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Scriptnotes Podcast

Brought to you by, John August and Craig Mazin

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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.

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Recent Episodes of Scriptnotes Podcast


646 - Industry Software

646 - Industry Software

John and Craig decode the current state of software in the film and television industry. With dozens of programs needed for every project, they look at why bad and outdated programs continue to have a hold on the industry, why it’s so hard to build something better, and how these programs find financial success in such a small and specialized market.

Then it’s another round of the Three Page Challenge, where they give their honest feedback on three listener-submitted scripts. They offer insights into quickly establishing information, those scenes that can be written but not film...

Episode 646 11 June 2024 1h, 9m and 42s


645 - The Third Season

645 - The Third Season

John welcomes Meredith Scardino (Girls5eva) and Jen Statsky (Hacks) to discuss the highs and lows of writing the third season of a hit comedy. But how do you push a series forward without violating the premise or retreading familiar terrain? Are the shows still the shows they pitched? How has streaming changed since their shows first went on the air? And how do you plan for your series’ future?

They also answer listener questions on non-binary characters, past tense emotions in action lines, and how to make the most of a mentorship.

In our bo...

Episode 645 4 June 2024 54m and 10s


644 - The Power of the Cold Open

644 - The Power of the Cold Open

John and Craig explore one of the most powerful and versatile tools in episodic television: the cold open. But how does it work? What kind of scenes does it showcase best? How can it play with point of view, perspective and time? What makes it memorable? And how do you make it work for your story?

We also discuss new requirements for loan-out corporations, follow up on streaming ads and AI-generated coverage, and answer listener questions on titles, exposition and disabled representation.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig check out OpenAI’s...

Episode 644 28 May 2024 1h, 3m and 46s


Working It Out: Screenwriting Advice You’ll Actually Use

Working It Out: Screenwriting Advice You’ll Actually Use

John joins Mike Birbiglia on his podcast Working It Out to share direct, practical screenwriting advice that you’ll actually use, whether you’re an aspiring screenwriter or you want to pursue creative work of any kind.

They explore John’s screenwriting process, from defining his expression “breaking the back of the script,” through the different forms of conflict and navigating the murky middle of the story. John shares the best writing advice he’s ever received, the screenplays everyone should read, what he appreciates in standup specials and why cool people aren’t funny. They also revisit the ga...

Episode 21 May 2024 47m and 43s


643 - Agents and Managers 101

643 - Agents and Managers 101

In this compendium episode, John and Craig demystify the the relationship between writers and the people who represent them, looking at how to acquire, work with and (if necessary) fire your agents and managers.

How do you get an agent or a manager? What are they looking for in a potential client? What frustrates them? How do you position yourself for success? And what should you be looking for in an agent? How should they treat their clients? What is in their job description? How do you navigate disagreements, and what are best practices for when you...

Episode 643 14 May 2024 57m and 48s


642 - It’s Brutal Out Here

642 - It’s Brutal Out Here

Why are things so rough in Hollywood right now? John and Craig look at the industry’s current contraction, its historical analogues, and offer suggestions for what might fix it.

We also follow up on streaming ad breaks and New York accents, before answering listener questions on being paralyzed, whether it’s by your second draft or writing professional emails.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig wonder what to do with their digital lives once they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, and how do you keep it from getting creepy?

...

Episode 642 7 May 2024 1h, 8m and 5s


641 - What Characters Know

641 - What Characters Know

John and Craig investigate what characters know and how we know they know what they know. It’s something that can be as confusing as that last sentence was, but they offer clear guidance on building informed characters, audience expectations, and how to get everybody on the same page.

We also look at how ad breaks in streaming are interrupting established act breaks. But first we follow up on AI transcription and character voice, and answer listener questions on authentic depictions and how to ask for a WGA contract.

In our bonus segment for premium me...

Episode 641 30 April 2024 58m and 40s


640 - Can You Believe It?

640 - Can You Believe It?

John welcomes writer and comedian Alex Edelman to look at how he wrote his solo show Just For Us, and dig into the meaning of “write what you know.” They discuss finding your voice as a writer, developing your story with an audience, why Alex doesn’t write his shows down, and the sample that first got him staffed.

We also answer listener questions on what to do when your manager doesn’t understand your comedy, and the value of characters speaking to themselves.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John asks Alex, how do you s...

Episode 640 23 April 2024 59m and 40s


639 - Intrinsic Motivation

639 - Intrinsic Motivation

John and Craig can’t help but look at intrinsic motivations — those specific internal drives that guide characters behavior. They discuss how to structure and expose that internal drive, the importance of an innate irritability, how it can stop your characters from becoming flat, and rewarding that intrinsic motivation with choice.

But first, we follow up on AI training, blueprints and “important” movies. We also weigh in on a high-school senior’s college dilemma and answer a listener question on writing with your trailer in mind.

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig pars...

Episode 639 16 April 2024 1h, 5m and 33s


638 - Lawyer Scenes

638 - Lawyer Scenes

John and Craig lawyer up with criminal defense attorney Ken White (aka Popehat) to look at legal scenes in movies and TV, and separate the tropes from the truth.

How do lawyers actually prepare a case? Will they meet a client in jail? Do they need to gather evidence themselves? And what happens when they go to trial? What are the rules for examining witnesses? How often do people represent themselves in court? And do judges really bang their gavel like that?

In our bonus segment for premium members, John and Craig invite Ken to...

Episode 638 9 April 2024 1h, 10m and 40s

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