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 429 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Today on the podcast we’ll finally answer some long gestating listener questions. Plus we’ll look at two moves by the US Justice Department and their impact on screenwriters. Plus in bonus segment Craig and I will do a meme and compare not our faces but rather our beliefs at the start and end of the decade.
Craig: I used to believe in things and now I believe in nothing.
John: Completely. All belief has been stripped away. It’s just day by day getting through it. It’s Mad Max anarchy for Craig Mazin.
Craig: It’s just a howling chasm.
John: Can I confess that I want to say nihilism, but a part of me also thinks am I saying that word right? It’s a word I always see written and I don’t actually say it aloud often.
Craig: I think generally pronounce it as nihilism but it comes from nihil which I think is a Latin word. So, you could see nihilism or nihilism. And the truth is it doesn’t really matter, does it? Because if you’re a nihilist or a nihilist what’s the point? Who cares? Pronunciation is just another lie.
John: I Googled it as we were speaking and both are acceptable.
Craig: There you go.
John: There you go. So maybe I should get over my fears of misspeaking in public.
Craig: That’s right.
John: Yeah. Some follow up first. Our live show is happening December 12. As we’re recording this, which is almost a week away from when this episode comes out, there are still tickets. But maybe there are not tickets. Who knows? But our guests are phenomenal. Kevin Feige, Lorene Scafaria, Shoshannah Stern, and Josh Feldman, and other special surprises at our live show, December 12 in Hollywood. You should go to Writers Guild Foundation, wgfoundation.org and get yourself some tickets for that, because it’s going to be a great show.
Craig: Yeah. We’re probably pretty close to being sold out by now. I think we were on the way, so you know how it is. It always is. I mean, what are you waiting for? Why don’t you get your loved one the gift that gives exactly once? A ticket to the Scriptnotes live show.
John: Absolutely. They can say they were there when that scandalous event happened.
Craig: Oh yeah. Something will happen. Usually it does.
John: Usually does. Two Sundays ago we had the Assistant Town Hall, so this is an event that I was at along with other folks involved in the movement to try to get assistants paid better. So, we have audio from that. It may already be in your feed. If it’s not already in your feed it’s coming soon. So we cut down sort of two hours into a little bit more than an hour so people can listen to what was said in that room.
I thought it was a great event. And one of the things that I did, Craig, is I relaxed our normal rule about if you come up to the microphone you have to say a question that ends in a question mark. Because this was actually a chance for people to make statements. And some of the statements people made were really great and useful.
One I wanted to single out was a woman who said that as an assistant in the entertainment industry she feels like she has to basically carry three jobs. One is being an assistant. One is doing all the other sort of gig work, like babysitting and driving for Uber to make a living. And the third is actually writing and doing all the spec scripts that she should be writing as an aspiring writer. And it was a really interesting way of framing what it’s like to be an assistant because obviously you are going to be doing those three things and any of our aspiring writers out there who are listening probably recognizing that they’re doing two of those things, they are working a normal job and writing specs at home, but weirdly in Hollywood doing that third job where you’re also writing on your “free time” is expected as part of your first main job.
Craig: It used to be that the third job was maintaining a relationship with another human being. And I worry sometimes–
John: That’s impossible.
Craig: Yeah. Like that just sort of falls away and now nobody gets to have a relationship because you have a job, and a job, and a job. Which is terrible. I can’t imagine why you would have ever viewed it as a Q&A since really it did sound like an opportunity for people to just vent. But you know I’m glad that it’s happening. I’m hearing things. I’m hearing good things. There’s stuff blowing in the wind. People are noticing.
Now, has there been any large or special change? No. But I continue to hear people say, “By the way, because of what’s happened now things are being looked at differently.”
Craig: Maybe things that were considered unnecessary to even consider before are now being considered carefully. So, things are happening. That doesn’t mean enough is happening. It doesn’t mean that it’s happening fast enough. But, it’s happening. And I’m pleased.
John: Yeah. One of the things we laid out at the town hall was that this was sort of a big general meeting to talk overall issues. But that in 2020 early on in the year we are planning to have sort of breakout sessions to really talk about assistants at agencies, assistants in the writer’s room. Assistants and healthcare. Assistants and nondisclosure agreements. And sort of issues that are sort of unique to entertainment industry assistants. And how do we sort of drill in and focus on those things, which are sometimes very special issues that don’t apply to all assistants but apply to a big group of entertainment industry assistants.
So I think that stuff will continue and I think the folks who came to this first event and listened in on the livestream seem very engaged about keeping the conversation going.
Craig: Great. I hope they do.
John: Now, we talked about assistants in Episode 428. We got some follow up. Do you want to read what Sylvia wrote in?
Craig: Sure. Sylvia writes, “Your first letter writer mentioned that they were assigned to write outlines and hoped for story credit in response. Your point was that writing outlines is essentially clerical work and shouldn’t get credit.” John, I have to stop right there. Is that what we said?
John: We said that there were certain – in that first letter we were talking about the spectrum of work that an assistant might do in that writer’s room, and that first letter writer I think you and I both agreed that like if you’re just taking down what’s on the whiteboard, that’s not writing.
Craig: Right. If you’re just assembling bullet points that’s not actually writing an outline. So, just Sylvia right off the bat I’m not sure that that is correct. But I will continue your question. “I wanted to distinguish between compiling an informal and internal outline or a beat sheet off of which the writing staff can write their draft, and writing an official outline or story document which is sent to the studio and the network. In the former case, this is clearly clerical and falls under assistant duties. In the latter, the document produced is guild-covered work. It’s like the treatment phase in features. And the use of assistants to produce these documents is widespread and almost always uncompensated.”
I’m going to stop here again. Isn’t that exactly what we said?
John: I think it is. I think she’s trying to distinguish though to make sure that we and our listeners recognize that there’s really two different things we’re talking about. There is this first thing where you’re transcribing what’s on the board and you’re just doing this kind of internal document which is just for the staff. That we’re saying is clerical work.
John: I think we are fully in agreement and acknowledgment that the thing you send into the studio, that’s an outline, that’s a story document, that is really truly guild-covered work.
Craig: Unless, just pushing back for a second, unless a particular showrunner just sends bullet points or simple not really outlines, but just here’s somebody typed up what we said. This is what we said. Then that’s not writing because that’s just typing. So I mean this is where the difference – this is what we talked about – I thought this is what we talked about.
John: This is what we talked about. And let’s continue with her statement and then get into it a little bit more.
Craig: So let’s continue on with Sylvia’s question/comment. “I’ve been asked to do both in my career and have done so eagerly and without complaint. I’ve also been asked to take on writing scenes for group written episodes. I’ve agreed mainly because I’ve been fortunate enough to work for showrunners who made it clear to me that this work was a proving ground to showcase my abilities, something I credit with getting assigned a freelance episode of the show I work on now. But it makes me uncomfortable and I wish these practices had light shined on them.”
Well that point. Yeah. I mean, what do you think about this last bit, John?
John: So, listen, so we’re trying to distinguish taking notes of what’s happening in the room versus the thing you send through to the studio and those are different experiences. Like I’m thinking back to even feature like roundtable things where there’s a person in the corner who is typing what’s being said. That’s not really writing. That’s just taking notes of what’s happening in the room. The thing you send in to the studio that is real writing.
Some of what Sylvia writes here though is like well you are crossing a line into guild-covered work. And we’re recording this actually only a day after the episode dropped, so hopefully some of our showrunner friends will quietly talk to me and Craig about their best practices for sort of how their using those writers in the room to make sure they get experience but they’re not crossing into really doing guild work.
Craig: I agree. I will say that if the showrunner says to you as someone clearly said to Sylvia, “Listen, I want you to just do a version of this scene for us.” In terms of credit I will say it’s essentially impossible for you to be credited for screenplay work on a television episode if you wrote one scene. And you’re not the first writer. I mean, you didn’t write the script. So it’s not like someone is taking advantage of you from a credit point of view. Technically however that is writing work.
Now, is there a job called Rewrite a Scene? Nope. We don’t have that. You could be paid guild-minimum for a week. You know, which would be nice, if they paid you a little extra. But in this case it seems like what somebody was saying essentially was I’d like you to audition by writing a scene for something and then can maybe get an episode. I think if you want to audition assistants have them write scenes for things that maybe you’re not working on right at that moment because that is exploitative. And if you’re going to use that that just seems weird.
But it is an interesting area because again if you just say to somebody write a scene – we don’t really have something that covers that per se other than a time-based assignment. So she said she did it and she agreed to do it because she believed it was going to work out in her favor and it did. But she’s right to feel uncomfortable because for a lot of people it doesn’t work out. I’d love to say that there’s strong overlap between cases where it worked out and the writing was really good, meaning for a lot of the people where it didn’t work out the writing wasn’t that good and so therefore it wasn’t being used. You know what I mean? They weren’t getting ripped off per se. But there’s got to be a better way of approaching this.
John: Yeah. I always come back to the point that the staff writer is supposed to be the person who is doing some of what we’re talking about here. And that staff writer used to be the journeyman sort of entry level writer position on a show. And I want to make sure that we are not hiring assistants in place of actual staff writers on shows.
Craig: Right. And I don’t think we will be.
John: On some of these little like mini room shows though we’ve gotten response that they basically are doing that, which is no bueno.
Craig: Yeah. That is no bueno. Yes, it is possible. At some point it just doesn’t seem very sustainable for any individual show to have people writing but not really writing. You can’t – literally the network can’t use it, or the production company can’t use it. It has to be guild-covered work. It’s literary material.
So, in the case of somebody like Sylvia I could see that there’s a staff writer as essentially cover and then Sylvia is going to write a scene, but there is a guild employee. If there isn’t one, I don’t know. That doesn’t sound right at all.
John: No. So let’s continue to follow up on this as we hear back from other people on other shows about how they’re doing this properly.
John: More follow up. Last episode Mark from New York asked for our advice on what to do when moving to Los Angeles. Craig and I did this so long ago that our advice is not current. So we asked our listeners, hey, if you’ve moved to Los Angeles recently and have good advice for Mark write in. So we’ve gotten a few in. Let’s share what Ben wrote.
He said, “I wanted to share my advice for moving to Los Angeles. I was encouraged to make the move from Chicago by the wonderful Emily Zulauf who I met at the Austin Film Festival.” Emily, a former Scriptnotes guest. She’s fantastic.
John: “Before I started I wanted to say a quick thank you to her. Thank you, Emily. I moved to LA a year and a half ago and I had a really smooth transition. What I did first was get a job in front of house for a theater, basically plays not movies, in Culver City. I took this job because all I had to do was babysit the show and sit in the lobby. This gives me two hours of built in writing time a day, or however long the show is. Also I had some pretty big actors, directors, writers give me advice on my work who are part of that theater, so that’s pretty neat.
“The only thing I would have done differently was to try harder to get an assistant job or anything in the industry. I tried for months and months but couldn’t even get an interview and my bank account was really hurting, so I had no choice but to work a different kind of job. I have yet to get a writing job, but I’ve written two features and two novels just this year. So I feel like I’m right where I need to be right now.
“I found my apartment on Facebook Marketplace. And my roommate who posted it is super cool and more importantly sane. It’s cheap for Culver City, $990 a month,” which I assume is his portion a month. “Just make sure you message them first and get a feel for whether they’re cool/sane. I’m not in the business yet, so I don’t know if this is good advice, but it has given me enough cash to fly to Austin Film Festival, make some connections, and have plenty of time to write.”
Craig: Well that’s a pretty good method. I would say if you are looking to get a job as an assistant in the industry and you can’t find one, your bank account shouldn’t be hurting because you should have a job also during that time. Like never not work. If you need to work part time at Starbucks or Ralph’s or something, or take on some temp work, if you can type or answer phones. Just do something to put money in your pocket. You’re just going to be miserable if you’re sitting around just waiting.
It makes the waiting brutal. And there will be almost certainly some waiting. Two features and two novels just this year. OK. That’s way more than I’ve ever done. So, tip my hat on that one. Did not know about this Facebook Marketplace thing. This sounds like the 2019 of that weird fax thing that you and I used.
John: Indeed. So a couple things that Ben did here which I think are smart is that he wasn’t able to find an assistant job so he picked a job that was pretty good and also gave him time to write. And that takes me back to my days as an intern at Universal where I had a really mindless job and so at lunch I could just type up the scenes that I’d handwritten at home. It worked out great and actually had a very productive summer during that internship. I theoretically had a job for eight hours a day, but I actually had a lot of free time, and most importantly a lot of free brain space.
The job that Ben has sounds mindless and so he comes home without having used a lot of his writing brain, so that’s great.
And it looks like he knew he would need a roommate. He needed a roommate in a pretty cheap part of town. Culver City is a perfectly valid place to live. I lived in Palms, which is the even more boring version of Culver City.
John: Pick an unexciting place and it’s cheaper. If you pick a more interesting place you might bump into people a little bit more often, but it’s going to probably be more expensive. So he made some good choices.
Craig: I agree. Good job, Ben. So far so good.
John: So Ben thank you for your advice. If you have more advice for Mark who is moving from New York send it in and we’ll share it with Mark.
John: Last bit of follow up, back in Episode 419 I was talking with Craig about my speech I was going to give in Des Moines on professionalism. I did that. That went great. I posted a blog version of the speech at my site. I cites Craig and Phil Hay who had really good suggestions for things I should add to my list of professional characteristics.
Craig: Aw, thanks.
John: Yeah. So if you want to take a read through that it is super long, but hopefully useful in terms of thinking about what it means to be professional in 2019, heading into 2020. I also talked a bit about influencers and sort of the weird way that influencers are kind of professional amateurs. And how to think about influencers in this conversation about professionalism.
Craig: Don’t be influenced by them.
John: You should not be.
John: All right, now to some news. We have two bits of news about the Justice Department. So the first is the most recent and topical thing. The Justice Department weighing in on the WGA/agency controversy and the lawsuits they’re in. So this happened Tuesday of last week. The Justice Department sent a memo, a legal document, saying that in the lawsuit between the WGA and the agencies that the court should not dismiss the agencies’ complaints against the WGA, saying that the court should establish a fact pattern regarding the labor exemption.
So we’ll put a link to the PDF of what the Justice Department wrote in to say. David Goodman in his official statement said, “It’s not surprising that Trump’s Justice Department has filed a brief designed to weaken a labor union’s efforts to protect its members and eliminate conflicts of interests by talent agencies. The agencies’ anti-trust claims are contrary to Supreme Court precedent and we remain confident that the court will dismiss them.”
So this is a federal lawsuit about the agencies and packaging. Involved the four biggest agencies. The brief history of this is that the lawsuit was initially filed by the WGA in California court. The counter claim was filed in federal court. That moved the California complaint to federal. It’s complicated. It’s legal. But the simplest version to think about this is that the Justice Department looked at both sides and decided to sort of put its finger on the scale of the agencies’ side.
Craig: Not surprising at all as David Goodman says. But this leads me to a question. Weren’t we the ones that asked for the venue change?
John: No. The venue change happened because the agencies filed in federal court. So they filed this anti-trust thing in federal court, so we had to respond to them in federal court. So everything was going to head to federal court, so that’s why we pulled out of California and put it into the federal thing. Once they filed the federal it allowed us to add in some complaints that we couldn’t file in California court. That’s the short version of it, again as explained by a non-lawyer.
Craig: OK. So we didn’t have a choice. Once the agencies did that we had leave? The only reason I’m asking is because when some of the stuff I’ve been reading just feels like – in terms of our response – feels a little strangely naïve like what did you think was going to happen? I mean, look at this joke of a Justice Department in the way they are about everything. Of course they’re going to be – I’m kind of shocked that it wasn’t worse, you know, in terms of what they said.
John: They said they didn’t want to sort of weigh in on the merits of the case. They said they wanted a fact pattern. But, yeah, if you look at the guy who heads up anti-trust for the Justice Department it’s a guy named Makan Delrahim. We’ll put a link to his Wikipedia page. But he had an op-ed in the New York Post during the elections, a pro-Trump post there. He’s very much sort of in that wheelhouse. And the next thing we’re going to talk about is also his weighing in, oh, anti-trust is silly. People should be able to do what they want to do.
Craig: Yeah. That seems to be their position. I mean, again, I guess my question is have we been overly rosy about our chances here? We seem to have gotten ourselves into a game on someone else’s home field and it’s not going well.
John: I don’t know if that’s to be the case. And so nothing has been decided at all in federal courts yet. So the first thing will be these motions to dismiss. And we filed to dismiss their motions. They filed to dismiss our motions. The first round of those decisions doesn’t come until December. So, I don’t know that necessarily anything has happened.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the court is not bound by what the Department of Justice says.
Craig: Sure. Of course.
John: So all the time the Justice Department can weigh in on one side or the other and the court itself decides what it’s going to do. If this made it all the way to the Supreme Court could you imagine that given the current makeup of the Supreme Court that it would not be ideally what we would want, maybe? But existing federal law is very clearly on our side in terms of how a union can represent its members in terms of representation based on the National Basketball Players Association precedent.
Craig: OK. Well you have more faith in our legal minds than I do.
John: And it should also be pointed out that it’s not just the WGA’s legal minds. It is outside counsel that does most of this which is great.
Craig: So we’re paying for two sets of lawyers. [laughs] Just pointing out.
John: Yeah. Of course. But this is a recent blip, but what we meant to talk about on a previous episode and we forgot to put it on the Workflowy is the Paramount decree. The Paramount consent decree which a couple of listeners had wrote in about. Craig, can you talk us through the briefest summary of what the Paramount consent decree was and why it was important?
Craig: Yeah. Basically there was in the early days of Hollywood a kind of lock down on the business where the same small group of people that made movies were the same small group of people that owned all the theaters. So essentially you could as one of those big movie companies block out any independent film companies from really existing. Because you can make a movie, but if you don’t have anywhere to show it then you’re not going to survive.
So, at some point the government came in and said, look, this is becoming a monopoly. You’re harming competition. So what we’re going to say is a consent decree meaning all of you are going to agree without us having to pass a law that you can’t own theaters. So you can own your studios, you can make your stuff, you just can’t own the theaters that exhibit it. And that has suddenly gone away, poof.
John: Yeah. Well it hasn’t actually poofed yet, but there’s a very strong probability that it will go away, poof. The only other thing I want to add to consent decree is it helps theoretically protect independent movie producers because it allows them to get their movies into theaters. It also protects independent theaters that can get access to movies that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to. So, it’s providing competition in the theatrical distribution space.
Craig: Correct. So what is the world going to look like when Disney can own movie theaters? So this is a little trickier. I think it’s probably not going to look hugely different. It may even weirdly look better. It’s not necessarily going to be better, but it might for a brief while look better because there really are three exhibitors that kind of exist fully in our country. Three huge ones. And I can easily see a scenario when the consent decree disappears where all three of them are essentially gobbled up by three of the large multi-nationals that make all of our content or at least most of it. So now what we’re talking about is most of it, right. Not all of it. There’s still some independent film theaters. But all of your AMCs and your Regals and that stuff, theoretically they get gobbled up. Are they going to not show competitor’s films? Ridiculous. Of course they are. They’ll all want a share. Because they all want each other’s blockbusters the way that a network that is owned by Disney is more than happy to run material on its network produced by say Warner Bros. That happens all the time.
And I think that the theaters may get a little revitalized, a little spiffed up perhaps. But what you might start to lose completely are the smaller theaters. They may just not be able to compete at all. So, it’s not great, but in a weird way we already kind of lost because the era of the consent decree did not have three huge exhibitor chains. It had lots and lots and lots and lots of individual theaters. Well, we already kind of live in that monopoly space, so the question is is this going to lead to just a name change on the door and little else? Hard to say.
John: So I’m less rosy than you are. So, I mean, I’m not painting you as being rosy, but if you are sort of a dark vision that has a little bit of a rosy glow there on the edges, I think my rosy glow is a little less there. I think, yes, we are currently in an oligopoly where we have basically two oligopolies. We have an oligopoly of big movie producers, the studios. And we have an oligopoly of theater chains. Combining those two oligopolies I think will be to the detriment of kind of everyone.
Maybe not people who want to buy a ticket for a nice theater. I think that could actually – I agree – that could actually improve. I think Disney probably would do a lovely job managing a space because they do a great job managing their parks.
Here’s a couple of my concerns. You and I can speak from a place in a giant city where we have all three chains essentially. We have competition among multiple places. In many markets they don’t have competition. So, there’s essentially one chain owns all the theaters in that market. That becomes problematic if Disney owns that and decides, you know what, we are going to put all the best theaters – we’re going to keep all the best theaters for our product and make it very expensive for you to get your movie onto one of our screens. That will be problematic.
And so, yes, I agree it’s in their interest to show movies and make money, but they’re always going to be preferring their own product to someone else’s product. Right now if Disney and Paramount are both trying to get a great screen at the Grove they have to bargain for it. And I think less of that bargaining is going to lead to – that decrease in competition will not be great for that screen.
The other thing is like while the big studios make the majority of our product, they don’t make everything. So I worry about things like Knives Out. Rian Johnson’s movie is a Lions Gate production. How does it find its theaters? It debuted on I think 3,000 screens. How does it get 3,000 screens? Well, in this post-Paramount decree world I think they can’t get those screens unless they let one of the big studio buyers buy in and take a piece of that movie. That’s my hunch.
Craig: It’s possible, but you know again I just suspect because of the nature of money if they think something is going to be a hit and they think they’re going to be able to make money off of it they’ll take it.
John: But they have much more leverage on the deal that they cut with Rian Johnson’s producer to get that screen. And so I think that’s my worry.
Craig: All right. They’re dealing with either three people this way or three people that way. But we’ll see what happens. I mean, it is an interesting situation. I’m not freaked out.
John: All right.
Craig: But, yeah, I’m not freaked out but I’m not thrilled either.
John: No. I think the only people who are thrilled are stockholders in either of those sides, because that merger will – those mergers will happen.
Craig: Oh yeah.
John: As I understand it, again, it’s the same guy who said that the agency – came out on the agency side for the agency/WGA dispute was saying that, “The Paramount decree is a long ago to the horizontal conspiracy among movie companies in the ‘30s and ‘40s and undid effects of that conspiracy in the marketplace. The division has concluded that these decrees have served their purpose and their continue to existence may actually harm American consumers by standing in the way of innovative business models for the exhibition of America’s great creative films.”
In that last segment I think he’s talking about the window. He’s talking the idea that there’s a theatrical window and then there’s a time before things show up on TV. If Disney owns both the theaters and Disney+ they can decide like, OK, three weeks after it’s in the theaters we can put it on Disney+. So that’s a change.
Craig: Well that’s going to happen. I mean, Netflix is already doing it. That’s inevitable. In that sense he’s right. I mean, one possible positive thing out of this is they might stop charging so damn much for concessions because that’s where these theaters make all their money. They might actually reduce some of that. That would be nice. I don’t know if they will, but it would be nice.
John: I don’t know. I mean, food at Disneyland is pretty expensive.
Craig: 100%. Because you’re there, right? There isn’t like a Disneyland across the street that you can go to instead. But I can see where like, OK, we can see this at Regal or we can see it at AMC. We could see it – you know what I mean?
John: Craig, my point is that you won’t be able to see it at Regal or at AMC. Because it’s only going to be at the one place.
Craig: Oh, I don’t think that’s true. I just don’t think that’s how – I could be wrong, but I just don’t think that that’s – they won’t – they’re leaving money on the table if they do that. I mean, the only thing I ever think about these companies is that you can trust them for is being incredibly greedy.
John: Of course. Of course. So, let’s make a note to follow up in five years, in ten years to see where we’re at in this.
John: Because I do think that most likely the consent decrees are going away. I don’t see that changing unless we have a huge new administration that puts a giant priority on stopping it. I don’t see that train stopping.
John: All right. Let’s get to some listener questions. It’s been far too long since we’ve gotten into this mailbag. So, let’s start with Justina. Justina asks, “What happens if an intercut naturally ends? For example, let’s say someone is making dinner or throwing a party inside a house while someone else is watching the sunset outside. In this case you might use intercut to show the two people doing those things. Eventually the sunset ends and the person goes inside. If you intercut between the dinner and the person watching the sunset, how would you end the intercut when the person goes inside? Would it still be a cut to?”
So Craig what do you do when you’ve been intercutting and you need to signal to the reader that the intercut has ended?
Craig: I mean, I don’t really bother with this intercut thing. I think it’s this overly formal thing. We know what we mean. I mean, what I generally would do for something like this is I would say INT. KITCHEN/EXT. DECK. While so and so is in the kitchen preparing food, such and such is out on the deck. And then she’s in the kitchen, I write what she’s doing. And then maybe an action, outside, and then Steve is like, “Wow, what a beautiful sun.” And then Steve heads inside. You know, heads inside to the kitchen. Eileen turns to him. “What have you been doing?”
Just get rid of all this bric-a-brac. There’s too much formality in these things. It gets in the way of just letting people see the movie. I think people get so hung up on these little tweakedy things when the truth is none of it really is useful. I mean, eventually production needs to know when this space is different than this space, but that’s what the header does. Yeah, so I don’t get all hung up on this intercut stuff.
John: Yeah. So I think intercut is a very useful way to signal – say the word intercut as an intermediary slug line by itself, just an uppercase line all by itself. It’s sometimes a helpful way to indicate to the reader I’m not going to cut back and forth INT/EXT every time this is going to happen, but naturally you’re going to see the two things are happening. So your action lines just read from both sides simultaneously.
Very useful on the page. Very common. I think the reason why I will sometimes say End Intercutting is if one side is continuing and we’re never cutting back to the other side again. So in the example that Justina gives and that Craig shows, if that character moves into the first scene well obviously intercut is over. You can stop with – you don’t have to say end intercutting.
But if you’re just dropping one side away then I think actually calling it out and saying End Intercutting is valid. So if you look through some of my scripts in the library you’ll see I do that occasionally, but you don’t always have to do it. Always put it there if otherwise there would be confusion. That’s really the goal of all of these things is how do you avoid the reader becoming confused.
Craig: Yeah. If you make that your goal rather than conforming to some suspected format then you’ll be fine. That’s generally good advice.
Jeremy has a question about contracts. He asks, “One thing that has baffled me since learning of it is that it is standard practice to not only begin work on a script before the contract is signed but that the process of finalizing the paperwork will often outlast the length of the project itself. To wit, I just happened upon this tweet from Jeffrey Lieber. ‘I just yesterday signed a contract on a script I finished in October 2018 and has been dead since March 2019. They will now pay me the last 10%.’
“This seems to me bonkers. Can you please tell me why I’m wrong in thinking that this is insane? And what the consequences of this are in terms of writers getting paid, the potential for terms to be altered after the work is completed? Etc.”
John? What do you think about this situation?
John: Oh, contracts. So it is true that you will sometimes begin writing on a project before your contract is signed. Sometimes you will deliver a project before the final version of the contracts are signed. But here’s what’s important to think about as a screenwriter. There is going to be a point at which the studio says, “OK, we will pay you.” At the moment at which they will pay you you’re generally OK to start writing. Some studios will refuse to pay until the final contracts are signed. Paramount is sort of notorious for this. Some will have a certificate of authorship, a COA, and that’s enough. Some will do it on a deal memo. Different studios will work different ways. It is a little weird and bizarre that things will happen before contracts are signed, but sometimes it is just so urgent to get stuff done that you just do it, especially on weeklies and things that are more timely and pressing.
It is weird. It is slightly bonkers. But it is somewhat standard practice. The important thing that I will always stress is that it is not your executive who says, “OK, you can start writing.” It is going to be a business executive who says, or a business affairs person who says like, “OK, we are good to cut you a check.” Or it is your lawyer telling you it’s OK for you to start writing. Do not just trust your creative executive to be the one saying like it’s all good, start writing.
Craig: Yeah. I agree with all of that. And this is one hard and fast rule I have followed since the very beginning of my career, since the very first project I was hired on way, way back when. And it is this: you may drag your feet about finishing a contract. But until you send out a check for delivery, meaning the check for turning the work in, I’m not giving you the script. Because the second you turn it in they don’t have any reason to ever finish the contract or ever pay you. And it will take them forever. So what I would say to somebody like Jeffery Lieber is if you signed a contract on script that you finished in October 2018, that was the day – that was the month – you should have said I’m done, you can’t have it until you pay me. We could finish the contract or you can have me just sign something else, or just send me the check. Doesn’t matter. But I’m not giving this to you until you pay me. And usually one day later a check is in the mail.
John: OK. I want to clarify something here. You are asking for your delivery check before you turn it in or your commencement check before you turn it in?
Craig: Well, I don’t like to start without a commencement check in place. So, now, sometimes I’ll get a jump on things and then the commencement check will come a week or two later, which I consider to be fine. But, yeah, no, I’m always asking to be commenced. But there are times when they’ve been dragging it out and you definitely need both commencement and delivery before you turn the script in. But also I don’t turn the script in until they’ve paid delivery. Meaning they are issuing delivery – it’s like a hostage negotiation. You throw the Idol, I’ll give you the whip.
John: That is fascinating to me. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this show for this long and never had this come up. I have never required delivery before actually turning in the script. And so I’ll always say like I delivered, pay me the money. And so I’ve never reversed that. Never once.
Craig: Usually, nine times out of ten, there is a signed contract. So I don’t have to do that.
John: OK. I see what you’re saying.
Craig: Because the contract compels it. But if they’re still working on the long form, they have to send it first.
John: That’s fair. So those situations, yeah, I can totally see that. Dean asks, “In the age of streaming, when an episode of a show can be any length, how does that affect formatting? Do I still need act breaks? Or is neglecting traditional TV formatting limiting my prospects purely to streamers? Should I care?”
Act breaks in scripts written in 2019/2020 – Craig, what are your thoughts?
Craig: It depends on the kind of show you’re writing, Dean. Yeah, I think you should care, but not an enormous amount. You’re right, if you’re writing something that feels like a streamer kind of show then it is not crucially important. I mean, the Mandalorian just on its own has blown through the last of the – it’s blown through the guardrails. We now have episodes that are 38 minutes. What is that? That’s not a thing? So, yeah, doesn’t matter there.
If, however, you are writing what you feel to be good network/basic cable procedural, you’re writing what you think is the next Grey’s Anatomy, then I think you should be accounting for commercial breaks. And the idea of structuring with act breaks makes sense. If you don’t do it then you’re going to have to do it anyway. So part of it is just figuring out what it is that you want to do, what kind of show you want to write. There’s a creative difference between those things. There are some shows where it could be a this or be a that, in which case pick the one that you think serves you best, and if you have to adjust after you adjust.
John: Yeah. And so 100% on all of Craig’s advice. I will say that even experienced writers who are doing this now, I was talking to a friend who is doing a pilot as sort of a sample and he’s trying to decide do I put in act breaks, do I not put in act breaks? He decided not to put in act breaks. Because it felt a little fancier and more premium cable to not have the act breaks. But he was writing a show that really could go either place and that is what he chose to do. So it’s fine either way. If you’re writing something that feels like it should be a Chicago Something then put in those act breaks.
Craig: Yeah. Chicago Chicago is my new idea. I’m going to pitch that to Derek.
Craig: All right. Greg asks about staying organized. “Dear John and Craig, can you discuss the practical concerns of files, file naming, folders, drafts, when to save, how to name, archiving scripts in the computer? I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of things and there’s no going back. But there is hope for the future and future drafts to be in a clean and tidy system.” I suspect we both have very finicky little systems.
John: Mine is actually not super finicky, but let me talk you through mine and we’ll hear what you’re doing. I create a folder for every project. Everything is in Dropbox. But I create a folder for it. All my files go in there. I will duplicate and create a new file if it’s really truly a new draft, like I’m turning in a brand new thing to the studio, but I will basically otherwise just keep working in the same file.
As we talked about previously, tend to write out of sequence. And so I will often have a subfolder in that folder called just Scenes. And I will just type up individual scenes and I they will stack up in that folder. Then I will assemble them for the final script and that will become the first draft.
But for every project I have, be it Arlo Finch, be it whatever, it’s all in one folder. The Arlo Finch books are just separate subfolders for each book. But I keep it kind of simple. And I name things just the title of the script and generally the date. I don’t say like first draft, second draft, whatever. I use the date for the date that I’m turning it in, whatever the date would be on the cover page of that script.
Craig, talk me through what you do.
Craig: Pretty similar. I’ve got a – I have a folder called Scripts in Progress. And inside that folder are all the active jobs, meaning things that are still either in development or I’m writing now or I know I have to write after. So they’re in process. Each project gets its own folder inside of that. And inside of that, like you, when I’m writing a draft it’s just one file that I’m using. But because I’m always sort of PDFing my progress as I go to share with the people I work with, I’ll have a lot of like 1-8, 1-20, 1-26. You can sort of see the progress of things just by the length of those things. And then I finish the draft, it’s done. Now that gets Draft 1 as a subfolder. Then it’s time for draft 2 and the process starts again.
If it goes into production then inside I’ll also have subfolders for scouting, for casting, for budget, for schedule, all that stuff. Everything gets its own little subfolder in there. And in this way you should have everything kind of beautiful laid out and nested.
When a project is done, it goes over into the Writing Archive folder. And that’s where all the old things live. Like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Craig: And it’s such a relief to send something that you hate, like oh god, this was the worst, I’ve been on this thing for like – they beat me up for four weeks on some production rewrite. I’m so glad it’s over. Be gone to the writing archive. But sometimes it’s sad. Like when I moved Chernobyl into to the writing archive it was like, oh man, it’s been like six years looking at that folder. Bye. And then it goes. But it’s a good way to kind of realize this is our life. You do it. It’s done. And you move on.
John: So a difference between you and me is you have more subfolders than I do. And the reason why I don’t tend to have a lot of subfolders is that sometimes things get lost in subfolders. Like you’re not quite sure where would it be and where is that thing. So that’s why I tend to have – there could be 100 files in the folder.
What I do find useful is if there’s a particular file or draft that I want to sort of keep going back to, like this is an official draft I turned in, I will use the label feature in finder to put a little purple label on it, so I can say, oh, that’s the one. And so for Arlo Finch for example if I have a PDF of book one that is really the definitive version, that it matches the printed book, I will have that label so I can click on that and say like, OK, this is what I called that character in this book, and so I can very easily refer back to it and know that I’m looking at definitively the true version of things.
But I’m not a big subfolder person beyond that. Of course I will subfolder for things like scouting or casting and that stuff. But for the actual writing it tends to be just one giant folder.
Craig: Hmm. Yep, there you go. So I guess really the answer is whatever feels good, Greg.
John: In terms of backups, we should always stress Dropbox is sort of its own backup, so that’s one stage of backup in backing up. I use Time Machine and I also will do a full disc dup of my hard drive every couple weeks. So, between those three I have a very good way of getting back to the state of any file.
Craig: Yeah. I’m kind of in the same situation. I have Dropbox. I have Time Machine. And then I use Back Blaze. So it’s triplicate. Feels pretty good.
John: Do it. David asks a question about the trades. “Every so often you and Craig make brief mention of or reference to the trades. I understand that the trades are places to find industry information, but for someone trying to break into the screenwriting business what does it actually mean? Are the trades something I should be paying attention to? What are some trade publications or sites that I need to follow? Are some better than the others? What should I know about the trades?”
Craig: I mean, no.
John: Let’s list them. When we say the trades what are we talking about?
Craig: We’re talking about Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline.
Craig: That’s what we’re talking about. It used to just be Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. And when you and I started, and you probably I guess felt the same way, it seemed like a common thing to feel that Variety was kind of the New York Times. And then The Hollywood Reporter was the other one.
John: The Post.
Craig: Yeah, it was a little bit of The Post. And then in the age of the Internet Deadline came along and did what Internet publications do which is ruin everything. So what had been kind of a somewhat restrained business periodical turned into a gossipy crapfest. And now that’s not to say that there isn’t good journalism at those three publications. There is. Sometimes they do really interesting work. And then sometimes they just take a transcript of what you and I say and republish it and call it exclusive.
Craig: There’s a lot of that. And because they are now in a cycle of exclusives, which I don’t understand the value of really since it’s going to be non-exclusive 14 seconds after you publish it, they will race, they will screw up, they will not report things cleanly. It just happens all the time. I think among industry professionals there’s a certain sense that the trades need to be graded on a curve. That if they get it even close to right that’s a good day.
Do you need to read these things? No. I don’t see why. I think mostly they’re full of, you know, just junk. Like so-and-so takes job as fifth assistant VP at company you don’t know. It just doesn’t matter.
John: So when I first came out to Los Angeles I was in the Stark program and we got free copies of Variety every day. And so I remember going to my little USC mailbox and get my Variety. And it was actually really helpful for me to learn some lingo and sort of like learn how people talked in the industry. So I do think there’s some merit to having a familiarity with them. I don’t think you need to keep up with them every day, every week. You don’t need to know the pulse of what’s going on, because they really aren’t the pulse of what’s going on.
Megana, who is sort of new to the industry, I get Variety for free during award season for no good reason, so she will actually read them. And it’s good. It gets her up to speed on sort of like who the studios are and what they’re talking about. That part is kind of useful. But it should be the tiniest fraction of your time. Do not feel like you need to internalize this. And I will say a danger of reading the trades is as a screenwriter it can get you kind of in this hunting mode where it’s like, oh, this is what’s hot. I should be writing this thing. Or these are the sales. That’s not good. That’s not bueno. You should be writing your own stuff and not worrying about what other people are buying.
Craig: I agree. And I would say that if you’re quality shopping among the trades, because each one of them will provide quality at times, look for things that aren’t the news of the day. Because it’s actually – it’s the – so when I think about Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline and I think about breaking, blah-blah-blah, that’s actually usually not great.
John: Not important.
Craig: Yeah. What is good, what they do really well, are in-depth interviews with people that matter. Whether they’re on the arts side or the business side. You can really learn from those, just from the interviews alone? I think also when they have editorials or essays that analyze trends there is value there. Where it’s less interesting to me is the kind of full on opinion pieces like why did such-and-such movie flop and then here comes a bunch of retroactive explanation for something that you would have said completely differently if it had succeeded.
Or breaking, blah-blah-blah. So, yeah, just pick and choose carefully. Because there’s actually great in all of them. And then there’s junk in all of them. Which is sort of like true for what you and I do. [laughs]
John: It is. It is true. Let’s wrap it up with Doug’s question. He writes, “The recent episode on fantasy world-building was wonderful. I was thinking about Episode 400, movies they don’t make anymore, it seems to me the only kind of fantasy that studios are interested in are series. The Witcher. The new Lord of the Rings project at Amazon. His Dark Materials. What advice would you give to a screenwriter hoping to write a standalone fantasy? Is it worth the time for something that isn’t popping up as often? What would need to be in a pitch or other document in order to entice studios to tell a story that is fantasy without being backed by source material?”
Craig: It’s very difficult.
Craig: Doug, here’s the problem. They’re incredibly expensive to do. And if they are not backed up by underlying material then it is quite unlikely that they will do it at all. It would have to come with Brad Pitt and, I don’t know, everyone. It would have to be like that selfie that Ellen DeGeneres took at the Oscars. It would need all of those people in it.
So when John and I were growing up there were a billion fantasy movies and they made a billion fantasy movies that weren’t based on underlying material because they were dirt cheap to make. Go out into the desert. Put some very pretty people in stupid barbarian costumes. And have them swing swords and occasional terrible visual effects occur. That was it. So they were cheap.
But to do a fantasy series – essentially since Lord of the Rings set a bar for what fantasy should be on film. Yeah, if you don’t have either the promise of underlying material to support an ongoing theatrical experience, or you don’t have a kind of ongoing experience that as an original thing a network could see as an ongoing series, it’s really going to be uphill.
John: Yeah. I agree with you, because you’re talking about making a very expensive movie that’s not based on anything which is difficult in any genre. But particularly a thing about fantasy properties is they tend to be based on really successful books or other franchises and that’s why they sort of cross that threshold. So I think you’re going to be happier picking the second genre you love very much and working on that one. Or if you really want to work in that fantasy genre, you know, find a way to get on one of these other series that’s happening, because then you’ll be very happy writing one of those shows.
Craig: Yeah. That’s exactly right.
John: All right. It’s come time for our One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is a cocktail. I don’t think we’ve ever done a cocktail for a One Cool Thing. So, in our house I had some parsley and it’s like there must be a cocktail to make with parsley. So I Googled and I found a Parsley Julip. It is delicious, Craig. It’s like a mint julip. It uses parsley, lime juice, simple syrup, gin. I used my friend’s Aviation Gin, which is fantastic. And it’s a delicious drink. I mean, it’s really kind of more a summer drink. But even in the winter it is a delicious drink. It is refreshing. So I would recommend a Parsley Julip if you are in the mood for a cocktail.
Craig: I could definitely see Melissa Mazin enjoying a Parsley Julip.
John: What I like about parsley is it’s not a flavor you kind of expect in a cocktail. But you just get a sense of it and it’s just lovely.
Craig: If you say so.
John: You’re not a parsley person?
Craig: I am literally an old fashioned drinker. That’s how. I am so old fashioned I drink an Old Fashioned. Yeah, no, and I’m not a big gin guy to be honest with you.
John: Generally I’m not a big gin guy overall, but this is tasty for me.
Craig: It’s coming back. Well I have a culinary One Cool Thing as well. As faithful listeners know every Thanksgiving I do a ton of cooking for the holiday and inevitably that involves a pie. A pie will happen. And because I like to do things from scratch I’m making my own crust. And one of the things that savvy bakers know when they’re making pie crusts is that pie weights are super useful. So, pie weights are typically little ceramic beads and you just pour them on top of the shell before you put it in the oven. And the idea is that when inevitably some little water pockets turn to steam and a bubble wants to form and blow out like a pizza bubble it doesn’t happen because these things are weighing it down.
The bummer about the pie weights is when you take your pie out of the oven you got to spill all of these hot ceramic beads out somewhere, wait for them to cool, and then put them back in their jar. Well, this year I found and it’s not like it’s new, but it’s new to me and so I’m thrilled, a pie weight chain. So instead of the ceramic beads that uses essentially ball bearings, little metal ball bearings, which do the trick just fine as well, but what they’ve done is they’ve just sort of strung them together like a long necklace. And so you put it on your pie and it does the same damn thing, but when it’s time to take it off you’ve just got to get the end and then you lift the whole damn thing out, one piece, done.
John: Craig, that is a very smart idea. Again, you’re saying it’s not new, but it’s new to me and I can’t believe that I’ve been wasting time with non-threaded beads to do this.
Craig: I mean, now when I took it out of the package my wife remarked that it looked a little bit like a sex toy.
John: Yeah. It does.
Craig: I mean, but you know what, I think in life most really useful things do look vaguely like sex toys.
John: Anything can be a sex toy if you’re imaginative enough.
Craig: As Adam Carolla once said, “Within five minutes of something new being invented, it’s up someone’s butt.” Somewhere in the world it’s gone up a butt. [laughs]
John: If you are looking for a gift this holiday season you can get a pie weight chain, or parsley for a Parsley Julip, but we also have Scriptnotes t-shirts that you can buy. Craig, have you gotten your Scriptnotes t-shirts? Megana was giving them to Bo to give them to you. Have you gotten your t-shirts yet?
Craig: I believe they’re in transit. I’m very excited.
John: They turned out great. So we put in a big order for all of us in Scriptnotes land. They’re great. And the one I’m wearing right now is the old Scriptnotes tour shirt, the one with the sort of metal typewriter on it.
Craig: Oh yeah.
John: And so mine had become so faded you couldn’t see the typewriter anymore, but now it is nice and dark. So, get yourself a new Scriptnotes t-shirt if you’d like to.
Also we’ll put links in to Alphabirds which is a game that my office plays every Friday. And Writer Emergency Pack which has been our sort of mainstay for a while of a little stocking stocker for the writer in your life. So if you want a gift those links are there.
Stick around after the credits because Craig and I are going to talk about things we think about differently after ten years. But for now, Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro is by Jemma Moran. If you have an outro you can send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also the place where you can send longer questions. But for short questions on Twitter Craig is @clmazin. I am @johnaugust.
You’ll find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. That’s also where you’ll find the transcripts. We will have a new version of the premium feed coming very, very soon. But you can find all the back episodes for now at store.johnaugust.com.
All right, and now a bonus segment. So a meme that was really popular this past week was comparing the 2009 you versus the 2019 you. So people would put up side by side photos to show how different they looked from those times. I almost did that same meme, but I kind of look the same basically. Because when you’re a bald guy your visible signs of aging aren’t as pronounced, so it would just be a vanity post from me.
But I thought what we might do is talk about not what’s changed in our faces but what views we hold that are different now than they were in 2009.
Craig: You mean personal growth in other words.
John: Have we grown at all as people? Or I guess we could also be backsliding. We could have grown in a negative way.
John: We could have calcified.
John: Devolved. I would say some views that I hold that are different, one is meritocracy, which I used to think is a good word which I now recognize is probably not a good word and actually not a really great concept. I think the idea of meritocracy is that everyone gets there based on their own worth and their own hard work and that’s what’s the key to success. I think I believed that a lot more in 2009 than I do in 2019. Is recognizing that a lot of people are successful who you would think it’s because they worked really hard, and they did work really hard, but that wasn’t the main factor on why they succeeded. So I think I’m much more aware of that than I was in 2009.
Craig: It sounds a little bit like it’s not that you don’t value what is inherently good about a theoretical meritocracy, but rather you’re saying we’re not in on. And a lot of the things that we’ve been told are meritocracies are not.
John: That is a good way to put it. Is that meritocracy as an idea is probably not bad, it’s just the fantasy that we’re living in one now is truly a fantasy.
Craig: Yeah. I agree. And I think that that kind of ties into one of the changes that I have, which is similar, and it’s that I think ten years ago I was more of an optimist not in a rosy way but rather what I would call a defensive optimist. So a defensive optimist says, OK, you’re pointing out problems but it’s important to me that we sort of look at what works right and not exaggerate the problems. Because if we exaggerate the problems we kind of fall into this sense of inertia and victimhood. And that’s a kind of defensive optimism.
And I think now I’m probably more of an accepting pessimist, which is to say I am still optimistic about things but I’m not upset by accepting how some things are getting worse or are just bad. In other words it’s not a threat to your optimism, your hope, or your sense of what is and what can be by acknowledging what is bad. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is just accept that some things are not great at all.
John: That’s true. And I think that’s psychologically a helpful thing to embrace is recognizing that accepting reality for what reality is and not sort of pushing it away is helpful both for your own planning but also for your own mental health.
Craig: Yeah. I guess what I would say is I’ve come to appreciate the joy of bad news.
John: OK. Here’s a very simple thing that I’m different at. Back in 2009 I think I double spaced after the period pretty consistently. I don’t anymore. I’m a single-spacer. I look at things that are double spaced and it drives me crazy.
Craig: It’s the worst. I think I might have been ahead of you on this one, but just barely.
John: In 2012 in Episode 65 I talked about my transition to becoming a single-spacer. And so I was along the way, but it definitely happened during this decade.
John: Craig, a thing I’ve noticed about you, and I think also we didn’t have Twitter in 2009, or people weren’t on Twitter the same degree in 2009, but as I see the things you tweet about and sort of who you retweet, I feel that you are much more politically active and engaged now than you were back then.
Craig: Yeah. I mean, mostly I like just being an annoying contrarian. I have a high disagreeability level. So for a long time Hollywood was just full of what I consider to be, and still do in many ways, lazy thinking, hypocritical, self-described liberals who aren’t really liberal and who don’t treat working people well. And who don’t treat women well. And who don’t treat minorities well. Who don’t vaccinate their children. And the sanctimonious hypocrisy that all was a joy to sneer at. And I still do. However, what has happened is that – well first of all it’s clear to me that most people aren’t that. In other words there are people like that, but they don’t define what our business is and who lives here and what’s going on.
And you can ignore for instance a coterie of Brentwood ding-a-lings and just concentrate on what good people are doing. And there are so many good people doing good things to progress. And that is really important. So when I look at for instance the Women’s March and I think, OK, maybe a tiny bunch of those people are Brentwood ding-a-lings, but really most of them are just regular people who believe something and care.
And so I’ve become a bit more – what’s the word–?
John: Are you generous in your assumptions?
Craig: I mean, I think I’m a little bit more idealistic. I do. I think that I have decided that it’s more important to concentrate on what good can come from positive thinking and ideas – and this is kind of against the background of accepting bad news – and less important on making fun of idiots. I do like making fun of idiots. Don’t get me wrong. But making fun of idiots doesn’t actually move the ball forward. So while I enjoy making fun of idiots online, and on Twitter, and I love making fun of Ted Cruz, the kind of all idiots, I contribute way more to political causes than I used to before. And I show up to political things way more than I used to before. And I read more about political things way more than I used to before. And I try and also read a variety.
So I get as much as I can from what I consider to be reputable sources.
John: And that’s obviously a change from 2009 to 2019 is that the notion of reputable sources is so different than it used to be in the sense that we have – it used to be much clearer sort of what the facts of things were and sort of everyone was actually talking about facts in ways that were different. And also I think I believed in systems a lot more then than I do now. Because I’ve seen, oh, the systems won’t always be there to protect you and save you. And so sometimes you have to do some stuff yourself. And that’s been an awakening I would say over these last couple of years.
Another thing that’s different about 2009 Craig versus 2019 Craig is you didn’t have an Emmy back then. You weren’t a fancy – you weren’t the fancy writer that you are now.
John: That’s nice.
Craig: That is true. I wasn’t expecting that. But it’s not really a difference. It’s some trophies. I like trophies.
John: And you play more D&D now than you did in 2009.
Craig: Far more, which is the greatest joy of all. It’s actually fascinating to contemplate, and this is a scary number to say, 2030. OK, we’re on the doorstep of 2020. In 2030, first of all we’ll still be doing the show which is crazy. [laughs]
Craig: Imagine. And think of where our D&D adventures will have taken us.
John: Wow. Nice. Yeah, some good stuff. And it should have been my One Cool Thing this week. The Eberron book came out from Wizards of the Coast.
Craig: Did you get it?
John: It’s terrific. It’s terrific. It’s a great guide book, a great source book of sort of all stuff. And so little steam punky. Really smartly done. You will love it, Craig.
John: That should be a gift to yourself for Christmas.
Craig: You’re the gift to myself.
John: Aw. Thanks Craig. Bye.
Craig: Thank you, John.
- Scriptnotes Holiday Live Show
- Assistant Townhall Extra Episode
- Assistant Townhall Full Livestream
- Justice Department on WGA ATA negotiations
- Justice Department Moves to End Paramount Decree
- Scriptnotes T-shirts now featuring all past designs!
- Writer Emergency Pack
- John August on Twitter
- Craig Mazin on Twitter
- John on Instagram
- Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli
- Outro by Jemma Moran (send us yours!)
Email us at email@example.com
You can download the episode here.