Arlo Finch, the series trailer

With book two coming soon, I made a trailer for the Arlo Finch series. Please share it with anyone you think might dig it.

You can find out more info about the international editions and tour dates here.

Here’s the YouTube link: Arlo Finch – Series Trailer

Because I wanted to post it to my Instagram, I cut a square version of the trailer as well. It’s weird thinking square, but I kind of dig it. If you’d like to post it, here a link to the original file.

Music is by the remarkable Matthew Chilelli, with narration by Cormac Gilvary.

Two Things at the Same Time

Scriptnotes: Ep. 370

John and Craig look into simultaneity and how to visually articulate two things happening at once with the temporally-limited medium of written word.

We also explore how simultaneity can ramp up tension, fracture narrative and play with expectations. Then we apply what we’ve discussed to three new entries in the Three Page Challenge.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 10-11-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

What Is a Movie, Anyway?

Scriptnotes: Ep. 369

John and Craig welcome Franklin Leonard to weigh in on the current definition of “movie.” In the age of streaming, this distinction is not only important for audiences and awards, but has a meaningful effect on how writers are paid.

We also take umbrage with Awards Season as a Hollywood fixture, and follow up on a five year-old prediction about iPads in movie theaters.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 9-28-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Every week on Scriptnotes, Craig and I do our One Cool Things, through which we each recommend something worth checking out. Then on Twitter, I’ll link to things I think my followers may find interesting or useful.

But there’s a problem: neither venue is particularly well-suited to the task of collecting and presenting the cool stuff that’s out there.

If you don’t listen to the podcast, you won’t hear it. If you don’t follow me on Twitter — or if the algorithm doesn’t show you the tweet — you won’t see it. And I’m always hesitant to link to too much, because Twitter is overwhelming enough as it is.

So I’m trying something new: a little newsletter called Inneresting.

newsletter screenshot

It’s a weekly-ish roundup of stuff I’ve found interesting. There are some bits about writing and language, but the unifying theme is just that I’ve found these things worth pointing out.

Isn’t that what this blog is for? you ask. Well, sort of. Each newsletter could easily be a post on the site. But in order to read it, you’d have to think, huh I wonder if there’s a new post? and then click over to For a while, I ran a side blog called Off-Topic that was a similar idea, but how would a reader know when to check it?

Inneresting simply shows up in your email inbox. Read it whenever. I’ve turned off the creepy analytics. There are no trackers or data collectors other than occasional Amazon affiliate links. Basically, I know if you’ve subscribed and if you’re still opening the email. If you’re not, I’ll stop sending it.

Check out the first issue, and subscribe if you like it.

  1. Or if you’re like me, you subscribe to the site’s feed through RSS. Congratulations! You’re one of the fraction of a percent of internet users who do that. Luckily, the newsletter has a feed as well.

Advice for a New Staff Writer

Scriptnotes: Ep. 368

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and what’s for lunch.

In follow up, we look at disappearing digital purchases and the further fallout from Les Moonves.

We have new Scriptnotes T-shirts available — Colored Revisions! Thanks to Alison, Ryan now knows about magenta.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 9-27-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

You can’t have my back and yours at the same time

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Sun and Jonathan Handel look at the controversy over agencies investing in TV and movies:

“The headline is that it’s bad for creators,” declares The Good Fight co-creator Robert King, who, notably, is a client of Paradigm, one of the agencies not moving into ownership (yet). “This is a black-and- white situation where agencies should not be a boss to clients.”

Even some agents are puzzled: “Who are you representing? Do you have [the writer’s] back or your back?” says Verve co-founder and partner Bryan Besser. “How do you have both backs?”

The article is one of the first I’ve read that gets agents on the record, but either the journalists didn’t ask or couldn’t get an answer to Besser’s fundamental question: How can agencies defend the conflict of interest inherent in employing their own clients?

The closest anyone gets to addressing the issue comes as simple whataboutism:

Agencies say they remain mystified as to why the WGA is beating up on them when talent management firms — an adjacent business — have been free to produce and own content for decades.

Officer, why is it a problem for us to run red lights when ambulances have been doing it forever?

Agents and managers aren’t the same thing, and agents know it. Agencies are defined under California law, with specific restrictions on what they can do and how much they can charge. They’re supposed to have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. That means putting the interests of their clients before their own interests.

If we can’t expect that from our agents, we need better agents.

If they can’t earn enough off of 10% of our income, they should focus on getting us paid more.