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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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May 15, 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 Broadcast Standards and Practices.

With spoilers aplenty, we discuss the challenges of a TV protagonist’s Act 2 “rocky shoals,” the nuance of exploring mental illness with comedy, the process of writing surprising musical numbers, and the opportunities of turning the rom-com genre on its head.

Recorded live on May 9th.


Links:

* Our next live Scriptnotes with Jonah Nolan & Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) will be Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now -- proceeds benefit Hollywood HEART, which runs special programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
* Some Crazy Ex-Girlfriend context may be helpful for this episode. You can watch it here! Otherwise, here’s the Wikipedia entry.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 8, 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’s gender analysis tool will have.

Then we answer listener questions about following the “rules” of formatting, from creative scene headers to “hey reader” notes and tips for introducing characters who play important roles later in the script.


Links:

* Our next live Scriptnotes with Jonah Nolan & Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) will be Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now -- proceeds benefit Hollywood HEART, which runs special programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
* Frank Oz, in case you’re curious
* Look how fast Highland 2 loads War and Peace compared to other programs!
* Scriptnotes, Ep 125: The One with the Guys from Final Draft
* Welcome to Southern California includes a 1953 pronunciation of “Los Angeles”
* Less by Andrew Sean Greer
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Larry Douziech (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

May 1, 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 families-for-hire?

We also follow up on the logic of multi-cam formatting, Georgia’s success in diversifying crews through training programs, and effective character descriptions.

Tickets are now on sale for our next Scriptnotes Live Show on Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood, with guests including Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan of Westworld.


Links:

* Our next live Scriptnotes will be Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now -- proceeds benefit Hollywood HEART, which runs special programs and summer camps for at-risk youth.
* How 50 Famous Female Characters Were Described in Their Screenplays by Kyle Buchanan and Jordan Crucchiola for Vulture
* Woman tells incredible story of how she used YouTube videos to carry out waterbirth of own baby she doubted she even had, while alone in hotel room written by Tom Embury-Dennis for The Independent
* The Worrywart vs. the Zen Master by Tom Bowman and Brigid Schulte for Slate
* Japan’s Rent-A-Family Industry, written by Elif Batuman for The New Yorker
* Choir!Choir!Choir! is a choir in Toronto that meets once a week for drop-in singing events.
* QTAKE Monitor is an app that lets you watch shots on set from your own device.
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Nicolas Curcio (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Apr 24, 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 what situations screenwriters might face and how to deal with them ethically.

We also answer listener questions on multicam formatting and elegantly establishing the time period in a historical piece.

Links:

* To win an invite to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend event on Wednesday May 9th, send your lyrics to “The Other Side of the Velvet Rope” to ask@johnaugust.com
* Amazon Studios is no longer accepting unsolicited submissions
* The Deadline article that outlines the WGA’s proposal to renegotiate the Artists’ manager Basic Agreement
* Dick Zanuck and his credits
* Multicams are formatted differently. This clip of the Big Bang Theory with the laugh track removed shows how different the rhythm of a Multicam can be.
* Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern’s footage of New York City as adjusted by Guy Jones
* Assassin’s Creed Origins
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* AlphaBirds is our fun new word game!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin on Twitter
* John on Instagram
* Find past episodes
* Outro by Tim Garcia (send us yours!)

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

 

Apr 17, 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 designating race for open-ethnicity characters, the assumption of whiteness, the pros and cons of feature writers rooms and the promise of inclusion riders.

We also answer a listener question about why some movies are timeless and some feel dated as soon as they premiere.


Links:

* Thanks for joining us, Christina Hodson. Her upcoming movies include Bumblebee of the Transformers franchise and Batgirl.
* The Pudding’s Film Dialogue from 2,000 screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age
* Premium subscribers can listen to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend bonus episode with Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom here.
* A pilot announcement that includes this character description: “a girl-next-door type but also with a behind-the-ear tattoo. She can just as easily bro out with the guys as she can be the girliest girl.”
* A guide to WGA dues, courtesy of Stuart!
* Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
* Female writer friends, like Frances Marion
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* John August on Twitter
* Craig Mazin 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.

 

Apr 10, 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, adapting YA novels for the screen, and the broccoli/marinara/pudding meals that got them here.

Links:

* Thanks for joining us, Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger!
* Love, Simon is in theaters now! Isaac and Elizabeth also run This Is Us on NBC.
* Queer Qrosswords rewards your donation to an LBGTQ+ charity with crossword puzzles.
* Taking Twitter off your phone while you’re on vacation
* Not being on one’s phone while waiting for someone
* Headspace guided meditation app
* The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
* The USB drives!
* Isaac Aptaker on Twitter
* Elizabeth Berger on Twitter
* 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.

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.

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