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 480 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.
Today on the show we talk weddings. More specifically we talk about wedding scenes in film and television, the tropes, the challenges, and what we can learn. We’ll also answer listener questions about the weather and bombing a pitch. And in our bonus segment for premium members we’ll discuss our post-vaccination hopes and plans.
With so much on our plate we need to welcome back our very own Aline Brosh McKenna. Aline, welcome back.
Aline Brosh McKenna: Oh my god. I’m like so happy to be here.
Craig: Oh. My. God.
John: Oh! We started talking about weddings and there was no one I want to talk more about weddings than you.
John: So you have written at least one wedding movie, so 27 Dresses is obviously a wedding movie, but you’ve written wedding scenes in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. You know your way around a wedding scene, correct?
Aline: Indeed. And I was thinking after you mentioned this topic that of the four season finales that I directed three of them had weddings in them. And the first thing I ever directed, that first episode that I directed, had a giant, giant wedding. And they’re pretty hellish to shoot.
John: So we’ll talk about the practicalities of shooting them, but also as I started digging into it I realized that there’s not one thing that is a wedding scene, so there’s just a lot to dig into. And there are so many universal things. So many specific things. So we’ll get into all of that.
But most crucially as we head into this holiday season I was thinking like what kind of gift could I get for my friends, for Aline and for Craig–
Craig: What did you get us?
John: And I thought maybe what I can get you guys that you would really, really want, that could really be good for you would be to get you guys agents.
John: And so I got you guys some agents. So CAA right as we were about to hit the record button signed a deal with the WGA, bringing closure to their part in the agency campaign.
Craig: [sighs heavily]
John: That’s the relief you hear on the air.
Craig: It’s just like, ooh.
Craig: [laughs] Yeah.
Aline: I mean, here’s the thing. You know, I think you guys have talked about this a lot and I’ve talked to a lot of writers obviously during this, and I think part of this might be generational, but agents have been really, really important in my career, really important relationships. People I really relied on. And in the last few years I’ve had agents that I really loved and really relied on. And I, having done the TV show, I sort of didn’t have a lot of access to them because I was busy sort of doing the one thing and had been looking forward to working with them. And then this thing started.
So, I’ve really missed them. And, you know, my agents really have always been – I’ve never had a manager. And I like to, you know, as I often say quoting Mike Newell, I think with my mouth open, and so I like to have people to talk to. And agents have really been key for me in strategy and in understanding what my potential was, or could be. And so I’m just really happy and I’m really proud to work with the folks that I’ve been working with. So I’m very happy.
John: So you guys have not read through any of this stuff yet, but you don’t have to actually read all that much because the deal with CAA is exactly the same as the deal with ICM. There’s a four-page side letter which goes into all the specifics and disclosures about the sale of Wiip, which is the independent production arm and the blind trust about–
Craig: I actually have a question about that. Did they build in – did they, I mean did the guild or them in combination – build in some sort of window? Was that the compromise there?
John: So it’s both a window in time but also disclosures and transparencies about what’s actually happening and that it’s not strictly about CAA but it’s also TPG which is the company that owns Wiip and CAA.
John: And so that was the complicated stuff which took a lot of time and negotiation to sort through, but has apparently now been sorted through to both sides’ satisfaction. So it ends the lawsuit on CAA’s thing. I was facing a deposition from CAA and sort of other disclosures.
John: So I’m just delighted that that part of this whole campaign is behind us, leaving only WME as the hold out among agencies in this campaign.
Craig: I suppose there is a template now for them to follow in theory.
John: It seems like it will be a very similar kind of discussion.
Craig: Yes. Good. Well, regardless of how we got there or any of that stuff the thing that – when we started talking about this, John, was way, way back with Chris Keyser–
John: Oh yeah. Chris Keyser.
Craig: Whenever it was, a year and a half ago. If people go back and listen to that episode they’ll hear plenty of umbrage on my part about packaging, which has always just been this awful stone in our collective shoe. And we’ve gotten rid of it. I mean, I’m perfectly cool with the fact that they’re divesting from Wiip since as I mentioned many times I’ve been a CAA client for whatever how many years, and they’ve never even mentioned it to me. So, it was not anything that was part of my life. But packaging was apparently thrust upon me. And so I’m glad that we have arrived at this place at long last. And now I can get my agent back. And believe me, the texts have been coming in. [laughs]
It’s a bit like Jerry Maguire where suddenly an agent gets fired and they have to start calling all their clients to bring them with them. It’s like, OK, we can all be I guess re-hiring them back. And so, yeah, a lot of texts, a lot of phone calls. And it’s good. I’m glad.
John: All right. In a bit of follow up, way back in Episode 348 we did a How Would This Be a Movie where we discussed this Japanese Rent-A-Family business. So it was an article that was in the New Yorker. It ended up winning the National Magazine Award in 2019. But basically you could hire these actors to come in and pretend to be your family. And so for like a lonely man on the holidays you could pretend to have a family that was with him.
But it turns out that the subjects that they interviewed in the story, they were lying. They were not disclosing who they actually were. Some of them actually worked for the company in ways that were not clear. So there’s an editor’s note at the start of that article now sort of talking through what’s not been able to be verified or what’s not been true. And it calls into question sort of how much of the story, or even this industry, actually exists.
Philip from LA, a listener, wrote in to say, “I wonder if this could be its own twist on the story where the story of a fake family for rent in order to drum up publicity becomes something like The Producers set in the modern viral online era with touches of the balloon boy story, or the dark edge of a crisis actor conspiracy theory if things go too far awry for the hapless hoaxers.”
And it is an interesting point. It was like a con within a con. It was like a fake-fake family. It’s just a weird place for this to be at.
Aline: I just wonder how much of this movie would have been dependent on like “no guys this really happened.” Because when you first read the article it seemed like, wow, this is unusual. And it feels like if you tell a story that could exist, or it could just be a Black Mirror thing where you have an app and you can get a family. And if you build a great story and an interesting, engaging story I don’t know that – it doesn’t seem like the kind of movie that you’re showing up looking for tons of historical accuracy in that one. You’re looking for relationships to follow. It just seems like it is a fun, interesting, engaging idea that makes people smile and you kind of see the narrative opportunities opening up.
But I agree there’s something also funny in the idea of guys who are launching a business and so they manage to get this article placed in some fancy publication to try and publicize their business. That’s the sort of Shattered Glass version. But I think that the idea of renting relatives, it feels like you could do a lot of variants of that that would point to kind of the funniness of families, especially around the holidays. And it doesn’t need to be – you don’t need to have to fact check it in that sense.
Craig: I’m just excited that any fact checking still happens at all. The gap between I guess what I would call journalistic scruples and political scruples is about, I don’t know, one light year wide. Because here they are sort of – and in a great way – tripping over themselves to say we are holding ourselves accountable. And we’re saying literally we don’t even think this story is false per se, but there is a little bit of this issue of perhaps one or three bad apples are ruining the bunch, so we’re going to tell you about this. As opposed to the rest of the world which is like we’re just going to say nonsense and repeat it over and over and deny.
So it’s nice to see that anyone still gives a damn.
John: Well, I think Aline’s point is the difference between there is journalism, which this is part of. And that journalism can be the spring board for a movie. But in many ways the movie doesn’t rely on that underlying story being true. It creates a story area, a story space. And even as we were talking about this in Episode 353 we did follow up where we talked about the different producers who are fighting for the rights over this thing, we wondering how important was it to actually have this actual story, to have this actual Japanese company. Is it really just an area for which you might want to build this fake family?
You think of the movies like We’re the Millers which is about a fake family to hide drug smuggling. Or Dana Fox’s movie, The Wedding Date, where it’s like someone is hiring on a fake boyfriend to go to a wedding. It’s a premise and therefore maybe you don’t really need the underlying details of that story to be true.
Aline: Right. The New Yorker obviously has a different standard, because they’re doing journalism. It’s been interesting also there’s been a lot of kerfuffle around this season of The Crown. And people who wanted a disclaimer. But I think people who are watching fictionalized pieces, pieces of history, understand that there is – you’re writing scenes you didn’t witness with characters you don’t know. I wonder, you know, I think that with The Crown it’s because a lot of the people who lived through that are alive today, or still in the public eye today, and so that’s why there’s been sort of a greater call for people wanting the historical record to be completely verified.
I wonder what you guys thought about that.
John: Yeah. This season of The Crown I thought was spectacular. And I did find myself because this was part of my own life story, like the wedding of Charles and Diana was a thing I actually remember seeing, I did take this as being, I don’t know, it felt more uncomfortably close to reality. And I did feel bad for some of these people.
Like I don’t know any of the people who are portrayed in this season of The Crown personally, but some of them are friends of friends which is just an odd place to be at. I’m not sure I wanted a disclaimer there, but I did start to wonder about what was true and what was not true. Craig?
Craig: I had a very specific opinion about this when I was doing a fictionalized show about historical events. I don’t really say fictionalized, I say dramatized. And I’m trying to dramatize what happened. So, I did, but, you know, just as a basic premise if you’re trying to cover a year of events in one hour, or five hours, or a hundred hours, you are taking license with reality. You have to. There’s no way to do it otherwise. But I personally felt it was important to be as transparent as I could be about those changes and those adjustments via a podcast because I do think if you don’t say anything the presumption that people are going to have is that you did your research and that’s accurate to history.
And I think it would be better for shows to be honest about those changes. You’ll get way more credit, frankly, for the dramatization that you do if you’re just open about it.
Aline: But I think most shows, I can’t speak for The Crown because I don’t know what Peter has said publicly about that, but I think that he’s never pretended, as far as I can tell, that it’s word-for-word. It’s a dramatic rendering. And it’s heavily thematic. It deals with, you know, every episode has a different sort of angle. And so I think what people were suggesting was you put a warning on that says this is not exactly historically accurate.
Craig: No. That’s dumb.
Aline: And I think about all the movies from the ‘40s and ‘50s that are like biopics of people which are just–
Craig: You would have to put a warning in front of everything.
Craig: There is no such thing as a dramatization of history that is perfectly accurate to history. I guess all I’m suggesting is that is that if there are significant deviations that have occurred it’s good to just have a forum in which you can acknowledge those and explain why. Because if you don’t I think people will find out and then get grouchy about it. I mean that’s for instance one of the reasons why not only forget the podcast, we literally put in type onscreen that a character in Chernobyl was a composite character. Because I just didn’t feel comfortable having them watch this whole thing and then find out three weeks later that she wasn’t real. It just felt manipulative to not acknowledge what we had done and why.
And you know what? It doesn’t undermine anything as far as I can tell.
John: Yeah. So I think what I’m hearing from this is that we need to have companion podcasts for all these shows.
John: And Craig, I mean, honestly that was a good innovation for Chernobyl and for Watchmen. And I think it only helps them. We should probably try to have Peter Morgan come on the show.
Aline: Because he’s done a lot. He did Frost/Nixon and The Queen. He’s delved in that realm a lot. But I think in a certain way it feels to me like he approaches it as a playwright. So, he finds these situations and he’s building the dialogue that he – but, you know, these things are – I feel this way about podcasts, too, where sometimes podcasts now are being put out as sort of a definitive, factual version because that format makes people feel like they’re in a fact zone. And the fact of the matter is like, yeah, newspapers, journalism, they have fact checkers, or they’re responsible to a very literal standard. And it doesn’t feel to me like The Crown, that’s what The Crown is trying to do. It’s not trying to document.
John: Yeah. All right. Let’s get onto our marquee topic because I’m very excited to talk about weddings. I’ve had weddings on the brain for a bit because last week I officiated my first every wedding.
John: It was on Zoom, but it still counts.
Craig: Under what church are you ordained?
John: I was the Church of Universal Life.
John: It’s the one that everyone just goes to.
Craig: That’s me. We are both priests or reverends in the Universal Church of Life. [laughs]
John: Yes. And so–
Craig: Sounds like a Star Wars church.
John: It does. It really does sound like life day celebrations are my specialty.
John: So just so people can fit this into the chronology, the wedding I officiated was on the same day my mom died, which seem could either be a great tragedy or a great comedy. But it ended up being actually a really nice thing to be able to have a structured celebration on this day that would otherwise be just incredibly sad. So it was nice to have something ceremonial that I could do on that day and sort of commemorate the beginning of someone’s new life rather than just the end of somebody’s life.
Anyway, that’s a really depressing way to get into something I’ve always really been interested in, because I’ve written some weddings scenes, and the script I’m writing right now has a wedding scene in it. But the more I thought about it there’s really no such thing as a wedding scene. Because really what weddings are is a whole constellation of events which you can chose to have become scenes in your story, but don’t necessarily have to do that. And I think weddings are also a really unique opportunity to show what is special and unique about those characters, the relationships between those characters, and what is culturally specific to this group versus any other group. So there’s so many great examples I can think of of ways to explore dynamics because of a wedding, because there is a set form to them that we can dive into and explore.
So, I want to start with Aline. Let’s say you’re writing something that is going to have a wedding, what are the events around a wedding that could become scenes to you? What are some of the moments that you could chose to make into scenes?
Aline: Well, I’m actually really glad that you mentioned this because I think that a lot of beginning writers choose a wedding as their first movie because it feels like an identifiable process with component parts. But I have found them brutal to write. I mean, it sounds funny to say about a movie like 27 Dresses, which is, you know, it’s not [unintelligible], but like it was very challenging to write because the way I think of weddings is like you know when you have a baby and you get that set of nesting cups? If you turn them over and you go from big to small you can make a tower, right, because they’re ascending.
Writing a wedding is like the cups are facing up and when you stack them they stay flat. There is nothing in those wedding events that is necessary escalation. If you’re writing a sports movie it’s like the beginning of the season, will they get into the playoffs, they get into the playoffs, they’re in the last game. I mean, it has a progression built into it. A war movie. An action movie. They have a natural progression. You’re trying to get the nuclear briefcase.
Wedding events are just parties. And obviously one of the things that’s really fun about weddings is that every culture has a slightly different one, and I think we’ve seen, you know, people love Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Crazy Rich Asians. And there’s Best Friend’s Wedding. I mean, there’s tons. But they’re actually so – I found it so, so difficult to write in 27 Dresses because it was like what is the difference stakes wise between the shower and the rehearsal dinner? I mean, I don’t know.
Aline: And –and – they’re huge gloms of people, so when you’re writing those scenes if you’re trying to focus on a few people but you don’t want to be in a setting with every single one of your main characters and just have a scene with two people in it, what’s the point of that? And so how are you servicing everyone’s story moving forward? It’s kind of like those nightmare scenes where you have every character together but you’ve got a whole bunch of them and one doesn’t escalate off the other one. And so it’s kind of important in those movies to embed another – you’ll find that most of those movies have another deadline, another kind of process they need – an arc – that is outside of just the getting married.
And it’s also, you know, I think of Shakespeare a lot when I’m working on wedding stuff because I think there’s an expectation with weddings that like there’ll be some sort of minuet with the characters and then they’ll land in the right place. And so there are some sort of formal expectations, but they’re not narrative expectations. And so it’s actually kind of a tough one.
And I’ve read a lot of early screenwriter’s scripts where I see them get into that cul-de-sac where it’s a little bit – their car is a little big for it and they end up doing a K-turn that’s, you know, has 17 backs and forths to it, because it’s very hard to get that forward motion.
John: Aline, I want to go back to really underlining a point you made is that with weddings and wedding sequences they have an order. They have a flow to them chronologically how they’re supposed to go. But you’re so right. There’s no natural escalation. There’s no greater stakes because it’s the next part of this thing. And so it really relies on an outside force to create what is going to be the further complication from this stage to this stage to this stage. Because otherwise it’s just you have dress shopping, and scouting venues, and the seating chart, and the bridal party, and the bachelor party. It doesn’t matter.
Unless there’s something else actually happening those are just one-off events. And it can feel very episodic because of that.
Aline: That’s exactly right.
Craig: Yeah. They are a bit of a trap. The plus side is that you have a rite, and rites are parts of the universal human experience we all understand. Almost everybody has been to a wedding, whether it’s as a child or as a participant, as a parent. So we all have a way in and out. We all understand what it is. There’s a bunch of stuff that you don’t need to explain. So if I need to get all of my characters together in a room to have an argument, or to conclude an argument, a wedding is a great way to do it without having to deal with any plot bending or contortions because everybody gets it. Of course, they have to go, it’s a wedding. And your costume is solved. The space is solved. You don’t have to really think too hard about what it looks like. It’s just really some version of a wedding.
All of these questions that normally drive us crazy are answered by the wedding. But that of course is the other edge of the sword that says that this is very well-trodden ground. So you’re not going to get something particularly new. We know there’s likely going to be somebody going to be somebody walking down an aisle. There’s likely going to be a speech. Those speeches are either amazing or disastrous. There’s going to be a crying parent or there’s going to be a rift. Someone is going to run away.
We’ve seen almost every permutation of what a wedding can do. But the kernel of it, which I think is useful still, is as a ritual and probably I’m curious maybe there’s a version of this where it doesn’t happen where a wedding is either the beginning or the ending of something important in your story. It’s pretty rare that you have a wedding in the middle that matters. And if you do have a wedding just right in the middle then it’s about two other people who are having a relationship and the wedding is a background, a very expensive background for that relationship.
John: And that’s exactly, the movie I’m writing right now has a wedding in the middle which is an important turning point in a relationship but also it’s not their wedding. And that becomes sort of a crucial thing.
I want to revisit something you said and shade it a little bit differently because you said you don’t have to think too much about what the venue is like, you don’t have to think too much about what characters are wearing. As the writer you probably are thinking about that because there’s going to be some stuff that’s going to be specific and different to your – so you’re going to be aware that it is so tropey.
Aline: Yeah. I was going to jump in on that, too. Because there is a cultural obsession now with weddings, is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I mean, it only gets more and more. And I think social media has greatly contributed to that. But I think for a certain audience those differences between what the bridesmaids are wearing, what the venue is, there are so many specific social and cultural signifiers. And obviously the main steps that we have of what a wedding looks like is basically a Christian wedding. And I in addition to being Jewish, my parents are immigrants. We didn’t have a big extended family.
I hadn’t been to a lot of weddings kind of in my life, until I started going to weddings. And so I hear what you’re saying Craig which is like it’s a bride, there’s going to be some – even if she’s wearing a different cultural costume, some of the, yeah, the feel–
Craig: Yeah, she’s dressed up. And even then like the—
Aline: And the parents have an investment in the relationship. And what are the friends doing? Right. It is, but I really, to me, speaks to somehow we imbibe these tropes and we kind of understand what they are. And I think there’s a loop now where weddings are looking like movies that were about weddings.
John: Oh yeah. There’s a feedback to it.
John: And going back to what Craig originally said it’s like even though you as the writer have to do that work to sort of make this wedding specific and unique, you don’t have to explain to the audience what a wedding is. Everyone is ready to accept like, OK, there’s going to be some bride and they’re going to walk down an aisle. They have a sense of the kinds of things that happen.
And so some of the movies we’re going to talk through are Crazy Rich Asians or The Farewell and one of the things I love about, or Unorthodox is another TV show that Aline and I talked about, what I loved about the wedding in Unorthodox is I kind of had no idea what was going on for parts of it, but no one had to explain to me what was happening because I could sort of puzzle it out and it was great for that reason.
But, an argument for why weddings are such good material for our stories and why they’re a great place to set scenes is that you have families coming together and there’s a natural emotion, a heightened emotion, and conflict. So, characters are ready to be emotional. And that so often one of the struggles we’ve run into in film and TV writing is realistically people would sort of suppress their emotions and they would keep it level and calm. And weddings are an opportunity to sort of rise up and be heightened. Be a little bit more traumatic than they would be on a normal day.
People are trying to act a little idealized in ways that can be great for us as writers.
Let’s start by taking a look at a scene from Crazy Rich Asians. So this is a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim based on the novel by Kevin Kwan. And I picked something very late in the story, this is the actual wedding that they’re going to go see, and it’s not our central characters’ wedding. They are just guests at this wedding. But this is an example of an incredibly expensive wedding, an expensive sequence.
Aline: That’s a good example of what we were talking about with Craig which is like it’s a wedding, yes, we understand all the signifiers of the basic things of what’s happening, a man and woman coming together. But the details of that were so rich and interesting. And it had a walk down the aisle I had never seen before, which I had a little bit of glee in my soul when I saw that.
John: Yeah. So we’re looking at page 113, so we’ll have links to this in the show notes, PDFs for this. So, page 113, “a HUSH falls over the crowd. Eyes turn to: KINA GRANNIS, who takes the stage.” As you read through these pages it’s really specific. I mean, people, again, it’s very directed from the page in ways that the screenwriting experts tell you you’re not supposed to be doing, but of course you should be doing.
It goes into a montage with the flower girls, the ring-bearer boy. You’re seeing all the little moments. And it’s so crucial that the screenwriters here are choosing to show you exactly what these moments are because otherwise you might just aim the camera at the bride and groom who we don’t care about at all. Our actual real interest is in Nick and Rachel and the mother, Eleanor, and really that is the central relationship. And we’re charting their reactions over the course of this while this bigger wedding is happening.
It’s a great example of how you might think a wedding is about the people being married, but it’s really about, in this case, the characters we’ve established our time with and what their reaction is to this thing that we’re all seeing together.
Aline: Yeah, I mean, you know, one of the things that this wedding was really particularly beautiful I thought. There’s a sort of a fantasy here. She says it’s a wedding fantasy come to life. As I said, you know, there’s a Shakespearean element to weddings, but there are also – one of the things I’ve experienced in my career is that because I’ve written a lot of stuff that has to do with romance, or weddings, or relationships, or characters, or sort of those smaller moments I have felt a snobbery. I have felt in moments where I’ve been in groups of my peers, male peers, where it’s sort of like a little patty on the head. But we’re all here because a man and a woman decided to join their life in whatever way, shape, or form, whether they were married or not.
I’ve been watching a ton of Finding Your Roots, the Henry Gates show on PBS, which I enjoy so, so much. And you realize there are all these people that had to come together, find each other, and make a baby to make us, to make Craig, and make Baby Craig, and make Baby John.
Craig: [laughs] Gross. So gross.
Aline: And that is – but it’s true. It’s like all those sperms and eggs had to find a way towards each other.
Craig: Oh, come on. No.
Aline: And it’s a very primal, so I think weddings–
Craig: John wasn’t made like that. John was manufactured.
Aline: There were very important semiconductors and robotic arms that had to come together–
Craig: There we go. Thank you. Much cleaner.
Aline: But I think it is interesting, you know, I always think about the fact that the first movie to win Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay was It Happened One Night.
Aline: And that would be like an $8 million Netflix movie at this point. You know, and so–
Aline: We used to understand as a culture the importance and the value of what it takes when a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, or gender fluid, or whoever is uniting themselves that there are families that result from that. And that we all come from that. And there is a sanctity to that that I think we all feel and it’s in those unions. And it’s just interesting that as a culture we have a primacy now on other kinds of storytelling. And it feels like all those comedies and by that I don’t mean like funny stuff but things or stories where things work out in kind of an elegant fashion are considered sort of might I say jejune.
Craig: You might.
Aline: But there are important reasons and for centuries they’re the reasons that we are the humans that we are because of those genetic unions most of which were sanctified in some sort of ritual.
Craig: I mean, the ritual part of it is what you feel here and in all three of these. There are very rituals left. We have birth, we have welcome to adulthood, we have wedding, we have death. Those weirdly are the rituals that are left.
Craig: Graduation. You know what? Graduation-ish. But truly, nah. Like Graduation is sort of like you made it through a bureaucratic thing, so if you’re just standing here you got it. These are different ones. These are sort of like the life impact rituals that are left for us in the west. And I guess this is also the case as we start to see cultural representations of other cultures, it’s through these rituals, we start to see how weirdly uniform the rituals are as we move away from the west into the east and elsewhere. There are always differences.
But the differences sort of serve to accentuate how there are not differences. And in this, these pages from Crazy Rich Asians, this is something that you do see frequently – when I say frequently I don’t mean like, oh, it’s a trope. I just mean this is – because we don’t say like shooting guns is a trope, or I don’t know, punching someone in a bar. These are things that happen frequently at weddings, where the wedding serves as a substrate, a context for people who are on the edge of a thing. And being exposed to a ritual and being confronted by a ritual they understand that a certain path is now available to them. It becomes real.
I think this actually happens in life. I do. I don’t think this is fantasy. I think people go to weddings and then they walk away, I think the amount of breakups that happen immediately after a wedding is probably rather high compared to after like a bar mitzvah. Do you know what I mean? Because you’re confronted by the ritual. And I like the way that they’re confronted here.
John: Let’s turn our attention to Palm Springs, which is one of my favorite movies from this past year.
Aline: It was great.
John: It was a terrific movie. Premise-y wise there’s a Groundhog Day thing happening, but you come upon a character who is already deep, deep, deep into his Groundhog Day-ish-ness. But we start at this wedding. It’s a wedding toast. And we’ve seen bad wedding toasts before, like bridesmaids’ toasts before. This is a particularly a good one. I think Plus One also did a great job with this this past year, with the trope of the wedding toast and sort of how many bad versions of it there are.
What I really liked, this page three I’m starting to look at here. We’re starting in the middle of a terrible bridesmaid’s toast. But then we’re following our other two central characters who we’re going to realize are the central characters, Sarah, who is the sister, who is getting very drunk, and then Nyles who is going to be taking over the mic and giving the speech. We have an expectation it’s going to be an embarrassing speech and then he ends up just saving it in ways that are just remarkable and we’ll realize this because he’s been going through this hundreds of times before this.
A really smart, funny job. So much is being set up in these pages. And it’s so nicely focused on who is important versus who is not important. It’s doing a lot of really good story work while staying very, very funny. Really a great version of this kind of scene.
Aline: I also really like the way this is written. It’s very clear, and lively, and easy to follow. Doesn’t have lots of bulky description. I just like the writing style of this piece.
John: Yeah. It’s very dialogue forward and just enough stuff to give you a sense of what’s happening in this space and really what the important beats are. Really short scene description, action lines that don’t have to be full sentences. Just enough to get the flow of how the dialogue is driving the scene.
Aline: Yeah. Like “All eyes land on Sarah — caught mid wine sip.” And she says, “Uh.” You know what that is. And he doesn’t over-explain that.
John: Yeah. So this is written Andy Siara. Story by Andy Siara and Max Barbakow.
Aline: We’re all old enough, we’ve passed through the wedding phase, the baby phase.
Aline: We’re deep in the cancer phase, who has cancer phase.
Aline: When I went to weddings I would just love a drunken toast. I mean, man, that just livens up the evening. When somebody gets up and you know. And, you know, most people don’t do a lot of speaking. And most people are not prepared, so extemporaneous speech when they’re exhausted and they’re holding a glass of booze. It’s going to be fun stuff.
John: The other thing I’d recommend people look at these pages for is that this is a four-page dialogue driven scene which would feel too long normally. But what the writer is doing, which all writers need to learn how to do, is when you’re in a bigger space how you break that up into smaller moments. And how even though it is one continuous scene there are moments and smaller areas within that scene so that it doesn’t just feel like one monolith of a scene. If it had been sort of like in a wide shot that whole time it would have been torture. But because it’s being broken into smaller little moments it doesn’t feel like you’re trapped in this space for a long time.
All right, lastly I want to look at The Farewell which was one of my favorite movies in its year. We had Lulu Wang when she had this movie come out. What I love about this is so our central character, Billi, she’s come to China because her grandmother is dying. She’s very upset about this. But they’re not telling the grandmother that she’d dying, and so she has to maintain this secret. And this wedding is really all a pretense for one last gathering to see grandma before she dies.
And so the actual wedding itself Billi is not really a part of, and so she’s just a spectator at the wedding the way that we as an audience are just sort of a spectator watching all this stuff. And yet what Lulu does so well in this sequence is really letting us focus on Billi even while all this expensive wedding is happening around her. And, again, one of the things I really appreciate about this is Lulu Wang never explains how a wedding is going to work. There’s no outside character who is new to all of this who gets talked through it all. It just happens. And we sort of piece together what the sequence of events must be which is really nicely done.
So let’s take a look at these pages. One of the things I really appreciate about this is recognizing that for most individuals a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience, or they’re a guest at multiple weddings, but for some people a wedding is an everyday thing. And so I like that Lulu shows us the waiters and the other folks who are sort of on break. They do this every day. There’s nothing unusual or remarkable about this day. This is just their daily, ordinary life. And so there’s moments here where she has people on a cigarette break while the wedding is happening around them. I just love that it’s routine for some of the people in this scene.
Aline: What I thought was cool about this movie was that even though it’s dealing with this wedding and bringing the family together it didn’t at any point veer into the tropes. It maintained its point of view through the lead character’s eyes in an incredible way through the whole story. So even when you’re in stuff that could take you to tropey land in weddings, which that’s another thing about wedding stories is they kind of have this pull where they will try and drag you towards more kind of expected things, and what I loved about her writing here is that she always maintained her point of view and her tone even through these things which, you know, it’s sort of like in a courtroom piece where you can sort of turn your brain off because you feel like you understand the flow of something. And in here she really maintains the tone. And a lot of it was in the way she shot it, so that you understand that you’re always keeping track of the main character and sort of her issues around her identity and responsibility and what she owes to her family and how she feels. And I thought that was really cool.
So it doesn’t kind of verge into that like wedding comedy space.
John: Yeah. In prose fiction there’s a discussion of first person versus third person. And so first person being the I narrator, versus third person is the third party narrator, watching the person. And especially in middle grade fiction they call it a close third person where you are literally like kind of right over the shoulder of that character. And that’s kind of what I feel like here is that we’re basically only getting information that Billi gets, and so we’re never cutting away to things that Billi would not be aware of.
Aline: Right. Right.
John: And that’s what keeps it very much centered in her experience even as we’re seeing stuff around the edges. It’s very much her experience of this wedding versus the bride and groom’s experience of the wedding. And I remember when Lulu came on the show I said like, listen, I would love to see a companion movie which is just about this bride and groom who have been sort of forced to get married too early and too soon. And I understand why you didn’t want to do that in this movie, but I’m so curious to learn more about them because their story feels really interesting, too.
So it’s an opportunity to – by focusing your narrative lens on your central character you still can paint out the sense that there would be fascinating stories and real life people inhabiting these other roles even though we don’t get to see too much of it in the course of the two hours that we’re following.
Aline: Yeah, that was basically the idea of 27 Dresses, which is to tell a wedding movie from the perspective of a bridesmaid. You know, it’s an “always a bridesmaid” movie. I was kind of surprised when I pitched and wrote it that there hadn’t been tons of those. I mean, obviously then there’s Bridesmaids. But 27 Dresses, which was before that, which was really about the type of person who gets asked to be in everyone’s wedding and there’s sort of a personality type. So it actually was an outgrowth of an idea that I had had long, long before that, which is I wanted to do a Cinderella movie from the perspective of the step sisters, who are like, you know, they have a point of view on it and it’s like they’re being told their feet are fat and gross. It seems like there’s another version of that story.
And so that had always stuck with me. And then it’s based on this friend of mine who has been in so many, many weddings. There are characters that populate a wedding movie that you can kind of shift your focus or different type of wedding. So it is a rich area, but, you know, again, I would say from the crafty point of view find something you can hitch your wagon to that’s pulling you through, as is The Farewell obviously. That can pull you through so that you’re not completely just dependent on like, you know, and now they have the bachelorette party or whatever.
John: Exactly. So I think our takeaways are it’s nice that there is a structure. There’s a sequence to it. But I think the point that Aline made early on which is that just because there’s a sequence doesn’t mean there’s an escalation. So you are responsible for the escalation and the increasing stakes over the course of these events. It’s nice that people have expectations and you don’t have to teach them what a wedding is. That’s great. But within that you do have to be thinking about sort of what is unique and special about this wedding versus all other weddings.
So, those details are probably even more important for this because otherwise it’s just going to shade back towards generic wedding. And just always make sure you’re keeping your narrative camera aimed at what’s actually important. Because this is something I found just even in a scene I wrote yesterday, which was not a wedding scene, but there was this big moment that happened, this big sort of set piece happened and then I realized like, oh, that set piece is really cool but my protagonist, my actual central hero, isn’t really the focus of it. And so my work today was to rethink that set piece to keep my protagonist really more central focused within it. Because it just doesn’t matter if it’s not about my character.
So, a wedding is like one of those big action set pieces and it can be really impressive, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not about your characters.
Aline: Yeah. And that is where boring lives. One of the things that I always think is like one of my hidden weird reverse traits as a writer is like I get bored very easily, even by my own stuff, and I will get bored by a story. And so a lot of times when I find like, geez, I’m boing myself, it’s that I’ve lost kind of the character and I’ve lost the point of view of the character and what’s pulling me in and why I care. And it is – you can get sort of distracted by arranging the tchotchkes on a coffee table and then just forget – you just don’t have a coffee table. You’re just moving ashtrays and candles around on the floor.
So it is always important to – I think, you know, there is a lot of busywork that can come up when you’re writing where you feel like you’re writing stuff down or doing things, to do lists, especially if you’re writing something with an action component or a lot of “business” where your audience showed up to see a story about a person or people that they can connect to. And they came to see characters and to live through characters. And so it’s important to make sure that you’re clearing out all the other bric-a-brac so that’s what you’re doing.
John: Yup. So full disclosure, Craig actually had to step away in the middle of that conversation so that’s why he didn’t resolve his feelings about weddings. Craig is back now, though, so Craig–
Craig: I’m back.
John: Tell us one last takeaway you have for wedding scenes.
Craig: OK. I think that wedding scenes are an opportunity to have wish fulfillment in a beautiful way because they are a moment where everybody in life stops and does something special. We literally dress up together and it’s happy. Usually when we’re dressing up together it’s a funeral. So this is nice. It’s a beautiful moment, but don’t think that that’s going to carry you through. It’s not. Even if you’re doing a kind of wedding that people generally don’t see, and there are different colors, and there’s different music, and there’s different food, doesn’t matter. That’s not going to carry you through. What’s going to carry you through is the same thing that carries you through every other scene ever. Relationships.
So use the wedding to leverage relationships as you want unless it is at the end of a movie and it is the conclusion of something in which case it’s the locker room celebration and then just have fun. Just have fun. But relationships.
Aline: When I got married, I like a fair bit of attention, but maybe not to be like the center-center of attention. And when you’re a bride it’s the closest that you get to being a celebrity because you’re the person that invited all the people and they all want to talk to you. And I felt the eyeballs on me when I was walking down the aisle. And so the expression I was so nervous that my knees were knocking against each other, I had never actually – I thought that was like hyperbole. But I was walking down the aisle and it was a billion degrees, shvitzing, but with my knees – actually when I stood next to Will my knees where actually banging together to the point where I thought people are going to be able to hear this. It was weirdly the most nervous I’d ever been. And I wasn’t doing anything.
But it was like the fact that – I think one of the reasons this is so bewitching for women is like it is the only moment in my life where I was ever like that person that everybody wanted to talk to, dance with, look at, talk about my outfit. So, I think that’s one of the reasons that it has this enduring appeal. And I got so nervous that I was like knock-kneed.
John: Nice. All right. It has come to the time where we bring on our producer, Megana Rao, to open up the mailbag and ask the questions that our listeners have asked us. Megana, what do you have for us today?
Craig: Hey Megana, before you ask the first question, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Megana.
Megana Rao: Oh, Merry Christmas.
Craig: You know, right? Because we’re allowed to say Merry Christmas again. [laughs] I am a Jew that has been saying Merry Christmas literally my whole life. I have no idea what’s going on out there.
Megana: Oh, Merry Christmas. This was such a great discussion as someone who is like 28 and had 10 weddings to go to this year.
Craig: Yes, you’re in that zone.
Aline: And so expensive.
Megana: Yes. And normally it’s something I dread, but the Zoom weddings and hearing you guys talk about it I’m like very nostalgic for that.
John: Now, Megana, when we were prepping this topic you also mentioned a show that you’re watching that you really liked. So tell us what that was.
Megana: Yes. So there’s this show called Made in Heaven and it is about these two wedding planners in India. And in Hinduism there’s this idea that all of the matches are made in heaven, so that’s where the title comes from. And it’s really interesting because it’s sort of a procedural where they take on a wedding of the week and they use it to talk about class issues and all the other factors that come into play in an Indian wedding. And some of the I guess antiquated traditions that still exist.
Craig: Where would I see this if I wanted to stream this? Yeah, where it at?
Megana: So it’s on Amazon. It’s great. I highly recommend it.
Craig: Maid of the Week?
Megana: Made in Heaven.
Craig: Oh, I wasn’t even close. I literally was a million miles away. And you’ve said in Hinduism we think, OK, and I said, no, you know what, I’m changing it to Maid of the Week which is terrible, is the worst title in history. All right, so what do have going in our mailbag?
Megana: OK, so Flores from Australia asks, “How important do you think it is to describe the weather conditions of a scene? I like to think that the intervention of nature can help propel the conflict of a scene. For example, a torrential rainfall could increase the danger of a car chase, or a blanket of gray clouds may reflect the grim state of mind of a character. The trouble is that on shoot day the weather rarely plays along. The description in a short film I once directed had started with, ‘It’s high noon as the sun’s warmth fills a cloudless blue sky.’ But on the day of the shoot we were hiding under umbrellas.
“Do you think describing weather is necessary?”
John: All right. I think weather is necessary when it’s necessary. And so if you look through my scripts I’m not talking about the weather very often, but when I do bring it up there’s a reason why I’m bringing it up because it’s actually important to the scene.
So I look at there’s a sequence in Go where Sarah Polley’s character gets hit by a car and is in a ditch. And it really does need to be raining for that. It just doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t track for it to not be raining like that.
But I do also read scripts sometimes that are just like way too filled with the weather and blue skies and clouds and such in ways that are not reflective of the reality of production or what’s actually important in the scene. What do you guys think?
Aline: I think when you’re writing it you can do that if you want to if it’s important to the story. And then when you get to actually making it you can decide how important it is. But I will say I always try – when I’m doing this podcast I always try and think of beginning writers because I always recommend this show to beginning writers. There’s almost always too much stuff in people’s scripts, not too little. I would say the distribution is probably 70% of people write too much stuff, and 30% write too little.
Your weather thing might be the thing you want to cut. You probably don’t need as much of it as you think you do. Because I think when you’re first writing you feel a need – you know, as Craig always says, you’ve already seen the movie. And I think when you’re first writing you have a tendency to want to write down every single little bitty bob of that because you’re so excited that you see it.
Weather might be something that can go.
Craig: Yeah. Sometimes it matters. And rain, always think of this, Flores. Rain you can make. No problem. You can’t unmake it. It’s really hard to do that. But you can make it. Now, when you make it it’s super annoying. So, you know, you’ve got your truck that’s pumping the water. The actors are angry. Everyone is angry. The water is often cold. And it takes time. It just takes time. It messes things up.
That said, sometimes you want rain. Rain is one of the best ways to show onscreen that a roof doesn’t work very well. There are all these little interesting things that rain can do.
But what I would definitely avoid is what I would call unremarkable weather commenting because we have a state of default fine, you know. If I need to see your breath that’s remarkable. If it’s raining that is remarkable, meaning I’m remarking. Otherwise, neutral weather, that’s what we presume. And if you could please try and avoid overly purple discussion and descriptions of normal weather, like the sun. We do – in our Three Page Challenges we have occasionally seen people waxing poetic about the sun. And my whole thing is like, yeah, you know, we’re not going to be staring at the sun. It’s just not going to happen, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.
John: We’re never going to aim that high.
Aline: Can I ask you guys also a question, because in movies routinely, and this just might be me, people in movies routinely have lengthy, lengthy conversations in the rain.
Aline: I’m always running through the rain. I’m getting out of the rain. I don’t want the rain. I don’t stand there and talk. I’ve never had a conversation in the rain voluntarily.
Craig: Well, actually that’s one of the values of rain.
Aline: Have you?
Craig: Is that if you put people standing in the rain talking you know that they are in a state. What they’re discussing is so important they actually have to take the hit of the rain. And so I’m breaking up with you. I love you. We’re being shot at. Whatever that is, sure. But you’re absolutely right. If they’re just chit-chatting in the rain? Hell no. Nobody does that.
Aline: But those, like if you’re breaking up I would be like I get it, you’re dumping me, can we step to the side?
Craig: You would.
Aline: I just don’t want to be wet. I don’t want to ruin my hair on top of this.
Craig: That is a choice. By the way, a total valid choice for a character, but not all characters. [laughs]
John: One other thing I would recommend people think about is the difference between weather and climate. If you’re setting your story in a place that has a specific climate that we might not immediately grasp, it’s worth noting that. So I’m thinking back to Wide Sargasso Sea, which is an indie film from a zillion years ago, and it was just a very sweaty, lush, tropical place. And I needed to feel that. And obviously I’m going to see that on the screen. I’m going to get that and people are sweaty. But I need to feel that on the page as well.
So, in that kind of situation, if the normal is something kind of remarkable make sure we know that early on in the story to get a sense of what it feels like. Tennessee Williams stories are basically always in hot, sweaty Southern places. So that’s worth noting so we can have a sense of what it feels like, because that’s going to inform not just character’s actions but costume and everything else around it.
Craig: Yeah, yeah.
Aline: Well be aware that whatever you stipulate the opposite will be happening on the day.
Craig: Always. Always.
Megana: Great. Do we have time for one more from Brendan?
Megana: Cool. So, Brendan asks, “Have you ever completely bombed a pitch? I’m a student at a university and I recently crashed and burned while giving a pitch to my classmates. From my point of view it was ugly. I got completely turned around in my notes, was rushed, and all my preparation seemed to disappear. The professor was nice enough to stop and give me an extra week to prepare. And many of classmates were kind enough to send me some words of encouragement. Has this ever happened to either of you?”
John: Yes. I have bombed pitches. And I’m trying to think, you know, one that I’ve talked about before was pitching Catwoman at Warner Bros. And I pitched it actually probably pretty well, but the executive was just not at all interested in my version of Catwoman at all. And just basically decimated it in front of me. And that sucked.
But there’s also been times where I couldn’t really connect the pieces very well. Or I could sort of feel it unraveling as I was talking. And that’s disheartening, but it does happen. And it happens more often early in your career just because you don’t have the practice in terms of kind of knowing what a pitch needs to be.
Aline: I mean, the one that I think of is I had to pitch a movie across a rather slender table to a gentleman who was eating a rather large sandwich.
Craig: Ew, I’ve had that. I’ve been there.
Aline: And I get it, he’s very busy. It happens. But it wasn’t like we were in production and we were working on something. It was just like I was maybe 27 and I was pitching something from scratch to a very important man and just as we sit down this giant Dagwood appears in front of him. And it’s sliced in half and he kind of rotates the pieces to face himself and sort of inspects them and picks one up. And he’s a very, very high prominent – he’s now since rocketed through the corporate structure. And when his name comes up all I can do is picture him eating this giant ham sandwich with pieces of lettuce.
And I don’t know if I did bad or well. Something about that I kind of exited my body and flapped my lips until the thing was over.
Craig: [laughs] I’ve definitely experienced that, too. I don’t think I’ve ever bombed a pitch because I’m a pretty good yada-dada-dada guy. I’m a good improviser. And I try and prepare so that I’m not kind of figuring the pitch out as I’m there. But I have definitely been in pitches that didn’t go well. And that’s not necessarily a bomb as much as when you’re early in your career – first of all, pitching without context is brutal. It’s the difference between somebody coming in to a show room and saying we would like to buy a washing machine and you go well let me show you our models. As opposed to knock-knock, I’ve got washing machines. How is your washing machine? It’s just so sweaty and miserable. And a lot of times because of that the people you’re sitting in front of aren’t that high up the food chain yet and so they often are bored and you can feel bad about it. It’s rough.
But I will say, Brendan, you’re a student. Therefore you did not crash and burn. You did not bomb. You’re merely experiencing and learning. That’s the point. You should be thrilled that this happened there. That’s why you’re there.
And I love the fact that your classmates gave you words of encouragement, because they’re all in the same spot. And guess what?
Aline: That’s very nice.
Craig: Yeah. Like a perfectly prepared delivered pitch of a boring movie is less of a success story than a crashing, burning, bumbling, confused pitch of something that has something fascinating at its core. We think we’re in control of this. We’re not. So, don’t freak out. Don’t worry. You’re learning. Crash and burn a few more times. Get a little bit better at it. Feel a little bit more confident. And then we’ll hit the eject button and land in LA and start it over again.
Aline: I’ve got another hideous meeting beginning, which doesn’t have to do with pitching, but was a general meeting. I was going to meet, again, really early in my career, I was going to meet a producer and the development lady is walking me with great, great brio. We’re sailing into the room. And she says to her boss, “Do you have time for this – are you ready for this meeting? Are you too busy for this meeting? Are you ready for this meeting?” Something like that. And he says, “Of course I have time for my favorite new writer, Jenny Bicks.”
Craig: Oh no!
John: Oh no!
Craig: Jenny Bicks is really good though. [laughs]
Aline: She’s a good writer. And then we all stood there for a minute. And then the wonderful lady said, “This is actually not Jenny.” And then we all died a little.
Craig: Yup. That’s rough. That’s a rough one. That’s the them version of us sitting down in a room and having some general chit chat before we start pitching and we mention a movie that we hate and then you–
Aline: Oh yeah.
Craig: Then you notice the poster.
John: Done that.
Aline: Oh yeah.
Craig: Yeah, no, that’s why I don’t talk about any movies or television shows with anyone.
John: Yes. Megana, thank you for these questions.
Craig: Thank you, Megana.
Megana: Thank you all. It was so encouraging.
Craig: Thank you.
John: All right. It is time for our One Cool Things. I have two very related One Cool Things. My first one is The Simpsons Christmas episode from this last week. It was called A Springfield Summer Christmas for Christmas, which is a parody of Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. But just really well done. And just a thorough sort of dissection of that form, but also a version of that form. So essentially Hallmark comes to shoot a Christmas movie in the summer in Springfield and everything that should happen in a Christmas movie does happen. Really good version of it.
And then back-to-back I watched that with Lifetime’s The Christmas Set Up which is the gay Christmas movie that Lifetime did this year, which was also delightful, which stars Fran Drescher as a mom trying to set up her gay son with this other guy at Christmas. It is both completely the formula for the Christmas movie and a pretty good version of that with some lovely little performances. So it was just nice to see both the parody of it and the actual version of it back-to-back. So I recommend people check out both of those.
Aline: I’m going to cheat also. I have more than one. I’m just going to say watch the Bee Gees documentary. Just watch it. And then my One Cool Thing or Two Cool Things that are sort of related. Merill Markoe who has long been one of my writing heroes who was the head writer of early Letterman Show and has written a lot of amazing books and articles and essays, and she’s incredibly funny, and was a real role model for me, she has written a graphic novel that she also did the illustrations for. And it’s based on her childhood diaries. And it’s called We Saw Scenery, which is when she was a kid and they would go and visit someplace and she would write in her diary “we saw scenery.”
The art is incredible. The story is great. It’s really funny, as are all things Merill Markoe. I highly, highly recommend it. Graphic novels are great for Christmas gifts. They’re easy to read quickly. And I just – I really love the book and it really captured all the things I love about Merill.
And then similarly Rachel Bloom, our friend, friend of mine, friend of the podcast, has a memoir out now called I Want to be Where the Normal People Are. And although I am not in any way an unbiased reader of Rachel’s stuff, it’s so funny. It’s so fresh. It is like hanging out with Rachel. It is a very fast read. And it’s something that you can sort of pick up over the holidays and have a ball reading. And it really, really captures her voice, her humor.
And, We Saw Scenery and I Want to be Where the Normal People Are have a very interesting connection point which is that they both had relationships with boys in elementary school, flirtations, that we’re related to the boys being anti-Semitic and invoking Nazi stuff to flirt. Very disturbing.
Aline: But they’re both great. So those are my recommendations.
John: Excellent. Craig, what do you got?
Craig: Well, it’s a little late to buy a Christmas present for your loved one, but why don’t you buy one for yourself. It doesn’t have to show up on Christmas. And I’m not going to rich guy you. This costs – are you ready – $14.
I derive so much pleasure from things I use all the time that work right. And here’s something I had. A little pan that I was using to make scrambled eggs. And it just didn’t work right. There was always an egg that would adhere. Just terrible.
Anyway, so found this little pan called the Carote. Carote Nonstick Skillet for – and mostly it’s for eggs. And the weird thing about it is the coating is rough. It’s not smooth. And somehow it works. And the eggs just sort of slide around on it. It’s amazing. I love it.
John: Love it.
Craig: So, super cheap. You can use it on any stove. $14. Do not write in complaining about toxins. I will punish you. It’s just not a concern.
Aline: You can get the toxins out with crystals, right?
Craig: Yes. If you ingest enough crystals and colloidal silver you will detoxify by ceasing your life. You will no longer have to worry about toxins.
John: Good stuff.
Craig: Frying pan.
John: And that is our show for this week. Scriptnotes is produced, as always, by Megana Rao. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli who also did our outro this week.
John: If you have an outro you can send us a link to email@example.com. That’s also the place where you can send longer questions. For short questions on Twitter, Craig is @clmazin. I am @johnaugust. Aline, you are?
Aline: It’s @alinebmckenna.
John: @alinebmckenna. We have t-shirts and they’re lovely. You can find them at Cotton Bureau. You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. That’s also where you find the transcripts. There you can sign up for our weekly-ish newsletter called Inneresting which has links to lots of things about writing.
You can sign up to become a Premium member at Scriptnotes.net where you get all the back episodes and bonus segments. If you’re looking for that last minute Christmas gift you can actually give a gift membership to Scriptnotes, which is lovely, a little stocking stuffer for somebody who listens to the show but is not a Premium member. You can give them a gift of being a Premium member if you’d like to.
Aline, thank you for coming by to talk about weddings.
Aline: Aw, thanks for having me guys. I miss you.
Craig: Thanks Aline. Merry Christmas.
Aline: I’m going to hug you guys so hard I’m going to break some ribs.
John: Aw. That’ll be nice.
Craig: Once we are all vaccinated.
Aline: Oh man, I’m going to hug you real hard, Craig. Just get ready.
Craig: I’m going to bring my ribs to you.
John: All right, and we’re back. So, Aline has threatened to hug us all a lot when we are all vaccinated, but that is our main topic is sort of what are our hopes and our plans for a post-vaccination life? Because I’ve been thinking now that vaccinations are actually rolling out it does look like this pandemic will end. So I’ve started thinking about what are some of my first priorities of things I want to do once I can actually safely do them again.
So, I’m curious. Aline, we’ll start with you since you’re the guest.
Aline: We all are going to have to live in a world where I didn’t realize how much I was spitting on people and being spat on before. I didn’t realize that when I was sitting in Paris in a little restaurant that’s a little blot that the guy sitting next to me had fully spat all over my coq au vin.
Craig: Oui oui.
Aline: We are now going to be processing that. I mean, I got to be honest I’m like still very immersed in the trauma of the whole thing.
John: Oh yeah.
Aline: And I feel like it is so immense. The amount of death is so immense. And every day where you turn on and you see the count and you see just the devastation that’s happening in our country and around the world. There’s many, many, many things I’m excited to do – go to the movies, go to dinner, hug my friends, break some ribs – but I’m also feeling like the after effects of this on all of us are going to reverberate for years. You know?
And so obviously none of us will ever blow out a candle on a birthday cake. Just if you do, that’s fine, I’m just not having any. But also I just think people have lost so much and sacrificed so much in terms of the mortality and the job loss and the economic implications. So I sort of feel like I ricochet between actually processing or trying to process what’s happening and then just being excited to go, you know, to a vintage clothing store and just, you know.
Craig: That’s what I’m waiting for.
Aline: Squeeze in among other people.
Craig: I’m waiting to go to the vintage clothing stores. [laughs]
John: Craig loves thrifting.
Aline: They have J. Crew. You can get J. Crew there.
Craig: Oh, my new thing is Vans. I like a nice Vans shirt now. That’s my new jam.
I believe that following vaccination, widespread vaccination, there is going to be a natural human release of pent up need. We are going to be around each other a lot. And it’s going to be very exciting. And there’s going to be parties. And there’s going to be dinner. And there’s going to be lunches. And we’re going to spend time with each other because we can. It’s going to happen.
And in that sort of burst of exuberance it will be tempting to wet blanket it all and say but look what’s happened. The problem is the exuberance is not really within our control. I think we should allow it. We should experience the exuberance that is coming, because it’s coming. And then following the natural cessation of the exuberance we need to go about doing the work of memorializing the people we’ve lost. Because we just lost more people than we did in World War II and Vietnam and Korea combined. That’s what’s happened.
So we have to memorialize this. And similarly I think we have to now hopefully pursue collectively an improved bolstered healthcare system for all Americans. Because we don’t have it. And the system didn’t just break, but it never even was a system. We didn’t have one. Clearly. At least in this administration. There was nothing there. We just had a house that had no door. Forget the weather stripping. There was no door. So, we have to go about doing that.
But I fully intend to welcome the exuberance with open arms and feel it as best I can and, yeah, some ribs are going to get crushed. And you know what? I’m not a kissy guy, but yeah. I’ll give people a little kiss. Yeah.
John: So I want to acknowledge that the collective trauma that we’ve all experienced and sort of the need to deal with the grief of it all and memorialize it is super important. And the collective part of that is really important.
Just thinking sort of individually and selfishly like what am I looking forward to being able to do soon – or not soon – in six months from now hopefully that I can’t do right now. Even watching this Lifetime Christmas movie, they kept showing – because we were watching it through the Lifetime app they kept showing the same ad again, and again, and again for Disneyworld. And like I really want to Disneyland again. I want to do that stupid stuff where it’s I’m in a space and the experience of being in that space is actually unique and different.
So, I want to go to Disneyland. I definitely need to go back to Paris. I haven’t been to Paris in far too long. I’m looking forward to dinners with friends and hanging out. But I also recognize that I can’t even fathom leaving the house after dark anymore. I’ve just become such a homebody and sort of so – like the idea of going someplace at 8pm feels just unfathomable to me. So, that’s going to take some time to sort of get used to.
Craig: We’ll get you out there.
John: A place I want to get back to is this climbing gym I started going to before the pandemic. And I really miss it. And so there’s so many things I can do working out at home, but a climbing gym is a unique place and I’m looking forward to being able to go back there safely and just do that kind of stuff.
Aline: Yeah. One of my big New Year’s resolution for 2020 was like, you know what, I like massages and I think I’m going to get a massage once a week. Why not? I will treat myself.
Aline: And I will do that for just a few weeks and then I won’t have any massages for the rest of the year.
Aline: And I will just sit between my husband’s legs while we’re watching Homeland and go, “More!”
John: Yeah, so all those sort of services like the chiropractor, like the places where you go someplace and they actually have to touch you to do stuff. All that has gone away. So I will look forward to that coming back.
Craig: Yeah. I must admit my life has not changed dramatically. Because I’ve always been—
Aline: It’s so funny.
Craig: Because I’ve always been a bit of a hermit-y shut-in. But even I – I’ll tell you the thing – OK here’s my indulgence. The thing that I really, really, really cannot wait to get back to…Escape Rooms.
John: Yes. Had to be a location to go there.
Craig: I’ve done a bunch of the virtual ones. They are decent. They’re trying. God bless them for trying to keep their businesses going and keep their employees working. It just doesn’t quite connect the way you would want it to. So, I’m really excited for that.
John: It was one year ago that we took both of our, my company, your company, we had a joint Christmas party and Escape Room.
Craig: That’s right. And I would like to–
John: Who knew?
Craig: Yeah, god, that was right before the darkness. The darkness fell. I wonder who is going to be president. [laughs]
John: And I want to go skiing. Yeah.
Craig: No, I’m not interested in skiing. Absolutely not.
John: That’s a me thing. All right, thanks guys.
Craig: Thank you, John.
Aline: Appreciate it.
Craig: Thanks. Bye.
- CAA and WGA Agreement
- Japanese Rent A Family on Twitter
- Japan’s Rent A Family Industry by Elif Bautman for the New Yorker
- Crazy Rich Asians Script script by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim
- Palm Springs script written by Andy Siara (Story by Andy Siara and Max Barbakow)
- The Farewell script by Lulu Wang
- Made in Heaven on Amazon Prime
- Simpsons Christmas Movie episode
- Lifetime’s Christmas Set Up
- Carote 8 Inch Nonstick Skillet Frying Pan Egg Skillet Omelet Pan
- We Saw Scenery by Merill Markoe
- I Want to be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
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