Scriptnotes Podcast

Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.

View in iTunes

Franz Kafka’s brother, and the perfect agent

Scriptnotes: Ep. 172
Play

John and Craig talk about why writers are often reluctant to show their work, and how film journalists love to focus on the director — even when there’s no director in sight.

Then, it’s part two of our Perfect series, in which we look at what constitutes the perfect agent. Underlying the agent archetypes — advisor, advocate, connector — is a relationship based on honesty and trust. How do you build it? How do you maintain it? We offer our opinions from the writer’s side of the phone sheet.

Come to our live show on December 11th in Hollywood! You’ll find the link in the show notes.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.


Finishing a script, and the Perfect Studio Executive

Scriptnotes: Ep. 171
Play

What are the odds that fivethirtyeight.com’s statistical analysis of screenplays will make Craig angry? Always bet on umbrage. Fortunately, he just finished a script, so we talk about that, and John’s new gig writing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (which was the project he described phone-pitching the past few episodes).

Then we talk about what makes for the perfect studio executive. It’s a series we plan to continue, looking at the prototypical awesome person in various categories.

Our December 11th live show is likely to sell out, so don’t delay getting your ticket. And Thursday at noon is the last chance to get a Writer Emergency Pack. Links to both below.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-25-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Lotteries, lightning strikes and twist endings

Scriptnotes: Ep. 170
Play

John and Craig look at the nature of fluke hits, everything from #alexfromtarget to huge spec sales. Is luck just luck, or is it about how often you play the game? Where does talent fit in?

We walk through a great breakdown of twist endings by Alec Worley, looking at how expectation both inside and outside of the story shapes the experience.

Then we answer a bunch of listener questions, on topics including using real-life locations, breaking up dialogue, and passing gracefully when you don’t like a project.

The Scriptnotes Holiday show is December 11th in Hollywood, featuring guests Aline Brosh McKenna, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas. Check the link below for tickets.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-17-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Descending Into Darkness

Scriptnotes: Ep. 169
Play

Craig and John shake off their Halloween candy hangovers by taking a look at three new Three Page Challenges, full of post-apocalyptic portals and strange signals.

We also discuss writing dark things. Weepy things.

John just launched his first Kickstarter, and we all know how Craig feels about crowdfunding. Will Craig be a backer or bah-humbugger?

In follow-up, we look at the now-announced Marvel superhero slate, and a terrific podcast about pitching.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

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


Austin Forever

Scriptnotes: Ep. 168
Play

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.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

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


The Tentpoles of 2019

Scriptnotes: Ep. 167
Play

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.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

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