Archives

WGA

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Movies Dodged a Bullet

John and Craig speculate about why the film industry fared better in the transition to digital while the music industry struggled. We also follow up on the WGA elections, hearing John’s priorities as a new board member. Lured back into the intrigue of MoviePass, we discuss new information on this business model. Then it’s another […]

I’m joining the WGA board

On Monday, I was elected to the board of directors for the Writers Guild of America, West. I’ll be serving a two-year term. Here are some of my plans.

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 […]

Distracted Boyfriend Is All of Us

John and Craig dive into another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories (and memes!) from around the world to figure out which ones might lend themselves to big-screen treatment.

The Magic Word Is In This Episode

Craig and John tackle a bunch of listener questions, along with follow-up on previous discussions.

What’s in the WGA Deal

Craig and John talk with Chris Keyser, one of the co-chairs of the WGA Negotiating Committee, to learn what gains were achieved in the most recent deal, and what work lies ahead.

Generic Trigger Warning

John and Craig take a look at three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, with scripts tackling kidnapping, dystopia and parkour hackers. We look at both how the writing works on the page, and what the writers seem to be trying to say.

Flaws are features

Craig and John look at unforgettable villains, screenwriter billions, and a parallel world with two Nathan Fillions. (The last part is not true.)

New and Old Hollywood

With credits ranging from Captain Phillips to The Hunger Games, plus several stints in WGA contract negotiations, Billy Ray knows as much as any screenwriter about the realities of working writers and the turmoil in the industry. He joins us to talk about his new Amazon pilot, The Last Tycoon, which charts the behind-the-scenes drama at a 1930s Hollywood studio.

Why I’m voting no on Amendment 1

Amendment 1 lengthens the term of officers and board members from two years to three. The more I think about it, the less I like that idea. I’m voting no.

Fun with Numbers

Craig and John discuss the impact of Star Wars knocking down all the records, both for the industry and big-screen sci-fi.

Campaign statements and residual statements

John and Craig discuss the WGA election results, and take a look at the issues that dominated the campaigns. What is a paper team? Do screenwriters really retire? And why does it take us so long to get paid?

NDAs and other acronyms

Craig and John open the mailbag to answer questions on acronyms in dialogue, off-the-air specs and international WGA jurisdiction. Plus we look at the growing trend of non-disclosure agreements on studio projects, and whether the nature of film requires less complex characters.

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.

Why movies have reshoots

Reshoots used to be a sign that something had gone horribly wrong. But not anymore. John and Craig look at the reasons why Hollywood movies often go back for additional photography, and how the writer is involved.