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Film Industry

How descriptive narration gets written

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.

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.

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.

How to Get Staffed on a TV show

Gina Ippolito writes about how she got staffed on her first TV show.

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?

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.

How do bad movies get made?

Craig and John tackle a single topic: bad movies and how they happen. Having experienced the process first-hand, they report on how bad ideas make it to the screen, and how good ideas go wrong. There’s no single answer, but a range of patterns that end in terrible movies.

The long and short of it

John and Craig dig into the listener mailbag and take questions on TV producer credits, jealousy over other writers’ success, writing tight vs writing long and plenty of other follow up.

Writing for Hollywood without living there

Canadian screenwriter Ryan Knighton joins John and Craig to discuss how you sustain a career writing for Hollywood studios while living a flight away. Knighton’s first screenplay was the adaptation of his memoir about going blind. He’s since written for several studios, including a new project for Ridley Scott.

Poking the bear

This week, Craig and John discuss recent events that seem custom-designed to make Craig furious.

How writing credits work

Craig and John do a deep-dive into the world of screenwriting credits, explaining the entire process from the Notice of Tentative Writing Credits, to arbitration to review boards. The system can be confusing, but most produced screenwriters will find themselves facing it at some point, so it’s important to understand how it works.

This Is Working

For the first time ever, John and Craig spend an entire episode on a full-length original screenplay, K.C. Scott’s THIS IS WORKING.

Midseason Finale

Craig and John wrap up many plotlines from previous episodes, with follow-up on Three Page Challenges, diversity numbers, Road Runner and other rules, plus the Gravity lawsuit in light of the Blurred Lines verdict.

The Coyote Could Stop Any Time

John and Craig take a look at the self-imposed rules behind the Road Runner cartoons, and how limiting one’s choices is different than following dogma.

The Rules (or, the Paradox of the Outlier)

John and Craig discuss this year’s screenplay Oscar winners, including the success of Birdman’s outside-the-box approach and Graham Moore’s speech.

Malcolm Spellman, a Study in Heat

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.

The Deal with the Gravity Lawsuit

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.

The One with Rebel Wilson and Dan Savage

John and Craig discuss exploding scripts and stock scenes. Then in the second half of the show, we welcome two very special guests.

INT. THE WOODS – NIGHT

John and Craig pick up loose ends, with follow-up on previous episodes about “friends,” conflict, improv, Kindles, and defibrillation.

How color timing works

Daryn Okada offers a great look at how a cinematographer approaches color-timing a feature in this latest video from The Academy.

Bad Teachers, Good Advice and the Default Male

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.

Doing, not thinking

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.