August also writes and maintains a popular screenwriting blog and develops screenwriter-targeted software. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voting in the Writers branch. In 2016, he was awarded the WGAw's Valentine Davies Award for his dignified contributions to the entertainment industry and the community-at-large.
August was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. He earned a degree in journalism from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and an MFA in film from The Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.
August's debut film was 1999's critically acclaimed Go, for which he also served as co-producer and second unit director.
In 1998, August acquired the film rights to Daniel Wallace's Big Fish. His adaptation became the 2003 Tim Burton film of the same name and earned August a 2003 BAFTA Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Since 2003, August has written the screenplay for several Tim Burton films, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book), Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie. August also shared story credit with Seth Grahame-Smith on Burton's Dark Shadows.
The Nines, his writing/directing debut starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis and Elle Fanning, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and Venice Film Festival's Critics’ Week.
For television, August has developed three projects. D.C, a one-hour drama for the WB Network, ran in April 2000. Alaska, a crime drama for ABC, shot a pilot in 2004 directed by Kim Manners but was not picked up for series. Ops, a one-hour drama co-created by Jordan Mechner, was developed for 20th Television/Fox, but never filmed a pilot.
August wrote the book for the Broadway musical adaptation of Big Fish, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.
August earned a 2006 Grammy nomination for his lyrics for "Wonka's Welcome Song" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
August also wrote the screenplay alongside Vanessa Taylor for the Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming live-action musical fantasy film Aladdin, which will be directed by Guy Ritchie whom he will also contribute the screenplay for the film.
In 2003, August established johnaugust.com as a repository for the 100+ screenwriting advice columns he had written for IMDb. The site now has over 1,500 posts.
He founded Quote-Unquote Apps in 2010, which develops software related to film and the film industry. Their releases include FDX Reader, an iOS application that displays Final Draft files; Less IMDb, 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.
In 2012, the Quote-Unquote team, along with Stu Maschwitz, developed Fountain, a simple markup syntax for screenplays. 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.
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. It consistently ranks among iTunes's top TV & Film podcasts.
August launched a Kickstarter called Writer Emergency Pack, a deck of cards designed to help writers when they're stuck. The Kickstarter raised $158,104 from 5,714 backers. It is now for sale to the public.
In May 2015, August launched a Kickstarter for a card game called One Hit Kill.
August is openly gay, and lives in Paris with his husband, Michael August, and their daughter.