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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Threshers, Mergers and the Top Two Boxes

Scriptnotes: Ep. 157
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Craig and John discuss the accusations of plagiarism surrounding True Detective — and what plagiarism even means in the context of filmed entertainment. Movies don’t have footnotes, so how should screenwriters give attribution?

Next it’s time for a look at the major Hollywood studios, and what would happen if any of them were to merge, like Fox and Warners seemed poised to do. Following that, we take a look at the test screening process.

Finally, John wants to talk about the Canadian “about,” which isn’t “aboot,” and is a lot more complicated than you’d think.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 8-15-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Summer Re-run: Psychotherapy for Screenwriters

Scriptnotes: Ep. 156
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John and Craig revisit one of their favorite episodes, in which they sit down with screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo to discuss writer’s block, procrastination, partnerships and more. It’s a can’t-miss episode for aspiring writers and professionals alike.

LINKS:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

The transcript of the original episode can be found here.


Two Writers, One Script

Scriptnotes: Ep. 155

John and Craig look at the trend towards hiring two writers to work on separate drafts of the same project. Is it better to have writers in parallel than serially? Or does it end up with studios ordering off a Chinese menu: this scene, that character, that other set piece?

Both Craig and John just started new first drafts, so we talk about the difference between the Map and the Territory, and how outlines can’t always anticipate the discoveries made while writing.

Finally, we answer a bunch of listener questions ranging from the Peter Stark Program to loving your day job.

Links:

You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 8-4-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


Making Things Better by Making Things Worse

Scriptnotes: Ep. 154

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

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.