Scriptnotes

John August and Craig Mazin

Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.

All Episodes

John and Craig tackle loglines: what they are, how people write them, and why screenwriters shouldn’t worry all that much about them. We also discuss updates on the WGA agency deal and listener questions on lawyers, options, and ASL. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss gaming consoles. Links: CAA Signed Deal Madonna to direct biopic, Diablo Cody to write. Blogpost on Loglines Write in to ask@johnaugust.com share advice on finding legal representation. ASL Gloss Breakdown Save Democracy Itself! Fundraiser Chris Stein on Twitter Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Karman (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Sep 22

65 min

John welcomes back screenwriter Ryan Knighton (In the Dark) to discuss taking out a project as a pitch versus just writing it as a spec. Then we hear from listeners about the ideas they’re considering pitching vs speccing and offer our advice. We also look at the Academy’s new requirements for Best Picture, and whether they’ll have an impact on inclusion in Hollywood. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, Ryan explains his plans to train for the open adaptive surfing games. Links: Academy Awards Inclusions Standards for Best Picture Film Academy Inclusion Standards Diversity Ryan Knighton Crackdown Podcast Get a Flu Shot! Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Ryan Knighton on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Lachlan Marks (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Sep 15

71 min

John and Craig talk about the words we use when referring to people or groups of people — and why those words keep changing. Nic Novicki of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge joins us to discuss writing inclusive storylines and characters. We also discuss single-use characters, WGA elections, and follow up on listener questions. In our bonus segment for premium members, we tackle the question: “If the standards for breaking into the screenwriting industry are so high, why are so many BAD movies made?” Links: Range Media WGA Elections Easterseals Disability Film Challenge Euphemisms are like underwear: best changed frequently One Hit Kill Game DM’s Guide to Roll 20 Get Ready for a Feeding Frenzy Over the NRA’s Corpse Whale Fall Champagne Bottle Stopper Clint Ford Twitter Thread Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Nic Novicki on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Karman (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Sep 8

62 min

John and Craig tackle their overflowing mailbag to answer some long-delayed listener questions on subtext, divorce, set decoration, and more! We also follow up on news about management companies and how this affects writers. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we’ll talk about headshots and our experiences getting our photos taken. Links: Pete Micelli/Steve Cohen Management Launch Adds WME’s Rich Cook, UTA’s Roussos, Fox, Mckinnies, Moorhead To CAA’s Whigham, Sullivan, Bugliari, Cooper The Great Agency Exodus: Top Reps Flee the Majors As Management Civil War Looms After Agency Exodus, New Firm Pitches Investors On Star-Driven Production “Cash Cow” (Exclusive) Batman Teaser Mike Selinker on Twitter Zionor Swim Goggles Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Sep 1

65 min

John and Craig talk to an audience of development executives about the experience of getting notes as a writer. They cover why these conversations kick in our fight or flight responses, how to frame notes through story, and ways to motivate writers towards a creative vision. We take questions from the audience and discuss ‘the bad pitch,’ likable characters, and how to stay friends with a writer after a breakup. In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about tips for getting notes, particularly on zoom. Links: Episode 99, Psychotheraphy for Screenwriters Episode 394, Broken but Sympathetic with Mari Heller Now accepting recommendations for updating the Listener’s Guide Submit to the Pitch Session here Watch Chernobyl May 6th and listen to The Chernobyl Podcast with Craig and Peter Sagal John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Mackey Landry (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli   Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Aug 25

64 min

John and Craig skip heroes and villains to examine the villain’s accomplices and how to write them more believably. We also answer listener questions, parcel out some umbrage, and discuss updates between the agencies and the WGA. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk tips for travel during the pandemic. Links: Scriptnotes Episode 101 Transcript Seth MacFarlane to do Winds of War Redshirt John Scalzi WGA Agency Trial Pushed to 2021 How We Record Scriptnotes Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Karman (send us yours!) Gift a Premium Subscription at Scriptnotes.net Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Aug 18

37 min

John talks with writer-director Lorene Scafaria and costume designer Mitchell Travers about their collaboration on Hustlers, and how to think visually about story. We discuss locations, production design, cinematography, and choreography with a major focus on pre-production. And in our bonus topic for premium members, John catches up with Mitchell seven months after our initial conversation. Links: Directors Close-Up: Tacky Fashion and the Visual Language of ‘Hustlers’ – Film Independent Hustlers Lorene Scafaria and on Twitter Mitchell Travers and on Instagram Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Aug 11

70 min

John and Craig talk action! It’s an all-craft episode about how words on the page become high-adrenaline events on the screen. We also follow up on WGA news and agency lay-offs. In our bonus segment for premium members we try to discuss the Emmys but mostly talk about teenage girls’ obsession with Criminal Minds. Links: Action Scenes PDF, download and follow along with the discussion! Support Staff Emergency Relief Fund CAA Lays Off Agents and Employees WGA East and West members voted to approve the new contract Good Sudoku Good Soduku App Ghosts of Tsushima Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Aug 4

79 min

John and Craig discuss the special purgatory that projects can get lost in and how to navigate your way out. We also follow up on Assistant Pay, the 2020 WGA report, and Craig’s writing process for television. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss wine! Links: WME, Endeavor Content Increase Assistant Pay Nikki Finke in 2009 on WME Wages The General, with Buster Keaton WGA 2020 Annual Report Mythic Odysseys of Theros Caddyshack 2 Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Brendan Bergan (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jul 28

67 min

John and Craig bring another round of How Would This Be A Movie, with a mix of stories from history and the headlines. In this episode we discuss an unexpected guest at a funeral, a lost Russian submarine and a social influencer murder plot. We also look at the latest WGA developments, including the new agency agreement with UTA and the vote on the studio agreement. Then, we answer listener questions on an UNO movie, editing while writing and how to write a high-profit movie. In our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss how 2020 would be a movie. Links: WGA Studio Summary WGA Studio Agreement UTA WGA Deal Wife crashes own funeral to confront husband who paid to have her killed by Sarah Kaplan Project Azorian by David Shukman Instagram influencer sentenced to 14 years for violent plot to steal domain name by Nick Statt Battle of Blair Mountain Swift UI and Swift Playgrounds Disbelief Followed by Expression: Alonzo Mourning Gif Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by James Llonch (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jul 21

72 min

John and Craig welcome writer/director Justin Simien (Dear White People, Bad Hair) to talk adapting movies to television, the value of film school and the birth of independent cinema. We follow up on the WGA/AMPTP deal and answer a listener question on writing stories about problematic historical figures. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members we discuss the Hamilton musical on Disney+. Links: WGA AMPTP Dear White People Lemon Movie Olaplex Electoral Vote I May Destroy You Hamilton on Disney+ Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Justin Simien on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jul 14

35 min

John and Aline Brosh-McKenna co-host a special panel with writers Anna Winger (Unorthodox, Deutschland 83), and Tony McNamara (The Great, The Favourite) for the French television festival Serie Series. We cover writing coming of age stories, how to choose the best format for a story, and writing with act breaks. We also discuss the production challenges and opportunities of working internationally and how to find a common language on set. Links: Check out Serie Series and also find the video recording of the session here! Unorthodox The Great Algonuts by Eric Drass Beer Bread Remastered: The Lion’s Share Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Anna Winger on Twitter Tony McNamara Aline Brosh McKenna on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Eric Pearson (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jul 7

61 min

John and Craig examine how and why it can be necessary to collapse scenes in a rewrite. They also follow-up on returning to production, portrayals of police on screen and assistant pay.We then welcome Michelle Amor, Hilliard Guess, and Bianca Sams —  co-chairs of the WGA West’s Committee of Black Writers —  to discuss how Hollywood needs to change the way it hires and promotes Black writers. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about the return of professional sportsball. Links: WGA West Committee of Black Writers Call on Hollywood to Revolutionize the Way Our Industry Hires Writers Immersive Light Field Video with a Layered Mesh Representation Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Marie’s Magical Dinner Dust for Dogs Hilliard Guess on Twitter Bianca Sams on Twitter Michelle Amor on Twitter Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jun 30

63 min

John and Craig welcome writer and performer Ashley Nicole Black (Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, A Black Lady Sketch Show) to discuss comedy and variety shows — how they’re written and how to get a job writing them. We also talk about studio diversity programs, why additional training can send the wrong message, and how to speak up in a writers room. Then we answer listener questions on idea ownership, writing police stories, and follow up on digital writer’s rooms. In our bonus segment for premium members, we talk about fireworks. Links: Ashley Nicole Black on Twitter Ashley’s Twitter Thread on Diversity Programs Ashley on Drunk History on Nichelle Nichols NPR’s reading of the Emanicipation Proclamation The Loveland Foundation Mike Birbiglia’s Working it Out The New One Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Eric Pearson (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jun 23

63 min

John and Craig follow up and give updates on the many topics we’ve been talking about the past few weeks, including police on screen, assistant pay, short seasons and restarting production. We also hear from a past Three-Page participant on their experience post-challenge and cover highlights from the WGA’s Inclusion and Equity report. In our bonus segment for premium members, we’ll be talking about computers: what we’re using, and what we’d like to see. Links: Chevalier’s Local Author Event, Saturday June 20th at 2pm Police officers are often glorified on TV shows. Here’s what it looks like when they aren’t. by Bethonie Butler WGA Inclusion and Equity Shorter and Fewer Seasons, Is TV Sabotaging Itself? The Metrosexual episode of Decoder Ring by Willa Paskin Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Joey Hillenbrand (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.  

Jun 16

56 min

John and Craig discuss how police and policing are portrayed on screen, and writers’ responsibilities to thoughtfully reflect society. Then, we answer listener questions about freaking out in meetings, how we deal with feedback, and whether to write books or movies. And in our bonus segment for premium members, we’ll discuss the possibility that Craig does not exist. Links: Black Lives Matter Campaign Zero Baba is You Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Jason Azziz (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jun 9

61 min

John and Craig explore that icky feeling something’s wrong with your script and what to do about it. They also discuss the difference between story and screenplay, both as official WGA categories and how we use those terms everyday. We follow up on French hours, whether you should send editable documents to producers, and offer tips on discussing story ideas with friends and colleagues. And in our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig read erotic fiction. Links: Larchmont Author Extravaganza with Chevalier’s this Saturday June 6 with guests Stuart Gibbs, Aline Brosh McKenna, Derek Haas and more! Sports Medal Recycling How Pac Man Works FiLMiC Pro Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by John Venable (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

Jun 3

67 min

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Your Place or Mine) and Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re the Millers) to share how we’re thinking about the future of film and television production. We talk about possible plans for getting back to set, how movies might change to adapt to the current circumstances, and how we want to see pandemic depictions in our media. In our bonus segment for premium members we discuss puzzles: Craig’s controversial take on jigsaw, the Larchmont Puzzle Exchange, and why puzzles are good for families. Links: Catch Craig on Mythic Quest’s special bonus Quarantine Episode! #FosterChallenge: John is raffling off a 60-minute one-on-one writing session on Zoom. Proceeds go to help amazing foster charities. Donate here. Please send info on Arlo Finch Bear to ask@johnaugust.com! Red Notice Your Place or Mine Hollywood Food Coalition Wakanicci Bath Robe Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel from your local bookstore or Bookshop! The Miracle Sudoku Solve Aline Brosh Mckenna on Twitter Rawson Thurber on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Caruso (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

May 26

54 min

John and Craig welcome back Lawrence Kasdan for a deep dive on The Empire Strikes Back to celebrate this iconic film’s 40th anniversary. We talk about the inspiration behind Yoda, keeping the Skywalker/Darth Vader connection a secret, and balancing competing storylines. We also take a look at Kasdan’s original handwritten script, accompanied by table reads from John and Craig! And in our bonus segment for premium members, we answer audience questions with Lawrence Kasdan. This special live show was produced in partnership with the Writers Guild Foundation. Links: Find Lawrence Kasdan’s Handwritten Script here. Scriptnotes 247, The One with Lawrence Kasdan Thank you to the Writer’s Guild Foundation for hosting us! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

May 19

53 min

John and Craig offer guidance on how to “flip the script” on tropes without landing on your face. We also answer listener questions about phone numbers, sluglines and short films. Finally, in our bonus segment for premium members, we discuss our personal video game histories and the possibility that John was raised in a cult. Links: Join us Thursday, May 14th for a live talk with Lawrence Kasdan 4pm PT on Zoom here: Online Conversation: Revisiting The Empire Strikes Back with Lawrence Kasdan Submit to the Three Page Challenge Jordan Mechner’s: The Making of Prince of Persia, 1985-1993 and Bookshop.org Maria Bamford: Weakness is the Brand John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by James Llonch (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Megana Rao and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.

May 12

59 min

In this Scriptnotes Extra, Craig and John discuss the melting dread they experienced this morning and hopefully offer some succor. You can download the episode here.  

Nov 2016

16 min

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