Scriptnotes Podcast

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.


  • 396 - Big Numbers

    Apr 16 2019

    John and Craig talk big numbers, from the latest developments in the WGA/agency situation, to the announcement of Disney+ and the final installment of the Star Wars non-ology. We also answer listener questions about writers who aren’t in the guild and how to spend your time writing. Links: Timelapse of the Entire Universe by John Boswell Disney+ News The Rise of Skywalker teaser What It’s Like to Grow Up With More Money Than You’ll Ever Spend Anita May Rosenstein Campus of Los Angeles LGBT Ce...more

  • 395 - All in this Together

    Apr 09 2019

    John and Craig explore the challenge of creating a movie with a group of heroes and multiple points of view. They’ll discuss options for structuring competing storylines, when to check back in with characters, and managing personal versus group stakes. We also answer listener questions on a bunch of topics including things Craig tweets! Links: Accepting recommendations for updating the Listener’s Guide Arlo Finch Book Tour – Meet and Greet at The Briar Patch in Bangor, Maine on Thursday, April ...more

  • 394 - Broken but Sympathetic

    Apr 02 2019

    John and Craig welcome back Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller to discuss the challenge of creating a hero the audience can root for while also establishing that the character must change. We also answer questions from listeners about conflicting notes, meet-and-greets, and true-life stories. WGA Video Explaining ATA Negotiations Can You Ever Forgive Me? A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Scriptnotes 212, Diary of a First Time Director with Mari Heller Schlage Locks American Cro...more

  • 393 - Twenty Questions About the Agency Agreement

    Mar 26 2019

    John welcomes WGA negotiation committee members Chris Keyser and Angelina Burnett to answer listener questions on what’s happening and what to expect. They offer insight into the history of the issues and new tools the Guild is rolling out for staffing season. We also follow up on the Disney/Fox 2000 merger, why we won’t be saying ‘baby writers’ anymore, and upcoming meeting dates for the WGA. Links: The Disney – Fox Merger Upcoming WGA Meetings and Voting Info Ask a Native New Yorker by Jake...more

  • 392 - The Final Moment

    Mar 19 2019

    John and Craig examine the final moment in movies, what they do and why they change so often. We also take on vaccines, corruption, and extreme weather in another installment of ‘How Would This be a Movie’ and follow up on important upcoming meetings for the WGA. Links: Aladdin in theaters May 24th! Chernobyl first episode on HBO May 6th. Unvaccinated Boy Got Tetanus, and Ohio Teen Defies Parents and Gets Vaccine. Trump Grounds Boeing 737 Planes Extreme Avalanches in Colorado and Bomb Cyclone ...more

  • 391 - When It's All Said and Done

    Mar 12 2019

    John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about what she learned producing four seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Aline shares the importance of trusting your gut, building school spirit, and empowering the voices around you. We’ll also talk about Emma Thompson, agency-affiliated producers, and more. Links: Emma Thompson’s open letter to Skydance. Episode 175 Transcript A Very English Scandal Birdcage 2 Instagram #jackwawa New Highland 2 videos and tutorials We’re hiring a coder! I...more

  • 390 - Getting Staffed

    Mar 05 2019

    John and Craig proudly welcome back former Scriptnotes producer Megan McDonnell to tell her journey from film student to getting staffed on her first television show. We then review a batch of Three Page Challenge submissions, covering how to keep your audience engaged, build tension, and earn interesting characters. Plus, follow up on the WGA and recent Bones ruling. Thank you to our Three Page Challenge participants, and special thanks to Megan McDonnell for all of your work on Scriptnotes! Li...more

  • 389 - The Future of the Industry

    Feb 26 2019

    John and Craig invite back Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA’s 2019 Agency Agreement negotiating committee, to discuss the issues. Specifically, they look at the difference between “packaging” and “packaging fees,” and the impact of agencies acting as writers’ employers. John then welcomes Michelle Satter to introduce Co//ab, the new online community from Sundance. Michelle shares how they’ve made Sundance digitally accessible and what she looks for in applicants to its prestigious labs. Links: ...more

  • 388 - The Clown Stays in the Picture

    Feb 19 2019

    John welcomes Matt Selman, executive producer of The Simpsons, for a deep dive look at the three-year process of developing a single episode from initial idea to the finished product. We discuss the role of the writers room, the table read, producer notes, animatics, and the impact computer animation has had on The Simpsons workflow. Set in the 90’s, “The Clown Stays in the Picture” spoofs high concept comedies, artist narcissism, creative insecurity, and the magic of movie-making. Links: The S...more

  • Scriptnotes, 387: Seattle Live Show 2019

    Feb 12 2019

    John and Craig head north to host Scriptnotes Live in Seattle. They welcome Emily Zulauf to discuss the process of pitching projects at Pixar, creating stories with heart out of pure misery, and when to admit you “don’t have it” and start over. We also hold our own Open Writing Assignment and play a game with the audience to create two new movie pitches. Then we answer questions about theme and why you should move to LA. Thank you to the Northwest Screenwriters Guild and TheFilmSchool for hostin...more

  • Extra: The Agency Agreement

    Feb 07 2019

    John and Craig offer a special reminder to guild members to attend one of the upcoming WGA Agency Agreement meetings. Links: Scriptnotes, 347: Conflict of Interest RSVP for a meeting WGA Agency Agreement Meeting: Saturday, February 9 at 10:30 am at Writer’s Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills WGA Agency Agreement Meeting: Wednesday, February 13 at 7:30 pm at Sheraton Universal by Universal Studios WGA East NYC Meeting: Tuesday, February 12 John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instag...more

  • 386 - The Princess Bride

    Feb 05 2019

    John and Craig host a live show at the WGA Theatre with a deep dive look at The Princess Bride. They discuss how the “abridged” structure brings us only the best parts of the story and what this means for the characters and world: less exposition and more time for the fire swamp, R.O.U.S., and the pit of despair. From the frame story to the myth of the Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride shaped decades of screenwriters but would be inconceivable to produce today. William Goldman’s 1973 cult...more

  • 385 - Rules and Plans

    Jan 29 2019

    John and Craig discuss when and how to break screenplay orthodoxy, from experimental formatting to narrative misdirects. They also examine why it’s important that your characters create, communicate, and break plans. We also address follow up from our Raiders of the Lost Ark deep dive, and respond to questions about shared and international writing credits. Links: The Seattle Live Show is on February 6th! You can now preorder Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon or come to the launch event on Feb...more

  • 384 - Plot Holes

    Jan 22 2019

    John and Craig dive into plot holes: why they happen, how to fix them, why not to fix them, and how to turn them into opportunities. We also respond to listener questions on outlining, servicing many storylines, and what screenwriting challenges go under-appreciated. Links: Join us for the WGA’s Princess Bride screening on January 27th. The Seattle Live Show is on February 6th! You can now preorder Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon or come to the launch event on February 9th. Scriptnotes, Ep 3...more

  • 383 - Splitting the Party

    Jan 15 2019

    John and Craig talk about the trope of “Never split the party,” and why, as a writer, you often want and need to divide up your characters to better explore relationships, propel the story forward, give actors something to do, and simply fit everyone in the frame. We also follow up on screenwriting scams, sequences, websites, and liking things that others don’t. Links: Join us for the WGA’s Princess Bride screening on January 27th. You can catch John on Studio 360. “Let’s Split Up the Gang” an...more

  • 382 - Professional Realism

    Jan 08 2019

    John welcomes Derek Haas (Chicago Fire, 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious) to talk about writing accurate portrayals of different jobs, and when to sacrifice reality for storytelling. They also share their time-management strategies in honor of those New Year resolutions to get writing done. We also answer listener questions about the necessity of entertainment lawyers, how to keep your energy high pitch after pitch, Story By credits, and how to stay alive after that first staff writing job ends. L...more

  • 381 - Becoming a Professional Screenwriter

    Jan 01 2019

    John welcomes Tess Morris, Christina Hodson, Nicole Perlman, and Jason Fuchs to discuss their paths to becoming a professional screenwriter. They track the progression from glass bead day jobs to navigating general meetings to planning inconsistent finances to actually calling oneself a writer and even getting paid. We also answer audience questions about career longevity and leaving writing behind. Links: Thank you, Tess Morris, Christina Hodson, Nicole Perlman, and Jason Fuchs! T-shirts are a...more

  • 380 - Double Ampersand

    Dec 25 2018

    John sits down with Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens to discuss their new film Mortal Engines, and their approach to writing as a team, worldbuilding, and rewriting through production, because one does not simply walk into Mordor. We also answer audience questions about the difference between ideas for television and movies, and working through dialogue out loud. Links: Thanks to Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens! Mortal Engines is in theaters now. Mortal Engines is bas...more

  • 379 - Holiday Live Show 2018

    Dec 18 2018

    John and Craig welcome Pamela Ribon (Ralph Breaks the Internet, Smurfs: The Lost Village), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Into the Spiderverse, The Lego Movie), Zoanne Clack (Grey’s Anatomy) and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Family Guy, The Orville) to discuss writing animated features, breaking into television, and how to disappoint your parents. We also rescue another genre, the big-screen holiday comedy, by playing a game about movies of Christmas past. Then we answer audience questions about usefu...more

  • 378 - The Worst of the Worst

    Dec 11 2018

    John and Craig examine why and how writers need to make bad things happen to their characters, and the ways in which hero suffering differs between features and television. We also answer listener questions about WGA jurisdiction, becoming a signatory, timing a script for television, and why all scripts aren’t available online. Links: Tickets are on sale for the Holiday Live Show! The Team America: World Police puke scene, with some bad language The opening of Finding Nemo Aslan’s sacrifice in...more