Q & A    Archive
Page 108

Name: Stuart Winer
E-mail: sjwiner@comcast.net

Dear Josh:

I read through your movie reviews.

In order to have any currency, you have to say what is good, what you like. As far as I could tell you simply hate everything - passionately.

There has to be something agreeable out there.

Perhaps some prozac might be in order?

Stuart

Dear Stuart:

I don't have to have any "currency," unless I'm trying to purchase something. I think most modern movies suck. If you think differently, go ahead and state your opinion. If you believe they're actually making good movies now, tell us some of them.

Josh

Name: Anonymous
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

This question concerns producing an indie. The budget I'm aiming for is ten or twenty grand.

And on directing you've worked with Sam Raimi, am I right? I'd like to know if you know how he filmed the "the continued shot of the from the evils perpective" In the Evil Dead II. What did he use to move the camera?
Thanks

Dear Anon:

You were the most quoted person in my Latin book in college. If you can pull off a whole independent feature for ten or twenty thousand, I commend you. The shots you are referring to were called "The Force," and it was done in many different ways: the camera mounted on a one-foot 2x4 with one person holding both ends, or a longer 2x4 with two people holding either end, or on the end of a long pole to go smashing through the windshield, or on a Steadi-cam, or sometimes just hand-held with a very wide-angle lens.

Josh

Name: me
E-mail: hsaxsbjh

go to hell baoring movie

Dear me:

I post this because I get a variety of letters every week sort of like this, and I always wonder what got the person to get as far as they did with the Q&A process and then only give that message.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh, what is your opinion on showing advertisements before movies at movie theatres? I don't mean the previews for other movies. Nor am I referring to the slide projected ads they show, along with movie trivia questions that you know all the answers to because they show the same frickin' ones before every movie. No, I am referring to the commercials they show before the previews, but after they've turned down the lights and started the projector. I personally am sick of them. Especially those condescending "Stop Movie Piracy" ones that show some grunt who's worked on movies for 20 years, and yet, strangely enough, was only important enough to be aknowledged when the movie studios decided to start caring about movie piracy. I'm all in favor of people with seemingly unimportant jobs in movies getting more recognition, but using them as spokespeople against movie piracy is just exploitation. Anyway, in case that rant made you forget what my question was, what is your opinion of showing commercials before movies.

P.S. Feel free to comment on Movie Piracy, too.

Dear Ben:

I never liked it, but if it helps keep movie theaters open then I accept it. I fear that movie theaters will go away and people will watch everything at home on the large-screen TVs. As for movie piracy, it's just one more panic and fear move on Hollywood's part. They love to panic and freak out. Sound will put us out of business, TV is going to put us out of business, video is going to put us out of business, DVDs will put us out of business, piracy will put us out of business. Shut the fuck up! Hollywood is afriad of all technology, as well as just about everything else, including their shadows. And it's the worst kind of herd mentality. That's how I see it, but I could be wrong.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I rented "A Decade Under the Influence" on Netflix and watched the first installment last night. It's part of the "Docurama" series from IFC, which I know you love. Have you seen it yet?

It sums up how "Easy Rider" sort of opened up the playing field to any young, hungry director who wanted to start their career, and had their 'finger on the pulse' of 'young people today.' They would just hand out $300,000 to anyone who had a pitch to give--oh, the humanity! (There was even one story about a guy delivering a pizza to a producer. He said, 'Yeah, green light it, whatever,' to the hapless pizza man.) The glorious, glorious 70s. I now have about a hundred more films I need to see. I've always known the 70s were a great time for film, but didn't have a reference point to understand how it happened, and then went away again.

Do you have a personal 'top 10' or any particularly fave films of that era? I have a tendency to get into one director at a time, but I know I'm missing a lot by using that system.

Anyway, check it out. It was Ted Demme's last project before he passed away. It's also much better to watch than "Blow."

Take care,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I saw it on IFC, and of course I completely enjoyed it. Good clips, too. I've posted this before, but it's worth posting again. Within a thirty-six month span,1972-74 (when I was in high school), here are the newly released films that I saw in the movie theater and liked: Slaughterhouse-Five, Play it Again, Sam, Murmur of the Heart, Minnie and Moskowitz, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Lady Sings the Blues, Junior Bonner, Joe Kidd, Jeremiah Johnson, The Heartbreak Kid, The Godfather, The Getaway, Frenzy, Fellini's Roma, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, The Emigrants, The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Deliverance, The Cowboys, The Candidate, Cabaret, Fat City, Ulzana's Raid, Westworld, The Way We Were, Walking Tall, Two English Girls, A Touch of Class, Theater of Blood, Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me, Sounder, Sleuth, The Sting, Soylent Green, Sleeper, Sisters, Serpico, Scarecrow, Save the Tiger, Payday, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Papillion, Paper Moon, The Paper Chase, The New Land, O Lucky Man, Mean Streets, The Long Goodbye, The Last Tango in Paris, The Last Detail, The Iceman Cometh, The Homecoming, High Plains Drifter, The Harder They Come, The Exorcist, A Delicate Balance, The Day of the Jackal, Cries and Whispers, Cinderella Liberty, Bang the Drum Slowly, American Graffiti, Young Frankenstein, A Woman Under the Influence, The White Dawn, The Towering Inferno, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Playtime, The Phantom of the Paradise, The Odessa File, Murder on the Orient Express, The Longest Yard, Hearts and Minds, Harry and Tonto, The Groove Tube, Going Places, The Godfather Part II, The Gambler, Earthquake, Death Wish, Day For Night, The Conversation, Claudine, Chinatown, California Split, Butley, Blazing Saddles, Billy Jack, Badlands, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

Josh

Name: Juan Jose Espinoza Aguilar
E-mail: no_spill_blood@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, i'm from Venezuela, i love all Sam Raimi's films and i notice that your name was on the credits of The Evil Dead, (camera operator or something like that...) so i search for your name and i find out that you are a director, so i find Running Time and Lunatics. Great movies!, One question ¿was Running Time made on video?

Keep working!

Dear Juan:

That's film, buddy. 16mm motion picture film. You can't get that kind of contrast on video or digital yet. The only sharper black and white movie made recently, I think, was "Pi," which was shot on 16mm reversal film, which, like super-8, you're running the positive original through the camera, as opposed to shooting negative stock like everybody else. As yet, film still looks quite a bit better than any video or digital medium.

Josh

Name: Daniel
E-mail: danjfox@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

Just saw this in Harpers:

"Lightning struck the actor who plays Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's current film project, "The Passion of Christ," during a shoot in Italy."

Just goes to show, casting is SO important.

Dear Daniel:

Wow! Is he okay? I mean, the movie's done, right? Was he struck with lightning after the shoot?

Josh

Name: Bird Jenkins
E-mail: bird@jjandbird.com

Howdy, Josh.

I have a friend we call Hollywood Brad. He works steadily in the film industry and he's always letting us know how knowledgeable he is about movies. Ever since we got into an argument about the merits of YOUNG GUNS, I feel like Hollywood Brad has been very condescending towards me.

The other day, he told me a story about the silent era in Hollywood. He said that back before cable, video, or even television, movies were a disposable product, kind of like a can of beans. Once they had their theatrical run, they were worthless. Therefore, they were to be used and then thrown away. According to Hollywood Brad, they were making movies at such a high volume, they got rid of the "used movies" by dumping them from the Santa Monica pier into the Pacific Ocean. Hollywood insists there are hundreds of film cans deep below the pier to this day, each filled with a decayed and forgotten film.

Surely he's pulling my leg. These films had to be worth something to somebody, even back then. I know that most of the films made before the advent of sound have been lost, but I thought that was due to the film deteriorating over time. Have you heard this story of studios dumping truckloads of film into the ocean?

"I gots to know"

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

No, I never heard that. He is right, though, that after their initial theatrical run movies were considered worthless. Very big pictures got re-releases, like "King Kong" or "Gone With the Wind," but not many. But considering that the Santa Monica Pier was already there and it was a big tourist attraction, I don't think they'd allow anyone to dump garbage, cans of film, or anything else directing into the ocean there. I mean, deteriorating nitrate film stock is poisonous. Which doesn't mean it wasn't ever done, but not regularly. And why bother hauling it 20 miles to the ocean when you could just toss it into the furnace right there?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Yeah I think I know what you mean about that, The Wild Wild West was pretty serious sometimes. The fights had this edge to them, it was awesome. I think it was compared to Xena. I didn't know the sets were cheap, but I guess they kind of had to be since they always got broken in the action scenes. It was like "Bam!" James West knocks five stuntmen through a piano!

I don't remember the shows you mentioned, but I watched some of Gunsmoke that was pretty cool. Do you know if any of those are still re-run? Maybe on TVLand? I think I'd like to check them out. What was your favorite show of all?

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

It changed, of course. I loved "Get Smart" and "Twilight Zone" and "Batman" and "The Green Hornet" and "Combat" and "Lost in Space," then a bit later it was "Star Trek," and, as I mentioned, "Laredo," and then, as I began going to more and more movies, I began losing interest in TV shows. I did watch "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" with dedication, but by the mid-'70s I had almost stopped watching all TV shows, except Johnny Carson. Then when Carson went off it really put a nail in the whole thing.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: JEaganfilm@aol.com

Josh,

You know, I always thought that a gaffer was down the ladder from the DP, but Plannette hinted that it was otherwise. In one conversation I remember him referring to a DP as a 'cameraman', as in the guy that does the framing and such while Jim is off doing. He has been a gaffer/head lighting technician for 30 years or so and it seems like he takes charge of the lighting on films. Maybe he just works with DPs that allow him more creative input than most gaffers get? I suspect that most gaffers are simply technicians, but Plannette is perhaps an exception. I know for Soderbergh's movies in particular Plannette is very involved in determining the lighting scheme while Steven works on framing and blocking the actors.

Speaking of actors, I was wondering if you ever write scripts with actors in mind? I've been shooting a bunch of short movies the last few weeks and I find it much easier to write a script when I already have the actor in mind. If I know so and so is going to be available to shoot, I write the story with their character in mind. Maybe for features this is a bad idea though. In a way it limits the creative process because some of the decisions are already made for me. But I've come to realize I'm pretty lazy about writing scripts and having an actor already in mind gives me a kick to get the stuff written.

Jim

Dear Jim:

If having an actor in mind helps, then use it. I wrote "Running Time" with Bruce in mind, and I'm working on another story with Bruce in mind for the lead. Most times, though, I don't think about actors, just the characters I'm writing about and what makes them tick. Whatever works for you.

Meanwhile, I don't mean to be needlessly argumentative, but the DP decides on the lighting. He may well convey this to the gaffer in just a few well-chosen words, but the DP designs the lighting, and that's their main job. Many DPs work with the same gaffer over and over so they don't have to go into big explanations, but nevertheless, the DP makes the lighting decisions. And when you're working with the very top-end guys, like Allen Daviau ("E.T.") or John Toll ("Legends of the Fall") or Gerald Herschfeld ("Young Frankenstein"), there's no question that they have all the authority. In the case of Steven Soderbergh, who shoots his own pictures, and probably doesn't know all that much about lighting, he may just leave it up to the gaffer.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: JEaganFilm@aol.com

Josh,

You make a great point about photography and production design not saving a crappy story. I thought Road to Perdition was pretty good for about 15-20 minutes but then I began to completely lose interest in everything that was going on. I get the feeling that many filmmakers these days put too much emphasis on making a story "cinematic" rather than simply entertaining. Cinematic and entertaining are not the same thing if you ask me. I feel kind of bad that Perdition was Conrad Hall's last film because its a shame his skills were wasted on such a dull movie. I did a documentary/interview for class with lighting director/gaffer James Plannette who has lit a variety of movies from Young Frankenstein and E.T. to Legends of the Fall and Oceans 11. His philosophy is that, on his best films, the lighting and photography have been a far second to the script. He always reads the scripts before he does a movie and tries to make sure the lighting is working for the script and not the other way around. He said a movie like Road to Perdition is something he could never work on because he can't understand spending so much time on perfecting a shot. He thinks that perfect is boring and that spending too much time on the photography can take all the spontaneity out of the acting because there are such large breaks in between shots. On the other hand, Jim felt that lighting could certainly help a bad script to some extent. He said that so many hollywood scripts right now are so terrible that the DPs and lighting guys feel responsible in trying to make bad ideas at least halfway interesting to the audience in the way they are shot. I got the impression that he's a little tired of huge productions that look great as far as photography but mean nothing when it comes down to it. I think that a movie like Kill Bill is an example of this stupidity, a film that is all about style and looks great but is a big puffball of nothing. Its so weird that we're in a time of the greatest number of filmmakers ever and yet no one seems interested in just telling a compelling story. There always seems to be some other goal and that irritates me.

Dear Jim:

Of course I have my own theory on this. The reason young filmmakers have turned away from well-written scripts is that they're very hard to create. A good script takes a lot of thought, a lot of effort, and a fair amount of intelligence. Having neither the intelligence nor the tenacity to write a good script, it's much easier to discount the whole thing and just say that you're not into "narrative filmmaking," whereas the truth is that most filmmakers now are simply not smart enough to handle it -- Quentin Tarantino being a perfect example, and Charlie Kaufman being another good example. I repeat this for one and all to consider -- feature filmmaking is a narrative form. Period. If you want to make non-narrative films, make shorts. But features are too long to sit through without a narrative to pull you through.

Just to clarify, James Plannette didn't light those films you mentioned, he was the gaffer, which is the head electrician, and he put the lights where he was told to by the various DPs, such as Allan Daviau, John Toll, and Gerald Herschfeld, which isn't to say that the gaffer isn't an integral person to a crew, but you can't say he lit it, he's just one of the people on the DP's crew.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

On B-Movies - I think Hollywood still makes them, but they're made-for-TV movies now. Especially made-for cable (well, ok, and direct-to-video too.)

On Tarantino and his boasts about "bitch-slapping" guys - I recall Jimmy Fallon on SNL commenting on that by observing "Memo to Tarantino: you're white."

On the best TV show ever - well, for sheer consistent dramatic quality, you're right - it would have to be "Twilight Zone," especially because of the anthology format. Stories could be much more daring without the need to use and keep the same recurring cast. Plus, there were so many talented and then-unknown young actors who got early gigs and were able to show off their prowess. Do you know about writers though? Other than Serling himself, did he use a regular stable of writers, or did free-lancers contribute scripts too?

I also loved the original Star Trek, as well as its first successor, Next Generation. A lot of the episodes of the old series really don't hold up well, but the best - like Ellison's "City on the Edge of Forever" - are as good to me as any Twilight Zone story.

I did always think those rotating Sunday mystery "movies" on NBC (Columbo, McCloud, etc.) were extremely well done. Another favorite of mine would be "The Avengers," but for style and acting and comedy, not for anything serious.

Hey I just read "The Cascade Effect." Pretty good - a simple idea, that is very original. Could be done with splashy special effects, or done very simply, with lots of shots of people sweating in control rooms and so forth. (Not that you need any advice from me, but I'd somehow not have the pilot find out his wife is leaving him while she's on the shuttle he's piloting, just because it reminds me of "Airplane." Then again, I liked "Airplane.")
Any plans for this story?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

No, no plans for "Cascade Effect." I would have to disagree about TV movies being the new B-movies. The films made for HBO and Showtime are some of the best films being made, and generally far more intelligent than most of the theatrical features. Honestly, the As became the Bs. "Star Wars" and "Raiders" and that kind of shit are really just B-serials with huge budgets. But if there are Bs now, it's the independents. Even the worst Fox or Lifetime TV movie has a higher budget and a longer schedule than any B-movies of yore. The closest you can come is probably now is one-hour series TV, like Xena and Herc, where we had seven days to shoot 44-minutes. Most B-movies were 5-7 day schedules to shoot 60-75 minute movies. You really have to have your shit wired tightly to work on that fast of a schedule.

Meanwhile, I liked "The Avengers" when Diana Rigg was in it, but even still it was a silly, tongue-in-cheek show. If you ever get a chance, they published Harlan Ellison's original script for "City on the Edge of Forever" in a collection called "Science Fiction Plays" (I lent it someone years ago and never got it back) and it was a lot better than the script that ended up being shot.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

How's it going. I'm glad you liked The Prisoner, that was way cool. What do you think of The Wild Wild West, I thought that was awesome. I heard it was cancelled because of TV violence but I thought that was just weird because other than those awesome stunt fights I really didn't see much violence in it.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

As a kid I loved it. But you look back at it now and it's a horrible-looking show, way over-lit with with really cheap sets. I do appreciate the seriousness of its tone, though. Does anyone remember "Larado" with Neville Brand and William Smith? I though that was a great show when I was a kid, but it only lasted one season and was never shown again. Or "The Guns of Will Sonnet" with Walter Brennan. No brag, just fact.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was wondering if you heard of the book: Understanding Movies (9th Edition) by Louis Giannetti. If, so what is your oppinion of it?

The reason I ask is because you are obviously movie critic, and the book focuses on movie criticism.

I know you stated once that there are only two movies in the world, one is good and the other burns your butt from having to sit down for hours watching it. But I was wondering if you have more of a solid criteria in criticizing films. For, as your probably agree, there are so many parts of a film, and the whole is only as great as its weakest link.

I've only read reviews, and one reviewer says he breaks a movie down like so:
Photography
Mise en Scène
Movement
Editing
Sound
Acting
Drama
Story
Literature
Ideology
Theory

Dear Kevin:

That's an old book, which I have. We used it as the text book in a film class I took in 1974. It's also the sort of film book that I don't like, where he's over-intellectualizing everything. For me the very first criteria is the story, is it worth telling in the first place? Then, is the story being told well? Are the performances helping to tell the story? Is the direction, photography, camera movement, and editing helping? But for me, everything exists in a movie to aid in the telling of the story, whatever it may be. Having the most expensive, pretty photography or elegant production design, like "Road to Perdition," for instance, will interest me for about fifteen minutes, but after that it's entirely up to the script to carry me along. In that case, the story began as a Japanese comic book series, became a series of Japanese movies, then an edited-together American version ("Shogun Assassin"), then an American graphic novel, then finally "Road to Perdition," which by then had lost all of its story integrity along the way. Therefore, even though it's beautifully photographed, with great production design, the movie sucks because the script is bad. Sam Mendes' direction is also dull and pretentious, which certainly didn't help. So, first and foremost is the story and the script, and if those aren't good everything else will sink with them.

Josh

Name: Julie McKinley
E-mail: Julie21@uga.edu

Hi there! I was just srufin here and happened to come upon your sight. I was wondering, if the Jeff Gehron of "The Four Feathers" is the same Jeff Gehron who taught me in the 5th and 6th grade? Whoa, that is just great. I saw the picture and um yeah I think it's him. He used to bring his guitar to class sometimes and that picture is just the way I remeber him um, 13 years ago. If you have any idea would you please let me know. Thanks, Jules.

Dear Julie:

Any idea of what? Where he is? In LA. But that's all I know. He's a wonderful guitar player.

Josh

Name: Phil
E-mail: na

Hey Josh, love your work and your website! Was just wondering if you had ever seen Patrick McGoohan's cult TV series 'the prisoner' from the late sixties..

Excellent series. Really well made episodes, well sureal.

Dear Phil:

I watched it avidly when it first aired in the '60s and enjoyed it very much. It certainly does win for oddball series of its decade. I used to have nightmares about that giant bubble asphyxiating me.

Josh

Name: Charles
E-mail: cscorder@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I thought you and my fellow Beckeristas (or should that be Beckerians?) might find this Associated Press story interesting.

Charles

ESPN fires columnist over remarks

NEW YORK - ESPN has fired Gregg Easterbook as a freelance contributor to its Web site after the columnist wrote that the producers of the movie "Kill Bill" were "Jewish executives" who "worship money above all else."
Easterbrook apologized for the remarks last week, as has The New Republic magazine, which posted Easterbrook's comments in an online column on its Web site.
ESPN dismissed Easterbrook last week as a freelance contributor to its Web site, where he wrote a column called "Tuesday Morning Quarterback." In a statement, the sports network said Easterbrook had made comments "that were highly offensive and intolerable."
In the column, Easterbrook was critical of "Kill Bill" and its director, Quentin Tarantino, saying they glorified violence. He criticized the studio that released the film, Miramax, and its parent, Walt Disney Co., saying it was "wallowing in gore" for profit.
He noted that Disney and Miramax are both run by Jewish executives, Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein, respectively.
"Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence," Easterbrook wrote in the column. "Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?"
Easterbrook apologized for the remark last week and said he was guilty of "mangling words."
ESPN spokesman Chris LaPlaca said the decision to fire Easterbrook was made solely within ESPN. ESPN and Miramax are both owned by Disney.

Dear Charles:

When all else fails, there's always anti-semitism to fall back on. For goodness sake don't point any fingers at Quentin Tarantino himself, who's not a Jew, for making "Kill Bill." As though anyone tells Quentin what to make at this point. There's no shortage of idiots in this world, that's for sure.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

You already know what I thought of "Mystic River". I spoke with my boss, since he went to see it the same night that I did and he did not like very much either for the same reasons. Although, we both felt that the ugliness of the cinematography was approriate to the story. I know that bothered you, but I understood why it looked the way it did.

Someone said to me the look reminded them of "In the Bedroom" and there is a lot of truth to that with the way the Dp used available light to give the feel of ugliness.

I forgot to tell you when I talked to you last weekend that we also went to see the Brazilian documentary "Bus 174" which is about a street kid who holds up a bus in Rio and then has to take hostages and has a standoff with the Police for about twelve hours.

Most of the footage comes from the live news footage of the ill fated event and it ends tragically, but what was so good about it were the interviews and how the filmmmakers gave a history of the highjacker and humanized him as well as showing the problems with the police in Brazil and how ill prepared they are to handle situations like this one.

Lastly, I was wondering if you had ever seen the Mike Binder film "Crossing the Bridge"which was shot across the border in Windsor and in Detroit. I was made in 1992 and I remember when it came out in Detroit, but I never went to see it, however, it was on cable the other night, so I watched it.

I thought the film had a lot of potential, but it was also seriously flawed and the main plot of smuggling drugs across the border was its biggest flaw. It seemed liek a forced idea, but it detracted from the characters which I though were well developed.

Scott (AKA "Huggy Bear")

Dear Huggy Bear:

Yes, I did see "Crossing the Bridge," which seemed like utter hooey to me. I never heard about anybody ever smuggling pot from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit -- Windsor's a little town and Detroit is major metropolis where all types of drugs have always been available, why would you need to go to another country and hassle with an international border. It's ridiculous. Mike's movie before it, "Coupe DeVille," is equally ridiculous (that you could total a cherry '59 Cadillac and have it repaired over the weekend -- oh, sure!). I didn't like his HBO show, either. He was in my cabin at Camp Tamakwa several different years.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail: KeithRobinson@krobin.freeisp.co.uk

Dear Josh,

I admire what your friend and yourself are doing on his 16mm movie, by shooting piece meal. Ive tried this twice recently and both feature attempts died due to losing one or more lead "actors" and ive decided NEVER to try this again. Your friend must have the patients of a saint. What are your views on the Sat&Sun type feature shoot? Have you ever produced one? Im planning a simple 2 actor one room feature now (after learning from my mistakes) and plan on shooting it over a long weekend.Its a mad crazy rush but at least it gets DONE. At the end of the day thats all im worried about now, getting it done...
Oh yeah, can those 100 foot metal spool'd reels be loaded into a Bolex in daylight or is it essential to be done in the changing bag? I heard someone say it doesnt have to be dark... Thanks for your help

Dear Keith:

The 100 foot rolls of 16mm are daylight loads and can be loaded in the daylight, although it's always best to try and find a place with subdued lighting, as opposed to direct sunlight, like in a car, or just in the house before you go outside. Anyway, I'd never shoot a feature film this way, but it's been working for my friend Paul. As I said, he and his best friend star in it, so he never has trouble wrangling either of his lead actors. I must say that trying to shoot an entire feature in weekend sounds a little crazy. Trying to shoot a feature in five days, like the old days, always sounded like a terrific challenge to me. I shot "Running Time" in 10 days and that seemed pretty fast. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Josh

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

Josh,

The best part of "Starsky and Hutch" was there pimp informer "Huggy Bear" played by Antonio Fargas.

I was working with a photographer in Miami back in 1994 and we were eating in a cuban restaurant in South Beach and I looked over at a table and there was "Huggy Bear". I said, "Hey that's Huggy Bear!"

The photographer had no idea what I was talking about.

It was the weirdist thing, but not as weird as after I e-mailed you about Stqarsky and Hutch I went to the Internet Movie data base" to check something and saw that a "Starsky and Hutch" movie is in production with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.

Oh Boy! Another Movie made from a bad TV show.

BTW Josh, I use to love "Combat," "The Green Hornet," "Batman," "Lost in Space," and "Gilligan's Island." when I was a kid too. I could not watch any of them now.

I guess there are many reasons why we get along.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I met Antonio Fargas. He was in Detroit appearing in Sam's movie "Crimewave," which I'm also in briefly. All of Huggy Bear's scenes were edited out, though. People yelled that at him every night out on the streets where we were shooting, "Hey! Huggy Bear!"

Josh

Name: Bird
E-mail: bird@jjandbird.com

Howdy, Josh.

I got into a recent discussion with JJ about B-movies. It seems neither one of us could really put a finger on what exactly a B-movie is. Is it a cheap film, done on a shoestring budget? Is it a "genre" film like EVIL DEAD or FORBIDDEN PLANET? Is it any film that has no pretensions of being anything other than escapist entertainment?

It seems the original definition of a B-movie was anything that played second on a double feature. Traditionally, these were exploitive and brainless cheapies. Now there are no double features and the independent film movement has done a lot to counter people's earlier notions of what a low budget fim can be.

However, in this age of movie studios' brainless excesses, where movies like STAR WARS and FAST AND THE FURIOUS are the order of the day, are these still considered B-movies? They're just as brainless, exploitive, and escapist as ever, but are made with "A-list talent".

Basically, if you could give me your opinion on this topic, I'd be very grateful. Also, would YOUNG GUNS qualify as a B-movie?

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

It's all about the budget and the use of stars. If you had a star in your film it was an A-film. But since "Star Wars," the Bs have become the As. Both "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are B-movies made with A-budgets. "Young Guns" was an A-movie because it had a large budget and many hot, young stars. Hollywood doesn't make many B-movies anymore, except perhaps these shitty horror movies they're now putting out, but even still they have large budgets (like the new "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," for example, where seemingly all of the energy, wit, visual artistry, and impact were replaced by money; the same goes for "Road to Perdition"). Also, a B-movie generally had one, two or three weeks to shoot. If you had four or more weeks of shooting, you had moved up to B+ or A-. Most of the cool Bs of the 1940s and '50s were shot in five days! And you'd better have your shit really wired to shoot a feature film in five days, let me tell you.

Josh

Name: Hockeyslut
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Several times you've mentioned a friend of yours who has been shooting an MOS 16mm feature on weekends for several years. Could you elaborate on his method? Does he just take the camera around town with no equipment or crew and get a handful of shots every weekend? Does he play the main character himself? Surely the same actors haven't been showing up for years, keeping their appearances consistent. How does he even stay focused on this single project?

I've read about a few filmmakers doing something like this to make their first feature, but I was wondering if you had any nitty-gritty details on the process that are worth sharing.

Thanks for the time.

Dear Hockeyslut:

Tough name you've got there. My friend Paul has been making this film of his for about five years now, and he's probably got three-quarters of it shot. I've come in and out as his cameraman, and since his Bolex busted, it's been shot exclusively with my Bolex for the past year. He and his buddy, Robby, are the two stars, and frequently Paul shoots the shots of Robby, then Robby shoots the shots of Paul. Robby looks just like he looks for the film, so that hasn't been a problem, but Paul is supposed to have long hair and a beard, which has caused him a lot of trouble, like it stopped him from getting a decent job for several years. Finally, he cut his hair and shaved, and now he uses a wig and make-up. But it's a very simple story that mainly involves the two of them, that covers several years, thus taking advantage of the long shooting schedule, so he has scenes in all seasons, something you don't see very often in big-budget movies. he's also switching between black and white and color -- and has a good reason for it, too, which I won't reveal -- which is a visually cool thing to do that adds no extra cost. Most of the film was shot MOS, even though there are some dialog scenes within this section, but he shot them very cleverly, either in long shot, or shadow, or over-the-shoulder, so they can be looped later without having to match lip-synch. He intends, oncew he's made some more money, to put together two weekends of synch-sound shooting that will intercut throughout the film, and give the impression it's all in synch sound. It's all pretty clever, and I think it will be a unique, interesting, and hopefully funny, film. And since it's in 16mm, he intends to blow-up to 35mm. It's a way to go without much money.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I've never really liked too many television shows. I guess it's because when I was in high school, stuff like "Full House" or "Who's the Boss" was on. I would search for old (and new) "Twilight Zone" episodes on Saturday nights, which were always great.

"Twin Peaks" had me for the first season (in 1990), then it fell apart. It should've been a mini-series. I've rented the first season of "Six Feet Under" and that's great, but I don't know if that counts, since it's cable. "South Park" consistently makes me laugh.
"The Simpsons," I suppose, would get my vote for best show ever. I've seen pretty much every episode.

I've always preferred movies to television. I can't get past the over-lighting and the incredibly bad scripts. And since I don't have cable, it'll probably stay that way. The TV is a monitor for my DVD player these days... before that, it was a monitor for my VCR.

Take care,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Yeah, I'm with you. I got out of the habit of watching TV shows somewhere in the '70s. I did watch most of "Sex and the City," I must admit, and it's a good show, but it's completely used itself up. I haven't gotten into any of the other HBO shows, although I'm sure they're well-made. So, getting back to movies, hasn't anyone else bothered to see "Mystic River"? Considering it hasn't gotten a negative review that I've seen, and I thought it sucked the big one, I figured someone would dispute me by this time.

Josh

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

Josh,

Another British show that I loved was "The Young Ones". There was some great humor in that show.

I loved '"M*A*S*H" and "All in the Family" too, but I agee that "M*A*S*H" became weak towards the end there.

I must admit that I was a big "Starsky and Hutch" fan when I was a kid, but I recently watched an episode not too long ago and it was bad. My fahter liked to watch "Kojack".

Scott

Dear Scott:

I was already a bit too old for "Starsky and Hutch," and all I ever saw was the the skid marks on the pavement from their rehearsals before they did any car stunt. Within our group those became known as "Starsky and Hutch Marks." I must admit that I quite liked the first few season of "ER." I do think it used it's entire premise up in three seasons, as we followed Noah Wyle through his residency. Once he was a doctor, though, the show was over. TV-wise, I also really liked "SCTV," as well as the first three or four seasons of "Saturday Night Live," but there's a show that's gone on 20 years too long. It's real title now out to be "Beating a Dead Horse," which is what they do to every gag. As a little kid I loved "Combat," "The Green Hornet," "Batman," "Lost in Space," and "Gilligan's Island." Luckily, I grew up.

Josh

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

Josh,

"The Twilight Zone" and "Star Trek" (TOS) were both good, as was "Python", but I'll put my money overseas on "Fawlty Towers". There were virtually no "misses" in that series, only hits. The writing was superb and Cleese himself feels it is his best work. I would give honorable mention to "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H" because they were more ambitious than any other series. Not much has been done since that those two series didn't do first and better.

I started "Cascade Effect" but was interrupted by my kids. I'll have some thoughts on it for you when I'm through. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

"Fawlty Towers" is a good choice, although there weren't very many of them as it was a short-lived show. But they were all funny, well-written and well-performed ("When the German guests arrive, whatever you do, don't mention the war"). Nevertheless, I don't think it was really striving for anything more than what was on the surface, which in that case was very good, but still. "All in the Family" was striving for more than the surface laughs, and therefore I'd say it was a more important show, if not quite as funny as "Fawlty Towers." I absolutely loved "M*A*S*H" for it's first four or five seasons, but I got very weary of it by the end, when Alda had really taken over and it became rather self-righteous. Still, these are all interesting choices.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I have a query about Spaghetti Westerns. I see Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood saying their lines in English (usually looped). But quite a few of the other actors in the same scenes appear to be speaking another language (Italian? Spanish?) and then are dubbed in English.
Why is this? I tend to think it was because they hired local actors for the minor parts that didn't speak English.

On the best t.v. show front-- I guess I'll say "Seinfeld". The humor still makes me spew what I'm drinking, and its commentary on human foibles I think will always hold up for the most part. And lately, now that I am catching the reruns again, I am noticing that I'm impressed with the terrific way they ended the last scene in each episode. It just always seems to hit the perfect final punch line just right and then freeze frames for maximum effect.
**Kramer points to George's golfball ...<beat>... "Titleist?" **George falls to the floor with his pants around his ankles, utterly defeated: "Vandelay! Say Vandelay Industries!" Jerry: "And you want to be my latex salesman."

Hmm, maybe for similar reasons I'd nominate "The Simpsons" too.

As for Sci-Fi/Fantasy being used as a powerful metaphor for drama about the "real" human condition, social problems, subtext, etc...
I emmensely enjoy and am often moved by --
"Star Trek: The Next Generation"
and
"Witchblade".
Plus I can't get enough of Xena, but not for those reasons.

Dear Diana:

I can certainly go along with "The Simpsons." Your assessment of why the secondary characters in the spagetti westerns were dubbed is exactly correct. That's why it's always better to shoot in English-speaking countries, so then the local actors all speak English. That's partially why all the low-budget films they now shoot in Romania and Bulgaria all suck. I always liked "Seinfeld," but I never thought it was great.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh,

I loved the script for your Indiana Jones parody. What's your favorite parody movie? And are there any movies you like even though you know no one else likes them? I know there are plenty of movies that you don't like that everyone else loves.

Dear Ben:

Probably my favorite parody film is "Kentucky Fried Movie," then "Airplane!," which doesn't hold up very well. The "Naked Gun" films were good, too. It's a very difficult genre where most films generally fail completely. As for films I like that weren't well-received, well, I love "Who'll Stop the Rain," which was universally panned that year, whereas the maudlin, drippy "Coming Home" was universally praised that same year and won Oscars. I quite liked Stallone's first film as writer-director, "Paradise Alley," which was basically despised. I thought "Rob Roy" was FAR superior to the miserable "Braveheart" the same year. That's all that's coming to mind at the moment.

Josh

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

Josh,

I saw that same interview with Mike Wallace and Rod Serling, in fact, I researched his life a lot and found that is the only known full length interview shot on video with him.

He was a very humble guy and he worked long hours to make that show what it is and I believe the television viewing audience in America is better off for it. I loved "Monty Python's Flying Circus" too. I used to watch it on PBS when I was a teenager.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Yes, I liked "Monthy Python's Flying Circus" as well, but it was still a somewhat hit-or-miss show, much moreso, I'd say, than "Twilight Zone." I also liked the original "Star Trek" very much. I never got into any of the follow-ups, though.

Josh

Name: Dan B.
E-mail:

Josh I havent submitted for quite a few months, here is a list of film's, tell me what you thought of each?

Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Rules of Attraction
Narc
25th Hour

And do you have any news on what is going on with the new Modesty Blaise film, cos it seems to have no official cast, except for the leading actress?

Dear Dan:

As far as I know, "Modesty Blaise" was made and finished. I thought it would be available on video by now, but Scott and I never communicate, so I don't know. The only one of those films I saw was "25th Hour," which seemed like a nothing. I really got bored stuck in that nightclub, just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And the big drama about beating him up seemed completely forced. Meanwhile, I wouldn't see "Kill Bill" if they were giving money away.

Josh

Name: David Higdon
E-mail: higdondavid@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Is there anyway that I could purchase a poster of "Running Time" through your site or any site that you might know of? I didn't know if you might even have a couple rolled up somewhere. That is my favorite movie, and coming from a strong devotion to Hitchcock, I especially like the daring "one-shot" approach. Please let me know because I have been looking everywhere for one.
Thanks,
David

Dear David:

Before I left LA I probably threw out 200 of them. I'm sorry to report that I only have a couple left, and I won't sell those. However, if you send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope (big enough for and 8x10 photo), I'll send you a signed photograph from the film, okay?

Josh Becker
1829 Wellington Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

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

Josh,

I think you would already know this, but I have to agree that the "Twilight Zone" is the greatest TV show hands down. Nothing could even come close in my opinion. Both "Patterns" and "Reqium for a Heavyweight" ARE brilliant.

I also agree tht Rod Serling was a genius at writing for television. Nothing could ever come close to the time and passion taht he put into his work and what the audience received in turn.

I am still amazed at the episodes when I watch them. I believe they are timeless.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I just watched a very good documentary on Rod Serling, called "Submitted for Your Approval," and he there was an interesting segment of Serling being interviewed by Mike Wallace in the early '60s -- both Serling and Wallace are smoking during it -- and Serling said that as far as he was concerned, he was a good, contemporary TV writer, and nothing more, and he wasn't sure if his work would hold up at all. Well, I believe it has.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh,

I'd have to agree with you that "Twilight Zone" was the best tv show in American....but as an avid Python fan, it goes next to "Flying Circus," for me. Anyways, just curious on your thoughts about "Bubba Ho-Tep" if you saw it. Bruce was hilarious!! It was the part he was born to play in my opinion, and of course Ossie Davis was just incredible as JFK. haha!

Take care-
Brian

Dear Brian:

I enjoyed it and laughed many times. I do think it completely ran out of steam about an hour in, and act III was just sort of a lame Don Coscarelli horror film. Once you've been laughing regularly, to then have to deal with bad monster effects and phony suspense without laughs was a big let-down. Bruce was great as Elvis, although I think he was born to play many parts, not just that one. And it's the best part Ossie Davis has had in 20 years. Of course his agents wouldn't even give him the script.

Josh

Name: Kim
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo,com

Dear Josh,

Well, though I haven't seen even an average amount of tv in my lifetime, I'd certainly vote for Twilight Zone as the best show. Not only did the episodes have creative plots, but many had a multi-layered story and message. The stories could make you think long after it was over and even cause arguments amongst your friends.
Kim

Dear Kim:

Yes, Rod Serling used horror and fantasy to make points about society, which gave his stories depth and subtext, which I think is terrific, and I believe made the stories even better. That's what's lacking in most stories these days. Also, he gave many great young actors their start on the show, like: Robert Redford, Cliff Roberston, Telly Savalas, and many others.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Did you ever see REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT with Jack Palance and Keenan Wynn? I thought it was **brilliant.** Rod Serling wrote an excellent script.

Also, what's your opinion about Harlan Ellison? Both of you seem to share the same hatred for Hollywood, and you are both equally brutal in your opinions. I personally find that kind of honesty refreshing.

Have a good one.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I'm a big, big fan of Rod Serling, and I like both versions of "Requiem for a Heavyweight." I really like both versions of "Patterns," too, which I highly recommend if you haven't seen. And "The Comedian" is brilliant, too. Serling was absolutely and unquestionably the greatest TV writer of the 1950s and '60s, and a lot of great writers, like Paddy Chayesfsky, Gore Vidal, and Horton Foote, came out of there. Here's something to think about? I think I'd vote "The Twilight Zone" the best TV show ever, what does everyone else think?

Meanwhile, Harlan Ellison is one of my heroes. He's the greatest intelligent big-mouth of the past thirty years, and I only wish I was as half as smart, elequent, and anywhere near as good a writer as he. I read all of Ellison's movie reviews religiously for many years, following him from one publication to another. I had the great joy of reading Harlan Ellison's review of "Darkman" out loud to Sam, Bruce and Rob (it was incredibly and intelligently scathing). Meanwhile, I highly recommend Ellison's collection of film reviews, "Harlan Ellison's Watching" to everyone. I absolutely loved that there were some months when he was so mad about things that he couldn't even get to the movies he was going to review. His collection of short stories, "Angry Candy," is absolutely brilliant, and I recommend that to everyone, as well. There are a few stories of his that I think about all the time. A number of opinions that I picked up from him formed the basis of my worldview. Ellison once wrote that we are all the same person under different skins, which is crucially important information for a writer. That I should be thought of in anywhere near the same light as him pleases me greatly. Thanks.

Josh

Name: Josh Cryer
E-mail: josh@fakeshemps.com

Damn Josh, way to go. Loved the essay entitled "The Misuse of Presidential Power." Your reviews aren't always agreeable to me, but every damn word there was outright beautiful.

Dear Josh:

Thanks. Here, I'll give another disagreeable film review -- I thought "Mystic River" really sucked. I never gave the slightest damn, everyone in the cast was overacting, with particular honors going to Mr. Penn who is an overacter of Paul Muni's caliber. The big twist completely and flatly doesn't work, the last scene between Penn and Laura Linney was beamed in from the planet Mars, the direction is sloppy, the lighting is downright ugly, and it's minimally a half an hour too long. I reiterate yet again, the modern version of a good movie is really just a bad movie.

Josh

Name: Yehudit
E-mail: yehudithannahcohn@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

This a comment, not a question. Actually, it's three comments. The first is that the literal translation of that commandment is "Thou shalt not murder", which is intrinsically different from "Thou shalt not kill". That is to say you are not so far off on adding "except" in that it is biblically acceptable to kill if your life is in danger. The second comment concerns Judaism in that you are mistaken in believing that it advocates "everyone is screwed anyway". I am not sure if you meant to add "else" in that sentence or something closer to Catholicism and original sin, but neither view is accurate. In the case of the former, Judaism absolutely disavows proselytism (sp?) and does not believe that everyone must be Jewish. In the case of the latter, it believes that repentence is always possible--no one need be doomed, and in fact, the religion has no Western-traditional concept of hell.
My last comment deals with the misnomers "Yahweh" and "Jehovah", neither of which is an accurate translation of the letters "yod hey vav hey", or "YHVH" from the original word. These spellings were adopted by Greek and Roman translators to compensate for the fact that the word is literally "The Unspoken Name of God" and was meant only to be vocalized once a year by the High Priest--we no longer know how it was pronounced but chances are that the Christianized version is far from the mark.

Thank you for your attention,
Yehudit Hannah Cohn

Dear Yehudit:

If the Jews are "God's chosen people," then ergo everyone else in the world was not chosen. As I've been assured by Hassids, you don't get to go to "heaven" (or whatever the Hebrew word for it is) unless: a) you're a Jew (meaning your mother was Jewish), b) you read the Torah, in Hebrew, and, of course, c) keep Kosher. Now, since 99% of the world isn't a Jew, doesn't read the Torah in any language, nor do they keep Kosher, that means there's only Jews in heaven, right? Come on, 'fess up. Within this philosophy everybody else is boned. I didn't say everyone else was going to hell, I said they weren't going to that conception of heaven. Anyway, as far as Baptists are concerned, if you haven't been baptized you're not going to heaven, and that includes an innocent, sinless baby that dies a week old. Islam says only Muslims go to heaven, Catholics say on Catholics go to heaven, etc., etc., etc. I'm saying it's all equally ficticious. It's all mythology, and Judaism, Islam, or Christianity have exactly as much meaning and value as the beliefs of the Inuit eskimoes. Mythology is mythology, and if you think your's is the word of God and everyone else's is phony, you are on some level being simple-minded and lazy.

Josh

Name: John Smyth
E-mail: johnsmith@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

With all due respect, in regard to your response to Safiyya Dharssi's question regarding her school project: you are a dick.
Thanks dickface.
P.S You are very ugly.

Dear John:

No, you're uglier. And stupider. And dumberer.

Josh

Name: Bill D.
E-mail: info@loidistributing.com

Dear Josh:

We own & Operate 40 Dollar Stores in the Pacific Northwest.

Great Reading !!! made me laugh.

Good Job !!

Dear Bill D.:

I'm glad you enjoyed it. If you have any stores around Medford, OR, I've shopped there.

Josh


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