Archives

QandA

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.

Screenplays on the Kindle, 2015 edition

A screenwriter friend just emailed me to ask how she could get one of her scripts to look good on the Kindle. You can’t. It’s the wrong tool for the job.

The Conflict Episode

Craig and John discuss conflict — why it’s bad in real life but essential in screenwriting. We define six forms of conflict common in movies, then look at ways to sustain conflict within a scene and throughout a story.

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.

Don’t use “thought” verbs

Palahniuk argues that every time you use one of these verbs, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to describe something fully — to show rather than tell.

Cutting Pages and Fixing Holes

It’s a clip show! John and Craig discuss cutting pages from your script, fixing plot holes, and what we’d do if we ran a studio. We’ll be back with all new episodes in 2015, the year of post-outrage rationality.

Advice to a First-Time Director

John and Craig offer advice to a director taking the plunge, with guidance on both getting the work done and getting the performances you want. From there, we segue into a discussion of the Perfect Director, the next installment of our Perfect series.

Left or Right

Tony Zhou looks at how character choice is framed as going left or right.

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

Hacks, Transference and Where to Begin

John and Craig talk about where to start a story — how far back should you go? The decision about whether to meet the hero as a child, in their normal rut, or mid-crisis fundamentally changes the narrative, so it’s worth exploring fully.

The Perfect Reader

Craig and John discuss the qualities of the perfect reader, whether it’s a studio professional or your screenwriting buddy. What should a reader look for, and how should she communicate her thoughts?

Franz Kafka’s brother, and the perfect agent

John and Craig talk about why writers are often reluctant to show their work, and how film journalists love to focus on the director — even when there’s no director in sight.

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.