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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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Apr 3, 2018

Craig welcomes Alec Berg, executive producer of two current HBO comedies (Barry and Silicon Valley), to discuss balancing productivity and creative energy, “comedy geometry,” and identifying as a craftsman rather than an artist.

We also answer listener questions about committing to a genre, the necessity of act breaks, and how much writers actually get to keep of their paycheck.

Links:

* Thanks for joining us, Alec Berg! Check out his credits.
* Barry is now on HBO!
* Silicon Valley is in its 5th season on HBO.
* Sharing your wifi password
* The Last of Sheila by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim, directed by Herbert Ross. Here’s the trailer.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* Alec Berg on Twitter
* 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.

 

Mar 27, 2018

John welcomes independent producer Keith Calder to discuss what a producer actually does, how financing and distribution strategies have changed with streaming, and how to approach film festivals as a filmmaker.

We also answer a listener question about which career path to take after being laid-off: climb the Hollywood ladder or bootstrap and just make films.

Links:

* Thanks for joining us, Keith Calder! You can check out his website and wikipedia page.
* Blindspotting comes out this summer. Here is Variety’s review.
* You’re Next and its IMDb page. You can watch it on Amazon now.
* Down Under trailer and IMDb page.
* LiarTown: The First Four Years 2013-2017 by Sean Tejaratchi.
* Eco-Cha Tea Club
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Keith Calder 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.

 

Mar 20, 2018

John and Craig delve into the business of screenwriting from money to managers to medical plans.

We answer listener questions about collecting unemployment, registering as a corporation, firing a rep, quitting your day job and handling the anxiety that comes with such an uncertain career path.

Links:

* Alto’s Odyssey
* An ambiguously threatening advertisement for British pork from 1984
* Champions on NBC, created by Charlie Grandy and Mindy Kaling, directed by Michael Spiller
* 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.

 

Mar 13, 2018

John and Craig consider how much a writer should know before going into a scene, looking at the perks and pitfalls of planning and letting oneself discover.

We also discuss taking notes from producers and executives. When should you stand your ground? When should you accommodate? What if it’s an excellent drawing of an elephant that’s been eaten by a snake?


Links:

* The Little Prince’s elephant inside a snake, not a hat.
* Alto’s Odyssey
* Everybody Wants to Be Famous by Superorganism
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Superorganism (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Mar 6, 2018

John and Craig speculate what Luke Skywalker’s plan might have been in the opening of Return of the Jedi. They consider heroes’ plans generally, the allowance we grant as an audience for opening sequences and the foul taste of “logic ketchup.”

We then engage in a long-awaited Three Page Challenge, focusing on scripts that play with point of view.

Links:

* We Dare You To Explain Luke’s Plan To Rescue Han In ‘Return of the Jedi’ by Mike Ryan for Uproxx
* Three Pages by Jay Emcee
* Three Pages by Erno van der Merwe
* Three Pages by Sarah Paradise
* What the Font? site and app
* Weird Al Yankovic’s Hamilton Polka
* 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.

Feb 27, 2018

 

John and Craig evaluate another set of exceptional news stories for their fitness for the big screen in this week’s How Would This Be a Movie?

We consider stories about counterfeit debt collectors, the worst roommate ever (beside’s Craig college roommate), the girl who posed as a grown man online and began exhibiting genuine symptoms of toxic masculinity, a family that fights to preserve their daughter after she’s been declared brain dead, and a cruise ship that descends into anarchy.

We also follow up on the mystery of MoviePass with a listener that has seen a new film each day for months. Did we judge this model too quickly?


Links:

* Applications are being accepted for the Sundance Episodic Lab
* Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance by Zeke Faux for Bloomberg
* Worst Roommate Ever by William Brennan for New York Magazine
* What Does It Mean to Die? by Rachel Aviv for the New Yorker. John also mentioned this story about Jon-Erik Hexum by Gareth Davies for the Daily Mail.
* Teen Girl Posed For 8 Years As Married Man To Write About Baseball And Harass Women by Lindsey Adler for Deadspin
* A Carnival cruise in the South Pacific descended into violent anarchy by Avi Selk for The Washington Post
* Bridge Constructor Portal
* A Very Fatal Murder
* The Good Place on NBC.
* 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.

 

Feb 20, 2018

John and Craig reunite to answer our backlog of listener questions.

We follow up on what it means to utilize white space on a page, the conventions of musical numbers, the value of a victory lap, and what the hypothetical destruction of Los Angeles would mean for the industry.

We also answer listener questions on the rules of awards voting, what to consider when writing a proof-of-concept short for a feature, and what to do when a deadline approaches and the script just isn’t good.


Links:

* WGA members, you can update your diversity details at my.wga.org. Don’t forget to “publish.”
* John on Brian Koppelman’s podcast, The Moment
* Common musical number types include the argument song (“Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from Annie Get Your Gun, “Sue Me” from Guys & Dolls, “People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklahoma!), the scheme song (“A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd, “I Want the Good Times Back” from The Little Mermaid stage play), the philosophy song (“Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid), the If Only song (“On my Own” from Les Miserables, “Memory” from Cats, “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music), and the Eleven O’Clock Number (“Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, “Being Alive” from Company) and the sidekick song (“Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King, “The Travel Song”).
* Marty McFly’s victory lap
* Awards scripts are available on Weekend Read
* “The Bittersweet Beauty of Adam Rippon” by Richard Lawson for Vanity Fair
* The Room: Old Sins
* 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.

 

Feb 13, 2018

John is joined by The Americans’ executive producer Stephen Schiff at a live Scriptnotes taping in New York! They discuss grounding an outrageous premise in character, suspension of disbelief, premium act breaks, and writing for a foreign language.

We also answer audience questions about New York writers rooms, expert consultants, expecting comparisons, first drafts, and how to write a period piece when history is full of spoilers.


Links:

* Stephen Schiff currently works on The Americans. Its final season premieres on March 28th.
* Thank you, McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers for hosting our live show!
* Google Ngram Viewer
* Bookstore staff recommendations, which led John to The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
* 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.

 

Feb 6, 2018

John and Craig talk about everything that comes after the oft-discussed First Three Pages, speculating on the kinds of issues they’d spot if they were looking at full scripts.

They also answer listener questions on topics ranging from proper spacing protocol to novelists rewriting their screenplay adaptations.

This episode originally aired on November 27, 2012.

LINKS:

* Scriptnotes T-shirts are available for one more week, including some old favorite styles, like Gold Standard and Midnight Blue!
* You can catch John at one of his book tour stops, or listen to Launch to keep up with him on the road.
* “The exception that proves the rule” on Wikipedia
* Stuart’s post, Learning from the Three Page Challenge
* Brining
* Cook’s Illustrated
* Ticket to Ride for iOS
* German-style board games on Wikipedia
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives are available!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* INTRO: Folger’s “Peter Comes Home for Christmas”
* OUTRO: Train Song by Feist and Ben Gibbard on iTunes

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

Jan 30, 2018

John and Aline welcome Peter Spears, producer of Call Me by Your Name, to discuss how the film came to be, from optioning the novel through its long development and multiple roadblocks.

Through the lens of Call Me by Your Name, we discuss the difficulties of preproduction for an indie film, the process of securing book rights, the opportunities that adaptation presents, and what this movie means in the Hollywood landscape.


Links:

* Thanks to Peter Spears for joining us!
* Read the Call Me by Your Name script, watch the movie and read the book.
* Subscribe to Launch at http://wondery.fm/launch or wherever you listen to podcasts.
* You can preorder Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire and read an excerpt here. Also, John’s book tour dates are available, if you want to say hi!
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* Aline Brosh McKenna on Twitter
* Peter Spears on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Hunter Christensen (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

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