The original post for this episode can now be found here.
John August: Hey, this is John. There’s a few bad words in this episode just in case your kids are in earshot and you don’t want them to hear mild swearing. This is the warning.
Hello and welcome. My name is John August and this is Episode 506 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Craig is buried under an avalanche of preproduction on his new show. Luckily we have an amazing replacement. Please welcome back returning guest host Liz Hannah.
Liz Hannah: Hey.
Liz: What’s up?
John: Hey, how are you?
Liz: I’m good. How are you?
John: Now, I called you last minute. Thank you so much for filling in on this. But then I just realized this morning you were in prep on something yourself, aren’t you?
Liz: Yeah. I guess this just makes me way better at juggling things than Craig, so we’ll just add that to the list. [laughs] No.
John: More evidence of your superiority here.
Liz: Obviously. But I’m in early prep. I feel like he’s diving in. We don’t start hard prep until next week. So I’m just in the getting used to my new place [unintelligible].
John: Now do you have any fungus-based zombies in your show?
Liz: I mean, I don’t really want to give it away, but hopefully. I don’t know. We’ll see.
Liz: Yeah. We don’t have the finale written yet so you never know.
John: And season two is blue sky. You could do anything.
Liz: Exactly. I mean, why not.
John: Put a room together and figure it out. Now, today on the show we’re going to answer a ton of listener questions that have been backed up for a while. We’ll talk about what to do when you’re fired, or sometimes what’s harder is actually what to do when have some good news in your life, so we’ll talk about those. Plus I want to do some follow up on spoilers, living wages, multiple timelines, and Liz if you’ll stick around in our bonus segment I’d love to talk about pets because you are a dog owner if I recall correctly.
Liz: I am. I’m a dog and a cat owner actually.
John: Oh, fantastic. So you can give us both sides of that debate. I’m a dog owner but I also have experience with the pocket pets, the short-lived gerbils and hamsters.
Liz: Oh wow.
John: So we’ll talk about pet ownership as a screenwriter.
Liz: Love it.
John: All right. Let’s get right into it. If you are listening to this podcast on Tuesday, the day this comes out, June 29th, I’m going to be hosting a symposium on vaccine storylines in scripted entertainment. So we’ll have a link in the show notes to that, but it should be really great. It’s me and Vince Gilligan, the Kings, Latoya Morgan, Beth Schacter, Mike Schur, David Shore, the Spellmans, both Malcom and Nichelle are all here to talk about how we work vaccines into the storylines for the TV programs that we’re doing. So if you’re curious about how that would work please join us. That is at I think 5pm Pacific Time if you’re listening to this on Tuesday morning when this episode comes out. So please join us there.
Second, Liz, have you been following any of this stuff about the IATSE negotiations and what’s happening with IATSE. Because you’re in prep so this could actually effect you.
Liz: I have. I have been following it pretty closely.
John: So let’s remember that we often talk on the show about the Writers Guild which is the guild that represents all the writers. There’s a Directors Guild, a Screen Actors Guild. IATSE is sort of a super union that represents almost everybody below the line on a movie. So these are everything from grips and gaffers, but also script supervisors and script coordinators.
Liz: Writer’s assistants.
John: Writer’s assistants in rooms. So this is a big negotiation happening right now.
Liz: It is. And I believe the support staff of the room, meaning the writer’s assistants and coordinators joined I think recently. They’re the most recent additions in the last couple of years. So I think this is their first major negotiation. You know, they are probably the group that gets taken the most for granted in any group in making a television show, at least in my experience.
And it’s really unfortunate to see them under-valued when I think anybody here who has been in a room or has show-run knows that you kind of live and die by your support staff. And I really hope that they are able to get their wages up, which they are asking for. I think the average wage right now is barely livable if not livable, because we also have to keep in mind these are not normally 52-week jobs. These rooms are 20-week to 30 weeks maybe. And often they’re even smaller in the smaller run of rooms. So they need to be paid a livable wage and they need to be appreciated by obviously the room and the showrunners and the EPs, but on up to the studios and networks. They make the shows that you make possible.
So I really hope that they are getting the support they need and are getting movement in those negotiations.
John: Yeah. So often as we talk about #PayUpHollywood and the crisis of low wages across the board, it’s nice to always be thinking about, oh, if there were only a union that were protecting these people. And so assistants at agencies have no unions. They don’t have that support. These are people who do have that union support in theory but if their wages are not actually livable it’s not worth a whole ton. So we’ve got to get these people up below these barely survivable wages in many cases, particularly because they’re working piecemeal. They’re working from one show, to another show, to another show.
So, it’s both the responsibility of the union negotiators to make sure that these lowest paid people are getting paid a livable wage, but also on studios and showrunners and everyone else’s behalf to make sure that the people who are in their rooms are actually getting paid enough that it’s viable. Because this is often the pathway into other jobs in the industry.
Liz: Absolutely. It’s often the pathway into writing for television, because you have such exposure to the room, to the showrunners. And it’s not only – it is absolutely what you said. It’s jumping from show to show. Often I’ve found it’s following one showrunner, which can be at times really consistent. It can be completely inconsistent depending on what the showrunner does. You know, if they do limiteds that means maybe once a year, once every two years, three years there’s a room.
So, you know, I think there needs to be loyalty to the staff in as much as there’s loyalty the other way. And there needs to be support. And it really is something that I think I’ve seen a lot of conversation about and I’m sure you have too. These are not entry level jobs, which seems like what everybody assumes is this is an entry level job into the room. Being a writer’s assistant, being a script coordinator in no way is an entry level position. Like those are jobs that, sure, it could be your first time as a writer’s assistant, but there’s a lot of pressure in being a writer’s assistant. There’s a lot of pressure in being a script coordinator. As a script coordinator you are the gatekeeper of what is the product that goes to the studio, the network, the talent, the entire crew. If there are things wrong there that you didn’t catch that’s a real problem.
And there’s a lot of training in that. And there’s a lot of nuance in it. And so it’s not like somebody can just walk out and do it.
John: Yeah. Liz, just because people may not be familiar with it, can you talk a little bit about what a script coordinator would do on a show like yours? So this is a limited that you’re shooting. So what was the script coordinator’s responsibility as you’re putting together this show?
Liz: So we have kind of like a unique situation because we had our room during the pandemic. So we actually opened up – so we were on a Zoom room and we opened up our room to all the support staff, meaning everybody was auditing. Typically in a room you wouldn’t always have your script coordinator in your room. I think oftentimes the script coordinator is not in the room. It really depends.
But we did and we had our script coordinator there as well as our writer’s assistant and all of the showrunner’s assistants in the rooms that we were going. But to answer your question a script coordinator is in charge of all of the drafts, all of the files, coordinating every draft. Making sure that everything from character names to scene locations to scene numbers to clearances for character names, all the way down to you have one line over on an act and I know that you hate that showrunner so how can I help you bring that page up so that it’s actually 56 pages instead of 57. As I said, there’s a real camaraderie I think between the best of relationships between script coordinators and showrunners. You get to know each other’s tendencies and wants.
So it is a very sort of symbiotic relationship at times. And also as a benefit of that as the script coordinator you see every draft, from like the vomit draft to the shooting draft to the rewrites in post to everything. You see everything.
John: So it’s a very technical job, but there’s some creative element to it because you have to be able to anticipate what the showrunner actually wants. And you’re that last set of eyes and fingers on the keyboard for that script before it goes into the machinery of production. So it’s the last chance for the script to be perfect before it gets into the beast of production. And then once you’re in the beast of production you may be responsible for some of the updated pages and distributions that need to go out after that point.
Liz: Absolutely. And I have to say my script coordinator that I’m working with right now is incredible to the point where she’ll recognize when I’ve overused a word too many times and is like did you want to do this. And like, no, I didn’t. I was quite tired. Thank you so much. And, again, it’s a close relationship because particularly as a showrunner at a certain point your room wraps. And as we are right now in Covid you don’t get to have your writers on set. And so it’s really just you. And so it’s very much you and the script coordinator are kind of drilling in and making sure that it’s good as it can be.
John: Now that you’re in prep is the script coordinator still on the job?
Liz: Yeah. I still have an episode to write so yes, yes she is.
John: All right. Some more follow up. We always love to do our How Would This Be a Movie segment, and one of my favorite ones was at the Austin Film Festival back in Episode 222. And one of the stories was Zola. Do you remember Zola who was the stripper/sex worker who had a series of tweets that were just phenomenal and that came out the week that we recorded that show?
The Zola movie comes out this week. And I’m so excited to see it. It’s only in theaters, but I love when one of these How Would This Be a Movie is actually a movie-movie. So I’m looking forward to checking that out.
Liz: I’ve actually been really fortunate enough to see Zola.
John: All right. Tell us.
Liz: Get ready. It is awesome. It is so different than I think, I don’t know, than I was anticipating. I don’t know what I was anticipating. But it’s an experience. And as much as – I think Janicza Bravo directed it. Jeremey O. Harris I believe co-wrote it. And as much as – I think it’s like capturing kind of the thrill of reading that thread in a way. So it’s sort of edited that way. There’s an energy to it. There’s an excitement to it. You know, there’s a lot of ways they deal with texting which I’m dealing with currently on the show that I’m about to go into production on, but I think we’ve all been dealing with over the past ten years is like how do you show texting on television or in features and have it not just be reading on screen. You know, how do you not now do it sort of in the way that Euphoria does it? And I think they did a really amazing job. Joi McMillon edited it, who she’s an unbelievable editor.
So I think everybody is really going to be kind of blown away by this. That’s my prediction.
John: Great. Well I’m eager to go in cold and not have too much anticipation, because definitely whenever we do one of those segments I’m building my version of the movie in my head but I’m really curious to see what version they built. So I’m excited for that.
More follow up. We’ve been talking a lot about spoilers on the show recently. We had several listeners write in to tell us just how wrong we were about spoilers and that obviously we didn’t know anything about writing because we would understand how important it is to have surprise there at the end. And how when you tell a joke you don’t tell the punchline first.
And I’m curious to hear your thoughts on spoilers. And we’ll divide it into two sort of categories of spoilers. There’s spoilers for things like TV shows that are out on the air right now, so a spoiler for Loki, and sort of how you’re feeling about spoilers on Loki for a who that’s week to week. People may not have seen that episode. Versus The Sixth Sense or Citizen Kane or Fight Club. Older movies that everyone could have seen but doesn’t choose to see. What is your feeling of spoilers?
Liz: I mean, I guess breaking them into the new version of television movies, I think Loki and all of the Marvel shows have been dropping on weekdays so it’s either Wednesday night or Thursday night. And there’s a lot of people who can’t watch these till the weekend. So I feel like there should be some type of understanding that we don’t talk about the spoilers on Twitter until Monday morning or something. At the same time I just avoid Twitter. If I see somebody say something about Loki I just don’t read it. We don’t have watercoolers anymore. And we’re all still at home for the most part. So I feel like we have to understand that people want to engage and that’s what’s exciting about pop culture, right, is that we’re all engaging in it and that we’re all excited about it.
So, I don’t know, do I get pissy when I see a spoiler that was an accident? Yeah. But also I don’t know that it’s going to fully ruin the experience for me. You know, I want to watch the whole thing. I’m not sure that just because I found out something that maybe is a small spoiler or something is going to totally ruin it.
John: Yeah. Your point about Twitter and the watercooler I think is a good one, because if you didn’t want to hear the chitchat maybe don’t hang around the watercooler at the office. I mean, it’s natural for people to want to have those conversations.
Now let’s think about movie spoilers and the sense of like there’s a movie with a big twist in it and you don’t know what the twist is and is somebody ruining the movie for you, someone spoiling the movie by revealing the twist. And that’s where I get a little bit more my fists on my hips here.
Liz: Me too.
John: It’s not OK to – at a certain point you can’t put police tape around all of popular culture. And you need to be able to talk about the things that are in those movies. And if you’re listening to a film and television podcast like this one I think it’s pretty reasonable that we’re going to talk about those things because they are important things that happened in the course of the story. And that we can appreciate movies for more than just the plot twists that happened in them.
Liz: For sure. I also think there’s got to be some type of expiration date on when a spoiler is a spoiler anymore. Like I just recorded a podcast about a West Wing episode and I was like is this a spoiler. Has somebody never seen this? I guess – spoiler alert – they’re suddenly going to find out that Bartlett had MS. You know what I mean?
Also, I think this is a different conversation but to touch on it lightly. We’re all so sensitive right now and everybody is just ready to get in a fight and pick everybody apart for the smallest thing that, you know, something like that feels like everybody is going to gang up. But, you know, like I went and saw Fast 9 last night. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know what was happening. There’s a couple things in there that I was pleasantly surprised and not spoiled by. If I’d been spoiled by them would it have changed my expectations or enjoyment of the movie? I don’t think so. I think it was fun.
John: Yeah. And also I think part of the reason why we go and see Fast 9 right away, or we watch the Game of Thrones finale in the taxi on the way back from the airport is because we want to be able to participate in the culture right when it happens and we know that there’s a limited window for that. So it’s not just that we have it unspoiled for ourselves, but so we can actually talk about the thing when it happens. So that’s part of the excitement of experiencing a thing when you can right when it comes out. That’s part of the joy of it, the shared experience.
Liz: Exactly. Exactly. Now, I will say if somebody has said I haven’t seen this don’t spoil it for me and then you spoil it for them, don’t do that. That’s not nice. That’s not a nice thing to do.
John: Well maybe there should be different rules for like if you and I are in a private conversation then I think to ask about like do you want me to spoil this thing, or have you seen, is absolutely totally fair and valid. Because that’s a one-on-one conversation or a small group conversation. But in popular culture you can’t sort of fragilize everyone just because they may not have seen this one thing.
Liz: Couldn’t agree more.
John: Cool. All right. Let’s get to our marquee topic here. I want to talk about good news. And I have a clip here to set this up. This is a clip from the 1994 movie Sleep with Me. And this movie if you’ve not seen it you may have seen this clip of Quentin Tarantino having a long rant about how gay Top Gun is. So he has a sort of famous monologue about how gay Top Gun is. But this is also from that same scene you recognize that this party is happening because this guy has just sold a spec script. So let’s take a listen to this clip from Sleep with Me.
[Clip plays] Male Voice: [unintelligible] really hot property. So did you always know that the big guy here was going to make it so big?
Female Voice: Of course. It was just a matter of time before Hollywood realized [unintelligible] was the way to go.
Male Voice: I’m in the [unintelligible] training program.
Female Voice: I heard he got like half a mill. For first spec script? Not bad.
Female Voice: Is it Dwayne or Wayne?
John: All right, so Liz that is about the sale of a spec script and a party being thrown because this guy has just sold a spec script. Did you have a moment where your career changed a lot where you just got a piece of really big, good news?
Liz: Yeah. For sure.
John: Tell me about that.
Liz: When I sold The Post it was a spec. It was a pretty similar experience. It was a spec. I had never sold anything before by myself. And I got a call at midnight that Amy Pascal was going to buy it and she wanted to make it. It was absolutely within sort of 45 seconds of that my life completely turned upside down. And sort of became a domino effect of where I am now. And I’ve had amazing opportunities because I sold that spec.
John: Great. So we have a listener question here that I think ties in really well. Megana, if you could ask this listener question.
Megana Rao: Abby asks, “This has been a tough year for everyone. I got through relatively unscathed but I dealt with my share of anxiety and depression and to top it all off got dumped by my partner of over two years. Things seemed to be finally turning a corner this month. I just got some potentially exciting news. There’s a production company interested in one of my scripts and I just signed at a small agency. I should be feeling amazing, right? Instead I feel lonelier than ever. This is something I would have celebrated with my boyfriend. My family and close friends don’t work in the industry so it’s hard to explain what this means to them, especially since there’s nothing concrete to celebrate.
“And I feel conflicted about sharing with my friends in the industry, especially those who have been struggling professionally. It feels selfish to expect them to be happy for me. And is any of this even worth celebrating? Is this what the life of a screenwriter is like? Hustling, pitching, facing rejection, and then on the off chance something does work out waiting for years before you can actually share the accomplishment? How do you guys deal with good news?”
John: All right, so Liz, how do you deal with good news? And how did you deal with the good news of The Post? Just getting called that Amy Pascal wants to buy your movie and make your movie, what did you do next? What was that next week like?
Liz: My now husband, then boyfriend, was actually on location at the time. So I was kind of hiding in my house by myself. I definitely share Abby’s feelings at the same time I’m an incredibly superstitious person. So like I don’t share anything until it’s signed on the dotted line and there’s no way that it can ever be taken back, just because I think particularly in this industry you never know. Things can always go away. Or things can always take a turn.
So I don’t really share anything until I’m very convinced. So it wasn’t until much later, or it was like a week later that the announcement was going out that Amy had bought it that I started telling people. But the crazier one, which happened a few months later, was when Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep signed on, which happened in this 48-hour period. And I had told no one except my husband. And my mom found out on Twitter, because I didn’t know the announcement was going out. That one I’m still reaping the pain of that I did not let my mom know.
But I guess in response to Abby’s question of what do you do, yeah, I mean sometimes it can be really hard, but you have to reward yourself. And I think you real friends are able to see past whatever is going on in their lives, whatever struggle they’re having that’s personal to them, to celebrate you. You know, your success does not mean a lack of their success. Actually your success has nothing to do with them. And so I think when you have friendships that are deep and meaningful people should celebrate each other. And so I think you should be able to share and you should be able to feel proud of yourself.
And then the other thing I would say which is advice I tell everybody which is when you sell something or you get a great job or things like that buy yourself something. It doesn’t have to be like extravagant. It doesn’t have to be one of a kind. But buy yourself something you want that’s not dinner or something like that. That is something tangible that you can hang onto that you can look back on and remember I remember when I bought this for myself at this moment when it was so wonderful and so amazing and I accomplished this.
Because there are always going to be ups and downs. There are always going to be moments where potentially on this project you’re like, ugh, this is terrible and I’m so frustrated. You always want to be able to look back and be like I remember that moment when it was wonderful and how that felt and I want to get back to that.
John: Yeah. Something I see in Abby’s email here is that she’s worried about feeling too good about herself, or being over-excited. And it gets reasonable to sort of tap the brakes a little bit about some of the overenthusiasm.
John: We see people who like go crazy and go nuts and they throw the party, like we just listened to in the clip, where they’re celebrating this giant win and they sort of seem like assholes. And you don’t want to be that person. And you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment and failure. But I think there’s other extremes to underplay it to the degree which like oh I don’t deserve this, I’m worthless, they’re going to find out, they’re going to see that I’m a fraud. The imposter syndrome kicks in really hard because they’ve had this little bit of success.
And it’s finding that middle ground there can be tough. One of the things I always recommend is just remember to Abby you got there because you wrote something really good, so keep writing. Keep writing and keep up on that level. And recognize that like you’ve achieved a thing and you get to do a whole bunch of new work now because you have this agency, so now you get to go out and have these meetings.
Some of those meetings will be great. Some of those meetings will be terrible. But that’s part of the process as well. So don’t be too afraid to be happy in this moment, but also don’t be too afraid about what comes next.
Liz: I think that’s great. I would add I think like don’t be looking for perfection. Don’t think you’re going to go out on your first meeting be like this is it, I’ve met my collaborators for the next 20 years. I think just look at the experiences as a whole. You know, I think have sort of a holistic view about it. And don’t put so much pressure on every meeting, every moment, every conversation. Because here is a certain amount of enjoying it that you have to have. Like this is a job. This is work. We’re so fortunate to have this. But you have to have a little bit of enjoyment in it and a little bit of happiness in it. And a little bit of like this is crazy, I’m here because I sold something I wrote. Have that fun.
John: Absolutely. Now the second half of this email is talking about how she has friends who are struggling, or friends who are similarly placed but haven’t actually gotten that agent, or having gotten those meetings, and haven’t gotten that stuff happening. I remember that, too. And so I remember when I first got hired to write stuff and I had other screenwriter friends who were not having the same success I was it was weird, but I always remind myself that I can’t control how other people feel. All I can control is sort of what I’m doing. And so I can still be really positive for them while also doing the work that I’m doing. It’s tough.
Did you have other peers who suddenly you’re working with Spielberg and they’re still in the grind?
Liz: Sure. Of course. And I think you’re absolutely right. You know, you can’t control how anybody feels. At the same time I think it goes back to what you were saying before, John, which is there’s a very fine line of being proud of yourself and wanting to have that sort of pride with your friends and rubbing it in somebody’s face. And bragging about it. And I think there’s a very sensitive way to tell your friends that this happened. And I guarantee they’ll be excited for you. And if somebody isn’t excited for you then I think that’s a showing of true colors.
John: Yeah. Hey Megana why don’t you hop back on here. Because I’m also thinking Megan McDonnell, your predecessor here, who is also a friend of yours has obviously had a really good run and a really good year. And I’m guessing that she probably went through some of these same things and you were the friend who wasn’t quite there yet. What are you thinking about when you read Abby’s question?
Megana: Well, first of all, Megan is a brilliant sci-fi genius writer and so hardworking, so it’s just an absolute joy to watch her career. But to me one of the most appealing parts of this industry is the promise of making cool things with your friends or supporting your friends making cool things. And I think about those sociology network diagrams about how behaviors, habits, and emotions spread thorough those little nodes. Sorry, that’s such a scientific way of thinking about friendship and teamwork. But to me it’s like trust that positivity begets positivity. And so if it’s not happening for you, or for me right now, but it’s happening for my friends, that feels like a signal that things are trending well. Your team is doing well so be excited about that.
You know, I think any time you think of something as a zero sum game it gets you in trouble.
John: That sounds great. And what you talk about in terms of like if one person is successful I think it’s giving you a template for a thing you can do. When I graduated from the Stark program at USC people would say like oh you must have had these amazing alumni who could do all these things and were so helpful, but by far the greatest resource I had coming out of Stark was that I had 24 classmates who were all striving really hard in the industry and we could help each other. And so never discount that lateral networking. That people who are the same level as you are such a great resource because they have information and they are doing the thing that you are trying to do. And you are each other’s best resource.
Liz: For sure. I also think that it’s really important, this is not on the question, but it’s just something I think in terms of the success that we’re talking about is have happiness outside of your job. Make sure that you have wins and celebrations and moments that are about your life, not just work, because particularly in this industry there are ups and downs and we’re going to get to the next question which is going to be a down. And I think you have to be able to find joy in your life that does not revolve around whether you sold a script or not.
And when you have that joy selling a script is so much more enjoyable because your whole life is not based on it and your whole happiness is not based on it.
John: Yeah. If your identity is so tied up in your being a screenwriter who just sold a script, well that is going to fade and it’s not going to last. So you have to have things that are bringing you consistent joy that is not about your career.
Megana: Can I ask you guys a follow up question?
Megana: Just off of that. Because I think a part of what resonated here and seeing my friends is that there’s something like noble in being an aspiring screenwriter and hustling. And I think that that becomes the sort of identity in and of itself. So was there a moment when you guys had to deal with the identity shift of being like I’m no longer hustling, I’ve kind of tasted the success and I can own this title now?
John: Yeah. That’s a really good way to put it. Because I always talk about how there’s not really an experience of breaking in. it’s basically there’s not a wall around it. It’s like you’re working as fast and as hard as you can to keep stuff going. And you’re spinning so many plates. I did definitely notice that at a certain point when I stopped – just economically when I stopped having to worry about sort of like paying rent consistently, that was a real change. And I did feel just an ease and comfort that was not there before.
That’s not really tied into any sort of commercial success. Even after Go came out and was doing well and was acclaimed, that wasn’t the moment where I felt like, oh, I’m in, I’m set. How about you, Liz?
Liz: I agree with you, John. I think when I was able to pay rent that felt like a marked shift for me in terms of success. You know, I felt stable in a way which I’d never felt before. But I think going to your question, I still have imposter syndrome. I don’t know that you ever, at least I don’t have that moment where I feel like oh I’ve made it, nobody is going to find out. I think there’s still moments of that.
You know, maybe not every day anymore. But at least once a week that I’m like well it was a good run and I’m excited to have done what I’ve done. And I do think that also keeps me a little bit hungry and some of that energy that I did use to feel when I was scrappy and trying to sell a spec, I constantly feel like I want to prove myself. Not because somebody is disproving me, but because I feel like I want to earn it.
John: I’ve definitely recognized a moment where people move past their imposter syndrome and they settle into kind of complacency. And that’s no one’s friend. And I think we can all think of some writers who have become complacent and they just sort of do the thing that they do and aren’t pushing themselves. And that can be an issue, too. But I don’t think Abby needs to worry about that yet. I think she needs to just be landing that first job and getting the next job after that and making stuff. And the thing that’s probably going to improve most for her is once she sees her words on the page becoming scenes on a big screen she’ll recognize that like oh I really can do this thing and I can keep doing this thing.
John: All right, let’s get to the opposite side of this, so from the good news to the bad news. We have two back to back questions. Megana, if you can help us out here.
Megana: All right. Kitty in London says, “Scriptnotes is my first port of call for industry advice. So when I got fired recently, or rather replaced to use industry parlance, I turn to you. But having rummaged through your entire catalog I can’t find the episode What To Do When You’re Shit-Canned. Please tell me it exists. If not, please make it exist.”
John: We will make it exist today. All right. And how about Erin in LA here.
Megana: All right. So Erin says, “I was recently working on a project for over two years with a studio and director. Then instead of telling me straight up and letting me go with a handshake and a thank you I was told to sit tight and wait to hear from them about triggering my next step. Only to then be ghosted for months. After waiting patiently and anxiously for as long as I could I finally asked my agents what the hell was going on and then found out the studio had recently hired a new writer to replace me. But never actually told me or my reps I was off the project.
“It was and still is a pretty embarrassing experience and I’ve never heard from any of the involved execs, producers, or director since again after two-plus years of working together. So obviously I think this is the wrong way to let a writer go from a project. But what is the right way? And why doesn’t anyone seem to do it? When we’re dumped in a crappy and classless way should we push back and stand up for ourselves, or does being a pro writer mean just accepting being ghosted, disrespected, or finding out we’ve been replaced on Deadline as a part of the business we’ve chosen?”
John: Ugh. I had such flashbacks in the second email.
Liz: I’m having like PTSD right now.
John: Yeah. So I have found out relatively recently that I’ve been replaced by a Deadline article. And it’s absolutely the worst feeling. And the reason why it happens is because producers are chicken shits and they don’t want to have a scary conversation, so they don’t call you, and they just find a replacement writer and hire that person without having a conversation with you first. It is absolutely terrible and it happens all the time.
Liz: It’s awful.
John: Liz, you’ve had something similar?
Liz: Oh yeah. I’ve been replaced on a number of projects before and I think – look, it’s never fun. It is a part of this business which we can talk about and unpack later. But definitely best of times is when the exec or the producer or whomever calls you and is like, you know, and your steps are done. It’s not like you’re in the middle of something. But if your steps are done and they call and they’re like, “You know, I think we want to bring somebody in to do X, Y, and Z.” And that sucks but at least they’re being honest with you.
You know, I’ve found out through arbitrations that I’ve been replaced. I’ve found out through production. I’ve found out through word around town. I think there’s a lot of different ways to find out about it. It’s really shitty and it’s exactly what you said. It’s execs or producers or whomever doesn’t want to make that phone call being chicken shit. And it’s never fun. And it’s not how it should be.
John: Yeah. I’m thinking back to a really terrible experience I had was on Dark Shadows. And so I was really happy with the script and everything looked like it was going fantastically well. And then I was in Des Moines for a college thing and I get this call from Dick Zanuck who was the producer for Dark Shadows. And he said, “John I’ve got terrible news for you. You’re being replaced on the movie. And I’m so sorry. I feel terrible about it. But this is what’s happening and this is why.” And he talked me through it for like five minutes. And I was so angry and I was so incredibly appreciate to Dick Zanuck for having the guts to make that call. And I told him right then on the call like thank you so much for making this call because otherwise I would have heard about it from somebody else. Or I would have read about it in Deadline. It was the right thing to do because he was a classy producer from the right era who knew how to do it. And so few producers these days are doing that.
And I don’t have great advice for how to get producers to do that because I don’t have good experience. I try to keep up conversation about like hey what’s going on on this project, but they do sort of ghost you and they say, “Oh, we’re still figuring it out,” and it happens. It’s shameful.
Liz: It’s shameful. It’s really shitty. It shows you I think ultimately how appreciated writers are in the film industry overall. I’m saying this not to get into the film industry, being a writer is wonderful. Being able to write movies is fantastic. But it’s pretty common knowledge and I think pretty well understood that if you’re the first writer on a feature it is very unlikely that you will be the last writer on the feature.
John: If they’ve hired you on to do a project, so it wasn’t your original thing but they hired you on, yeah, there comes a moment where they feel like, oh, maybe we need a new set of eyes, a new something. And it’s often–
Liz: Even if you are the original writer. You know, if it’s a studio in particular it’s very unlikely that you will be the last writer on the project. It’s just for whatever reason it is how the industry believes that movies should be made. You know, I think it’s pretty disrespectful to writers to not give them the same respect as any other collaborator on the project, namely producers or directors who their opinion is appreciated from day one till the end, and heard, and valued, particularly if you are the generator of the project, or the person that was hired for the project. There’s a reason they hired you for that project.
So, yeah, I’m with John. I don’t have a lot of advice on how to get over it except that it sucks. And, you know, have a drink. Or do whatever it is that you do to wallow and then get up and write again tomorrow. Because you have to.
John: All right. I do have some practical advice here I think.
Liz: Oh good.
John: So obviously feel your feelings. It’s fine to feel your feelings. Find somebody you can vent to. But then also take a couple steps here. First off, make sure you’re clear on what your drafts are and these are the official drafts. And set them aside because if you go to an arbitration at some point it will be important to be able to show I wrote these things along the way. And if there are emails that sort of tie into stuff that you didn’t actually implement but you had actually discussed, those can be important as well.
Then figure out – if you know who the writer is who is going to be coming onboard I reach out to that writer. And if I’m the person who is coming on to rewrite somebody I generally will reach out to the previous writer just to know this is where the bodies were buried. This is sort of what’s going on. And make it clear that you’re not mad at that writer for coming onboard. You’re mad at the situation. But you want that writer to succeed because that’s going to be the best possible movie that’s actually going to get made. So as hard as it can be to see your kid being raised by somebody else, you want your kid to thrive. And that can kid being your movie will only thrive if that writer is able to succeed. And so if I can help that writer get that movie to a place where it’s actually going to work I will do so.
And so I will try to reach out to that person. It’s not hard to find their email. It’s an awkward email to write, but all the conversations I’ve had who have come in after me, or if I’ve come in after them, have been great. And it just makes the process better and smoother. So if you can make contact with that writer do so because obviously they’re going to have to carry the ball for a while.
Liz: I think that’s great. I would also say this goes on the other way which is, you know, as you said if you are the writer who is coming on, which I’ve done, you’ve done John, it is your responsibility in my opinion to reach out to the previous writer and to reach out to the original writer. Because, yeah, it’s not your fault. You’re not in trouble. You’re not the problem. But, you can be the asshole who doesn’t reach out and have that conversation. And say like, hey man, I’m really sorry. This is a shitty situation. What can I do to help? Where are you at? What were you trying to do that maybe wasn’t getting across? What’s the conflict, if there is one?
I think that there’s a lot of value in that, particularly since a lot of the people who are being replaced are first time writers, are green writers. And you only learn when the writer who comes on to replace you reaches out. And has a conversation and says, “OK here’s what I’m going to do. Let me explain it to you why. And what do you think?”
So I think – and by the way, there are times when I’ve reached out and the original writer wasn’t super interested in talking, which is also totally fine. It sucks. It’s not a fun thing to be a part of. But if you are the writer who is replacing somebody I really think it is your responsibility to reach out and have a conversation.
John: Yeah. The times when I haven’t done that has been because it’s a weekly and I’m here in the middle of production to build a set of cabinets right there.
John: And that’s not that situation. But if I’m going to be doing some major work I will do it. And also if I’m going to be coming in and doing some kind of surgical work but I’m not rewriting the whole script I will try to write in that other writer’s voice just so it reads like one continuous document.
John: And we know how to do it. We’re professionals. So the underlining message of like it sucks when you’re fired, yes, it sucks. Just try not to carry that bitterness with you. And try not to carry that bitterness with you into other rooms, because you’re going to be going in on meetings on other projects and you could say that I had a great time working on this, someone else is writing this right now, or I really hope it goes into production. Don’t dwell on sort of how angry you were to be fired because that’s not a good look for anybody. It’s not going to get you your next job.
Liz: It’s not. And it’s also nobody is going to appreciate it in that room. So, I think, as you said, John, find the person you can vent with. Unfortunately I think every screenwriter has dealt with this, so every professional feature screenwriter has dealt with this.
The first time it happened to me I had a friend of mine reach out and was actually sitting with me while the conversation was happening on the phone. Reached out to me the next day and took me out for drinks and, you know, kind of like walked me through what had happened to him and listened and there’s not a lot to say. It sucks. But the letting go is a really important part of it.
And I also think the getting back to work is important, because if you just sit and you’re bitter, or you just sit and you wallow, or even you get to the point where you watch the movie and you’re like that’s not what I wrote and this is terrible, none of that is helpful in the ultimate goal which is having a long-lasting career.
John: 100%. All right, maybe we can squeeze two questions in here. Megana, do you want to start us off?
Megana: Great. KD Scruggs writes, “I need to differentiate two timelines a la Sliding Doors in my short script. I currently have a physical descriptor, for example red earrings, pony tail in parenthesis after a character’s first scene mention and every line of dialogue, but it’s super clunky. Thoughts?”
John: Oof, that sounds super clunky.
John: So when you have two timelines you’re going to want to do something, hopefully in the movie it becomes really clear we’re in one timeline or another timeline. You need to do something in your script to say OK these scenes are this way and those scenes are the other way. As we look at Greta Gerwig’s script for Little Women she ended up putting everything in red for the scenes that were in the past. That’s the only time I’ve seen a two-color script, but she really needed it for what she was doing. Other writers I’ve seen put scenes in italics, or in the slug line they’re say bracket past for when we’re in the other timeline.
Just you’ve got to make it read like a movie and don’t kill us on every line for these back and forths. Any thoughts, Liz?
Liz: Yeah. I’m actually dealing with it right now. I have three different timelines that I’m dealing with. So, you know, it’s a little different I guess because it’s not Sliding Doors, but in terms of past and present we just put it in the slug line. It’s, you know, INT. HOUSE. NIGHT (PAST). Is it like the most clever thing to do? No. But people aren’t confused.
We can throw a chyron in the script and you just say, you know, which you don’t have to put in production. But it is just helpful for people when they’re reading. They’re like, oh, this is 2014, this is 2012, whatever it is. And since we’re doing three we do have one section is italicized. I think the italicized is really helpful. It can be – you can also breeze through it at times.
Since this is a short script I actually think the coloring of the script is not a bad idea. You know, it’s clean, concise. And because it’s not past and present that might be the easiest way to do it. But I wouldn’t do the descriptors because I think that’s just going to be brutal.
John: It’s going to be too rough to read. All right, what else we got?
Megana: All right. Ryan in LA asks, “I have a writer’s group that I’ve been a part of for a few years now and over that time we’ve become really close. I value their notes immensely and I know my writing would not be where it is without them. I recently got staffed on a show and have some paid gigs coming my way. It’s exciting, but I’m the first of my group to reach this point. Is it weird for me to continue to get notes from my notes for projects that I’m being paid to write on and ask them for notes for free?”
John: Wow. I’ve never been in a writer’s group like this. Liz, have you?
Liz: No, I haven’t.
John: So we’re at a bit of a disadvantage here. I would say this reminds me of the sort of good news question. You have friends who are not as successful and you’re sort of coming back to them with this. But you’re still working on scripts. You’re still working on projects and they’re working on projects. I would bring it up and ask them like hey do you feel weird, this is a thing I’m being paid to write, but I would love to keep working with you as a group to do this stuff. And if they say yes then great.
You’re getting something out of them, but they’re also getting something out of you because you have experience working for money on these projects. And so I bet they want to keep you involved in that group.
But Megana you’re in a writer’s group so you tell us. Tell us what you think.
Megana: Yeah. I think going back to the same thing. It’s like teamwork and it’s being excited for your friend when they’re doing something and hoping that you get better as they improve in their craft as well. But I have a question, so when you guys are writing a draft or a script like who is reading your drafts before you’re submitting it?
Liz: For me it really depends. In TV just the room is reading it. And then we go through notes that way. And then my non-writing producers will read before it goes to the studio. In features I have like three people that I send not like my vomit draft but my first personal draft. Two of them are writers, sorry it’s four people. So two of them are writers and two of them are not writers. But that’s also been developed over the course of the last, you know, almost decade and we kind of all share with each other.
So I guess it’s kind of a writer’s group, but it’s very specific and it’s not as big.
John: And with my scripts obviously it’s you because you’re reading the very first things, Megana. And then Chad who is a former assistant from a zillion years ago and a good friend. And a couple other people who I will turn to for their thoughts early on. But, no, I’ve never had that sort of writer’s group where we’re constantly responsible for delivering stuff and meeting and discussing that stuff. And I’ve always envied that but it’s just never been something that’s part of my life.
So I’ll be curious whether as you and Megan and other friends of yours who are in that group become successful how that morphs and changes.
I do think also of Dana Fox and her whole group of amazing writers, you know, Diablo Cody, and Lorene and company, Liz Meriwether, and they’re sort of that same way. They’re a writer’s group but they’re also bestie friends who are reading each other’s stuff and it’s been incredibly helpful for them. So there’s precedent for it.
John: Megana, thank you for these questions.
Megana: Thank you guys.
John: All right. It’s time for our One Cool Things. Liz, you start us off.
Liz: OK, my One Cool Thing is a book. So I recently drove across the country because my dog is five pounds too heavy to be on a plane. So, literally drove across the country. So my sweet baby trash dog could be in the car with us, being on the east coast for production. On that I heard this really interesting interview and subsequently have been reading the book. It’s called Battle for the Soul: Inside Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Trump by Edward-Isaac Dovere. It’s super fascinating. It starts in 2016. Goes through the entire campaign on the Democrats’ side up until the 2020 election.
There’s really intimate details in there from sort of how Kamala and Biden fought at the first debate to how she was chosen as the VP candidate. It’s a really intimate and detailed book that is really interesting. And so for people who are fans of campaign books I couldn’t recommend that better.
John: That sounds great. It sounds like a terrific book that I cannot read right now because I cannot actually follow any political news whatsoever. My brain just broke and I cannot reengage with it.
Liz: Can I give you another recommendation then that has nothing to do with it?
John: Absolutely. We’ll take it.
Liz: Yearbook by Seth Rogan. I’m not sure if anybody has done it yet.
John: I’ve heard great things. Yes.
Liz: Oh my gosh. First of all, I’m sure reading the book is amazing. Listening to the book, we listened to it on the drive, is incredible. Seth reads it himself and then there’s a bunch of guest stars that come in. Lots of people who play themselves. Sasha Baron Cohen. George Lucas plays himself at some point. It’s really funny. It’s really insightful. There’s a ton of heart. I am not being facetious when I say that it truly got us through 12 hours of driving through dust and farm land and fast food.
So thank you Seth for that. I really appreciate it and I think everybody should check it out.
John: Excellent. That definitely is on my to read list. And probably actually my to listen list because that sounds great.
My One Cool Thing is a series of videos by Ryan George called Pitch Meetings and basically the premise is that it is the screenwriter going in to pitch a movie that is an existing, so like Army of the Dead. And so Ryan George plays both the screenwriter pitching it and the executive listening to the pitch. And so it’s the feeling of the pitch, but all of the absurdities of the movie sort of come out in the pitching process. So let’s take a listen to the pitch for Army of the Dead.
Male Voice: And it basically walls up the city to contain the spread.
Male Voice: Smart. And they declare it’s no longer part of America.
Male Voice: Well why was that necessary?
Male Voice: Unclear. So eventually the government decides to nuke the city to kill all the zombies.
Male Voice: OK.
Male Voice: But this casino owner, Tenaka, has $200 million in a vault under his casino. So he approaches this former mercenary, Scott Ward.
Male Voice: Oh, and he tells him to assemble a team?
Male Voice: He does. So Scott needs some teammates. He needs a safe-cracker obviously.
Male Voice: I thought it was Tenaka’s vault. Can’t he give them the code?
Male Voice: No.
Male Voice: OK.
Male Voice: And they also need a helicopter pilot.
Male Voice: Oh, they can fly in. That’ll be helpful.
Male Voice: No, see the government doesn’t actually allow people to fly into Vegas. It’s restricted air space. But they can fly out.
Male Voice: Yes, sir. I don’t care.
Male Voice: So Tenaka also adds his own head of security, Martin, to the team. And this guy is real suspicious.
Male Voice: Oh, sounds suspicious.
Male Voice: He is. So they head to Vegas and Scott’s estranged daughter, Kate, forces herself into the movie because she has a friend that’s inside the city.
Liz: Love it.
John: Love it. And so I bring this up because it’s easy to sort of make fun of movies and I don’t want to particularly poke at Army of the Dead. But even like the best movies have these like real implausibilities that if you were to try to pitch them would sound absurd. So I just thought that was a really performed and written piece of video on how weird pitches are.
Liz: Pitches are so weird, dude. They’re the weirdest.
John: Pitches are weird. And so, here, let’s do a quick two minutes on pitching. I always describe pitches as like I just saw the best movie and I want to convince you to see this movie. And so what’s weird is that it’s not really the plot of the movie. It’s the description of the experience of having just watched the movie to me.
Liz: Totally. And I think it’s also a bit about you. Like how you tell it is how you’re going to write it. So, I just did this pitch this last week and I’m doing more this week for this feature and like you know the feature itself is not necessarily funny, but like I want it to have humor in it, so I’m funny in the pitch, which feels a little off-kilter. It’s so performative. Everybody is uncomfortable.
The one thing I will say is that I don’t think I’m ever going back to pitching in person again. I’m all in on pitching on Zoom or Teams or whatever the hell that we’re supposed to do. It’s so much easier. You don’t have to do the small chat and awkwardness and memorizing lines like you’re an actor. It’s great. But that’s kind of the only good thing that has happened.
John: Yeah. I have a pitch this week and I, like you, I’m pretty good at pitching on Zoom, but for this one I also have a video clip I need to show.
Liz: Oh wow.
John: And going from slides to video clip is really a beast. And the amount of time that me and Megana have spent trying to optimize video performance has been a lot.
Liz: Break a leg.
John: The technical challenges. But when do we have to become TV producers, by the way? Like suddenly we’re responsible for all this technology stack in order to pitch our shows. That’s also crazy.
Liz: It’s pretty crazy. To the fact that I, you know, I can use my computer and I can type on it and I can do sort of the things I’m supposed to do on it. The second I’m asked to like put a slide show up or share my screen suddenly I go into a panic like I have a dream that I’m naked in my high school. Because the worst thing possible is I share my screen and something horrible is on there that I don’t want anybody to see.
John: Oh yeah.
Liz: Or like an instant message pops up or something like that. So, it’s truly – I just feel like my anxiety is already high during a pitch. It’s like at an absolute high thinking that I’m going to have to share my screen. So I just stick to reading off of pages and hopefully people have an imagination.
John: That’s always a good choice. I will say the one thing I have learned is that I tend to read off of the screen, but I move my pitch to the very top of the screen.
John: Near the camera so I’m keeping eye contact a little closer there.
Liz: 100%. I also just cover everybody’s faces with it. So I don’t even look at anybody on there because I’m just looking at the camera ultimately. You know? But it’s also–
John: That’s what you want.
Liz: It’s that. And it’s also like I’m not then thinking about their reactions to things, you know. I’m not distracted by, oh, are they buying it or are they not buying it. It gets me a little bit more into the rhythm of my talking and then my producing partner is able to like actually gauge their faces and tell me after like oh they were really into it, or oh I don’t know, things like that.
John: Yeah. Another good thing about pitching on Zoom is that Megana can sit in on pitches now, because she would not normally be able to – like she wouldn’t go to Disney with me to sit in on a pitch, or other studio executive assistants can listen in. And it’s great because they get some experience there but they have their cameras off and it’s fine.
Liz: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, that was what was great about having the room on Zoom honestly was all of our support staff was able to be there and participate and really have the experience of being in a room that typically you don’t have when you’re in a brick and mortar.
John: That is our show for this week. Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our amazing outro this week is by Zach Lo. 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 like the ones we answered today. For short questions on Twitter I am @johnaugust. Liz, you are?
John: @itslizhannah. We have t-shirts and they’re great. 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 and sign up for our weekly-ish newsletter called Inneresting where we link to 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 like the one we’re about to record on our pets. Liz Hannah, thank you, thank you, thank you so, so much for filling in at the last minute as co-host. You are remarkable. So thank you very much for doing this.
Liz: Thank you, John August. I hope that Craig unburies himself from an avalanche soon.
John: We’ll all hope.
John: And we’re back. All right, you traveled across the country with your dog because your dog was too big to fly on a plane. So you obviously have a pet and you love a pet.
Liz: I do.
John: Was this your first dog? Have you always been a dog person? What is your relationship with animals in your life?
Liz: This is not my first dog. I’ve always been an animal person. I grew up with dogs and cats. I adopted – my first dog I adopted as an adult I adopted when I was 25. And he was three-legged and four-months-old and allegedly a purebred lab. And then he turned out to be a Great Dane. And so I had to move out of my studio apartment because he was 95 pounds at like a year old.
Liz: And so he passed away two years ago and I spent – my husband and had like – my husband went right back into production pretty quickly and I was in a new house we moved into. And I slept one night there without a dog for the first time and I was absolutely not, we’re getting an animal. I just spent seven hours looking at our security camera.
And then we met this little trash dog. And so this is who we have now. And literally she’s five pounds over the limit. She’s 35 pounds. She’s five pounds over the limit to fly. It’s just ridiculous.
John: My first dog who was my own dog was my dog Jake who was a pug. And I’d wanted a pug for forever and I would say – on this show we’ve been talking about good news, bad news, when you feel like you had some success. I really felt like I had some success when I was able to get an apartment where I could have a dog. That was really to me like OK I’ve made it because I have a place where I can have my own dog who I can take care of. And that was my little boy for so many years. He was just an absolutely amazing little pug.
So before that we’d had some family dogs. Most of them died when I was really little. And then I had gerbils and hamsters who don’t live very long. They just don’t. And sometimes they let you hold them in their hands, but they’re not great pets. I’m sorry for people who are like big hamster/gerbil people. But like once you’ve had a dog it’s just really hard to really go back to a hamster or such.
Liz: It’s hard to ever go back. It’s hard also I think like we have a cat also who is 12 who I adopted like six months before I adopted the Great Dane, Boo, and just keep in mind I lived in a studio apartment with both of these animals for like eight months. So I definitely did not heed the warning of like this is where you get success is when you can have an apartment that can take pets. I just got pets. And it was crazy.
But Lucy is still kicking, our cat, and she is basically feral. Like hates everybody except my husband. And weirdly now the new dog, loves the new dog. Obsessed with Jonesy. Just wants to be around her. Our other dog, Boo, hated him. Never wanted to be around him. But, yeah, I think it’s like once you – it’s also really interesting because Boo was kind of a loner. He definitely loved me and wanted to be around me, but as long as he could sort of see me from his bed he was interested. Jonesy has to be touching me, like at all times.
If I’m around she’s just like I want to be on you or next to you or sleeping right beside you. It’s a very interesting – I just don’t think I could ever go to like a gerbil. There’s like an intimacy and an affection with a dog that there isn’t with other animals. And they sit at your feet while you write. I mean, it’s great.
John: Yeah, which is so lovely. They’re there with you, but quiet, which is terrific. I think a dog also provides structure, particularly for feature writers which you and I mostly have been. You’re mostly doing TV stuff. But providing some structure in terms of like you need to be up by a certain point so you can feed the dog and walk the dog. And the dog needs two walks and two meals a deal. It’s some good structure because otherwise my whole day could be just a blur of nothing.
And so when I was a bachelor screenwriter that was really important to have some sense of structure there and my dog provided it for me.
Liz: Absolutely. And you also can build in breaks of like, oh, I’m stuck on something, I just kind of don’t want to sit here and stare at my computer. OK, I’ll just go walk the dog for 20 minutes. And I also think there is a – and I’m sure this becomes exponentially more real with children – but there is a bit of life is more important than X, Y, and Z when you have something that you have to literally keep alive. And whose entire – with dogs, you know, their entire purpose is to make you happy and for you to love them and all of these things.
It kind of puts things a little bit in perspective when you’re like oh man this draft is due tomorrow and my life is going to be over if I don’t turn it in perfectly. And then you have to keep this sweet little thing alive.
John: And the dog doesn’t care.
Liz: No. They don’t.
John: So we got the great news of this episode of like, you know, oh you sold a script. The dog is happy, but the dog is always happy. Or you got fired and the dog is like the dog still loves you just the same. The dog has no idea that it’s happening whatsoever.
And it’s good to have – we talked about having some source of joy in your life that is not career-dependent and that can often be a dog, or a cat to some degree, but dogs are the ones providing a little bit more structure there.
Liz: Yeah. I’m all in. I’m staring at my sweet little trash dog right now who is passed out from the humidity. So she’s on her nap time.
John: And where did you find trash dog? Was it through a rescue agency?
Liz: So trash dog’s name is Jones, but we call her trash dog because that is literally what her DNA said she was. We got her, so I had adopted Boo, our former dog, from this place called Dogs Without Borders, which is amazing and based in LA. They were working with a family who brings strays from Iran, specifically Tehran, to Los Angeles. And puts them with families. I had reached out to them and just said like, hey, you know, we’re not ready yet but just in case let me know if you think any dogs come up that we would be right for. And two days later they sent me a picture of Jonesy and we went and met her and we adopted her instantly.
We wanted a small, hypoallergenic, really dumb, lazy dog, and we got a medium-sized shedding machine that is extremely smart and very energetic. But she’s very loving.
John: Yeah. My advice if people are looking for a dog is just to put out in the world that you’re looking for a dog and someone will have the dog for you. And so, yes, you can go to all of the rescue agencies and that’s phenomenal. But some of my best experiences have been sort of hey we’re in the market for a dog so if you know of a great dog let us know. Because people will know.
So in the case of Lambert who is our amazing dog right now we were just getting back from Paris and so I put that out into the world and a friend said, oh yeah, we’re actually watching my mom’s dog right now who is phenomenal, but we cannot keep him. And maybe you could come visit. And love at first sight.
Liz: Lambert and his human eyes. He’s got real human eyes.
John: Such good human eyes.
Liz: So real. It’s like E.T. eyes. They’re so real. Yeah, I agree. I think you can also put it up on social media, like hey guys thinking of getting a dog. There’s so many dogs that are looking for homes. And I know a lot of people did the pandemic puppies and things like that. Please don’t give them back. I know that you were home and you could take care of a dog when you were home all the time. Guess what? That’s a living, breathing thing that loves you. Please don’t give it back.
John: Oh yeah. Don’t do it. Liz, it is so lovely to catch up with you. It’s been a long year, but we’re coming out of it. And we’re making stuff.
Liz: We are. We’re coming out of it. We’re making stuff. I can’t believe we’re halfway through 2021 already. It’s pretty bananas. So, yeah.
John: And whenever you drive back with the dog I want to see you here in Los Angeles.
Liz: Absolutely. Yes sir.
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