20 episodes

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.

Scriptnotes Podcast John August and Craig Mazin

    • TV & Film
    • 4.9 • 171 Ratings

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.

    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 gains made on AI as a result of the writers strike.
    Links:
    Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out Watch this episode of Working It Out on YouTube See Mike Birbiglia Live The Old Man & the Pool on Netflix Scriptnotes, Ep 179: The Conflict Episode Aliens screenplay by James Cameron Sex, lies and videotape screenplay by Steven Soderbergh Miry’s List Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Working It Out is produced by Mike Birbiglia, Peter Salomone, Joseph Birbiglia and Mabel Lewis. Associate producer: Gary Simons. Consulting producer: Seth Barrish. Video consultant: Graham Willoughby. Special Thanks to Marissa Hurwitz, Josh Upfal, David Raphael, Nina Cwik, J. Hope Stein, and Oona. Music by Jack Antonoff and Bleachers Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

    • 47 min
    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 have to part ways?
    In our bonus segment for premium members, John discusses how and why he changed his mind and signed with his first-ever manager just a few weeks ago.
    Links:
    Episode 2 – How to get an agent and/or manager Episode 172 – Franz Kafka’s brother, and the perfect agent Episode 7 – Firing a manager, and trying new software How ‘Go,’ the Wildest, Druggiest, Horniest Cult Movie of 1999 Got Made (And Almost Didn’t) by Paul Schrodt for GQ Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Outro by James Llonch (send us yours!) This episode’s segments were originally produced by Stuart Friedel. Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

    • 57 min
    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?
    Links:
    The Life and Death of Hollywood by Daniel Bessner for Harpers One weird trick for fixing Hollywood by Max Read Moloch Trap Lola Dupre Codenames Duet 2 Kings 2:23-24 Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Outro by Ben Singer (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    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 members, how should you act when you meet a famous person? John and Craig have big (but well-concealed) feelings.
    Links:
    Do I Sound Gay? Documentary International Dialects of English Archive Accent Tag on YouTube Chilean beer ads in Star Wars Letter Jam TacticalMap Fallout on Prime Video Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Outro by Nica Brooke (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

     

    • 58 min
    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 set boundaries on material when you’re dating another comedian?
    Links:
    Alex Edelman Just For Us on HBO Replay by Jordan Mechner Replay by Ken Grimwood Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Outro by Ali Clifton (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

    • 59 min
    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 parse out their reasons for why humans may – or may not – ever leave the solar system.
    Links:
    My Pal Foot Foot by The Shaggs Braid by Jonathan Blow Connections from the New York Times Q: Who Found a Way to Crack the U.K.’s Premier Quiz Show? by David Segal for The New York Times On what motivates us: a detailed review of intrinsic v. extrinsic motivation by Laurel S. Morris, Mora M. Grehl, Sarah B. Rutter, Marishka Mehta, and Margaret L. Westwater Why are there so many illegal weed stores in New York City? by PJ Vogt Shōgun on FX Get a Scriptnotes T-shirt! Check out the Inneresting Newsletter Gift a Scriptnotes Subscription or treat yourself to a premium subscription! Craig Mazin on Threads and Instagram John August on Threads, Instagram and Twitter John on Mastodon Outro by Ben Singer (send us yours!) Scriptnotes is produced by Drew Marquardt and edited by Matthew Chilelli. Email us at ask@johnaugust.com
    You can download the episode here.

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
171 Ratings

171 Ratings

WhatMickSaw ,

A must-listen for all aspiring (or experienced) screenwriters

John and Craig are outstanding hosts, teachers and storytelling ambassadors. The topics are always compelling, relevant and accessible. Highly recommended for anyone working - or aspiring to work - as a screenwriter.

Ged M Wood ,

Such a great podcast.

Fascinating, informative and inspiring. Sets a high standard for all other podcasts to aim for.

Paul Zagoridis ,

Fascinating, Informative & Inspiring

Scriptnotes is an education for anybody interested in writing and things interesting to writers. But it is also compelling for its insight into modern Movie, TV and streaming show creation. Plus listener questions are answered regularly. I never miss a new episode

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