First Person

TV staffing season

Mysteries of the staffing process revealed.

10 things I hate about me

Kevin Arbouet tagged me to answer 10 questions about mistakes and bad practices. Taken the wrong way, the whole exercise could be kind of negative and bleak. But one (hopefully) learns from one’s errors, so it’s in that spirit that I further the meme. 1) WHAT’S THE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN? With hindsight being […]

Professional Writing and the Rise of the Amateur

A lecture to Trinity University on authorship and authority in the internet age.

Write-up of my recent WGA Foundation Q&A

Corrections to notes on my Q&A at the WGA.

In which I attend the Grammy Awards

As I might have mentioned, I got nominated for a Grammy Award (along with Danny Elfman) in the Best Song TV/Movie/Visual Media category for “Wonka’s Welcome Song” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The nomination came as a surprise, in that (a) I didn’t realize the Grammys were coming up, (b) I didn’t know the […]

Because not all screenwriters live in Wisconsin

I recently did an e-mail interview with the good folks at the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, only to realize that a significant percentage of my readership base (aspiring screenwriters, confused Christians, web-surfing office drones) lives outside of our 30th state, and therefore might not receive the newsletter. So with WSF’s kind permission, I’m reprinting it here. […]

Readers write in: Don’t put gum behind your ear

Dear John, I am a big fan, since GO. We finally got a DVD of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and showed it at my 8/9 year old daughter’s birthday sleepover. Great movie, great time. When the time comes for your baby to have a sleepover don’t fret it. It was fully successful and not […]

I am a white male of European descent

My last normal job — the 9-to-5 kind — was as an assistant at Oliver Stone’s production company. At the time, he was in post-production on Natural Born Killers, and developing future projects, one of which was a remake of Planet of the Apes. Any version of Apes must tackle the basic question of, “How […]

The Constant Gardener, infant edition

Yesterday, I saw The Constant Gardener. My quick review: I respected the filmmaking, but I can’t say I loved the movie. Throughout the entire film, I was so far ahead of the Ralph Fiennes character that I found myself thinking more about African theatre, diplomatic passports and shallow-focus lenses than what exactly had happened to […]

Abolish the states, mate

In an article published today, one of the other John Augusts argues persuasively that the states should be abolished. Before you take up arms against him, you should know that he’s Australian, and he’s talking about “states” like New South Wales and Queensland. Which sound like made-up Risk territories, if you ask me. It’s important […]

Hey look! err..Listen! John’s on NPR. Briefly.

After meeting a friend-of-a-friend at a birthday party over the weekend, I ended up getting pressed into service for a story on NPR’s Day to Day. Reporter Mike Pesca wanted to talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s challenges converting his action-movie persona into a consensus-building governor, and wanted to talk to a screenwriter about it. So I […]

Good advice from agents

The single most asked question (How do I get an agent?) answered directly by the source and amended by me.

Other interests and hobbies

Do you play guitar, or do some other type of hobby in order to get inspiration for your writing? — Jesse Leal I don’t play guitar, though I’ve always wanted to learn. I tried to teach myself on my father’s guitar, but never even mastered tuning it, which made the rest of the process painful […]

Finished a short film: Now what?

One of my most frequent pieces of advice to would-be writer/directors is to make a short film. After all, with the wonders of digital technology, any monkey with a good idea and a long weekend should be able come up with something watchable. Right?

The next step is getting someone to see your miniature masterpiece. That’s where my knowledge comes up a little lacking. Fortunately, my assistant Chad Creasey has just been through the process. He and director Dara Resnik recently made a charming short film called “Great Lengths.” You can read all about it at their website.

Pretty much every weekend this spring, either he or Dara were flying to some festival across the country. With this in mind, I asked Chad to write up advice about short films and festivals. He was gracious enough to reply at, well, great length:

David Dean Bottrell on How I Write

KINGDOME COME writer talks candidly about his process.

Jessica Bendinger on How I Write

BRING IT ON writer on setting goals and taking advantage of fear.

How I Write

Avoiding the early edit and other ways I get my story down on paper.

Tyger Williams on How I Write

FOXY BROWN writer on coloring his beats to visualize the structure, and other methods.

Todd Graff on How I Write

CAMP writer uses bad movies as a muse and motivator.

Being a writer’s assistant

I am interested in becoming an assistant to a TV or Film writer. I have experience in the industry as an assistant to a Producer/CEO of a Production company, but I’m not sure what the qualifications are to be a writer’s assistant or how to apply for the job. –Beth I’m passing off the question […]

Naomi Foner on How I Got My Agent

RUNNING ON EMPTY screenwriter on going from Sesame Street to Hollywood.

Tom Smith on How I Got My Agent

A case of paid script analysis paying off for an aspiring writer.

David Steinberg on How I Got My Agent

Someone (anyone) else saying your script is great is infinitely better than you doing it yourself.

Howard Rodman on How I Got My Agent

Thai noodles led a baby writer to a baby agent. This is more likely to happen in LA.

Derick Martini on How I Got My Agent

Using a short to lure agents to your script.