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 211 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Today, we are going very international. We will look at how movies are translated, including an interview with a guy who does subtitles for a living. We’ll look at how Pixar and other companies are localizing movies for international audiences. And we’ll also look at what happens when China becomes the biggest movie market. And then at the very end, we’ll come back to Los Angeles for a look at the WGA elections and who we think you should be paying attention to.
Craig: This is quite a show.
John: A big, mostly international, show. Yes.
Craig: And John, you were just international yourself.
John: I was. I just got back to Los Angeles early this morning. I’m super, super jetlagged. So if I nod off at any point during the podcast, Craig will just take over and run it.
Craig: Is this like the middle of the night for you right now?
John: This is sort of a weird murky middle period. So we’re recording this at 1 PM, so the 5 PM nap hasn’t kicked in yet. But I still don’t feel quite normal at all.
Craig: Oh, this is the worst feeling in the world. It truly is the worst. I wish the earth would stop turning.
Craig: Because then we wouldn’t have this problem. The only issue then is, obviously, everyone would die instantly.
Craig: And even if we didn’t die instantly, half of the planet will be plunged in eternal darkness.
John: That wouldn’t be good at all.
John: But my vacation was fantastic. So I was in Ireland and France. I want to thank you, Craig, for recording two episodes in advance. So we actually stockpiled those two episodes.
John: Sorry to disappoint, spoil how the magic is made.
John: But, we backed up those two episodes and we had a great vacation with no Scriptnotes to be done.
Craig: Yeah, it was actually kind of nice to get a week off, so to speak. I understand now why, you know, like game shows, I think they record a whole week of game shows in a day or something.
Craig: I get it.
John: That’s how you do it.
Craig: Yeah. [laughs] It actually makes sense.
John: Yeah, totally. Yeah. Jeopardy!, everyone has to bring like four changes of clothes because they record through all the week’s episodes in a day. And come on, that’s a good life.
Craig: It’s not bad. Like Gene Rayburn who used to the Match Game — remember the Match Game?
John: I do remember the Match Game.
Craig: Match Game.
John: Man, we’re old.
Craig: We are old. Charles Nelson Reilly. Charles Nelson Reilly is a good one.
John: Yeah, he’s so good.
Craig: So Gene Rayburn was the host of the Match Game and he didn’t even live in Los Angeles. He would just fly in once every, I don’t know, two weeks and record two weeks of shows in like four hours and then go home.
John: I forget which actor it was. I mean, he was the dad in My Three Sons, but I don’t remember the actor’s name.
Craig: Fred MacMurray.
John: Fred MacMurray. So he was actually a movie star at the time. And so he would come in and film out the entire season in like a few days. So basically —
John: That’s why he’s always like in his office and the kids come in with a problem and he goes off. So he had no day-to-day involvement with the show. He just would film his scenes and then he would go off.
Craig: Well, that’s so good. Like back in the day, when they would script these television shows, the scripts were the scripts. That’s it. We’ve written the whole year, this is what we’re doing. You actors, you’re doing this exactly. So we can literally have a guy come in and just read the line, “Wow,” [laughs], from episode 23 and that’ll work, because that’s —
John: It’ll work fine.
Craig: Everyone’s doing what they’re — just follow the script. Ah, simpler days.
John: Simpler days. But we live in a more complicated time. So before we get to our international topics, let’s do some follow-up. First off, in the previous episode I said that we would have USB drives with the 200 episodes of Scriptnotes on them. They are here. They are in the store. And people are buying them. So thank you to everyone that’s buying one.
Craig: Right. Thank you.
John: If you would like all 200 episodes, the first 200 episodes of Scriptnotes on a USB drive, you can just go to store.johnaugust.com and we will send one in your direction.
Next up, T-shirts. So a bunch of people sent in designs for T-shirts. We had 45 entries for T-shirts and we’ve just started looking through them. And some of them are magnificent and some of them are silly jokes about Sexy Craig and random little things. But thank you to everyone who submitted one. And so, we’ll have news next week about what T-shirt design we’re going to go with. But I’ll also try to put up at least a couple of my favorites on the Facebook page because we never use our Facebook page, so it’s a good excuse for using the Facebook page.
Craig: One of them depicted me as enormously fat. What is the deal? Like, I don’t understand. Even at my fattest, I wasn’t that fat.
John: So Dustin Box, who works for me, had that same comment when I was showing him some of the T-shirts. I was like, “Why does everyone depict Craig as being super fat?”
John: And you —
Craig: I have a fat voice.
John: You have a fat voice, I guess.
Craig: Fat voice.
John: One of the illustrations I’ll put up has us as Ernie and Bert. And that’s actually kind of clever.
Craig: Yeah. That works. I get it.
John: You do look kind of like a little bit —
Craig: I have a round face. [laughs] I get it.
John: Here’s the reason why I think people perceive you as being fat is if you Google Image search Craig Mazin, one of the images that comes up is from your fatter days.
John: And you used to be a heavier person and so that’s the thing that the people are gravitating towards. And any sort of caricature is always going to, you know, hyperbolize some aspect of you —
John: And they’re choosing to make you obese.
Craig: That’s the reality in the age we live now is you can lose weight but you can’t really lose weight because Google [laughs] insists —
Craig: That you’re fat forever. No matter what. Or if you were once thin, I suppose, and maybe too thin and then you become a different weight, you’ll always be that person who’s scrawny. Yeah, basically, we are whatever the first image is. That’s it, forever.
Craig: Until we’re dead.
John: And I will say that I do not caricature well, either. So [laughs] in any of the illustrations that show me, I am some sort of either Skeletor creature.
John: Often my head becomes triangular, so I don’t know quite what that is.
Craig: Yeah. Basically, to draw you, it appears that people simply sketch a banana and then put two eyes on and an enormous mouth.
Craig: Like an endlessly long mouth. People are strange.
John: People are strange. I would love to see the real-life versions of these caricatures because they would be horrific freaks.
Craig: Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares.
John: That’s the joy.
Craig: You’re a nightmare freak.
John: [laughs] So if you would like some visuals to go with this description, you can at those on the Facebook page. So in a follow-up to today’s topics actually comes from episode 208. Way back then, Craig said —
Craig: There’s this other hidden job that I would love for you and I — you know what? I just had an idea, John. John, every now and then, I have an idea. So you write a movie, the movie gets made. And then we all know, the movie plays overseas. What we forget is that all across the world, in many, many, many countries, there are people whose job is to dub the movie.
Most American movies play overseas dubbed, I believe. I mean, you can probably find some subtitled versions, too. But the people who dub in the other languages, that’s a fascinating gig because they have to essentially do this really quickly. Sometimes, you know, with the way things are released, they maybe have two weeks to dub an entire movie.
And then, translation is a real art, you know, especially in comedy. You have a line, it’s a joke but it’s based on wordplay. How do you translate that? How does that make sense? I’d love to get somebody on who does that for a living to talk to them about how they go through the way the screenplay is showing through the movie and how they turn that into another language.
John: So, luckily, I know several people who do this for a living. So Craig, I was in Paris last week and I got a chance to sit down with my friend, Emmanuel Denizot, who does this for a living. So he is a professional subtitler. That is his whole job.
John: He used to work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He did Much Ado About Nothing for Joss Whedon as well. He did work on Sex and the City. He also had, I think, probably the most exhausting and terrifying job I could imagine, which is he had to do the subtitles for The Daily Show.
John: So for a while, The Daily Show was airing in France and they would have to do it the next — basically, they’d get it at night and it would have to go up the next morning.
Craig: Oh, my god. And it’s not like —
John: So they’d have to work all night.
Craig: And that’s really specific. It’s comedy. It’s fast. It’s dialogue. It’s overlapping, a lot of phrases that are idiosyncratic to English. That is a nightmare.
John: That was a nightmare job. So that one, he said that there was actually a whole team and they would basically get locked in a room. There’s one American guy who was there for like weird specific subtleties and things to try to make stuff make sense. But that sounds like a crazy person’s job.
John: But we want to talk about how movies are subtitled. And so I sat down with him and this is the interview I had with him.
So Manu, thank you so much for talking with us about subtitling and dubbing. So, tell us what it is you do.
Emmanuel Denizot: Well, thank you so much for asking me. My job is called subtitling. I’m a subtitler. It’s basically, whenever a foreign film, English language, an English language film, in my case is distributed over here in France, distributors need a version with subtitles for the audience to follow the film. So I get a phone call from a distributor asking me to write the subtitles for them.
John: Manu, what languages do you translate from and into?
Emmanuel: I translate mainly from English into French. I do the occasional German and Spanish-speaking films.
John: So can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on?
Emmanuel: Recently, I worked on Night at the Museum 3 for Fox. I worked on indie films showing at the Berlinale competition this year. It’s 45 Years by Andrew Haigh, and Victoria, a German film by Sebastian Schipper. I also worked on a new film by Sophie Barthes, a new version of Madame Bovary, the classic Flaubert novel. I only do subtitles. I never worked on the dubbing side of things. So I only work on the subtitles. Someone else will be doing the dubbing for these films.
John: In France, what percentage of movies are dubbed versus subtitled?
Emmanuel: In France, basically, if you’re talking about Hollywood films, they are all subtitled and dubbed, both. If you’re talking about indie, art-house films, they are going to be subtitled for sure and there might be a dubbed version. It’s the decision of the distributor, depending on what they think the following for the film can be.
John: Well, a mass market movie like Night at the Museum will always have to be dubbed because the kids will need to see it and the whole world needs to see it. In the U.S., we only really see movies that are subtitled. And the only movies we see that come from overseas tend to be those art-house movies. Is there any bias against subtitles or against dubbing for art-house films?
Emmanuel: Well, here in France, people are used to dubbed versions, to start with. The subtitled versions is more of a new trend. It started in the ’80s, I would say. Before the ’80s, it was subtitled but it was really an elite who would go and see these art-house films with subtitles. Most people would be watching films in French and watching them on TV. But it has changed a lot. And in the last 20 years in Paris, you’ll find more subtitled versions of films. Even of major films, Hollywood films, you’ll find a subtitled version rather than a French version, but there’s always a choice of both.
John: So for an individual movie, talk me through the process. Who hires you? Who calls you up and says, “We’d like you to do the subtitles for this film.”
Emmanuel: It’s the distributor, the French distributor. Say in case of the 20th Century Fox, they have the technical manager that will be in charge of the whole subtitling process. He will call me up. In a smaller company, a smaller distributor, they might not have a technical manager but they have like servicing or someone in charge. Same story.
John: And what is the first thing you do when you get the call to subtitle a film?
Emmanuel: Well, often we are asked to see the film. They’ll send us a copy. We discuss it over the phone. You know, because you might not want to do it for — most of the time, you feel you’re up to the task. But you know, depending what you like or your feelings, so we watch the film and then we call the client again and discuss it and we say, “Yeah, we’d like to go ahead with it.”
John: Do people request an individual subtitler? Like, are you known for doing a certain kind of thing? Or is there a person who’s really good with comedies, a person who’s really good with thrillers?
Emmanuel: It doesn’t work quite like that but, of course, just like any job, you know, if you’ve done a lot of comedies, you’ll be asked more comedies. If you’ve done a lot of dramas, you know, it kind of goes like this. But, I mean, I’ve sort of worked on all kinds of genres. But I’m specialized in indie films, rather. I don’t work much on the blockbusters at all. Really I work in art-house. But again, that’s because the clients, the distributors I work for, that’s what they specialize in as well.
John: So, you had a chance to look at the movie and what is the first process in doing your translation and doing the subtitles? Are you looking at a script or you’re just working off the film that they present you?
Emmanuel: After I watched the film, I get like a technical version of it with time codes. It goes via a lab. They’ll send me a proper copy. And I’ve got a professional software that I work on. And I also get a script, which in the case of Hollywood will be annotated, with lots of remarks and notes of interest. And then, yeah, so we’ve got a lot of material to work from and depending on the film, there’s all kind of research involved.
John: So you want to translate the dialogue. Are you going character by character, scene by scene or is it you’re doing a whole scene at once?
Emmanuel: Yeah. We do a whole scene at once, because it’s very linear for us because basically the film is edited. It’s finished. Well, most of the time. [laughs] So we work, yes, scene by scene, basically. I’ll work on a scene onto the next one.
John: So it’s not possible though to just take a line out of context, it has to be based on what the character before said and what the character is responding. There’s no machine possible translation to do this work?
Emmanuel: No. Hopefully, not. No [laughs]. No. Yeah, because it’s very much what you’ve written before, what you would be writing next. So everything is the length, the rhythm, the fluidity, it’s a writing process. You know, a proper one. So, yeah, it’s all very linear and it has to fit in.
John: Can you tell good subtitles from bad subtitles? What’s the difference?
Emmanuel: Well, the bad subtitles are the ones you’re going to see [laughs] bizarrely enough. The ones that you’re going to not understand right away, the ones that you’re going to wonder what it means, they’re going to be too long, it’s going to be tedious.
John: What is too long? How long can a person read? How many words can be onscreen at a time?
Emmanuel: They say we can read about 15 characters per second, something like that. So, it’s very little. We have very little space, which is the challenge. So this job is not just translating. That’s why there’s proper adaptation. We really re-write in the way that we try to remain faithful but we do have to re-write because of these space issues.
John: So this is a question from Craig. He asks, “Are there ever any jokes that simply refuse to be translated into something funny that fits in the moment? Like wordplay or American culture references? Do you ever just bail on a joke because there’s no equivalent and simply go for the line that conveys the original meaning but isn’t funny?”
Emmanuel: Jokes are always going to be the trickiest. Comedies are the trickiest in my job, definitely. Puns, you know, references, things that people won’t know about, so we won’t drop them. We might come up with something different. So, yes, there’s writing involved. We might take the liberty to totally drop the reference and change it. But it has to be funny. If the line is funny in the American version, it has to be in the French one. We work around it.
John: Are there any instances where you see a line of dialogue in the English version, you just have no idea what it’s actually supposed to mean?
Emmanuel: It has happened, I’m afraid [laughs]. Yeah, in that case, it’s easy enough. I mean, we can ask the distributor to contact someone. We try not to do it. Often, distributors don’t want to do this [laughs]. But if we have to, we will. But the first way, the easiest way is just to ask friends and, you know, and so I’ll email American friends and then ask around.
But often in other cases, they get back to me saying they haven’t got a clue. [laughs]
John: So in those situations, what is it about those lines of dialogue or is it just a weird reference or a joke? Do you think it was somebody’s improv that sort of only makes sense in the moment?
Emmanuel: Yeah, I think sometimes it’s improv and sometimes, you know, probably shouldn’t have stayed in the edit. It’s there and I don’t know [laughs] what kinds of things happened on the film.
John: This is a question from Craig. How do you deal with lines that are specifically about English pronunciation? For example, in The Hangover, Alan pronounces the word retard as retard. What do you do with moments like that? Would you mangle the pronunciation of the French word and hope it works in a similar fashion?
Emmanuel: Yeah, that’s the sort of example that I say there’s no subtitles for that. Yeah, if it’s something on the pronunciations, there’s no way in the writing process you can render that. It’s very difficult.
There was a film many, many years ago I worked on called Puccini for Beginners and there was a running gag on the word [BLEEP] and Kant and the philosopher. And there was like three or four subtitles involved for me when she was playing on that misunderstanding of the two. And I worked my way around it eventually. But you can’t just, you know, it’s very difficult to find a way.
John: So you’re using this specialized software and it’s already time coded, so you know you have to put in this line and this line. And once you have that whole thing done, who takes a look at it next? What’s next step in the process?
Emmanuel: Once I’ve written my list of subtitles, when I’m finished, we go to a lab. There is a proofreader there hired by the lab, a professional checker. And the client will be present as well. And plus there might be the producer, there might be the director, whoever wants to — involved in the film wants to be there can be there of course. So sometimes there are six of us in the room. But often enough, it’s like three or four.
And we go through it for a whole day. At least a half day we go through every scene. We go through the whole film, you know, step by step. And we discuss the subtitles, what’s meant, why is this reference there, you know, why couldn’t I fit in that word, you know? This pronunciation, what did I do with it. Every little detail would be scrutinized and discussed with the client, explaining my own decision, my own choices.
John: Are there ever moments where you have to change a character’s name or refer to somebody in a different way because you’re writing it out?
Emmanuel: Yeah, it can happen. It can happen. It will happen more often in the dubbing process. But in subtitling, it’s very unusual. But it might be for reasons of the story or a joke, you know, that’s involved. Anything is possible. I mean, anything goes.
John: So, from the time you’ve gotten the call to start something to — you’ve had it on your computer, you’ve gone through it, how long does it take you to actually do subtitles for one movie before it gets to the client?
Emmanuel: We’re given two to three weeks. [laughs] Madame Bovary, you know, I got six weeks. But the average is three weeks, two to three weeks.
John: For a giant movie like Night at the Museum 3, was there less time or more time?
Emmanuel: We had three weeks but there were two of us. There were two writers.
John: And do you just divide the movie up in half and each of you takes half?
John: And you check each other’s work?
Emmanuel: Yeah, exactly. We worked on one hour each. And then we put everything in common and worked together for three days.
John: So it seems like there’s a lot of writing involved in this. Is subtitling a good job for an aspiring filmmaker or does it burn a hole in your brain? It just feels like it could be both great and also incredibly exhausting.
Emmanuel: Yeah. I think it’s very different from filmmaking. It’s a totally different job. I mean, I’ve heard of filmmakers that had a go with it. I don’t think it’s a way into filmmaking anyway. It can be a way of making some money but it’s not that easy anyway to get the gig to start with. Subtitling is a small world, too. [laughs] There are few of us and there’s enough of us to do the work.
And, yeah, it’s a job anyway. You can’t just improvise it, you know. It’s technique and it’s know-how and you have to go through many years of writing to get the hang of it and to be good at it.
John: How did you get your first job doing subtitles?
Emmanuel: My very first job was for a channel called TCM, Turner Classic Movies. And it was in London via a laboratory specialized technical lab.
John: And do you take a test for it or how do you get the job?
Emmanuel: I’d worked for Disney on a TV program so they’d seen my work on TV. So, no, the first film was like a test and then they hired me again, basically.
John: One last bonus question. What do you do with songs? Are you responsible for finding translations for all the songs? And are you trying to create a rhyme as you’re doing that?
Emmanuel: Yeah. I love doing songs. [laughs]. Yeah, again, Hollywood, Hindi is going to be different. Hollywood’s, I’ve never worked on songs for Hollywood but I heard stories from friends, many friends who are working on musicals. It varies.
Sometimes, Hollywood will input someone else just for the songs. But most of time, you know, it’s the same subtitler. And it’s a lot of work, and it’s a different job, and we love it, you know, because it’s like, you know, full-on writing process, adaptation, rewriting totally. And we do rhyme and we do work hard to try and get the rhythm and something nice.
John: Great. Manu, thank you so much for talking with us.
Emmanuel: Well, thank you so much for asking me. It was great. Thanks.
John: So Craig, that’s a look at subtitles. And so, what I found fascinating to hear Manu talking about was the difference between subtitling and dubbing, that they’re really completely separate departments. I went out for drinks with him afterwards and he said that there are some cases where the dubbers and the subtitlers will talk to each other basically to agree on the names for things or sort of how they’re handling things.
John: A lot of times, the subtitles are done before the dubs are done. So they’ll sort of compare their scripts. But dubbing has its own special challenges. In some cases, they will completely change a character’s name so it’ll fit a character’s mouth better. So they’ll make big changes. Like the name of a city will change because it’ll fit in someone else’s mouth better.
What he’s doing for subtitles is trying to be much more literal to what the words were that were spoken. And that’s what he really sees his job as being.
Craig: Well, it was a really good interview and I learned a lot. And my big surprise was how, at least in France, the culture, the foreign film culture was really all about dubbing until he says about 20 years ago when things start to change and subtitles become more important. But prior to that, subtitles were seen as essentially for the elite.
And, you know, of course from my point of view, I just figured that French people being more enlightened about everything from cinema to cheese would have insisted on subtitles because there is a sense that subtitles are better because they are more accurate. I’m not sure that that really is the case. It was interesting to hear him describe how both have their pluses and minuses. But that surprised me and it was really interesting to hear that.
So great perspective from somebody who does the job. And it does sound like it’s a fairly small monkhood of specialized geniuses who do this stuff.
John: Absolutely. And just as when we had Alice on talking about how descriptive audio for the blind works, there are certain people who will be picked for specific jobs. And so, sometimes the client will say, “We really want him to do it because he thinks he’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to really, you know, be able to create the subtitles that we want for this movie.” And sometimes they will be picked individually by name.
An example being Much Ado About Nothing. And so he said like, “Oh, I did the subtitles for that.” I’m like, “Well, that must’ve been the world’s easiest job because it’s an existing play. They did the play. Like how hard could that be?” And he said it was his equivalent of Inland Empire where it seems like it should be so simple and then you actually get into it and you’re trying to adapt this Shakespearean dialogue and have a rhythm and a meter and a rhyme to it.
John: And while there are existing translations of those plays, it’s not necessarily going to fit what is actually showing up on the screen. And so that was the case —
Craig: That’s a really messy situation. I mean, translating Shakespeare is hard enough. Now you’re translating it to fit people saying it? Yeesh.
John: Yeesh. So that was a particularly big challenge. He said though, one of the things he loves to do is when there are songs because they will try to make the subtitles work with both the content, you know, the meaning of the song, but also have its own rhyme and its own meter because people will, even as they’re reading, will try to sort of create a songlike feel to it.
And so, they’re hearing the song being sung, you want the words that show up below to both convey the meaning but also feel like they are song words. And so those are things that take longer. So while he might usually have three weeks to do a job, in some cases, like Much Ado About Nothing or something with a lot of songs in it, the time expands because you’re having to do really difficult things.
Craig: You know what’s interesting is that you and I obsess over our screenplays and then, presuming that we’re involved in the production, we are very opinionated and very specific about how we think things should go in the movie and what’s right and what’s wrong.
But what happens to the movies afterwards, it truly is an ignorance is bliss phenomenon. I have no idea. And because I have no idea, I have no care [laughs]. I really should take a lesson from that. It’s a good way to approach stress and control issues.
John: Yep. The last thing that was fascinating to me as we talked after this interview was the community of fan subbers, which I had a sense existed out there but I wasn’t clear sort of the degree to which they existed is that movies, especially in the age of torrents, movies will show up out there in the wilderness. And if someone speaks another language and they’re trying to watch this movie, they’re going to try to download the file that has the subtitles. And those subtitles will often be created by fans who speak the language. And so there’ll be multiple versions of subtitles for some movies because just random people have done it.
Nima, who works for me, has talked about this one anime movie that he loves. And he’s seen DVDs of it with completely different subtitles. And that really changes sort of, some cases, ruin the story based on bad subtitling.
Craig: Again, I don’t want to know [laughs], so I just close my eyes. Like I hear the fan subber community and I file it in the same area of my brain responsible for Bronies. I know they’re there. Now I know they’re there. That’s it. I don’t need to know more. There’s no judgment but I know that I don’t have to worry about it.
John: Absolutely. So another thing which you shouldn’t have to worry too much about but increasingly you might need to worry about is changes to your movie based on where it’s showing overseas. This comes to us from Laura Bradley writing for Slate. It’s an article titled, Inside Out Director Pete Docter Explains Why Pixar Remade Certain Scenes for Foreign Viewers.
It’s a really great look at sort of how Pixar, being able to be Pixar and being able to change anything on the frame, in some cases change shots, change whole meanings of little scenes so that when the film played internationally it would make sense for local viewers. So this wasn’t just changing words, it wasn’t changing the subtitles, they were literally animating different things based on where the movie was going to be seen.
Craig: Yeah, I think it’s brilliant. So for example, there’s a moment where Bing Bong is reading a sign in the film and he points at the letters D-A-N-G-E-R and says, “It’s a shortcut.” Haha, there’s the joke.
So obviously, in a live action movie, that would just be subtitled and people would have to sort of get it. Joke wouldn’t quite work because it’s so visual and spelling based.
But in animation, they changed the word to match I guess the language where they were sending it. And then in certain cases where letters read right to left, for instance Hebrew or Arabic, Bing Bong moves his finger from right to left instead of left to right as he reads the word. That is kind of brilliant. And especially if you’re a company like Pixar and you got all the money in the world, why not? Do it. I mean, just makes for a better experience, you know.
John: Yeah, this kind of localization reminds me of the early days of Hollywood where they would sometimes shoot a movie in multiple languages simultaneously. And so they would have the American cast, they would have the German cast, they’d have the French cast.
And so they would shoot a scene, maybe the English scene first. And like, those people take a break and they’d shoot the exact same scene with the German cast and the French cast. And so they could make a movie hyper localized for its audience.
We don’t do that anymore but it sort of reminded me of that thing that used to exist. I think some of the early — I’m going to get this wrong. But I think some of the early Hitchcock movies had that where they actually had multiple casts for different markets.
Craig: I remember either this was a movie that was made or they were talking about making movie, that was about the Mexican casts that would come in at night when Universal was making its old classic monster movies. Then Mexican casts would come in at night and work a night shift shooting the Mexican version.
And they were trying to make a movie about that but maybe they did make a movie about that [laughs] and I’m just… —
So, this is what happens as the plaque settles in around the neurons. But isn’t that a fascinating thing? And as I recall, the story was very much about how — of what it meant to be a second class citizen because they were treated often that way.
But, yeah, localization of film is inevitable, I think. It’s fascinating. And I do think that this will spread from animation where we can see how it might be simpler to do, to live action. It’s inevitable. They won’t be able to localize the way that we localize software, “Pick your language from this list of 30 languages.” But there will be changes made for the biggest marketplaces. And the biggest marketplaces are Germany, Russia, England, Australia, France, Brazil, and of course, China.
John: You are now Segue Man, because that is our next topic, is China. So several recent articles have pointed out the fact that China is on the verge of overtaking the U.S. as the biggest movie market. Right now, they are arguably the second biggest market. And if not the second, they are very close to second.
China is building, depending on the article, either 10 or 30 new movie screens each day. And if current rates continue, China’s box office will be two-thirds of that of the U.S. by the end of this year. So they’re very close to being able to overtake us.
John: Some of the recent movies that have done bonkers in China, $380 million from Furious 7, and $240 million from Avengers: Age of Ultron, and from Jurassic World. So China right now, the floodgates aren’t fully open. So only a certain number of movies are allowed to be released, certain number of North American movies are allowed to be released every year. That’s going to change I guess in 2020/2021, sorry, 2017, more things get to be opened.
But it’s just crazy. When you’re talking about $380 million, that’s bigger than Japan. That’s a huge amount of your money that’s going to be coming in for your movie. And in some cases, we’ve already started making changes to the movies that we’re releasing in China. We’re doing that sort of hyper localization right now. So a Chinese character will save Tony Stark at a certain key moment.
And in Transformers, the characters will drink a certain kind of milk because that is the kind of milk that China wants you to drink. Or even like the Great Wall will not be destroyed in certain scenes if they’re being shown in China. So that’s the world we’re already living in.
Craig: Yeah. Did you see the most recent Mission Impossible film?
John: I haven’t seen it yet.
Craig: It’s excellent. And filmed, Chris McQuarrie, friend of the show, friend of mine, excellent guy, did a great job. [laughs] The opening shows, you know, the producer cards, you know, like there’s Bad Robot and there’s this and that. Two of them are a Chinese company.
So not only is China this enormous marketplace for the viewing of films, it is now investing in films. This is the most profound change that has happened to the movie business, I think, since the creation of the movie business. I really do believe this. I think this is not only going to make a significant change, it’s going to permanently change the movie business and in some ways good and a lot of ways not so good.
We just have to be aware this is coming and it’s not — there’s a temptation to say that studios simply do what will end up making them the most money, but they’re in a tough spot. I mean yes, this will end up making them more money, but the tough spot that they’re in is piracy.
The rise of the digital world hasn’t killed movies and television the way that it nearly killed music and ultimately turned music into a totally different industry. But the nature of piracy is such now that if you do not deal with the devil you know, you’ll be dealing with the devil you don’t. One way or another these movies will be seen in Asia. One way or another. Either they will be paid for or not.
I mean I spent some time in Thailand on a movie and there’s this huge, huge mall in Bangkok and there are about I don’t know 20 or 30 stores in that mall that all do the exact same thing. And that thing is sell movies. All pirated. All of them. So that is the movie business in Thailand, is piracy. So this is something that the movie business has to do in a way.
Now, the upsides. There will be opportunities to make more movies I think. The feature film business that contracted I think is possibly on the verge of a great expansion. That is entirely tied to China loosening the purse strings on the screens. If they do that, then yes, and if they don’t, then no. Hopefully, they will. And the financial crunch that we have been experiencing in feature films where everything is watched very, very closely may also loosen up still as Chinese financing comes into the market and comes in fairly aggressively.
There are already multiple companies now that are almost exclusively financed by Chinese money and so there should be more opportunities there and perhaps more money to pay writers and more money for the budgets of the films.
Well, what are the downsides? Well, creatively there’s a huge one. Unlike any other foreign marketplace, China has a complete control over what gets shown in their theaters because they’re not an open market. At least not the way that we are in the West. They are still a communist nation. So they don’t have to show anything they don’t want to which means I can make a movie and the bad guy can be a Russian and they’ll show that in Russia for sure. But I can’t make a bad guy Chinese anymore. Can’t do it.
Craig: And that’s an interesting thing considering what’s going on in the world today. Is that positive? That’s tough. No, it’s not. It’s actually not tough. That’s not positive. We should be able to freely express whatever we want, but in this case, doesn’t look likely.
John: So you look at the movies that succeed in China and they tend to be PG-13 movies and partly that seems to be because China doesn’t actually have a movie classification system the way we do. So they don’t have G, PG, R. They just have movies either approved or it’s not approved. And the movies that get approved tend to be the PG-13 movies. So they don’t have an idea of an adult movie, or at least of the movies that they’re bringing in from the U.S., they’re not bringing in our hard Rs. They’re not bringing in our, you know, Gone Girls presumably.
So while I, like you, I’m excited that there is this fervent desire to have big screen movies which make money which is great and fantastic. It is a little troubling that the kinds of movies we’re going to be able to make to show in China are going to be kind of the big movies that we’re already making. And it’s going to be hard to use any of that new money to make stuff that is not going to be possible to play there.
The devil’s advocate side of this is that maybe by the fact that we know that China won’t take certain kinds of movies, maybe we don’t even have to try to get them to show up there. So I think there might be some logic at some studios to say like, “You know what, we know this movie can never play in China so we may keep our budget a little bit lower, but we’re not going to even to try to make it happen there. We’re not going to try to bend this movie to make it a Chinese possible movie. We’ll just make the movie that we can show to the rest of the world.”
Craig: I think you’re giving studio executives a little more credit than they deserve, at least in the bravery department. If they’re in business with China, they’re in business with China. They can’t really effectively put a movie out that paints the Chinese government or the Chinese military in a bad light and then —
John: Oh, no, I’m certainly not saying that. I’m just saying if they want to make the hard-R movie —
Craig: Oh, yeah.
John: It couldn’t possibly play there.
Craig: Yeah, no, they’ll keep making those. But you’re right about that. But the budgets of those will be effectively curtailed. I mean when people say why — I mean at what point does the superhero thing stop? There’s so many and it never ends. Well, this is why. I mean it’s China. The answer is China. We’ve never experienced — this is why I, you know, I’m saying that we’re in an area now where we will be permanently changed. We’ve never experienced a time in American movie studio history where the American audience wasn’t the primary goal and wasn’t the primary consideration. We are approaching that point now.
And it’s going to change things quite a bit. It’s fascinating. I think I’m getting old at the right time. Let’s put it that way. [laughs]. You know?
John: Because the thing we have to keep in mind is that China is making its own movies as well. So one of the biggest movies, if not the biggest movie in Chinese history now, is Monster Hunt which is, you know, this huge blockbuster animated — I think combination animation/live action. And it will ultimately show here in some capacity, but it doesn’t matter because it made so much money there that they don’t even have to sort of worry about it traveling overseas.
John: And that is a fascinating change because we’re used to movies that are made a certain budget scale have to be made for us and it no longer has to be made for us.
Craig: Well, that’s something else to consider when you talk about Chinese-made productions. Because the government is entwined with industry there in a way that it is not here, they can be as anti-competitive as they wish. If they have a domestic production in China that they want to succeed, they’ll just not allow an American film to run against it. If they don’t care so much about the American film, they may say, “Well, you can run it between this and this, but every other studio can run their stuff between this and this.”
And then of course, there’s the fact that we don’t really know what success is over there because it’s not an open marketplace nor do they have what we would call freedom of information. It’s impossible to know. So the studios will do this because they have to by nature, you know, for their shareholders. It’s maximizing their profits and they have to buy I think just competitive necessity because of the piracy situation. But you know how we get those net profit statements that are meaningless and full of lies from the studios? I have a feeling they’re about to be hoisted by their own petard. [laughs] I really do. I think they’re going to start getting statements from the Chinese government like, “Here’s what we collected on your movie.” “Uh, it seemed like it was more.” “No. No, that was it.”
John: “No, that was it.”
Craig: Yeah, it’ll be — I’m fascinated to see how this unfolds. Truly fascinated.
John: Yeah, I don’t know what the actual future is going to hold. But I think one of the possibilities is that certain actors who are stars here may be megastars in China and that would become a bigger factor in the movies we make. So an example being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His movie San Andreas made 55 in its first — $55 million its first week in China, which is huge.
John: And apparently he’s a huge star off of Fast and Furious 7. So while he is a genuine star here and can open a movie, he is clearly worth a tremendous amount in China and that is exciting and fascinating if you are his representatives because you can say, “You know what, I think his price should be a little bit higher because look at what he can do. And, look, he can do things that none of your other stars can do.” That’s going to be fascinating to see what happens.
Craig: Yeah, I think that it’s fair to say that every studio within five years will either be significantly reoriented toward the Chinese marketplace, or they will have divisions that are significantly reoriented towards the Chinese marketplace. But, you know, every studio went through a period where they had their art house division, they had their — then there was the genre division. You know, “Well, we’re going to make the micro budget horror movies,” and lot of them still do. I think this is inevitable. This is just — it’s the way it’s going to be. Everybody is looking at China.
John: I disagree with you because I don’t think you could even make a division. I think it has to be your primary focus has to be this. Like your only green-lighting a movie once you’ve run it through the specialist who sort of deals with China because it’s not like, you know, a Fox Searchlight where like, “Oh, this is going to be our Chinese big movie.” It’s like, “No, every movie has to be your Chinese big movie if it’s costing $200 million.”
Craig: Well, that’s going to get interesting.
John: it’s going to get fascinating. The only thing I’d also question is you said like, “Oh, the Chinese government sends you these statements.” I do believe that they are — that the accounting that they’re getting is from Chinese companies that are genuinely Chinese companies. The challenge is that we don’t know the degree to which that we have the ability to really look inside what’s happening with those Chinese companies.
And I know people who have started companies, who’ve started productions with the belief that this Chinese money was coming and the Chinese money didn’t come. And that’s probably happened throughout all of history of Hollywood. It’s like that some foreign investor has promised a bunch money and then not shown up with it, but it’ll be interesting to see how that manifests in our relationship with China over the years.
Craig: No doubt. They are not known for their financial transparency.
John: Yes. So our final topic today is the WGA elections, which is also about the future of our industry. The elections are coming up soon. We are electing a new President, a Secretary-Treasurer, a new Vice President. There’s going to be an annual candidates’ night, a town hall forum where guild members can ask questions of these people. That’s on September 2nd. The voting period is going to end on September 21st. So now is the time to start thinking about who we want to be on the board and running the WGA for the next two years.
John: And Craig you had some thoughts?
Craig: I do. I do. So first there’s — let’s talk about the officers. This is an officer year so the way the guild elections work is every year there’s an election. On even years, the election is just for eight board members, half of the board. On odd years, it’s for the other half of the board and the three officers — President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer.
This year we have Howard Rodman and Joan Meyerson running for President. We have Carl Gottlieb and David Goodman running for Vice President. And we have Aaron Mendelsohn unopposed for Secretary-Treasurer. Now here’s what’s interesting, this is now the second time this has happened. So in our constitution, we are not allowed as a union to have what they call a white ballot election where somebody runs unopposed, not constitutional. Therefore, every year the guild goes through quite a bit of rigmarole to make sure that at least two people are running for office.
Oftentimes one of them is kind of just doing it to fulfill the obligation, but doesn’t expect to win. Nonetheless, those are the rules. This is now the second time this has happened. It happened once with Chris Keyser and now it’s happened with Aaron Mendelsohn. Now this — my understanding with the Aaron Mendelsohn situation was they had two candidates and then after the candidates were announced and the time after which a new candidate could not emerge had passed, that second candidate said, “Oh, you know what, I’m dropping out.” And so now Aaron’s running unopposed.
Well, that just seems like a great way for us to completely get around this whole, “There has to be two people.” And my feeling is either there has to be two people or there doesn’t have to be two people. If somebody drops out after that deadline, you have to go and find another person or amend the constitution so we can stop pretending that we need two people because if that’s the workaround, if that’s a loophole, I think that’s going to happen more and more and we’ll continue to end up with situations where people are running unopposed. Anyway —
Craig: Side note.
John: Anyway, those — these aren’t, you know, that’s certainly no slight on Aaron Mendelsohn. It’s a job that someone needs to do, it’s not — it’s hard to find a person to run for that spot obviously because we had a hard time this year and other years trying to convince someone to do that officer job.
Craig: Yeah, it’s hard to get people to run, period, the end. But you and I, we try our best and sometimes we’re on the nominating committee and so forth.
Okay, so let’s talk about who I think you all out there should vote for and why. For President it’s a no-brainer, you should vote for Howard Rodman. Why? Howard has been Chris Keyser’s right hand man now for four years and has been very active with the union for a long, long time. Interesting, Howard started on the Patric Verrone side of things and has made his way more towards what I would call the moderate reasonable middle. And to wit, he and I talk all the time about guild politics and we disagree at times and at times we agree. But I’ve always found Howard to be open-minded, rational, and interested in doing what works, not what fits some sort of ideological paradigm.
For me, the notion that we would walk away from the continuity of what’s been working is a bad idea. I think that let’s call it the — we’ve had the Chris Keyser-Billy Ray School of Negotiations. I think they’ve worked and I think Howard represents a continuity with that. His opponent, Joan Meyerson, is what I would call an unreconstructed Verronian and is just moving backwards to — it really — I don’t know how else to say it. I just view her as Patric Verrone. I think if Joan Meyerson is elected, you’ve effectively elected Patric Verrone again. And if you want that, great, vote for Joan Meyerson. I do not.
John: So for people who are just tuning in to the podcast who do not know the intricacies of WGA history and things, Patric Verrone was running the guild at the time of our last strike. He and Craig do not see eye to eye on pretty much any topic. The skies are completely different colors in your two worlds.
Craig: Yeah, I think the sky is blue. [laughs] And Patric has reasons why it’s otherwise. So I think Howard is just a slam dunk choice here. Very important frankly that we elect him. Less important for how brilliant Howard is, more important that it’s not Joan. I don’t know how else to put it because I don’t want Patric Verrone with that much power ever again.
John: I will just quickly second your vote for Howard Rodman who has been a friend for many, many years. But beyond his incredible intelligence, I think continuity is the crucial factor here and that I was on the last negotiating committee and I saw the rigor and practicality of the approach to how this negotiation was done. And I honestly, genuinely believe the primary function of this President and of the guild is to make sure that our relationship with the studios is constructive and focused on getting the best deal for writers — all writers at all levels possible. And so I saw that happening with Chris Keyser, I think Howard would be able to keep up that tradition.
Craig: No question. No question. To me, slam dunk, no-brainer, vote for Howard Rodman. Vice President is a tougher one. I don’t think we could go wrong here. We have Carl Gottlieb who is a legend both in Writers Guild politics, but also for writing small art films like Jaws and The Jerk.
John: I’ve heard of Jaws.
Craig: You’ve heard of Jaws and The Jerk. The two best movies starting with J by far. Carl is a fantastic guy and he has served in an officer position a number of times. He has served on the board many, many times. He is extraordinary well experienced in this area. He’s gone through negotiations, he’s done it all. So I love Carl.
Now, David Goodman is an interesting one because he too started as a Verrone guy and has changed. He’s definitely more I think towards that end of things than a guy like Carl. But I like David not only personally, I do think, you know, that he is — that he’s one of those people who is instructed by reality. I don’t know how else to put it. You know, he came in with a theory of how things were supposed to work as spoon-fed to him by Mr. V and then looked around and noticed that perhaps the world didn’t conform to that theory, quite so neatly. So, I like both of those guys. I don’t think you can go wrong. So I’ll just leave it.
John: Would you say if we’re — if we’re going to talk about Carl Gottlieb’s credits, we should say David Goodman is a —
John: Working writer-producer on animation. He does Family Guy, from American Dad, goes all the way back to Futurama and many, many other shows. So he’s one of these people who’s actually working doing that high level television work which is crucial.
Craig: Yes. And that’s always a very — that’s a really good thing to have whether, I mean, David has been on the board for a number of years. It’s good to have people like that involved. Obviously you and I feel this way because we are working writers and having served on the board, I know that a lot of times, the people who are in charge aren’t necessarily, you know, working. [laughs] I don’t know how else to put it.
John: What I want to able is to stress is that I think it’s important to have representation of writers at all levels of business. I want to have some people who are sort new, young people, who are dealing with sort of the issues on the ground that for what a young staff writer is dealing with. But you need to have some people there who are doing the high level work and sitting across the table from the people we’re negotiating with so they really can understand the other side and really can talk to those people as peers. And then Goodman to me feels like that kind of person.
Craig: Yeah, I agree. And this is actually quite important. I agree with you that there is no — I don’t see any value in putting this thought out there. You know, everybody that so-called runs the union should be a working writer. Now, a lot of our best and brightest are people that have worked in the past and they’re now essentially retired or semi-retired like for instance Carl Gottlieb. And there’s no reason to disqualify anybody from service if they are member in good standing and want to serve and are eligible to run.
Kind of distressingly, a different point of view was point out there by Patric Verrone himself who seems to be arguing in favor of us voting for Joan Meyerson because she’s working more than Howard but that’s — I don’t think that’s true at all. Howard still is, you know, he’s got a feature career. I mean, he is also is a professor at USC, a professor of screenwriting, which ain’t too bad either. I just don’t think that’s sort of divisive. But look, that’s what Patric does. That’s it’s his favorite move.
Craig: So, he’ll say that on one hand then he’ll say, but also, you know, you should elect Dan Wilcox, even though, Dan Wilcox as far as I know hasn’t worked in decades. So I don’t understand how Patric works and never will. Okay, so Secretary-Treasurer, you have no choice [laughs] you’re voting for Aaron Mendelsohn.
John: And Aaron’s great. Congratulations, Aaron Mendelsohn.
Craig: Way to go at, Aaron. [laughs] Awesome. Okay. Let’s talk about the board.
John: I have strong priorities for my side which I see in the workflow that you are endorsing as well.
Craig: Okay, so then we are both strongly in favor of — these are my two big ones. I’m going to say to all of you out there, when you’re voting for the board of directors, you can vote for up to eight people. You actually don’t have to vote for all eight.
Craig: There is a theory that if you truly love one, two, three, four, five, six, seven people, don’t vote for eight because you’re actually diluting your vote with other people. You’re helping other people who may then beat the person you truly, truly love. So just know that that’s an option. Here are the two people that I think are incredibly important for us to get on the board. One, Andrea Berloff. Andrea is a screenwriter. She’s got a movie coming out this weekend as we we’re recording, Straight out of Compton. And she’s been working for a long time. She is very smart, extraordinarily rational, she’s a feature writer. Oh my God, do you realize how underrepresented we are as feature writers?
John: That is why both of these picks I think are so important.
Craig: So important.
John: So much of what needs to be figured out in this next negotiation involves feature writers. If we don’t have feature writers represented here, we’re just — we’re going to keep backsliding.
Craig: Exactly. So I think very, very important that we elect Andrea Berloff. That actually is the most important move I think we can make is Andrea, because it’s also, I — we have — I mean I was on the board with Melissa Rosenberg and Katherine Fugate, I think they were the two female feature writers that I served with. I’m not sure there have been that many more female feature writers that have been on the board. That is one of the smallest segments, so really have to elect Andrea, must, must, must. And then, my second priority is Zak Penn for the same reason. He is a working writer and he’s a feature writer and we — the working feature writer is the most underrepresented category on the board. So we got to elect Andrea and Zak, must.
John: Yeah. Because one thing I want people to keep in mind is that a bunch of people are staying put. So we only elect half the board at a time. So the folks who are going to be still on this board no matter what include Shawn Ryan who runs a bunch of great TV shows, and Michael Oates Palmer who’s had a lot of TV experience too. So it’s not like we’re going to miss out on like high level TV people. They’re always going to be there. I just want to make sure we get some really good feature writers on there, so that’s why I’d add Billy Ray to that list because Billy Ray is, you know, a great feature writer and has just tremendous guild experience.
John: So I want to make sure Billy Ray is back in it.
Craig: Yeah, for sure. I mean Billy Ray is — look, every organization has its titular leaders and then its other leaders. And Billy Ray to me is as much the president of our union as Chris Keyser. And that’s no ill reflection on Chris, who I think has done a spectacular job. In fact, one of the best things he’s done is really looked to partner in power with Billy. Billy has done a spectacular job on our collected behalf. You know, I’m constantly yelling at him to run for president. He’s constantly telling me to F off, it’s great [laughs] sorry, it’s our running — it’s our running joke. It’s how we end every phone call. But yeah, he must come back for sure. And look, he’s not going to have a problem being reelected.
But my big ones there — there are some people that I think also you should not vote for. And I’m happy to tell you why. They might be elected again but I don’t think that Alfredo Barrios in terms of what I’ve seen from him, I think he represents a bygone point of view that is counterproductive. I know that Dan Wilcox is bad board member because I served with him and I wouldn’t vote for him ever. If there were eight Dan Wilcoxes running, I just wouldn’t vote. [laughs] So, I think his time has come and gone, he’s got to go. He’s not good at being a board member. He is another nodding head for Patric. And I’m not a fan.
John: You know, the last person who I want to single out and read through his candidate statement is somebody I convinced to run this last cycle is Aaron Fullerton, who’s a young, low level TV writer. I just felt that it was really important to have the voices of some people who are just sort of new staff writers represented there because there are some things that higher level TV people are probably just not aware of in the daily experience of young staff writer. If you don’t have some of those folks on the board now to share both what they’re experiencing and also to grow with the board, I think we’re going to miss out. So Aaron Fullerton is one person who I sort of twisted his arm to run and he has agreed to run again.
Craig: That’s great. I think that’s a really good point. And regardless of how the election turns out, the negotiating committee is a rather large committee that’s appointed by the board. And if somebody runs for the board and doesn’t get elected, there’s still a chance that they might get appointed to the negotiating committee. So hopefully — it would be great to see him win and if he doesn’t win then maybe his voice could still get heard when it counts the most.
John: And he is also the host of a podcast the WGA has put out, so we will have a link to his podcast in the show notes.
Craig: I’m not going to listen to that. It’s a podcast?
John: You don’t listen to any podcasts.
Craig: No, why would I?
John: No. All right. It’s come the time for our One Cool Things. Craig, do you have a One Cool Thing this week? You didn’t think about it?
John: Here, it’s come time for our One Cool Things. Let me start off. My One Cool Thing was actually something useful I used in Paris this last week. So, Microsoft has an app called Translator, which is for your iPhone. And it does a really good job of just translating, so you can speak to it and it will translate it into the language that you wanted. You can even speak aloud, the things it translated. It’s very, very fast. What pushed it over the top for me was that it has also has an Apple Watch app and so you can sort of like Siri dictate into it and it will come back with the translation, which is just tremendously useful and it makes me feel like I’m living slightly in the future, so.
Craig: You are.
John: With this app, Translator, by Microsoft.
Craig: Excellent. Well, I’ll go with something’s that’s in the same technological pocket. I made a switch recently. I finally had it with Safari and switched over to Chrome. What is your browser choice on your desktop?
John: My desktop browser choice is Safari for almost everything, but I keep Chrome for some backup stuff.
Craig: Yeah. So I had just gotten annoyed. I had just gotten annoyed with Safari. Too many things just not do anything and — so I went over to Chrome and I’ve been quite happy. But I still use Safari on my phone and on my iPad. So what is one to do? There is this wonderful feature where you could sync your bookmarks through iCloud. So if you put a bookmark on Safari, it would show up on your browser on your iPad.
Well, I’m not using Safari on the desktop, so what I would do, there is a free extension called XMarks Bookmarks Synchronizer. And XMarks Bookmarks Synchronizer is configurable so that it automatically syncs your Chrome bookmarks with your Safari bookmarks. It means when I add a bookmark on Chrome, XMarks syncs it over Safari and then iCloud takes it from there and syncs it over to everywhere else. Perfect solution.
John: Hooray, I would say it’s a perfect solution until something breaks. I think it’s wonderful that’s working for you right now. I would like to — I will make myself a note to check back in one year to see if it’s still functioning.
Craig: What’s so strange to me is that I’m the Jewish one, but really you’re more Jewish than I am about things like that.
John: Jewish in what way? Like what stereotype of a Jewish person —
John: Am I manifesting in saying that?
Craig: No, right, right.
John: Is it a pessimism?
Craig: Right there you were not Jewish. [laughs] That was the least Jewish thing. Explain exactly — yeah it’s the pessimism. It’s the presumption that something will break. I don’t know these things break. Trust it if you want.
John: [laughs] I say it’s less of pessimism and more of just a general observation that hacky things like this tend to collapse. And while this is wonderful for you right now, it is sort of a hack. And the person who’s developed some hacks like Less IMDb, that extension for Safari and for Chrome, that let’s IMDb like not look so terrible. Those hacks are hard to maintain. So I’d be curious whether your hard to pronounce bookmark synchronizer thing will be still functioning a year for now. Maybe it will, but it’s relying both on Chrome and iCloud. And I just know as developer, those are challenging things to get to work as you expect them to work.
Craig: It will never work. You’ll see, in a year, you come talk to me — by the way, every Jewish person in my mind is from New York because I’m Jewish and from New York.
John: Exactly. So that solecism is a manifest.
John: It’s really a show about international issues and stereotypes and solecism. I want to give one last final plug and shout out to David Wain’s, amazing show, Wet Hot American Summer. So we took our Apple TV with us to Paris for the sole reason that I wanted to be able to watch Wet Hot American Summer when it came out. It is just so good. So Craig will never watch it because he doesn’t watch TV shows.
John: But I just loved it. It was so good. So I already congratulated David Wain, but we’ll have him back on the show at some point to talk about how the hell they did it because it’s so complicated. They have all these giant movie stars wandering through it and it was just great.
Craig: I’ll probably watch it then.
John: You should watch it then.
John: Your friend Bradley Cooper is in it. And he’s kissing boys.
Craig: Oh, Coop —
John: So you’ll like that.
Craig: Coop’s back?
John: Coop’s back. He’s singing. He’s, you know, doing all sorts of stuff.
Craig: I love that guy. He’s kissing boys.
John: He’s so good. He’s kissing boys. There’s a —
Craig: He’s so strong. He’s so strong. Bradley —
John: Is he actually physically strong?
Craig: Physically strong. You know, he was — Bradley was a nationally ranked tennis player in high school I think. He’s a natural athlete, very, very strong. He had this thing. I don’t know what it was. But every morning I would come in and — when we’re shooting and he would see me and be like, “Here he comes,” and then he would come up to me and start wrestling with me. I never asked for it. I don’t know why he would do it [laughs] and I don’t know why I had to wrestle with him. And every morning, he would hurt me, because he’s — I mean, I’m not weak, but he’s taller and stronger and he would just — it was as if every morning he had to make me submit and be beta to him.
John: [laughs] I do know what that is. Actually, my last boss would do that same thing where he would like wrestle me and it was just the weird sort of like playground domination move and I could not get out of that office fast enough.
Craig: I mean, I didn’t mind because I never tried to —
John: Well, it’s also Bradley Cooper so —
Craig: I mean I’m not trying to beat him, I can’t. [laughs] I can’t. It’s not, you know — I’m not paid for my musculature. So my strength is if he wants to sit down and challenge me to a crossword puzzle face off, I’ll — hey Cooper, I will destroy you.
John: I don’t know. I see he’s the kind of person who prepares a lot, so maybe he would spend, you know, three years preparing like Tom Cruise would be to hang of a jet.
Craig: Cruise by the way, I could see if Cruise had time, I could see him doing it. But Cooper, no. No.
Craig: I’ll take him every single time.
John: All right. That is our show this week. Our outro this week is by Jonah Bech Vestergard who I think is from some European country. Jonah, thank you so much for your cool outro. As always, our show is produced by Stuart Friedel.
John: Our editing is by Matthew Chilelli. Thank you, Matthew. We made this episode so hard for you [laughs] so thank you very much. Jet lag.
Craig: Jet lag.
John: If you would like to subscribe to our show, we would love to have you subscribe. Go to iTunes, search for Scriptnotes and click it and you’ll be subscribed. While you’re there, you’ll also probably find this Scriptnotes app. That Scriptnotes app will give you access to all the back catalog. It is $2 a month. And for that, you get all 200 episodes and the bonus episodes as well. So thank you to everybody who subscribed to that. We have so many sort of premium subscribers now, it’s just nuts. So thank you to everyone who’s done that.
Craig: Thank you.
John: If you have a question for me or for Craig, you should write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also tweet at us. Craig is @clmazin. I am @johnaugust. A reminder to check out the Facebook page. I will try to remember to put some of the designs you had for t-shirts. Thank you to everyone who submitted one. I probably won’t get all of them up on the Facebook page. I’ll say there is a common theme that a lot of people did, a musical staff with the [hums theme] which I thought was clever. But I’m not sure that’s going to be our t-shirt.
John: But thank you to everyone who submitted those ideas and other ones and don’t make Craig fat.
Craig: Yeah, what the hell. [laughs] I mean —
John: [laughs] What the hell.
Craig: Just make me accurately fat. I want to be faturate.
John: He’s only asking for specificity and honesty.
Craig: Thanks, guys.
John: Thanks. Bye.
- A limited number of 200 episode USB drives are back in the John August Store
- Scriptnotes on Facebook
- Scriptnotes, 208: How descriptive audio works
- Emmanuel Denizot, and his First Person entry on johnaugust.com
- Inside Out Director Pete Docter Explains Why Pixar Remade Certain Scenes for Foreign Viewers on Slate
- China becomes world’s second-biggest movie market on BBC
- Hollywood Pays Attention As China’s Movie Box Office Grows By 50%; Nation Adds Nearly 30 Screens A Day on IBT
- WGAw Announces Candidates for 2015 Officers and Board of Directors Election
- 3rd & Fairfax: The WGAw Podcast, hosted by Aaron Fullerton & Steve Trautmann
- Microsoft Translator for iOS and Apple Watch
- XMarks Bookmark Sync
- Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is now streaming on NetFlix
- Outro by Jonah Bech Vestergard (send us yours!)