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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Ghosts Laughing at Jokes

Scriptnotes: Ep. 136
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John and Craig talk Lab Rats, multi-cam, and what scenes might mean in their imaginary screenplay format. Craig clarifies what “spec writing” is, and when it’s permitted, both legally and ethically.

Then they dive in for another round of the Three Page Challenge, with entries ranging from second-grade bullies to cargo ship pirates to teenage crime.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 3-28-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


World-building

Scriptnotes: Ep. 135
Play

John and Craig discuss how you create a fictional universe for your story, and the limits of how much can fit on the page. From location to language to wardrobe, choosing which details to make explicit is a crucial early decision. Too little detail and the reader doesn’t know how your story is special; too much detail and the story gets lost.

Also this week, Resurrection vs The Returned vs The Returned vs Les Revenants — just because it’s an original idea to you doesn’t mean it’s the first time anyone’s ever thought of it. We also provide exactly five minutes of follow-up on last week’s discussion about what should replace the current screenplay format.

And True Detective! Which we loved! It’s only because we loved it that we can point out ways it could have been stronger. Did the traditional once-a-week format help or hurt it? Probably both.

LINKS:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 3-21-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


So Many Questions

Scriptnotes: Ep. 134

John has questions about the questions Craig answered on his Reddit AMA, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as we answer six great listener questions:

  • What’s the deal with the “mystery insider” Twitter accounts?
  • Can a screenwriter use the n-word?
  • If we had to start from scratch, what would we do?
  • What did we mean by “lens selection?”
  • To CONT’D, or not to CONT’D?
  • Starting over after big life events.

Also, a reminder to Oscar winners: if you’re going to thank the creative team, don’t neglect to thank the screenwriter.

LINKS:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

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


Groundhog Day

Scriptnotes: Ep. 133

John and Craig pay their respects to Harold Ramis with an episode devoted entirely to Groundhog Day.

Ramis and co-writer Danny Rubin fashioned a deceptively simple story that upended expectations and essentially created a new genre of supernatural predicament comedies. Often imitated but never surpassed, Groundhog Day is smarter than you remember, cleverly side-stepping logic traps to explore deeper philosophical questions.

So grab your toaster and give Ned Ryerson a hug. It’s time to relive Groundhog Day.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

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


The Contract between Writers and Readers

Scriptnotes: Ep. 132

John and Craig look at the implicit contract made between screenwriters and readers — and ultimately, movies and their audience. That’s a natural introduction to our Three Page Challenge and the three new entries we look at this week.

Also: Late Payments suck. You shouldn’t tolerate it, and neither should your agents.

There are still a limited number of tickets available for the great Scriptnotes/Nerdist Writers Panel crossover live show on April 13th. You can find a link in the show notes.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 2-27-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Procrastination and Pageorexia

Scriptnotes: Ep. 131

Craig and John get in your head to talk procrastination, pageorexia and generalized anxiety. They also move beyond the psychopathology to discuss all the changes in the industry, from cable mergers to lawsuits to disruptive technologies. You’re not as paranoid as you think you are.

John’s new app Weekend Read is in the App Store now, and free. So check it out.

The long-fabled crossover episode with Nerdist Writers Panel is happening April 13th at 5pm. Tickets are $15, and will sell out, so get on that. Link below.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 2-21-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.