An Alliance with House Mazin

Scriptnotes: Ep. 252

It’s a craft episode, with Craig and John discussing allies and allegiances in film and television. Enemies are easy; friends are difficult. We talk through the types relationships characters find themselves in, and strategies for making the most of them.

(This episode has a lot of Game of Thrones geekery, but very few spoilers.)

Also this week, we discuss geographic accuracy, release forms, and showing snippets of plays within movies.


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 6-2-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

They Won’t Even Read You

Scriptnotes: Ep. 251

John and Craig look at how the push to increase diversity in TV writing rooms impacts writers looking to staff for the first time.

Fan outrage over the death of a gay character — and the trope it perpetuates — has prompted an online pledge for writers. But is it a good idea? (Not really.)

We also take a look at three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, with visits to Koreatown, Silicon Valley and exploding Greek diners.

Lastly, a request: this podcast is named Scriptnotes, not ScriptNotes. The “n” isn’t supposed to be capitalized. Thanks!


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 5-30-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

The One with the Austin Winner

Scriptnotes: Ep. 250

Remember the live show in Austin, when we promised we’d read one lucky listener’s script and talk about it on the air? This is that episode.

John and Craig talk with Amanda Morad about her pilot script Betty Bureau, offering praise, suggestions and a few next steps. You can read Amanda’s script in the links below.

We also answer a few short and simple questions about rights and clearances.


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 5-20-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Less IMDb needs a new home

iconLess IMDb, our browser extension for making IMDb less cluttered and more useful, was the very first app we made.1

Here’s what I wrote back in 2010:

They’ve made it more difficult to do the one thing I come to IMDb to do: look at credits. New sections for photos, videos and trivia (star signs!) push credit lists below the fold, forcing you to scroll.

Rather than complain about it, Ryan and I decided to fix it.

And it worked!

In the early days of browser extensions, Less IMDb became very popular because it did exactly one thing well: rearrange layouts to get rid of the cruft, letting you focus on the stuff you’re more likely to actually want.

Six years later, the little yellow tab remains in the upper-right corner of my IMDb windows, silently re-jiggering things. Remarkably, despite all the changes of technology, the extension still works.


Except on Firefox and Chrome.

And even on Safari, layouts will occasionally break spectacularly. IMDb pages aren’t static; you never quite know what you’re going to get. When IMDb reskins entire sections to promote a big summer movie, our little extension gets confused.

Getting Less IMDb back into fighting shape across multiple browsers will take a savvy web person 10 to 30 hours, and it’s just not a priority for us. We’ll be launching Highland 2 soon enough, and that occupies every brain cell of design and coding talent.

But reworking Less IMDb might be a great project for someone else, which is why today we’re releasing all of the source code for it with an MIT license. You can download it here:

Less IMDb source code

Everyone is welcome to use this code to make their own version of the extension. And if one of those versions is great, we’ll even give you the name if you’d like it. (You can find us on Twitter: @qapps.)

I’m really happy we made Less IMDb. It set a great tone and mission for our company: making useful things we wished existed.

I hope someone takes up the charge and can give Less IMDb the love and attention it needs to go another six years.

  1. Is a browser extension an app? Debatable. There’s code and logic, and it has to be installed in an app-like way. But compared to Highland or Weekend Read, it’s not nearly as sophisticated. It falls into the murky area between web and app design, which is part of why it was a great first project for us.

How to Introduce Characters

Scriptnotes: Ep. 249

John talks with Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creators of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, about how they pitched and wrote their critically-acclaimed show.

We focus on the ways they introduced recurring characters in the pilot, and how casting influenced the series. Given recent controversy over casting of Asian roles, our discussion of the Josh Chan character feels particularly relevant.

This episode was recorded live as part of WGFestival 2016 Craft Day. Our thanks to the Writers Guild Foundation and The Academy for hosting us.

John deeply regrets passing up the opportunity to sing the West Covina reprise.

(The script for the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend pilot is available in Weekend Read.)


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 5-13-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Pitching an Open Writing Assignment

Scriptnotes: Ep. 248

John and Craig discuss open writing assignments, and how to best pitch to producers and studios looking to hire a writer for a specific property. Most of the work happens before you set foot in the room, so proper planning is essential.

Then we take a look at the controversy over white actors playing roles that could have gone to Asian actors, and how screenwriters can (and can’t) improve the situation.


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 5-6-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.