The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Scriptnotes; it’s a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters, including the ones right here in this audience.

[Applause!]

Craig: Ah, god, they are both the greatest and worst audience ever.

John: They are a fantastic audience.

We’ve got a full house here at the Writers Guild Foundation Craft Day 2013. Thank you guys all so much for coming. We are in the Writers Guild Theater which is not at the Writers Guild, so about half the people here probably drove to the wrong place and then came to the right place. And that’s great; you’re in the right place because today we are going to be talking about…Craig, what are we going to talk about today?

Craig: Well, today we thought we would do one of our Three Page Challenge episodes, but we kind of have a nice thing today. This is a first for us, and it’s a little scary, as scary as it is for the people who send in these pages and have us analyze them and critique them. Today it’s a little scary for us because we have the screenwriters of those pages here today.

We have to look them in the eye, which is not going to temper what I say at all. But, still, it’s a great thing. And so that seems like a fun way to go through this. We have three different Three Page Challenges. And then I think, maybe, if we have some time…

John: We’ll have some questions at the end.

Craig: From you guys.

John: From you guys, here, live in the audience.

Craig: No, we have questions for you.

John: Yeah, we’re going to just pick random people and ask you questions. So, be thinking about questions you may want to ask me and Craig or the writers of the pages that are up here, or things that you see in the pages that you want to have more clarity on.

Just to give a little backstory here: We’ve been doing the Three Page Challenge since almost the beginning of the podcast. And this came from something you used to do on Done Deal Pro where you’d say like, okay, somebody can send in four pages and I’ll tell you whether your four pages are good. You can sort of tell within the first couple pages if a person knows what they’re doing on the page.

Craig: Yeah. There’s levels that we can look for. The reason I started doing it on Done Deal Pro is because a lot of people were, frankly, I’m always motivated by a certain sense of evil, as you know, and a lot of people speak as if they know what they’re talking about.

And it makes me a little crazy. And so some people were being very harsh on other writers and I kind of was like — “You know what? You show me; show me in four pages. I think I can give you a sense in four pages.”

And some of these people wrote — most of them wrote fairly mediocre stuff to not-good. Some of them wrote four pages where I could literally say, “You should stop doing this.” You know, it’s like on those singing shows, sometimes people come in and they’re like [hums terribly] and they’re like, “Just everybody agrees — stop.”

But, you know, then there are some people that really did some great stuff. One guy in particular wrote four pages that I liked so much I asked to read the whole script. And I liked the script so much that I sent it to a manager. He has a manager now and he’s working.

John: Yeah. The instinct behind doing it on the podcast was we try to talk about screenwriting, and it’s very hard to talk about screenwriting without having something in front of you to talk about. So, you guys have been so generous to send in pages, so thank you to everyone who has sent in pages. If we’re not getting to your pages today, you can go to johnaugust.com/threepage — it’s all spelled out — and there are instructions for how you can send in your pages.

And Stuart, who is there in the corner. Stuart, raise your hand.

Craig: Stuart! Stand up, Stuart. Stand up!

John: People don’t believe Stuart is real.

Craig: That’s him! That’s what he looks like!

John: That’s Stuart.

Craig: That’s the guy we hired to play Stuart.

John: Exactly. The real Stuart looks nothing like that guy who just stood up.

Craig: Real-Stuart is an entity.

John: Yes. But Stuart reads through all of them and sort of — I will say, “Stuart, send us three samples of things we can read.” And so I don’t look at any of them until Stuart sends them. So, Stuart is the quality control on that. And Stuart picked some great ones for us today, so let’s get started on the ones that were sent in that we took a look at.

Craig: All right.

John: So, Stuart picked these for us. So, don’t blame us if we didn’t pick your pages. Blame the guy who pretends to be Stuart.

Craig: There’s a lot of deflection on Stuart.

John: Our first three page sample is from, it’s called Enjoy the Show, and Allie and Liz Sayle wrote it.

Craig: Where are you Allie and Liz?

John: Where are you guys?

Craig: Hey!

John: Come on up.

Craig: Are you guys related? Good. Because the same last name — it just would have been weird.

John: Can we get microphones for these guys? All right, while we’re getting microphones we’re going to talk about what we saw on these pages and then we’ll ask you more about them.

So, Enjoy the Show. I will do the summary for people who are not — who don’t have the pages in front of them; like if you’re driving your car you wouldn’t know what we’re talking about, so I’m going to give you the quick summary. Our scene starts in a movie theater arcade. We meet a guy who is at a claw machine and his name is Andrew. And he’s trying to get a Fozzie Bear out of it. And we’re going to learn that he’s trying to get this Fozzie Bear because there’s this girl he kind of has a crush on that he wants to give this Fozzie Bear to.

He’s gone through all his quarters and he finally ends up succeeding and getting the Fozzie Bear. There’s also intercut a woman driving very fast on the freeway. Her name is Brody. When we come back to the arcade, to the movie theater arcade, we see Andrew who has the bear. We see Kellen, a friend of his, and it’s Kellen’s girlfriend that he’s trying to hand off the bear to. And that is what we’ve gotten to at the end of these three pages.

Craig: Right. You know, not bad. Not bad. I’m going to go through… — The stuff that I thought that came through that I liked the most was the — an interesting expression of a guy who is going through unrequited love. That’s a pretty familiar circumstance and I thought it was shown in a somewhat unfamiliar way. He singled in on Fozzie Bear like that’s what is going to do it is Fozzie Bear.

I like the idea that he has kind of fetishized this one thing. What was missing for me though was the notion of why Fozzie Bear, frankly. I mean, he’s discarded all these other things. If you look at the first bit here, what’s happening is he’s pounding through all of these quarters and he’s got all these animals on the ground and there’s one animal left, I think, correct? Fozzie Bear.

We don’t know if he’s trying to get — at this point I just assume he’s just, he’s autistic and needs to clean out the claw machine. You know what I mean? And you do have to always think about what the audience knows versus what you know. So, if you want us to know that it’s because he needs the Fozzie Bear, my suggestion is maybe that he starts by getting an animal, pulls it out, and then just hands it to a kid, or tosses it to a kid and is moving to that one. And we see he’s trying to get that one. Instead of getting Fozzie Bear he keeps getting the wrong one. You know what I mean?

So, some way that we can get that the Fozzie Bear is the one. When he’s talking to the Tween with Attitude, this was a nice way, I thought, of getting out the essential details. His best friend has a girl; he’s in love with that girl; he’s kind of hiding that he’s in love with that girl. I love this last line, “I’ll be your girlfriend. If you want to make her jealous.” That was really cute.

But in there I’d also love to know why Fozzie Bear. [laughs] Like, you know, just some indication of why this has become so important to him. Otherwise he’s just going to seem a bit bizarre.

The intercut to me does not work here.

John: The intercut to the freeway?

Craig: That’s right. The cutaway to the freeway. It didn’t work for me for two reasons. One, we just did an episode about transitions. There’s no transition to this. So, there’s no throw really from where we are to there.

John: Craig, you’re wrong. There is actually a throw. So, if you look at the bottom. Actually, I liked the…

Craig: “Grips the joystick?”

John: Joystick to gearshift.

Craig: That doesn’t work. It’s too matchy-matchy to me. It’s too much of a trick. I was looking for a little bit more of some reason to be on the road. And I guess since I never got a reason to be on the road, the transition didn’t work for me going in. I mean, I saw the joystick thing and on the way back coming out of it, again, there’s no transition really back.

The biggest issue with cutting away there is that nothing happens. We see a woman and she’s driving fast. And she drives fast for a while, by the way. It’s very well described, but maybe too much so. So, I guess my question is: Is that something we need or could you even start the movie with her? If she’s going to be showing up in a second, start with this crazy woman on a road, and then cut to the quarters and stuff so that it’s there.

Anyway, it was a strange interruption for me. And then lastly I want to talk about when the girl arrives. So, Zia is the girl. That’s the girl that he wants to give the bear to. And we have Kellen walk in, and that’s the first person you want us to see, which means it’s the first person the movie is concentrating on. And I wanted the movie to be concentrating on her. I mean, I’ve been hearing about her. He’s been doing all this for her. I want to see her walk in. And then I want to make a moment of it.

We talk a little bit about how to expand or contract moments so that they are of different value. And for this character I think her entrance should be of the greatest value, so that should expand a little bit. Let me see her. Show me him looking at her. Show me what that does. Show me a moment where it’s just the two of them. They don’t have to be talking; they could be across the room. But it’s just the two and then this guy comes in, you know. And that disrupts things. And the Fozzie Bear goes behind him. And then there’s chit chat. And then he tosses the bear.

Those were my general… — But, you know, you guys can write. I mean, that’s the good news. It was really well laid out. It was well written. It’s just finding those choices in there for me.

John: I want to know who is who and some backstory on this. So, which one of you is Liz and which is Ally.

Liz Sayle: I’m Liz.

Allie Sayle: I’m Allie.

John: And are you in fact sisters?

Liz/Allie: Yes.

John: Great. It was a simple guess, but you never know. Maybe you just ended up having the same last name and that was how it works.

Craig: Or, or…

John: Or they could be married.

Craig: DOMA.

John: DOMA.

Craig: DOMA.

John: My husband and I have the same last name, people think we’re brothers.

Now, tell us about this script. Is this the first script you guys wrote together?

Liz/Allie: No.

John: Okay. So, what’s the motivation behind writing this script.

Liz: Well, the script is actually about, so the woman in the car is coming to the theater and sort of takes the movie theater hostage. And so we were just in a movie theater and we were like this is a really good place to rob someone. [laughs]

Craig: A theater like this one?

Liz: Yeah, exactly. It’s like no one would ever catch you. Or, they’re not prepared for it. So, now every time we go to a movie theater — that was like a couple years ago — we’re like every time you’re there you’re like, “Oh, I need to do this, I need to do this.” And so we just sort of need to write this story so we can go to the movie theater without thinking about how to take it over.

John: By the way, movie theaters are a great place to — I don’t want to say you should go rob a movie theater — but they are like sort of great for heists because they have a lot of cash on the weekends. There is interesting stuff to do in a movie theater. So, I applaud your instinct behind committing violence in a movie theater on paper rather than in actual life.

Did Craig interpret things correctly in sort of what he was saying? Is Zia a more important character than Kellen? Tell us?

Allie: Yeah. I think so. I think what we were thinking is Zia is obviously the girl that he likes. And so by having Kellen come in and do the interaction, showing sort of what’s in between there, but I don’t think you get enough of her, like you were saying.

Craig: Yeah. I would keep that interaction. That interaction played very natural and very real. I don’t need to know what “One forty eighty-five” means. I like not knowing what people are talking about and it seems realistic to me. It was just about sort of showcasing her. Reward us for our interest in her is basically what it is.

John: Let’s get a little more specific on the page. A few things that stuck out for me that were things to look at. Your first sentence of real description, “Fade In on a metal claw…inside Plexiglas.” Got that. “It drops nothing down a metal chute.”

Now, “It drops nothing down a metal chute,” on the third time reading through it you get what it’s actually saying that there’s nothing in the claw to drop, but I had to read that twice or three times to really get what that is. And the first sentence shouldn’t be that. So, find another way just to convey that idea that it’s an empty claw dropping that has nothing in it to drop as it gets to the end.

The super says “Thousand Oaks, CA 2010.” Why 2010?

Craig: I picked up on that, too.

John: Is there a reason why it needs to be 2010?

Allie: I think we wanted to sort of do the action in it to sort of make you think that it was a real, like something that actually happened. And we just thought that setting it in a very specific time…

Craig: Oh, I see.

Allie: …that that might sort of make it seem more realistic.

John: So, maybe if you got even more specific then we would know that it was more like a real event. So, if you said like “April 22, 2010,” then we would know that there’s a specific reason why we’re there. Because right now I read it as 2010 and I’m thinking like was that a zip code that you didn’t like finish. I didn’t really read it as a year.

Andrew, who is our main character through this first section, he doesn’t get his own cool line of description. You say, “Safe. Doesn’t get a lot of sunlight,” but if this is our main character I think you can throw us an extra line of something more specific about him. Because “doesn’t get a lot of sunlight” could just be like Craig’s kid.

Craig: Yeah.

John: That doesn’t tell us a whole lot.

Craig: He’s really white. We were just talking about it. My wife is white and he’s white, white, white, white.

John: Andrew is listed as being 19 years old, but the action I see him doing makes him feel a little bit younger. I felt like I watching a high school kid and not a 19-year-old kid. And so just be mindful of that. And if it’s important that he be 19 years old, that’s awesome, but I felt like he could have been younger for the kind of stuff that we saw happen just in these first couple pages.

Near the bottom of your first page, we go to “INT. ARCADE — LATER.” You can do that. So, you changed time. Same place, changed your time. Another way you could do that is just to say “LATER” as a slug line. And that way we don’t have to think, “Am I in a new place?” No, you’re in the same place, you’ve just moved to a later time. Either way works.

I wonder if you could cut the first two lines of Andrew talking to himself. Right now it’s:

ANDREW

(to no one)

If you want it. Take it. I was just going to throw it away.

(then)

My class was cancelled. So, I came early-

(no)

I was just killing time in the arcade. Yeah, check it out. I won it. What? You like Fozzie Bear?

That could be the first line of his dialogue, because we get what he’s doing from just that line. So, if you want to cut those first two I think you would be in a good place.

Craig: You know, now that you mention that, I actually bracketed that. I’m not sure you need any of that. We’ve seen that before. And I feel like I would much rather have him explain this strange obsession with Fozzie Bear to those other kids, because it’s so specific. It’s not I want to give her a thing, because you could replace Fozzie Bear with, oh, you like Hello Kitty there, you know what I mean?

It’s why-that-one. I’d much rather him explain it to her and just cut these sort of play acting dialogue here which we have seen a lot.

John: Yeah. And honestly if you were to cut all that out, if you started with Tween with Attitude’s first line, “Does she have a boyfriend?” If we’ve seen the claw going for these toys and the first line of dialogue is, “Does she have a boyfriend,” that’s really clarified what it is he’s attempting to do.

I agree on sort of like the transition coming back from the car was troubling. And I wonder if ultimately you’re going to be happier keeping all of Andrew’s stuff together and not cutting away to that woman, because nothing actually happens with that woman. So, if we were to follow Andrew’s storyline through in terms of like everything with the bear and trying to get the bear and like his frustration there, that might be the best time and then get to this woman who’s going to be arriving at the theater.

I understand your instinct for trying to show that something is coming, but we’ve sort of barely got stuff started before we jumped away to something else.

And you said you were fine with “One forty eight-five. Beat that.” What does that mean? What is it supposed to me? A score?

Allie: We don’t know. [laughs]

John: You don’t know? Okay, that’s fine.

Liz: She doesn’t know. It’s like a high score in a video game, or something like that.

Allie: We just wanted something to quickly establish that these guys are close, they’re good friends, and they’re a little bit competitive.

John: Great. And even like something he can point to or gesture, just so it doesn’t… — Because, again, it’s one of those things where if I read it three times and try to make sense of it and I can’t make sense of it, I might stop reading. And anything you can do to keep me from stop reading is your friend in the first three pages.

So, tell us, is the script all the way written or is it still in progress?

Allie: The first draft is.

John: The first draft. And what ends up happening at the end. Tell us the journey of where these characters get to.

Liz: You’re looking at me like you want me to do that.

Allie: I mean…[laughs]

Craig: Have you read it?

Allie: I have. I have. At the end, I mean, we end up blowing up the theater.

John: Good. There’s like a teenage Die Hard in a movie theater.

Allie: Sort of, yeah.

Liz: Yeah.

John: Yeah, awesome. Then done. Done and done.

Craig: Does he get the girl?

Allie: Yes.

Craig: All right, good.

John: Anymore questions for our sisters?

Craig: No, no, not at all. Keep at it. Keep at it, guys.

John: You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for sending your pages.

Craig: Thank you Allie and Liz.

John: Thank you guys.

Craig: Nice work. Thanks. Good job.

John: All right, our next pages come from Kate Gragg. Where’s Kate? Hi Kate. Come here and have a seat.

Kate Gragg: Thank you.

John: Cheers for Kate. A very brave Kate.

Craig: Hi Kate.

John: So, let’s talk to you before we start going into your pages. Tell us — do you want to describe what happens in these three pages?

Kate: It’s the opening to a TV pilot that I wrote. A woman, Hattie, she’s in a sort of tourist gift shop/car rental place. And she’s having trouble renting a car because all of her credit cards have been canceled because she’s been declared dead. And so she hitches a ride on a church tour bus that’s going to one of those mega churches. And then cowboys show up and it’s basically a stage coach robbery.

John: Thank you. We should always have the real people do it because you do so much better a job of summarizing things than Craig and I ever do.

Craig: Do you have like a job? Maybe we could just bring you in for Three Page Challenges and you could just…

Kate: I would love that.

John: That would be fantastic.

Craig: Yeah. We don’t pay any money or anything.

John: So, Kate, is this whole script written, or is it just the first three pages?

Kate: It’s written. And I’m going to do the rewriting class at the LA Extension.

Craig: Awesome.

John: Great. Cool. So, I really enjoyed some elements in your pages here and let me talk about some stuff that worked really well for me.

I liked that it was sort of cross-genres. And so we see these cowboys who we assume are just people talking and stuff on the side of the road, and then it becomes this robbery. So, we’re excited that it’s a robbery and it’s going to a strange place. And so I would have kept reading after these three pages because it’s just so bizarre that this is happening; that this church bus is being robbed.

There are some stuff which got in the way, so let me talk you through some of those things. We first meet Hattie and she is in this car rental shop. She’s trying to rent a car. I didn’t get a good sense of who she was at this moment. And so let’s look at our first line of description:

“HATTIE CONWAY, 26” — I think you need a comma after the 26 — “fidgets with a bucking bronco figurine on a rack of Texas-themed souvenirs, keeping one eye on the CLERK behind the counter as he nods along to a phone call.”

The stuff with the clerk and the nodding along, I totally get that. Fidgets doesn’t feel like quite the right verb. Fidgets is something to me that you do to yourself and it’s not something you do to an object.

Craig: Fiddles.

John: Fiddles. I think fiddles is a Craig Mazin suggestion that we’ll take.

I didn’t buy the guy saying, “The estate is still in probate.” It felt like too much of a reach. It doesn’t feel like the kind of thing that would actually be said to somebody on the phone. So, I like the fact that, “They say you’re dead.” That’s a great idea.

I would also look at the end of this scene, this first little scene:

“Hattie turns towards the window, ignoring him, scanning for options.”

Now, that “scanning for options is meant to lead us outside so we can see like what she’s seeing from her point of view on the bus, but because you gave us another line afterwards, “I got probation too. Were you down at County?” I forgot that we were looking outside, and so that transition didn’t really work for me. So, if the last line of the first scene was “scanning for options,” and then we cut to the outside, then I’d like, okay, that’s her point of view and she’s seeing what’s out there.

I didn’t necessarily buy her grabbing the t-shirts and trying to get onto that bus. I like that idea that she’s going to try to get on that bus, but what you gave us were those little two half scenes and then suddenly she’s on the bus. And I would love to see more about Hattie and learn more about Hattie by seeing how she talks her way onto that bus, because that is a moment where a character can actually do something rather than just the movie jumping ahead.

And so then once we get to the conversation with the pirate and his buddy and all this action, I was with you, and I was curious about what was going to happen next. I wasn’t sure of quite what tone of movie we were in. It felt like one of those sort of exaggerated Coen Brothers early comedies, but I was curious what it was going to be. Craig?

Craig: Yeah, that’s the part that I really appreciate here is the tone. I think that there’s the promise of something good here. There really is.

First of all, the notion of a girl who is on the run because she’s dead and the backstory there, I’m sure, is interesting. Joining up with a bunch of cowboy-riding dudes, who I imagine are, well, skinny and fair-faced and chubby and baby-faced, all right, maybe not, but maybe there’s some romance in there somewhere. But, the notion of an outlaw that’s kind of a weird horseback outlaw on the blacktops of Texas — that’s fun. I like that. There’s an interesting vibe to that.

The heat of it, like my favorite line in here is the introduction of Pirate and Buddy, “Staring down a stretch of two-lane backtop, baking in the relentless Texas sun,” and I start to feel like I’m in Thelma & Louise. It’s visual and I really like that.

And because you are finding an interesting tone, you now have to be really careful about introducing anything in there that starts to deflate it. And the things that can deflate tone — and jokes are tough, because a good joke will make tone work, and a bad joke will just deflate it.

So, let’s talk about this very first scene. I agree, by the way, with everything John said. But in a bigger way, I think you have to rethink how you’re revealing this information. This is a big piece of information. “You’re dead,” right, and I think the way you’re doing it is the least interesting way. You know, there’s a guy nodding and then, “They say you’re dead.” Wah. There it is. Blah. You know what I mean?

This is off the top of my head but we’re just on a clerk and he’s got a credit card and he’s like, “Well, yeah, I mean, she owes me a certain amount of money here. I’m trying to settle a bill. Or she owed me money,” whatever the language is. We’re trying to basically create a distraction and misdirection. “And when did she die? About how long ago? Of what, now? I see. All right. Well thank you very much. I should cut this card up, right, because she’s dead. Okay. Miss, here’s your card.”

You know, like just to reveal — some more interesting way of revealing that there is a woman who’s supposed to be dead who is not dead. “Can’t arrest the dead!” isn’t a bad line, except we’ve said “dead” a lot. So, maybe in that area think of the rhythm and maybe, “Can’t arrest a corpse,” something else. Something to just change up that rhythm or that feeling.

The exchange between Pirate and Buddy is — unfortunately Tarantino has kind of ruined this for us all. We don’t get to do it anymore, really. If anything sounds like, “What do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Holland?” then you come up with another way. And, frankly, I always feel like when we first meet two characters there is an opportunity to learn so much about the differences between the two of them. And maybe even if there is conflict, hopefully, that emerges between those two, plant the seeds of it now. It doesn’t have to be overly dramatic; it could be over a small thing.

It could be two guys arguing over who gets the last piece of gum. But in one way or another there is something — give us a little more meat than just jokes, because it got a little jokey. Similarly, “I got probation too. Were you down at Country?” Too jokey. Right?

“(reading off a notepad) ‘The estate is still in probate.'” That’s not this guy, right?

So, try and find that tone. Really liked her on the bus. Love the image of these people singing. It’s very visual. I like the way you write so visually. And the heist itself was done really well. I mean, for you guys looking on the page, lots of white space. We’re not being jammed with details that we don’t need. “BUS and TRUCK speeding down the road.” I love shit like that.

“Galloping HORSES. BUS and TRUCK speeding down the road.” So many scripts we read about, you know, the bus — you hear the gears winding and the tires and the sky and a bird goes, “Wah.” “Bus and truck speeding down the road.”

“You know what this is. Open up.” Maybe we could do a little bit better there without getting jokey or violating tone. And then, “Hattie has never been more awake in her life.” Eh, I don’t know that. [laughs] You know? My guess is she has probably had some interesting things happen to her, but I think this may be, “Hattie perks up.”

This is one of those moments where I like to sort of take a look at a character and say, “Everybody shrinks back in fear, except Hattie, who sits forward.” Do you know what I mean? To like say, “Oh, she’s different.”

But, there’s a lot of good promise here and I like the way you’re writing it. So, guard your tone. Defend your tone.

John: I would also keep Hattie front and center. Because what I notice through this first section is she is responding to other people but you don’t see her taking initiative. And that’s why seeing her take some initiative in the car rental place is important, but even more so how she gets herself on the bus and what she’s like on the bus — don’t let your hero be a passenger, literally, at the start of your story because then we’re not there with her.

And so then you can maybe earn a line like, “Hattie has never been more awake in her life.” Or at least we’ll know who she is when you give us that kind of line.

So, tell us what happens ultimately in your script.

Kate: Hattie ends up going back to the very small southern Texas town where she’s from. And she hasn’t been back in a long time. And she, through the course of the story, discovers that her mother who vanished in mysterious circumstances when she was a kid actually ran this secret outlaw ghost town that those cowboys are from. And they want her to be their new leader.

John: Great.

Craig: That sounds weird, and I’m into weird.

John: Yeah. It sounds really cool. And so does she know these guys at the start of the story?

Kate: No, but they recognize her because she looks a lot like her mom. She didn’t know any of this existed.

John: So, once they’re on the bus, they’re going to recognize her as being special and unique. That’s great, and that tells us that she’s a character worth watching.

Craig: Yeah. Just be careful about — coincidences can happen. I mean, Dickens built a wonderful career in coincidences. But, when two people are moving towards each other, and it’s coincidental, that can be a problem for the audience. When one person finds somebody who’s moving — you know, somebody is running away, she’s running away. When you tell me that, now I don’t want her to want to be interested in these guys. I want her to be, “Holy shit, I’ve got to get away from these guys.” And they find her and then they’re like, “Oh, look who that looks like.”

You know what I mean? In other words, you don’t want people moving towards each other and going, “Oh, and also we belong together.”

John: In a movie you get essentially one coincidence, and that coincidence should usually be the premise of your film. Like that is sort of the Passover Principle. This is why tonight is unlike all other nights, is that this is why we’re watching this movie here and now. And this could be exactly that premise coincidence where like they happen to rob the bus that she’s on and that brings her back into the fold.

But if you can find ways to have your hero create that circumstance, you’re almost always better off. So, if something she did ends up bringing her to that place, then it doesn’t count as a coincidence. It doesn’t count against you as a coincidence.

Kate: Great.

John: Thank you so much.

Craig: Great job, Louisa. I mean, not Louisa. Kate. I was jumping ahead. Kate, right?

Kate: Yes.

Craig: Sorry, I was jumping into the next person.

Kate: Thank you.

Craig: Good job, Kate. Good job.

John: All right. Our final batch of three pages comes from Louisa Makaron and you’re going to forgive me when I mispronounce your name.

Louisa Makaron: It’s Ma-karon.

John: Louise Makaron. That’s actually much simpler.

Craig: Uh, you spelled it wrong.

Louisa: I know. Someone spelled it wrong along the way.

Craig: Yeah. There’s an airport that spells it right.

Louisa: Yeah. I’m from Vegas actually where that airport lives.

Craig: You should just change it.

Louisa: I think I will.

Craig: Just change it.

Louisa: People think I’m Irish. I don’t know. I’m not Irish.

Craig: What are you?

Louisa: I’m Italian. It’s not indicated there.

Craig: No, there’s no vowel at the end. You should change it.

Louisa: I’m gonna. It’s happening.

Craig: Yeah, it makes sense.

John: Louisa, what was your decision process for sending in these three pages? When did you decide, You know what? I’m going to bite the bullet and send it in.”

Louisa: Well, yeah, motivated by terror mostly. Just like, just do it. I sat there with my finger over the Send button for probably ten minutes.

John: And you did it.

Louisa: Just send it, you know. Well, just like, it’s good. It’s good.

John: And so when you arrived here at the theater you saw that your pages. How were you feeling?

Louisa: More terror.

John: More terror?

Louisa: Yeah.

Craig: Right now? Terror right now in this moment?

Louisa: A little bit, yeah.

John: After us watch us talk to the first two entries, how are you feeling now?

Louisa: The same terror, I guess. I feel okay.

John: Okay. You should feel okay. You should feel pretty good.

Craig: You don’t really have levels of terror. You just have one steady…

John: Steady state.

Louisa: It’s pretty much constant. Yeah.

Craig: Okay.

Louisa: It’s how I live.

Craig: She has a static terror.

John: Yeah. It’s like you’re living in a police state where there’s always sort of unrest inside your head.

Louisa, talk to us about the pages you sent through and give us the quick description of what happens in these first three pages.

Louisa: Okay. So, in these three pages we meet Daisy and she’s drawing in a notebook. We see that she’s drawing a how-to manual on how to dodge a bullet, basically. And there’s a knock at the door, or there’s not a knock at the door — there is a sound outside the door and it’s a delivery person, delivery man, and he’s trying to leave a package that’s sort of crudely wrapped and she’s very suspicious of it.

And he gets frustrated with her and he ends up leaving. And she calls the police because she’s very nervous about this package. And then at the end it’s clear that the police know her and she’s called them many times.

Craig: Great.

John: Thank you.

Craig: So, the first page, it’s hard to tell where the first page ends on her. But you know, you wrote it.

Louisa: I think it ends, “I was looking for the doorbell.” I think that’s where it ends.

Craig: Right. So, I really loved this first page. I really did. I liked the way you introduced her. There were details, but not too many details, but the right details that I needed. A fun reveal of what she did, which was really interesting and obviously makes me curious about her and what her deal is. And then the fact that there’s this thud and she’s so weirdly peeking out at this guy and he’s saying, “Umm…I saw you.”

“I’ve got a package for Daisy Morton.” Now, this is where I started getting a bit confused.

Louisa: Okay.

Craig: This delivery man is like the friendliest delivery man ever, who likes chatting. He’s actually chit-chatty. I’m not a shut-in and delivery men don’t talk to me this much. So, we got into this conversation which I have to tell you was well written. It had a good rhythm and it was interesting. You’re a smart person. I can tell these are smart people talking to each other. The problem is I just don’t know why these two people are talking in this way about this thing.

Louisa: Okay.

Craig: To me, a delivery man, I get, “I saw you.”

“What were you doing? Leave the package.” Walks away. [laughs] Do you know what I mean? That’s how UPS guys work for me. If he needs a signature, he’s like, “I need a signature.”

“I’m not coming outside.”

“Okay, well, I gotta take the package with me.”

“Don’t take the package.”

Now I understand that there’s a standoff and there’s some reason for them to talk. Create some sort of dramatic compulsion for this conversation to take place.

He was reading a bit like, I was asking Chris O’Dowd from Bridesmaids, like I imagine this incredibly friendly Irish UPS guy who’s like, “Oh, it’s just that ringing the bell is one of the perks of this job, you know.”

Louisa: Right, right.

Craig: But I don’t think that’s right for this kind of, you know, for what the circumstances are. You haven’t compelled these two people to force to deal with each other, which I think you want to do because that’s what’s uncomfortable for her.

And then also take a look, Daisy, when you are frightened you tend to shorten your sentences. And she’s very short, short, short, short, all right. And then suddenly, “It’s not my birthday and the nearest holiday is National Fanny Pack Day. Not exactly a gift giving holiday. You’re not the usual guy.”

Suddenly, she’s very verbose, right, which doesn’t work because it feels like it’s kind of — again, like I was saying earlier to Kate — it’s like putting a joke in where we don’t need a joke-joke. And then the conversation keeps going. So, it’s almost like a romantic comedy at this point, but why are they still talking to each other?

I did like the ending where she calls about the package. I think the operator, “A very suspicious package was just left on my door and –“

“Daisy, please.” You know, like not, “Daisy? Is this Daisy Morton?”

Louisa: Right, right.

Craig: They know her. If they know her, they know her.

John: Yeah. They would know the number calling.

Craig: Right. Exactly. I think it would be, “911. Please stop calling us Daisy. What is it Daisy?”

John: I’m going to disagree with Craig, which is always one of my favorite things to do on the podcast.

Craig: Yeah!

John: So, the reason why UPS people don’t ever talk to Craig is because he doesn’t have doe eyes and a cardigan.

Craig: That’s not true. At my house…you don’t know how I walk around.

Louisa: Constantly in a cardigan.

John: I don’t know your life on the other end of Skype there. But I believe that there was — I read this as he’s either flirting or he’s genuinely a bad guy. And that kept me excited and compelled reading through these things.

Louisa: Right.

John: And so I want to talk about sort of what I was reading and what I felt I could have enjoyed even more. Do you perceive titles going over her opening drawing of this stuff? Or are we just watching her?

Louisa: I kind of did. But, you know, it’s not my job…

John: It was sort of halfway in between. And so there wasn’t quite enough there that I believe it would mean a title sequence, but there wasn’t enough actually happening that I believe that we’re actually just watching her do all this drawing, finally to be the reveal of she’s actually drawing how to dodge a bullet.

So, I think you need to either make your choice. Either it’s titles or it’s not titles. And if it’s not titles it needs to be a little bit quicker. If it’s not titles, then you can really kind of get much more quickly to she would be doing something in the house and then she sees the guy moving and that sort of starts the whole movie, the whole scene.

I want to talk about point of view and like literally point of view, because we start inside the house and we never really go outside the house. And so the minute she sees him we can sort of go, we can do that POV through the window of seeing that there’s a guy there. And then I would put us at a new place when we’re actually at that door, so we’re inside/outside that door, so we’re really clear of where we are that she hasn’t invited him into the house.

I liked a lot of the conversation between them and sort of who’s the regular guy, I don’t know, ringing the doorbell. That all felt good and I felt Chris O’Dowd, too. I mean, it felt like the right kind of vibe for it.

I agree on National Fanny Pack Day. When you feel it’s reaching for a joke then it’s not going to land quite right. But, it was really nicely done. And I can see this working as the start of this — Daisy’s journey. Is that what the movie is? Is this Daisy’s story from being terrified to stepping out beyond her comfort zone?

Louisa: Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah.

John: What happens? What happens in the first act that gets her going?

Louisa: In the first act, well I haven’t — this is not written, so I have basically like a log line. Through her own carefulness and paranoia she basically ends up getting herself caught up in like a CIA type mission kind of thing. And by the end of the first act we’re in there.

John: So just because she’s paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get her.

Louisa: Right. She sort of ends up being right about a few things.

Craig: Self-fulfilling prophecy. Was your intention that the delivery man is flirting with her?

Louisa: I mean, no. Not really. I guess not.

Craig: Because I didn’t get that.

Louisa: He could be.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, this isn’t a story where they fall in love or anything.

Louisa: No.

Craig: Yeah, so, um…hmm.

Louisa: He could be flirting with her.

John: He could. So, if you wanted the flirting, it essentially becomes an extra line of dialogue where he notices like her skirt or like her bare legs…

Louisa: And a wink.

John: The wink, yeah. The little something. He mistakes her fright for coyness. And that sort of gets that going.

Craig: Regardless of what you intend here, if they’re not — if this character is gone, never to show up again, this is too much. This is just simply too much. Because we’re involved in their relationship suddenly, you know. And in that sense, that’s okay, we do this all the time. We write too much and then we pare back.

You have to decide what your intention is for this encounter. And if the intention is to show that she is paranoid and frightened of the world outside and is constantly calling 911, make that your focus. Pull out the rest of the underbrush.

John: Cool.

Louisa: Cool.

John: Louisa, thank you so much.

Craig: Thank you, Louisa.

John: And you made it. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Louisa: Thank you.

Craig: That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Louisa: No, it was all right.

Craig: There you go.

John: Now, it’s come time in the podcast where we will actually have questions live from the audience. So, I think what’s going to happen is are there volunteers with microphones? This young woman is going to have a microphone. So, if you have a question you will raise your hand and we will send her to you and you will be able to ask your question. Any show of hands of someone who has a question? Gentleman with a black shirt?

Dave Stone: Hey guys. Thanks for doing what you do. I really love it. My name is Dave Stone . I’m with Intrigue Films. And I was listening to a podcast where you were playing devil’s advocate about not subscribing to a lot of the structure in screenwriting books and that kind of stuff.

So, I just kind of wanted to ask you, when you guys were kind of starting out and learning, what teachers did you learn from and were there any books that you’re like, hey, this is a good foundational book. Anyways, that’s my question.

Craig: Yeah, sure. I think we probably mentioned at one point or another, when I first started out I read two books. I didn’t go to film school like John. I just read two books. I read Syd Field’s Screenwriter’s Workbook, which is not even Syd Field’s Screenplay. It was a very nuts and bolts thing which was good for me just so I could say, “Okay, the first act is roughly this many pages. The second act is roughly this many pages.” But a lot of it just was worthless.

It is, I mean, you know. And then I read Chris Vogler’s book, The Writer’s Journey, which is based on the Campbell stuff. And that’s, you know, also frankly, it’s kind of fortune cookie descriptions of how to do this stuff. The problem with all the books is that they’re post-facto. So, the people that write the books don’t write screenplays. They analyze screenplays.

So, they watch movies and they find commonalities between lots of movies and then they sort of create a paradigm for what’s common about them. And they provide that to you, as if that would help you actually construct it. It doesn’t.

What they are, they’re demolition experts telling you how to build a building. It does not work. The only way that I’ve found to figure out how to build a building as opposed to tear it down is to just build a whole lot of bad buildings. And then when people finally stop suing you, and the roof stops collapsing, then you’re there.

I mean, ultimately I find there is no other way around it. So, go ahead, take a look at the demolition experts. Take a look at what they have to say. Please do not pay anyone to give you advice on your script. I’ve said it a billion times — don’t do it.

But, in the end just know it’s okay after reading those books to not be any further along than you were before you started.

John: Yeah, I read Syd Field before I came to film school. Then in film school I was in a class with Laura Ziskin when she taught her first semester film development class. And we just read a bunch of scripts. And you would sort of talk through them.

And I think more than reading any book you should just read a ton of scripts. And really good scripts of the movies you love, or movies that haven’t been shot yet that are really good, and then just like a bunch of really bad scripts which you’ll find all over everywhere.

And you start to recognize patterns. Like these are things that work well in movies. And these are things that work badly in movies. But what Craig says is absolutely true. Being able analyze a script is not the same as being able to write a script. And you actually have to fundamentally do the work and figure out how it is you actually achieve on the page those things you see in the good movies. And how you keep this experience of scene-by-scene and line-by-line, keep the reader engaged.

And that’s a thing that’s very difficult to teach and you just have to sort of see it. So, the way we do these Three Page Challenges, it’s sort about keeping that excitement from scene-to-scene, from page-to-page, and understanding how you get a reader to experience the movie that you see in your head just through the 12-point Courier on the page.

Another question?

Male Audience Member: Hi. You reference a lot about how you prefer not have the longer paragraphs where there’s lots to read, you like the white space. How does that work for you if you’re setting up visual gags or something like that in comedies?

It seems to me that I tend to have longer paragraphs than the three lines or five lines or whatever than what I should have based on what I’ve been hearing.

John: Yeah, I would say my preference for shorter paragraphs isn’t just me as a writer, but it’s me as a reader. And it’s recognizing that I just tend to skip over longer things. It’s like, oh, my eyes don’t want to look through all those words.

And it’s laziness, but I don’t think I’m uncommon in that situation. And I will skip over stuff if it feels like it’s going to be too hard for me to read, or too much for me to read. And so that’s why I go for those short things.

For comedy I think short is also your friends.

Craig: For sure. Yeah, I mean, for setting up visual gags — if you’re setting up visual gags, the idea is that certain things must be there for the audience to see in a non-comic context and then something funny happens and you go, “Oh look, I didn’t realize that that was going to,” you know, you put a banana peel on the floor, and the guys walks around and walks into a pole.

And there are all sorts of ways that you can do that. And it’s sleight of hand with words. But, even more important then to not belabor stuff. Just, first of all, return. Okay? And I like capitalizing things that I want people’s eye to be drawn to.

Sometimes I’m capitalizing the wrong thing, because I want them to be looking here and then I hit them with this one. You know, he walks right around it and, whomp, a bus. You know? I mean, there’s a lot of ways you can do this. But very sparse. I really think in comedy in particular it’s important to be very sparse about that stuff.

It’s like watching a comedy. Keep it light.

John: Cool. Another question.

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: How you doing guys?

Craig: Yeah! How you doin’?

John: That’s a great voice, by the way. We have to comment on that right from the start.

Craig: Everybody get out. It’s me and him. Brooklyn. How you doin’? How you doin’? Where you from?

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: Here’s five bucks. Don’t tell your mother.

Craig: Where you from?

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: Brooklyn.

Craig: Brooklyn! All right.

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: Bensonhurst.

Craig: What part?

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: Bensonhurst.

Craig: Bensonhurst is where my first apartment was, in Bensonhurst, right there. My mother was in Bensonhurst.

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: 71st and Fourth.

Craig: Oh!

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: Hey!

Craig: Hey! How you doin’?

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: So, I love what you guys are doing. I think it’s fantastic. Now, speaking of New York, I read a couple of Goldman’s scripts and Woody Allen, and Goldman is specifically different because you can get quite annoyed reading his script. It’s cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.

Craig: He’s very unique.

Brooklyn Accent Audience Member: And Woody Allen leaves you absolutely dry. I mean, when he describes a room he says, “1920s Jean Harlow Room.” Have a nice day. That’s it.

So, then how do you — And he’s contextual funny. How do you navigate those extremes?

Craig: Choose between one or the other?

John: Yeah. I mean, so Woody Allen scripts are incredibly spare and it’s basically — you think about a Woody Allen movie, they are dialogue-driven. And so therefore he wants you to focus on what the characters are saying and that’s what the movie is largely going to be about.

William Goldman tends, there’s obviously good dialogue as well, but they tend to be sort of more, “I’m going to paint the whole world for you,” and that’s just the style. And it’s understanding what’s your natural writing style, what does your voice sound like, but what kind of movie are you writing.

And when I’m writing things that are dialogue-driven, there’s not going to be a lot of scene description in there.

Craig: Yeah. Also remember Woody Allen directs his own scripts. So, he doesn’t need to write a whole bunch of stuff in there, because he doesn’t need to sell it to anybody. He just has this kind of rotating deal. “I make a movie a year,” for better or worse at this point, you know. “But I make a movie a year. And people are going to give me money to make it. And, frankly, I’m more interested in getting actors. Usually I can get actors by saying, ‘I’m Woody Allen. Would you like to be in my movie?’ ‘Yeah.'”

At that point the script really becomes almost like notes. And from what I understand about his process, he’ll shoot and then he’ll reshoot a whole bunch, too, anyway. I mean, it seems like he kind of writes it as he shoots it. So, I wouldn’t draw too many lessons from that specific example.

Nor would I draw too many lessons from Goldman either because it’s just a very idiosyncratic way of writing. And here’s the truth: when you are established you can indulge yourself in whatever style of writing gets you to the movie, gets you to a good movie. And when you’re not, you have to kind of temper it a bit, because other people are reading it and making a choice about it.

With that in mind, you have to feel your own way. I think John’s right; if it’s a very heavy dialogue scene and nothing else is going on, you don’t need to go over the top. If you’re writing a scene where two people enter a ballroom, and it’s amazing, and there’s a dance, and there’s a gun fight — fill that space.

But, you’re going to have to find your own way. Obviously William Goldman didn’t care how Woody Allen wrote and vice versa. So, you shouldn’t probably care either.

John: Another question from out there. I see a gentleman right there.

Gentleman Right There: Hi, thank you guys for being here. The question that I have is you guys have both worked in franchises with Charlie’s Angels and The Hangover. How do you guys go about serving a franchise while still having your own unique stamp on it?

John: So, Charlie’s Angels, I loved the original series so, so much. And so when I went in to meet with Drew Barrymore and Amy Pascal about the movie, I told them — I expressed my love for it. And I felt like the movie could be a giant hug around the original series. We weren’t going to try to push back away from it. We were going to sort of embrace everything that was wonderful and sort of weird about the series and make the feature version of it.

The challenge for me was honestly the second movie. And when it came time to make the second movie, I met with each person involved with it individually and said like, “Let’s talk about what we’re going to do on the second movie and what kind of process we’re going to go through.” And I made everyone sign this little contract saying like, “These are the things we won’t do in the sequel. We won’t do all the stupid things that people do in the sequel that ruin sequels.”

And that checklist became the checklist of the things we did in the sequel that ruined it. It was just a bizarre self-fulfilling prophecy. I really wanted the second movie to be like the second episode of a great TV series that takes three years to shoot and costs $80 million. And I really wanted it to feel like a series, like the next episode. And I couldn’t do it. And it was outside of my power to make that thing happen.

Now, Craig, with The Hangover you came onboard with the second movie and you had a responsibility to sort of people’s expectations and the same filmmaker.

Craig: Yeah. For me it was — in a weird way the more relevant example for me for your question is the Scary Movie movies that I did. Because for Hangover it’s very much Todd Phillips’ movie and Todd called me — and when he called me on the second one he said, “Look, I want to make another episode,” actually. “It’s like Law & Order. I want it to happen again.” There’s another murder — or like Angela Lansbury — another murder, again, in my little town.

So, and that’s what we did and I liked it a lot. And the third movie he was like, “Here’s what I want to do. I want to go dark and I want to resolve this and I want to ask a question nobody every asks about characters like Alan. What’s wrong with this guy?”

So, that was following his lead very much, although obviously we worked very closely together to write the scripts. When I came on Scary Movie 3, the first two Scary Movies had been done by the Wayans brothers and they were both Rated R and they were of a certain kind — they were of a certain style. And I came onto Scary Movie 3 with David Zucker who had done Airplane, and Jim Abrahams, and Pat Proft, like all these old guys who had done Airplane, and Naked Gun, the movies that I kind of loved.

And we really said, “Let’s just do it a different way. Let’s make Scary Movie 3 like that. Let’s go old school with it.” And that was more of a big change and that was more of a decision. And I feel closer to those movies, frankly.

And unfortunately the studio, as you see, they let it get away from them all the time with sequels. They do seem to concentrate on the worst lessons. Writing sequels is very hard. It’s very, very hard. It is essentially thankless. And, yet, it’s probably half the jobs that are available. [laughs] So, you have to make your peace with it at some point.

John: Craig, did you see the list of the 2015 movies? So, like the summer 2015 movies that are already sort of scheduled out…

Craig: Number, number, number, number…

John: Number, number, number. It’s like the nadir of numbers.

Craig: Well, I mean, look, we’ve had already this year…

John: This year was big.

Craig: …so many. And they have some that are sequels but they’re not like — Superman is a reboot of a movie that came out three years ago. It’s, eh, a sequel, sequel-ish.

John: Yeah, it’s kind of sequel, kind of original.

Let’s do one last question and then we’re going to do wrap up. So, I see one more question.

Initially Loud Audience Member: Hey. Wow, that was loud. Would you guys talk about the difference — John, have you ever worked with a writing partner? And I guess that’s part of the question. And then talk about the difference between working with a writing partner and working on your own stuff and how the process differs and how you approach it in each circumstance.

John: I have written with a writing partner. So, I wrote a pilot for Fox with Jordan Mechner who is a really terrific writer. And Big Fish: The Musical I’m writing with Andrew Lippa who is the lyricist/composer.

And the challenge for me is that I’m not a very good roommate. I don’t share things well. And it’s like having a creative roommate. And you’re supposed to take this thing that fits in your brain and make it fit in both of your brains and share the same vision of stuff.

Writing partners can be really good for many writers because you have different skill sets. One of you may be good in the room. One of you may be good at sort of buckling down. You can hold each other accountable for actually getting the work done. There’s a lot of good reasons for why people should write with writing partners. I’m just not a person who is naturally especially good at that.

One of the challenges I had with Jordan, who is fantastic and who I adore, was because I was so much more experienced of a writer, that whenever we would come to a disagreement I would just like sort of throw the trump card. I would say, “Big Fish.” And so I would win too many of those arguments and it just wasn’t a fair balanced thing.

And so that’s why if you’re both at a sort of newer level it can be a really great situation. And with Big Fish, we are just completely different skill sets. And so I knew nothing about how to do a big stage musical and he didn’t know how to do this kind of story. And it was a good marriage.

Craig: I never realized it must have been very hard for you to invite me into your life as a creative partner of sorts.

John: There’s a reason we’re on Skype. Yeah. There’s a reason why I control the edit.

Craig: I actually think that one of the reasons our partnership on this podcast goes so well is because from the start, it wasn’t even a decision, I was like I’m not going to make any decisions. It’s actually very… — These things are, because if you want to make decisions and the other person also wants to make decisions, this is a problem. It can be a real, real problem. And I’m super laid back about the podcast to the point of almost being not there. [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Craig: He’s laughing like, [faint, sarcastic laugh].

John: There is one podcast that Craig was actually not there. We just cut him in and he just says, “Uh-huh, yeah,” a lot.

Craig: Good point. Good point.

I did have a writing partner. I started with a writing partner for the first five years of my career. And he’s a great guy. He’s still working today. He has a new writing partner. We stopped writing together I think around 2000. And the fact is that, so I write alone, typically. Sometimes I collaborate with the director. And he has a writing partner because he’s supposed to have a writing partner. He’s the kind of writer that needs a writing partner and wants a writing partner. And I’m the kind that doesn’t.

And neither one is better or worse. I mean, there are some amazing teams who are prodigious and talented on a level I can’t be. Looked at what Ganz and Mandel have done over the years. And Alexander and Karaszewski.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I mean, there’s just a ton of great, great teams across all genres that are really impressive. And you have to ask yourself what kind of guy am I? What kind of person am I?

There are huge benefits to having the partner. The partner is somebody that can tell you, yes, those people were crazy. No, this isn’t bad.

Of course, a partner is also somebody who can tell you, “I just didn’t like what you wrote today,” even though you think it’s awesome. And then there’s just stuff, business stuff. If you become successful as a partnership, it’s difficult to un-partnership. You know, so there’s… — And we’re going to actually talk about this at length in a following episode, unless it’s a prior episode depending on how time works out, with Dennis Palumbo who is a psychotherapist who deals with screenwriters. And has apparently done quite a bit of couple’s therapy with partners.

John: Yes. So, a few little wrap up things here today. Did anybody here buy a t-shirt? A show of hands? Oh, yeah, a lot of t-shirts. T-shirts are going to start shipping on Monday and they look really cool. You’re going to see this little card if you bought a t-shirt. You’ll flip this card over and there may be something handwritten on the back from me and Craig. If so, that’s your Golden Ticket and you’ll get a special awesome little thing that we’ll announce later on.

Craig: There’s one.

John: There’s only one ticket.

Craig: Who will get it?

John: Guys, thank you so very much. This was really fun.

Craig: Thank you guys.

John: Thank you.

Craig: Thank you.


Craig: No, locked in!

John: All right, so people are gathering their things. People are taking a seat. And we can probably start. So, how many of you guys have actually heard this show that we usually do called Scriptnotes? Show of hands? Oh, hey, a lot of people. That’s fantastic.

Craig: Awesome.

John: So, if you are familiar with the show you know that it starts exactly the same way ever time. So, what might be cool is if we’re like kind of quiet and then at a certain point when it becomes really obvious you can all like cheer, or applaud, or make some sort of noise to indicate that there are live people here in the audience. Does that sound cool? All right.

Craig: Do you want to point at them when they’re supposed to do that?

John: Now, that’s good.

Craig: I have no confidence that they will know what the appropriate time is.

John: All right, I have a lot more faith in our audience.

Craig: Well, you know me.

John: All right, so let’s do this. Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

[Applause!]

Craig: No, no. Yes! I was right! That was the wrong time! That wasn’t even close to the right time. I feel so good about what just happened.

John: Yeah, you probably should.

Craig: You know that there’s this ongoing war between us about people are good, people are bad.

John: Mm-hmm.

Craig: I win again.

John: Craig and I are never in the same room when we do this, so it’s really rare that we actually can see each other. So, let’s try this again and let’s try to be quiet until I point to you, all right?

Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

[Applause!]

Oh my god, still! All right. Total silence. All right.

Craig: You’re going to be quiet until he points to you. This is pointing.

John: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

[Applause!]

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