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 164 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Craig, we are here in your office for the second time ever.

Craig: Yeah, well, no, not second time for me. I’m here every day.

John: Right.

Craig: But we, together, are here for the second time ever and it’s auspicious because the last time we were here, one of our best podcasts ever, it was so good I actually remember the number. I think it’s podcast 99.

John: It’s episode 99.

Craig: Which was Dennis Palumbo who talked to all of us and healed us all with his words of wisdom. And we’re back again with a guest here in Old Town Pasadena that I’m very, very excited about. Somebody that I learned how to kill people with.

John: Oh, fantastic.

Craig: Yeah.

John: That’s great.

Craig: Yeah.

John: She is a writer. She’s a screenwriter from a movie that did relatively well this year.

Craig: Middling.

John: Middling.

Craig: Middling.

John: Yeah, called Guardians of the Galaxy.

Craig: Is that right, Guardians, I thought it was Guardians of the Galaxy.

John: I thought it was Guardians of Ga’Hoole, but I got it all confused.

Craig: [laughs] That definitely was not Guardians —

John: That was not the one.

Craig: You know the —

John: Well, I’ll ask her about that because that’s got to be frustrating along the way.

Craig: I have to assume that the people that did do Guardians of Ga’Hoole are like, oh my god, it was just like two syllables, that was it.

John: I wonder how people will have accidentally rented Guardians of Ga’Hoole and like, come on now, it’s available.

Craig: They went to Guardians of the G —

John: Natural.

Craig: A.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I’ve done enough.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Enter. Buy.

John: Buy, yeah.

Craig: Buy, purchase.

John: iTunes purchased.

Craig: So we are here with Nicole Perlman, the co-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy which was not only the big hit of the summer, it’s been basically the big hit of the entire calendar year. Nicole, welcome to our show.

Nicole Perlman: Thanks for having me, guys.

Craig: It’s our pleasure. So just to be clear again, you did not write the owl movie?

Nicole: I did not, no. I did not write that nor Masters of the Universe which is what my uncle calls it. And, you know, Masters of the Universe would be pretty fun. He-Man. She-Ra. That whole group.

Craig: I think they are doing that. I mean, you probably have a pretty good chance of writing that if you want to.

John: Absolutely.

Nicole: A friend of mine is writing that.

Craig: Oh, that will be fun when you stab them in the back.

Nicole: That’s right —

John: Yeah.

Craig: You can do stuff like that now.

Nicole: Guardians of the Galaxy and Masters of the Universe.

Craig: Okay, so Nicole, you and I met in the strangest circumstances. It was a few weeks ago and another screenwriter we know named Will Staples who works in movies but also in video games has gotten to know all these military guys because he works on the Call of Duty series. And so he put together a group to go up to the Angeles firing range or whatever it’s called and we were there with a bunch of military guys, active duty military guys, the nature of which we are not allowed to discuss. [laughs] And —

John: Well, it’s the Coast Guard clearly.

Nicole: [laughs]

Craig: It’s a little bit better than the Coast Guard.

John: All right then.

Craig: A little bit better than the Coast Guard. And we got to shoot guns that you’re not supposed to shoot and it was awesome. I mean, we shot all day. We were just firing weapons from 9 mm up to a — it was a 50 caliber Barrett.

Nicole: Barrett, yeah, Barrett KCAL.

John: So what is your favorite gun to shoot that you shot that day?

Nicole: Oh, I really liked this Israeli gun.

Craig: That was the one.

Nicole: It was called, what was it, Toval, something like that?

Craig: Something like that. It was —

Nicole: It was pretty cool.

Craig: They have figured it out. I mean, the Israelis, they were like… — What was so cool about that gun was they dispensed with the conventional gun wisdom. You know, so they’re like, you know, normally you’ve got your trigger sort of back by your shoulder and then your hands up here and they’re like, nah, all the weight should be kind of like upfront. So the trigger will be upfront.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And then it’s just a more natural way of doing it and it was…that gun was awesome.

Nicole: It was pretty awesome.

John: Do they teach you how to shoot sideways? That’s really the key.

Craig: They told you for sure to never do that [laughs].

John: Aw.

Nicole: That’s how they know that you’re faking it.

Craig: We learned a lot of cool things like for, and I know that we’re going to, trust me, everyone out there, we will get to Guardians of the Galaxy momentarily.

John: It’s not just a gun podcast.

Craig: It’s not just a gun show. But I learned a lot of things, I mean we both did. One of which I thought was fascinating was that movies get this wrong completely. We understand that when guys go to war, they have a machine gun, and then they go [machine gun sound]. And in fact, nobody does that. That’s a total, I mean, their weapons have a switch that enables that. They never use it because it’s basically just a way to lose all of your bullets instantly. So there’s no [machine gun sound], it’s always boom, boom.

John: You’re going to spray. You’re always —

Craig: You’re single shots, boom, boom, boom, boom. Yeah, we learned a lot of cool stuff from these guys. They’ve lived some impressive lives.

Nicole: Yeah. Also the idea of shooting a shotgun inside a car, from inside a moving car. It’s like it would burst your eardrums. It’s so loud.

Craig: I know.

Nicole: And every time now I’m watching television and I see something like that, I’m like just, god, where’s their ear protection, you know. [laughs]

Craig: Yeah, that’s right. Like people shoot in movies and then they talk to each other and you’d actually be shouting and you’d be in a lot of pain.

John: Yes. Whenever we had guns on set, they always give you the little earplugs because it’s incredibly loud. I just remember in Go, the first time we had guns being shot. And like, you have to put those things in because if we’re doing take after take, those blanks are loud.

Craig: Well, and by the way, the blanks are usually what they call a quarter load or half load.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But regular bullets like the kinds we were firing are full loads and, that’s right, Nicole and I were firing full loads all day into the dirt. This is a —

Nicole: Head shots, too. [laughs]

Craig: Yeah, head shots. We were firing full load head shots all day. But it was a treat to me that day not only because you’re a super nice person but because you happen to be in the middle of this incredibly exciting time and you’d achieved this incredible thing. So I know that you’ve done a lot of press and I assume there’s this — I could probably write the seven or eight questions that everybody asks, so I’m going to avoid asking any of those and then maybe John will ask some of them.

But I, of course, you know, we’re a screenwriting podcast. I’m always interested about how you go about this. And I’m going to start in the middle in a weird way. I know that you were working at Marvel and you were in their program and they basically said, “Hey, everybody, go through the library, find something.” You caught into this. And we’ll talk about that in a bit.

But I’m just fascinated by this immediate challenge because I always think about what would scare me. This is not like The Avengers where they’re bringing together a good amount of characters we know. We don’t know any of these people. There’s an enormous amount of exposition that has to occur not only for the world and the villains and the MacGuffin, but the heroes who then have to all meet each other and then you have to exposit the relationships that they all have. How did you go about getting your arms around that?

Nicole: Well, in a way, it was very freeing because the characters didn’t have a very established canon to them. I mean, they did, there’s plenty of comic books. But because they were such an obscure group of characters, there was a lot of freedom in terms of what to include and what not to include. We didn’t have to go too in-depth into any of the characters’ back stories. We just wanted to get the key sort of the important heart of where they were coming from without having to tell everyone’s lengthy story because there’s that sense that there’s time for that in the future.

But in terms of actually having to set up who these characters were, I saw it from the beginning as not an origin story of a single character or of all the characters. It was the origin story of a team.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: So it was less about where they had come from, except for the beginning on earth. And it was more about where they were now and how they were going to come together as a team. And that was really important and just having that freedom to do that and to try lots of different combinations.

I did so many drafts of this project where sometimes there were more expositions, sometimes there’s a little bit more on earth, sometimes there was less on earth. And in terms of Quill, like Quill’s character is completely different from how he is in the comics. That was really my, the contribution I feel proudest of was rebooting Quill completely. You know, he’s not a relic smuggler. He’s not this rakish fellow in the comics. He’s much more of a traditional leadership superhero character.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: So I thought it was important also to have him be relatable to earthlings, the toast earthlings, and have that background, that grounded background but also be fluent enough in the world of the universe that we were creating so that he could be our entry way into that.

So having to change the whole comic book background, I kind of threw all the traditional rules out the window of an origin story and I was like let’s just get into it and we’ll figure them out sort of as we go, give a little bit of heart to each character and then go from there.

John: So talk me through what it was like being in this Marvel writer program. So they bring you in and why did they pick you? How did you sort of get selected to be a part of this group of writers that they were working with?

Nicole: Sure. Well, I had sold a few projects and been doing some studio work primarily with subjects having to do with space or science or technology.

John: So you got a script from the Black List I saw and was that sort of what got you noticed the first time?

Nicole: Yes, that was part of this sort of whirlwind year that I had. I was living in New York and a script that I had written won the Sloan Grant with Tribeca Film Festival and —

Craig: Cool.

Nicole: It was the same one that got on the Black List and started getting me work. Actually, I was working before that happened but it was working non-WGA. It was very small production companies. But once that happened, I was able to start pitching studio level. I got my first agent. And that kick-started my career.

But because that was my sample and it was very technological and scientific, I was getting a lot of these sort of, you know, Sally Ride stuff and bio picks of various characters, the Neil Armstrong project at Universal, and that was fantastic, but there were — I think I did a Wright Brothers project for National Geographic Films.

Craig: A lot of aviation.

Nicole: A lot of aviation. A lot of NASA —

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: A lot of aviation, tons of, actually, another one too sort of based on the X Prize. So this was my world and while I loved it, I also wanted, you know, I wanted to do fun, colorful movies, larger scale, larger scope. And I would go out and pitch on these projects that usually were giant, fun projects with a little bit of science or technology. And they said, sure, let’s bring in this anomaly and see what she has to say. And a lot of times they would love my pitch but it was kind of like I didn’t have the sample, I didn’t have the experience.

So I was going to write a spec in this world and while I was working on that, I had a meeting with Marvel, a general meeting, and they said we’re going to do this random experiment and it’s going to be different from the Disney writing program and different from all the other ones that are out there, and would you like to join it.

John: So when you’re in this program, are you showing up to an office everyday and are you pitching what the things you want to do? Is there a person who’s in charge that you’re reporting to? What was it like?

Nicole: Well, it was interesting. First, I did it for two years. So the concept was you joined for one year and if they liked you and you liked them, you could come back for a second year. But it was a little unclear, unchartered territory for the first, I don’t know, seven or eight months that I was there because they didn’t really have anyone in charge of that program. It was just the producers on all the projects would choose a writer. And that would be sort of their pet, [laughs], you know, their pet writer who was on campus. We each had an office and we each had our project that we had chosen. And that was it. Like we were off on our own.

John: And are you being paid a weekly salary?

Nicole: Weekly salary, yeah.

Craig: And these arrangements fascinate me because, on the one hand, I think a lot of us get nervous when we feel like studios are doing things that are slightly throwbacky to the old days of the studio system where you have buildings full of writers and essentially everybody is working almost on a glorified salary but then something might emerge, something might not. But in this case, I have to say, your success has benefited you and them in such an extraordinary way. I assume that they are grateful.

I hope that they’re grateful. I mean —

Nicole: They’ve been incredibly nice and excited about the whole thing.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: I think it was a bit of a gamble because there were four or five other writers in the program who are all excellent writers. Everyone there had sold things, set things up. I hadn’t had anything produced at that point, although several of them have by now. The question is, it’s a bit of a Faustian deal because they own you. For two years I was off the radar. I wasn’t allowed to take meetings. I wasn’t allowed to pitch on anything.

Craig: Wow, really?

Nicole: And I also wasn’t allowed to spec anything. So I couldn’t work on my own spec without there being a little bit of a question of who owns it, you know. And so this was the —

Craig: Wow.

Nicole: This was sort of the deal.

Craig: That’s a little restrictive, I have to say. I mean, I get 9 to 5, you want to own me 9 to 5, but to say that I can’t have a general meeting with somebody or I can’t spec something, that’s pretty —

Nicole: I mean they were, if you met somebody for lunch or for coffee, it’s not like they’re going to come after you. But I think it was just you couldn’t… — What was the point of meeting with people if you were off the table?

Craig: True, yeah, true.

Nicole: You know, you couldn’t really do it. You couldn’t talk about what you were working on. I couldn’t even tell people what I was working on for the first, you know, couple of years.

Craig: Even if you wanted to, if you said, look, on the weekends or in the evenings I’d like to spec this romance between two men in the 1840s France, you know. It’s not really a Marvel movie. They would still be like, “Eh, it could be.” [laughs]

Nicole: Yeah. That’s the thing. There was an aspect to that where they had a first look deal. They had a first look at whatever you wrote for a year after Marvel. They would have the right to buy it.

Craig: Wow.

Nicole: And that was funny to me, if you’re not writing a superhero, then what is the point, you know.

Craig: Right, yeah.

Nicole: So I just sort of assumed, better to play it safe. And I’m glad that it all worked out because you can’t show the people who’ve worked on things there, it’s not really legal for them to show the scripts that they wrote for Marvel during that time period. I mean, maybe they can slip it to somebody but, so, you know, it’s a gamble. But I thought that for what I wanted from the program which was to get a bit of a pedigree in that regard and also go through what ended up being kind of like boot camp because they could have you do a million drafts if they wanted to.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: They had a special deal worked out with the WGA. But it was really not too oppressive. It wasn’t what people thought in terms of like the old MGM system. They just sort of said, you know, write your drafts and when they’re done, send them in and we’ll give you notes and then, you know, write some more drafts, sort of play around, send us some ideas. It wasn’t weekly meetings. It wasn’t like everybody sitting around and brainstorming together. It was very much —

Craig: You got to write your script. It wasn’t like when we first read about Amazon Studios and we both freaked out because like some guy in Kansas can suddenly start changing your script or something. It wasn’t like that. It was —

Nicole: No.

Craig: So you got your own —

Nicole: Yeah.

John: So you pitched Guardians of the Galaxy, the title which I wasn’t familiar with and probably wasn’t one of the marquee titles at Marvel at the time. What is your pitch as you’re describing it to your executive? How are you describing the movie that you think could be there? What were your words? What were your images? What were your references?

Nicole: And part of it was that I had a little bit of a — it was already pre-approved. They showed us, I mean, I could’ve made a real argument for Squirrel Girl if I wanted to do, if I wanted to drag some random project out of the vault. So it was a little bit of a pre-approved. So they already, I didn’t have to pitch them the idea of Guardians. They said Guardians was on the list of a bunch of different properties.

Craig: Ones that we would accept if you —

Nicole: That we would accept. And there was a little question of which version of Guardians because there was — it started in the late ’60s, early ’70s and it was very different. It was much more earnest and, you know, as it was back then. And so, you know, there were some cool elements of that. So I did pitch a version of that but I very quickly and with their blessing jettisoned that and went to the more modern group, which is tons of characters, by the way, and very little to do with the actual comic, from the 2008 comics were the ones —

John: So in pitching them, was something like the structure of the movie we ultimately see in which you’re meeting [Quinn] and then you’re introduced sort of one by one to the other people who are going to be, the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who come together to —

Nicole: I’m trying to remember what my original pitch was because there were so many, so many versions. I mean, so many versions of this project. I believe it was a two-hander at the very beginning between Quill and another character who I don’t know if they want me to say who that other character was. I did email them to ask and they haven’t responded. [laughs]

So I think the very earliest versions from like 2009, there was a two-hander element and then they meet up with everybody at the jail, at the prison. And that’s where they interact with everyone for the first time, except Gamora. Gamora was always, I believe, if I can remember correctly, Gamora was always somebody they interacted with on the planet where he tries to sell the Orb.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: So that is, I believe —

Craig: One of the four billion versions —

Nicole: One of the four billion versions.

Craig: Now, I’m always fascinated by it because there are movies where they necessarily go through the four billion versions. There are some where it’s kind of a straighter line, depending on the genre. But one thing that I always like to ask people is, what was the thing that you kind of had for a long time, at least that was there early on, that made it through? Because the process is such a churn, but there’s always something that makes it through that you love —

Nicole: Right.

Craig: Yeah, that really is like all about you and what you did and —

Nicole: Let’s see. So something that made it through a process of two and a half years, that list is small.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: There were things that made it through to the movie. There were things that almost made it through, that made it to the second to last draft —

Craig: Okay.

Nicole: Of mine and then didn’t make it through. I loved the, and I’m really glad they included it with Groot releasing the phosphorescent spores, I think that was in all of my drafts. I’m pretty sure it was in all of my drafts. And then Groot protecting the group and sacrificing himself as a cocoon that —

Craig: Which is kind of the heart of the movie. I mean, in a way, like I always feel like at some point with these movies, something comes along that goes beyond entertaining people. And very often, it is some new version of the Jesus story. I talk of Jesus all the time on this podcast and that is, you know, so there’s the Groot Jesus moment. But that is kind of where the movie sort of transcends and is about more than, you know, wacky space pirates.

Nicole: The animators did such an amazing job for that, too. I was really moved when I saw that.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: Just the combining of the leaves. Something about the leaves because I didn’t write the leaves into the script, the actual like making it soft and like a little nest. That little moment I thought just made it so much more thoughtful and beautiful. So anyway, I was happy with that.

Craig: Excellent.

John: Lindsay Doran, who’s a huge friend of the show, will often comment that, as an audience you’re rooting not really for the quarterback to throw the winning touchdown but for the quarterback to kiss his wife at the end. And that’s the emotional payoff that you have here in terms of Groot actually being sort of, making a sacrifice for this group is actually much more important than sort of the villain plot of the story ultimately ends up being.

Nicole: Oh, thank you.

John: So it was a really [joyous] moment.

Craig: The villain plot, let’s talk about the villain plot.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because I just still honestly have no idea what happened. But that’s very common with me. But at some point it seems like that’s almost part of the deal with Marvel. As I’ve been watching their movies is that they say, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to present to you a certain kind of soap opera. And it is soap opera to me at least, the way that their villains interact and, you know, infinity gems and people and planets and who’s some stepdaughter and so forth and all the rest.

And their ideas, they go, you know what, we’re going to present this to you and we’re taking it super seriously and either you’ve read a lot of these comics and you know exactly what we’re talking about or you don’t. Either way, you’ll get it. Like, you get what you need. I mean, was there ever a sense of that or did you struggle a little bit to go, well, hold on, there’s a certain amount of complexity here that might be zipping over people’s heads?

Nicole: Yes. You know, mine was a little more simple and streamlined in terms of how many subplots there were. The whole thing with Ronan, in my version, it was always Thanos. And they told as I was handing in my last draft, they said, listen, for the feature, we’ve decided to hold off on Thanos.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: Hold him for later because he’s such a great cosmic villain. I mean, he’s the best cosmic villain. So, just so you know, we’re going to find some other character to swap in basically for —

Craig: We’ll do a sub-Thanos.

Nicole: Right.

Craig: To kind of stand in, to hold Thanos. And this is something that you deal with at Marvel in a way that I don’t think you deal with anywhere else.

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: Because they have an orchestration to these movies. I mean, you know it’s funny, like remember when synergy became a word and it was like 1996 or something?

John: Yeah, I do.

Craig: And some idiot in a corporate building came up with this word synergy and everybody rolled their eyes. But Marvel is the only company that actually I think has true synergy between their movies. That’s an interesting constraint for you as a screenwriter to be beholden not only to what works for your movie but apparently for future movies yet untold by other people.

Nicole: Absolutely. And in a sense, I was really relieved that… — I think it was considered a bit of a long shot from the beginning that Guardians would even get made. And so there was none of this like, oh, let me, read all the scripts for the movies that are coming out so you can make sure that yours fits in in a very specific timeframe the way that, you know, Agents of Shield has to —

John: Exactly.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: Has to work with it. They said, write whatever you want, write, write it like —

John: [laughs]

Nicole: In its own bubble, have it be a standalone movie. Don’t worry about what Iron Man is doing. Don’t worry about the earth being blown up or, you know, aliens or whatever. They’re like, just —

Craig: Wing it.

Nicole: Wing it, do your own version far off and, you know, just be on earth for a little bit at the beginning and then go into space, which was very freeing for me. Of course, I also felt like there is no way this movie is ever getting made [laughs] if they told me that, you know.

Craig: I always feel like when you start on a movie and you go, there’s no way this movie is getting made, your chance of that movie getting made just skyrocketed. I believe that because it’s, again, you’re like well they have to make this movie. That’s when everybody goes, “Are we making this because we have to?”

John: Yeah.

Craig: “I mean, this feels like one of those.” And this movie obviously took everybody by surprise. When you looked at that list, what caught your eye? Why this fair maiden as opposed to the others?

Nicole: I think part of it is that I knew that there had been so many superhero films. And I love superhero films but I was attracted to the science fiction element of Guardians. It felt different from everything else in that you could take it to some really fun sci-fi places because you’re given a lot of leeway because these characters are not earth-based. And I wanted to play with the fun of that. I mean, having a talking tree and a talking raccoon and having this very wacky group is something that was different than the rest of the characters which were mostly, I think with a couple exceptions, they were mostly not groups that were offered. It was standalone characters.

Craig: Standalone characters. And there’s something about the standalone character in the Marvel universe that forces you into a repetition. Even in this movie, there’s a mom dying in the beginning. I mean, it seems like there’s always a jettisoning, an orphanage involved somehow. But for the individual, they struggle, they feel isolated from the world around them. And you see bits and pieces of that. You know, so you have a raccoon wondering why am I not like all the other raccoons or the other people. And you can see those bits and pieces but you’re right.

Like I love what you’re saying about science fiction is kind of a, I mean, as I met you and come to know you that there is — it’s a very Nicole-ish kind of thing. It’s like the infusion of the sci-fi aspect and the science-y aspect into it as opposed to what we’ve come to expect I think from Marvel generally which is it’s always like the science happens to somebody and then it’s forgotten. Like I got hit by gamma rays and, bump, grr.

People are going to yell at me again.

John: No.

Craig: Any time I talk about the Hulk, I get in so much trouble but, you know, I liked that this was like everybody was living in a science world, you know. I thought that was great.

Nicole: Yeah. I mean it is definitely elevated and fun. And I think that one of the things that I was thinking while I was working on it was that this is not anything like The Dark Knight trilogy. Like this is never going, it’s not what’s hip right now. It’s not what’s stylish. Like what’s stylish is really dark, grounded, very gritty stories. And this is not any of those things. There’s no way you could ever make Guardians like really dark. I mean, I guess you could but then it would be very —

Craig: I mean, it would be bad.

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: It would just be bad. I mean, I always feel like Nolan has found the exact right spirit of what makes Batman great and what makes DC great. And Whedon really found this like heart of something in Marvel that kind of — it’s just a little more chaotic and a little more anarchic and fun. You know, it’s lighter. I mean I like that that was the approach that you took. I mean, that’s why it works.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: Well, that’s one thing actually, come to think of it, that did make it through from the beginning through the end was all the ’80s references. That was something that was in all of my drafts.

Craig: Okay. Well, let’s talk about that because that really is, again, like when I think of Groot dying and then I think about the fact that this is a movie set in space with space creatures. Like many space creature movies we’ve seen, flying ships and battles and all the rest of it. But then, there’s this nostalgia for American ’80s —

Nicole: [laughs]

Craig: And earth ’80s. Why did you? Where did you come up with that to fuse that in there?

Nicole: Well, I think part of it was that I wanted Quill for all of his bluster to be homesick. I wanted him to be in a place where he’s on the other side of the universe. It’s something we’ve all felt, that feeling of missing home. And for him, the last items that he had were his childhood items. And we all have that nostalgia as well. But that was like where his experience with earth stopped.

So I just love the idea of being in this crazy other world and then having, you know, like a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robot and things like that. My toys were a little different. I also had Star Wars toys. And Star Wars toys were big.

Craig: Oh man, that would have been awesome.

John: Now they could have done it, yeah.

Craig: That would have been so cool.

John: Oh, but that deal closed earlier. They could have gotten —

Craig: Oh my god, it would have been so cool if like — I can just see him, you know, in his ship —

John: Now there’s synergy, yeah

Craig: And he’s floating and like a little Yoda goes flying by. It would be so great.

Nicole: [laughs] Yeah, and I had a Darth Vader figurine.

Craig: Okay, well you got to get them to do that. You got to get them.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I don’t know how now but —

John: I keep wanting to go back to sort of how you originally pitched it because you look at Star Wars and obviously you can’t make Guardians of the Galaxy without being aware of Star Wars. But rather than a Luke Skywalker character, you put a Han Solo character at the very center of the story.

Craig: That’s a really good point.

John: And so he feels like, or also Indiana Jones, he feels like he’s a Harrison Ford character rather than sort of the square All-American, you know, underdog good guy which is I think a really, you know, smart choice and not an obvious choice. I mean, it seems obvious now that the movie has made a bazillion dollars, but that couldn’t have been the easy obvious choice.

Nicole: Well, I remember having a conversation. I think it was with Nate Moore who was, after the first few months of the program he came on to be the shepherd of the program. And so things started running more on time once he got involved. But I remember having a conversation with him about the whole idea of a two-hander. I was like it’s just not as much fun to write the Luke Skywalker character. It’s a lot more fun to write the Han Solo character. And I was like, this is the freedom that the program did give, which was, all right, do a version with just Quill as the lead. And I was like, sweet, you know.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: So that was great. And there were versions that didn’t have Rocket because there was a fear that Rocket, early on, before, the very, very first few drafts, I wanted to put Rocket in and there was also a little bit of a fear that he would come across cartoony.

Craig: It’s too broad.

Nicole: It’s very broad.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: And so Kevin Feige fortunately was like, go ahead, do Rocket, like Rocket’s awesome. He was a big fan of Rocket. So it worked out and —

Craig: What’s interesting that what you’re describing about the program, it’s a double-edged sword because in the one hand, I could say, look, it’s tough for professional writers to be in a situation where essentially it’s open-ended and you can just write and write and write and never stop writing and you’re getting paid some amount, but it doesn’t expand or contract.

Nicole: Right.

Craig: On the other hand, it does provide a certain freedom. You know, when you are being paid per draft and you say I want to do one now that’s just like this. They’re going to be like, “Uh, we can’t really afford to fund your experiments,” you know.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Craig: So there is a certain, I mean I like that the… — I mean, look, it sounds to me like that program is spectacular if you’re Nicole Perlman and you write Guardians of the Galaxy.

Nicole: That’s right.

Craig: It’s a great, great program.

Nicole: It worked out really well.

Craig: If you’re not, I’m not sure it is a great program.

Nicole: Yes, yes.

Craig: But it sounds great for Nicole Perlman. That’s for sure.

Nicole: Well, the program was short-lived. The thing is it was only around for three-and-a-half years I think.

Craig: You’re kidding? It’s not there anymore?

John: Done.

Nicole: Not there anymore. And the reason is that Marvel only makes two movies a year, maybe three.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: And there’s a very good reason for that. I think that’s why their movies are high quality is because everything goes through a very specific bottleneck of Kevin Feige and the creative committee and everything gets approved by various levels. And if they were doing more movies, they would not have that much control over them.

So basically, with all the success of Avengers and Cap and all these properties that hadn’t — when they first came up with the idea for the program, they only had a couple of movies out.

Craig: I see.

Nicole: They didn’t know how successful their movies were going to be and how there were going to be all of these sequels.

Craig: There’s no room.

Nicole: There’s no room.

Craig: Because they have sequels now.

John: Yeah

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: They have, every one of these movies, there needs to be like — I mean how many Guardians are…? I assume —

Nicole: Tons.

Craig: Tons.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s not like it’s —

Nicole: Endless amounts of Guardians.

Craig: It should go on and on. And then there’s going to be side Guardians. Well, it’s like X-Men. I mean look how Fox has done it with.

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: Marvel is really just such an extensible universe more so than DC.

John: Yeah, it is crazy when you think about, you know, Marvel obviously has Marvel which is the Disney property now. But of course, they have the X-Men at Fox. They have Fantastic Four now at Fox.

Craig: At Fox.

John: They have the Spider-Man franchise —

Craig: At Sony.

John: At Sony.

Craig: Right.

John: Punisher I think is still, I don’t know if it got —

Craig: Poor Punisher. No one can make Punisher.

John: I think that got pulled back. I don’t know if it got pulled back —

Craig: You know why?

John: I don’t know if it got pulled back. Dare Devil got pulled back.

Craig: Because Punisher is a dick.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Again, I don’t know why we’re talking about comics because it just ends up blowing up in my face. But really what it comes down to is Punisher is not a good guy. It’s hard to root for Punisher. I mean I remember —

Nicole: Tragic.

Craig: Well, when I read… — Yes, he is tragic.

Craig: All I know Punisher is what I read when I was in like 1983 and the idea was that if you killed somebody, Punisher would kill you. But also if you like threw your garbage out on not garbage day, he would kill you. And I just thought like —

John: Yeah, his binary sort of sense of like —

Craig: Right. Like that’s not cool.

John: They’re not dead. Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, that’s not cool at all, man. You’re violating what we understand about the basic tenets of justice.

John: And Nicole on this podcast we often answer questions that readers would send in. And I’m wondering if you could answer some questions that they sent in. But we will all take a crack at some of these questions.

Nicole: Okay.

John: Are you ready to go, Craig?

Craig: No, but you should do it.

John: All right.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Craig, what was the, this is a question from Michael. What’s the worst movie idea you’ve ever been pitched by a producer or an executive?

Craig: I know exactly what it is.

John: Michael says, “I’m sure you’re going to hem and haw about not wanting to say. But come on, have some fun for once in your life.”

Craig: Hold on. I have fun all the time.

John: Yeah.

Craig: What’s this guy’s name?

John: Michael. Michael thinks we don’t have enough fun.

Craig: Michael, how dare you.

John: We started about how much it was to shoot guns.

Craig: I was literally shooting. We were firing 50 caliber rifles at watermelons.

Nicole: You don’t want to say Craig is no fun because he’s really good with guns.

Craig: Thank you. Exactly. I’m deadly. She saw me.

John: He’s a Punisher.

Nicole: He’s so much fun.

Craig: I got Punisher skills. All right, this was the worst I ever got pitched. I won’t say who pitched it, but I will say who it was for. And this person didn’t know. It was an idea an executive or a producer pitched me many, many years ago and he said, “This is going to be a great Adam Sandler movie.”

And I said, okay, and Adam Sandler had nothing to do with this. I just want to be clear. I don’t think he’s ever heard this probably. This was the idea. Adam Sandler plays a guy who works at a magazine. It’s kind of like a magazine that men read. And his boss is this legendary publisher. And he’s married to a woman who is in a building across the street. And she runs a magazine that’s for women.

So you have a magazine for men and magazine for women. Now, whoa, but if that were it? No. Sandler works for the guy, okay, and Sandler is a sexual harasser. That’s his thing. He’s constantly harassing women and he’s constantly being brought into the office like, Jimmy, how many times have I told you? “Well, I can’t help it. I got to grope ladies.”

Well, the husband who runs the magazine and the wife who runs the magazine, they’re going through a bad divorce.

John: Uh-oh.

Craig: And the husband wants to ruin the wife’s magazine. And he has a great idea. I know what I’ll do. I’ll send over Adam Sandler to work for her and he’ll just be sexually harassing all those people and that will somehow cause lawsuits and…

Okay, so Adam Sandler goes over there and sure enough, he starts to do his thing, but then what happens, and this is why this would be a great movie guys —

John: Body switch?

Craig: No. It’s, but there is a switch.

John: Yeah.

Craig: The women start to harass him.

John: Oh wow.

Craig: The women starts, the tables are turned. The women start all harassing him and he learns.

Nicole: What a life lesson.

Craig: Yes, he learns. And I’m just sitting there, like my meter of things that are wrong with this has broken. It stops at 999. It doesn’t go to a thousand. But I ran into 999 problems with that terrible idea.

John: And a pitch ain’t one.

Craig: Well done, John, a pitch ain’t one.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I got 999 problems and a pitch ain’t one. You just got your title for the podcast. That was the worst idea I’ve ever been pitched. I was aghast. Aghast.

John: My idea worst idea ever pitched to me, it’s sort of like a whole class of ideas because in my early career I was adapting a lot of kids’ books. And so people would come to me with kids’ books, like, hey adapt this kids’ book.

And I remember one of them one was a movie that’s come out like this week or something like that, Alexander and the Terrible, Not Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day.

Craig: Yeah. Horrible, Very Bad Day.

John: And so the movie that I actually see as a trailer, well, that’s how you would make that movie.

But they would just send me the book, and I was like but there’s nothing here. It’s just a kid that has a crappy day. And there was no movie there. But also things like, you know, it’s a friendship between like a mouse and a toad and it’s like five pages long. I’m like well, there’s not a movie here. I mean these are charming illustrations, but there’s actually no movie here.

And so it was, unlike Craig’s thing, which was a like a fully developed terrible idea, I would get sort of the like, well, here’s kind of a poster and —

Craig: Here’s an animal and another animal.

John: Exactly. And they could do something.

Craig: Right, but you fill it in.

John: Fill it in. It basically writes itself.

Craig: What about you? What’s —

Nicole: That is very, that is so common. I try to tell people that I’m always getting pitched stories with a straight face that aren’t stories.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: They’re just, so for example, my husband is an aquatic designer. So he designs water parks and swimming pools, like complex —

Craig: Your husband is so cool.

Nicole: He’s super cool.

Craig: That’s a real job?

Nicole: It’s a real job.

John: Oh man.

Craig: I thought that that was like a movie job that people have.

John: That’s a great movie job.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: So what I am always getting when I tell people that is, that’s a movie. And I said, what is the movie?

Craig: Yeah, where is the movie?

Nicole: They’re like, no, that’s a movie. That’s a movie. That’s Slip and Slide the movie.

Craig: Slip and Slide. [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Nicole: Water Parks, the movie. I’m like, you guys are just saying words now.

Craig: Those are nouns.

Nicole: Those were just nouns. Well, this is the other thing. The other one I was going to say wasn’t my story, but it’s a friend of mine who’s a TV writer. Told me that he was given a list of nouns that a producer sent him and just like random nouns that he thought would make a good movie.

Craig: Wow, yeah.

Nicole: And he said this isn’t a story. This isn’t a property. It’s a just a list of words. And his agent is like, “Look I’m sorry, but…”

And I actually talked to his agent and —

Craig: These words are hot right now.

Nicole: And she confirmed that this is a real story that, so it’s —

Craig: Wow.

Nicole: It was a list of nouns.

Craig: I once sat with a producer. I will not say who, but he is a legendary producer in many regards. And he, you know, you register titles with the MPAA. And one of the things that he would do is just come up with ideas for titles and register them, not to ever make the movie, but rather on the presumption that sooner or later, somebody would make a movie with that title and then have to pay him money, which had words.

And I remember one of things, and he goes, “You can do this if you want if you come up with an idea. One of the titles I own is Body Bag.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: I just, oh my god, that you sat there one day and went I know what to do. I’m going to fill out paperwork now to own the title Body Bag.

Nicole: Wow.

John: The second Charlie’s Angels was called Charlie’s Angels Forever, but that didn’t test well. And so TriStar, Sony TriStar had a list of names that they had either pre-cleared or basically had and said like we always wanted to make a movie called Full Throttle. So now it’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

Craig: Done.

John: Done.

Craig: Great. It’s better than Charlie’s Angels: Body Bag.

Nicole: [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Craig: Or Charlie’s Angels: Slip and Slide. No, Slip and Slide —

John: Yeah.

Nicole: That would be cool.

Craig: Hold on. My interest just went up.

John: Brandon in Houston wrote a question. His was, “You had an episode about the end of world a few weeks back. And that got me thinking. Everyone in the planet knows that Hollywood is the capital of the film industry, not just in the US, but worldwide. But what city is number two? Or put it another way, after the big one hits and the entire Greater LA area falls into the sea, where would the film industry rebuild?”

Craig: Where would I like it to be or where would it naturally be?

John: Where it would naturally fall?

Craig: New York, I would imagine, right?

John: Probably New York. I mean New York does a lot of TV. But you can’t shoot everything in New York.

Craig: Well, they do shoot a lot there. You need space. You need sound stages.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: You need tax breaks, too.

Craig: You need tax… — Well, we don’t have them here.

John: We don’t have them here. I wonder, Florida, maybe.

Craig: Oh god, please no.

Nicole: Florida has a good film program/film school down there. I know they do a lot of shooting.

Craig: It’s so hot.

John: It’s so hot.

Nicole: Detroit maybe because there’s all that empty space.

John: They have a lot of empty space in Detroit.

Craig: A lot of gun play though.

Nicole: That’s true. They need —

John: That’s a good plot. Like Detroit like conspires to cause an earthquake so they can take over the film industry.

Nicole: They need a new industry.

Craig: Here’s the truth, if Hollywood, and this is sad. It’s 2014, this is the way the economy works. If Hollywood were wiped off the map, the center of film production would likely be the Zengcheng Province of China.

John: Oh yeah.

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah. That’s where they’d do it.

Craig: That’s where the iPhones are built and that’s where you’d go.

John: Yeah, Australia maybe, too. I mean, Australia has some good film facilities. It’s too remote, though. It’s too remote from the American market.

Craig: I’d go there. I’d live there. It seems very nice. It’s basically Middle Earth as far I’m — that’s what I’ve been told.

John: That’s New Zealand, not Australia. They get really upset about that.

Craig: Oh no, I want to go to New Zealand. That’s right.

John: Okay.

Craig: Actually, I want to go to New Zealand. I want to live in Middle Earth.

Nicole: So the Shire is the new Hollywood.

Craig: The Shire. Every time someone says shire, I always think of —

John: Talia Shire?

Craig: No. I think of the Shire, I think of the actual shire, but then I think of one of the Ringwraiths. One of the nine, the Nazgul saying, [snarling sounds].

John: Kent writes, “You both mentioned that you feel like your IMDb page is a complete misrepresentation of you. And I have to say, I completely agree. For example, getting to know you both over 100 plus episodes, I can say that my impression is very different than what I would draw based on your credits. I’ve been so happy — “

Craig: Craig is not an idiot at all.

John: Exactly.

Craig: He’s not a blithering moron.

John: And Kent actually said some really nice things about both of us. But I’m going elide those from the podcast today.

Craig: Sure, sure.

John: Because you’ve already —

Craig: I pretty much, yeah.

John: “I’ve been so happy and ready to dismiss or pigeonhole a person once I’ve seen their IMDb page, which is pretty crappy for reasons I know. I wonder who’s behind my favorite or least favorite movies. I wonder if some folks are a little clever or more capable than I once thought. I’m in a tailspin here.”

So my question, and a question for you, Nicole, is you have Guardians of Galaxy as a producer credit. Do you have other producer credits?

Nicole: This is my first producer credit.

John: So it seems, so someone who would just like look you up, it’s like, well, she’s pretty lucky. She’s done exactly one thing. But you haven’t done one thing. And your IMDb credits page doesn’t really represent you. So if you could present yourself the way you would like to be seen, what would you say that you did?

Nicole: I could have the list of all my projects that didn’t get made, but that were sold or —

John: Yeah.

Nicole: Or that I was assigned to. You know, most of them are, again, space and science related. I had —

Craig: Aeronautical.

Nicole: Aeronautical.

John: Yes, exactly.

Nicole: Yeah, Challenger was my first script. Just go re-optioned, so maybe we’ll see what happens with that, which was a story about the Richard Feynman, his role in the investigation of The Challenger disaster and then I did a Neil Armstrong biopic for Universal. So I actually got to meet him and spend some time with him before he died. And have a project at Disney which is a sort of secret project, which I don’t think is going to get made, but that’s a science fiction project called Care Incognita. And a…oh, I’m like thinking for the list of dead projects. Oh, so painful.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: I totally ran an outlier called Kiss and Tango that was the first studio job I ever had. And I did work on Thor. I didn’t try for credit, but I did a lot of the geekery of that movie.

Craig: Which Thor?

Nicole: The first Thor.

Craig: First Thor.

Nicole: Yeah, first Thor. So that was one of the other sort of plus sides of the Marvel writing program is they can snatch you out of your office.

Craig: Do a little Thor work.

Nicole: Do some Thor work, which was cool. Oh god, what else? We did a whole bunch of stuff on there. But again, it’s sort of like do you want that stuff on there? Do you want it to — it’s the story that is most people who are at my beginning sort of stage are they have a lot of projects that don’t make it.

Craig: Right.

Nicole: Before they do.

Craig: That never goes away. You know, I understand that people will look at an IMDb page particularly if there are bunch of credits on it and say, okay, well, I understand who this person is. You don’t. I mean, what you understand is what projects they wrote that other people were willing to make.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s it. You don’t know what the projects were that they cared the most about. You don’t know what the projects were that they did the best work on. A lot of times, we of course do work on movies that are made but we’re not credited for it.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But regardless I guess I would say to, who asked this, Josh?

John: This was Kent.

Craig: Kent. I’d say, Kent, don’t judge anybody based on a stupid IMDb page anyway. It’s just that’s not who people are. That’s a facet of who they are and you just simply don’t know. And God, how many lessons do we have where we think we know what a kind of person is and then they eventually turn out to be this entirely different person artistically or creatively. We just see this other side of them.

I mean , you know, one my favorite example is George Takei. And we only think of George Takei now in a certain way. He’s this fascinating guy who’s full of life. He’s obviously a huge supporter of marriage equality, but more importantly he’s like the best example of what it means to be a cool, old man.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Craig: Right? But when I was a kid, he was just the fourth banana on Star Trek, you know, who had that one time he got to fence with his shirt off. But most of the time, it was just, you know, Sulu was the other guy, he was the guy. He didn’t matter, you know.

Nicole: Right.

Craig: And who would have thought anything? You just don’t know people from their credits. That’s not who we are as people, so stop it.

John: Yeah, it’s interesting because I’ve been hiring a new person to work for me. And when you look at real resumes, they actually fill in like sort of all the different jobs they have and you sort of see like the years and you sort of see where gaps are. But IMDb is sort of, it’s only showing these little bits that are sticking above the surface. You know, all the gaps sort of feel like, well, he wasn’t working at all during these times.

Craig: Right.

John: What Kent probably doesn’t know is that in the industry you actually do know what people were doing during all that other times. The agencies have all that information. And producers who are trying to hire you, they know what else you’ve been working on.

Craig: Right.

John: So there’s all that stuff is sort of silent and buried. Everyone else in the industry kind of does know what that stuff is. And so people will know that like, oh, he had a kick ass draft of that thing over there and didn’t get credit on it. But he’s good for that reason.

Craig: Right.

John: Or she has been super busy doing this thing. Or, you know, Nicole dropped off the radar for two years because she’s been in the Marvel writing program, but that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Nicole: Right.

Craig: They also know the future. And those of you who just look at the IMDb don’t. So they’ll know, okay, there’s four things this person has done that are all going.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And they are all of a certain kind of thing. So we know who this person is becoming.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So we know, okay, nobody at home knows who Nicole Perlman is and nobody at home has ever heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. But we know who she is and we know what Guardians of the Galaxy is and we know it’s going to be a big hit, so let’s start talking to her as soon as Marvel let’s her out of her indentured servitude.

Nicole: My basement —

Craig: Yeah, exactly.

John: Our last thing is actually someone had some really good news. And so Craig asked, if he could read it on the air. So this —

Craig: Oh yeah, this was very nice.

John: This is from Josh.

Craig: This is from Josh. Okay, so Josh wrote John and me and here is what he said. “Young writer here, I’ve been listening to the podcast for years since its inception probably. Even as I was going through film school listening to Scriptnotes was like the bonus course that I never had to pay for.”

Side note, we will always lose money.

“I had tremendous caring professors. The debt I owe them cannot be measured. But you guys provide an insight into the industry that aspiring writers can’t get anywhere else. I eagerly await the Tuesday mornings when your podcast is posted.

“I made the official move to LA from Chicago about a year ago. I got part time job working in an elementary school.” That’s nice. “Which gave me the hours and flexibility to write and just barely survive. Long story short, these past few months have been a whirlwind. I found representation, made it to the Nicholls finalist round and just sold my first project.”

John: Aw.

Nicole: Aw.

Craig: “So I just wanted to say, thanks, John and Craig.”

Well, thank you, Josh, for writing in. I mean it’s kind of cliché, but this is why we do it.

John: Yeah, it really is.

Craig: Yeah. You know, I mean we’re not… — I think that sometimes we’re talking to each other and sometimes we’re talking to our friends and people like you who’ve made it and have hit movies, but there’s still things we’re trying to figure out and always will be.

But obviously a lot of time we’re talking to people that are coming and we are well aware that the great majority of them will be washed away by the tides. But the ones who get through, you know, like those fish that manage to get on land and sprout little legs, I think it’s just great that they’ve been sort of following along with us all this time. And I love that this is how this works and I hope that Josh keeps going, you know. It’s exciting.

John: You had a script, your first script or the first script that people got to know you for showed up on the Black List. And that was the Black List which is the list of like the best live scripts, so not the site that you paid in, but people read your script, they loved your script. What was it like to get word that your script showed up on the Black List?

Nicole: Well, I was so new. I was, you know, I was only out of school for a little while. I thought it was a bad thing.

John: Oh no!

Nicole: So I was like, oh no.

Craig: You thought you were blacklisted.

Nicole: I’ve been blacklisted! I’m just starting. What did I do? Who did I piss off, you know?

Craig: That’s awesome.

Nicole: And my immediate thought was because there were some things in there that were slightly critical of NASA. I was like, oh god, NASA blacklisted me.

Craig: Awesome.

Nicole: And then I was assured, no, no, this was a good thing.

John: And what was the transition from sort of getting that notice to starting to get an agent and starting to get meetings, starting to get people talking about hiring you because you said you had done some non-WGA writing before then.

Nicole: Yeah. I had my first job before I had an agent. That was something that I had won some contests when I was in school and had a little blurb written up about me in Script Magazine, like a paragraph, you know.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: It was something very small and a company reached out to me and said, oh, you like science-y things and space things? Well, we have a space project. And I remember, I was working some like crap job and I got the call. And I came and I pitched on it and I got the call and they’re like, “We will pay you $11,000.” I’m like, oh my god!

Craig: So much money.

Nicole: So much money. I was like doing a silent dance at my desk, you know. And I was just —

Craig: Don’t forget that feeling by the way.

John: Oh absolutely.

Craig: You don’t forget that.

John: I know that feeling.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: I was so thrilled. And so then after I sent my paperwork. They’re like, so just so you know, we totally screwed you. So you should probably get an agent.

Craig: Oh my god. That’s like —

Nicole: They didn’t say it in that many words.

Craig: That’s like…thank you?

Nicole: But that was definitely the under current. And so they were actually very helpful. The director of development there knew an agent and set me up.

Craig: That’s sort of nice of them.

Nicole: Yeah, it was.

Craig: It was the second nicest thing they could have done.

Nicole: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.

John: It was the right thing to say and really bad timing.

Nicole: Right. Exactly.

Craig: Perfectly bad timing.

John: So one of the traditions on the podcast is we do a One Cool Thing and we’re talking about something that we really like this week. So I’m going to cheat and sort of do two but they’re kind of very closely related two things.

Craig: He’s a show up.

John: Such a show up. Well, they’re both examples of taking an existing movie or a couple of movies and looking at them in a complete different way. So the first is, and a bunch of people tweeted me this, Steven Soderbergh took Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Craig: I’m so glad you’re doing this so that they can stop sending the tweets.

John: So Soderbergh took Raiders of the Lost Ark and he took away all the color, made it black and white, took away all the sound and then put a Trent Reznor music underneath it. So you can actually look at it just as the compositions and the frame compositions. And it really is stunning and beautiful. It’s an incredibly well-made movie.

And you don’t think of it as being — all of what we think about the Raiders of the Lost Ark is sort of Indiana Jones and the character and the story and we had a whole podcast where we talked about Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it’s fascinating to watch it just as a pure visual experience. So I highly recommend that.

The second is this recut of Star Wars by the script called Auralnauts. I’m not even sure who they are. So what they did is they took the first three movies. So the bad three movies and —

Craig: You mean the prequels.

John: The prequels.

Craig: Right.

John: So they took the prequels and they revoiced them in sort of like a bad lips reading kind of way. They have new voices in them. But they actually just recut them completely for content. So this is about young Anakin Skywalker and his mentor who are just like these drunken frat boys who are getting in all sorts of trouble. And Jedis are sort of like, they’re like the idiots. They’re the frat boy idiots. And the Empire is actually just like they’re reasonable sort of like, you know, reasonable sort of middle management and it’s just hilariously done.

And so it’s an example of sort of taking —

Craig: I’m going to watch that.

Nicole: Yeah, me too.

John: Yeah, it’s great. So there’s three episodes so far. The same people did a video, you may have seen this last week, which is the final scene in what we think as Star War Episode IV.

Craig: Oh the ones who took the —

John: They took the John Williams music out the award scene.

Craig: It’s amazing. Yeah.

John: So the final scene in Star Wars where Leia is giving them their medals. So they walk down and the crowds part and she gives them all these things. Well, they took that same thing, but they just took the John Williams score out of it, so it’s just silent and then you hear creaks and —

Craig: And bad Foley of just like —

John: And you realize that it’s bizarre that no one is talking. I mean like —

Craig: Right.

John: Why is no one talking?

Nicole: Yeah.

Craig: Right.

John: And it’s really uncomfortable.

Craig: Because it was designed for music. And actually is in a weird way it was very comforting because I felt like, this is what happens when you shoot movies because you have this plan like and then we’re going to do this and it’s going to be this big thing with music and fanfare. And then you get in the editing room and you’re like, what have I done? This is the worst…what is this?

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, put some music on it, it’ll be okay. It will be okay. It will be okay.

John: John is working on something.

Craig: Yeah, John has nailed it. [hums] And you know, okay, we’re good again. But my god, it’s… — By the way, you also realize how long it is.

John: Yeah, it’s incredibly long.

Craig: It’s so long.

John: Yeah.

Craig: The Spielberg thing is great. He has just a genetic level ability to know where to put the camera and to know how to move people through it.

John: Yeah.

Craig: The frame. I mean just the very first shot, where the camera is is kind of odd, just this weird low angle, but it’s like perfect. And then the way he has bodies crossing through and then how he has people turning and looking back, like when what’s his face. Is it, throw me that, I’ll give you the whip…

John: Yeah, yeah, that first guy, yeah.

Craig: Yeah, when he looks back, he looks scared.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Then the next guy who eventually is revealed to be a rat, looks back, he’s angry. I’ve actually already learned everything. It’s a oner. It’s perfect. Oh, so good. So good. Who wants to go next? You want to go next?

Nicole: Sure.

Craig: Okay.

Nicole: So should I something that I think is awesome, just random thing that’s awesome or should I say something that’s cool and sort of helpful and on task?

Craig: It’s your choice.

John: It’s your choice.

Craig: You could do whatever you want.

John: It’s your Cool Thing.

Craig: This is your moment.

Nicole: This is my moment.

Craig: Yeah.

Nicole: Okay. Oh well, something cool and at the risk of sounding like I’m shilling for an organization that I’m involved with. There’s this thing called The Science & Entertainment Exchange which —

Craig: I just took advantage of them.

Nicole: Which is super cool and they love being taken advantage of repeatedly.

Craig: Yes.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: They are an organization that’s related to The National Academy of Sciences. And they basically exist primarily just to be a free service to connect filmmakers to scientists or 1-800-DIAL-A-SCIENTIST basically.

And so anybody who is making a movie or a television show or a web series and wants to have some expert help, it’s free. And they live to serve, so they will put you in touch with an expert in your branch of science. And it could be FBI profiling. It could be psychological. It doesn’t have to be straight up chemistry, you know, microbiology. But they will. And it’s volunteer. The scientists have contacted them because they want to help with their expertise.

So it doesn’t have to be a straight up, you know, obvious call. Man of Steel used the exchange for some of their consulting. So it’s a very, very great service. And the guy who runs it is a good friend of mine.

Craig: Very good. Good stuff. Well, my One Cool Thing is really more of a one scoldy thing this week. It’s a one nanny thing this week. My One Cool Thing this week two-step verification.

Nicole: Oh yes.

Craig: Which I know, it’s sort of like we’re in the ’70s and everyone is like, seatbelts? What? This is the seatbelt of today.

Two-step verification. I know it’s annoying. If you don’t what it is. Very simply, when you’re changing passwords or doing anything that involves the password of any sort of secure account, you can’t actually change it until you respond with a code that’s sent to another device that you’ve linked to your account like a phone. And that’s how they know it’s really you and not just some person testing passwords.

And as we saw in the last few weeks, people just went bananas hacking phones. That’s not going to stop if anything. It will just stop going. So every major email service, iCloud service and eCloud or rather cloud service has two-step verification. Turn it on and use it. It’s good for you and maybe also think carefully about what you have on your phone.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know, but two-step verification. Put your seatbelts on, guys.

John: I agree.

Nicole: Yeah.

John: Nicole Perlman, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. It was a tremendous delight.

Nicole: My pleasure. Thank you. It was fun to do it.

John: If you want to know more about Nicole and the things she talked about and all the other stuff that came up in the show today, you can go to the show notes, they are at johnaugust.com/podcast. You can find us on iTunes. Just search for Scriptnotes. While you’re there, leave us a comment. Craig, people left us new comments and they’re very nice.

Craig: Oh fantastic. I’ll check them out. I like to read nice things about myself.

John: [laughs] Exactly. Because it doesn’t happen in other places.

Craig: Oh, no. No.

John: No.

Craig: Not even in my house, usually. Yeah. Every now and then, one of the kids will come up and give me a random hug. I like that.

John: Yeah.

Nicole: It’s like the Deadline comments in my house.

Craig: Never read Deadline comments.

John: Never. No, never read below the fold.

Craig: Never read the comments.

John: You can listen to all the back episodes. This Episode 164. We have many, many back episodes through scriptnotes.net. You can find them all there. There’s also apps for iPhone and for Android so that you can listen to them.

The show is produced by Stuart Friedel.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yay. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli.

Craig: Woo, woo, woo.

John: Our outro this week comes from Rajesh Naroth who —

Craig: I don’t think you’re pronouncing that right. Where is that? Rajesh Naroth.

John: All right. Listen to what Craig said.

Craig: Yeah. But it could be Naroth. Rajesh Naroth.

John: Rajesh, thank you very much for a very cool outro. If you would like to send us an outro for the show, you can just send it to ask@johnaugust.com.

Craig: Yeah.

John: That’s also the great place to send long questions like some of the questions we read here today on the show. If they’re short things for me or for Craig, Craig is @clmazin. I am @johnaugust. Nicole, do you want people to tweet at you?

Nicole: Sure. I’m @uncannygirl.

John: @uncannygirl. And that’s our show this week.

Craig: Good Twitter handle.

John: Well done.

Craig: She is uncanny.

Nicole: But I don’t tweet that often. But I need to do more. There’s so much pressure.

Craig: You’re fine the way you are. You’re beautiful as God made you. Thanks for coming, Nicole.

John: Thank you so much.

Nicole: Thank you. I appreciate it.

John: Bye.

Craig: Bye.

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