Rewrites and Scheduling

Craig and John take an extensive look at best practices when coming in to rewrite an existing script. How do you take the reins when you weren’t the first screenwriter? Whether you’re starting over at page one or executing some surgical fixes, we discuss the psychology and reality of being the subsequent writer.

Clerks and recreation

Craig and John tackle another installment of “How would this be a movie?” with a look at the Kentucky clerk, the French train bros, Uber and Deflategate. Who are the heroes and villains, and would there be enough plot to support the running time?

How descriptive audio works

John and Craig take a deep look at how descriptive audio for the blind works, with clips from Daredevil and an interview with a woman who does it for a living. It’s a fascinating form of writing, with many of the same challenges screenwriters face.

How would this be a movie?

John and Craig look at three current news stories from a screenwriter’s perspective, discussing how each lends itself to becoming a movie.

Saving water and power

Bragging about efficiency plays into the worst stereotypes of California: smug, self-righteous and self-congratulatory. Yet conspicuous underconsumption has actual public benefits. You’re showing what’s possible, and helping to nudge trend lines and public policy in the right direction.

Screenplays on the Kindle, 2015 edition

A screenwriter friend just emailed me to ask how she could get one of her scripts to look good on the Kindle. You can’t. It’s the wrong tool for the job.

Advice to a First-Time Director

John and Craig offer advice to a director taking the plunge, with guidance on both getting the work done and getting the performances you want. From there, we segue into a discussion of the Perfect Director, the next installment of our Perfect series.

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

The Tentpoles of 2019

Craig and John discuss the 31 superhero movies slated for the next few years. Is it good business or a trainwreck in the making?

Photoplays and archetypes

In a wide-ranging episode, Craig and John look at a 1912 screenwriting book, Levinson’s beef with the WGA, and the Periodic Table of Storytelling.

How to convert a PDF to Final Draft

Screenwriters often find themselves with PDF of a screenplay when they actually need a Final Draft (.fdx) file that they can edit. Here are three ways to convert from PDF to fdx, ranging from painful to sublime.

Talking to actors

John and Craig discuss the difference between character intention and motivation, before segueing to conversations on working with actors and on-set writing.

Rigorous, structured daydreaming

Craig and John take a look at an old post that found new life this week when it got picked up on Twitter and Reddit. We go beyond the bullet points to look at the process of writing a scene, from asking the basic questions to getting the words on the page.

Best of Outlines, Agents and Good Boy Syndrome

Craig and John start the year with a look back at three very early episodes not currently on iTunes, discussing outlines, agents and the Good Boy Syndrome.

How to cut pages

John and Craig turn from the pen to the knife to talk through the whys and hows of cutting pages — both the cosmetic trims and the deep cuts.

Raising movie funds on Kickstarter

Matt reports from a special Sundance session in which Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler talks about how indie filmmakers can best use the site.

Writing off the page

If you’re having a hard time finding a character’s voice, get him talking about something unrelated to the scene at hand.

Merlin Mann on getting creative stuff done

Helpful audioclip from productivity guy Merlin Mann.

Writing better scene openings

A scriptcast on how to begin a scene for more impact.

Video from Rancho Mirage Q&A

Synthian Sharp taped my Q&A in Rancho Mirage, and has it available on Vimeo.

Writing better action

A new screencast (scriptcast?) on writing action beats.

Writing better scene description

A YouTube lesson on making more-readable scene description.

Money 101 for screenwriters

Read this before you cash that first check.

How to handle a phone meeting

A play by play of how it should go down.

How to cut pages

Just as important, what NOT to do when trying to cut length. Don’t cheat.