Archives

QandA

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.

Changing heroes mid-stream

As an animated film moves from screenplay to storyboards to scratch reels, you see the story coming to life — and the problems front-and-center.

Ocean’s 77

Craig and John play “How Would This Be a Movie?” looking at three articles in the news.

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.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

In preparation for our live show with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, we’re re-running this episode from the Scriptnotes archive.

Random Advice 2015

Doc McStuffins creator Chris Nee joins Craig and John to answer listener questions that have nothing to do with screenwriting.

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.

Feel the Nerd Burn

Craig and John discuss three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, looking at how simple mistakes and confusing word choices can hurt the read.

The Batman in the High Castle

Craig and John discuss epic world-building, and the promises and pitfalls for writers attempting to create fictional universes.

Only haters hate rom-coms

John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre.

Whiplash, on paper and on screen

John and Craig take an in-depth look at two scenes in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH to see how conflicts were structured — and what changed from script to shooting.

Confusing, Unlikable and On-The-Nose

John and Craig look at some of the least helpful notes screenwriters receive, and strategies for dealing with them.

Live from Austin 2015

Craig and John return to the Austin Film Festival for a supersize live show with guests Nicole Perlman and Steve Zissis.

Nobody Knows Anything (including what this quote means)

Craig and John get to the bottom of William Goldman’s famous quotation about Hollywood, which is so often misapplied. Then it’s a discussion of zombie cars, wind-tunnels, blockbusters, and the paradox of choice.

Formatting a montage in Highland using Forced Action

Highland’s forced action syntax is a useful way to format unusual patterns in your screenplay.

Apprenticeship 101

Jana Kinsman worked as an apprentice beekeeper and goat-tender, but a lot of her advice applies well to anyone in their first job.

Writers Rooms, Taxes, and Fat Hamlet

John and Craig discuss the trend of hiring multiple writers to work concurrently on tentpole features. Can movies be written like television, and should they?

The One Where Aline’s Show Debuts

Aline Brosh McKenna joins us to talk through the launch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what she’s learned since she introduced us to the show nearly a year ago. Brian Lowry of Variety raves that it is “one of the fall’s most promising hours.” We’re not surprised at all.

The Martian, or Making Things Going Wrong Well

The Martian is marketed as a story of survival and ingenuity, but on a screenwriting level it’s a series of carefully-structured hopes denied.

Features are different

John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.

Screenwriter Mark Mallouk on Black Mass

In addition to today’s normal Scriptnotes episode, premium subscribers can find a half-hour interview I did with Black Mass screenwriter Mark Mallouk. We discuss the film’s long journey from book to screen, including how the sudden reappearance of Whitey Bulger in 2011 changed both the script and the production.