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QandA

Austin 2018 Three Page Challenge

John and Craig review three new Three Page Challenge entries with the help of Lindsay Doran (producer of Stranger Than Fiction, Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, Dead Again) and Jewerl Ross (manager and founder of Silent R Management). They then invite the writers up to discuss the notes, including the importance of geography, setting up […]

Real-World Villains

John and Craig investigate actual villains in this installment of How Would This Be a Movie? From the eerily prescient writer of “How to Murder Your Husband” to the dark comedy of Jacob Wohl, sometimes reality provides the character — now you just need an actual story. We also look at the craft behind writing […]

Austin Live Show 2018

John and Craig invite Wendy Calhoun (Station 19, Empire), Phil Hay (The Invitation, Ride Along), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift) to join them onstage for a discussion about the death of the writing middle class, why we get bored during a film or […]

No Writing Left Behind

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone. We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple. Links: Hope to see […]

Only Haters Hate Rom-Coms

John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre. We discuss what distinguishes rom-coms from other comedies, and why they get singled out for disdain and death-of articles. Also this week: Amazon Storywriter, overused dicks, and follow-up on Whiplash. This episode originally aired on […]

Writing Memorable Dialogue

John and Craig have a dialogue about dialogue. They discuss how thinking about memorizing lines can help write them, and how to service quieter characters in a scene. We also answer listener questions about adapting plays for the screen, creating a different experience for your reader than your viewer, and whether to trust sketchily worded […]

Two Things at the Same Time

John and Craig look into simultaneity and how to visually articulate two things happening at once with the temporally-limited medium of written word. We also explore how simultaneity can ramp up tension, fracture narrative and play with expectations. Then we apply what we’ve discussed to three new entries in the Three Page Challenge. Links: Become […]

What Is a Movie, Anyway?

John and Craig welcome Franklin Leonard to weigh in on the current definition of “movie.” In the age of streaming, this distinction is not only important for audiences and awards, but has a meaningful effect on how writers are paid. We also take umbrage with Awards Season as a Hollywood fixture, and follow up on […]

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 […]

You can’t have my back and yours at the same time

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Sun and Jonathan Handel look at the controversy over agencies investing in TV and movies. How can agencies defend the conflict of interest inherent in employing their own clients?

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 […]

WGA Elections 2018

John and Craig discuss their choices for WGA Board Elections and misinformation about proposed revisions to the Screen Credits Manual. Links: WGA East Elections Jonathan Fernandez Patti Carr Patric Verrone Betsy Thomas Travis Donnelly Dante W. Harper Eric Heisserer Deric Hughes David Slack Ashley Gable Spiro Skentzos VJ Boyd Deborah Amelon WGA Sets Referendum On […]

Why Highland 2 doesn’t automatically add CONT’D

In screenplays, when a character continues speaking after a line or two of action, the convention is to write (CONT’D) after their second character cue. But software shouldn’t do that automatically.

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 […]

Missing Movies

A surprising number of hit films from 1970 onward are unavailable online. I wanted to make a list of which movies are missing, and start figuring out how to fix it.

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 […]

The One with Mindy Kaling

John sits down with writer/actor Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project, Champions) to talk about her origin story, her big break as Ben Affleck, what it’s like to simultaneously showrun and star in a sitcom, and the nature of half-hour comedies. We also answer a listener question about point of view and its relationship […]

From Indie to Action Comedy

John welcomes Susanna Fogel and David Iserson to talk about making their new movie, The Spy Who Dumped Me. They discuss the transition from TV and indie film to blockbuster, the collaboration involved in crafting a comic action sequence, and the fun of production overseas. Susanna and David explain the advantages of spec scripts (this […]

Relationships

John and Craig discuss the importance and basics of developing relationships in storytelling. Characters are nothing without relationships, like Woody without Buzz, Shrek without Donkey, John without Craig… We then test these ideas about relationships against a fresh set of Three Page Challenges. Links: Arlo Finch covers look different around the world. You can catch […]

You’d hardly recognize Arlo Finch overseas

Arlo Finch came out in February 2018 in the US and Canada, but the international editions are only now debuting. And in many cases, the book you see in stores overseas looks very different.

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 […]