Professional Realism

John welcomes Derek Haas (Chicago Fire, 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious) to talk about writing accurate portrayals of different jobs, and when to sacrifice reality for storytelling. They also share their time-management strategies in honor of those New Year resolutions to get writing done. We also answer listener questions about the necessity of […]

No Writing Left Behind

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone. We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple. Links: Hope to see […]

Pitching Television, or Being a Passionate Widget

John and Craig share their insight into pitching for television. How is it different that pitching features? How do express your passion for the project? How do you avoid being a Willy Loman pitching to a Willy Loman? (Sometimes you don’t.) We also follow-up on the conversation about sexual harassment, with a focus on how […]

Aaron Sorkin vs. Aristotle

John and Craig consider a new master class in screenwriting taught by Aaron Sorkin, and a very old Greek word (anagnorisis) championed by Aristotle. Both are useful!

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.

Ocean’s 77

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

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.

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?

To Chase or To Spec

John and Craig discuss whether screenwriters are better off pursing writing assignments or working on their own material. They also look at the visual comedy of Edgar Wright, and The Shawshank Redemption’s 20th anniversary.

We’d Like to Make an Offer

John and Craig discuss spec scripts, pitches and how it feels when your movie gets brutal reviews.

Producers and pitching

What’s the difference between a reader and a producer? Much more than one high-profile online reader seems to believe. John and Craig discuss what producers do, and how one plausibly gets started.

When you only have one sample

A writing team is getting good response to their first script — but it’s their only script.

Pitching Prince of Persia

Jordan Mechner has posted the game-footage trailer we used when we pitched Prince of Persia to the studios six years ago

Setting is not story

An LA Times article about the island of Pagasa makes a great case study in the difference between an interesting setting and an actual movie idea.

Do I need a caveat?

Hollywood folk are savvy enough to realize that the guys who wrote Saw aren’t any sicker than most screenwriters.

Bailing on an idea

Knowing when to cut and run.

How to handle a phone meeting

A play by play of how it should go down.

Is it risky to spec something in the public domain?

Not if it will get you read and your expectations are adjusted.

Spec, or write it for the producer?

Have it your way first, then compromise if need be.

Writing loglines for a comedy

Check out some great ones to get inspired.

Whether to pitch or to spec

For working writers, Craig Mazin says to pitch.

Pitch fests: Are they worth it?

I’ve heard tales of studio executives buying ideas they heard during a pitch panel, but I don’t know of any verifiable success stories.

Whatever happened to…

Follow up on a pitch I sold.

Bringing a ringer for a pitch

Don’t do it. Unless that person is writing it with you.

Getting a job from a pre-visualization

When it’s useful and how to distribute it to gain interest in your movie.