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 Episode 234 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Very often on the program we will talk about the birth of a project, the excitement of bringing a movie to life. This is not one of those episodes. Today, we’re going to take a look at what happens to scripts when they die. So join us, won’t you, as we visit the screenplay graveyard.

Craig: I like that you did the “Join us, won’t you?” You’re picking up — it’s a Longworth-ism.

John: It is. I’m playing the Longworthicon.

Craig: Yeah. I think it’s — yeah, is it Longworthism, Longworth-ism?

John: Longworthism, yeah, sure.

Craig: But I like long. It’s like because it’s worthy.

John: As long as it was Longworthy, that’s important.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So Karina Longworth, we’ve talked about her podcast often. You Must Remember This is the name of the podcast. And also, like a good advice is that you must remember her podcast because it’s such a terrific resource for people curious about the early years of Hollywood.

Craig: Right. And all the people that she talks about are dead. So it’s a good — it’s in keeping with our theme today.

John: Indeed. On our last episode, we promised that if you left a review in iTunes for us, we’d read those reviews aloud. And so we’ve got a few of those. They’re all five-star reviews because you are the best, and apparently, you think we’re the best. So we’re going to quickly read some of these reviews that were left for us on iTunes this past week.

Craig: Should I start?

John: Start.

Craig: I like that the reviews get little titles. You know, people come with fun little titles.

This title is “Yes. This. Yes” by Arlow Thompson. “Possibly the most useful screenwriting tool ever created, not to mention engaging and very entertaining. I can’t thank John and Craig enough for the wisdom and humor they dole out weekly.”

John: Oh, thank you Arlow.

Craig: That’s really nice.

John: So Breezy Nuts writes — [laughs]

Craig: You know, I wasn’t planning this but it’s worked out great. [laughs]

John: “A Free Neuro Exam. If you have any interest in screenwriting and you do not like this podcast, please see a doctor immediately because something is horribly wrong with you.”

Craig: Like for instance, you’ve got breezy nuts. [laughs]

John: What I like about Breezy Nuts is like that’s actually the handle here she had to create in order to leave this thing. So if he or she leaves other comments somewhere else — let’s say — it’s a he — when he leaves comments for some other thing, it will be Breezy Nuts. [laughs]

Craig: There is literally zero chance that Breezy Nuts is a woman. [laughs] Women are simply too good. They’re too good to call themselves Breezy Nuts. [laughs] What is a breezy nut?

John: I don’t know, someone who is free-rolling, someone who’s not refined by briefs.

Craig: Right. Well, here’s somebody called Josephine. I’m not sure how to pronounce that. But regardless, it says, “Interesting even though I’m not in the industry. I write fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and I find this podcast incredibly useful in terms of what makes a good story. It’s also just interesting to get a window into the screenwriting world, to hear about what goes into the movies and TV I love.”

John: Oh, well thank you Josephine.

Craig: I like when people that aren’t necessarily doing movie and TV listen to this anyway. I like — I think there’s — you know, we have a nice little community of writers. And writers, no matter what you’re writing, we’re all in the same boat of misery.

John: Absolutely. And Becca Baldwin calls this, “Team Scriptnotes. Interesting, inspiring, empowering, and free even, or $1.99 a month, so you know, free.”

So thank you, Becca, for that.

Craig: Awesome.

John: The $1.99 reference is for people who want the premium feed at where you can go back to the first 232 episodes of this show and listen to those and catch up if you’re a new listener.

But thank you very much for everyone who’s left a review. It actually really does help us a lot because it gets attention within the iTunes ecosystem and gets them to feature us more prominently. So it’s nice for that.

Craig: Thank you folks.

John: If you are a person who attended our Lawrence Kasdan session with Jason Bateman last night, I hope you had a great time. We’re recording this before that time so we have no idea how it went, but hopefully it was great. That episode will be in the feed some point in the future. So I’m not sure if it will be next week but we will definitely have that episode for everyone to listen to.

Craig: Can you just promise me that if, for some reason, Jason goes crazy, attacks Larry, Larry has a fatal heart attack.

John: Yes.

Craig: Jason is arrested and sent downtown for murder, that we will not edit what you just said. [laughs]

John: Yes. I will leave it exactly untouched. Matthew has strict orders to not address reality in this podcast.

Craig: Fantastic.

John: Yeah. Matthew is mostly there to make sure that my fumbles and misspeakings are not corrected.

Craig: Misspeakings was almost self-definitional. [laughs]

John: So it’s fantastic.

Craig: Yeah.

John: All right. Let’s get to some follow-up from last week’s episode.

So we talked about How Would This Be a Movie? And two of the three things we talked about like How Would This be a Movie actually are movies or are about to be movies. So first off we had the Hatton Garden’s robbery, which was a bunch of old men who committed an audacious two-day bank heist.

Craig: Yeah. And not only is this something that I think is currently in production — or I guess it’s about to go into production or something. But I actually got an email from a producer friend of mine who said, “I went after the rights to that thing and lost to the guy that’s doing the version that they’re planning.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: Now, we never know. You know, people get the rights to a story, and then they develop a screenplay and try and get financing. And sometimes the movie happens, and sometimes it ends up in the dead letter file we’re going to be describing later.

So we don’t know if it’s going to be a movie. But it certainly seems like, yeah, that was — I mean, we both felt that was the obvious one. And it turns out yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s pretty obvious.

John: So we’ll put a link in the show notes to an article in The Guardian that talks about the movie that’s apparently going into production. The script written by Simon Cluett. They say it’s in production. But really, if you’ve look at the language that they’re talking about, they’re not announcing the director or the cast. They’re really in development. But it sounds like they’re trying to get that movie made.

Also, a listener, Andrew Aman, wrote in to point out that the real men in this robbery were not nearly the Robin Hood characters that we sort of had described. They’re actually — I’ll put up an article that also shows sort of their criminal history and sort of the things that they’ve done, including like dousing a man in gasoline.

It seems like they’re actually a little bit more like old Reservoir Dogs rather than old Robin Hood. So sometimes real life doesn’t match what you kind of wish it would be for movie purposes.

Craig: Yeah. Well, you know, we did — I think when we were talking about what it could possibly be, we started to zero in on the idea that maybe one of these guys was actually pretty dark. Criminals tend to be dark.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah. It reminded me a little bit, once I started reading about the real thing, it reminded a little bit of Begbie, you know, from Trainspotting, you know, there’s a group of mates, and then there’s one of them that’s just psychotic.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And it does sound like — yeah. You know, all too often, we get suckered into the narrative. The Robin Hood narrative is very seductive. But generally speaking, people that do stuff like break into banks are not good people.

John: Yeah. I would tend to agree.

Craig: Yeah.

John: We also talked about — sleep paralysis was the second topic we talked about in our How Would This Be a Movie? And there actually was a sleep paralysis movie that I’d forgotten about. And so this was not strictly a fictional film. It’s by Rodney Ascher who also did Room 237 which looked at the conspiracy theory surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining.

So he made a movie that’s about sleep paralysis that uses a similar kind of technique to explore people’s experiences with sleep paralysis. So that’s out there in the world. But it’s not the horror thriller version that I think we both foresaw someone trying to make.

Craig: Well, it’s not too late.

John: It’s not too late.

Craig: Somebody will do it.

John: It’s an open ball.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Someone dive on that.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Also on an open ball, I tweeted this this morning, you’ve seen about the ninth planet they’re pretty sure exists now?

Craig: Yeah. Yeah, I did see that.

John: Yeah. So I mean, someone will make a movie called Planet Nine. And we’ll see what that is.

My pitch for it was that it turns out it’s not a planet whatsoever. It’s actually some very massive alien thing that’s been lying dormant out there. And in our attempt to discover it, we will turn it on. And we’re going to regret that.

Craig: Yeah. I like that.

My pitch is, we discover this ninth planet and it’s totally inhabited. In fact, it’s almost exactly like ours.

John: Yeah?

Craig: And then we start to think, “Wait a second, is that a real planet, or is that just a reflection of ours? Or are we the reflection?”

John: Yeah. I mean, we’re already — we’re living in a simulation, regardless.

Craig: Regardless. But I’m going for — I’m going for trippy. I’m going for a head trip.

John: All right.

Craig: I like you’re going alien super structure.

John: They’re both great choices.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

The other bit of follow-up was from our discussion of Matt. And so if you remember, Matt was a guy who had a 10-block walk in the cold to his favorite coffee shop. He couldn’t do it in the winter. He’s in New York City. But he lives in a studio apartment with his wife, so he couldn’t write in the apartment.

And so we asked our listeners for their suggestions about places Matt could write or solutions to Matt’s problem. And five of them wrote in with really good ideas. So I thought we’d read through some of their suggestions.

Craig: All right.

So RJ has a pretty decent one. He said, when he first moved to LA he lived in a two-bedroom, one bath with his wife and another couple.

Wow, that’s a lot of people. That’s almost Charlie Bucket-esque.

John: Yeah.

Craig: There was no space for him to write. So what he did was he ended up locking himself in the bathroom. He put on headphones and he just worked in the bathroom, which, you know, he says worked like a charm.

Eh, you know, it’s still a bathroom.

John: Yeah, but it’s your own room.

Craig: It’s your own room, I guess, yeah. You know, if there’s — I would think that there would have to be — he says it’s a two-bed, one bath. So all the other people in your crash pad are just going to have to hold it in for a while until you finish your scene.

John: Yep. I got it. Someone has needs. You have needs, too. Your characters have needs. They need to be written. [laughs]

Craig: You know what this guy has?

John: What?

Craig: Breezy nuts.

John: Yes, breezy nuts. He’s free-balling.

Liz writes, I have two four-hour blocks per week in which my boyfriend is not allowed in the apartment at all. My boyfriend uses his time to practice flying his quadcopter or to go to the gym.

Craig: [laughs]

John: It took us awhile to come to this, but the degree of stress and resentment relief he saw in me when we made this time sacrosanct was significant enough to make it totally worth his while. And he actually likes having an enforced me-time out of the house that can’t be wasted on Reddit.

That’s a smart solution.

Craig: It is. And I feel like I know Liz’s boyfriend just from the description. He goes to the gym, okay. Gym bro.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But likes to practice flying his quadcopter and Redditor.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I feel like actually we’d get along pretty well with this guy.

John: I think it’s going to be a good choice.

Craig: Yeah.

David says that he finds himself in Matt’s exact same position. His solution, his apartment, and most have a TV room. Some call it a theater, some call it a movie room, but most apartments I’ve been in have something similar. If not the lobby, lounge is also good.

Well, Matt, I think said he was in a studio apartment. Studio apartments don’t have more than one room. They’ve got a room that bleeds into a kitchen. And the only separate room really is the bathroom, right?

John: So I think David is mistaken because I think he — wherever David is living, which may not be the US, stuff may be set up a little bit differently. I think he’s thinking sort of like more how dorms used to work, where there was like a TV room or like a —

Craig: Oh, like a common space.

John: A common room.

Craig: Got it.

John: And so that lobby aspect of it is true. And there very well could be some sort of public entry vestibule kind of place where you could kick back with your laptop and write. It’s entirely possible.

The laundry room is a possibility, too, if your building has a laundry room.

Craig: That’s an interesting one.

John: Some place that’s not your main space.

Craig: Yeah. In New York you’ll see that less frequently than you will in LA.

John: Oh, for sure.

Craig: Yeah. They just don’t have the space to waste it on lobbies and so forth, or big ones.

John: Yeah.

Do you want to do Tom?

Craig: Sure. Tom says he does a lot of writing at a local pub. So Tom is an alcoholic.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I’m sorry, Tom.

He does a lot of writing at a local pub to the point that the first serious script he co-wrote was based in a pub. And when the owner — he’s such an alcoholic. [laughs] And when the owner of the pub heard about it, the owner offered up the actual pub as a location for the project. And they ended up shooting there for a couple of days. So that actually worked out pretty well.

John: That worked out great.

Craig: Yeah. As long as Tom isn’t just, you know, drinking himself to death, that’s the only thing.

John: Yeah. I’m a big fan of going to sort of bar kind of places for lunch because if you’re not actually drinking there, there are sometimes decent food and they are really quiet. So there have been times where I’ve been in New York and I will go to a place that’s sort of mostly a night place. And if you’re there during the day, it’s kind of empty.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Finally, Jessica writes, “If he doesn’t mind spending money, there’s an app called Breather that lets you book a workspace for an hourly fee. It’s available in New York.” And so we’ll put a link to their website, an article in Fast Company.

So this is not something I was aware of, but it does make sense, especially in a city like New York where everything is just so busy and so crowded that just assuming you could — you know, Uber for a car, you could probably Uber for some space to do some work.

Craig: This is really interesting. It’s sort of like the Airbnb of offices.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And you could just hire an office for an hour. Because that’s the thing about New York, everything is so constrained and all resources are so diminished that if you have an office and you’re not in it for a day, you’re losing money by not renting it to somebody.

John: Yup.

Craig: Which is crazy, but true.

John: Yeah. So I mean, some sort of shared workspace might be a possibility. And you’re going to find some combination of things that will get through it. There’s probably not going to be one way that’s going to magically solve all of these problems. But just, you know, carve out the time more than anything else, and then find the space.

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. When there is a will, there is a way. You’ll figure it out.

John: Cool.

We have a question from John Hess. And John Hess has this website that does a series of videos about filmmaking that’s really useful. So there will be a link to his website in our show notes.

John Hess writes, “I am in the process of putting together a video for filmmakers and the general movie goer that tries to explain the function of every credit they would see in the end titles. It’s a big task, obviously, and I can only dedicate a little bit of time to each role. But I do want to dedicate more time to explain the role of producers, directors, and screenwriters. So I want to ask you, is there some common misconception about the screenwriting credit you wish the average movie-going audience would know?”

Craig, how about you? You can start.

Craig: That’s really good. I’m glad that he’s doing it.

Well, here’s one, a simple one. Unlike everybody else’s credit, which is, okay, you acted in the movie or you directed the movie, or edited the movie, we have two kinds of credits. We have story credit and screenplay credit.

So it would be great for people to know, first of all, that when they see Written By, it means story and screenplay. If they see a story credit, what that means is that those writers were responsible for what we think of as the basic plot, the basic characters, the basic idea, the basic themes. The way I like to put it is those people are responsible for stuff that could have been put in a prose document describing what the movie would be.

Screenplay is the credit we give to people that actually then are responsible for the authorship of the execution. So individual scenes, how they are crafted, the ins and outs, the transitions, all the dialogue, the way that the basic characters are expressed.

So it’s an interesting dichotomy. People aren’t aware that it exists. And sometimes you won’t see any story credit. And in that case it’s because the movie was based on an underlying property and the story of that property really is the story of the movie, so no writer is going to get additional story credit for it.

John: Yeah. I do think when people see the story credit, they assume like, “Oh, it’s based on a short story, or it’s based on something like that.” It just means that, you know, it could have been based on a screenplay but the screenplay’s story, a certain writer got credit for that and someone else got credit for writing the screenplay.

Craig: Yeah. Sometimes somebody will write a treatment, which is what we call a summary of a movie. You know, a prose summary of a movie. And then someone else will write a screenplay. Well, the person that wrote the treatment, that’s a story credit thing. And the person that wrote the screenplay is a screenplay thing.

Where it gets tricky is sometimes people do write screenplays. But then a subsequent screenwriter is really just taking the story elements from it and writing a new screenplay of it.

So you know, how you can get to a story credit? Lots of different ways.

The other thing you’ll see is Screen Story By. And all that means is, it’s the same thing as Story By. It’s just the term we use when the movie was based on a book or something. But the story of the movie is significantly different from the story of the underlying property or the underlying property didn’t have much of a story at all.

John: I’m trying to think of the simpler way that he can explain that because that was so long.

I would say a story is what we kind of think of as plot and screenplay is everything that you think of as being the movie. So the scenes — the scenes, the characters, the dialogue.

That’s the very short version. That’s not quite fully flushed out but would get people through most of it.

The simple thing I want to point out to people is the difference between the word and — A-N-D — and the ampersand, because people often ask about that.

An ampersand means that those two writers worked together as a team. The words A-N-D mean that those two writers worked separately. So you could tell if someone’s a writing team because there’s an ampersand between their names.

And so sometimes those credits look kind of strange because it will be Writer A & Writer B and Writer C. And that’s because letter A and B are a team and writer C worked on his own.

Craig: Correct. That’s a very good summary.

John: Great. All right, let’s get to our main topic for the day.

So this actually came up because over the weekend I decided to do some housecleaning. And I went through a bunch of old file cabinets, like literal file cabinets where I had stuff from a bunch of old projects. I also went through and cleaned up some stuff from my hard drive, moved some stuff on to Dropbox, got rid of some stuff I didn’t need. And I came across so many old things.

And one of the things I came across was this project called Father Knows Less. I’m like, “What is this?” And it’s like, “Oh, my god! I actually wrote this script and I did not even remember it.”

But I didn’t even start writing it. Aline Brosh McKenna, our friend of Scriptnotes, she wrote this script. It was a spec script she wrote and sold. And how I first met Aline Brosh McKenna is I was hired on to rewrite her.

And so I called her before rewriting and saying like, “Hey, this is incredibly awkward. But our mutual friend John Gatins said that you are an awesome person and I should talk to you before I start rewriting this.” And that was our first conversation ever in this entire history of the world was about her script. And so —

Craig: See, that’s wonderful, actually.

John: That’s wonderful. And that’s why — by the way, that’s what you should do when you’re coming on to a project, is talk to the previous writer. Unless there’s some crazy bad blood reason why you don’t talk to that writer, talk to that writer.

And so she was great. And she told me the history of the project and sort of where the bodies were buried and why she wasn’t writing the next draft. And I did my very best on the project and it never got made. It became a dead movie.

So I thought we would talk about dead movies, dead screenplays, the things we’ve written that have never gotten made.

Craig: I like the idea of dead movies. And I’ll tell you why. I always feel like I have two possible jobs. Either I’m going to convince everybody that we’re making this movie or I’m going to convince everybody to kill it. [laughs] To me, the only failure is when you don’t convince them to make it. And they’re also like, “But we do want to make it, just not with you.” [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Craig: So I like — I’m always trying to either make it or kill it. And I’ve succeeded to kill quite a few of these things. [laughs]

John: I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately killed a movie. I think anything that died on the table was — it was just going to die by itself.

Craig: Well, no. I mean, I didn’t set out to kill it. But in my effort — I think what I did was I proved beyond a shadow of doubt that there was no possible movie there. [laughs]

They’re like, “You did the best possible job we can think of and you’ve convinced us to not make this.” [laughs] So this has happened a number of times. It’s very gratifying.

John: So each of us has in front of us a long list of movies that we’ve written that have not gotten made. And when I say movies we’ve written, I deliberately excluded anything that was just a rewrite. So these are only projects that I was the first writer on or sort of initiated.

Craig: Oh. Okay.

John: So you have a few that maybe some rewrites. But like, my list of like 15, these are like original things I wrote.

Craig: Actually, I’m looking at it. And nope, they’re all — one was a page one.

John: Right. So why don’t you quickly go through yours, I’m going to quickly go through mine. But then let’s talk about the patterns we notice about why these movies are dead movies.

Craig: Sure. Okay. So mine range from 1998 to 2011, and here they are in the order.

1998, the Texas Grease War. This was a spec script about guys in Texas who were stealing grease from fast food places to sell them. And it was this very morose, sad downer that I wrote mostly just to show people that I can write other things.

John: And that was a spec script.

Craig: It was a spec and it was based on just some information that a couple of friends of mine had brought me. They were producers. But it wasn’t anything anyone had ever asked for. And after people read it they’re like, “Yeah. Nice. But we don’t want it.” So that went to a drawer.

Next was a sad one, A Short, Happy Life. This was based on a Phillip Dick short story. And I wrote it for Miramax.

And that script actually got me a lot of attention, and it was really rewarding to work on. It was very sweet and people really liked it. But unfortunately, Miramax. So they couldn’t quite get their act together. They lost the rights to it. It just — it never — and it was also intended for Robert Benigni — I’m sorry, Roberto Benigni. And between the time I started writing it and the time I turned it in, Pinocchio happened. [laughs] So —

John: Oy.

Craig: Yeah. Then in — that was 2001.

Also in 2001, Into the Fire. This was a broad comedy that was loosely based on the idea of a guy going into the Iron Chef competition. This was during the Iron Chef craze.

And this was something that Neal Moritz and Erik Feig wanted far more than Sony ever did. [laughs] So I think they twisted Sony’s arm to hire me to write this thing. And then, Sony was like, “Well, as we said before — [laughs]

John: “We never wanted this.”

Craig: “We did not want this.”

Really sad one, from 2004 to 2006, Berkeley Breathed and I worked on various ideas for an animated movie based on Opus, his famous penguin character from Bloom County, a comic strip that has returned.

John: Yes.

Craig: It was incredibly rewarding because I was a lifelong Bloom County fan. I became friends with Berkeley. I’m friends with him to this day. And it’s just — it was so rewarding to work with him.

On the downside, Miramax. They —

John: There seems to be a recurring pattern here?

Craig: Yeah. They didn’t seem to understand that animated movies cost money and stuff. So they just couldn’t ever get their minds around the budget. It was a rough one.

In that same period, another great disappointment for me, I was hired by Miramax to adapt, Harvey, the Mary Chase play upon which also the famous Jimmy Stewart movie was made. And that one also got me a lot of great attention. And I was feeling really, really good about that. Miramax just couldn’t quite, again — it was like — it was hard. [laughs]

And none of those, like on every single one I’ve mentioned, after me, nothing, you know. I think they developed Harvey later. After the rights went away, they started a new chain of titles, so I don’t count that. At a different studio.

In 2009, for Jerry Bruckheimer, I was hired to — this was a page one rewrite. It was called Game Boys. And it was basically kind of a new take on The Last Starfighter concept.

And I loved working with Mike Stenson over there. And you know, they were really good about, you know, paying for drafts and stuff. They were total gentlemen.

Don’t write comedies for Jerry Bruckheimer. [laughs] He’s not funny and he doesn’t — he’s literally just like, why would I make a comedy?

John: Yeah.

Craig: Amazing.

Right after that, in 2010, The Secret Lives of Road Crews. This was a screenplay for Paramount. They were attempting to make a movie based on a series of Hasbro toys, which I don’t think people were familiar with then.

John: I’ve never heard of these.

Craig: I don’t think they’re familiar with now. Or they were trying maybe to create a movie that Hasbro then could create toys for. Anyway, don’t do that. [laughs]

John: Yeah. Don’t do that.

Craig: I needed a gig at the time. I was young and I needed the work.

And then lastly, The Game Changer. This was another spec script I wrote in 2011. This one I wrote for Michael Shamberg and Carla Shamberg, the producers.

And that was a great experience because, again, I was getting a chance to show like, “Look. I can do other things, you know, not just rated R comedies.” And that actually was very helpful. A lot of people took notice of it and it helped kind of open eyes. But it wasn’t a movie anyone was ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to make because it’s a very like small, thinky piece about stuff no one cared about. [laughs]

John: Before we get to my list, just on to that last thing, The Game Changer. At the time you were writing it, did you have the inkling that like, “Oh, this is too small, too quirky, and it’s never going to get made”?

Craig: Yeah.

John: Okay.

Craig: Yeah. No. I mean, in my mind, it was entirely about, “Hey, let me just show some people what I can do and if for some wackity schmackity reason somebody…” — and by the way, at this point, now even in 2016, I wouldn’t show it to anybody else again. I’ve got — I’ve done better and I’ve had better opportunities and it’s a little dated, even now, after just five years. But it served its purpose.

It was more — if anything, it was more of like a confidence builder, I would say.

John: I think I get that.

Craig: Yeah.

John: All right. I’m going to quickly plough through mine because I have so many.

First is Here and Now, which was my first spec script. It got me an agent. But really, no one should read it. Very small. It’s sort of a Sundance movie. It’s just not fantastic.

How To Eat Fried Worms was my first paid assignment. It was for Imagine. I went through like six drafts on it. It got a director on it, Tommy Schlamme. And it was great to learn how to work with a director.

Eventually, that movie got made, but I think it’s really a very different chain of title. So I was not even involved with the arbitration on that. So it was a good first experience.

A Wrinkle in Time was based on the classic Madeleine L’Engle book. That movie I think also did get made from my chain of title but it was — I think they got — they made it really quickly as a way to sort of lock down the rights on something. So they made it like a cheapo version which I’ve never seen.

I wrote a spec called Devil’s Canyon, which was kind of aliens out west. It was like aliens in a Colorado mining town in the 1800s.

I like it. It was one of the few things I’ve rewritten sort of massively a couple of times. But then Cowboys and Aliens came along and everyone was like, “Oh, it’s like Cowboys and Aliens.” It’s like, “No. It’s not.”

Craig: I hate that.

John: Yeah. And that’s going to be a recurring theme here.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Demonology was not — it was actually technically a rewrite, but it was a page one rewrite. It was for Paramount. It was for Galen Hertz’ company. It was — like, if the girls from Clueless had to stop the apocalypse in Manhattan. And so it was a big, sort of very expensive action movie but with like Cher from Clueless. It was not going to be a movie.

Craig: [laughs]

John: I did Barbarella for Drew Barrymore. This was after Charlie’s Angels. And I loved Barbarella. And Barbarella is actually a movie I’d still love to get made. But rights became impossible on Barbarella. Two different studios controlled portions of the rights and so they got together, Warners and Fox got together to put the rights together. But still it wasn’t even clear that even they had the rights to make this thing. So they paid me.

American McGee’s Alice is my only Miramax experience. And I got Miramaxed. [laughs]

Fantasy Island was for Sony. And my take on Fantasy Island was Roarke dies on about page 10. And then the island starts falling apart and all the fantasies bleed together. And so it was — there were funny aspects but it was more of a thriller. And that was not the version that they were going to make. [laughs]

By the way, they’ve been trying to make a Fantasy Island for forever. There was an Eddie Murphy Fantasy Island.

Craig: Oh my god.

John: They’ve done everything.

Craig: I love those because eventually it gets made and then they send out the notice of credits and there’s like a thousand names on it.

John: It’ll be crazy.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah. Fenwick’s Suit was — I should be giving years, too. This is 2001 Fenwick’s Suit. This was an adaptation of a charming, little book about a man whose suit comes to life. And it was actually very fun to write. It was fun to write a completely silent character and try to express emotion with a character that has no face and just has lapels. And it could’ve been great but it never went anywhere. That was Fox 2000.

Fury is a spec I wrote out of, kind of, anger. [laughs]

Craig: [laughs] Ruh?

John: Roar. And it is a very violent thriller about a guy who comes back from the dead. It’s actually sort of like Deadpool, in a way, but not even remotely funny.

Craig: So it’s like Deadpool without the thing that’s makes Deadpool good. [laughs]

John: Pretty much. If Deadpool was a straight, eh, or I guess that’s kind of The Crow.

Craig: Right. Yeah.

John: It sort of was like The Crow now that I think about it.

Craig: Crow-ish.

John: I actually had an offer on that. Sony wanted to buy it and they wanted to turn it into Ghost Rider at some point. And I didn’t want them to do that and so I just sat on it.

Shazam. I wrote Shazam, which was Captain Marvel, and I loved it. It was a great comedy about Billy Batson who has the power to become Shazam.

At some point The Rock was attached and The Rock is still apparently attached somewhere. But there’s some plan that he will fit into the DC Universe. That’s where I first met Jeff Johns, who’s a great, wonderful human being who runs the DC Universe. But it was not a great experience.

I did Preacher, which was based on the amazing series.

Craig: I liked that script.

John: Thank you.

Craig: I’ve read that script. That was a good one.

John: Thank you. Preacher was great. And I was — I really wanted that to be made. That was with Sam Mendes. And then it was with another director after that. I just never had the love from Sony to try to get it made.

Monsterpocalypse. I wrote a movie in which people in these giant metal suits have to battle these aliens who’ve come to destroy the world.

And at the same time, there was a movie called Pacific Rim, which was about big monsters being fought by guys in big, giant metal suits. And they were remarkably similar. And theirs got to the starting line first. And so I remember the call where they said like, “You know what? That other movie is too close. Sorry.”

Craig: Argh!

John: I wrote a Lovecraft movie for Ron Howard. That’s not a good combination of director and —

Craig: No. [laughs] But I love the — was it about Lovecraft himself or was it —

John: Oh yes, it was about Lovecraft.

Craig: Okay. Okay.

John: It’s basically — I mean, all the things he was writing about were coming true.

Craig: Oh. Oh, so, okay. So it wasn’t like a bio pic, it was —

John: No. It was like a bio pic where everything became true. So it was trying to sort of be both. It was completely historically-based —

Craig: Right.

John: And yet there were aliens coming true.

Craig: And yet there was Cthulhu.

John: Yeah. Cthulhu. So good.

Craig: Okay.

John: I wrote my Fox project. So, I — on the previous episodes we’ve talked about the deal that you and I and a bunch of other screenwriters made at Fox where we owed them an original script. I wrote that script. It could still technically happen but it is — it’s not happening right now.

And then I put two pilots on here just for good measure. I wrote a pilot called Chosen, which was for ABC, which was about a young woman who may or may not be the reincarnated prophet of this cult. And then I wrote a pilot about an industry undergoing tremendous disruption which was about two years ago and which also seems to have stalled out completely. So neither of those shot.

So those are some of the projects we’ve written that we’ve been paid to write in some cases but are not movies.

Craig: You know what strikes me is, if I were listening to this podcast —

John: Yeah.

Craig: I would think good God. It’s not like you and I haven’t had a bunch of movies made.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So we’ve been working on those movies and when you do have a movie that gets made, you tend to work on that one a lot.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It takes up a lot of time because once it’s made, it’s like okay, now we got to deal with this actor’s notes, now we’re going to deal with the producer, now we have to deal with production issues, now we have to deal with the director, and on and on and on and on and on. It takes up a lot of time. So all this time dedicated to the movies that we’ve done that people know got made. And then on top of that, a bunch of time dedicated to movies that got made that our names aren’t on.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And in between all of that, all of this.

John: Yup.

Craig: And one of the things about this job that we have as a career for those of you listening and thinking and dreaming about doing this is, the amount of writing you have to do, if you stop and think about it is insane.

John: It’s incredibly daunting. I mean, just thinking about like those 15 projects I listed, each of those is 120-page scripts that I rewrote multiple times.

Craig: Exactly. And it gets to the point, you know, I’m now about like 50%, 40% of the way through this script that I’m writing now which is the first draft of an adaptation and I’m the first guy in, so there was nothing, right? And I started writing it and it’s like I don’t even feel Fade In anymore.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know that feeling of like, “Oh, boy, here we go.” I don’t even feel it anymore, nor when I get to the end do I feel like, “Woo. Did it.” It’s all — it’s like —

John: It’s all middle.

Craig: It’s like my life is one big middle. There is no beginning, there’s no end. It’s just this endless iteration. It’s kind of a crazy thing. It reminds me a little bit of like people that want to be baseball players and you’re like you pitch and stuff, but now, “Okay, you’re going to pitch year-after-year, year-after-year, year-after-year.” Once every 5 games, 162 games a season, season after season. It’s like the grind. You have to be mentally prepared for the grind. That’s what —

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s what this drives home for me.

John: The other thing — once I put these scripts in order that it made me think about it, is sometimes you’ll look at a writer’s credits and it seems like wow, there was a long gap between those two movies that got made. Like — maybe they left the industry for a while, maybe like — no [laughs]. They wrote a bunch of stuff for other people that just was never made.

Craig: Right.

John: And that’s — that — you look at like starting with Shazam in 2008 to this pilot in 2014, there were seven movies there that I’ve written, but none of them made.

Craig: Well, precisely. And then sometimes your — and sometimes the weird thing is you’re writing them in and around movies you are making, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So people go, “Wait, you had a movie that came out that year, and you also wrote two other movies that year?” “Yeah.”

John: Yup, yup, absolutely true. Or you wrote movies that were not your movies, so you didn’t get your name on it.

Craig: Exactly, exactly.

John: That’s the thing. So let’s talk about some categories of what happened and try to break these down and figure out the patterns for why these movies are not movies. The first and most obvious ones are, the movies that just never — you never actually wrote the script. And so the things we listed ahead were the full scripts we wrote, but my files are full of these things that never actually became movies, these are the projects you pitched on, that you didn’t get, these were —

Craig: Right.

John: Ideas that sort of never fully came together. So you have a couple of those, right?

Craig: Sure. And this is a big thing that occupies time especially earlier on in your career. It still, as you go on, you will occasionally, depending on what you want to do, sometimes you will get caught up in these deals where you’re trying — you’re working hard to get something.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But when you start, that’s almost all you’re doing, is working hard to get things. There’s a bunch of these. The one that comes to mind that I remember is, there’s a AY novel called Skulduggery Pleasant. I don’t know if you ever heard of it.

John: No.

Craig: It was an Irish guy who wrote this series of books and they’re really interesting. It was about this girl whose uncle was like this cool, like an Edgar, like a modern Edgar Allan Poe. And he’s the only one in her family that she really likes. She doesn’t seem to fit in with anybody else in her family. He dies and leaves her his entire fortune but she has to spend a night in his house. And that night, she discovers this portal into a world and she realizes all the things he had been writing as fiction were true and there’s this world of darkness and ghouls and demons and all this cool stuff.

And I really loved it. And David Dobkin was attached to direct, and he asked me to write up a treatment because he wanted me to work on it and I just remember at the time it was like, you know, this could — you can — if Warner Bros approves you, so a couple of guys from like British Warner Bros approve you, you’ll have the job, there’s only one other person going up against it but, you know, it should work out. Then, you know, I did this whole thing and in the end, these British guys who were very snobby about this property like it was, I don’t know, a Pulitzer Prize winning book or something, they didn’t hire me and they didn’t hire the other person.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And this was in 2009. And the other person, Kelly Marcel.

John: Our own Kelly Marcel.

Craig: Yes, and we didn’t — I didn’t even know until like later on, you know, I don’t know, like last year or something, I mentioned this whole thing. She’s like, “Oh my, God. I was the other person. You were the other person? I also had the other person. It was you?” So the two of us — although I actually like wrote up a thing and she was like, “Yeah, they were like you need to write a treatment. I was like, Nah. So I didn’t and then so I just pitched something. And they were like, where is the thing? And I was like, Nah.”

John: Nah.

Craig: So none of us got it and nobody — by the way, I don’t think anyone ever wrote it. Yeah.

John: Yeah. That’s sort of an indication that there’s no Skulduggery Pleasant movie out there for someone to watch.

Craig: You have not seen that franchise, have you?

John: So back in 1996 or so, I pitched on Highlanders. Basically a sequel to Highlander and I didn’t get it then and I think Goyer got it. I think Goyer did a draft. He was the person they hired on to do it. And in the meantime, they tried to do Highlander so many times. And like Ryan Reynolds was supposed to do Highlander and so it has come back to me several times, but that was a project I pitched on I never got.

I pitched really hard on Catwoman, and this was back in 1999. I went in to Warner Bros with Denise Di Novi, the producer, and we sat down with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and pitched Catwoman which is Michelle Pfeiffer who was still Catwoman and I had a really great take. And it was very exciting to do it and he said no.

And then also there was a movie I was going to write for George Clooney and Brad Pitt set in Sierra Leone and that didn’t happen.

Craig: Yeah, there’s — I mean there’s a ton of these, you know, the “that didn’t happen”. I guess in part, if you try and get something going and it doesn’t happen for you, and it doesn’t happen for anyone else, that’s a little comforting.

John: Yeah. I had one movie that I’d set up and never wrote, and that was called Monster. It was over at Sony, and it was a big monster movie. It was a sort of like a King Kong/Godzilla kind of monster movie set in Tokyo and it never happened. And so it’s one of those rare cases where I actually made a deal but then the movie itself kind of never came together and I never wrote it and we all just sort of agreed to walk away from it. Have you ever had one of those?

Craig: I — no, I’ve never had one that fell apart like that. I had one that we kept talking about like it was going to happen and all these people were interested and then just didn’t. It was this crazy independent comic called The Invisible Nine. And it was about — it was actually kind of awesome. The premise of it was that there were nine people in a space station circling the earth that were manipulating the world through the creation of brands. So for instance this conspiracy explains why there’s Zima because nobody — have you ever seen — does anyone drink Zima?

John: No.

Craig: It’s still for sale. So this explains Zima, but what was fascinating about the comic was that the nine people, the Invisible Nine, men and women, each were an outrageous racial stereotype. It was awesome. It was bananas. I don’t know why — and we — you know, I had my writing partner at the time, Greg Erb, I don’t know why we thought that this would ever be realistic. Betty Thomas was like, “I’m directing this. This is going to be great.” We would go around and pitch this thing and people would be like, “Wow, that is great.” I think everybody was just high, completely high [laughs].

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, that never happened.

John: That’s fine.

Craig: Yeah, nothing.

John: Never happened. So those are the movies that we never wrote. So at least there was less time wasted because we never wrote them, but let’s talk about the ones we did write, and sort of patterns about why those movies we wrote are not movies these days. So first off, it just wasn’t right. So there’s just something — it just fundamentally didn’t work. It could have been a flawed idea, it got developed the wrong way. What are some other reasons why the script just didn’t work?

Craig: There can be this weird thing that happens where you pitch something or you describe something and people get excited, and you think they’re seeing the same color you’re seeing but they’re not. They’re seeing a different color and so you turn it in and they go, “Oh, no, no, no, wait, what?” That’s actually exactly what happened to me on that Secret Lives of Road Crews. I said, “Look, I want to make kind of a science fiction ode to the working man. I want to talk about what it means to have true blue collar heroes and make them actual heroes and pit them, I mean, the enemy is going to be monsters, but the real enemy are the people that keep blue collar workers down.” You know like, yes, yes, and then I wrote that. They’re like, “Wait, why isn’t this Ghostbusters?” It’s like, because it’s my ode to the working man.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And they’re like, “No.” I don’t know. They didn’t see the same color I saw.

John: Yeah. That sense of where you just couldn’t get everyone on the same page is probably a recurring theme for a lot of these things where especially you pitch a certain idea, you went in and did this. Maybe they were excited by the draft you handed in, but by the time they attached a director, that director had a different idea and it just got steered off track and it just never sort of went back to a movie that people were excited to make.

Craig: That’s a whole category of the — well, you know, let’s call them the toxic attachment.

John: Right.

Craig: There are directors who attach themselves and then never — literally just never pay attention to it ever again. This is typically a very big director, an A-list director, somebody with a lot of weight at the studio. They say, “I love it. I want to do it,” and everybody goes, “Okay, back off, that guy says it’s his.” And then that dude just puts them in a drawer because maybe he’ll do it, maybe not, but in the mean time, you can’t have it and then it just dies, right?

John: Yeah.

Craig: So it just goes into this weird phantom zone. Sometimes the studio says, “We’re jamming this actor in there,” and the actor starts to unwind everything because they’ve been emboldened to do so and everybody is just saying, “Yes, yes, yes,” because the name of the game is let’s see if we can get this person to finally agree to step in front of a camera with a script that isn’t completely unwound. And sometimes they lose that bet.

John: Yup, and you can understand why the studio is servicing that relationship because they want to be in business with that director, they want to be in business with that actor, and as long as they say yes, they’re still kind of in business with that actor or director. So Big Fish is sort of an example of this for us because Steven Spielberg was attached to Big Fish for about a year and he’s not a toxic person, whatsoever. He’s a lovely, wonderful, talented director, but it became kind of clear that he wasn’t actually going to direct the movie.

And so we had to had the really awkward conversation about, “Hey, are you going to direct this?” And he said, “I guess not,” and he left and Tim Burton came on board and that was great. But I have to give props to Sony for having the — you know, cojones to actually ask that question because so many other studios at that point would not have asked and they would just be happy that Spielberg was considering directing one of those movies.

Craig: I don’t know what he was making at the time. It becomes really difficult when that director is making a movie for that studio.

John: Of course.

Craig: Because then they’ll say, “Look, yeah, I like the script by Craig. It’s at Universal. I, Steven Spielberg, I want to direct it.” “Okay, cool,” “But first I’m going to direct this for you, Universal,” “Oh, well, okay.” And then I’m going to direct this for you at Universal,” “Oh, okay.” Well, every movie takes two to three years.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So in the meantime, these six years go by and you could think, “Well, that’s okay, I’m in the hopper, right, I’ll be next.” No, you won’t.

John: Nope.

Craig: Because along those — during that six years, 14 other scripts come in.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And it’s getting — you know, I can’t blame directors because they need those opportunities, right, especially directors that aren’t writing their own material, they need that great script. They’re not going to say, “Well, I just got handed a script that I think would be incredible and I know I can knock it out of the park and I’m ready and available, but it’s not in the queue.” They don’t that.

John: No, they’re not going to do that. The other real challenge is, if you’ve been on their list for two years, they are bored with that project by now. They have no — you’re not exciting and new. They already know they have you, so they’re not going to focus on you. They’re not going to want to finally go back and direct that thing. They just won’t, so that’s why you have to be so careful about attaching people. It’s nice to be able to say, but like you could be so excited that a big director signed on to your project and at the same time go, “That’s just doomed.”

Craig: Yeah, and similarly it can happen where you have a powerful producer who is obsessed with something and believes that they can jam it through a studio and they can to an extent. They can jam a studio to pay a writer to write it, but what they can’t do is make the head of the studio press the green light.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And eventually, they just get — it’s a war of attrition. And you’re hired, you’re paid, I guess it’s a nice writing exercise, but none of us want to go into these things thinking that this is just academic.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know, we’re trying to get a movie made, we all are. And you can occasionally get swept up in the enthusiasm of a producer who’s got a few chips they can cash in but to no real end.

John: Yeah, I agree. Another common pattern for why these movies stall out is a change of regime in the studio. So basically the president of production, the head of the studio has left and a new person comes in, takes a look at all the projects in developments and says like “Nah, not this one. This does not fit our needs at this time.” And this project that you’re writing is suddenly no longer a priority for them.

Craig: It’s probably the most common cause of script death.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I would say maybe the second most common cause of script death is regardless of what we think about your screenplay, we have read it and we determined that it’s going to cost too much for what it is.

John: Exactly. A related factor can often be a similar movie has just bombed and they look at that movie and they look at your movie and they say, “Uh-uh, this similar movie just tanked. People don’t want to see this movie. Therefore we are not making this movie.” So that could be the genre, it could be the actor, it could be the director, it could be something else that they feel like it’s too similar to this, we just can’t do it.

Craig: Yep.

John: In some cases, it’s another movie is about to go into production that is just too similar which was what I described for Monster Apocalypse, because everyone sort of knows that you don’t want to be the second movie in those circumstances, you don’t want to be the Deep Impact to Armageddon.

Craig: Right, or the Dante’s Peak to Volcano, or I can’t remember which one came first, but you’re right, this is always an issue. Although occasionally it works out, I mean everybody looked and said, wait a second, DreamWorks is putting out a movie called Ants, about animated ants, and then a month later, Pixar is going to put out a movie called A Bug’s Life about animated ants. And A Bug’s Life did pretty well, did better than Ants.

John: Yes.

Craig: You know, sometimes it works out, but you’re right, there’s two kinds of stinks you can have, you have the stink of being the also-ran and you can have the stink of being something that people think has just been proven to be a failure at the box office. Of course you and I both know that’s nonsense.

John: It is nonsense. So let’s talk about how dead things are because there’s different kind of levels of dead, so there’s completely dead, there’s movies that are impossible to make, that are no longer relevant, they’re are too much like another movie. So I would say, Monster Apocalypse for all intent and purposes is completely dead because it was too much like Pacific Rim, and because at this point the rights are gone, so you’d have to reassemble the underlying rights and get the rights to that script. It’s just very difficult for that movie to not be dead.

Craig: Yes, for sure. I mean on my list, a number of these feel dead, dead, but Into the Fire could, I mean you can’t be deader than that movie. There was one draft written of it, it was buried under concrete somewhere, you know, in Culver City. Nobody wanted it in the first place, and it was capitalizing on a trend that is now 15 years old. Dead.

John: Dead. There’s another status which we’ll call not really dead, but not really alive. And so these are the specs that you owned that never sold, they are things that a studio still owns, they could theoretically make it any time, they just don’t seem to be making them. They could be movies like are passed around all the time. So Unforgiven is a movie that sat on a shelf for 10 years, 15 years, the great David Webb Peoples’ script and Clint Eastwood said, “You know what, I’m going to make that script,” and he basically shot the white script and it became Unforgiven. So it does happen where those movies just sort of sit for a long time, and then suddenly are made, but they’re very rare.

Craig: Yeah, that one actually is a special case because Eastwood bought it early on and said, “I’m going to put this in my drawer on purpose, I’m not old enough to play this guy yet.

John: Okay.

Craig: I need to wait 12 or 15 years until I can actually play this character. But yeah, there are these scripts that kick around for year and years and years, and then suddenly, oh my god, it gets made, it can happen, you know. There’s that, you know, list of the Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays and you know, maybe one day, somebody might make one of them. The thing about the things that I have that haven’t, that are original to me that I haven’t sold, I don’t want to show them to anybody. In my mind, I’ve killed them, they’re dead.

John: Yeah. That actually is a conversation you will have with your agent after a certain point is which scripts that they have are they allowed to send out. And so my agent a couple of years ago said, like, people have been asking about Here & Now, your first script, do you want people to see that? I’m like, god, no. I can’t believe that anyone would ever read that script now. It doesn’t reflect my writing today.

Craig: Well, this is the scary part, like, so even as I was thinking about doing this podcast and you start to say these things, well then you’re like, you know, I’ve had meetings where people were like, well, what else do you have? Do you have anything that, you know, like a spec that nobody else bought, you know? Because then they can go, “Hey, you know what, I can get a John August script and I can get it cheap, and who knows?” But you know, maybe people didn’t buy it for a reason. And if I super duper loved it, you know, I would have pushed it earlier than this.

John: The final set I’ll say is like, things that will never die, and so I have two of those movies, so Shazam which I talked about before eventually, they’ll make a Shazam movie, and also Tarzan. So I was the first writer on Tarzan, and so the Tarzan movie which the trailer is out for now, I was a part of the chain of title on that Tarzan. My movie was completely different. My movie took place in modern day Africa with civil unrest, and it was a completely different sort of way of doing Tarzan. There was khaki and pith helmets, but that was my chain of title for Tarzan. So someone was going to make a Tarzan of movie and that chain of title is still uninterrupted. So that’s kind of a third theme. So like, my Tarzan is dead because this other Tarzan exists.

Craig: That’s really interesting. I always wonder about my Harvey script. I always wonder if it might get somehow revived, but probably not because see, it’s a rights thing, you know. So they followed Tarzan all the way through at Warner Bros. And similarly, you know, for Shazam, it’s a DC property, it’s Warner Bros, they could follow through. You know, Miramax blows the rights on something, can’t figure out how to pay for a movie, it’s dead. That thing is dead.

John: Well, let’s talk about raising the dead and sort of when that happens and when it doesn’t happen. You know, Passenger, which is a Jon Spaihts script, wasn’t dead, but it wasn’t getting made. So it was a really great script that people loved, Keanu Reeves was attached to star in it. He wasn’t a big enough star to justify the budget. It was stalled out and they were able to shake Keanu Reeves off and suddenly now they’re making that movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt and suddenly it’s going to be a big, giant movie. So it is possible to resuscitate some of these movies at times.

Craig: Yeah, for sure. I mean so that’s an example of a movie that — well, first of all, it got Mirmaxed. So there. You’re looking for a pattern here, Miramax. So there are certain movies that tempt lots of people. Lots of people creep up to it and go, “I know how to do this. I know how to do this. I know — oh, no, I don’t.” “Okay, well, I do,” “Oh no, I don’t.” In that case, I don’t even think they — it’s not that they shook Keanu Reeves off. I think that Keanu Reeves was going to make the Miramax movie. Miramax couldn’t figure out how to pay for it or didn’t want to pay for it, so they let it go.

John: Right.

Craig: And then Sony picked it up and Sony had a different theory about who should be in it and —

John: All right.

Craig: But yeah, there are some movies that kick around and I don’t think of those movies as dead. I think of those movies as like dodging bullets.

John: Cool. So what conclusions can we draw from our visit to this script graveyard? Maybe we could talk about sort of letting go and sort of how you say goodbye to a script because the process of cleaning out these drawers, it may be looking at some of these projects and say like, “Oh, you know what, you were lovely but you’re gone now. I’m going to let you go. I’m going to stop ever thinking about you again.” Because they just — there’s — I’m never going to bring you back to life and that’s maybe okay.

Craig: Yeah. I feel like the value of these things in the past is that you did them. And I never think about these things as failures per se, I don’t think about them as wastes of time. I think of them as experiences I had writing.

The truth is that you can’t do all the work that you and I do without finding some internal pleasure in the experience itself. So that becomes its own reward, you know. For a while, I got to live in the world of Harvey. For a while, I got to live in the world of even the Secret Lives of Road Crews. And it was my world, and I lived in it, and I did the best I could, and I like to think that, you know, hopefully, I honed a few things here and there that made me a little bit better for the next time.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But there’s no sense in crying over this stuff because it’s inevitable.

John: Yeah. There’ve been a few things I’ve circle back on that I was really glad I took a second look at. One of them was Writer Emergency Pack. So I started Writer Emergency Pack four years ago. It was going to be an app and so I had the artwork and it just sat dormant. And then when I looked at it again, it’s like, oh, you know what, it’s a card game, so like, that was a good thing to sort of resuscitate. As I look at some of these scripts I’ve written, there are a few that are probably worth a second look, both for, there’s essentially a really great idea there, or there’s a way to make this now, that I couldn’t have made it before. So there’s a few that I’ll probably revisit, but most of them, I have to honestly look and say, is my time better spent trying to rejigger one of these things that didn’t work, or doing the new things that I’m excited about. And I have so many new things I’m excited about on the list, that that’s probably where I should spend my time.

Craig: I completely agree. And I think that that spirit is why you’ve written so much because you’re always excited to move forward. I think the people that dwell on these things in the past are trying to continually resuscitate them over and over. I mean sometimes it’s prudent, but a lot of times, it’s a tacit capitulation to the thought that you don’t have something new to do or think and that you just can’t let that one go. I am thrilled, the second I’m done with a script, to me it’s like a plate of food I’m finished with, get it away from me. I don’t want to look at it. New. Next. Let’s go.

John: Yeah, maybe if there’s a lesson to take from a visit to the cemetery is that, to be glad that you’re alive and that you can write new things.

Craig: And to avoid Miramax.

John: Yes. And notice like cause of death, Miramax.

Craig: So many of these people died here. Most of them died of Miramax, that one was small pox.

John: All right, let’s do our One Cool Things.

Craig: All right. Well, my One Cool Thing is a French company called Wyvings. They’ve been around for a while, they make a lot of Internet of things devices.

John: I have a Wyvings scale.

Craig: There you go, so as do I. So it’s mostly health products. The Wyvings scale is very nice, you step on it, it measures your weight, it measures your body fat, and then it pipes that info wirelessly to an app on your phone, you can track things. And there are a lot of versions of that sort of thing. But, they have a new thing that is not yet on the market, it’s coming soon, and it’s called The Wyvings Thermo which is the most French way of saying thermometer, ever, thermo. Now here’s what’s so great about it. I hate thermometers. Thermometers, like the whole category drives me nuts. You have thermometers that you certainly don’t want to put them up your butt anymore, that’s old school.

You can stick them in your mouth, they move around, and then is it digital, if it’s digital, is it accurate, nobody really can tell, and then you have the ones that you put on your forehead which are junk. You have the ones that you can put in your ear, but if you’re holding it slightly wrong, it doesn’t work. There’s a million things about these things. Well, these guys seem to have solved it. So what they do is, and it’s you know, Internet of things, it’ll pipe into your app and all that, and that’s great, but here’s the genius part of it.

There is a way to take your temperature by using an infrared sensor on your temple. The problem is, it has to be done the right way, it has to be the exact proper distance from your temple, and ideally, you take a lot of readings at once, to try and you know, counter for fluctuations and things. So this thing is designed so that there’s a cup. The cup goes right up against your temple, and then it’s inside the cup, the proper distance from your temple.

It takes 4,000 measurements with 16 different infrared sensors in two seconds, and finds the hottest spot, which is the one you’re most concerned about, and gives you your proper temperature. And it adjusts the temperature because, you know, our body temperature like the whole 98.6 thing in the thermometer, really probably is supposed to go up your butt, so if you put it under you arm, or on your forehead, you’re not quite getting the same up your butt reading.

So if you have 101 from your forehead, you might actually have a 102 or 102.5, so I love this thing, I can’t wait to get this. This finally, I mean like, good, I know that I’m actually getting the right temperature here. Not so much for me, I don’t care if I’m sick, I’m sick, but when you have a sick kid, you kind of want to know.

John: Yeah, you do want to know. Cool.

Craig: There you go.

John: My One Cool Thing is an app that Apple put out this last week. It’s called Music Memos. And it’s a very smart little app for a very specific need. So if you are coming up with a song, you have a melody, and you want to record it, you can use the voice memos app, you can use Evernote, you can use — there’s lots of different ways you can record it. This is just so much better for the music of it all. And so when we’ve been doing stuff for Big Fish, we’ve been working on other songs, very often I’ll be sitting with a composer and we’ll plunk it out and we’ll just record it in Voice Memos, and you’ll label the note.

This is what it does, when it records it, it actually breaks it into measures, it tracks the keys, it can even build a simple accompaniment with it just so you can actually hear that idea and share that idea and really have a good sounding track to listen back to. It’s very smart, it’s very Apple, just really incredibly useful if you’re a person who works with little snippets of songs.

Craig: It’s like they knew that I was a few weeks away from handing a script over to Jeanine Tesori and then we were going to start making songs. It’s like they knew. I’m so excited to use this. I think it’s great.

John: Cool. All right. That is our show this week. So as always, our show is produced by Stuart Friedel, it is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week is by Sam Tahhan. If you have a comment for me or for Craig, find us on Twitter. I’m @johnaugust, Craig is @clmazin.

If you have a longer question like some of the ones we answered today, you can write into is also where you can find the show notes for this episode, they’re always in order there. You can also find us on, that’s where you find all the back episodes. On iTunes, search for Scriptnotes, while you’re there, you can also download the app. We have the Scriptnotes app which gives you access to the back catalogue, and it’s also on the Android app store.

As a reminder, I am hosting a Q&A with most of the writers who are nominated for the WGA Awards. That Q&A is happening on February 4th at 7:30 pm. There are still some tickets left, so if you would like to go to that, go to, or there’s also a link in the episode notes for this show.

Craig, thank you so much.

Craig: Thank you, John. Have a good week.

John: You too.