Frequently Asked Questions

 

I have this great script I've written. Will you read it, buy it, or help me find someone in Hollywood who will?
The bottom line is that I'm not going to make a film out of it or buy it from you, so all that remains is my critique and, quite frankly, I'm not a script-reading service. I do wish you the very best of luck, however. If you read my essay on selling a spec script, then you know it was basically a fluke that I managed to sell one.
Will you ever release "Stryker's War" on video, the version of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except' with Bruce Campbell in the lead role?
Bruce and I have considered it, but the problem is that the music is all stolen and it's not worth it to pay the clearance. The same thing goes for all the rest of our super-8 movies.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a director?
When I was nine I decided I wanted to be in movies, which, to my nine-year old mind, only meant being an actor. I began watching movies a lot and reading books about movies and realized that the folks that were REALLY in charge of making the movie were the director and the writer, so at about twelve I switched and have never looked back.
Should I go to film school? Did you go?

I went to six colleges two of which were film schools, and never graduated. Among them was one semester (Fall, 1977) at Columbia College on LaBrea, where I learned to properly coil a cable, and one semester at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College (on Hollywood Blvd. at Ivar, above a shoe store), where I got to speak to very cool filmmakers--Francios Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Robert Aldrich, Mel Brooks, Robert Wise, Robert DeNiro, Marsha Mason--but I didn't learn very much about filmmaking. Whatever I do know about it I got from watching many movies, making a lot of short films and reading books.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with going to film school, but unlike Med school where if you follow the proscribed steps you'll emerge at the end a doctor, at the end of your tenure at film school you'll simply be one more person that wishes to be a filmmaker, no closer to your goal than someone that just got off the bus in Hollywood.

There is no better classroom for filmmaking than actually making a film. Write the best 10-minute script you can, using locations and actors you think you can get your hands on, put it all together, shoot it and cut it. Between what you originally had in mind and what you end up with is the lesson. Then do it again.

I have to write a paper for a class assignment. What's being a director like?
Yeah, but I don't have a paper to turn in. If you want answers from me you'll have to do a little better with the questions.
I want to be a famous actress/actor/work in "the biz." Can you give me my big break?

There are millions of people that want to get into this business and a few thousand succeed, but they don't do it by asking favors of others. They do it out of sheer will, ambition and determination, which you either have or you don't. If you're waiting for someone to give you a break, you'll grow old and die waiting.

Regarding asking me for a job or an "in," and why I finally got pissed off after 500 times -- I simply think it's stupid and rude. As though I were going to hire someone I don't know off the internet instead of one of the many people running around in L.A. that live right near me that I know. Get real.

I'm vacationing in New Zealand next month. Is there a way I can visit the Xena set while I'm there?
No shooting company wants strangers or people with no function on their set. If you were a New Zealand resident you could get a job as an extra, but without a work permit you can't work down there. Sorry.
Is it true that you, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert, etc all grew up together?
Sam and Ted Raimi and I grew up around the block from one another, since I was 9, Sam was 8 and Ted was just born. In junior high school Sam's and My paths crossed with Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel (who co-wrote "Evil Dead 2" and just directed "From Dusk Til Dawn 2"). In high school we hooked up with John Cameron (who has directed Herc & Xena and was the Line producer on "Fargo"). In college, Sam's brother Ivan was roommates with Rob Tapert. There it sort of is.
I'm interested in becoming a director. What should I do?

Just being interested is not sufficient. Unless you are obsessed with film and filmmaking, find something easier to get into.

There are three things you can do: watch movies (and pay attention), read books about it, and make your own films. Two books that I enjoyed were "The Film Director" by Richard L. Bare and "Film Directing Shot by Shot" by Steven Katz. Since there are innumerable reasons why you would be better off not going for this, if you accept any one of them then you're not a film director. I seem to quote this a lot, but Virgil said, "They are able because they think they are able." I will also now include Shakespeare's advice, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

My dad once said to me many years ago that you ought to know how to do every job connected to or relating to your job. He's a building contractor, but he knows how to do electrical work, plumbing and roofing, and that way he feels he can never be ripped-off or taken advantage of. So, my answer to you is learn everything. You'll achieve this by seeing as many movies as possible and reading as much as possible. I would also suggest making some short films first before embarking on a feature.

Have any directing tips for a young filmmaker?

Make sure the script is as good as it can be and you've got the best actors you can get your hands on. When you are on the set shooting, be calm and don't panic even if that's what you really feel like inside. Both shit and good vibes run downhill, so if you're calm and having a good time, everyone else will, too, and it will show in the final product. Good luck.

How does one go about writing a good script?

Here is the hardest and most important thing you can do--learn to write. You can not spend enough time trying to figure this out, I assure you. Anyone can run around with a video camera; almost no one can write a decent script. Read, study old movies and write, then write some more. Read my essays on story structure, too, and see if you can apply this information to what you're writing.

After jotting down as many ideas as I can get on the topic, I then write a treatment, which is essentially a short story without a lot of attention paid to the prose. Once I believe that I'm telling a complete story, I begin outlining. When I feel that I have three complete acts, with proper act breaks, as well as understanding my theme and point, I start the actual writing. Once I have a completed draft, I let it sit for a week or two, then attack it again and make every change that seems reasonable and let a few trusted people (like Bruce Campbell) read it, then I attack it again, and again, and again until I think I've got it down. If you don't know your entire story and your ending before you begin, it is not possible to write a good script. In a good story, everything is leading to the ending.

What advice can you give a group of fellas seriously trying to make their own film company and at least one film that makes it to the big-screen?

A). Read my essays entitled "The Need For Structure" and commit them to memory.

B). Make damn sure you have a good, solid script.

C). Pay no attention to trends or what you assume people want to see, but instead make a film that you would really like to see. As Stanislavski said, "Love the art in yourself; not yourself in the art."

D). Hire the very best actors you can get.

E). Put 110% effort into all aspects from the writing to the editing.

F). Pray to whatever God you feel is appropriate.

 
 

 

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