Questions & Answers

 

Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments to Beckerfilms.com

Name:             Angel
E-mail:           
Date:               6/28/16

Dear Josh :

The library of congress sought help in identifying the following stills. Curious to see how many you could identify. http://m.imgur.com/a/Mwf83

Dear Angel:

I don't recognize any of them.

Josh

Name:             Rick's Sister
E-mail:            debryan50@verizon.net
Date:               6/20/16

Dear Josh :

Thank you for memorializing Rick and Stevie in your book ~ I love it.

Dear Ricks Sister (Deb):

Rick Sandford is a major character in my book "Going Hollywood," and I hope I captured the essence of him. He was an important influence on me. He's been dead 21 years now. We met on the set of John Cassavetes' film, "Opening Night" in 1977.

Cheers to Rick!

Josh

Name:             Andrew
E-mail:           
Date:               6/19/16

Dear Josh :

Are you still friends with David Goodman? Also what do you think about the controversy over the upcoming Ghostbusters remake?

Dear Andrew:

I haven't seen David in years. What controversy? That it looks like shit? Who'd have ever suspected otherwise? It couldn't be anything but shit at this late date.

Josh

Name:             Robert J.
E-mail:           
Date:               6/14/16

Dear Josh :

Do you subscribe to the theory of the 7 story archetypes? Would all stories really fit into one of these?

Dear Robert:

Here they are:

Overcoming the Monster.
Rags to Riches.
The Quest.
Voyage and Return.
Comedy.
Tragedy.
Rebirth.

This list I've found bafflingly has periods. Hey! Anything that helps. I do try to keep in mind as I'm writing my comedy script, "This is a comedy, try and be funny." If it's a tragedy one might want to keep that in mind. And the rest is the hero's journey. I don't see stories this way. I see a guy and some shit's happening to him. Now what's he going to do?

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               6/13/16

Dear Josh :

"just because you are going somewhere doesn't mean that I want to go with you."

But that's subjective, right? Not a sign of amateur writing...

Dear Justin:

I don't know that amateur/professional are the differentiation. I suppose it's more of a gut sense as to whether or not you're telling a story that's worth telling; a story that has a point.

Josh

Name:             James
E-mail:            russianattack1@yahoo.com
Date:               6/9/16

Dear Josh :

What do you think is an appropriate reason to be a filmmaker? As in, are there better reasons than others to be a filmmaker as far as a career? I ask because, when I was younger, I thought that I would go into filmmaking because I could make change in the world, or give viewers greater insight in some way or another. I have come to the conclusion that this kind of impact is highly unlikely, regardless of how well I could present it or how successfully it would be received by audiences. With that aside, I suppose entertaining others in an intelligent way, while getting my artistic ideas out, is a valid goal. I guess my overall question is, what's the point? Perhaps it is cynicism, but I just no longer believe that films of any kind have much of a lasting impact. People are going to do stupid shit, more and more stupid shit the more there are of us, and then it will end. Is that depressing or just realistic?

Dear James:

Ah, what's the point? The eternal question. Why do anything? Sooner or later it will all come to dust. Why bother? Because, what else is there to do? If we don't invest what we do with some meaning then it has no meaning; then nothing has meaning. And the only thing that has meaning is what you decide is meaningful. I think making a good movie is a valid thing to do, so I'll keep trying.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               6/9/16

Dear Josh :

As you know, I'm a director with a background in cinematography, so I probably pay a little closer attention to camera work than most. A question amateur filmmakers often ask is how they can achieve a "film" look. What they're actually asking is how can they make something look professional. Lately I've noticed the first thing that gives away an amateur production is bad compositions. I'm not talking about artful, unbalanced, compositions. Just off-putting ones on something where the camera should likely be more subdued like an independent, talky, dramedy or something like that. It's usually a collection of misplaced pictures or lamps that are too close to the character's head or too bright or too dark for the scene. Sometimes it looks like they didn't properly level the camera (even if they did). Stuff like that. As a writer, what is the first thing you spot in watching a movie that gives away an amateur screenplay? And I’m talking about watching the finished movie, not reading a screenplay with a bunch of bad grammar (like this question :) Thanks.

Dear Justin:

Yes, does it know where it's going? Is it presenting me with a story, meaning it's going somewhere. But just because you are going somewhere doesn't mean that I want to go with you. What story are you telling me? Is it a story worth telling? Or is it, oh, this one again? I have over 100 movies on my DVR of which I've watched 15 minutes and I'm just too lazy to delete, but I'll never watch a minute more. Most movies have a dreary premise, if they have one.

Josh

Name:             Don Jon
E-mail:           
Date:               6/7/16

Dear Josh :

Holy shit. In picking his "top 10 movies of the last decade," that Nikolay guy literally proved your point. Shaun of the Dead? Reign Over Me? The Guest???? Is this guy high? The Guest wasn't even a top 10 great movie that came out that weekend. Hey, here's my top 10 movies of the last decade that prove that cinema is still alive and vibrant: 1. Transformers 2. Transformers 2 3. Transformers 3 4. Transformers 4 5. Transformers 5 6. Spider-Man 7. Spider-Man 2 8. Spider-Man 2 (the second one) 9. Avengers Fight Each Other (because Spider-Man shows up) 10. Spotlight (because I'm sooooo high-brow and intellectual) What an embarrassment. I miss the old Josh that would have told Nikolay to fuck off.

Dear Don:

I have no reason to tell Nikolay to fuck off. He's a nice guy and I asked a question which he answered. At least he gave it an honest try, not that I'd have gone to the trouble. I watched "The Revenant" and, other than the bear attacks, it's a nothing, and not nearly as good as "Man in the Wilderness," that's 50 minutes shorter and just more interesting and not a revenge plot, which makes it kind of special. "Spotlight" is anything but high brow and intellectual -- it's a run-of-the-mill investigative reporter story we've seen a million times, and not in the same league as "All the President's Men." Perhaps I am an old fart, but they don't make very good movies anymore.

Josh

Name:             Chris
E-mail:           
Date:               6/7/16

Dear Josh :

I had the chance to meet Ted Raimi the other day at NZs equivalent to Comic Con in Wellington. I gave him my VHS copy of "Lunatics" to sign and he was pretty surprised and thrilled. He told me to write to you and let you know that I want a Lunatics sequel and that by doing so I might help make it happen. So yes, I want that movie! Another movie about Hank and his struggles would be fantastic and you directing another feature and Ted having another lead role would obviously be awesome. Is this something you've really thought about? Chris

Dear Chris:

I don't want to make "Lunatics 2." I don't like sequels. I'd rather make the script I've just written (and am rewriting), "Who Needs Rhetorical Questions?" I want to make a new movie, not an old one. But I'm glad you liked it and got to meet Ted.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            alwayslikethis882@gmail.com
Date:               6/6/16

Hi Josh :

You have stated in this Q&A that you do not watch televisions shows. Do you consider feature-length movies to be a superior medium to episodic TV programs? I do. I find that most shows, even critically acclaimed and story arc-driven ones such as “Mad Men” tend to tell their stories in a meandering way. That bores me. In a good movie, on the other hand, every scene matters and adds to the overall story being told.

Dear Keith:

The point of a series is familiarity -- that each episode is very much like all the others, and it spares you the effort of getting to know new people. It's the pablum of entertainment; nothing difficult to chew. I'm most of the way through "The Revenant," which looks good and has those great bear attacks, but not much else. Leo certainly groans a lot, but I'd say Eddie Redmayne was better in "The Danish Girl."

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               6/5/16

Dear Josh :

Loved previous q&a's with Keith and Tim because it is quite an interesting "food for thoughts". If it is okay, I have a few comments and questions regarding what they were writing, so this message may be a little bit long (I hope that it may be separated if that will be more comfortable for you and/or webmasters). Firstly, regarding Alfred Hitchcock (by the way, my all-time favorite director) - it should be noted that "Hitchock/Truffault", even though it is one of the greatest books on Hitchcock and movie-making in general is quite flawed by one thing in nearly any translation, that thing being the fact that all of the Hitchcock statements were translated in French and then book was again translated in English from that translation, so at times what Hitchcock actually said was somewhat paraphrased and may have affected the sense of a few statements. Secondly, a little thought on Hitchcock's movies - last summer I've discovered that I've actually haven't seen that much of his directorial works, mainly because in cases of one of the favorite directors dying or working rarely I usually postpone some movies in advance, just to have a few if I'll have some specific mood. In case of Hitchcock, though, I understood it was quite pointless, because if counting his TV episodes and some other things he has quite a big filmography. So, I've started a tradition of sorts that I hope to continue this year - to pick five Hitchcock directorial works (from each decade of his career excluding the 70's of which I've seen everything) mostly at random and watch them on and around his birthday. What I've picked in 2015 were "The Pleasure Garden", "Jamaica Inn", "Spellbound", "The Trouble with Harry" and an episode of "Startime" named "Incident at a Corner". I can highly recommend each one of them (though "Spellbound" is probably the better one of them), but "Incident at a Corner" is especially recommended because it is mostly overlooked and forgotten, despite this little gem is actually pretty impressive. Thirdly, while I can understand your and Tim's concern of culture being "rotted", I have some optimism for it and I just believe that we're living in a period of quite a big shift and it's hard to judge the society which is in a constant stress and undergoes a process of certain social and cultural mutations. I'm quite concerned about culture as well because, well - mainstream culture seems less and less appealing to me. Especially since younger people (of which I am, to some unfortunate extent) seem less and less tolerant to more individual and "unconventional" tastes and will try to force you to watch what they like, massively overreacting if you dislike their choice, forgetting that anyone has right to choose what he or she wants to watch. I'm quite tired of people shaming me for my dislike of "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead" - while both series are very popular and acclaimed I just can't find anything of strong interest in both of them (not to mention that people fail to notice how much "Game of Thrones" is derivative to works of William Shakespeare) so I don't have a point to watch them. But I hope that such "Age of Overreacting" will eventually pass and we'll have some kind of renaissance. I don't lose that hope because, well, even my dorm roommate (19 years old), who has considerable difficulties to even perceive movies older then 1990 (it seems a common problem for many people of age 16-25, which puzzles me because I'm of the same age gap and yet I can easily watch anything regardless of time period) loved "Lawrence of Arabia" and is amazed by Buster Keaton stunts (despite him being a parkour practitioner he just can't understand how some of them were executed) and another one of the same age is reading a lot and tries quite thoughtfully to compare and balance mainstream, independent and classic art. One of my best friends who is essentially of my age disliked "The Hateful Eight", by the way and while I was okay with that movie I can totally see why and approve both his and yours concerns about it. Fourthly as you've asked for someone to pick ten greatest movies and albums of the past ten years (that should be the period of 2004-2016, I guess?) I might as well try to name at least movies. But I should warn you that I'm casually watching some movies two or three years after the initial release, so I'm quite surely missed at least a few great titles. I'm also subjective, of course and will try to balance those movies which both I've found great and at least some significant amount of people enjoyed a lot as well, trying hard to limit it for one-two movies per year.

My picks are (in chronological order):

1."Shaun of the Dead" (2004) Dir. Edgar Wright (UK);

2."Takeshis'" (2005) Dir. Takeshi Kitano (Japan);

3."A Scanner Darkly" (2006) Dir. Richard Linklater (USA);

4."Reign Over Me" (2007) Dir. Mike Binder (USA);

5."Serce na dloni" (2008) (known in US as "And a Warm Heart" though the translation is "Heart in the Hand") Dir. Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland);

6."Drive" (2011) Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn (USA);

7."FireCrosser" (ToyKhtoProyshovKrizVohon) (2011) Dir. Mykhailo Illienko (Ukraine);

8."L'écume des jours" (2013) (known in US as "Mood Indigo", though the translation is "The Foam of Days") Dir. Michel Gondry (France);

9."The Guest" (2014) Dir. Adam Wingard (USA);

10."Mad Max: Fury Road" (2014) Dir. George Miller, (Australia and USA).

The problem is - great rarely equals life-changing personal favorites - if you'd asked to put a list of ten personal favorites a fewer of those will move from one list to another.

Yours sincerely,Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

It's good your hopeful; the young ought to be hopeful. I've only seen four of the films on your list, but the word great would not come to my mind regarding any of them. OK would be more like it.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               6/5/16

Dear Josh :

Since you liked "Amy" so much, you should check out an earlier documentary by Asif Kapadia called "Senna", about the Formula One race-car driver. Very good.

Dear David:

I'll keeps my eyes open for it. Thanks.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/4/16

Dear Josh :

One last question for now, and sorry if I'm hijacking your Q and A. I enjoyed very much your recommendation, the United States of Amnesia, as well as the other recommendation you made for Louis Malle's Phantom India. What are some of the other documentary films that you have loved?

Dear Tim:

"Amy" is a really good documentary, check it out. One that comes back to mind through the mists of age, that I only saw once, 30 years ago, was "Black and White in Color," which won the Oscar that year. People died making it. "When We Were Kings" about the late, great Muhammed Ali's fight with George Foreman. Almost any of Barbra Kopple's films, like "Wild Man Blues" or the one on "Woodstock." "Monster Road," "Crumb," "Let's Get Lost," about Chet Baker, by Bruce Weber, and I want to see that again. I just watched "Directed by William Wyler" for the 20th time -- I've had two VHS copies, and now a DVD -- and I nominate it for the best episode ever of "American Masters." They interviewed Wyler 3 days before he died, and he's spunky and grinning. Uh . . . "Woodstock" itself. I just watched the "Isle of Wight" documentary and that was a miserable concert, with a great line-up.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/4/16

Dear Josh :

Your last post about the decline of film really hit home. A topic I occasionally talk about with my friends who are more or less the same age as you and me (50s or so), is: Has the entire culture fundamentally rotted? On the one hand, it seems like that's what every old fart wants to believe and repeats. On the other hand, it seems objectively true. Even from a technical point of view. something like a David Lean movie seems light years away intern from anything being produced today. There are the technical elements, but there's also a sensibility – – the sophistication that seems to have completely vanished. Not to mention that few of the people I know read with any kind of hunger or consistency in the way that my parents' generation did. It feels a bit as if it's 400 A.D. and a few of us have some mosaics to reminders of what civilization is really about. Do you think it's just crankiness ? Or a fundamental shift in our society?

Dear Tim:

Yes, I believe that our society has fundamentally rotted. It's not that "Lawrence of Arabia" is out of style; it's that nobody could make it or understand it anymore. I have been decrying this for most of my life -- movies keep getting duller and stupider year after year. And art is the early-warning system of a society. And it's not just movies, it's all the arts. Please listen to the Pulitzer prize winning music for last year, "In For a Penny" by Henry Threadgill, to check if I'm overstating things. But if that's the best music, and "Spotlight" is the best movie, we're doomed. "Spotlight" isn't good enough to be an HBO movie. It's perfectly OK, unlike Mr. Threadgill's music, which is literally nothing more than an orchestra warming up. Just look at our politics. We have become a very stupid, unsophisticated society. And once everybody saw that they too could be constantly connected to the global matrix, unlike science fiction that predicted we'd have chips put in our heads, we all happily carry it around with us, and set it on the table in front of us in case we go anywhere. And now technology isn't even all that interesting. Yeah, I can get a 4k camera, but I can't show it on my TV. Yeah, I can get an iPhone 8, or Windows 10, but none of them are an improvement on the previous model. OK, we're all connected, now what? Yeah, I can get "The Hateful Eight" on my phone right now, but that doesn't make it any less of a piece of shit. If I'm just being a curmudgeonly old fart, somebody please name the ten greatest films (or songs or albums) of the past ten years. The last article I read said that all the movies are bombing right now. Nobody even like the big dumb superhero movies anymore. Seven-year-olds have had enough.

When a buffoon like Donald Trump has a serious chance at becoming president, we're doomed. The next step is "Idiocracy", then we can all wait for the great garbage avalanche of 2055.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/3/16

Hello Josh :

So what's the deal with Vertigo? Iris recently saw some top 10 lists for critics and directors and vertigo is either contesting first place or in first place of their top 10 lists. I love Hitchcock and I revere Orson Welles. But even among Hitchcock's own films, Vertigo would be a few notches down the list. (For example, what about "Shadow of a Doubt" or "Notorious" or even "Psycho"? I like the film, but I don't fundementally understand the reverence for it. What do you think?

Dear Tim:

Yes, what is the deal with "Vertigo"? I wouldn't even put it on my top-ten of Hitchcock films. Let's discuss its merits: it looks great and has one of Bernard Herrmann's best scores (which I listen to frequently), and Kim Novak is at her most attractive, icy prime, and it has a terrific opening, and finale. But it's all that stuff in between that bugs me. It feels like it has more arrivals and departures then I feel like I've ever seen in anything. Jimmy Stewart slowly pulls up at some cool, San Francisco location, gets out of the car, goes to the door, knocks, waits for the door to be answered, has some dialogue, then gets back in his car and drives away. At a point my friend turned to me and asked, "Why doesn't she just tell him she's the same girl?"

From that mid- to late-1950s period I'll take "North by Northwest" and "Rear Window."

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            alwayslikethis882@gmail.com
Date:               6/2/16

Hi Josh :

I found something online that I think you would enjoy. As I am sure that you are aware, the famous film history book "Hitchcock/Truffaut" was based on a 1962 interview for French radio. That 25-part radio series is now available for free (and legally) on several websites. I found it at: http://www.slashfilm.com/listen-12-hours-franois-truffaut-interviewing-alfred-hitchcock/ Since Truffaut didn’t speak much English and Hitchcock knew very little French, a New Yorker named Helen Scott acted as translator. I found the series very interesting to listen to, in part because Hitch had such an iconic speaking voice.

Dear Keith:

I've read the book twice over the years and enjoyed it both times. I suppose I could listen to the twelve hours of the interview, too, but I feel unmoved to do so. In the course of my life I think I've read every book written about Alfred Hitchcock, and I've seen damn near all of his movies (there are still a few silents I haven't seen), and I think I get him pretty well. I was just trying to rewatch "Strangers On a Train," a movie I've never really liked, and I still don't. I don't give a crap about either of the lead characters. I know if I stick with it long enough there's some nice filmmaking ahead, but I'm not sure it's worth it. My question is: did filmmaking hit some kind of pinnacle with Hitchcock? And Ford and Wyler and those guys? Or did it hit its peak with Coppola and Scorsese in the 1970s? But it hit its peak somewhere in the past and now we're just watching it slide down the hill. I just started writing an essay entitled, "Movies Are Shit," which I'm somewhat uninspired to finish. But I felt that after putting in a mighty effort and seeing about 25 of the 2015 movies I ought to comment. Movies stink. There aren't any great filmmakers out there, and that includes the aged Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola. Hitchcock could make a brilliant scene out of a guy just standing on an empty road waiting for who knows what? Now all we've got is an embarrassment like Quentin Tarantino who, in the greatest waste of Ultra Panavision 70 ever, only knows how to repeat the word nigger over and over again while senselessly smacking a woman in the face with a gun butt every few minutes. Anyway, thanks for the link.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               5/16/16

Dear Josh :

I've often read reviewers say that the script was rubbish but the actor/actress made the drivel watchable with their talent. I realize there are fine actors out there and some not so fine but is that possible? As a writer your thoughts? How about as a director? Can a director make a script better than it is?

Dear Russ:

I'd like to believe that I made the Xena episodes I directed better than they were. I added jokes and songs, and anything else I thought was amusing or funny. A director brings their sensibility to the show. And it's always great having an actor give a terrific performance. But no matter what you're stuck with the script, and if it stinks than you can probably bet the movie or show will stink, too. As they've been saying forever, "If it ain't on the page it ain't on the stage."

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               5/10/16

Hey Josh :

Lately I've been working on a script I'm really enjoying and when people ask me if I'm working on another movie, I feel like I am, even though it's only the script and not the production. It occurred to me that even though I'm not a writer, I still get tremendous pleasure from writing a movie. I get about the same pleasure from writing a movie as I do from shooting one, or editing, or even sound mixing. All of it feels like "making movies" to me and making movies is what I enjoy. You're an actual writer, so I'm probably asking a rhetorical question, but do you get the same thrill from writing as you do from everything else involved with making a movie? Thanks

Dear Justin:

I'm glad you brought this up. I love writing. I write every day, and I think of it like weightlifting: the more you do it the more comfortable it gets, although it never gets easy. I do think there is a whole school of thought regarding your comment, "it's only the script," where writing the script is the incidental part of filmmaking. It's not incidental, it's the most important part of the process. Without a good script nothing you can do afterward will fix it, no matter how good your lighting, your shot selection, your casting or anything else. But, as I mentioned, it never gets an easier writing a good script. Because I write so much I don't have any problem sitting down and knocking out a 120 page script, but that doesn't mean it will be good. As Irving Thalberg, former head of production at MGM, said long ago, "The most important decision you'll make is your first one -- what story am I telling."

Josh

Name:             Dave G.
E-mail:           
Date:               5/7/16

Dear Josh :

Can't find the Film Threat article you wrote on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Do you have a link to it?

Dear Dave:

It got taken down, but will now go back up. Here's the link.

Josh


TO Q&A Archives Page




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays ]  [ Old Stuff ]
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director ] 
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]