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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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All Episodes
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Jan 9, 2018

John and Craig tackle that tricky stretch of screenplay between crystalizing what the story is going to be and the protagonist actually embarking upon it: the end of Act 1.

We also answer listener questions about writing for new media, why working outside of a WGA contract hurts everyone, what people want when asking for a “writing sample,” and adapting novels without the rights.

Links:

* Bathe in my Milk and the NY Post article about it.
* The Apple Pencil works pretty well! You can use it with Notability.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Jan 2, 2018

John and Craig discuss suspense and its function in all genres, from thrillers to romcoms. They examine suspense of the known and of the unknown and the techniques available to construct it.

We also answer listeners questions about registering scripts with the WGA, how to overcome creative paralysis and unconventional sluglines.

Links:

* The WGA’s page regarding sexual harassment
* The Wedding Planner, Die Hard, Three’s Company, Man Up, and the old ketchup commercials are great examples of suspense
* Thanks to Katie Dippold, who pitched the idea for this episode
* Weekend Read has many of this season’s awards scripts posted for your reading pleasure
* Flipflop Solitaire by Zach Gage, who also made Really Bad Chess
* Slate’s podcast, Slow Burn
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Travis Newton (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 26, 2017

John and Craig offer advice to those who suspect their work has been stolen, providing a checklist to help determine if a claim has merit and suggestions for how to best proceed if it does.

We also answer listener questions about taxes on agent commission, being a conservative voice in a writers’ room, and using real celebrities as characters.

Links:

* Firelight, the How Could This Be A Movie that is, indeed, a movie
* Amazon’s deal for The Lord of the Rings TV rights
* Amanda Hess’ Twitter response to Sarah Sahim’s accusation of plagiarism
* Nokia Thermo
* Google Maps’s Moat by Justin O’Beirne
* 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 and the Children’s Bell Choir of Akita (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 19, 2017

John and Craig give notes on a pilot script by our Homecoming Live Show Winner, Andrew Thalheimer. The Harrows is an hour-long police drama that centers on the relationship between a straight-laced new recruit and his street-wise father after they are assigned to be each other’s partner.

In talking through The Harrows, we discuss the limits of suspension of disbelief, the importance of the central relationship, and the need to set up your series early.

Huge thank you to Andrew, who has courageously put his script in our crosshairs. You can find this first draft and the subsequent rewrite below.

Links:

* The Harrows (original draft) by Andrew Thalheimer, Story by Robert Kulb & Andrew Thalheimer)
* The Harrows (rewrite) by Andrew Thalheimer, Story by Robert Kulb & Andrew Thalheimer
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Andy Roninson (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Dec 12, 2017

John and Craig discuss showrunning, remaking existing IP, staffing, and fan behavior with Julie Plec (Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Michael Green (Bladerunner 2049, American Gods, Murder on the Orient Express, Logan), and Justin Marks (Jungle Book, Counterpart).

In light of the big Fox/Disney merger, we contemplate which other podcasts we should consider teaming with to preserve our market share and bottom line. We also take a look at some questionable five star reviews.

Recorded with a live audience at LA Film School as a benefit for the Writers Guild Foundation. Huge thanks to everyone who came and supported the show.

Links:

* Show slides, in case you want to follow along at home.
* Pod Save America
* S Town
* Dirty John to listen to or read
* Missing Richard Simmons
* Julie Plec on IMDb
* Michael Green on IMDb
* Justin Marks on IMDb and check out his new show Counterpart
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* Julie Plec, Michael Green and Justin Marks on Twitter
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Intro by Jon Spurney and Outro by Andy Roninson (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Dec 5, 2017

John and Craig share their insight into pitching for television. How is it different that pitching features? How do express your passion for the project? How do you avoid being a Willy Loman pitching to a Willy Loman? (Sometimes you don’t.)

We also follow-up on the conversation about sexual harassment, with a focus on how men, bosses, and unions can work to make a safer, more comfortable workplace for everyone.

Reminder that the Scriptnotes Holiday Live Show is this Thursday in Hollywood. Ticket link below.

Links:

* Holiday Live Show tickets are available.
* A sexual harrassment resource guide from the WGA.
* The Tangle Teezer hair brush as recommended on Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools
* Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
* Initial write ups/pitch documents for DC, The Circle (a.k.a. Alaska), and Ops.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Phil Baker (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 28, 2017

 

John and Craig explore the possibilities and consequences of Disney’s potential purchase of Fox film and television studios. What might prevent the sale? What does each side stand to gain? To lose? What could it mean for writers?

Then, it’s another installment of “This Kind of Scene,” in which we dissect the mechanics of an effective breakup scene by looking at Casablanca, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, (500) Days of Summer, Love and Basketball, Brokeback Mountain and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The Scriptnotes live holiday show is December 7th in Hollywood, with special guest writer-producers Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries), Michael Green (American Gods) and Justin Marks (Counterpart). Ticket link below.

Links:

* Holiday Live Show tickets are available.
* Godless on Netflix
* The first 5 chapters of Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire are online.
* Hollywood studio real estate-related articles about Studio City, Century City, the history of the Disney Studio and CBS’ possible move to sell Television City.
* Casablanca scene and script, with the scene starting on page 119.
* Forgetting Sarah Marshall scene, pages, and script.
* (500) Days of Summer scene, pages, and script.
* Love and Basketball scene, pages, and script.
* Brokeback Mountain scene, pages, and script.
* Breakfast at Tiffany’s scene, pages, and script.
* Merriam-Webster Time Traveler will show you the words that were added in any given year.
* If you like that, you might like the Google n-gram viewer which graphs frequency of word use.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Arbitrary Jukebox (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 21, 2017

John and Craig review four Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Daniela Garcia-Brcek (Literary Manager at Circle of Confusion) and Cullen Conly (Literary Agent at ICM). We then invite the writers up to discuss the notes.

It’s not just craft, though. Our special guests give us a behind-the-scenes look at the realities of representation. What do agents and managers look for when they read (or “look at”) scripts? How important is a logline? Who reads queries? Daniela and Cullen tell us the unvarnished truth.

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

Links:

* Tickets available for the Holiday Live Show now!
* 2017 Austin Live Three Page Challenge -- you can check out the pages here or on Weekend Read.
* Want to submit a Three Page Challenge?
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Matt Davis (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Nov 14, 2017

Craig and John open the overflowing listener mailbag to tackle questions on everything from montages to life rights to passive heroes. Plus, we have a definitive answer on whether to number minor characters. (Don’t.)

We also finally address a major controversy: Craig’s missing cover of “Killing the Blues” from Episode 109. It exists, and you can listen to it today.

The Scriptnotes 2017 Holiday Live Show will be December 7th in Hollywood. Mark your calendars! Tickets available soon.

Links:

* Team America: World Police’s defense of “Montage”
* NOLO’s Getting Permission: Using & Licensing Copyright-Protected Materials Online & Off, a handy legal guide for rights and rights purchases.
* Cosmo Kramer, from Seinfeld, is based on Kenny Kramer, who sued a writer for defamation
* James Bond and the Berne Convention
* Trademark, Copyright, and a snazzy video on the difference between them from the USPTO.
* The Copyright Term Extension Act, AKA the Sonny Bono Act, AKA the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.
* Charles Dickens’ struggle with piracy in the US is illuminated in Fifty Inventions that Shaped the Modern World by Tim Harford.
* Go’s character, Spider Marine, comes from John’s mishearing the Smashing Pumpkins lyric “despite all my rage.”
* Craig’s cover of “Killing the Blues,” by Rowland Salley.
* The South Park video game, South Park: The Fractured but Whole (a sequel to The Stick of Truth) *all possible trigger warnings apply
* The Adelante Shoe Co. makes shoes for the discerning global citizen.
* Next week’s episode is the 2017 Austin Live Three Page Challenge -- you can check out the pages here or on Weekend Read.
* Matthew Chilelli’s video about his definitely-not-haunted apartment in Japan
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Rowland sally, performed by Craig Mazin (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Nov 7, 2017

John and Craig revisit the discussion of sexual harassment in Hollywood, and how to support writers facing it. While the media spotlight is on the predators, it’s the day-to-day bullying and bad behavior that may have a more pernicious effect.

Then it’s another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories in the news to see which ones might be suited for the big screen.

Is it the story of a prison camp for female firefighters? The shockingly unregulated human corpse trade? Or is it perhaps the anti-racist protestors shut down by other students at a super-liberal college?

We also answer listener questions about British English vocabulary and how to lure expert consultants for a project.


Links:

* Last chance for Scriptnotes T-shirts! We’ve got Classic (in light and dark mode), the Umbrage Strikes Back, and Umbrage & Reason.
* Peter Madsen admits to dismembering, but not killing, Kim Wall. This is a follow-up to past How Would This Be a Movie article, Famed Inventor Says He Buried Reporter ‘At Sea’ After His Homemade Sub Sank on NPR
* The 15:17 to Paris, written by Dorothy Blyskyl and directed by Clint Eastwood, is a former How Would This Be a Movie come to life.
* On the Line: The Female Inmates Who Battle California’s Deadly Wildfires by Matt Toder for NBC News.
* Some dead bodies donated to research in US end up in warehouses of horrors by Beth Mole for Ars Technica.
* The Surprising Revolt at the Most Liberal College in the Country by Chris Bodenner for The Atlantic
* An interactive piece by Joel Eastwood and Erik Hinton for the Wall Street Journal looking at the rhymes schemes in Hamilton
* Tens dice game app.
* Big Fish in London!
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

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