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Directors

Long takes and realism

Last night, I had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A with Alfonso Cuarón for Film Independent. I looked at it as an opportunity to get all my questions answered from a longtime talent crush. In particular, I wanted to know about Cuarón’s lengthy, technically-sophisticated shots.

The One with the Guys from Final Draft

The makers of Final Draft pay us a visit to clear up John and Craig’s misconceptions of, well, everything. It’s double the umbrage for your money.

Frozen with Jennifer Lee

In the tradition of the Raiders and Little Mermaid episodes, John and guest host Aline Brosh McKenna discuss and dissect the award-winning, record-setting, paradigm-shifting Frozen. But this time, we have the writer on hand to answer our questions.

Women and Pilots

Carolyn Strauss, executive producer of Game of Thrones, joins John and Craig to discuss female directors and the death of pilot season. In one short hour, they solve all the intractable problems facing the film and television industry. (Not true. Not even remotely.)

Comparing a scene as written and as shot

Using a scene from my 2003 pilot “Alaska,” I thought it would be interesting to compare the written scene to what it looked like in the final version.

Time Travel with Richard Kelly

John and Craig wind back the clock with writer-director Richard Kelly to look at the origins of Donnie Darko, and how a recent film-school grad gets a movie made.

Making The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

Saturday Night Live’s Alex Buono details how they shot one of my favorite bits this year, the Wes Anderson-ian parody trailer for “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.”

Scriptnotes: Back to Austin with Rian Johnson and Kelly Marcel

Craig and John head to the Austin Film Festival for another live edition of Scriptnotes. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the crowd for this packed show featuring Looper writer/director Rian Johnson and Saving Mr. Banks screenwriter Kelly Marcel.

What’s Next

John and Craig discuss what it feels like to finish a project — the combination of excitement and relief, joy and sadness — as Craig advises John which project he should write next now that Big Fish is set to open.

How screenwriting style changed movies

A listener makes the case that modern screenwriting style has changed how scenes themselves work.

Risky Business, and the choices you make

Jake Malooley tracks down writer-director Paul Brickman, who more or less vanished after Risky Business.

Scriptnotes, the 100th episode

John and Craig are joined by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Thurber for the 100th episode of Scriptnotes, recorded live at the Academy Lab in Hollywood. It was a great night with an amazing audience.

Let’s talk about Nikki Finke

John and Craig discuss the polarizing potentate of Deadline Hollywood Daily, then segue into what a healthy entertainment journalism ecosystem might look like.

Writing effective transitions

How you get from one scene to the next can be just as important as the scenes themselves. Craig and John talk techniques and tactics for making those cuts count.

Shine on, you Kubrick theorists

When I criticized Rob Ager’s analysis of spatial impossibilities in The Shining, I didn’t realize the extent of wild theories about Kubrick’s film.

Working with directors

In episode four of Scriptnotes, Craig and I discuss migraines and zombie apocalypse preparations before we segue to the main topic: how screenwriters work with directors, from the first meeting to on-set etiquette to giving notes in post.

Cinematic geography and the problem of genius

The genius fallacy at work: Since Kubrick was a perfectionist, anything that seems like an error in Kubrick’s work must not be an error, but must instead be a deliberate choice.

What happened in August

No Meaner Place has a lengthy conversation with Howard Rodman about August, his original screenplay that become the Josh Hartnett tech-startup indie from last year.

Surviving the director’s rewrite

There is no grand tradition of a “director’s pass.” When it happens, it’s because some directors (1) believe they can write and (2) believe they can fix the perceived problems in the script. They may say they want to “make it their own.” But underlying that is the fact that there’s something about the script that bugs them, and you haven’t been willing or able to address it.

Are music videos worth the bother?

As a general rule, don’t waste your time building a proxy career. But if your goal is to direct big action movies, a killer reel may make commercial and music videos worthwhile.

On Dogfooding, and scratching your own itch

When you make something that you yourself use, that’s called dogfooding, a contraction of “eating your own dogfood.” That’s developer-speak, but it’s something screenwriters would do well to appropriate.

Three directors, no money for rent

Most screenwriters are broke at some point. Better it happens at the start of your career than the end.

On Alice in Wonderland

I’ve not written Alice in Wonderland three times. It’s a recurring motif, dating back to 1995 and the very start of my career.

Prepping for the Directors Close-Up panels

Tonight and next Wednesday, I’ll be hosting the Director’s Close Up panels for Film Independent. Tonight’s director is Jason Reitman, joined by cinematographer Eric Steelberg, editor Dana E. Glauberman and composer Rolfe Kent. We’ll be talking about Up In The Air, Juno and Thank You For Smoking.

Learning story as a director

Film is a hundred different skills and disciplines, and no one person is going to be great at all of them.