The original post for this episode can be found here.

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

Craig Mazin: Oh yeah. My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Episode 309 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Today on the podcast, we will be standing at the whiteboard to look at how story logic in our scripts may function. And then we’ll sit down to tackle some scenes and look at a few tricks to keep them interesting. And if we have time we may even answer a few more listener questions.

Craig: I love those.

John: Sound good Craig?

Craig: Yeah. I think everything you just said sounded fantastic. No notes, John. No notes.

John: No notes. Fantastic. I love those. Before we even get started, yesterday as we were recording this the Emmy nominations came out. And I want to rant just for like maybe two minutes about Emmy nominations.

Craig: Go.

John: Not about any person who was nominated or not nominated, but the whole idea of snubs. I am so frustrated with the concept of snubs, that people who did not get nominations should feel especially bad or weird. That we need to single out the shows that did not get nominated. I find it incredibly frustrating. And I don’t know, how do you feel about that, Craig? You don’t care about awards at all, do you?

Craig: Well, I don’t, but you are touching a certain nerve here. And that’s — it’s not enough to say here are a bunch of people that have put their hearts and souls into making things. And when I say a bunch of people, I mean everybody that made something that year. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to pit them all together, make them compete, pick five of the best ones, then make them compete on television. And then one of them wins. It’s not enough for that. Apparently, also then you have to talk about who you said — no — you don’t get it. I’m snubbing you. No.

And now obviously no one is really actively snubbing anyone, but it’s just the media. Yuck.

John: Yes. So the problem I have with snubbing is like snubbing implies intention. That you deliberately did not invite someone to the party. A conscious choice was made. But, of course, a group of people all voting independently cannot make a conscious choice as one body. They can simply choose certain shows, but they cannot deliberately exclude somebody.

And so when I see intention applied to any group of voters, I find it incredibly frustrating because all people have is their own individual things. So the whole idea of snubs just drives me just really bonkers. If you’re going to make a list of other great shows that didn’t get nominations, I guess that’s fine. Because if you’re trying to single out that The Leftovers is a brilliant show, fantastic. But if you want to make us feel about The Leftovers, or feel like The Leftovers was less good because it didn’t get on that list, I’m angry with you.

Craig: Yeah. I agree. And I think this is really just a manufactured story to sell clicks. That’s all. I mean, the whole thing, look, award shows of course exist to sell advertising. They don’t exist to actually award people. I mean, if you wanted to award people you would just do it I suppose. But primarily this is a business and they’re selling ads and they’re making money off of a show.

The secondary predatory business of making money selling ads off of things that talk about the thing that makes money from selling ads, that’s the industry that creates the snub. And people click, oh, because you know, ooh, someone in Hollywood got a snub. First of all, snub is a great word. Love that word. Just the sound of it is lovely. Snub.

John: It is nice.

Craig: Snub.

John: So that’s my bit of frustration. Let’s get to our actual real show. Some follow up. Our live show is coming up super, super soon and we have another guest to announce. Liz Meriwether. She is the creator and showrunner of New Girl on Fox which is entering its final season. She will be joining me, and Craig, and Megan Amram on July 25 in Hollywood. There are still some tickets left as we’re recording this. I don’t know. I need to check in with the Writers Guild Foundation to see how many are left. But if you would like to come join us, you should come join us in Hollywood for that special night.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So July 25, 8pm. Come there and see us. Talk with these two incredibly talented writers about sort of whatever. We don’t have an agenda yet.

Craig: No, but I will say that Liz is fantastic. Obviously I’ve already talked about Megan, my cousin. But Liz is great. You shouldn’t miss this, honestly. This is great. And it doesn’t matter if you write features or you write television. These are just two very smart people who are going to have I think tremendous insight on what’s going on. You know, I like the fact that we’re getting younger guests, also. You know, not that there’s anything wrong with bring Larry Kasdan on every now and again, but younger writers, they’re plugged in. They know what’s up.

John: Well, I mean, Liz Meriwether is younger than we are, but she’s also been running an incredibly popular TV show on Fox for five season now, six seasons now. So, she knows more than we do about things. And that’s my favorite kind of guest is someone who knows much more about something than I do.

Craig: 100%. Otherwise it’s just the two of us sitting in judgment.

John: Yeah. But that’s also good. But it’s not as exciting.

Craig: I kind of like those. Actually, those are my favorite episodes. [laughs] Yeah. I like those.

John: All right, so our first main topic today is about story logic. And this came up this week because so I just got back from Paris. I’ve been super jet-lagged. I’m over most of my jetlag. But this past week I went to a book signing for my friend. Julie Buxbaum has a new book out. It just came this last week, called What to Say Next. And she did a reading at the Grove, at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove. And it was my first time going to one of those events. It was cool to see how that all works.

And I was talking with another author there who was describing her new book and it’s a middle grade title. And she was wrestling with the mystery, she said. And she was talking about sort of the story logic. And we’ve been focused so much on character and motivation and other things in recent episodes, I thought we might step back a little bit and talk about the things that actually are just kind of plot. It’s the way in which pieces of information get out there and sort of how the overall shape of the plot and story work, which is sort of not always exactly driven by what the characters are doing. It’s sort of decisions that the author is making way ahead of time.

And that can be just puzzle work. It can actually a very different kind of process than sort of the writing on the page. So, today I want to talk a little bit about the mechanics and specifically one thing that I find incredibly frustrating and I think if we can focus on it you can often solve a lot of your story problems this way. Which is the difference between coincidence, correlation, and causation. The three Cs. And how you can use them to your best benefit in your stories.

Craig: Well this is going to be good. I mean, I will take a little something you said there and expand on it slightly. When you say it requires a slightly different way of thinking, I think it requires a completely different way of thinking. I mean, there’s this creative work that we do that’s rooted in a certain empathy. We create a human being in our minds. We must empathize with them, walk in their shoes, see the world through their eyes. Imagine how they react to the things that we throw at them.

It’s very emotional and it’s very empathetic. A lot of times we think of that as the creative meat of what we do. But then there is this other stuff that’s math. Story logic and the creation of the hardware of a plot is math. And it is a puzzle and it is a different part of your brain. I think it’s one of the reasons why so many people want to do what we do and yet so few ultimately get there. Because you can’t just be good at one of these things. You have to be good at all of them. And if you can’t quite get your hand around how to machine a plot, you end with a mess. And it is strangely the first thing that people will pick on when they walk out of a movie or they turn off a television episode. They say, “Why did that even have to happen? Couldn’t that person just have talked to the other person and then the show wouldn’t have happened?”

They notice it every time.

John: There’s a TV trope called Refrigerator Logic, which is as you step away from a movie and you’re getting something out of your refrigerator you’re like, wait, why did that happen? Like there’s things that sometimes will glide past you when you’re actually seeing the story up on the screen. And then later on you’re like, wait, that did not actually make sense. And so let’s talk about how those things can actually make sense.

And what you’re describing really is the different between — we talked about that metaphor about being on the train. And so as the writer, you’re responsible for like what you’re seeing out the windows, but you’re also responsible for being way up high and seeing where the train track is going. So as you’re laying out where that train track is going, you have choices about what branches and what decisions the story will make. And I was thinking back to a post I did ten years ago on the blog called the Perils of Coincidence. And that came after I watched Spider Man 3.

And Spider Man 3 is not a great movie. And there were some significant issues of coincidence where a bunch of things just had to happen in exactly a certain way. People had to be there at the same moment when this other thing was happening in ways that felt really, really unlikely. And so in that post I sort of broke through these are the coincidences. Here are some maybe ways they could have gotten out of those coincidences. Because when you see coincidences, you can always imagine at the outline phase. Like if they were turning in the treatment for that story there were a bunch of words like “at the same time, accidentally, luckily, unfortunately, meanwhile.” Those are all really signals that something is going on where it’s convenient for these things to happen but they’re not actually causing the other things to happen.

Craig: Yeah.

John: You always get I think one coincidence in a story that can be kind of fundamental. And so a fundamental coincidence to me is like, well, in Spider Man it’s Peter Parker gets bit by a radioactive spider. Anyone else could have been bit by that radioactive spider, but then it wouldn’t be Spider Man. So the audience will always give you that one sort of fundamental coincidence.

In Die Hard, John McClane happens to be in the tower when the bad guys take over.

Craig: Where his wife is. Yeah.

John: Where his wife is. Yes. But they’ve already established that he’s there because his wife is there, so that all makes sense. If his wife happened to be in the same building, that would be too many coincidences. But it made sense because they were all kind of bundled together in one thing. You wouldn’t have the movie if you didn’t have that kind of fundamental coincidence.

And usually that movie will spend its fundamental coincidence very early in the first act. Like page 10, page 20, page 30 at the latest. It’s interesting watching the new Spider Man, which I won’t spoil, but they use their fundamental coincidence incredibly late in the story. And it was surprising but I think actually really effective. So when you see the movie you’ll say like, oh, wow, OK. And because the rest of the movie works so well they’re able to spend that coincidence quite late in the story and that was exciting.

Craig: The notion of coincidence and making things convenient is correct and it is connecting to the convenience of the writer. I think this is why people find it dissatisfying. It’s cheating. I mean, we want to watch these things unfold in a way that is surprising and fascinating to us, but after we are surprised we go, oh, OK, that was — that feels good. I like that this happened. I understand why it happened. It makes sense. I just didn’t see it coming. That’s the fun part.

With straight up coincidence, what the audience feels is you wanted to do a thing, or you needed to do a thing, so you just jammed it in. We don’t mind that first big coincidence because we understand that it is necessary for us to enjoy a thing. I mean, really the first coincidence of any movie is that we have shown up to see it. That’s — you know, so we’re OK with like, OK, we showed up to see your movie. You go ahead and do a thing.

But then the joy of the story is that there aren’t these things that are happening that just cheat. Because what’s the point then? We in our lives do not recognize the drama around us and the things that concern us as deriving largely from coincidence, even though I think strangely it’s probably true that most of the crazy things that happen in our lives are the result of coincidence. But the things that we’re mostly interested in, the passionate affair, the decision to steal, falling in love — these things feel volitional to us and they feel like they are arising naturally from the circumstances around us.

So those are the dramas that we like. We’re not so interested in stories where someone is walking down the street and a piano falls on them. It’s shocking, but there’s not drama to that. It’s just like, oh, how odd.

John: Yeah. It is. It’s surprising. And, oh, he happened to be there at that moment when the piano fell on him. And in real life sometimes the piano does just fall on a random person. But usually when we see an unexpected event or really any event, we expect there to be a cause. We expect there to be a relationship between these two events happening that is either causal, like one caused the other. It is correlated, like some outside force caused both events to happen. Or if neither of those things make sense, then it truly is coincidence. I think in the real world we tend to ascribe causal relationships to things that often are coincidence and that’s a real problem.

But in movie logic terms, these are our universes. And so we shouldn’t have to rely on coincidence for most of the work of our stories. So, if we’re not going for coincidence, we’re looking for causality. We’re looking for A causes B. Ideally, something we’ve seen already in the story has caused this effect. And now we’re in this situation and whatever the characters are doing in the situation, ideally your lead characters, not just the villains, whatever they’re doing is causing the next thing.

We talk about actions and consequences. Causality is about consequences. It’s about what this chain of events is leading to next. And how our characters are responding to that and changing their own circumstances.

Craig: Yeah. It does seem to me that part of the danger of what we do, the negative impact of what we do, is that we make such a big deal about very dramatic, very extreme events being caused, being purposeful. There are no coincidences, right? In life, almost all these things I think are coincidental. And then we try and put causation — every conspiracy theory that you see out there in some way or another is attempting to make sense of what may be coincidental. Sometimes there are conspiracies. We seem to be currently in the middle of one. But largely, no.

But in movies and TV, well, hey, what can we do? This is what we crave is this sense of causation. And when you think about movies — The Godfather is an incredibly complicated movie in that it’s got dozens of characters, and a lot of moving pieces in the machinery of the plot. A lot of hardware there. But everything is caused. And it all starts with a very simple thing. Someone shows up and says, “I have a business proposition.” It’s not even a coincidence. “You’re a business man. I have a business proposition.” And the Godfather says, no, I’m not interested.

And from that begins a series of caused events. And it is so satisfying to watch. Someone makes a choice. If you don’t give me what I want, I will do this. I did it. I just saw what you did. I’m now going to do this to stop you. And so on and so on. And it builds, and builds, and builds. Everything is caused. And I think it’s important when people are laying out their plots, they at least start from a place of everything — everything that happens here will be caused. Everything.

There are ways to fudge it here and there. But I think that’s probably the best ambition you can have for the machinery of your plot.

John: And one of the dangers here is you can fall into a trap of thinking like, oh, this is mechanical. This is a Rube Goldberg device where like once you set this ball rolling down the ramp everything will happen. In some ways that is accurate. But you want it to feel like all the characters are making individual choices that are leading to the next thing. So you don’t want just one series of events kicks off and the characters are just, again, we go back to this metaphor of being on rails. They’re just being dragged through the movie.

It needs to feel like they have volition, that they have the chance to make their own choices. But the choices they make will cause the next set of circumstances. And that can be really tricky to do.

So let’s talk about how you do that. So if I’m standing next to this writer who is working on the mystery of her story, what is some advice that we can give her to tackling the mystery of her story? Well, I would say that if you have the luxury of having a TV writing staff, that’s largely what they’re there for. So, when you see a TV room together, you know, sometimes yes they’re pitching jokes, they’re pitching storylines, they’re pitching ways to get through a scene. But a lot of what they’re doing is figuring out how are we going to get from this, to this, to this, to this. Like what are the natural causes and effects of these things.

Craig: Now, if you’re on your own, as I typically am — in fact, as I have always been — I think a general best principle is to start thinking about how you want to end. Because if you don’t know how you end, the danger that you will begin creating this bizarro plot to get from point A to where you eventually end up is high. If you know where you’re going to end, you can machine your plot. And remember, the point of machining the plot is not to be obvious, but rather the opposite. To be surprising. The surprises are not random. They are not derived from coincidence. They are carefully constructed. They are paying off in a satisfying way what you’ve set up.

You can’t really do that well if you don’t know where you end. So I think if you have your ending, you can create that causal chain with interesting reversals and surprises and twists and back and forths so that everything feels sort of meaningful. It is also important if you find yourself laying out your plot and suddenly there are a lot of, well, bends in the pipe. You know, a lot of strange things where you’re going, well, I got to do this so I can do that. Stop. Always stop. You may think you can get away with it. It’s just going to get worse and worse. It’s going to become byzantine.

Sometimes what happens is we fall in love with the notion that something is going to happen. And the problem is what’s come right before that something that we want to happen isn’t leading directly to the something we want to happen. So what do we do? We jam it in. We create a coincidence. Or even worse, we put in a bunch of scenes in between those things so that it will kind of get there naturally, but now there’s bloat.

Sometimes you kind of have to cut the throat of the thing that you really, really, really wanted to do because it’s not laying in properly. It may be able to happen later, but it may be the wrong thing. Your story will want things to happen naturally and then you are going to want things. And you kind of have to get your ego out of it a little bit and let your stories’ wants take precedence over yours.

Because I’ll tell you this. This the last chance you have to be clean. Outside the gate are the barbarians. That’s a little uncharitable to the people that are trying to help us make our movies. But I will tell you, for instance, Identity Thief, after I wrote my second draft, or even my first, there was a note — and it wasn’t really a note. It was sort of an order. “We want more villains.” And I don’t know why. To this day, I’m not really sure why.

And, you know, I did my very best to say that’s not — I don’t think we should. And the response back was, “Do it.” And so I did it. And it created so many coincidenty poor plotty mechanics. That stuff just — and you know, look, happily I don’t think anybody goes to a movie like that for the exciting villain plots, and yet it hurts every movie. Every movie. When there’s obvious bends and kinks because something that doesn’t belong has been put there. And nobody quite has a sense of what does and doesn’t belong to a movie that has not yet been shot than the writer does. I wish people would listen a little more carefully when the writer says that doesn’t belong.

It’s one of our Spidey senses.

John: Absolutely. So let’s talk about what the actual process might be for you’re the writer working by him or herself and you’re trying to figure out these plot mechanics, the story logic, before you start doing your draft ideally. So, different writers have different approaches. Some make a simple outline. Some use index cards. Some will write out a treatment.

What I would say though is no matter what your process is, if you’re describing it to somebody — basically if someone is looking at the cards with you, or if you are sharing your outline with somebody, watch out for when you’re saying these phrases that signal, OK, there’s something convenient happening here. That it’s not necessarily natural to what should be happening in the story. So when you find yourself saying “at the same time, meanwhile,” which means that you’re cutting away to something else, or “just then,” those situations — they’re unlikely and you can’t have so many unlikely things in your script.

You’re going to be running into problems if you’re saying those kind of phrases a lot.

One of the other things to really be mindful of, and I think this is partly what happened with what you described in Identity Thief is sometimes there’s mechanics happening in the story that won’t be immediately obvious to the reader and therefore the audience. Like there’s behind the scenes stuff that’s happening. And one of the real challenges for writers is all that hidden machinery has to make sense, even though it won’t surface till later on.

So, what the villain was doing those three weeks, or like why that person showed up at that point. Maybe you have a reason for why they got there. Maybe you’ll even be able to say the reason why they got there. But the minute they sort of showed up there or something happened that was not visible to the audience, that’s going to be a surprise. And figuring out how you’re going to balance what the audience knows versus what the audience is going to find out later on can be really tricky.

And so whenever I have stories that aren’t just one main trajectory that can be a lot of my planning work is figuring out how do I make it clear to the audience. Like these people were doing these things in the background. You just didn’t see them. But here we are now and the characters are doing these things now.

Craig: Yeah. Just continuing the Identity Thief case, there was one villain — I know, that’s crazy, right? I wrote one villain. What? Anyway, and very early on, in fact, the first time we meet Melissa McCarthy’s character, she’s on the phone with that villain and he’s upset. And she’s lying to him. And then later on when she and Jason Bateman’s character finally confronted each other and he’s kind of got her where he thinks he wants her, the bad guy shows up. It’s natural. She lied. We know she lied. He never got what she said she would send him. And he’s here. That makes sense. Meh. You know.

John: Well, in doing that, that initial conversation, you set the expectation that we would meet him and that he would show up. And you’re paying off that expectation. So that does not feel surprising to an audience. And it feels like, OK, this is a thing I expected to have happen. I’m happy that it’s now happening. I’m a smart person because I expected it to happen and therefore it is happening.

Craig: It was caused.

John: Yes, it was completely caused. It was not just a random fluke.

And even movies that I think are really good, like this most recent Wonder Woman movie, there will be some coincidences in there. And that’s OK. And if the movie is working really well you don’t notice it so much. A coincidence in the new Wonder Woman movie, which is not really spoiler at all, there’s a moment in the story where Diana first uses her bracers and sends off the shock wave. And like, wow, she has sort of supernatural powers.

She heads off and then like literally two minutes later while she’s standing on the cliff, Steve Trevor’s plane comes crashing down. Why did that happen at the same moment? Well, because it was convenient. There was nothing about her doing the bracers that caused his plane to fall. It just happened to happen at the same moment.

We go with it because it’s sort of the mythology and it feels OK and appropriate, but it is a big coincidence that it’s happened at the same moments. They literally coincided in ways that weren’t natural.

Craig: Exactly. And, look, when you’re writing, that may be where you end up. But it’s always worth in a moment like that to say am I avoiding a problem or am I avoiding a gift? Can this thing that just happened cause that thing? Wouldn’t that be satisfying? Now, it may not work. You may not be able to make sense of it. Or if you try, it may cause other problems and a ripple effect. And then you abandon it. But try. You know, I think sometimes what happens is these things happen, they emerge, and we get scared and try and run away from them when we should be running toward them.

John: Yep. Absolutely. Every problem is an opportunity. So take advantage of those opportunities as they come up. All right, let’s go step away from our whiteboards and go into our actual scenes. And you had a suggestion for the topic of gimmickry and the creative little tricks you can sometimes apply to keep scenes interesting. Take it away.

Craig: Well, it’s a little dangerous to be talking about this, because I always worry that people are going to go wee and start throwing ketchup all over their food. But these things can be great. I was thinking about it because I’ve been watching Fargo, the television series, and I should mention that one of the things that Fargo does that’s interesting is they make a little bit of a religion of coincidence. You can get away with a lot of coincidence if your show basically says around here coincidence happens all the time. Sometimes it happens to make things worse. Sometimes it happens to make things better. But that’s kind of the world we live in. We live in coincidence world.

You know, Tarantino lives in coincidence world.

John: Absolutely. He just happens to be crossing the street and getting hit by the car.

Craig: Exactly. And we’re like, yup, that’s what happens in Pulp Fiction world. That makes sense. Totally.

So, gimmickry. Sometimes you find yourself writing a scene and the general conventional way of laying things out feels a little meh. Feels a little boring. I don’t mean to equate conventional to boring, because sometimes conventional is the absolute best way to tell a scene and it is fascinating. But there are times when you’re going to want to, I don’t know, throw a little glitter on.

So, I just thought of a few of these things that we can do and at least by codifying them we know that we have these tools in our belt. And the first one is kind of radical — I mean, I guess they’re all radical in a way. Change the arrow of time. And we generally think of time as moving forward and it is linear, but of course we have seen lots of movies and lots of TV shows where things move out of order. Sometimes they move backwards. Sometimes we see something that should have happened before the thing we just saw happening after the thing we saw. But we get it.

Do you remember how in Out of Sight he did that interesting — Soderbergh and Scott Frank did that interesting trick of editing and scene design where you had Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney falling in love but we found out about it out of its time in the movie. It was just fascinating the way it worked.

There’s nothing wrong with that. You just got to be careful when you do it. It needs to be purposeful. It needs to evoke something. You can jump time in little steps. You can also jump time in big steps. You can have, you know, a scene where two people are talking at a place and then one of them turns around and it’s 20 years earlier and now they’re children talking in that place. You can do these things. You just obviously have to have a reason why.

John: Absolutely. And as the screenwriter, you need to make it clear on the page what you’re doing. Because some of these effects will be really obvious in the film, but will be really hard to see on the page unless you’re upfront with the reader about like this is what’s happening. And you don’t have to explain why you’re doing it, but you have to explain like what it’s going to look like and feel like if you were watching the movie. That you’re acknowledging that you’re jumping this thing. Because when you’re just reading 12-point Courier it’s easy to sort of miss and get confused by these sort of sleights of hand.

Craig: Yeah. Similarly, if you change the arrow time, you can kind of change the nature of space by splitting the screen. When we think of split screens, I guess what immediately comes to mind are just bad sitcom split screen kind of jokes where one person is talking on a phone and the other one is also on the phone. And it’s a split screen. Wah wah.

But split screens I actually think can be incredibly valuable when you’re trying to create tension. So, I’ll go back to Tarantino, again. Because, by the way, Tarantino the most — he goes bananas with these gimmicks and he uses them so well. There’s a moment in Kill Bill where we see that Uma Thurman is in a coma and also we see Darryl Hannah’s character coming down the hallway with a syringe to kill her. And he splits the screen. And there’s something beautiful about watching a demon essentially stalking down a hallway. And then at the same time watching this completely helpless human being. And the tension just rises because what he’s telling us is there’s no chance she’s going to open that door and our hero won’t be in the bed. She’s going to be in the bed. You see her, right there.

You can also split the screen where you see the same thing happening from two different angles at the same time, which is a fascinating thing, because in one angle somebody is walking out of a car and they’re walking into a store and they’re quite happy. In the other angle, just because of the nature of the camera, we see that someone is watching them. And they don’t know.

It is the sort of thing that I think screenwriters should be thinking more about because when we don’t there is a danger that the director will. And I don’t mean to say that like directors are bad at it. They’re not. But if the gimmick is only directorial, it will feel more gimmicky. When it is connected to an emotion or a feeling or a purpose, which is our domain when we are writing these things, I think it can be terrific.

John: Yeah. You’re describing using these tricks to really enhance or underline the emotion or the story point you’re trying to get there. So it is better for the gimmick. The gimmick is just not there on top of what you’re otherwise seeing. It’s not a conventional scene with a gimmick applied to it. It is a scene that is better and unique because of the gimmick. And once you see it with a gimmick, it would be hard to imagine that scene without that moment.

Craig: Yeah. I think when some people watch these movies, I think critics fall into this trap a lot. I don’t mean reviewers. I mean analyzers of film. They will tend to see these things as style. They will tend to see them as visual style. But when we connect to them, it’s not because they’re visually stylistic. It’s not the aesthetics. It’s what it tells us about the people involved and how it makes us feel. It is actually again an extension of character. And an extension of the empathetic connection that we have with the people on screen.

There’s another thing that happens quite a bit and I think when we watch it we don’t realize how radical it is. And that’s just bending or even breaking reality itself. Sometimes somebody should just talk to a dead person. You can have a scene where somebody is just sitting in their bed and they say out loud to the ceiling, “Oh, Edith, I wish you were here. What should I do? I don’t know what to do. I’m lost without you.” Boring.

Or maybe Edith is just there. The beginning of The Iron Lady did this beautifully. Meryl Streep plays an aging Margaret Thatcher. And when we meet her she’s talking to her husband, played by Jim Broadbent, and the two of them are having the most mundane typical breakfast conversation. And she’s telling him, “You’re putting too much butter on your toast.” I mean, you have no idea that he’s actually dead. He’s not there. He’s not there. And then you realize, oh, he’s not there. Wonderful.

You can also bend reality by just freezing the entire world except for one person. And, of course, there’s the typical breaking the fourth wall, which is always a trickier proposition. But I guess my point is you have the ability to do things that are beyond the pale of what we experience in our everyday lives in terms of reality. And you just have to make sure that there’s an in and an out. And that once we get out of it, we know we’re out of it.

That’s the key. You can surprise people. You don’t have to tell them you’re going into it. You just have to let them know that it happened and now you’re out.

John: Absolutely. And it’s the kind of thing which you probably try to do relatively early in your film so you get a sense of like this is the kind of thing that happen in your movie. Because if you do it quite late, then it feels like, wait, you’ve broken the rules you’ve set. There’s a social contract you’ve signed with the audience and now you’ve broken that contract.

And always be mindful of, you know, you are defining your characters and their actions on the page, but you’re also defining the character of the movie. And so the kinds of choices you’re making in terms of the gimmickry, the stylistic choices you’re making, that’s the character of the movie. That’s what your movie feels like.

And so as long as it’s consistent with what the movie feels like, you know, the way that Tarantino movies feel consistent with a Tarantino world, it’s going to be — it’s going to feel right. It’s going to feel like something that can happen in your world.

But if you’re completely straight drama and then suddenly you try to pull this thing at page 80, I think the audience is going to rebel and quite understandably for your not following the basic rules you seem to have set for yourself.

Craig: I agree. I mean, every time you do this, you are breaking the tone one way or another. In 500 Days of Summer, everyone slips into a musical number. That is a gimmick. And believe me, I don’t use gimmick as a pejorative. I use it as what it is. It’s an exciting, dazzling way of attracting people’s attention. We know, OK, this is the kind of movie where that can happen.

So later when they break reality, again, and show us two simultaneous evenings, expectations versus reality, we understand that can happen here. And it’s all right. Similarly when we watch Kill Bill, the fact that suddenly the movie switches into animation, acceptable. There are also moments sometimes where the break in the tone is OK because the movie is silly. There’s not a lot of gimmickry, filmic gimmicky in a movie like say Woody Allen’s Love and Death, which is one of my favorite movies. I mean, it’s broad. It’s very broad. It’s very silly. It’s wonderful. He doesn’t really mess around with reality too much. But then it does.

Then there’s a sequence that turns into a silent movie, into a silent film, which is hysterical and amazing. But you have to be aware of what John is saying here, those of you at home. Your story has to be able to survive this. And just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Gimmickry is amazing because it frees you. It gives you like these — like we used to have the box of crayons. I had the box of 16 crayons and someone showed up and they’re like, “I have the box of 64 crayons. I have seven more blues than you do.” OK. Well, gimmicks, those are the extra blues and the extra reds. It’s the big box of crayons. They tend to make us feel more creative. When you read them in scripts, they tend to make the read feel maybe more sophisticated or ambitious. But even then, that is kind of a gimmick. Because it only is ambitious and creative and advanced when it works.

So, do it if it makes something better. Don’t if it doesn’t. Just know that you can.

John: Absolutely. The bigger box of crayons will not make you a better artist. They will just let you do some things that you couldn’t otherwise do easily. And that’s important. That can be useful. And I think by limiting ourselves to the simplest things, sometimes you’re able to tell simple, and true, and very strong stories. There’s a reason why you may want to not use the gimmicks, not use the full set of tools that you could use.

But, there’s certainly circumstances where you want to try to do those. And I think those are great. And quite a few of my films have used some of those fancy crayons. Like my first movie Go. It restarts time twice. There’s scenes that you see from multiple perspectives. You ultimately recognize that there’s quite a bit more going on than you first thought. And that’s great.

My movie, The Nines, is sort of nothing but a bunch of crayons melting all over the screen. And it’s very deliberately playing with your expectations of what is the difference between these actors and these characters. And is there any real underlying reality behind all this. It breaks its tone. There are musical numbers. There’s reality stuff happening in there. Melissa McCarthy is playing herself. It’s a very different set of expectations than you would normally have going into a movie.

But that’s not the only way to tell a story. And I don’t try to apply as many effects as I can to every movie. Like you have to be very judicious and see what is right for the story you’re trying to tell.

Craig: And I think you’ll know. That’s the thing. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction. There’s a feeling, oh yes, you know, this feels so much better than just the usual way. You know, I remember Todd Phillips and I were like struggling with how to do a flashback. Like, oh, here’s a flashback scene. I was like, yeah, well, I don’t know. And then the notion that in Alan’s mind they’re all children and to do it with children, that’s a gimmick. But it made so much sense and suddenly it was a joy to write. It was exciting. You know?

And I feel like, OK, if we are chaining our hands to the keyboard and going, OK, here we go, blah, blah, blah, then it’s probably going to be a similar experience for the audience. When you get excited and it just flows, then you know you’ve got the right gimmick. But again, word of caution, most of the time it will be flowing and feeling great with no gimmicks at all.

John: 100% agree. All right, Craig, let’s try to answer one or two of these questions in our mailbox.

Craig: Let’s try, you know. Let’s try.

John: We have audio, so let’s first listen to Kate from Phoenix, Arizona, who wrote in with a question.

Kate: My question is about interviewing experts to create more realistic stories. The script that I’m writing deals with a crime and the legal consequences. Although I have a respectable working knowledge of these procedures for a lay person, I can tell it’s not enough. I need to find a cop and a lawyer to interview to get the details right. I found some people online who are more than willing to consult for a sizeable fee. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but my wallet does. Do you have advice for finding and interviewing experts? Once I find them, is it customary to have them read the script and point things out? Or ask about procedures piecemeal?

Also, for a Murphy’s Law type of situation, if I change story elements based on what they say, can they claim some kind of story credit? That’s sort of the point of asking in the first place, to change the story and make it better. And I’m not opposed to giving credit if it were fair, but I would prefer not to share the story credits if I can help it.

Are there measures I should take to protect the intellectual property of my own work?

John: Well, that’s a great question. I don’t have perfect answers for Kate, so I’m going to preface this by saying I bet some of our listeners have good resources they might point Kate towards in terms of finding the cop and a lawyer who she could talk to.

But I can offer some general guidance which is, no, you should not be paying anybody. And, no, they should not be trying to take story credit. What you’re doing is just asking people about their jobs. And you’re asking them how they do their work and asking them some theoretical questions. That’s not story credit. You’re nowhere near that. So, anybody you’re talking to who would want to try to get that from you is not the right person for you to talk to. Craig?

Craig: Yeah, no question. There’s not going to be any payment here. I’m doing a project right now that has a lot of research involved. It’s more research than I’ve ever done for anything in my life. And I’ve talked to all sorts of people. But I specifically had to talk to a cop when I was working on Identity Thief, because I wanted to find out how does this all work, and how do you go through your job and deal with this stuff. If you call, I think if you just call, Kate, you say you’re from Phoenix. Call Phoenix PD up and just say, “Listen, I’m a writer. I’d love to sit down and interview an officer or a detective. Would you have somebody willing to talk with me for a half an hour? I just have questions for a story I’m writing.”

I would be shocked if no one said yes. Everybody wants to talk about their job. Everybody wants somebody to get it right. I think people are interested in being a part of something like that. I don’t think there’s any issue with credit because they’re not writing anything. They’re talking to you and you’re taking notes.

You certainly can give them an assurance that you’re not going to use their name. That you’re not going to use anything that’s identifiable to them. And if you are recording the conversation, that the recording will not be played back for anybody other than yourself. That it’s only for research purposes. But I think by and large if you just ask, same thing with law. If there’s an area of law. I mean, you must know somebody that knows somebody that has a lawyer. Have that person ask their lawyer. Who would be a good lawyer who might want to talk to you about this? Somebody sooner or later is just going to say, “I’ll do it,” because people generally want to help.

John: They do. So I think Kate’s social network is probably bigger than she realizes. So if she just goes on Facebook, throws it out there like, hey, I’m looking for any cop or any lawyer, does anybody know somebody? Somebody will know somebody who knows somebody who is going to be willing to talk with you about this.

Before I left for Paris, I was in an Uber. I was actually headed to Kelly Marcel’s house. And our Uber driver was from a country who was exactly the right person I needed to talk to about this project I was writing. And so I just started up a conversation with him and said like, hey, this is really crazy but would it be OK if I called you and asked you more questions about the country you’re from and when you came to the US. And he said, of course, that would be fine.

And so you will bump into people in your real life who are going to be helpful and will get you through that kind of thing. I was also years ago I was in upstate Maine doing research for this other project that never got made. And I was staying at this little hotel and whenever I would meet somebody new I was like, I would ask them about their job and I’d say like, hey, do you know anybody else who has lived here since 1970? Did you know any people who are old timers here? Because I’m trying to find out information. And so over the course of three or four days I was able to talk to ten different people about sort of what Maine was like in the 1970s. And it was great. It was fantastic. And it didn’t matter that I had credits or didn’t have credits. They were just like, well, somebody wants to know, I’m happy to talk to you about it.

So, you will find somebody who has the information you need. And if your listeners have other good suggestions for first places that Kate should look, we welcome them.

Craig: I talked to a detective at the Beverly Hills Police Department when I was doing research for Identity Thief. And he was describing how they work and how you deal with law enforcement when you catch them. And how you have to deal with it as a victim. And he was great. And when it was over, and I was leaving, he said, “Oh, by the way, what happens to the thief at the end?” And I said, well, I haven’t written it yet. I’m just in the research phase here. But I think she’s going to go to jail. And he said, “She should die.” [laughs]

And I said, what? And he goes, “She should die. These people are terrible.” And I thought, you know, I guess if you deal with the consequences of identity theft every day, day in and day out, and deal with the victims of it day in and day out, that’s probably how you would feel. That makes sense. Yeah.

John: So, useful advice for real world, but probably not useful advice for someone writing a comedy about an identity thief.

Craig: By the way, also, something to keep in mind, Kate. Reality is fantastic until it is not helpful. And then it is not fantastic. Especially if you’re doing something that is essentially a fictional dramatization of things that needs to be informed by reality. You know, use what helps.

John: Absolutely. Let’s do one more question. This is Jason from Los Angeles.

Jason: I’ve been living in LA for eight years and I just haven’t been able to break into the business the way I want to. I write consistently. I rewrite. I get notes from trusted friends. I rewrite some more. I’ve made short films. I’ve gotten into a few festivals. I recently posted a script to the Black List. And while all of these things have absolutely helped me to develop and hone my craft, they haven’t opened any industry doors for me.

I’m 33 years old. I’m married. So, jumping into something like an unpaid internship at a production company or spending five years in a mailroom doesn’t seem feasible for me. Which is why I’m considering doing something both of you have often opposed, and even more often with great umbrage. I’m considering going to a writing consultant. So, what I’m not considering doing is going to some online “guru” who has 12 tips for this and eight surefire techniques for that. No. What I’m talking about is basically a teacher. Someone who is all over YouTube. I’ve seen their ideas. I’ve seen them talk about their ideas. And they’re sound. They sound legit. It’s someone who has video testimonials on their website from current writers who are currently working in the business who are staffed on TV shows.

And I’m considering this for the same reason someone might consider hiring a tutor. This is a person outside my circle of friends who owes me nothing, knows their stuff, and best of all can give me notes face-to-face that can help me improve my script. I’ve looked into the cost and one year of meetings would run me about $3,500. Now, that’s not nothing, but it’s also not my life savings.

At this point in my life, that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable amount of money to try something new that can help me get where I want to go. Because what I’m doing right now hasn’t.

So, John, Craig, please tell me: am I crazy?

John: Craig, is Jason crazy?

Craig: No. He’s not crazy at all. He’s not crazy in the slightest. That’s why the industry of people that take money from folks like him is thriving and well, because they’re not preying on the insane. They’re preying on the sane and they’re preying on people who are scared and to some extent desperate. And I understand it. I mean, Jason has been at this for a while now it sounds like.

And he has a life. He’s created a life for himself. I assume he has a day job. Somehow he’s paying the bills. I completely agree that when you’re 33 years old and you have this life that you set up for yourself, starting in a mailroom or an unpaid internship doesn’t make any sense, and also it’s not necessary to be a writer or a director. It’s necessary if you want to be an agent or studio executive, I suppose.

So, no, Jason, you’re not crazy at all. But I’m glad that you did this — I’m glad you recorded this question because you get to listen to yourself back now. And I want to ask you — who do you sound like? Because to me, I’m concerned that you sound like the guy that’s about to lose money. And the reason why is you’re grasping at straws and I think you know you’re grasping at straws here. It’s not impossible that spending money on some outside help like this might help you improve your script. I think it’s highly unlikely it will help improve your script to the point where suddenly all those doors that have been firmly shut will fling open.

I don’t think it kind of works like that. I am concerned that after all this time it may just be that you don’t write or direct the sorts of things that the rooms you want to be in welcome. You may be a different kind of writer or director. It’s also possible that you’re not supposed to be doing this at all. I have no fear saying that. I know it is upsetting to hear and it’s particularly upsetting if next week you sign on and sell your movie and make a billion dollars and win an Oscar. Then I look like a dumb-dumb.

And I know that that’s the dream. So, I guess my advice to you would be this: think twice. $3,500 isn’t your life savings. It’s also $3,500. Think about who is asking you for that money and why they want it. Think about the nature of Hollywood. Think about predators and prey. And ask yourself if this is what’s right and best for you.

Generally speaking, as you know, I think it’s not. But, I also am aware that when I say these things, they are of no great assistance to somebody that’s trying to get one of those doors open.

John, what do you think?

John: Yeah. What I like about Jason, he already is thinking twice. In deciding to write into us and record his question, he is thinking twice. And he’s recognizing all of the sort of pitfalls ahead of him. So, he’s sort of done a lot of our work for us. And he’s further along in the process then somebody who says like, oh, maybe I’m going to start writing a script and I’ll hire this consultant.

So, I’m trying to step back and think about if I had $3,500 and I wanted to spend that $3,500 to improve my writing, what might I do? Well, I might take a class. I might take a UCLA Extension class. I might do something else that would sort of get me in a place where I’m around other people who are writing, who can help me focus in on what I’m doing. And so by that structure, I can’t say it’s the worst use of your money.

But I don’t know anything about this person he’s really going to. He says this person has YouTube videos, has a track record. I guess. Before I would give this person any of my money, I would want to know who has been using this person and what would they actually say. And the good thing about the Internet these days is you will find somebody who has had an experience with this person, positive or negative. Find out what that experience actually was. Because I don’t want you spending your money on just some charlatan who promises things.

I know that early in my career I was lucky to have some people who would read every draft of my stuff and would give me notes and I genuinely did get better doing that. Some of them were teachers. Others were producers who were trying to get my work on the screen. And I did get better. And so while I wasn’t paying them directly, or I was paying them indirectly through the university, it did help.

So, this could help you. I’m just concerned that it’s not the right person. I’m worried that you’re going to be writing in a year from now saying like, “Oh you know what guys? I spent that $3,500 and it was not the right choice. And I’m not any closer to what I want to be doing.”

Craig: Well, there is another negative outcome here. I mean, Jason mentioned that the person has testimonials on their advertising, and of course they do. The question isn’t whether or not people enjoyed working with this particular consultant. The question is whether or not this consultant got them their ultimate goal, which was to sell their screenplay or be employed to write another screenplay. And that’s not just sell it to some marginal player. There are a lot of those. But sell it to the kind of company you want to be in business with. Right Jason?

What these people do necessarily requires them to be good to you. When I say good to you, I mean, warm and fuzzy and encouraging because they want you to come back and keep paying them. They are actually less reliable, I think, then your friends in that regard. They will tell you, “Listen, this script has tremendous promise. You have tremendous promise. You can make this great. And you can get everything you want. Work with me. I will get you there.”

They will say that probably no matter what because that’s what’s going to make them the most money. And there are people who after a year or two will say, “I’m going to — I will gladly give you a testimonial because you’ve made my script better and you make me feel good in a world and business that otherwise makes me feel terrible.”

But $3,500 is a lot of money for that. And that ultimately really isn’t going to get you what you want. So, be careful of that praise. And be careful of that encouragement. They probably won’t say to you, “Hmm, I read it. This is no good. And I can’t help you with it. I don’t want your money.” You know?

The whole business is soaking in a certain kind of conflict of interest.

John: Yeah. It occurs to me listening to Jason’s question is that I feel like over the course of our 309 episodes we haven’t done a great job of introducing listeners to people who were sort of similarly positioned to Jason who made it. And there are some. And I’m thinking of a friend now who I can’t believe I’ve not had on the podcast who in his middle 30s, late 30, sort of finally got it started and finally got staffed on a TV show and is now running his own show.

It does happen. And because it’s rare doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And I want to have him on the show to talk about sort of what he did and sort of the choices he made. And what he would do differently. Because he might have better advice for Jason than you or I would because we started at such a different time.

So, in hearing Jason’s question I’m recognizing that there’s probably a group of our steady listeners who we’ve never really directly addressed with how it can work. We’ve always sort of given them negative advice in a way. Like, you know, don’t do these things rather than like these are the things that actually work for people. So, that’s going to be a goal to get my friend on the show in the next couple of weeks.

Craig: I think that’s really smart. Because, you know, we do want to help. Obviously we want to help, because we’re trying to help people who are writing. And we’re trying to help them write better. And happily we don’t take — well, John takes their money hand over fist. I don’t get anything. But we don’t have much in the way of saying, “And we also want to help you get that job.”

We keep hitting this thing of write a great script, you’ll get the job. But, there are some practicals. It would be great to hear from somebody who has gone through it, especially somebody who is older than the typical right out of college “here I am, I want to be a writer.”

I will say that Jason sounds incredibly nice. He just sounds like a good guy and that makes me nervous. I’m nervous because sometimes it’s the good ones that end up getting fleeced the hardest.

So, you know what, Jason, talk to your wife. She knows you better than anybody. I guarantee it. I guarantee it. You say to her — I got to think of a good name for Jason’s wife. I’m going to go with Marissa. “Marissa,” so close to my wife’s name. Anyway. “Marissa, tell me something because I don’t trust myself on this issue. Does this sound like a good idea? Should I do this? Should I not do this? Give it to me straight. I know that you love me either way.”

I hope that’s true about Marissa

John: Yeah, you never know. Never assume how other people’s marriages work.

Craig: You’re right. You’re right. Like he may call in next week and say, “Well, I’m divorced now. I asked her. And apparently that was the only excuse she needed to just pack her stuff up and, yeah. So…and now I have half of that $3,500.” [laughs]

John: Oh, community property. California state law.

Craig: Ruining lives one podcast listener at a time.

John: Let’s move on and go to our One Cool Things before we wreck anymore havoc in the world.

Craig: Great idea.

John: My One Cool Thing this week is the bus. Which bus? Well, really any bus. But my whole year in Paris, one of my revelations was that as a tourist I was always taking the Metro to get from place to place, because Paris has a Metro, so why are you not taking the trains.

What was so great about this last year is the busses are actually fantastic. And I was always sort of scared to take the busses because I didn’t quite know where they were going, or how to use them, or how it would all work. The huge advantage, the huge change, is that Google Maps now has all of the busses in the map directions. So if you are someplace, you want to get someplace, Google Maps will tell you get on this bus, it’ll take you to the place. And it was fantastic. And the busses in Paris were great. And so convenient. And while I was on my bus I could do my Duolingo and it was a great experience.

So, coming back to Los Angeles I vowed, you know what, I’m going to start taking the bus more often.

Craig: Hmm.

John: So this last week I took the bus to Beverly Hills. It was fantastic. And Google Maps worked just as well. And so the busses in Los Angeles are not bad at all. And people are always kind of afraid of the busses and they shouldn’t be. They were the same as the busses in Paris. It got me where I needed to go. It was easy and delightful. It was cheaper because I didn’t have to park my car in Beverly Hills. So, just try the bus. It sounds so simple and obvious because obviously I grew up taking the bus in Boulder. But a bus in the big city can be really great. And if people took the bus more often, I think they would be surprised.

Craig: It’s true that the thing that keeps me from the bus is just general fear of where the hell I’m going. Because these busses pull up and I just don’t know the bus system well enough. Like in New York, I’m here in New York right now, that’s why this microphone sounds weird, I take the subway all the time. I take the subway everywhere I can take it. And it’s really clear. I know exactly where it’s going. And they’ve got letters on them. And they never change. And that’s that with those.

And then the busses come and they have these letters and numbers. And I just get confused. I get confused.

John: You know who does know? Your phone knows. Your phones knows everything. And so Google Maps, you punch it in, it will tell you exactly when that bus is coming, when to get on it. It’s great and convenient. And also because you’re not underground you don’t lose service, so you can actually do things on your phone. It’s great.

So I would just recommend people try the bus. If you haven’t tried the bus in years, take a bus sometime this month and see what it’s like.

Craig: Following this podcast, bus murders, up by 30%.

John: Ha-ha. Always the best.

Craig: I mean, let’s face it: our listeners are easy marks. Well, I’ll continue with the transportation theme of One Cool Thing. Hyperloop One.

John: I saw that. They tested.

Craig: And it was successful. It worked. Now, they were testing — was essentially like a chassis, like a little sled. It wasn’t the full car where you can put people. And it wasn’t at full speed either. They talk about being able to go up to 700 miles per hour. In this case, the test I think was just 70 miles per hour. But it worked. They have a tube. It’s a vacuum. And they got maglev. And it shot down the track and it worked.

So, at least you’ve got this first theory into practice mode and I got to say the way that people are jumping on board with this thing, it feels like it’s going to happen. It legitimately does not feel like bunk.

You know, look, obviously I know that what do they call them, Super Trains? What do they call the — bullet trains? Bullet trains are real. I know they’re real. I’ve ridden on a bullet train. But when California said we’re going to spend billions of dollars to make a bullet train I thought no you’re not. It’s not going to happen. You’re going to spend billions of dollars, but we’re not going to have a bullet train. And we don’t.

We have spent billions of dollars. There’s no bullet train. This thing feels like it’s going to happen. And if they can put it together, they’re saying you can get on board in Los Angeles and be in San Francisco within I think 50 minutes.

John: It’s crazy.

Craig: It’s amazing. And that’s 50 minutes without going to an airport and getting in the line. It’s just hope on a tube and you’re there.

John: Yeah. So we’ll hope. Yeah. I mean, we’re in a weird time when we have all these amazing things that can be happening even while the world seems to be falling apart. So, it’s going to be a real race to see which future we end up in.

Craig: I do believe the world is essentially separated into two tribes at this point. Builders and tearers-down. And builders, the one advantage that builders have is that they’re ingenious. And the one advantage that tearers-down have is they are indiscriminate. They’ll just tear — if it’s standing down, they’ll tear it down. They don’t care.

John: Yeah. Just swing that crow bar and you can just knock things down.

Craig: Exactly. Yeah. They’ve certainly got inertia on their side, don’t they?

John: They do. Gravity works. They have all the stored energy in there. They can just make things fall.

Craig: Exactly. And what’s the — entropy. They have entropy. Inevitably, the tearers-down win.

John: Well, in the end everything becomes dust. But it’s just how cool things can be before they all become dust.

Craig: Before the universe ends in heat death. 100%. Yep.

John: As we wrap up, I will remind people that the Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide is available. It’s the first 300 episodes of the show, plus all the bonus episodes. People recommend which things you should check out. So, if you’re new to the show and you want to dig into the back catalog that is a great place to start.

You can listen to those episodes on the new USB drives. So you can go to and get one of those USB drives. They are lovely and sturdy.

And that’s our show. Our show is produced by Carlton Mittagakus.

Craig: What?

John: It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week comes from Rajesh Naroth.

Craig: Of course.

John: If you have an outro, you can send us a link to That’s also the place where you can send questions like the ones we answered today. We are on Facebook. Search for Scriptnotes Podcast. You can also find us on Apple Podcasts. Look for Scriptnotes. And while you’re there, leave us a review.

You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at That’s also where you’ll find the transcripts. We try to get them up about four days after the episode airs. And you can find all the back episodes at

Craig, thanks for a fun episode.

Craig: Thank you, John. And next week, same time zone.

John: Oh, so nice.

Craig: So nice. See you then.

John: Bye.


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