‘Big Fish’ Screenwriter Helps With Some Small Tips

So I’ve become a little bit infatuated with screenwriter John August lately. The first full-length screenplay I read this year (to help get the juices going) was his adaptation of Big Fish, which is a great read, by the way. Then I started to listen to his ScriptNotes podcast, with screenwriter Craig Mazin. There’s just an eloquence to the way John August writes his action text in his screenplays, and I’m a sucker for that (see last post about Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan). It’s gotten to a point where J.J’s script for the pilot episode of Fringe has me annoyed now. August does the whole “let’s dictate the action, but spice it up subtly” thing in screenplays really well – and here are some videos to prove it. All these videos can be found on his YouTube page, just search ‘John August.’

This is a little video showing how he would enter a particular scene. The basics are all there: cut to the chase, play up the conflicts, and cut out early. But just the way he explains himself is really easy to follow, and he makes things make really good sense.

This video is more about writing action text. Keep in mind, this is the guy that wrote Go and The Nines - he doesn’t primarily work on straight, genre-action but he can definitely help you if you want to.

Here’s a tutorial that I think all of us screenwriters could benefit in watching/re-watching as to constantly be aware of how we do this. Here is talking about writing better scene descriptions. This is more for the guys working on their first screenplays, but hey it’s always good to be conscientious about it.

Sadly, those are all the video tutorials he has on his site, but I wanted more, so I hit the guy up. The guy was nice enough to take the time out of being a professional screenwriter, doing a podcast about screenwriting, and giving presentations at the Austin Film Festival to reply:

So hopefully we’ll have more soon! Until then, if you could point me to some other great, similar tutorials – I’d be much obliged! Otherwise, go listen to ScriptNotes on iTunes – make sure you subscribe.

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