The original post for this episode can be found here.
John August: So, language warning. There are some bad words in this episode, so if you’re driving in the car with your kids you might want to put on some headphones. Well, don’t well headphones in the car. But you might not want your kids in the car while you’re listening to this. Or put on headphones and listen to it somewhere else.
Hello and welcome. My name is John August and this is Scriptnotes, Episode 346. It’s a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Craig just started shooting Chernobyl, so he is off in Lithuania. But I am lucky to be joined by Christina Hodson, a screenwriter whose credits include the upcoming Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. It was also just announced that she will be writing the upcoming Batgirl for Warner Bros. Welcome Christina.
Christina Hodson: Hello. Thank you for having me.
John: So mostly I don’t want to talk about big comic book movies or big Transformer movies–
Christina: Why not?
John: I want to talk about your experience on things like the Black List. I want to talk about inclusion riders. Characters’ races. Windows and mirrors. Who gets to write blank? The male/female splits in movies. Basically I want to solve the systemic issues of inclusion and representation in Hollywood in the next 59 minutes. Is that OK?
Christina: Great. I think that’s very achievable. And between the two of us I think we’re probably going to get it all done.
John: We’re smart people.
Christina: Yeah. I feel confident. Strangely confident.
John: We’re feature writers. So as feature writers, maybe we’ll only solve it for features. But I feel like that will be a good template for extending through to the rest of the industry.
Christina: Maybe the rest of the world.
John: Maybe so.
John: You know what? Because Hollywood is the world.
Christina: It’s true.
John: If it happens here, it can happen anywhere.
Christina: I mean, this is the most important place in the world.
John: It is the most important place in the world. I have a little news before we get to that, though. First off, I’m going to be at the LA Times Festival of Books. That’s the big event that’s at USC. That is Saturday April 21 at 4:30pm. I’m on a panel talking about Launch and Arlo Finch. I’ll be signing Arlo Finch copies. So if you want to come and see me and producer Megan McDonnell and producer Ben Adair, we’ll be there. April 21 at 4:30pm. Come to that.
Also, LA Times Festival of Books is great. Christina have you ever been to that?
Christina: I have not.
John: So they basically take over the USC campus and it’s all book stuff and it’s great. And there’s lots of stuff for kids, but also panels for grownups, so it’s cool for that.
Second off, I made a game. It’s called AlphaBirds. Christina has it in her hands right now.
Christina: It is very adorable.
John: It is a small red box. It is a word game, so if you are a fan of Scrabble or Boggle or things where you make words it’s like that, but it’s a card game. It’s really good for like two to five people. We usually play on Friday afternoons as we are drinking beers. And it’s good because most of these word games require such intense focus. This requires intense focus while it is your turn, and then you can just chat and drink your beer other times.
So, if you would like to see AlphaBirds it is at alphabirdsgame.com.
Christina, you are mostly a feature writer. Are you only a feature writer? Have you done TV?
Christina: I’ve developed one TV show for about five years. And the rights just lapsed. So mostly features, yeah. Features is where my heart is and I only did the TV show because the book that I was adapting was too good to do in two hours.
John: So talk me through where you started, because I think you came through development?
Christina: Yeah. So I started in London. I’m obviously British. Or I’m just putting on this accent for show.
John: It’s a really impressive accent. So nicely done.
Christina: Thank you. I’ve been working hard on it. I’m actually from Texas.
So I started in London. I was at Focus Features. I kind of worked my way up from the very bottom. I was a runner at Working Title first and then an intern at Focus. Worked my way up to a junior-junior executive there. Was in development. And then moved to New York where I ran development for a small strange company, mostly features but some TV.
John: A Small Strange Company is a really good name for a company.
Christina: By the way, it is. Now I’m going to take that and use it for my own company. Small Strange Company.
John: For your loan out.
Christina: Just to be creepy and mysterious. But I did not love it. I loved working with writers. I loved story. I did not love my job. So I started writing, weirdly actually I also wrote kids’ books. Dark, weird, twisted kids’ books. It was a cautionary tales book written in rhyming iambic tetrameter. I mean, it was–
John: It was poetic.
Christina: It was poetic. But very cruel and dark and sinister. It was Roald Dahl meets Edward Gorey. And I gave it to one friend. They passed it around. And I got a call from a book agent at ICM saying, “Hey, thank you for your submission. I want to rep you.” And I was like I don’t know who you are, but great.
And then very shortly after that my now husband and I got engaged, married, moved, quit our jobs. Everything within four weeks. Moved to LA. And I had 90 days while my green card was pending. And I was like, well, I’ve got a book agent. Maybe I can write. Maybe I’ll just take 90 days and I tried to write a screenplay. And I got very, very lucky. And my first screenplay was Shut In, which ended up selling and then getting made into a movie that for a while was zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
John: Oh congratulations.
Christina: Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s a rare honor.
John: So what bumped you out of the zero percent? Someone liked it?
Christina: I guess. You know what? I stopped looking because they’re not as fun when they’re – the damning ones were really fun. The good ones were – I mean, few and far between, but not as fun.
John: So I want to back up here because this thing where you wrote this book and it got passed along and suddenly an agent at ICM was calling you, so often on the podcast this kind of thing happens where it’s a thing that you wrote that gets attention that you didn’t really mean for it. So you weren’t actively out there stumping for it. Just like people liked it.
Christina: Yes. I just got lucky. And that’s honestly a little bit what happened with Shut In as well. That script. I didn’t really mean for it to go out necessarily. I sat on it after I finished it for a month because I was too embarrassed to let anyone read it. I finally let my husband read it. He gave it to a friend who – and he gave it to one friend and one agent. And while the agent was reading it the friend slipped it to other people. So the agent then had to go out with it.
So my very first draft of my very first screenplay ended up being the one that went to the town, which was, you know, a weird experience. But yeah, with the book I had no intention of that at all.
John: So this script Shut In, that ultimately landed on the Black List. To what degree was it being out on the town was helpful or being on the list was helpful. This was 2013 Black List.
John: 2012 Black List. So it’s still relatively – the Black List had been going for a couple of years, but it was still relatively new for that. What was the experience of that for you?
Christina: Honestly, I mean, I’m a huge fan of the Black List and what Franklin is doing. In my case it didn’t actually make a huge difference just because my script went out to the town I think in February. And we had optioned it by I think March. And I’d already gotten my first – I then got my first studio job in I think May or June. And the Black List doesn’t come out until December. So by the time the Black List came out I was already working and I had already done the water bottle tour.
I was very lucky to be on the Black List the next two years, and that then became a thing that was nice for my agents to be able to say like, “She’s been on the Black List three times.” It was helpful. For the first one it kind of came too late almost.
John: Talk me through the 30 days left on your green card, because that’s a thing that I hear from a lot of international writers who are here and they start to sort of panic, like am I going to be able to stay in the country. Like how do I sort of keep this all going?
Christina: It’s awful. It’s awful. So it wasn’t 30 days left on my green card. It was 90 days where I was waiting for my green card to come through, where you’re not allowed to be earning money. You’re not really allowed to be seeking employment. Honestly, like a lot of people would have worked through that or would have done cheeky things. I am just so scared of breaking any of the rules. And I’m trying to become a citizen right now. I’m in the middle of the process. I was just always so nervous of that. And my main advice to people that are international people that are coming here: don’t break any of the rules. Once you do it, you can’t go back. And it impacts. So I’ve been through a lot of visas. I started on a student visa. That’s how I came to America. I had all the right intentions. And I started an MA at NYU and just hated it. Mainly because I’d been working in the industry already.
John: An MA in English or writing?
Christina: In film and TV. It was at Gallatin so it was a very specialized MA. And it was great, and it’s a wonderful school. But I’d come from being a grownup in London and earning money and having a job. And then suddenly being in classes with undergrads, because it was mixed, it was Gallatin so it was MAs and undergrads at the same time. It was too much.
So I started working almost straight away. I think I got a trainee visa. And then I was a consultant for a while. And then I got an H-1B. I went through the whole shebang.
John: So you have these 90 days and you’ve written the script during this time. When you sell this script Shut In and then you get hired for your first WGA job, does anything flip? How do you go from there to being able to stay in the country longer? What was the next visa?
Christina: My green card just came through because of getting married. It was good timing. That’s why it was lucky that I did everything in those 90 days so I didn’t have to worry about that. It is much harder if you are dependent on screenwriting for your visa. You kind of have to be fairly established in your own country and then come over. It’s tricky.
John: So international listeners should know that there are special visas for like if you are a fancy British screenwriter who is already established and you’re coming over on a special talents and–
Christina: Yeah, I think it’s a 01 Artist Visa.
John: And there are special attorneys here and there who will help you make that all work. But since you already had your green card you’ve just been working on your green card this whole time through?
John: That’s lucky.
Christina: Yes. All good.
John: So marry well.
Christina: Marry well.
John: That’s a good thing. Going back to the Black List, news came out this last week that Franklin actually secured funding to make movies himself.
Christina: Oh. That’s exciting.
John: I’ll be curious to see what that next step is. So we’ll have Franklin on the show at some point to talk through what that next thing is.
Christina: He is a good person to give money to.
John: I agree. So it’s money that comes out of China and James Schamus is also involved with it.
Christina: My first boss.
John: Absolutely. So, we’ll see what kind of movies they’re able to make. But apparently three to five movies per year they’re trying to either make or invest in.
Christina: Very cool.
John: That’ll be a new thing. When we first started emailing one of the things you wanted to talk about was race and representation. So, I’m curious, how do you identify yourself racially?
Christina: Somewhere in the middle. I’m half-Taiwanese and half-Caucasian. In England I call myself a Halfie. And me and my sisters, we call ourselves Halfies. Here I think half-Asian people tend to call themselves Hapas.
John: To what degree has that influenced you think your career in Hollywood? Do you think you are thought about for certain jobs because of that? Do you think it has any impact on sort of the things you’ve been approached about writing or how meetings have gone?
Christina: Definitely not in the past. And I would say it’s only shifting in the last six months, probably around Black Panther honestly where I think people are wanting to do things that are more culturally specific. It’s obviously kind of strange because some of the things I’m being sent are about Korean-Americans and I’m neither Korean nor American so I honestly don’t – I know probably as much as you do. You live fairly near to Koreatown. But it’s also like a tricky one because if I could only write the things that I know I would only be writing about British half-Asian girls. So, yeah. I’m somewhere between.
John: It’s interesting with writers because to some degree you end up kind of casting a writer for a project. You sort of think, well, who do you want to write this thing. And I always think about actual real casting and sort of what roles do actors decide to put themselves up for. And to what degree do you feel like you are an appropriate person for writing this kind of story or for participating in this kind of role.
And it’s challenging to figure out sort of like what do you feel confident being able to write those things for. And so do you get sent stuff ever that you feel like they just wanted an Asian person to take a look at or take a pass on? Or that doesn’t happen in your career yet?
Christina: That has not happened in my career yet, but mostly because I don’t think a lot of people are doing Asian-focused stuff. I really hope that starts to shift and I would love to start being sent more of those things, not necessarily because I’m going to write them but because it means that there’s more of them out there in the world.
I have a few African American screenwriting friends who definitely get sent things because they’re African American. And they’re like nothing in my resume suggests that I would want to write this other than the color of my skin. That can get a bit weird but I understand why it happens.
But, no, so far I’m not getting stuff because I’m half-Asian. I am getting sent stuff definitely all the time because I’m a woman.
John: Great. Well let’s talk about that. So you just signed on for Batgirl and other movies you’ve done have had female leads in them.
Christina: So far I’ve only written female leads.
John: All right. So let’s talk about sort of coming to this last year. There has been increased focus on moving beyond the Bechdel test to really looking at sort of like what are the roles for women in these films, but also what are the roles behind the scenes. And so you’ve been involved in some of these discussions. What is the shape of these discussions and where do you think we are headed overall in the next five years? Where do you think the natural trajectory is and where would you like to see the trajectory go?
Christina: Well one of the big focuses of Time’s Up is the 50/50 by 2020 which is just trying to shift in front of the screen, behind the camera, in executive offices. There is a massive imbalance right now. I think one of the pieces of information that came up through a Time’s Up meeting that most struck me was a visual essay that The Pudding did that was a breakdown of film dialogue by gender which was so shocking. And I watched the Stacy Smith Ted Talk that was very famous where she breaks down the number of female speaking characters versus male speaking characters, which shocked me and whatever. But honestly seeing the amount of dialogue spoken in percentages and that breakdown shocked me so much more I think because even movies that you assume are pretty female heavy when you look at them they’re not. It’s really shocking how silent a lot of the female characters are onscreen. Even I think Frozen doesn’t break – I could be wrong – but I think it approaches 50% female dialogue, but I don’t think it breaks it.
Finding Dory was the only movie in the Top Ten in 2016 that was just over 50%. I think it was 52% or something. But it’s kind of nutty.
John: It is nutty. That’s the one of the things that writers can actually do. So let’s talk about sort of where you think the writer’s responsibility is in trying to find parity and try to find an appropriate level of female voices in these things. What advice do you have to screenwriters as they’re looking at their scripts, plotting out their scripts in a big way but also looking at the scripts that they’ve written? How do we improve this?
Christina: Am I allowed to talk about–?
John: You’re absolutely allowed to talk about things you want to talk about.
Christina: OK. Well, the reason that I reached out to you in the first place is that I wanted to talk about this issue particularly, and I wanted to talk about Highland because I think that we can be self-policing. And we can be looking at our own unconscious biases, and I think it will really help. I think there’s a lot that needs to be done later down the line with casting directors and executives and making sure that the background characters are all kind of appropriately diverse.
But I think we can be doing a lot of that stuff as well kind of before it even leaves our desk. Geena Davis who obviously has been doing amazing work for gender balance onscreen, one of the things that she said that really struck me is that one of the most effective tactics she’s had is not kind of publicly shaming people for their statistics in looking at their work but going into companies, showing them kind of, look, this is what’s going onscreen from your company. Did you know that it was this imbalanced? And that people want to be better. And self-policing is a good thing.
So I was thinking it would be great if scriptwriting software like Highland, like Final Draft, could shift and have a way of looking at your own work so that you can do that gender breakdown so that it’s not always done after the fact in some depressing study. And you were very magical and did things incredibly quickly. And I’ve been playing with it. And it’s a really fascinating tool to be able to – I mean, you can explain how it works. But I went back and I looked at all of my scripts and I was really shocked by some.
I mean, I write really female-heavy things, but some of the results were really surprising. And it made me think how important it is that we all do this.
John: Yeah. So what you’re referring to is based on our emails we went back and looked at Highland 2 which is about to release and we added a gender analysis tool to Highland. And so based on your script while you’re writing it, or when you’re finished with it, or you can even drag in a finished PDF, we can go through and look at what is the split of male and female characters in the story and what percentage of dialogue and what percentage of words, down to–
Christina: The words is weirdly the most important thing I think. And that’s why you’ve got to be careful with some of these statistics because number of female speaking characters will include a waitress who says, “Here are you pancakes, honey.” And that doesn’t really count. But it does affect statistics. So looking at number of words spoken was important.
John: Absolutely. It was also important to us that you had the fine tune control. That you could take out certain characters who really are not characters. Or if you have robots that are neither male nor female you can sort of account for those as well.
Christina: Yeah, unspecified.
John: Yeah. So that’s a tool that’s coming out in the next version of Highland. And I would hope to see other software being able to use it, but also just it’s a tool for the industry to take a finished script and just say what is this. Because you look at the analysis that other companies have done sort of after the fact and it’s really hard. If you’re just going through a PDF–
Christina: Incredibly hard.
John: — with a highlighter and so this is a thing that software can do.
Christina: They’re also having to retrofit things through IMDb and character names have changed and the scripts that they have that are often old scripts, not the shooting script. Or even if they are the shooting script the final film is so different than the shooting script. So this I think is an amazing tool to be able to look at your own stuff before it leaves your desk. Or for as you say executives to be looking before it goes to the casting directors.
Like the thing that struck me is how many of my minor characters who I really didn’t care about I was just kind of going Cop, but I was using male – I would check, because I couldn’t remember if I’d done female cop or male cop, and I’d have to go back and check. And often I would just default into like he, his. I was just making them men because they were forgettable. [laughs]
John: Exactly. And so it’s being specific in ways that’s helpful. So let’s stick with gender for right now, but I want to get race next which is a more challenging topic. But when you proactively make female cop, when you proactively give a gender to some of those roles, it lets the movie fit into our world a little bit more – not cleanly, but a distinctive choice. It’s showing a female police officer–
Christina: It’s more accurate.
John: It’s more accurate. It’s also showing a female police officer, it’s showing people in these roles that is important.
Christina: It’s so important. Especially with STEM jobs. I think, you know, there’s that saying “If you can see it you can be it.” And I think particularly for young girls, like as a girl growing up I was watching TV and not that I wanted to be Indiana Jones, but I wanted the option of having a hero like an Indiana Jones. And they were all 40-something year-old strapping white men. And I think it’s really important that we see even with tertiary characters where it doesn’t really matter. There was this other statistic that came up that really shocked me which is that you can watch 85 hours of popular TV or movies right now and you would only see a single instance of a black or Hispanic woman doing anything to do with computer science.
Which given how many TV shows we have where it’s a bunch of nerds sitting around tapping away on computers, that’s kind of shocking.
John: That is.
Christina: And with STEM jobs, particularly like why can’t we make those background doctors and scientists and researchers and computer analysts? It’s so easy to shift that. And, yes, a lot of that onus is on casting. But we can do it often in our scripts by just giving them a name or kind of, I don’t know, we can shift that ourselves I think.
John: One of the things I’ve discovered as I’ve been playing around with the tool in Highland is that bumping up those minor characters can sort of give a little bit more parity, but it tends to be more major characters who have more lines that is ultimately going to make a huge difference. And so it gets me thinking about sort of like, “Well what if that character were female. How do those changes ripple through if that character is female?”
And I think so often in our movies we expect that if there’s a man and a woman onscreen that there’s a romance, either they are mom and son or there’s a romantic thing happening. And to be able to say like, “OK, these are just coworkers. These are just people who are on the same team rowing in the same direction” is an important aspect of representation, too. Because we work in workplaces where men and women are not romantically–
Christina: Most of the relationships in our lives, hopefully, are not romantic relationships.
John: Yeah. So finding ways for that to be possible as well.
The natural segue though then is race–
Christina: Segue Man!
John: Segue Man. Race and representation. And where I find it very easy, usually, to take a role and say like that’s male or female, sometimes it’s harder to say like, well, this role is Thai. Or this role is Sub-Saharan African. Like trying to figure out where the natural place is to be specific but not so specific that you’re precluding a bunch of other options.
Christina: That’s the problem. And you guys talk about this very rightly on the show, a lot of specificity is key. Specificity is wonderful. You want to write characters that don’t just feel like generically Asian but like my Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. That’s a really specific good character that is written as part of that culture, not just generic Asian guy.
But, if we are too specific in our first drafts, are we then limiting roles to a very, very tiny pool of actors when really what we want is just to make the whole movie more diverse? So it becomes really tricky, particularly I think in the kind of movies that we write, you know, bigger studio movies that the story won’t necessarily need to be about the fact that the dad in the movie is John Cho, and is Asian, but it would be great if he were.
So, it’s hard knowing when and where to specify. And one of the questions that I reached out to you with because I was thinking about it is should we – because I know Craig and you have said on the show in the past like you can’t put race just in parenthesis next to age because that’s not a character, as your only character description, which is completely true and fair. That’s not what defines you. But there’s also characters often where you don’t want to waste the lines or the extra words on a bigger character description, but you would like that person to be other.
It becomes tricky because you have to kind of find a standard. If you only name the people who are other than are you suggesting that everyone you don’t name is Caucasian? The answer is no, it shouldn’t be. But honestly there is a problem with the default white read.
John: There is. Absolutely. So let’s go back through and talk through some of these issues here. So, one of the ways which a screenwriter can signal that a character is a specific race is to give that character a name that’s just what race he’s from. And so Gutierrez or Chu or Chow or something like that.
Your Crazy Ex-Girlfriend reference is – and people can listen to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episode I did with, I think it was a bonus episode I did with Aline–
Christina: Yeah. It was great. I listened to it.
John: Where they talked about originally it was I think Josh Cho, originally Josh was supposed to be Chinese. And they ended up finding an actor who is Filipino and they said like, well, that’s awesome. We’ll make your last name Chan. And they built out his whole universe as Filipino and they were able to find a great Filipino writer who was going to help them out with all of that. And it worked out fantastic. It was a very specific thing.
And yet if they felt themselves limited by their initial instinct to cast him as Chinese they wouldn’t have gotten to that guy. So finding that flexibility.
Christina: Yeah. And what if – I mean, it’s slightly different with TV because Aline is in there and can make changes as she’s doing it and she’s very much in control. With features, imagine if that was a feature and she’d written it just Josh and didn’t specify any race, would people have been able to make the mental leap when they were casting him to be like, “Oh my gosh can he be Filipino?” You know, to go from nothing to a specific race – if she started with Josh as Chinese, would it have then been fairly easy for them to cast him as Filipino and kind of then tweak the script versus if she just left it open, everyone assumed he was white, and then you have to go to Asian. It’s a tricky thing.
John: I want to get back to a point you made about specifying a character’s race might make it seem like it’s important that he be that race. That there’s going to be a story reason why that character has to be that thing. And it’s a natural thing we see in features is that every choice seems deliberate, and so therefore if you’re making the choice there must be a reason why you’re making that choice. And sometimes the reason is just because you want the movie to be more diverse.
John: So we can flag that by names. I still feel a little hinky when I see the “Chinese, 40” after a character’s description.
Christina: Of course, yeah.
John: But maybe we need to get past that hinky feeling or find another way to show in scripts like, “These are opportunities for inclusive casting.”
Christina: I know. The question is do you have some kind – do you say “open ethnicity?” Do you have some shorthand for it? Some standardized thing that everyone is using? Because I’ve been talking to people kind of since I’ve been looking into this and a couple of studio heads have said, “Yeah, when we send things to casting if it doesn’t specify race, 100% the casting list comes back and it says Caucasian now suddenly next to their name.
And obviously we can’t fix all of that. But maybe there is something that we can do to fix some of it. I just feel like because we are completely in control until we give the script in, it feels like there’s got to be something we can do. And at least having the conversation I think is important because it’s a scary weird messy conversation. And when you first asked me to be on the show I was like, “I don’t think I should.” But I also think it’s time for us to have the messy, tricky conversations. And there aren’t any easy answers. But it doesn’t mean we should stop looking.
John: Yeah. Often when I send in a script I’ll have an after page that will give additional notes about things. Like if I’m using songs in a script I’ll add a page that says these are the songs and these are the people who wrote the songs, just so I feel like I’m not just poaching people’s stuff. Or make it clear what was the original song versus what I added and so people know where stuff came through.
And so I can imagine we could come up with some sort of standard thing that doesn’t feel too scary that says like opportunities for inclusion or things like that, because you don’t want to list only the roles that could be non-white, but you want to make sure that you’re flagging–
Christina: That it’s clear that things are open. Craig also suggested when we were emailing – his suggestion was he’s always wanted a character breakdown at the front of scripts. I think doing them at the front of scripts in the ways that plays do is probably too much of an ask. It’s like a big change in this industry. I also think it kind of kills some of the mystery and romance of like, “Oh, who are we going to meet later in this script?” But I do think there’s a world where that’s a standard thing that you deliver with a script at the back, or as a separate addendum, which maybe could help there where you could literally have a slot where you’re listing the age range, where you’re listing is race important in this particular – is a specific race important in this role or is it open? And if you say open then it should be open and shouldn’t be white specific.
John: The conversation we’re having is really between what we do as a writer and what a director will do and what a casting director does, and obviously producers and studio heads have influence over this, too. But it’s how do we sort of get from this idea of what we have on the page to the actual breakdown. And that literally is the casting breakdown.
This last week someone on Twitter had posted – I think it was a Deadline article that I tweeted about a casting breakdown for a new show. And they were describing the different characters in this – it sort of felt like a Friends kind of show. And the female lead of the show, it was painful sort of how she was described where she’s like, “She’s a girly-girl who can hang with the guys. And she has a tattoo behind her ear.” And it didn’t talk anything about what she wanted or what her goals in life were. It was just like she’s the hot girl next door.
And I do wonder if there’s something that we as screenwriters can do to sort of help get past those casting breakdowns. Because I guarantee you those writers didn’t write that description. It was written by the casting breakdown person. But we need a little intervention there with them about how we’re describing these characters because it’s so frustrating for us, the writers, but also it’s got to be frustrating for every actor going in for that part.
Christina: But also kind of humiliating. Just depressing. Yeah, we do need to fix that. I also think that – and you and Craig again talk about this often and it’s so important is good character descriptions in the script when you first introduce a character. That aren’t all about how cute, effortless. Ugh. We need to work on that and we need to make sure that our character descriptions on the page – because by the way the casting breakdowns would love to just copy and paste something from our own scripts if we had great pieces of intro there.
The problem is how many lines you use up. And sometimes you try to pack a lot in and you can’t afford to do that. But also describing someone in a way that does leave it open racially. I wrote one of my spec scripts, where because I’m mixed race I generally am not assuming anyone is white. I’m kind of assuming anyone is anything. But I kept hearing that people assumed that the lead role was white and I couldn’t understand why. And I went through the whole script and I found there was a couple of places where I said that she pales. And they were like, “Oh, she must be pale. She must be white.” And I was like people of other colors can pale as well.
Christina: But little things like that, or comments on color of eyes can subconsciously be really rooting you in a certain race without you meaning to.
John: Yeah. A script I wrote recently that I may direct at some point, I wrote one of the main roles in it. And in my head it’s like, well, you know Octavia Spencer who was in The Nines would be fantastic for this. But I didn’t put anything in there specifically that said she was African American. And so it was interesting as I sent it out for – because we were doing budgeting – and I started talking with producers about this is who I was thinking about. They’re like, “Oh, I didn’t realize she was black.” And because I didn’t insist that she be black it did go to a default white.
Christina: The default white is crazy. I was in a studio meeting a year or so ago where someone said, “Oh, I’m really worried this script is too white.” I mean, I’m pleased by the way they were worrying about it, but I said, “Why? There’s only two people that are specified where it was important and one was Hispanic and one was African American.” And they were like, “Well, everyone is white.” And I was like, “No they’re not. They’re just not specified as being anything,” because again I don’t want to say that someone is Indian and then block someone that’s Thai getting the part. You don’t – they could be anything, but everyone just kind of – unless you point it out or unless it’s part of the story does kind of default white read most of your characters unfortunately.
John: Yeah. We only have about 20 minutes left, so I don’t know if we’re going to be able to solve default white reads.
John: I mean, come one, we promised people–
Christina: I know. I thought we would be so much further ahead than this.
John: I think part of the solving it though is the real discussion of it and sort of recognition of that if you don’t specify people are going to fall into that. Or maybe we can train readers to not slip into that thing so quickly. But it is frustrating.
Have you heard the term “windows and mirrors” used in terms of inclusion in writing?
Christina: Only from you.
John: OK. So this is a thing I heard a lot when I was doing Arlo Finch because in kids’ books they talk about it all the time, especially for middle grade. And so the idea is that books can serve as windows and mirrors for kids as they’re looking at those characters and trying to fit them into the bigger world.
And so a window is if you have a character who has a certain background or experience and so a kid who doesn’t have that can look through their eyes and see what it was like in their point of view.
A mirror is a person – if a kid who can see themselves as that character. Basically – especially like races or situations that have been underrepresented, they get to see themselves reflected back and they feel like, oh, I am part of that culture. And so often you’ll see African American writers who say, “I loved Chronicles of Narnia and all these fantasy books but there were never black people in any of these stories.”
And so to provide that character in there is a mirror back to their own experience or a specific life experience that they never see reflected back to them. So like Arlo Finch mirrors back that sort of mountain life that I grew up with that I just never see in books. But it is an interesting idea that I think is really popular in kids’ lit right now, but I think we need to start looking at in terms of what we’re doing in movies.
With Black Panther, I think part of its huge success was that it mirrored back something that the African American audience desperately wanted to see.
Christina: Super powerful, amazing, exciting way.
John: I remember before the movie opened and just people on Twitter or on Instagram people were with the standees and they were just cheering the standees. Just the fact that it existed was a huge thing.
Christina: I have to admit, and it’s weird, I cried in the casino scene in Black Panther because it was so refreshing to see this woman be so badass, and she was in a stunning, elegant dress, but she wasn’t like sexy for the sake of being sexy. She seemed powerful and strong and she was kicking all the ass. And it was so exciting to see. And I know a lot of women who had the same reaction in Wonder Woman in No Man’s Land. Just like so happy and overwhelmed.
John: I wept openly in No Man’s Land. Yeah.
Christina: You can’t believe it. And it’s so strange that we can’t believe it, but we really have grown up not seeing that. We’ve seen kind of the over-sexy, leather pants, skinny hot sidekick girl kick ass. But it never felt real, or true, or powerful in the same way.
John: The other thing which really struck me about the casino scene in Black Panther is that when we leave Wakanda we don’t go to Europe or America, we go to Asia. And it’s like we’re not going to the place where all the white people are. We’re going to Asia. And it’s a completely specific place that we’re going to. And I guess Martin Freeman is the one white person who is sort of wandering around in there. But it’s not about “We have to go to the ‘real world,’ the ‘real world’ being white. We’re going to a very specific Asian place.” And that was a really cool moment.
I haven’t seen a lot written about Martin Freeman’s role in Black Panther, but it is fascinating that the white people in the movie, they’re there to see some stuff but not to sort of make anything happen.
Christina: They don’t save the day.
John: They don’t save the day at all.
Christina: Thank god. We’ve seen enough of those movies.
John: No white saviors in this.
Christina: No white saviors for sure.
John: So, going back to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and other shows where in having Josh Chan be Filipino they were able to bring in a Filipino writer who could bring a very specific perspective to that. So often in features we’re the one writer, so we’ve got to write everything. They have a room for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but we are just the one person. Have you ever worked in any room situations in features? Can you talk about that?
Christina: So, the Transformers writers’ room was obviously a famous features experiment where we did three weeks in a room together and it was 12 writers, three of them were partnerships. But 12 writers in a room. It was not dissimilar to the TV thing in terms of we learned about the thing that we were doing, we talked about it as one big picture and then we each kind of picked an episode as it were. We kind of naturally gravitated towards different things. It was amazing how naturally we all went to different areas. There was no overlap. And then we each developed our own stories and helped each other brainstorm and it was a very collaborative thing where we would pitch a loose outline and then people would give suggestions or notes or thoughts. But we really kind of had our own pieces.
And then obviously I do, as I’m sure you do, like a ton of roundtables of things. I recently did with Paramount another writers’ room like that for three weeks.
John: So part of that seems so exciting because it gets more people and more brains involved on something on topics of inclusion and making sure that the world is fully representative. It gives you a chance because it’s more than one person looking at stuff.
Part of me also is just terrified of the sense of like it’s hard to figure out then who deserves credit for story. Because we’re not really set up to do that kind of stuff in features.
Christina: And I think it can get very tricky when – the situation that I have not done on purpose because I don’t like it is when it’s a ton of writers going in and you don’t know who is going to come out writing the job. And it’s one job. That I think can get super murky. And I know writers who have given very fundamental core ideas that have made the movie and that haven’t gotten credit.
So the ones that I have gravitated towards have been the ones where it’s more about collaboration and helping each other, which I think is a wonderful thing because we are such hermits as feature writers, we’re also good together and we like helping each other and we’re good at helping each other.
And as long as you don’t go in with too much of an ego and you’re open to that experience I think it can be a wonderful thing. The competitive bakeoff thing not so good.
John: Yeah. I had a friend describing situation where it was this four or five day room and then like whoever sort of did the best in the room was going to get the job.
Christina: It’s gross.
John: It feels gross. And usually what it is is they have some more powerful high-priced writers and then some inexpensive writers–
Christina: Who they milk.
John: Yeah, who they milk. But a lot of times it is one of the inexpensive people that they kind of want to give it to because they don’t have that much money. It feels weird. If I were starting in the business now, of course I would go to one of those things. And in some ways it’s no different than to have 12 writers going in to pitch on a project. But rather than doing it serially you’re doing it parallel.
Christina: Yes, except that you shouldn’t go in and pitch on things and then they just steal all your ideas. Like that’s also not nice.
John: At least you’re getting paid for it.
Christina: And, by the way, it’s OK to – like I’ve had an experience with a studio where I went very deep in the, I mean, I got beyond pitching. I was kind of meeting with the director and some of the producers for long periods of time. And they did the honorable thing. At the end I didn’t get the job but they wanted to use a couple of ideas so they gave me a contract and paid me as a consultant.
Christina: Like it can be done not that expensively. So the getting people in to pitch knowing that you’re just doing it to steal their ideas, or doing those roundtables knowing that you’re just doing it to milk – ugh – milk writers and then pay someone cheaper. It is gross.
John: It is gross. So, hopefully it’s a thing we can move past. But I would say overall as the WGA we’re not well set up to figure out how to handle and treat these feature writers who are in these roundtables. Because during that roundtable you were probably paid like a producer – you’re paid like a minimum?
Christina: No. Transformers writers’ room, Akiva Goldsman ran that and was very adamant that we all be paid really well so that we wouldn’t hold back and say that it wouldn’t be kind of using and abusing writers. We all did that room for three weeks and then we all wrote our own treatments. And then if we then were sent to script, which I was and that’s how Bumblebee came about, then we get paid for that script separately. But we were paid for our participation in the room and for a treatment. So it was very fair and good and they did right by us on that one.
John: That’s great. I want to listen to a clip – so during the Oscars Frances McDormand said very early in her speech like, “Two words, inclusion riders.” So after she said that in the Q&A room she had a little explanation about what that was. So I want to listen to her explanation and then talk through what we think might be the possibilities and realities there.
Reporter: Can you please explain your comment at the end, the two words, inclusion rider?
Frances McDormand: Right? I just found out about this last week. There is – has always been available to all – everybody that does a negotiation on a film, an inclusion rider which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50% diversity in not only the casting but also the crew. And so the fact that I just learned that, after 35 years of being in the film business, we’re not going back.
So, the whole idea of women trending, no. No trending. African Americans trending? No. No trending. It changes now. And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that.
Christina: Women aren’t trending.
John: Women aren’t trending. Women have always been here. So this idea of an inclusion rider, I can’t envision any screenwriter getting anything like this.
Christina: I feel like you could, John. You could do anything you want, dammit.
John: Demand it. In some ways we are our own inclusion rider. We can shape the degree–
Christina: On the page.
John: On the page. And we’ll see sort of what happens. Do you see it working/happening? Do you think this is a thing that we’ll talk about?
Christina: Even if it doesn’t fully work we’ve got to try. You know, this is something that Stacey Smith came up with I think in 2014 and they’ve been working really hard on figuring out the legals of it and how to implement it and how to make it work.
And I could be misspeaking, but I think the idea is not that you have to have 50% diversity behind the camera, but that you have to aim to have 50% diversity behind the camera. I think there is such a natural kind of backlash and people freak out that like “under-qualified people are going to steal our jobs,” which there always has been with things like this. And people need to just chill the fuck out.
But I think, yeah, it’s about kind of implementing things like the Rooney Rule. It’s about aiming for that. Interviewing a lot of diverse candidates for the jobs. And trying to get that behind the scenes.
John: What is the Rooney Rule? I’ve heard it, but I don’t remember what it is.
Christina: I can’t tell if you’re pretending you don’t know or if you really don’t know.
John: I genuinely don’t know what it is.
Christina: So the Rooney Rule comes from NFL and the idea is that when you’re hiring – in the NFL it was when you’re hiring a coach or someone outside of the – not institution, well, institution – that you have to interview at least one candidate who is diverse. And it’s something that the WGA has talked about a bunch. They were talking about it for this recent round last year. It didn’t end up kind of kicking in. But it’s something that a lot of people are supporting and want. I think it’s hugely important and I would love to see it implemented. I would love to see it be obligatory. Because I think a lot of the time writers aren’t even getting in the room. You know, you’re not getting enough women in the room. You’re not getting enough people of color in the room. Get them in the room. Give them a shot.
Like on Transformers, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Lindsey Beer, and I were probably the diversity aspect. We were the only three women in the room. When they first announced the first four writers in the room they were all white males and there was a huge kind of backlash, like “How can you just have a bunch of white guys?” Thank god there was a backlash. They then hired the three of us, I’d like to hope not just because we’re women but also because we’re talented. But we were kind of probably the less experienced writers in the room. And we all did really well.
Like look at what they’re doing now. Geneva Robertson-Dworet wrote Captain Marvel. She just wrote Tomb Raider. Lindsey Beer is writing King Killer Chronicles for Lionsgate. She’s crushing it. She just spent three days in a room with Quentin Tarantino for Star Trek. Because we had that opportunity we got to prove ourselves. So I think getting people in the door and letting them fight for the job is so important and so worth doing. And it’s a big part of what the inclusion rider will do is give people the chance to get those jobs that they may otherwise not have gotten.
John: Absolutely. So in terms of in front of the camera, those changes can be challenging based on the nature of the movie. There are going to be movies where it’s going to be hard to find – if it’s a period piece, it’s a period WWII piece, it’s going to be hard to do that. So you’re going to have to be realistic about those. But behind the camera–
Christina: There’s no reason why we can’t.
Christina: And in front of the camera we also have to remember, I mean, you mentioned Chronicles of Narnia. That’s fantasy. There’s no reason why there should be no black people. Like, if there are leprechauns, I mean, it’s not leprechauns. There are people with goat legs. They can have black people there.
John: I 100% agree. And I always get so frustrated when people like will poke at Cinderella for having a black character in Cinderella.
Christina: It’s Cinderella World!
John: Absolutely. It’s like it’s kind of Europe but it’s not really Europe.
Christina: It’s so crazy.
John: It’s frustrating. Even on Big Fish, I remember there was one time where we had a circus scene. And this is a fantastical world. And this extra came up and was saying like, “Oh, just so you know there shouldn’t be black people here.” And it’s like, “Yeah, OK, I can understand in an historical context, but remember we are in a fantasy. This is the idealized version of sort of what this world should be.”
Christina: It’s not the real world anyway so why can’t we do what we want with it?
Christina: It’s maddening.
John: It’s maddening.
John: A challenge with inclusion riders behind the scenes, and so I think there’s ways to say this that’s not sort of implying that you’re going to hire less qualified people. Sometimes it’s hard to find enough people, people who have training and stuff. So it feels like it’s also a mandate to make sure that you are giving people the experience–
Christina: It’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got to train the people up.
John: Absolutely. So you talked about STEM and representation of STEM people. It’s like, you know, well if we want to hire more black female engineers we need to make sure that they’re–
Christina: That they’re going to university for it. Yeah.
John: That they recognize that it’s a thing they can do and make sure that they identify it early enough. And support them while they’re going through that.
Christina: I also think that’s really important once you’ve hired the person that you keep that support. I have a friend who is a producer who tried to hire an incredibly diverse team for the movie behind the camera. Hired someone in a very key position who was less experienced, but because she was a woman and she was a woman of color and they really believed in giving her a shot. But because she didn’t have that much experience she really struggled.
And I think what’s important is that person who made that decision to hire that person isn’t punished for that decision and that there is some sort of network or system or safety net so that that person doesn’t lose their job but they can be supported and helped and then get the next job, and the next job, and continue their career and continue to become more experienced.
John: Absolutely. You don’t want to put people in positions where they’re going to fail.
Christina: You want people to win.
Christina: So mentorship programs I think are hugely important. But also just like starting on all levels. You can’t just suddenly change the top levels without working on the lower levels.
John: The DGA training program seems like it’s working well in trying to get more diverse directors out there, both literally directors and also assistant directors and those crucial roles of actually making the trains run on time.
Christina: Yeah. And I think TV can do a lot of help. They can really help out with features as well because you can take more of a risk on one episode of TV. You know, Ava DuVernay has done amazing things with her shows in terms of hiring very female-heavy crews and female directors. More people need to be doing that.
John: And the training equivalent for writing in some ways is TV. It is our writers’ rooms. And so that’s why you see an emphasis on trying to make sure that you are getting those diverse candidates in those rooms, both because it’s helping those candidates grow, but also because it’s making those rooms better. It’s bringing in new voices.
A frustration which I’ve heard about through the WGA is that a lot of times candidates who come in, or people who are brought into a show on the lowest level as the diversity hire have a very hard time getting the second job and the third job.
Christina: Well, often because they were the diversity hire their job was subsidized. And so then getting paid an actual salary is like, “Oh, but we can’t actually pay her real money.” I mean, it’s mental.
John: That has to be fixed.
Christina: That’s got to be fixed. It’s craziness. Craziness.
John: There’s a question we have from Kate and so let’s wrap it up by talking about her question. She writes, “I’m pondering why some movies feel timeless while others don’t. Why do some things have such staying power like The Princess Bride or Indiana Jones or Singing in the Rain, while other movies feel dated almost as soon as they come out?”
Christina, what thoughts do you have about movies that stay timeless versus ones that feel like, wow, they were of that moment and don’t last?
Christina: Interesting. I mean, this is a silly thing to say but one of the things I’m always careful of when I’m writing is not including too much technology if I don’t have to because that–
Christina: The person doing whatever doing on their smartphone, that smartphone is going to look ridiculous in five years’ time. And I think that can often really date things.
But I think it’s also just about universal character arcs. Really relatable characters. Stories that feel like they aren’t – they don’t just belong to that one person but they are captivating in a bigger way rather than just kind of this specific girl growing up in very much the ‘90s or the 2000s or, you know.
John: A lot of things she references having staying power are fantasies. So, they have some grounding in the real world but they’re mostly sort of taking place out in another space and time and so therefore they don’t feel as anchored into our time.
You mentioned technology or cellphones, which are of course really a killer.
Christina: They’re also just a bummer, honestly. Who wants to see anyone texting?
John: They destroy us.
Christina: They ruin thrillers. They really do.
John: They do. But any reference to technology tends to be really time stamping. You know, Sandra Bullock in The Net. It’s like, oh no, you recognize that–
Christina: It was so cutting edge…for a minute.
John: Yes. But in some ways it’s the movies that ask kind of timeless questions or that have great heroes who feel like they’re out of time. Those are the ones that sort of tend to stay. And the ones that are asking very contemporary questions, in some ways that feels more like TV where it’s like you’re right of the moment. And also just think about the lead time to make a movie. It’s two or three years to make a movie. And by the time they come out it really might be a thing that has passed for us a bit.
So we’re going to hear Craig’s voice for a second because it’s time for a special feature.
Craig: John’s WGA Corner.
John: So a couple listeners wrote in to ask, “Hey, will you and Craig talk about the thing that’s happening with the agency agreement being renegotiated?” And, yes, we will be probably next episode. But I’m curious, Christina, have you heard anything about the agency agreement or do you know anything about what’s going on?
Christina: I know a little bit about what’s going on, but I missed both meetings because I was out of town. And I would like to hear your episode on it because I want the breakdown.
John: Absolutely. So we will break that down and talk about what’s happening and sort of what’s not happening and it’s a very different thing than sort of when we negotiated our deal with the studios. So it’s going to probably be a very slow train. But we’ll talk through what that is and sort of why it matters.
And it’s interesting you brought up the Rooney Rule because there’s another sports connection between this is that writers are much more in some ways like NBA players.
Christina: I feel very much like an NBA player.
John: Yeah. Our relationship with the people who employ us is kind of more like our dealing with teams than it is dealing with the big factory. And so some interesting things happen because of that and because we have agents that represent us there’s actually some good parallels there, so we’ll talk about that.
Christina: And who’s working for who.
John: Exactly. And making sure that our agents are working for us and we’re not working for our agents. Have you been in any situations where an agency is employing you or some–?
John: It’s happening.
Christina: It is?
Christina: Oh, of course, because they’re financing movies now.
John: Yeah they are.
Christina: Which is very tricky.
John: It’s very tricky. So we’ll get into a bit of that.
Christina: I don’t like that.
John: Other little bit is from Stuart Friedel, who is our former Scriptnotes producer, he’s also a new WGA member. Congratulations Stuart.
Christina: Ooh, congratulations.
John: He had these questions about dues and then he ended up finding a really useful PDF that talks through the process of sending in your dues. Because you’ve dealt with WGA dues.
Christina: It’s so old-fashioned. It’s crazy. The system is so hinky and weird and you can just put in whatever you want and make up. It’s crazy.
John: It’s crazy.
Christina: It’s getting updated though, right?
John: It’s getting updated. So, what’s weird about WGA dues, and so for people who don’t know, as a member of the Writers Guild you end up paying 1.5% of your earnings into the guild. And you would think like, “Oh, well that must get taken out of your checks.” It doesn’t. Like you are responsible for filling in a form every quarter saying this is what I earned on this project.
Christina: And you better type in all the numbers correctly or you pay the wrong amount and get in trouble.
John: And then you send them money. And so they don’t dock money. It’s a really strange system.
Christina: Really strange.
John: And so people as they do it for the first time have questions, so this little PDF I’ll put a link to helps answer some of those questions. But we might do an episode more about dues down the road because both dues collection has been updated throughout the guild and there are probably ways we could do even better down the road.
John: Cool. End of WGA segment. It’s time for our One Cool Things.
Christina: Oh shit!
John: Did you forget your One Cool Thing?
Christina: I completely forgot my One Cool Thing.
John: How about this? I will do my One Cool Thing first. And then while I’m talking you can think about something that you like a lot that you want people to see. It could be a TV show, it could be a book. It could be something great out there in the world.
My One Cool Thing is a book. It is a book called Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies. I actually met Dawn because she has the same publisher and we were at this dinner together. And so she stood up and she talked about her book and I’m like “That sounds really cool.” So I bought it and I read it. And it is really cool. To describe it, I would say if you’ve read any of David Sedaris’s books, like they’re kind of memoirs and they’re funny, this is like David Sedaris but if you grow up poor in South Florida. And there’s a little bit more sort of holy shit.
What I like about it is, you know, a bunch of stuff happens in her life. It sort of goes from her childhood up through where she is now. And a bunch of stuff happens that would sort of break other people. And it reminds you that so much of who you are is sort of the ways you got broken and healed. And it’s just really great and really funny and really terrific writing. It’s her first book. So I was just super impressed. Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies.
Christina: I would love to pretend that I have just suddenly come up with a great One Cool Thing. So I’m going to come up with a One Cool Thing that is a general idea.
Christina: Which is – and it’s a piece of advice I think for all aspiring writers – which is my One Cool Thing is my female writer friends.
John: Oh, tell me about this.
Christina: I think it is really important that you find your – people are so worried I think in this industry about networking and about networking up. And I think honestly it’s the wrong way of approaching it. I think you’ve got to focus – sure, network if you want. I find it gross. But find your peers. Find your people that will stay with you through this industry. You know, I mentioned Geneva and Lindsey earlier. We support each other. We take care of each other. We text each other when we have painful experiences in pitches or whatever. Julia Hart who is a female writer-director. You know, there are days when we have horrible experiences, where we’re really struggling, where the system is misogynistic and painful and awful. And if I didn’t have my girls supporting me and like by my side I would have a hard time just emotionally.
I think it is really important – boys, find your boys, or your girls, or whatever. But I think women in this industry, find each other, support each other. There is this myth that we’re all competing with each other and we want to push each other down. It’s the opposite. And I think it’s really wonderful to – particularly in this moment – women represent only 25% of the Writers Guild. That’s so sad. There need to be more of us. Find young female writers you can mentor if you’re an established female writer. Make there be more of us.
John: Absolutely. Screenwriting was invented by women. And it’s crazy that–
Christina: I did not know that.
John: I’ll have to Google to find out her name, but sort of the first established and known screenwriter was a woman.
Christina: Of course she was.
John: Because as the screenplay format sort of came into being, because of course originally it was just like they were pointing cameras at things and shooting. But eventually you had to have a plan for what that is. So one of the first sort of credited screenwriters is a woman.
Christina: I love that.
John: And as the screenplay format evolved, she evolved with it. So, it is–
Christina: I bet she had good girlfriends.
John: I hope she had good peers. I hope she had a good group there. Yeah, thank you. That’s a very good One Cool Thing.
That is our show for this week. Our show is produced by Megan McDonnell. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week is by Hunter Christensen. If you have an outro, you can send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also the place you can send longer questions. For short questions, on Twitter Craig is @clmazin. I am @johnaugust. Christina, are you on Twitter?
Christina: I am not on anything.
Christina: I literally have no social media.
John: That’s very nice. You can find us on Apple Podcasts at Scriptnotes. Just search for Scriptnotes. While you’re there, leave us a comment.
You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. That’s also where you find the transcripts. We get them up about four days after the episode airs.
You can find all the back episodes at Scriptnotes.net. We also have a few of the USB drives that have the first 300 episodes available if you want those for your bunker. As the world falls apart and you just need to listen to Scriptnotes, you can listen to those.
Christina: Wear your USB around your neck.
John: Absolutely. Just plug it in whenever you need to. It’s very, very nice. Christina, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Christina: Thank you so much for having me. I really didn’t swear as much as I thought I was going to.
Christina: Thank you. I’m very proud of myself.
- Thanks for joining us, Christina Hodson. Her upcoming movies include Bumblebee of the Transformers franchise and Batgirl.
- The Pudding’s Film Dialogue from 2,000 screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age
- Premium subscribers can listen to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend bonus episode with Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom here.
- A pilot announcement that includes this character description: “a girl-next-door type but also with a behind-the-ear tattoo. She can just as easily bro out with the guys as she can be the girliest girl.”
- A guide to WGA dues, courtesy of Stuart!
- Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
- Female writer friends, like Frances Marion
- The Scriptnotes Listeners’ Guide!
- The USB drives!
- John August on Twitter
- Craig Mazin on Twitter
- John on Instagram
- Find past episodes
- Outro by Hunter Christensen (send us yours!)
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You can download the episode here.