With John and Craig both on spring break, it’s a clip show this week. We discuss why movie heroes are rarely ambivalent, why villains are so appealing, and why movies with two primary characters require careful attention.
In an episode consisting entirely of answers to listener questions, John and Craig discuss David Mamet, internet trolls, post-credit scenes and English actors attempting American accents. Plus, who would win in an all-out brawl to the death? The answer will probably not surprise you. Links: David Mamet’s memo to writers of The Unit Craig’s Twitter […]
Michael Tabb takes a deep look at defining the premise of your story, but “premise” might not be the best word for what he’s describing.
Craig and John play “How Would This Be a Movie?” looking at three articles in the news.
Craig and John discuss the impact of Star Wars knocking down all the records, both for the industry and big-screen sci-fi.
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.
In preparation for our live show with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, we’re re-running this episode from the Scriptnotes archive.
Craig and John discuss epic world-building, and the promises and pitfalls for writers attempting to create fictional universes.
John and Craig talk romantic comedies with screenwriter Tess Morris, whose film Man Up is unapologetically part of the genre.
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.
John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.
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.
John and Craig discuss the PG-13 rating, its effects and what screenwriters have to keep in mind when dealing with it. Then it’s a conversation about healthy and unhealthy relationships between writers and their representatives.
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?
John and Craig sit down with Marielle Heller, the writer and director of the acclaimed feature Diary of a Teenage Girl, to talk about the journey of getting her movie made, from optioning the novel to the Sundance Labs through production.
John and Craig discuss why movie heroes — unlike those in novels or musicals — generally don’t profess internally conflicting views. In reality, our feelings on a topic are likely shades of gray. On the big screen, characters tend to articulate a single point firmly.
In most stories built around a heroic quest, the big confrontation comes at the end. But moving it earlier can pay off.
Craig sits down with Silicon Valley writer/director Alec Berg to talk about set ups and payoffs, editing comedy and how writing teams get screwed.
Heroes are often searching of the proverbial needle in the haystack. Like many of the cards in Writer Emergency Pack, “Stack of Needles” invites you to consider doing exactly the opposite.
Like Devin Faraci, one death in Jurassic World stuck out for me, because it didn’t feel deserved. But was does “deserved” really mean?
John and Craig look at three current news stories from a screenwriter’s perspective, discussing how each lends itself to becoming a movie.
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.
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 […]
Craig and John discuss finding your way back to your story — and your enthusiasm — when writing your second draft. Craig has tips and suggestions. John has sympathy and war stories.
This week, we time-travel back to our first centennial, a live show in Hollywood with special guests Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Thurber. We discuss the rise of the “writer-plus,” the importance of early mentors, and the emails that outline the very origin of Scriptnotes.