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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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Dec 4, 2018

John is joined by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (The Invitation, Ride Along, the upcoming Destroyer) to talk about the second draft, offering some practical tips for the first big rewrite.

We also answer listener questions about getting scripts to actors, how to label characters with job titles, and the cooler way to describe a montage. We’re also still trying to make “re-quel” happen.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 27, 2018

Craig and John spend the entire episode discussing and dissecting Raiders of the Lost Ark, looking at both its structure and scene work.

This amazing and iconic 1981 film established so much of what we expect of out movie heroes and set pieces -- but a lot of what it does would have a hard time getting through modern studio development. Five-minute exposition scenes! Nazi monkeys! Helpless heroes at the climax!

And yet it works so well. There are great lessons to be learned for screenwriters in every genre.

This episode originally aired on January 22, 2013.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 1-25-13: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

 

Nov 20, 2018

John and Craig discuss commencement, the official moment to start writing. It can be easy to get pressured into free producer rewrites, starting to write before a deal is done and other pitfalls of blurry boundaries, so the WGA is introducing the Start Button, designed to help writers define their timeline and let the Guild be the bad guy.

We also answer listener questions about procedural television, binge-watching, and crossing the line in dark comedy.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 13, 2018

John and Craig review three Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Lindsay Doran (producer of Stranger Than Fiction, Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, Dead Again) and Jewerl Ross (manager and founder of Silent R Management). They then invite the writers up to discuss the notes, including the importance of geography, setting up relationships, and the danger in feeding kittens to sharks.

We also answer listener questions about “emotional math,“ breaking rules, the evolution of screenwriting and trying to be clever, but failing.

Thanks to the Austin Film Festival for hosting us and to our brave participants!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 6, 2018

John and Craig investigate actual villains in this installment of How Would This Be a Movie? From the eerily prescient writer of “How to Murder Your Husband” to the dark comedy of Jacob Wohl, sometimes reality provides the character — now you just need an actual story.

We also look at the craft behind writing for ensemble, plus follow-up on the end of FilmStruck, “No Writing Left Behind,” specifying character race in scripts and the hopeful resurgence of family-friendly Christmas movies.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 30, 2018

John and Craig invite Wendy Calhoun (Station 19, Empire), Phil Hay (The Invitation, Ride Along), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift) to join them onstage for a discussion about the death of the writing middle class, why we get bored during a film or episode of television, and the consequences of handing over unpaid writing.

We also play a game called “Why is Craig So Mad?”

Recorded live from the Driskill Ballroom at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. Thanks to the Austin Film Festival for hosting us, and to a great audience!

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 25, 2018

John and Craig cast screenwriting aside to answer listener questions on other topics, from quantum mechanics to the etiquette of talking at urinals to the intersection of pickles and romance.

Thank you for subscribing!

You can download the episode here.

 

Oct 23, 2018

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone.

We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 16, 2018

John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre.

We discuss what distinguishes rom-coms from other comedies, and why they get singled out for disdain and death-of articles.

Also this week: Amazon Storywriter, overused dicks, and follow-up on Whiplash.

This episode originally aired on November 24, 2015.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Oct 9, 2018

John and Craig have a dialogue about dialogue. They discuss how thinking about memorizing lines can help write them, and how to service quieter characters in a scene.

We also answer listener questions about adapting plays for the screen, creating a different experience for your reader than your viewer, and whether to trust sketchily worded release forms.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

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