Austin Forever

Scriptnotes: Ep. 168

John and guest host Susannah Grant sit down with Richard Kelly, Cary Fukunaga, Peter Gould, Dan Sterling and Mike Birbiglia to discuss the role of a writer/director, the wonder of television, and the purpose of table reads.

Then it’s questions from the audience: How do you know you’ve found your third act? How does one become confident? Does impostor syndrome ever go away?

This episode was recorded live at St. David’s Episcopal Church as a certified blasphemy-free part of the 2014 Austin Film Festival.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-4-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Writer Emergency Pack, now in pre-launch

As I mentioned on the podcast yesterday, we’re getting close to launching a new project called Writer Emergency Pack.

The cover looks like this:

header graphic

As the name suggests, it’s designed as a survival tool for writers. It’s not an app or a book. It’s more like a crowbar for getting unstuck. It’s for screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, students, writing teachers — anyone who deals with story.

We’ve actually been developing it on-and-off for four years, but it became real in the last six weeks. We’ve had a fun time showing prototypes to other writers and gathering feedback. It’s gonna be cool.

Because it’s a physical thing, we’ve had to plan and budget much more carefully than we do with our digital stuff. Atoms scale differently than bits. Make too few, and you run out. Make too many, and you’re sitting on boxes of inventory. Figuring out how to actually make and ship something like this is easily half the job.

When we launch — sometime after Halloween — there will be a short order window to get into the initial run. To make sure no one misses out, we’ve set up a mailing list to let writers know the moment it’s available.

If you’re at all curious, I’d advise you to sign up at Writer Emergency today.

You can also follow on Twitter, @writeremergency. (Tweet ‘Help’ for a teaser.)

The Tentpoles of 2019

Scriptnotes: Ep. 167

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

How do you move from a vague idea to an actual pitch? We talk about what you say when you’re in the room pitching on a project, and why passion trumps plot in most cases.

We also look at copyright and how the current system is broken for everyone.

Next week will be Craig-less, because we’re recording live at the Austin Film Festival with a bunch of amazing guests.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-4-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Highland works great with Yosemite

We had quite a few inquiries from Highland’s support page this weekend, including:

Is Highland compatible with Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite? Of all the apps I’m running on my Macs, Highland is probably the most important. I won’t upgrade until you give the all clear signal.

Green light. The version of Highland in the Mac App Store runs fine under Yosemite.

In fact, we’ve been running Highland with the Yosemite betas for months, so the past few builds all run fine. Except for a few small UI changes (such as using the green dot to go full-screen), you won’t notice any significant differences.

We update Highland quite frequently. Version 1.8.2, now in review, addresses bugs that users helped us identify under both old and new OS versions. Highland keeps improving because we have seriously committed users.

If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at Highland, you may have missed out on its new line spacing options. You can now choose Tight, Normal or Loose line spacing in the editor view. This ability to customize the editor for maximum readability is one of the clear advantages to Highland’s just-the-words philosophy.

You can download Highland in the Mac App Store.

Critics, Characters and Business Affairs

Scriptnotes: Ep. 166

John and Craig were delighted to join the Slate Culture Gabfest on stage to talk about the gulf between critics and creators. We have the audio from that, and additional thoughts on the issue.

Then, how many characters does your movie need? We talk about how to figure out the Goldilocks spot where you have enough characters to make your world feel real, but not so many that they’re tripping over each other.

Finally, business affairs, and how understaffed legal departments create problems for writers and studios.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 10-20-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Toxic Perfection Syndrome

Scriptnotes: Ep. 165

Craig and John discuss that delusional period in which you’re convinced your script is the best thing ever written — and the inevitable heartbreak when someone tells you it isn’t. (TPS is close cousins to the Oscar Speech in the Shower.)

Also this week: SF terms and tropes, Adam Sandler’s Netflix deal, and what the WGA should focus on.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 10-11-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.