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 327 of Scriptnotes, of podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Today on the podcast we’ll be discussing mergers, such as the proposed union of Fox and Disney. Then we’ll transition to breakups. It’s a new installment of This Kind of Scene, this time looking at how characters say goodbye for the last time.
Craig: Oh. This isn’t like a weird way for you to be breaking up with me, is it?
John: We’ll see if we get to the end of the episode.
John: Yeah. But we should warn our listeners that there will be some bad words in this episode because some of the clips have some foul language. So if you are driving in the car with your kids, this is the standard warning about that.
John: Earmuffs. We have some follow up and news, exciting stuff. So, our live show, which we talked about last week on the episode, it is December 7, here in Hollywood. It is another event proposed and thrown by the Writers Guild Foundation. But we have guests now. It’s not just me and Craig. We have a bunch of showrunners joining us up on stage. So excited to announce that Julie Plec from Vampire Diaries and The Originals will be with us, along with Michael Green. He did American Gods and The Ripper. He also wrote some movies, Murder on the Orient Express, Blade Runner 2049, Logan.
John: Yeah, busy guy.
Craig: Heard of a few of them. You know what? He’s not lazy. That’s as far as I’ll go.
John: Absolutely. I think maybe his not laziness is one of the reasons why he’s somewhat successful.
John: Finally, Justin Marks. Justin Marks has a new show coming out called Counterpart. The trailer is great. I’m so excited to see his show. He also wrote this little movie called Jungle Book. And so the last time he was on the show we talked about Jungle Book, so now we will be talking about his television program which he filmed in Germany.
Craig: We get the best guests.
John: We do consistently get the best guests.
Craig: And the tickets are available now.
John: They are.
Craig: And I assume we’re going to be selling out, as we usually do, because we are the Jon Bon Jovi of podcasts.
John: I would hope we would sell out. But if you want to make sure you can get your ticket right now, don’t even look for the link in the show notes. You could look for that, but you could also just go to wgafoundation.org. Go to events and we are there for you to buy your tickets.
Craig: Yeah. And the Christmas show – I like to call it a Christmas show.
John: Yeah. No war on Christmas show.
Craig: Yeah. We don’t do that. Because you know, as a Jew, I have the privileged position of being able to declare that Chanukah is silly. It’s a silly holiday and it’s not an important holiday religiously. So, I appreciate Christmas. I think a lot of American Jews secretly appreciate Christmas because it’s so much better than Chanukah. And I don’t mind getting in trouble for this, by the way, not even in the slightest. Go ahead. Go ahead. Send emails about how great Chanukah is. I prefer Christmas as a secular Jew.
So our Christmas shows generally are a lot of fun. Everybody is in – you know what everyone is in? The holiday spirit.
John: The holiday spirit is a mighty good place to start any podcast and hopefully spirits are even more raised by the end of this show.
Craig: When you dump me? [laughs]
John: [laughs] On our last show, we had Scott Frank on to talk about his show Godless. Godless is now available to the whole world on Netflix.
Craig: That’s right. Have you started yet?
John: I have not. So I have only seen trailers. And so this is a thing which will make Scott sad, but he should also be happy. So I’m going to put it all on my iPad to take with me on my Christmas holiday travels because Mike will not watch it with me. I want to watch it. I will have ample time on planes over the holidays. So I’ll watch it with my good Bose headphones and I will enjoy it so much.
Craig: Yeah. That’s what Scott was hoping that you would watch it on your iPad. That’s his greatest – hey, by the way, how do you watch Netflix things on your iPad? Is there an app? A Netflix app?
John: There’s a Netflix app and you just click and download them. And it’s fantastic.
Craig: All right.
John: This past week I was traveling. I went to San Francisco, Chicago, and New York to do Arlo Finch book events, and so I had Stranger Things on my iPad saved. And so I could watch it on my iPad. It was delicious.
Craig: So you finished Stranger Things season two?
John: I have finished Stranger Things season two.
Craig: As have I. That was my London show. Pretty good, except that one episode. I just didn’t understand. And I don’t like saying bad things about shows, so I really enjoyed the series. I loved season one and I really enjoyed season two.
John: I really enjoyed season two also.
Craig: I was puzzled by Episode Seven. Just puzzled.
John: I was puzzled as well. And I thought you were subtweeting me when you said like I don’t say negative things about shows, because someone asked me about Episode Seven.
Craig: Oh, no. No, no. I think it’s fair to say that Episode Seven is – because look, if you like a show and the Duffer Brothers have done a tremendous job and once again the cast for Stranger Things is fantastic. And I watched all the way through, Episodes One through Nine. So they had me.
I like their show. But I feel then you’re allowed to say, “But, I’m also just puzzled by this one piece of it.” I think they are aware that it’s a polarizing episode.
John: For sure. Absolutely. I feel the same way as you do. I in many ways respected the effort and the attempt. It was like, oh, that was probably a fascinating idea on the whiteboard. I just didn’t think it actually became as good an hour as the rest of the hours.
Craig: We should get these guys on the show. This is a question I have. Because I’m really curious about it. And for those of you who have watched this show, you’ll understand. And if you haven’t, no spoilers here.
Craig: Whatsoever. Do you think that part of the deal with Episode Seven was that they were essentially intentionally mimicking those kinds of movies from the ‘80s, in other words the tone of the characters, and that place, and the setting and all that stuff was essentially designed to be that way? Or were they just not hitting the mark of reality?
John: That is an absolutely fair and valid question. I feel like the overall style of those characters, I can see that as being you’re trying to pull from those other movie references. Great. I love that. But I didn’t believe them within the context of the world.
Craig: Yeah. Because once you bring in a character that you’re meant to believe is real, like Eleven, then it doesn’t quite connect up does it?
John: It does not quite connect up.
Craig: Doesn’t quite connect up. All right.
John: But I would love to ask the Duffer Brothers that question, because I think they made a remarkable run of terrific shows.
Craig: As do I. Yeah, come on the show guys.
John: That would be great. Lastly, I will say that if you would like to read the first five chapters of Arlo Finch, they are now up. That happened over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Craig: For free?
John: For free. So, just go to arlofinchbooks.com and you can look at the first five chapters there. There’s preorder links for the North American copy. But if you just want to read it, read it. And if you do take a look at it, it may be helpful to know essentially what you’re reading is kind of what I sold. Like that was what sold the book to Macmillan. Plus one additional chapter which is not included which is from later on in the book. But just a glimpse in to sort of what the book looked like before the whole book was written.
Craig: All right. Well, good luck with the sales. I expect this thing to be number one.
John: Well I hope to be somewhere on some list at some point and not of like the Most Disappointing Books of 2018.
Craig: Or Best Books You’ve Never Heard Of.
John: Yeah. Your daughter actually read it. Your daughter read an early–
Craig: Yep. She was a big fan. Big fan. She’ll show up for Arlo Finch 2.
John: Fantastic. So down the road I will be doing a book tour, so on future podcasts I’ll let you know. If you want to see me in some city near you, you can come out and see me as I sign books and talk to folks.
Craig: Yeah. Although anybody that comes out to see you will no doubt miss me.
John: That’s pretty much what it is. I’m going to travel around with a cardboard standee of Craig and maybe we’ll just record little bits of select umbrage. So people walk up and you just say something to them about them. That might be it.
Craig: Yeah. Just so they can get their fix.
John: Yeah. You just say “specificity” a lot.
Craig: And “intentionality.”
John: Intentionality is very good. There was a moment of intentionality–
Craig: Segue Man.
John: — the past two weeks. We sort of missed it on this last episode because it was a rerun, but Disney was in talks to buy 20th Century Fox.
Craig: And still are, right?
John: And still are. And also Comcast/Universal is apparently kicking the tires of Fox as well. So, I thought we’d start by talking about what this is and what it means. Because on previous episodes we’ve talked about integrations. We’ve talked about vertical integrations where because of consent decrees, like studios are not allowed to own exhibitors. They’re not allowed to own national movie houses. But this is an example of horizontal integration, where two competitors are merging and becoming like one bigger thing. And while there’s some fascinating things that could happen in terms of fandom unification and cinematic universes being combined, I don’t think it would be a great outcome for writers. I’m curious what you think.
Craig: Well, jury is out on that, I think. What they’re talking about buying is Fox’s movie production studio, 20th Century Fox films, or I guess 21st Century Fox films. And they’re also talking about buying Fox’s television production arm, which is Fox Television, but not Fox the network, not Fox News, not Fox Sports, and for reasons we’ll get into.
The question is what happens if one of the major movie studios seemingly disappears. And so two of this dwindling number of movie studios becomes one movie studio. One way of looking at it is, well, that’s that many fewer jobs for screenwriters. Another way of looking at is probably – I mean, unless a studio is considering buying Fox just for the library, the odds are that they’re still going to continue to put movies out and that in fact it’s not writers, producers, directors, and actors who will lose jobs, it’s studio employees who will ultimately be laid off. Because you don’t need – there is a certain economy of scale. You don’t need two full marketing departments to run Disney Fox. You need one slightly larger marketing department to run Disney Fox.
So, that’s where I think jobs will be lost. Now, it’s possible that they’re just buying it for the library sake and for certain rights, in which case then that’s a problem.
John: So when the news first broke I went back and looked at the 2016 box office. And if you add Fox and Disney together they control 39% of the US box office. That’s a huge figure. And so I think we have to be approaching this thinking like not only will this change the nature of Marvel things all coming together, or Disney would control The Simpsons which is a huge thing, too. It would really be a huge game changer just in terms of the overall industry.
If you are Paramount, or Sony, or Warners, suddenly you’re competing against this thing which is three times your size.
Craig: Yeah. And you’re absolutely right about that. Now, one thing that may come into play to sort of help out a little bit is that Disney has a certain brand contract with its customers that no other studio has. Everyone understands that Disney puts out a certain kind of movie. Now, back when we started in the business Disney had an arm that could put out Rated R films, and they did.
John: Hollywood Pictures.
Craig: Hollywood Pictures. If it’s the sphinx it stinks. And Touchstone also was able to put out Rated R movies. And some of them were really Rated R. And at that time Disney didn’t quite have the same sort of all row in one direction philosophy. They don’t make Rated R movies at all. They don’t make films for grownups per se. They make all-audiences movies.
So, one thing that may happen is they may say, look, we don’t want this company to be called Disney Fox. We’ll be Disney, you’ll be Fox, obviously everybody is owned by the same parent corporation, but Fox can still make Fox movies, because that is a different brand. And that the purchase here, aside from the library, is about pulling in some of the properties that they wish they had that Fox has the rights to like X-Men, and so on and so forth. And also I would say probably limiting competition in the animation space, which is disconcerting for animation writers.
But I could see a version of this where actually the individual control on a day to day basis maybe is kind of separate. And so the person that runs the Walt Disney Pictures slate is not also overseeing the Fox slate. But, I’ll tell you one area where this is very disturbing and disconcerting, and that’s when it comes time every three years for the companies to negotiate with the unions. Because if you have one company that is responsible for as you say essentially 40% of the box office, they become the biggest voice in the room. And that can be a real issue.
John: Definitely. I think my concern even if you do keep Fox as a whole separate label and a whole separate brand, that only goes to a certain distance. I know from times where we’ve been trying to sell a spec script for a feature screenplay or to sell a TV series, ultimately they may say they’re separate buyers. They talk about things individually. But if you have a feature project going into Fox it may be going to big Fox, it might be going to Fox 2000 or Fox Animation. But they’re not going to compete against each other for a property. And I think the same thing would happen between Disney and Fox. If they both want something, ultimately some big person at Disney will decide, OK, this is where it’s going to go. They’re not going to get into a bidding war with each other.
Craig: Yeah. In all likelihood that is correct. There are provisions for those things and they do occasionally happen. Actually happened weirdly in a way with our sheep movie. But generally speaking you’re right. And Disney I think is probably less inclined to do that than any other studio would be. So, generally speaking this is going to be a terrific deal for Disney. I guess for the larger Fox Corporation this is about getting a premium on their library and so forth and just retreating to their core businesses which is “news” and actual sports.
John: Yeah. I don’t fully understand it from Fox’s point of view. I can understand if Fox decided like, you know what, we’re going to sell off all this stuff. Disney is the best buyer for it because you know Disney will pay a premium because Disney can get the most value out of it. I guess I just don’t see the benefit for the Murdoch Company to get rid of Fox. I think Fox feels profitable. It feels like a business you want to be in because people are still going to need these things.
I’ve heard it said that they are concerned that they’re not going to have the power to be able to stand up against a Netflix, against Amazon, as streaming becomes more dominant as we sort of move to a post-cable universe. But I just don’t fully get it. I don’t fully see that it’s a better idea just to sell off what I perceive to be a tremendous amount of value in these titles and in the things you’re going to be making down the road.
Craig: Yeah. It’s a little bit of a sign that they know something we don’t. You know what I mean? Because we can’t quite tell why they’re steering their boat to the shore. Perhaps we can’t see the waterfall ahead that they can. It may be that everyone at the corporate level has looked ahead and decided that if they can’t compete with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, etc. as their own streaming entity controlling their own material that they will suffer. And then that ultimately reduces their value and reduces their leverage. So, maybe Fox is saying, look, we can’t get there on our own. But we can get top dollar right now if we sell to Disney. Disney can get there on their own. And it will be even easier for them to get there this way. Because Disney is essentially going to create a competitor with Netflix.
John: Let’s take a look at the roadblocks in the way to making this kind of deal happen. So, theoretically the government could step in and say no-no that’s a monopoly situation or near monopoly situation. You already have sort of an oligopoly situation in terms of the limited number of buyers for certain kinds of properties.
The US government hasn’t seemed to be very interested in enforcing anti-trust rules or sort of going into new territory. They seem to perceive anti-trust as being anything that would hurt consumers. And it’s not clear that this deal would necessarily hurt consumers. There’s no evidence here that there’s any reason why prices would go up for consumers which seems to be the litmus test for a lot of anti-trust decisions.
Do you see any reason why the government would get involved?
Craig: I don’t. I mean, they’ll get involved to the extent that they have to vet the deal. But Disney apparently has removed the roadblocks prospectively. There was never going to be a chance where they could own two studios like Fox and ABC, for instance. There was never going to be a situation where they could control two major news sources like ABC News and Fox News. Nor would I think would Disney want to go anywhere near Fox News right now.
And then sports-wise, the biggest monopolistic or market control concern would be if ESPN and Fox Sports were the same company. Those are the two largest sports broadcasters, I believe.
So, no, I don’t think that there is anything in the way in terms of monopolies. Even monopolies technically can survive if they don’t appear to be harming consumers. There doesn’t appear to be any ability to squash competition here. There is still plenty of vibrant competition. No, I don’t see any reason that this wouldn’t go through.
John: So the other obstacles along the way would be someone else coming in and saying, “You know what? If you’re going to sell, we’re going to buy and we’re going to pay a premium that Disney isn’t willing to pay.” And it would have to be probably a huge company and a huge amount of money. But Apple could pay for it. Netflix maybe could pay for it. Amazon might be able to pay for it. Because especially Netflix and Amazon, they have a really good interest in sort of making sure that Disney doesn’t get too huge and keep them from getting access to some of the content that they want.
Craig: Yeah, that’s absolutely possible. Maybe the problem with Amazon and Netflix or Apple purchasing Fox is they wouldn’t really know what to do with it. They don’t want it. In other words the only reason to buy it would be to keep Disney from having it.
So, I don’t know. It’s a fascinating thing to watch. If I’m going to be pessimistic, my big concern isn’t that these two companies might be combining. My concern is that this is the beginning of the great combine of 2020 where suddenly we end up with three movie studios.
John: Do you ever play those simulations where you have little planets and you have other little planets circling and eventually they get too close and they glob together and gravity kicks in? That is also the vision I sort of see here. These two things combined become so big that the gravity sucks in Paramount. It sucks in maybe Warners, certainly Sony. I feel like lots of those little things could just become – you know, just three giant companies.
John: You know, in talking with booksellers this last week it’s fascinating to look at sort of the consolidation that is happening in publishing. And so you have to say Penguin Random House which just seems like too long of a name for something. But these giant entities are merged. And that’s challenging for everybody involved.
Craig: And generally speaking when two big companies merge, everybody that is remaining starts to look at each other saying, ‘Oh, apparently we’re pairing up for a big dance here so you/me, how about you and me?” Because you don’t want to become an also ran. And there’s a long history of studios that were once powerful and then sort of disappeared. MGM was once a real studio.
John: Oh yeah. RKO. Yeah.
Craig: RKO was once a real studio. United Artists. Orion. They existed. And then they stopped existing in part because it wasn’t that they maybe failed or got super small relative to where they began. It’s that they got super small relative to the size that everybody else was growing at. And so I could see where this leads to Warners/Universal, which would be really complicated. I’m not sure how any of that works.
John: Yeah. It would be very, very complicated. They would have a lot of land but what would their future be?
Craig: I was wondering how this would work out with the Fox lot in Century City, whether Disney would also be purchasing that lot or if the lot would be owned – I would imagine it would still be owned by Fox but then they would be renting space back to – or does Disney not even care about that lot?
John: Yeah. The real estate history of Hollywood and the film industry is fascinating. So I’ll try to find a good article we can put in the show notes for basically Los Angeles was in some ways shaped by where these studios set up their different home bases. And so Century City is called Century City because it was 20th Century Fox. And after I think it was Cleopatra, 20th Century Fox had to sell off a lot of their land because of their losses and that became Century City. Disney still has a big footprint. Paramount used to have a bigger footprint in Hollywood. It’s fascinating the degree to which these big sections of Los Angeles were all just film studios.
Craig: And at some point the land starts to become more valuable than the studio. I mean, Paramount for instance right now, I would imagine their greatest asset is their land.
John: It’s got to be. And I was reading an article recently, I’ll put a link in the show notes to this as well, that CBS Television Studios on Fairfax is looking at selling because that land now is incredibly valuable.
Craig: Oh yeah.
John: So, right now they film soap operas out of there and they film soap operas out of there and they film The Survivor finale – hi Jeff Probst, if you’re listening.
Craig: Hey Jeff.
John: You know, that land is worth so much right now. It’s right next to the Grove. That’s prime LA real estate. And so–
Craig: And they can shoot those things anywhere. They can shoot The Price is Right in Pacoima. They don’t need to be right there at the corner, you know, right next to Fairfax High and the Grove. So you’re right. And similarly when you look at – in particular you look at Fox. I mean, that real estate, even though it’s smaller than the Paramount Lot, I believe–
John: Yeah, still great real estate.
Craig: The location, I would assume that real estate is on an aggregate basis worth even more than Paramount. So, I don’t know what’s going to – this is all fascinating.
But you know what, John? This is what the money people do and think about. We – we don’t have to think about this.
John: No. Because we think of the creative decisions. We think about what’s happening in the movies. And so let’s make our big transition the feature topic for today which is Breakups. So, last time we did a segment on This Kind of Scene, people afterwards suggested other things. And I think it was Alex Blagg in my Twitter feed who suggested, oh, you should do one on breakups, which is a great idea. Because so many movies have breakups. They’re kind of a crucial way of either putting a character out on a path or forcing a character to confront sort of a worst of a worst at the end of the second act as they go into the next phase of their life.
There’s a tremendous way of just revealing what’s going on inside a character and the choices the character has to make going forward.
Craig: Yeah. And it is an interesting kind of scene because unlike a lot of them it really can serve two wildly different purposes. And you’ve basically put your finger on it, right? If you have a movie about somebody that is recovering from a wound you want to start them with the breakup. And if it’s a movie where somebody is outgrowing a relationship or the relationship needs to be tested and either succeed or fail, or somebody is moving past something to go onto something bigger then the breakup can come later on in the movie. But they’re two completely different purposes. And also tonally breakups are incredibly flexible. You can do a really funny one. You can do a really sad one. You can do one that’s quiet. You could do one that’s screaming.
Think of a breakup really as a set piece. I mean, it’s as flexible as the notion of stopping your movie to do an event. Like a car chase or physical comedy scene or a fist fight or a montage.
John: Absolutely. And once that moment happens, the rest of the movie is different. By definition, you’ve changed the trajectory of the movie greatly once that breakup has occurred.
So on Twitter I asked people for their suggestions for breakup scenes. Once again, we have the best listeners in the entire universe. People suggested six or seven movies we’re going to take a listen to today. But let’s start with our first clip. Any discussion of film I think it’s required to include Casablanca at some point and we’ve never done that. So this–
Craig: That’s crazy.
John: This is from Casablanca, screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, Directed by Michael Curtis. Let’s take a listen.
[Casablanca clip plays]
And scene. Craig Mazin, not only classic lines in this little piece, but also a character is speaking his truth. Tell me about the scene.
Craig: Well, first of all just aside from the writing and the story, it always makes me wistful when I see this because there is something that we have lost. There’s just a look of these people, you know, just Bergman and Bogie and just their faces and the way the black and white works. It’s just remarkable.
This is a breakup scene you can’t do anymore. It’s very much a scene where someone is dumping somebody else but for noble reasons, even when he says it’s not noble. But then he explains why it is noble and we understand it. And really what it comes down to is one person is telling another one why he has figured out what is best for the two of them.
From a story point of view, there are times when you need two people to break up, and you don’t want to feel bad about it. You want the audience to feel wistful, but you want them to feel like, you know what, this is what needs to happen here. Let’s be sad about it but accept it. It’s a tricky thing to do because of course in reality that’s nearly impossible to break up with somebody so cleanly, so romantically.
I mean, the thing about this scene is somehow my feminine side is even more in love with Bogie after he’s dumped me. [laughs] Which is remarkable. But, you know, look, there’s an enormous amount of old school patriarchy here. “I did the thinking for both of us.” And even the line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” I mean, it’s so infantilizing. But he really is just laying it out for her.
You know, she is an international person who has been involved in politics and intrigue and now he’s explaining to her why their love story doesn’t matter because there’s more important things in the world. You know, “the problems of three people don’t amount to a hill of beans.”
Look, in a modern analysis it’s incredibly patronizing. But, inside of it it is a little bit of a masterclass on how to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, because you do end up understanding on an emotional level, putting all the politics aside, when Ilsa looks at him at the end there you know that she loves him for what is happening right there in the moment. And that’s an achievement.
John: Yeah. It struck me listening to this scene and then going through some of the ones we’re about to approach that breakups tend to be monologues, or essentially sort of slightly interrupted monologues, where one person basically lays out the case for why this breakup is happening. And the other person just has to respond. And there are a couple of cases we’re going to get to where it’s a little bit more even split between the two of them, but a lot of times it’s one character is driving the decision for why this has to end. Why this is the best choice or the only choice going forward.
And this is a very classic – this is – often you’ll see the breakup in the first act, really more the first ten pages, or going into the third act. But this is we’re walking off into the sunset. This is it’s all going to be over. This is the final parting. So it has a very different feeling. And I think you’re right, you’ve made this contract with your audience about what’s going to happen, and so part of that contract has to be respecting the investment they’ve made into this relationship and that you’re ending it in a way that leaves them hopeful for the characters. I think a crueler breakup, a crueler just like get out of here would not satisfy that contract you’ve made with the audience.
Craig: Yeah. Especially in the time. I mean, look, happy endings were the name of the game. And we’ll see an older film soon enough in our list here where it is the typical happy ending. So you can almost imagine the discussions that were happening when they were talking to the Epsteins. “OK, well, guys, we get that you don’t want them to have the happy ending, but you have to make us feel happy about it.” And they were like, “well, what if he sort of underlines how they have more important things to do?” And they’re like, “OK, yeah, but it’s not very romantic.”
“Well, what if he says to her that they once had a great love and that has now been rekindled in a way that they can carry with them in their own hearts separately?” “OK, that’s better.” Right? So this whole bit, “We’ll always have Paris,” we had it once and then we lost it, but now we have it again.
Look, there is a way to read this scene where it’s just a masterful sociopath manipulating this woman. I mean, because, look what is screenwriting after all but the manipulation of people. We’re using our left brain in combination with our right brain to create emotional feelings in the audience that we’re designing. It is definitionally manipulative. But we have to believe it and then believe that it feels OK. And certainly for the time I think they did a masterful job in making us feel OK about it.
John: Agreed. Let’s take a listen to another clip, this one almost completely the opposite in every way from Casablanca. This is from Forgetting Sarah Marshall by Jason Segel. Directed by Nick Stoller. And this one, it’s a little bit strange of a clip for us to be playing in a podcast because it’s really quiet. But I should give you some context if you haven’t seen the scene or don’t remember the movie.
As Kristen Bell enters the scene, Jason Segel is walking out of the bathroom just wearing a towel. He then drops a towel and flings his penis side to side, so that is the flapping you hear is his penis hitting on his–
John: His thighs basically. Let’s take a listen.
[Forgetting Sarah Marshall clip plays]
What I love so much about this clip is that it is so quiet. That it’s not – there’s no big talking. There’s no big explanation. He catches on just as we sort of catch on just by the vibe of the room. Like, oh no, this is terrible, this is going to end. And the notion of “if I put some clothes on then this is really over,” he wants to hang out in this really uncomfortable moment because at least he’s in this uncomfortable moment with her. And whenever this transition comes where he’s not in this horrible moment with her, he’s not with her at all.
So, it’s such a great notion that this is awful, but I’d rather stay in this awful than get on to the next thing.
Craig: Did I ever talk about David Zucker’s comedy term “driving instructor?”
John: No, tell me about that.
Craig: So, they were making Naked Gun and at one point they needed a car chase. And they wanted it to be funny, but they were struggling because they were just putting funny things that he was doing into the car chase. Like he would mistakenly hit something that he shouldn’t hit, or you know, stop at a light when he shouldn’t be stopping. Whatever it was. And it was just not working.
And then they landed on this idea that he was going to take over somebody else’s car. And that that car was in fact – there was a driving instructor – John Houseman, the great John Houseman – sitting in the passenger seat. And then a typical teenage girl sitting behind the wheel petrified because she’s never driven before. And he gets in the back and says, “Follow that car.”
So, John Houseman says, “All right.” He never changes his tone. He goes, “Put the car in drive. Proceed forward.” And so the driving instructor was the comic engine that allowed them to be funny throughout. It was the thing that gave a spine to this piece and gave them the ability to do multiple jokes.
And here it’s so smart that the driving instructor here is “I am hanging on, I don’t want you to leave me. I don’t want to break up. And I feel,” as you said, “if I put my pants on then our typical boyfriend/girlfriend intimacy is gone and it will be gone permanently. So, I have to keep doing stuff while I have not pants on.”
John: Yeah, John Houseman is basically Jason Segel’s penis.
Craig: That’s right. Which, you know, listen, that’s not an original observation. It’s been said many times. But that’s absolutely correct.
But this breakup scene is a fantastic example of a breakup scene that is designed to draw us to a character and make us love them. This scene is designed to evoke terrible empathy/pity. We now have an immediate rooting interest in this character getting happy again.
John: Absolutely. And I think what’s also crucial is we don’t hate Sarah Marshall. There’s a thousand versions where she’s the worst person on earth and we do not want him to pursue her at all, because we hate her. But because she still remains sympathetic through the scene, we are invested in like “maybe he has a shot. Maybe it’s not complete folly for him to go after her again.” And that’s what you need. That’s the driving engine of this whole plot. This is the premise scene of because of the nature of this scene he’s going to go on this journey to try to get her back.
Craig: Yeah. It would actually ruin the moment and drive us away from Jason’s character if she were somehow antagonistic. Because then we would think you’re better off without her, so I guess we’re just waiting around for you to figure that out. That’s unsatisfying. We don’t like to be ahead of our characters. I think probably every human has felt this at some point or another unfortunately. And it’s the feeling of rejection.
And we don’t feel that feeling when somebody we don’t like rejects us. We feel it when somebody we really, really love rejects us. And I think for us to identify with Jason’s character we need to also be able to look at Sarah Marshall, at Kristen’s character, and say “yeah I could see why he’s so in love with you.”
John: Yeah. Completely. All right, let’s take a listen to our next movie which is 500 Days of Summer by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, directed by Marc Webb. So, in the clip you’re about to hear we hear both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in sort of real time having a conversation, but we also hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt recapping what happened in the scene to I think it’s his sister, Chloe Grace Moretz. So that’s the cross-cutting you hear.
[500 Days of Summer clip plays]
All right, Craig, so this scene is sort of doing both things. It’s talking about the end of a relationship but it’s structurally at the start of the movie because things are happening out of sequence in the film.
Craig: Yeah. So it’s a real shot across the bow. I mean, we just said you can open your movie with this breakup scene the way that Sarah Marshall does and we understand the movie is about you somehow healing that wound. You can end a movie like they did in Casablanca with a break, which is about two characters ascending to some higher plane separately without each other.
Here, right off the bat, Scott and Michael and Marc say to us, hey, we’re not doing the normal story. We are going to be telling a romance story. These people are going to meet. They’re going to fall in love. We’re going to show you that they broke up right off the bat. You’re never going to have to worry that you’re ahead of us. We’re just going to lay it all out there because that’s not what this movie is about. This movie is about the spaces in between. It’s not about the story, or the what. It’s about the why.
That said, it’s a terrific breakup scene. Even if it had been in sequence. Because it’s so cruel.
John: Yeah. It’s cruel with a smile in a way that’s really sort of important. And what I find so fascinating is because it’s recognizing that the audience is catching up with these characters, it has to be very methodical and very clever in how it’s letting you know who these characters are at different points in the relationship. It needs to know what you are thinking, what the characters are thinking.
I have to imagine even on the set as they were shooting these scenes they had to be just really careful with not only where the characters were at, but where the audience was at based on what the audience already knew about the characters.
Craig: Yeah. But it’s very brave. They are not really holding your hand too much. They are right on the edge of confusion. And the important thing for us watching it is we may not quite understand how he so quickly gets that she’s dumping him because we haven’t seen the relationship yet.
Once you get through the movie, you go back and watch it again, you’re like, “oh yeah, I completely get it now. I, too, would also know what she’s doing here.” But it was enough for us to know that he knew.
Craig: And when he walks out, Scott and Michael give us a little gift. So, congratulations, you’re not puzzled. She’s going to say, “But we can still be friends.” Yes, we knew what was going on. We got it right.
John: Yeah. For sure. All right, next let’s take a listen to Love & Basketball. It’s written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. This is a scene between Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. And in the longer clip you’ll see that she actually is talking about how busy she is before it gets into the section that we’re going to listen to. But let’s take a listen to their breakup scene. This is happening in the second act.
[Love & Basketball clip plays]
Craig, Omar Epps would still like to be friends.
Craig: So, we can still be friends is the universal oh-god-no statement. And, again, I believe everyone at some point or another has heard another person say that to them, completely sincerely, or insincerely, but unironically. I love this scene. This is my kind of breakup scene.
So, this is traditional. I think of this scene as a traditional breakup scene where two people who are in a relationship have a fight. So there’s a back and forth. There is a parrying and I think far truer to the way real breakups work where there is a back and forth and essentially a blame game. And both people are trying to kind of get the perspective advantage on the other person. I’m seeing this from a bigger point of view. No I am. No I am, no I am. Back and forth. Back and forth.
What I love about this scene is that there’s a shape to it. A lot of times fights will be flabby. They just sort of run along. As they do in real life. They go in circles and things are repeated and they run along. This is very well structured. And there’s a surprise. The breakup part is a surprise. And I think this is the challenge we have as writers when we’re doing traditional scenes. And Gina Prince-Bythewood does exactly what you need to do, which is figure out a way to be fresh. She decides what I’m going to do is I’m going to do a breakup scene but I’m going to make it seem like the point of the breakup scene is “how do we stay together.” And then at the end he reveals, “no-no-no, you think that’s what this argument is. What I’m building up to is I’m dumping you.” And that’s really smart.
John: Absolutely. So she’s trying like how do we save this relationship because he’s already pulling the rip cord.
Another crucial thing which I think we need to talk about is this scene is semi-public. And by semi-public means they are having a conversation just between the two of them, but at a certain point people cross through the scene. And so they have to stop arguing so that people can get past them. And it forms a very natural break in the scene. So it’s useful writing wise because it gives a chance to pivot. But it’s also a thing that happens in the real world. It makes it feel more grounded and real. Suddenly not everyone has left the college campus just so these two people can have this argument.
Like letting some other people drift through the argument gives these characters a little more ground and a little more reality and makes the scene feel appropriately real for this kind of movie.
Craig: Yeah. And I really liked the reactions that were going on because there isn’t tears. There isn’t sobbing. There isn’t screaming or yelling. It actually operates in a way that I think again most breakups do operate. They are spoken. The tears come after. The screaming, and the crying, and the sobbing comes after, unless you’re trying to be comedic like Forgetting Sarah Marshall where you should go over the top. That’s the point.
But here it’s really more of a sense of being stunned. That is what you’re kind of getting to is that shock of having the rug pulled out from under you. And that’s why it’s so important when you’re writing a scene like this to shock the audience as well as the character, otherwise when she’s shocked we’re not.
John: Yeah. So once again she’s the Jason Segel character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This has come as a surprise to her. The difference is it’s not clear that Omar Epps walked into the scene knowing that he was going to say what he was going to say. It just sort of happened in the course of the scene. It’s a longer scene and as the fight began it got to this point, versus Sarah Marshall where she shows up with an agenda. I’m going to end this thing.
Craig: Right. And you can believe that he may have thought in the back of his mind, “All right. I’m going to give this one more shot here.” And it just quickly goes south.
When these things happen, when you tell somebody that you don’t want to be with them anymore, I think oftentimes they are the result of an emotional snap. It’s rarely planned out ahead of time. I think a lot of people are trying to kind of keep it going. And then finally you just go, “oh god, I have to listen to myself at last. The pain of this confrontation, of guilt, of having to absorb the burdens of the feelings I’m about to create in another person are no longer as burdensome to me as my need to stop this.”
So, I believed it.
John: Yeah. It’s also fascinating when you see quiet people having fights. Because this isn’t a big loud shouting fight. Last year when we were in Paris, we were waiting to pick my daughter up at school and we were crossing this bridge and there was this couple that was having the loudest fight I’ve ever seen. Screaming at the top of their lungs. And to the point where we kind of interceded because we were trying to make sure that the woman felt safe and stuff. And both these people fighting turned on us and said like, “Stay out of our business.” And then they proceeded to keep yelling at each other.
It was such a weird moment, but I realized that as a basically quiet person I could not even perceive that you could have a fight at that level. And this is a thing that could happen in the real world. I kept looking around for cameras, like who has this kind of fight.
Craig: This cartoon fight?
John: But they kept walking and shouting at each other until they finally faded in the distance. These characters in Love & Basketball are not those big loud shouters. And so they have the same feelings, but they’re quieter feelings. And when they come out this is what they sound like. So I was impressed by the reality of this.
Craig: I like that somewhere there is a French couple that talks about this nosy American.
John: Totally, yeah.
Craig: Who took it upon himself to solve their – they weren’t even having a real – it wasn’t like one of their real fights where they burn each other with cigarettes. It was just one of their average fights where they scream at the top of their lungs.
John: They were throwing trash at each other. Like they would go through trash cans and pull stuff out and throw it at each other.
Craig: Those two people actually sound amazing. Like I wish – Melissa and I have never loved each other enough to throw trash at each other, you know. We have a more subdued love.
John: You know who had a really subdued love?
John: It’s those two guys in Brokeback Mountain. So that’s our next clip.
Craig: Very subdued.
John: So a screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. This movie is directed by Ang Lee. It is delightful but I’d not watched it since it came out and I had not listened to it. So let’s take a listen to this clip. This is the one that has the most bad language, so warning on that. Let’s take a listen.
[Brokeback Mountain clip plays]
Oh, Jack and Ennis. Craig Mazin, did you wince a little bit when they said Brokeback Mountain?
John: Yeah. It’s just one of those things where when you say the title of the film you’re like, oh no, no you didn’t just do that.
Craig: Yeah. They did it. They did it. But, you know, the thing is we all know the name now. I guess when I saw the movie it was still a term that hadn’t been said a billion times. Also, this is one of those lines like that we always misremember. So I always remembered it as, “I can’t quit you.” But it’s actually, “I wish I could quit you,” right?
John: “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
Craig: “I wish I knew how to quit you.” It’s such a great line. So, here’s an example where people are shouting at each other and it’s incredibly high drama. Like super high drama. Everything is pitched at a nine or a ten, including a full breakdown and everything. But, it is in fact the culmination of a very long, quiet, repressed, volcano of a romance. So it makes sense.
And really this breakup scene isn’t so much about them breaking up as it is about Ennis turning his back on himself and the man he loves.
John: Yeah. I think so many breakup scenes though are really about a character’s sense of their own identity. Do they see themselves as existing independently of this other person? Who do they want to be beyond this point?
And you have two characters here who want different things out of each other. And they cannot come to terms with that and that’s the nature of the conflict between them.
But, I mean, in many cases every relationship is about each person wants some different things. And in this case it’s just the most extreme version of that.
Craig: It is an example though of how you need to identify with one of the sparring partners. So when we look at Love & Basketball for instance, I’m identifying with Sanaa Lathan because she’s the one who is about to be surprised, so I get surprised with her. And also she’s trying to explain herself. It just feels more like her scene. And similarly here I identify with Heath Ledger because I feel like he’s the one who is going through this other thing. And in a weird way they’re having this argument and I think that Jack is right. You know, I mean, they’re screaming at each other but Jack is correct. Because Ennis is going to pull this baloney on him and basically say “if you’re sleeping around with other guys, if I were to know that I might kill you.”
And Jack basically reads him the riot act and he’s totally right. And this is where Ennis, Heath Ledger’s character, just cannot – ultimately can’t handle it. He just cannot let the lie go. And they both know at that point it’s over. That’s it. He’s made his choice.
So, there’s a perspective there that I think is really important to keep in mind when we write these scenes. It should be a good argument, but sometimes it’s OK if the argument is out of whack in the sense that we’re like, “no-no-no, that person is absolutely correct. They win the argument.” Because the person who loses the argument, there is information in why they lost that could be very valuable.
John: Well, always be mindful of the audience’s expectations and the audience’s hopes. And so I think the audience’s hope at this point is that Jack will convince Ennis that, you know what, we really do belong together. Let’s make this all work out. And that is sort of why we’re on Jack’s side. That’s why we’re rooting for Jack to succeed here.
But I think this is an interesting scene in that so often in breakups all of our energy is with one character. Like we can only really see one character’s perspective. And the other character is a monster. Here I am very sympathetic to Heath Ledger’s plight. And because we spent quite a bit of time with him as well.
So often in these stories you really have your protagonist and you have the love interest who is attached to the protagonist but you’re not seeing their point of view independently. And in this case we are seeing what their lives are like separately and we understand a lot more what’s going on with Heath Ledger. And so it’s a tragedy because we know why they’re not together, but we still are hoping somehow they will get together.
Craig: That’s right. And I think that this scene is a great guideline for the sort of character and story meat that needs to be there to warrant this level of drama.
John: For sure.
Craig: Which is bordering on melodrama. You basically have to have somebody not just breaking up with someone. They have to be torpedoing their entire life. Otherwise it just feels like soap opera. And soap operas get a bad rep in part because they just indulge in this sort of melodrama without these kind of enormous upheavals going on underneath. But when you’re writing a movie you can do it. You just need to earn it. And in this case they earn it because of what happens with Heath Ledger. If it didn’t end that way, then that scene would have been a bit ridiculous I think.
John: Yeah. We always say that movies are about stories that can only happen once. And this is a scene that can only happen once between these two characters. If it happened more than once then you’re annoyed with these people because you can only have this fight once.
Craig: [laughs] You’re just like, I was totally into you emotionally, and now I realize you’re just annoying, screamy me-mes who like to just yell at each other all the time. And you don’t have any real – like you’re just nuts. That’s the problem with you two. You guys are just crazy.
So, you’re right. You can only do this once.
John: Yeah. I won’t single out any one picture for it, but a lot of times in biopics I will see basically they go to the same scene like three times. It’s like, no I’m done. This scene, this happened once. We’re done. Let’s move on. But because they’re biopics, in real life people do kind of linger around each other, or they fight and they make up and they stay together. But in a movie I want it once. I don’t want it again and again.
Craig: No question. It just loses its impact if it happens more than once.
John: All right. For our final scene let’s take a listen to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is by George Axelrod, based on the novel by Truman Capote. This movie directed by Blake Edwards. I always forgot that Blake Edwards directed this movie. Let’s take a listen.
[Breakfast at Tiffany’s clip plays]
So, a thing you may not have caught from the audio clip is she has her cat and she puts her cat out in the rain. And then we see this single shot of this cat, just like drenched in rain, staring back at the car as it drives off. I have never been so angry as I’m seeing this cat just sitting there in the rain.
Craig, talk me off my ledge.
Craig: Someone left their cat out in the rain. That’s the most melodramatic song ever written. MacArthur Park. Not about a cat, but a cake.
Well, this is dated.
Craig: You know, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a movie that is beloved for all sorts of good reasons. It is also remarkably dated for so many reasons, most notably perhaps the single most racist performance in film history. And that’s saying something when film history includes Birth of a Nation. So it’s dated.
This is a very operatic sort of thing. And they’re making this point. We would do this so differently now, because I just think we’re more sophisticated now. The idea is that this is going to be a breakup that unbreaks-up. And it unbreaks-up because this man delivers a kind of stinging rebuke of this woman’s problem. He states her problem. He summarizes her problem. It’s all incredibly written. I mean, nobody talks like this. Nobody has the presence of mind to deliver this. We would say now that feels written.
But the whole point is you’re afraid of being in love, which is a very shopworn problem that movie characters have far more than real people. I’m still waiting to meet a real person that is afraid of being in love. Yes, she realizes that he’s right, of course, and then runs after him. But the cat becomes a symbol of their love, and she threw it out of the cab. And then about two minutes later she desperately wants it back. Finds it. Is super happy. And then they’re together and they kiss.
It’s very simplistic. And I think this is sort of an example of what to no longer do.
John: Yeah, it’s interesting that we’re bookending this with Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s because they’re both classic movies and loved for reasons they should be loved. But in both situations the female characters are not being well-served by their male screenwriters. Casablanca, you get sort of why it is this way. But to have the man explain to the woman what’s really going on and what she should want is a frustrating trope.
Craig: It is. And they’ve also stacked the deck. They’ve made it so that she has this glaring problem that he can just summarize before stepping away from a cab. This also, in general I think when characters do things like unceremoniously get rid of a symbol of their love, like the cat, we’d like a little bit more time to pass before they go looking for the cat again. I think in today’s world the cat would be gotten rid of. She would go home. He would go home. She would be alone. She would miss the cat. She would go out at night to try and find the cat. It would take some time, you know.
It’s all so compressed. And I think fake. And I don’t mean to beat up Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Again, there’s a classic romantic aspect to it. And we generally are able to put these films in their time period and emotionally adjust on the fly. But the ending never struck me as particularly compelling. I never felt it, you know? Whereas the ending of Casablanca I absolutely feel because Ingrid Bergman sells me 100% that she feels in that moment. And that’s the key, you know, is that she feels through that thing, even though the screenplay completely robs her of agency at the very end, which is a disaster. But at least emotionally she feels true.
And here I actually don’t feel that Audrey Hepburn is emotionally true. It seems like it’s all being acted.
John: Yeah. I would agree with you here. So what lessons can we take overall from these breakup scenes? I guess I would look for breakups are this opportunity to really have characters talk about their feelings or expose their feelings that would be hard to get out in normal scenes. We’ve used the term operatic a few times here. But operas have songs. They have the ability to give introspection and let people sing things they wouldn’t otherwise say. And I think sometimes these heightened moments let characters kind of speak their subtext more, where we’re comfortable with them saying things that would be weird to say in other scenes because they are pitched up a little bit.
Even this Love & Basketball scene, which was overall pretty quiet, they are talking more about their inner wants than characters would normally be able to do in a scene.
Craig: That’s a great observation. It is a chance for you to maybe not be so concerned about burying everything under layers of subtext. Although in the case of 500 Days of Summer they did a pretty good job there burying things, maybe as a function of where it was in the movie. But I agree with you. I think that it is an opportunity to have characters state these things in an on-the-nose way. And in that opportunity one finds tremendous potential for danger.
So, things to watch out for when you’re writing breakup scenes. If you’re going big and melodramatic, the result of that breakup has to be more than just a breakup. There needs to be something bigger happening. Some larger relevance so we understand that something is being permanently damaged.
We want to keep that as sort of the high point emotionally, not in terms of positivity but just intensity. That is the most intense scene you want I think in your movie if you’re going in that direction. And also when you’re structuring a breakup scene, particularly if it’s a traditional breakup scene, you want to maintain some sense of surprise. If it starts out like a breakup scene and then an argument ensues and then it ends with a breakup that is going to feel very weak. Whereas if it starts one way and then it reveals itself to be a breakup scene, then you have the potential for a character to experience shock and the audience to feel something with them.
John: All the scenes we looked at today were romantic partners who were breaking up, but I think the same general lessons about breakups could apply to any kind of two character – sometimes even three character – situations where you have this tight group, this tight bond, that is being split. And so it could be best friends. It could be people on a mission together. It could be – there are other kinds of relationships which can break apart and really function in much the same way as these breakups. So we picked sort of all romantic relationships here.
But I think the same general rules apply. And you should look at, you know, whenever you have your protagonist and another character who are this tight couple, is there a reason why you need to split them apart. There’s something that could come between them. And is that an interesting thing for your story?
You know, if you’re making a romantic tragedy or a romantic comedy that’s probably going to be more likely to happen, but I love to see breakups that are part of stories that aren’t all about romance.
Craig: I agree. And whether you’re looking at a non-romantic breakup, like for instance we just had our Thanksgiving here in the United States, so Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Classic non-romantic breakup. But whether you’re doing the non-romantic or the romantic breakup, one thing to be aware of is if the breakup happens in a moment because one character says this incredibly cutting thing to the other person, which is exactly what happens by the way at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, whether the audience knows it or not consciously, they will have an expectation that if that cutting truth is true, and if it weren’t why else would be so cutting, the person to whom it is said will come around to recognize the truth of it. And in recognizing the truth of it that relationship will be healed.
So just know when you fire that particular missile you are setting up an expectation that the breakup is not permanent.
John: Very good point. So, thank you again for suggesting all these movies for this breakup episode. If you would like to suggest another This Kind of Scene for a future episode, hit us on Twitter and let us know what you think we should do for a future installment of This Kind of Scene.
All right, it’s time for our One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is the Merriam-Webster Time Traveler. And so it is a website you can go to and you can look at the year you were born, or any year that you care to look at, and see what words were new that year. So basically the first known occurrences of these words on that year.
And so for the year I was born, 1970, first appearances of dorky, micro-aggression, op-ed, survivalist, herstory, Tourette’s Syndrome, and viewshed, which I didn’t even know what viewshed was. I had to look it up.
Craig: What’s viewshed?
John: Viewshed is the area you can see from a place. And so it’s basically what’s visible from where you’re standing. I think it’s important for sight lines and for protecting one’s view from a building.
Craig: Hmm. Interesting. OK.
John: But I love this kind of stuff. I would have assumed that dorky was older than that. I would have assumed micro-aggression was much newer than that. Op-ed feels like it should have always been around.
Craig: Yeah. For sure. I’m looking at my year. 1971. Sexual assault and sexual harassment.
John: All right. So they started with you.
Craig: They started with me. Also sadly post-racial. Not yet, 1971. Not even close. Still haven’t gotten there as far as I can tell. But there are some nice ones like minibar. We all love a minibar. HMO, not so good. Homophobe, 1971.
John: Yeah. There wasn’t even such a thing.
Craig: Well, I mean, there were definitely homophobes but now they knew what to call themselves. [laughs]
John: And wiseass.
Craig: Wiseass. You’re right.
John: So this is the Merriam-Webster version of this. But I’ll say another really good thing to take a look at is Google’s n-gram viewer. I think this is a previous One Cool Thing for me, but I used this a lot with Arlo Finch to figure out whether certain words existed at a time, or like which of two variants of a word was more popular.
So, if you go to books.google.com/n-grams, basically all the books that Google has digitized, you can look through and figure out when the first occurrences of a word were in books overall in print. And that’s a fascinating time hole to be falling into.
Craig: One movie word that came into use in 1971, high-concept.
John: Oh, very nice.
Craig: Yeah, before that everything was high-concept.
John: Yes. Absolutely.
John: Craig, do you have a One Cool Thing?
Craig: I sure don’t.
John: You’ve got nothing?
Craig: Yeah, I’ve got nothing. You know what? It was Thanksgiving. A lot of confusion going on in my head. And I just thought, you know, is there One Cool Thing in the world right now? No. No Cool Things.
John: You just didn’t do your minimum amount of work required.
Craig: That is an alternative explanation for what I just said.
John: So while Megan and I were going through these clips and figuring out what movies we should be doing, you didn’t do any of this work whatsoever.
Craig: No, that’s right.
John: All right, so I understand that’s your prerogative. You want to do that, that’s fine. So you don’t want to do it, that’s fine.
Craig: So we’re breaking up? [laughs]
John: I mean, I hope we can still be friends.
Craig: This is, by the way, a bad way to end the breakup scene. Well, maybe it’s a good way for somebody to say, “Wait, are we breaking up? Is it happening? It’s happening right now.”
John: I’m sure there’s a scene that’s done this where like you as the audience are way ahead of the other character and you know they’re breaking up and the character has no idea that they’re being broken up with.
Craig: No question. There’s definitely a bunch of those. No, you can’t quit me.
John: I can’t quit you, at least not before the live show. So people should come to see that.
Craig: That doesn’t sound positive.
John: Live show tickets are available right now. They are December 7 here in Hollywood. It is at the LA Film School across from ArcLight. You should come see us, along with our terrific guests. If you would like to read the first five chapters of Arlo Finch, that is at arlofinchbooks.com.
Our outro this week is by Jukebox Experiment. It is a great one. It turns out we had more outros than I thought. They had just been put in a folder I did not expect them to be in. So, we have some great ones, but we would always love more great outros. So, just write in to email@example.com with a link to your outro. Here’s a reminder. I’ve listened to a couple recently where it’s like that’s lovely music. It has nothing to do with our theme. So, all of our outros use the five notes of our theme. So, [hums]. Or, [hums]. Something like that. Minor is also OK. But I have to be able to hear that it actually has the Scriptnotes theme in it, otherwise it’s just lovely music.
Craig: Hmm. And John is rigorous about these things.
John: I’m very rigorous. I’m a rule follower. I’m a rule maker and a rule follower. But not as much as Megan McDonnell who is our producer. Thank you Megan for getting together our clips this week.
Our show is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Apologies to Matthew because we just messed up a ton this week. Probably a new record for how much we messed up this week.
Craig: I don’t know if I would say “we.”
John: Well, you had a few yourself.
Craig: I had a few. For me relatively speaking it was a bad week.
John: If you have a question for us, you can write in to firstname.lastname@example.org. But on Twitter, I’m @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. So, tweet at us and tell us what you’d like for the next installment of This Kind of Scene.
You can find us on Facebook and on Apple Podcasts. Just search for Scriptnotes while you’re there. That’s always lovely.
The notes for this episode, including the PDFs for all the scenes we talked about, is at johnaugust.com. Just search for this episode. That’s also where you’ll find the transcripts for the back episodes.
You can find all those back episodes at Scriptnotes.net. It’s $2 a month. And we have more of the USB drives which have the first 300 episodes, plus all the bonus episodes available at store.johnaugust.com. Delightful Christmas shopping if you’d like to stick on in your friend’s stocking. That sounds so disturbing.
Craig: [laughs] If you’d like to stick one in your friend’s stocking.
John: No, that’s never a good thing to do.
Craig: Go to store.johnaugust.com.
John: Yeah. That’s where we have them.
Craig: Stick it in.
John: I hope we can still be friends.
Craig: You know, I think Stick It In is a fantastic holiday motto for us, John.
John: Yeah. Stick It In.
Craig: Stick It In. Great show. And for all of you out there listening, please do get your tickets now because they’re going fast. Jon Bon Jovi of podcasts.
John: See you.
- Holiday Live Show tickets are available.
- Godless on Netflix
- The first 5 chapters of Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire are online.
- Hollywood studio real estate-related articles about Studio City, Century City, the history of the Disney Studio and CBS’ possible move to sell Television City.
- Casablanca scene and script, with the scene starting on page 119.
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall scene, pages, and script.
- (500) Days of Summer scene, pages, and script.
- Love and Basketball scene, pages, and script.
- Brokeback Mountain scene, pages, and script.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s scene, pages, and script.
- Merriam-Webster Time Traveler will show you the words that were added in any given year.
- If you like that, you might like the Google n-gram viewer which graphs frequency of word use.
- The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
- The USB drives!
- John August on Twitter
- Craig Mazin on Twitter
- John on Instagram
- Find past episodes
- Outro by Arbitrary Jukebox (send us yours!)
Email us at email@example.com
You can download the episode here.