Questions & Answers

 

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Name:             David Whitty
E-mail:            david.whitty@bbc.co.uk
Date:               10/21/14

Dear Josh :

BBC World Service Radio request: Can we interview you about the making of 'The Evil Dead'? Programme: 'Witness', a daily history documentary programme on BBC World Service It's a short daily history doc on the World Service, you can see what we do here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004t1hd/episodes/player Audience: The World Service has a worldwide audience of over 125 million If willing, please drop me a line with a contact number so we can work out when / how we can do the interview. kind regards David.

Dear David:

I would be more than pleased to be interviewed by you folks. My phone number is: 248 253-9336. I'm available all day long, Eastern Standard Time, but I stop work at 5:00 PM, then have cocktails and then I am un-interviewable.
I eagerly await your response.

Josh

Name:             Xenafan34
E-mail:           
Date:               10/21/14

Dear Josh :

The Xena episode Fins, Femmes and Gems is well known for the scraped storyline of Gabrielle falling in love with Xena. Do you have any insight into what exactly was suppose to happen with this storyline. If it had gone ahead as planned, would directing it have been a challenge in regards to the Subtext.

Dear Xenafan34:

The original script is what we did nearly three weeks of pre-production with, before a Universal executive finally had the good sense to read it and nix it. The original script was hated by one and all, and went far beyond subtext to the extent of having both Xena and Gaby completely coming out of their respective closets. The NZ producer, Chloe Smith, particularly despised it and said so at every head of Department meeting. I could easily have directed it, and Lucy and Renee are game for anything, but they didn't like it, either. It also originally included a parody of a DeBeers diamond commercial, with just the shadows on the wall passionately making out, put there specifically by Rob to see if he could get a deal on a diamond wedding ring for Lucy. Needless to say, that went into the shitcan and poor, poor Rob was forced to pay for the ring himself. Since the harried writers then had four days to rewrite the script, I made up almost every single joke in the episode, including Gaby's song. With extreme help from Ted, Lucy and Renee, we pulled that episode right out of our asses. Never in the 6-year history of Xena was a script in worse shape when production began. I got all of the half-finished scripts because comedy is the hardest thing to write. Two weeks into pre-production on "Kindred Spirits," having hired brand-new writers who had no clue what they were doing, Rob scraped the entire script, wrote an entirely new story himself, then hired tried-and-true writers to write it. We had to start pre-production from scratch using Rob's 7-page treatment, which had more typos than anything I've ever seen, but was a good, solid story, which became a good, solid episode, with a lot of help from the cast, the crew and me.

Josh

P.S. The best script I ever directed was, by far, "Warrior...Princess... Tramp," written by the head writer, whatever-the-hell his name was, over the break between seasons 1 and 2, so he had plenty of time to work on it. I still added gags all over the place, like, "That's Xena with a capital Z," or, as it was in the script, Joxer asks, "What's the plan?" and Meg kisses him. I added, "Good plan," etc. Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster did a helluva good job with many of the other scripts, given the ridiculously short time they had to write them.

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               10/21/14

Dear Josh :

Has Raimi ever commented about your "Evil Dead Dairies" in your book "Rushes?" Also, do you like to read books and articles about the making of films, and specifically, low budget films?

Dear David:

I've seen Fritz Lang's 1936 film "Fury," which I liked very much and have seen several times, and I've seen Brian DePalma's 1978 "The Fury" many times and it's sort of a guilty pleasure, so I've seen enough "Fury" movies.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               10/14/14

Dear Josh :

Has Raimi ever commented about your "Evil Dead Dairies" in your book "Rushes?" Also, do you like to read books and articles about the making of films, and specifically, low budget films?

Dear Joe:

No, Sam has never commented on my "Evil Dead Journal." Rob Tapert, however, did comment on "The Making of Xena" essay, saying, and I thought quite wisely, Everybody remembers everything in their own way." I have and have read literally hundreds of books on filmmaking--I have damn near every director's autobiography in existence--but not specifically low-budget. The best two interviews about low-budget filmmaking are in Peter Bogdanovich's wonderful book, "Who the Devil Made It?" with Joseph Lewis (Gun Crazy)
and Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour). Both men explain, in detail, how they made some very good features in five days each.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               10/12/14

Dear Josh :

I don't think I've read anywhere in your archives about any feelings you have on John Waters' films. Like his early stuff?

Dear Joe:

I love "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble," but that's it. Sadly, when he went Hollywood and could no longer make the movies as he had--meaning lewd and crude--it all went to hell in a handcar. I spent an evening with him and several others, out to dinner, then drinks, and he barely took note of me. Still, he is one funny motherfucker.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               10/07/14

Dear Josh :

Do you believe in writer's block?

Dear Joe:

No, I don't. I think any writer worth his or her salt is 5-10 stories ahead of the one they're presently writing. Writing, I find, is like cleaning my house--I must stay on it always or it will overcome me. There are far too many stories to be told to believe for one second that we're out.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               10/02/14

Dear Josh :

Did you ever see the demo reel the Coen brothers made to raise money to make "Blood Simple?" Any good?

Dear Joe:

I liked it better than the feature, mainly because it was WAY shorter. I might have worked on it had I not had another gig.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               10/02/14

Dear Josh :

Any thoughts on the film, "A Boy And His Dog"? I saw the screenplay was written by one of your favorites, Harlan Ellison.

Dear David:

I saw it at a school outing for a literature class at the University of Michigan, and it received a mixed reception, at best. I enjoyed it, but found all of the underground nonsense with Jason Robards in clown face painfully awful. I don't think that Ellison ever had any good experiences with the film industry, which he wonderfully elaborates on in his book of film reviews, "Harlan Ellison's Watching."

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               10/02/14

Dear Josh :

If an artist (in whatever medium) is mediocre at best, but finds value in the experience of making the art and is expects no commercial gains or attention, would you encourage him to continue when he, at times, becomes discouraged? Is he just cluttering up the world with more mediocre art?

Dear Joe:

Who decides what's good? If one is doing something that they enjoy, whether it makes money or not, then one ought to keep doing it. Neither "Citizen Kane" nor "The Magnificent Ambersons" made money, should Orson Welles have given up? Most the art in the world doesn't even reach the lofty peak of mediocre, so what?

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               10/01/14

Dear Josh :

You have written everything from stories, to essays, to poems, and scripts. Aside from the rap from "Lunatics..." have you ever dabbled in song lyric writing ? If you haven't then you could write up something send it off to Joe LaDucca for the music. You could be the Bernie Taupin to his Elton John, or the Oscar Hammerstein to his Richard Rogers, etc. No one aside from the two of you would have to hear the results but I'm sure they would be interesting. Anyways just a thought...

Paul:

Joe and I have written several songs together: "The Reynolds Rap" from "Lunatics," "I'm in Heaven" from the Xena ep, "If the Shoe Fits," and "Joxer the Mighty" from "For Him the Bell Tolls." But I actually wrote about 20 songs for a musical adaption of "Lunatics." Joe's comment was terrific. He said in the nicest possible way, "Well, they do rhyme." And that they do, but they're also the worst goddamn lyrics ever. The chances of me ever becoming a legitimate lyricist are zero. I can only write silly doggerel.

Josh

Name:             Brian
E-mail:           
Date:               10/01/14

Dear Josh :

I remember once that you said that the reason for the success of a movie such as Jaws (1975) was due to Zanuck and Brown and not Spielberg. Could you elaborate on that? Also, do you know of other interesting cases where the vision of the Director conflicted with the Producers?

Dear Brian:

That's not exactly what I said. In the case of "Jaws" Spielberg was merely a hired hand. He didn't write or develop the script and probably had damn little to do with the casting. What he did do, however, was shoot an extremely difficult script in an absolutely stunning, sure-handed fashion, which had a lot to do with the film's enormous success. He was also blessed with one of the finest editors in Hollywood, Verna Fields, who had the power to make him reshoot and get more angles. I still believe that "Jaws" is Spielberg's best movie by a mile, and a lot of that has do with how little he was involved in the development process. The more control he got, the worse his films got. In any case, I don't believe that Spielberg's vision and Zanuck and Brown's vision were in conflict at all. The only conflicts that I know of were getting Bruce the shark to function and not look utterly phony, which they pulled off beautifully; and that Spielberg was so insanely bored sitting out on a boat waiting for the shark to work that his buddy John Milius gave him a shotgun and skeet-thrower and Spielberg was such a bad shot that he nearly killed some of the crew guys by accident. So, the whole crew voted and the producers took the shotgun away from him.

Regarding conflicts between producers and directors, that undoubtedly started on the first day the first movie was shot in 1888.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               09/30/14

Dear Josh :

Did you like Richard Linklater's "Slacker?" How about Jim Jarmush's "Stranger then Paradise?" Also, back to the subject of crappy movies like "Phantasm 2," when you see a movie you don't like, in this case "Phantasm," do you continue to see all the movies that come out afterwards in the series like "Phantasm 3: Lord of the Dead," "Phantasm 4: Whatever the fuck the subtitle is," etc.?

Dear Joe:

I did like "Slacker" up to the last 15-20 minutes when it went astray. I thought "Stranger Than Paradise" was kind of wonderful, and by far Jarmush's best film. The only reason on earth I saw "Phantasm 2" was because it was the first screening at Universal and I went with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. I am, for the most part, against sequels. There are exceptions, of course, but very few: "Godfather Part II," "Aliens" and "The French Connection 2" wasn't bad. I'm just re-watching "Rocky II" after utterly dismissing it in 1979. It's a much better film than I gave it credit for, but pretty glum. Were I Chartoff or Winkler I would have nixed that script, but it is, nevertheless, a good film.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Q.
E-mail:            Quest922@aol.com
Date:               09/30/14

Dear Josh :

Enjoyed your latest essay. Not sure how you got from Washington to Kroger's but it made me think and laugh, two of the best possible outcomes. It also made me want to pick up the Washington bio, which brings me to my point. One of my long term goals is to read at least one bio of each of the presidents. I've hit the obvious, like Lincoln and John Adams. As a big history buff, any good suggestions? Looking forward to the kickstarter, you'll have my support.

Dear Jeff:

I enjoyed "Plain Speaking" by Merle Miller a lot. David Susskind produced an 8-hour TV documentary on Harry Truman and hired Miller to interview him. The camera crew was so slow, with so much down-time between shots, that Miller simply recorded his endless discussions with Truman, then years later edited those interviews into the book. It's the one and only time I've encountered Truman, whom I greatly admire, saying exactly what he thinks with seemingly no filter. As Truman said, "If I hadn't been president, then I would have been a history professor or a piano player in a whore house." Sticking with Truman, David McCullough's "Truman" is great. H.W. Brands' "Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times" as well as "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin" were both really good (Yes, Ben Franklin wasn't president, but he seemed like it). Another really good one was "Eisenhower: Soldier and President" by Stephen E. Ambrose. Read those and I'll recommend more.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               09/29/14

Dear Josh :

When you sold your Evil Dead stuff to that UK website, what piece brought in the most interest & cash?

Dear Joe:

Honestly, I don't remember. It was just a bunch of knickknacks: an Evil Dead II hat, a coffee cup, some other stuff. I was perfectly happy to get rid of it.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               09/28/14

Dear Josh :

Ok, I'll ask it and I'll take the ass whipping if you see I deserve it: If Sam Raimi is worth around 50 million dollars (so says celebrity net worth site), then why the fuck can't he kick you down a buck or two to make a movie? Fuck, he gave the J.R. Brookwater guy some cash. Even if he's given you some cash before, he's got millions.

Dear Joe:

Because it's none of my business. Sam and I haven't hung out in over 25 years. And I assure you that he's not using his own money to finance his own films. That J.R. Bookwalter deal was over 25 years ago. I also came to the conclusion that I just don't like working for anyone else. That hit me good and hard on "(Stan Lee's) Harpies." Because I had Bruce as co-producer on "Alien Apocalypse" I was actually treated well and got most of the things I needed. Without Bruce I was so high and dry that every day of shooting was a bloody nightmare. I don't know how old you are, but at 56 I'm starting to feel old. Making movies is a difficult business. Now, I get up, make a cup of coffee, light a cigarette, then sit down in front of my computer all day and write what I want to write, and it's wonderful. BTW, I've shot a KickStarter video which will be posted in the next week or so to raise money to self-publish then sell the nine historical novels I've spent the past 14-15 months writing. Also, and finally, they don't make the stories I like anymore. I like to write about courage, honor and heroism; Hollywood only wants to make comic book stories or light comedies about goofy family reunions.

Josh

Name:             Tony
E-mail:            atoni51441@comcast.net
Date:               09/24/14

Dear Josh :

What are the chances of a First Time writer with No previous experience writing a Unique treatment/story that gets turned into a full length Motion Picture?

Dear Tony:

Zero. Don't think about full length Motion Pictures. Tell me a story. Do it here. The Queen died. The King died of heartbreak.

Josh

Name:             Danny Derakhshan
E-mail:           
Date:               09/21/14

Dear Josh :

No real question here, sorry about that. In regards to what you and Joe were talking about a few posts below: You are a success. Fairly successful is still successful, but it's not ridiculously successful. You've directed, produced, and written work that is enjoyed by people all over the world. Thousands and thousands of people only dream of doing what they love to pay the rent, like you. You enjoy making movies and writing, and that's all you'll do, come hell or high water. It's respectable. It's one of the reasons I buy your books and watch your movies. The fact that you respond in kind to emails from fans and friends on your site just makes you that much better of a success. It's a "down to earth" success and not a children's fantasy of becoming ridiculously wealthy and living in the Hollywood Hills and needing a personal assistant - though that wouldn't be too bad either. I'm thinking about the state of the movie industry and where it's headed. I'm seeing less of actors or directors making mega-millions to make movies. Remember when someone like Jim Carrey or Arnold Schwarzenegger made $20 million for one movie? That era was a balloon filled to its limit with hot air. I think that time came and went. Sure, there's still money to be made, but it's more about who can be more original and has the courage to bring it to the screen. That's where creativity and a good directorial vision can make a great story to become a magnum opus. I'm being optimistic, of course, but I feel you have some more great stories to tell. I'm pretty sure everyone here except the trolls agree. So, own up to it. You are a success.

Dear Danny:

I have many stories to tell. In the past 18 months I've written 9 historical novels. I have an endless amount of stories to tell. What is success? Is it making money, or is it doing what you love? I have no money, but I get up every morning, turn on the computer, then write another story that I feel needs to be written. As Bukowski said, "Find what you love, then let it kill you."
Cheers!

Josh

Name:             Nolan
E-mail:            dunbar.nolan@gmail.com
Date:               09/14/14

Dear Josh :

I've been a fan of "Hawg Wild In Sturgis" for many years, and I'm curious if you could shed some light on this project. How did this project come together? It seems like a travel doc, but a definite narrative emerges as the film progresses. When you were working on it, did you have the sense that you were capturing something special? Does anyone else ever ask you about this project? What happen to Drew and his bride? Are they still married? Any other interesting stories form this project? Thanks!

Dear Noland:

Good God, there's nothing but interesting stories about that film, which nobody ever asks about. I was a PA on a ecologically really good cause of a benefit at the Wiltern Theater in LA. I was working the parking lot, with a list that included: Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and David Crosby, none of whom showed up. The host was Roseanne Arnold, recently divorced from Tom Arnold. She was introduced as, "Roseanne Arnold!" and wouldn't come out because her name was back to Roseanne Barr. The show went to hell from there.

Meanwhile, in the parking lot, I buddied up with two guys from the east coast, foremost of which was Chris Iovenko, who was about to produce a doc on bikers in Sturgis, S.D. I told him about the doc I had just made, "Battle the Big Tuna," shot on S-VHS that had turned out quite well. He called me a week later and said, "Since you're the Beta-Cam whiz, we'd like to hire you on our Sturgis film." Having never used a Beta-Cam camera before, I asked, "Can you get it a few days early so that I might familiarize myself with it?" They said sure. I then called a cameraman I know and asked, "How the hell do you use a Beta-Cam? It has a thousand buttons." He said, "Turn all of them off but the last one and you'll be fine. Remember, it's a heavy motherfucker." So I bought a guitar strap and hooked it to it, which worked perfectly. I was B-camera, meaning I was rarely with main unit, but wandered around with my crew--a sound man, a boom man, and two PAs--and shot anything I wanted, including every license plate I spied. At the big events, like the bike drag race, I was second camera. Me and my crew arrived first, set up on the starting line, and got a great shot of drag bikes starting the race from down on the ground. To make a drag wheel--with no treads--sticky, they coat it with bleach, run it in place for a minute until it builds up a noxious blue smoke, then let it go. This was the most poisonous thing I've ever inhaled in my life. When main unit arrived, I suggested that I and my crew go down to the finish line a quarter of a mile away. Everyone thought me quite gallant and off we trooped to the finish line. When it was over, main unit was ready to die from the fumes; second-unit, however, was dandy. At the wedding, Drew took his pretty bride past the sunset--my shot--laid her down on the grass and soundly fucked her, which I got on camera, but was not used. There are many other stories, too, like Drew snorting not one, not two, but three grams of cocaine on camera the night before his wedding, all on camera.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               09/11/14

Dear Josh :

On the subject of best picture nominees, have you seen "Gravity" ? I felt the same way about it as the previous poster felt about "The Artist". However when it was at the last scene I felt that I could have watched Sandra Bullock just walk around in her space outfit for another ten minutes, without doing anything, her presence or star quality if you will, was more engaging than anything she did plot wise in the movie. ["Thou art God, and I am God and all that groks is God.” - from Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land]

Dear Paul:

I found it to be a bloody bore, Sandra Bullock and all. I'll tell you what was great, though, "The Last Ride" with Henry Thomas as Hank Williams (2012).

Josh

Name:             Kiran
E-mail:           
Date:               09/10/14

Dear Josh :

Do you still watch all the Academy Award Best Picture winners? Curious to hear what you thought of The Artist (2011). It was very well executed, but in the end it felt like a medicore story and more of a gimmick than a great film.

Dear Kiran:

I bailed out. It was far too cute more my tastes, and I'm generally a sucker for any sort of animal, and that was a cute dog. But it's SO whimsical it annoyed me. "Silver Lining Playbook" works its way toward whimsy, but when it arrives at the dance contest its earned it.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               09/09/14

Dear Josh :

I wanted to ask some questions on "Torro. Torro. Torro!". First one is: was it Sam Raimi's Oldsmobile in one of the scenes? And a second one is how you divided directing duties with Scott Spiegel in this film? In the interview to Book of the Dead website you've told about your ther shared short, "Blind Waiter" - was the expirience any different? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I don't remember about Sam's car. Yes, co-directing "Torro!" was exactly like "The Blind Waiter"--I did everything, which is why Scott's and my next collaboration, "Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter," was exclusively credited to me as director, and thus ended our days as co-directors. How's the war going? Does it matter to you which side the Ukraine ends up on? And what are your thoughts on Putin, and Pussy Riot, who are playing here in Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sept. 18th?

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               09/07/14

Hello Josh :

Apparently Kevin Sorbo is pitching a religious series along with Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. I know Sorbo is a Christian conservative but I am surprised Rob wants to work with him again. Sorbo had a few unkind things to say about Rob previously. Are you surprised that they are working together again? http://pages.citebite.com/l3q5j8u9e2sqt

Dear Russ:

Kevin is a great guy and I loved working with him on "Hercules." He always knew his lines and was game to try anything. Bruce golfed with him regularly and said he has a helluva swing. I don't agree with his political or religious beliefs, but then again, I don't agree with most anyone's political or religious beliefs, so I show tolerance. Kevin couldn't find better show-runners than Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi who know how to get shows made, and have proven it over and over again. I wish them all the luck in the world. "Allah-u Akbar, Allah-u Akbar. La illah illa Allah," the Shahada ["God is most great, God is most great. I testify there is no other God but God and Mohammed is His Prophet"].

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               09/02/14

Dear Josh :

About 7 months ago someone asked you a question here and I forget what it was, but I remember your answer: "My career isn't anything that you would call a success, but I'm proud of the movies I made and wouldn't change them a bit." Josh, how do you deal with something in your life not being a success or not turning out the way you had hoped for? Thanks

Dear Joe:

That's everything. Nothing turned out the way I wanted. I am in a completely different position than I thought I'd be in by now. But I believe that I've made the most of it. I have written twelve books: three published and nine more will be available soon. Those who get exactly what they want in life are generally known as "assholes," and the rest of us are just folk, gettin' by somhow.

As an addendum, nobody gets everything they want, except comeuppance, which we all get "three times filled and running over," as per Booth Tarkington in "The Magnificent Ambersons."

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               09/02/14

Dear Josh :

Since you've mentioned "Phantasm II" screening... Do you remember what was Sam Raimi's reaction on the scene where one of the undertakers filled a plastic bag with cremation ashes and Raimi's name was on the bag? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin. P.S. Sorry for reminding but wanted to ask (just in case) - have you recievef the treatment which I send you by e-mail?

Dear Nikolay:

It doesn't appear that I did receive your treatment. Of course, I generally won't read anything anybody sends, but in your case I'll make an exception. Send it to josh@beckerfilms.com.

Regarding "Phantam II," I don't remember one frame of that piece of shit.

PS. Here's my English wordplay for you, which none of my English-speaking friends understood: The town next to Donesk is Dontell, which is mainly populated by homosexuals.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               09/02/14

Dear Josh :

I understand a lot of other people mistook David and Richard Attenborough, as well as in England people confused Robin Williams name thinking that British pop singer Robbie Williams died instead. Anyways on this subject of similar names how familiar are you, Josh Becker, with the work of French director/screenwriter Jacques Becker ?

Dear Paul:

Although I'm well aware of him and his rep, due to our name's sake, I've never seen any of his films. Have you? I hear they're good, but that often isn't true regarding French films. For instance, perhaps the most highly regarded of all French directors, Jean Renoir, I don't like at all.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/31/14

Dear Josh :

I know this isn't a question, Josh, but I was there at that Phantasm 2 screening. My first job in Hollywood was on Phantasm 2. There was a lot of Phantasm 2 at that screening. I remember the room being larger then 20 people. Maybe 75 - 100 people. Regardless, I remember Sam howling and shrieking. Several of us crew members that thought the film was stupid-as-fuck began goofing him and were mocking his howling and what not. I remember Jim Jacks and Nick cage, too. Sorry I didn't know what you looked like. I would have loved to talk to you.

Dear Joe:

Good God, what a small world. Yeah, Sam's out of his silly mind, and Jim Jacks was a dick.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/27/14

Dear Josh :

Oh, sorry. I thought you had mentioned you saw "Soundings" at the Super-8 film festival you all won awards at. Regardless, what did you think about the film "Phantasm?"

Dear Joe:

No need to be sorry. I did say I saw it, as I did all of the films in the festival, I just don't remember it. Regarding "Phantasm," I hated it, although I did like the flying ball with the spikes. I saw "Phantasm 2" at a very early screening in a tiny screening room (maybe 20 seats) on the Universal lot with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Don Coscarelli, which was even worse than the first one. Throughout the entire film the only person making any noise at all was Sam who was screaming, shrieking, laughing, and yelling comments at the screen, like, "Don't go in there!" Rob and I were mortified. Afterward, Rob asked Sam why he was being such a loudmouthed idiot? Sam replied, "I'm the only good audience member." Then, as we exited the screening room, who should we run into but the late Jim Jacks, head of production at Universal, and producer of quite a few movies, like, "Blood Simple," "Raising Arizona," "Darkman," "A Simple Plan," etc., and this guy was a real fat, ugly, ill-mannered asshole, and who should he be talking to but Nicholas Cage. Jim sees us and says to Nicholas Cage, "Nick, I want you to meet some people. Nick, this is Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert," then he wedges his fat horrible body between me and everybody else and they proceed to have a long conversation with me excluded. This maneuver is known as the "Hollywood Hello."

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/26/14

Dear Josh :

Was Joel Coen's "Soundings" any good? What was it about?

Dear Joe:

I have no recollection of it.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/26/14

Dear Josh :

If Saul Bass had agreed to do the titles to one of your films: 1. What was the film of yours you wanted Saul Bass to work on? 2. What did you have budgeted if he had said yes? 3. Would you just let him have free reign on the titles or did you have specific thoughts for him to work within? 4. Was he annoyed that you called him? thanks

Dear Joe:

1. "Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter" the feature.
2. Peanuts.
3. Yes.
4. He wasn't annoyed at all; he was incredibly friendly and talkative. He was a lovely, exceptionally talented man.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               08/25/14

Dear Josh :

The great Richard Attenborough died today. I loved him as Bartlett 'Big X' in "The Great Escape", among many other film roles. His narration in many BBC nature documentaries were a pleasure to listen to as well.

Dear David:

You may be confusing him with his brother, David, who did the nature documentaries. But Dickie Attenborough (his friends called him Dickie) was a terrific actor. I just saw him in "The Guns at Batasi" (1964), with a very young Mia Farrow (maybe 19), and Attenborough was great. I just saw Mia Farrow's first film, "John Paul Jones" (1959), with Robert Stack as a severely angry Jones, and directed by Mia's dad, John Farrow (Maureen O'Sullivan's husband), but I never saw her and she's unbilled.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/25/14

Dear Josh :

Was a single-shot loaded shotgun fired by John Manfredi in TSNKE the same that was used in "The Evil Dead" and now owned by Don Campbell? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I believe so. Don also has a little French .25 caliber automatic pistol that I found for sale in a hardware store somewhere outside Morristown for ten bucks, which is really cool.

Josh

Name:             Chowderhead Pete
E-mail:            diddlymike@lycos.com
Date:               08/22/14

Dear Josh :

"Olivia Wilde is absolutely wonderful. Both beautifully made." Both films or both boobs?

Dear Pete:

Both of both.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/22/14

Dear Josh :

As it is hard to recognize under the make-up I wanted to ask - approximately who's where out of actors credited in the end credits of "Cleveland Smith"? I've recognized (well, at least I thought that I did) Rovert Tapert (Chief/Big Daddy) and Bill Aaron (Hulking Native). As usual, tried to find Scott Spiegel by his facial features and failed (same problem in many films by Sam Raimi - Spiegel is like a chameleon). Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Scott is one of the two natives eating 8x10 still photos who says, "This freeze-dried stuff is for the birds."

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/20/14

Dear Josh :

Do you remember The Second National Super-8 Film Competition which was held at MSU, May 13-14 of 1980 (covered in the article "Home Movies Grow Up" in the newspaper "The Lansing Star")? Among the contestants were yours "Holding It", Sam Raimi's "Within the Woods", "educational" film on job interviewing by Paul Hart, "The Trombone Player Who Thought He Was a Shopping Mall" by Bob Hercules, "Implications of Totality" by Joseph Bernard's, "Soundings" by Joel Coen and "Buffalo Chip Chips" by Tim Philo. The competition was held by Ivan Raimi. Do you have anything to remember about the event, or, maybe the first competition, which wasn't covered in press? Who won? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

We all won, it was our film contest. We came up with enough categories so that as many films as were shown won. "Holding It" may have gotten something like Best Action Film. Since Ivan and Sam were paying for it, and it was really just an excuse to keep showing "The Happy Valley Kid," which, being the biggest and newest film, was the predetermined Best Picture. Then afterward we partied our brains out all night long and MSU students who had just seen the films--it was a great screening, BTW--bought us beer.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               08/19/14

Dear Josh :

Since you brought up "Alien", I wonder if you have seen or heard of the recent documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune". It concerns the unmade adapatation of Frank Herbert's science fiction epic "Dune" planned by the midnight movie auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky. It is quite fascinating and like Jodorowsky himself quite mad as well. The basic line is that Jodorowsky gathered together a number of people (Dan O'Bannon, H.R. Geiger, Chris Foss, etc.) who after his project fell apart went on to well, be the creative core of "Alien" among other things. The mad genius aspect of Jodorowsy might be laid on thick here but he is quite a presence on screen. It also an interesting look at a certain cultural tone of the 1970s. And if you are a fan of the book it might appall you at what he planned to do with it. So generally inspiring, loony and fun to watch. (By the way the mention of you, B Dog C, and the Herzog brothers in Vegas has the makings of a classic Becker article or story.)

Dear Paul:

Yes, I'm aware of the film and have seen clips. I actually spent a day with Jodorowsky, his girlfriend, and my good buddy, Jay, who used to run the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Jay was honoring him and showing his films. Jodowrowsky sort of went on and on about Allan Kline, who ended up owning the rights to his films, who Jodorowsky didn't like. His French girlfriend was gorgeous and smart and the two of them searched around for, and watched, two movies they'd never seen before every day. Regarding "Dune," which was one of my favorite books in high school, no matter what Jodorowsky did, it couldn't be worse than Lynch's version.

Josh

Name:             KP
E-mail:           
Date:               08/18/14

Dear Josh :

Regarding recent films, have you seen "Flight" and "The Words?" Both are from 2012 and I found both to be absolutely terrific in every department. Curious if you saw them... -KP

Dear KP:

Yeah, I saw them both, and I thought they were both terrific. I saw "Flight" three times, and, were I a pilot, that would be my story. I only saw "The Words" once, but I need to see it again. Olivia Wilde is absolutely wonderful. Both beautifully made.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/18/14

Dear Josh :

As for the "Spine Chillers" - web-series can be much more irregular then the ordinary TV Series, especially since they're usually made on a very tight budget. By the way, I wanted to ask - what web-series have you seen and what of them do you like? Maybe Ted Raimi's "Morbid Minutes"? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I've seen scant few and have liked none of them. I am, however, watching "Moneyball" for the third time and that's certainly one of the best movies of the previous five years, about a subject I don't care about--baseball--and yaking an approach I abhor--running the stats through a computer--and yet it's great. Once again, bravo, Aaron Sorkin.

Josh

Name:             lou
E-mail:           
Date:               08/18/14

Dear Josh :

according to the other "hombres" in the youtube comments, spine chillers is still going strong. did u quit?

dear lou:

No, I'm being realistic. Yes, there still is a "Spine Chillers" in which I will happily participate, but I don't believe its a series, at least not how I conceived it. I pitched, and they agreed, that we put out six episodes a year; one every two months. Well, we've managed to put out eight episodes in two years. In my opinion that's too irregular to call it a series, and it will never develop a true following. However, if we can continue to manage to put out a DVD of nine episodes every two years, or so, that will have to do.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhaywarddirector.com
Date:               08/18/14

Dear Josh :

Do you consider filmmaking an art form, and do you consider filmmakers artists? Thanks

Dear Justin:

Film is certainly an art form, and a very few filmmakers and their films have risen to the level of art . . . but not most. But the same can be said of all art forms. Only the top one percent rises that high. Old-time sci-fi writer, Theodore Stuergon, had a law--Stuergon's Law: "90% of everything is bullshit" and that includes people, too.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/17/14

Dear Josh :

Happy Birthday. Wish you a lot of health, wealth and inspiration and to be as inspiring as you are now and/or more. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Thank you, sir.

Josh

Name:             Eric Tiller
E-mail:            etilliskies@comcast.net
Date:               08/17/14

Dear Josh :

This is a follow-up to our last exchange. You said you have better things to be doing than working on SPINE CHILLERS, so I'm wondering what precisely you're working on these days? Feature script, short script, novel, short story, essay? Excited to hear. Also, what do you do for money besides the occasional residual check? Last question, also about money. When you sold CYCLES (congratulations by the way, still an incredible achievement) did you invest any of the money you made or did you spend it all? If you spent it all, would you go back and invest if given the chance again? Lastly, (sorry one more), I'm beginning to make a name for myself in Hollwood. If I ever got to a point where I could push a movie through the system (which at the rate I'm going I believe will happen in the next 2 years or so) how would I be able to buy CYCLES back from the producer who has it, or option it or whatever? In other words, who do I contact to see about getting the rights to that script?

Dear Eric:

I have written eight historical novels in the past 14 months or so. Regarding money, I just sold my car. Regarding "Cycles," you'd have to hire a lawyer and have them track down the rights because I don't know who owns it now. There's a WGA rule that says after this length of time I can buy it back for cheap.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/16/14

Dear Josh :

You think the 1962 super natural movie "Carnival of Souls" is any good?

Dear joe:

Yes. Not great. But a fine example of a film made for ten cents.

Josh

Name:             James Brighton
E-mail:           
Date:               08/16/14

Dear Josh :

It's interesting to see the rise in quality of television shows. There are more and more big name movie stars who are starting to do TV now as well. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in "True Detective", Billy Bob Thornton in "Fargo", Halle Berry in "Extant", Clive Owen in "The Knick". I read an article comparing TV now to films of the 70s era of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls". Television is currently the best medium to tell daring and original stories. I'm not saying you can't tell great stories in film, but the production environment in TV is much better now, because the producers have found that thoughtful, intelligent writing really sells in that medium.

Dear James:

That's great to hear. Of course, thoughtful, intelligent writing would sell in movies, too, but there are too many stupid executives and producers to allow that to occur. Every film has five production companies making it, with the requisite number of execs and producers, and there's no way to get past that. A TV show has one production company, and the new producers in TV, like Netflix, give the artists complete control, just like, as you pointed out, movies in the '70s. The artists MUST control the product or it will stink.

Josh

Name:             Nicholas
E-mail:            therealnickelass@yahoo.com
Date:               08/14/14

Dear Josh :

A very early happy womb escapement day to you Mr. Becker. I hope that it is one of the best ever. As much as I hate to delve back into the darkness that has become the soup du jour of late, but over the last couple of days we have lost Robin Williams and Lauren Becall. Granted there is a lot of other bad stuff going on around the world the loss Mr. Williams has sparked a lot conversation especially when it comes to the darkness of depression. I know I can't speak for everyone, but when things are going bad I tend to turn to movies (or music/books) for a little escapement of my own... So are there any movies that stand out to you from those two fine actors, or otherwise?

Dear Nicholas:

Lately I've been watching "Alien." As Harlan Ellison said, "It will scare the peanuts out of your M&Ms." But, of course, I watch other movies, all the time. If one has the blues, I suggest, "Beau Geste," and one will quickly forget about their blues. Better to be wherever you are than in the French Foreign Legion.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/14/14

Dear Josh :

As I've recently watched "Exit Interview" (you cameo is great, as usual, amazing screen presence in an already great cast of an episode), I've remembered that you have worked on true crime series "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol". How different was the experience, if compared to your other television work? Are there any good/interesting things to remember about it?.. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

"Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" was a terrific experience. I shot in both Lansing, Michigan, and Sacramento, California, and I worked strictly from police reports, no scripts. I would sit an hotel room each night sifting through the reports trying to find ones that I could shoot in just one night or one day. There were no actors, only cops, who were basically unable to deliver any dialog other than "Drop it!" or "Put down the weapon!" My entire crew was myself, the producer, Craig Peligian (a friend since we were seven), a cameraman and a sound man. All episodes included shoot-outs and car chases, something cops can do extremely well. And, if we needed to have a car chase through any kind of populated area, they simply turned on their flashers and sirens and everybody got out of our way. It was incredible. I had a couple of days to cut each one back in L.A. When I turned them in to the executive producer he would scream and yell that they were "shit" and "garbage" and that they stunk so bad he might not be able to air them. The next year, after I had left for greener pastures, Craig called me and said, "The executive producer just said to me, 'why can't we make good episodes anymore? You know, like last season'."

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               08/13/14

Dear Josh :

Favorite Werner Herzog films? Do you think he made any great movies?

Dear David:

Werner prettily much only makes great movies. If he's there, ergo, it's a great film. His relationship with Klaus Kinki is priceless. Bruce and I have hung with Werner and his brother in Vegas a number of of times. Nice guys.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/11/14

Dear Josh :

Do you keep souvenirs from your films (props, scripts, etc.) and other movie productions you were involved in? I've seen directions to cabin hand-written by Bruce Campbell in the collection of Book of the Dead site webmaster, Rob, which previously, probably, belong to you. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I had a bunch of ED stuff, but I sold it all to Rob at the Book of the Dead UK site. I do have a few other things from my films, but, for the most part, I'm not a collector--just of books, of which I have at least 3,000, jammed into a small house.

Josh

Name:             Stanislaw
E-mail:           
Date:               08/10/14

Dear Josh :

did you ever see DeadHeads by the Pierce brothers?

Dear Stanislaw:

No. But their dad, Bart, is my old buddy and I wish them all the best.

Josh

Name:             Eric Tiller
E-mail:            etilliskies@comcast.net
Date:               08/10/14

Dear Josh :

Here's what I don't understand: if it's taking the other guys so long to finish episodes, why don't you just finish them yourself? Judging by the first episodes, you're looking at wading through about 6-8 hours of footage, syncing sound, and then editing together a 15 minute story on Final Cut Pro. That's doable in 2-3 editing sessions. If you're waiting on music too long, just use garage band to grab some public domain scores or hell, rip some from the internet, it's not like there's are being used commercially so you don't have to worry about infringement. I just don't get it. At the quality-level these are being produced (i.e. zero budget) you could totally go out with yourself and a boom operator, film the episode in a day or two, and then spend 2-3 days editing. A week-long commitment at most. You're telling me you need these two other lazy dudes just to keep making 'em? I don't get it. You could rent a boom and camera for $150 total. Plus lunch for your actors and crew you're looking at $200 budget, give or take. That's not doable? I don't mean this to be a jerk, I'm just hoping you can elaborate on what it is you're relying on these other people for and why it is you can't continue in their absence? Thanks, Eric

Dear Eric:

It was supposed to be a series with three POVs. Alas, that's not how it turned out. So, perhaps, it will simply be a series of DVDs. I've got better things to do than put too much effort into this.

Josh

Name:             Paul (not Paul Harris)
E-mail:           
Date:               08/10/14

Josh and Company :

Sorry for two posts in a row (assuming my last one got through) Bit speaking of art and film, how about this Bill Murry art show in San Francisco http://news.artnet.com/in-brief/bill-murray-honored-with-san-francisco-exhibition-34710 I suppose some gallery could do the same thing with Bruce C. Because eons after the Evil Dead was shot people still care and are interested about you guys...

Dear Paul:

"Evil Dead" is not my movie; I was just a crew member.

Josh

Name:             Paul (not Paul Harris)
E-mail:           
Date:               08/09/14

Josh and Company :

I wanted chime in on the Art discussion and will later write something but with only 3 or 4 post "Godwins Law" was arrived at so the discussion is certainly over ... Godwin's Law (Mike Godwin 1990) "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." Note: The number one refers to probability theory, where an event is said to never happen when its probability is 0, and to always happen when its probability is 1.

Dear Paul:

Fascinating. I'm not sure what Nazis have to do with this, but they do seem to come up sooner or later.

Josh

Name:             lou
E-mail:           
Date:               08/09/14

Hey Becker :

am i crazy or is RUNNING TIME the most underrated becker film? it's so good i can't believe it's not a bigger cult classic. u should screen it in la at the new bev or the cinefamily. i bet you'd get a huge crowd.

Dear lou:

It's not for me to say which of my films is best. I did everything I could to get the film a decent release, but that was a long time ago and I've moved on. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Josh

Name:             Kimmio
E-mail:            kimmyocoshaw@gmail.com
Date:               08/05/14

Dear Josh :

Are you serious about your work,how serious do you have to get to do this job?

Dear Kimmio:

What the hell are you talking about?

Josh

Name:             Nick
E-mail:           
Date:               08/05/14

Dear Josh :

Hey now, I did say "for the most part," so don't compare me to Hitler. You did mention "Kentucky Fried Movie," which I think is a great example of a film that breaks the rules of storytelling and succeeds, and I really have no clue why. So, not all works of art should follow the rules hard and fast, but most of them should. Regarding Bunuel, I think "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" is another film that breaks the rules, but it still has it's own weird structure (they keep waking up into another dream, into another dream, into another dream, etc.). So, yes, you don't have to follow the rules 100% of the time, but I think you should about 95% of the time. I think it might be better to say that taste is subjective (my top ten is probably a lot different than yours), but quality is not, and what people mostly like is quality art. That's why you keep seeing movies like "Goodfellas" and "Taxi Driver" appearing on everyone's top movies lists, but not "Bio-Dome." You might get a lot out of "Bio-Dome," but damned if I know anyone that has. And, to be fair, the "dogs playing poker" painting is responsible for one of the best "Simpsons" gags ever. But are there any films (aside from "Un Chien Andalou") that you like that don't have a point?

Dear Nick:

What's the point of "Citizen Kane?" You shouldn't hit people with your sled? What's the point of "Ben-Hur?" If you've got leprosy you should consult Jesus?

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               08/05/14

Dear Josh :

In fact, I loved "Spine Chillers" and I really hope that it will be succesful, with time. Interent is unpredictable. Cameos, you've said about are great! Gorbachev in "Lunatics" is especially cool and reminds me really of Hitchcock's masterpieces. I was completely oblivious of your cameo in "Darkman" - it was filled with great ones (Scott Spiegel, William Lustig, Bruce Campbell shemping multiple times) and I'm glad that I haven't spot all of them yet. As for "If I Had a Hammer" it's one of those movies, I'd like to watch on some special event, because I know that I'll like it. Two more small questions - what was your expirience on working with William Lustig on "Hit List" (an influential action piece with terrific performance by Henriksen, BTW)? And where are you in the "Opening Night" by John Cassavetes? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

In "Opening Night" I'm in the audience during the performance, I'm outside the bar with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazara, and I'm in the crowd outside the theater.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               08/04/14

Dear Josh :

How long did movies exist as a medium before they reached a level of greatness? I am interested in this incubation period for (any) new medium before it can reach a higher level. For example, did the invention of the novel have a similar period before they reached a level of greatness?

Dear David:

We're back to the topic of subjectiveness. What is great? Film reached greatness immediately. Many people, at the time, found Edison, Melies and the the Lumieres' films to be great, which they were. The Lumieres brothers films, shot in all the capitals of the world, in one shot, are astounding. To see Jerusalem or Berlin in 1900 is magic.

Josh

Name:             William Wilson
E-mail:            wwilson69@gmail.com
Date:               08/04/14

Dear Josh :

Couple questions. First, although I don't live in Michigan, I do live in the general area and could get there if need be and for the right opportunity. Are there any open cast or crew positions available on Spine Chillers or any of your additional future endeavors? I am qualified in many areas of production and can provide resume and references upon request. Second, I have some scripts that I am currently looking to set up with the right producer. Although I plan on directing them, I think if the right talent came along I could be induced into letting said talent step into the director's chair. There are also investment opportunities available, so please feel free to publish my e-mail address for your readers. I am thinking about doing a Kickstarter as a possibility. My scripts are available upon request. One is a horror movie concerning 3 Mile Island and the mutated inhabitants who haunt the grounds at night. One is a comedy about a pie eating competition where the climax is the biggest pie fight ever captured on film. The third is a drama about AIDS. Please let me know which one(s) you might like to check out. I'm told by many professionals they're pretty damn good and I will soon start to seek out an agent. Best Regards, William Wilson

Dear William:

I understand where you are as I've been there most of my life. No, there are no positions available on Spine Chillers. Regarding agents, of whom I've had eight, none of whom ever got me a job, good luck. But if you have any other questions regarding filmaking, write in.

Josh


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