To Chase or To Spec

Scriptnotes: Ep. 147

John and Craig discuss whether screenwriters are better off pursing writing assignments or working on their own material. They also look at the visual comedy of Edgar Wright, and The Shawshank Redemption’s 20th anniversary.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 6-7-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Bronson Watermarker, rebooted

We have a new app out today: Bronson Watermarker PDF.

Bronson Watermarker PDF screenshot

It’s in the Mac App Store, and 50% off through Sunday, June 8th.

The new Bronson features a stripped-down UI that indicates where we think Mac app design is headed. Many buttons have lost their edges, relying on color and context to indicate their clickability. Title bars are integrated into the window. Animations take the place of progress bars.1

You can see more screenshots here.

The changes are more than cosmetic. Bronson has new features to protect screenplays and other documents, including password encryption and invisible watermarks.

Bronson Watermarker was our first Mac app, released January 2012. It was deliberately minimalist: one list field, five watermark styles, one checkbox. Over time, we added a button to change the font and opacity, but the app remained essentially unchanged.

It also remained kind of ugly.

Of all our apps, Bronson was starting to feel like the odd duck. It sold well, and we got appreciative emails from people who used it daily. But we weren’t proud of it.

So we took two weeks to remake it. From pixels to code, it’s an entirely new app, with almost nothing carried over from the original. We added in the features users wanted most (passwords, saved lists, better customization) and removed things that never fit quite right (image watermarking, line burn).

Removing features is a tough thing. You end up with a better, more-focused app, but users can argue that it’s a downgrade. The Mac App Store makes it especially difficult, because it replaces the original app with the new version. For almost everyone, the new Bronson is a much better app — unless you really liked what we used to do with JPGs.2

In the end, we decided to make a clean break, shipping the new version as a new app and appending PDF to the name. This let us increase the minimum OS requirements and move it from the Productivity category to Business, where it really belongs. It also means users of the old Bronson can keep their app, or choose to switch to the new one.

Through June 8th, everyone gets the upgrade price of $15. After that, it’s $30.

Just to keep things even, Highland and unlimited library for Weekend Read are also 50% off through June 8th.

  1. WWDC is Monday, so we’ll know soon which of our guesses were correct.
  2. It’s easy to see this conundrum with word processors and screenwriting software, which get bloated with rarely-used features. Most users wouldn’t know if you removed these vestigial bits — but some users rely on them. When was the last time you used Mail Merge? For most people, never. For some, three times since lunch.

Wet Hot American Podcast

Scriptnotes: Ep. 146

Writer-Director David Wain joins John and Craig to talk about the long journey to bring They Came Together to the screen (on June 27th), the changing nature of spoofs, and the seminal summer camp film Wet Hot American Summer.

We also touch on the origins of the three act structure, getting started right out of film school, and the odd financing of Legends of Oz.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 6-3-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Q&A from the Superhero Spectacular

Scriptnotes: Ep. 145

Craig and John, along with their talented panelists, answer questions from the audience at the May 15, 2014 live show.

One listener references Episode 99, Psychotherapy for Screenwriters, which remains one of our favorites.

You listen to it and the whole back catalog by subscribing at for just $1.99/month. Subscribing gives you access to all episodes through our apps for iOS and Android.

Once again, our thanks to the Writers Guild Foundation for organizing this event.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 5-28-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Green Umbrage, or That Escalated Quickly

Craig Mazin wrote in to respond to criticism of his remarks in last week’s Scriptnotes.

I typed the words “She-Hulk” a lot yesterday.

During our live podcast, I took a swipe at the intentions behind the creation of She-Hulk. Specifically, I felt that she was drawn in such a way to peddle a sexist caricature to teenaged boys.

That’s not some kind of revisionist explanation. I used the word “sexist” in the podcast. It’s audible.

I said this because I believe it. Unlike the Hulk, whose appeal was clearly divorced from any kind of normative standard of physical beauty, She-Hulk was initially drawn (and consistently drawn for many years) as slender, long-legged and large-breasted with flowing locks. Her face was the same old media-model-pretty version we see time and time again.

The cover of her debut features She-Hulk in what I guess I’d describe as a revealing monokini. There are lots and lots of additional examples of artwork on the internet (actual covers, not alt covers) that are clearly pushing sex appeal.

This is a pretty good example.

All that aside, some people felt that what I said was sexist. I used the word “slut,” which they took to mean that I think She-Hulk is a slut.

They think I slut-shamed She-Hulk.

First off, my point wasn’t that I think She-Hulk is a slut. I don’t. I don’t think anyone is a slut. I don’t think there’s anything shameful about female sexuality or the female body.

What I don’t like is the practice of pushing exaggerated images of female bodies to boys because it sells comic books or video games. Women in comics and video games aren’t accidentally drawn over and over and over again with outsized breasts, long legs and narrow waists. It’s marketing. Having a character remark recursively on that marketing doesn’t negate the marketing, of course. It’s a clever way to defuse criticism with grownups while selling issues to hormone-addled boys. John and I have talked about this issue on the podcast before as it relates to video games (specifically in support of the work done by Anita Sarkeesian).

Bottom line: I wasn’t saying that I think she’s a slut. I was saying I think the people who created her were at one time pushing a visual image of Hulk as Slut in order to make money. And I don’t like that. My comment was entirely about the illustration of a fictional character. It was not a reflection of my opinion of the mind or actions of the character.

On the other hand, using the word “slut” was a bad move. It’s far too loaded, it’s not even accurate to what I meant, and for many it obscured my point. It may be obscuring my point right now, so lesson learned… and I’ll not use it again.

Also, if the people who created She-Hulk think I’m totally wrong, I can accept that. They might not be sexist, their intentions may have been pure, and if so, I am guilty of seeing sexism where none was intended. If fans of She-Hulk suspect that I’m not one of them, and that I clumsily wandered into their culture… yup. No question. Guilty as charged. And there’s also no question that the appearance and character of She-Hulk has evolved dramatically and positively over the years. My comments were entirely about the early appearance of the character. She-Hulk isn’t being drawn in the style of a cheesecake model anymore. I think that’s a very good thing.

And that’s all I have left to say about She-Hulk for the rest of my life.

The Summer Superhero Spectacular

Scriptnotes: Ep. 144

John and Craig are joined by the writers of the some of the biggest superhero movies to talk about why these characters resonate. Andrea Berloff looks for the primal essence of Conan. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely discuss the challenge of bringing Captain America to a global audience. David Goyer talks about keeping Batman grounded even while Superman flies. Then the whole panel gets busy rebooting randomly-assigned superheroes.

Then it’s time for the Three Page Challenge, with special guest judge Susannah Grant joining us to look at three entrants with scripts ranging from singers to zombies to yes, superheroes.

This episode was produced as a benefit for the Writers Guild Foundation, whose programs support writer education.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 5-23-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.