits are determined. In some ways, credit arbitration is a luxury problem the movie you wrote got made! but it's one of the most controversial, contentious and misunderstood parts of a screenwriter's career.

Ideally, you're the first, last and only writer employed on a movie. For Go and The Nines, that was the case. In situations where more than one writer works on a movie, figuring out who deserves credit can become an ordeal.

Most non-animated Hollywood features are written under a WGA contract. Part of that contract specifies that the WGA ultimately determines who receives screenplay and story credit (which collapses into "written by" credit if the same writer receives both). This week, we take a look at the rules, principles and guidelines, and offer advice for writers who find themselves facing a credit arbitration.

Plus, a quick visit to CES.

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UPDATE 1-18-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Jan 10, 2012

Craig and John take a look the week's news, including the WGA nominations, Warner's shift to a 56-day video window, the folly of SOPA and the launch of Bronson Watermarker.

Along the way, we discuss Hoda Kotb, Marcus Bachman, and how great HBO Go is. (Really, it's great, and other studios should follow its lead.)

All this and more in episode 19 of Scriptnotes.

LINKS:

UPDATE 1-11-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Jan 3, 2012

Craig and John look at the year ahead, from resolutions (we don't have any) to reunions (20th!). Along the way, we discuss archery, piano and left-hand weakness.

The bulk of the episode is a discussion of Charlie Kaufman's BAFTA speech about screenwriting and screenwriters, artistry and artifice. Which of us comes down on the side of self-examination and the purity of intentions? The answer may surprise you!

LINKS:

UPDATE 1-9-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

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