Screenwriter Malcolm Spellman joins Craig and John to talk about his big break, blown opportunities, and getting momentum back. Now part of the smash hit Empire, he talks about the changes and challenges African-American writers face both on the small screen and the big screen.
From Harper Lee to Sony to the Wheel of Time, it was a big week for studios trying to hold onto intellectual property. John and Craig discuss why those deals take such strange turns, including 1:30 a.m. airings on cable.
John and Craig do a deep dive on Tess Gerritsen’s lawsuit concerning Gravity, using the case as a way to talk about contracts, chain of title, adaptation and corporate ownership. Spoiler: It’s really complicated, but it’s really interesting too.
John and Craig discuss exploding scripts and stock scenes. Then in the second half of the show, we welcome two very special guests.
John and Craig pick up loose ends, with follow-up on previous episodes about “friends,” conflict, improv, Kindles, and defibrillation.
Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the how movies featuring good mentors (Dead Poet’s Society, To Sir with Love) differ from films with bad mentors (Whiplash, The Devil Wears Prada). It’s not just that the teachers are bad guys; rather, the stories are structured completely differently.
Craig and John discuss conflict — why it’s bad in real life but essential in screenwriting. We define six forms of conflict common in movies, then look at ways to sustain conflict within a scene and throughout a story.
John and Craig start the new year by discussing Chuck Palahniuk’s advice to avoid thinking verbs. Then it’s a new round of the Three Page Challenge.
John and Craig offer advice to a director taking the plunge, with guidance on both getting the work done and getting the performances you want. From there, we segue into a discussion of the Perfect Director, the next installment of our Perfect series.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
Craig and John shake off their Halloween candy hangovers by taking a look at three new Three Page Challenges, full of post-apocalyptic portals and strange signals.
John and guest host Susannah Grant sit down with Richard Kelly, Cary Fukunaga, Peter Gould, Dan Sterling and Mike Birbiglia to discuss the role of a writer/director, the wonder of television, and the purpose of table reads.
Craig and John discuss the 31 superhero movies slated for the next few years. Is it good business or a trainwreck in the making?
John and Craig were delighted to join the Slate Culture Gabfest on stage to talk about the gulf between critics and creators. We have the audio from that, and additional thoughts on the issue.
Craig and John discuss that delusional period in which you’re convinced your script is the best thing ever written — and the inevitable heartbreak when someone tells you it isn’t. (TPS is close cousins to the Oscar Speech in the Shower.)
Craig loves the 1990 blockbuster Ghost. John? Ditto. Written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker, Ghost set the template for the modern romantic drama. It was Twilight before Twilight, Titanic before Titanic. It won hearts, weekends and Oscars, including best screenplay.
This week, Craig and John tackle listener questions.
To celebrate the third anniversary of Scriptnotes, John and Craig invite Aline Brosh McKenna and her limitless analogies back to discuss box-office journalism, scene geography, emotional IQ and flipping the script.
John and Craig spend the hour discussing the number one topic whenever screenwriters are done complaining about studio notes: the end of the world, and how to get ready for it.
John and Craig take a look at four new entries in the Three Page Challenge, ranging from galactic drama to medieval comedy. Along the way, they talk about the nature of one-hour teasers, trust, plausibility, and how to properly address religious authorities.
From Amazon to animation, there’s drama this week about prices for books and movies and even internships. John and Craig take a look at what happens when companies wrestle over how much things cost, and the effect it has on people trying to make a living as writers.