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

Today on the podcast, we are joined by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay to talk about their new movie, The Invitation, and how they balance writing small Indies with big budget franchises. And on the topic of franchises, we’ll discuss requels, which are not quite reboots and not quite sequels. Plus we’ll get to these listener questions.

Craig, how are you today?

Craig: Well, given the amount of work that we have to do here in this podcast, I’m not feeling that great. [laughs]

Actually, I was in a terrific mood and then you just laid that much on. I mean, that’s so much.

John: Absolutely. And that they’re terrible, dismal guests who will be not amusing or interesting whatsoever.

Craig: We’re going to have to drag them down the field on our backs.

John: So before we get to that hard, hard work, let’s do some follow-up from last week.

Craig: All right.

John: Last week on the clip show, I asked listeners to take a three-question poll about our podcast and specifically the premium feed. Several hundred of you not only filled out the poll, you left great comments and suggestions.

Craig, once again, we have the best listeners of any podcast in America.

Craig: Well, I’m going to have to take your word for that, obviously, since I don’t listen to other podcasts. But from what I’ve seen and heard, I’ve got to agree with you, our listeners are basically pretty cool.

John: Here’s what our listeners told us. They said we should keep the premium feed because enough of them like it and enjoy it. It’s a way to get to all those back catalog episodes. Sometimes they listen to episodes for the first time or they listen to it for the seventh time. So we’ll keep doing that for the people who like that.

We’ll probably also make more of the USB drives that have all of the episodes on them, including the bonus episodes. We’re approaching 250 so we’ll probably do a 250-episode drive for that.

Craig: God, 250?

John: That’s a lot of episodes.

Craig: 250? John.

John: Yeah.

Craig: John, it’s like five years.

John: It’s like five years of my life spent.

Craig: That’s five years of our life. [laughs]

John: No, it’s really my life. [laughs] It’s about like, you know, maybe 50 hours of your life.

Craig: Yeah, but I feel like

John: Well, I guess it’s 250 hours of your life.

Craig: Yeah, I feel like we have a life together.

John: We do have a life together. Some marriages have not lasted the number of episodes that we’ve recorded.

Craig: Especially where we live.

John: Yeah, especially where we live.

So the whole reason I started asking the questions about what we should do with the premium feed is because some people were having real problems with the premium feed both on a technical level and on a billing level. So we’re still going to look for some alternate way for people who want to support the podcast, to help pay for Stuart and for Matthew, because you guys are awesome. So some way you guys can support the show and get those bonus episodes as well. So it might be Patreon, it might be something else.

If you have specific suggestions for things we can do to make that easier, let us know. But we will keep doing what we’re doing, and we should get to today’s work.

Craig: What if people send in canned goods to Stuart?

John: I think that would be a terrific idea. I think

Craig: I mean, Stuart loves green beans.

John: Yes, he’s the best the biggest fan of green beans.

Craig: Corn nibblets.

John: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So as long as we keep Stuart fed, that’s crucial.

Craig: When you were a kid

John: Yeah.

Craig: And I’m sorry, we’ll get to Phil and Matt in a second.

John: Oh, there’s no rush.

Craig: I’m stalling because they’re going to be the worst. [laughs] When you were a kid, did you do the thing right in front of Thanksgiving in elementary school where would you do the canned food drive?

John: Of course, you had to do the canned food drive.

Craig: And I was always arguing with my because my mother is, you know, as we’ve established, probably I don’t know if we’ve established on the podcast, but she’s the worst. So she would always want to get like these healthy food. I’m like, “Nobody wants green nobody wants these nasty green beans in a can. Let’s get the yams.” I was always a yams guy.

John: Oh my God, yams are the worst.

Craig: What?

John: I can’t I can’t believe we haven’t gotten into this. Like who would eat yams?

Craig: I would.

John: The only kind of yam-type vegetable I’ll eat is like sweet potato fries. Delightful. Any other form of sweet potato or yam and you know, yams aren’t even yams. Like yams

Craig: I know. Oh God.

John: Are an African thing and God, it’s

Craig: You know what, especially the ones in the can. [laughs] God only know what those are.

John: Exactly. They’re some sort of special product invented by scientists.

Craig: Yeah. It’s soylent orange.

John: It’s soylent orange.

So on the topic of yams, let’s get to our guests today.

Craig: Segue Man.

John: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi are a writing team whose credits include Clash of the Titans, Aeon Flux, Crazy Beautiful and both Ride Alongs.

Their new movie is The Invitation, which is in U.S. theaters April 8th and also available through iTunes that same day. It debuted at South by Southwest and it’s currently 89% fresh in Rotten Tomatoes. It was only 88% fresh this morning, now it’s 89% so who knows how high it will be by the time we listen to this podcast.

The film, The Invitation, is set at a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills where a group of friends are reconnecting after a tragedy. But something seems a little amiss. Let’s listen to a clip.

[Clip plays]

John: So Matt, are they harmless?

Matt Manfredi: You have to go see the movie to find out.

John: All right. So it’s

Craig: You don’t just want to tell us what happens to save us the effort?

Matt: I find people usually like to just have some people tell them what the movie is and then

Craig: Right. Just skip the whole thing of having to go through

Matt: Yeah, just getting in the car. It’s narration.

Craig: Because the movie is, it’s like an hour-and-a-half. I mean, if you just tell us

Matt: It’s a big time commitment.

Craig: It’s huge.

John: It is a big time commitment.

So Craig and I both have seen your movie. I saw it at an official screening at ICM and it was a delightful night and it was I loved seeing it on the big screen. Craig didn’t see it that way. He saw it on a screener.

Craig: Yeah, I did. But I have to say and you know, it’s funny because we’re friends with Karyn Kusama, the director and Phil’s wife, and she was very concerned. She said you have to watch it with the sound really high and you’ve got to make sure that the lights are low.

So I did it.

John: Oh, nice.

Craig: I turned the lights way down, cranked the sound, looked great. I enjoyed the experience of watching a nice film at home. [laughs] It was great.

Phil Hay: So it’s in theaters and VOD. So however you like it

John: Absolutely.

Phil: You can have it.

John: So I think what I’ll pitch without sort of seeing it with an audience is there are not necessarily jump scares but there is a collective experience of trying to figure out like what is actually going on.

And so the reason why I asked like, “Are they dangerous?” like that becomes a real valid question. It’s like, “Are these people what they seem to be? Are there red herrings being thrown about?” And yes, there are red herrings being thrown about.

Matt: I think that our biggest conversations making the movie were all about where should where do we want the audience to be situated vis-a-vis Will, the lead character. And can we trust him? Can we trust his point of view? And it you know, the experience, I think, to kind of put a cell on the theatrical experience, it has been really gratifying and fascinating to sit with many audiences and watch the movie and see that it does play. There is a feeling between the audience members where there’s a palpable sense of sweating it out with other people

Craig: Yeah.

Matt: And there’s a tension and dread that it’s if it works for you, hopefully

Phil: Yeah.

Matt: It works better in the theater.

Craig: It does feel like it feels like one I mean, there are certain kinds of movies that require a communal experience. I don’t know if this requires a bigger and definitely see how it would accentuate it and, you know, that you because tension is something that you can feel in a room.

And it is available in big cities. I mean, so

Phil: Yes.

Craig: People in New York. What did you say, New York, Austin, Boston, where else?

Phil: Dallas.

Craig: L.A.

Phil: Houston, L.A.

Matt: Kind of expands the week

Phil: And the week after we’re in Chicago and

Matt: Cleveland.

Phil: Cleveland and Columbus.

Craig: So lots of opportunities for

Matt: Yes. Yes.

Phil: Absolutely.

John: So I saw it several months ago, but since the time I saw that, I also saw 10 Cloverfield Lane and the movies are similar in the sense that they are both taking place in small environments. You’re closed in and you’re not sure who you can trust.

And you Phil, what you were saying about character’s point of view, you’re not entirely sure if you can trust the point of view of your lead character because he has gone through a tragedy and he may be perceiving things not the way they really are. And by laser-focusing on just his point of view on things, you have limited information.

So can you talk us through sort of the writing process and figuring out like did this start from an idea of a dinner party? Did it start from an idea of this character? What was the impetus behind this movie?

Phil: This kind of came from an emotional sort of emotional/thematic feeling. And I think that we started talking this is many years ago. We’ve been living with this script for a long time. And I think it started out with a sort of what if question, which I think a lot of movies that could be categorized as horror or science fiction fall into to, which is what if you knew someone very, very well, you knew them better than anyone else in the world. You were married to them. And they disappeared one day and when they came back, they were a completely different person.

That sort of emotional horror was part of it. And then we also were sort of very interested in cults and interested in the kind of very dark mythology of the Hollywood Hills and California itself.

Matt: Also we were having a lot of conversations about grief and the isolation of it and how, you know, people can grieve the same person in very different ways and, you know, taking that to its logical and perhaps scary extension.

So yeah, and you know, in terms of and you know, in terms of the we kind of had the ending which, you know, is we had that first in the way that you’ll the ending is, in a way, the premise of the movie.

Craig: Right.

Matt: So we have these ideas that we’re working around. We have this ending which, you know, again, is the premise of it, and so we kind of worked from there. And in terms of like Will’s point of view and it was a challenge that was one of the big writing challenges I think, which was deciding how much information to parcel out and keep it going. Because the movie is kind of a slow burn and you want to keep the audience invested. You want to have events along the way, but it was like we kept removing things and seeing how much we could remove.

Phil: And in this context, what was interesting, you know, having written many different kinds of movies, in this particular movie, the sense that our turns of reveal in something being apparently true and then being revealed to be not true at all, and then that new apparent truth being subverted in a different way. It kind of required us to a very microscopic manner, think about character turns and think about shifts in mood and tone over the course of this party because, you know, I think a lot of it is wrapped up in a lot of what’s underneath, what we’re trying to explore in the script is just the idea of manners and social propriety and how our instincts for preservation can be sort of obscured by our desire to

Matt: Please others.

Phil: Be cool and not be the person that’s

Craig: Just follow the rules of the party. It’s really instructive for because we have a lot people that listen to us who are aspiring screenwriters and we talk about theme all the time. We talk about character all the time. We talk about knowing what your movie is really about, which isn’t what it’s about. And so it’s very instructive, I think, for people to hear that the things that you start with.

So this is a thriller. So on the other side of the screen, for the consumer, they’re seeing a thriller. It’s Hitchcockian. It’s suspenseful. It’s Polanski-ish, right? It reminded me of Rosemary’s Baby. It reminded me of Strangers on a Train. It reminded me of any kind of closed room story. All of those things are very craft-wise and they’re very front-facing.

But behind it, you guys start with what happens if somebody you know you don’t really know and grief. So very instructive, I think, for people to hear how you guys start and then the craft is in service of that.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, it makes the writing process easier. I mean, you know, the only times I get stuck writing is when I don’t know what the scene is about. You know, I know have to write the scene

Craig: Right.

Matt: And it happens to be in the plot but I all day, I’m banging my head against the wall and it’s just because I don’t thematically know what this is about.

Craig: And you know that you won’t get help from Phil.

Matt: No.

Phil: No. That’s not that’s not possible. [laughs]

Matt: He’s useless.

Phil: I’m just on the phone doing business. So [laughs]

Craig: He handles the business. [laughs]

Matt: Yeah, he’s basically an automaton who goes to lunches.

Craig: Right, exactly.

Phil: But, no, I mean I think that like that’s been important to all of us. We learn them we learn them as we do the process of writing. But we’ve sort of realized that that is what is the moment of genesis for us on anything that we write, whether it’s our own thing to say why should this exist. Why is this why do I want to what I’m trying to get at? What am I trying to explore? Or something that we’re working on that comes from outside where it’s like what is my connection to this. Why am I the one that needs to do this?

Once we know what it’s about or what we what we’re trying to discover about it, then every conversation is about that in some way even when it’s not directly. Every conversation a character has should be reflecting that in a not literal way. And it just I don’t know how to do a movie without that.

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: Without knowing what its place in the intellectual world is, you know.

Craig: Right.

John: So when did you actually start writing this movie?

Matt: A while ago.

Phil: Yeah. We were trying to figure that out. It’s been so long we could I think we sort of had the basic idea and some of the structure long ago, more than 10 years ago.

Matt: Yeah.

Craig: Wow.

Phil: And it’d been just sort of haunting us a little bit. And there’s something interesting about but I don’t know if it’s the same for you, if we’ve talked about this. But there is something about this particular story and script and making this movie that is one of the most mysterious of them to me that we’ve ever done just in terms of I felt like I was always learning about it while doing it.

So it took years for me, personally, to like be with it and live with it and try to understand it well enough to write it, you know. And then I think we started writing it probably eight years ago and then we were originally thinking of directing it and we sort of realized that I lived with a much better director.

Craig: Yeah. She’s pretty good.

Phil: And yeah. And

Matt: She’s talented.

Craig: Yeah.

Phil; So then it came to life in a different way once Karyn was involved. And you know, like every independent film, it took a really long time to get together but

Craig: Well, you know, there’s the question that I’m sure everyone is going to ask at the, you know, as you go through promotions. What’s it like when you’re wife is directing and all that. But what there’s another thing that happens before that happens. Because that question really I mean, putting aside the fact that Karyn is your wife, that question is always about what it’s like as a writer to see your work translated by somebody else.

But there’s also it’s interesting when you guys said that you’d been working on this for eight years or ten years. There’s a narrowing of possibilities that occurs as you get towards the end. And I’m always fascinated to talk to writers about that moment right before the director starts to translate, when you go, “We have arrived at an end.” Did you feel like you had gotten through that without too many compromises? Did it resemble what you had hoped it would resemble?

Phil: I would say it resembles it exactly

Matt: Very much.

Phil: In an almost uncanny

Craig: Great.

Phil: Way, because Karyn part of it is the three of us becoming a very inseparable unit during this movie. And part of it is Karyn’s approach. Every director is different and, you know, as a writer, no matter who the director is, you’re just trying to serve the director, you’re trying to merge what you can bring and what your and your story with their story and make it the same story. And Karyn, the way she works is very she wouldn’t have even approached it if she didn’t want to tell the story that we had right there on the script.

Craig: Right.

Phil: And then, of course, we went through it with her and we but the way Karyn works is she always like trusts us to get there. She’s talking in terms of the themes and the characters and the feelings and the moments and the tuning and the relationships. So it really is exactly I mean, I’ve, you know, never had an experience where it has been it is it’s truly I can’t imagine it any different

Matt: Yeah.

Phil: Because it is what it is.

John: So when did it go from like, “Here’s the script. Here’s an idea. We now have a great director on board,” when did you decide, “Okay, we’re going to just make this movie?” What was the tipping point for this is a thing we could do versus this a thing we’re going to start shooting?

Matt: I think when Karyn came on and then, you know, she started meeting with actors and then you in that kind of circular dance of financing

Craig: Right.

Matt: Casting, financing, casting.

Phil: They need a cast, cast needs finance.

Matt: Exactly.

Craig: Right.

Matt: And so but that all started pretty quickly after Karyn got involved.

Phil: And then the journey was like I mean, we entered that phase of at some point you enter that dangerous phase of going from something we wanted to do to, at least in my mind, something we had to do. That once Karyn and Matt and I were together and working on it and envisioning it and we had some of the actors that we’d have in the movie, you know, as every independent movie, so many crazy icebergs appeared at the last minute

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: As they always do. And like emotionally, it felt like we had to make this movie. And there was almost a calm in that, of knowing that all of us spend a lot of time building up our professional armature because we are extreme veterans of the feeling of getting something almost there and not having it happen

Craig: Right.

Phil: Or it gets diverted into a different area that you want it to. Any of that stuff. And I think that on a very emotional level, we all knew for all, many reasons, that we had to make this movie.

Matt: Well, because we were all heading towards the same place. Everyone. We saw it the same way and you could see the finish line already, you know.

Craig: Right.

Matt: We knew it was going to

Craig: And how many days did you guys shoot?

Matt: 20.

Phil: 20.

Craig: 20 days.

John: It was 20 days here in Los Angeles and

Phil: Yes.

John: I’m curious about sort of the financial model behind this because if I’m a financer looking at this, it looks kind of like a Blumhouse movie in the sense like you’re in sort one location. It’s a thriller. It’s not a horror movie, though.

Phil: Yeah.

John: Was there any pushback to sort of like make it, you know, bigger, more supernatural, to have some aspect that could be more easily marketed, so it wasn’t Hitchcockian but it was more, you know, gory or something?

Phil: Initially and there weren’t really any pushes to make it more genre or anything like that. At one point, you know, the movie cost a million dollars. At one point it was they were we were talking about well, it had a $3 million dollar level. And at that point that point cast there becomes

Craig: Right.

Phil: A greater pressure on cast.

Craig: Right.

Phil: And then all of a sudden you’re talking things, “Okay. Well, does that fit? Can we make it fit?” you know, and but there wasn’t really any pressure to

Matt: We yeah. I mean

Phil: We changed content.

Matt: We could have had in I imagine there could have been a time we had internal pressure, but we didn’t where you’d say like we want to get this movie made and so what are the kind of, you know, attractive things that one could and you know, that, you know, how you could turn it to kind of huff up its writer feathers.

Phil: Well, but you know, it is because you’re right. There is this it’s not a horror movie, it’s but it lives within the

John: In that space.

Phil: Genre.

Craig: It’s a it’s a

Phil: Galaxy

Craig: You know it’s a paranoid thriller

Phil: Yeah. But in that way, so like having not written one of those before. You’re confident in what you’ve written, but at the same time you’re like, “This is a slow burn. I wonder if this do we need to insert something

Matt: But we sort of knew

Phil: You know, stabby. [laughs]

Matt: Yeah.

Craig: Right.

Phil: You know what I mean? Like, but I think we knew

Matt: Yeah.

Phil: We really knew that I mean, we really knew that there this could never be a movie where there would be a sort of regular pace of tension and release, tension and release, scares

Craig: Right.

Phil: Et cetera.

Craig: It wasn’t that

Phil: That it’s not that. And what it really is is a drama that turns into a paranoid thriller that

Craig: Right.

Phil: Turns into a horror movie. It’s all those things. But I think so I think that we did know that and this would be the, you know, the advice to give to anyone making an independent film, that the reason you make it is to do it the way that it has to be done.

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: And to not jump for when it seems like the gap is really you’re really close and to jump for the thing that will make it go, whether it’s an actor that everyone wants but you know is not right, or any of those things, I think we all collectively realized that, you know, once we dropped the budget to be as low as possible and we’re counting on Karyn’s skill to make the movie feel big as a movie, then we can cast exactly the right actors, the people who will feel real, and we can shoot it here in L.A. which felt critical to us on many levels. But just

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: It is an L.A. and it should be here. So

Craig: But I mean, that’s what you get back from giving up things, right? So

Phil: Yeah, exactly.

Craig: And the tragedy is to give up the big budget and to give up all of this and then also then give up your vision at the same time.

Phil: Exactly.

Craig: That’s crazy.

Phil: Exactly.

John: A lot of these decisions you’re talking about remind of our conversation with Mari Heller about The Diary of a Teenage Girl which was basically how do you, you know, put together exactly the right package for the right budget so that you make the right choices to make the right movie. And it sounds like you guys found that at this budget level because looking at your film, there’s probably a much, much lower version budget that you could do with, you know, that doesn’t look as good, it doesn’t shoot as many days, it’s going to be rushed, it’s going to be frantic, but it wouldn’t be the same movie. It would be

Matt: Well, the movie had to have like —

Phil: I think it would lose its movieness.

Matt: The movie had to have like the house had to be seductive and lush, you know, as part of the story in a way.

John: Yeah.

Phil: So it has to be that. Also, you know, we had we were a union, you know, that it was a SAG contract, you have 12 actors on for the run.

Craig: Big cast.

Phil: Yeah.

Matt: It just eats up a lot of money.

Craig: Plus, any time you’re shooting like the dinner scene, when I saw people sitting around the table I immediately tense up. [laughs]

Phil: Yeah, you know what you know what that’s about, yeah.

Craig: Oh, god. There’s three days of angles.

Matt: So in order to have a SAG movie, the movie couldn’t have gone much lower than what we were at.

Phil: That was the thing we learned about

Matt: Yeah.

Phil: Independent films is that the you know, everyone knows that the number of days is a big is your biggest factor in budget, but the number of actors and the number of days you have is a huge one and you know, and talking about the dinner scene, one thing that was kind of fascinating about the process of making this is realizing again, Karyn, because the schedule is so limited had to be very aggressive about her choices

Craig: Right.

Phil: On the day, everything was there was not room to mess around and there was not room to kind of find stuff. It was which is why we worked to make the script exactly what the movie was going to be and the actors invested in that. And we did get two-and-a-half days of rehearsal which is a miracle because

Matt: Which was crucial though.

Phil: Critical because

Craig: To help them find their voice.

Phil: Exactly.

Craig: You set their pace.

Phil: And physically relate to each other in the space. And yeah, basically do some pretty precise blocking because Karyn knew she couldn’t just like hose down the scenes.

Matt: No.

Phil: Because you don’t have time and it’s not her style. So she knew. There’s going to be scenes, I’m going to be playing this in the master, almost the whole scene and it’s an important scene and it’s going to be that’s where it’s going to be. And then what you learn is, you cannot have a single actor who is less than great.

Matt: Yeah.

Phil: Because everybody is in the shot, everybody is reacting. Everybody is in the moment and you have nowhere to go. So it’s another kind of benefit of looking at every single part and saying the only the reason these actors are here is because we think they are the best actors, because they really are, they’re in everything.

Craig: They were it was a terrific cast. Everyone was spot on, gave great performances. You have that many people, everyone was distinct. You know, this is a common problem you’ll hear when people read a screenplay and it translates into a movie, “Well that one seem like that one. Those two seemed a lot alike, you didn’t need why did you have to have two of them.” Everyone was very clearly distinct.

I also think it’s a real benefit when you don’t have so Phil said, hose down. What that means is do coverage, so you shoot a master, and then hosing it down means, okay, now, I get a single on you, I get a single on you. I get an over, I get a two.

So when you’re shooting things in master style because you don’t have time to do all the coverage, I actually think it helps a movie like this because now things are happening behind in one. Because every time you cut, I don’t know who told me this, but I think about it all the time, every time you cut, you’re cheating, right? And sometimes you have to cheat, but if you cannot cut and somebody moves and there’s like that when he sees somebody someone’s talking and then a little bit off to the right you see two other people starting to whisper, that’s wonderful. There are a lot of moments like that.

Matt: Yeah, and it kind of you’ve forced the actors to kind of develop their relationships even further.

Phil: Right.

Matt: You know, and it’s fun and they really did. I mean, we shot it we shot it in order for the most part.

Craig: Oh, that’s really that’s great.

Phil: Which was really interesting

Craig: Which you can do because you’re in one place.

Matt: And we kind of had to do because the house had maybe one less room than we needed.

Phil: Right, right. I mean, we really every square inch of that house was

Craig: Did you do that thing where you redress one room to be another?

Phil: We didn’t. Though we I mean, and that what was interesting, too, about that is this particular movie was it was really helpful to be able to shoot in continuity for almost like 90% probably in continuity because I think the actual experience of making it and you know, it’s funny you it’s almost truism that sometimes like the darkest movies are the most positive experiences that the people and we had a lot of fun making this movie even though it’s a very dark film.

And I think that everybody had to be living together in that house basically. I mean, we were moving we had the production office upstairs and we were shooting downstairs, then the production office moved.

Craig: Crazy.

Phil: The copy machine is trying to get down the stairs.

John: As I watching the movie I kept thinking like everyone is like jammed in that little room down this corner. [Cross talk] And there’s a couple of times where the camera has to turn, like oh, how is he going to do it.

Phil: We had we had the DP at one point having to leap up onto a bar, a little mini bar and be sitting, you know

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: In this little box

Matt: Because there’s no walls can fly out of the way.

Phil: There is no.

John: Let’s talk a little bit about geography because that affects your scene writing as well because there’s moments in the movie where a lot of people are having conversations together but then they need to break off into separate conversations. So did you have to change anything in the script based on the house you ended up picking for this movie?

Matt: We did. The house I mean, the house actually ticked most of the boxes we had in the script. I mean, we there was definitely in the script there was like they go upstairs and they’re down. Now, he’s in the yard, which can look back at the house and, you know.

There were those things that for the most part ended up working out okay, probably 80% of it. But we did have to rejigger a few things. We also lost one character along the way.

John: What did that character do? Just so

Phil: She was Amanda who was mentioned, who is the character of Ben played by Jay Larson, his wife who is at home pissed. She used be at the party pissed and then

Craig: Just couldn’t support it?

Phil: We just sort of realized at some point in the process that she was the only like you said, I am glad that it plays that way, that every character has a reason they need to be there. She was the character that I think she had some interesting stuff to say but she didn’t really have a reason to be there and we liked what it did to Ben’s character to not have his wife there at the party.

And so but the things that were interesting on a screenwriting level is like walking through the house with Karyn, with the DP, with the ADs and mapping it and realizing the opportunities, you know. We’re saying, “You know, we have an opportunity in this house because the dining room is upstairs, which is a very weird thing.”

John: It’s a very strange house.

Phil: That it’s a very strange layout. It kind of gave the opportunity and Karyn sort of realized, she said, “I’m going to play this movie. The first half of the movie is downstairs and the second half of the movie is upstairs. “And there’s a real pivot right in the middle

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Phil: When they go upstairs.

Craig: And it’s a great shot, too. I love what she did. I’ve actually never seen anything quite like that. So it’s not this is a movie where it’s not a spoiler to say that there are spoilers for this movie.

Matt: Yeah, yeah.

Craig: But this is not a spoiler. When they go upstairs, Karyn shoots just their feet and you just see shoes and sneakers and slippers of people going and it was actually fascinating.

Phil: Oh, yeah.

Matt: Yeah, it’s a cool shot.

Craig: I love that shot.

Matt: It’s a cool shot.

Craig: It’s like you know, I’m like transition fan, you know, I always love transitions and I’ve never seen that one. I thought it was great. It was great.

Phil: That’s great. Cool.

John: So let’s talk about the cost of the film, not just in terms of actually making it, but in terms of you and your time because all the time you spent making this movie is time you’re not writing a movie for a studio and doing everything else. Did that factor in? As you set off to make this movie, did you think like, “Okay. Well, I’m going to have to jump out of our screenwriting career for six months to make this film,” and all the time in post, and all the time promoting it right now?

Phil: Yeah. I mean, it sort of has serendipitously so far worked out where there were you know, we’re all we’re really used to trying to do a lot of stuff at once and as we all have to be, sort of. But I think with this, in particular, we knew that we had to be there every day, we knew that we had fortunately, it’s only four weeks and, you know, and it was four weeks in June.

Matt: I mean, we got really lucky that break. I mean, Ride Along 2 was filming while we were filming this. So our work kind of

Phil: So we kind of

Matt: Was done with that.

Phil: We got right to the rehearsal period which is the

Craig: Right.

Phil: Important stuff and then we were making this while they were shooting that and that worked out, perfect timing wise.

Craig: That’s another thing I want to talk to you guys about, which is your range, which is remarkable. And I think that actually a lot of writers have a far wider range than people understand. They tend to see our names associated with certain kinds of movies because those are the ones that are getting made then these other ones take eight or 10 years.

And obviously, because they’re smaller, they don’t necessarily have the same visibility, but you guys are writing Ride Along, so you’re writing these big, you know, comic mainstream hit movies and then there’s this which is the opposite.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I mean, the dead opposite. I guess my question is, am I wrong or am I right? I know I’m right about you guys, but are most writers like this or do you think it’s a rare thing?

Matt: It’s come up with us before, but to me it was a totally organic thing. I mean, you know, when you start out, you write a spec script, you go out to the lowest rung of executives and they pitch you their projects that are going nowhere.

Craig: That match your spec script.

Matt: You know what I mean?

Craig: Right.

Matt: And so and but there is a wide diversity of stuff out there and we’ve and we’re interested in all kinds of stories and so we would you know, we took a few on and we got a couple made and, you know. But you get these weird meetings where we’ve written like a Bull Durham type of comedy. And we got called in and someone said, “How would you like to work on a World War 2 biopic?” We’re like, “Yes.”

Phil: I love that. Yeah, yeah, of course.

Craig: We would like that.

Matt: We would like that because it these things interest us and I think very early on, we got opportunities to work in a few different genres and then and never even thought about pigeon-holing or not, or just kind of organically worked out that way

Phil: And I think that to what you were saying, Craig, I think it’s true of I mean, most of the writers that I know. I mean, people tend to get reduced in the conversation. You know, whether it’s internally or externally.

Matt: Lists, or.

Phil: And, you know, writers are like anybody, that everybody is complicated. That I don’t know anybody in the world that’s just one thing and

Craig: But they’re always surprised that “I didn’t know you could write this.” What?

Matt: Right.

John: Do you think that this movie will have any impact on your Hollywood careers or is this just a separate track?

Phil: I’d like to think that it would, simply because it does show however you feel about the movie, it does directly without any diffusion show what we want to do. And I think my hope is that people will you know, we have lots of great people we work with and those people and other people, I hope would see this movie and you know, sort of in the way, Craig, that you’ve been consciously pushing into different areas.

Craig: Right.

Phil: That’s kind of what we’d like to do, too. That hopefully this movie, whatever those are. And that there’s, you know, whether that means thrillers or whether that means a straight drama or whether that what that would be called. That’s what we’re hoping that people see.

Craig: I think it’s I think you did it. I mean, you have a movie. It’s well received. It’s going to I think, the audience that finds it is going to really appreciate it. This is there’s you know, it’s funny, there’s not a lot of barrier-to-entry to this movie, you know. I always feel like suspense thriller, psychological thriller and the fact that you made it about universal themes means that, honestly, I think people are going to like it.

I consider myself like I’m a representative of the audience. I really am. It’s like my whole career, I’ve always the thought of myself as that. And I think they’re going to love it and I think certainly people here in our business are going to watch it and really appreciate it. I also think Karyn’s going to get a huge amount of attention.

Phil: Well I’ve I

Craig: Perhaps overshadowing you guys completely and then you

Phil: That’s okay that’s okay with me.

Craig: With you?

Phil: Yeah. [laughs]

Matt: I’ll be fine. [laughs] I’ll be fine.

John: Does community property apply to writing partners? [laughs]

Phil: Yeah, definitely. At this point, definitely.

Matt: Oh, I got to consult our lawyer.

Phil: But yeah no, I mean and I think that’s my hope. I’m glad that you see it that way because I think that, you know, in a way one could say this is an art movie by its by some of its characteristics or by its budget or, you know, by the theaters that it’s being released in, et cetera. But for both Matt and I and for Karyn, we want to tell a compelling story. We don’t have a bone in us that wants to meander or, you know, like

Craig: I don’t think of it as an art film.

Phil: Yeah. And I think that

Craig: Do you think what did you think? Did you see it as an art movie?

John: No. I saw it as a thriller and the same way that, you know, like You’re Next is a great thriller that got him started and sort of got him put on lists. This is the one that I think, you know, shows, “Oh, you remember Karyn Kusama? She’s actually really, really good.” Because I mean people who don’t know who she is, I mean, I should have given her some of her credits. So Aeon Flux, she did

Phil: Girlfight was her first.

Craig: Girlfight was the one.

John: Girlfight was the breakout. Absolutely.

Craig: Right.

Phil: Aeon Flux and then Jennifer’s Body.

Craig: But she’s also

John: A huge a great TV director. And so, Man in the High Castle, the best episode of that show as well. So I got to think if I’m her agent and your agents, I’m very excited to put you guys up for fascinating jobs, especially things that she can direct because

Phil: Yeah. And we definitely want to. I mean, something that’s, you know it was always our hope with this particular movie was that you know, Matt and I are now writing another movie for Karyn to direct. It would be, you know, which is because it’s just what we want to do. You know, it’s how we want to spend our lives.

And we, you know, it’s still going to be independent. It will be a little bit bigger than this one, but very consciously, it will be an independent film. But we also the three of us want to start going after working together in the studio system because it has been interesting. We’ve had our path, she’s had her path, and we want to pull it together.

Craig: But you will. I mean, you guys know because you’ve been around long enough, how this goes. You have these you know, you write a script and things go well and the studio says, “All right, we’re going to make it. Now we have to talk about directors,” because that’s the big thing. And then you get this list and you go, “Oh no. These people are I hate all of them. All of them.” And this is not a big list. It’s a short list.

Phil: Right.

Craig: So then the amount directors you like are so narrow and then you find the one you like and they maybe even really like what you’ve done but they’re not available. So if Karyn kind of gets on to this list now because of this, and I think she will because there’s a the desire for directors is massive compared to the supply, then you guys are already like in great shape. I mean, this will be a very fruitful relationship for all of you except for Matt.

Matt: Yeah. [laughs]

John: Oh well, he’s lucky to be included, a little bit.

Craig: He’s lucky to be included. [laughs]

Phil: Matt is really Matt the great thing about Matt is he’s just happy to be here.

Matt: I have a few strong concepts that I’m willing to talk about. [laughs]

Craig: Welcome, Manfredi.

Matt: Fast casual.

Phil: Matt is the king of fast casual.

Craig: QSR.

John: Let’s talk about some of these big giant movies because there’s an article that came out this last week. This was by Pamela McClintock writing for the Hollywood Reporter. And she coined a term maybe she’s not the first person to coin it, but I kind of like the term, requels, which is not quite a reboot, not quite a sequel. And it’s the way you might think of a J.J. Abrams Star Wars and that like it kind of feels like it’s the first movie but it’s actually still in the same universe as Star Wars.

I think the Star Trek movies are sort of that way, too. They’re kind of they manage to sort of have both where they’re rebooting the initial story but they’re also still set in the same universe. You know, upcoming Ghostbusters is doing that.

What do we think of this sort of idea, this trend of, you know, looking at a movie as a giant piece of universe IP rather than this is the story we’re going to tell again?

Matt: I mean, I like the idea the requel thing is you can look at it as a cynical thing, you know, as just we’re out of ideas, we’re going to make another one. But there’s something encouraging about it because it acknowledges what was great and what people love and how we can’t completely abandon that if we’re going to move forward. And so there’s something kind of encouraging, there’s an understanding of film that goes into that, and I think it’s kind of it’s fun.

Phil: Yeah. I think that they’re, to my mind, that there is a in a way, it reveals something that’s true about movies which is that they’re folklore and they’re mythology, and they are folktales. And so Star Wars is arguably our most powerful folktale that we have. And what’s true about folktales in every culture is they get the characters get put in different clothes and the same story is told.

And what you learn about that, whatever was the powerful thematic or emotional truth about the society it’s in, it’s refracted differently when a woman is put in Luke Skywalker’s clothes or when, you know, like that. And so they’re in on that sense, I think there’s something really interesting about acknowledging the sort of like first story that is what we’re dealing with.

On the other hand, you want to make sure that you’re telling the story that you’re telling and that there is a story that is that belongs to you. And I mean, I think the thing that is really most successful that was captured in the new Star Wars, in Star Wars 7, is the feeling of Star Wars. And to me, that is the thing. That is what you’re looking for.

Craig: Right. You’re looking for that feeling.

Phil: And you know, maybe it’s like sort of my post-modern upbringing, you know. But I also think what’s interesting is it further reflects the truth. It mainstreams a truth that I think is true when you think about post-modernism is that people are capable of holding stories in so many places.

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Phil: And especially in the world of comic books for example, where everything is about here’s an alternate universe where Spider Man is evil now and here’s a

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Phil: You know. And I think that there is something interesting about the play of our knowledge of stories.

Craig: Well, it’s like a we live in a remix culture and I feel like sometimes studios are very rudimentary in their understanding of these things. Like requel is a helpful term for people that are limited in their understanding of how to remix culture because now they can say, okay, reboot was a helpful word for studio executives to literally understand something that I think a lot of filmmakers just understood.

Matt: Right.

Craig: Like of course what do you mean? You just do it again but different, right?

Phil: Yeah.

Matt: I don’t think as many properties can withstand the universal treatment as is thought.

Craig: Well that’s a different thing than requel, yeah.

Matt: It’s a different thing. But it the article touches on that a little bit.

Craig: Yeah, that’s a problem.

John: Well I think Terminator is a great example of that. Because like we know we love Terminator. Terminator is a fantastic movie. But as you try to reboot that universe too many times, we don’t we don’t grab on to it. Like you sort of forget like, “Oh what is it about that that we love so much?” Well it’s not what you gave us, so

Craig: Also, it’s not a universe. I mean, what people forget, everybody wants the universe because of what Marvel has done. Marvel has thousands of characters built up over decades.

Phil: Right

Matt: That were already crossing over.

Craig: They were already crossing over and being requeled and sequeled and prequeled and retconned and all that stuff, and remixed constantly. Marvel in particular, as opposed to DC, their whole schtick was that even though they’re dealing with superheroes and supervillains, they have human problems.

Matt: Right.

Craig: So that was a legitimate universe. When I was a kid I had the encyclopedia and I would flip through every and it was I could read that all day and

Phil: Did you play the role playing game?

Craig: Of course I did.

John: Of course. We all did.

Craig: We all did. Uncanny, unearthly, that as me.

Matt: Oh, defensive armor.

Craig: Yeah.

Matt: Oh, I got one power. Oh, defensive armor. Yeah.

Craig: I have

Phil: I guess Matt’s going to be the warthog again.

Craig: I like dark force. I remember something like I can move a thing. It was not a great game, but that’s a legitimate universe, and that you see them desperate to try and turn things into universes and you’re like, “You’re out of characters in about ten minutes, buddy. You’re not going to there’s no universe here”

John: Matt, I want to go back to what you said about sort of post-modernism, or maybe Phil you said it. Like the ability to hold multiple things in your head at the same time. I think Deadpool was a great example of audiences actually are able to understand that you’re in kind of a meta movie. And they’re able to sort of take in that we are watching a movie and the character the lead character understands that they’re in movie and can talk to you directly. I think that ability to break the fourth wall is something we are underestimating audience’s abilities to hold complex information and complex information about the story they’re seeing.

Matt: Right.

Phil: And most importantly still care.

John: Yes.

Phil: Because I think some people would assume and maybe have evidence for it that if you undercut it to that extent, you won’t care and then so if you don’t care about the character. However, I’d you care about that character, it works —

Matt: Like Scream did that to some extent for

Phil: Absolutely. And I think in another genre, you know, that I think it’s relevant to talk about a movie that did this incredibly is Michael Haneke’s Funny Games which I don’t know if you guys have seen it. But it is

Craig: He is dropping Haneke on us.

Phil: I’m dropping some Haneke guys. It’s Haneke, I don’t know. I’m undercutting myself by probably a horrible pronunciation. Your Austrian listeners will

Craig: No. I think it is. I’ve always laughed at it because it reminds me of Jewish Christmas.

Phil: But that movie is a critique of thrillers and horror movies. While and of Hitchcockian suspense and like it’s what it does to you as an audience member while being an incredibly good version of that. It plays just as thrilling as anything you could, while doing that at the same time.

Craig: Lord and Miller do this a lot. The, you know, Lego Movie is a, in its one sense, is a critique of the very rigid Joseph Campbell storytelling mode and on the other hand does that.

Phil: Yeah, right.

Craig: Filmmakers are smart in ways that I think that sometimes, again, I don’t mean to beat up studios, but a lot of times, they just don’t see things we see. For instance, if I said to you guys I’m going to have a character who is a superhero. He’s going to have a love story. There’s going to be a revenge story. He’s got a tragedy. We’re going to care.

He’s also going to talk to the audience and break the fourth wall all the time. You might go, “Well” and I go “But, when he’s talking to the audience, he’s in a mask and you can’t see his face. What do you think now?”

Phil: About that?

Craig: Yeah. You’re like, “Yeah got it, different. It’s different,” you know. And it is different.

Phil: Yeah.

Craig: We see these things and I think that’s why I mean, the truth is I don’t know if there’s like a requel thing happening. I just want more words for the people we work with to have so they can go, “Oh you guys are doing a blankity-blank.”

Phil: Definitely.

John: I think that is really useful because I think otherwise if you don’t have this kind of word, then people keep trying to fit it into one category.

Craig: Right.

John: Or another category. It’s like, “Oh but it doesn’t fit in either one of these categories.” It’s like, well, we’re going to make a new category for this thing that we’re doing and

Craig: Yeah. Like and you can’t come up with a new category. That freaks them out.

Matt: But the requel thing is, it is a good thing to have in your mind because I think that’s where some of the reboots go a little wrong is they just it’s an admirable thing to want to make it your own and do something different. But when you ignore what made it

Craig: Right.

Matt: Great in the first place, you know

Phil: Well that’s the thing I mean, I referenced Star Wars, which again, they did so right, the feeling of Star Wars and transmitted it. I watched as my 9-year-old son had the 9-year-old boy experience of entering the world of Star Wars. And it’s tremendously powerful and it requires a tremendous amount of skill to do that.

And I think that the feeling of that’s the thing that I was like what’s the feeling of that thing. And it’s not about the and maybe it just betrays my proclivities toward this kind of storytelling. I’m just I want to know what the like feeling of that universe is as opposed to what’s the most clever development of the story the plotting of how that world gets expanded.

Craig: Right.

Phil: It’s how do you capture that ineffable thing.

Matt: You know when I knew we were in good hands with Star Wars was when they go out into the hangar for the first time after they’re on the planet, they go in the hangar and just in like the middle background, that little shoebox robot guy.

Craig: Yeah, the little the little mouse droid.

Matt: Remember that one? It was from the first one. And only just like on your seventh viewing, you came to appreciate that robot in Star Wars.

Craig: Of course.

Matt: And he just cruises through moment one or she, I don’t know.

Craig: Yeah. No. It was or it. It was absolutely pushing every nostalgia button possible. It’s funny from, you know, I’m the movie I’m looking forward to is the next one. I enjoyed Force Awakens because it gave me the feeling. But I also now, I’m like, “Good. You’ve you kind of lifted me up out of bed with nostalgia, now give me new.”

Phil: Yeah, and I’m thrilled to be unmoored not knowing what to expect.

Craig: Right.

Phil: And that

Craig: Because I know yeah, like oh, yeah, I’m in a safe place now. Now, you can give me new.

Phil: Yeah.

Craig: So I think this next one which our friend Rian Johnson is directing is going to be

John: Yeah, he’s an Indie director who made good.

Phil: Yes.

John: So yeah.

Craig: He is an indie director, exactly. Karyn Kusama is the next Rian Johnson.

John: I think so.

Phil: Both of those kids got moxie.

John: Yeah, they got moxie.

Phil: They got moxie.

John: We have two listener questions which I thought we’d throw to you guys because you could answer them as easily as we could. Joel writes

Craig: Let’s see if that’s true.

Phil: Well, yeah.

John: Does height matter in a Hollywood environment?

Craig: That is really is one of the easiest questions.

Phil: This is tough because I’m a towering figure. I top out at 7’2″, Gheorghe Muresan height.

John: Joel writes, “I am currently 5’4″, around Martin Scorsese height, but I built myself up to be more than my height, but it still concerns me.”

And I should say Joel is the editor of his high school newspaper. So what should we tell Joel, who’s 5’4″, editor of his high school newspaper.

Craig: 5’4″ is not, I mean

Matt: 5’4″ is

Craig: It’s short but it’s not like, “What the oh, my god.”

Phil: Yeah. No, that seems

Matt: Look at look at what Prince did.

Craig: Look at what

Phil: Exactly.

Craig: Look I mean, who runs, Brad Gray, who runs Paramount. He’s probably 5’5″ or something like that or 5’6″.

Phil: I would say that

Matt: It does not matter.

Phil: It does not matter.

John: I don’t think it matters at all.

Matt: Even at all.

Phil: Not at all.

Craig: Not the slightest.

Phil: However, it’s great to be extremely handsome like John August. That’s very helpful, guys.

Matt: If I can just correct you, the first spec script we sent out, we got inquiries back from the studio about how tall we were.

Craig: Right. I know. That’s a rough one. Obviously, we do, you know, face that.

Matt: Right.

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: I think there’s a serious question in there though about like how you present yourself and about self-confidence

Matt: Yeah, yeah.

Phil: And I think, you know, one way to say it would I think what we’re trying to get at is if you are confident and you are in yourself, you’ll seem great.

John: Absolutely. And if you lean into you height so that it’s just not is a thing that is worrying you that at all sets you apart, that’s fantastic. But I will say like, once you’re sitting on that couch drinking your bottled water and having that meeting, your height does not matter whatsoever.

Matt: Also, once you’ve gotten yourself in the door with your writing

John: Yes.

Matt: You know, it’s very easy to format your script correctly.

John: Yes.

Matt: And then you can just do what you want.

Craig: How much do you get paid for formatting your script correctly on the market?

Matt: It’s about 85% of our salary. [laughs]

John: You know what? The writing wasn’t just so good, but the formatting was fantastic.

Phil: It’s more tip-based, that part of it.

John: Yeah.

Phil: We’re very low base, but

Craig: I wasn’t going to take this meeting, but we ran it through our computer and I got to tell you, the numbers were shocking, 98% guys. [laughs]

Matt: Who would you say are the top formatters in the industry? [laughs]

Craig: Scott Frank, of course.

Phil: He’s out for everything, yeah. [laughs]

John: The dialogue was a little stilted by the margins were fantastic.

Matt: Oh, my god. Absolutely.

Phil: We got a caliper out. [laughs]

Craig: We got a Vernier caliper.

John: The other thing I’ll tell Joel as well is the reason that you can be more confident about what your script looks like and how you present yourself is by just reading a bunch of scripts.

Phil: Yeah.

John: And so the answer for like why you know how to format that quote over black is by reading a bunch of scripts and seeing how other people do it in scripts that sell.

Phil: And I I mean, and to yeah, again, to be a little serious, I very much empathize with and respect the idea of wanting to do it right. If you don’t know and you haven’t done it a million times, you don’t want to get disregarded by, you know, a faux pas, you know. But I do think

Craig: Unfortunately they’re being told constantly by the screenwriting guru industry.

Phil: Yes.

Craig: That this because that’s what screenwriting gurus know. So they’re always like, “Don’t do that.”

Phil: Yeah. And I think that what we’re saying is and you’ve said many times you guys on the show, which I think is true is that really doesn’t matter. But you know, it has to feel right, it has to it just it has to tell the story in a way that is

Matt: No, but it sticks in your head, you know, like early on someone said like, “Don’t put a music queue in there.”

Craig: Right.

Matt: And then

Craig: That voice

Matt: Sometimes you need a music, sometimes you need some Halen in there.

Craig: Sometimes you do whatever you want.

Phil: Sometimes you got to throw a little Halen in there.

Craig: Right.

John: Yeah.

Matt: But if it works if your story needs it, do it.

Phil: Yeah.

Craig: Always.

John: Always. It’s time for One Cool Thing. Craig, tell us a One Cool Thing.

Craig: So this week they’ve announced a blood test for concussions. This actually has a chance of legitimately changing the way professional sports work and also college sports and even sports in high school. Obviously, we have all been following the story about the NFL, they, in particular, have a huge concussion problem and then a resulting CTI and

John: Well, essentially

Craig: Players that are killing themselves because of this chronic brain injury.

John: Yeah. So if you a concussion is bad for you, but a series of concussions, again and again and again will

Craig: They now say even one concussion, literally one, it increases the chance that you’re going to have this chronic CTE, I should say. It’s a disaster.

Part of the other problem is diagnosing concussions is a little bit of an art up until this point. So they would say things like, “Well, are the pupils are uneven. Are you puking? Do you have a really bad headache for week?” But by that point, they’re just sending back guys back in the game.

So this blood test now can tell them, I think, within hours. Because when you have a proper concussion, there’s a release of a certain kind of protein from the brain itself. Now they can within a couple of hours and then treat you accordingly. And really what that means is you can’t play for a while.

Look, I’m just fascinated by where the NFL is going to go in general because of this stuff. But I am I’m hoping that this test becomes widely available and is used particularly in high school sports.

Matt: Well, you’re not reliant on the player and the you know, to say

Craig: Yeah, the player is just like, “Oh, yeah. I got my bell rung but I’m okay,” and

Matt: There’s the whole thing about fake you know, taking your baseline test and kind of flunking it.

Craig: Right. So that-

Matt: So that if you have a concussion

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Matt: You test out clear.

Craig: Yeah. And then, you know, that’s for guys that are making their money playing, and then for high school kids who aren’t, sometimes their coaches just don’t care.

Matt: Right.

Craig: They just want to win.

John: Yeah. So I think the gambit here is you have to have your buddy hit you really hard so you get a concussion and you take your baseline test and then and then if you get hit again exactly. [laughs] So like, “You know, Bob, I need you to hit me with this shovel as hard as you can.”

Phil: Great advice from the Scriptnotes podcast.

Craig: I got to say that guy, CTE is not his biggest problem.

John: No, it’s not.

Craig: Whether he gets it or not, it’s not going to go well for him.

John: Yeah, his life is not going to be a delight. My One Cool Thing is an article by William Power in The Wall Street Journal, it’s called the Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents’ Financial Lives. So I don’t know if any of you guys have had to face this yet, but part of my spring break was dealing with the challenge of parents who can no longer really be on top of their finances and that the whole process of sort of taking over some control over their finances and really seeing doing the forensic work to discover where money actually is and isn’t and stuff like that. So

Matt: I mean, it’s incredibly complicated.

John: Yeah.

Matt: My father passed away this year and he took care of things for my mom, but he was the one who handled it and it’s

Craig: Right.

Matt: Even when you take care of things, the transfers and all this stuff is so complicated, it’s so

Phil: And happening at a time

Matt: And happening at a time when you’re not you don’t want to deal with that.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So one I don’t know if they mention it in the article, but we have a trust. So Melissa and I are both trustees of our family trust and then we can name executors and things. So if I get bumped off because I’m never going to die, you know, naturally, but I will be murdered. [laughs] I mean, it’s going to be Murder on the Orient Express. [laughs]

John: Someone’s going to take over your Tesla controls.

Phil: Which one of these people doesn’t have a motive? [laughs]

Craig: That’s sadly my life. But it’s a way to kind of avoid the hassle of the transferring because it never transfers, it’s always in the trust.

John: Right.

Craig: And the trust can independently assign new

Matt: Sure.

Craig: Look at us. Normally we talk about female reproductive health, but this is this is a new topic for us.

John: Yeah. Death and aging.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So I’ll say that like a trust is a fantastic solution for sort of well-off individuals who are planning now, the process of like going in and dealing with someone’s finances that are already set up could be really complicated. And the things you think would be so straightforward for you to explain to somebody are so hard to explain when you’re losing your ability to

Craig: Right.

John: Be on top of things. So I just I pass this along out of sympathy for everyone who has to go through it.

Do you guys have One Cool Things? Did you come with two of these?

Phil: We do. I mean, I have one but it is it’s really in the context of these

Matt: Yeah, mine’s on the lighter side.

Matt: Incredibly important

John: We like light ones.

Craig: No, no. We do light ones all the time.

John: Yeah.

Craig: No, we don’t. Go ahead guys.

Matt: I have one

Craig: Show your show your shallowness.

Phil: Yeah. Exactly.

Matt: Watch and learn.

Craig: Yeah.

Phil: I have one which is a record club that I belong to.

Craig: Columbia Record House?

Phil: I wish it was.

Matt: How many do you have to buy?

Craig: One penny. [laughs]

Phil: Last month I got 500. [laughs]

Matt: 500 of his greatest hits.

John: A lot of Phil Collins.

Phil: Yeah, copies of Asia by Steely Dan.

Craig: They pay me $80 and I take all of their CDs off their hands.

Phil: I think I’ve assume their global debt. So I don’t think the Santana records are going to help this one. [laughs] But it is it’s called Vinyl Me Please and it is a really cool record club. You get a record every month and they select it. They’re really smart, interesting people with eclectic taste. And they’re not all going to be ones you love, but they send it to you and it’s everything from they’ll press a record from an unsigned band and put it out. They’ll reissue they do a special reissue of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid on purple vinyl and you’ll have that. It’s just a very fun way to get a little once a month

Craig: Vinyl

Phil: Random record.

Craig: Me Please. And what because my son is into music production now and he has a turntable because he loves vinyl and he loves kind of bringing that stuff in. What would it cost an individual for Vinyl Me Please?

Phil: I think it’s something like I can’t say for sure, but it’s a 20ó

John: $10,000 a year.

Phil: Yeah, it’s like $10,000 a year. No, it’s like 25 bucks a month or something like that.

Craig: $25 a month.

Matt: You get a record.

Craig: I got to talk to the people that run my trust. [laughs] That’s a lot.

John: For a kid, yeah.

Phil: But you know, when you think of what it costs you to buy so also you get like a little piece of art that somebody’s made to go with the record and it just feels it feels special.

Craig: I’m down. I’m joining.

Phil: And it is literally One Cool Thing.

Craig: Well, there’s no way that what Matt says can top that.

Phil: Nope. I can’t imagine

Matt: But I’m always fascinated like what the internet can provide you. And I was thinking my first concert was Devo. I went and saw Devo

Craig: Nice.

Matt: From the, Oh, No! It’s Devo tour.

Craig: Nice.

Matt: And I was like, god, that was a great shirt. I wonder if I could find a reproduction of that shirt. I Google it, there’s a dude with a site, he’s selling a reproduction of that shirt and two Buzzcocks shirts.

Craig: Wow.

Matt: That’s his entire business.

Craig: That’s it. That’s his business.

Matt: That’s it. It’s gone now.

Craig: Okay.

Matt: So today

Craig: Weird.

Phil: Because he didn’t pay a dime to the surviving members of Devo.

Matt: But it’s inspiring that someone’s out there doing that for you.

Craig: Right.

Matt: While I’m talking to you. Today, someone, our friend, Ted, reminded us that Bad News Bears is going to be 40.

Craig: Yes.

Matt: One of my favorite movies. And so I needed no further excuse than to like, “God, you know, someone should make a hat. Someone should reproduce the hat from Bad News Bears.”

Craig: Yeah.

Matt: Someone has.

Craig: Of course they have.

Matt: Ideal Cap Company.

Craig: Nice.

Matt: And they do fictional baseball caps.

Craig: That’s brilliant.

Phil: From, you know, the New York Knights, the team from

Craig: Wow.

Phil: A League of Their Own and, you know, they do the the requisites.

Craig: The Atlanta Peaches or something like that or

Phil: I’m feverishly ordering hats the second we are done with this.

Matt: The requisite, you know, minor league ball caps

Craig: Sure.

Matt: Old timey stuff.

Craig: Of course. Oh, that’s brilliant. I love that. So they just do and they do so mostly fictional I mean, that’s

Matt: Pretty cool. It’s pretty cool.

Craig: Somebody got me once, they got two t-shirts. One was these Paper Street Soap Company.

Matt: Oh, yeah.

Craig: From Fight Club and the other was like a tourist gift shop shirt

Matt: Yeah.

Craig: From the Overlook Hotel.

Matt: Last exit to nowhere.

Craig: Yeah. Those guys are awesome.

Matt: Looks like they have the shirt from the diner that Dirty Harry goes into .

Phil: Or like the shirt Harry Dean Stanton’s character Brett from Alien is wearing underneath his Hawaiian shirt.

Craig: Of course.

Matt: I’m such a geek for those things.

Craig: Yeah. That is One Cool Thing.

Matt: Thank you.

Craig: Who know that, those were Four Cool Things.

John: Well done.

Phil: Those are four cool things. We really we painted a

Craig: Well, that was our first hour guys. We have four more to go.

Phil: That’s great.

John: Yeah, Craig, I think we may have been wrong. We were predicting this to be a dismal episode with terrible guests, and I

Craig: No, I think we were right.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It was terrible. [laughs]

Matt: I understand.

Phil: You caught us at our absolute height guys. So

Craig: Exactly. The best of them is still terrible.

John: And that’s our show for this week. As always, our show is produced by Stuart Friedel, it is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week comes from Adam Last Name, we still don’t know his last name but he writes these great outtros and so we’ll include another one on this one.

Craig: It’s Lastname, but fine.

John: You think it’s actually Lastname?

Phil: Lastname.

John: Yeah. Very nice. If you have a question for Craig Mazin, you should write to him @clmazin. I’m @johnaugust on Twitter. Do you have guys have Twitter handles? Do you write on Twitter?

Phil: I got one that’s used occasionally, it’s @phillycarly.

John: All right.

Matt: I’m @MattRManfredi.

John: Nice.

Phil: It’s just like. It could be a

John: A little flare.

Craig: A lawyer.

Matt: Middle manager.

Phil: Yeah, middle manager.

John: There’s no chance you’ll be figure out their Twitter handles. But fortunately, in our show notes, you’d be able to find links to most of the things we talked about including their Twitter handles.

Their film is out on April 8th, it’s called The Invitation. You should see it on a big screen. But if you don’t have it in a big screen in your city, you should see it on iTunes.

Craig: iTunes.

John: And pay-per-view right on Direct TV.

Matt: Yes.

Phil: Yes. Exactly. And if you are in Los Angeles, you should come out to the ArcLight on April 8th, 9th, or 10th and we will have a bunch of special Q&As where Matt, Karyn, and I will be and Logan Marshall Green.

Craig: Oh, great.

Phil: And one of our wonderful Q&A people will be John August.

John: I will be hosting the Q&A.

Craig: Oh, you’ll be hosting the Q&A.

John: On the April 8th screening, I believe.

Phil: The 10th.

John: April 10th screening, I’ll be hosting it.

Phil: Thank god, we worked that out.

John: Yeah, very nice.

Matt: Maybe he’s not available now.

John: Yeah. Thank you guys so much for being here.

Phil: Thank you guys. It was fun.

Craig: Thanks boys.

John: And good luck with your film.

Matt: Thanks.

Phil: Thank you.

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