The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello, and welcome to Scriptnotes. This is Episode 4, a podcast about screenwriting and things interesting to screenwriters. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: I am Craig Mazin.

John: How are you doing today, Craig?

Craig: You know, John, I’m not bad. I’m a little busy, little headache-y today. One of these podcasts should just be on the physical ailments of the screenwriter.

John: You’ve actually had problems with headaches before. I know you used to have migraine problems, and you’re past the worst of that, is that correct?

Craig: I am, yes. I used to have terrible migraines and I’ve gotten much, much better. The truth is all headaches are migraines, as my migraine doctor told me. I was shocked. I always thought there was just headaches and then violent other things called migraines.

They’re all the same, it’s just levels. Now I can just take a couple of Advil and I’m like a regular human being, but it used to be terrible, terrible.

John: How bad did it get? Were you physically incapacitated, where you couldn’t —

Craig: Yes, sometimes. I mean, it would get pretty bad where you would have to just lie in bed and wait. I had a kidney stone once. That was the worst.

John: Kidney stones are the worst. We’ve both had kidney stones. Kidney stones are literally — if someone had just said, “Here’s a gun.” “Thank you very much. I will kill myself now.”

Craig: Yes — sort of famously, pregnant women who have had natural childbirth and then had kidney stones pronounce kidney stones worse.

John: After my first kidney stone incident, it didn’t pass that first time. I was at the emergency room. The doctor gave me a prescription for a very heavy-duty painkiller and I didn’t have insurance at that point, so I’m not going to fill this prescription because this is really expensive stuff. So I thought, “Oh, if it comes back, I’ll deal with it if it comes back.”

So it came back really, really bad. So I have this prescription for this heavy-strength painkiller. It’s like five in the morning, I’m going to the 24-hour drug store trying to get this prescription filled.

I looked just like every junkie you could possibly imagine, desperate to get this thing filled. Of course, by then it was too late, I had to go back to the emergency room. Because when it recurs, it’s just awful.

Craig: It’s hard to imagine it until it happens to you. It’s the only time in my life I’ve actually writhed in agony. I finally knew what writhing was.

John: Or you try to lay back on the gurney or on the table, and you actually have to keep moving, because that’s the only way you can distract yourself from the awfulness.

Craig: I’m not a big medicine guy, but they gave me the heavy-duty Oxycontin — and I’m basically inviting people to now break into my house and steal it — but I still have this big thing of it, because you pass the stone, you don’t need it anymore.

But I save it, because I just feel like one day it’s going to happen again, and I need that there.

John: If you were watching Torchwood, Craig, you would know that because no one dies in the Torchwood: Miracle Day plot line, heavy-duty painkillers become very, very important, because people who are mortally wounded don’t die, and they’re in agony, and so something like your Oxycontin pills would be incredibly valuable.

Craig: I don’t watch that, but I do know just from the existence of drug addicts that they are valuable.

John: The other, of course, good idea for keeping Oxycontin on hand is a zombie apocalypse, because situations are going to occur beyond your basic survival needs of an axe and something else to dismember zombies that are coming after you. You are going to want some pain pills to through some other incidents that happen. Not zombie bite related things that are going to infect you, but just the other wear and tear that’s going to happen, because the medical system has collapsed.

Craig: You know, I have to say, I’ve been thinking more and more about this zombie thing, and if it goes down, if it really goes down, I’m just going to blow my own face off. You know what, I don’t even want to live in that world. I’m gonna blow my brains out, that way I’m out. I’m checked out, I can’t be a zombie, I can’t be running all the time. I just don’t care that much.

John: Yes, Thomas Jane it. You can do the thing that Thomas Jane does at the end of The Mist and kill you whole family. That’s always a good alternative.

Craig: Yes, because once the zombie apocalypse comes, your life isn’t going to have to score in the top two boxes. I don’t care if the audience doesn’t like it.

John: That’s well said.

Craig: Thank you.

John: But you know who does care if their story…

Craig: Segue! Segue!

John: …scores the top two boxes? Did you hear that segue?

By the way, my whole life, of course, I’ve used the word “segue,” but when I’ve seen it written down, I assumed it was spelt a different way. Segue is spelt S-E-G-U-E.

Craig: Yes, it’s spelled like “seg.”

John: Like “seg.” Whenever I would see that written out, I would say, “seg to.”€ I would say, “That’s shortened version of segue.” It’s actually how you spell segue. We’re doing the Big Fish musical, musicals are a lot about segues. Rather than “cut to,” it’s “segue to” a new thing that happens.

So I had to write the word “segue” a lot, and it still just looks so wrong to me.

Craig: There’s a whole group of words — and I promise we’ll get around to talking about screenplays in a second — but there’s a group of words that read differently than they’re pronounced, and for a long, long time, I thought “misled” was “mizzled.”€ And then “awry” I thought was “or-ry.”€ I think that makes more sense.

John: Don’t know that. Let’s get to the topic at hand. Today we want to talk about directors and how screenwriters deal with directors, and what that relationship is like. Some templates for thinking about how you would work with a director on a project.

And you’ve had many movies shot and have all of your director experiences been fantastic?

Craig: No.


John: That’s weird.

Craig: No. I mean I think I’ve had more good ones than…I really only had one weird one. Mostly though they’ve been good, I would say. Mostly good.

John: Yeah. I’d say most of mine have been pretty good, and some of the good ones were ones where I wasn’t all that involved with the project from the beginning. I just came in and did some work and helped them out. They went off and shot the movie and good luck and Godspeed.

Other times I’ve been on board the project from the very beginning, and a director comes on board. You’re trying to get them up to speed with where you’re at. So let’s aim more towards that from-inception kind of relationship because I think that’s more what our audience is listening for.

Also, we’re talking about movies. That relationship between a writer and a director in television is very, very different. The writer in television has more power but also has responsibility to the overall continuity of the show. The director is there to get what needs to be shot on the page, onto film, and into the episode.

Craig: Yeah, in television the director doesn’t have to determine who is going to be playing these roles, what they’re dressing like, what the sets should look like, what the tone of the product is. All those things have been determined already. I mean that’s the massive gulf between feature directing and television directing.

John: Well, all those things we talk about are the crucial things that a director is doing while the director is getting up to speed with the script and thinking about making the movie. So let’s just start talking about all the stuff that a director needs to do because it’s tempting to think about, “Oh, the director is responsible for the story and for getting the story told.”

And yes, that’s one of his or her jobs, but so much of a director’s time as you’re approaching making a move is really dealing with completely different things that have nothing to do with the script itself. So recognizing that you as a screenwriter are essentially a department when it comes to making a movie.

And you are going to be one of his meetings over the course of the day, but he’s also talking to the costume designer, the production designer, the cinematographer, the editors, the producers, the casting directors. As a giant village who’s come together to make this movie, he’s the village chief and you’re one of the villagers. Recognizing that difference is a hard thing to sometimes to get up to speed with.

Craig: Yeah, we are very focused in on what we are responsible for. Like you said, that’s the story. As it turns out, that is the most important part of this whole thing. The story is more important than the costumes, the locations, where the lights are going to go, and what the makeup should look like. But all those things flow from the story and are mission-critical to making a good movie.

You have to look at every department as necessary. The story is the thing that’s driving everything. It’s just a question of time. Throughout the day he still has to sit there and figure out what the cars should be in the scene where, okay, and then she pulls up in her car. What car? Here, I got pictures of cars for you. That’s where you want to blow your brains out as a director.

Or we have a scene where there’s a party, and he’s going to crash the party and deliver a speech to the girl. Okay, well, how many people are at the party? What ages are they? Are they different races? How are they dressed? Is it upscale? Is it downscale? The billions of questions that start to bury the director in quicksand soak up so much time, and they all have to be answered. They’re all theoretically part of some cohesive vision.

John: A crucial thing that a smart screenwriter pointed out to me once is that as a screenwriter, you’re the only person who’s already seen the movie. So when you approach your first meeting as the director you have to remember that you already made the movie in your head. You can see the whole thing.

The director, he or she, hasn’t seen the whole thing yet and is still trying to figure out what the movie looks like and is starting to answer those thousands of questions ahead of time. If they want to go through every page of the script with you, it’s not necessarily because they have a problem with it. They’re just trying to figure it out.

Your job a lot of times is to almost be like an interpreter as if the script was written in some other language, and you have to help talk it through with them so that it can be understandable in their language and they understand what your intention was, who are these characters in the scene, what is important, and how they’re going to get through that.

Because ultimately the smart directors realize that they’re going to be on the set at four in the morning after very long days of shooting. They have two hours until the sun rises, and that actor is going to come to him and be saying like, “What am I supposed to be doing in this scene?” They have to be able to have an answer.

So the times where I’ve been most exhausted with a director, I’ve always tried to remember that, “Okay, that’s right. They’re trying to figure this all out, too.”

Craig: Yeah, and you’re smart because you’re putting the movie first. It’s tempting to put your own ego and what you’ve invested in the screenplay first, but the point of the screenplay is the movie. What you’re talking about is helping the director do the best job they can do in realizing their vision and your vision and your intention. So obviously, part of that is explaining your intention and defending your intention.

Another part of it is recognizing that they have to do it for real. The movie that you saw in your head? That can’t ever be a movie because in your movie people move like they do in dreams. They’re on one end of the room. Now they’re on the other end of the room. Time speeds up and slows down in accordance with the importance of the moment.

But in a movie, time moves at one second per second. [laughs] You can’t speed it up, really, or slow it down. I mean, you can a little bit here and there, but there are demands of production that force the director to, frankly, make a less amazing, wonderful, kind of translucent thing than you have in your brain, which is this kind of shimmering dream of whatever your movie was.

That said, the more specific you are in your head about the movie — Like I wrote a blog piece once that says, “You can’t just walk into a building.” You should know if your character walks into a building, see the building. You may not want to waste a bunch of space on the page describing the building, but sooner or later someone’s going to say, “What building did you have in mind?” It’s good to know.

If you drop your jaw and go, “Uh, I don’t know. A building,” you’re expressing a different philosophy than everybody else in the movie. Because they have a job to actually shoot something. If you start saying, “Ah, who cares, it doesn’t matter,” or implying, “Who cares, it doesn’t matter,” you’ve put this thing between you and them.

John: You should be able to have an answer for any question that comes up. So rather than having generic type of like, “This is a police station.” Well, what kind of police station is this like? Where are we at in the police station?

The very first movie I was involved with, the first movie of mine that got produced, was Go. On that movie, fortunately Doug Liman had me super-involved. I was not only on set every moment, but every moment of pre-production I was there, too.

It was a great experience for us to get in the same brain space about what was important, what kinds of things we were going to see. But I always had an answer. It wasn’t always going to be the same answer as Doug’s, but when asked, or occasionally when not asked, but when I saw something going in the opposite direction, I could volunteer my opinion of like, “This is what the intention of this was.” Always couched in terms of like, “These are the other options I could see being out there, but this is what the actual intention of this thing was.”

From casting, from what locations we’re picking to, just the style of the world. Like how rundown of a grocery store are we at, and where are we at in this grocery store. The script reflected a lot of those things, but you’re not ever going to be able to have all those details on the page. They were in my head, though, like I had filmed it well enough in my head that I could at least give them my answer for how things were supposed to be.

Craig: Yeah. That’s important. By the way, that is a help for a director.

Look, I’ve worked primarily with two directors, David Zucker and Todd Phillips — both incredibly different guys, very different filmmakers, different kinds of movies. But they’ve both been very generous with me, and they’ve included me as a partner. One of the parts of that contract that I honor is if they don’t get it — let’s say I express my intention as best I can, and they just don’t get it — it’s important for me to stop and go, “Here’s the deal.”

It doesn’t really matter if I get it. If they don’t get it, I have to figure out something else that they do get that satisfies whatever this intention is, because they have to do it. They’re the ones that actually have to relay it. Just as I think when you are directing, and your actor looks at you and says, “I just don’t get this,” you got to think about how to either make them see so that they can internalize and perform it, or find another way in.

The director has to be an adult enough to sublimate his own desires and ego to make the moment with the actors work, and the writer has to do the same for the director. Everybody ultimately has to be subordinate to the movie.

So when I work with those guys, they’re kind enough to let me on their set — and it’s their set — and they want me there, and I am respectful enough to help them. By help them, I mean help the movie, not the script.

John: Let’s talk about being on the set, and let’s talk set etiquette. I found a range of experiences on being the writer on the set. With Go, I was at the monitor for every shot. I had the contacts on, the little ear pieces on. We had a little hand-held monitor so if I needed to walk away from the camera, I could see what they were setting up and run back if something was not going to work right.

With those, I could always talk directly to Doug, and I had to talk directly to Doug because the camera was on his shoulder. So there really were no private conversations. Like I had to come up to him and say like, “What Sarah did was great. It’s going to be a problem when we cut to this next thing here, because we’re setting the expectation…” I would try to give a note that both validated what just happened, but also explain why I was coming up and talking to him. So that he could then turn to Sarah and say like, “Yeah, what he just said,” and shoot the next take.

Other cases, like on Big Fish, first day of shooting we’re in Montgomery, Alabama. Tim picked a really easy day of stuff to shoot, which is a smart choice. A really simple thing where Billy Crudup is coming to talk with Jessica Lange.

So I’m watching on the monitor, and I see one little thing, “Oh, I should tell Tim that, that there’s a little moment, opportunity there.” I go up, I pull him aside, it’s like, “Tim, that was great what she just did. But there’s also the chance here when he’s there, and there might be a little moment here.” And I could see like these garage doors go down in front of his eyes.

Craig: [laughs]

John: I realized, this is not going to be the kind of set relationship we have. He doesn’t want me to be chumming with those notes, and it’s a very good idea for me to go back to Los Angeles.

Craig: [laughs]

John: There wasn’t a problem. There wasn’t a disagreement, there wasn’t anything like that. But that wasn’t the way he wanted to work, and I wasn’t going to be able to have a lot of input on the choices made on the set.

Craig: Well, surprise surprise, the directors are as different to each other as we are to each other. I mean, David Zucker and I essentially would co-direct. We sat together at the monitor — I don’t think we would ever move on unless we both agreed to move on. Occasionally, he wouldn’t even care if I gave notes to the actors. We walked through the setups together in the morning. We set the blocking together. We very much worked hand-in-hand.

Not at all the case with Todd Phillips, who is a very different kind of director, and certainly a more traditional one. Todd is the captain of the set 100 percent. As he’s pointed out, I think the way he’s put it is, “I don’t need you to be here.” [laughs] “I’ve made plenty of movies without you. That said, if you’d like to be here, it could be helpful.”

So I take that to heart. I mean, I don’t think I maybe…With that relationship, it’s really just about picking those moments where you think I’m going to just say, “Okay, this is something that matters to me that’s really important, and I’m going to share that with him.” Either he’s going to go, “Shut up, stupid,” or, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” But I pick those moments carefully and few and far between. Frankly, he’s pretty good at what he does, and he’s the sort of very independent director.

One thing that I want to make clear about directing: so much of it has to do with confidence. You need to feel confident in your own vision. Some directors, their confidence goes up the more direct and obvious help they get. Other directors, their confidence goes down.

I understand that. I’m kind of that way myself. You and I write on our own. We don’t have writing partners. I always feel like I should be able to move this boulder myself. So you have to learn which kind of director you’re dealing with. If it’s a director that likes moving the boulder himself, just pick your moments carefully, and don’t be a nudge.

John: One of the luxuries of being a writer on the set is if you’re watching the monitor and you see something that you can fix and you have a good idea, you can speak up and have a good idea. If you see something that’s not working and you don’t know how to fix it, you can just sit there and shut up.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.

John: Versus the director, who every time he calls, “Cut,” there’s 20 eyes looking at him saying, “Okay, what are we going to do next?” And the director has to figure out who he needs to talk with, about what needs to change, has to figure out what wasn’t working about that moment.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So giving that person the space to be able to do that and hopefully help where you can help him or her make that next thing happen.

Craig: That’s a good point. I will say — I don’t care who the director is — give them a little bit of time to find it. No director is going to get it on take one. Well, occasionally magic happens. But the point is, if you watch a take and you go, “Oh, no,” after watching that take, it’s for the same reason people would say, “Oh, no,” if they read the first thing you typed in the morning.

It’s beginning. The process is beginning. Don’t overreact. Don’t jump in there and say, “It’s not working. It’s not working.” Believe me, they know. Everybody knows. [laughs] It’s fine. You have all day to shoot two and a half pages, let the director do what they do.

The only times I ever discuss things with Todd, for instance, is if I thought, “Okay, here’s just another way of approaching this.” Someone once said, “Don’t ever show up with problems, just show up with solutions.” Give them an alternative. If they like it, they’ll do it.

John: Another director who I’ve worked with twice is McG. I love McG. McG can be frustrating at times, but I do love McG. What I love about McG is his energy and his passion. It’s hard to connect with McG on a story level often, but it’s easy to connect with him on a, “This is what it’s going to feel like,” level.

I think no matter who you’re talking with as a director, early on in those conversations, have conversations about tone and feeling, and what this is like to you. A lot of times you end up watching other movies with directors or talking about references. With Tim Burton I could just go into his office, and he’ll have water-color painted a lot of scenes from the script. It says, “Okay, I get what this world is like as he sees it.”

Like for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I was very specific about a lot of the stuff in it, but like the Oompa-Loompas, how is he going to do the Oompa-Loompas? Then you go into his office, and you see he has this scale drawing of what the Oompa-Loompas are like standing next to all the different characters. You can just see everybody in their wardrobe, it’s like, “Oh, okay. I get what this movie is like to Tim.” Then every other conversation I have can be about supporting that vision of how he sees the world of Willy Wonka versus what I might have had in my head originally.

Craig: That’s a good way in with directors who aren’t also prominently screenwriters. In working with David and Todd, I’m working with writers, because they’re screenwriters in their own right. That, actually, also dramatically changes the way you approach that relationship. Because with both of those guys, I’ve been writing partners.

So I don’t have to do quite as much ambassadorship with the script to them because we all wrote it together. That also takes an enormous burden off of me — or I guess not even a burden, because there’s no burden on me, it’s just a worry that I don’t have to have. Because the truth is I know that they actually sat here and worked through this scene with me. We made it together. They’ve seen it in their heads. It makes sense to them. That’s a big relief.

John: It’s great when you have that opportunity to work with a writer-director who actually can generally understand the writing process on that. I think there’s a misconception that because of the perils of auteur theory is that all directors really come from a place of story, and understand story, and have a great grasp of what the narrative of something is. A lot of them don’t.

Some of the best directors, I think, are the ones who are very upfront about that’s not their strongest suit. Just like we don’t expect every director to be a master of cinematography, we don’t expect every director to be a master of visual effects. There are some who are great at figuring out all the pieces of a story and how to move from the beginning to the end, and there’s others who are really good at getting that story up onto the screen. Recognizing which kind of director you are working with early on is crucial with that.

One of the places where I feel like I think I’m good at, which I think a lot of screenwriters will tend to be good at once they have some experience with it, is editing. We’re often the right people to come into the editing room after there’s a director’s first cut to help talk through, “This is what’s not working, and this is what we may want to talk about changing.”

We talked about that first test screening, which is just incredibly nerve-wracking. Especially if you’re the director, of course, because you’ve been staring at this thing on an Avid screen for eight weeks, 12 weeks, trying to get things to work, and you have no idea if it actually works.

As a screenwriter, you’re watching it a lot of times blind. You just don’t know what movie it is that they ended up making. Where I’ve been most helpful to directors, I think, honestly, is being that first set of notes after the test screening and saying like, “These are the things that were awesome. These are the things that worked great. These are the things we had challenges with, and here are some ways we might want to talk about changing them.” Being that first person with the best notes is a helpful role for a screenwriter, I think.

Craig: I totally agree. To that end, here’s just a bit of practical advice. If you want to be a screenwriter that collaborates with filmmakers beyond just, “Congrats, we’re making your movie. See you at the premier,” you need to understand the process of editing. You can’t approach it like you’re just sitting there watching a show going, “I don’t know. I didn’t get this part,” or, “Why…it’s just boring here.”

You have to understand how editing works, and you have to be able to speak the language of editing. Because ultimately, you need to — if you’re going to give advice, and it’s going to be a solution-oriented advice — you need to be able to say, “In this scene, how about just cutting the head” “How about taking this much off, and just keeping that line there?” “I know that you might have a problem with that because let’s say they’ve been talking up to that line and it’s all one shot, but do you have any coverage where you can establish them quietly and then just go in for that line?”

If you can talk like that, then your advice is usable, and it’s also clinical. Because remember, the director is going to be about as fragile as a human can be when they’re showing that cut for the first time. It’s truly nerve-wracking. So try and get some kind of handle on how editing actually works.

The other thing I was going to add was just when you were talking about directors who write and don’t write, comedy, it’s very rare — I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is — I don’t know any successful comedy, or repeatedly successful comedy directors, that don’t write. I don’t know if you can direct comedy if you don’t write. I’m not sure you can.

John: I’m sure if we spent a few minutes on that we’d find some really good directors who aren’t writers, but all of my favorite comedies I can think of have writer-directors behind them.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, if you look at the guys doing it now, Phillips, Apatow…I think Dobkin writes. Dobkin may be an example, actually. Because Wedding Crashers is awesome. I don’t know if he writes.

John: I don’t perceive him as being a writer.

Craig: Yeah, well, then maybe I’m wrong.

John: [noises]

Craig: Look at that. There you go. [laughs] Mazin’s wrong again.

John: We’re out about time, but let’s talk through some general advice for screenwriters dealing with directors. First off, the question of when a director becomes involved. Like, I may come on board this project which it’s the director’s idea. So I would be coming in, working very closely in collaboration with him, which can be really great and exciting, but can also be exhausting, because you feel him trying to shoot the movie while it’s still being —

Craig: Yeah, yeah.

John: — while it’s still at a very raw state. It can be great because it can be a really good collaboration. It could just take a lot of time. More often, you will have written something, and now a director comes on board. Your responsibility is to have a meeting of the minds where you can instill what was going on in your head to him or her, and she can communicate back to you like what she sees for the project.

That’s where I’m at right now with Susan Stroman on Big Fish, where I’ve had now 12 years to work with Big Fish in various forms, and she has to process what I’ve done and pull out of me what she needs to make it on the stage.

Craig: Yeah. If the director isn’t writing with you, I think it’s best to give yourself a little distance. Just like they need to get takes one through three in before anybody starts yapping in their ear, I feel like the writer needs some space to just write the script.

So if the director’s not writing, as long as everybody is connected on the vision and the rough idea of what the story is, you just…Yeah, it’s not a good idea to have them over your shoulder while you’re doing it. Look, even editors get to do an assembly.

John: Yeah. They give everyone a chance.

Craig: Everybody needs their shot. Yeah.

John: As you get closer to production, you have to accept the fact that you are going to become another department. Whatever close, one-on-one relationship you have with the director, it’s going to be a little bit more distant just because his or her time is going to be divided between a bunch of different people who need answers out of him — line producers, ADs, every department head wants as much time as they can possibly get.

So hopefully most of the big issues have been solved. Hopefully you feel like you really have a movie. If you get a chance to do a table reading, that’s awesome, because it’s the only way you’ll ever know that the actors read the script at least once. [laughs]

Craig: Well, and it’s your chance, too, to kind of…It’s your last shot at rewriting before they start shooting.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Start to hear what works and what doesn’t.

John: And if there’s lines that an actor literally can’t say, you have to change them. You can’t make an actor say a line that he or she doesn’t understand.

Craig: Yeah. They’re human beings. Use your actors to the best of their abilities. They’re all unique, and they’re there because they can do something we can’t, so make the best use of them. You’re right, as you approach production, understand that you’re a department, but be the best department. Be the department that the director turns to at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. Be the safe port in the storm.

You are technically — not technically. If you do it right, you’re really the only person that they can look at and say, “You and I both get this. Everybody else is looking like the blind men at the elephant. They’re feeling the piece of the elephant they feel, you and I can see the movie.” Be that person.

John: Sometimes I’ll have a producer on set who actually has the whole movie in his or her head, but more often, you’re going to be the only person around who has a understanding of what the whole story is, and how this little piece fits into the whole bigger piece.

Craig: That’s right.

John: The classic stories are always like the director decides to, “Oh, I really like that actress. Let’s throw her into this scene, just in the background.” The screenwriter says, “No, no, you don’t remember! She’s already dead!” A lot of times you are that person who remembers that. There’s a script supervisor who’s there, and his or her job is to check for some things like that, but you’re the person who remembers why everything is the way something is.

Craig: Yeah. I love script supervisors, but they’re not narrative supervisors. That’s the difference. They’re supervising the day’s work on the page and making sure that when you shoot things out of sequence, “Okay. Show me the Polaroid of what they look like in the scene before so I can make sure they match up.”

John: “Coffee cup right hand, coffee cup left hand.”

Craig: Yeah. Exactly. “You should be looking camera left and not camera right.” But we are the ones that technically we should know the narrative better than anybody.

John: We’re the story supervisors.

Craig: So to speak, yeah.

John: Then I would say, whatever your function is on the set, you’ll go away for a while, and the director will do his or her cut. You’ll get a chance to see it, and that’s hopefully a time where you can be a real help and a real ally to the director in getting the best version of this movie done. Because you had your shot at making the movie when you wrote the script, he has his shot shooting it and doing that first cut, and that final product is what you’re pushing to.

You’re always trying to write a movie, you weren’t trying to write a script.

Craig: Exactly, exactly. So just let the document go. Once the cameras are rolling, let it go. Every morning you take that piece of paper, the two and a half or three pieces of paper, look at them, love them, and then say goodbye to them. Because by the end of the day, they’re just paper, and now it’s movie. So service the movie.

John: Definitely.

Craig: Great. Before we go, can we say thank you to everybody for making us the number one film and TV non-music or — no, non-video podcast on iTunes? Is that right?

John: That’s pretty great. I think it’s also great that if you actually divide the categories down small enough, like pretty much everything is the star of its own list.

Craig: Right. We’re the top you and me podcast in the world.

John: That’s pretty amazing.

Craig: And like almost right off the bat.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Almost.

John: So thank you, Craig. A good conversation about directors.

Craig: Thank you, John. I was enlightened.

John: All right. We’ll see everybody next time.

Craig: See you next time, guys.

John: Bye.