In addition to today’s normal Scriptnotes episode, premium subscribers can find a half-hour interview I did with Black Mass screenwriter Mark Mallouk. We discuss the film’s long journey from book to screen, including how the sudden reappearance of Whitey Bulger in 2011 changed both the script and the production.
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?
Craig and John take an extensive look at best practices when coming in to rewrite an existing script. How do you take the reins when you weren’t the first screenwriter? Whether you’re starting over at page one or executing some surgical fixes, we discuss the psychology and reality of being the subsequent writer.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
When dealing with cutaways and flashbacks, screenwriters have a few choices for how to portray it on the page.
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.
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.
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.
On this week’s episode of Scriptnotes, I asked whether listeners had any experience with how descriptive narration for the blind was written, and whether those writers consulted the screenplay. Several listeners quickly pointed me to WGBH, and this FAQ.
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.
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.
In most stories built around a heroic quest, the big confrontation comes at the end. But moving it earlier can pay off.
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.
Noah Bradley, who illustrated several of the weapon cards for One Hit Kill, has a great post up about his journey to becoming a full-time professional artist.
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.
Gina Ippolito writes about how she got staffed on her first TV show.
Heroes are often searching of the proverbial needle in the haystack. Like many of the cards in Writer Emergency Pack, “Stack of Needles” invites you to consider doing exactly the opposite.
John and Craig take an in-depth look at turnaround and reversion, and how screenwriters get their scripts back from a studio.
Like Devin Faraci, one death in Jurassic World stuck out for me, because it didn’t feel deserved. But was does “deserved” really mean?
Daniel Wallace, who wrote the novel Big Fish, sent me the syllabus for the college writing class he’s teaching, including a first-week requirement of a 100-word short story.
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?