Whiplash, on paper and on screen

John and Craig take an in-depth look at two scenes in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH to see how conflicts were structured — and what changed from script to shooting.

Confusing, Unlikable and On-The-Nose

John and Craig look at some of the least helpful notes screenwriters receive, and strategies for dealing with them.

Live from Austin 2015

Craig and John return to the Austin Film Festival for a supersize live show with guests Nicole Perlman and Steve Zissis.

Nobody Knows Anything (including what this quote means)

Craig and John get to the bottom of William Goldman’s famous quotation about Hollywood, which is so often misapplied. Then it’s a discussion of zombie cars, wind-tunnels, blockbusters, and the paradox of choice.

Writers Rooms, Taxes, and Fat Hamlet

John and Craig discuss the trend of hiring multiple writers to work concurrently on tentpole features. Can movies be written like television, and should they?

The One Where Aline’s Show Debuts

Aline Brosh McKenna joins us to talk through the launch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what she’s learned since she introduced us to the show nearly a year ago. Brian Lowry of Variety raves that it is “one of the fall’s most promising hours.” We’re not surprised at all.

Features are different

John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.

Campaign statements and residual statements

John and Craig discuss the WGA election results, and take a look at the issues that dominated the campaigns. What is a paper team? Do screenwriters really retire? And why does it take us so long to get paid?

PG13: Blood, Boobs and Bullcrap

John and Craig discuss the PG-13 rating, its effects and what screenwriters have to keep in mind when dealing with it. Then it’s a conversation about healthy and unhealthy relationships between writers and their representatives.

Clerks and recreation

Craig and John tackle another installment of “How would this be a movie?” with a look at the Kentucky clerk, the French train bros, Uber and Deflategate. Who are the heroes and villains, and would there be enough plot to support the running time?

NDAs and other acronyms

Craig and John open the mailbag to answer questions on acronyms in dialogue, off-the-air specs and international WGA jurisdiction. Plus we look at the growing trend of non-disclosure agreements on studio projects, and whether the nature of film requires less complex characters.

Diary of a First-Time Director

John and Craig sit down with Marielle Heller, the writer and director of the acclaimed feature Diary of a Teenage Girl, to talk about the journey of getting her movie made, from optioning the novel to the Sundance Labs through production.

The International Episode

Craig and John look at how movies are translated, including an interview with a guy who does subtitles for a living. Plus, how Pixar and other companies are localizing movies for international audiences, and what happens when China becomes the largest film market.

One-Handed Movie Heroes

John and Craig discuss why movie heroes — unlike those in novels or musicals — generally don’t profess internally conflicting views. In reality, our feelings on a topic are likely shades of gray. On the big screen, characters tend to articulate a single point firmly.

How to Not Be a Jerk

Craig and John look at best practices for screenwriters promoting their films, both in traditional media and online. We’re not subtweeting anyone, and neither should you.

How descriptive audio works

John and Craig take a deep look at how descriptive audio for the blind works, with clips from Daredevil and an interview with a woman who does it for a living. It’s a fascinating form of writing, with many of the same challenges screenwriters face.

Why movies have reshoots

Reshoots used to be a sign that something had gone horribly wrong. But not anymore. John and Craig look at the reasons why Hollywood movies often go back for additional photography, and how the writer is involved.

Everything but the dialogue

John and Craig take a deep dive into scene description, looking at how seven produced screenplays arranged the words on the page. With samples from Aliens, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11, Unforgiven, Wall-E, Wanted and Whip It, we tackle verbs and metaphors, ellipses and underlining.

The One with Alec Berg

Craig sits down with Silicon Valley writer/director Alec Berg to talk about set ups and payoffs, editing comedy and how writing teams get screwed.

No one makes those movies anymore

Craig and John look at why certain genres of movies — mid-budget thrillers, adult dramas and romantic comedies — aren’t getting made, and whether there’s any way to get them back.

Nobody Eats Four Marshmallows

John and Craig take an in-depth look at turnaround and reversion, and how screenwriters get their scripts back from a studio.

Everyman vs. Superman

From Wolverine to The Rock, male action heroes have literally gotten bigger over the last decade. Craig and John look at how that impacts story. Is there hope for the the ordinary man in an extraordinary situation? Will we ever get back to Kurt and Keanu?

How would this be a movie?

John and Craig look at three current news stories from a screenwriter’s perspective, discussing how each lends itself to becoming a movie.

The 200th Episode Live Show

Craig, John, and Aline record the 200th episode of Scriptnotes live with a worldwide audience listening in — and chiming in — as they discuss TV showrunning and whether quality really counts at the box office.

Second Draft Doldrums

Craig and John discuss finding your way back to your story — and your enthusiasm — when writing your second draft. Craig has tips and suggestions. John has sympathy and war stories.