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 245 of Scriptnotes. It’s a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Today on the program, we’re going to look at the non-screenplay kinds of things screenwriters end up writing, most notably outlines and treatments. We’ll be looking at some of the ones we’ve written for ourselves and hopefully giving you helpful advice on how to write your own.

We’ll also be answering a question we hope you’ll get to ask one day — how do you deal with sudden success?

Craig: Yeah.

John: Craig, Happy Birthday.

Craig: Thank you, John.

John: I did not know it was your birthday until moments before we started recording. But what are your plans for your birthday celebration?

Craig: Well, my daughter is making me some kind of cake.

John: Nice.

Craig: She’s been watching The Great British Bake Off. She’s obsessed with the show. So she’s all about the baking now. So she’s going to bake me a cake. She said, “And daddy, daddy, the icing, I’m making it green because green is your favorite color.”

John: Is that true?

Craig: And I guess on my face, I sort of — my face indicated that green is not my favorite color. [laughs] So then she went, “Green is your favorite color, right?” And I said, “Well, no, I love all colors.” And then she’s like, “But green?” And I said, “Yes, green is my favorite color.” [laughs]

John: I think the challenge with green frosting is it sets an expectation that it should be mint and if it’s not mint, something is very wrong.

Craig: Or lime. I don’t know.

John: I guess lime, a key lime icing frosting could be nice.

Craig: I mean, she’s just winging it. She likes the color. It’s her favorite color. So that’s something. And then my wife and I are going out for a nice little dinner and that’s it. I’m not a big birthday guy.

John: Yeah, after you cross a certain age, birthdays stop becoming fun. It’s just one year closer to your death.

Craig: Actually, it did occur to me that, because I just turned 45 today, that if it works out, you know, well, I think 90 is great.

John: I think 90 is pretty great.

Craig: For a man. So halfway.

John: Yeah. I actually had a heart appointment this week because there was a concern that I had a — it’s actually kind of a thing we can talk about. At our last D&D session, not the one at my house, but the one at your house, I left your house at midnight, and like, wow, my chest feels really strange. And so it’s the question of like should I go to the emergency room or am I just freaking out over nothing? And so I decided I was freaking out over nothing. But then ultimately on Sunday, I ended up going to the emergency room, that Sunday months ago. They’re like, no, you probably don’t have a heart attack. So I’ve actually been through like a month of sort of like tests and things to see if that was a heart problem. And the answer I can definitively say, it was not a heart problem at all.

Craig: No, it was just a panic attack or anxiety or —

John: It was not a panic attack. I’ve had those before. This was actually my ribs got stuck together in a strange way. And so like it’s chiropractic stuff adjustments have helped and I no longer feel that.

Craig: Well, great.

John: But because I actually had all these tests, I now know that my heart is just dandy. So for the next 10 years, I will not have a heart attack. And if I do have a heart attack I want listeners to sue my doctor.

Craig: Well, we’ll get right on that. [laughs]

John: It’s everyone’s priority.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, it will be class action lawsuit at this point.

John: Yes. We should do some follow up. First off, our Lawrence Kasdan interview which was originally supposed to be a live show, and it was not possible to do it as a live show, we are now doing kind of as a live show. We’re doing the Writers Guild Foundation event on April 16 in Beverly Hills at the Writers Guild Theater. And so it’s part of an all day craft thing. So it’s not just Scriptnotes. There’s a bunch of writers talking about writing, so including Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom are going to be talking about their great show. Jane Espenson is going to be there talking about stuff. There’s going to be Greg Berlanti and a bunch of superhero folks. So it’s going to be big deal day and afternoon. But part of it is going to be you and me talking to Lawrence Kasdan.

Craig: Right. So we finally get to sit with Larry in front of an audience and grill him about his remarkable career which spans all the way back to the late ’70s and early ’80s when he was making movies like Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And then through things like The Big Chill and The Bodyguard. And I mean, it’s unbelievable with this guy.

And then now, still doing it with The Force Awakens. So after all these years, Larry now has the biggest movie of all time. So we’re going to ask him all sorts of questions. And if you have specific questions, I know we collected a bunch from our live show last time, but you can always send them into and we’ll, you know —

John: We’ll field it. You know, part of the promise we made at the live show is that the only questions we’re going to ask from the audience are going to be the ones people wrote on little cards on the back. So that will be true for us. But if people grab a microphone and ask a question, we can’t stop them. I guess we could stop them. I mean, Craig, you’re physically intimidating. You could shut them down.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But I’m looking forward to this conversation. And there’s still a few tickets left. So that’s why we’re talking about it because they had like less than 20 left time I checked. So come to it, so it’s Writers Guild Foundation, is where you’ll find that. There will also be a link in the show notes.

Craig: Great.

John: Our second thing is actually something you put in the outline here. This is an article in BuzzFeed about Karyn Kusama, the director of The Invitation. And that was a great article, I thought.

Craig: I thought so as well. By the way, I should just add as a side note, because it’s my birthday, so I get to do side notes. I feel like I came off as somewhat disappointed that you didn’t have a heart problem. So I just want to be really clear, I’m happy that you don’t have a heart problem. I don’t know, if you die, I don’t know how to do this show. I just don’t know what to do.

John: It’s going to be very challenging.

Craig: Right. And that’s the only thing that concerns me about your death. [laughs] Like what do I do? How do I hook it up, you know?

John: I think you were more surprised by my admission that I do have a heart and that they did intensive scans with me and found that there was a heart beating inside me.

Craig: I presume that when you said heart, I just thought you were talking about some sort of pump.

John: Yeah, it’s essentially a pump.

Craig: Yeah, it’s a pump.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So Karyn Kusama who directed The Invitation has had a really interesting career. And one thing that she talks about in this article is what it was like when she won Sundance with Girlfight, her first feature film that she wrote and directed, and was the belle of the ball and then didn’t really know how to deal with it. And it occurred to me that this is something that all of us go through when we first “break in.”

And we’ve talked about how people don’t really break in as much as like something happens. And then there’s this attention on you because you’re new and something has happened. And obviously all the people listening to us, I think they would — most of them would like something to happen. Well, what do you do when it happens?

So I thought this would be a good topic for you and I to discuss.

John: Well, let’s go for it. So this could apply to somebody who directed a film that was the talk of Sundance. It can be somebody who wrote an amazing spec script and had a great sale off that or that got a lot of attention or, you know, won the Nicholl Fellowship or, you know, placed in The Black List in a very high place. Or just became famous for some other reason. And we live in an age of sort of viral stars who for whatever reason, they started a Twitter feed that became a huge sensation and what do you do next.

Craig: So I was actually talking about this with Karina Longworth because her podcast, You Must Remember This, has become a sensation and people are calling. And there’s this attention that comes. So I’m going to break down what I sort of remember and what I have continued to perceive, when people get the wave, right, there’s this wave that comes at you, it’s a little bit like a hundredth monkey syndrome like no one’s paying attention to you, no one’s paying attention, and suddenly everyone is.

So the first thing that happen is, everybody starts telling you that you’re great. Now, it’s I think fair to say that some of those people who are telling you that you’re great really do think you’re great. Most of them are telling you you’re great because it doesn’t cost anything to say it and maybe it’s true. I think people are, in our business, they’re always looking for a magic bullet, something that is going to solve all their problems. And oftentimes, that means a filmmaker, a writer. And then they’re thinking, maybe it’s you. Because if other people like you, maybe I should like you, but of course, you’re not a magic bullet.

John: No.

Craig: The other thing that happens is that because it’s — this is no shock, in Hollywood, a lot of people are superficial. Superficial people tend to want what other people want, not what they actually want. They don’t really have any kind of self-directed principled wants. They’re just watching everyone else and following. So a lot of the people that are telling you that you’re great, they’re following. So how do you think you deal or how would you deal with the wave of questionable praise?

John: So I got this off of Go. So before Go was a movie, it was a script that I sold to a little small company but a bunch of people read it and bunch of people liked it. And people would tell me like how much they loved it. And so I was always mindful of the same people who are telling me that they loved it and the people who are calling me for meetings are also the people who didn’t buy the script. So that was a helpful sort of reality check is that they could say they really loved what they wrote, but they didn’t feel like they could make that movie or they didn’t feel like taking the risk to try to make that movie.

And so I was always mindful that these are people who seem to like and appreciate my writing, but they’re not necessarily people who I can trust to make the kinds of movies that I want to make. So I was always listening. I was always happy to get that praise, but I always eager to sort of segue to the next bit of conversation which is what are you working on, what is it that we should be thinking about working on together?

Craig: Precisely. So you carve this middle path where you accept the nice things that people are saying, but you have — I wouldn’t call it paranoia as much as a healthy skepticism because it happens all the time, right? Not everyone can be great. But everybody that has this moment is suddenly “great.” So you’re probably not. You’re just having a moment, right? So in that moment, I think where you want to hopefully get to is figuring out which of the people that are praising you are praising you out of some sense of substance, an actual independent evaluation of you, people that might truly appreciate you and start talking with them.

Did you ever see the movie Overnight?

John: Of course. And so if you have not seen the movie, Overnight, I would recommend when you finish this podcast, put everything else aside and watch the movie, Overnight. It’s usually on Netflix. You’ll find it someplace. It’s a terrific study of one guy who suddenly has all the heat of Hollywood on him and the bad choices he makes.

Craig: Almost exclusively bad choices. He literally does everything wrong. And it’s a great instructive course on what to not do when this happens. I think one thing that this business is really good at is humbling you if you don’t decide to be humble first.

John: Yeah. What I think is interesting comparing — so this guy’s experience making The Boondock Saints and Karyn Kusama’s experience with Girlfight, she had made something really fantastic and everyone could sort of see that she made something really fantastic. But in a strange way, I felt like she didn’t have the confidence in herself that she had done this thing. There was maybe, I don’t want to say impostor syndrome, but there was some degree to which she didn’t step up and say, yes, I deserve this and here are the next things. Whereas this guy who did Boondock Saints overdid that a lot.

Craig: He certainly did. And I think that sometimes with some people — and I think Karyn is one of these people because I know her fairly well. And I appreciate her personality which is quiet and then incredible, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And I think some people, it’s not so much that they don’t think that they belong there or think that they deserve the praise as much as it is that they just don’t like that. They’re not really designed to be gregarious and in the center of a party.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And I think this is an area — and she touches on this in the interview and I think she’s dead right. She refers to a kind of an autism that there are certain kinds of autism that directors have. And when males have it, they’re sort of considered artists or kind of unique, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: For instance Doug Liman who, you know from Go.

John: Of course.

Craig: Who’s sort of the poster child of, “Well, he’s very, very odd. But, you know, look at all these movies.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: Whereas a woman can’t — isn’t allowed to be odd.

John: Yeah. A woman with the same traits would be perceived as standoffish.

Craig: Standoffish or weak.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So you have to kind of have to recognize that you may have some of these things in you and that’s fine. In a way, I think it’s probably better to err on the side of less receptive to waves of praise than overly accepting of fake praise. I strongly advice everybody to set their expectations low which is annoying because you’ve worked so hard and everyone told you you couldn’t do it and now you’ve done it. And here I am saying, uh-huh, now calm down and lower your expectations. Because in truth, Hollywood will defy expectations and will undo so-called sure things 99 times out of 100.

John: Yeah. Most things will fall apart. And that’s the strange reality. And so if you’ve successfully made a movie, you know how hard it was to make that movie. And your natural instinct should be, well, the second movie will be easier to make. But I was talking to Kimberly Peirce at an event a couple of months ago, a Black List event. And she said that there should really be a workshop, a club, sort of for like your second movie club because that’s actually the hardest one to get made because you don’t have the sort of like beginner’s sort of like anything is possible, everything is impossible, kind of just zeal in a way.

Craig: Right.

John: You sort of now know how to make it and it’s actually kind of harder to make your second movie than your first movie a lot of times because there’s this weird dance of expectations and realities.

Craig: Well, you know, there is a kind of a clock that starts when this happens. And the clock is ticking and it will last for a certain amount of time. But it is finite, it’s a window. And in that window, you’re new. And you’re exciting. And you represent a world of possibilities. That window closes fairly rapidly. By the time you’re trying to make your second movie, you’re no longer new and emergent, you’re now on a list of people that make movies. And all the sexiness suddenly is gone. So you have to be aware when your moment comes that there is a window. And it’s the one time in your career you get to actually take advantage of everybody else and their psychological weakness because the rest of your career, they’re going to be hammering you and manipulating you.

So I think it’s probably a good idea to make hay while the sun shines and see if you can’t get something going quickly while you have that window but, you know, not at the cost of sacrificing who you are as a filmmaker.

John: So the Karyn Kusama article does a great job sort of listing the choices she made and sort of why they ended up being really challenging situations. And sometimes it was situation like Aeon Flux and a change of studio regimes and other times it was Jennifer’s Body and sort of the production, the marketing, the everything else sort of around it.

It’s also useful to look at sort of positive examples. Like Rawson Thurber, who’s been on the show several times; here is a guy who was working as my assistant. He went off and did Terry Tate: Office Linebacker, a series of commercials, he just did on spec. And he followed it up with — and so that got him heat, to be followed up with a spec sale of Dodgeball which he was able to direct. And he very smartly sort of played in that lane for a while.

Where he got off track is he made Mysteries of Pittsburgh which was sort of not as well received and it took him a while to sort of get back on that same track that he was at before. But, you know, those first two choices he made were very smart about capitalizing on the heat that he had and seeing like, this is what people want me to do. This is of the things people want to me do that I want to do and let me give them that.

Craig: Precisely. And there is a certain perspective on that moment that comes when it’s long in your rearview mirror.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You and I have not been the new guy now for 20 years. [laughs] And so, you know, we’re the old guys. And so it’s hard to even remember that. But you can put it in great perspective when you see it happening to other people, which is another thing. I think if you do have somebody that is older and more experienced and has been through the wars a few times, gravitate toward them in this moment of heat but also cling to the people that have nothing to do with Hollywood.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You are still the same person. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that success means you’re different now. You’re not. Trust me. And you can see it in the documentary, Overnight, how poisonous that becomes when somebody decides that they are a different human being now.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Remain grounded. And try not to mistake the “Wee” of Hollywood with actual Hollywood which is work.

John: Yeah.

Craig: When you have your moment, they will fill your day. They will fill your day with phone calls and lunches and meetings and parties. And you might think, this is what I do as a screenwriter.

John: Yeah. It’s sort of like a press junket for yourself.

Craig: Right.

John: Where you’re just out there sort of promoting yourself and everything is theoretical. The challenge is you got to this place by doing really hard work and if you are not finding ways to do that really hard work and show your best stuff and actually improve, then you’re just spinning your wheels.

Craig: They will love to see you and they will love to see you and see you and see you. And then one day, they’re like, “Uh, is that guy doing anything? Has she written anything since so and so? Don’t invite her. Oh, oh. Yeah, no, no, I can’t take her call.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: And then you realize, oh, that was all just celebrating the work part. And you don’t need to celebrate that much. [laughs] Get to work, you know. Keep going because my recent success is not — that doesn’t count as a career.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s what happened. And it’s just the start of something.

John: Well, let’s talk about what projects you should be focusing on. And my advice would be you probably came into the success with some idea of what you wanted to do next. And whatever it is you wanted to do next, that should be a thing that is not necessarily front burner but is still always in consideration. And if there’s somebody who would love to do your next movie, that is, you know, that’s already cooking there, that is fantastic.

But you’ll also be hopefully offered other movies or other projects to work on and be smart about which ones of those you pursue. And you want to be able to show that you can write your own stuff but also that you can write other people’s stuff in the case of a writer. Or if you’re looking at directing assignments which, you know, Karyn Kusama now is. She said she had eight that she to read over the weekend. Be mindful of like, which are the things that are out there are things that I could actually knock out of the park? And if there are some of those and if you like the people who are — it’s hard to say like. If you respect and trust the people who are involved with those projects, you should consider one or two of those. Not 10, one or two of those.

Craig: It’s also a good guide to choosing a representative.

John: Yes.

Craig: A lot of times when you have your moment, you don’t have one. And then they come.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And they almost invariably will present you with these remarkable visions of the future.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because again, it costs them nothing. And they don’t really have to even deliver on those things because, you know, sooner or later it’s like, well, you were working on this and then you were working on this, you know. [laughs] So yeah, no, you haven’t won the Oscar yet, but, you know, we’re getting there.

John: Yeah. Just this last month, I had to get a new agent for this new project and those initial conversations were really important. And one of the things I’ve always said as friends in my life have gotten agents is pick the person who you will never dread getting their phone call because I know some people who don’t like talking to their agent on the phone. And that’s never a good sign. If you’re not looking forward to speaking to them on the phone, that is the wrong representative for you. And that comes in success and that comes in failure, too.

Craig: I completely agree. And similarly, if you’re agent has a vision of who they want to make you and it is not compatible with the vision of who you want to be, that’s also not the representative for you.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, it’s really simple. I think sometimes of Rian Johnson as a good example of somebody who’s simply stayed the same. He had a moment when he made his film, Brick. It was kind of very similar to a Girlfight moment. And suddenly he was a filmmaker and people were really interested and I think people started calling him and he just thought, no, I know what I want to do.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I want to write this script and I want it to be this and he made The Brothers Bloom. And, you know, the world wasn’t lit on fire by it. And he didn’t panic. He just said, “All right. Well, I’m going to keep doing what I did before.” [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Craig: And then he made Looper and the world was set on fire. And they loved it and now he’s directing Star Wars.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Slow and steady. Never changed. Still hasn’t changed, by the way.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Never really got caught — he’s was the most nerdy, wonderfully nerdy nerd.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Ever. Who’s just unassuming, doesn’t get caught up. Kind of my hero in that regard.

John: I want to say that’s not advocating only going indie. You have to be an auteur, indie person who only does your own things. It’s being true to what you are. And if what you are is a person who does like sort of mid-budget comedies, then go after those mid-budget comedies and make those mid-budget comedies. You know, just don’t try to change into something that you’re not because you feel like you should or that you should be fancy. And don’t try to please other folks. Really look at like what are you going to be happy writing and/or directing for the next two years?

Craig: I’m certainly with you on that. I mean from the start of my career, I was always interested in making movies that a lot of people would go see. Those were the kind of movies I liked. And I moved toward what I liked.

John: Exactly. So we are going to put a link into the show notes for this BuzzFeed article by Adam Vary. Just a really good write up. And a lot of photos of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, our guests from last week. A lot are sort of awkwardly staged photos.

Craig: Oh my god. [laughs] So the first one, I’ve already written them. And so the first one Matt Manfredi is staring at the back of Karyn’s head like he hates her guts. Phil is looking at some weird point that’s neither here nor there and seems almost embalmed.

John: Yeah, he does.

Craig: And then Karyn is looking directly at the lens with this like, can you believe I’m saddled with these two idiots look? [laughs] I want to frame it, it’s a great photo.

John: Yeah. It’s really a great photo for like an episode of a podcast about a murder.

Craig: Yeah. [laughs]

John: And like some sort of like, you know, none of them — for the first time, they agreed to be in the room together. [laughs]

Craig: I know, exactly. [laughs] Or this is the last time they’ll be in a room together.

John: Yeah, maybe so.

Craig: Yeah. There’s another one too that’s equally bizarre where they’re sitting at a table with plates and there’s no food and, again, Phil is looking — it’s like it’s actually difficult to look nowhere.

John: Yeah. He manages.

Craig: Yeah, he does it. He’s looking at a spot no one else would look.

John: Yeah. He’s looking slightly — he’s looking behind the lens in an uncomfortable distance.

Craig: Yeah, it’s like the weirdest place. [laughs]

John: I also noticed that his wine glass is fuller than the other two and maybe that’s why he’s staring off at a strange place.

Craig: Right. [laughs] And Matt’s face in that photo is like, well, where is the food?

John: Yeah, where’s the food? And there’s two bottles of wine that are both apparently open. But like, so one of them refused to drink from the yellow bottle. I just don’t know.

Craig: Yeah, these pictures deserve their own show. [laughs] They’re the weirdest photos. I love them.

John: So please look through and look at those. I’d like to jump out of order because our discussion of suggestions for directors who suddenly have heat applies very well to something that came up just this afternoon. So the Writers Guild, when you join the Writers Guild, they assign you a mentor.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And I had a group of five mentees who were assigned to me a couple of years ago. And they’re all phenomenal. But one of them emailed this morning to ask a question about something that’s going on in his life. So he wrote, “I wrote a micro budget script to direct. My reps attached producers who gave it to a big name actress who has raised her hand to star. Next week, I’m set to have a Skype call with her. She’s out of town shooting her giant budget sequel. I’ve never done this sort of Skype before. I’m wondering what on Earth I should say to convince her I’m competent to direct this little movie?”

Craig: Well, we’re probably not the most qualified people to answer this, but you and I have certainly both had to convince actors to be in movies.

John: Yeah. And I had to do this with like Ryan Reynolds for The Nines. Like he was this complete stranger and I had to convince him to do this. Also with Hope Davis, a few other people for projects along the way.

Craig: Yeah. I find myself doing this often times actually. [laughs] I had to convince Jason and Melissa to do Identity Thief before we even hired a director. I sent a letter to Jessica Chastain regarding Huntsman. And I had to talk to Chris because he wasn’t necessarily going to do it. This happens all the time.

I think, frankly, there’s a certain amount that they’re going to discern just from you, from who you are as a person. You know, if you are warm and friendly and positive, they will note. And if you are introspective and thoughtful and quiet, they will note. These things aren’t necessarily good or bad. I think mostly they want to hear some passion. They want to hear what your plan is for the movie and they really want to hear about their character and why you want them.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s really important. Why me? Because they know, they’re not stupid. They know there are a list of names that are required to release money into a machine. And they know, for sure, that they get calls from people who are like, we want you to be in this, only you. And that’s not true at all.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So they want to hear “why me.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: And that I think you need a really good answer for.

John: I think the other thing you need to be able to talk about is sort of your vision for the project, not just sort of what the finished film is. And like in talking about the finished film, I think it’s absolutely fine to bring up sort of your references, like the other films it sort of feels like, other films you love, things that can be a part of a conversation. But also, your plans for making in terms of who your collaborators are. Particularly if you’re a first time filmmaker, people talk about like these are the kind of DPs I’m looking at, this is the sort of the look, the color, this is the world I’m looking at for this. If there’s other important elements like production design or locations or that kind of stuff.

It’s fine to talk in a general sense of like how you see yourself making this movie because it helps them visualize what is the experience going to be like of me being on set to have this movie be made. Because a big name actress who’s going to be in your tiny movie, she’s basically giving up all her money and all her freedom to be in a little tiny trailer to make this film. And so is the experience going to be worth her time?

Craig: Right.

John: And that doesn’t mean it has to be like the happiest, shiniest, most comfortable set ever. But she has to believe that you are a person who can make a really great movie, that the experience of making the movie is not going to be torture, and that she’s going to feel like, you know, when it’s all done, that she made the right choice to devote the time to this. And so that’s really what the conversation is about. It’s like making sure that she feels that like her instinct — because the only reason she’s talking to you is because she liked the script, that her instinct that this is a good project and that you might be the right filmmakers are correct.

Craig: Yeah. I mean you make a great point. The only reason a big movie star does a tiny movie is to strengthen people’s understanding of how good they actually are.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s hard to be your best sometimes when you’re in a movie that’s more machine than man.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But small movies give us insight into actors. It reminds us of their humanity. It helps feed into when they do the big movies. And the big movies help feed into the little movies. They need to know that the little movie is going to do something for them. [laughs]

John: Exactly.

Craig: They’re not just doing it for fun. I would also suggest that you don’t — while, I would never suggest sounding aloof, you also want to sound like a partner.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You don’t want to sound like someone who’s just staring up at this huge movie star going golly and everything they say, you’re like, oh yeah, oh my god, yes, yeah. They don’t need that. They’re looking for somebody that can really help steer them through this.

John: I’d also say, you’re going to want to flatter them, or at least sort of in acknowledging that you’re so excited to be talking with them, I think if you can be specific about what it is that they bring that is exciting to you, that’s helpful. So for Ryan Reynolds, the parts that he was going to be playing in The Nines were not like anything he played before. But I could say, “Look, I saw what you did in Amityville Horror. And I didn’t love that movie, but it’s clear that you fully, fully, fully committed to that role. And that’s what is exciting to me as I’m sitting across the table from you is that this is a role that’s going to take a similar level of commitment. And I’ve seen that you can do that. And that kind of specificity is really helpful when you’re talking to a stranger about joining this movie.

Craig: I kind of feel like you negged him.

John: Maybe I did neg him a little bit. Yes, like, yeah, in that crappy movie, you were actually pretty good.

Craig: Yeah. That’s like you’re a pickup artist.

John: That’s really what I do.

Craig: God.

John: Yeah.

Craig: God.

John: The other thing I would say is you talked about sort of like, you know, making sure they feel like it’s about a partnership. You’re not just sort of kind of fully offering them and saying like, oh, no matter what, you’re my star, you’re my whatever. Talk a little bit about sort of not even like schedule, but sort of like what is your life like and like is this actually a realistic thing that could fit into your life to be able to make this movie because what I don’t want my mentee to be doing is to spend six months chasing this actress or hoping that she’s actually going to be onboard and then find out she just goes off and does something else.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Because that’s the challenge with big name movie stars is they get a lot of offers. And they get a lot of offers for a lot of money. And so I don’t want him to structure the conversation in a way like, well, she’s the star and it’s all decided and it’s all done. She should feel in the conversation that he really wants her in the movie and he would love to have her on the movie but he’s going to make this movie with her or without her.

Craig: Right, absolutely. And I would — I guess the only other thing I have to offer is that sometimes the overarching intent that I have when I meet anyone new, whether it’s over the phone or in a room or anything, is to communicate quickly and convincingly that I am a safe, decent person who’s not going to hurt them.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know, because — and I don’t mean physically. But this business is full of monsters.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Full of them. And so I’m not suggesting that I’m weak. I don’t think that makes you weak at all. But rather you’re going to be okay with me.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because they’re trusting the director. I mean what they know is after they go, the director is going to edit the movie.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Let’s see what happens, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: The director is going to, you know, be dressing them in clothes. It’s like they need trust. They need to know that they can trust you. And saying you can trust me is useless. They need to feel it.

John: A fun exercise to do when you’re really bored is to go through IMDb and like pick up a big name movie star and go through and find what movies he or she has made that like I’ve never heard of this movie. And most of those movies will be sort of exactly like this situation where it’s like they took a chance on this thing which seemed like a good guy was making the movie, and it just did not turn out well or did not turn out well enough that it got a big release. And that happens. And, you know, there’s probably a corollary conversation to be had with actors who are considering like, “Should I take this tiny little indie for no money?” And the answer should be sometimes yes, sometimes no, but like that phone call or Skype that we’re describing is very important on their side, too. And they should trust their instincts and advice of their trusted people about whether to take those jobs or not.

Craig: Word.

John: Word. All right, let’s get to our main topic today which is Outlines and Treatments. So this came up because twice in the last six months or so, I found myself I needed to write up a treatment for a project that I was working on. And I realized that, you know, I hadn’t really talked about this on the air and sort of what treatments are and the difference between outlines and treatments, to the degree that there really are. So I thought we’d just dig in.

And in the show notes, you’re going to find links to a bunch of things that Craig and I have written. So as we talk about different things, if you’re curious what they actually look like, just click on the link and there’ll be PDFs that show what we wrote up for those projects.

Craig: Right, exactly. So I guess we can start with just what’s the difference, right?

John: Sure.

Craig: I don’t know if there is technically like a hard difference but I know that I think of them differently.

John: I do think of them differently, too.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So I think of an outline as being a document that I’m writing for myself mostly. And it’s essentially a plan. It’s like a roadmap for sort of how I’m going to get through this script and sort of what the beats are. And so it’s really written for my own purposes. It tends to be very short. It can sometimes have little just bullet points for what the things are. And it’s basically so I remember what sequence of events happens to get me through this script.

Is that what you call an outline, too?

Craig: Absolutely.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah, absolutely the same. Whereas a treatment is designed to be read by others and usually it is designed to help convince others, either convince them or put them at ease.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And I wouldn’t say it’s not called for in your deal but I do it a lot, not because they’re asking me but because I want everybody to kind of agree before you go.

John: Yeah. It gets everyone literally on the same page.

Craig: Right.

John: And because they’ve all read the same documents, they’re like, “Oh, yes, that’s the movie that you described in the room. And now that we’re paying you money, it’s good for us to see this thing so that four or five months from now when you hand us a script, we’re going to say, ‘Oh, that’s right. This is the script I was largely expecting.'”

Craig: And because of that, I tend to be very detailed in my treatments. I just did a treatment, I can’t put it up because, you know, it’s in development. But I did a treatment for Disney and it was 40 pages. So I wrote the movie in the treatment.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I mean, including chunks of dialogue and all of this stuff. Now, when I go and write the screenplay, if I do, then things will change of course and things will expand and contract. But the purpose of this was to say, “Here’s a movie.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: Similarly with my HBO mini-series, the bible was I think 60 pages, and it was every episode reads like an episode of TV.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Here’s the show.

John: Yeah. And so, what we’re describing for treatments tend to be in prose form, it’s paragraphs rather than sort of, you know, little short blocks of things. It’s really giving you a flavor for — in some ways, the same way that a screenplay should be the experience of watching the movie, a treatment is sort of the summarized down experience of reading the screenplay. It’s a compressed version. It’s honestly, it’s like a very good version of what would be written up if there was a synopsis written for your script, like it got sent in for coverage. It’s like the really good version of that.

It’s more persuasive, though. And I think that persuasive thing is a key quality because your audience is people who either do already know what the project is or don’t know what the project is and you’re trying to get them onboard your vision of what it is you’re trying to do. And so, some things that feel like they should be really quick and easy to write, I’ve had to spend days writing out these treatments because I want to make sure that the treatment reads really well and really captures the flavor of what it is I’m trying to do.

Craig: Yeah. The treatment affords you an opportunity to show other people these moments. More than anything, treatments are good at this. Moments, big turns, character changes, events.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And get them onboard with these things that are the iron girders of the building you’re about to make. And you should be excited about this, I think.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I know some people are like, “Oh, god, I’ve got to write a treatment.” Well, you’re a writer. Yeah. And I have found — I don’t know, I’m sure you’re going to answer this yes but I’ll let you. When you’re writing the treatment, you learn, you discover new things about your movie just because you’re sitting and writing it.

John: Absolutely true.

Craig: Yeah. It’s just, it’s inevitable. It’s a good thing to do. I don’t always do it but when I do, I never regret it.

John: Yeah. It’s absolutely true. I think there are times where the process of having to write out this thing is just really daunting and exhausting and it’s like, just let me write the script instead. And the times where I’ve actually had to go through and do that work, I’ve always discovered some new things or I discovered a way to communicate an idea that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise.

So they can be very valuable. Before we get into specific examples of things we’ve written, let’s talk about the money behind this and sort of like what it is in terms of your deal or not your deal to write this.

So weirdly, I’d never been paid to write a treatment until I wrote one for Disney. And I think you also wrote one for Disney which was just a treatment, is that right?

Craig: Yeah. I wanted to do it that way, you know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I was like, “Look, either we all want to make the same movie or we don’t. So let’s make a deal where you or I can say no after I do this treatment.” [laughs]

John: And that was a similar situation for a project at Disney. Usually though, a treatment is not an individual step. In the Writers Guild, you know, basic minimum agreement, there is some sort of flat fee for a treatment. And sometimes if you’re being paid scale, then you really should be paid I think that treatment thing as a separate thing. If you’re being paid over scale, sometimes you just write the treatment because it is a useful way to keep everyone on the same page. They probably can’t require the treatment, but it’s actually a very useful thing for just getting everybody seated and centered on what the idea is before you go off and write it.

Craig: Yeah. There is an official MBA step.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So they can break it out. But usually no, I don’t think of this as something to be finicky about. Frankly, when it comes time after I’ve turned it — let’s say I have a one-step deal and I’ve turned in a script and it comes on the heels of a very detailed treatment that everybody signed off on —

John: Yeah.

Craig: When they say, “Well, can we do like the five-week, you know, thing before we turn to the studio,” my answer is, “No. No, no, see, I did this before I wrote the script and that was our moment before. That was the free work. That’s the free work I want to do and I need to do but now I’m not going to do — no.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: It strengthens your hand, I think, in that circumstance.

John: So mostly what Craig and I write are features and so most of what we’re talking about is features. But some of the examples we’re going to bring up are from TV things I wrote. And TV is its own separate beast and its own separate world. And in TV, you are very often writing documents that are not the teleplay. They are other things to get approval to write the teleplay.

And I can’t speak knowledgeably about sort of what that’s like on a current series but I’m going to include some examples of things I wrote between selling the pitch of the pilot and actually turning in the script, which were very important documents that I had to sort of get approvals on before I was able to sort of go off and write.

So the things you’re writing in television can have very different names and so I’m not going to try to give you the wrong terminology for things but you’ll hear like one-pagers or outlines or sometimes we’ll hear treatments. And it’s all very specific to the kind of thing you’re writing. Sometimes approving a story idea or a story area and it’s always going to depend on the nature of the show and the nature of the network and studio relationship.

Craig: Yeah, exactly. It’s funny, I’m looking through my files here and I realize how many of these I’ve written. Like I sent you one but I’m going to send you so many more because I’ve written so many of these. [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Craig: And a lot of times, the ones that I probably will send along are from movies that just never happened because, you know, the ones that have happened, a lot of times I just — I don’t know.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I’d just rather have the movie be the movie, you know, like even with Identity Thief. It’s interesting actually. You can see the difference. There are some differences for sure.

John: Let’s go through some of these examples. So I’m going to start with the Big Fish outline. So this is literally a one-page document and this was just really kind of for my own purposes to figure out what the basic scenes were and sort of how it would all fit together.

So it says Act One, Act Two, Act Three. There’s individual lines for each thing and it shows in parentheses which characters are in that scene or that sequence. And so it goes from like “On the day he was born….” “Opening titles: Will grows, Edward annoys” “France: Will gets the call” “Airplane: Fly to Alabama” “The Snowstorm” “Arrive at house: Meet the mother, Dr. Bennett”.

So that actually is sort of the movie I wrote but this is just the, you know, single line version of what the structure of this would be.

Craig: Yeah. This is a classic example of what’s for you. And another thing that I can send along are note cards. So, you know, I’ll break everything down to note cards so you can see what that looks like. That’s my tool for me.

John: Yeah.

Craig: For this, for instance, I’m looking at your Act One here, then it says “First Will/Edward talk”. Well, obliviously you knew what that was. [laughs]

John: Yeah. [laughs]

Craig: So this is absolutely just something that helps you organize your thoughts, which, by the way, I think everybody should do. It’s just my personal opinion. I don’t understand the kind of “I’m just going to wander and discover as I go,” you know. At least this. At least know how it ends, you know. [laughs] So this was a great example of private me-only document.

John: So here’s a bigger document. This is the Big Fish sequence outline based on the 3/31/2000 Draft. And so this is the thing I wrote up for myself but I also shared it with the studio executive to talk through like these are the things that are happening in the script. And specifically, people wanted to see what was real and what was fantasy. And so I sort of did differentiation with boxes about like what was real and what was fantasy.

So in this case, I’m taking an existing script and I just break it into sequences. So I’m referring to both the pages and sort of what’s happening in them. So it’s more detailed because I actually knew the details about what was happening in these different things. So this ends up being a four-page document that sort of talks through what the whole thing is. And it’s just useful to have a compressed shorter version of the thing to look at so if we were making big structural changes, “Okay, if we got rid of this whole thing, what would take its place, how can we compress or move stuff around?”

Big Fish was, looking at it sort of structurally in that level was important for Big Fish because we were always shifting back and forth between those two worlds and figuring out what made the most sense.

Craig: Yeah. I like the fact that you made this document to help people understand something. It can be frustrating at times when people don’t understand something that you know they will understand if they just see the movie.

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know it, right?

John: Yeah.

Craig: And this is an example. You knew, right? [laughs]

John: I knew.

Craig: Yeah.

John: If I could have gone through the script and just like made all the fantasy sequences in like colored font rather than black and white —

Craig: Right.

John: Maybe that would have done it, too. But people had a hard time sort of visualizing how we were moving back and forth between reality and fantasy.

Craig: Right. And so sometimes you do make a service document. You know, I made one when I came back on The Huntsman and we had not a lot of time to try and do a lot of work. I had to make a document that was basically kind of saying, “Here’s what we’re keeping and here’s what we’re changing and here’s what it’s going to be. And here’s the sets that it’s going to use,” because it was all about like, “Okay, we need you to rewrite this script considerably but we have these locations.” [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Craig: “And we can’t not use them, nor can we get other ones to do different ones.” So you do create service documents a lot. And all of that work is designed to get you to the part of your job that you thought was the only part, right?

John: Yeah.

Craig: Which is the writing part. But it’s not. What are you going to do?

John: So I’d love to look at your Identity Theft treatment. I took this to be that there was an existing script and you were doing huge work on it and so before you went off to do this huge work, you wrote up this document to say like, “This is what the thing I’m going to write is going to be like.” Is that correct?

Craig: That’s right. So there were two prior scripts and this was essentially going to be as close to a page one as it gets. And so I wrote this up to help get everybody on the same page because they had struggled —

John: Yeah.

Craig: You know, prior to this.

John: So let’s take a look at what you’re actually writing here because this is very much how I write up especially like TV pitches, but you start out by talking about your characters. You describe Sandy Patterson. You say Jason Bateman in parenthesis. You’re talking about who he is and sort of how we’re going to see him, how we’re going to meet him, what his journey is. You talk about Diana, Melissa McCarthy, you say. For Trish Patterson, you already called it as Amanda Peet.

Craig: Yup.

John: And you have other suggestions in here for other folks.

Craig: Yeah, like you can see like Jim Cornish, I thought I was writing for Ricky Gervais originally and then it became Jon Favreau. You know, so those things happen. I had Sam Jackson in here. [laughs] And then I had some Israelis which sadly, you know, didn’t make it.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I really loved those Israelis.

John: So you talk through all that stuff about like this is what’s going to be happening character-wise because in the rest of your treatment, you’re not going to really have the opportunity to get the feeling of who those characters are because the treatment is very compressed and it’s just talking through sort of more plot. It’s not getting into the intricacies of character and sort of what the characters feel like.

So you have to sort of start with all that so we know who these people are because we’re getting a very quick hit of them as we read through the treatment.

Craig: Yeah. And as I’m looking through this, it’s funny, sometimes I do it a little differently. I guess I do it a little differently each time. But in this one, part of what I was doing was splitting each — it wasn’t like it was a scene or a sequence. It was just like, “Okay, here’s a story chunk that makes sense to lump under one paragraph, you know, or one subsection.” I would write what happened. And then after, in italics, I would write about what the point of it was.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because a lot of what they had been struggling with was getting out of the episodic nature of what a roadtrip is. Like you go here, you go here, you have those hijinks, you have that, but what’s the point, you know?

John: Yeah.

Craig: So a lot of this document was it was not only about me working it through but it was about comforting everybody that, okay, there will be some substance to this.

John: Yeah. I find I use italics in treatments often to reflect dialogue. So within a block of text, a paragraph that’s describing sort of the action, I’ll use italics to sort of indicate what a character would be saying at this moment and sort of those exchanges back and forth. And if I need to do that work where I’m sort of like, you know, kind of underlining like what a character has experienced or sort of why this is here, then I’ll literally go for underlining or bold face to make sure that people are clear like, this is the point of this section.

Craig: Right, exactly.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And again, you know, you and I both know that if they saw it, they would get it.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But that’s part of our job because, you know, it’s actually, the fact that we know that is part of what makes us writers.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It shouldn’t be frustrating to us. It should actually be very comforting that there are some things that we can do the mental math on instantaneously that other people can’t.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So it’s part of this is helping them.

John: And I’ll point out this. This treatment you’ve provided for us is 29 pages long, so this is a lengthy document —

Craig: Yeah.

John: To sort of describe a movie that’s, you know, just a normal length movie.

Craig: Right.

John: So it’s, you know, you really going through the whole process of making sure that we understand the whole movie before it’s made.

Craig: It also in painstakingly making sure that, you know, all the annoying bits and bobs are at least theoretically solvable, you know. The how do they get from here to here and how does she know this and how does he know that, you force yourself to do some of this annoying work sooner rather than later.

John: Yeah.

Craig: At least you know you’ve got like, okay, I’ve got my treatment method as a fallback. Maybe I can come up with something better as I’m writing the screenplay. [laughs] But there is an answer.

John: The thing I’m writing right now, I wrote a treatment for it first. And part of the reason for writing the treatment was to make — there’s potentially a competing project. There’s always going to be competing projects, so we wanted to have something that we could sort of prove like this story was all figured out at this point.

But now that I’m writing the real screenplay, I was like, “Okay, at some point I’ll figure out like how I can get between these two characters and get both of them in.” And so I just had to write that part yesterday for like how am I going to actually intercut these two things. And I was angry at the treatment writer who hadn’t figured it out for me.

Craig: Exactly. [laughs] Exactly. And, you know, sometimes you can kind of embrace the treatmentness of it, you know, and just sort of brush it over.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And sometimes, you know, you want to show that it actually works.

John: Yeah. It would have been too much detail to honestly put in the treatment. I was glad I didn’t put it in the treatment, but like as the actual screenwriter I still had to figure out how I was going to do that. And that’s the job of screenwriting.

Craig: You know, it’s funny, so I’m writing the first episode of this mini-series and as I did the bible, each episode summary got longer and longer. So by the time I got to the last one, it was, you know, the second to last one was like 10 pages and it was dialogue and everything, right?

John: Yeah.

Craig: The first one wasn’t quite that detailed and I’m having to do it now, I’m annoyed. [laughs] I wish I had done it then. But I mean, the nature of this first one is such that it kind of defied treatmentizing, you know. You had to kind of just plunge in because it’s about chaos, essentially. So you can’t organize chaos too carefully.

And it’s a new thing for me because it’s television, so I understand like, “Oh, I’m not making something that must be orderly by the end.” In fact, I’m just taking five eggs and smashing them against the wall. And smashing them in an exciting way and then letting the yoke drip down and then cutting to black. [laughs] I love that. That’s fun.

John: Yeah. You’re writing it for premium cable. Most of the things I’ve been writing for have been for broadcast and so one of the next documents we’ll take a look at is for D.C. And it’s the outline I did for the pilot. And this was an outline I had to get approved.

And what was new to me at this point, which I’m so grateful that I had to do this outline, is act breaks. And so I had to be able to show like this is act one and these are the scenes that are going to be in act one. And there’s an act break and then there’s act two and these are the scenes and then there’s an act break. Because in television that still has act breaks for the commercials, it’s so crucial that you’re going out of the story at a place with rising action and an unresolved question so that you have that urge to come back and see what’s next. And so you can enter into that next scene with the question resolved or at least a new burst of energy.

And so, this outline for D.C. is eight pages long and pretty common I think to what a pilot outline would be like. It’s really showing you, “These are the locations we’re going to be, these are the characters, this is how we’re getting through the story of the pilot.”

Craig: Yeah. This is a very good example. And you can also, if folks at home want to follow Tom Schnauz on Twitter, he does this occasionally. So he wrote on Breaking Bad and now he’s maybe like the head writer, I guess, of Better Call Saul and he’s been directing a bunch of episodes, too. And he will post pictures of their card outlines, act one, act two, act three, act four, you know, and the teaser and all the rest of it. And you can blow it up and read them, you know, and you can see it.

And it’s very much like this, you know. You see how much detail goes into the storytelling part. I mean, I think a lot of screenwriters out there, they gravitate towards what they see in a screenplay that they read. And what they see is dialogue. What they don’t see is story, right? The narrative is kind of weirdly invisible underneath the expression of the narrative. But it’s the narrative minus the expression that makes the expression work.

So one thing that these things, outlines and treatments, do is they force you to confront the narrative without the window dressing of the action of a scene and dialogue and all that. You’re forced to just make a story.

John: Exactly. The last thing I want to show here is this was a write-up I did for Alaska, which was a pilot I did for ABC. At the time, it was called The Circle. And I call it a write-up because it’s the kind of thing where once you pitched a show, you end up writing this document which is basically an encapsulation of your pitch that you can say like, “This is what I pitched to you,” and they can actually show this to other folks or they can use it to pitch themselves internally so they just know sort of what it is. And they will give you notes on this. They will give it back to you because they want to be able to communicate to everybody else who’s in the process, this is the show we are trying to make.

So for The Circle, it starts with one page which is very much kind of what the pitch was like. Basically like sort of, “This is what’s cool about the world.” Then we’re going into talking about the characters and who the principal characters are we’re following. And then we’re getting into details about the pilot and finally getting into further episodes, like things that happen after this pilot episode.

This becomes really important because sort of like what you’re describing with, you know, not having the dialogue and therefore being able to see the story of the episode or the story of the movie, this is like without even an episode of the show kind of, this is what the series feels like. This is the broad picture document of this is why this is a show that is airing on your network.

And so this was a really crucial, really sales document. Even though it’s theoretically designed for my own purposes and for us to have a conversation, it’s really to convince them that like, “Oh, this is going to be a show that you will want to have on your network, you know, next fall.”

Craig: This is a great sales document. And let’s remind ourselves that oftentimes the sale between you and them is completed. They’ve bought something.

John: Yes.

Craig: The document is for them to sell it to each other.

John: Yup.

Craig: And if you don’t give them something to read, like for instance, in this Circle outline, it says, “From the description, it sounds like Law & Order without the suits and skyscrapers. Which it is.” Right? Ah-ha. [laughs] So you can help them — you know what this is, it’s Law & Order but in the Alaskan wild. I can see them saying this to each other. It’s like you gave them their little buzzy handle. If you don’t do this for them, they’re going to do it on their own.

John: Yup.

Craig: And you don’t want that.

John: If you also look at this document, you’ll see that I bold-faced things that are incredibly important or sort of like strange. If people end up skimming, they’re at least picking up these crucial things. So “First off, the state only has about 500,000 people. That’s the population of Long Beach, except that they’re spread over a state the size of California, Texas and Montana combined.”

That’s interesting. That’s fascinating. That shows you like what is different about this crime procedural than any other crime procedural that they’ve seen.

Craig: Right.

John: I talk about they have this weird system of boroughs and magistrates. They don’t have police the way we think of them. So there were interesting things that are bold faced there so that people will say like, “Oh, that’s right. This is what’s different about this show than the other five procedurals that we’re developing this year.”

Craig: Yeah. Alaska is awesome, by the way.

John: Alaska is great.

Craig: It’s really cool.

John: And so that’s outlines and treatments. So again, we’ll have links to the ones we discussed today on the show notes for this episode, so just scroll through and find those and pull them up. They’re all PDFs and none of them — well, I guess Big Fish and Identity Thief got made but most of these are like —

Craig: Yeah. Like I’m going to send some —

John: Dead files.

Craig: Yeah, I’m going to send some dead file ones that I like that just never happened.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s time for One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is something that Craig will absolutely love. This is MCC’s Miscast. So every year, MCC Theater does this big, I guess it’s a fundraiser, but it’s a big event where they have Broadway stars come and they basically gender-reverse the people who are singing the songs. So if it’s a song traditionally sung by a woman, a guy sings it and vice versa.

And so there have been fantastic ones. Jonathan Groff did Sutton Foster’s Anything Goes, did the full tap of it. He was great in the previous one. So this year they had a bunch of great people as always. The two that I’m going to put a link into the show notes for are Tituss Burgess and Tina Fey did a duet that’s great. Tina Fey is singing. She did a great job.

Craig: Excellent.

John: And also, Craig, you will love this. So they did a song from Hamilton. They did The Schuyler Sisters, but they used like three young boys who are on Broadway shows right now —

Craig: Amazing.

John: And they were fantastic.

Craig: Angelica, Eliza and Peggy. The Schuyler sisters.

John: I always feel like I’m the “And Peggy.”

Craig: [laughs] And Peggy. You know, a lot of people think that “And Peggy” gets short shrift in that show, but And Peggy is also Maria Reynolds who plays a huge part in the second act.

John: Yeah, which is great.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Do you realize that there were 12 Schuyler siblings in real life?

Craig: You mean at that time?

John: Yeah.

Craig: There were 12?

John: There were 12.

Craig: Who —

John: It just focuses on three of them. Apparently —

Craig: Who were the other ones? [laughs]

John: They were not important enough to be in there. Maybe it was the rest of the ensemble who was like sliding around the stage all the time. Maybe they’re the other siblings.

Craig: They should do one show where they just keep going.

John: [laughs]

Craig: And Oliver. And Gina. And Dwayne. [laughs]

John: It’s very, very good.

Craig: Excellent.

John: So what’s yours?

Craig: How could mine not be the Tesla Model 3?

John: I cannot wait to get mine. We ordered one.

Craig: Fantastic. So did I.

John: So did Stuart.

Craig: Yes, he did. I had a talk with Stuart and I said, “You’re doing it, buddy.”

So this is the long-awaited and we will still be awaiting affordable car from Tesla and Elon Musk. And their plan is to provide the base model at $35,000, which is definitely in the realm of affordable for most American families. I don’t know what the average amount people spend on a car, but it probably is something like in the mid to high 20s, I would guess. You know, in America, it’s an interesting fact. So it’s not far off the mark there.

It has all the range of the big car, the model S. Not quite as ridiculously zippy, but who cares? The point is, zero emissions, no gasoline, it’s beautifully made. And they got over a million pre-orders, like some insane number.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Like an insane amount. And I did it because it occurred to me that my son will be driving in two years, my daughter will be driving in five years, so yeah, just, you know, an incredibly safe car also.

John: Yeah. So I’m looking forward to it coming or for whatever comes next. We have the Leaf. I love the Leaf. I’m delighted with it. But I think it’s always great to have, you know, new choices, new things out there. Apple will have a car at some point. I’m curious what that car is going to be like.

I’m also curious sort of how much driving will be important in the future. Like my daughter is 10. I’m not convinced driving will be nearly as important for her as it was for me or even a kid right now. Like a lot of kids these days are not nearly as quick to get their driver’s licenses because they have alternatives. And I think alternatives are great. So, will self-driving cars replace this? Probably, at some point.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But —

Craig: At some point.

John: For now, this is a great car.

Craig: Yup, yup, yup, yup.

John: Excited. That is our show this week. So a reminder that if you would like to come to see us on April 16th and join us for the Craft Day at the Writers Guild Foundation, you need to go to and sign up for that. It should be a great fun event.

Our outro this week is by Rajesh Naroth who wrote a great 8-bit theme. So thank you, Rajesh. If you have an outro you would like to share with us for the show, you can write to and send us a link. It’s also where you can write questions like the ones we answered today. On Twitter, I’m @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. Our show is produced by Stuart Friedel, as always, and edited by Matthew Chilelli. And thank you all very much. We’ll see you next week.

Craig: Thanks, John.

John: See you.