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Scriptnotes Podcast

Author: 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.
129 Episodes
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John and Craig discuss the projects they’re not currently working on. From the sunk cost fallacy to grudge writing, they offer advice for when you should rescue an idea from the Maybe-write list. We follow up on bad bosses, Ponzi schemes and answer listener questions about what to do when you have a crush on your producer. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss which words they’d be willing to lose forever and the many interpretations of “Sure.” Links: “Everyone Just Knows He’s an Absolute Monster”: Scott Rudin’s Ex-Staffers Speak Out on Abusive Behavior by Tatiana Siegel for The Hollywood Reporter California Employment Lawyers Association Hollywood actor arrested in alleged $227-million Ponzi scheme Peeps Movie Why We Have So Many Problems with Our Teeth by Peter S. Ungar Paul Ritter, British Stage, Film and TV Actor, Dies at 54 John’s Twitter Thread on Words We’d Lose Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Nora Beyer (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig tackle the tricky territory of movie titles: what makes them great, why they’re important, and how a bad one can tank a good movie. We answer listener questions on writing diverse characters, surprising movie expenses, and residuals. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members Craig outlines how to behave in a restaurant. Links: 12 Great Movies with Terrible Titles by Margaret Maurer That Song In Every Musical That No One Likes by Sarah Smallwood Parsons Facer for smart watch faces and Carrot a weather app for the Apple Watch. Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Chester Howie (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
494 - Screenwriting in Color

494 - Screenwriting in Color

2021-03-3001:13:172

John and Craig discuss the use of color in film by highlighting iconic scenes and sharing how they think about color palettes in their own writing. We then host another Three Page Challenge, this time focusing on how well these opening scenes set up expectations for the script. We now ask for loglines, which are kept secret from John and Craig! Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig discuss their Olympic ambitions. Links: WGA Strike against ABC’s The Chase. For current university students and professors: Learn more about the Highland 2 Student License The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair Rinky Dink by Stephen Brower The Twilight Run by Andrew McDonald and Nick Sanford South Carthay by Alex Rennie The Loop by Emily VanDerWerff The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever by Robin Stone Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
493 - Opening Scenes

493 - Opening Scenes

2021-03-2357:203

John and Craig discuss the craft of constructing beginnings: what they consider when writing the first line of a script and how opening scenes have evolved with audience expectations. We also investigate a question from former producer Stuart Friedel and dive into the history of foreign levies. We then make predictions on the future of movie-going by analyzing the history of megaplexes. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we look at cliches versus conventions. Links: WGA Parental Leave begins May 2! Learn more about foreign levies 99 Percent Invisible Podcast Episode: The Megaplex We’ve Outgrown the Ugly Duckling Transformation by Mina Le on Youtube TV Tropes Listener Guide Submissions send in your favorite episodes from 300-500! Upstep Check out the Screenwriting Life Podcast and this episode with John! Upstep – the review is positive! Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Peter Hoopes (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
492 - The Gray Areas

492 - The Gray Areas

2021-03-1601:20:021

John and Craig wade into the murky ethical challenges screenwriters face in Hollywood: When do you speak out against a peer? How do you claim an idea? Should you accept money from shady sources? They share their own experiences navigating these questions. We also follow up on female redemption arcs, NFTs, and joining the WGA. We answer listener questions on topics from ‘the director’s pass’ to creating personal websites. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig share their personal origin stories about the moment they decided to become screenwriters. Links: Listener Guide Submissions send in your favorite episodes from 300-500! Screenwriting Competitions Aren’t Worth the Money blogpost $69 Million Beeple Auction for NFT Scriptnotes, Episode 407: Understanding Your Feature Contract Build a website on card.co For Creators, Everything Is for Sale by Taylor Lorenz for the NYT Upstep for insoles, and for more unboxing content, check out this podcast All Consuming Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Karmon (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig talk about writer deals of various types, including a deep dive into new data published by the WGA on feature writer pay. We also follow up on female redemption arcs and John shares his theory with Craig on how Disney will make its next trillion dollars. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we wade into the discourse on writers tweeting about writing, and whether it’s okay to judge a line of dialogue. Links: WGA Writer’s Deal Hub and Screen Guide Tony on Twitter’s Question about Overall Deals WandaVision Thread on Twitter and meme NFTS Are Transforming the Digital Art World It’s a Sin on HBO Max Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Monica Storms (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
490 - Secrets and Lies

490 - Secrets and Lies

2021-03-0259:571

John and Craig investigate the cyclical relationship between secrets and lies. They discuss character motivations for lying and how the tension of a secret can hold a story together. To illustrate the discussion, John invites Craig to solve our first-ever How Would This Be a Movie mystery, the Case of the Fatherless Child. We also talk about the dreaded “why now?” note, the questionable wisdom of “you either have it or you don’t,” and whether we are team PRE-LAP. Finally in the bonus segment for premium members, we discuss travel and our plans post-pandemic. Links: Download Weekend Read to read the ‘Awards 2021’ scripts Lying: Moral Choices in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok Julie Plec on Twitter Kitty Letter Game Inked Game Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Daniel Green (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
489 - Kingdom of Cringe

489 - Kingdom of Cringe

2021-02-2301:10:53

John and Craig tackle the growing mailbag to answer listener questions on writing uncomfortable scenes, options vs. sales, and portraying internet stories on screen. We also follow up on screenwriting structure and address what’s missing in text messages on television. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we offer advice on living in small towns versus big cities. Links: TV Characters Don’t Have Text History. This Is Not OK by Zak Jason John’s post on feature residuals Chris Lee for Vulture, on the GameStop projects in development Overnight Documentary Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels by Angus Fletcher Negaoryx Twitter Response to Trolls and for reference Schrödinger’s Douchebag Sarah Silverman Twitter Troll Special thanks to Bo Shim! Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Nora Beyer (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig take a look back at the WGA-Agency campaign, revisiting the initial assumptions, what went right, what went wrong, and what lessons were learned. Then they finally decode the encrypted USB drive John handed Craig a year ago. We also follow up on social media and answer listener questions on cold feet and how screenwriters take vacations. In our bonus segment for premium members, we offer advice to our 20-year-old selves. Links: Last of Us casts Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey WGA PR and Social Media Event join John this Thursday, February 18th, 2021. Timeline of the WGA Agency Campaign Scriptnotes 389: The Future of the Industry Sea Lioning Kikkerland Make Your Own Music Box Kit Thor Knai, DnD Dungeon Master for hire Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Eric Pearson (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig debate best practices for writers looking to staff for television rooms–including whether you should be on social media and how to approach a showrunner meeting. We also take a look at the GameStop story and discuss whether and how this should be a movie. Then Liz Alper and Jamarah Hayner join us to discuss the impact of covid shutdowns on assistants. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we share our awkward dating stories. Links: Lil Yachty Uno Movie PayUpHollywood Results and article Thank you to Liz Alper and Jamarah Hayner! The Gamestop movie at Netflix, MGM, and RatPac Rachel Miller Twitter Thread Check out Rachel’s nonprofit Film2Future here! What the next generation of editors need to tell their political reporters by Dan Froomkin Whitney Houston and Brandy singing Impossible from Cinderella Stella Zawistowski Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription, also we’re now offering annual memberships! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig discuss how screenwriters use irony to build tension and texture, and why the term should be freed from its pedantic literary shackles. Then it’s another round of the Three Page Challenge, where we look at the first three pages of listener-submitted scripts ranging from multidimensional ghost stories to erotic pleasure principles. We also follow up on ethical female characters and why Craig left Twitter. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss money and the return on happiness. Links: Irony and cosmic irony Three Page Challenge: Echopraxia or an Interdimensional Coming of Age Ghost Story by J Vernon Reha Three Page Challenge: The Little Death by Autumn Palen Three Page Challenge: Chula Vista by Kristen Delgado Thank you to all of our Three Page Challenge submissions! Apply here to be considered for our next round. GeoGuessr Noah Kalina Newsletter Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Nora Beyer (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
485 - Unions and Guilds

485 - Unions and Guilds

2021-01-2601:08:05

John and Craig explain Hollywood’s guilds and unions. They cover the history, the challenges, and their hopes for the future. We also look at character alignments and whether it’s helpful for writers to chart out their character’s traits. We follow up on eight sequence structure and mockable IP and Throughout the episode, Craig tries to solve the mystery of John’s sweet fingers. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about the screenwriting guru turned Qanon leader. Links: Ballard C Boyd for Stephen Colbert’s show Queen’s Gambit Rubik’s Cube Hollywood’s Unions Celebrate Inauguration Of President Joe Biden & VP Kamala Harris: “Most Pro-Union President” & “Partner In The White House” by David Robb Biden Gave Trump’s Union Busters a Taste of Their Own Medicine by Mark Joseph Stern Impeached Ligature EA Wordlisted by Adam Aaronson Rhyme Zone Wandavision check out episode 3, written by Megan McDonnell! Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Malakai Bisel (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
484 - Time Lords

484 - Time Lords

2021-01-1953:482

John and Craig look at how writers manipulate time on macro and micro levels, and the impact of these choices on narrative. We then share our strategies for compressing, twisting, and trimming time in scripts. We also discuss continuous dialogue, subtext and which kinds of stories are best suited for animation. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we explore which moments in time we’d choose to visit if time travel were an option. Links: DGA tells WME to get rid of its conflicts Sign up for Scriptnotes Premium at Scriptnotes.net, with a new annual pass for $49! Some Kind of Heaven Microsimulation of Traffic Flow Beanpole film Mate translation app integration Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Timothy Vajda (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig discuss their personal philosophies and how writers can approach philosophical questions in terms of theme (central dramatic question) and character (moral codes and motivation). Then we cover virtual pitches and listener questions on eight-sequence structure and how to read a script. We also follow up on the agency campaign, failed insurrections, and bad IP. Finally in our bonus segment for premium members, we revisit our disagreement in episode 481 about whether it’s okay to lie. Links: WGA Rejects WME Deal, Judge Rejects Injunction Rubik’s Cube Mr. Clean: a sailor? A genie? Both? Eight Sequence Structure John’s 2020 Year in Review There is No Game Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
482 - Batman and Beowulf

482 - Batman and Beowulf

2021-01-0546:072

John and Craig explore Batman’s strange and unique position as a fantasy of American frontier justice and how filmmakers have approached this IP. Then they invite author Maria Dahvana Headley to discuss the original Dark Knight — Beowulf — and why these odd heroes continue to resonate with modern audiences. We also answer listener questions on using pen names, whether the coolest plot can save a weak character, and John’s Eagle Scout project. In our bonus segment for premium members, John tells Craig about the Batman trailer he wrote 20 years ago and they discuss what heroes they’d like to write. Links: Werner Herzog’s Family Romance LLC Mike Schur’s Tweet 1988 Batman Teaser Reactions Why Does Batman Matter by Paul Zehr Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley The Fullest Possible Story on Four Seasons Total Landscaping by Olivia Nuzzi Snuggle Puppy Maria Dahvana Headley on Twitter Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
481 - Random Advice 2020

481 - Random Advice 2020

2020-12-2901:12:24

John and Craig welcome back writer/producer Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Truth Be Told, The Good Wife) to share wisdom on listener questions that are interesting but unrelated to screenwriting. We discuss how to know if you’re marrying the right person, open relationships, and how to deal with being the ‘starter’ girlfriend. We also cover jealousy, laughter, the ethics of lying to the Red Cross, and disappointing Secret Santas. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss that Martin Shkreli article and how it would be a movie. Links: Donate to Dorm Key, make sure to ear mark your contribution! Sarah Silverman, Jesus is Magic Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok Episode 403, How to Write a Movie in Spanish translated by Fernando Polanco Death Saves merch Notes on a Silencing: A Memoir by Lacy Crawford The Journalist and the Pharma Bro by Stephanie Clifford Nichelle Tramble Spellman and on Instagram Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Heidi Lauren Duke (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
480 - The Wedding Episode

480 - The Wedding Episode

2020-12-2201:03:41

Craig and John talk movie weddings with special guest Aline Brosh McKenna. We look at the tropes, the challenges and the unique opportunities wedding scenes provide. We also look at the agreement between the WGA and CAA, and answer listener questions about writing the weather and bombing a pitch. And in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our post-vaccination hopes and plans. Links: CAA and WGA Agreement Japanese Rent A Family on Twitter Japan’s Rent A Family Industry by Elif Bautman for the New Yorker Crazy Rich Asians Script script by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim Palm Springs script written by Andy Siara (Story by Andy Siara and Max Barbakow) The Farewell script by Lulu Wang Made in Heaven on Amazon Prime Simpsons Christmas Movie episode Lifetime’s Christmas Set Up Carote 8 Inch Nonstick Skillet Frying Pan Egg Skillet Omelet Pan We Saw Scenery by Merill Markoe I Want to be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription Aline Brosh McKenna on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Heidi Lauren Duke (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
479 - On Losing A Parent

479 - On Losing A Parent

2020-12-1556:323

John and Craig talk about losing a parent on screen and in real life, with a look at the emotional journey and some practical advice for navigating the experience. We also discuss updates to the Warner Bros announcement, tips for managing idea scraps, and answer listener questions about when to discuss paid versus spec writing and slow-to-respond producers. In our bonus segment for premium subscribers, we talk power, including Craig’s controversial opinions on nuclear energy and the staggering price drops in solar. Links: Christopher Nolan Rips HBO Max as Worst Streaming Service Denounces Warner Bros Plan Kim Masters for THR Did QuantumScape Just Solve a 40-Year-Old Battery Problem? by Daniel Oberhaus for Wired Rose Glass Beeple Everyday by Mike Winkelmann, a visual artist in South Carolina The Cost of Solar has Dropped Spectacularly by Max Roser Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakthrough by David Roberts Craig vs Howard Dean Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Heidi Lauren Duke (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John and Craig discuss the trend of studios releasing movies straight to streaming by revisiting an old discussion on movie accounting. We cover above the line and below the line costs, how distribution fees work, and why all this is important to screenwriters. Finally, in our newly recorded bonus segment we discuss the 2020 Macs and the future of computing. Links: Find the original post here along with a helpful cheatsheet! Support Staff please fill out the Pay Up Hollywood Survey! The Paramount Decree–this is the court case John had trouble naming during the discussion Warner Bros. to Debut Entire 2021 Film Slate, Including ‘Dune’ and ‘Matrix 4,’ Both on HBO Max and In Theaters Why is Apples M1 Chip so Fast by Erik Engheim Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Intro: Mister T cartoon intro and Outro: Fatback Band – (Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop, (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
John welcomes writer-producers Dailyn Rodriguez (Queen of the South, Ugly Betty) and Chad Gomez Creasey (NCIS: New Orleans, Castle) to talk about writing network dramas and production during a pandemic. We answer listener questions on act breaks, politics on tv, and sustainable story engines. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss ‘ambient television’ and our favorite comfort-shows. Links: Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley WGA Health Plans Calida Garcia Rawles “Emily in Paris” and the Rise of Ambient TV for the New Yorker by Kyle Chayka Dailyn Rodriguez on Twitter Chad Gomez Creasey on Twitter Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Alex Winder (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
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Comments (20)

Painting Kids House

great musicl. interesting https://tech4blog.com/action-games/mini-militia-mod-apk/

Aug 12th
Reply

Aleksandr Batenko

so... did I miss the short film discussion or is it MIA?

May 26th
Reply

Alessandro Giannini

What's with this archive? I can't hear it, 'cause it's broken!

Jan 28th
Reply

Michael Anthony

Doesn't work

Jan 22nd
Reply

Lionel Kékéndi

This was insightful!

Jan 17th
Reply

Charles Cooper

This one doesn't play for me on CastBox

Jan 8th
Reply (2)

Matthew Broughton

This one is not working.

Jan 8th
Reply (1)

lcstld

Good episode.

Oct 2nd
Reply

Bobo Momo

lol, greetings from your Ukrainian subscriber!

Sep 24th
Reply

Nathan Densley

just found the channel. starting at the beginning on Castbox and see what I can learn

Jul 24th
Reply

Ignacio Torres

It's funny that they talk about "voice twins" and how they could give scripts to fakes because this doesn't sound like Charlie Brooker to me.

Jun 25th
Reply

apricotic

none of your podcasts are loading for me on castbox :( even when downloaded...

May 29th
Reply (2)

Secret lover

When i encourtered this woman I was fascinated by her voice and personality traits: laughter caught my attention-- her being alive and intelligence. We talked here and there but never met in person perhaps just a glance. I just feel bad and sorry because I tried to hide how I feel about her and don't intend to develop more feelings. I get intimidated by her approach sometimes and often make excuses to throw her off. I mean, there is no excuses for a bad behavior so I do apologise for making you feel that way. I am nothing compared to you and im unaware of things in my surroundings so in case you have not notice. There has been a lack of communication and therefore being judged too soon is difficult. I know you would forgive me if I say I deeply care.

Oct 7th
Reply

D.j. Zelczak

Writing excuses

Aug 22nd
Reply

The Craigpocalypse

gd

Feb 22nd
Reply
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