Changing the Defaults

John sits down with screenwriter Christina Hodson to discuss race, gender, and representation in Hollywood, and how screenwriters can help correct the status quo with the one thing they can control: the words on the page. We tackle the nuances of designating race for open-ethnicity characters, the assumption of whiteness, the pros and cons of […]

Writing Other Things

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about writing projects outside the familiar constraints of screenwriting. We discuss the surprises and adjustments involved in the creative processes of different media: Aline’s graphic novel Jane, Craig’s HBO miniseries Chernobyl, and John’s original song, “Rise.” We also dig into why screenwriters sometimes need to […]

First Day on the Job

Craig and John debut a new segment: This Kind of Scene, looking at how different movies handle similar situations. The Hudsucker Proxy, The Devil Wears Prada, Hidden Figures and Training Day all need to introduce their heroes to their new workplaces. We examine how those scenes work, both on the page and on screen. We […]

There are no black beans in France

France doesn’t have black beans. And this is a problem for someone who eats them every day.

I live in Paris now

I’m not here for work, or to escape this nightmare of an election. Rather, this sojourn has been in the planning stages for several years, going all the way to back to a screenwriters trip organized by Film France back in 2009. My daughter is attending sixth grade here. We’ll head back to Los Angeles for seventh.

Writer Emergency Pack now on Amazon UK

For buyers in United Kingdom (and other countries in Europe), Writer Emergency Pack is now sold on

Campaign statements and residual statements

John and Craig discuss the WGA election results, and take a look at the issues that dominated the campaigns. What is a paper team? Do screenwriters really retire? And why does it take us so long to get paid?

NDAs and other acronyms

Craig and John open the mailbag to answer questions on acronyms in dialogue, off-the-air specs and international WGA jurisdiction. Plus we look at the growing trend of non-disclosure agreements on studio projects, and whether the nature of film requires less complex characters.

The International Episode

Craig and John look at how movies are translated, including an interview with a guy who does subtitles for a living. Plus, how Pixar and other companies are localizing movies for international audiences, and what happens when China becomes the largest film market.

Writing for Hollywood without living there

Canadian screenwriter Ryan Knighton joins John and Craig to discuss how you sustain a career writing for Hollywood studios while living a flight away. Knighton’s first screenplay was the adaptation of his memoir about going blind. He’s since written for several studios, including a new project for Ridley Scott.

Internationalizing Bronson

Bronson Watermarker PDF is our first effort at internationalizing an app. The process was mostly smooth, but not without some surprises.

From Greenlight back to page one

Today’s First Person demonstrates an important point: you can’t pick the single moment at which you’ve “made it.”

Advice for Canadian criminals

Could a Canadian screenwriter with a criminal record sell specs in Hollywood?

La historia es gratis

Story is free, now in Spanish.

Startups and slippery facts

Since I was name-checked twice this interview from the top-ranked Wharton School of Business, I feel some responsibility to point out a few fallacies and follies.


A handy and scary glossary to terms from the Mexican drug war.

Subtitled success stories

Somewhat remarkably, the top two movies in America have subtitles. Lots and lots of subtitles.

Spanish or Mandarin

At the gym yesterday, we were discussing which language would be the best foreign language for a native English speaker to learn. Specifically, can you make a compelling case for any language other than Spanish or Mandarin?

Simple English Wikipedia

A parallel set of articles written in a subset of English is remarkable cool.

Are glossaries a good idea?

Generally, no. Try to make terms understandable in context.

Let the right subtitles in

Changing the subtitles for Let The Right One pissed off a lot of fans.

Aliens abroad

In a precautionary move to ward off pirates, Paramount supplied only dubbed prints of “Monsters vs. Aliens” to Russian and Ukrainian theaters.


It’s time for the studios to meet the demands of the international audience and avoid piracy at the same time.

Going to France

Along with nine other WGA writers, I’ll be headed to France in November to get a backstage tour of Paris and Marseille, in the hopes of finding cinematically interesting people and places. It’s all sponsored by Film France in the hopes of getting more big Hollywood movies shooting there. It’s a clever idea, one I […]

From Russia with Questions

What are the pitfalls for a foreigner trying to break into Hollywood?