Archives

Adaptation

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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” […]

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 […]

Love, Aptaker & Berger

John and Craig welcome Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the writing team that showruns This Is Us and just made history with Love, Simon. We discuss their experience of breaking into the industry, writing with a partner, running a hit show, adapting YA novels for the screen, and the broccoli/marinara/pudding meals that got them here. […]

Call Me by Your Name

John and Aline welcome Peter Spears, producer of Call Me by Your Name, to discuss how the film came to be, from optioning the novel through its long development and multiple roadblocks. Through the lens of Call Me by Your Name, we discuss the difficulties of preproduction for an indie film, the process of securing […]

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 […]

Five-Star Podnerships

John and Craig discuss showrunning, remaking existing IP, staffing, and fan behavior with Julie Plec (Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Michael Green (Bladerunner 2049, American Gods, Murder on the Orient Express, Logan), and Justin Marks (Jungle Book, Counterpart). In light of the big Fox/Disney merger, we contemplate which other podcasts we should consider teaming with to […]

(Adjective) Soldier

Craig and John open the overflowing listener mailbag to tackle questions on everything from montages to life rights to passive heroes. Plus, we have a definitive answer on whether to number minor characters. (Don’t.) We also finally address a major controversy: Craig’s missing cover of “Killing the Blues” from Episode 109. It exists, and you […]

Dennis Lehane on novels vs. screenplays

This quote from Dennis Lehane on the difference between writing books and movies is spot-on, but worth a few clarifications.

A last look at The Leftovers

Boris Kachka takes an in-depth look at how the final episode of The Leftovers was written, shot and edited.

This is why you want a writer’s agreement

A writing team finds their work held hostage by a friend who brought them the concept.

The one with Jason Bateman and the Game of Thrones guys

With a live audience in downtown Los Angeles, Craig and John welcome actor/director Jason Bateman to discuss what he looks for when considering a script, and how to best work with a writer on a script.

What screenwriters mean by IP and YA

We throw these terms around on the podcast without ever defining them.

Room, Spotlight and The Big Short

With Craig out of town, John invites Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Marshall Thurber over to discuss three of the best-picture contenders and their unusual scripts. None of them have classic protagonist-antagonist setups, and all three upend expectations of narrative structure. We talk about both how they work and why they work.

Confusing, Unlikable and On-The-Nose

John and Craig look at some of the least helpful notes screenwriters receive, and strategies for dealing with them.

The Martian, or Making Things Going Wrong Well

The Martian is marketed as a story of survival and ingenuity, but on a screenwriting level it’s a series of carefully-structured hopes denied.

Screenwriter Mark Mallouk on Black Mass

In addition to today’s normal Scriptnotes episode, premium subscribers can find a half-hour interview I did with Black Mass screenwriter Mark Mallouk. We discuss the film’s long journey from book to screen, including how the sudden reappearance of Whitey Bulger in 2011 changed both the script and the production.

Clerks and recreation

Craig and John tackle another installment of “How would this be a movie?” with a look at the Kentucky clerk, the French train bros, Uber and Deflategate. Who are the heroes and villains, and would there be enough plot to support the running time?

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.

How descriptive audio works

John and Craig take a deep look at how descriptive audio for the blind works, with clips from Daredevil and an interview with a woman who does it for a living. It’s a fascinating form of writing, with many of the same challenges screenwriters face.

The 200th Episode Live Show

Craig, John, and Aline record the 200th episode of Scriptnotes live with a worldwide audience listening in — and chiming in — as they discuss TV showrunning and whether quality really counts at the box office.

8 Common Mistakes Made by New Screenwriters

B.J. Novak is all about lists. He asked me to write this one about issues I frequently see in scripts written by beginning screenwriters. 1. Starting with a concept rather than a character We don’t want a movie about a lost relic. We want a movie about Indiana Jones. 2. Being too nice to the […]