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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Making Things Better by Making Things Worse

Scriptnotes: Ep. 154
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John and Craig talk structure and escalation. Structure is simply what happens when. Escalation is how things get tougher.

In features, characters are usually going on a journey that can only happen once, so you need to make sure that the events in your story are constantly challenging your heroes in new ways so they can continue to grow.

In television, you’re often telling stories in which the character themselves don’t change much, yet the sequence of events within the episode (and in the season) needs to feel like it’s pushing forward.

Along the way, we discuss Intro to Journalism’s Five W’s, and what people mean when they say a two-hander.

John and Craig are headed back to the Austin Film Festival again this year for a live show and other special events. Use the code SCRIPTNOTES to get $25 off our Conference and Producers Badges.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 7-24-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Selling without selling out

Scriptnotes: Ep. 153
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In their first-ever live streaming episode, John and Craig open the mailbag to answer a bunch of listener questions.

  • What research should a writer do before soliciting an agent or manager?
  • What should a writer be willing to give up in order to make her first sale?
  • Does a Mormon writer face special challenges in drink-and-drugging Hollywood?
  • Why doesn’t Highland exist on Android?
  • What determines “Story by” credit on a feature?
  • How did we like DungeonWorld? (John asked this question.)

All this, plus the Fermi Paradox in this episode of Scriptnotes.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 7-18-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


The Rocky Shoals (pages 70-90)

Scriptnotes: Ep. 152

Aline Brosh McKenna joins Craig and John to talk about the difficult journey through pages 70-90 of your feature. After that, we talk about procrastination, the Panic Monster and our inner Instant Gratification Monkeys.

Screenwriting books always talk about structure, but never about tone, which is much more important for distinguishing great writing. So we spend some time looking at what tone feels like on the page.

Finally, we talk mentors. Aline has specific suggestions for young women.

Update: The post was linking to the previous week’s audio. Fixed.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 7-11-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Secrets and Lies

Scriptnotes: Ep. 151

John and Craig discuss why most characters are liars, and how that’s actually a good thing. John offers seven suggestions for picking character names that will help your readers. Then we look at a three page challenge that’s been filmed to see what worked on the page versus on screen.

In follow-up, we discuss the Aereo decision and our mutual love of Slate’s Culture Gabfest.

Finally, we answer a reader question about the proper protocol for checking in after a meeting.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 7-3-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Yes, screenwriting is actually writing

Scriptnotes: Ep. 150

Craig and John take a swing at several of the week’s hyperbolic headlines, from conflict-free comedy to Fitzgerald’s failures to Strong Female Characters with nothing to do. In each case, there’s a valid idea lurking beneath the overstated claim, but it’s important to separate good examples from bad.

We then answer a stack of listener questions, ranging from slow contracts to strange emails to friendly options.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 6-26-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


The Long-Lost Austin Three Page Challenge

Scriptnotes: Ep. 149

John and Craig open the vault to bring you a never-before-heard episode recorded live at the 2013 Austin Film Festival, where we did a Three Page Challenge and met with the writers.

We’ve kept this episode banked for months just in case we can’t record a new episode. But we didn’t want to wait any longer.

We’ll be back with a normal episode next week.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 6-22-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.