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QandA

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.

Psychotherapy for screenwriters

John and Craig sit down with screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo to discuss writer’s block, procrastination, partnerships and more. It’s a can’t-miss episode for aspiring writers and professionals alike.

Long movies, producer credits and price-fixing

John and Craig discuss the Apple ebook price-fixing lawsuit and its lessons for Hollywood, before segueing to the new credits system for producers. Then: Have movies gotten too long, and would making them shorter really save money?

Is 15 the new 30?

Have first acts gotten shorter, or does it just feel that way? John and Craig discuss the pressure on screenwriters to “get to it” faster, and why that’s often the wrong goal.

The Origins and Formatting of Modern Screenplays

John Hess gives a terrific overview of the history of the screenplay format, and how changes in the film industry changed how the words are arranged on the page.

Eating dessert first

Joss Whedon’s productivity advice is to figure out what you actually need to do, then do the most fun stuff first.

Notes on the death of the film industry

John and Craig discuss the death of the film industry as foretold by four prominent filmmakers. Is the way we make movies unsustainable? Is the system fundamentally broken, or just changing into something new? And why don’t we make romantic comedies anymore?

10 Questions, 10 Answers

John and Craig tackle the bursting mailbag, answering listener questions on topics ranging from the variable length of the TV season to underachieving agents to embarrassing IMDb credits.

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.

End today’s writing with a plan for tomorrow’s

Chuck Wendig offers ten writing tricks, including an old standby that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Little Mermaid

Craig and John spend an entire episode discussing and dissecting 1989’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, looking at both its structure and scene work.

Sounds teenagers make

James Harbeck analyzes some of the common annoying sounds in teenage speech, many of which are hard to portray in dialogue.

Mason and Finley

The 22-year old twins at the center of my 1999 TV show D.C. were named Mason and Finley. Rare names at the time, but increasingly common.

Bechdel and Batman

It’s a week of pondering other people’s opinions. First, Craig and John take a look at the Bechdel Test: is it a useful metric for screenwriters, or just meaningless checkbox-ticking?

The life of the unknown screenwriter

Justin Marks offers a look at what it’s like to be a working screenwriter you’ve never heard of.

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.

Ugly children and cigarettes

Has a statistician cracked the code on successful screenplay formulas? John and Craig cast a skeptical eye at a New York Times article on Vinny Bruzzese, who claims to have done exactly that.

Moving On is not Giving Up

John and Craig discuss when to stop rewriting a project and accept that it’s just not going to become a movie. Then we go bigger to look at when to give up on the dream of being a screenwriter — which starts with a hard look at why people seek out the career in the first place.

Writing vs. Speaking

For screenwriters, John McWhorter’s TEDTalk on texting grammar is a useful reminder of the differences between how people talk and how they write. Speech is made up of word clusters with no discrete punctuation. Because speech is almost always dialogue — you’re usually speaking with somebody — it’s structured in a way that allows interruption. […]

Taking notes

Craig leads the discussion on how to survive a notes meeting. As screenwriters, our instinct is to defend, deny and debate — but these are almost always the wrong choice. By reframing the discussion about the movie rather than the script, you can often end up at a better place.

Another Time and Place

John and Craig discuss the odd dislocation writers experience when writing movies in coffeeshops and windowless offices. We’re literally “someplace else” with our characters, but learning how to work in less-than-ideal circumstances is part of the screenwriter’s trade.

First sale and funny on the page

Craig and John look at two recent court decisions that could have a big impact on how movies get sold and resold — and how writers get paid. First-Sale Doctrine is one of those intractable issues that involves freedom and control, bits and atoms, creators and consumers.

A city born of fire

Writer Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma) joins John and Craig to discuss gay slurs, refrigerator logic and his TV show, Chicago Fire.

Veronica Mars Attacks

Craig and John discuss the big Veronica Mars/Kickstarter news in one of the more contentious podcasts to date. If you like umbrage, this is the show for you.

Blunt notes and Blade Runner

A Reddit user uncovered some [blunt Blade Runner notes, which are not at all uncommon.