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: And this is episode 147 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Craig, this is the last episode of Scriptnotes we’re recording…

…before the Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple will release all the brand new stuff on Monday but this is before Monday, so we don’t know what that stuff will be.

Craig: When you say they’re going to release all the brand new stuff, is this when they’re going to announce the next iPhone and such?

John: Well, they’re going to announce the new operating system, so for Macintosh and for iOS. And so it’s where all, you see, it’s sort of the future. And so our listeners who are listening to this on Tuesday or sometime after Tuesday, they are living in a future in which all these things are known. But we are living in a place of uncertainty. It’s like — it’s a quantum flux — flux is really the word but there’s — the decisions have not yet been made about what the future’s going to hold but they are made in the future that they’re living in.

Craig: You know what happened is the power of movies just happened there, because you saw Back to the Future.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And in your mind, flux capacitor is permanently lodged. It’s neurologically lodged right next to time travel.

John: [laughs]

Craig: Yeah.

John: Well, I mean quantum and quantum flux, I think they sort of feel like they belong together but I’m not sure they really do in a scientific way. But I do know that I envy the people in the future who know what the future’s going to be and, yet, I don’t want my time to move any faster.

Craig: It’s getting a little sad.

John: No, no, it’s getting exciting because exciting things are brewing. So, you know, it’s exciting for me as a developer because we are always so excited to see what the next things are going to be and what the next shiny bits of goodness are going to be. And so the very first Mac app we ever created was called Bronson Watermarker. I don’t know if you remember Bronson Watermarker.

Craig: I do, I do.

John: So Bronson’s really useful for watermarking scripts or any PDF that you need to send out. And it does a good job with that. But it looked just so awful and it actually sort of caused me pain every time I looked at it, so we decided a couple of weeks ago like you know what, we’re just going to dust it off and make a new version. The challenge is you would have to figure out like, well, do you make it look like the apps look right now or how you think the apps are going to look like after they announce all the shiny new goodness.

So we just kind of took a guess about where we thought the apps were going to look like. And so we just released it today, the new version today. And we think we got it right, but the people who are listening to this podcast will know whether we got it right or didn’t get it right because we made choices that could be completely wrong.

Craig: Let me get this straight. You guys a couple of weeks ago decided to significantly update your software.

John: Yes.

Craig: And even though you only have 40 people working for you, [laughs], you managed to do it in two weeks?

John: We did manage to do it in a very, very —

Craig: That is right. You have 40 people working for you, right?

John: No, we actually — that’s not quite correct. If you count me, and you count Stuart who you can sort of only kind of half count because he’s really, you know —

Craig: Stuart.

John: He’s Stuart. Stuart’s wonderful but he’s not a programmer.

Craig: No, he’s not a full human being, right.

John: Stuart’s a wonderful human being with many other qualities, but coding and design are not his forte.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So it’s really a team of like two and a half, counting me as a half person that could do it in two weeks.

Craig: Two and a half — but that’s — what?

John: No, I know it does seem impossible. Granted, it is a simpler app then, you know, a mega-giant screenwriting app. But it does a lot of stuff and so it does sort of the watermarking stuff it always did, and does it better. But we also added in password protection, so we now create encrypted PDFs with passwords that are going to be individually generated and it’s stronger. A couple of weeks — not couple weeks — probably months ago we talked about the Tarantino script that leaked.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And there are all these people who were saying like, “Oh, if they just like watermarked it, it would have been safe and protected.” It’s like, yeah, stuff can always get out.

Craig: Ish. Yeah.

John: Ish. It would have been a little bit more protected. I think a watermark is useful for saying like, “Hey, you know what? Don’t copy this.”

Craig: Yeah, it’s like a socially engineered protection. You don’t want to be blamed.

John: So for this new build we did a couple of things that are sort of also social engineering and a little bit more hidden engineering. So password protection is really obvious. So like if you’re sending someone a password protected PDF and separately sending them like this is the password to unlock it, you’re really sending a message like, hey, you know what, we really don’t want this going any place.

Craig: Right.

John: We also had this thing called finger printing which is it creates a bunch of invisible watermarks on the file itself, so you don’t necessarily know that it’s invisibly watermarked but if that file gets out some place, other people can see that, ah, this was who the file actually came from.

Craig: That’s cool. You know, when you say developers, you know what I think of because I mean —

John: Who do you think of?

Craig: I’m not in the business, but whenever I hear the word developers, I think of —

John: Silicon Valley?

Craig: No. No, I mean, I love Silicon Valley. No, I think of Steve Ballmer.

John: Oh yeah.

Craig: Developers. Developers

John: Steve Ballmer is so excited.

Craig: Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers! And you could hear — you could hear his heart, whatever is inside of his heart, congealing, and his cardiac arteries are struggling and he’s just — it seems like he’s killing himself by talking that much.

John: You know what? I think for Halloween you could go as Steve Ballmer and I could go as Tim Cook and we would be like the CEOs.

Craig: Developers, developers, developers, developers! And the other thing that’s so great about Steve Ballmer is he’s got this really high voice. So, you know, because, I don’t know, when I think of the man that runs Microsoft, they go, “Developers, develop…”

You know, and he looks like a — he’s like a linebacker, you know. But he has this really high… — It’s funny, both he and Bill Gates have very I guess you’d call them tenory voices, you know.

John: Maybe that’s the quality of being a great Microsoft CEO is that you have to have that voice. The new guy, Satya, I’ve never actually heard him speak. I’ve seen photos of him. I have no idea what his speaking voice is.

Craig: I do. You ready for it?

John: Tell me.

Craig: Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.

John: It’s going to be a great voice.

So last bit on Bronson, so we put that out in the world today, so it’s out and through next Sunday… — So if you are listening to this on Tuesday, through Sunday it’s half off, so it’s $15 rather than $30. And we cut the price on all of our apps just to celebrate that, so Highland is half off. Even Weekend Read, if you want to unlock the full library, Weekend Read is only $4.99 through Sunday, so enjoy that.

Craig: Yeah.

John: We have a show today to talk about. We’re going to talk about whether to chase projects or whether you should spec scripts. And this was a listener question that we thought was great and applicable to many of our listeners and sort of at many stages of your career.

Craig: Yeah.

John: We’re going to talk about Edgar Wright’s style of comedy and a video that says that more directors should take lessons from Edgar Wright.

Craig: Okay.

John: And we will talk about Shawshank Redemption which is 20 years old and was not a success in its time and it has done really, really well for itself in the 20 years that have passed since then.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So let’s do it.

Craig: All right. If you would —

John: First, we have a bit of follow up because several episodes ago we did The Angeles Crest Fiasco where you and me and Kelly Marcel played Fiasco. And we played a specific scenario in Fiasco called Hollywood Wives and I know that we mentioned the guy’s name who created it but somehow it got dropped out of the edit. So Hollywood Wives was created by a guy named Jobe Bittman and he did a great job, so.

Craig: Thank you, Jobe. Yeah, we did for sure because I remember when we were there we had a very brief sidebar about how to pronounce Jobe because it could be Hobe or Hobé or Jobé, but we ended up on Jobe which I hope is correct.

John: Yeah, we hope it’s all correct.

Craig: Yeah. So thank you, Jobe, and we do apologize for the initial omission.

John: Our question today comes from Jason. And we actually know Jason because I talked to him at the live Scriptnotes we did. So I remember who he was and in the email he singled out like, “I’m the guy you talked to.” It’s like, I remember that guy.

Here’s what he writes. “I’m a writer with an agent trying to get my first assignment. I’ve been on almost 50 general meetings. And the advice from productions and execs seems to be the same: spend time to write more specs because they usually find buyers and chasing assignments never works out. But my agents and managers think the chase is good and puts me in rooms with people who remember me. But so far, I’ve lost a bunch and aside from the feeling of defeat, I’m actually more upset about the amount of time I spend coming up with fixes or building worlds for projects that don’t choose me.”

Craig: Yeah.

John: “The last one was over a month back and forth to the pitch and the same idea three times. And in between I was tweaking my pitch and world base stuff, each person’s notes to have it ready for the next meeting. Now I’m faced with a conundrum of the summer. I’m house-sitting for the next three months with no rent to pay and a small stipend, so I quit my job just to write fulltime. I can get my job back if I need it back.

“I have the whole summer before me and I want to write a spec but several assignments have been put in front of me and my team wants me to go and try to snag them. I don’t want to waste this golden opportunity for writing, but come September I would like to not have to go back to my day job. If you were starting out in a similar situation would you go all in on yourself or chase some ideas that aren’t bad but you’d have to beat out seven to 10 writers possibly to get the gig?”

Craig: Yeah.

John: What I love so much about this question is like it so encapsulates the experience of being a starting writer presently in Hollywood. And honestly, kind of at every stage in your career you kind of face the same questions, whether you should try to land that job or you should just write your own thing.

Craig: Right. And of course, things have changed somewhat over time. There was a time when chasing down jobs as a strategy, putting aside whether it was creatively fulfilling for you as a human being but just as an economic strategy of somebody trying to pay bills, it wasn’t a bad strategy. They were making a lot of movies and they would have to hire a lot of people. They were making a lot of movies and their ratio of movies developed to movies made was greater. So overall, it just seemed like there was a — there were many, many more jobs in features.

Today, no longer the case. They really, as an industry you can see them moving towards this theoretical one-to-one development ratio where they only pay for scripts for projects that they want to make and they make many, many fewer movies.

So it’s absolutely true that when you’re chasing those movies, you are in fact competing with many, many other writers. Many of those other writers are more experienced. Many of those other writers will be more comforting as hires to the people who are spending all the money. And most disturbingly, because of that pressure, because there’s so much more leverage on the employer side now, they will make you jump through endless hoops. It becomes Kafkaesque really quickly.

And it does require a lot of work. I mean, listen, they, on their side, think that screenwriting is, you know, when you start typing Fade In and putting things in a format. And we, on our side, know that so much of the work, perhaps the most important work is what happens before that. But that’s the stuff that they’re sort of expecting from you speculatively just to see if maybe they’ll hire you, maybe.

John: Yeah. The other thing we should stress is that a change from when you and I first started to what we see happening now is it’s not just that like we’re going to develop, you know, these movies — the ones we’re going to produce. It’s like a lot of them won’t, they’ll never hire anybody, o they’ll never actually proceed. And so I think so many more movies like never actually pick any of the writers. Like seven people will go in on a pitch, they’ll pick the best of the pitches to go up to the highest level and then they’ll say, “Nah.”

Craig: That’s right.

John: “We don’t really want to do that.” And so then all seven of those writers have wasted a month trying to do that.

Craig: Yeah. People lose jobs to no one.

John: Yes.

Craig: That we, the writer we prefer is no writer. And, you know, what’s going on also is that just as we have pressure on us now because of the way that the world has changed in terms of film production, so too is there great pressure on the executives. They now are almost acting entrepreneurially because they need to justify their jobs. So what’s happening is back in the day when you and I started, some executive picks up the phone and says, “I have this thing and we love it internally and we want to make it and we want to hear from a writer.” You would at least know it was real. Not anymore.

Now they call sometimes and like, “There’s something and I love it and I know that, you know, whoever the boss on high is is really into it and I want to bring this pitch.” They’re actually trying to make something happen which may not happen with anyone.

John: It may not happen with anyone. So Jason is talking about the very first wrung, when you’re trying to land that first job. But from my personal experience, I can talk about two projects in the last six months that a similar kind of thing has happened. So both of them I think I obliquely referred to in an earlier podcast where we talked about like well what should I do next.

And one of them was an adaptation of a book. And it was a YA book that was a hot sale, a studio bought it, they were looking for a take and so I went in and I met with them and I pitched a take to the producer. And I met him and pitched the take to the studio boss and that went really well. And so as we started to make a deal things just slowed down and things slowed down. And sometimes it’s like, well, maybe I’m just too expensive for this property and this book and this whole world and that can happen.

But really what had overall happened is like the book came out and it wasn’t a huge bestseller. It wasn’t The Hunger Games. It was more just like a mid tier. And so suddenly they were looking at the book and it’s just like this book, this plot, this story. And while there was something promising there, it wasn’t — it had no extra juice to it. And basically, I think they hired nobody. And that’s a thing that happens.

Craig: They just kill it. Practically speaking, it does seem to me where we’re both going with this is that this — Jason should in fact spend his summer writing something original.

John: I think he should.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And probably in retrospect, should I have spent that time writing something original? It’s very easy to say that hindsight. The other example I wanted to give was I think I’d also kind of obliquely referred to this in the podcast was there was a property that was based on a piece of IP that was very linked to a studio. So no one else could do it.

And the real question was like, is there a movie here? And that’s a really dangerous thing because when you go in on a property that is exclusively at one place either because they own the book or because it’s already part of the studio general package, you’re really competing against nothing. You’re competing against the alternate choice of just like let’s just do nothing.

And so this is the process over like many, many months of like this meeting and that meeting and this meeting and that meeting, going up through the ranks to see whether everyone sort of agreed like this is a way to approach the movie. And so when I pitched it they all said like, “That’s a really good pitch. I totally get what that movie is, it’s not what we see ourselves doing with this property.”

Craig: Right.

John: That was a lot of time wasted.

Craig: Yeah, I know.

John: And that’s going to happen. So from a beginning writer’s perspective, Jason’s representatives are saying, you know what, it’s good for you to be in those rooms, it’s good for you to have exposure to those executives, to know who they are, know who you like, know, you know, sort of all that stuff. To some degree, that’s true. But after, you know, 50 projects, you’re wasting a lot of time.

Craig: Yeah. Let’s come at this from a couple of angles. The first angle is from the agency side. Why are his representatives advising him this way? Because it’s what makes sense for them. As an agent, the amount of work that is required to put your client in a room with somebody and who’s willing to meet with a certain tier of writer is de minimis. And you are also aware that those jobs are jobs. I mean, listen, maybe it turns out that they’re not really jobs, whatever. But the point is they’re there. Someone’s going to get hired. That’s at least your theory, maybe it’ll be my guy.

And while he goes through, even if he’s not hired on this particular one, they’ll know him, they’ll like him, he’ll impress them and they will think of him. And in this way, it’s a very simple way for them to have their client do the work for them. All they have to do is pick up a phone.

John: Yeah.

Craig: On the flip side, specs are a lot of work for agents. You write a spec, you give it to your agents and you say, “I want to sell this.” The first thing that has to happen is they need to agree, right? And they don’t — not all of them, but many of them frankly don’t really have very strong or reliable opinions anyway. So if they’re going to go out with a spec, they feel like, well, first I have to find other people that like this. Can I find an actor that goes along with it? Can I find a director that goes along with it? So that’s work. And it also requires them to go out on a limb which they hate.

John: They do. It’s requiring them to take a risk saying that I like this thing, I believe in this thing and then if they aren’t people to sell it you’re going to blame them to some degree for not selling it versus you not getting the job, yeah, you didn’t get the job.

Craig: Everybody will blame them even if they never — even if it’s stillborn. You hand them a script and they say, okay, and you — and well, we should go to the studio and give them a movie here. Let’s give them a director, an actor, and a script. Fine, well, this is the actor I want for sure. And they work up the courage to go to that agent down the hallway and he says, “Why would you give me this crap? I hate you. You’ve lost credibility with me.”

John: Yes.

Craig: It’s all — that’s how they see the world. It’s just a lot of risk. Doing nothing, no risk; doing something, lots of risks. Specs require them to do a lot of somethings. And so this is not — I don’t mean to imply that they are being aggressively manipulative and self-serving. I think they’re just simply being human.

John: They’re being rational to some degree. They’re taking the path that is least likely to end up in tears for them.

Craig: They’re being rational.

John: Yes.

Craig: Yes. Well, yeah, what they are doing is they’re following a risk minimization strategy. The problem is that risk minimization strategies aren’t very useful for new writers. In fact, the opposite is useful. Risk maximization strategies seem to be what works for a new writer because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They’ve got to make big rolls of the dice. Because if you really want to get to the kind of land of milk and honey where somebody calls you up and says, “Hey, would you be interested in getting paid a lot of money to work on this thing,” and all you’ll have to do is basically say, yes, I would be interested in that because here’s what I would do with it. And after that 20 minutes, they go, “Great, here’s $2 million.”

You’re never getting there unless you can establish a beachhead as a writer with an original voice who can take a script from start to finish, guide the readers through it well and write something that could be a movie.

John: Write something that actually was a movie. I think that’s a crucial thing too is that you could have written the most brilliant screenplays that mankind has ever known, but if they’ve not been produced as movies and turned out as really, really good movies, you’re not going to get to that mythical land of milk and honey that Craig just described where they pick up the phone and just sort of offer you the job.

Craig: I don’t like milk or honey, by the way.

John: Really? Both of those things?

Craig: I don’t like — well, I’m Jewish —

John: You don’t like any substance that like comes out of a creature.

Craig: [laughs] Well, that’s excreted from insects or mammals. I mean I don’t — I’m Jewish and Jewish people are notoriously poor at processing milk. I’m definitely in that subset of Jewish people. I’m not — I don’t do well with milk. And honey, I don’t know, it’s like — it’s too much. It’s just too much.

John: It can be overwhelming at times, yeah.

Craig: You know, like if somebody said, “Congratulations, you made it to the land of milk and honey,” I’d be like, “Oh…”

John: Oh, but come on, you get a good buttery buttermilk biscuit and a little honey on top of it, that’s a delicious thing.

Craig: You are so Goyishe it’s unbelievable.

John: Or if you ended up at Casa Bonita in Denver and you had the sopapillas and you poured the honey in there, come on, it’d be great. You raise your little flag again and again for more sopapillas.

Craig: Yucky.

John: All right.

Craig: I don’t like it.

John: You don’t like it.

Craig: No. I just want — can I just have dry toast? I just want dry.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah. Anyway, that’s — I think that Jason should spend his summer writing something original. You’re not going to lose out on some wonderful opportunity by taking a break for two months from the water tour of Los Angeles. Go ahead. Take the two months. Write something wonderful because I’ll tell you, when you do resume your water bottle tour of Los Angeles, you’re going to have something to talk about because they love to hear, “Oh, you have a script? Oh, well now there’s an action item. We can do something. We can read a thing.”

John: You can read a thing. Here’s the other reasons I wanted to talk through Jason’s decision process. So the reason why you take those general meetings is to meet people but I think it’s also very good practice of figuring out like how would I write all these different kinds of movies. And so that sort of quick scramble of like, you know, figuring out like how to do this movie or that movie or this movie or that movie, I did a lot of that.

And that was incredibly helpful for me thinking about story overall. So someone would said like, “Hey, would you want to do a Highlander movie?” And so I’m like, well, how would I do a Highlander movie? And so it’s a project I never got but it was really valuable learning experience.

Here’s why you only do so many of them. It’s because you could spend six months doing that and never have actually written something new. And suddenly then you’re not actually a writer, you’re a person who pitches things. And that’s not what you came out to Hollywood to do. Writing something give you something new, it gives you leverage with your agent to some degree. They’re going to try to sell this.

But also if you’re not really all that happy with your agent, that new script is a great way to transition to another agent or to another manager. That’s what I did as I left my first off agent and came over to my current agent was I had written a new script. I really doubted that the first guy could sell it and so I wanted to pick a new agent who I thought was going to be the right person to sell the script and this was a great entrée to introduce myself as, you know, a writer who can write this kind of script. That was Go, so.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, listen, there’s no question that the screenplays are the commodity, not the people. And you need to have some work that they can review. And if it’s not a prior job, it needs to be a screenplay. Fresh material keeps you fresh. I think you’re making a great point that the practice that you get from very quickly breaking down something and coming up with a story is excellent experience for the new writer.

Like you, I did that deal. You know, I can remember my former writing partner and I spending a couple of weeks coming up with a whole scene-by-scene story to rewrite a project that was a modern day Noah’s Ark.

It was like a comedy where — you know, and god, there was probably a thousand of those, you know. And it just doesn’t work, you know, it just doesn’t happen. But you do learn from those. There is a point, however, where you have to stop batting practice and actually go out onto the field and face live pitching. And that’s the deal. Write your spec . I mean, I started with an original, with something that was original and you started with something that was original. Most people start with something that’s original. I don’t know of anybody that didn’t. I mean, I don’t know how that would happen in any other way.

So in a weird way, if you haven’t sold anything original yet, that’s what you got to do first. The Black List is not a substitute for selling a screenplay.

John: So to clarify, I did actually get hired to write something before I had sold something. So I wrote a script that got me an agent and I was able to actually land a paid job without ever having —

Craig: Really?

John: Sold something before that. But I would say that’s unusual and it was one of the things where I think I just ultimately got lucky. I was the right person to hire for that job and it was also in a day when it was like a five-step deal and they paid me through all five steps which is just crazy now, but that’s how it used to be back in the day.

Craig: Well, I mean, and also to be fair, I didn’t actually — the first thing that my writing partner and I sold was original but it was a pitch. So we hadn’t actually sold a script ourselves either. But my point being we sold something, you know.

John: You sold something, yeah.

Craig: One way or another, it seems to me that Jason could certainly do much worse than spending a couple of months this summer writing some fresh interesting material so that when his current agent or his new agent calls and says, “Listen, we’ve got a Black List writer, he’s got his new thing, you got to jump on this.” It’s a selling tool. And sometimes we as writers have to, in a weird way, excite our agents. It doesn’t seem like we should have to do that, but sometimes we do.

John: Sometimes you do. Great.

Let’s move on to our next thing which was this video that Tony Zhou did about Edgar Wright and Edgar Wright’s directing choices for comedy and Zhou’s call to action for comedy directors to take lessons from Edgar Wright and use some of his filmmaking techniques in their own movies. Basically, really it was, you know, it was a celebration of Edgar Wright but in some ways at the same time kind of a condemnation of what he perceives as kind of laziness or lack of filmmaking finesse among comedy directors. And I have a feeling this provoked a little umbrage out of Craig Mazin.

Craig: It provoked quite a bit of umbrage. And it bummed me out more than anything but I think the umbrage was certainly there but the stronger note in the bouquet of my reaction was sadness because this — it was so unnecessary to have been done this way. I think that Edgar Wright is extraordinarily good at what he does. And I loved how much passion this fan had for the work and how carefully he had studied it and how careful he had placed it in the context of other movies that he really liked. And particularly zeroing in on something that Edgar Wright is known for which is, I guess I would call it a visual bravura in the storytelling that he does.

And his movies are comedies. They aren’t traditional comedies. Frankly, even all parts of Edgar Wright’s movies are distinct. They are not genre films. He’s one of those guys that’s sort of his own genre which you will find here and there across many different kinds of movies. And so I love that and I thought how wonderful. And then it all succumbed to that thing, that disease of needing to justify and define that which we love by placing it in the context of that which we do not love.

And in doing so, I think, frankly, the creator of the video was just wrong. He was just wrong on so many levels.

John: Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about Edgar Wright’s style and sort of what makes it so successful for an Edgar Wright film. And is that some of the eight things that Tony Zhou highlights are things entering frames in funny ways, people leaving the frame in funny ways. There and back again where a character walks over something and then walks back to where he was after having encountered something. Matching scene transitions. The perfectly timed sound effect. Action synchronized to music. Super dramatic lighting cues. And then sort of two gimmes of like falling fences and fake guns, or really like repetitions of visual gags.

What I noticed in all of the things he’s clarifying is that they’re all very planned, very meticulously chosen beats that aren’t just sort of discovered. They were very much like you can sort of feel the storyboards in them.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And all of Edgar Wright’s movies really exist in a kind constructed universe.

Craig: That’s right.

John: Sort of like how I feel about Wes Anderson movies. And Wes Anderson movies kind of used to drive me crazy and then just — I crossed over into a place of just loving them. But they’re not natural, normal worlds. And I was frustrated that he was — Tony Zhou was comparing the Edgar Wright movies to movies that aren’t supposed to take place in a special artificial, unnatural world. They’re supposed to take place in a really real world. And real worlds don’t necessarily have this kind of visual flair for really good reasons.

Craig: Yeah. I don’t think Tony understands how the music works. I mean, listen, there’s nothing particularly visually arresting or again, I’ll use that word bravura in Groundhog Day, which we went into at length on the podcast a few weeks ago. But Groundhog Day is brilliant. Most of the filming in Groundhog Day is consistent with Harold Ramis’s oeuvre and that is shot extraordinarily traditionally with extraordinarily traditional coverage and a naturalistic camera that isn’t structuring reality-bending moments because tonally that’s not the kind of story he’s telling.

Why would we beat that up? Similarly, he makes strange straw dummy comparisons. At one point, he goes after Todd Phillips. And, you know, granted, I’ve worked with Todd Phillips, I’ve made movies with him, so naturally I’m a little biased here. But I thought that was really off base because Todd actually is and has been visually arresting at times when he chooses to in his movies, when he feels it’s tonally appropriate. In The Hangover there’s that great car crash moment where that’s been aped by many other directors since, by the way I’ve seen, where they’re talking in a car and we see headlights in the distance and they keep coming and all it’s one take and the car crashes, it t-bones them, all in one shot.

And it’s really creative and not at all the way you normally would shoot something like that. There are many other examples I could cite, but it seems like he just ignored those and instead just cherry-picked a moment where people were just talking, which by the way, works great. He picks a moment in Old School that sets up a joke that works really well. And then he also does something else that I don’t understand. He compares some things that Edgar Wright does to other visual jokes that he does like and appreciate but they’re very different kinds of moments.

For instance, one of my favorite visual jokes he cites in this compilation which is the soldier running in Holy Grail

John: The Holy Grail. Yeah.

Craig: Which is great. And it’s a wonderful visual trick and it worked and it’s hysterical. But then he shows this bit with the pouring of the beers and the pouring of the water which he’s citing as visual comedy. And frankly, I just don’t think that that’s funny.

John: I don’t think that’s funny either.

Craig: I think it’s really interesting.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s visually engaging and fascinating, but I don’t think it’s funny. Similarly, the transition of a policeman going from one town to another, which I have to say, kind of was cribbed from Guy Ritchie who did it I think in Snatch with Dennis Farina. But regardless, that’s a really cool moment. That’s not funny. It’s not meant to be laugh-out-loud funny. I just don’t think this guy gets the — how the music of this all works.

John: It’s also your relationship with your audience. And if you’re in an Edgar Wright film, and again, none of this is like criticisms of Edgar Wright’s films. They’re very specifically and very planned.

Craig: They’re awesome. They’re great.

John: They’re great. And they’re very well planned for being in that universe. And they establish an expectation that you’re going to have these kind of quick cuts at times. You’re going to have this again visual bravura that’s not part of your universe.

If you try to apply that same kind of speed and time and tempo to something like The Heat, you’re not going to have a good outcome.

Craig: It will break it. It will just break it.

John: It will break it because you have to believe that those two women are existing in a moment together and that this is the fatigue. And the most alarming thing in the frame has to be Melissa McCarthy’s actions, not how you’re cutting.

Craig: Well look, I engage with the characters in Edgar Wright’s movies. I believe that they’re real. But I also understand that the entire thing is pushed in an interesting way.

John: Yes.

Craig: It’s part of his style. It’s part of his deal. That’s why I don’t need every movie to be a Tarantino film. I don’t need every comedy to be an Edgar Wright movie. I’m happy that Edgar Wright makes Edgar Wright movies. I just found that there was this bizarre chauvinism that other movies were lesser because they weren’t doing this.

And I have to say, maybe I’m totally off base, but if Edgar Wright were with us right now I have to presume he would agree, because I’ve always found that the people who make comedies and who have been bloodied in the war of making comedies are so much more charitable and understanding of their fellow filmmakers then is often the case with some of the more — some of the more attentive viewers out there.

John: Yeah. So a few things I do want to give him credit for which is I think it’s reasonable to have a call to action, really, a call to awareness for all filmmakers, comedy and otherwise, to certainly think about making some of these choices, and think about like, can you service a joke better by moving the camera in certain ways.

Can you service a joke better by holding in a shot and not trying to, you know —

Craig: Yes.

John: Revert to standard coverage. These are all really laudable things. And I think if this video had been framed around the idea of like, look at some of the great things that Edgar Wright does, let’s point some of these things out —

Craig: I would be so much happier, yeah.

John: Other filmmakers can learn from this thing rather than sort of, you know, crapping on other people who don’t —

Craig: Calling people out… — Yeah, like, I love Bridesmaids. I understand that Bridesmaids isn’t visually arresting. I understand that it absolutely broke zero ground visually or cinematically if you want to use the term. But I also loved it. It made me laugh and I cared about the people in it. And I have to think that some of these things would have broken that movie.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Now where I think Edgar Wright has terrific lessons for all comedy filmmakers is in his complete rejection of the very overdone visual tropes to move people around. There is, no question, there is a certain malaise in a lot of comedy filmmaking where everybody goes, “Nobody is here for that stuff. Let’s just get to the parts that are funny.” And he’s right about that.

One thing that’s interesting is that in studio comedy making, and I’ve often come up against this distressingly: the budgeting process is such that it becomes very hard actually to do the kind of things that Edgar Wright does. His movies are not inexpensive.

John: Yeah.

Craig: When we were making Identity Thief, at one point there is a car chase and, you know, we were down to like how can we make a car chase when they’ll only give us two cars?

John: Yeah.

Craig: Suddenly, you run into these budget issues where believe me, you have all these interesting ideas for how to make these transitions and then they say, “Nope, it’s the second unit and they’re going to be doing the thing with the car goes from left to right and we’ll just play music.” And you get jammed.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Part of the situation in studio comedies is that they will budget the movie. They’ll just say, look, here’s what we’re going to give you for this comedy. Most of the money will go to comic stars who deservedly get a bunch of money. So then what you have left is enough money to make a kind of a dingy looking movie. [laughs]

I see this happening all the time where, you know, Hot Fuzz, that’s not an inexpensive movie. I think it was into the $40 million in terms of budget. And because of the way he works with his collaborators, I suspect that they — it wasn’t a case where they have to pay, you know, each actor $5 or $6 million, but rather everyone is kind of working together and sharing in the pool, but I’m just guessing.

Similarly, Scott Pilgrim was $70 or $80, possibly $100 million.

John: It was a pricy movie.

Craig: Yeah, Bridesmaids I’m guessing was about $25 million.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So when you look at the shots that he is doing, for instance, the montage of Simon Pegg moving from one city to another, that’s many, many multiple shots and it’s set-ups, and it’s time, and it’s money.

John: Yeah, yeah.

Craig: I would love comedies to get that money.

John: But they’re not getting that money right now. The last thing I’ll say is that he does highlight a little bit like, you know, oh, Pixar will still do these things. And yes, animated films will do sometimes much more visually sophisticated things because they have that time and it’s honestly generally no more expensive to build that as a really fascinating shot because you’re building everything from scratch anyway.

So those visual gags are very natural there because you’re not trying to — again, it’s completely constructed reality. So within that constructed reality, the choices you’re making for angles and shots and how you’re telling your joke, you can do whatever you want and you have so much time to think of what those shots are.

So if you don’t like what that one was, throw it out and put a new thing in there and you’ve got that time.

Craig: And I’ll just say in conclusion, I could go through a bunch of movies that this guy is implying are visually inept or mediocre and find moments that comedically are entirely about how the shot was composed and how the editing was composed.

I learned a lot, you know, David Zucker made wonderful comedies and none of them were visually stunning, on purpose by the way. And yet, there was an enormous attention to detail when he made those movies.

One thing, one wonderful lesson that he taught me early on was, in physical comedy, if you can see the result of an action within the same continuous cut as the cause of it, it will be funnier. There was a lot of attention to these things. And camera placement and how to shoot things was a constant discussion.

But it was not visually shocking or bravura or in your face or innovative. It was rather just quietly constructed. And I think that’s okay. I guess what I want to say to the guy making this is you should love Edgar Wright movies. They’re wonderful. Please don’t beat up other movies because they’re not doing that. That’s just unnecessary. And frankly, it’s just misguided.

John: I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about these concepts in relation to actually writing the words on the page, because a lot of what he’s describing here you would never see manifest on the page. It becomes very annoying to read about sort of like, you know, a spoon enters frame from off-screen.

Sometimes you can do that and sometimes it works. But it’s very hard to picture what that’s going to be. So like trying to sell a visual joke on the page can be really, really tough.

Craig: Yes.

John: Sometimes you can do it, though. And techniques for like the there and back again. It can be very hard to describe like in a continuous shot the guy goes, you know, says something, goes to the window, look out the window, comes back. But sometimes the way to do that is to sort stay in the dialogue block and like put all that action in parenthetical, which is sort of cheating. But sometimes it’s worth cheating so people can actually follow what it is that’s funny that you’re doing there.

Craig: Well there’s — I don’t know how those guys go through their process. But if I had to guess, there’s a certain kind of casual, visual experience that I suspect is either figured out in the storyboarding process or on the day when they’re staging the scene in the morning and figuring how they’re going to do it. And they find these moments like, you know what, let’s follow with him and then let’s follow back.

But then there are other things that must be scripted. Simon Pegg’s traveling montage has to be scripted because it has to be shot. The pouring of the beers in the water must be scripted. There’s no way that they just decided on the day to do that. Or if they got it into storyboards, it probably then had to be written into the script so that you understood, okay, we’re going to need some macro shots and we have to shoot through the bottom of the glass. There’s a whole — there’s 10 meetings about that shot, so that it comes off, you know.

John: In the script I wouldn’t be surprised if it says, you know, in uppercase “SERIES OF SHOTS,” And either bullets them out or like in that action block talks about what happens in there and that they did have to have three production meetings to talk through what was going to be in that, what the steins looked like. And is going to be shot as a primary unit or is that something that is secondary unit? Are you going to pre-shoot that, is it all, is it happening weeks after you’ve wrapped your thing to get those extra shots? That is how it’s going to go.

So you don’t know what that’s going to look like. To the idea of storyboarding stuff, The Coen Brothers are very — who often have very visually sophisticated movies. Apparently, when you show up on the day of shooting, they’ve present your sides and they show like the storyboards, like they’ve storyboarded everything so you know like this is where — this is what the shots are going to be for the day.

Craig: Right.

John: So everyone can actually really have a plan for this is how it is. So you look at a movie like Raising Arizona that they do, the visual guides in there were really planned. They knew they were going to be using those wide lenses and how stuff was going to be going through the frame. But you wouldn’t necessarily see that in the script.

Craig: That’s exactly right. In fact, if they’re presenting the storyboards to the actors on the day, it means that they haven’t seen those things because they do have the script.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And those things are — I mean you can’t — basically, you shouldn’t put anything in a script that as you’re doing it makes you think, oh, I’m just ruining it.

John: Yeah.

Craig: No one’s going to think that this is any good if I spell it all out in the script. I have to again give Edgar Wright a lot of credit for having the patience and the faith to carry through on these plans because, you know, what happens is you do end up in your seventh meeting about how to shoot the glasses and the close-ups and everyone’s asking these questions. And inevitably people start to think, why am I doing this? This is an enormous —

John: Do you really need this? It’s not that special.

Craig: I’ll give you an example from something I did with Todd Phillips which I thought was very visually interesting. In the second Hangover movie, Alan, Zach Galifianakis’s character, has a flashback where he remembers some of the incidents of the night before but in a kind of a dreamy state. But in Alan’s point of view he remembers himself and his friends as 12-year-old boys because that’s how he sees the world.

John: Which I love that moment in the movie. And I remember commenting, I think even on the podcast, like that must have been so hard to shoot —

Craig: It was so hard.

John: And convince people to shoot that.

Craig: It was so hard because on paper, it takes up a half a page and all you say is, “Alan and Stu and Phil as 12-year-olds.” But then you realize, oh my god, we’ve got to cast 12 year olds to be like them. We’ve got to put them in these clothes, and then we have to shoot a second movie, because all the stuff where these guys have been, we’ve got to then redo, so we have a riot scene where Ed Helms is freaking out and there’s this enormous riot and police and mall to have cocktails, then we have to shoot it again with children.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And we have to do it over and over and over. But, you know, it kind of came together but many, many times Todd and I looked and each other and thought why would we have ever done this. Just like, you know, very famously Parker and Stone decided early on that they were going to make Team America with marionettes.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And about, you know, a month in of misery they just thought, we have killed ourselves on this, killed ourselves. But, you know —

John: They already committed.

Craig: They already committed. And frankly, in the end it’s not the audience’s problem. If you can provide them with something that is visually fascinating, it doesn’t matter how long it took, it doesn’t matter how meetings you went through. It’s really cool.

So I think — look, I think he’s great and I think that what he does is spectacular. I would be shocked if Edgar Wright were ever to stop and think, boy, I wish all comedies look like my comedies. I just think he would say, oh my god, no.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Why would I want that? I like my comedies looking like my comedies.

John: You want to be distinctive. That’s absolutely true. And same with Tarantino and same with Wes Anderson. I mean, the fact that you can parody a Tarantino film or you can parody a Wes Anderson film means that they’re doing something very special. They have a unique voice and unique eye and celebrate that rather than sort of, you know, crapping on everybody else.

Craig: Yeah and at least acknowledge that while there are lazy tropey moves in comedies that I would love to see eliminated, budgetary concerns aside, there are also incredible classic, great, great comedies that invent not one new bit of cinematic language.

John: Yeah, it is true…

Craig: Yeah.

John: Our last topic today is The Shawshank Redemption which is rated on IMDb as the best movie ever made. But a lot of people could agree with that. There’s an article that Russell Adams wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption and I had to remember sort of like what it was up against, but it came out the same year Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump.

So in its time, Shawshank Redemption wasn’t a big success. It only made $16 million in the box office. It got seven Oscar nominations, but no Oscars.

Craig: Right.

John: And now it’s kind of a classic. So this article is specifically talking about how, you know, the residual value of a well regarded movie and literally the residuals that happen. So, you know, minor actors in there are still getting residuals and they’re still getting like a tremendous amount of residuals because that thing airs all the time.

Craig: Right.

John: That movie aired 151 hours of air time for Shawshank Redemption just in 2013.

Craig: Did I ever tell you the story of sitting in a car with Bob Weinstein and he was talking about the movie business and he said to me, “Hey, Mazin, you want to know how to make money in the movie business?”

John: And you said, no sir. I don’t want to know. I want to make art.

Craig: I said, let me out of this car. I said, yeah, sure, how do you make money in the movie business? He said, “It’s really simple, man. Have a library of movies and don’t make movies.” And he’s right, I mean —

John: He is right.

Craig: That’s, the library costs nothing to maintain and generates profit forever whereas making movies – oh, here they come, here come the alarms.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s Bob Weinstein.

John: It was your terrible impersonation.

Craig: Oh man, it’s actually dead on.

So yeah, a library sits there and unlike most warehouse products, it costs nothing to keep and yet it generates money forever. And a movie like Shawshank Redemption which crosses into that I’m going to say a land of potato chips and ice cream, a movie like that doesn’t just generate a lot of money, it generates a massive amount of money forever and increases the value of other movies, because if you want to show Shawshank Redemption, you can’t get it unless you also agree to take a bunch of other movies that maybe aren’t, you know, quite as exciting to the audience.

John: And that’s something I don’t think people appreciate is that when you see a movie on television, you think like, oh, okay, so ABC bought the rights to that movie so they could show it. And yes, they bought the rights to that, but they had to buy a package.

Craig: Yup.

John: And so what the studio did is they package together this one movie that everybody really wanted along with a bunch of movies that you really didn’t want. And they would only sell them as the package. And the frustration as a filmmaker is the studio wants to divide that money equally between those films just because and pretend that it’s not like the one movie is actually the one that’s worth doing, so they’ll spread it on all the different movies that they’re selling. And that is incredibly frustrating.

And sometimes it’s the subject of lawsuits. And I don’t know that it ever actually went to trial, but the first Charlie’s Angels was a big success. And we ended up selling it to I think ABC, selling rights to ABC, but it was packaged with these other movies.

And I remember producers being not especially happy about the way that it was packaged and the way the money sort of being divided it up because obviously we were the movie that was the goldmine there.

Craig: Yeah, well, what they do is they divide it up. They’re not looking to screw over any individual writer, director or actor. What they’re trying to do is avoid any movie showing a profit. [laughs]

John: Yes, that’s exactly what it is.

Craig: Yeah, so they’re just sliding this stuff around so that, you know, the waterline never hits a certain thing. But when we talk about this thing, and this is all under the heading of distribution.

John: Yeah.

Craig: This is the answer to the question, why are there the same five big movie studios that were around for decades and decades and decades? Why if we live in a world now where Tesla can show up and actually be a viable new car company, why can’t there be a viable new movie studio? And the answer is distribution. Distribution impacts everything.

That is why these studios have a strangle hold on films and television, because to get a movie into a theater, all those screens is an art of negotiation where you are trading on a very desirable title. And thus, getting in maybe ones that are more speculative because theater owners lose money when nobody’s in the theater to see the movie.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Craig: They don’t want bad movies. They want the good movies. Well, you’re not getting the next say, you know, they’re making new Harry Potter movies. Warner Brothers is making —

John: Yeah.

Craig: Well, you’re not getting one of those unless you take a bunch of these things, too. And it works that way for television and pay cable and all the rest. I have a question for you.

John: Okay.

Craig: Of all your movies, can you tell from your residuals which one has had the most after theatrical success?

John: Yes, that was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by like a landslide. And just because it sold a tremendous amount of DVDs right at that moment where like they were still selling a bunch of DVDs.

Craig: They were still big.

John: Yeah. And Go does fine and Big Fish certainly generates a fair amount. But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was definitely the winner.

How about you? I mean you’ve got The Hangover movies. Those have to be the number ones.

Craig: They’re not. They’ve both done very well in video but by far, Identity Thief.

John: That’s not because it’s the sole credit — ?

Craig: No, no, no. I kind of did the math. I kind of did the math. Identity Thief has just been after market-wise, after theatrical I think the most popular movie I’ve ever done.

John: Well, that’s great.

Craig: I think so.

John: That’s wonderful. And again, this is a good lesson in why residuals matter so much. So the short version of what residuals are for people who are sort of new to this discussion is writers as part of this sort of grand charade we do legally about the work we do and copyright all this stuff, we don’t have royalties on movies, we have what’s called residuals.

And as movies are displayed on things after theatrical, so after they’ve left the movie theaters and after they’ve left airplanes, but as they sell on iTunes, as they go through Netflix streaming, as they show up on broadcast TV, we get a certain percentage of what that money is that comes back to the distributor or the studio to the film. We get that percentage. And that percentage can add up and be a very meaningful part of a writer’s career.

Craig: Yup.

John: Yup, it’s good.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And so is Shawshank Redemption which I don’t think I’ve actually seen since it came out, so it’s one of those things where it’s always on. If you flip the channels, it’s always on somewhere. Yet, it’s a great movie and it was Frank Darabont’s sort of first big success. He bought the rights to it for $5,000.

Craig: Isn’t that great? And I love that Stephen King didn’t cash the check.

John: Ooh, Stephen King.

Craig: Shawshank Redemption is a fantastic movie. It’s one of those movies, I’ve never met anybody that didn’t like it.

John: No, how could you not like it?

Craig: I don’t know. It’s just a terrific movie. It’s also a movie that while very cinematic in moments, plays wonderfully on TV. It’s like The Godfather. I very happily have seen The Godfather a number of times in the theater, which is obviously it’s not something that happens frequently because, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But when I see The Godfather on TV, I’m like, yeah, this works on TV, too. It actually works everywhere. I can watch this in my shower.

John: Yeah, I think maybe the reason why it does, both of those films would work well on TV is because they’re sagas and they definitely kind of feel like there’s act breaks in them. You feel like, there’s moments like, okay, this is a moment where we can go away and we go to commercial and come back and regain the energy. And like it’s not going to be shattered.

Craig: The only thing that bugs me about Godfather is that sometimes when people are going from one place to another, Coppola will just show a car driving by.

John: That’s so incredibly lazy. I wish they wouldn’t do that.

Craig: Like when Michael Corleone goes to Vegas, there’s a plane landing and we hear a waa, waa, waa, waa. That’s not cool.

John: That’s not cool at all. But, you know, what is cool? One Cool Things.

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s time for that. So my One Cool Thing is also on the topic of filmmaking. It’s this thing called A Guerilla Filmmakers Guide to After Effects. And it’s this course — I think it’s like $99, with a whole bunch of videos that you get access to, about how to use After Effects to develop visual effects for Indie projects.

It’s really well done. The sample video they have up there is Gareth Edwards who did Godzilla and Monsters and is now doing the new Gary Whitta Star Wars movie.

Craig: Gary Whitta.

John: Gary Whitta.

Craig: Gary Whitta.

John: It’s Gareth Edwards talking through doing the visual effects for this Attila the Hun movie he made and he did all the visual effects himself. And you’re literally seen his screen, you’re seeing After Effects and he’s narrating as he’s, you know, like a 40-minute lesson on sort of how he’s dealing with the timeline, the spreadsheet he’s built for himself for the work, how he’s composing these things.

And it’s just the little lesson I watched, it was basically he had to put I guess Constantinople on a hill, and so he had two shots that where handheld shots, a wide shot and the closer shot and like Constantinople had to be over there.

And so he’s doing motion tracking and figuring out like to get this city to land right in the distance. And it was just really, really cool. And so I think if you are a person who is looking to make films or honestly just kind would want to learn more of about how that stuff works, I thought it was just fascinating and really well done. So there will be a link to that in the show notes.

Craig: Excellent. Well, my One Cool Thing this week is a updated app for the New York Times crossword puzzle. I am a —

John: Now, you hate crossword puzzles.

Craig: [laughs] How dare you. I am an avid crossword puzzler. I’ve gotten my times down to a place where I promised my friend and New York Times crossword creator, David Kwong, that I will compete this fall in the crossword tournament here in Los Angeles.

John: Holy cow.

Craig: I’m not going to even come close to winning. I mean the scary thing is like the guys who have really, really good times, I just — I don’t even know how they fill the grid in that quickly. But they’re actually — I think they could beat me if I were just writing answers in that I had, you know.

John: You had the keys beside and you’re like filling it in.

Craig: Yeah, but I’m getting pretty good. Like I can now routinely do a Saturday, you know, around 20 minutes which —

John: That’s great.

Craig: Which is respectable. I mean, in the crossword puzzle world, maybe not so much. But I’m obsessed with the New York Times crossword puzzle. And they have a new app that actually is very nice. It’s very clean. The apps powering crossword puzzles have always been a little clunky and oldish. And the New York Times stepped it up. I mean, for instance, you couldn’t sync your puzzle across devices until today. And now you can.

John: Yeah, so it’s an app for iPad and for iPhone?

Craig: It is, yes. It is in iOS app that syncs between your iOS devices and also syncs with the desktop New York Times crossword site so that you can pick it up and do it wherever and it’ll keep track of your time and your answers. It is a subscription. I want to say it’s $30 for the year.

John: If you like crossword puzzles, it’s worth it.

Craig: Well, I mean, yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Of course it’s worth it. I mean, my god. Even, let me just say, even if you don’t like crossword puzzles, it’s worth it because you should start liking crossword puzzles, because if you’re a writer, it keeps your mind sharp. It’s words. It’s good for you. It’s just good brain stuff. I’ve got Missy Mazin working on crossword puzzles now. I’m very excited about that. You know that my wife used to be Missy.

John: I had no idea. But it makes sense, her name is Melissa, so yeah.

Craig: Right, so she was Missy and then after we started dating, like maybe a year before we got married, she’s like, you know what, I don’t want to be Missy anymore. I want to be Melissa now. It’s too juvenile. I want to be Melissa. And I was like, oh my god, I’ve got to actually change what I call my girlfriend. And I did. But lately I’ve been thinking that it’s time to bring Missy back.

John: Missy Mazin.

Craig: It’s just adorable.

John: Missy Mazin has pigtails though. She’s the not the woman I perceive.

Craig: She’s never had pigtails.

John: I just perceive her as being a Melissa. That happens.

Craig: All right. Well, let’s see what, maybe — let’s see if I can get this to catch on.

John: That is our show this week. So if you would like to learn more about the things we talked about on the show, there are show notes for every episode. They’re at johnaugust.com/scriptnotes. We are on iTunes. You may be listening to us through iTunes. If you are listening to us on the website, we would really love it if you’d actually subscribe in iTunes because that’s how more people find us and then we move up the charts. And, honestly, we’re a little competitive that way.

If you’re on iTunes anyway and want to listen —

Craig: You’re a little competitive.[laughs] I don’t. Let me just be clear to everybody out there. I actually don’t, I never look at the charts. Where are we on the charts?

John: We’re pretty good.

Craig: Oh really?

John: Yeah, we are good in that film and TV category. But we can be better. We’ve been better at other times.

Craig: Oh really.

John: That’s sort of why I’m bringing it up. And so it’s not that we have fewer listeners. We actually have a lot more listeners. Those stats are really, really good. It’s that when people don’t interact with us on iTunes, we drop. And so it’s people adding us on iTunes is what moves you up the charts.

Craig: All right, well then everybody you’ve got to add us on iTunes.

John: Just add us on iTunes. It’ll take three clicks.

Craig: I suddenly got competitive.

John: Yeah, yeah. You were the person who wants like to be below 20 minutes on a Saturday crossword puzzle. This matters.

Craig: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I get it.

John: It matters so much. [laughs]

Craig: I get it. I get it now.

John: And if you’re there and you want to leave us a comment, we love comments, that’s all really nice and good. We also have a Scriptnotes app for your iPhone and for your Android device. With that app you can access all our back episodes back to episode one is you want to. Subscriptions for the back episode are $1.99 a month. Pennies, for you. Less than — a year of that would less than a year of the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Craig: But not necessarily more valuable. Not to run us down. But boy, those crosswords are good.

John: Those crosswords are good. We have transcripts for every episode. So about got five days after an episode airs, we have transcripts for it. So if you need to go back and refer to something we said, you can always look for that, so just look for the original episode and there’s always a link to the transcript for that. It’s also how I Google to see what the hell we said. It’s been incredibly useful part of that.

Scriptnotes is produced by Stuart Friedel and is edited by Mathew Chilelli who this week also did the outro and it’s lovely. It uses a brand new woodwind sample library which is great.

Craig: Ooh, woodwinds.

John: And last reminder, if you would like Bronson Watermarker or Highland or Weekend Read, they’re all half off this week. So go for it. This is your week of bargains.

Craig: Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers!

John: Nicely done, Craig. Have a great week, Craig.

Craig: Bye.

John: Bye.

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