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.

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Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

Scriptnotes: Ep. 175
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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.

Aline and Rachel just finished shooting a pilot called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. We discuss the genesis of the project, and how sexism is just stupid.

B.J. tells us about the joy of reading Inglorious Basterds, and how the key to success is apparently editing your high school newspaper.

Jane and Derek teach us what really goes on in the writers room, from secret lingo to codes of silence.

Plus there are songs!

Recorded with a live audience at LA Film School as a benefit for the Writers Guild Foundation. Huge thanks to everyone who came and supported the show.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.


Hacks, Transference and Where to Begin

Scriptnotes: Ep. 174
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John and Craig talk about where to start a story — how far back should you go? The decision about whether to meet the hero as a child, in their normal rut, or mid-crisis fundamentally changes the narrative, so it’s worth exploring fully.

We also discuss the psychological phenomenon of transference, and how writers’ desire for approval can lead to strange (and strained) relationships with executives and other authority figures. Finally, the Sony hack: was it a one-off, or will this be the first of many?

There are still a few tickets left for Thursday’s live Holiday show. Tickets available through the link below.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 12-15-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


The Perfect Reader

Scriptnotes: Ep. 173
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Craig and John discuss the qualities of the perfect reader, whether it’s a studio professional or your screenwriting buddy. What should a reader look for, and how should she communicate her thoughts?

We also discuss loan-out companies and why writers need them, and offer advice on starting a podcast. Plus a lot of turkey talk.

In follow up, most of what we thought we knew about Franz Kafka was wrong — but maybe that’s okay. Bob Odenkirk already made a sketch about judging. And if you haven’t purchased tickets for the live show on December 11th, get on that.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 12-10-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Franz Kafka’s brother, and the perfect agent

Scriptnotes: Ep. 172
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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.

UPDATE 12-1-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Finishing a script, and the Perfect Studio Executive

Scriptnotes: Ep. 171
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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
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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.