The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: Kaj vi auskultas Scriptnotes, podcast por skriptistoj kaj ajoj grave skriptistoj.

Craig: What? What happened?

John: Google Translate added Esperanto to their engine. So now I can actually translate things into and out of Esperanto.

Craig: That’s fantastic.

John: [More in Esperanto].

Craig: Now all you need is a time machine to go back to 1972 and you could talk to the three other people that spoke Esperanto.

John: I know. That’s the whole problem. I feel like Google is giving us little bits and pieces of the future that I want, but at the wrong time. Like the future is not evenly distributed, of course. And this future came a little bit late, but I am still happy to have an Esperanto tool. Come on!

Craig: I thought you were speaking Polish.

John: It does sound a little Polish. I think, if I remember correctly the history of it, it uses a lot of Latinate kind of words, a lot of Spanish. But people say it sounds a lot like Polish.

Craig: It does sound like Polish. And I think until now the only other person that I had heard speak Esperanto was William Shatner.

John: Of course. William Shatner in his classic sci-fi film… — Now I am forgetting the name of it. It is, oh, something great.

Craig: Yeah. I have…

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah.

John: William Shatner.

Craig: William Shatner.

John: Awesome.

Craig: And now you.

John: Yeah. So Google is also developing some sort of like glasses that you wear that give you a heads-up view of information, which would be great, too.

Craig: Cool.

John: So, again, that would be an amazing thing from the 1960s or 70s that is finally coming true.

Craig: What do they call it, “Enhanced Reality” something or another?

John: Yeah. Yeah. I think reality should be enhanced as much as you possible can do it.

Craig: It is basically another way for people to walk into light posts.

John: Yeah, or to sort of ignore you while you are in front of them.

Craig: [laughs] Fantastic.

John: So it is like the iPhone. With the iPhone you actually have to physically stick it in front of your face; whereas with this, they might look like they are looking at you, but they are not really looking at you. It is the same thing where I will be walking by someone on the street, and I think they are talking to me, but of course they are on their headset.

Craig: It’s the weirdest thing.

John: Yeah. It’s spooky.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Well, a good introduction then, because really our topic, our theme for this week’s podcast is etiquette. And etiquette in normal life, but especially etiquette as it pertains to screenwriters who are often mistreated, but sometimes actually mistreat each other. And, I think, that is maybe how you want to start off with; a thing that happened recently and had some fall out.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, we are in a strange business where we are colleagues, and we are in the same union, and so we are together in spirit in some ways. But we also compete for the same jobs, and we also rewrite each other. And that can create some difficult terrain to navigate.

And I thought it was navigated particularly poorly this past weekend by Alexander Payne, who is a director, of course. He just directed The Descendants. And he is also a writer. And he is one of the credited screenwriters of The Descendants.

And at the award show, when they were asking him about it he said — specifically of the prior draft by writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who again, I want to point out, received credit on the movie — Alexander Payne said, “I couldn’t get into the film through their drafts. I respected their work very much, but I had to return to the novel. I learned some of the things I didn’t want to do through their drafts.”

Now, my whole thing is that that is lame. [laughs] So, I’m now leaving journalistic reportage and entering editorializing.

John: Yes.

Craig: I think that’s lame. Listen, it may be absolutely accurate. I don’t know. It is interesting — some friends of mine have read the Faxon and Rash draft and thought it was actually better than Alexander Payne’s draft. But I haven’t read any of it.

All I know is this: No matter what the facts are, you are at an awards show. You are the director, also. You have gotten plenty of credit. Nobody refers to The Descendants as being authored by anybody other than you, Alexander Payne, because you are far more famous than Faxon and Rash. Why do this? Why throw them under the bus and say, “Actually what I learned from their script was what I didn’t want to do?” It is just unnecessarily… — It is unnecessarily stingy.

John: Yes.

Craig: And we, I think, what I would like to talk about with you today is sort of a best practices way of approaching the etiquette of rewriting other writers, being rewritten by other writers, and dealing with press when you have co-writers, or there is the understanding that other writers worked on a movie for which you are credited.

John: Great. Going back to the Alexander Payne story, my recollection of that context for that: It wasn’t the actual award show, it was a panel of the nominated writers at the Writers Guild Theater.

Craig: Yes.

John: So, you are talking in front of a whole audience full of screenwriters, and you are throwing the other two screenwriters — who are up on stage with you — under the bus, which struck me as just very poor form.

Craig: Yes.

John: And so, I don’t have video of this. I haven’t seen the actual moment. But I moderated that same panel last year. And I can’t imagine being up there on that stage and not having it feel just incredibly uncomfortable that this thing just happened.

And as a moderator you have to kind of acknowledge that this really strange thing just happened. The year I was moderating this thing, I had a situation where there was a guy who was rewritten who was up on the stage. And it can be fine. As long as everyone is sort of, like, upfront about it, and not horrible about it, it’s fine.

You had Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian on stage, who both worked on Moneyball, and they got through that.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, you can discuss the different contributions to a script that screenwriters have made. And that can be navigated dispassionately and interestingly.

John: Which is actually a great thing to be discussing in front of a panel of writers because that is the reality of the situation.

Craig: Yes. Right. And it is interesting. I am the last person to say lets whitewash what happened. However, if you are the director of the movie, or the producer of the movie, and you had this particular additional creative authority over the film, what is the point of saying, “I learned what to not do from that draft?”

John: Look regardless of how much authority you have on the film, that is a bad thing to say. Here is the polite thing to say. Like the first Charlie’s Angels, Ryan Rowe and Ed Solomon created a draft, and I came in and did a very different movie. And so we are all very upfront about the fact that they had created this amazing opening set piece that set one kind of movie that was really cool, and that is still the same set piece that is in the movie. And we loved it, and that was the thing that never changed throughout the whole development process.

But their actual plot went in a very different direction. It wasn’t the direction we went in. And we can say that and talk about that in a very open and happy way because that is just the reality. And we are not saying that anything was bad or wrong in their draft, it just wasn’t the movie that we were going to be making.

And that can be a positive starting place.

Craig: Yeah. You can sort of talk about, “Look, here is where I went with it. Here is where they went with it.” But if somebody has credit on the movie, particularly screenplay credit, what are you suggesting? The Guild has already put its two cents forth and said, “This person wrote at least a third of this movie.”

So, I don’t get where the thinks he is coming from. Even if he feels like that was a bum decision, just be kind. Just be kind. You can say, “Listen, they…”

If it had been me I would have said, “I read their draft. I thought it was fantastic. I decided I was going to go back to the book a little bit just to tie in… — I was going to adapt it actually a little more closely to the novel than they did. So we went through quite a few changes. But, you know, overall I think the work that they did, and the work that I did, ended up on screen in a great way.”

How hard is that? It’s like, it’s baseball…

John: Just say it was a fantastic draft, but there were different things that interested me from the book, and I really went back and pulled those into the draft.

Craig: Yeah. Just be like baseball players when they are talking at the end of a game, you know. And everyone is like, “Wow, you hit four home runs. And the team won 4-3. That was all you.”

“Well, you know, it’s still a team effort.” Just be cool. How hard is that?

John: Be cool. Be nice.

Craig: Yeah!

John: It costs you nothing to be nice.

Craig: And what it comes down to is: Are you so panicked that you are not going to get every little crumb of credit that you have to kick these poor guys in the teeth in front of their colleagues and in front of the press? You just… — I don’t know. It wasn’t his finest moment.

And, look, I don’t know Alexander Payne. I hope that he has apologized for that and won’t do that again.

John: Yeah. I hope he is a wonderfully nice guy who just said something stupid, like I say all the time, but didn’t have Stuart to edit out the dumb things he said.

Craig: We all need Stuart there in real life.

I mean, look, obviously — obviously — I have said a billion stupid things. And so I don’t mean to come down and say that this was the worst, most horrible thing anyone has ever done. I just felt bad for those other guys, and I just thought it was unnecessary.

John: Yeah. Pretty good segue to a question that someone wrote in. Kevin Arbouet, I’m going to say it is Arbouet — he criticized me for mispronouncing his name last time.

Craig: It is Arbouet. Yes.

John: Arbouet. Two scenarios. I will read the second of the scenarios he proffers. “A friend of yours has sold an original screenplay to a studio. Sometime later your friend calls and tells you that he or she has been fired from the studio. Then, dum-dum-dum, you get a phone call from that studio asking you to rewrite your friend’s script. Do you take the job?”

Craig: This happened to me recently. I got a call about a project and actually the director was saying, “Would you be interested in me… — I would like you to write this. Can I pitch you for this job?”

And I always sort of just generally look up, I’m just curious like anybody would, and I saw who had written it prior. And it is somebody I know quite well and I am friendly with. And I said, “Look, I would have to talk to them first.” And that is my thing.

We are all big boys. We are all adults. If you are fired, you are fired. There is no point in keeping your friends from getting work. You are fired. [laughs]

So, that is not the end of the world. I just think that you owe that person a phone call to say, “Is it okay with you if I go in and meet on this?” I can’t imagine anybody ever saying, “No. It is not okay.”

But you know what? If they did, I guess I would respect that. Because, I don’t know, if it is a good friend, you know. Maybe I am a Pollyanna but friends are friends.

John: Yeah. Every time I have taken a job that I am going to rewrite, if it is someone’s real project, like this is their thing, they came up with the idea, or they were the first writer on this thing, and I would be going in and sort of being that second writer, I am always going to make that call. And I will always get the number for the person, I will make the call, and it is always super awkward to do it, but I will do it because you owe that to them.

And in most cases it is a huge relief for them because they know who is potentially coming in. They know that you are not a jerk. And they can tell you where all the bodies are buried and who the crazy people are.

Craig: Right.

John: The times I haven’t done that it has been where like literally it has been a handoff from like a week, to a week, to a week through a whole bunch of people.

Craig: Sure.

John: In those cases I haven’t worried so much about being the last guy carrying the football.

Craig: Yeah. If it is a gangbang you don’t have to kiss the lady. [laughs]

John: [laughs] We should explain that a “gangbang” is sort of a term of art in screenwriting in this kind of thing, where it is like you throw a whole bunch of writers at it. And so despite its vulgar connotations, it is a word that you will hear said all the time.

Craig: Yes. I apologize to your mother.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But, yeah, that is true. I have basically the same… — I use the same essential rule set. I will call the prior writer if, always if it is an original script, but even if it is somebody that was close to an adaptation or whatever. Or even if there were two prior writers, I will call them.

Yes. If it is I am one of 100 people that have come and gone, or if the studio has had a particularly bad situation; they just are like, “Leave that person be,” then I won’t do it. I have to say, I have never had a bad one of those conversations. They have always gone really well. If anything, the writers that you are calling are grateful that you are acknowledging that they existed.

So, it has always gone well. And so, as a general etiquette thing, if we are talking about best practices, I would say to our fellow professional writers listening: do this. And by the way, I have to ask the studio. I always say, “Do you mind if I call so and so?” They never care. And do it. It knits you together in a better way. And I have to believe…

In fact, I will tell you a story. I did this… — Well, I will start with in the future, which was in the past. Sorry. [laughs] I need notes for this story already.

John: Yeah. So you are time traveling. The Esperanto threw you off.

Craig: About two years ago I was having dinner with a friend. She is a producer, and she saw a guy she knew and said, “Oh, blah-blah-blah, come on over.” I won’t use names. And she introduced him to me and she said, “He’s a writer,” and I shook his hand.

And he looked at me and he said, “Wait a second, you are Craig Mazin?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Dude, seven years ago you called me because you were rewriting me on something, and I never forgot that, and it was the nicest thing. And I really appreciate it.”

And he had been walking… — Seven years he remembered that, which told me probably that nobody else had done it in the seven years that had lapsed. And so I urge everybody to do this. It just, I don’t know, it brings us together.

I’m very Pollyanna today.

John: You are. But, I think, I’ve had the same experience. One of my first interactions with Aline Brosh McKenna was on a project that I was going to be coming on board. And it was really her thing, so I had to sort of talk to her. I wanted to talk with her about sort of (A) that she felt okay about it, (B) is sort of figure out why she wasn’t going to be doing the next draft, and sort of what was up with that. And it was good. And we became better friends after that.

Same with the Wibberleys. The Wibberleys rewrote me on the second Charlie’s Angels, and I came back in and rewrote them. And we talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and it was really good. And so I never met them in person until the premiere of Charlie’s Angels, but I knew who they were. And we actually ended up going through arbitration on that. It was the friendliest arbitration you are ever going to find because we had done that early talking.

Craig: [laughs] That’s a great point, by the way, that when it does come time for arbitration, there is a human being on the other end of that thing. And I think a lot of these really ugly arbitrations are about people who are just names on a piece of paper, and who haven’t spoken with you, and you don’t think are real. They are just people out to screw you.

And I do think it helps immensely when you do get to an arbitration to just know that we are all writers trying, you know. So that is my big etiquette speech on that.

Now, on the flip side though: What happens when you find out that you are being rewritten? And I will tell you, the first movie — this was back in 1996, I believe — It was the first job I ever had was an original script that my then writing partner and I did for Disney. And we did our two drafts, but you know, we were true rookies. And an actor was attached.

The movie essentially got a green light, and then they do what they do which is not trust a movie to 25 year olds, but to hire a couple of guys. And they hired Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti who had done The Santa Clause, and were pretty big at Disney.

And they asked that I send over the script, the Final Draft file, or I think we had Final Draft then. And I did. I put it on a disc. [laughs] You know, an actual disc for those guys. It was the era that we lived in. And I wrote a note. It was sort of like it was the file, and then a note that was a file that was entitled, “For Steve and Leo: please read.”

And the note was basically, “Greg and I are really happy that you guys are coming on and we are really excited that you are going to take the script and carry it somewhere great. And if you have any questions or just want to say hi, this is our phone number, and this is our email,” I don’t think we had email, “and thank you so much.”

And they never picked up the phone or said anything. And I just thought that was lame. And, you know, when they got fired, and we got brought back, I felt glee frankly. Because I had thought they had treated two rookies unnecessarily coldly.

John: Yeah. Especially after you reached out to them and made it so easy for them to contact you, and made it clear that it wasn’t like a weird bad feeling, that they weren’t going to be walking in to get punched.

Craig: Right. Quite the opposite, you know? But I guess my point is, too, when you are being rewritten, and these things happen, nothing wrong with welcoming the next guy along. You didn’t get fired because he got you fired. You got fired because you got fired. And then this woman comes along to rewrite you, and you should be nice to her.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Or him.

John: It is hard to separate the anger and frustration you feel about being fired, about no longer being on board this project. You are angry at the producers, the director, the studio, whoever didn’t believe in your ability to carry the project further forward. And that anger is real, and you have to own it, and try not to be a maniac on the phone when you get the news. But you are going to feel those feelings.

But the guy who is coming on board, it isn’t his fault. And he is not the one who did it to you.

Craig: No.

John: So anything you can do to reach out. And a lot of times, through the internet, and through how stuff works, it is not that hard to find out who that person is, and figure out the mutual friends or whatever, and try to reach out.

It hurts. And I feel like the times I have been replaced by people and they haven’t acknowledged me have been the situations where the anger just festers longer — my anger about sort of no longer being on board with the project, and just sort of the wondering.

Having that conversation with the next writer at least gives you some closure, and is like, “Okay, I can see what is going on here. I can give them some helpful tips. I can let them know that this one person is an absolute maniac, and to not trust that.” Or, the things that they are trying to do have already been done and it doesn’t mean that they won’t work now in this iteration, but let them know where the bodies are buried.

Craig: And then an important thing to point out about all of this stuff is that that phase that you are talking about, where you have either been fired, or you are taking over for somebody that has been fired, is all pre-premiere. That doesn’t mean that you are not going to have your name on the movie. That doesn’t mean that they are not going to have their name on the movie.

You may be sharing credit on this thing. And if that happens, you will be together. And you will be together promoting the movie. And you will be together talking about the movie. Or you will do so separately, but that brings us to a whole other layer on this which is how to deal with press and publicity when you are talking about your movie and you are sharing credit with somebody.

John: You can probably generalize it out with your movie versus the movie that got made. And different movies I have been involved with, I’m not at all happy with the final movie. But I am not going to throw the movie under the bus either. I’m not going to throw the filmmakers under the bus.

Craig: Right.

John: You are trying to be honest about what the experience was, but not negative.

Craig: Yeah. While I am entertained by people who throw things under the bus on some sort of lurid level, on the other hand it makes me uncomfortable. And I definitely just feel like there is no cause to be undiplomatic. And you know what is the word I am looking for? The word I am looking for is uncharitable. Don’t be uncharitable in the press.

The simple things in terms of etiquette that I like to talk about any co-writers: I talk about what they brought, and I don’t talk about what they didn’t bring. I talk about the director in a charitable way. And I talk about the actors and what they brought. And there is a funny game that goes on. And you notice it very early on in your career as a screenwriter when you start going through press.

The natural tendency of everybody who isn’t a screenwriter is to talk about everything on screen that wasn’t in the script. And at first you think to yourself, “Why are they being so mean? Why are they obsessed over the 12 adlibs or the thing that they came up with on the day? Why is that so important to talk about?” Because you will hear it all the time in interviews with actors and directors — “You know, that wasn’t even in the script. We just came up with that on the day.”

Well here is why they are saying it, not because they hate you or they disrespect you. It is because they are proud. They are proud of literally writing one-tenth of this thing that you wrote nine-tenths of. Or, maybe the ratio is even more out of whack. But they are just excited because they did it, and that is okay.

And similarly when I talk about the script, I don’t talk about all of the wonderful things that I wrote, “Well I wrote that, and I wrote that, and I wrote that.” I talk about how it was a wonderfully collaborative effort, and then inevitably they will ask, “Was there a lot of adlibbing on the set?” And inevitably I answer, “There was some adlibbing. I mean, largely the guys stuck to the script. Or largely the director followed the script. But always in the moment because we have such a wonderful cast, they are going to come up with interesting things.”

There is your vanilla pudding answer. But you know what, it is actually accurate. So, just be charitable and be cool.

John: My frustration comes… — There are actors who will openly disparage the script, not just saying like, “Oh, we came up with a whole bunch of new stuff.” And you and I know who we are talking about. We are not going to say his name because we hope to… — We should be so lucky to work with him. But who actually say like, “I don’t like the script at all. I hated the script. But I thought…”

Craig: I will never work with him. There is no chance that I will ever work with him. [laughs] It’s not my kind of guy.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But, whatever. He is not the only one.

John: And I worked with a probably bigger actor who had similar kinds of things where he would… — It wasn’t just like, “Oh, we adlibbed some stuff.” It was like, “Oh, we ripped out the pages and started over from scratch.”

It is like, yeah, you managed to rip up the pages, but somehow you ended up saying exactly what I had written. So it is great that you were able to sort of recreate what I had done, but that is not really…

Craig: Look, when they are being truly aggressive… — Well, okay, two things. First, if you can end up having a good professional relationship with the actor, the odds of that occurring go down. That is not always the case. There are times when you write a script, you are disappeared off the movie, and then the actor eight months later is on TV talking about how your script sucked. That is brutal. They shouldn’t do that. I wish they wouldn’t do that. And there is nothing charitable to say about that.

If you can have a positive relationship with the actor, 9 times out of 10 they are not going to do that just because now you are a human being that they are not going to be mean to. In the overall analysis though, we should be clear about one thing: Nobody really cares.

Nobody really believes that actors… Either people really believe that actors write everything, because they don’t know that screenplays exist, or if they know that screenplays exist, don’t really believe that actors write every line. Everybody kind of knows how movies are made if they know how movies are made. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter anyway.

Either way it doesn’t matter. So I don’t get too worked up over it, I guess, is my point. I would rather take the high road and be the guy that is charitable. And if somebody takes shots at the script in the press, what are you going to do?

John: Yes. I think we are calling for best behavior by writers because we can’t get best behavior out of everyone else. Control what you can control. Do what best you can do for yourself.

Craig: Listen. If you are an actor, or a director or producer and you are listening to this, you should also please show best behavior. Because I mean unless someone has been a total jerk, you know, come on.

John: I think the number of A-list actors who are listening to this podcast is low. But maybe there are some future A-list actors listening to the show and we will inspire them to do the right thing.

Craig: Yes. Exactly.

John: That’s my hope.

Craig: Thank you. You have given me great hope. We have changed the future, precisely. [laughs]

John: Let’s finish up with one more etiquette question. Mike asks, “What is the etiquette in following up with producers to see if they have read your script?”

So, I think he is talking about sort of like a spec kind of situation. I have heard one month is reasonable. I don’t want to be pushy, but I want to stay on their radar. One month is a really long time, if you are actually working for them, that is far too long.

Craig: Oh, yeah, no. If you are working for somebody, that is a different story. At that point they are actually just hurting the project by not doing their job. Now, that said, there are some places where the wheel turns really slowly.

I mean, I remember, I worked on a project for Bruckheimer. And I love those guys, I love… — Mike Stenson and Chad Oman, great guys, would take forever — would take forever — to get back to me. Sometimes it would take them two months.

But then they would come back to me, and then the notes were really good, and we would do another draft, and then it would happen again. And, you know, once I realized that that was their rhythm, I was like, “Well, you know, I will see if I can fit other things in. This is one of those deals.”

But if you are sending a spec to a producer with a query letter or something like that… — Is it quAIRy or quEARy?

John: I think either one is acceptable.

Craig: I like quEARy. Then, yeah, I think a month is a pretty good check in time. Maybe three weeks. Not bad.

John: Yeah. Maybe it is a situation where you met the producer that said, “Hey, send me that thing.” And you sent them that thing, and you haven’t heard back. A month? Somewhere between two weeks and a month is probably good. I mean, that first check in is just like, “Want to make sure you got it. And make sure that it was what you were looking for.” It reminds them that you exist.

There have been times where I have asked people to do a first person thing. So a lot of times with the first person posts on the blog, I will get like six of them at once and I will sort of pace them out, but then I will kind of forget about one. And so it is really good when that person will remind me, like, “Hey, I wrote this thing for you. I just want to make sure that it is okay.” And it is like, “Yeah, that was exactly the right phrasing, this is exactly the way you would talk to a producer saying, like, ‘Hey, just want to make sure you got this thing that I sent you.'”

Craig: Yeah. I mean, the truth of how this all shakes out per human psychology, and Hollywood human psychology is incredibly predictable human psychology, very consistent human psychology. If you send 15 follow-up letters for your script, and it is good, you were persistent. If it is bad, you were a lunatic nudge, and a stalker. And that is the way it goes.

Everything will ultimately be processed through the lens of the quality of the script. And since that is already finished by the time you are writing your follow-ups, I would just advise to you: Relax and follow up as you feel the need to.

John: Mike’s second question here was, “Do producers usually give you a yay/nay, or is the lack of response code for a pass?”

Craig: [laughs] Well, you know, I always say there are 14 million ways to say no, and only one way to say yes. And so, everything other than the word “yes” is “no.”

John: Yeah. At a certain point you can assume silence is a no. If they are not getting back to you even about your checking in, that you got something, then it is a pass. And that is okay.

Craig: Yeah. And don’t bother sending strongly-worded letters trying to teach them etiquette because they don’t care. And they will just never read anything else that you ever send. It is just pointless. And depending on who they are, they may just be deluged with scripts. Or they may have just really, really hated it. Sometimes it is your fault.

John: Or it is just not for them at all.

Craig: Right.

John: They read three pages and were like, “Nope, this isn’t a movie I want to make.” And so they are not taking the time to email you back or give you an official pass or whatever else. Sorry.

Eventually that becomes your agent’s job to follow up with that. And so they, on one of the weekly phone calls they have with that person, they will say, “Did you read this?” “Yeah, it wasn’t for us.” And that is the effective pass.

Craig: Yes. That is exactly right. That is exactly right.

John: So, Craig, this week I had the good fortune of being asked to be a mentor for some of the new members of the WGA . So, and I think it is every six months or every quarter as the WGA brings in new members, people who sold their first script or got hired on a TV show, or come in through some new media kind of project, which I don’t really understand, they are invited to the Guild to sort of talk them through, like, “This is the Writers Guild. This is how your residuals work.” And all that kind of stuff

Craig: I, too, am a mentor to lovely new writers.

John: How many mentees do you have?

Craig: I share mine with Ted Elliott. The two of us are team-mentoring I think five writers.

John: [laughs] Oh god! I fear for those people. They are going to get so confused.

Craig: It just means that I am mentoring them because I don’t think Ted writes them back. [laughs]

John: [laughs] If Ted wrote them back, Ted Elliott — who is a brilliant man — but Ted will write them like 19 dense paragraphs about esoteric details of the WGA.

Craig: Ted’s normal speech mode is technical manual.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So, yeah. I don’t know… — I knew when I took them on as…

It was sort of like when Ted and I started The Artful Writer I knew that that meant that I was starting The Artful Writer. He did write one blog article in — I think we were operative for six years — he wrote one article.

John: It was your site, exactly.

Craig: Yeah, that’s right.

John: So, anyway, my mentees, they are great. And so I think my official commitment for them is that I have to have some meal with them, and then I will answer their questions as questions come up via email or phone or things like that. But I have a great group.

And so what was exiting talking about spec scripts is this one guy sold two spec scripts in the last six months.

Craig: Wow! Great.

John: And I’m like, wow, that happens?! That’s great. I had sort of assumed that spec scripts weren’t really happening now because it is not my business, but…

Craig: No, but they are. The market has definitely revived, or relatively revived.

John: Yeah. So it is not the heyday of the giant 7-figure deals for everything, but still that’s great.

Craig: No, it’s not the Last Boy Scout kind of days, but it is not as bad as it was sort of like around 2006 or whatever, where literally no one even bothered.

John: That was good. Exciting.

Craig: That is good. Excellent. Well good for him, or her.

John: Hurray.

Craig: So I feel like we…

John: We talked about some etiquette, yeah.

Craig: …we bettered the world.

John: That’s the hope. That is the hope with any podcast, I think, is to make the world a little bit better than where we found it before.

Craig: This is my only outlet for bettering the world. Everything else that I do is about ruining it, so, thank you for providing me with this opportunity.

John: I try to provide a positive forum for your happy thoughts so that all of your negative thoughts can be translated into things.

Craig: Yes. I have to go out and ruin someone’s life now.

John: Craig, thank you for bringing some sunshine into my day.

Craig: Yeah. You know what? You are always a ray of sunshine. I wonder if that is going to work its way into the… — Do we dare talk about this ridiculous drinking game? Your guys lost their minds.

John: Yes. So here is the thing. And we will see if this actually stays in the edit or not. There is a drinking game that was formed about our podcast. And I assumed that it was…

It was presented to me as this anonymous cabal of people who did this. And they were like, “What do you think of this?” And I’m like, “Oh, it is kind of amusing.” But then I realized that it is actually some of my people and some of my posse are doing it. So, I have given them the official notice that I want nothing to do with this. And so if they end up making it, that is their extracurricular project, but I am having no official part of it.

Craig: It is so strange. [laughs] But it is fascinating. I will say that there is something very flattering about having identifiable verbal ticks, because you can’t really hear your own verbal ticks, but apparently I start a lot of sentences by saying, “Look,” which I didn’t realize. That’s cool. I like that.

John: And I do this thing where you will make a very long pronouncement about something, and I will say, “Yeah.”

Craig: Now that I noticed. [laughs] Because sometimes I feel like I have just delivered this wonderful sermon on the mount, and then there is a little bit of pause, and then, “Yup.” And I think, “Oh, god!”

John: Yeah. But how am I supposed to respond to this sermon on the mount? That is the whole issue. I can’t just applaud. Applause sounds weird.

Craig: I mean, why not. I think you should applaud.

John: Okay, I probably should applaud.

Craig: You should applaud. You know what we really need is like a Robin Quivers in here, too.

John: Oh, thank you! That is what we are completely missing. Someone who thinks all of our jokes are really funny…

Craig: That is exactly right. Somebody that is laughing at everything we are saying, so you don’t have to do it. She does it. In fact, let’s get Aline. Let’s get Aline Brosh McKenna to do it.

John: She is not busy writing 15 other movies.

Craig: No! And also she is naturally prone to laugh at everything we say.

John: That’s a good thing. It’s a very key point.

Craig: She is not at all demanding, or critical.

John: Yeah.

Craig: No one scares me more than Aline Brosh McKenna. You know, I have said this to her a hundred times. I’m frightened to death of her.

John: Yeah. One disapproving glare from Aline Brosh McKenna and I am ruined. I am in bed for the rest of the day.

Craig: Literally done for the day.

John: What is interesting also I found is that I listen to most of my podcasts at double speed, which some people criticize as, like, that is not the true art, but I am used to everything being double speed. And so on the rare occasions where I have to listen to things on the web, so I am not listening to it through my little player, I listen to it in normal speed and everyone’s voices sound completely wrong.

And people who I think are really, really funny are noticeably less funny when that pacing is different.

Craig: Yeah, you know, I like this idea. I’m going to start doing that, too, listening to it at double speed.

John: Yeah. Because there is no reason this podcast should be 34 minutes long. It should be 17 minutes long.

Craig: Yeah. Well let’s see if we can get it down to five minutes; let’s go quadruple speed.

John: Good. Done.

Craig: [laughs] I don’t think you should edit this out. This is the most fun we have had yet.

John: Good. So it is in there and so everyone can enjoy it. And they can enjoy another week’s podcast. This was episode 26. Episode 27 will be about something.

Craig: Something exciting.

John: And we will talk to you then. Thanks Craig.

Craig: Thanks John. Bye.

John: Bye.