Questions & Answers

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Name:              Jack
E-mail:            tvavstudios@hotmail.co.uk
Date:               04/03/14

Hi Josh:

Noticed today that it's Alec Guinness' 100th birthday, and that brought to mind a question I've had floating around a while now; that is, was Bridge on the River Kwai your favourite film from the first time you saw it, or did you gradually realize all its brilliance with repeat viewings? I ask because it's my favourite film, in no small part because I'd already read your Need for Structure essays before seeing it, and it would certainly have taken me a while, otherwise, to appreciate everything going on in it. Also, aside from Kwai, what are your favourite Guinness roles?

Dear Jack:

That's difficult to say since I've seen the movie so many times. Did you know that the greatest film critic of all time, Pauline Kael, NEVER saw a movie twice? I just watched "The Maltese Falcon" for perhaps the 100th time and it gets better and better with each viewing. "That's twice you've laid hands on me." We all come to our understanding, or lack thereof, at our own rate.

Josh

Name:              Keith R Robinson
E-mail:           
Date:               04/02/14

Dear Josh:

Hope all is going well, longtime fan here. I noticed that "Thou Shalt not kill..Except" has been released on the Synapse dvd label and I'm wondering how that company has treated you and your film and how they have been to deal with ie honest, upfont, paid you etc..? All the Best Keith

Dear Keith R Robinson:

The folks at Synapse are great. They paid me the second the deal was signed, then didn't release the film for two years. The transfer is brilliant, the packaging is beautiful, they answer the phone, they push the title, they're the best. You can't do better than Synapse.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Burr
E-mail:            JeffCBurr@AOL.com
Date:               03/23/14

Dear Josh:

In your book on filmmaking, you talk about your friend Paul who at the time was making a 16mm feature film over the course of many years. Do you know if it was finished, and if so, is it available anywhere? And on a related topic (indie filmmakers making films over the course of years) have you followed the later films from Blake Eckerd, who used to check in regularly on your site? I have enjoyed watching him grow as a regional filmmaker working in a genre of one. And lastly, I enjoyed reading your essay on death. Your essays are always great food for thought, even if your palette is different than mine.

Dear Jeff:

Always good to hear from you. I hope everything in your life is going well. Regarding Paul's movie, "8998," which has been in the making since 1998, no it's not done yet. He has mountains of good-looking footage--some of which I shot; most of which was shot with my Bolex--but he has yet to make a single cut. He had all of the footage work-printed, but has, in the course of time, decided to cut digitally, so now everything must be transferred which will certainly be a monumental task. I watched a couple of Blake's early features, and though I was impressed he had made them, I was less than enthusiastic about the results. When I asked him once why the script was so poor, he replied, "I didn't have time to rewrite it, I had to shoot." I replied, "Were you going to miss your Christmas release date? Was the studio breathing down your neck?" How goes your film endeavors?

Josh


Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               03/23/14

Dear Josh:

Do you think enlistees in the Armed Forces should be allowed to quit if they find that they don't like it. Every other job allows people to quit. The Armed Forces contract is based on the theory, otherwise discarded, of indentured servitude.

Dear Bob:

That's certainly an interesting question, particularly aimed at me. Since I was perfectly prepared to flee the country should I have been drafted into the Vietnam War--luckily for me, the war ended before I got drafted--I personally would never join the military and, thank goodness, now I'm too old. However, as they say, everyone makes their own deal. If you sign up for two years in the military, then you made a deal to serve for two years, and I don't think you should be allowed to break your contract, nor should anyone be allowed to break their contracts. It is not indentured servitude because you signed up of your own accord. The draft, on the other hand, is a whole different can of worms. That is indeed indentured servitude, and I personally would have told them to fuck themselves and split.

Josh

Name:             James Brighton
E-mail:           
Date:               03/15/14

Dear Josh:

The Final Jeopardy question (3/14/2014), in the category “Actors & Oscars” was: He was nominated for Oscars in 5 consecutive decades; the last nod was for his 1978 role as a Nazi hunter. It stumped me but you'll probably know the correct response right away.

Dear James:

Laurence Olivier in "The Boys From Brazil."

Josh

Name:             Kyle Humphrey
E-mail:            prorate919@gmail.com
Date:               03/13/14

Dear Josh:

Ok... your breakdown of Unbreakable is completely retarded.

Dear kyle:

Thank you. I ask you, if you could choose to be any super-villain, would you choose being made of glass? If you stub your toe you'll completely shatter. Let's face facts, M. Night Shyamalan had one movie in him, "Sixth Sense," and all the rest are crap. Even as an internet troll you can choose better fights than this one.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               03/13/14

Dear Josh:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/oscar-voters-12-years-a-slave_n_4904132.html

Dear Justin:

I have no doubt that there were a helluva lot more than two Academy members who voted for "12 Years a Slave" that didn't watch it. I didn't make it all the way through, which is a particular issue for me because then I can't put it on my list. But 90 minutes of that film was more than enough. And it won Best Adapted Screenplay? Oy vey! Well, there's nothing new here. It's the "Gandhi"- "Schindler's List" Syndrome: it's long, it's "important," it's heavy, it's no fun, therefore it must be the best.

Josh

Name:             Lou
E-mail:           
Date:               03/13/14

Dear Josh:

Enough with Joe LoPukea already! He's like the nemesis of Spinechillers. Would you ever consider using Bart Pierce to do special effects again like he did for you in Evil Dead?

Dear lou:

As with most internet trolls, you seem to enjoy weighing in on topics of which you know nothing, and impugning people whom you don't know. The internal struggles of Tres Hombres Productions have NOTHING to do with my dear friend, Joe. Nevertheless, I appreciate your interest. Regarding my old friend, Bart Pierce, he left the film biz a lifetime ago. Nor does he live in Michigan anymore. There are far too many people around these days who know how to do digital effects, of which we need very few. My newest episode has none.

Josh

Name:             Rob
E-mail:           
Date:               03/13/14

Dear Josh:

Just to correct you on one thing, "Blue Jasmine" was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Dear Rob:

Yes, I was already corrected. That it didn't win is a crime. And "Her" sounds stupid.

Josh

Name:             Kristie
E-mail:           
Date:               03/13/14

Dear Josh:

I agree that "Blue Jasmine" was the best film of the year. It actually was nominated for Best Original Screenplay but lost to "Her." I have to wonder if the recent rehashed scandal somehow prevented the voter to choose it, because "Her" was a surprising choice. As expected, Cate Blanchett did get her much deserved Best Actress award, though. What were some of the other nominees that you saw (or bailed out on)? I only ask because I'm always interested in your opinions.

Dear Kristie:

My buddy had SAG screeners, which command you to destroy them after one viewing, but I think they should self-destruct like in "Mission Impossible." Anyway, so I saw a few nominees this year: "American Hustle," which was pretty good, with a great cast, but ultimately more about production design, costumes, lighting and music, then about its story; "Blue Jasmine," Woody Allen's best movie in 20 years; and "Captain Phillips," which was so fucking stupid and badly directed and shot that I bailed within 20 minutes. You're in known pirate waters off the coast of Somalia and the only weapons you've got are fire hoses, then hiding? If the captain had .22 caliber pistol the whole thing could have been avoided. It may well be true, but it's so utterly ridiculous it offended me. Oh, yeah, and "20 Years a Slave," which I've already discussed. Thank god there are still so many good old movies I haven't seen. I just watched a terrific French film from 1956 called "Gervaise," with the absolutely wonderful Maria Schell (the late, great Maximilian's elder sister). It has the best cat-fight ever.

Josh

Name:             James Brighton
E-mail:           
Date:               03/05/14

Dear Josh:

Did you enjoy the Academy Awards? I thought Ellen was much better this time around (the first time she seemed nervous). Also, here's an interesting bit of Oscar trivia: James Brooks is among an elite group of 7 Directors who have won best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted) for the same film. In 1984 he won all three for Terms of Endearment (1983). The other directors are Leo McCarey (for Going My Way (1944)), Billy Wilder (for The Apartment (1960)), Francis Ford Coppola (for The Godfather: Part II (1974)), Peter Jackson (for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)) and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (the brothers co-produced, co-directed and co-wrote No Country for Old Men (2007) with each other). Brooks is the only one to do so with his directorial debut and the only one to do so without collaborators in any of the three categories.

Dear James:

Fascinating. I love Oscar trivia. Sadly, however, I don't love the Oscars anymore, and I didn't watch them. Had a I watched, for three-plus hours, and arrived at "12 Years a Slave," I'd have thrown my TV out the window. As the Oscars so often do, they chose the heaviest, most "important," and longest film for Best Picture (see my article "What do the Oscars REALLY mean"). I only made it halfway through the film and hated it. In my opinion, the film is a dramatic disaster. Ten minutes in they've stated their point: slavery is miserable and being a slave-owner or a slave trader is immoral. OK, I'm with you, now what have you got? Nothing. Three hours reiterating the same point over and over again. Dear god! In my opinion the best picture of the year was "Blue Jasmine" and it wasn't nominated for picture, director or screenplay, a category Woody Allen usually owns. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence fall down a second time was fun. The famous fart-knocker was Helen Hayes who, at 77-years-old, wiped out on her way to receiving Best Supporting Actress for "Airport" in 1970.

Josh

Name:             Dean
E-mail:           
Date:               03/03/14

Dear Josh:

I am still enjoying the spinechillers episodes, will be great when you have a large series of them online as they should start to gain momentum and viewers, one thing I always love seeing in the shorts is the Michigan architecture, which always looks fantastic. I do have a quick question for you. When filming in public and capturing exterior location shots, do you always need a location/property release form ? I have a shoot in New York ( flying across the pond ) within the next month or so and have required permits in place but am wondering if I need location releases to cover my ass ? Over here in the UK it usually works that if it is a non copyright building ( EG Empire State Building ) visible from a public street you can film it as long as the building is not easily identified and that it is not explicitly used in marketing materials. It would be next to impossible to find the property owners in a lot of cases of random apartment blocks/office space. No worries if you can't answer as I get that this is more of a legal question, but I kind of hoped to splice in some Establishing shots of New York apartment buildings into a project I am working on this year. In any event, all the best of luck with everything, you keep making 'em I will keep watching 'em

Dear Dean:

I've never gotten a release for any location here in Michigan and I've shot all over the damn place. I mostly never got them in L.A. either, and I've shot all over the damn place there, too. You think "Sex & the City," which of course had a good budget, got releases for all of the NY locations they shot on? I really fuckin' doubt it. If you're shooting a whole scene in front of Macy's you'd need their permission, but if you're just walking past Macy's, fuck 'em. Brits have a different view of things than we silly yanks. I shot all over L.A. for "Running Time" and the only place I got permission and paid a location fee was in the dead-end alley because I had to have the characters come out the door. I wouldn't worry about it were I you. Two more "Spine Chiller" eps cut and out being scored. I'm very proud of this last one I made, "Estate Sale." I can't wait for comments.

Josh

Name:             Lucas
E-mail:            check the archives
Date:               03/03/14

Hi Josh:

Is there any chance of an e-book version of "Rushes"? I enjoyed reading "Going Hollywood" digitally.

Dear Lucas:

It's a good idea, but without a publisher pushing it ebooks (or any kind of books, for that matter) just don't sell. There are eight zillion ebooks on the internet, why read mine? If you really care, here are some used copies on Amazon, which, oddly, are not cheap. One is actually forty bucks. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0809573008/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1393862249&sr=8-1&keywords=rushes+josh+becker&condition=used

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               02/05/14

Dear Josh:

Another excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman you forgot to mention is "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead". And it was Sidney Lumet's final film, too.

Dear David. R.:

I loved that film. I watched it seven times. Hoffman is brilliant. So are: Albert Finney, Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei. Great script and direction. It's one downfall is ugly video photography, but that was easily gotten past. Thanks for bringing it up. Philip Seymour Hoffman will be sadly missed.

Josh

Name:             Ribbert the Lion
E-mail:           
Date:               02/05/14

Dear Josh:

Glad I could help sway your position. Mia Farrow is a royal C U Next Tuesday, if you know what I mean.

Dear Ribbert the Lion:

Yes, apparently so. She had a baby, Ronan, by Frank Sinatra, who was 71, while she was with Woody. And that she was furious that Woody had ruined her career because he wouldn't cast her anymore after the breakup. She's lucky she got the parts she got, and she's not all that good in most of them. And the fact that when she married Sinatra he was about 35 years older than her only makes her a hypocrite calling out Woody on the age difference between he and Soon Yi. If you ever get a chance, check out Barbara Kopple's wonderful documentary about Woody's ragtime band touring Europe called "Wild Man Blues." You get a good clear view of his relationship with Soon Yi, and it seems like a terrific relationship. And clearly, if anyone is in charge in that couple, it's her.

Josh

Name:             Kristie
E-mail:           
Date:               02/05/14

Dear Josh:

So you liked "Blue Jasmine?" I thought it was really solid. Did you see "Midnight in Paris" yet?

Dear Kristie:

I bailed out on "Midnight in Paris." It far too whimsical for me. I don't like any of Woody's cute, whimsical films, like "Radio Days," "Bullets Over Broadway" or that musical with Goldie Hawn. There's a bunch of them. I like it when he's going all-out humor, like "Love and Death," or he's serious, like "Blue Jasmine." The in-between stuff is neither fish nor fowl to me.

Josh

Name:             Tony
E-mail:           
Date:               02/04/14

Dear Josh:

New Super 8 films for 2014 ? Thanks

Dear Tony:

I'm certainly not shooting anymore Super-8 films, and I've transferred and am presently selling all the films I have the right to sell, so no, there won't be any new Super-8s from me in 2014. There are many, many more Super-8s made by the group of us that I had a hand in, but they're not my films.

Josh

Name:             Ribbert the Lion
E-mail:           
Date:               02/04/14

Dear Josh:

Read THIS and tell me you still lean toward thinking Allen is guilty… http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast.html I think Mia Farrow is a crazy bitch, is what I think.

Dear Ribbert the Lion:

Given the clearheaded information in this article--http://thebea.st/1ckev98 --and the fact that Woody Allen was NOT Soon Yi's stepfather, that she was of legal age when their affair started, that all criminal investigations of the molestation charges proved Woody didn't do it, or were inconclusive, that no criminal charges were ever brought against him, nor any court case or conviction, that when Woody and Soon Yi adopted two daughters and, after the thorough investigations by the adoption courts, Woody was found to be innocent of all charges, I want to believe, and now do believe, that Woody is innocent. This is simply one more example of someone being pilloried by a psycho ex, then dragged over the coals by the media and internet trolls. I'm sorry I ever doubted him and I openly apologize. Luckily for Woody, he never goes on the internet. Thanks for sending the link to the Daily Beast, although I had actually just read it.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               02/04/14

Dear Josh:

What do you think of The Victors (1963)? I have read that the DVD has not been produced for the North American zone although it is available in the UK Europe zone. It seems surprising to me that such an important film is not yet available. I understand that the UK DVD has some scenes restored that were cut due to the Hays code.

Dear Bob:

As I recall, and it's been a long time since I've seen it, that it was just OK; nothing special. I found it strange to have George Peppard and George Hamilton, who remind me a lot of each other, in the two leads. It seems to me it was actually confusing. Carl Foreman, who was a great screenwriter and won an Oscar for "The Bridge on the River Kwai," as well as writing and producing "The Guns of Navarone," was not a great director. I don't think it was an "important" movie; it's just another, overly-long, perfectly capable, WWII melodrama. Adding more footage back into it will undoubtedly not make it better.

Josh

Name:             Ribbert the Lion
E-mail:           
Date:               02/03/14

Dear Josh:

Are you following all this Woody Allen hoopla going on in the media right now? Curious as to your thoughts.

Dear Ribbert the Lion:

It's very disheartening since I respect Woody Allen so much as an artist. I think "Blue Jasmine" is his best film in about 15 years. It's not for me to decide on his guilt or innocence, but looking at his past behavior with Soon Yi, one might lean toward guilty. I find it to be an enormous drag because it's a vile crime. Combined with the terrible news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, I don't like anything coming out of the entertainment world these days. And even though I'm not a real football fan (I do root for the Lions even though I know it's a lost cause), but the Super Bowl utterly sucked, too. And I severely unimpressed by Bruno Mars, who does appeared talented, but didn't have one moderately decent song. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were on it was OK.

Josh

Name:             Hunter
E-mail:           
Date:               02/03/14

Dear Josh:

Too bad about Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was one of the great actors of our time, so tremendously talented, and he had so much left to give. Do you have any favorite performances of his? Personally, I loved him in "Charlie Wilson's War" and "The Master."

Dear Hunter:

I liked Philip Seymour Hoffman in everything. He was my favorite working actor. I just saw him in "A Late Quartet" with Christopher Walken, and I thought it was terrific film and everybody was great in it. As you mentioned, "Charlie Wilson's War, "The Master," "Capote," "Moneyball, " "Flawless," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," everything. It's a great loss. 46 years old and he'd been clean for 23 years. But when depression descends on you, you'll do anything to get rid of it. Sadly, after his long hiatus he apparently no longer remembered what his limit was. He will be missed.

And since celebrity deaths always come in threes, you also just had Pete Seeger and Maximillian Schell. But Seeger was 94 and Schell was 83, so they had long, full lives. 46 and a heroin OD is just shocking. There was actually another celebrity death this last week, although most people had undoubtedly never heard of him, the Italian composer, Riz Ortolani, whom I always liked. He was 86, and did a terrific score for Kirk Douglas' film, "The Vikings."

May they all rest in peace.

Josh

Name:             Pol
E-mail:           
Date:               02/03/14

Dear Josh:

When is Michigan going to legalize marijuana?

Dear Pol:

I don't know, but we do have medical marijuana and I got a card, which was ridiculously easy to get. I daresay, it's all coming. Then they'll be able to clean out all of the prisons with people there on pot charges and everybody will save money. It only makes sense.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               01/31/14

Dear Josh:

Thought you might be interested in this piece on "Inside Lewyn Davis" written by Dave Van Ronks wife Teri Thall. Since you find that time period interesting, the piece and the comments seem up your alley. There are spoilers but since you are in no rush to see the flick it probably doesn't matter. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/12/dave_van_ronk_inside_llewyn_davis.php

Dear Paul:

Why am I not surprised that the Coen brothers didn't get anything right in "Inside Llewyn Davis," and that all of the characters, based on upbeat, funny, hopeful, committed people, have become downbeat, humorless, uncommitted pricks in the movie? I don't know if Ms. Thall would like my folk era movie, "If I Had a Hammer," but the theme of my film is commitment, and all the variations on it. Everybody in the film cares about the music, whether they can play or not. The only downbeat character in my film is Bobby Lee Baker, the angry folk singer, who is overly-committed to the cause of social change, and cares very much about the music. But the Coens and I are very different people and filmmakers, not to mention, they get distribution and I don't. C'est la vie. Thanks for sending me the link.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               01/30/14

Dear Josh:

The thing is, films are such a "flash in the pan," its silly for Quentin Tarantino not to make his movie because a handful of people read the script online. If he made the movie, and it got all the critical acclaim and all the box office he hoped for, it would still disappear in the video graveyard after a year, and would only be remembered if it was any good. So who cares if anyone read the script before the movie was made? I think this about all films and how studios get nervous about leaks.

Dear Justin:

Good to hear from you. I don't think that most people understand that Hollywood is driven by fear. It's the number one emotion in that town. All studio executives are afraid they're going to lose their job, and they probably will. Everybody else fears that they'll never get another job, and in many cases they won't. Everybody is afraid of their own shadow. Quentin is needlessly afraid that if his script gets leaked that EVERYBODY will read it, then not want to see the movie. What he's not understanding is that most people won't read a screenplay, or won't understand it, or won't finish it. And the folks who are big enough fans to read the whole script will certainly go see the movie. Take my word for it, Quentin is a putz, I've met him many times. That he's made it as far as he has only proves what a ridiculous, asinine world we live in.

Josh

Name:             Holly Woody
E-mail:           
Date:               01/23/14

Dear Josh:

Just read this piece. Thought you might find it interesting and curious as to your thoughts. http://www.deadline.com/2014/01/quentin-tarantino-hateful-eight-leak-novel/#more-669066 Thanks, H.W.

Dear Holly Woody:

Oh, poor Quentin, folks read his knuckleheaded script, which I'm sure is a rip-off of some piece of shit, '70s Italian film, or a Hong Kong film. He thinks stealing from older, foreign films is the same thing as originality. He has the audacity to not even give the films he's stealing from credit. Well, there are thousands and thousands of other shitty films he can steal from, so there's really no problem.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               01/18/14

Dear Josh:

Regarding "Llewyn Davis". The Cohens optioned the Dave Van Ronk biography "Mayor of McDougal St." before starting the film. I haven't seen it and not being a fan of their other musical film "Oh Brother where art thou" I am not in a rush. I suppose it will be about a sad sack folk singer who gets even sadder when the movie ends. And on the cat movie subject I highly recommend to Diane and you, "Miss Minoes" a film from the Netherlands based on a beloved cat book from that part of the world. It is great and features a host of cats. It was titled "Undercover Kitty" for the English speaking release. Anyways I hope she seeks it out and reports back. Thanks again.

Dear Paul:

I'm with you. "Oh, Brother" stunk. Most of the Coen bros. movies stink, as far as I'm concerned. I hated "No Country for Old Men." I'm also in no rush to see this new one, and if I never do that will be perfectly fine with me. The Dutch cat movie, on the other hand, sounds like something I'd be interested in. Thanks for the recommendation.

Josh

Name:             Diana
E-mail:            upon request
Date:               01/16/14

Dear Josh:

Long time since I've checked in on my favorite Xena director! I have been seeing ads for "Inside Llewyn Davis", and as it features a cat prominently, it reminded me of my post here to you and the readers about films featuring (to varying degree) cats. I was happy and surprised folks chimed in. I am ashamed to say however that I have yet to see Kurosawa's "Madadayo". So I just had to check into your Q&A to see if you'd seen "Inside Llewyn Davis" and sure enough you'd just been asked about it. Maybe we'll revisit it when we've both seen it. I too no longer go to theaters, and catch things months/years later. (I could get shot for shhhhing people! I got tired of confronting the omnipresent rudeness) So glad to see you're still gettin' it done, Josh- hope you and your 2 (?) remaining felines are happy.

Dear Diana:

Very good to hear from. I haven't seen "Madadyo" either, although it does sound it interesting, and is Kurosawa's last film, so I really ought to see it. Meanwhile, I was down to one cat since two of them died, but now I'm back up to three cats because people keep giving me their cats. My house has been referred to as "the cat dump."

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:           
Date:               01/16/14

Dear Josh:

"For zero-budget films, we keep making them." - So, thinking about making a feature using this process? I am, personally, on a $25,000-$30,000 budget, on a Canon DSLR (mainly in one house). Which isn't exactly chump change, but the 16mm budget was about $350,000, so...uh, yeah.

Dear Nick:

We shot the first two "Spine Chillers" with the Canon T3 and it was great. Since our fellow Hombre, Chris, has two better cameras we switched upward, but I still used the Canon for all of the running-around location shots for the last episode I shot, "Estate Sale," and it cuts perfectly with the other cameras. Having already made seven features, that's not really on my mind at the moment. Admittedly, none of the features I've made were nearly that cheap. The lowest-budget one was "Running Time" at $90,000, and that was on 16mm. I shot that in nine days. But I'm fine with just doing "Spine Chillers" right now. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               01/16/14

Dear Josh:

I called you that because of ur disrespectful tone. You think ur Bill Buckley but ur really just Bill O'Reilly.

Dear jd:

You, sir, are a putz.

Josh

Name:              Danielle
E-mail:           
Date:               01/16/14

Dear Josh:

I don't know if you've seen "Inside Llewyn Davis" yet, but the protagonist really reminded me of you and, at some point, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the movie.

Dear Danielle:

Maybe someday I'll see it, but I don't look forward to it. I'm just not a fan of those guys, although I did enjoy the "True Grit" remake. It's not as good as the original, but it's still pretty good. My only real interest in "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the possibly similarities to my folk music film, "If I Had a Hammer."

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               01/15/14

Dear Josh:

Wow…I'm so glad I asked. In fact, I'm so glad you prompted me to ask. Douchebag.

Dear jd:

Why would you call me that? What did I do to you? You asked a question and I answered it.

Josh

Name:              Hunter
E-mail:           
Date:               01/15/14

Dear Josh:

Do you look down on Sam Raimi?

Dear Hunter:

I'm taller than him. He's clearly a very talented, successful director, I'm just not a big fan of his movies. But then, I'm a picky guy: I don't like Quentin Tartantino's movies or Joel and Ethan Coen's movies, so I'm obviously not an up-to-date person. I just watched "American Hustle" and was unimpressed. The found it uncompelling and mainly about hair and makeup. In Mr. David O. Russell's favor, I did like "The Fighter" and "Silver Lining Playbook." But what do I know?

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               01/15/14

Dear Josh:

Would love to hear about that process.

Dear jd:

Scripts are written in the present tense and historical fiction, for the most part, is in the past tense, therefore every " he does" becomes " he did." Scripts are generally lean on description of characters, because who knows who they'll cast? If I say in a script it's happening in the Bad Lands of the Dakota Territories, then it just is. But books are much richer with description and prose. That's pretty much the difference.

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               01/13/14

Dear Josh:

Have you ever been interested in doing a literary adaptation for a film?

Dear jd:

Odd you should bring that up. I just adapted my script, "Head Shot: The True Story of JFK's Assassination," as well as my script "Teddy Roosevelt in the Bad Lands" into novels, and I'm now doing "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood." So, yes, I've thought of it. Why do you ask?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Have you seen Argo? I thought it was a good film, but there have been a lot of complaints about its inaccuracies, of which I don't want to list any, as this would create spoilers of a recent film. But the question is, do you think that in films which are presented as factually based, there is a line which if crossed which will undermine the integrity of an otherwise well made film, and if so, did Argo cross this line?

Dear Bob:

I saw "Argo" twice and enjoyed it quite a bit. No one said it was a documentary. It's fictional account of a true story. I have written a number of these sorts of stories. Damn near every word you put into people's mouths is fiction. "Argo" told an interesting tale in a dramatic fashion, and I thought pulled it off very well. "Lawrence of Arabia," one of my favorites, only touches on the actual facts here and there. That doesn't lessen its greatness as a movie.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Any Spine Chillers updates???

Dear HAL:

"Semper Fi" is posted, "Exit Interview" is, for the most part, cut and will soon be scored, "Estate Sale" is assembled and will soon be finally cut. For zero-budget films, we keep making them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Speaking of smoking a pack of Chesterfields in what may I guess could have been a 60s woodgrain paneled family car brought to mind this quote from the late great Peter O'Toole. Any parting thoughts on the man ? "I can't stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another." - Peter O'Toole "I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony" - Peter O'Toole

Dear Paul:

Aside from the fact that Peter O'Toole (a double phallic name) was a great, great actor, he was a particularly odd man. His autobiography, "Loitering With Intent," is a strange book. He was obsessed with killing Hitler, even though Hitler was already dead. I saw him on the Johnny Carson Show, several times, so drunk it was shocking, even to Johnny.

Josh

Name:             Jim
E-mail:            nickfalzone1@yahoo.com
Date:               12/25/13

Dear Josh:

Any knowledge of or interest in the Coen Bros. film "Inside Llewyn Davis"? I am aware that you typically have not been a fan of their works, but this subject seems like would be appealing to you. I'm not sure if it is out yet, but here's the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXMuR-Nsylg

Dear Jim:

I don't know what the story is, but the trailers do remind me of "If I Had a Hammer." It's an interesting time period.

Josh

Name:              Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               12/24/13

Dear Josh:

"I didn't have to calm down, I had to wake up." But, "I distinctly recall coming out of the movie theater after seeing "Mary Poppins" in 1964 when I was six years old and thinking to myself, "Now that was a piece of shit." How do you "distinctly" remember anything if you were sleeping?

Dear Justin:

We had to walk from the movie theater to car, after 140 minutes of misery, and the cold air woke me up. So I said to my dad, "Hey, dad, can I have a cigarette?" And he said, "Take the pack," which were Chesterfields, BTW, and I wanted to discuss why I thought the film was such a piece of shit, but the rest of my family seemed to have had a good time, so I shut up and smoked my cigarette.

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:           
Date:               12/21/13

Dear Josh:

So would you say that the Sherry Bobbins "Simpsons" episode is better than "Mary Poppins?" "Buy me a beer/two bucks a glass/come on, help me/I'm freezing my ass..."

Dear Nick:

By far. That was a good episode.

Josh

Name:              Justin Hayward
E-mail:            Justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               12/21/13

Dear Josh:

After you saw Mary Poppins in theaters, you literally had the the thought, "Now that was a piece of shit" when you were 6 years old? Did you follow your thought with a smoke to calm down?

Dear Justin:

I didn't have to calm down, I had to wake up. Back in those days if I said, "Hey, dad, can I have a cigarette?" he'd say, "Here, take the pack."

Josh

Name:              Alien Termite
E-mail:           
Date:               12/19/13

Dear Humanoid Josh:

Here's a new video of Harlin Ellison giving his thoughts on Walt Disney that I thought you might enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNIFEHN1_cY

Dear Alien Termite:

I am a FAR bigger fan of Harlan Ellison than I ever was of Walt Disney. If Mr. Ellison tells me that "Saving Mr. Banks" is shit, I have no doubt that it's shit. I distinctly recall coming out of the movie theater after seeing "Mary Poppins" in 1964 when I was six years old and thinking to myself, "Now that was a piece of shit." Dick Van Dyke, whom I loved in his TV show, was AWFUL. He couldn't do a British accent well enough to fool a six-year-old. Julie Andrews, who was a sensation on Broadway at the time, and should have won the Oscar "My Fair Lady" in 1964, but didn't, and instead got it for this terribly-made piece of junk. Foolishly, Ms. Andrews did not get the part in "My Fair Lady," and so she got this part, and Oscar, instead. "Mary Poppins" is a flat, ugly, poorly-made film. And, as always, Mr. Ellison is right.

Josh

Name:              mister 876
E-mail:           
Date:               12/19/13

Dear Josh :

I'm working with Sam Raimi this week. You want me to ask something/say something to him for ya? all the best!

Dear mister 876:

Tell him I say hey.

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               12/13/13

Dear Josh :

Glad to see Spine Chillers back in action. Very disappointed your cameo wasn't in this one though. Couldn't you have even been a guy at the funeral? I think it was a decent episode compared to the rest...looks-wise it was one of the strongest, and the guy who played the marine was very good. If anything was off (other than the production sound) I thought it was the editing. Really wished you guys had a stronger editor in there...or were at least getting more coverage. As a producer, do you ever get your hands dirty helping to improve the other guys's episodes, or do you just all let each director just do what they want? Your episodes are the strongest, in my opinion, and I think the other two could really use some more guidance in the editing phase. Just my thoughts. Can't wait for more!

Dear jd:

My cameo in "Exit Interview" isn't much of anything, I assure you. Each Hombre does what they want. If they're interested in script notes, as Chris and I are, we give them; if they don't want any comments at all, like Paul, then that's the way it is. Personally, I agree with you that Chris could have used some more coverage, and I mentioned it to him, but alas, he didn't get it. I do think that "Semper Fi" is the best-looking episode so far. The shot at the end of Paul arriving with the flares of backlight is magical.

Josh

Name:              Brian
E-mail:           
Date:               12/13/13

Dear Josh :

Are there any tv shows you currently enjoy? Have you seen Breaking Bad? If so, do you think its overrated? No spoilers please, haha

Dear Brian:

I don't watch TV shows, other than "The Daily Show." I watch movies, and lots of them. In my humble opinion, there are too many movies and not enough time. Not that you asked, but in the last couple of weeks I've watched: "Johnny Apollo" (1940), "Death of a Scoundrel" (1956), "Premium Rush" (2012), "Buck" (2011), "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse" (1938), "The Mortal Storm" (1940), "Memorial Day" (2012), "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" (2009), "Each Dawn I Die" (1939), "We Were Strangers" (1949), "The Beast of the City" (1932), "The Man Who Cried" (2000), "Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing" (1972), "Killing Them Softly" (2012), "Happy-Go-Lucky" (2008), "Tyson" (2008), "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" (1973). Given the amount of films I haven't yet seen, I have no time for TV shows. But don't get me wrong, I spent a great deal of my life watching TV shows, I just don't do it anymore.

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               12/12/13

Dear Josh :

Haha, now you have douchey snowflakes. What else is going on, Becker? What's the word on the new episodes/writing?

Dear jd:

Hey! The snowflakes are festive. The newest episode of "Spine Chillers," "Semper Fidelis," was just posted two days ago. Check it out. The next ep is cut and ready to be scored, and the next one after that is assembled. We keep moving.

Josh

Name:              jd
E-mail:           
Date:               12/10/13

Dear Josh :

What's with all the menorahs? Didn't know you found religion.

Dear jd:

That's due to the overzealous webmaster here. I knew nothing of these menorah's until you just mentioned them. I will, forthwith, request said webmaster to remove them. And no, I have not found religion. That's unless you consider booze, beer and weed a religion, which I do.

Josh

Name:              Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               12/06/13

Hey Josh :

How were the holidays for you ? Does the Becker clan get together for them ? And what is your place in the family ? Are you the funny uncle, the black sheep, the guy who keeps to himself with a drink in his hand, etc. Are there any traditions the Becker household sticks to every year every, or maybe you just stay away.

Dear Paul:

My mother and younger sister both live in Florida, my father spends the winter in Arizona, my elder sister, niece and cousins all live California, and my nephew lives in Georgia, which just leaves little old me back here in Michigan. Anyway, I hung out with my buds and had a fine time. I hope you did, too.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/18/13

Dear Josh :

I finally got around to watching the Spine Chiller program "Sorry I Couldn't Make It." I enjoyed it. At first I was put off a bit by it's ultra low budget feel but after a couple of minutes I started getting into the minimalism of it. What was the budget? How long did it take to shoot? We're the actors all friends of yours? From reading your book "Rushes" and reading just about every entry at your "Ask A Director" page, I seems you're not really too attached to the horror genre so why make a horror program? Do you drink at the Bachelor Sports Pub? Looking forward to watching the other Spine Chillers soon. Joe

Dear Joe:

I love that kind of horror, call it psychological if you will, but dramatic and leading to a twist ending, like "Twilight Zone." I'm not a fan of most of what passes for horror in the past 30 years, like zombies or torturing young people or just pure guts and gore. But the suspense/horror/twist-ending genre is a time-honored literary tradition, going back at least a 150 years, though probably a lot longer than that, where you are literally attempting to give people a chill. And yes, the actors are my good friends and partners in this deal. If you watch the other posted episodes--a new one will be ready within two weeks--you'll see the same actors again and again, although we keep expanding our ensemble. There was no budget on that first episode other than McDonald's one night, pizza the next, and I picked up the bar tab, so all in all I didn't spend $100. I've been to Bachelor's One any number of times, but I don't hang out there. It's about five blocks from my house.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/17/13

Dear Josh :

I know actors are why we are all there. However, don't you agree that if it wasn't for the camera people to photograph the actors so you can see them and the sound people to record them so you can hear them and the lighting people to expose them so you can see them and the catering people to feed them and the transpo department to move them around then they would just be staring at themselves in the mirror. Sorry, I don't buy the actors are the most important part of the set BS. (Not that you said that specifically but most everyone does. Producers let them get away with murder.) Like I said before, it has been my experience that actors are the worst.

Dear Joe:

Everybody needs everybody else, that's all. However, with no actors everybody would be sitting around staring at each other. Yes, actors are the most, how shall I say it, sensitive folks on the set, whereas the crew shouldn't be particularly sensitive, as they hump equipment around all day. But actors have to sit around endlessly, then suddenly have to get up in front of the camera, which is recording how well or poorly they're doing their jobs (unlike the crew), then go from zero to one-hundred percent immediately, then sit back down for some lengthy period of time until they're needed again. As I said, I love actors, and I admire the hell out of good actors who often make something good out of a piece of shit script. Most of the crew members, and I've done damn near every job on a crew, don't have to think all that much: move a light, coil a cable, hold a boom, set up a C-stand and a flag, big fuckin' deal. You could teach chimps to do most of those jobs. But acting is a cerebral, intuitive, thoughtful job, and done well, isn't easy. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/16/13

Dear Josh :

I've worked on film crews for about 25 years. I'm in a technical guild. My question is this: when the crew has the set after the rehearsal and marking rehearsal, why can't the actors just shut the fuck up and stay out of the way? It's been my experience that a lot of actors (not all) have to always be the center of attention. I get it you're a fucking actor, your a narcissist who needs constant validation but can you just shut the fuck up for ten minutes so we can do our job which in turn will make you look good. Do you have to start singing in the middle of set and any number of attention getting antics. It's been my experience that actors are the most amateurish and unprofessional people on the set. The crew is always saving production.

Dear Joe:

I love actors, as I believe any decent director must, and I think they're the most fun people on the set. Actors are also why we're all there. A good set is a lighthearted set, where the environment is comfortable for everyone, but particularly the actors, so they feel free to express themselves and give their best, uninhibited, performances. I sing on the set a lot, and I'm always hoping others will join in. To take filmmaking too seriously is, in my opinion, to miss the point. If you can't have fun doing it, you should do something else. I don't know about your experiences, but for me, everybody is working together, cast and crew, and nobody is saving anything.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/15/13

Dear Josh :

When did you do better with the ladies, when you were directing films/big tv shows or when you were partying with the cocaine and booze?

Dear Joe:

Neither of those. When I was young, between the ages of, say, 14 to 30, and always here in Michigan, never in L.A. In L.A. I was always a loser with women, although I did have a few girlfriends over the course of 20 years. Even though I was directing Herc and Xena it did nothing for me back in L.A. In Michigan I've always done just fine.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/15/13

Dear Josh :

Do you believe in ghosts?

Dear Joe:

No, I don't.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/12/13

Dear Josh :

What's the biggest regret in your life?

Dear Joe:

Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Seriously, I, just like one of my heroes, Harry Truman, feel that regrets are a complete waste of time. Although my career is anything but a big success, I'm pleased with the work I've done and I wouldn't trade my films for anyone else's. There it is.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               11/11/13

Dear Josh :

Check out "All is Lost" with Robert Redford. Impressive film and performance. Redford is the only actor to appear on screen, there isn't any spoken dialogue for most of the movie, and yet it's completely engrossing.

Dear David:

It sounds very interesting and I'd like to see it, and ultimately will. The no-dialog gimmick has been used before, in a 1952 film called "The Thief" with Ray Milland, but it didn't come off all that well.
I'd like to see it where it works.

Josh

Name:              Gary Jones
E-mail:            directorfx@gmail.com
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

COOL COOL story about visiting your dad and the vets!!! Now this would make a great film, get busy!!!

Dear Gary:

I'm pleased you liked it. Perhaps you're right about it being the basis of a script, I'll consider it. Thanks for the idea.

Josh

Name:              kristopher smith
E-mail:            closer28@hotmail.co.uk
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

Yes, Im afraid I'm asking if I can use the script for free. I don't have a lawyer. I'm currently looking for scripts to make for my next feature and your script seems appropriate.

If you don't want me to direct it, I understand.

Kris

Dear Kris:

I'm a tad too old to be giving away my script without even an agreement. As I said, I'm pleased you liked it, but I must sadly decline your offer. Good luck to you, sir. May I suggest writing a script.

Josh

Name:              kristopher smith
E-mail:            closer28@hotmail.co.uk
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

I'm a low-budget filmmaker from England. I've read some pages from your script "The Biological Clock" and am quite keen on directing it. I'm obviously asking for permission. I was wondering if you can reply back with either your interest, or if you're not your disinterest. Secondly, if you can also give me the log line/synopsis for the drama. Looking forward to your reply, Kris

Dear Kris:

I'm glad you like my script, but are you intimating that you want the rights to my script for free? Do you intend to have a lawyer draw up an agreement? What exactly are you talking about?

Josh

Name:              lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

I'm a low-budget filmmaker from England. I've read some pages from your script "The Biological Clock" and am quite keen on directing it. I'm obviously asking for permission. I was wondering if you can reply back with either your interest, or if you're not your disinterest. Secondly, if you can also give me the log line/synopsis for the drama. Looking forward to your reply, Kris

Dear Kris:

I'm glad you like my script, but are you intimating that you want the rights to my script for free? Do you intend to have a lawyer draw up an agreement? What exactly are you talking about?

Josh

Name:              lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

If you don't believe in God how can something come from nothing? Hmm?

Dear lou:

I never said I don't believe in god; I said I don't believe in religion. I believe in cohesion; something holds everything together because things don't just spontaneously combust. But humans attempting to quantify this is ridiculous to me.

Josh

Name:              lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/08/13

Dear Josh :

Hey did you see Gravity on the big screen yet? It's really worth it.

Dear lou:

No, I haven't. I rarely, if ever, go to the movies anymore. I just watch them on TV.

Josh

Name:              lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/06/13

Dear Josh :

Thank you, that a answers my question. My next question is when is Bruce Campbell going to appear in Spine Chillers, in 2019 perhaps?

Dear lou:

Bruce is a busy man with a lot of projects in the works. But sooner or later he'll get back to Michigan since this is where most of his family lives. When he does, and I have no doubt it will be within the next six months, we'll shoot his episode. It's that simple.

Josh

Name:              lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/04/13

Dear Josh :

Thank you, that a answers my question. My next question is when is Bruce Campbell going to appear in Spine Chillers, in 2019 perhaps?

Dear lou:

Bruce is a busy man with a lot of projects in the works. But sooner or later he'll get back to Michigan since this is where most of his family lives. When he does, and I have no doubt it will be within the next six months, we'll shoot his episode. It's that simple.

Josh

Name:              Arnold
E-mail:           
Date:               11/03/13

Dear Josh :

Now that Stanley Kubrick's elusive first feature, "Fear and Desire" has been out on DVD/Blu for a while, have you had a chance to check it out? It's worth seeing as a curiosity, but it's not all that good a film.

Dear Arnold:

No, I haven't seen it yet. I did just listen to an hour and fifteen minute interview with Kubrick that's on YouTube--it's just audio--and he discusses it. He personally thought very little of the film other than he got it made. Nobody else thought very much of it, either. He immediately decided to do something with more action in it and made "Killer's Kiss," which isn't particularly good, but it got him his wealthy partner, James Harris, who financed "The Killing," and thus his career really began. Anyway, I'll see it eventually.

Josh

Name:             lou
E-mail:           
Date:               11/02/13

Dear Josh :

DUDE! TIMELINE ON EXIT INTERVIEW...PLEASE!!!!

Dear lou:

I'm not 100% sure what you mean. If you're asking when it will be done, all I can say is it's all shot and 97% cut, but still needs to be scored. Episode #6, "Semper Fidelis," is being scored. Episode #7, "Estate Sale," is shot, but hasn't been cut yet.

Josh


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