Scriptnotes, Ep 276: Mammoths of Mercy — Transcript

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Episode 276 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Today on the podcast, we’ll be looking at what it’s like to write and direct a movie for Netflix with a special guest who has done just that. Then it’s a new installment of How Would This Be a Movie, where we ask that question of several stories in the news, this time with a twist because not all of the stories are taken from the headlines. We’ll also be answering listener questions from our overflowing mailbag.

But first, some follow up. Craig, last week’s episode was a repeat and then we had a little mini-episode sort of in between there which is on the day of the election. It was the day of the election results called This Feeling Will End. Craig, did this feeling end?

Craig: It’s better. I don’t think it’s – I’m not completely free of the jaws of it, but much, much better. I mean, you know, this is natural, right. You have all this adrenaline inside of you and then it takes some time to go away. And when adrenaline recedes, it doesn’t just recede without complication. It’s like, you know, when people talk about taking drugs and then there’s the crash, you know. You feel a crash at some point. And oftentimes you will also get a weird elation rise out of it.

None of that is to be trusted. None of it means a damn thing. But one thing to also be aware of is that when we are over-adrenalized, what ends up happening is – this is true for all of the neurological receptors in our body, any kind of hormonal receptor. When they get hit a lot, they naturally dull themselves. It’s very smart, adaptive behavior on our bodies. So, they become less sensitive.

So let’s use adrenaline as the example. Your adrenaline, your natural adrenaline lowers to a normal level. But the normal level is hitting these dulled receptors. So, your body is like, whoa, we’re not getting enough adrenaline. And so it can sometimes spike your adrenaline again. So, just be aware. This will be a little bit of a rollercoaster, but each successive rise and fall will come further and further apart and less and less. And everyone emotionally speaking is going to be fine, assuming that they’re not in actual real life danger.

John: My general state is better than it was when we recording that thing. It couldn’t be any worse than it was when we recorded that thing. But I will say that I approached this week much less biochemically, and much more sort of like trying to figure out how I felt and sort of what was going on in my head. So, as we talked about it on the episode, I did my normal writing, and I happy entered my fantasy world and wrote my fantasy stuff. But by the weekend I was good enough that I could actually write directly about sort of what I was feeling and what my anxieties were.

And anxiety I think itself is a really fascinating theme, because it’s fear of the future. In this case, it’s actually fear of a future where I couldn’t control the outcomes. And leading up to the election, I really felt I had no control. Like these numbers would keep going up and down and they were meaningless to me and I couldn’t actually – there was nothing I could do that could change the number in FiveThirtyEight.

And then with this result, I realized like, oh you know, there actually are some things I could do. And so some of the things I did this week that made me feel better: I donated money to the charities that I felt were going to be most impacted by this result. I actually called my congress people for the first time ever, which was sort of weird. And I don’t know that it was actually directly impactful, but it helped me. And so both the writing and the actual taking actions got me through to the place where I’m at where I can record a podcast and not sound completely despondent.

Craig: Well, that’s fantastic. And I should point out that when you are released from the grip of feelings, it’s remarkable how much more productive you are to counter the things that led to those feelings in the first place. So, you know, for the first week following the election on Twitter I was just watching people running in circles with their heads chopped off, willy-nilly, and it was completely understandable. But, you know, the Vulcan in me is nowhere near the Vulcan in you, just kept thinking, “Well this is isn’t going to do anything. Let’s just give these people a week and then hopefully everybody kind of starts to figure out a smart way of approaching things, because that’s the only way anything ever gets done. Nothing ever gets done from emotion. It’s actually remarkable how much of a brake pedal, or even like an emergency break, emotional cascades can be.

So, I’m glad that you’re feeling that way. I definitely am, too. Much, much better. You know it’s funny, like I actually was thinking the other day: this is a little bit like what happens when you get – you know, we did that episode on the Rocky Shoals, where you get to Page 70 or 80 in a script. And one of the things I’ve always felt is that some of the fear and anxiety we feel when we get to that place in a script is due to the fact that we have fewer choices. That there’s less possibility. And that we are locked in, now, to something. And then you start to think, oh, I guess this is all it’s going to be, right?

So, some of the certainty that came with the election, namely this is going to be your president, was attached to an, “Oh, and this is what it’s going to be.” So even the certainty had this downside. But, overall I hope that people are starting to emerge from their fogs of either euphoria or fear. And returning their focus to getting things done.

John: Yes. And so we will turn our focus to a podcast about screenwriting, including making movies. And so our guest this week is Chris Sparling. He’s a writer whose credits include Buried and this year’s Sea of Trees. His new movie is Mercy which debuts on Netflix today. Chris Sparling, welcome to the show.

Chris Sparling: Thank you, guys. How are you?

Craig: Great. Welcome, Chris.

Chris: Thank you. Thank you.

John: As we established, we’re not perfect, but we’re trying to get through.

Chris: Yeah.

John: So, Chris, tell us about this movie and this situation. And I also – before we even get into it, you are I think our first guest who has actually been a listener question or listener response on the show. You wrote in because you are a writer who works out of Rhode Island. Is that correct?

Chris: Yeah. You know, John, you and I have met a few times over the years. And then, Craig, you and I met recently because of that. It’s funny, because I’m sitting here listening to your guys talk and I’m forgetting, I’m like, oh, I’m actually on the show as opposed to just listening to it right now. So, yeah, I mean, look, I listen all the time. I know a lot of people that do. And so for me it’s kind of an interesting thing where it’s apart from maybe talking to my reps or whatever else, it’s kind of like a lifeline to the industry for me. So yeah.

John: Cool. So, you have – this isn’t your first movie. You directed a tiny little movie called Atticus Institute, but this is a bigger movie you just directed. It debuts on Netflix. What is the path that takes you to Netflix? And is this a movie that you made and then Netflix bought? Or just a movie that Netflix was involved in from the very start?

Chris: They were involved from the start. It’s a Netflix original. So, you know, kind of the long and short of it was I had written a script several years ago, tried different ways to get it made, and just – there were some promising things going on. And then as they do, sometimes they don’t move forward. And then I was approached by XYZ Films, I know those guys over there pretty well. It’s a great outfit. And they said, “Hey look, we have this deal with Netflix. Do you have any scripts that we should know about and they should know about?” So, kind of that’s really how it happened.

I sent them Mercy and they sent it to Netflix and, you know, they really responded. So, it just became a matter of – it really was this straight-forward. It was like, hey, we love the script. Do you think you can do it for X price? And, of course, I said yeah. And that was it.

Craig: So, that’s something that I think everybody in our business, and people outside of our business, are really curious about. Because there’s this on the plus side Netflix is this enormous content producer now. They are a behemoth. Like out of nowhere they became kind of the largest content maker. But, there’s always – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

So, budget-wise, were they kind of like, “Yeah, we’ll do it, but you know, maybe not for what you have liked to have done it, or what you might have expected to get budget-wise if you had been doing it at a studio?”

Chris: Well, I mean, yeah, I suppose. But, I mean, look, I’m realistic. As John pointed out, my first movie was a small one. This was a chance to a do a bigger movie. So, I mean, if I was a director that had already done ten movies, let’s say, then yeah, I think I would have expected to have more money and everything else. But they offered enough to make the movie. So, to me it was, sure, you always want more. Even if they gave me $50 million to make the movie, I probably would have wanted $10 more.

Craig: Right.

Chris: So, but no, it was a chance – and I don’t want to just chalk it up to, well hey, I had a chance to make a movie, so that’s just a great opportunity and I’m going to take that every time. No, I mean, everything fell in line. The numbers worked. And I didn’t have to really sacrifice anything in terms of the story or, you know, or what I wanted it to be.

John: But one of the changes you are making here is that generally as you make a film, let’s say you’re making this film in a more traditional environment. So you might have made this film and taken it to Sundance and sold it out of Sundance. And there’s all that process. There’s the screenings. There’s the who’s going to buy it. Your first movie I encountered you for was Buried, which was a big Sundance sale.

And so by doing this for Netflix, all that part of the process goes away. You don’t have to worry about the one sheets and are we going to get that screened. Like you know exactly, like before you clicked your first slate you knew exactly where this movie was going to end up. And it’s got to change some of the process going into it. It’s more like making a TV show to some degree than making a normal movie.

Chris: Yeah. And I think it’s partly why they were very – and I mean this in a good way – they were pretty hands off. They really allowed me to get in and make the movie I wanted to make without say maybe micromanaging everything I was doing. And I think because there’s already these “disruptive models” or whatever you want to call them, there’s already this framework that exists and they’re doing it and doing it more. You know you’re going to be – I don’t know, I think they’re in like 190 countries now. Or something ridiculous. And so to your question, or to your point about kind of the festival circuit, is you lose the uncertainty.

You know, you go into those festivals, if you’re lucky enough to get into them, there’s not guarantee you’re going to get distribution. And even if you do, if it’s going to be good distribution. Here, you’re making a movie knowing you’re going to get the eyeballs of millions of people, guaranteed. Unless you just completely make just a terrible movie. And I would imagine they’re not going to release that on their platform.

But, I’d like to think I didn’t. I guess everyone will know tonight.

Craig: Well, I mean, the interesting thing is they don’t really have much in the way of cost to release anything. There’s marketing. In other words, they could choose to put a certain amount of marketing muscle behind what your movie is, I guess, via their promos. But, the actual release of the movie costs nothing. I mean, it’s there, right? It’s on their server. They might as well let you have it if you want it.

I’m actually kind of fascinated by the way that the shape of our televisions has changed this business so much. Because it used to be that when you were making a movie, just the physical process of it was so much different. Not only because it was going to end up being projected, but just the aspect ratio was different than making something for television. And now the aspect ratio is almost identical.

When you know that your movie will not be running in theaters and will only be on televisions, does that change your workflow in terms of your post-production?

Chris: No, it didn’t. We still approached it as if there was a possibility it would get a theatrical, because there was talk of it. You know, maybe getting a small theatrical. Ultimately, it just wasn’t the right fit for, you know, I think a couple of different reasons. But, no, it didn’t impact the workflow. It didn’t really change much of anything.

You know, I think if there’s any sort of thing that’s in the back of your mind is that this thing up to the minute, something can change. In other words, I’m saying to you guys now, it’s like, yeah, the movie is premiering tonight. Blah, blah, blah. Up to the minute, they could change that. Whereas if you’re releasing a movie in theaters, I mean, that’s not going to happen.

Craig: Right. Yeah, they have way more flexibility. That is true.

John: So, talk to us about this last month. Because the movie has been locked for probably a while now. So, you’ve known you had this release date coming up. You’re cutting trailers. You’re doing some of the normal movie stuff. But do you sit down with press? Because there’s all this machinery that normally happens when a movie is being released, be it on the festival circuit, or be it a bigger movie.

Are you doing any of that? Or is it more just like they click a button and suddenly it’s out there in the world? What’s that been like for you this last month?

Chris: There’s been some press. You know, we premiered at the LA Film Festival, so there’s been a little bit of festival stuff, a little bit of press. But I think less, even to say with movies in the past that I’ve been involved with that say I just wrote. There was a lot more press involved with that sort of stuff. A lot more just stuff going into the buildup of the release of the film. Whereas I think with this, it’s more about just get the word out there, get people talking. And then, you know, then the movie is going to be there.

And, you know, Netflix – they’re going to do whatever it is they do to make sure the algorithms, or whatever it is they use to make sure that you get suggested this film, you will. And, look, I mean, I don’t even fully understand how all that stuff works in the traditional sense. And so I’m not going to pretend I know how Netflix does it. But apparently they seem to know what they’re doing because I keep getting movies popping up on my Netflix recommendations and everything else.

Craig: And this is a WGA arrangement and a DGA arrangement?

Chris: Yeah. It’s both.

John: Great.

Craig: And so there’s an expectation of residuals, I presume, from both of those? Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, I mean, if you want to talk pros and cons, I guess, you know, again, I don’t want to sound ignorant to what the process is beyond the movie being done. But, I mean, that’s kind of more in their hands at that point. I can tell you more about the lead up to that. You know, and you can say what the pros and cons are. With a traditional film, you’re looking at the potential of more backend hopefully if you get a good theatrical release and good box office, so on and so forth.

Obviously, that’s probably not going to be the case here. It’s not going to be the case at all in my film, because I didn’t get a theatrical. But there are ancillary markets they sell to and everything else. So the cons are probably there. The pros are people are – you know, this has probably more to do with producers even I would so more so than writers, but it applies. You know, you’re getting fees up front. That’s where you’re making your money. And you’re hoping that those fees are substantial enough to justify you maybe not getting as healthy a backend.

Craig: Right. Makes sense.

Chris: Yeah.

John: Chris, let’s cycle back to the movie itself. So, this is a script that you had written. It was sitting on your shelf essentially. How close had you come to finding a way to make this movie before?

Chris: Pretty close, a few different times. You know, a long while back it was optioned and that ran its course. And so, yeah, I mean, just like anything else where you have a bunch of projects. I’m not one, and I want to say I’ve heard you guys talk about this on the podcast before, but I’m not one to try to revisit old things necessarily. I feel like that’s kind of if it didn’t go, it usually is for a good reason.

But this was one that never really went away. It just kept floating nearby, so to speak. It just never, ever just was dead. So it didn’t become one of these zombie projects that just won’t die officially.

John: And was it always a project that you were going to direct, or were other people involved in the directing front before?

Chris: Not at the outset. I wasn’t attached to direct when it was first optioned. And then just over time, you know, as I started to have the desire more and more to direct, it became for me – you know, when I looked at what I’d written or what I’d planned to write, it seemed like something that was viable. It wasn’t me trying to say, “Hey, I’d love to direct this $50 million or $150 million movie.”

John: Cool. Now, looking at the trailer, it looks like you movie fits into a pattern that, well, it looks like it fits in two patterns. It looks like it’s a domestic family drama that morphs into a single house horror film. Is that an accurate portrayal of what the experience of the movie is?

Chris: For the most part. I think it kind of, it turns from that family drama into a home invasion thriller, I would say. I mean, I don’t even know if you actually see someone full on get killed. I don’t even know if you see like a knife going into a body. No, you don’t.

Craig: Shouldn’t you know that? I mean, you—

Chris: No, well, I know that. The thing is I just don’t want to say something and then I’m saying, “Actually, no, I do see that.” Yeah, well, yes, I know you don’t see a knife get driven into someone’s body. But I was going to say I don’t know if you actually see anyone die in blood and everything else. But, you know, I don’t want to give away too much, that’s why.

Craig: Got it.

John: Well, it reminds me in many ways though we had Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi on before talking about The Invitation. And The Invitation is a similar kind of situation where it looks like one kind of movie and it transforms into another kind of movie. But underlying all of it, what makes it possible to actually make that film is that it is a largely single location movie that is contained and you sort of have within this frame you can do amazing things. But it’s all staying within this frame.

That lets you lower your budget, lower your number of shooting days. It makes a lot of the other decisions much simpler I would hope.

Chris: Yeah, it does. I mean, look, for better or for worse, based on the stuff that I’ve written, I’ve kind of been pigeon-holed as the guy that writes kind of smaller contained thrillers.

John: Yeah. Like Buried. It’s all in a coffin.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

John: You’re really branching out.

Craig: At least you give yourself more room. You started with a coffin, now you have a house. I assume your next movie will be like a block of houses.

Chris: Yeah. That’s it. I’ll have a neighborhood to work with. So, no, I mean, yeah, it’s the sort of thing where, yes, it’s actually a broader canvas than what I had with movies like Buried and other movies I’ve done, but at the same time I feel like having – you know, that’s what I think is the good thing about these contained thrillers is that you kind of are forced to come up with creative solutions. You can’t just say, I guess whatever the writing equivalent would be of throwing money at a problem. You have to come up with a creative solution because you really don’t have the resources. And that’s probably why you’re doing a single location thriller is because most likely you don’t have the resources to go and go shoot in Iceland or something.

John: Yeah. Cool. Well, Chris, we wish you so much luck with your movie, debuting today. If people want to see it, just turn on Netflix and it will be there, which is the amazing thing about the time we live in is that people can actually see your movie. There’s really no excuse for like, oh, it wasn’t playing in my town. You don’t have to do a Mike Birbiglia 40-city tour to get people to see your movie. They just have to turn on their TV.

Chris: Thank you guys.

Craig: Nobody wants to do anything that Mike Birbiglia does. Listen, if you’re stuck doing what Mike Birbiglia does, something has gone terribly wrong. [laughs]

John: So much hard work. Well, let’s go from your movie to talk about other potential movies. So, this is a feature I’m sure you’ve heard on the show before. It’s called How Would This Be a Movie. And we’re going to take a look at some stories that we found and look at what they’d be like as a movie.

The first one I want to propose is Dear Mike’s New Girlfriend. It’s by Silvia Killingsworth for The Awl. And unlike most of these stories we’ve done before, this is not a news story. There’s no real events here. It is told from the point of view of a group of women who are writing to the new girlfriend of Mike. So, I’m going to read you the first couple of paragraphs to give you a taste of what this is.

Dear Mike’s New Girlfriend,
Wow. Big news! Congratulations on today’s announcements. We’re genuinely excited for you guys.
We realized a few years ago that the social value of dating Mike was so obvious and the advantages so overwhelming that every girl would want to date him, or “someone just like him,” within the decade. It’s validating to see you’ve come around to the same way of thinking. And even though — being honest here — it’s a little scary, we know just getting it all over with will bring a better future forward faster.
However, all this is harder than it looks. So, as you set out to find out just how terrible he is, we want to give you some friendly advice.

So, the rest of the story is written as a sort of advice column to the new woman who is dating Mike, who is a louse. Craig, what was your first instinct? What did you think of this as a movie?

Craig: I was so confused by it to be honest with you. I didn’t understand the perspective. I was struggling. Because, you know, when you read something you’re like, okay, let’s just cut down to like what’s the point, right? And the point seems to be that Mike sucks. But then I don’t understand why this woman is dating Mike. Nor do I understand what the girlfriends are trying to tell her, the ex-girlfriends, because they seem to be saying it’s good, but no, it’s never good. I didn’t understand.

So, but I did think, okay, that’s not – so what, so I didn’t understand it, big deal. The point is, how do you make this a movie. And then I thought, well, there’s this concept of this group of ex-girlfriends. And you are a woman who has met a guy and he seems perfect and he seems great and you start dating him. And then you get almost like The Matrix, like you get a message. And you essentially encounter this secret society of 20 women that have all dated him. And they all have very strong opinions. And you have to start to decide am I number 21, or am I different? Is he what they think, or is he different?

You know, that cuts to something that is universal. Everybody who is currently in a solid, successful relationship with somebody is in a solid, successful relationship with somebody who has an ex that hates them and thinks they’re the worst and nobody should be with them. So, that’s – but then, of course, sometimes they’re right and you just think you’re in a successful relationship. So, that cuts to something real. I like that high concept. I just didn’t quite – I don’t know if I could get anything more out of this piece per se.

John: Chris, what was your first take here?

Chris: I agree with Craig. I was kind of lost at first. I didn’t fully understand it either. But I went dark. I went dark with it. I said what if it’s a stalker thriller. So, you have this actual thing exists in the real world. This woman – not that the real author, just we’ll say a fake author writes this piece. Puts it out in the real world and then there’s this real deranged individual named Mike that believes it’s him. She’s writing about him. And just completely just it becomes that he’s just stalking her. And meanwhile as a result of the piece, like any piece that goes viral, which it probably did in real life I’m assuming. And then her career as a writer, she’s on the rise, like she’s on the Today Show. So her career is growing. She needed this, too.

And meanwhile this guy is kind of infiltrating her life more and more and getting creepier and creepier and turning violent. And the reality is she made this whole thing up. There’s no Mike. And she has to kind of make the decision do I come clean and destroy this career I just built myself off of this, or do I risk dying as a result of this. So.

Craig: I would definitely choose not dying. [laughs]

Chris: Yeah, well–

John: I think many women have to choose between career and the guy. So, even the guy that’s trying to kill them. So, Chris went meta with it. My instinct is a little bit more like what Craig’s is. I do agree, like I really liked the concept of the piece. I felt like some of the execution was a little bit muddled here. So, I was really more taking the general idea of a group of women who show up to say, “Listen, this guy is terrible and you have to believe us. And we understand why you won’t believe us, but we just want to tell you what to look out for.”

And so I thought some of the specifics about sort of like, you know, feeling the need that you have to compose a thoughtful response to his manic emails. You have to sort of always be there for him, even though he’s never going to be there for you. I thought all of that stuff had the good framework for what could be a movie. But this piece didn’t give me exactly who the characters were. It just gave me this cipher of a Mike.

The first task would be making Mike very specific and very attractive yet horrible in a way that you can believe that our heroine of the story would fall for him and not recognize all of his flaws immediately.

Craig: Yeah. Or maybe not horrible. I mean, that’s the other twist is that maybe he changed. [laughs] That’s the thing. It’s so strange. I like Chris’s version though, too. I think there’s something interesting about inventing someone that you claim to know, people seem to be caught doing this constantly now. What used to be shocking, you know, like with – when somebody would write a novel, a memoir, that as entirely fake. Now it’s like, well, it’s just a daily thing. We’ve almost presumed that people are making stuff up now.

But to make up this guy that rallies the world, you know. Like, yes, that’s a terrible person. And I love the idea of some guy sitting there going, “She’s talking about me.” It’s so ironic that he thinks that that’s him. That’s kind of cool, too.

John: Yeah. There’s a version in which he’s the bad guy and she’s in danger because he’s the bad guy. But there’s also the version in which he’s just the guy and everyone assumes it’s him, or he just has the same name as the guy that she uses in this. And everyone assumes, like, you’re this terrible, horrible person. It’s like, no, I’m not this person at all. And yet the degree to which he is that terrible person because we’re all that terrible person. We’re all Mike.

Chris: Yeah. And we’re all her though, too. And that’s why I was saying about deciding whether, you know, taking this to an extreme, whether to die or admit that you made all this up. I mean, I just feel like it’s kind of the world we live in, right? This fame, and this desire for fame, and this desire for likes, and to be liked. I don’t know, I just feel like it’s a drug.

And I do question if someone would be willing to give up that fame, you know?

John: I wish we had Tess Morris on to talk us through the romantic comedy version of this, because she’s our romantic comedy guru. I think there’s actually something very fascinating about how you would go into a relationship with all of these flaws being exposed. Like if both Mike and the equivalent girl in this had been so publically sort of excoriated, like how they could connect and how love is basically recognizing a person’s flaws and loving them despite them.

And I wonder if there’s a version of this that could start with like this letter about Mike and actually get to a place where there’s a happy ending.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, there could be a cool moment where she’s – because, look, if you have a bunch of exes show up and say, “You need to look for the following signs,” you’re going to be looking for them. And when you start to get them, it’s going to obviously enforce what they say is going – they’re giving you a fate. This is what’s going to happen to you. It’s what happened to us. So you assume that that’s going to happen. And there’s kind of an interesting thing that might occur when they’re going to breakup, but she’s going to breakup with him because she finally agrees with all the exes. And she goes there and he breaks up with her. And he’s breaking up with her because he’s been talking to all of her exes. [laughs] And they have the same damn problems with her.

And you start to realize everybody is walking around with this wrecking crew in their past of people that god forbid would get together and share stories. And then, you know, seek to ruin you from that point forward. We all have it. I mean, that may be a nice happy ending for the movie is that they both realize, oh my god, and then kind of agree to love each other despite the flaws, because that’s the only way you can love somebody.

John: I think that’s right. Cool. So let’s go onto our next story. This is How a Fake News Writer Earned Donald Trump the White House. It’s by Caitlin Dewey writing for The Washington Post. So this is a story about Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of Facebook Fake News Empire. Who makes his living writing viral news stories, all of them fake.

And so some of the ones he’s known for are like, you know, the Amish Vote Overwhelmingly for so-and-so. And he’s the person who creates those stories that get circulated as if they’re real. And they get retweeted by political figures as if they’re real stories.

And one of the things I found so frustrating is that one of the URLs he has is like And so people will retweet that thinking it’s actually ABC News and it’s not. It’s not. It’s just his.

Craig: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah. This guy. I mean, first of all, there’s this amazing thing that occurred. I probably read four different articles in the last week where somebody essentially says, “Oh my god, I think it’s my fault.” No it’s not. Just stop. You’re not that important.

Chris: Well, it’s funny, right? It wasn’t funny that he said that. You know, that sense of hubris. Yeah, I did this. It was because of me. And then when he was kind of taken to task on it he said, “No, no, I don’t think it was me.” Now that you’re blaming me for it, and I did something bad, no, it wasn’t me at all.

Craig: He’s a member of a class of people that do not care how they make their money. He’s, I guess, let’s just call him a mercenary for lack of a better term. Because what he’s doing – he’s not doing this for comedy sake. He’s not doing this for the way that The Onion does it, right? So, any proper comedy site, they’re going to say the whole point is we’re doing this on purpose. Give us credit for how funny we are. This guy’s point is to hide and simply make money off of clicks. So, he’s intentionally spreading noise into the system. And the noise is damaging. And the noise is causing problems.

One could argue that perhaps if he weren’t doing it, some other mercenary would. But, he seems to be the largest of them. He feels like a character in a movie. I don’t know if his story is a movie. Doesn’t seem like there’s much of a movie to tell there, because he’s basically doing one thing repetitively, which is kind of the nature of Internet scamming is just an endless repetitive because the only way to make money off the Internet is massive volume.

So, he feels like he would be a great scum-bucket character in a movie. Like what’s a scum-buckety job? Oh my god, this dude. That’s what he does? Like he would be an amazing roommate of a protagonist in a romantic comedy. You know, like, oh, every time he comes home this dude is writing some new terrible thing that isn’t true. And then when our hero goes out in the world, you know, and he meets somebody and they repeat it back to him as true and he’s like, oh my god, this world that I live in is the worst. So, I would go with scum-bucket character more than movie.

John: So, what I thought was actually interesting about him as a character is like this is a guy who spots an opportunity. Like there’s an opportunity – people will click on stupid things. And so I think the original stories he was doing were not really political. They were just random things that would get shared around a lot. And so it was stupid people sharing stupid things. And he had the unique gift for writing really viral stories that would get passed around that were completely hoaxes.

And so he was doing it kind of for the LOLs. But then the election comes and like, oh you know what, I’m going to troll the Trump campaign by writing up all these crazy things. And all these stupid Trump people would put it around. Which is true. He did not think that this would tip the election. He really thought that the Trump people would be embarrassed when they got caught sort of like repeating these things. And, of course, they weren’t. There’s no shame.

So, you’ve built the monster that then destroys you. I think that is the hero’s arc you could sort of get to. But I agree that I don’t know if it’s a whole movie. It feels like it’s a piece of a movie, or he’s one character in a bigger sort of Altman-esque tableau about a situation. Chris, what was your instinct on this?

Chris: I agree. I think he’s a very interesting character. I mean, any framework I thought of would just kind of be more of a ‘70s style conspiracy thriller. So, you know, you have a guy like him who is doing exactly what he’s doing. But somehow, someway in the course of gathering, I don’t know, photos that he’s pulling from wherever and attributing false stories to them, in the course of doing that I’m thinking maybe he actually gets something real, you know, something that people really, you know, very, very damaging that people don’t want him putting out into the world. And then it becomes a guy on the run movie.

Craig: Yeah. You could also do the kind of, I guess, Conspiracy Theory did a similar thing. He writes one of his hundreds of fake news stories is true. He just didn’t realize it. You know, his fiction happens to be true and now they’re after him. I could see that.

John: It make sense with the universe we’re living in, because it does feel like of all the quantum possibilities of universes that we could have ended up in, we’re in the one where the crazy thing happens a lot. And so it does feel like he’s the person who writes the thing that ended up coming true. And so he looks like he’s prescient or something, that he really knows what he’s talking about, when of course he’s just trying to get the clicks. And that’s interesting, too.

There’s also an aspect to the Facebook fake news story is that its algorithms that are actually determining things. And so the absence of humans monitoring things leads to – at this point they’re not AI, but soon there will be AIs really determining what we see and what we think.

So, there’s a serious thing you could get to underneath this thing which seems sort of foolish and lighthearted on the surface. There’s something unsettling below it, even if you don’t go to the paranoid thriller aspect.

Craig: Yeah. It feels like we are starting to wake up to the notion that there needs to be some kind of clearinghouse for at the very least this is intentionally fake. We will argue over what’s true forever. That’s our nature as humans, and so it goes. But you can’t argue that something was just fictionalized, like literally made up. There needs to be some kind of weird – like I have a little extension on my browser that basically says, okay, we have a database of phishing websites, spoof websites. So, if you should happen to mistakenly go to one, we show a little red light or we tell you this is probably not what you thought it was.

It’s almost like we need that for this.

John: Yeah, we do. I don’t know what that would be. I’ll find a link for it and post it in the show notes of people who post things on Facebook from The Onion thinking that it’s a real story. And it’s like, “I can’t believe this is true. This is disgusting. This is horrifying.” And they’re citing these stories from The Onion that are completely absurd. And, like, who could anyone possibly believe that’s true? But they just don’t get that The Onion is a fake news site. And this guy has sort of found the place that’s just shy enough that enough people are believing that it’s real news. That’s sad.

Craig: Yeah. You know, if there were a company that had massive resources that they could dedicate to this financially speaking, it would be – oh, wait, Facebook. Hmm.

John: Yeah, they could do it, too.

Craig: It’s like Facebook is just like, “Well, you know, people post this junk, but hey, our algorithm will post the Snopes debunking of it right below that.” Nobody is – why are you relying on Snopes, which I believe is a husband and a wife and an intern working through all this. It’s insane. They have to do this. They all have to do it. It’s out of control.

Not to accrue to the benefit of either party, because I see absolute junk promulgated by people on the left and the right. There’s fake news for everybody. Don’t like reality? Don’t worry, we’ve got something that speaks right to what you wish the world were like. Or gives you a point you wish you could use in a debate with somebody. We have to figure this out.

But that’s a side note. It has nothing to do with how this would be a movie.

John: Yeah. All right, let’s get to our final possible movie. This is suggested by Dave Wells, a listener. This is the Mammoth Pirates. It’s a story by Amos Chapple, writing for Radio Free Europe. And you should definitely click through the link in the show notes because the photos that go with this are really amazing. It’s called the Mammoth Pirates and it’s a story taking place in Northern Russia where they are digging up these mammoth tusks. So it’s basically mammoth ivory that has been frozen in the permafrost. And it’s these crews that go up there to try to find mammoth remains and find these ivory tusks which are worth a tremendous amount of money, but the process of getting them out of the ground is dangerous and incredibly environmentally destructive. And most people leave with nothing.

It very much felt like the Gold Rush, but in modern day, and maybe even more tragic. Craig, what was your take on this for a movie?

Craig: I mean, I was really fascinated by it. Well, first of all, people should look at the website because just as an example of website design, these folks at – okay, so they’re not masters of URL. RFERL is the worst I’ve ever heard. RFERL.

John: Well, it’s Radio Free Europe.

Craig: Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. I mean, it would – anyway. As bad as that URL is, the page design is brilliant. I mean, it’s really one of the best designed websites I’ve ever seen. So I was reading it mostly fascinated that such a thing existed. There is this, ivory is a substance like diamond that has no inherent value, and yet people seem to love it. I don’t know why.

And we have so many laws against ivory poaching. And, you know, I guess we could give some people credit. They ethically don’t want ivory from animals like elephants and rhinoceroses that there’s all this money in digging up old ivory tusks of long dead mammoths, which seems so crazy to me. And for what? So because apparently there’s a big market in China for sculpted ivory and there’s a big market in Asia for powered ivory to be used as fake medicine for problems. Obviously, ivory cures nothing.

So, what you have is this fascinating culture of people, many of whom apparently are routinely drunk, using retrofitted snow-blower motors to jet water into the sides of hills in this wasteland. You know, movie wise, it didn’t seem like there was on the nose version of this. I don’t think it’s interesting enough, because once you see some guys digging up an ivory tusk, you’ve seen it.

One’s mind naturally goes to the “they find something else in the ground.” But that feels so done to me. I got very little out of this that felt like a movie. I would love the documentary. You know? But fictionally I was not inspired here.

John: I loved the world. I loved the setting. Because I hadn’t seen it before. And I loved, the photos really showed me sort of what it all looks like, and that was great. But it felt like it was one stop along another movie. Like a movie might take us there for one location. Jason Bourne would have some set piece there. Or a Bond movie would have a set piece there. But then you’d get out of there and you’d go to someplace new, because it didn’t feel like a place where you were going to start and go through a whole movie.

Now, that said, sometimes there are movies that take place in very specific little strange environments, and it’s really about the friendship between these three guys who are trying to do this thing. And that could totally work. That’s a small little movie that’s about them. It’s a very character-driven story. But as a Hollywood movie, it didn’t feel like enough in this story for me.

Chris, what was your take?

Chris: Yeah, kind of the same. My first thought was this seems like more of a TV idea. Because as you said, it’s a really interesting world. I’ve never seen it before. And so because of that, I mean, I think what really jumped out to me was where the ivory goes. You know, it was really, really fascinating to see how the stuff is sourced, but then in the article it said it goes to China where extremely wealthy people are using it for all host of different reasons and decorative things. And as you said, Craig, I think it’s used as a medicine, so on and so forth.

I’d love to see kind of what the next step of this process is. So, if you’re making a movie, you’re seeing these guys doing this, who are the people – who are the wealthy people, the business people, the corporations that come in and start to take control of this, or say the organized crime that comes in and takes control of this industry, and how do they then traffic this stuff.

Kind of treating it like you would I guess arms, or anything else. Kind of watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of it all. The seedy underbelly of this pretty unique world. I don’t know, that’s where my mind went.

John: Yeah. So that’s sort of like a Steven Soderbergh Traffic version in which you’re seeing the same thing from multiple points of view.

Chris: Yeah.

Craig: It’s going to be hard to pull that off because we understand inherently that drugs are an enormous problem, they’re an enormous health problem, and they cause massive amounts of violence. And similarly guns are created only to inflict violence. But not really the case with the tusk trade. I mean, it’s something. It’s a little bit like Blood Diamonds. I remember when I watched Blood Diamonds you could see like they wrote the whole point was like it’s not about diamonds, it’s about blood. You know, it’s about humans. But even then, it’s hard to grab people’s attention on a large scale.

I actually think John has solved it. Personally, the idea that in a Bond movie you would have a chase through these creepy tunnels, these weird manmade tunnels. It almost looks like men are burrowing through – like ants. The way ants make tunnels. So you’re in this remote region. There’s bugs everywhere. People are pulling tusks out and they’re going into the earth, into places that shouldn’t be exposed because they’re so old, and because they’re looking for old things.

And you’re doing this crazy shooting chase. And then, of course, things are collapsing around you because these people have – I mean, they’re drunk. And they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. They’re not engineers. They’re fortune hunters. So, that would be a very cool sequence.

John: Cool. All right, so let’s vote. Of these three things we talked about, do we think any of them are going to be a movie? So, Dear Mike’s New Girlfriend, yes movie, no movie?

Chris: That would not be my top one.

Craig: I would say that it could be. I could see a movie about somebody dealing with the exes of their – a romantic comedy like that. But probably not.

John: Yeah, Ghosts of Girlfriends past, I had a sense of that as well.

Craig: Exactly.

John: I think there’s a movie kind of in this universe, but I don’t think it’s based on this article. The fake news writer, the fake news Facebook thing? Yes/no?

Craig: No.

Chris: Still tough. But of the three, I would say that one is the most likely. But I still don’t see it as being a movie.

John: All right. And Mammoth Pirates. Yes or no on a movie?

Craig: Definitely not.

Chris: No.

John: I don’t think it’s a movie by itself.

Chris: I don’t think so.

John: I think if there is going to be a movie, I think it’s going to be one of those kind of Sundance movies about like, you know, there’s always one about Inuit culture that’s really great, but it’s very sort of insular. And there could be a movie set like that that could exist, but I don’t see it happening as a big movie.

Chris: I think you could do it as a TV show.

John: For sure.

Craig: Yeah.

John: All right. Let’s get to some listener questions. Craig from Canada wrote in and this is what he said. “I am currently writing a script that I want to briefly delve into the cosplay subculture. While the culture as is practiced is largely fair use, would a film using a character’s likeness in a cosplay context be considered infringing?”

Craig, you’re not a lawyer, but you often play one on the podcast.

Craig: Definitely on the podcast. I don’t think I need to be a lawyer to say for sure it would be infringing. You cannot for instance – let’s just take the most obvious example. Somebody is cosplaying as the Genie from Aladdin. So, that’s a Disney property. Obviously Disney doesn’t own the root story of Aladdin, but they own the design of that character. You will be sued severely and rapidly. But, of course, in cosplay culture, since everybody is dressing as copyrighted character, you will be sued rapidly and vigorously by everyone. It is not doable.

John: You should do cosplay where everybody is playing Sherlock Holmes, or some sort of like character that is not so – is iconic and yet not as protected as a Disney-owned property.

Craig: And even then you’re – the problem is that people generally aren’t dressing as their interpretations of fair use or public domain characters. They’re dressing as company’s interpretations of those characters. So, now, it may be that the old Basil Rathbone, deer stalker hat, you know, version – I don’t think it has gone into public domain yet, but it might. But more likely what you’re dealing with is every video game manufacturer and every film company is going to come at –

Now, this is different than say a documentary. In a documentary, you have the right to film a public space. And if people are walking through that public space, you are not creating that – you are free to do that. So the news can report on these things, and you can make a documentary. But if you’re making a fictional work, so now you’re creating costumes or having people bring their own created costumes and putting it in your fictional work? No. No way.

John: Yeah. You’re in real trouble there.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Next question comes from Richard Scott in San Antonio. Let’s take a listen.

Richard Scott: My most recent project, which happens to be a spoof, was announced by Variety and the Internet trolls have been brutal. My favorite comments, “If there ever was a movie written entirely on a napkin in a bar, this is it. I have found the description of the worst movie ever. Who gave a ten-year-old coke and a typewriter?” Anyway, trolls will be trolls, but the problem is I wrote the first draft and then was rewritten by others six times to the point that the shooting draft is only a shadow of my original work.

All of the articles only list my name. Questions: how do you handle the initial criticism when the movie isn’t even out yet and, of course, the subsequent backlash once it is when you had very little to do with the project? Is it okay to confess it wasn’t your draft in professional discussions? Or should I accept the responsibility and take it for the team? And how much would this hurt my career considering I don’t even have representation? But naturally, if it’s a success, I’ll gladly take 93% of the credit.

Anyway, thanks for any advice guys and for all you do.

John: Well, let’s talk about this, because we’ve all had movies that have gotten a great response and some movies that have not gotten a great response. And so how do you handle that criticism when it’s not really our movie. It wasn’t the vision that we set out to do.

Chris: You know, I mean, if I were in that exact situation, I haven’t been, I don’t know. To me, it seems like it would be poor form to get out there and start saying, “Hey, I didn’t write this. I didn’t write this. Stop attacking me.” Because essentially I think you’re saying you should be attacking somebody else.

I feel like that would be poor form. But, yeah, that aside, please, I had just with Sea of Trees, we’re not even talking Internet trolls. I mean, I think the New York Times said I should find a new profession. And so–

Craig: [laughs] That’s so great. Yeah, because they know. This is the same New York Times that just issued a statement, an internal memo, saying, “We didn’t really do a good job of reporting.” You had one job.

Listen, Richard, here’s the thing. None of that matters or is real. I mean, you literally have to stop looking at it, which is hard at first. Very hard. And it took me a while to kind of get to that place. But it doesn’t matter what somebody says. In your mind, you have to think, okay, somebody reads something and thinks in their head, “Well that’s stupid. I could do better than that.” Right? It costs them nothing. It takes nothing. And then it’s out of their minds instantly. They’ve moved on.

Well, the Internet makes that instant thought of their semi-permanent. And so it’s harder for you to move on, but it is just as meaningless. And nobody cares about any of it. There is no one in this business who is making any decision about whom to hire based on comments on the Internet. That is absurd. Plus, everybody in this business has been ripped to shreds by these ding-a-lings, so it doesn’t matter. The larger question of what to do when it’s not your draft, well, first of all, let’s see if you get credit or not. Right?

I mean, I don’t know if this is a WGA film or not, but if it’s WGA you’ll have your name as shared Story By credit, but you won’t have screenplay credit if it’s as distant from your work as you say.

Generally speaking, I don’t talk about any of these things publically. I never talk about a movie that I’ve written on that I don’t have credit on, and I don’t talk about movies that I do have credit on but maybe I’m being unfairly targeted as the prime mover of it. However, you mention professional discussions. Absolutely fair game to say, “Let me tell you the real story of what happened there.” First of all, people are always fascinated by it. And second of all, as long as you’re fair and you’re not absolutely embellishing the past to make yourself look as good as possible, it’s fair to give people full context and tell them the real story.

Similarly, you know, I know you’re joking when you say naturally if it’s a success I’ll take 100% of the credit. You don’t really do that, either. I mean, you know, everyone will move past this very, very quickly. And you have to kind of train yourself to move past it as quickly as they do, which I have been working on really, really hard and getting better. Getting better.

John: I agree with most of what Craig said. Is that there’s a difference between publically talking about sort of the process and sort of how bad it was and how little of the draft is yours if it’s a bad movie. And the private process which is when you’re in a meeting with somebody and it comes up, they raise the question of like, oh, so what was that like? You can be honest in the small rooms.

And you don’t have to be paranoid that that’s going to get out that you’re talking bad about other people involved in the project. Be honest about sort of what really happened there. Be fair, but be honest, because that’s – they’re hiring you to do something else in the future. And it’s fair for them to know this is what the process was like on that situation.

You can’t know how things are going to be before they’re done. Until the movie comes out, you really won’t know what it’s like.

I will say that with the passage of more time both the injuries become much duller. Like you don’t feel them as sharply. And the other people who were involved in the process, it sort of feels like you were all in a war together. Like you weren’t sort of battling each other. You were all just – it’s a process you all went through.

And so there’s movies in which I was one of the writers with other folks and we all get along kind of swell. And we can talk publically in public forums now about sort of what the process was like and who wrote what because we’re all friends and it’s all good. And maybe that will be a situation with this movie.

Or maybe this movie will be a huge hit and then it’ll be complicated in a very different way because you’re going to be credited with this movie that wasn’t quite what you expected it to be.

So, you just can’t know. Again, we’re in this quantum universe of possibilities and don’t anticipate – don’t try to lock one down quite yet. Schrödinger’s cat is neither alive nor dead at this moment.

Craig: So true.

John: Finally, Brady Chambers writes, “Hello, My name is Brady from Philadelphia, United States. My question is how do you write an effective parallel narrative? I’m currently writing one, but I’m having trouble keeping focus on the two stories?”

So, parallel narrative, he’s saying that there’s two characters doing different things in different timelines. It could be the same timeline. But you’re moving back and forth between two storylines and he’s having a tough time with that.

Craig: I would start by saying you’re not really writing two parallel stories. You’re writing one story. And what you’re doing is writing two stories that comment on each other and should tie together to make each one more effective. There’s no other reason to write parallel stories. Right? Assuming that you’re writing a movie here and you’re not talking about a TV series where you have, okay, here’s my A story, here’s my B story.

So, for me, if I were approaching this I would start immediately by outlining very, very carefully. And I would want to make sure that I understood why this story needed to be parallel to this one. What was happening that would make each story comment on each other? And every time I go back and forth, the first question I’m asking before I go to my new story, or my side story, is why am I going to the side story and how is it going to change what I understand about the other story when I go back there?

And then when I go back there, I have that information, and I’m asking the same question. Good, now, when I go back to the other one, how is what’s going to happen now going to effect and make me interested in what’s happening then? Obviously, it is always good advice to watch movies that do what you’re trying to do. The one that just comes to mind quickly is Dead Again, written by Scott Frank, produced by Lindsay Doran, and directed by Kenneth Branagh, which has a very nice little parallel construction between present and past.

But, that’s kind of what – I mean, it’s pretty broad advice, but it’s a fairly broad question. What do you think, Chris?

Chris: I understood the question to mean more how it appears on the page. So, I thought he was asking what should I do when I write this. How do I show these different timelines? And maybe I’m misunderstanding the question, but just in case that’s what he meant. Look, you could always make a note to the reader, obviously the goal is clarity. You don’t want the person that’s reading it to get completely lost because you’re jumping different timelines and so on and so forth.

One option might be to write one in maybe a different type of font or maybe a different – maybe bolded, or in italics, something to that effect, with a note that really just delineates it that this is the way when you’re in say bold you’re with this person, and when you’re in standard font you’re with this person. You know, but it goes against the grain, you know, I know you guys always rail against and I agree with the so-called gurus who are saying you can’t put things in like notes to the reader and stuff like that. Which is bullshit.

Craig: Oh yeah. You can do anything you want.

John: If that really is Brady’s question, then yes. I think if it’s just confusing on the page, then do things on the page to make it not confusing for your reader. I took this more as like he really is trying to construct a parallel narrative, like there’s these two storylines running and I agree. From Big Fish and sort of other movies I’ve written that go back and forth, you really have to make sure that anytime you’re cutting from one story to another storyline you’re advancing both storylines through that cut.

And you can outline that really carefully but it’s ultimately going to be how it feels on the page and making sure the out of a scene really does jump the next scene forward, even if it’s in a different timeline. You have to really always be thinking across that gap. And where the audience is at in both of those timelines. And what they expect to happen next in both timelines and how you can both honor that expectation and surpass it whenever possible.

Craig: I’m down with that.

John: Cool. All right, it’s time for our One Cool Things. Now, long time listeners of the show will probably be able to anticipate what my One Cool Thing is because it’s been my One Cool Thing every year for about this time of year, which is the Flu Shot. The flu shot is one of our great innovations. We’ve taken a disease which used to cost billions of dollars of lost time and made people really sick and killed people and now we can just stop it with an annual shot that’s coordinated through international agencies and it’s just a remarkable thing.

So, I had my flu shot here in Paris. Now, people in Europe would probably say like, oh, of course that’s how it would work here. But as an American it was a strange process, so I want to talk you through sort of what you do for a flu shot here. So, to get your flu shot in Paris, you go to the pharmacy and say, “I’d like a flu shot.” And they go, great. And they sell you a flu shot. But they actually sell you a box with a needle in it that is your flu shot.

And so then you take the box and you go to your doctor and you say, “I have a flu shot.” And they’re like, great, and then they give you your flu shot. And it works out really well. And it’s just a very different way of doing things. And so I should say for our European listeners who don’t understand what that’s so unusual is that in the US you go to your doctor, they have the flu vaccine usually, but they don’t always have it, and then they give you your flu shot. Or sometimes people come to work and they’ll do a whole bunch of flu shots at once.

Increasingly, you can go to your pharmacy and the pharmacist there will give you the flu shot. But the system here is that you pick up your drugs at the pharmacy and then take them to the doctor and the doctor does it, which is just – it works. Just a different way of doing it.

Craig: Aren’t you tempted to just jab yourself at that point? I mean…?

John: I was incredibly tempted. Because I had the flu shot for like five days before I could get the appointment.

Craig: Just do it. I mean, you know what they’re going to do. They’re going to put it in the muscle of your upper arm. Just stick it in there and do it.

John: Yeah. I should have just stuck it in there. Just stick it in.

Craig: Stick it in. That’s my–

John: Stick it in.

Craig: That’s my motto. Stick it in. Everyone knows that.

John: But anyway, so the reason why I always harp on flu shots is it just one of those simple things you can do. Like sickness insurance. Basically like if you get this shot, you probably won’t get the flu. And that’s better than getting the flu because the flu sucks. So, anyway, get your flu shot.

Craig: I’m getting mine today actually.

John: Congratulations. Craig, what’s your One Cool Thing?

Craig: My One Cool Thing is USB-C. Now, hold on everyone. So, I did get the new MacBook. And I’m not going to make that my One Cool Thing because I don’t want people like, uh, thanks for your One Cool Thing costing thousands of dollars. But, there’s been a lot of criticism of Apple for essentially migrating their laptops to USB-C only, which is requiring dongles to adapt to the old style USB and other things. But in working with USB just for two days, I realize, oh, absolutely this is it. Like we are all going here and this is actually going to be great because at last we have one standard that is going to handle power and it is going to handle peripherals and it is going to handle monitors and printers. Everything. Phones. Everything is going to be USB-C.

And, from what I understand, the technology is inherently upgradable. So, they can make it better, and better, and better without changing the form factor. At last, it doesn’t matter which side, up or down you’re pushing it in. the only downside as far as I can tell to USB-C is that because it is the main channel to deliver power, the MacBook has lost one of its best features which was the Magsafe power connector.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Which definitely saved my computer twice over the course of I would say ten years. Two times I would have absolutely destroyed my computer. So, possibly a slight moneymaking opportunity for Apple there. But other than that, it’s really, really good. And we just have to be slightly patient here.

And for those of you who are old, like me, you remember hopefully that when USB first came out and, again, Apple was the one that promoted it, everyone was like what the hell is this and are you insane? What happened to our regular ADB connectors? All this nonsense like that.

Well, no, they weren’t insane. And within a year the whole world just turned on a dime because USB was just way better. Well, this is a way better USB. I think it’s definitely a huge step forward. Big Fan. It basically eliminates fire-wire and thunderbolt and lightning, and USB, and USB – and I think all the different shapes of USB are going to go away. It’s great.

John: So, some pedants will write in, or have already started writing the email, saying like the MacBook’s implementation of USB-C actually is thunderbolt. So, technically it is still a thunderbolt, it’s just a different shape of thunderbolt.

Craig: Right.

John: They merged the standards.

Craig: That is correct. USB-C is I believe Thunderbolt 3.0 or something like that.

John: But they share enough stuff that they can do it.

Craig: Yeah. But I’m talking about the form factor here. So, you know, I think we’re going to be much, much happier. Obviously the next iPhone will just have USB-C on both ends. We’re in great shape here.

John: Cool. Chris Sparling, do you have a One Cool Thing for us?

Chris: I do. I do. Something I retweeted recently called Rise of the Boogeyman. So, this was – you guys probably a while back remember that thing Hell’s Club. I think, John, you mentioned eye lines, the importance of eye lines. It was a mashup.

John: Yes.

Chris: Okay, great. And so I think it’s the same guy that did that created something called this, called Rise of the Boogeyman. And it’s pretty much just something similar where you have all your iconic horror characters all converging on this one location, all meeting up and having this big Battle Royale, if you will. And it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just really cool. I’m glad people are out there doing these sort of things because I certainly enjoy them.

John: Great. I love myself a supercut, so I will check that out.

So, that’s our show for this week. Our show, as always, is produced by Godwin Jabangwe. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week comes from Pedro Aguilera. If you have an outro, you can send us a link to That’s also a place to send questions like the ones we answered today.

On Twitter, I am @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. Chris, what are you on Twitter?

Chris: Just my name. @chrissparling.

John: Fantastic. We’re also on Facebook and this last week I posted a few things on Facebook including news about our t-shirts and other stuff, so if you are on Facebook we are the Scriptnotes Podcast. We are the only one that looks like this.

You can find us on iTunes at Scriptnotes. Just search for Scriptnotes. The show notes for this episode and all episodes of Scriptnotes are at Just search for the episode number and you’ll see all the links to things we talked about. Also where you’ll find the transcripts. We get those up about four days after the episodes air.

You can find all the back episodes of the show at and also on the last few Scriptnotes USB drives we have left at

Chris Sparling, thank you so much for being on the show. Good luck with your movie.

Chris: Thank you guys. I appreciate it.

John: Everyone check it out right now on Netflix. It’s called Mercy. And, Chris, have a great week. Craig, I’ll talk to you next week.

Chris: Thank you.

Craig: All right guys. Bye.

John: See you guys.


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You can download the episode here.

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