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.


  • 430 - From Broadway to Hollywood

    Dec 10 2019

    John and guest host Aline Brosh McKenna welcome writer/showrunner Tim Federle (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series) to talk about his path from Broadway to Hollywood and how he came to create his first TV show. Along the way, we discuss TV musicals, LA vs. New York and pitch decks. We also follow up on the #PayUpHollywood survey results with producer Megana Rao and the new Academy screener app. Stick around after the credits for a special bonus segment about online stan culture. Links: ...more

  • 429 - Cleaning up the Leftovers

    Dec 03 2019

    John and Craig use Thanksgiving break to finally answer some long-gestating listener questions, ranging from writing television with act breaks to keeping your drafts organized. Plus we’ll look at two moves by the US Justice Department and their impact on screenwriters. In this week’s bonus segment, we do a meme! We’ll compare and reflect on our beliefs at the start and end of the decade. Links: Scriptnotes Holiday Live Show Assistant Townhall Extra Episode Assistant Townhall Full Livestream ...more

  • Extra - Assistants Townhall

    Dec 03 2019

    John moderates the first Assistants Town Hall with panelists Liz Alper and Jamarah Hayne from #PayUpHollywood, Allison Begalman from Young Entertainment Activists, and employment attorney Jennifer Kramer. The panel examines the current conditions for assistants in Hollywood, the need to determine an accurate livable wage, and next steps for assistants and employers. We also open the floor to questions from assistants and viewers from the livestream. This recording is an abridged version of the e...more

  • 428 - Assistant Writers

    Nov 26 2019

    John and Craig talk about best practices for assistants who write and how to properly credit support staff. We also touch on the state of WGA negotiations on both the studio and agency front, as well as a look ahead to the AMPTP deal. In our bonus segment, we’ll make our final ruling on cats. Links: Buy tickets for our Live Show Thursday, December 12th with Kevin Feige, Lorene Scafaria, Shoshannah Stern, and Josh Feldman! Professionalism in the Age of the Influencer, read the full text of John...more

  • 427 - The New One with Mike Birbiglia

    Nov 19 2019

    John and Craig welcome back writer/comedian Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend) to discuss his one-man show “The New One.” When writing about yourself, how much has to be true? What responsibilities do you have to friends and loved ones? Then it’s a new round of the Three Page Challenge, where we look at the first three pages in listeners’ scripts. We also address Akiva Schaffer’s concerns on movie screeners and try our first-ever bonus segment after the credits. Links:...more

  • 426 - Chance Favors the Prepared with Lulu Wang

    Nov 12 2019

    John and Craig welcome writer-director Lulu Wang (The Farewell) to discuss not explaining things and the recipe for creating your own luck. We also answer listener questions on reactive protagonists, finding friends in LA, and Chris McQuarrie’s Twitter thread. Links: The Farewell Chris McQuarrie Twitter Thread A Lot Of Old Sitcoms Don’t Hold Up. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” Does. by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong God Warrior Remains a Beloved Meme, But Marguerite Perrin Isn’t Afraid of Dark-Sided ...more

  • 425 - Tough Love vs. Self Care

    Nov 05 2019

    John and Craig discuss when writers should practice tough love vs. self-care. Inspired by Chuck Wendig’s blog post, they examine how real-world issues impact writers’ ability to get work done — but how they can also be used as an excuse for procrastination and laziness. They offer a checklist for helping decide whether it’s time to be harder or easier on yourself. We also follow up on the Austin Film Festival, fan backlash, and show-runner tips for championing assistant pay, especially during th...more

  • 424 - Austin Film Festival 2019

    Oct 29 2019

    Craig hosts Scriptnotes Live at The Austin Film Festival with guests Ayanna Floyd (The Chi, Empire), Liz Hannah (The Post, Mind Hunter), Nichelle Tramble (Truth Be Told, The Good Wife), Malcolm Spellman (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Empire), David Mandel (Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm), David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones). They discuss the power of television, writing for the binge model, and the value of telling stories you want to watch. We also play a Craig and David Kwong puzzl...more

  • 423 - Minimum Viable Movie

    Oct 22 2019

    John and Craig discuss how to figure out if a given idea can work as a movie. What are the minimum requirements for story and vision a writer should consider before starting on a screenplay? We also invite Megana Rao and Bo Shim to follow up on our discussion of low assistant pay. Plus follow up from the WGA and video game industry awards, and a look ahead to the Austin Film Festival. Links: Austin Film Festival Schedule Taylor Swift Tiny Desk Concert on NPR What Is the Time Signature of the ...more

  • 422 - Assistants Aren’t Paid Nearly Enough

    Oct 15 2019

    John and Craig tackle the issue of assistant pay in Hollywood. Last week they called for assistants to share how much they were getting paid and the impact of those wages. They received a record number of responses highlighting the inequities in the industry. Using these emails, they take a look at the biggest issues with current pay and the challenges ahead. We also discuss videogame writing, spec features, and thesauri. Thank you to all of the Hollywood assistants who wrote in for this episode...more

  • 421 - Follow Upisode

    Oct 08 2019

    John and Craig follow up on things they’ve discussed in the previous 420 episodes, so you might want to listen to those first. We check in on getting an agent, copyright law, the future of the industry, post-2016 election reflections, assistant pay, and much more. Links: Scriptnotes, Ep 5, Copyright and Work for Hire Real-Life ‘Terminator’: Major Studios Face Sweeping Loss of Iconic ‘80s Film Franchise Rights by Eriq Gardner Copyright Section 203 Friday 13th Screenwriter Wins Rights Battle by...more

  • 420 - The One with Seth Rogen

    Oct 01 2019

    John and Craig welcome writer/actor/producer/director Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up, Good Boys) to the podcast. They discuss Seth’s writing process, evolving with a creative partner, and the cinematic origins of 420. Seth then joins them for another edition of How Would This Be a Movie? looking at stories ranging from corruption, cattle mutilation, and geriatric thieves. Links: 420 origins according to Wikipedia ‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Si...more

  • Extra - What's it like to win an Emmy?

    Sep 24 2019

    John and Craig discuss Craig’s experience winning two Emmys this week.

  • 419 - Professionalism

    Sep 24 2019

    John and Craig discuss topics ranging from the Emmys to elections, professionalism to patronage, along with the state of #MeToo. We also answer listener questions on credits and ask for your thoughts on potential changes to our premium subscriptions. Links: The Emmy Award Winners Congrats Craig! WGA Election Results She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey Why I Quit the Writer’s Room by Walter Mosley Professional Writing a...more

  • 418 - The One with David Koepp

    Sep 17 2019

    John and Craig welcome legendary screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Death Becomes Her, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and Panic Room) to talk about adaptations, embargoes, books and the modern blockbuster, which David has had an outsized role in shaping. We also cover exposition in science fiction and how action writing has evolved over the last twenty years. Links: David Koepp Alex Billington on embargoes. Cold Storage by David Koepp Spark Email App Freedom App The Inte...more

  • 417 - Idea Management

    Sep 10 2019

    John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to tackle the issue of idea management. What do you do with all those half-formed ideas and how do you decide which ones to pursue? They share best practices and their approach to middle-of-the-night inspiration. We’ll also discuss how screenwriters quotes are determined and answer some listener questions. Links: For anyone experiencing issues with the app, please try signing up for premium using this link! Email ask@johnaugust.com with any questi...more

  • 416 - Fantasy Worldbuilding

    Sep 03 2019

    John and Craig welcome Alison Luhrs, a senior narrative designer at Wizards of the Coast to talk about fantasy world-building as a profession. It is a great conversation about what is probably a lot of listeners’ dream job. We also follow up on the WGA elections, John’s decision to cast a blind actress, and the universality of ice-cream truck wars. Links: The Shadows Casting Call John is looking for a 15-year-old blind actress for the lead role — please help by sharing this link with anyone who...more

  • 415 - The Veep Episode

    Aug 27 2019

    John and Craig welcome Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Mandel, two of the executive producers of HBO’s award-winning comedy series Veep. They discuss the writing process from blue-sky brainstorming to the final edit, how the show has evolved over the seasons, and striking the right tone during an unpredictable political climate. We also take a look at why unlikeable characters are important for conflict and what we can take away from the ending of Seinfeld. Links: Veep Julia Louis-Dreyfus David M...more

  • 414 - Mushroom Powder

    Aug 20 2019

    John and Craig host How Would This Be a Movie with four stories in the news covering ice-cream truck wars, female rangers, con-artists, and deadly in-laws, imagining how they could become feature films. We also answer listener questions about narrators, personal crises, and song titles. Links: The Shadows Casting Call John is looking for a 15 year old blind actress for the lead role — please help by sharing this link with anyone who might be a good fit! Bonus Episode, Chernobyl Podcast Scriptn...more

  • 413 - Ready to Write

    Aug 13 2019

    John and Craig tackle the question, “How do you know when you’re ready to write a given script?” They propose a list of details a writer should know before diving in, and look at why starting too soon can be a recipe for failure. (So can waiting too long.) We also discuss the WGA’s “refusal to negotiate” myth and answer questions about rewrites vs polishes, and whether writing a bad script could put you on a Do Not Hire list. Links: Myth of No Negotiation Deadline’s “Exclusive” on John’s Blogpo...more