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 256 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Today on the podcast, Aaron Sorkin wants your money, Aristotle has a few thoughts about character development, and we’ll talk about what makes a movie original.

But most importantly, Craig is back. Welcome back, Craig.

Craig: I’m back. I’m back. You thought that you could Craig-xit from me.

John: We could never Craig-xit you.

Craig: You can’t Craig-xit.

John: So, last week you had an ear infection. Is that correct?

Craig: Yeah. So I was intending to show up at your place and interview Billy Ray with you, who is a buddy, and my ear was hurting for a day, and then you know when it suddenly crosses the line — it crossed the line from annoying to ow, ow, my ear.

John: To like Chekhov in Wrath of Khan?

Craig: Yeah. Like the bug coming out of the ear thing. I didn’t have a bug in my ear, but I did have an infection. And for those people at home who are wondering what my relationship with you is really like, I sent you a picture of the diagnosis like a doctor’s note so that you would believe me.

John: [laughs] I did get that while we were recording, and I noted it that, okay, it’s for real. I’m not sure Billy Ray believes that you had it, but it’s fine. We had a fun time talking with Billy Ray, who is very smart, who talks even more quickly than I did. It was the first time in my history of listening to this podcast where I actually had to bump the speed down to like a normal person speed, just so I could understand what he was saying.

Craig: Yeah. He’s a very fast talker. Fast thinker. Fast talker. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for it, mostly because I would have given him a lot of crap. Because that’s what I do.

John: I especially love when guests come on the show and clearly have never listened to the show once in their life. I find that extra charming. I was trying to do my best Craig for when he got — he sort of like laid into us about the WGA stuff and about our basically convincing people not to vote for one of the proposals.

Craig: Right.

John: And I was trying to stick up for your point of view there, which is largely my point of view, but you just felt it more strongly. So, I tried to feel it strongly for you.

Craig: You know what? That’s the saddest thing of all. Because I don’t like missing time with friends. I don’t like missing interviews. I get a little FOMO from that. But I really don’t like missing a good fight. That bothers me. And you know I would have taken it right to — because you know, when I argue with Billy, it’s fantastic. It’s so much fun.

John: One of the things Billy Ray would never had heard before on the podcast is the How Would This be a Movie. And one of our favorite episodes of How Would This be a Movie we talked about the Hatton Garden job, which is basically the robbery, all the old British people robbing this vault, and it was terrific.

And we predicted that there would be several movies going into development and they are going into development. In fact, one has started shooting.

Craig: Wow.

John: So, director Ronnie Thompson, who co-wrote the script with Dean Lines and Ray Bogdanovich, it’s already in production. Matthew Goode is starring. Julie Richardson is in it. I presume those are not playing the actual robbers, because those are older people. Unless it’s Matthew Goode with a lot of prosthetics makeup, which sounds terrible.

But there are two other versions in development. One of them is based on a Vanity Fair article. One is based on a New York Times article.

Craig: Amazing.

John: So, we’re going to have a bunch of old people robbing banks.

Craig: No we’re not. We’re going to have one. [laughs]

John: Yeah, we’ll probably have one.

Craig: We’re going to have one. It’s funny how sometimes you read these things and you’re like — it’s not rocket science to see which ones… — The only thing that surprises me I guess a little bit is that enough people were not only able to see that it was deserving of being a movie, but also felt that they could make money with a movie like this. Because increasingly, you know, getting those kinds of movies made is a tricky proposition. It’s essentially a small movie about a small thing. It’s going to ultimately be a character piece.

It’s not like these guys were involved in a hostage crisis or anything like that. They were robbing a bank. So it’s like a very small Ocean’s 11.

John: What’s also interesting is we talk about the situations where there are two movies in parallel development and they both happened and it was a nightmare because they were sort of butting heads against each other. But more often what happens is one of them gets out of the gate first and that becomes the movie. And the other movie just doesn’t exist. And so it’s interesting that we even know that these other two things are in development and it’s entirely possible that down the road those other things will get made.

It’s entirely possible this first one could be great, but it could be terrible. It could be one of those things like you’ve never even heard of, where it gets sold off at AFM and never really got released. So, we’ll see.

Craig: Yeah, it’s normal, I think, for large competing movies to coexist, because there’s just so much momentum behind them and people think, well, you have your movie about a meteor with your movie star, and I have my movie about a meteor with my movie star. So, let’s go ahead. Let’s slug it out. Same thing with our volcano movies. Same thing with our animated ants movies.

But for a little thing like this, I think getting to the marketplace first is crucial, which by the way I think you’re seeing — think about this, right — we did our episode on that, what, a few months ago?

John: It was back in Episode 234 we talked about that, The Script Graveyard.

Craig: Okay, so, we talked about this back in Episode 234.

John: So January 26.

Craig: Right. That’s essentially a half a year ago. Six months ago we talk about this. That’s when everybody else is reading it at the same time. They go and they buy the rights to this thing. That takes a few weeks. And then they say, okay, we have to be first to the market. For them to be shooting six months from that day — I’m saying they went and got the rights that day. Prep takes, you know, two months minimum. Three would be good, right?

John: You also have to write a script —

Craig: Ah-ha. So this is what concerns me sometimes when people are racing to market. And I’ve been involved in these situations. The screenplay process becomes terribly compressed, very, very stressed. So the normal things that happen to screenplays that are stressful, like the creation of it, the revision of it, and then the collision that occurs when a director and a cast collides with the screenplay and there needs to be some kind of reconciliation between all these new elements, those things now get compressed really tightly and it’s very difficult to do well, nearly impossible.

So, I always get nervous when I see this race to the market. I root for all movies, so hopefully it works out with this one.

John: I root for them as well. I would say that the logistics of this movie are probably not especially difficult. We sort of like know what the basic sets are we’re going to need, so it doesn’t require that much sort of prep work in that sense. You feel like if this were a pilot you could just go off and prep it and shoot it.

There’s a bonus episode in the premium feed where I talk to Simon Kinberg about the most recent X-Men movie. And he talks about how they had the four writers who were working on story that came up with a treatment. And they actually had to prep off of that treatment. It was before Simon had written the script. Because they knew they were going to be such giant set pieces that they had to start the pre-vis and everything else on those basically just off of the treatment.

And that’s the way it works on some of these big movies. And in some cases it’s working on these tiny movies I bet, too. I bet they had some document that said this is what we’re going to try to do, but then they had to start getting cast and everything else probably before they had a finished script.

Craig: Well, right. And on a big movie, the nice thing is you know you have a little bit of a cushion because while you have the long tail of post-production because of all the visual effects, you will theoretically have the ability to go and pick up a scene where if you need a few people talking in a room, or maybe even something slightly larger. There may be a week or two to do. The money will be there because there’s an enormous investment worth protecting.

On a little movie, sometimes you don’t have any of those things at all. And especially if the whole point is to race to the marketplace, everything — even post-production — gets compressed down. So, tricky, tricky, tricky business to be in.

Let’s see how it goes with them.

John: Let’s see how it goes. Your last bit there reminded me of we never talked about reshoots and sort of the Star Wars — we were never sort of on the air when all that news came up that they were doing some reshoots for the Star Wars movie. I find it so maddening when the film press starts talking about reshoots as if it’s a sign of trouble. Reshoots are incredibly natural in the film industry. They are usually a sign that you have something that you are very excited about, but you see opportunities and you want to improve those opportunities. It just makes me crazy when reshoots are perceived as being a sign that everything has gone wrong.

Craig: I couldn’t agree more. Generally speaking, whenever I see the film press writing anything, I get frustrated because their ignorance is vast and seemingly without a bottom.

John: And you’re also Craig Mazin. You were born to be angry at the film press.

Craig: Correct. I was born to be angry anyway, and particularly them anyway. I’m their natural enemy. I am their — what’s the — Honey Badger? I’m their Honey Badger.

But it’s a bit like saying, “I saw somebody walk into CVS. Clearly they’re fatally ill.”

John: Yup.

Craig: What? Maybe they just had a little bit of a scratch that they needed a Band-Aid for and they’re going to be so much better now.

John: Maybe they wanted a Vitamin Water.

Craig: Maybe they wanted a Vitamin Water. A useless, overpriced Vitamin Water. It’s just stupid. Reshoots happen for any number of reasons. By the way, to be fair, sometimes it’s because the movie is a mess, right??

John: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Craig: Here’s the incredible thing: so what? So the movie is a mess, and then they did reshoots, which many times fix the mess. You and I both know of movies, which we’re not going to say —

John: You and I both know of a certain TV series, the biggest TV series in the world —

Craig: Okay, there’s one.

John: Which was a mess.

Craig: A total mess, right? And those guys, Dan and Dave, have been really forthcoming about it. Their pilot for Game of Thrones was a disaster. And then they reshot not some, but almost all of it. The point of it is reshoots don’t mean that something is all wrong.

The problem is they’re always looking for this — they’re looking for gossip. And really what’s underneath all of the “ooh, reshoots” is a general sense of Schadenfreude. Oh good, people are failing. He-he-he.

Ugh. Gross. Gross.

John: Well, you can hear more about our discussion on reshoots and Game of Thrones and everything else on the brand new black USB drives we have now. So, we have the 250-episode Scriptnotes USB drives. They are in stock. I mentioned it last week, but they are now actually up in the store, so you can get them. And Craig and I recorded a special little introduction that’s only on the USB drives. And so if you are a person who is a completist, then this is a completist thing you could get.

Craig: And do the USB drives cost $90 each?

John: They cost $25 each.

Craig: Huh? That’s interesting, because I thought $90 was — all right. $25 seems incredibly reasonable.

John: I think it’s incredibly reasonable. So it’s $0.10 an episode. Not even $0.10 when you think about it because of all those bonus episodes on there, plus all the transcripts.

Craig: I mean, good lord.

John: Good lord. So they’re there. So, you could find them in the links to the show notes to the podcast you’re listening to, or just go to johnaugust.com, or store.johnaugust.com. There’s places to find them.

All right, let’s get to today’s business, and it is business because just like I was trying to sell you on a USB drive, Aaron Sorkin is trying to sell you on a series of screenwriting lectures. It’s a masterclass. Actually the site is called Masterclass. And this service, which I’d never heard about before, they have sort of like the biggest names in different fields teaching these classes. So, Christina Aguilera will teach you singing. Kevin Spacey will teach you acting. Usher will teach you the art of performance.

Craig: [laughs]

John: Annie Leibovitz will teach you photography. So, they are —

Craig: You’re missing one here. Serena Williams teaches you how to play tennis. [laughs]

John: Yeah. She’s probably really good at it.

Craig: Well, I’ve noticed that she’s very good at playing tennis.

John: I’ve watched her play, and I’ve got to admit it, she’s pretty good. Aaron Sorkin will teach you screenwriting. And so everyone on Twitter sent me the link to this and said, “What do you think?”

Craig: Yeah.

John: So I’ll ask you, Craig, what you think.

Craig: Well, first of all, I think it’s nice that he’s only charging $25 like the price of our USB drives.

John: No, no, no, it’s $90, Craig.

Craig: Oh what? Oh my goodness.

John: So let me tell you exactly what you’re getting. Over the course of 25 video lessons, spanning five hours, Sorkin shares his rules of storytelling, dialogue, and character development. He critiques student submissions. He works with real world examples from the decades he spent writing movies and TV, and TV shows, and plays. So, that was from the press release.

Craig: Well, I happen to be a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s. I think that he is a terrific screenwriter. And I suspect that if you are somebody who is talented and on your way to becoming a screenwriter, and you’re serious about your craft, that this $90 may actually be money well worth spent.

Of course, on the other side you do have to be aware that one of the things that makes Aaron Sorkin a terrific screenwriter is how specific he is. He is one of the few screenwriters I know whose style is self-defined.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: You know, Tarantino and Sorkin are very, you know, oh, that’s Sorkin dialogue. We know it when we hear it.

John: Absolutely. So, it makes it very strange when anyone else tries to do it. It feels like you’re ripping him off.

I sort of come out where you come out, too, where it’s just like I got little heebie-jeebies at the start, and then I watched it and it’s like, oh, they look really well-produced. I mean, I’ve hosted panels with him. He’s very, very smart. And generous. And odd. So, if you’re looking to spend $90 on learning more about screenwriting, it seems like kind of a reasonable way to go.

I’ll really be curious, because I bet a bunch of our listeners will end up signing up for it and will sit through it. And they can tell us whether they thought it was worth it or not.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, of all the things that we talk about all the time, you know my whole thing — don’t pay for screenwriting. And this is actually I think worth a shot because, first of all, it’s capped at $90. There’s no come on to keep spending. And I also think there’s a nice side effect. And that is that all of these jackanapes and charlatans who are peddling their so-called guru genius for $500 or $1,000, or $100 an hour are all now going to have to face this question: why should I pay you that when Aaron Sorkin charged $90 for 25 lessons spanning — how many hours?

John: Five hours.

Craig: Five hours. $18 an hour for Aaron Sorkin. Why am I paying you a $100 an hour, because you wrote an episode of Cagney & Lacey once? Yeah. So I like that part of it.

I’m puzzled by this whole thing.

John: I’m puzzled by it, too. So, clearly they think that there’s a good business model here, because they have giant names doing it. So, I don’t know what his cut is. I kind of don’t know why he said yes, but I’m not telling people to say no, because I think it’s actually — I’m kind of curious.

Craig: Well, it’s one of the things where of all the things they’ve listed where I think, oh, people actually might get something out of this. He’s going to have some, I think, I’m just predicting, he’s going to have some really useful universal insights.

You know, you and I are trying to do that all the time on this show. I would imagine that he’ll have some of those for sure. It’s not simply going to be five hours of him describing how he wrote A Few Good Men.

Now, some of these other people — Christina Aguilera can’t teach you how to sing. That’s ridiculous. [laughs] And neither can Serena Williams teach you how to play tennis well.

They can teach you how somebody at their incredibly high level does things, but I actually think screenwriting is a little more teachable than some of those other things.

John: Well, let’s see how he does it. So, let’s listen to a clip. Here’s a little short clip from the promo video for it.

Aaron Sorkin: Dialogue is pretty much where the art comes in. Taking some words that someone has just said, holding them in your hand, and then punching them in the face with it. I left The West Wing after season four. I have not seen an episode from seasons five, six, and seven. Together we are going to break the teaser and first act of Episode 501 of The West Wing.

You don’t have an idea until you can use the words “but, except, and then.” I just want to hear your bad ideas. Very bad. Love it. Very bad. By the way, it wasn’t that bad.

Female Voice: It’s a White House conspiracy.

John: So, you see at the end there he’s sitting around a table with these students who are all made up and everyone looks just as good and glamorous in it. So, it’s not quite reality. They’re going to break a new season of The West Wing, so some fan service there.

I guess.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, I guess is right. And so, look, the thing is you and I — we have an interesting perspective on this, because we do this every week for an hour. We’ve done now 256 hours, plus some, and we’ve charged — well, technically we do charge $2 a month, right?

John: Yeah, for the premium feed.

Craig: For the premium feed, which isn’t — and so, you know, it’s not quite as expensive. But, you know, of course, he’s Aaron Sorkin. And so that’s really impressive and great. I hope that he gives money to the — if he’s getting money from this personally, I hope he donates it to the Writers Guild Foundation. Wouldn’t that be nice?

John: That would be nice if he did that.

Craig: We do that.

John: We do that.

Craig: Aaron Sorkin, I call upon you to donate your proceeds to the Writers Guild Foundation.

John: But I think it’s also fine if you don’t. So, Aaron Sorkin has been generous and he does participate in WGF events. He was there at the last giant panel I did with all of the nominees. So, I like him for that. I don’t begrudge him any money he’s making off of this.

I just kind of wonder whether there could be enough money to be made off of this to make it worth his while. If it’s worth Serena Williams’ while, then I’m guessing there must be money there.

Craig: I feel like — this is a big Silicon Valley thing, right? Like maybe these are people’s friends. Like highfalutin Silicon Valley people who are like, hey come on, you know. I’m a billionaire. You’re cool. Let’s do something together.

John: Or maybe their seed money, so part of the VC money was to pay these people a lot of money up front with a percentage. Maybe that’s what it is?

Craig: Oh, interesting. Okay. Well, listen, I don’t begrudge anyone making a buck. Well, I do, obviously, all the time. I don’t begrudge Aaron Sorkin making a dollar. And I do think you could do way worse. $90 seems very reasonable. I hope that people do find value from it. If I were to bet on anybody, I’d bet on him.

John: Yeah. I’d bet on him, too. You know who else was a very smart thinker about drama was this guy Aristotle. So he’s super old. I mean, kind of old school, but actually very clever. And one of the funny things is you can kind of rediscover these clever people in random places. And so this last week I was reading this blog post about coyotes and cliffs, and this word was used, and I didn’t really know the word. So, I had to look up how to even say it, and then you actually looked up the YouTube video on how to pronounce it so we wouldn’t be like idiots as we try to pronounce it.

So, it’s this Aristotelian term called Anagnorisis. It comes from Aristotle’s Poetics. And it’s that moment when a hero realizes the true nature of things. It’s that moment where like the blinders come off and the hero sees that the world that he or see perceived is not actually the world as it truly is.

And, we think about — he was describing it mostly in terms of tragedies, but I think in movie usage it’s more often used in thrillers. So you think about The Sixth Sense, the twist in The Sixth Sense. Or Gone Girl, which has the mid-act, sort of midway reversal. But it’s also a thing that becomes incredibly useful in comedies. So, I said the coyote going over the cliff, it’s that moment where the coyote has run off the cliff, and he’s floating in mid-air, and he turns to the camera and realizes, “Oh, I’m going to fall.”

It’s that moment. And it’s such a weirdly wonderful moment. So I thought we’d spend a few minutes talking about how that exists both internally, but how it exists in fiction, and sort of how we can use it.

Craig: Well, you’re right, that it comes in big moments, and it comes in little moments. The obvious ones are the ones where there’s an on-rush of information about the world, specific facts about the world around them.

So every whodunit has a moment of Anagnorisis where the detective hero has all of these facts, none of them seem to add up, and then somebody does some little dinkety thing and they go, “Ah…,” the big gasp, “Oh my god, I know who did it now.” And we all have to wait, right? We’ve watched them.

So, that’s a clear example. But then there are these little moments like at the end of The Graduate, when you have these two people sitting on this bus and they believe they have culminated this wonderful romance. And then you can see, suddenly they realize, ooh, wait. That’s a very small kind, but it is crucial for the audience to see in characters.

It’s crucial that we see them suddenly realizing these big truths that they did not have before. In reality, where a narrative does not rule, here’s how a typical — for instance, let’s go back to the whodunit. Here’s how a typical whodunit goes: a detective arrives at a scene, here are some facts, here are some suspects. They start to put together a reasonable presumption about who did it, but there are a couple of other possibilities. And then they begin to slowly grind their way towards what is growing increasingly obvious to be the right answer. They just have to support it. And so they do, like a mathematical proof, and then that’s that.

That cannot be how it goes in drama.

John: No, it can’t. So, what you’re describing is a lot of times TV procedurals will essentially do that, where like they’re stacking the blocks together. There’s some revelation or something, but it’s not a character revelation. It’s nothing that’s personal to the character. And I think that’s what we’re trying to go for here, is a fundamental sort of gasp in the character. Oh no, the thing I presumed.

So, this thing I just turned into the studio this afternoon has Anagnorisis in it, where the hero at about the second act break has trusted this one other character throughout, and then realizes, oh crap, you’re the villain. And what the villain does in sort of like the moment of the villain unveiling himself for who he truly is has to really land. It has to land not just on a plot level, like oh, all these make so much more sense now. But you have to see the betrayal. You have to see what it feels like to be in the shoes of the hero as this revelation is coming to pass.

Craig: Mm-hmm.

John: So often when I hear pitches form new screenwriters, they’ll go, “Blah, blah, blah,” they pitch the first act, second act, and then they’re like, “And then the hero comes to realize that something, something, something.” And whenever I hear “come to realize” I’m like, oh no, no, no, that’s not good.

Craig: I agree.

John: It’s amazing and wonderful if a character has a realization, but that realization can’t just be like I’ve been living my life for the wrong things. Realizations have to be like this is a thing that fundamentally changes how I’m going to relate to this world that I’m in. Fundamentally changes how I relate to the other characters that have been set up in this story.

It can’t just be like, “I need to be a better dad.” No, that’s not real.

Craig: I completely agree. And this is one of the keys to writing layered work, right, work that doesn’t feel like it’s all operating on one level. So, Anagnorisis occurs after a character does something. It shouldn’t really occur before they do something, because if they’re just sitting alone in their room and they go, “Ooh,” and then they do something it’s like, “I’m doing it because of that thing I figured out.” This all now feels like it’s inevitable. Like I’m just following along. And what anybody would do having realized what I realized.

But there’s something wonderful about a character doing something. Very typically, for instance, we’ll see a character finally achieving this goal. Vengeance is a classic one, right? I have finally achieved my revenge. And then Anagnorisis. Oh no. Right?

Or perhaps I did not understand what I was doing or this other person was doing until now when it is too late.

John: Yep. You see that — classically the tragedy aspect of like I spent my entire life seeking revenge on this person, and it turns out this person was my only true friend. Or it turns out the person I’ve been seeking for revenge is myself. There’s that sense of like I have wasted all this time, or I’ve killed the only one true thing that I love. Or that in my pursuit of vengeance, I have destroyed my life around me.

Craig: Yeah. You’ll also see this when characters are witnessing other characters performing an act of sacrifice. So much more, well, let’s talk about the bad version. Here is the version that is ana- Anagnorisis. Or Norisis. I don’t know what would work right. But not Anagnorisis.

Someone says, “You’re never going to make it unless I stand here and sacrifice my life so you can escape.”

“What? I don’t want you to do that?”

“Well, I’m going to.”

“All right. Well, thank you.”

Ugh. Right? But when someone says, “Okay, yes, I’m going to go with you. It’s going to be okay.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

And you run and you jump and then you realize the other person hasn’t jumped, they’re staying back to fight for you and die for you. And then you have Anagnorisis not only about what that person is doing for you, but in a deeper way, how they feel about you, how you feel about them, the depth of their connection, why they’re doing this. All that stuff comes wooshing over this character. And that’s when we have these human connections.

Ultimately, these are the things that make us want to keep watching anything, or keep reading a book for that matter. It’s not the details of the richly textured world. It’s, in fact, these universal things that we experience all the time in our own lives.

John: Yeah, it’s not the plot. It’s the reaction to the plot. It’s what we see in the characters. Let’s talk about the audience’s relationship to that moment of realization of the character’s relationship to it. Because one of the things you find is that sometimes you want the audience to be a little bit ahead of your character so that they can anticipate it. It’s sort of the classically when you show the audience there’s a bomb under the table and the two characters are sitting at the table that it’s incredibly suspenseful, because you know there’s a bomb and the character’s don’t know there’s a bomb. So, sometimes you want to let the audience be just a little bit ahead of your characters.

But if the audience is too far ahead of your characters, if the audience has already like made this journey, they start to kind of hate your heroes. They kind of start to think your heroes are idiots because like how can you not see that that’s the bad guy? How can you not see what’s going on here?

So, as a writer, your challenge is to hopefully land both the audience and your hero at this moment of realization at the right time, which is often simultaneously, or at least closely coupled.

Craig: It’s about putting in and taking out bits of information, like a little test. Because you’re right, there’s this balance. The audience needs to have enough clues so that after the fact, like any good detective, they could say, “I could have figured that out.” Or, maybe sometimes it’s not so much of a strain. It’s simply there are enough clues where clearly I knew what was going to happen, but it wasn’t rubbed in my face, and it certainly wasn’t rubbed in the character’s face who is about to experience that Anagnorisis. So, that’s okay.

For instance, we all know, here is a Game of Thrones example.

John: Great.

Craig: We all know that Tyrion is going to be using wildfire to destroy this fleet of ships coming in from Stannis Baratheon. And then Stannis Baratheon’s fleet shows up and Sir Davos is there on board the ship and he’s coming around. And they realize that there’s only ship waiting for them. Well, that’s strange. And we’re all thinking — yeah, it’s got to be full of wildfire. And it is.

We don’t know quite how. That’s the interesting part. We’re like, well, they’ve got all this wildfire. I don’t see any wildfire on the top of the ship, so where is it? And then as he comes around they reveal that the stuff is pouring out of holes in the bottom of the ship and actually spreading out on the water, floating on the water. And then Sir Davos has that moment that we live for when we’re watching these things, which is Anagnorisis, the oh my god, get back! And then, boom.

Right? So, it’s about taking pieces in and out. And if you put one extra piece in, it’s suddenly boring. And if you take too many out, it’s suddenly confusing. And you don’t have the richness of that moment of “oh no.”

John: Yeah. I find the moments where this lands most is there’s kind of a melting dread that happens where like you can sort of see like it’s as if you’re kind of poisoned and you realize, like oh god, how I’m going to — and you can see the wheels turning in the characters’ heads like, “How do we even react to this?” They’re trying to basically recognize the situation that they’re in and plan accordingly.

It’s very fun to sort of put characters back on their heels and not be able to take the natural actions that they should be taking.

Craig: Correct. And this is something where I think sometimes some directors underestimate the value of this. Because it is often — not always — but often concentrated on a face. There is not much of a spectacle to Anagnorisis. It’s very small. And usually it doesn’t have much in the way of speech-making. It’s someone’s face. And it’s pure acting. And it’s pure reaction. And it requires a little bit of time. Some directors I think really appreciate it and understand what it means to sit and dwell with it. And too also when directing scene, direct toward it.

But some do not. And when your movie short changes those moments of Anagnorisis, the strange thing is even if the circumstances are the same, just as shocking, just as surprising, just as twisty, we won’t feel it. Because we only experience it through the eyes of the hero on screen. We wouldn’t care so much that Bruce Willis’s character has been dead the whole time in The Sixth Sense if you didn’t have that long drawn out moment of Anagnorisis.

Same thing with watching Chazz Palminteri realize, oh my god, that Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze. Long, drawn-out face. Eyes. Gasping. Over and over. We need it.

John: Yeah. You absolutely need it. And it’s so easy to lose it. But I would also say, even before you have a director on board, one of the things I’ve noticed over a bunch of different scripts is when you’re in a protected development on something, people are reading that same draft again, and again, and again. And they sort of forget, the same way they forget like why jokes are funny. They forget like what those moments feel like when they land.

And so I find they keep asking you add back information earlier on to like set that thing up.

Craig: I know.

John: And so you have to just be so hard about like parceling that information carefully so that some things can actually be a surprise, just so, you know, there’s this desire to have everything make so much sense the minute it hits. And like, no, I need the character to be doing the work to be putting it together at that time. And the audience should be doing that work, too. So like if I set that up so clearly, then it wouldn’t be a surprise whatsoever.

Craig: Yeah. I find, for whatever reason, that a lot of studio executives prize clarity over drama and revelation. And they have no problem actually un-dramatizing something. Sucking the drama out of it so that ten people at a screening won’t go, “I was confused.” That seems to petrify them more than anything else. Maybe because people can articulate, “I was confused.” But it’s very hard to articulate, “I identify with somebody as they experience Anagnorisis.” Right?

So, it is an ongoing battle. And it is one of those things at times that makes screenwriters feel very lonely. It is a lonely feeling when you know something because it is part and parcel of who you are and what you do, and everybody around you is saying, “Well who cares about that?” Everybody in the theater. Don’t you know why we’re there?

But it’s a struggle. By the way, I wanted to mention there’s this other kind of Anagnorisis that’s fairly rare. But when it happens I love it. And it’s the Anagnorisis of the audience. So this is where the characters in the movie know everything. We don’t. They’re not surprised by information. We are.

John: Absolutely. No Way Out.

Craig: Yeah. No Way Out. Exactly. No Way Out, we’re shocked because — but they’re not shocked. They know. They know who is Yuri is, right? And I always remember this moment in The Ring where we realize — we in the audience realize — wait, that’s that kid’s dad. The kid knew that that was his dad. The dad knew that was his kid. The mom knows that that was her ex. Everybody knows everything. We just didn’t know. And I love that.

John: Good stuff.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Before we get off this completely, I’m going to try to find a link to Mike Pesca talks about sort of magical dad transformation comedies. And it’s such a weirdly specific sub-genre that I’d never considered.

Craig: The Santa Claus.

John: The Santa Claus. Liar Liar. A Thousand Words. Like a bunch of Eddie Murphy movies. Which is basically like I’m a terrible father who works too much, but because of a magical thing that happens, now I’m going to learn the true value of family. I’m going to try to find — if I can’t find another link to it, I’ll link to the actual podcast. But he talks about how it’s such a weirdly specific genre of movies that is designed probably so that dads can take their kids to go see that movie and then feel better about themselves. It’s a bizarre thing that we’ve made. And I don’t know we keep making them. I guess they make money.

Craig: Well, it’s a way to feature — let’s say you have funny men, who are in their 30s or 40s. It’s a way for them to be funny, but then maybe also appeal to like a kid audience. And then the question is, well, what do we do with that character? And as poorly as we treat female characters, we treat dads, I think, perhaps the worst of all because they’re so stupid. They’re the dumbest people in the world.

This is the dad character. This is it. I work too hard. I’m ignoring my wife and my family. Period. The end. And actually, no, there’s one other thing about this dad. I just needed somebody to point it out to me. And now I’m going to change my life forever. Oh, please. I always like to say all those movies about overworked, working too hard dads are made by dads that are working too hard, not seeing their children. It’s such a — god, I hate those. I hate them. Hate ’em.

John: And so the other thing I’ll bring up, and I’m sure our listeners can find a counter example. So, write in with a counter example of the female equivalent of that. Because I can’t think of one where the woman works too hard and through magical means she gets to learn the value of family. It’s just presumed that of course a woman knows the value of family.

Craig: Right. Exactly. That’s a thing. Nobody — you just couldn’t get away with it, like putting a woman on screen being that profoundly stupid and emotionally stunted. Nobody would believe it. For good reason by the way. [laughs] Because I get it. Men are dumber and more emotionally stunted than women. We know this. But, god, to be that profoundly dopey.

And, of course, this is why — so then the question is how do you — you can see how these things happen, right? All right, so hey, screenwriter, here’s a problem for you: we need to illustrate in a simple way that this father is neglectful of his kid. How would you do that? I just need one scene that proves that he’s putting work ahead of family. What should we do?

John: So maybe he could like not show up at his son’s violin rehearsal?

Craig: Sold! Sold! So it’s a school play, it’s a rehearsal. It’s a this, it’s a that. And here’s the thing — this is why I was — argh, umbrage now. Here’s why it’s so lame: because it would be cool — I would actually like a movie where a dad is like, “Oh, I got to get home to see my kid’s play.” And then someone is like, “Okay. But if you want to stay and keep working on this, you might get a raise.”

“Huh, all right. I’m going to stay.”

That’s never how it is. Because I’d be like that guy is awesome. What a bastard. No, it’s always like this: “I have to get to my — I love my kid so much. I have to get there. Oh no, there’s a crisis. I’m stuck. I can’t do anything about it. I forgot.”

Ugh, god. Blech.

John: Blech. Here’s the thing is like they have to be terrible by their own choices for them to be able to learn something at the end. Because otherwise, if it’s just like their mean boss is making them work, then it’s just Scrooge, and it’s not his story at all.

Craig: Well, that’s what it is. They’re basically cowards who can’t stand up to a mean boss. And inevitably they finally do.

By the way, let’s also be realistic. If you don’t show up to your kid’s play in fourth grade, that’s not what’s going to end up putting them in therapy. You know, it’s recoverable. Don’t beat them. How about that?

John: Yeah. And so then we set these incredibly unrealistic expectations about what fathers are supposed to be able to do and the kids talk smack about their parents. Oh, it just drives me crazy. Maybe it’s because I have a tween now who has started talking like the characters on Disney Channel shows. And so she talks this way that she kind of thinks that kids are supposed to talk, but she’s really talking the way a 45-year-old man wrote for these tweens to talk on a Disney Channel show. And it’s just so maddening. And so, ah.

Craig: Well, you know, it’s going to get worse and worse.

John: Oh, of course.

Craig: I don’t know what to tell you about that.

John: Yeah. It’s going to be good. Let’s go on to our final topic which is originality and the sense of why some movies feel original and some movies don’t. Craig, take us there.

Craig: Well, this is something that I was talking about with Lindsay Doran and we were talking about a moment in the script that we’re working on together. And she was very happy with it. And she said, “You know what I like about this? Only our movie could do this.” And I thought what a great test. Because we talk about being original all of the time, but what does that really mean exactly? Because while we talk about being original, we also say things like, “Well, there’s only seven stories. And every story has been told. And it’s just versions.” And that’s all kind of true.

And everyone who is learning how to be a screenwriter, what do they learn? There are certain archetypes. There are this many kinds of heroes. And the heroes journey. And it’s all based on mythology. All kind of true.

So then the question is what do we mean when we say something is original. And in a strange way I think she’s kind of hit on it. It’s not that it has to be original compared to everything else around there. It’s that it has to original within itself. That the movie is providing a combination of character and circumstance that allows that movie to do something no other movie could do. Not for lack of trying, but because it wouldn’t make sense in that movie. It only makes sense in this one. I thought that was a good idea.

John: I think it’s a very good idea. And it’s going to invoke one of our other favorite words which is specificity. It’s like it’s ideas that are so specific to this movie that they could not be plugged into any other movie. And so it’s the joke that only could exist with these characters in this situation and couldn’t be dialed into another movie.

It’s the characters and situations that can only happen here. One of these we have marked here is people being unplugged in The Matrix and then falling down dead. Exactly. That’s a very specifically kind of Matrix-y idea. And while other science fiction films could do things that are kind of like it, the specific way that feels is only The Matrix. And that’s great.

Craig: Yeah. Precisely. And sometimes it’s as simple as a line that only your characters can do. You know, so the movie that I’m working on with her is about sheep. And these sheep are detectives trying to solve a crime. And they repeatedly do things that only our movie could do, because we’re the only movie that has sheep detectives.

It’s not like we’ve — detective stories are not original. Talking animal movies aren’t original. There have been movies with sheep. But this combination is original. And therefore you have to ask yourself, “What can only we do?” If we can only do that, we should do that. That’s a good light guiding us to where we’re going to go.

You and I see when we get Three Page Challenges, sometimes we’ll say things like, “I’ve seen this a million times before.” And I think underneath that really is — any movie could do this. So, why do I need this one, right? I’ve seen many movies where people are caught on vaguely haunted spaceships. But what can only your movie do?

And it’s a good way to think about your work. For those of you playing the home game, as you go through and ask yourself, there must be a combination of things that is unique to your screenplay. I believe that, otherwise why would you have bothered to write it. If that combination is not unique, you’re already in a lot of trouble. But if it is unique, ask yourself have I exploited that which is unique to this? Because if I have not, I should.

John: Yep. And when we’re saying like you have to find this moment that is unique and original, it should ideally be the kind of moment that you would actually hopefully would put in the trailer. It doesn’t have to go in the trailer, but it has to be the kind of moment that so shows the DNA of your movie and why this movie, which will obviously fall into some genre, can both reflect the genre but also stand apart from the genre. That it’s doing its own thing.

And, you know, you say like no other movie could do it. Well, no other movie would even sort of try to do this specific weird thing that you are trying to do. And when you see bad trailers, it’s often because you can feel like well that’s just another retread of the same idea again and again.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, we know that we’ve seen pirate movies. And we’ve seen zombie movies. And we’ve seen movies with ghosts, right? And I remember when I saw the trailer for the first Pirates of the Caribbean, how impressed I was when these pirates moved into moonlight and suddenly were revealed to be skeletons. And that’s something only that movie could do, because that was their interesting rule which they made sense of, and then exploited the hell out of.

And talk about Anagnorisis, when Barbossa says, “You don’t believe in ghost stories, you better start. You’re in one,” and he steps into the moonlight, into a beam of moonlight and his face is revealed. And her shock at seeing what the world is. That’s — see only that movie could do that.

John: Exactly.

Craig: Wonderful, right? And they’re sometimes the littlest things. The strangest. Look, one of our little lambs in our movie is just obsessed with tomatoes. It’s a sheep. This lamb loves tomatoes. And she’s been sent to kind of listen in to a conversation between two people. And first of all, here’s something only our movie could do. Only our movie can have somebody sneakily eavesdropping on a conversation, except the other two people couldn’t care less that they were there because they’re a lamb, right?

So the people don’t understand that lambs are eavesdropping. So that’s pointless eavesdropping, but they’re eavesdropping anyway. And she’s watching them and they’re eating lunch. And one of them is eating tomato salad. And our lamb just focuses in on the tomatoes, and everything else is gone. And it’s just tomatoes. Only our movie could do that. What other movie could do that? None.

And that’s why we’re here is to do stuff — and then people go, “Well how did you think of that?” Because that’s why we’re doing the story is to do things that only this intersection of elements could create.

John: Yep. The success of Zootopia is largely based on those kind of moments where it’s just like, oh, it’s because you have these specific characters in this situation and these crazy rules for your world that these kinds of situations can happen. And that’s delightful.

Craig: Yeah. Animated movies in particular, this is their stock and trade. They are obsessed with the idea of what can only our movie do. What can you do if everybody in the movie is a talking car? What can you do if everybody in the movie is a fish? What can you do if everybody in the movie is a video game character? And then they ask themselves — you can see them saying, “Well…”

John: Starting with this premise, what are the best outcomes from it? And if the outcomes aren’t great outcomes, then maybe ditch that idea and start a different idea.

Craig: Because it can be applied to any other movie. So, how is it great that we’re applying it to ours? The Lego Movie, so first of all, what’s the worst thing that can happen to Lego people? Being stuck in place and not being able to be interchangeable because that’s the nature of Legos. Okay, great. So then what should the ultimate nuclear bomb in the Lego world be? Crazy Glue.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Great. Right? Only the Lego Movie could have Crazy Glue as the ultimate weapon of doom. Ergo, it’s a good idea.

John: It’s a very good idea. God, I love the Lego Movie. I need to see it again. I haven’t seen it since it came out.

Craig: Well, it’s just chock full of things that only that movie could do.

John: Cool. Let’s answer one question. Stuart from York, England writes — oh Stuart, I’m so sorry for you.

Craig: Yeah. Let’s just take a moment here.

John: We’re recording this on Friday. So it’s just all come down. And I’ve been kind of really depressed all day.

Craig: Well, for good reason. Will everyone survive? Yes. Will the world be okay? Yes. However, what’s disturbing about Brexit is that it is irrational. It’s profoundly irrational. And by the way, I think it’s not like the EU doesn’t deserve a ton of criticism. They do. It’s not a great organization actually. In fact, one could argue that it’s terribly flawed from its inception.

But, the problem is the alternative is worse. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation, which is I think what the EU was. But leaving it is profoundly irrational and it was kind of surprising to see that much irrationality. And in a weird way, John, in November, the United States will suddenly have to be the grown-ups and like the good ones. What a weird role reversal, right?

John: It is a very strange role reversal. You know, this morning I retweeted a couple of I thought smart observations about it. And then I got some weird Twitter blowback about. You’re no stranger to weird Twitter blowback, Craig Mazin.

Craig: It’s all I get.

John: It’s all you get. And so I’ve been judiciously using my mute function. So, I have a perception of who really wanted Brexit to happen. And there’s the extreme types, but I think there’s also the people who genuinely perceive that England was better off when it was a separate country, or Great Britain was better off as a separate country. And that they were longing for a golden time. They were longing for a time where things were better.

And when I see movements like this happen, there always tends to be sort of this myth of like a golden age when everything was better, and if we could just get back to that place. The realization that — the Anagnorisis that you have — is that you never get to that better place. You can never get back to that old better place. You can only try to get to a new better place. And every attempt to go backwards is fraught with peril.

And so as I retweeted a few of these things, including this one young woman interviewing saying like, “Yeah, I voted to leave, but now that I wake up this morning, I really regret that.”

Craig: [laughs] Yeah. I saw her.

John: I’m like, oh, that’s Anagnorisis there.

Craig: By the way, that’s so British, because an American would never say that. Ever.

John: Exactly.

Craig: Americans will never, ever admit — not only did she admit that regretted it, but she admitted it so freely. Like, “Oh, you know, if I could do it again, I think I would vote to remain.” Just so casual. So like, la-da-da, oh well.

John: La-di-da. You know, people also describe it as being like I wish I could revert to a save. It’s like go back to that last draft. That made a lot more sense.

Craig: I know.

John: Or like save progress in a game. Like, I’m going to try to something really foolish, so I’m going to save first and then see — go back to a state there.

Craig: Right. Exactly. Oh my god, that’s so the video game analogy of like, “Oh, I’ll just do a save point here. It’s my fallback. Yeah, because I’m about to go Russian somewhere that I probably shouldn’t. But maybe it’ll work.”

You know, you’re right. This dream of what once was, part of the problem also is it wasn’t that. You know, in the United States people sometimes — a lot of people — fetishize the 1950s.

John: Yeah. Exactly. Oh, let’s go back to that. Because they were awesome, Craig. Everything was perfect in the ’50s. If you were a white person, who was straight, and a male, it was fantastic.

Craig: Well, here’s the crazy part. Even if you were a white, straight male, it still wasn’t that great, because there’s like — here’s a list of things that kind of sucked about being anyone in the 1950s.

John: Polio.

Craig: Yeah, thank you. Much less being black, or gay, or a woman, or any of the things. We just imagine these times because we look at Norman Rockwell paintings and it’s just easy to imagine that that was the way it was. It was not at all that way. And, of course, there were a lot of men who were dying in Korea in the 1950s and early ’60s, I believe.

A lot of things going wrong. But John Oliver, I think, had the best — he had the best and most well-rounded and understandable view on it as a British man.

John: Yeah. And of course it didn’t air in the UK because Sky pulled it for political content.

Craig: Amazing. So, it basically came down to him saying we have to stay. I hate the EU. All British people hate the EU. We hate all the other countries in the EU. We should hate them. They’re ridiculous. We have to stay. And that is a very difficult selling point.

John: It is. I think the lesson I’m trying to take with me going forward, just because obviously we’re going to hit our own situation in the very near future, is to always be mindful that there is going to be a sizable portion of any society that wants to return, that wants to get back to a place. And you have to be able to tell them the story that makes them feel good about the place we’re headed to, and not just tells them that they’re stupid for wanting to get back to that place.

Craig: Yeah. And again, you know, we have — our situation is a little better. We have the Electoral College.

John: Thank god.

Craig: Which definitely is a buffer against large waves of people located in one area. And also, of course, our situation is not permanent. Theirs unfortunately is irreversible.

John: We’re recording this on Friday. What is interesting is the damage that’s been done can’t be undone. There’s no reverting to a previous state. But, how they actually implement it and sort of what happens next is still very fluid.

And so I would hope that in its fluidity it gets to a place that is less terrible for everyone.

Craig: Well, on the darker side of things, I suspect it’s going to be a brutal, vicious slog over the next two years. Political careers are going to be dashed to pieces. And Scotland will probably vote to leave the United Kingdom.

John: I also hope that more politicians aren’t going down in the streets.

Craig: And my god, I mean, good lord, right? So, a real mess over there, but Stuart — Stuart is from York, and he deserves an answer, whether he voted to leave or remain. Shall I read his question?

John: Read his question.

Craig: Stuart asks, “Would putting the main character’s names in bold be something that would help the reader focus on the central characters or the characters that the writers deem important enough to bold, or is it something that could risk marginalizing the other characters?” Interesting.

John: I have a simple answer to this which is don’t boldface your character’s names. So, I would say there’s nothing horribly wrong with boldfacing your character’s names, except that part of the reason why we uppercase character’s names is so that people can find them, and so that people sort of know the first time they appear. I just don’t think you’re going to find a lot of utility in boldfacing those names.

Craig: I agree, particularly considering that their names are going to be repeated constantly, every time they say a word their name will be there in the middle of the page. This is not a problem worth solving.

John: I agree. What I will say is at the point you go to table reads and stuff like that, people will highlight their dialogue. That’s awesome, but that’s really a very different thing. So for that first read, it’s going to be too much. Imagine if you were reading through a book and Harry Potter’s name was boldfaced every time it showed up. That would get old really fast. And that’s kind of what you’re doing in a screenplay.

Craig: Yeah. Particularly because we’re trained, or at least, Stuart, the people that are reading your scripts are trained one way or another to view bold as emphasis, not a general textual emphasis, but dramatic emphasis.

John: What I would also say about character names is you are right to be focusing on like who are the most important characters in your story. And what you’ll find is as you’re writing sentences, you will craft sentences so that they are highlighted in the sentence. And so if multiple characters need to be in that sentence, you will put your hero first in that sentence. You will find ways to make sure that we are keeping it very clear who they need to follow, who they don’t need to follow. You are probably refraining from giving character names to unimportant people so that they are not elevated importance beyond their natural stature.

So, don’t say that the security guard’s name is Anderson if he’s really just a security guard.

Craig: Correct.

John: All right, it’s time for One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is a post by Steve Yedlin that Rian Johnson had put a link to this last week. It is on color science for filmmakers. And so what Yedlin does, he is a cinematographer. And he is talking about sort of a lot of our assumptions on image capture formats on film versus video, on Arri versus other ways of ingesting light and forming an image.

And the whole thing is worth reading. It gets really into the weeds on some stuff, but through that you can find his sort of key points which is that so much of our assumptions about like what’s the best thing for shooting movies on, what’s the best camera to use for shooting movies on, is so often based on what the default settings of things are versus what is this thing capable of doing.

And the choices about what formats you’re going to use, what cameras, what equipment, what looks you’re going for, those things should be figured out before you start shooting your first frame. You need to do your work to figure out what you want your film to look like, and then pick the appropriate technology. And also pick the appropriate colorist. And actually set some of those looks ahead of time so you know what you’re aiming for.

It’s the movies that are trying to do it all on the set, or do everything in post, that are less ideal than they should be.

Craig: It must be very, very frustrating, I think, just as we were talking about how it’s frustrating for writers to be the only person in the room who is defending Anagnorisis. It must be very frustrating to be somebody like Steve Yedlin, who is an incredibly talented cinematographer, and also just a clearly well-educated person, to have discussions with people saying things that are just flat out stupid and wrong.

John: Yeah. Camera X is too something, or like this thing, the blues are too bright in this. It’s like that’s probably not true and you’re really ignoring the purpose of what a colorist does.

Craig: Yeah. Sometimes when musicians get into these little twerpy fights over, “Well, you know, if your drums are made of maple, they’re going to sound warmer than birch. Birch is too…” And somebody inevitably will come in and just destroy the whole argument by saying, “I’m pretty sure that if you put a great drummer down, if you put John Bonham on that kit it would be just fine.”

You know, he would know what to do. It’s like people get so twerpy about stuff, and I like that underneath all of Steve’s facts and science is this general argument understand your tools and then use the tool for your purpose. You’ll be fine.

John: Exactly. He’s really arguing do the work. Like do the work of actually figuring out what it is you want rather than just like looking at a bunch of checklists, or reading a bunch of articles about things and saying, “Oh, well this is going to be the ideal camera for us.” Do the work.

Craig: Precisely. And you mentioned that he’s shooting Rian’s Star Wars movie, right?

John: So I think he has some good credits to his name.

Craig: Yeah. So my One Cool Thing is a game that I played the other night with a group that Megan Amram has now coined the term Illuminerdy, or we are the Illuminerdy, among others, myself and Megan, and David Kwong the magician, and Chris Miller of aforementioned Lego Movie, and Aline Brosh McKenna, and Shannon Woodward, and blah, blah, blah. Doesn’t matter who is in the Illuminerdy. In fact, I shouldn’t tell you all the people in the Illuminerdy, because we got to keep some secrets here.

John: Yeah, but if we see throwing little signals and signs in your Instagram photos, that’s how we can tell.

Craig: Then you’ll know, and we are controlling the world. So, anyway, David Kwong brings a card game, sort of a logic word card game. Similar to the kinds that you’ve been kind of fiddling with over there at Quote-Unquote. And it’s called Codenames. And we’ll throw a link up in the show notes to a description of it. Wonderful little game. Incredibly simple. So simple I could describe it to you right now.

There is a bunch of words that are laid out in a five by five grid. So, five words by five words, all spread out. And there are two people giving clues to their teams. And the two people that are giving clues are looking at a little tiny map on their side that shows that some of those words are the words I want my team to guess. They’re the red words. Or the person to the right of me who is giving the clues to their team, they’re trying to do the blue words.

There is one word that is an instant loser word. And your job is to get your team to guess the words on the grid before the other team guesses those words. And the way you do it is you give them a word that’s a prompt and you tell them how many words you think that word should lead to. So, for instance, in this game that I played on my grid I saw that I had the word bank and I saw I had the word dwarf.

And so I said Gringotts.

John: Perfect.

Craig: Two words. Now, granted, they’re goblins, not dwarves. But, still, that’s the idea. Now, the trick of it is whatever word you come up with, it can’t lead them to one of the other team’s words, because if it does then obviously that helps them. So, the idea is to try and come up with these linking words, a single linking word that might hit even three things at once.

Very fun. Very easy to play. It takes four seconds to learn. Good for families, too, I would imagine. Good game.

John: Good game. So I nearly played that game about two weeks ago. I was over at Elan Lee’s house. Elan Lee created Exploding Kittens, along with The Oatmeal. And so he occasionally gets people together to play games. We nearly played that, but instead we played a Fake Artist Goes to New York, which Will Smith had brought. And not that Will Smith, the other Will Smith. And it was also terrific. So, I’m going to link to A Fake Artist Goes to New York as well which is a great, fun party game that we should play next time.

Craig: Awesome.

John: You will find links in the show notes to these things, and a lot of the other articles we talked about today at johnaugust.com. Just search for this episode of the podcast. Our premium feed is at Scriptnotes.net. You can also get the Scriptnotes app which is on iTunes or the Android store. You can find it at multiple places.

If you are on iTunes for any reason, please leave us a review. That helps other people find Scriptnotes, which is great.

As always, we are produced by Stuart Friedel. We are edited by Matthew Chilelli.

Craig: Yep.

John: And our outro this week comes from Rajesh Naroth. If you have an outro for us you can write into ask@johnaugust.com and send us a link. If you have questions, that’s also the address to use.

On Twitter, I am @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. And we will see you next week.

Craig: See ya.

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