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.


  • 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

  • 412 - Writing About Mental Health and Addiction

    Aug 06 2019

    John moderates Breaking the Stigma, a panel on addiction and mental health with guests Gemma Baker (creator of CBS’s Mom), Dr. Corey Waller (specialist in pain, addiction and emergency medicine), Dr. Holly Daniels (specialist in eating disorders and mental health issues), and journalist Zachary Siegel. We discuss how addiction and mental health issues are portrayed in film and TV, more authentic ways of telling these stories, and how writers and creators can take care of their own mental health....more

  • 411 - Setting it Up with Katie Silberman

    Jul 30 2019

    John and Craig welcome screenwriter Katie Silberman (Set It Up, Isn’t It Romantic and Booksmart) to discuss writing a two-hander, practicing dialogue, and how she got her start in Hollywood. We also follow up on ‘liked, not love’ and answer listener questions on character development. Links: We’re hosting a panel on Addiction & Mental Health organized by Hollywood, Health & Society Wed, July 31, 2019, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM PDT. Watch the Facebook livestream starting at 7:15pm PDT. WGA West Unveils...more

  • Wikipedia Movies

    Jul 23 2019

    ohn and Craig host a new round of How Would This Be a Movie. Instead of three stories in the news, this time they tackle three articles from Wikipedia to look at what you get using just those facts versus using a more detailed article. We also answer listener questions about real-life subjects, showing your work and applying the Mazin method to television. Links: Addiction & Mental Health Panel organized by Hollywood, Health & Society Wed, July 31, 2019. Follow along with the live-stream here a...more

  • 409 - I Know You Are, But What Am I?

    Jul 16 2019

    John and Craig discuss whether and how heroes can understand themselves. Is self-awareness an intrinsic aspect of a character, or something they achieve over the course of the story? Both heroes and villains are often wrestling with their identity. We look at why it’s more difficult (and sometimes more rewarding) to explore these issues in screenwriting than prose fiction. Then it’s time for another round of the Three Page Challenge, followed by listener questions about meddling actors and produ...more

  • 408 - Rolling Dice

    Jul 09 2019

    John and Craig tackle eight topics ranging from WGA negotiations to overlapping dialogue, to John’s new agency. We also follow up on Better Sex, Chernobyl, and Craig’s solo episode. Scriptnotes Episode 406, Better Sex with Rachel Bloom Verve Talent and Literary Agency and John’s Tweets. Find Chernobyl scripts here! Watch Chernobyl, listen to the podcast here. WGA Financials Dots, Dashes, and Parentheticals Scriptnotes Episode 403, How to Write a Movie Aladdin Rodecaster Pro Sound Board Russian ...more

  • 407 - Understanding Your Feature Contract

    Jul 02 2019

    John and Craig are joined by attorney Ken Richman and Laurie Espinosa of the WGA West for a detailed discussion of screenwriting contracts. They look at what to expect, where you can negotiate, and what to watch out for. Follow along with the example contract on the episode page or here. Links: Example Contract Try the newest release of Highland 2.5. Order your Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outr...more

  • 406 - Better Sex with Rachel Bloom

    Jun 25 2019

    John and Craig welcome back longtime friend of the podcast Rachel Bloom (co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) to discuss how sex and sexuality are portrayed on both the big and small screen. They cover ways to approach sensitive topics in a writers room and the moments we still haven’t seen on screen. Links: Rachel Bloom’s Realistic Sex Interview Sex Education TV Series Moan: Anonymous Essays on Female Orgasm with foreword by Rachel Bloom How to Draw a Horse Dig it! on the App Store Hel...more

  • 405 - Live at the Ace Hotel

    Jun 18 2019

    John and Craig host comedy titans Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), Ben Falcone (The Boss, Tammy), Kourtney Kang (Fresh Off the Boat), Rob McElhenney (Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) onstage to discuss writing jokes, what they look for in a writing partner, and the heartbreak of movie endings. We also record our first ever Scriptnotes commercial and introduce a new game called ‘Bot or Not.’ Recorded live from the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. Thanks ...more

  • 404 - The One with Charlie Brooker

    Jun 11 2019

    John talks with Charlie Brooker (creator, writer, and executive producer of Black Mirror) about his groundbreaking series and the opportunities and challenges of writing an anthology. We also touch on the nature of reality, the difficulty of reflecting culture while you influence it, and experimental storytelling. Our live show is in two days on June 13th, buy your tickets now! Links: Scriptnotes LIVE this Thursday, June 13th at the Ace Hotel with Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Alec Berg, Rob ...more

  • 403 - How to Write a Movie

    Jun 04 2019

    In a Scriptnotes first, Craig hosts a solo episode presenting his general theory on screenwriting. He covers the central dramatic argument, the ‘why’ behind plot points, and of course, provides some umbrage on common script diagrams. Good luck, and go torture your heroes! Links: Scriptnotes LIVE on June 13th at the Ace Hotel with Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Alec Berg, Rob McElhenney, and Kourtney Kang, buy your tickets here! Aristotle’s Poetics José Fernández Lava, Pixar Short Finding Nemo...more

  • 402 - How Do You Like Your Stakes?

    May 28 2019

    John and Craig discuss stakes, how to create them and what that means for your character. They also talk a little about Aladdin, the Game of Thrones ending, and of course, the agency stuff. Don’t forget to join us for our live show in Los Angeles on June 13th with special guests including Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley), Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Kourtney Kang (Fresh Off the Boat). Tickets are going fast! Links: Scriptnotes LIVE Buy your tickets here! Order your ...more

  • 401 - You Got Verve

    May 21 2019

    John and Craig introduce a new segment: The Scriptnotes Pitch Session! They listen to five listeners’ 90-second pitches and share their feedback on substance and style. We also discuss the implications of Verve signing the WGA agreement and get special insight on an important creative decision in Chernobyl. Join us for our live show in Los Angeles on June 13th with special guests including Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Tickets are going...more

  • 400 - Movies They Don't Make Anymore

    May 14 2019

    John and Craig welcome back writer/director Chris McQuarrie (Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, the last two Mission: Impossibles) to celebrate the 400th episode with a new round of ‘This Kind of Movie.’ Given our success saving the romantic comedy, we focus on other movie genres that aren’t getting made anymore and discuss how to bring them back. From sports comedies to erotic thrillers, we examine the classics of each genre and find ways to approach making these films today. Links: Order your Scriptnote...more

  • 399 - Notes on Notes

    May 07 2019

    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. Links: Episode 99, Psychotheraphy for Screenwriters Episode 394, Broken but Sympath...more

  • 398 - The Curated Craft Compendium

    Apr 30 2019

    John and Craig present a special clip show with craft-focused segments hand-picked by Aline Brosh Mckenna. We’ll start by asking ‘Where to Begin?’ in Episode 174 and explore how to enter a story. Then we’ll discuss establishing setting and perspective in episode 45. Finally we’ll take a look at voice and the four rules to creating authentic dialogue. Links: Scriptnotes, Ep 174 Hacks, Transference, and Where to Begin Scriptnotes, Ep 45 Setting, Perspective, and Terrible Numbers Scriptnotes, 37...more

  • 397 - The Sound Episode

    Apr 23 2019

    John and Craig welcome back Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton) to talk all things sound: how it works on the page, on the stage, and in the mixing room. Andrea shares her experience working with sound for her upcoming directing debut, The Kitchen. We also follow up on WGA developments and deep dive Craig’s feelings on matzah. Links: WGA Lawsuit #WGAMix led by screenwriter Daniel Zucker Mad Max Fury Road Clip Can You Ever Forgive Me? Clip The story of the “Nerds” musica...more

  • 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