John August
August in 2019
John Tilton Meise

(1970-08-04) August 4, 1970 (age 53)
Alma mater
  • Screenwriter
  • director
  • producer
  • novelist
Years active1998–present
Notable workGo
Big Fish
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
Michael August
(m. 2008)

John August (born August 4, 1970) is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist. He is known for writing the films Go (1999), Charlie's Angels (2000), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Frankenweenie (2012), the Disney live-action adaptation of Aladdin (2019), the novels Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire (2018), Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon (2019) and Arlo Finch in the Kingdom of Shadows (2020).

He hosts the popular screenwriting podcast Scriptnotes with Craig Mazin, maintains an eponymous screenwriting blog and develops screenwriter-targeted software through his company, Quote-Unquote Apps.[1][2]

August is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voting in the Writers branch.[3] In 2016, he was awarded the WGAw's Valentine Davies Award for his dignified contributions to the entertainment industry and the community-at-large, and has been nominated for a BAFTA and a Grammy.[4]

Early life

August was born John Tilton Meise in Boulder, Colorado, in 1970.[5][6] Meise is a German-language surname he found was difficult to pronounce and wished to change; he eventually settled on August, coincidentally both his father's middle name and the month he was born.[7] He earned a degree in journalism from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa; while there, he participated in a summer film program at Stanford and decided to pursue screenwriting.[8] He went on to earn an MFA in film from The Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.[9]

As part of his course at USC, August wrote a romantic tragedy called Here and Now. Though the script never sold, it resulted in August finding agent representation and helped launch his screenwriting career.[9]


August's debut film was 1999's critically acclaimed crime-comedy Go,[10] directed by Doug Liman, for which he also served as co-producer and second unit director.[11] The film performed moderately at the box office, but was well received, and has since become a cult classic.[12]

After Go finished filming, August and Melissa McCarthy, who had a small role in the film, ran into each other in a coffee shop, and August told McCarthy that he had written a short film with her in mind.[13] The short film, God, was shot after Go, but finished and released before.[14] It has been credited as one of the early showcases of McCarthy's comedic talent.[13]

August created his first television show, D.C., in 2000 for The WB. The series was produced by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, with August serving as co-executive producer.[15] Seven episodes were produced, though only four aired. In the same year, August also wrote the animated science fiction feature Titan A.E., and the McG-directed Charlie's Angels.[15]

In the fall of 1998, while Go was still in post-production, August had acquired the film rights to Daniel Wallace's novel Big Fish after reading it as a not-yet published manuscript.[16] His adaptation became the 2003 Tim Burton film of the same name and earned August a 2003 BAFTA Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.[17]

He returned to the world of Charlie's Angels to write its sequel, 2003's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. August has spoken about the difficult production process for the film.[18]

He reunited with Big Fish director Burton in 2005 for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book. August had written to Dahl as part of a third grade class project, and received a postcard reply. Though the reply was a form letter, August still had it, decades later, when he adapted the book.[19] He earned a 2006 Grammy nomination for his lyrics for “Wonka's Welcome Song” from the film.[20]

He collaborated for a third time with Burton on the stop-motion animated fantasy Corpse Bride, also released in 2005. The two films were in production simultaneously, with actors including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Christopher Lee appearing in both.[21] The film marked the third of five produced collaborations to date between August and Burton.

August made his feature directorial debut in 2007 with science fiction psychological thriller The Nines, starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis and Elle Fanning. The film, which August also wrote, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival[22] and Venice Film Festival's Critics' Week.[23] One of McCarthy's characters in the film, Margaret, is the same one she played in August's 1998 short film God.[24]

In 2010, he partnered with game designer Jordan Mechner to pitch an adaptation of Mechner's Prince of Persia. August served as an executive producer on the resulting film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by Mike Newell and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.[25]

He reunited with Burton again in 2012 for the stop-motion fantasy horror comedy Frankenweenie, a remake of Burton's 1984 short film of the same name. August also received story credit on Burton's Dark Shadows adaptation.[26]

August returned to Big Fish for a 2013 Broadway musical adaptation, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.[27] The musical has subsequently been adapted all over the world, including a 2017 run on London's West End starring Kelsey Grammer.[28]

August co-wrote the screenplay for Walt Disney Pictures' live action musical fantasy film Aladdin (2019), alongside director Guy Ritchie.[29]

In July 2016, August signed a deal to write a three-book series aimed at middle-grade children, inspired by his experience as a Boy Scout. The first book in the series, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, was published on February 6, 2018 by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.[30] Its origins and creation were documented in August's podcast Launch.[31] Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon published in 2019, and the final book in the series followed in 2020.


August was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2003 for Big Fish.[17]

He earned a 2006 Grammy nomination for his lyrics for "Wonka's Welcome Song" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.[20]

In 2016, he was awarded the WGAw's Valentine Davies Award for his dignified contributions to the entertainment industry and the community-at-large.[4]

Other work

In 2003, August established as a repository for the 100+ screenwriting advice columns he had written for IMDb. The site now has over 1,500 posts.[32]

August established a complementary site,, to provide concise answers to a wide range of screenwriting craft-related questions.[4]

Quote-Unquote Apps

He founded Quote-Unquote Apps in 2010, which develops software related to film and the film industry. Their releases include FDX Reader Archived November 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, an iOS application that displays Final Draft files;[1] Less IMDb Archived December 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, a browser extension for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox that reorganizes the layout of IMDb pages; and Bronson Watermarker, an OS X watermarking application that supports multiple outputs. He also commissioned the typeface Courier Prime from Alan Dague-Greene, intended to be a more readable alternative to Courier New.[33]

In 2012, the Quote-Unquote team, along with Stu Maschwitz, developed Fountain, a simple markup syntax for screenplays.[34] Later that year, Quote-Unquote released the first public beta of Highland, an OS X utility that converts screenplays between PDF, FDX, and Fountain formats, and works as a Fountain text editor.[35]

In 2014, the company released Weekend Read, a freemium iOS app for reading screenplays. The app can open PDF, Final Draft, Fountain, Markdown and text files.[36] iPad support was added in 2015. The app features a 'For Your Consideration' section featuring awards season screenplays, as well as August's own scripts.[37]

In 2015, they released Assembler, a Mac app for instantly combining text files.[38]


Since the summer of 2011, August and fellow screenwriter Craig Mazin have hosted the Scriptnotes podcast, a weekly podcast on the craft of screenwriting and the film industry.[39] It consistently ranks among iTunes's top TV & Film podcasts.[40]

Writer Emergency Pack

August launched a 2014 Kickstarter for Writer Emergency Pack, a deck of cards designed to help writers when they're stuck. The Kickstarter raised $158,104 from 5,714 backers,[41] and the pack is now for sale to the public.[42] August worked with NaNoWriMo to distribute Writer Emergency Pack to more than 2,000 classrooms worldwide.[43]

One Hit Kill

In May 2015, August launched a second Kickstarter for a card game called One Hit Kill. The Kickstarter raised $76,038 from 1,951 backers.[44]


August debuted a second podcast in January 2018. Titled Launch, the six-episode series is produced by Wondery, and chronicles August's experience writing, selling and releasing his debut novel, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.[31] On its first day of release, Launch reached the top 10 on the iTunes podcast chart.[45]

Personal life

August lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Michael August, and their daughter.[46][47] From 2016 to 2017, he spent a year living in Paris.[48]


Film writer

Year Title Director Notes
1998 God Himself Short film
1999 Go Doug Liman Also 2nd unit director and co-producer
2000 Titan A.E. Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Charlie's Angels McG
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Nominated- Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay
Big Fish Tim Burton Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Also wrote the lyrics to "Wonka's Welcome Song"
Corpse Bride Tim Burton
Mike Johnson
Also wrote the lyrics to "Remains of the Day",
"Tears to Shed" and "According to Plan"
2007 The Nines Himself
2012 Dark Shadows Tim Burton Story only
2019 Aladdin Guy Ritchie
TBA Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz Alex Timbers In-production

Executive producer


Year Title Writer Executive
2000 D.C. Yes Co-executive Also creator
2003 Alaska Yes Yes TV movie


  1. ^ a b "Read Final Draft files on the iPad with FDX Reader". Macworld. May 25, 2011.
  2. ^ "FDX Reader on CNET". Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  3. ^ "Latest Academy News". – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. September 10, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Screenwriter John August to Receive WGAW's 2016 Valentine Davies Award". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "John August". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  6. ^ Taylor, Drew (October 3, 2012). "'Frankenweenie' Writer John August Talks Working With Tim Burton, Apps & The 'Big Fish' Musical". IndieWire. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  7. ^ "Scriptnotes, Ep 307: Teaching Your Heroes to Drive — Transcript". Scriptnotes. July 10, 2017. So, for people who don't know the backstory, my original last name is German and it looks pronounceable, but we pronounced it weird. It was a challenging last name. And so I was deciding as I went through high school, like I think I'm going to use a different name for my career [...] I picked my dad's middle name, August, and it's worked out for me very, very well.
  8. ^ "John August, from Drake to Broadway". Newsroom | Drake University. August 16, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Academy, The. "LESSONS LEARNED: John August on Screenwriting". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  10. ^ "Go (1999)" – via
  11. ^ "Go (1999) – IMDb" – via
  12. ^ "Looking Back On 'Go,' 15 Years Later". HuffPost UK. April 9, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "The 1998 Short Film That Showcased Melissa McCarthy's Early Comic Genius". Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  14. ^ "Lessons from God". December 2, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  15. ^ a b McNary, Dave (January 7, 2016). "'Big Fish' Writer John August Honored by Writers Guild". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  16. ^ "Daniel Wallace website". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "BAFTA Awards".
  18. ^ "Interview | John August on Screenwriting, Interviewing and 'Scary Stories' – CraveOnline". CraveOnline. November 12, 2015. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  19. ^ Baker, Bob (May 22, 2005). "Advanced Screenwriting According to Me". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "The 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards Roundup: Film/TV/Visual Media". January 24, 2006.
  21. ^ "12 Lively Facts About Corpse Bride". December 19, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  22. ^ "2007 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FILMS IN THE PREMIERES, SPECTRUM, NEW FRONTIER, PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT AND FROM THE SUNDANCE COLLECTION SECTIONS" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. November 30, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 17, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  23. ^ Levy, Emanuel (July 23, 2007). "Venice Film Fest 2007: Critics Week Selection". EmanuelLevy. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "#TBT: A Look Back At Melissa McCarthy's First Acting Role". Fast Company. April 7, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  25. ^ "Prince of Persia announced". March 4, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  26. ^ Taylor, Drew (October 3, 2012). "'Frankenweenie' Writer John August Talks Working With Tim Burton, Apps & The 'Big Fish' Musical". IndieWire. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  27. ^ Gioia, Michael (September 5, 2013). "Andrew Lippa and John August's Big Fish Swims Onto Broadway Beginning Sept. 5". Playbill. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  28. ^ "Big Fish". London Theatre. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  29. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 10, 2016). "Guy Ritchie To Direct Live Action 'Aladdin' For Disney". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  30. ^ Busch, Anita (July 19, 2016). "'Big Fish' & 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' Scribe John August Signs 3-Book Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  31. ^ a b "Introducing Launch, A New Podcast from Wondery". Quick and Dirty Tips. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  32. ^ "About John August -".
  33. ^ August, John. "About John August". Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  34. ^ Weber, Harrison (February 9, 2012). "Fountain is a Markup Language for Screenplays". The Next Web.
  35. ^ "With Public Beta, 'Highland' Screenwriting Software Steps Up from Converter to Editor". No Film School. May 25, 2012.
  36. ^ Macaulay, Scott. "John August Launches iPhone Screenplay Reader, Weekend Read | Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  37. ^ "Need to Read a Screenplay on Your iPhone? Try Weekend Read (It's Free)". No Film School. February 19, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  38. ^ "Assembler on the Mac App Store". Mac App Store. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  39. ^ "Scriptnotes Podcast on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. March 12, 2024.
  40. ^ "". podbay.
  41. ^ "Writer Emergency Pack – helping writers get unstuck". Kickstarter.
  42. ^ "Is Your Script Stuck? John August's Writer Emergency Pack Is On Sale Now". No Film School. April 8, 2015.
  43. ^ "Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire | John August | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Archived from the original on December 5, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  44. ^ "One Hit Kill". Kickstarter.
  45. ^ " 'Launch' by Wondery (American Podcasts iTunes Chart)". Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  46. ^ "I got married". June 30, 2008.
  47. ^ "Two big debuts". July 21, 2005.
  48. ^ August, John (September 3, 2016). "I moved to Paris". Retrieved March 14, 2017.