Archives

Follow Up

Advice for a New Staff Writer

John welcomes Alison McDonald (American Dad!, Nurse Jackie, the remake of Roots) and Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to talk through the basics of the TV writers room, covering how they got in, how much to talk, how to make a living, what to wear and what’s for lunch. In follow up, we look at […]

One Year Later

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the progress made in the year following the Weinstein revelations. Have the systems for reporting and preventing sexual harassment improved, or are we still just dealing with hurricanes? We also follow up on The Academy’s decision to nix the Popular Film category, the IATSE agreement, missing […]

How murky rights keep movies in limbo

A listener with experience in home video writes with more information about why some titles aren’t available online.

Tying Things Up

John and Craig cover endings, both for craft and for business. First they articulate the importance of the denouement and the social contract it fulfills with the audience. Then they discuss what happens to a writer’s work after their death. We also follow up on pitching, and introduce a new segment: Change Craig’s Mind. This […]

Craig Hates Dummies

John and Craig are back at it with another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? They consider the story of a competitive mass Tinder date, a retirement home for ventriloquist dummies and the McDonald’s Monopoly heist. We also revisit John’s WGA Corner for updates, follow up on the conflict within IATSE, and get […]

Netflix Killed the Video Store

John welcomes Kate Hagen to talk about missing movies and the role that video stores play in archiving film history, preserving access to all movies and creating a sense of community. They discuss some of the barriers to films getting digital distribution, from limited music licenses to struggles with chain-of-title when companies fail. We also […]

Best Popular Screenwriting Podcast

John and Craig pack this business-centric episode with big picture conversations about guild negotiations, changes to the Oscars, the Disney/Fox merger, the Paramount Consent Decree, and the tragedy that is being unable to stream The Flamingo Kid. Links: Scriptnotes is now on Spotify! The Austin Film Festival is coming up on October 25th! Changes are […]

Billionaires-to-be

Steinbeck didn’t actually write, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Still, it’s a solid idea.

Where Movies Come From

John and Craig welcome Liz Hannah (screenwriter of The Post) to explore where movies come from, be it real life, storytelling social media sites, or all-powerful comic book IP. How do these story sources affect the writer’s relationship with the material and with the audience? We also follow up on the meaning of “Jackman Shot” […]

Point of View

John and Craig discuss the power of point of view in scripts and how the choice of which characters have storytelling power changes how we experience a movie. Point of view has a meaningful role in creating mystery, expanding scale, elevating characters, and energizing a story. We also answer listener questions about “Jackman shots,” renaming […]

This Title is an Example of Exposition

John and Craig debate and defend one of the most-maligned elements of screenwriting: Exposition. How do you tell an audience what they need to know without being labeled a hack? We offer tips for getting viewers up to speed without them realizing they’re getting fed exposition. We also follow up on screenplay competitions, the psychology […]

Bad Behavior

John and Craig discuss the hot new trend of firing jerks from successful TV shows. Why is it happening now like never before? Is there an important distinction between being “difficult” and being a jerk? We also follow up on listener suggestions for outlining tools, and answer questions about the landscape of feature comedy, the […]

Full Circle

John and Craig talk about the way that movies tend to bring their stories full circle, and what that means for writers trying to figure out their story beats. They discuss rhyming, bookending and how properly setting up the central thematic question helps make the answer feel meaningful. We also answer listener questions about putting […]

Putting Words on the Page

John and Craig discuss the digital tools of the trade. From outline to first draft to production rewrites, screenwriters find themselves facing different challenges. We talk about what works for each of us. We also speculate on what impact Highland 2’s gender analysis tool will have. Then we answer listener questions about following the “rules” […]

All About Family

John and Craig partake in another installment of How Would This Be a Movie? Which story is destined for the big screen: The millennial mother with her surprise, Youtube-guided childbirth? The couple that has the same fight for decades? The Japanese families-for-hire? We also follow up on the logic of multi-cam formatting, Georgia’s success in […]

Scriptnotes Live in May

Our next live Scriptnotes will be Tuesday, May 22nd at the ArcLight in Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now, with special guests to be announced soon.

Conflict of Interest

John and Craig examine the myriad conflicts of interest that arise in Hollywood, from self-dealing studios to packaging fees to pilot season. But it’s not just other people with issues. Writers grapple with their own conflicts of interest. We discuss what situations screenwriters might face and how to deal with them ethically. We also answer […]

Comedy Geometry

Craig welcomes Alec Berg, executive producer of two current HBO comedies (Barry and Silicon Valley), to discuss balancing productivity and creative energy, “comedy geometry,” and identifying as a craftsman rather than an artist. We also answer listener questions about committing to a genre, the necessity of act breaks, and how much writers actually get to […]

Getting Paid for It

John and Craig delve into the business of screenwriting from money to managers to medical plans. We answer listener questions about collecting unemployment, registering as a corporation, firing a rep, quitting your day job and handling the anxiety that comes with such an uncertain career path. Links: Alto’s Odyssey An ambiguously threatening advertisement for British […]

Knowing vs. Discovering

John and Craig consider how much a writer should know before going into a scene, looking at the perks and pitfalls of planning and letting oneself discover. We also discuss taking notes from producers and executives. When should you stand your ground? When should you accommodate? What if it’s an excellent drawing of an elephant […]

What’s the Plan, Anyway?

John and Craig speculate what Luke Skywalker’s plan might have been in the opening of Return of the Jedi. They consider heroes’ plans generally, the allowance we grant as an audience for opening sequences and the foul taste of “logic ketchup.” We then engage in a long-awaited Three Page Challenge, focusing on scripts that play […]

Mostly Terrible People

John and Craig evaluate another set of exceptional news stories for their fitness for the big screen in this week’s How Would This Be a Movie? We consider stories about counterfeit debt collectors, the worst roommate ever (beside’s Craig college roommate), the girl who posed as a grown man online and began exhibiting genuine symptoms […]

We’re Back, Baby

John and Craig reunite to answer our backlog of listener questions. We follow up on what it means to utilize white space on a page, the conventions of musical numbers, the value of a victory lap, and what the hypothetical destruction of Los Angeles would mean for the industry. We also answer listener questions on […]

Worst Case Scenarios

John and Craig ponder worst case scenarios that might usher the end of screenwriting as we know it. What are the odds that screenwriters lose work because an economic crash keeps movies from getting made? That screenwriting gets outsourced? That human screenwriters are replaced by AI? That film as a medium gets replaced? That the […]

The End of the Beginning

John and Craig tackle that tricky stretch of screenplay between crystalizing what the story is going to be and the protagonist actually embarking upon it: the end of Act 1. We also answer listener questions about writing for new media, why working outside of a WGA contract hurts everyone, what people want when asking for […]