Film Industry

Starting a screenwriting career outside of LA (or New York, or London)

In a recent episode of Scriptnotes, we shared stories from screenwriters who managed to build careers while living outside of Los Angeles, New York or London. Here are additional tales from writers who got their start without moving to the big city first.

Adam Davis, year 10

Adam Davis moved to Los Angeles in 2007, and has been offering periodic updates on what he’s learned and what he’s accomplished.

New and Old Hollywood

With credits ranging from Captain Phillips to The Hunger Games, plus several stints in WGA contract negotiations, Billy Ray knows as much as any screenwriter about the realities of working writers and the turmoil in the industry. He joins us to talk about his new Amazon pilot, The Last Tycoon, which charts the behind-the-scenes drama at a 1930s Hollywood studio.

The One with the Kates

John and Craig welcome Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, the Australian creator/stars of The Katering Show (a previous One Cool Thing).

Television Economics for Dummies

Jonathan Groff — the Black-ish writer/producer, not the actor — joins John and Craig to explain the new vocabulary of television and why companies are all about ownership.

They Won’t Even Read You

John and Craig look at how the push to increase diversity in TV writing rooms impacts writers looking to staff for the first time.

How to Introduce Characters

John talks with Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creators of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, about how they pitched and wrote their critically-acclaimed show.

Pitching an Open Writing Assignment

John and Craig discuss open writing assignments, and how to best pitch to producers and studios looking to hire a writer for a specific property. Most of the work happens before you set foot in the room, so proper planning is essential.

The One with Lawrence Kasdan

John and Craig sit down with screenwriting legend Lawrence Kasdan to discuss Star Wars, Raiders, The Bodyguard and how he’s shaped some of the most iconic big-screen stories and characters of our lifetime.

The One with the Idiot Teamster

John and Craig welcome writer-director Lorene Scafaria to talk about her new movie The Meddler and some of the unique challenges faced by female directors.

Outlines and Treatments

John and Craig look at the non-screenplay things screenwriters end up writing, most notably outlines and treatments. We discuss some of the ones we’ve written (with examples), and offer advice on writing your own.

The Invitation, and Requels

Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi join us to talk about their new movie The Invitation, and what’s it’s like to go from writing tentpole action films (like Clash of the Titans) to comedies (like Ride Along) to chamber-drama thrillers.

No More Milk Money

Craig and John welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to discuss what she learned going from writing features to show-running Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — and what’s waiting for her back in movie-land. The three of us came into the business at the height of the spec market, but everything is different now.

Fan Fiction and Ghost Taxis

Craig and John look at three stories in the news for another installment of “How Would This Be a Movie?” From fake scientists to figure skaters, we pitch our takes before some actor’s production company buys the rights. Speaking of rights, a new lawsuit targets the makers of Creed for stealing the idea. The case […]

The job of writer-producer

Dana Fox joins John and Craig to discuss her role as both screenwriter and producer of How to Be Single. Like Simon Kinberg and Chris Morgan, Dana is one of a handful of feature writers taking responsibility for delivering not just the script, but the finished movie. We look at how and why she made […]

Franchises and Final Draft

John and Craig examine why almost all of the top-grossing movies are part of a franchise — and the chicken-or-egg question at the heart of it. You don’t get Minions without Despicable Me.

The premise, or what’s the point?

Michael Tabb takes a deep look at defining the premise of your story, but “premise” might not be the best word for what he’s describing.

Five jokes, considered

I don’t have reason to write many of jokes. Most of the projects I work on are either dramas or premise-funny rather than punchline-funny. But I always admire well-crafted jokes. They’re tiny works of magic.

It’s franchises all the way down

Over lunch, I wondered aloud how many of the 100 top grossing movies were either sequels or the first film in a franchise.

The rise and fall of Relativity

Anyone who claims to have developed a mathematical system for picking hits is either delusional or willfully deceptive.

Torrenting the Oscars 2016

Every year, Andy Baio tracks online leaks of Oscar-nominated films, looking for trends.

What screenwriters mean by IP and YA

We throw these terms around on the podcast without ever defining them.

Fun with Numbers

Craig and John discuss the impact of Star Wars knocking down all the records, both for the industry and big-screen sci-fi.

Room, Spotlight and The Big Short

With Craig out of town, John invites Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Marshall Thurber over to discuss three of the best-picture contenders and their unusual scripts. None of them have classic protagonist-antagonist setups, and all three upend expectations of narrative structure. We talk about both how they work and why they work.

Scriptnotes Holiday Show 2015

John and Craig welcome special guests Malcolm Spellman, Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome and Alan Yang to the third annual Scriptnotes Holiday show, recorded live on December 9th, 2015 in Hollywood.