Archives

QandA

Finishing a script, and the Perfect Studio Executive

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).

Lotteries, lightning strikes and twist endings

John and Craig look at the nature of fluke hits, everything from #alexfromtarget to huge spec sales. Is luck just luck, or is it about how often you play the game? Where does talent fit in?

In praise of flat adverbs

It’s not simply a matter of do-what-you-want. These words really are adverbs, they just look like their related adjective forms.

Development Emergencies

Vineet Dewan, who was nice enough to co-star in the Kickstarter video for Writer Emergency Pack, decided to film his own version pitched at development executives.

Descending Into Darkness

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.

Highland is great for novels

Highland’s manuscript mode that strikes a good balance between helpful and distracting. It’s perfect for writing your NaNoWriMo novel — and it’s half-off through November 7th.

Austin Forever

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.

Writer Emergency Pack, now in pre-launch

We’re getting close to launching a new project called Writer Emergency Pack. It’s designed as a survival tool for writers. It’s not an app or a book. It’s more like a crowbar for getting unstuck. It’s for screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, students, writing teachers — anyone who deals with story.

The Tentpoles of 2019

Craig and John discuss the 31 superhero movies slated for the next few years. Is it good business or a trainwreck in the making?

Critics, Characters and Business Affairs

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.

Toxic Perfection Syndrome

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.)

Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nicole Perlman

Craig and John talk with Guardians co-writer Nicole Perlman about the development of this summer’s blockbuster, and her two years as part of Marvel’s in-house writing program. It’s a great look at how movies get started, and the dozens of drafts you didn’t see on the big screen.

Ghost

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.

On Being Somebody

Over the last eight years, I’ve become more famous within a subset of people. Because of Scriptnotes, my voice is actually recognized as often as my face. Because of Twitter, I end up interacting with strangers much more often. And because of both outlets, people who recognize me know a lot more about me — at least, a version of me who hosts a popular podcast about screenwriting.

Luck, sequels and bus money

This week, Craig and John tackle listener questions.

A Cheap Cut of Meat Soaked in Butter

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.

Unlikable heroes and genre expectations

Chloe Angyal has a great look back at My Best Friend’s Wedding, which in many ways subverts rom-com tropes.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Articles

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.

On trust, drama and corporations

The project I’m writing centers on trust. The more I think about the word and the concept of trust, the more complicated it becomes.

Putting a price on it

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.

Texting in film and television

Craig and I may have taken umbrage at his video about comedy directors who aren’t Edgar Wright, but Tony Zhou’s newest video looking at how filmmakers handle texting and the internet on-screen is all good. Zhou’s underlying point is that we still haven’t settled on conventions for showing texting or the internet. And that’s good! […]

Threshers, Mergers and the Top Two Boxes

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?

Summer Re-run: Psychotherapy for Screenwriters

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.

Two Writers, One Script

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 working in parallel than serially? Or does it end up with studios ordering off a Chinese menu: this scene, that character, that other set piece?

Disney’s corporate synergy, 1957 and today

This graphic from 1957 shows how the various elements of the Walt Disney company fit together. You could make very much the same chart today.