Q & A    Archive
Page 105

Name: Phill "Hatch" Tarr
E-mail: Hairyandfunny@yahoo.com

Hey Josh, my name's Hatch, my partner Christian and I have an underground Horror magazine in Sarasota, FL. and we were wondering if we could conduct a short on-line interview with you so we may put it in our magazine. Thank you in advance for your time,

Hatch
LOP (League of Pchycos)

Dear Phill:

Sure, no problem. Send the questions.

Josh

Name: kearston
E-mail: kearstonz@yahoo.com

Augest and Josh you both can go to hell, i'm glad you dident have a part gor me in a movie or anything else, being denied was the best thing that ever happened to me so you can take your films and scripts and shove them up your ass.

Dear Kearston:

Who the fuck are you? I went back through the Q&A to try and see what correspondence between August and I set you off, but I can't find anything. Who denied you a part in anything? What are you talking about? I guess you must simply be insane.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dabrowsigroup@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I disagree that One Hour Photo implied that single middle-aged men are all perverts. That movie could have been just as effective (or ineffective) if it was a girl, a bored married man, or a teen ager. I thought, at the very least, a one hour photo guy was an ideal way to illustrate a lonely man, someone who looks at birthday parties and such and wants to be a part of it.

Also, after witnessing the trend in modern society, I am now convinced to speak my feelings unabashedly, without pulling any punches.

One of your fans said that we have more single people than we ever have. And we're more screwed up as a society than we ever have. Not everyone has to get married. But still, there has to be some form of self-restraint, some hint of sacrifice in the minds of all of us, which there isn't. People live by their whims, thus, we have abortion, divorce, druggie kids, irreverence, disrespect, etc. People don't know how to be happy with what they have. All they know how to do is complain.

Today, we have fewer people than ever attending the Traditional Catholic church--and I suppose you'll maintain that we're doing better than ever before.

Ben

Dear Ben:

Given the thin, unmotivated writing, it would have been equally as ineffective with someone else other than a middle-aged bachelor. If the motivation and theme were disaffectation from society, which it could well have been, then that needs to be written into the script. But as it is, it's left for the audience to insert anything they'd like. If the writer has a point, which in this case I don't believe he had, then it's the writer's job to get that point across. All we get in "One Hour Photo" is a middle-aged bachelor obesessing about a family, getting fired for stupid reasons, then stalking a family. The bottom line of drama is getting the audience to believe the story you're telling, and this fails on all counts. Regarding society as a whole, I do sense an apathy and disregard for traditional values, but that's just how it is. But I don't think the utterly corrupt Catholic church is helping anything, either.

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I see that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are quite successful these days, with their work on "Alias," and now some other shows in the works. Did you interact much with them when you were directing either "Kindred Spirits" or those "Jack" episodes? If so, any memories or impressions? I gather they were pretty young when they first began working with Ren Pics - what was their background, and how'd they get involved?
(Also, I'm curious if Alex is related to Bob Kurtzman the make-up guy.)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

No, I don't believe there's any relation between them. I hear that Bob just moved back to Ohio where he'll be running a digital effects company. I dealt with Alex and Bob very little in person, although quite few times on conference calls from New Zealand. They were perfectly reasonable young guys with a sense of humor and enjoyed working with them.

Josh

Name: Kevin Bacon
E-mail: kanadian_kev@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I planned on going to bed early but stumbled upon your (???) screenplay titled If I Had A Hammer. I was unusually hooked from the first scene until the ending. Instead of focusing on something before my time (19 years) and becoming a fossil, it remained exceptional but accurate to how life is lived today. Music, sex and drugs were not taken over the edge, and this was when I confirmed that this was a well written story of modern life. Lately, most plays I read or movies I see are tossing in way too many characters, it is great to know somebody besides me is still trying to create moving stories without all this confusing mumbo-jumbo. I was able to get into each of the characters (especially Phil of course) and feel it as they did, well done! However I felt it would have been better to have either cut or used a different way of assuring us that 'Phil' was becoming a real follower. The way he was told to say 'TUFF' instead of 'COOL' seemed to me to be something that just did not belong in the story, maybe even a cliche. Even without this little bit of dialogue we already knew what was going on. In either case, great story! I was half expecting some rediculous 'tragic death' to occur, because I didn't expect it to have a decent ending (and as we all know, a stupid death is a regular ending to a regular story). Great way to keep it real, thanks for the interesting read!

Dear Kevin:

I'm very pleased you liked it. Now you should buy the video tape and see what I did with it on film. I still can't get this movie shown anywhere.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i was comparing stranger than paridise to clerks and slacker just because they are both low budget
its true that kevin smith has no visual style and slacker could of been 30 min shorter

the more independent films i see the more i dislike 'hollywood' movies

i just watched about 40 min of 'i am sam' and it was bad, the camera was always moving around and zooming in and out there was not one steady shoot in 40 min. i think all the movement was to cover up the weak script and no plot...did you see this movie

i also watched the horror movie 'the ring' which is 'scarry as hell'...it was the biggest peice of shit i ever saw...i mean it was bad, did you see the ring

my point is that just about every movie 'i have to see' or is 'great' turns out to be a peice of shit, yet when i tell people to watch a certan low budget movie all i hear is 'its black and white that sucks or theres no special effects what the hell'

what im saying is that i cant tell if its the movies that are bad or if everyone is going stupid

Dear John:

It's undoubtedly a combination of the two. I did see the first fifteen minutes of "I am Sam," and it was dreadful, and entirely illogical. The chances of that retarded guy ending up with that baby seemed nil. And Sean Penn's performance was embarrassing. "The Ring" went in one ear and right out the other, and it certainly wasn't scary. Like I keep saying in my recent reviews, today's version of a good movie is actually just a bad movie.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i just watched 'stranger than paridise' a black and white 90 min. low budget film about 2 guys who have no life [1 sceen shows the main guy sitting on his bed tapping his toes for what seemed like forever] then 1 of the guys cousion comes to visit then leaves then the guys take a road trip...and thats about it...the only time i really got into the movie was about 10 min. before it was over. whats with showing a black screen for like 5 seconds every time the sceen switches

how can say you like this movie but not like slacker or clerks well, i guess thats your call...but i just did not get the film

Dear John:

"Stranger Than Paradise" actually has a story, which "Slacker" and "Clerks" do not. It's actually got some visual style, too, which those other films do not. I agree that there is a certain dullness to it, as with all of Jim Jarmusch's films, but it was actually going somewhere and had characters whom I believed that interested me. I also have a problem with going to black between the scenes, but I'll deal with that happily over the shit writing and filmmaking of "Clerks," or the one-note aspect of "Slacker."

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I agree that One Hour Photo was complete crap, and I never believed the premise of the film was interesting enough to be a feature. Also, the film never had a 3rd act, it just ends without any sense of closure. I much prefer Williams in Insomnia. His character served the story much better than the nonsensical motives of Sy. I also agree that the film did portray the fact that it is unacceptible to be middle aged and single in American society, however the reality is that there are more middle aged single people today than ever before, and the one wise desision my generation is making, is not marrying young, like our parents did. A vast majority of people are now getting married in their early to mid 30's, which I think is very smart.

Anyway, I guess your right about bad movies being accepted in current times. I miss going to theaters, but as you know there's nothing worth seeing; though I hear American Splendor is good.

Do you really think Al Gore will run again? He has said repeatedly that he wont, and I think out of respect to that dope Lieberman, he wont run. The thought of 4 more years with Bush is truly terrifying, but if the American people are pissed off enough, Bush will be history. I know many people who were too apathetic to vote in the last election,that can't wait to vote in this one in order to oust Bush. I have been following Dean since the very beginning of the race, and believe he might have a chance if he sticks to his guns.

Dear Scott:

My good friend, who is a serious comic book fan (although he hates superheroes), wasn't impressed with "American Splendor," and I have a feeling I won't be, either, and I'm not a comic book fan. Yes, "Insomnia" was a better Robin Williams-as-the-psycho vehicle. I also thought that Al Pacino was better than Stellan Skarsgaard in the original. All in all, though, the original and the remake are both pretty forgetable.

Josh

Name: Bjorn
E-mail: reddythebaron@yahoo.com

"In my humble opinion"
That is one of the last lines you wrote in your very uninsiteful, repeat what I've read, can't think for myself, never read the Tora, Bible, Koran or anything else at least attempting to offer a better way essay. Further the anger oozing from the silly words you wrote is ironic as you talk about the evil, hateful religiuos people, who save for them the word world would be full of self serving biggots sitting on thier hundred foot horses pointing fingers at all the "weak" people, biggots like yourself. One final thought. If you really believe all the crap you wrote at least offer something better, make an impact in someones life, give some money to something good instead of using your site to pass on your uneducated pride filled bravado, you may end up screwing up some kids head. I actually came here to learn something about film making, sorry I did.

Dear Bjorn:

That's part of why I wrote that essay/rant. If some young folks read it and see that religion is evil, then decide to think for themselves instead of buying into thousands of years old useless propaganda, I will have made a positive impact on the world. Religion is for the thoughtless, and orthodoxy is for the true morons of the planet. As Bill Maher said, religion comes from early traumatic experiences that lead to neurological disorders. You got a problem with that, or are you too busy getting down on your knees and begging favors from a dead Jew?

Josh

Name: sspnyc66@mac.com
E-mail: Scott

Josh,

I just watched the documentary "Searching for Debra Winger" on my "Showtime on Demand" last night. It was done by Roseanne Arquette who has always actually annoyed me quite a bit, but I thought the Doc was pretty good with some good interviews and since she is behind the camera most of the way, she becomes less annoying.

It revolved around the lack of roles Hollywood has for women near 40 and older as well as working actresses, relationships, and the decision of raising a family or not while still pursuing their career. There are interviews with many different famous actresses who fall into this category.

Towards the end of the film, there is an interview with Debra Winger as to why she left the career of acting before 40.

I think what is cool about the film is that like life, everyone follows different paths, and some of the responses in the interviews are great.

One of the underlying themes of the piece is how enchanted all of the actresses are (young and old) with Hollywood in this age. many of them criticize the very same things you do here on your site.

There are some great points brought up in the piece as to why this is and I thought you might like to check it out.

It is interesting that there is such a distaste for all the bad films Hollywood produces, yet nobody does anything about it.

Also, I think it is noble of you to support Gore for running again, however, I am not sure he will. He seemed pretty set on not wanting to do it. I just wish he had more balls when he was running.

I think the reason the last election was so close was because his agenda wasn't that of a Democrat and he came off more like a conservative in many ways which I believe to be the problem with most democrats nowadays.

His true colors did not really come through until he announced that he would not run for office. When I seen him on all the various talk shows in the Winter, he seemed much more relaxed, funny, and more of what I would like to have seen when he was running.


I hope he does reconsider running. Howard Dean is looking pretty strong for the democrats in NYC.

We shall see.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I did see about an hour of it, but I had to turn it off (I spoke with my sister the next day and she turned it off, too). I understand their plight, but it got highly wearisome listening to famous actresses bitching about their careers. It's like Rocky's response to Mickey, "At least you had a prime." And like you say, how about doing something about it?

Gore's biggest problem during the 2000 election, from my standpoint, was his distancing himself from Clinton and their eight very good years in office. This was assuredly due to the severe attacks on Clinton going on by the Republicans about the sex scandals. But if Gore had Clinton stumping for him, he'd have won handily. Nevertheless, he's the only Democrat that I believe can assuredly beat Bush, and that's the issue. Dean seems okay, although he lacks any big experience -- Vermont isn't really a microcosm of the rest of the country. I like Kucinck, but he's a tad too odd to win the presidency, I think. Al Sharpton amuses me, but I can't see him as president, nor would I vote for a reverend. I don't really care for Lieberman, Kerry, Gephardt, or Graham. I think Gore's the man, until he's absolutely out of the race.

Josh

Name: Dalty
E-mail:

Josh, can a statement really be considered a lie when no one really believes it anyway? I knew all along that there wasn't any immediate threat from Iraq. I remember that Bush was trying to get support for a war with Iraq *before* September 11 happened. At the risk of sounding insensitive, it's pretty convenient for Bush that September 11 happened. Otherwise, he never could have gotten his war with Iraq. I never believed that there was a direct connection with Hussein and Bin Laden, but in all modesty, not everyone is as smart as I am. Personally, I think Bush should have waited until he had more compelling evidence that Hussein was hiding something. We know that Hussein and his supporters weren't being completely honest with us about all the weapons they had. I'm not saying that because Hussein lied that it's okay for Bush to lie. But sooner or later someone would have slipped up and we'd find out that that person's story didn't mesh with anyone else's. Then we could have taken action with the U.N.'s support. But then again, maybe I'm just oversimplifying the case. And as for the next election, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm voting for Dave Barry. He may not be a politician, but he can't possibly screw things up worse than any of the previous presidents.

Dear Dalty:

No, don't vote for Dave Barry. If Al Gore runs, and I certainly hope he does, we all have to back him to be absolutely sure that Bush and his eight trillion dollars worth of campaign funds don't succeed. Four more years of Bush and his 100% average of making bad decisions will cause this country irreparable damage. I watched the zany Democratic debates last night that kept being interrupted by Lyndon LaRuche supporters. They were all very vehement in their condemnation of Bush, and Al Sharpton was amusing, but I don't think any of them can win, and I don't think we should chance it. Gore beat Bush before and he can do it again, I'm convinced.

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

When a local theater orders a print of a film, am I correct in assuming that there is a tremendous variation in the prices of the films? Is a Spielberg special-effects extravaganza more expensive than is a film like "Greek Wedding"? Assuming there is a difference I wonder that theaters don't stagger the prices of movie tickets. The math would say that optimizing profits would require variable levels of pricing for movies with different initial investment costs. Just wondering.

John

Dear John:

They don't pay anything for a print, it's an issue what percentage they're sending back. A big effects extravaganza will probably demand a 90% return for the first couple of weeks, dropping to 75% for the next couple of weeks, then settling at 50%. A regular, run-of-the-mill film will begin at 50% and stay there. I'm sure on an accounting level it makes more sense to standardize the ticket prices.

Josh

Name: Reggie
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Thanks for answering my THOU question in such detail.

I'm going to ask you a few more questions about it, then I promise to put a moratorium on Scoopic questions. :-)

1) What kind of Scoopic did you shoot those THOU shots on? The old grey Scoopic-16, or the M or MS?

2) Are any of the models particularly better or worse than the others?
(picture quality AND ease of use)

3)I've found a "Scoopic M" for $500 that appears to be in perfectly good condition. Should I go for it? (so I can start making movies and stop bugging you:-)

4) On a different note, is Super-16 film simply just single-perf 16mm film?

Thanks,
Reggie

Dear Reggie:

Sorry, but I don't know the difference between the models of Scoopics. The one I used was black. I borrowed it from a guy who ended being murdered, by the way. The problem you need to check into first is the batteries. Can you get new ones? The old ones are either dead or will die soon -- batteries don't last forever -- and I don't think new ones are available. Super-16 is simply single-perf 16mm print stock that exposes across the optical track and the where the second line of perfs should go. That's it. That way you end up with 1.85:1 screen ratio. But you don't have to shoot in 1.85:1. I shot "Running Time" with regular 16mm at 1.33:1, and I think it looks fine, and it transferred to video perfectly without a letterbox. Go ahead, ask as many questions as you'd like, and if I can answer them I will.

Josh

Name: Dalty Smilth
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh,

I agree that Bush was completely pulling stuff out of his @$$ when he was trying to get us to go to war with Iraq. But the thing is, I also believe that Saddam Hussein was a horrible man who needed to be taken out of power, and I don't believe that that would have happened under any peaceful means. (Unless he died of natural causes in his sleep or something.) That said, I must restate that I think that Bush was a complete moron for trying to link Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks. He'd have had much better luck trying to link Saddam Hussein to Kevin Bacon. (Probably by going through Sean Penn.) And speaking of 9/11, I don't know about anyone else, but I plan not to watch any TV this year on the eleventh. I think September 11th has become a simulacra. The symbol of September 11th has become more important than what happened on September 11th. I hate to say it, but that's how it is. Thank you, and have a good day.

Dear Dalty:

I agree that there were a number of compelling reasons to bring Saddam down: he was a murderous tyrant, he controlled a big portion of the world's oil and wouldn't do business with us, it's a logical, central spot in the middle-east for military bases, it's next to Saudi Arabia whose regime may be failing to pieces, etc. But that's not what Bush and his administration said. They said, "Iraq is threatening us with an imminent attack of weapons of mass destruction." That was their reasoning and it was false. As the British keeping saying, they "sexed up" the threat, because had they presented the actual reasons, and not bypassed congress, everyone might well have said no. As bad of a man as Saddam may be, I don't think bringing him down was worth what it's cost us, and will continue to cost us for years to come. I'm a citizen, I was lied to, and I don't like the results of what that lie has brought us.

Meanwhile, I honestly and truly believe that the only Democrat out there that can assuredly beat George W. Bush is Al Gore. Gore beat him before and I believe he can beat him again. I also think that four more years of Bush could be irreparable to this country, and it will probably take Al Gore four entire years to straighten out the shit that Bush has brought upon us. So I recommend that everyone who cares at all about the country that they live in right a letter to Al Gore and ask him to run for president (as I am). His address is:

Office of the Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

Josh

Name: John Rambo
E-mail: thisisjohnrambo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I must agree that Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was a good film. It had a lot of energy you know, and spirit like you said, and looked great. I think some biographical stuff was changed or exaggerated though. Anyway, did you know that two martial arts trainers that worked with Jason Scott Lee for the film also worked with Kevin Sorbo for Hercules and Kull? I think that was really interesting. Plus I think the role changed Jason Scott Lee's life, I heard he's actually a jeet kune do instructor now.

Anyway, onto another question. You know I was sitting around with a few of my buds the other day and we were talking about Westerns, and how they don't make them like they used to. Why do you do you think that is? When did good Westerns start dying out and why? Was it because of the times changing or because of John Wayne's passing? Or maybe Clint Eastwood got too old to make them. I guess you can't have any Westerns without Western stars right.

Well, I hope you can shed some light on this for those of us that are curious.

I hope you're doing well.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I don't think people realize today just how many times westerns have come and gone in popularity. Westerns were very popular in the teens and twenties, then went somewhat out of vogue in the thirties (John Ford made one western in the 1930s, "Stagecoach" in 1939), they came back a bit during WWII, then went entirely out of popularity in the forties, then came back again in the fifties, mainly due to Anthony Mann and James Stewart, then sort of hung around growing less popular through the sixties. 1969 was considered by many to be the last good year for westerns, with "The Wild Bunch," "True Grit" and "Butch Cassidy." Westerns grew less and less popular throughout the seventies, and the basically stopped making them in the eighties. There was a little resurgence in the early nineties with "Dances With Wolves," followed the next year by "Unforgiven," but then Hollywood followed that with about ten shitty westerns that pretty much killed the genre again. And a film like "Open Range" certainly won't help. The thing with westerns is, in my opinion, when they're good, they're really good, and when they're bad, they're the worst.

Josh

Name: Gena Barnabee
E-mail: gbarnabe@uga.edu

Mr. Becker,

I read your script "The Happiest Guy in Town" and I really liked the concept. I spent the summer in Los Angeles and I often wondered how people came to the point in their lives with no where to live and no one to turn to. I would like to use your script for a project in a producing class I am taking at the University of Georgia. The course focuses on the functions and duties of the producer as she shepards an idea through the life cycle of a "project": development, financing, pre-production, production, marketing, distribution, and exhibition. Like I said before, I really like the concept and the script. I was wondering why you decided to have Todd be found in the end. When I read your script and when I think about the reality of the situation, I feel as if the ending almost doesn't fit. I envision the film as having an almost "Requiem for a Dream" feeling of the harshness of the reality that the characters face. If that film had ended with a happy ending and all the characters being fine in the end the film wouldn't have had the impact it had to audiences all over the world. So my question to you is did you ever think about ending the film differently and if so what would the ending be or if not why you feel it is so necessary to the story that it end happily. Thank you for your time.

Gena Barnabee

Dear Gena:

That was the ending I had in mind from the very beginning. I don't think it has much of a dramatic arc without it. I personally find it entirely unacceptable to have a dramatic arc that goes straight down, like say, "Requiem for a Dream," which I completely hated. But you see that unrelenting downward structure used all the time these days, where things start to go wrong, then just keep going wrong. That's not good drama. I certainly don't demand or expect that all stories have happy endings, but in the case of this script, if I left him in the gutter I'd only have two acts. I think that you perhaps missed the point of the story, which is about community and belonging.

Josh

Name: Doug
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of the filmmaking wannabe 'climate' out there these days? It just seems like there's so many 'filmmakers' nowadays. Was it always this bad? How is it different from let's say the 70's? Were there as many seminars, gurus and consultants? Not to mention festivals and film schools? Don't you think it's pretty obnoxious of these 'gurus' (or even film schools) to be out there claiming to everyone that 'you too can do it!' (when in fact they themselves haven't done it)'? What was it like when you started as a filmmaker? Were things worse, better or about the same?

Dear Doug:

Back in the 1970s when my buds and I began making films, there was a greater sense of hope that you could make a low-budget film, get it released and it would be seen. There was also the feeling that it was possible to make truly great, personal films, and that all good ideas would not be crushed by the studios. Film still seemed like an art form, as well as a form of personal expression, nor did it seem utterly corrupt. There were the same film schools, as well as many books on screenwriting. But it all didn't seem like a pie-in-the-sky lost cause, not when you could go to the theater and see a new John Casavattes movie, or "Five Easy Pieces" or "The Last Detail." Hollywood was still a giant mountain to climb, but it did seem scalable, and it didn't feel like you'd have to sell your soul to the corporate devil to get there.

Josh

Name: Forrest Gabitsch
E-mail: f_gabitsch@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I haven't checked out this site in years, probably since "Running Time" came out on DVD. After reading a Bruce Campbell interview at Film Threat that mentions Josh Becker, I clicked over here to see what the director was up to.

I read a few rants, and all I can say is hell yeah. The religion one is completely spot on, as is the one about Resident Bush.

My question to Josh Becker: Is there a political satire, a Becker-esque "Dr. Strangelove" or "Brazil," waiting to be written, produced and released? I hope so. I'll be coming back here more regularly, either way.

Dear Forrest:

I have written one political comedy, "The President's Brain is Missing," which is available here. I didn't particularly like "Brazil." I've thought a lot about "Dr. Strangelove," though, and the idea of making fun of the most serious issue of the day, but I don't have an idea or a story.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

Hey Josh.You are okay.I have see, you have play rock musik to.i have like and other bands, Jethro tull,judas priest,van halen,the band amerika, you remember the song a horse with no name,or Asia with jon Weton,Palmer,Stewe Howe A SUPER GITARIST ,and this NECTAR was very good,and for me the rock musik in the year 1980 have go in two directions,bands like Aerosmith, or bon jovi,brian adams,and more others, i don't remember now,is the pop/rock MTV SHIT. And the other direction, is more neear to as, the jounk people call it heavy metal,(not black+dethA metal),bands like Iron
Miden,Hammerfall,Stratovarius,Edguy,Heelowwen,from U:S:A Dream Theater,Savatage,Megadeth,and of course VIRGIN STELE this album HOUSE OF ATREUS part 1.2,3 it's perfect, a rock opera album.if you have time hear this album HOUSE OF ATREUS you gona like't.GIORGOS

Dear Georgios:

I liked early heavy metal, like Black Sabbath with Ozzy, and early Ted Nugent, like "Stranglehold," and "Radar Love" by Golden Earring. I still listen to those songs, too.

Josh

Name: Reggie
E-mail:

Dearest Josh,

Could you tell us which scenes in THOU were shot with your Scoopic?

Thanks,
Reggie

Dear Reggie:

Both scenes at the A&W, the wide shots are with the Arri-BL, but the two-shots and close-ups of Stryker and Sally in the car were shot with the Scoopic. All of the shots inside the shed of various items getting blown to pieces. You can particularly notice the difference in the shots of Stryker being carried out of the Vietnamese village, the medium close-up of Stryker throwing the grenade, as well as the shot of the grenade sailing through the blue sky (one of my favorite shots). Also the close-up of an Asian guy with a bullet hole in his forhead and his head dropping back on the ground. There are shots all the way through the movie shot with the Scoopic, actually. Both of the time-lapse sunrise and sunset shots, which I did with a cable release and a watch. Also, when Whiskey is in the woods and sniffs out the severed arm, the POV shot and the insert of the leash hooked on a root were with the Scoopic. That's a bunch of them, anyway.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

yes,yes i'am king CONAN THE BARBAR???GIORGOS

Dear Georgios:

No, no, Babar is a an elephant.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail: bob@thebobweb.com

Hey Josh, most of the posts you get look more like a Michael Moore site than a filmmaker site. That in mind, I just wanna ask if you have ever looked into the "truthout.org" newsletters. They seem to justify every move they make with irrefutable facts, and I know you love to refute (what I like about you). I'm an ESL teacher and yes, screenwriter (script doctor), living in Joymany. Looks like you've made some good films. Any chance you went to LACC? All the best, Bob Graham

Dear Bob:

I did go to LACC for one semester in 1977. The science fiction writer and sci-fi movie novelization writer, Alan Dean Foster, was my screenwriting teacher, but he knew so little about screenwriting I dropped his class. A few questions: a). Where is Joymany? (is that ebonics for Germany?), b). You actually doctor Hollywood scripts? If so, which ones? My feeling about Hollywood scripts is that they are no longer doctored, they're embalmed by morticians. Many of those scripts may very well have begun with something interesting in them, and some slight shred of integrity, but that is all quickly deleted along with all characterization, leaving only unbearable cliches, and shallow, plot-dominated nonsense. What are your feelings on this?

Josh

Name: Jaxon Bridge
E-mail: jxbjxbjxb@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I saw you used a Scoopic quite a bit. I have one of these too and have done shorts with it, transferring the film to video before editing. It looks nice. But now I am thinking of making a 35mm blow-up film with this camera. Have you seen blow-ups from your footage shot on a Scoopic? I have heard the camera registration is not so excellent on this camera, which introduces image problems in a blow-up ("muddiness" or maybe image jitter). Then lens is great and I trust it, but the camera was obviously not designed with the big screen in mind. Any comments on your experience with doing this, if any? Obviously, since the Scoopic shoots standard 16, not super-16, the image is going to be low-res and high grain, but I can tolerate this...it's the registration issue that concerns me.

thanks,
Jaxon

Dear Jaxon:

I found the Scoopic to have pretty good registration. I shot quite a few special effects with it and they looked fine. I shot a few scenes of my feature "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except" with it, which was blown up to 35mm, and though I can see the difference between the footage shot with the Arri-BL and the Scoopic (the Arri footage looks better), it's not a huge difference. As far as resolution and grain, that depends on what film stock you use and how much lighting equipment you have. Shooting with super-16 won't improve resolution or grain, it just gives you a wider image because it exposes over where the optical sound goes. Super-16 also forces you to blow up since you can't finish in 16mm anymore. Good luck.

Josh

Name: bryan
E-mail: maxim@netcbc.com

Dear Josh:

I enjoyed reading your article on the 99 cents stores.

Please let me where can I buy products to sell for 99cents at my store? At least a container in variety at a time? I would appriciated an email back.
thank you
bryan

Dear Bryan:

The best place to buy wholesale products for a 99-cent store would be at a 49-cent store.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

Othere times, other wars,mister Graham i think we have larn from or mistak's??? Neverthelast Sandam was, Tyran,and A DIKTATOR must fall, but this act from George (I THINK I CANCE MY NAME)Buss and Tony Blear brink as 4000 years back.Today mister Graham we have the UNO, to take disisions, or do you think U. S. A is one exepsion?? and can do what she wan't, okay u.s.a have this problem with teror act's and we all feel sory for this what hapen in 11 september, on this day, i have think i lost my hart because i'm a optimist and think the world is going with the time better and better, and we larn from the past,but no there is comink mister Buss and say...lat there by ,action and the bombs fallink and the cildren die'n who is comink next pleese?????i have inu'f weapons for any one.GEORGE,AH I FORGAT, I MUST CANCE MY NAME

Dear George:

You have fallen into the realm of gibberish.

Josh

Name: David Graham
E-mail: beeker@cwo.com

Hi Mr. Becker,

I agree with everything you said about Bush's deadly boondoggle in Iraq, but I have to disagree with your assessment that it's the worst misuse of presidential power in U.S. history. I think you're overlooking some real
doosies:

* Lincoln's fascist behavior during the Civil War
(http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo26.html)

* Truman sending U.S. troops to Korea for a "police action"

* Johnson sending U.S. troops to Vietnam for a "police action"

* Truman dropping atomic bombs on Japan -- a blatant act of terrorism in the true sense of the word.

* FDR provoking the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor and holding Japanese Americans in concentration camps.

* McKinley's invasion of the Philippines and Cuba around the turn of the century, which, like Bush's invasion of Iraq, was built on a lie ("Remember the Maine!").

Aren't these misuses of presidental power, and aren't they just as bad or worse than Iraq? At any rate, I enjoyed your rant. I must confess that I'm not aware of what films you've directed (my friend sent me the link to your essay), but if my discriminating friend is a fan, you must have something going for you.

Take care,
Dave

Dear david:

Thank you for the historical disputes. I will attempt to address them one by one. Let's begin with Truman okaying the use of the atmic bombs on Japan. I absolutely disagree with your assessments that it was either a misuse of presidential power or that it was a "blatant act of terrorism." Dropping the atomic bombs undoubtedly saved the lives of about a million American soldiers, and possibly as high as three millions Japanese. The Japanese military had taken over the government and they were not going to surrender under any circumstances. The invasion of Japan, which was being mounted in Okinawa, was looking like the biggest, most deadly assault of the entire war, and nobody wanted to do it. But the Japanese would not surrender, and certainly wouldn't even consider an unconditional surrender. They were busy arming all of the school kids to defend the homeland, and I have no doubt they would have fought to the very last person (look how they defended all of the islands in the Pacific, like the Phillipines). The Japanese wouldn't even surrender after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, nor did they surreder immediately after the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The only reason they did surrender is because they didn't know whether or not we had more atomic bombs. Dropping the bombs probably ended the war a year earlier and saved millions of lives, so I think you're flatly wrong on that one. Your contention that Abraham Lincoln was a fascist is complete nonsense, not that some of the facts aren't true, but that screed about him was undoubtedly written by one more of the pissed-off southern losers who still continue to hold a grudge that they can't sit in the shade sipping a mint julep while the "darkies" do all the work. The Civil War was ABSOLUTELY about slavery, and the war began because Lincoln, who was anti-slavery, and had been for at least ten years or more, was elected president. No he didn't immediately emancipate the slaves, mainly because he didn't know how it would affect the war and the north (having hundreds of thousands of jobless people streaming into the north). But in fact he did emancipate the slaves, which was a huge deal in the history of the world. Lincoln was not a fascist, but the southerners are still sore losers. Lyndon Johnson didn't send the troops into Vietnam, John Kennedy did. Kennedy is the one that took our involvement in Vietnam from a few hundred advisors up to thousands of troops fighting a war. Johnson simply escalated and escalated it until it was several hundred thousand troops. Truman sending troops into Korea was our first major move against communist aggression after WWII, and though we ended up having to sneak out, it was still a very important statement at the time, that we would oppose communist expansion, which truly needed to be stated at the time. And saying that FDR "provoked" the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor is insane. Japan was an Axis power on the side of Germany and Hitler who were committing atrocities all over Manchuria, so we blockaded them. They certainly didn't have to attack us, and we were absolutely right in declaring war because of it. And even though we still don't know who or how the Maine blew up, the entire Spanish-American war lasted 30 days (more U.S. soldiers died from eating their own badly canned corned beef than from Spanish bullets). I think you are one of these revisionist history people that applies today's standards to yesterday's conflicts. It's like the opening narration of "Spartacus" (bringing this back to movies for a moment), where it says that Rome was stricken with the disease of slavery. Well, so was the entire rest of the world, and would be for another 1,850 years. But in the cases of Korea, Vietnam, and even Iraq invading Kuwait, there were solid reasons for our intervention. In this case of invading Iraq, we were the aggressor nation, we did not have the backing of the U.N., nor the rest of the world, nobody was being invaded by anyone else, and the reasons were all false. Nevertheless, thank you for responding intelligently to my rant, I appreciate it.

Josh

Name: james
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

can places like sundance project movies that are on vhs tape instead of film

Dear james:

I believe they can, although I've never been there. Most festivals have digital projection systems now, but they prefer to project on film in the bigger auditoriums, or pretty much any other video tape format, like Digital-Beta, Beta-SP, or DVD. VHS just doesn't look or sound very good.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

Just happened to read something you mentioned below about your disdain for logging in the NW...My grandfather was a logger back in the 1940's and I've lived in Oregon for several spells myself. The recession going on in the Pacific Northwest right now isn't entirely, but greatly due in part to the crazed, left wingers who essentially came in and helped shut down logging in the early 90's. Currently, the state is broke and is only getting further in debt. A terrible place to live, and yet, nobody can figure out why. What anyone in the NW was thinking when they put all the restrictions on their own land is beyond anyone with any bussiness sense whatsoever. Good grief, to the NW logging was a lively hood, as farming is to the midwest. Trees are their crop. Taken away and what is there to do in a place that gets 80-100 inches of rain a year and is covered with mountains? A few ranchers work in the eastern areas but that's about it. Even the Forest Service departments have been greatly reduced due to lack of timber sales. You can't support a state like OR or WA on tourism. Logging is what brought everything and everyone to the Northwest. Logging was a good thing for the Northwest and there's absolutely no denying it.

Infact, clear cuts do not hurt the enviornment, all kinds of animals live in clear cuts once they've been made, and they also serve as forest fire preventors. Of course, nobody wants to see a clear cut directly beside HWY 101 (which actually happened about ten years ago and helped bring in anther nail to the Logging coffin lid), but personally, I'd rather see jobs than protected re-growth...Almsot 90 percent of the great Nothwest has already been cut and re-grown...Yup, environmentalists are protecting tree's planted by loggers who put them there after logging. There's very little cutting of old-growth timber, and I'm pretty sure nobody's cutting down the Redwoods in the Redwood Nat. Forest. I don't know what you're referring to, but I'd honestly like to know.

Anyhow, just thought I'd put in my two cents on a political topic since everyone else is. Is this a film site anymore?

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I do try to bring it back to movies whenever possible, but I'm perfectly happy to discuss politics or anything else as long as it's interesting. Quite frankly, I think you're being naive about logging. After having lived for a year in an area whose main industry is logging, I've got a lot of issues with the lumber industry. First of all, clear cuts are HORRIBLE for the environment, and whoever told you they're anything but horrible is lying to you. Without the trees to hold down the soil, the soil washes away into the streams and rivers and kills the fish, as it has most of the fish in the Pacific northwest. Once the soil has washed away almost nothing can live there. Second, any rules about logging and replanting only apply to public lands, either BLM or National Forests (where they do log all the time). 90% of the logging going on in America is on private land owned by giant conglomerates like United Fruit and Boise-Cascade, where there are no rules and they treat the land like it's shit and it's to be nothing but abused. There are many logical schemes regarding how to log sensibly, but none of them are being put to use. And as a little side-note, without those trees there's no oxygen for us to breath. Just because someone's grandfather was a logger, and their father was a logger, doesn't necessarily mean they too get to be a logger if it's no longer suitable for such industry.

Josh

Name: Alan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

In the UK the expression "as rough as a badger's arse" generally refers to women who, whilst not necessarily ugly, are an embarrassment not only to themselves but to others (especially us menfolk) by excessively drinking, smoking heavily and swearing like troopers in loud and raucous voices.Their dress sense too may be called into question.
Whilst this may seem a pretty fair description nowadays of the majority of British women there are also some actresses that I can think of who could be described in such a fashion. I am too much of a gentleman to name any myself but I am sure that an outspoken individual such as yourself would not be deterred from naming names.
So come on Josh, which actresses do you think are as rough as a badger's
arse?

Dear Alan:

Are you referring to how the actresses comport themselves in the real world? I don't know any of them. And in the movies they're playing characters written for them by someone else. So, I'm not up on this one. Oddly, in the book I'm presently reading about Teddy Roosevelt, "Theodore Rex," I read today about a trip he took out west in 1903, and some kids gave him a badger, which he described as looking like "a mattress with four legs on the corners."

Josh

Name: Tim Shadler
E-mail: tjs27@drexel.edu

Josh,

As a moderate Republican, I must confess, that I have been at minimum a little confused as of late. I for one have serious doubts as to the evidence President Bush presented in his arguments as to why it was necessary for us to invade Iraq. Also as a fiscal conservative I'm outraged by the increased spending and the expansion of the size of the federal government which has occurred under this administration.

However, when faced with making decision in the upcoming presidential election I fear that I might have to make a difficult decision. While I'm sure the Bush Administration and the conservative supporters of it will continue on their current policy path, I'm also scared as to what message the far left will be brining to the table.

I'd like to offer a few quotes from your comments on this site to help illustrate my forthcoming argument.

"then you deserve to have Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, or George Bush, Jr. as your fascist dictator."

"I think I'd rather have Reichsfuhrer Goering than Bush again"

"As Bruce Campbell said to me recently, "I'm not one for hyperbole or overstatement, but George Bush, Jr. is the anti-Christ." If this asshole gets reelected I may seriously look into moving to Toronto"

"and he didn't fuck this country up nearly as bad as his idiot child has."

"He certainly seems more like a president than Chimpy McCokespoon."

Now I have a question. What is the purpose of these comments? If you honestly believe George W. Bush is horrible for this country, which I believe you do, then I assume you would want him to lose in the upcoming election.

Given that, I would think that you might want to convince the small but important group swing voters, conservative democrats and moderate republicans, that Bush needs to go.

Why then would you use such inflammatory language? Suggesting that Bush Jr. is just as bad as a man as terrible as Goering does not seem effective, and using it in an argument against Bush might make those swing voters reading it to ignore or reject other valid points within your comments. My bottom line, wouldn't informing be a more effective method then inciting. Some of the responses on this site suggest that some other people may think that Bush is worse then the man who created the Gestapo and the first concentration camps (the responsibility was shifted to himmler shortly thereafter), but from the pratical perspective of our electoral system I wonder how effective they might be against those of different political dispositions.

As always, I enjoy reading your website and wish you the best of luck.

Tim Shadler

Dear Tim:

I am in the film business, so I'm prone to hyperbole. A film isn't just good, it's A Triumph! And things aren't just bad, they're The Worst Ever! Nevertheless, as I said in my little essay/rant, I don't believe I'm reverting to hyperbole when I say that this Iraq fiasco is the single worst misuse of presidential power in 227 years. One could also add to my list of previous presidential absues (to get a Democrat in there) the Bay of Pigs invasion, but that wasn't even Kennedy's plan, Ike and Allen Dulles dreamed it up, JFK just okayed it, then screwed it by chickening out. Anyway, you're probably right that comparing George W. Bush to Hermann Goering is ridiculous (Bush is a middleweight and Goering was a heavyweight), but someone else had quoted him and I was just running with it. And Chimpy McCokespoon just amuses me in a childish way. And four more years of this administration could well induce me to flee to Canada.

Josh

Name: Reggie
E-mail:

Josh,

Sorry if this is a silly question, but on blimped cameras like the Arri 16BL, why does the blimp cover the lens housing and not the motor?

Reggie

Dear Reggie:

You usually need to wrap a blanket or a blimp around a camera to muffle the camera noise, but the motor noise will still come out the lens because you can't cover that or you won't see anything. So if you have a blimped lens housing, you can then make the entire camera quiet, and you generally need to when shooting interiors. The blimped lens housing, by the way, won't cover the zoom lens, just the prime lenses.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

Regarding the Hermann Goering, here is a link to a page about the quote from a good site which debunks a lot of urban myths and many of the annoying chain e-mails which get passed around relating to quotes by various famous and imfamous people including all the new one's in relation to the war.

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.htm

This particular page about Goering's quote goes into further detail about where the quote came from and it also references Ceasar who also had made a similar statement which spans generations.

I like this site quite a lot and it is worth referencing, since they do a good job at researching many urban legends and (mis) quotes.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Regarding urban myths, there's also the books by Jan Harold Grunvand (I think I got that right), "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" and "The Mexican Pet," which are both fascinating books.

Josh

Name: Caroline
E-mail: richardmuszcher@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Was amazed to note that "Waiting for Guffman" was not on your fav. movies list. And yet, "This is Spinal Tap" was. To most of us who are fans of this troupe and this genre, Guffman outshines the others.

Dear Caroline:

Not to me it doesn't. I like "Spinal Tap" very much, but I didn't like "Guffman" or "Best in Show" at all. I can't stand films that make average people out to be idiots, and I'm completely sick and tired of the "mockumentary" form, which is ultimately anti-cinema. What "Guffman and "Best in Show" tell me is that Rob Reiner was crucially important to the success of "Spinal Tap," and without him Christopher Guest is lost.

Josh

Name: Brian C.
E-mail: canadab@ghostshipfilms.com

Hey Josh,

Well, I suppose it's my turn to step on the third rail - so to speak. I actually like G.W. Bush. Damn, that sounds like an intro at an AA meeting. "Hi. I'm Brian...(sheepishly) and I'm a Bushie." When Bruce and his wife started working on their documentary, I sent him an email offering the perspective of a Federal Biologist (day jobber)of BLM and the roadless initiative. I didn't manage to make it through his filter or he didn't feel like dealing with some schmuck soliciting his opinions. I agree that there are some regulatory roll backs that are shifting too far toward industry, but the understory thinning is not one of them. The proposed rule would allow the clearing of understory brush and dead standing timber to limit the effects of an inevitable fire. Mature trees can survive a normal fire and and recover by the following season. A fire, fueled by excessive new growth and dead falls, is much hotter and scorch the soil, killing mature roots, and rendering old growth forest a smoldering ashtray. The thinning may result in some profit for loggers, a necessary evil if you are going to get on board to help maintain the forest. There may also be some unscrupulous people who illegally 'take' an old growth tree. Some people are just like that. But in the long term, the forest would be healthier and more sustainable with a well managed thinning program (minus prescribed burns which I disagree with).

Of course, that has nothing to do with Bush. He's no Nero. He won't be fiddling while America burns. He's just the guy that is calling the shots for now. In 8 years, conservatives will still be talking about Reagan, and both Bushs and Clinton will be coffee table fodder while we scream about the new guy.

Just my thoughts.

Brian

Dear Brian:

I understand, I just lived up the street from Bruce in southern Oregon for a year. I was there during the Quartz Fire, which came up our street and within a few blocks of my house. I helped neighbors clear underbrush when the fire was coming right behind their houses. In fact, George W. Bush came to the end of our street for his photo op, where he could take one step out of his presidential SUV and get a shot of him and blackened scorched earth in the background. I agree that thinning is absolutely necessary if we don't want forest fires. Nevertheless, the lumber companies are rapacious, and when they go in and log they log the living shit of the area. For Christ sakes, they're still cutting down Redwoods, and those babies take a thousand years to mature. But George Bush is so pro-industry, anti-enviornment, I have no doubt that any restrictions he's eliminating will all be taken too far.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: scarymike@prontomail.com

Heya Josh,

Just read your latest offering regarding our not-so-esteemed (mis)leader. It did a good job of getting me all pissed off again, which is actually a good thing! Seems like the only people who haven't seen through his shit are Americans. I don't think he has many fans in the actual civilized nations. It looks more and more like Blair could be taken to the cleaners for lying through his teeth about Iraq - Bush deserves *at least* as much.

There's a quote that I think bears repeating here - I haven't seen anyone else bring it up, so I'll throw it out there:

Naturally the common people dont want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and its always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

The speaker is none other than Hermann Goering, commander in cheif of the Luftwaffe and President of the Reichstag of the Third Reich. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the example Dubya and his owners are taking. Does this horrify anyone else? The notion of Sadam being like Hitler, as Bush's Daddy used to imply, is patently ridiculous. Hitler is a Connecticut yankee masquerading as a Texan masquerading as a President. If Bush takes the Whitehouse again in 2004 we are all fucked - what's left of America will be dead and done. I'm not a big fan of some of the Democrats' policies, but it's my feeling, and seems to be yours as well, that we are in deep shit if Bush makes it in again. As such I don't care if the Democrats put up Satan, with the Teletubbies for veep - I'm voting straight Democrat!
There's a pretty decent organization that does some good grassroots mobilization, sets up protest marches etc - it's moveon.org. I guess they have some ties to the Quaker community, but as far as I can tell it's a purely political organization. Besides, you mentioned that Quakers weren't on your spiritual shit list ;^)
Anyway, just wanted to voice my support for your rant against Il Presidente. Rave on!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Excellent quote. I think I'd rather have Reichsfuhrer Goering than Bush again. At least he was a legitimate war hero (the second most-decorated German pilot during WWI next to Baron Von Richtofen). Speaking of Nazis, I just watched the film "Max," which was recommended by a few people, and I'm glad I saw it, but it's certainly not a good film. The direction is lethargic and pretentious, the pacing was poor, and every other scene was complete crap, but the scenes in between were interesting. The premise that had Adolf Hitler been a successful artist he might not have become who he was, and that he had a strong, almost mentor-like relationship with the Jewish art dealer, Max Rothman, is interesting. This was the first time anyone ever had the guts to show a human side of Hitler, although they seem to quickly regret it and by the second half make him into the standard raving lunatic as he's always depicted. It always has one of the worst senses of it's period of any film I've ever seen. It absolutely did not seem like 1918-1920.

Josh

Name: Dalty Smilth
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh,

I think you have an excellent point about Mel Gibson's Jesus movie. I too, have thought that someone should cast a jewish man as Jesus. But I'm sure that would cause controversy from millions of uninformed Christians. For me, though, when I think of Jesus, I will always see the face of Robert Powell. Which brings me to an almost completely unrelated topic. Whenever you're thinking of classic characters from literature, do you tend to picture them with the face of a famous actor? For instance, when I think of Odysseus, I tend to think of Armand Assante. (And believe me, I don't want to think of Armand Assante.) Or when I think of Hercules, Kevin Sorbo's face pops into my mind. And, strangest of all, when I think of King Arthur, I picture him looking like Graham Chapman. It gets worse, when I heard they were making a movie of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; I immediately thought that Alan Cumming would be perfect for the role of Mr. Tumnus. I picture the Giver from the book of the same name looking like Paul Newman. Kate Winslet would play the main female character from A Brave New World. Do you have the same tendency? Why do we do this?

Dear Dalty:

It's odd, I guess, but I don't envision actors when I'm thinking about historical characters, reading a book, or a screenplay. I have name actors in my dreams sometimes, though.

Josh

Name: Lee
E-mail:

Hey Josh

This is a side issue to the unelected president's imperialist adventure debate, but it highlights the kind of administration in power right now.

Did you know that Rumsfeld is responsible for foisting aspartame on us? That sweetner that's in millions of food products around the world and well, can kinda give you all kinds of weird side affects including, well, cancer.

There's loads of stuff on the web about Rumslfed's conflict of interests. Basically, Rumsfeld was president of the Serle Corp, maker of aspartame and, as part of Reagan's team, got aspartame legalised by appointing a defence dept. contractor as head of the FDA.

And now aspartame is everywhere. And it's gonna stay in our food because it's bigger than the tobacco industry. The potential for damages is astronomical. We're stuck with it.

So not only is Rumsfeld a war-hawk but he's directly responsible for poisoning us... our children...

You can see that glint in his eye - Satan's little fucking helper!

Lee

Dear Lee:

As Bruce Campbell said to me recently, "I'm not one for hyperbole or overstatement, but George Bush, Jr. is the anti-Christ." If this asshole gets reelected I may seriously look into moving to Toronto.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

HALLO JOSH.I AND MANY GREEKS HIER WE HOPE THAT THIS BUS OR ANY ELSE WHO IS BEHINDE HIM NOT BE AGAIN FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS PRESIDEND OF (U S A) HE DESTROY OR ZIVILATION.I HOPE THE AMERIKAN PEOPLE DON'T MAKE THIS MISTAKE AGAIN.GEORGE

Dear Georgios:

Well, George Bush, Sr. lost the election for his second term, and he didn't fuck this country up nearly as bad as his idiot child has. At least he got us out of Iraq with some alacrity. Of course, they're both scumbags.

Josh

Name: steve graves
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i have seen all of your films [except 'hammer'] and i am very impressed of what you have done with out having connections to 'big' people in hollywood

im am almost done highschool and i dont know how to take the next step

i have been making short and full length movies on video with a cam corder and using the vcr to edit it together

i want to be a filmmaker or be in the 'buisness' in some way...but i dont know what i should do next, should i make my own movie and try to sell it, or try to go to sundance [etc.], or try being a screenwriter, or go to film school, or just forget about the whole thing...do you have any advice or thoughts

thank you for the inspiration

Dear Steve:

I really think you need to be obsessed by movies to pursue a career in the film business. If just forgetting the whole thing is a serious possibility, then that's what you should do and find yourself a way to make a decent living. If you do go after a career in movies the chances are about 99.99% that you'll end up suffering more than otherwise. Going to Sundance isn't a bad choice, not so much from what you'll learn as from the contacts you might make there. If you decide to go the independent route, then you need to learn how to write (and you can start by learning punctuation and grammer, which are a legitimate part of writing). You need to look into your own heart and decide what you really want. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

On your "Presidential Abuse" essay; no, I don't think you're the only one who is outraged, but you're also not the only one amazed at the lack of response. When it first became evident that Bush had knowingly lied about threat I expected Congressional hearings and an impeachment. I think I underestimated the amount of fear generated by September 11. The prevailing attitude seems to be, "If Bush kills enough Arabs he might get some that actually wanted to hurt us." Who cares how much money Haliburton makes on this fiasco? And whatever happened to conflict of interest?

My brother forwarded to me a picture of Bush which was posted on the White House web page. It shows Bush reading through some pages with a highlighter in his hand. The caption says, "President Bush carefully reviews his State of the Union Address." That picture is no longer posted on the White House web page. Gee.

If I were a Democratic candidate I would be cramming this stuff down the administration's collective throat. Maybe the Democrats don't want to win, I don't know. Maybe Ashcroft is holding something on them; wierder things have happened, and that man is a bastard. He's supposed to uphold the Constitution, not be involved in a Constitutional holdup.

John

Dear John:

I'll take anyone over Bush -- a fascist, a communist, a whig, anything. I personally think Gore should step up. Hell, he beat Bush last time, I think he could do it again. He certainly seems more like a president than Chimpy McCokespoon.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I wholeheartedly share your views in regards to your latest essay. I too feel as if this country was hijacked by pirates. While I do agree that there is an unhealthy amount of apathy on behalf of a vast majority of americans, I have to say that the president and his spin doctors have done a great job of manipulating the public by using 9/11 as a weapon. A vast majority of people I talk to believe that Iraq was in some way responsible for 9/11. I know that isnt true because I have done extensive research. The point I'm trying to make is, aside from apathy, a lot of Americans are afraid to challenge Bush because whenever they do, he brings up 9/11 and terrorism, which once agin reinstills the fear that paralizes a lot of Americans. The scary thing is when someone spreads the word that Bush is a criminal, and even presents facts supporting it, a lot of Americans feel that you are an unpatriotic leftist lunatic. It amazes me how brainwashed this country has become.

Since documenteries are so much cheaper to make these days, maybe a film based on your essay could be your next project. Michael Moore is currently making a similar Documentary, but I say the more the better. Dubya and Carl Rove are using the media to their advantage, maybe you should too. I know that I and scores of other Americans would love to see something like that. Aside from voting this november, and signing the Impeach Bush petition, I don't know what else to do to combat this problem. Do you think any of the Dems stand a chance? I kinda like Dean.

Dear Scott:

Using 9/11 as a rationale for attacking Iraq is part of what drives me crazy. There's clearly no other reason except oil, and the assurance of an endless future source of it. And that's a pathetic reason to attack another country and start a war. The Muslims are right, we really are infidels.

Josh

Josh,

I just read your essay on the misuse of presidential power, and let me tell you that you're not the only one outraged by the circus we call our government or the ringmaster himself (Bush). I think the man is a total piece of shit. He hides behind his "all American" patriotic bullshit act as he sends our military resources over seas to take out the "bad men" that, coincidently, rule oil rich countries, all the while holding complete contempt for the country that he should be concerned with as jobless and homeless rates rise and the value of the American dollar is flushed deeper down the toilet everyday. This countries economy is fucked - and in light of this fact any reasonably intelligent person would think that it is the president's responsibility - no duty to do something about it...

As a side note, the American dollar is currently worth seventy cents on the Canadian dollar. When is the last time you remember that happening?

Kevin Kindel
Dear Kevin:

I spoke with Bruce last night and the environmentally-conscious people of the northwest are outraged by Bush having rescinded all of the enviornmental laws put forth in a 1994 by Clinton (which, admittedly, went too far the other way), so now the lumber companies can really log the hell out of the national forests and all of the BLM land. This was Bush's response to the wildfires of last year. His answer is, get rid of the damn trees and there won't be anymore wildfires.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

Ha,ha,ha.You say´t josh ,i only don´t have exesise in english writtin. I writtin and speek German very good,and of course Greek, and very good Romanian.Ah i don't have a problem josh,i can say i have a normal live (and pleese don't think not even one moment i have make this contact to you because of the money)i'm not ritch,and have the same problems like milions of poeple: And this is abaut religions.I BELIVE IN EVERYTHING I SEE, EVERY SECOND IS A MIRACLE FOR ME,AND I BILIVE AFTER SUNSHINE COMES THE RAIN,AND WHEN IT'S POURING DOWN, THE ONLY THING I FEEL IS PAIN.This text are from the hevy metal band Hammerfall from the album Hammerfall the song I BELIVE...AND ABAUT SEX THERE IS NOTHING BETTER IN THIS WORLD AS TO HAVE SEX WITH ONE 40 YEARS OLD WOMEN,ha ha ha.GEORGE

Dear Georgios:

Yeah, well, I like the rain. And it's always edifying having you weigh in on each of the topics.

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

You must have scored some grade-A Labor Day Maui Wowie - you used to refer to TPTB all the time. It's "The Powers That Be." And I'm assuming that IMNSHO would be "in my not-so-humble-opinion."

However, I'm still laughing at the notion of your buying new dildos since you had worn out the old ones. Boggles the imagination.

I'd like to join in on that last question though - have you seen any films with good scripts that the director totally ruined? And vice-versa - ever seen any loser scripts that a director still managed to make a decent film from? (I guess in a way, you had to do that with a couple of those hastily-written Xena scripts you received.)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Yes, I'd like to believe I bailed out a few of those Xena eps. Of course, that's because I was friends with the executive producer who allowed me to. Other directors didn't have the leeway I had, like rewriting the script constantly while shooting. Let's see, well recently there was "Tape," which actually has a good script and top-notch actors, but was directed by a retard, and it's still pretty good, just showing the importance of the director. Rob Tapert once told me that he thought my script for "Lunatics" was much better than my direction, which may be true. However, I so rarely see any film that I think is well-written, that it almost always seems like the director, actors, and crew are trying to bail out a sinking ship. Quite frankly, I don't know that's it's humanly possible to make a good film from a bad script. That's like saying you can build a beauitiful building from ugly designs -- it's going to come out like it was designed no matter what you do.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Heheheh...you're absolutely right. :) What can I say-I got caught up in all this bullshit Internet jargon. I don't blame you a bit for calling me on it.

Well, since I was the idiot who brought these up in the first place:

TPTB :The Powers That Be

IMNSHO: In My Not So Humble Opinion

Quick shift back into film-what are your feelings about Hertzog? WRATH OF GOD was an interesting film, although I feel it dragged on in parts.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I really liked "Every Man For Himself and God Against All" or "The Mystery of Kasper Hauser," which is by far Herzog's best film. "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" was okay, but it dragged a lot, and the final shot of him on the raft covered with monkies, which was cool for a second, you can so clearly see the motorboat wake behind the camera as it keeps circling that it just seems like a huge mistake. I've actually met Werner Herzog several times and he's a very pleasant, intelligent man.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Josh,

Jumping back into the "Religion is Evil" discussion for a moment, here's
something I've thought about quite a bit lately.

I think the Catholic Church is an organization that supports criminal behavior by hiding pedophiles-and they're only "sorry" because many people got fed up and spoke out. And I believe anyone who participates in the Catholic Church's ceremonies while condeming what TPTB did in regards to protecting these pedophiles is a hypocrite. TPTB dicates policy in both cases. IMNSHO, it's like complaining that a dog bit your right hand while you're petting it with your left.

Any thoughts?

Have a good one.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Okay, admittedly I'm a bit buzzed, but what's TPTB and IMNSHO? Could we just stick to commonly used English here. I know Georgio has his problems, but he's a Greek living in Germany, he's got his excuses. Anyway, back to good old Bill Maher, who said the Catholic Bishops and Archbishops keep meeting to decide whether or not they should stop fucking kids, and they can't decide to stop. They always got to fuck kids before, and it's really the highlight of the job. Maher said that he grew up Catholic and his priest didn't molest him because he supposed the priest didn't find him attractive. "But I am," he adds as an aside. And I'll repeat this so everyone can think about it again -- all priests, rabbis, ministers, mullahs, and all other "holy" men are liars. Their selling myths as truths that they know aren't necessarily true. They're lying and they know it, that's why they're so creepy to be around.

Josh

Name: Kit
E-mail: kit_sivyer@hotmail.com

Heya Josh. Kit again.

I came across this interesting article, http://www.truby.com/3act.html and I thought you might like to comment on it. (Personally I think he's trying to sell software... He later goes on to say you need software to write a good story these days. LOL. Thought you might be interested in reading it.)

And another question. have you ever read a good, solid script that a director completely fucked up in every way imaginable?

I ask, cause, searching for advice for good writing (same reason I came here), I stumbled on this one writer, who had the script he sold to HBO on his site. It was a Western, funnily. It reminded me of Sergio Leone when I read it and, if directed in his style (complete with an Enrico Morricone score) it would have rocked. I came across the movie in my local video store, rented the DVD, and was amazed at how BAD it turned out to be. (For those interested (I recommend staying away at all costs) It's called Blind Justice, starring Armand Assante, Robert Davi and Elizabeth Shue) I was wondering if you ever encountered anything like this?

Oh and nothing personal taken, Cindy. I enjoyed Phone Booth cause I bought Colin Farrel's motivation for being there. Keifer Sutherland stole the show, though. I only mentioned Phone Booth because Josh liked Tigerland, and for the fact that the concept was originally pitched to Alfred Hitchcock (even though Larry Cohen didn't write the script until the 1990s.)

As for One Hour Photo? It's no more valid a character study than Taxi Driver. (Although Taxi Driver is a much better film) What I liked about it was the little things the Sy the Photo guy did: The care and attention he takes to such a mundane task, his creepy obsessions and the relationship he has with his boss. That's what I found interesting. Both films, in my opinion, had some interesting character developments, etc.

But I only asked if Josh had seen em. nothing more. Don't rush out to see them, Josh on my account. LOL. (although I do stand by the claim that A Night We Called It A Day is a good film!)

Sorry for the very long post,

Kit

Dear Kit:

Clearly Truby is a moronic idiot that's never written anything good or salable himself, gave up, and now foists his lack of knowledge and success on other gullible fools. He knows nothing. If you don't understand the three-act structure, you don't know how to write a screenplay, and obviously Truby doesn't. The three acts are absolutely not arbitrary unless you don't understand the concept, which he clearly does not. As for "three plot points or twelve plot points," that's arbitrary nonsense. But if you don't know which act you're in, you have no clue what you're writing. If a script is well-written, no scene from act one will go into acts two or three, and no scene in act two will go into one or three, etc. Telling a story is a like telling a long joke, and if you don't know if you're in your set-up or your punchline, you're a bad comedian. The three-act structure is the bottom-line understanding of screenwriting, and to have an idiot like Truby telling you it doesn't matter is one more reason why movies suck so bad these days.

Josh

Name: Tom Sullivan
E-mail: darkageproductins@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Well said about religion. I like Robert Henlein's line "One man's religion is another man's belly laugh. As an Atheist I'm too horrified to laugh too much but I get his point. Some of my best creative work (on something relevant) are my covers for American Atheists Magazine. Sadly the "imbeciles are in charge and this fascist country deserves all the misery is is getting.

Dear Tom:

Good to hear from you. I hope you're doing well. That's a good quote from Heinlein. I like Bill Maher's recent quote (that I've already quoted, but what the hell), that religion is based on early childhood trauma that led to neurological disorders.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Since I'm always interested in hearing folks talk about the realities of the business, I have a question in regards to Lucy & Renee-and I'm not sure that you're able to answer this, given the time constraints involved shooting a TV show-as well as your individual schedules. But what the heck-I have nothing to lose by asking.

Can you share with us-no need to get too specific, of course-what Lucy and Renee dislike about the film business? Did the subject ever come up at all in discussion?

Again-this is probably a ridiculous question to ask in the first place given the realities involving a shoot and everyday life-but if you can't answer that, no sweat.

Thanks anyway-and enjoy your weekend.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I can't speak for Lucy or Renee. I don't know what they like or dislike about anything, and I haven't seen either one in years. I did write to Lucy recently and I told her that I miss working on Xena and she said she didn't miss it.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon requst

Dear Josh:

My heart leaped when I read that you have/had a TMJ dysfunction, because I have been suffering with one as well, for about 16 yrs.
My jaw dislocates when I yawn or open it too wide. When I first showed the trick to my soon-to-be husband, he got quite aroused, as he thought it would make for some awesome blow-jobs. It has deteriorated to inexplicable pain, my latest X-ray shows the ball in the TMJ socket is worn down to a flattened nub, and the disc is stretched out and hanging out of the joint, and the one on the other side is ground up into bits.
Oddly, I don't get headaches with it, just a lot of arthritic phenomenon. I too went through the doctor after doctor, specialist-this and specialist-that, and got the old "it's mental" excuse. Infuriating as you well know.
I just recently got health insurance, and so have been contemplating pursuing help again with my TMJ. I thought maybe the knowledge out there has improved. May I ask- what therapies, procedures, doctors, etc... you went with that helped you? I am so desperate to cut out the crap and deal only with those who have a history of really helping, that anytime the subject comes up, I am compelled to ask folks about their experience. I understand that the surgery efficacy rates are alarmingly bad, so that makes me wary.
Have you had soft and hard mouth guards made for you to wear at night too? I've had them for years, and they don't help me.

So, what'd you buy at the Medford porno store? LMAO

Dear Diana:

Just a couple of dildoes, no big deal. I'd worn out the old ones. Anyway, you need to see a TMJ specialist. The appliance he made for me, after giving me several regular ones that did nothing, had a flange that locked my jaw and wouldn't allow it to go from side to side at all, and that's what cured it, after wearing the thing every night for about fourteen years. I do hope this helps you.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Please, for the love of God, do not see "Phone Booth." It sucked. It had no story. Colin Farrell is inexplicably famous. (He reminds me of Ron Livingston from "Office Space," whom I'd rather watch.) He is unbearable to watch for a solid hour and a half in a phone booth. Very few actors could pull off a one-man suspense film. Besides that, the whole reason for him being in the booth makes no sense. I'm begging you. Don't watch it.

"One Hour Photo" wasn't good, either. Not creepy, but supposed to be creepy. That whole premise was the whole "be afraid of a single guy over 40" thing--like, "He must really want to be married and have kids and look like he's in a Ralph Lauren ad. Who wouldn't?" Bad. Bad movie.

Sorry, just had to form a rebuttal to those recommendations. (Nothing personal, Kit.)

Have a swell weekend.

--Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Thanks for the warnings, although I was obviously not rushing to see either one. Being single and 45-years old, I do get a strong sense of if you're not married with kids by this age, and not gay, ergo you must be a perverted creep. I had sort of an amusing experience in Medford when I was living in Oregon. The local Kinkos is across the parking lot from the one store that sells pornography in that town, and it's enormous, like an old K-Mart. So, I used to go to Kinkos all the time, which was nearly an hour drive from my house. I was having literally hundreds of dollars worth of copies made -- my still unpublished filmmaking book -- and I had some time to kill waiting for the copies to be done. So I wandered into the porno store for the first time. It has a one hundred yard long aisle of dildoes, thousands of them, which I found impressive for such a small town. After a bit, I wandered back to Kinkos to see if my copies were done and one of the Kinkos employees saw me walking from the porno store to my car, which was parked in front of Kinkos. This guy ripped into me with such vehemence it was shocking. "You sick perverted assholes! You perverts use up our parking spaces because you don't have the guts to park in front of that horrible porno store, which should be burned down! Don't you dare fucking do that again!" Of course, I was born for confrontations of this sort, and said, "No, fuck you! I'm having the $300 worth of copies made right now in Kinkos and I'm killing some time. But even if I wasn't, you can still go fuck yourself because I have every right in the world to go into that store if I want to, and going in there doesn't make me a pervert." That guy then had to see me come into Kinkos a hundred more times over the next six or eight months, and always looked away ashamed. Anyway, I think the married folks of the world, most of whom are miserable, have to defend their positions because they're deeply afraid that they made a huge mistake and the single people may very well be having more fun than them.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail:
Dear Josh:

when people submit movies to places like sundance do they send a vhs tape of the movie or reels of film

Dear John:

You have to send a VHS tape for them to review. You can make arrangements, I believe, to project film, but you don't just send it. And they don't do it for most films.

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Last word on "La Mancha," I promise. The impression I got was that whoever the funding people were (a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like conglomerate of European investors, it seemed) were wary of Gilliam's "vision" to begin with, and he was willing to put up with whatever shit they gave him in order to get his film made. And as soon as they saw that he wasn't coping with basic problems (like the atmospheric changes, and none of the stars being on hand 'til right before shooting started) they yanked the money, and cut their own losses. (There seemed to be some weird idea that maybe if they just blamed it all on the 1st Asst. Director, and fired him, all would be
well.)

So for all the reasons everyone has discussed, the documentary is interesting to see in a way, as it shows a hundred things *not* to do when making a movie.

OK, changing the subect - the actual question. You've often said that you don't care for sequels too much. I wonder how you view sequels that come from books? It seems that sometimes a series of novels can have some decent continuity of quality. And accordingly, sometimes movies made from them are pretty decent. I'm thinking of the early Bond films, for example - many people feel "From Russia With Love" is better than "Dr. No," although I guess the book of the latter came out much later than the former. "The Godfather, Pt. 2" is often hailed as a sequel that was better than the original, but the best parts (to me, anyway) are the flashbacks to young Vito, which all come from the original novel. And same with "Bride of Frankenstein" - it reminds me more of Mary Shelley's novel than the first film. And not that there have been any incredible Huck Finn movies, but that novel is a sequel sometimes considered to be better than Tom Sawyer. And I guess almost any detective series is a string of sequels - Miss Marple, Shelock Holmes and so forth.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I liked the first several James Bond movies, mainly because I was a kid at the time, but also because Sean Connery is very good in the part and the films were taken somewhat seriously at the beginning. By the time Roger Moore came in the films were awful, and to me, unbearable. Yes, "The Godfather Part II" and "The Bride of Frankenstein" are both terrific sequels. When you get to Miss Marple or Tarzan or Sherlock Holmes, those were a series of books to start with, as was Bond. But they don't necessarily directly follow-up on their predecessor. Even still, I don't much care for any of them. For the most part, however, making a sequel is a failure of imagination and originality. It's a throwing in of the towel before you've even started. As William Goldman wonderfully overstated it, "Sequels are whore's movies." They are produced exclusively to make money and for no other reason, and that's just a piss-poor motivation.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i have not read your thoughts on the lord of the rings im going to guess you did not like it...so why did you not like it

i mention lord of the rings because i just got the two towers on dvd, along with animal house, what did you think of animal house

im thinking of getting the upcoming scarface dvd...did you like that movie

Dear John:

Because in their enormous length they didn't feel it was necessary to do any characterization. After two hours I didn't give the slightest shit about anyone in "Lord of the Rings" so I turned it off. It's one more example of modern filmmaking, where I'm supposed to care more about the special effects than the people. And Elijah Wood is a bore, and plays every scene like he's got a stomach ache. I enjoyed "Animal House" in its day, although I don't think it holds up very well. And I'll take the 1932 version of "Scarface" over the heavy-handed, overdone remake.

Josh

Name: PILALIDIS GEORGIOS
E-mail: AGAMEMMNON@MSN.COM

HALLO JOSH. I THINK THE TIME HAS COME TO NOT HAVE ANY MORE IDOLS, BECAUSE, YOU CAN MAKE A FILM AND AFTER SOME YEARS SAY´S OTHERS (AS JOSH BECKER SAY'T)OR DU YOU NOT TRUST YOURSELF FOR A BIGER PRODUCTION? I MEAN RELATIONS YOU HAVE, IN THE FILM BUSINES YOU ARE,FRIENDS YOU HAVE, WERE IS THEN THE PROBLEM???AND I DON´T TELL THIS BECAUSE OF MY IDEA FOR A FILM, MEABY I HAVE MORE FANDASY AS SAM OR SPIELBERG BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA, WHAT THEY NEED TO MAKE A FILM PRODUCTION .AND I'M SURE YOU HAVE YOUR OWN IDEAS, AND PLANS.FRIEDLY GEORGE

Dear George:

Look, your English isn't very good and I have difficulty deciphering your meanings. You think because I know Sam Raimi I'm automatically entitled to make big Hollywood films? It don't work that way. I'm not on the A, B or C list, so I'm not in line to direct any Hollywood films. Them's the breaks.

Josh

Name: Lee
E-mail: Lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

Just read your piece on Monsterization. Your line about TV being Monster Island made me laugh. (Or is that LOL?!?) I've been through the mill here in children's TV in the UK. There are SO many people involved in the development process and they're scared. Heck, we're all insecure. But nobody has the guts to say, "That's fine. Leave it." Everyone has to justify their fucking existence and pay-cheque and EVERYTHING gets changed. They can't leave a thing! When this first happened to me my head was reeling. I was playing catch-up with the story - and I was meant to be the fucking writer! I was chasing that big old story juggernaut up hill and down fucking dale until I didn't know where I was.

I realised why some of the more experience TV writers were adopting an aloof demeanour. If you're a writer and you go into development with an open-mind, really wanting to collaborate and do some good work and make the work the most important thing, you get rewritten until you don't know your arse from your elbow. But go in their with a bit of a fuck-you attitude and they leave you alone.

The one time where I found the development team to be true professionals was on Bob the Builder. They were on the ball. They trusted me as a writer and were confident enough to realise the episode was the most important thing - NOT their egos and their insecurities- such a contrast to that fucking yellow bear and his middle management, climbing the greasy pole, I started in admin' and now I'm a fucking script editor assholes. Wow - kid's TV made me a bitter boy!

Again, buying that Arri BL was the best thing I've done in a long time.

And I'll tell ya, the best thing I did as a director was to learn how to write. It was a break-through for me. Before I was running around making these little shorts based on scripts that weren't that great (hey, I was a teenager in love with film language and all it's possibilities). But it all starts on the page. As Capra siad, what people want to see is people. We're endlessly fascinated with ourselves. Once I'd been through all that lerning film langauage as a teenager, I'm so glad I discovered the screenwriting craft. Directors that aren't writers, or don't appreciate the craft, are little more than choreographers for MTV sweepers. They've got no soul and they don't care about characters. They just want to point cameras.

I'm two thirds through my first 16mm short. Strangely, it's about a writer who realises that his richest writing comes from living life, not locking himself away from humanity. Man, lighting for film is SO different to lighting for video. It's about what you DON'T light. It's been a steep learning curve. You really can paint with light on film.

Love it. And I'm DOING it. And the best part is: I don't have to ask anyone's permission AND my script hasn't been MONSTERIZED!

L

Dear Lee:

Cool. Make your movie your way. That's another part of the film business that's completely failed, the committee writing process. Committees can't fix scripts, they can only ruin them. Yet every film script now is going to be put through a series of committee meetings where the only one who gets no say so at all is the writer. As John Gregory Dunne said in his book "Monster," every film executive thinks they're a better writer than the writer, but they simply don't have the time to write. Anyone that does have the time to write must be an asshole. And writers are consistently treated like assholes, even though in many respects they are the most important person involved. I just finished reading "Afterglow: The Last Conversation with Pauline Kael," which is a long interview she gave in 2000 right before she died. Many people, including me, thought she had stopped writing for The New Yorker in 1989 because she had Parkinson's Disease, but that wasn't the case. She'd already had it for ten years at that point and had learned how to cope with it. She quit writing film reviews because movies had gotten so horrible that the whole thing just depressed her. It was wonderful hearing her voice again, and having a severely intelligent person agree with some of my own assessments. Regarding Steven Spielberg she said, "He pushes buttons. And because people like that button pushing, they think Spielberg is a great director. But he's become, I think, a very bad director. I thought his Peter Pan movie was just awful. It was closed-in and mean-spirited. And several of his recent movies have really depressed me. 'Always' was a shameful movie." The very last line of the book is, "What you see is a movie industry in decay, and the decay gets worse and worse."

Josh


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