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September 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 questions. 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! Dungeon World Crazy, Rich Asians Pay Disparity Searching for Bobby Fischer After Dark My Sweet Reg Ex Crossword Puzzle Sooth Massage App Assassin’s Creed John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter Aline Brosh McKenna on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Victor Krause (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
September 3, 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 might be a good fit! The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit: The RespectAbility Guide to Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry Scriptnotes, Ep 315: Big Screens, Big Money NaNoWriMo classroom kit Comfort and Joy 99 Problems by Ross Killeen The Black Mambas documentary Wizards of the Coast Twine Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch Alison Luhrs on Twitter or here for game related questions John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here
August 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 Mandel John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Twitter David Mandel on Twitter John on Instagram Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here
August 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 Scriptnotes Ep 50, How to Not Be Fat Decoder Ring: Ice-Cream Truck Wars by Willa Paskin Akashinga Women Rangers Fight Poaching in Zimbabwe Phundundu Wildlife Area by Lindsay M. Smith The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge by Kera Bolonik My In-Laws Are Careless About My Deadly Food Allergy by Heather Havrilesky Game to Grow, support on Kickstarter here! National Puzzler’s League John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Med Dyer (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here
August 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 Blogpost John Milton, Paradise Lost Monsters Creatures: A Young Adventurer’s Guide by Jim Zub Oreo Thins John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Michael Karman (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here
August 6, 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. Special thanks to our incredible panelists, plus Kate Folb, Marty Kaplan, and the entire team at Hollywood Health and Society! Links: Hollywood Health and Society 6 Balloons with Dave Franco Motivational Interviewing Narcan Follow Corey Waller on Twitter here. Follow Holly Daniels on Twitter here. Follow Zachary Siegel on Twitter here. Follow his project Changing the Narrative on Twitter here or using #ChangingtheNarrative. John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here
July 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 Officer Board Candidates Wednesday, Aug. 28 Candidates Night at the Writers Guild Theater Member meetings August 7th, 8th and 10th Booksmart Reunion Olivia Wilde Katie Silberman New Project Universal Pictures The Alamo Drafthouse Downtown LA Lupetti Pizzeria and In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi Record Bar and Cafew Katie Silberman on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Mackey Landy (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
July 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 at 7:15pm PDT. Pinboard for bookmarks Wikipedia 8chan Destroyer of Worlds by Nicky Woolf Multiverse, Mirror Universe on Wikipedia Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you. by Corey S. Powell Lisa Ben on Wikipedia The First Lesbian Magazine by Erica Davies Breezelblockhead on Instagram by Sam Marshall Eric Berlin’s Puzzle Snacks John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Alex Winder (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
July 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 producers. Thanks to everyone who submitted to the Three Page Challenge, especially our participants: Edith Rodriguez, Carolyn Getches, Hilary C. Gish, and Christine Hoang! Links: John and Craig’s panel on Addiction & Mental Health organized by Hollywood, Health & Society Wed, July 31, 2019, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM PDT at SAG. Limited tickets, email: hhs@usc.edu Research Methods for Writers with Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin Wednesday, July 17, 2019 @ 7:00 PM Trumpcast Is Trump a Disease? A Medical Perspective Edith Rodriguez, The Days Ahead Carolyn Getches & Hilary C. Gish Formerly Fat Housewife Christine Hoang Fly Girl Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade Script ‘Versing’ Verse as a Verb Screen Cleaner John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Mackey Landy (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
July 9, 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 Doll John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by the Arbitrary Jukebox Experiment (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
July 2, 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 Outro by Alex Winder (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.  
June 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 Hello from the Magic Tavern A Very Fatal Murder Rachel on Tour John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter Rachel Bloom on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Jim Bond and James Llonch (Send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
June 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 to Hollywood Heart for organizing this event and to a great audience! Links: Thanks for joining us Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Kourtney Kang, Rob McElhenney, and Alec Berg! Learn more about Hollywood Heart. Donate here! Buy special edition ‘Camp Scriptnotes’ T-shirts to benefit Hollywood Heart here! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter Melissa McCarthy on Twitter Ben Falcone on Twitter Kourtney Kang on Twitter Rob McElhenney on Twitter Alec Berg on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Rajesh Naroth (answer to the trivia question: who holds the record for most listener outros) (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
June 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 McElhenney, and Kourtney Kang, buy your tickets here! Black Mirror La Cabina Russian Doll Money Heist Matthew Zalkind John’s Voice Twin Baba is You Order your Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! John August on Twitter Charlie Brooker on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Mackey Landy (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
June 4, 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 Order your Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
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 Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! Aladdin Trailer in theaters now! How to Invent Everything by Ryan North PANDA Magazine by Foggy Brume Find past episodes here, Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Matthew Chilelli (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
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 fast! Links: Scriptnotes LIVE on June 13th at the Ace Hotel with Alec Berg, Rob McElhenney, buy your tickets here! Order your Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! WGA Start Button Video John August and Michele Mulroney discussing Issues Affecting Screenwriters Verve Signs WGA’s Code of Conduct, Citing ‘Meaningful Dialogue’ With Clients WGA-Verve Code of Conduct Agreement Pitch Session selections: Karen Welsh You’re What?!, Hayley Grgurich Uncertain Texas, Jake Arky How to Make a Man, Guy Patton Sinnerweb, Laura Beck Hardcore Vegans Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society by Nikolas Christakis Donate to Chernobyl Children International Watch Chernobyl on HBO and listen to The Chernobyl Podcast with Craig and Peter Sagal Find past episodes here, Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Thank you to everyone who submitted to the pitch session! If you’d like to be considered in the next Pitch Session, submit your entry here. John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Jonathan Mann (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
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 Scriptnotes 400 shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks (Light) and (Dark)! Join us for Scriptnotes LIVE on June 13th at the Ace Hotel to benefit Hollywood Heart. Buy your tickets here! Watch Chernobyl on HBO The Chernobyl Podcast with Craig and Peter Sagal Scriptnotes episode 300, From Writer to Writer-Director with Chris McQuarrie LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Sound Machine One Clue Crossword eBags and AViiQ Portable Laptop Stand Find past episodes and Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Check out the Scriptnotes Episode Guide Submit to the Pitch Session here! Chris McQuarrie on Twitter John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Outro by Rajesh Naroath (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
May 7, 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 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!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
April 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 Let’s Talk About Dialogue Find more episodes from the vault. Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Check out the Scriptnotes Episode Guide, now also 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 Luke Davis (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
April 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” musical article by Seth Abramovitch Headspace’s Meditation for Sleep Accepting recommendations for updating the Listener’s Guide Submit to the Pitch Session here John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Find past episodes Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Outro by Thomas Johnstone (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
April 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 Center The Lab Rat Escape Room Accepting recommendations for updating the Listener’s Guide Submit to the Pitch Session here John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Find past episodes Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Outro by Lou Stone Borenstein (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
April 9, 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 11 at 5pm Rachel Wenitsky’s “The Hot Character Who Everyone Thinks Had It Easy Finally Reveals Their Painful Backstory” For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene in the LA Times Submit to the Pitch Session here John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Find past episodes Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Outro by David Jon Banks (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.  
April 2, 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 Crossword Password Tournament Online–let us know if you unseat Craig! What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck We’re hiring a coder! If you’re interested please send an email to assistant@johnaugust.com Submit entries for The Scriptnotes Pitch Session here. John August on Twitter Craig Mazin on Twitter John on Instagram Find past episodes Scriptnotes Digital Seasons are also now available! Outro by James Llonch and Jim Bond (send us yours!) Email us at ask@johnaugust.com You can download the episode here.
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