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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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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.

 

Jan 23, 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 episodes coming each Tuesday.

Not to worry — Scriptnotes isn’t going anywhere. We’ll have new episodes on Tuesdays as well.

Subscribe to Launch today: http://wondery.fm/launch

Links:

* 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.
* 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.

 

Jan 16, 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 human screenwriters are replaced by AI? That film as a medium gets replaced? That the WGA falls apart?

We also answer listener questions about communicating with actors and waiting on optioned IP to get produced.

Links:

* Wonder, adapted from RJ Palacio’s book, references many brands. So does “Making Things Up Again” from The Book of Mormon.
* The USS Callister episode of Black Mirror written by Charlie Brooker & William Bridges
* Megan Ganz
* 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.

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.

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