Archives

Film Industry

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

The One with the Indie Producer

John welcomes independent producer Keith Calder to discuss what a producer actually does, how financing and distribution strategies have changed with streaming, and how to approach film festivals as a filmmaker. We also answer a listener question about which career path to take after being laid-off: climb the Hollywood ladder or bootstrap and just make […]

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 […]

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 […]

The One with Stephen Schiff

John is joined by The Americans’ executive producer Stephen Schiff at a live Scriptnotes taping in New York! They discuss grounding an outrageous premise in character, suspension of disbelief, premium act breaks, and writing for a foreign language. We also answer audience questions about New York writers rooms, expert consultants, expecting comparisons, first drafts, and […]

The Next 117 Pages

John and Craig talk about everything that comes after the oft-discussed First Three Pages, speculating on the kinds of issues they’d spot if they were looking at full scripts. They also answer listener questions on topics ranging from proper spacing protocol to novelists rewriting their screenplay adaptations. This episode originally aired on November 27, 2012. […]

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 […]

Wait for It

John and Craig discuss suspense and its function in all genres, from thrillers to romcoms. They examine suspense of the known and of the unknown and the techniques available to construct it. We also answer listeners questions about registering scripts with the WGA, how to overcome creative paralysis and unconventional sluglines. Links: The WGA’s page […]

We Had the Same Idea

John and Craig offer advice to those who suspect their work has been stolen, providing a checklist to help determine if a claim has merit and suggestions for how to best proceed if it does. We also answer listener questions about taxes on agent commission, being a conservative voice in a writers’ room, and using […]

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 […]

Pitching Television, or Being a Passionate Widget

John and Craig share their insight into pitching for television. How is it different that pitching features? How do express your passion for the project? How do you avoid being a Willy Loman pitching to a Willy Loman? (Sometimes you don’t.) We also follow-up on the conversation about sexual harassment, with a focus on how […]

Mergers and Breakups

John and Craig explore the possibilities and consequences of Disney’s potential purchase of Fox film and television studios. What might prevent the sale? What does each side stand to gain? To lose? What could it mean for writers? Then, it’s another installment of “This Kind of Scene,” in which we dissect the mechanics of an […]

Austin 2017 Three Page Challenge

John and Craig review four Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Daniela Garcia-Brcek (Literary Manager at Circle of Confusion) and Cullen Conly (Literary Agent at ICM). We then invite the writers up to discuss the notes. It’s not just craft, though. Our special guests give us a behind-the-scenes look at the realities of representation. […]

(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 […]

Austin Live Show 2017 (AKA Too Many Scotts)

John and Craig talk with uber-screenwriter Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Minority Report, Logan) about how his feature script Godless ended up as a miniseries at Netflix. We then invite more guests up to discuss what movies can learn from the success of TV: Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, Go Fish) Scott Alexander (Ed […]

The Post-Weinstein Era

John and Craig welcome Daley Haggar and Dara Resnik to examine the potential impacts of the Harvey Weinstein revelations on Hollywood. What should have been done? And what should happen next to foster a safer, saner and more inclusive industry culture? We also explore gender dynamics in a television writers room, discuss ways to address […]

Scriptnotes Voice: Snitching on Sexism

Daley Haggar shares her experience in the writers room. Originally posted on Lenny Letter. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download this Scriptnotes Voice here.

Should You Give Up?

John and Craig attempt to answer the question that many aspiring screenwriters dare not ask aloud: when — if ever — is the right time to give up on the dream of becoming a working screenwriter? Relatedly, is it okay to omit “aspiring” when describing oneself as a screenwriter? How do you ask friends for […]

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 […]