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

Craig and I were both in New York last week. We overlapped but we did not actually see each other in New York. But it was so nice to be back in the city. I had not been back since Big Fish had closed, so it had been a year and a half since I’d been there. It was wonderful to see the city in the sunshine. It was just a really fun week. Did you have a good time there?

Craig: I did. I always have a great time. Very humid.

John: It was. I kind of enjoyed it.

Craig: It was so humid. Oh my god, you walk outside and you’re already sweaty. But I did. I was there working but I also saw Fun Home which I would recommend to anyone within a day’s travel of New York to see. It’s so good. Everything about that show is good. Everything.

John: I was talking to a friend who’d seen it recently. I’ve not seen it yet, but he described how at the end he’s just like, “Oh wait, that’s the end? Oh my god, that was amazing!” Was that your experience?

Craig: Well, yeah, and also because they blow through. There’s no intermission, which I love.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And because the show doesn’t quite hit two hours. It’s like an hour and maybe 45.

It’s one of those things where you’re like, okay, sometimes you see a show and you’re like, “Well, I loved all the songs except these three,” or “I loved all the songs and those actors but not that one,” or “I loved all that stuff but then the set was really glum and everybody was moving around wherein it was hard to hear.” It’s in the round. Everyone’s around on top of it. Every actor is amazing. Every song is great. [laughs] All the lyrics are great, everything works. It’s just insane.

And there’s this girl, Sydney Lucas who plays — I mean the idea is that Alison Bechdel of the Bechdel test, it’s sort of the story of her life and how she grew up. And so there are three Alisons. There’s grownup Alison, and then there’s young, like 10-year Alison, and then there’s college age 18-year-old Alison. All of them were amazing. But the girl that plays 10-year-old Alison is kind of supernaturally good because I have a 10-year-old. I don’t understand how that — that kid is already better than everyone else on Broadway. It’s sick, it’s sick. I mean, not just singing and dancing, but her performance.

John: She did the Tony Awards, if I remember correctly. She sang that key song on the Tony Awards, didn’t she?

Craig: Yes. The, [sings] “ring, a ring, your ring of keys.” Yeah, amazing. And she’s 11 now, I think. Oh, yeah, over the hill. I honestly do believe that in 10 years, she’s just going to be running Broadway. Sick, so good. But an amazing show. So good. Michael Cerveris, very famous for Sweeney Todd among other things, incredible. Everybody’s incredible in it. Everybody.

John: So the only show I got to see this last time was a remarkable special occasion to see Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party. You got to see a special sneak rehearsal of The Wild Party, which was so great but we can’t really rave too much about it because it’s closed and no one’s ever going to get to see it because it was just a one-week engagement.

Craig: Right.

John: But one of my best times in this trip in New York was this random coffee that Andrew had set up with a friend of his. And without getting into too much detail about who she is and sort of what it was about, I find it so fascinating when you sit down with somebody who you fundamentally disagree with and you realize quite early in the conversation like, “Wow our overlap is so, so tiny.” But then when you realize it’s actually a very smart person, you can have these amazing conversations and sort of pull out bits of vocabulary that you would never encounter otherwise.

I find the same thing if I talk to like a really conservative Republican. You know, sometimes there’s that bristly feeling. But also, if they’re really smart, you sort of get this alternate worldview that is so enlightening and fascinating. One of the best hours of this whole trip was this weird coffee that was so uncomfortable at moments, but I found myself just recording, sort of, the phrases she was using to talk about things. Have you encountered that in your life?

Craig: I seek it out. One of the things that dismays me about modern culture is that there’s this desperation for consensus. And I love conflict. I mean, you know, not pointless conflict, but I love talking to people with whom I disagree because I do change my mind about things and I learn and I expand my view of the world. I mean, there are some things I’m set in. I just know I’m set in some things.

I don’t believe that homeopathic medicine works. I think it’s garbage. That’s just a fact for me at this point. But there are all sorts of wonderful things that people will say and I’ll go, “Wait, what?” And then we’ll have a great conversation. And like you, if I respect their intelligence, then I immediately have to give it a fair hearing and I have to really take it into consideration. I love that feeling.

John: Yeah. This was very much a homeopathy kind of conversation where our fundamental worldviews of how the universe functions were so divergent as to be like I live in this world and you live in Star Wars. But that can be kind of great because you just get to learn the terms that she uses to describe the universe she believes she lives in. And that can be great.

Craig: I’m just sensing that maybe like touchy feely spiritual energy?

John: Off-air I will send you the link to the website and you’ll be fascinated.

Craig: [laughs] Why did Andrew put you in this situation? Does he not know you?

John: I think he does know me. He knew that I would enjoy it and still chastise him for it.

Craig: Okay.

John: So, today on the program, we have one-and-a-half topics to talk through. The half topic is sort of a follow-up question about credits and which script the writing credit is based upon. And then we’re going to talk about reshoots which was the topic that we had meant to talk about last week. We ran out of time, so we’re going to dig deep into why movies have reshoots.

But first, we have some newsy kind of follow-upy kind of things. In our last episode, we talked about scene description. And a listener to the podcast, my husband Mike, asked a question. He didn’t have to write in because he could actually just asked the question. What is descriptive audio?

And he was watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and other shows like Daredevil have what’s called descriptive audio where they actually tell you sort of what’s happening on the screen. So if you’re visually impaired, if you’re blind, you know what’s happening. And his question was, where does that action come from? Are they —

Craig: Wait. If you’re blind?

John: If you’re blind.

Craig: How do you see it on the TV?

John: They say it aloud.

Craig: Oh, they say it. They’re describing it?

John: They’re describing what’s happening.

Craig: Wow, I had no idea there was a thing like that.

John: And I don’t honestly know very much about it. So I bring this up not to answer the question but really to ask the question because I have a strong suspicion that somebody who listens to this show will have the answer for who is responsible for doing descriptive audio for these kind of programs. What is the process? Are they looking at the script or are they looking at the finished product and just figuring out like what they need to actually say so the thing makes sense? I think it’s amazing that it exists. I think it’s potentially great.

So, this is really a question. It’s like sort of where does descriptive audio come from? And to what degree are they using the script to generate the descriptive audio or is it just a person whose job it is, sort of like the person who would do subtitles —

Craig: Right.

John: Except they do the audio descriptions.

Craig: Yeah, I’m so curious how they manage to do it when they’re dealing with dialogue. If it’s like a walk-and-talk and two people are talking and while they’re talking they’re doing something that’s sort of important, how do they kind of sneak in their description while the characters are talking?

John: Yeah. Someone will know the answer. So I —

Craig: Someone will know. Ryan Knighton might know.

John: Ryan Knighton, our blind screenwriter friend, might know. Might. Might not.

Craig: He’s the only one. He’s the only one we have. And by the way, he’s the only one we ever will have. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got room for one.

John: Yeah. Well, actually, he hires a team to go after any other blind writer who might consider going into the movie business.

Craig: That’s his thing.

John: That’s his thing.

Craig: Yeah.

John: There’s a great book that I almost adapted called The Ax. I think it’s by, it might be Donald Westlake. I’m trying to remember who wrote it. But basically, this guy is a specialist in one very esoteric kind of mechanical repair, I think. And he starts to realize that there are only like four people in the country who do what he does. He puts out an ad in the papers for this exact position and collects all the resumes. Then he goes off and kills them one by one.

Craig: That’s the blue collar version of Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which is also playing on Broadway, based on Kind Hearts and Coronets, where a guy is the ninth person in line to a great fortune and so he just goes about meeting all the people ahead of him on the list in his expanded family and bumping them off.

John: Yeah. That’s basically what Ryan Knighton does. So all these trips to Los Angeles which seemed like they are to take meetings and things, they were really just to kill people. Yeah.

Craig: To kill.

John: To kill. Also in last week’s episode, we were talking about the scene description from different movies and people really loved we went through that, so we should put that on the list to go through again to take a look at the actual scene description in movies that we love.

You and I had a disagreement about the script for Up and you thought that the single-line scene description was sort of — was not to your taste. A listener wrote in and said that he had seen an interview with Pete Docter where Pete Docter had singled out Walter Hill’s Alien script. That he loved it. And the Alien script did the same thing. And this reader was at least correct in the fact that the Walter Hill script for Alien does the same technique where it’s single lines to describe everything.

Craig: Yeah. And for whatever reason when I was looking at that, it felt a little more evocative and I could see what was going on. I found the Up script to be kind of cold. But I guess, the bigger point is that Pixar scripts are funny things. They kind of live side by side with enormous amounts of other work that is expanding.

I mean, I think in all animation, the screenplay is this funny thing that’s living in parallel to all this other support work. So you can kind of get away, I think, with a more sparse or even really Spartan style like that because you know that you also have reams and reams of story reels backing you up.

John: Absolutely. Everything in animation is a transitional state to get to that final rendered frame. And so, you know, the script is just, in many ways, is the precursor to what’s going to be the storyboards or what’s going to be the scratch reels. So, a different thing.

Next bit of news is Austin Film Festival. You and I are both planning to attend the Austin Film Festival this year.

Craig: Yes.

John: Begins October 29th. There will be a live Scriptnotes, very, very likely. There will also be other panels, probably even a Three Page Challenge. So if you’re considering going to Austin and this tips you in the favor of going to Austin, please come because we will be there and we look forward to seeing you guys there.

Craig: See you in the Driskill Bar or upstairs. You know what, maybe I’ll get you to smoke a cigar this time.

John: I will never smoke a cigar.

Craig: I think I can get you to do it.

John: Yeah. Enough peer pressure and Craig will get me to do it.

Craig: [laughs]

John: [laughs] Okay. Craig loves it when I get just a little bit drunk and happy. That’s his favorite moment.

Craig: I mean, well, you know, Austin John August is the best of all John Augusts.

John: Craig was not there last year, so I’m looking forward to having your return there. And it looks like we’re going to have other Scriptnotes friends and family. Kelly Marcel will likely be there, so please come and join us.

One thing you may want to consider is wearing a Scriptnotes t-shirt so we can know that you are a Scriptnotes listener. And which brings us to the next point which is that we are kind of sold out of Scriptnotes shirts. We actually need to make a new batch of shirts.

And so what we’d like to propose to our listeners is that I suspect we have some incredibly talented designers and artists among our listenership. And I think this time —

Craig: Ooh, this is a good idea.

John: I think this time through, we should let the listeners design the shirt. So just the same way that we have great musicians who do our outros, make a cool shirt. And so this will just be for the LOLs, for the giggles. But if you have a great idea for a Scriptnotes shirt and you want to draw it up and send it in, we would love to see it. And so let’s put a two-week deadline on people submitting in their ideas for Scriptnotes shirts. We will put up a page at johnaugust.com/shirt and you can see all the submission guidelines for sort of what we need.

Most of our shirts have been one color. We could maybe do two colors, if you can convince us that’s a good idea. If you have a certain idea for the color of shirt it should be on, that’s also great. I don’t know whether it’s going to be a thing where people are going to vote on it or just whether Craig and I are going to pick our favorites. But I think we’ll have a really cool shirt out of this whole process.

Craig: John, when you were in high school, middle school, did you have the burnout t-shirt with the one color except that the sleeves were the different color? You know, like those concert t-shirts? You know what I’m talking about?

John: I associate that with like a baseball jersey. It’s a different thing?

Craig: Well, it’s kind of, but you know, like if you had gone and seen Van Halen, their concert shirts were always — they would have like the different sleeve color with — I just remember thinking that they were cool, and that all the kids that smoked wore those and I wanted to wear them. No?

John: That’s why you started smoking, Craig.

Craig: I did.

John: And that’s why you started smoking on the podcast. And then it became an e-cigarette podcast. The people who have, for the 200 episodes now, they’re going to — somewhere in the 70s or 80s where like you could definitely hear Craig smoking.

Craig: Good. Good.

John: Good, because you know what? We’ve moved on, we’ve evolved. It’s good.

Craig: Good. Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, man. You know who likes smoking?

John: [laughs]

Craig: Sexy Craig. Sexy Craig likes a nice — you know what? I need a cigarette.

John: Sexy Craig is leaning against a brick wall, smoking a cigarette.

Craig: [laughs] He’s so cool, that guy. Oh, I wish I could be him.

John: He is basically Snoopy in a leather jacket.

Craig: Really? [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Craig: Yes, he’s Joe Cool. He’s Joe Cool.

John: He is Joe Cool. Have you seen the trailer for The Peanuts Movie?

Craig: I loved it. I don’t know about you. I thought it was awesome.

John: I kind of loved it, too. I had weirdly low expectations. And then I realized like, “Oh, you know what, I actually liked the ABC animated specials. And so like, well, why wouldn’t I like this?” And I thought they actually did a great job.

Craig: Well, it was funny because the visual aspect of it was kind of brilliant. I mean, obviously they said, “We want to not be 2D. Nobody makes 2D animated movies anymore. But we want to really be in the zone of the way those 2D — all those specials looked on television.” And they did it without being creepy. And everything sounded right. And I just thought it seemed very much in the tone of Peanuts. I actually think it’s going to be great. But, you know, I could be wrong. But I loved the trailer.

John: Yeah, I don’t know that it’s going to work because my daughter has no interest in Peanuts whatsoever. She has no understanding of it. So I wonder if it’s going to be able to connect really to this group of, you know, kids who see PG movies or G-rated movies, but maybe it will.

Craig: This terrible generation, you mean, of ingrates?

John: This terrible lost generation of Minecraft players.

Craig: Lost.

John: Lost. So, to wrap up t-shirts, just go to johnaugust.com/shirt. If you have an idea for a t-shirt and want to submit your t-shirt, I don’t honestly know what this page will say, but by the time this podcast comes out, we will put that up. This idea came to me about 45 minutes ago.

Craig: That’s good.

John: Let’s go to our topics. First off, this is a Craig topic. Craig, when we are determining credits for a screenplay, so when the Writers Guild arbitration comes through, what are we basing that determination on? Is it the script as shot or what’s actually up on the screen? What is the process here?

Craig: It’s a very good question. And it’s one, when we went through our big credits discussion, I failed to consider. And somebody on Twitter just asked it in a very — I thought it was a very kind of smart way, like, “Actually, do you watch the movie and base the credits on the movie? Do you do a transcript or was it the last — ?”

Here’s the way it works. The deal is that we all get what’s called the final shooting script, so that’s essentially the last printed screenplay. And when you’re in production, you know there may be lots of revisions and things. And maybe somebody comes and does one week of work at the very, very end. Well, their script is the final shooting script. And then the idea of credit arbitration is you go back and see, “Well, who contributed towards that final shooting script?”

The idea of the final shooting script is that it should represent the film on screen. But, of course, sometimes that’s not true. There are times when a final shooting script comes in, and it really doesn’t represent what’s on screen. Maybe the final shooting script is three hours and the film was three hours, but now it’s been cut down to an hour and a half. So, what do you do? How do you get some accurate sense?

Well, there is a little bit of a protection here. What our collective bargaining agreement says is that if, you know, when we get the notice of tentative writing credits, we also receive the “final shooting script.” Well, if any of the participating writers says, “This isn’t actually — this isn’t the movie,” then what can happen is the Guild can go back to the company and say, “Hey, can you give us a cutting continuity?”

And a cutting continuity is essentially, “Show me a list of scenes and how long they last in the movie in order.” And that document itself isn’t something that you give credit for, but it should help you vet the accuracy of the final shooting script, so that you don’t end up awarding credit to a document that doesn’t represent the movie. And that’s basically how we do it.

John: Now, in my experience as an arbiter and going through arbitrations, I’ve never had one of these situations come up. Have you had it come up?

Craig: It’s possible that you could, as an arbiter, receive both the final shooting script and the cutting continuity. But more often than not, if there’s a discrepancy, they’re going to go back and reissue a new final shooting script.

John: I see what you’re saying. So, they would take this continuity and then from that generate a script that shows omits for all the stuff that actually is not in the actual movie.

Craig: Right. The studio would have to do that. Or in the other direction, somebody could say, “Hey, the final shooting script doesn’t include like eight scenes that were, I don’t know, done on the day, but never written down,” or something like that, you know.

So, sometimes it’s additive. But no, as an arbiter, I’ve never been given anything to qualify the final shooting script. There is this quirky weird thing that the last writer is the final shooting script. I always found that odd. You know, like you have writer A, B, C, D, E. And writer E was just there for a week and it says, “Final shooting script writer E.” Well, that sounds very official and compelling. But, you know, the arbiters are pretty smart. We know to actually do the work and see who did what.

John: Absolutely. So, as we’re going through these A, B, C, D, Es, we’re only really looking for what did E actually change and how did the changes that she made really impact the movie overall, and is that enough of a change to merit either story or screenplay consideration.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So, this feels like a good segue into our big topic for today, which is reshoots. And so, often, an arbitration will come up, and this happened to me twice in arbitrations I’ve done, where the credit had been determined or they had started the process of determining credit, and they’d gone off and done reshoots. And because of the reshoots and new writing that had happened, they decided like, “You know what, we actually have to stop and look at this new material that’s going into the reshoots.”

So, let’s talk about what reshoots are, and why movies sometimes have reshoots. Because I think there’s a stigma attached to them, like a movie that has reshoots is in trouble. And in my experience, that’s not usually or necessarily the case. So, I’d love to sort of go through a bigger discussion of why movies have reshoots, what the writer’s role is in reshoots, and our own personal experiences in that.

Craig: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s a great topic. When you and I started, I think it would be fair to say that reshoots did have a bit of a stigma. At this point now, I don’t know of any movie that doesn’t have some sense of what they now just call additional photography because the process has become refined in a certain way. In the old days, I think a lot of movies avoided reshoots entirely. It was just like, “This is the movie and, you know, that’s the way it is.” And remember, we didn’t have a world of non-linear digital editing, so reediting things was really hard and cumbersome.

And when the movie was the movie, it was the movie. Reshoots were when things were disastrous. And plus, of course, they’re expensive. You’re reshooting a scene to make it better. You’re reshooting a scene because somebody stank in it. You’re reshooting a scene because you need a new scene. Nowadays, not so often the case, frankly. Yeah, there are movies in trouble that have additional photography. There are also movies that are scoring through the roof and audiences love them, and they have additional photography.

So, yeah, let’s go through all the different possibilities of why we end up shooting extra stuff after we’ve — and this is always after you’ve had a cut of the film, and almost always after you’ve screened it at least once for an audience.

John: Yeah. So, obviously, the first reason why you might reshoot something is because something went wrong. And so, either there’s actually some technical problem. In my first movie, Go, we literally lost some footage where it ended up being an insurance claim. But there was like camera damage and some of the footage was unusable. So we actually had to go back and reshoot something. That was an insurance day, and that was part of reshoots.

More likely, something went wrong and like something is just not working about the film. And you have made a decision that you’re going to shoot something new or reshoot a scene or recast an actor because something is not working, and it’s going to be worth your time and money to go back through and reshoot this to make the movie better. While not all reshoots are for something going wrong, it is still probably a principal reason for why you’re showing up there again.

Craig: Yeah. Sometimes it’s something’s gone wrong, and sometimes it’s something hasn’t gone quite as right as you think it could. And there’s all these little subdivisions of things going wrong. One thing that happens frequently is an issue of clarification. What goes wrong is that the filmmakers were hoping to be subtly engaging. They didn’t want to hit the audience over the head with stuff because that’s boring storytelling, so they were kind of doing the thing where they’re asking the audience to come along and discover things with them. And they miscalculated, and a large chunk of the audience has no idea what’s going on. They’re lost.

That is something that happens all the time, and sometimes in the smallest ways. But in the smallest way, you get into such trouble because people are confused, and you need an extra line or sometimes you need an extra scene.

John: Yeah. I mean, if you need an extra line, you will always try to find a way to throw it on somebody’s back so you don’t have to go shoot it all over. So when I say throwing it on somebody’s back, that’s literally like where you are looking at me, so you are on camera but I’m saying a line. And that is to clarify like, “Oh, this happened last night,” or “I just got the call from Martinez and we’re going down to the station.” That can be really hacky, but it’s often the easiest and simplest way to do that stuff.

In my experience, when you’re actually going through to shoot something new for clarification, it’s often because you cut something out of the movie. Maybe you realize like the movie is just too long and we need to cut out this little sequence, but there was important story points that were in that sequence. And so, you can’t cut it out because of the story points. So, what we can do, though, is have a replacement scene that does the job of what those three scenes did and gets us past that point.

Craig: Yes.

John: And so, as you’re editing, you’re like, okay, you’re literally putting like a piece of black there with type on it that says like, “New scene, something, something, something, something,” that does the job of what used to be there.

Craig: It is so frustrating when you’re in the editing room and you’ve got 10 minutes of stuff that you think should go. It’s not helping the movie. People don’t seem to enjoy it. It’s not working the way it’s supposed to, but you’re jammed because in the middle of it is this thing that they need to know. It’s a fact. And it can be so frustrating because you’re like, “Oh, I wish we could just hand out a pamphlet at the beginning of the movie saying this fact and then we wouldn’t need that stuff.”

So you’re right. In those moments, you sometimes add to take away. I’m going to shoot a 40-second walk-and-talk to replace 10 minutes of stuff. As you said, the first instinct of the producer in the studio is ADR.

So, ADR is our term for automatic dialogue replacement or sometimes you will hear it called looping. And that is when the actor can come in and record their voice and we just use the audio. And as John said, we’re looking at something else. So, two people look at a building, we cut to the building, and we hear them off-screen saying, “So, that’s where so and so shot blankity blank yesterday.”

It can be hacky. There’s a great Patton Oswalt bit where he’s hired to go work on an animated movie for a big company and they’re like, “Look, the animation’s all finished. It’s done. We’re just looking for extra jokes that we could throw in on audio.” And he just goes through this whole thing of how ridiculously hard that is. And kind of just go, “It’s just a folly to think that you could be funny with these weirdo lines just bombing in from nowhere.” [laughs] But they always think that that’s going to solve everything.

It rarely does. And if it does, it doesn’t solve it as effectively as shooting something to stitch things together.

John: I hosted a panel with the editors of the second Star Trek movie. And these women we were talking about how there was literally a shot they needed and they had already done the reshoots, they couldn’t do it. So they literally just pulled out their iPhones and shot it in like the corner of their office, like literally one little matching shot they needed.

And that’s sort of the visual equivalent of ADR. They needed this one shot and apparently it ended up in the movie. And it was a piece of crucial connective tissue. And a lot of times when you see reshoots scheduled you’ll see like all this sort of punch list of things they need, it’s because they need those tiny little pieces to make things fit together.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And sometimes it’s because there’s actually a happy reason why they want to do more photography. It’s because somebody who was in the movie is now a much bigger star. An example I think was Channing Tatum in the second G.I. Joe. He blew up and became a much bigger star after the first movie. And they’re like, “Let’s put more Channing Tatum in this movie.” And I think they probably had to pay him some more money to do that. But that’s a good reason to do it. You know, if you have a bigger star than you thought you did and there’s more stuff for him to do, you do it.

Craig: Yeah. Often, when you make deals with actors, it covers additional photography, pending their schedule. I mean, that’s the big thing. And the schedules become nightmarish because actors, they’re constantly going from movie to movie to movie. And you’d think, “Well, okay. We’ll just, you know, grab you on your day off.”

Well, first of all, no one ever thinks about these poor actors getting a day off. It’s like, “Well, if you have a day off, we’ll shove in another thing.” But the bigger problem is when they go to another movie, they cut their hair or they grow a beard. [laughs] Or they dye their hair or get a tattoo or something. Whatever it is that they do, it’s some kind of permanent change for that role and you’re stuck — you know, I remember we were really jammed because we had to shoot this one thing for the third Hangover movie and Bradley had already moved on to American Hustle and had started to grow his beard.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And we had to get rid of the beard because he doesn’t have a beard in the scene [laughs] because the scene is, you know, it’s just not there. And you can add a beard, you can’t take one away. So it was like a whole negotiation. Like, literally, getting a guy to shave becomes a negotiation between productions.

But you do find yourself in situations where you test a movie, you experience a movie with the audience, and you think they love this person, we need one more bit with that person. Or, like you said, maybe it’s calculation. They become a big star. But sometimes it’s just that they’re killing it in the movie, you know.

John: Absolutely. I’ve had the exact same situation where you need to reshoot with somebody and their hair is different. It’s going to be very, very challenging. My movie, The Nines, Ryan Reynolds plays three different characters and they all have vastly different hairstyles and different hair colors. And so we had two days of reshoots but he had to play bits of all three characters.

And so, I’m trying to find a way. It’s like, “So how do we make your hair blonde for one shot?” And it turns out there is that technology. There’s actually a gel you can put in that could, in a quick shot, will make you believe that it’s blonde hair. And so, it works in the movie. But somebody will win the Oscar for digital beard removal. And we’ll all be saved.

Craig: Well, trust me when I tell you, it was discussed. [laughs] There was a whole discussion of can you remove — I mean, because now, everyone’s first option is “Well, what can we do in a computer? I mean, can we take the computer and — “

John: Yeah, just put little tracking dots on his beard and they just paint it over.

Craig: I’m telling you, we had this [laughs] —

John: Of course you did.

Craig: Research was done and then concluded, “No. that’s not possible.”

John: But on to the topic of tracking dots, the death of Paul Walker and The Fast and the Furious movie was another example of you need to do massive reshoots and really retooling the whole story to accommodate what footage you had and what movie you could make out of what had already been filmed. And so that was a case where Chris Morgan and company had to stop and really look at sort of what is the movie now and how are we going to address this.

So, most cases, you’re not going to be having to deal with such a huge issue. But that’s the reality you live in, is that you are depending on these flesh and blood actors to be able to do these things. And if it’s not a death, like that’s sort of the worst case scenario, but it could be a pregnancy that makes it much more difficult for somebody to do something, or an injury. On Go, Sarah Polley had an injury that forced us to really restructure how we were filming some things.

Craig: This is maybe not a situation where people who dream of being screenwriters fantasize themselves being in. This doesn’t feel like the romanticized version of an artist writing the great American screenplay. But I will tell you, this is where the big boys and the big girls play.

There are times when large changes need to be made for a whole bunch of reasons. And in this case, it was tragedy, right? So, the movie star has passed away in the middle of production, what do you do? And once the powers that be make their decision about what the ultimate goal is, and in that case, it was to move forward and retool the movie, you have to sit down like a field marshal.

You have to take your artist hat off for a second and you have to sit down like a field marshal and look at what you have and start coming up with a plan to cut away the stuff that will no longer work under any circumstances, preserve what should be preserved, and then put your artist hat back on and imagine how you fill it all in in a way that makes it feel like it was always meant to be like this.

And so, people know because there was a big article that came out about how World War Z worked out. And there was big surgery on World War Z. And that stuff, that is advanced screenwriting 505, as far as I’m concerned. That’s when it gets really dicey and crazy, but also can be — well, it’s the closest we come to, like, mass unit surgery, you know, where there’s blood everywhere and no one seems to mind, you know.

John: Yes.

Craig: It can be exciting.

John: Let’s talk about what the writer’s role is because I think World War Z is the extreme example where, essentially, let’s make an entire new second half of the movie which was a huge change with new writers with Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard coming into really rethink what the whole ending was and they threw out, you know, an entire sequence which had already been filmed, versus most movies where hopefully the — a principal writer is the person who is writing the new stuff that needs to fit in there and what the function of that writer is.

Now, best case scenario, the writer has been involved through the whole production and has a sense of what was happening on the day. But often in my experience, being able to step back and not know about how the sausage was made is incredibly helpful when you’re looking at a cut and it’s just not working at all. And you get to sort of put on your storyteller hat again and recognize the movie wants to go here rather than where it is right now.

And you get to again like create solutions rather than just point out the problems. You could define like, well, if this thing did exist then we could go from here to there or, you know, quite often like that’s not where the movie wants to end. I know that’s, you know, I wrote this whole movie. I really had a vision for where it got to, but the movie you actually made doesn’t deliver me there. It actually delivers me over here. And that new place is a great place. So let’s make a new ending. And so often the ending is what you end up rewriting. Beginnings and endings get the most attention in reshoots.

Craig: Yeah. Beginnings and endings for sure. And endings really for sure. I mean I know also that Chris McQuarrie did a lot of work on World War Z, too. I mean the thing that essentially goes unsaid with a lot of this stuff is that if you get into a place where major surgery is required, there has been a disconnect, either the writing wasn’t really solid enough to begin with and the director has done his or her best job with it but there are huge problems.

Or, the director maybe has wandered away from what people liked about the screenplay. Somehow there’s a disconnect. And it has resulted in this — it’s rare that a writer and a director are both tight together, working as a tight team from start to finish and they deliver something that everybody goes, “No, there’s incoherent stretches and we got to” — you know, it’s usually because of a disconnect. Because two people have been making two different movies at once.

And then you throw in a star. And maybe the star —

John: Oh yeah.

Craig: And maybe the star wants to make a third different movie. Oh, this is how it happens, right? And when they bring the new writer in and it’s almost always somebody new, everyone — and this is where if you’ve ever been in this situation, and I’ve been in the situation, this is when you learn what the business really thinks of screenwriters.

We’ll get a lot of dismissive stuff. And we will complain when we’re not mentioned in news stories or when the New York Times does a review, doesn’t even mention the screenwriter’s name, any of that stuff, garbage, who cares. When they call you in and they say, “Our movie is dying and we need you to fix it,” and everybody looks at you, that’s when you find out the value of the screenwriter. That’s when you find out that the role of the screenwriter.

At that point, the screenwriter does become the architect of some new vision. And in part it’s because — look, directing is the hardest thing. I’ve said it before, a million times. Directing a movie is the hardest job in Hollywood. And when you are done directing a movie, you’re near death. Emotionally, sometimes physically, you are sick.

And then they come to you and they say, it’s not working. And it’s really not working and we need to do another two weeks of work or three weeks of work. You feel terrible and you feel lost. And you feel maybe there’s some shame, and tired, and confused. Somebody needs to put you on their back for a little bit to help. And it’s that screenwriter who comes in and kind of says, all right, let me be your hero for a little bit. And try and deliver what I would call the illusion that this was always meant to be this way. And it’s funny, you know. I loved World War Z. I loved it.

John: I loved it, too.

Craig: Yeah. And I remember watching it and thinking, okay, I want to try and find the spot. I want to see if I can find the scene because I knew that the bulk of the stuff was really the ending. And I wanted to see like, can I find the seam? And I was close but even the seam I thought was done so well, they really just did a great job. And that’s, I love that. I just love stories like that. They’re inspiring to those of us who practice the craft within the madness of the studio system.

John: Now, circling back to sort of why and when you bring in new writers. I think what would be important in that situation where things were clearly not going well with the film is that the new writer can look at sort of what is shot and has no baggage about what the intention was. He can only look at sort of like this is what we have, like these are all the Legos that you’ve given me. With these Legos, I can build this thing and we could add new Legos to build this whole bigger thing. What do you think of this movie that I could present to you?

And that’s really compelling. When Aline was on this last time, she was talking about the pilot that she and Rachel did and how it didn’t go at Showtime. And then they had this vision for like, you know what, we could actually do it as a broadcast show, but what we need to do is really rethink sort of how some stuff works and write new scenes. And what I loved about what they did is they just, they approached it kind of like a reshoot. They wrote all the stuff. And so like here’s what we shot. Here’s what the full thing will be. This is the vision for what it is. And that’s what reshoots are, is the chance to say, acknowledging this was the original intention. This is what the new intention can be and this is what the final product can look like.

Craig: It’s not fair in a way to the original writer because when you come in and you’ve seen half a movie and you know what works and you know what doesn’t, you have this remarkable head start. You have a clarity that the original writer could never possibly have. And it’s why, more often than not, the writers who come in and do that work will not receive credit. They kind of do it in the shadows. And I think that that’s appropriate for a lot of these situations. And it happens so much more often than people know because it is this massive leg up.

John: Let’s talk what the leg up is. This subsequent writer has the ability to see the performances, see the world, know exactly what did work and what doesn’t work. And so, when he’s writing new scenes, he knows not to go in those terrible pits because he knows that will just never work. He knows that like, that actor is just not — is the death of comedy.

Craig: Right.

John: So, don’t try to throw any comedy towards that actor. Let that guy be just the straight man. And knows that like the director has a great ability to do this kind of thing, but whatever you do, don’t throw this kind of thing at him. And that’s a huge advantage.

Craig: It’s huge. And especially when you’re talking about comedy, when you know what the biggest laugh in the movie is and then you have the ability to then write a call back to that laugh at the end of the movie, talk about an advantage over the poor guy that was just guessing the first time around, you know. So you’re standing on the shoulders of everybody that kind of got you maybe to the 70 yard line, you’re supposed to get it all the way, you get it all the away. 30, I should say 30 yard line. There is no 70 yard line, 30 yard line.

John: I guess you’re right. So let’s talk about our own movies and just quickly go through some of our own experiences. So I talked a little bit about Go. And in Go, we ended up reshooting the ending. And I think there’s a perception that is like, oh, because the ending wasn’t working. No, because we literally had no audio for a crucial scene. Our very first day of filming, somehow we ended up losing all of the audio. And so what used to happen at the end of Go is the guys who came to Vegas — the guys who went to Vegas, arrived back in Los Angeles. They were holed up in Simon’s apartment and expecting the guys from Vegas to show up and the guys ended up going over to Gaines’s house and it was a very different scene.

So basically, the guys in Vegas, they all paid off. And so we shot that scene, it was on the very first day, I remember cheering when like there’s a — we have a scene in the can. What I did not know is that the audio was lost forever. And so we had this silent scene that we were going to have to re-voice completely if we wanted to.

And it wasn’t really that great of a scene. It just didn’t turn out very well. And so when we needed to go back and reshoot stuff, I wrote the new scene where Simon goes to Gaines’s apartment which is a much better scene. Anyway, so I was happy that it resolved that way. But that was the bulk of the reshooting.

And the rest of it was just connective tissue. It was the, we needed a shot of Katie Holmes walking at one point to the get us from the rave to when she meets up at the restaurant. There were little tiny bits of things that on the day of shooting, you didn’t really believe you needed. But in the editing room, you found out you actually desperately needed.

Craig: That debate is my favorite. [laughs] When you’re on set, you’re constantly debating. Do we even need this? And there are times when you think as a writer, yeah, we need it because I wrote it and that’s how we saw it and then you’re like, oh, jeez, we really did not need that. But then there are those times where you know and you’re like, you guys, you’re applying the same kind of don’t need it test to this and I’m telling you, you need it, you need it.

And even if we don’t need it eventually, it will be only as a result of the audience proving to us we didn’t need it. We’ll never look at it in the cut and go, yeah for sure, we don’t need it. We should shoot it. And ideally, you will have that relationship where you can make the case, but sometimes you don’t. Sometimes reshoots are essentially making up for the times when the production ignored the script.

John: Absolutely true. And I will tell you that on several of the movies I’ve worked on, the best friend of the writer can be the editor whose watching the dailies and is whisperings to the director, you need this shot. You didn’t get the shot of this cutaway reaction and you desperately need it. And if you’re still in the same location, you will find that gets added to the end of the day’s work and it gets in there because the editor knows what she’s cutting and knows that she’s going to need that shot to make that scene work.

Craig: Yeah, there’s the work flow. The editors get this material at night. They go start looking through stuff and part of their job is to send a red alert to the producer if they think something crucial is missing. Not maybe artistically crucial, but just physically in terms of continuity crucial. And so you will sometimes get those, they feel like we blew it there. A lot of times what you’ll get is you shot that in the wrong — yeah, they were looking the wrong way. There’s a lot of stuff like that, you know, you get those things. It happens.

John: I should also clarify. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about on the show what inserts are. And so, in a weird way, I think we do less inserts now than we used to. Although they’re very common in television. Whenever you cut to like a prop sitting on a table or like somebody hand somebody something, that can be considered an insert where it’s not part of the principle photography, it’s like just a little small bit of action.

And in the old days, there used to be whole insert stages where they would film just those little bits of like that briefcase being handed off or that little shot or like that telephone ringing there. You don’t see that quite as much anymore, but inserts can be their own special little subunit. Sometimes the second unit will take care of that. On Go I did a lot of the inserts so literally like the money sliding under the door, that was my second unit was doing that but also little bits of reaction shots from other characters. So sometimes that will happen, those inserts will be shot during production. But inserts are often kind of added to the workflow of additional photography, those little bits and pieces that an editor needs to make a scene work.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So tell me about your movies.

Craig: Oh well, the stuff I did with Todd Phillips, we didn’t do much at all in terms of additional photography. I think in Hangover II, we didn’t do any. There’s one thing that got shot on a stage in LA and it just looked stagey. It didn’t look real, so we reshot in Bangkok, but it was still part of principal.

And in Hangover III, we had saved — we wanted to see the movie before we figured out like what to do in the last, last, tiny, tiny bit, the little coda bit, so we did. So it was always like a scheduled sort of thing that we knew was waiting there.

My big reshoot story was Scary Movie 3. And I was still pretty young and I had had a couple of movies made, they didn’t work in theaters. I was doing Scary Movie 3. I was scared [laughs]. I didn’t know what was really happening. The movie was done in an incredibly rushed fashion and Bob Weinstein, frankly, was being Bob Weinstein, which is a force of complete chaos and demanding things that, you know, in our defense, we warned him just would not work. And demanded script changes that we warned him would not work.

And they didn’t. And we had a — I mean some of it was also some of the stuff just didn’t work that we wanted. So we had this, just this thing. It was like this weird piece of Swiss cheese. And in a movie like that which is all about laughs, if it’s not funny, it’s not in the movie. And if it is, it is. That was it. So, we had like — I want to say we basically had about 55 minutes of movie.

John: [laughs] You’re doing great, Craig.

Craig: Yeah, we had 55 minutes of movie. We needed 75 minutes of movie and not including credits. And we had I think four weeks, four weeks. So, I remember I still have the documents somewhere. I put together a roadmap and it was basically, okay, in a day, I sat down and went here’s what we have that works. Here are the big things that are coming out. These are the gaps we have. Here’s a new story that will make sense of all that plus new scenes that will fit into those spots that will be better now that we know what we’ve seen.

Now, we’re going to write that and we did in a week. And now, we’re going to shoot it, and we did in 10 days. And all that stuff went in, all of it worked really well. And by the time it was done, the movie had gone from this 55-minute, what the hell is that, to this thing that played great in test screenings and then went on to be a hit. That was me growing up. I mean I was scared to death and I honestly thought that I was just basically sitting in Skylab while it was falling out of the sky. But I’ve never worked faster and harder. It was insane.

John: Tell me about the document you created there. So was it essentially a memo to the whole team saying like, this is where I think the new work is, basically like, there’s this scene and I think it’s just blocking out in sentences like what would happen in this intermediary scene?

Craig: I’ll see if I can dig it up and we’ll put it on the thing. Well, first of all, that was when I learned that all formalities go out the window when a movie is in trouble, all of them. All of the things that people are sticklers about, like don’t talk to them until you talk to me, but no, all of it, gone. Now, it’s literally, here’s the note to the whole everybody involved in this, everybody at the studio, everybody in the production, everybody. This is what we’re doing. We don’t have time to argue. We’re doing this. And either we’re going to have a movie if we do this or we can discuss it but not have a movie.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And so, it was this. And yeah, it was very much like a manifesto of how to — I mean and — and think about it, it’s like all that effort and manifesto [laughs] and battle plan for a movie that’s ridiculous.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Where every scene is ridiculous, like the silliest movie ever but, you know.

John: I was just going through my files and I found some of my old memos from that time. And I had forgotten that those were all faxed. Like I was faxing those things through — were you at email by Scary Movie 3, or was that still faxes?

Craig: It was both but Bob was completely fax. In fact, I have this memory of sitting in what my son’s room is now. So he was just a baby and he was off in a different room near my wife. And I’m in this room as my office. And it’s like, I think it’s midnight, my time. It’s 3 AM, New York, where Bob is. He’s still awake. And he’s having me send him pages for the new things. And so I’m faxing them. He’s reading them as they come out of the fax and giving me notes as he reads them. So, I’m getting notes while I’m faxing [laughs] in live. So sick.

John: Yeah, that’s familiar.

Craig: Faxing. I mean, God, can you believe it?

John: Just the sound of the fax machine connecting.

Craig: So we’re old.

John: We’re old. That’s basically what we’re telling you. There were these things called fax machines and you wouldn’t believe them. It sounds like technology from the future, but it was actually terrible.

Craig: Terrible, truly terrible.

John: Truly terrible. I talked a little bit about The Nines with Ryan’s hair color, but actually the bigger thing we ended up shooting with The Nines, we shot a new ending which is very costly when you do. Largely, that was because I sort of had a Channing Tatum in my movie which is Elle Fanning, who was great. And we’d cast Elle because she said yes. She was talented. But I’d written the role deliberately to be kind of actor-proof and so the character was mute, so I wouldn’t have to deal with a terrible child actor on the set. And then we ended up casting this brilliant child actor who could do so much more.

And so as we looked at the footage, it’s like, oh my God, she’s great. And I actually want much more Elle Fanning in the movie and, you know, her stuff with Ryan was great. Her stuff with Melissa was great. And so I wrote new stuff for her. So she was in three new scenes that were not part of the original script. And so we got this all in, in a day.

What is sometimes challenging about reshoots is it’s likely not the same crew that you had before, because that crew went off and they’re doing other movies just like actors are doing other movies. And so you assemble a brand new crew who has no idea what your movie is necessarily. It’s where you really recognize how important it is that all of your original crew takes really good notes. And so like our costume designers were fantastic and had everything marked and labeled exactly right so that we could put the right thing on the right actor at the right time.

So it was a whole new crew, a new DP doing this reshoot, but you wouldn’t know what was old and what was new. That’s the advantage of having these tremendously professional crews who can just do anything.

Craig: They’re really good at that. And they also know that they can’t leave behind a mess for the next people because often times, they’re the next people.

John: Exactly.

Craig: You know, so they all kind of move back and forth between, okay, I got a big movie or I’m not working right now and there’s a reshoot going for a week, I’ll go do that. They all rely on each other. You can’t survive in this business if you leave behind a mess and you’re unprofessional.

I will say that more often than not, when you’re doing additional photography, the same DP is there. That’s somewhat rare —

John: It’s unusual.

Craig: Yeah. But it does happen where they just get booked like that and they got to go.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And that’s a rough one.

John: So Nancy Schreiber, our DP, had a conversation with Matthew who took over and did this. And so they were able to talk through exactly the stocks, exactly the light, the look, you know, how everything should work. But she was off shooting another movie. And that’s how things go.

Craig: It happens.

John: As I say this, I’m realizing that I don’t think we necessarily talk enough on the show about how amazing crews are because we are a show about screenwriters, mostly. But the people who are making movies are these tremendously talented craftsmen and artisans and technicians who can do these ridiculously difficult things and make it seem really easy. So, I know we have listeners who are working below the line in all sorts of other capacities, but just I want a little shout out to them for all their ridiculously hard work in making these things possible.

Craig: I mean, if you don’t love the people who work so-called below the line, you’re an idiot. Because you forge relationships with them. I mean, there are certain — there’s a makeup artist that I’ve worked with, I don’t know, like three or four different times. There are hair people I see all the time. The same people — I see grips I know from god knows back when.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And then sometimes, I meet people — I remember I went in a meeting once. I think it was at Reese Witherspoon’s company and I met with her head of development. And she mentioned that she was married to a grip that I had worked with and that he liked me and that — you know, these things — people talk. They all know. If you’re a jerk on set, then you’re just bad. I mean, you have to take care of these people. Now I will say, there are times when there’s struggles on sets and you’re dealing with temperamental artists, at times. And below the line people are artists, too. I mean, especially when you’re talking about production designers and costume designers and — so things can get heated and sometimes, there are blowouts. And it happens.

But there has to be a level of respect underneath it. And I have enormous respect for everybody that shows up to do that job. I mean we’re all freaks, right? Everybody that works in show business is a freak.

Like, if you’re an electrician and you choose to do that instead of, you know, just go and get paid a whole bunch of money to fix people’s wires and circuit breakers, you’re a freak. But you’re my kind of freak. You’re the best freak. You’re somebody who wants to be in the show, you know. It’s like we’re all in all the big show. And you got to love those people. You have to. And you have to stand by them, you know.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: I’m a big defender. This stuff, like I’m a huge believer that there needs to be, like, proper turnarounds for crews because they are falling asleep, dead on their feet, on their way home. It’s really dangerous for them. I’m a huge supporter of anything that keeps production here, in our neighborhood, where people have come to make their livings, you know. I stand by my crews.

John: I do too. Well, let’s wrap up our conversation about reshoots.

So I think the take home from this should be is that reshooting is not a sign of distress or trouble, necessarily. It is a, I think, an increasingly common aspect of filmmaking. And I think, even over the last decade, more and more productions I’ve been going into have an anticipation that things will be reshot. That it’s not you have to get it right the very first time. There’s going to be things that you will discover along the way.

Digital technology probably has helped that. I think digital editing has helped that. But also just the sense that we know we can do it, so we will do it when we need to.

Craig: Exactly.

John: All right. Let’s get to One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is just a little blogpost article. It’s a conversation between Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro about genre. And I thought it was such a great conversation between two writers talking about what it’s like to be writing in a genre versus writing sort of traditional literary fiction. And the sort of artificial distinctions we make but also how reader expectation and critic expectation colors an appreciation of the work.

And so, as a person who writes in different genres, I thought it was just a really great discussion between two very talented writers.

Craig: Yeah. I had actually read that on my own. I should have made that my One Cool Thing at some point. It was a really good discussion that those guys had.

John: So there’ll be a link to that in the show notes. And I actually know your thing too because on this last trip I was going to challenge you in this game. So tell me how much you love this game.

Craig: Right. Well, I got two One Cool Things because I didn’t have one last week. So it’s called Capitals. And I give full credit to my friend, Peter Carlin, for turning me on to this one.

And it’s another word battle game. Basically, you’ve got like a honeycomb kind of grid laid out and each player has a little home base tile. And then, you’re trying to make words out of the letters that are in between you. And the more you can kind of take control of spaces by making words, you can protect your base and then you — you know, it’s pretty simple. You’re trying to take over the board. And if you can make a word around their home base, then you get an extra turn. And at that point, you just start to crush them.

It’s very similar to when you and I used to play — what was that game we used to play?

John: It was Letterpress.

Craig: Letterpress. It’s a very similar thing. So Peter and I have been playing this one game. He started a game with me. And it was like two weeks ago. We’re still playing it. It’s like such a — it’s like a war in Russia, it’s just going on and on. [laughs] And we’re like barely moving back and forth. It’s brutal, but fun. So, that’s Capitals. Definitely, iOS. Probably, Android. But I don’t care about Android and neither should you.

And then, my other One Cool Thing — so my Two Cool Things, is Bloom County is back.

John: I’m so excited for Bloom County.

Craig: I’m so excited now, because I have — one of the great joys of my life is having a friendship with Berkeley Breathed. I found out about this and I’m going to be just a clunky name dropper here, because he emailed me to tell me.

John: Aw.

Craig: I know. Very exciting. And it’s been — this is real Bloom County. So, he’s doing Bloom County again like the proper four-panel strip, black and white, and bringing all the old characters back. He did tell me — I guess I’ll just let this out of the bag that he might not go back to some of the — like Portnoy and Hodge-Podge where the talking — you know, so we had like a rabbit and he had a hedgehog or goffer, [laughs], I’m not quite sure what that guy was. Goffer?

Because he felt like talking animals, like casually talking animals used to be interesting. And now, everybody has casually talking animals. So we might not do them. He might just stick with Opus and the humans, but we’ll see. I have a feeling. I have a feeling they’ll all come back. And it’s like a being a kid again, because it’s — you can go back again.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s great. And the first strip was hysterical and they’ve all been really good since. And so, check it out. And so, if you want to — by the way, here’s the other thing, he’s distributing it on Facebook.

John: Great.

Craig: So if you just go to Berkeley Breathed’s page. You know, it’s not like you have to be his friend. It’s one of those pages that you can like. And then, he’ll show up in your feed and every day there will be a Bloom County.

John: That’s very, very nice. On Instagram, I think I posted this last week or a week before, the same — sort of digging through the files where I found these faxes I had sent back and forth to Dimension, I found my Bloom County that I had saved from when Bloom County closed, when the very last —

Craig: Ah, yes.

John: Sunday comic of Bloom County, which was ’99, I want to say.

Craig: The door, it’s like the open door and it’s Ronald-Ann or something like that, right? Isn’t that the last one?

John: No, no. The last one is like, it’s a beautiful day of snow. It’s like, let’s go have an adventure. So like, basically it’s —

Craig: Oh, wait. Oh, you’re talking about Calvin and Hobbes. I’m sorry. I thought you’re talking about the last Bloom County.

John: Oh, my God. I’ve been talking about Calvin and Hobbes. What am I doing?

Craig: I know why. I’ve been talking —

John: I want Calvin and Hobbes to come back.

Craig: [laughs] I thought you were talking about Bloom County because you said —

John: Yeah.

Craig: [Laughs] You were — that was the mistake I made. I trusted you.

John: That really was the — you trusted my words. So basically, I had nostalgia for the wrong thing. But I really do — I do know that there are two separate universes. I do know that Opus never talks to Calvin. But that crossover could be kind of great.

Craig: It actually would be kind of great. I know that Berkley is a huge admirer of Bill Watterson. I mean, everyone that works in the comic space is a huge admirer of Calvin and Hobbes and Bill Watterson, so —

John: You know, Craig Mazin, we have been so instrumental at connecting people. Maybe we can make this connection happen and make this crossover event occur.

Craig: [laughs] I’ll do my best. I’ll handle Berkley. You take on the other guy.

John: All right. [laughs] Bill Watterson?

Craig: Who’s a notorious reckless that talks to no one.

John: Here’s what I think it is. Somehow, I associated the recluse story of Bill Watterson with Berkeley Breathed. I conflated the two artists and sort of their — why they stopped doing their things. And so —

Craig: You know, it — there’s worse things than to be conflated with the man who made Calvin and Hobbes. I mean, that’s — I always think of like there are three great strips from my childhood and one of them I would just read because it was like vegetables and that was Doonesbury, which felt like eating vegetables. I never actually liked Doonesbury but I understood it was certainly a better quality and more interesting than, you know, Family Circus.

So I would read Doonesbury, sort of like as homework and then — but I loved Calvin and Hobbes and I loved Bloom County. Those were my, and the Far Side, those were just amazing.

John: Oh, right. They’re incredible. And of course, Cathy. There was actually a period in my life where I just loved Cathy.

Craig: [laughs]

John: But I was like eight. I was like, oh, it’s Cathy. It was like, I can very much relate to Cathy. She’s a bit, ack.

Craig: So Cathy, for those of you that never read it. It’s a strip about a woman with severe eating disorders.

John: [Laughs]

Craig: Severe eating disorders.

John: And body dysmorphia.

Craig: Body dysmorphia and fear of men and a sweating problem, constantly sweating. But most —

John: And a noncommittal boyfriend. Yeah.

Craig: Right, noncommittal boyfriend. But mostly, it was about an eating disorder. It was like a lot of the strips were like, oh, no, chocolate. Well, I guess I’ll be fat, you know. [laughs] It was horrible. Horrible. I mean, I didn’t enjoy Cathy. I’m just being honest. It just didn’t —

John: No, I outgrew my Cathy pretty quickly. But then I was dating a guy who still loved Cathy. And who was like 23 or 24, and just loved Cathy and had Cathy strips on his refrigerator.

Craig: Nope

John: Which was —

Craig: Nope.

John: A warning sign.

Craig: That’s a disqualifier. It’s what we call that. [laughs] You’re out.

John: It is a giant red flag. Oh, but, you know, I would still go for the crossover Cathy-Garfield. That feels really good.

Craig: Yeah. Like Garfield —

John: What if Cathy started dating Jon and then like it could be like the really vicious relationship between Cathy and Garfield and like fighting over lasagna.

Craig: Or both, kind of — again, Garfield having this weird eating disorder [laughs] issue. Like he’s, kind of — he would gorge and she would starve herself. I mean, really, there’s an amazing comic to be done where the two of them are actually in a clinic together, like a rehab center, just getting better and like learning how to just accept their bodies and their appetites and just being done very seriously. I would love to — that I would like to see.

John: Also in the show notes today, we’ll put Garfield Minus Garfield —

Craig: It’s the greatest.

John: Which I’m sure is the strip you’ve seen —

Craig: Yeah.

John: Which is just so great. It was just — the Garfield comic strip with him removed and so it’s just the other —

Craig: It’s just Jon.

John: Usually, Jon the owner, just talking to no one. That would be great.

Craig: [laughs] Sometimes he doesn’t say anything. Sometimes he just is tired looking for three panels and then the fourth panel, his eyes go really big. [laughs] It’s awesome. It’s so great.

John: [laughs] Good stuff.

Craig: Yup.

John: All right. So you can find that link and the links to almost everything else we talked about today in the show notes. Those are at johnaugust.com/podcast or johnaugust.com/scriptnotes. Those will both take you to the right place. You can subscribe to Scriptnotes on iTunes. Just search for Scriptnotes. There, you’ll also find the Scriptnotes app which will let you download all those back episodes. There’s also an app for Android. Our outro this week is written by —

Craig: Leon Schatz.

John: Leon Schatz. Leon Schatz, thank you for writing your great outro. It’s a very good summer kickback vibe.

As always, our show is produced by Stuart Friedel —

Craig: Yeah.

John: And it’s edited by Matthew Chilelli. If you have an idea for a Scriptnotes t-shirt, you should go to johnaugust.com/shirt and look through the instructions we have there for how to submit your shirt. I know there will be some Twitter hashtag that you can also apply to your image so that people can see what a genius artist you are.

I’m kind of excited to see what people do. I have a hunch we have really talented listeners who can make a really cool shirt.

Craig: No question. I know we do.

John: I know we do. Craig, enjoy the last bit of this vacation and I will see you next week.

Craig: See you next week, John.

John: Bye.

Links: