TV & Film

Scriptnotes Podcast

John August and Craig Mazin

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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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408 - Rolling Dice

1:08:26 | Jul 9th

John and Craig tackle eight topics ranging from WGA negotiations to overlapping dialogue, to John’s new agency. We also follow up on Better Sex, Chernobyl, and Craig’s solo episode. Scriptnotes Episode 406, Better Sex with Rachel Bloom Verve Talent ...Show More
407 - Understanding Your Feature Contract

1:12:43 | Jul 2nd

John and Craig are joined by attorney Ken Richman and Laurie Espinosa of the WGA West for a detailed discussion of screenwriting contracts. They look at what to expect, where you can negotiate, and what to watch out for. Follow along with the example...Show More
406 - Better Sex with Rachel Bloom

55:51 | Jun 25th

John and Craig welcome back longtime friend of the podcast Rachel Bloom (co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) to discuss how sex and sexuality are portrayed on both the big and small screen. They cover ways to approach sensitive topics in a wr...Show More
405 - Live at the Ace Hotel

1:10:39 | Jun 18th

John and Craig host comedy titans Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), Ben Falcone (The Boss, Tammy), Kourtney Kang (Fresh Off the Boat), Rob McElhenney (Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) onstage to discus...Show More
404 - The One with Charlie Brooker

1:22:46 | Jun 11th

John talks with Charlie Brooker (creator, writer, and executive producer of Black Mirror) about his groundbreaking series and the opportunities and challenges of writing an anthology. We also touch on the nature of reality, the difficulty of reflecti...Show More
403 - How to Write a Movie

44:24 | Jun 4th

In a Scriptnotes first, Craig hosts a solo episode presenting his general theory on screenwriting. He covers the central dramatic argument, the ‘why’ behind plot points, and of course, provides some umbrage on common script diagrams. Good luck, and g...Show More
402 - How Do You Like Your Stakes?

1:00:38 | May 28th

John and Craig discuss stakes, how to create them and what that means for your character. They also talk a little about Aladdin, the Game of Thrones ending, and of course, the agency stuff. Don’t forget to join us for our live show in Los Angeles on ...Show More
401 - You Got Verve

1:08:05 | May 21st

John and Craig introduce a new segment: The Scriptnotes Pitch Session! They listen to five listeners’ 90-second pitches and share their feedback on substance and style. We also discuss the implications of Verve signing the WGA agreement and get speci...Show More
400 - Movies They Don't Make Anymore

1:14:09 | May 14th

John and Craig welcome back writer/director Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, the last two Mission: Impossibles) to celebrate the 400th episode with a new round of ‘This Kind of Movie.’ Given our success saving the romantic comedy, we focus on...Show More
399 - Notes on Notes

1:01:01 | May 7th

John and Craig talk to an audience of development executives about the experience of getting notes as a writer. They cover why these conversations kick in our fight or flight responses, how to frame notes through story, and ways to motivate writers t...Show More
398 - The Curated Craft Compendium

55:14 | Apr 30th

John and Craig present a special clip show with craft-focused segments hand-picked by Aline Brosh Mckenna. We’ll start by asking ‘Where to Begin?’ in Episode 174 and explore how to enter a story. Then we’ll discuss establishing setting and perspectiv...Show More
397 - The Sound Episode

1:08:57 | Apr 23rd

John and Craig welcome back Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton) to talk all things sound: how it works on the page, on the stage, and in the mixing room. Andrea shares her experience working with sound for her upcoming directi...Show More
396 - Big Numbers

43:25 | Apr 16th

John and Craig talk big numbers, from the latest developments in the WGA/agency situation, to the announcement of Disney+ and the final installment of the Star Wars non-ology. We also answer listener questions about writers who aren’t in the guild an...Show More
395 - All in this Together

54:08 | Apr 9th

John and Craig explore the challenge of creating a movie with a group of heroes and multiple points of view. They’ll discuss options for structuring competing storylines, when to check back in with characters, and managing personal versus group stake...Show More
394 - Broken but Sympathetic

1:03:39 | Apr 2nd

John and Craig welcome back Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller to discuss the challenge of creating a hero the audience can root for while also establishing that the character must change. We also answer questions from listeners about ...Show More
393 - Twenty Questions About the Agency Agreement

45:43 | Mar 26th

John welcomes WGA negotiation committee members Chris Keyser and Angelina Burnett to answer listener questions on what’s happening and what to expect. They offer insight into the history of the issues and new tools the Guild is rolling out for staffi...Show More
392 - The Final Moment

1:02:15 | Mar 19th

John and Craig examine the final moment in movies, what they do and why they change so often. We also take on vaccines, corruption, and extreme weather in another installment of ‘How Would This be a Movie’ and follow up on important upcoming meetings...Show More
391 - When It's All Said and Done

57:00 | Mar 12th

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about what she learned producing four seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Aline shares the importance of trusting your gut, building school spirit, and empowering the voices around you. We’ll also t...Show More
390 - Getting Staffed

1:08:26 | Mar 5th

John and Craig proudly welcome back former Scriptnotes producer Megan McDonnell to tell her journey from film student to getting staffed on her first television show. We then review a batch of Three Page Challenge submissions, covering how to keep yo...Show More
389 - The Future of the Industry

1:12:02 | Feb 26th

John and Craig invite back Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA’s 2019 Agency Agreement negotiating committee, to discuss the issues. Specifically, they look at the difference between “packaging” and “packaging fees,” and the impact of agencies acting a...Show More
388 - The Clown Stays in the Picture

1:02:53 | Feb 19th

John welcomes Matt Selman, executive producer of The Simpsons, for a deep dive look at the three-year process of developing a single episode from initial idea to the finished product. We discuss the role of the writers room, the table read, producer ...Show More
Scriptnotes, 387: Seattle Live Show 2019

1:15:45 | Feb 12th

John and Craig head north to host Scriptnotes Live in Seattle. They welcome Emily Zulauf to discuss the process of pitching projects at Pixar, creating stories with heart out of pure misery, and when to admit you “don’t have it” and start over. We al...Show More
Extra: The Agency Agreement

01:43 | Feb 7th

John and Craig offer a special reminder to guild members to attend one of the upcoming WGA Agency Agreement meetings. Links: Scriptnotes, 347: Conflict of Interest RSVP for a meeting WGA Agency Agreement Meeting: Saturday, February 9 at 10:30 am at ...Show More
386 - The Princess Bride

56:49 | Feb 5th

John and Craig host a live show at the WGA Theatre with a deep dive look at The Princess Bride. They discuss how the “abridged” structure brings us only the best parts of the story and what this means for the characters and world: less exposition and...Show More
385 - Rules and Plans

58:04 | Jan 29th

John and Craig discuss when and how to break screenplay orthodoxy, from experimental formatting to narrative misdirects. They also examine why it’s important that your characters create, communicate, and break plans. We also address follow up from ou...Show More
384 - Plot Holes

57:15 | Jan 22nd

John and Craig dive into plot holes: why they happen, how to fix them, why not to fix them, and how to turn them into opportunities. We also respond to listener questions on outlining, servicing many storylines, and what screenwriting challenges go u...Show More
383 - Splitting the Party

1:07:43 | Jan 15th

John and Craig talk about the trope of “Never split the party,” and why, as a writer, you often want and need to divide up your characters to better explore relationships, propel the story forward, give actors something to do, and simply fit everyone...Show More
382 - Professional Realism

59:59 | Jan 8th

John welcomes Derek Haas (Chicago Fire, 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious) to talk about writing accurate portrayals of different jobs, and when to sacrifice reality for storytelling. They also share their time-management strategies in honor of those Ne...Show More
381 - Becoming a Professional Screenwriter

1:07:13 | Jan 1st

John welcomes Tess Morris, Christina Hodson, Nicole Perlman, and Jason Fuchs to discuss their paths to becoming a professional screenwriter. They track the progression from glass bead day jobs to navigating general meetings to planning inconsistent f...Show More
380 - Double Ampersand

28:40 | Dec 25th, 2018

John sits down with Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens to discuss their new film Mortal Engines, and their approach to writing as a team, worldbuilding, and rewriting through production, because one does not simply walk into Mordor. We als...Show More
379 - Holiday Live Show 2018

1:15:57 | Dec 18th, 2018

John and Craig welcome Pamela Ribon (Ralph Breaks the Internet, Smurfs: The Lost Village), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Into the Spiderverse, The Lego Movie), Zoanne Clack (Grey’s Anatomy) and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Family Guy, The Orville) to dis...Show More
378 - The Worst of the Worst

53:57 | Dec 11th, 2018

John and Craig examine why and how writers need to make bad things happen to their characters, and the ways in which hero suffering differs between features and television. We also answer listener questions about WGA jurisdiction, becoming a signator...Show More
377 - The Second Draft

50:38 | Dec 4th, 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 actor...Show More
73 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

1:13:29 | Nov 27th, 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...Show More
376 - Commencement

58:25 | Nov 20th, 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 Sta...Show More
375 - Austin 2018 Three Page Challenge

1:10:57 | Nov 13th, 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 invit...Show More
374 - Real-World Villains

59:20 | Nov 6th, 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 ne...Show More
373 - Austin Live Show 2018

1:16:55 | Oct 30th, 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 discussio...Show More
372 - No Writing Left Behind

52:58 | Oct 23rd, 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 t...Show More
225 - Only Haters Hate Rom-Coms

1:03:37 | Oct 16th, 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. ...Show More
371 - Writing Memorable Dialogue

56:52 | Oct 9th, 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 d...Show More
370 - Two Things at the Same Time

1:06:16 | Oct 2nd, 2018

John and Craig look into simultaneity and how to visually articulate two things happening at once with the temporally-limited medium of written word. We also explore how simultaneity can ramp up tension, fracture narrative and play with expectations....Show More
369 - What Is a Movie, Anyway?

41:21 | Sep 25th, 2018

John and Craig welcome Franklin Leonard to weigh in on the current definition of “movie.” In the age of streaming, this distinction is not only important for audiences and awards, but has a meaningful effect on how writers are paid. We also take umbr...Show More
368 - Advice for a New Staff Writer

1:01:42 | Sep 18th, 2018

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and wha...Show More
367 - One Year Later

59:21 | Sep 11th, 2018

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the progress made in the year following the Weinstein revelations. Have the systems for reporting and preventing sexual harassment improved, or are we still just dealing with hurricanes? We also fol...Show More
Extra: WGA Elections 2018

28:20 | Sep 6th, 2018

John and Craig discuss their choices for WGA Board Elections and misinformation about proposed revisions to the Screen Credits Manual. Links: WGA East Elections Jonathan Fernandez Patti Carr Patric Verrone Betsy Thomas Travis Donnelly Dante W. Harp...Show More
366 - Tying Things Up

1:00:30 | Sep 4th, 2018

John and Craig cover endings, both for craft and for business. First they articulate the importance of the denouement and the social contract it fulfills with the audience. Then they discuss what happens to a writer’s work after their death. We also ...Show More
365 - Craig Hates Dummies

1:06:13 | Aug 28th, 2018

John and Craig are back at it with another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? They consider the story of a competitive mass Tinder date, a retirement home for ventriloquist dummies and the McDonald’s Monopoly heist. We also revisit John’s WGA ...Show More
364 - Netflix Killed the Video Store

50:50 | Aug 21st, 2018

John welcomes Kate Hagen to talk about missing movies and the role that video stores play in archiving film history, preserving access to all movies and creating a sense of community. They discuss some of the barriers to films getting digital distrib...Show More
363 - Best Popular Screenwriting Podcast

58:49 | Aug 14th, 2018

John and Craig pack this business-centric episode with big picture conversations about guild negotiations, changes to the Oscars, the Disney/Fox merger, the Paramount Consent Decree, and the tragedy that is being unable to stream The Flamingo Kid. Li...Show More
Extra: My Abortion Story

09:00 | Aug 13th, 2018

In this extra mini-episode, John and Craig discuss John’s abortion article. We’ll be back with a normal episode on Tuesday. Links: My Abortion Story blog post
362 - The One with Mindy Kaling

1:10:35 | Aug 7th, 2018

John sits down with writer/actor Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project, Champions) to talk about her origin story, her big break as Ben Affleck, what it’s like to simultaneously showrun and star in a sitcom, and the nature of half-hour comedies...Show More
361 - From Indie to Action Comedy

1:01:32 | Jul 31st, 2018

John welcomes Susanna Fogel and David Iserson to talk about making their new movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me. They discuss the transition from TV and indie film to blockbuster, the collaboration involved in crafting a comic action sequence, and the fun ...Show More
360 - Relationships

1:02:44 | Jul 24th, 2018

John and Craig discuss the importance and basics of developing relationships in storytelling. Characters are nothing without relationships, like Woody without Buzz, Shrek without Donkey, John without Craig... We then test these ideas about relationsh...Show More
359 - Where Movies Come From

1:09:36 | Jul 17th, 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 mate...Show More
358 - Point of View

51:58 | Jul 10th, 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 charact...Show More
357 - This Title is an Example of Exposition

59:33 | Jul 3rd, 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 the...Show More
356 - Writing Animated Features

47:45 | Jun 26th, 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 c...Show More
355 - Not Worth Winning

58:01 | Jun 19th, 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 cl...Show More
354 - Upgrade

1:07:30 | Jun 12th, 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 writi...Show More
353 - Bad Behavior

59:09 | Jun 5th, 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 ...Show More
352 - Infinite Westworld

1:12:50 | May 29th, 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 story...Show More
351 - Full Circle

56:15 | May 22nd, 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 ...Show More
350 - Limerence

58:39 | May 15th, 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 Broad...Show More
349 - Putting Words on the Page

57:27 | May 8th, 2018

John and Craig discuss the digital tools of the trade. From outline to first draft to production rewrites, screenwriters find themselves facing different challenges. We talk about what works for each of us. We also speculate on what impact Highland 2...Show More
348 - All About Family

59:05 | May 1st, 2018

John and Craig partake in another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? Which story is destined for the big screen: The millennial mother with her surprise, Youtube-guided childbirth? The couple that has the same fight for decades? The Japanese f...Show More
347 - Conflict of Interest

1:01:14 | Apr 24th, 2018

John and Craig examine the myriad conflicts of interest that arise in Hollywood, from self-dealing studios to packaging fees to pilot season. But it’s not just other people with issues. Writers grapple with their own conflicts of interest. We discuss...Show More
346 - Changing the Defaults

56:33 | Apr 17th, 2018

John sits down with screenwriter Christina Hodson to discuss race, gender, and representation in Hollywood, and how screenwriters can help correct the status quo with the one thing they can control: the words on the page. We tackle the nuances of des...Show More
345 - Love, Aptaker & Berger

57:47 | Apr 10th, 2018

John and Craig welcome Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the writing team that showruns This Is Us and just made history with Love, Simon. We discuss their experience of breaking into the industry, writing with a partner, running a hit show, adapti...Show More
344 - Comedy Geometry

56:17 | Apr 3rd, 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 listen...Show More
343 - The One with the Indie Producer

52:28 | Mar 27th, 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 abo...Show More
342 - Getting Paid for It

59:00 | Mar 20th, 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 th...Show More
341 - Knowing vs. Discovering

56:26 | Mar 13th, 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...Show More
340 - What's the Plan, Anyway?

58:03 | Mar 6th, 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 the...Show More
339 - Mostly Terrible People

1:08:32 | Feb 27th, 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 room...Show More
338 - We're Back, Baby

56:07 | Feb 20th, 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 w...Show More
337 - The One with Stephen Schiff

45:57 | Feb 13th, 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. W...Show More
65 - The Next 117 Pages

1:01:09 | Feb 6th, 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 ...Show More
336 - Call Me by Your Name

56:34 | Jan 30th, 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 difficu...Show More
335 - Introducing Launch

32:05 | Jan 23rd, 2018

John and Craig introduce Launch, John’s new podcast about making a book. Over the course of six episodes, the series tracks the process of writing and shipping a novel, from idea to printing. The first two episodes are available today, with new episo...Show More
334 - Worst Case Scenarios

59:40 | Jan 16th, 2018

John and Craig ponder worst case scenarios that might usher the end of screenwriting as we know it. What are the odds that screenwriters lose work because an economic crash keeps movies from getting made? That screenwriting gets outsourced? That huma...Show More
333 - The End of the Beginning

59:44 | Jan 9th, 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 ou...Show More
332 - Wait for It

58:52 | Jan 2nd, 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 script...Show More
331 - We Had the Same Idea

1:03:48 | Dec 26th, 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 commi...Show More
330 - A Cop's Cop Show

46:01 | Dec 19th, 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 ar...Show More
329 - Five-Star Podnerships

1:18:59 | Dec 12th, 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...Show More
328 - Pitching Television, or Being a Passionate Widget

55:24 | Dec 5th, 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 f...Show More
327 - Mergers and Breakups

1:13:33 | Nov 28th, 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 i...Show More
326 - Austin 2017 Three Page Challenge

1:07:38 | Nov 21st, 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,...Show More
325 - (Adjective) Soldier

55:09 | Nov 14th, 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 c...Show More
324 - All of It Needs to Stop

1:00:09 | Nov 7th, 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 i...Show More
323 - Austin Live Show 2017 (AKA Too Many Scotts)

57:35 | Oct 31st, 2017

John and Craig talk with uber-screenwriter Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Minority Report, Logan) about how his feature script Godless ended up as a miniseries at Netflix. We then invite more guests up to discuss what movies can learn from th...Show More
322 - The Post-Weinstein Era

1:01:20 | Oct 24th, 2017

John and Craig welcome Daley Haggar and Dara Resnik to examine the potential impacts of the Harvey Weinstein revelations on Hollywood. What should have been done? And what should happen next to foster a safer, saner and more inclusive industry cultur...Show More
Scriptnotes Voice: Snitching on Sexism

09:53 | Oct 23rd, 2017

Daley Haggar shares her experience in the writers room. Originally posted on Lenny Letter. Email us at You can download this Scriptnotes Voice here.
321 - Getting Stuff Written

56:10 | Oct 17th, 2017

John welcomes Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo and author of Pep Talks for Writers, to discuss the writing process and how to get out of your own way creatively. We explore the ubiquity of the Other Syndrome and the perils of envy. We ...Show More
320 - Should You Give Up?

1:02:31 | Oct 10th, 2017

John and Craig attempt to answer the question that many aspiring screenwriters dare not ask aloud: when -- if ever -- is the right time to give up on the dream of becoming a working screenwriter? Relatedly, is it okay to omit “aspiring” when describi...Show More
212 - Diary of a First-Time Director

1:06:08 | Oct 3rd, 2017

John and Craig sit down with Marielle Heller, the writer and director of the acclaimed feature The Diary of a Teenage Girl, to talk about the journey of getting her movie made, from optioning the novel to the Sundance Labs through production. We disc...Show More
319 - Movies Dodged a Bullet

1:12:03 | Sep 26th, 2017

John and Craig speculate about why the film industry fared better in the transition to digital while the music industry struggled. We also follow up on the WGA elections, hearing John’s priorities as a new board member. Lured back into the intrigue o...Show More
318 - Writing Other Things

1:06:12 | Sep 19th, 2017

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about writing projects outside the familiar constraints of screenwriting. We discuss the surprises and adjustments involved in the creative processes of different media: Aline’s graphic novel Ja...Show More
317 - First Day on the Job

1:00:13 | Sep 12th, 2017

Craig and John debut a new segment: This Kind of Scene, looking at how different movies handle similar situations. The Hudsucker Proxy, The Devil Wears Prada, Hidden Figures and Training Day all need to introduce their heroes to their new workplaces....Show More
316 - Distracted Boyfriend Is All of Us

55:01 | Sep 5th, 2017

John and Craig dive into another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories (and memes!) from around the world to figure out which ones might lend themselves to big-screen treatment. Will it be the forgotten French spy from World War II? ...Show More
315 - Big Screens, Big Money

1:01:42 | Aug 29th, 2017

John and Craig offer a 101 on how movies make money at theaters, and why a 1948 Supreme Court case changed everything. Then we look at two recent disruptions to the standard model: Movie Pass and Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. We also answer listener ques...Show More
314 - Unforgiven

1:11:19 | Aug 22nd, 2017

Craig and John take a deep dive into 1992’s Unforgiven, looking at how the David Webb Peoples script works on the page and on the screen. In the links below, you’ll find the PDF of the script we’re using. It’s also available in Weekend Read. Links: ...Show More
313 - Well, It Worked in the 80s

59:26 | Aug 15th, 2017

John and Craig look at four films from the past and discuss how we could make them today. Then we have more listener questions on internships and alternate jokes. Next week is a deep dive on Unforgiven, so get to watching if you haven’t seen it recen...Show More
312 - The Magic Word Is In This Episode

55:37 | Aug 8th, 2017

Craig and John tackle a bunch of listener questions, along with follow-up on previous discussions. Are road trip movies just a series of coincidences? How do you start the second draft? Should you mention screenwriting awards in a query? Plus: a Redd...Show More
311 - Scriptnotes Live Homecoming Show

1:05:53 | Aug 1st, 2017

John and Craig welcome special guests Megan Amram (The Good Place), Tom Schnauz (Better Call Saul) and Matt Selman (The Simpsons) to talk about writing television, from staffing to breaking story to the challenge of short seasons. Then we try out two...Show More
310 - What’s in the WGA Deal

1:15:10 | Jul 25th, 2017

Craig and John talk with Chris Keyser, one of the co-chairs of the WGA Negotiating Committee, to learn what gains were achieved in the most recent deal, and what work lies ahead. Warning: it’s a super-wonky episode that presumes you’re familiar with ...Show More
309 - Logic and Gimmickry

1:04:06 | Jul 18th, 2017

John and Craig step up to the whiteboard to look at the story logic in our scripts, then examine how tricks and gimmicks can help keep scenes interesting. We also answer listener questions about paying experts for research help, and whether hiring a ...Show More
308 - Chekhov's Ladder

1:14:11 | Jul 11th, 2017

Craig and John discuss the concept of affordances -- player expectations for what videogame characters can do -- and how writers can apply these principles to their film and TV scripts. Teaching the audience to know what is and isn’t possible can be ...Show More
307 - Teaching Your Heroes to Drive

59:54 | Jul 4th, 2017

John and Craig explore how story develops from a synthesis of character and plot, and why writers need to continually shift their frames of reference between “inside” and “outside” the experience of their heroes. We also tackle the idea of “you can’t...Show More
306 - DRAMA!

59:32 | Jun 27th, 2017

Craig and John take a look at what happens when the drama is behind the camera, and the difference between what's reported and what's really going on. We also offer some advice on what one should do, should they find themselves caught up in the crazy...Show More
305 - Forever Young and Stupid

1:04:03 | Jun 20th, 2017

Craig and John take on a new Three Page Challenge, looking at three listener scenes to see if they follow the exacting rules set by Screenwriters University. (Ahem.) We also answer listener questions on vintage screenplays, maturity, Smash Brothers a...Show More
304 - Location Is Where It's At

1:00:28 | Jun 13th, 2017

Craig and John look at how screenwriters describe locations, and how these choices impact production and the final product. Plus, we discuss how podcasts have become a new source of IP for adaptations. Finally, we address how to deal with the note to...Show More
303 - 75% of Nothing

54:51 | Jun 6th, 2017

Craig and John answer listener questions about writer agreements, videogame properties, and page one rewrites. How should a writer decide whether it’s better to keep revising an unmade project, or start on something new? We try to offer guidelines fo...Show More
302 - Let's Make Some Oscar Bait

57:55 | May 30th, 2017

In a new installment of How Would This Be a Movie, John and Craig take a look at three stories in the news to discuss how to adapt them into award-winning movies. We also discuss why the studios are allowed to negotiate as one for the WGA contract. M...Show More
301 - The Addams Family

1:10:21 | May 23rd, 2017

Craig and John look at The Addams Family -- not just the 1991 film and its sequel, but the property itself to see what lessons we can learn when adapting for the big screen. We also answer listener questions on what makes a scene work and writing pil...Show More
300 - From Writer to Writer-Director

1:13:02 | May 16th, 2017

Chris McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, VALKYRIE) joins us to talk through how he went from writing giant movies to directing them. We talk about the pitfalls directors face as they move from indie features to tentpoles, and the advice he gives them. Ch...Show More
299 - It's Always Sunny in Star Wars

1:04:40 | May 9th, 2017

Craig and guest host Dana Fox welcome Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to the live show at the Arclight. The four discuss breaking into Hollywood, handling rejection and sticking t...Show More
298 - How Characters Move

1:17:40 | May 2nd, 2017

Craig and John take on a new round of Three Page Challenges. There’s a fat “Elvis,” a bounty hunter White Rabbit, and a guy locked in the trunk of a speeding Mustang. We also look at how characters move, and how screenwriters can use character moveme...Show More
297 - Free-Agent Franchises

54:24 | Apr 25th, 2017

Craig and John investigate the future of the 007 franchise, script-reading robots, and the realities of overhauling a movie in the editing room. We also look at another How Would This Be a Movie idea turning into reality. The live show at ArcLight is...Show More
296 - Television with Damon Lindelof

1:21:38 | Apr 18th, 2017

John sits down with Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) for a bonus-length discussion of all things TV. We focus on getting that first job, breaking story, and how writing rooms work. We also answer listener questions ranging from knowing when to le...Show More
We’re voting yes. But.

19:38 | Apr 17th, 2017

In this special mini-episode, John and Craig talk through the upcoming WGA strike authorization vote — what it actually means, and why they’re both voting yes. Voting begins Tuesday in person, and Wednesday online. We also discuss how strike authoriz...Show More
295 - The Return of Malcolm

46:01 | Apr 11th, 2017

Malcolm Spellman returns to help us answer a bunch of listener questions, including the most important one: what’s Malcolm up to? (Warning! Adult language.) Along the way, topics include sex on screen, bad managers, and thanking the writer. Tickets f...Show More
294 - Getting the Details Wrong

1:02:14 | Apr 4th, 2017

Craig and John discuss chess, bad news, baseball, God, and screenwriting competitions. We also share exciting news about the live show, now scheduled for May 1st in Hollywood. Links: The Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest Adam Sternbergh's Tweet Good ...Show More
99 - Psychotherapy for Screenwriters

1:01:19 | Mar 28th, 2017

A pernicious cold has stolen John's voice, so he and Craig reach into the vault to unearth their conversation with screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo, in which they discuss writer’s block, procrastination, partnerships and more. It’s ...Show More