I was curious as to what you thought of Robert Rodriguez
as a director. I recently purchased Once Upon a Time
in Mexico (a good, if not great, movie), and loved Johnny
Depp's performance above all else. What struck me the
most, though, was how smart and ahead of his time Rodriguez
seems to be.
He seems to get the fact that you can make a good film
for 20 million instead of 100 million if you just use
your head and think through the effects, locations,
music, etc. and don't just dump 10 million dollars into
something when you don't need to. The special features
on the DVD really opened my eyes to the possibilities
of what you can do with a limited budget. I would hire
this guy in a second.
What do you think?
never sat all the way through any of his movies, they
all seemed insipid, badly written, and dull. And without
a good script, who gives a shit about good production
recently did a film called "Bagman" with Marty
Parker as director. I am trying to get in touch with
him. I have heard that a movie by the same name is going
to be released in August. If you do talk to him or if
he happens to see this posting, he can reach me at the
don't know Marty Parker, although I did write a story
called "Bagman" many years ago, which is posted
on this site.
all is going well with you and the movie in Bulgaria.
So Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11"
won the Palme d'Or, the Cannes Film Festival top prize.
One of the interesting things that he said afterwards
(not quoting him directly, mind you) was how people
(Americans ?)will dismiss this as a French thing. And
how this country treated the French after the Iraq war
(changing french fries to patriot fries, french toast
to freedom toast and other nonsensical crap). Miramax
is working on getting this film shown in this country
before July 4th. I think this will be the nail in gwb's
coffin. But it continues to amaze me that his poll numbers
are tied with Kerry's. Don't people have brains? I cannot
fathom anyone with an iota of intelligence that can
support that scumbag and actually approve of what he
is doing. Did you hear he fell off his bike and injured
himself? I guess someone forgot to tighten the screws
on his training wheels. What do you think of John McCain
as his running mate? Or who do YOU think would be a
good vice president to run with him? My best to you,
Bruce and Renee.
suggest Bob Graham as Kerry's running mate, because
whoever takes Florida wins. Meanwhile, Renee arrived
on the set today for the first time (she starts shooting
tomorrow), in her space suit, and she looks terrific.
It was wonderful seeing her again after 3 years. Five
days of shooting down. Bruce is great.
First off I want to thank you for how quickly you responded
to my question. I wrote to Bruce Campbell at both firstname.lastname@example.org
and email@example.com about three weeks ago and haven't
received a response. So thank you for the valuable information
(still though, what about final draft).
I was wondering to what extent, if at all, you feel
that knowing Bruce and Sam have helped you to be successful
in the filmmaking industry. Successful being gainfully
employed in doing what you love. It's a question about
connections. I, for one, would have never found your
web site if it weren't for Bruce's book and web site.
I'm probably not alone in this. Do you feel that having
Bruce and Sam in you movies, and working on Evil Dead
have opened doors for you? If so, where do you think
you'd be if it hadn't been for them?
I ask this because, my cousin is Barry Sonnenfeld (Men
in Black, Get Shorty). I hope that one day (after college
and film school) that he'll help me to get a job in
the industry. I'm fully aware though, that it would
only help me to get my foot in the door, after that,
I prove myself. If (biggest if ever) I make a film,
I don't want it to be labeled "Blah Blah Blah"
by, the cousin of Barry. I think you know what I mean.
So how do you feel connections work in Hollywood, and
how do you feel, if at all, they've helped you?
certainly don't hurt. Without them I'm absolutely certain
no one would even have read the script for "Lost
in Translation," let alone financed it, or given
her an Oscar, for Christ sake. I wouldn't have gotten
the picture I'm shooting if Bruce hadn't agreed to be
in it (his first 4 days of footage are just great, BTW).
I did help Sam quite a lot in getting the first ED made,
though, so it wasn't like I was just asking for favors.
I daresay, were I not there that film might not have
gotten finished. However, knowing Sam, he would have
ultimately completed it one way or another. But knowing
Sam and Rob Tapert, his partner, got me on Herc and
Xena. But, having done good work is what got me to stay
on those shows, and the fact that Lucy liked me, too.
So it's a combination of who you know and what you know.
Being Barry Sonnenfeld's cousin won't hurt, but should
he give you a leg up, you'd better know what you're
doing when opportunity knocks. Good luck.
just wanted to say that when I started reading you articel
te thought of a "another religion hater that probebly
doesnt know jack shit about what hes talking".
About half way down the article I began to realize that
I was wrong, 180 degrees wrong. When I was done reading
I thought to myself "This man is go" but that
basicly is idiotic to think that kind of shit after
you read such an awesome piece of writing if I may say
so. Anyway, after reading I saw that you are not like
those kind of people that talk trash about a subject
- religion in this case - and dont know anything about
it, you obviously know what your talking about. I for
one, always thought that religion is a load of bullshit,
it just doesnt fall in place. Though after I read your
piece the whole idea of religion became very clear to
me after 16 years of it being extremly vague. I will
end this comment by saying that I enjoied reading this,
and you sorta enlightend me. Thank you Josh Becker.
Iwill be happy if you reply to my email with anything.
pleased that you enjoyed the essay, and perhaps got
something out of it. As a writer, that's what I'm always
trying to do. And hell, anyone that doesn't start off
with "You're an asshole," is okay with me.
couldn't agree more! Your commentary is right on the
money. I am constantly appalled and amazed by the fact
that intelligent people buy into religion. Mother Nature
is a goddess, and is the only diety I worship. I want
to start a "church" whose religion is the
assumption of total equality, respect and tolerance
(the celebration of individuality}. Let me know what
you think of the idea and whether you'd like to be involved.
We're not alone. -Gregg
agree with your concept, but I don't like any kind of
organized religion. They all start off with good intentions,
just like labor unions, then quickly become mafias,
wanting to kill anyone who disagrees. I don't think
nature or consciousness is a mother or a father; it's
beyond our meager human comprehension, and all attempts
at naming and codifying it are childish.
most certainly better than "Spaceballs," I'll
give you that, but "Young Frankenstein," which
you didn't mention, is FAR superior. Even "High
Anxiety," which is very good, is a better film.>>
I thought about Young Frankenstein before I wrote that,
I even have it in my collection, but my subject was
Mel's original stories, not spoofs... and for some sad
reason I just don't find Young Frankenstein funny anymore
(its funnier to mention parts from it than to actually
watch them). As for High Anxiety, I didn't grow up with
Hitchcock, I missed out, so it didn't seem very funny
to me. Perhaps one day I'll sit down and watch all his
movies... I liked Psycho the first time around but after
that once Norman put Janet Leigh's car in the swamp
it got boring... I literally fall asleep and only wake
up when Vera Miles finds mother because of the loud
music. They should've just cut out Martin Balsam...
hell, put him in Clue or something (I liked him in the
wretched Silence of the Hams). I was kind of horrified
to learn Hitchcock didn't care if the acting was good,
he was going to get the shocks with camera angles and
music (that sounds creepily like todays dumbass directors...
but Hitchcock must've done it best). I have probably
watched more movies than you and sadly, most of them
weren't very good. I've been buying movies off your
list though, they're good selections, I just bought
Lawrence of Arabia (hehehe Sean Astin actually compared
The Two Towers to Lawrence of Arabia.... Two Towers
sucked... people don't like Lord of the Rings, they
like parts of lotr. I can sit through bad acting and
bad storytelling, but the two towers shown in theaters
wasn't even consistent with that, people sat through
it cause of Gollum and Helm's Deep, those were the only
two things properly set up in that movie. The REAL movie,
which was close to four hours was much better, but it
still didn't change Elijah Woods two expression acting
or the fact that this is a 4 hour middle of a movie...
but at least it was set up better.) Also, I just mentioned
Clue cause I thought that was cool how they had three
different endings for that movie... and if you go back
and check, all the characters ARE properly set up for
all three endings, you wouldn't get that in today's
comedy. I like Tim Curry and Michael McKean's slaptick
routing, but the rest is just okay. I guess comedy is
just a matter of opinion. I did like Young Frankenstein
watched more movies than me? With all due respect, I
kinda fuckin' doubt it. I'm just about at 4,000 films,
and I've kept a list, too (nobody can say I've wasted
my life). How many movies have you seen?
are you such an asshole? Seriously? You've got this
tone like your the best director/writer in the world,
but your work sucks. You suck. Why do you suck?
I really don't have that tone in the slightest, it's
entirely you reading it in what I say. I have never
intimated nor even insinuated that I'm a great filmmaker.
As a film watcher, however, I do think I have rather
refined taste, and there's a huge difference. I think
you need to pay more attention.
I just saw the picture of Ted´s brother and I
was just wondering if you have any photographs of Andrea
or Sander, the other siblings? Or maby some photo of
Ted when he was a kid...???
I'm in Sofia right now. I mean, in Bulgaria. Sorry,
no, I don't have any pictures of Andrea, nor of Sander,
who died when he was 16 (Andrea's son is also named
Sander, which is a tribute in Judaism). Andrea was my
older sister's best buddy in high school. The two of
them were the neighborhood's top hell-raisers.
know what i like from you...with all the work you have
down there in Bulgaria,you never forget you Q+A What
i, can't say about other directors,big name or not,
you are great.George
although it has more to do with getting old and not
being able to sleep as long as I'd like than anything
else. Also, I must admit, that I enjoy it. Meanwhile,
the Bulgarians are busily building an eight-lane highway
to Greece, ostensibly for the Olympics, that is nowhere
near close to being finished. Still, eventually they'll
have a nice big route to Greece, and another to Turkey,
which will allow tourists to get to places no one has
gone in about 75 years.
I just finished writing a 97-page treatment for a short
story I wrote for school. I made sure to follow all
of your structure guidelines so it has the three defined
acts, theme, etc.
No, I'm not going to ask you to read it.
But I'm going to USC film school's summer program this
summer, before I start college, and I want to have something
to show the professors to get the most out of my time
there. I want to start writing a script for my story.
My question to you is: are there any books that you
recommend on screenwriting? Also, are the programs like
Final Draft all they're cracked up to be, in formatting
Thanks very much,
you intend to be a screenwriter you ought to read all
of the books and decide what's important you and use
it, then ignore the rest. I got the most out of Lajos
Egri's "The Art of Dramatic Writing," which
wasn't much fun to read. Robert McKee and Syd Field
have their points, too, although they state many things
as hard-fast rules that simply aren't, their choices.
But for me the most important guidebook on screenwriting
was watching "The Bridge on the River Kwai"
over and over again -- everything you need to know about
screenwriting is in that film, and as hard as you and
I try in our lives we'll probably never write a script
that good. It gave me great joy that the blacklisted
writers, Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman finally got
their names put on the film when it was released on
video. The Oscar they won for it was taken by Pierre
Boulle, author of the book, and never given back.
just watched CLUE and LIFE STINKS the other night, they
weren't perfect but they made me laugh my ass off. I
think LIFE STINKS comes in third after THE PRODUCERS
and BLAZING SADDLES, otherwise I could care less about
Mel Brooks other movie spoofs. I think he's better when
he tries to be original, BLAZING SADDLES didn't actually
starts out as a movie spoof, it had a good plot first.
that and LIFE STINKS had a lot of gags that had me falling
on the floor laughing. CLUE was also the only movie
where I thought Michael McKean was funny.
there's no accounting for taste. I found "Clue"
to be as miserable and unfunny of a "comedy"
as I've ever had the misfortune to sit through. And
as for "Life Stinks," well, Mel should NEVER
star in his own films (or anyone else's, for that matter).
It's most certainly better than "Spaceballs,"
I'll give you that, but "Young Frankenstein,"
which you didn't mention, is FAR superior. Even "High
Anxiety," which is very good, is a better film.
just wanted to say that I find it a great comfot that
someone other than I got scared during Abbott &
Costello Meet Frankenstein. Thank you for not making
me feel so alone and ashamed.
I must confess that I've never felt ashamed, I was just
surprised years later, when I saw the film again, that
it was a comedy. But being a little kid and seeing every
Universal monster after the obviously nice and friendly
A&C seemed terrifying. It's far and away their best
film, too. The gag when every monster is after them,
Abbott is lit on fire, Costello grabs a tablecloth from
a table stacked high with stuff, yanks it and everything
stays on the table, then he looks momentarily impressed
with himself is a great moment of comedy. All in all,
though, A&C are not my favorite comedians.
Good luck on the shoot, I hope all is going well. hopefully,
you'll come back with a Bulgarian adventure or two to
write about. Any hot girls over there, or are they weird
looking? They don't sell mail order brides, do they?
Another quick question for you. When you get paid as
a director on a show like ALIEN APOCALYPSE, do you get
a weekly salary for the duration of the shoot, or do
they just give you a lump sum at the begining and/or
end of shooting?
Thanks Josh, I can't wait to see the film when it airs.
are astounding babes here. There seems to be an 8, 9
or 10 on every street corner. The girl in the babe part
of this film, Rossi, is rather incredible, like super-model
material. And they're friendly, too, at least some of
them. I haven't had so many women just outright smile
at me in my life. meanwhile, I got my first director
and writer payments before I left, and I get the remainder
when I get home.
there! In all the stuff I've read about directors I
don't recall ever seeing their process on designing
a shot. I don't necessarily mean fx shots, just your
regular two-person dialogue stuff. Assuming this is
a movie, so you have a bit of time to work things out
for yourself as opposed to tv, do you have some sort
of mental checklist you go through in working out the
shots for a scene? Or is putting together a group of
shots too much of an instinctual thing to be discussed
Do you usually look for input from your actors? Especially
now that you're working such a tight shooting schedule,
how much do you tweak during the old block, light, rehearse,
shoot routine? Are you flexible with your shot list
or do you listen, nod, and then make Campbell cry?
And remember, fanboys always want some boobs in their
sci-fi. I'm guessing Ms. O'Connor is too much of a class
act, so tell Campbell we want to see some skin! Man-boobs,
Good luck on your shoot!
dude, this is for American TV. I was already informed,
"No swearing, no sex or nudity, but violence, violence,
violence." And we wonder why American youth is
so fucked up? Meanwhile, I storyboarded the entire film
over a month before I got here, then I broke the boards
down into a shot list, which is what we're all working
from. I stick to that about 95% of the time. Bruce Campbell
is really the ultimate pro and needs very little direction
from me, other than blocking. As for the other actors
(excluding Renee, who is also a consummate pro, but
hasn't arrived yet), if I had the time I'd kick their
asses and make them do 20 takes until I got what I wanted,
but alas, I don't have time, so I take what I can get
I'm really impressed at something you said about shooting
yesterday: you had a back-up scene ready to shoot, just
in case. I keep thinking of that film "Lost in
LaMancha," where Terry Gilliam gets utterly frazzled,
just because it rains and the terrain changes and becomes
muddy on his first day of shooting. I suspect that little
practical things like that are rarely taught in film-making
schools, or thought of by flashy music video directors.
In case you're interested, the review of your ass is
- although actually the reviewer liked your improv comic
stuff: "There are some amusing blink-and-you'll-miss-it
gags, such as when a boyfriend heading to his screaming
girlfriend takes a lightning-quick swig of his beer
while running to the rescue."
Anyway, glad everything is going well so far. Any chance
you'll spill who's playing the ex-President?
could have told you yesterday, but forgot -- it's 4:30
AM right now and I get picked up in an hour, so my brain
isn't completely screwed on straight just yet. The president
will be played by the ubiquitous character actor, Peter
Jason, who has appeared in many of this company's
films. The guy's been in eight million movies and TV
shows and I'm sure he'll be good. As a little note,
I came in three hours early yesterday, but this was
mainly due to being at a distant location where I could
only shoot what was scheduled. I did sneak one extra
shot, but that's all I could do. I've brought up the
Terry Gilliam documentary a number of times since I've
been here as a perfect example of crazy film executive
thinking -- it rains like it's the end of the world,
the lead actor is so ill he can't ride a horse (and
will very shortly die), so what's the answer? Fire the
1st AD (who was clearly a pro). The logic is something
like, "That 1st AD should have should have made
a better plan with God, so fire his sorry ass."
Also, the film shows very clearly that Gilliam is simply
not very good at production. As soon as it was apparent
that the French actor was ill, they should have begun
hiring another actor, and let's face it, most any actor
in the world would have taken the part to work with
Gilliam. But when the bonder, meaning the rep of the
insurance company arrives on set and asks what they
intend to do, and Gilliam replies, "I don't know,"
I would have shut his production down myself right there.
If you're good at production you always have an alternate
plan. End of story.
Long time no email from me. I am so excited to hear
that you are shooting another film. I hope everything
is going well and I cant wait to see your new
kick-ass flick! Its a bummer that the smokes in
Bulgaria suck. But at least you can smoke wherever the
hell you want. They just banned smoking on the beach
in Malibu which pretty much screws up going to the beach
for me. I usually go to Malibu every Sunday in the summer
to sit on the beach, read, swim and smoke. No can do
in Malibu now. I just got back from a weekend in Vegas
with some old friends. It felt great to smoke anywhere
I wanted and all of my friends who went on the trip
are smokers. It was very liberating since Im always
around a bunch of L.A. assholes who practically burn
me at the stake when I light up.
I saw Super Size Me a few weeks ago and
enjoyed it for the most part. Have you seen it yet?
I thought it was a very interesting commentary on the
obesity problem in America. I thought that the filmmaker
could have looked at some of the problems a little more
seriously and his experiment of eating McDonalds
3 times a day for 30 days was a bit unrealistic.
But still very compelling.
Best wishes for you and your new film!
and welcome back. It sounds like an interesting documentary,
with a funny approach, on a real subject. I'd like to
see it. I've just been watching Turner Classic Movies
from France, with the same movies over and over again,
with French commercials in between the letterboxed films.
Right now they're showing the silliest goddamn phony
epics from the '50s, like "The Silver Chalice"
and "Helen of Troy." But I did watch "East
of Eden" again and it's really a great film.
Congratulations, and welcome back from your first day
So c'mon, tell - who's playing your other lead? Is this
the ex-President character?
And do pass along the fan world's best to Gary Jones
- he did some of the better Xena episodes in the second
season, and I gotta say, those mutant mosquitos in the
movie of the same name were awfully well done, especially
for the budget he must have been working with. (Did
you know there is some movie review site that mentions
your scene as the funniest thing in the film?)
of my footage got cut out of "Mosquito." Still
nice to know that going to the trouble of baring my
ass in a movie made someone laugh. We started two and
a half hours late due to it being the first day with
a new crew, a lot of actors with numerous fake beards
and many props. I got every thing scheduled, plus another
scene I had them put in reserve that was actually scheduled
for Day #7, and I wrapped an hour early. And we all
had fun, I'd say. It could all go to hell in a handcar
tomorrow, but it was a good first day, thank you very
just wanted to thank you for your series of essays on
structure. I had read several of Syd Field's books and
found them only slightly helpful in terms of practical
application. (so...many...RULES!) You elucidated some
concepts I was really having trouble with. It all makes
sense to me now, and writing is fun again because of
bless your soul. I'm very pleased and I hope you write
great stories or scripts. Good luck.
Best wishes to you and your cast and crew as fliming
on "Alien Apocalypse" begins. I'm a fan of
both Renee O'Connor and Bruce Campbell and look forward
to seeing them in this film when it airs.
A few questions:
When/if you have a relatively high level of control
as a director (ideal conditions), how much preparation
do you expect from your actors and crew before filming
begins? What do they (and you) do to prepare?
How much rehearsal and preparation time have you had
with your actors on "Alien Apocalypse", if
for the nice wishes. Regarding rehearsal, there's none,
this is TV. Bruce got here a few days ago to make sure
his wardrobe fit properly -- because he's veteran and
knows what's important -- one of my other lead actors
arrived today and shoots tomorrow, Renee doesn't arrive
for another week, and begins shooting the next day.
The crew, meanwhile, has been prepping like mad for
the past three weeks, which is pretty minimal for a
film this size, but I think we'll be okay. I've got
a lot very experienced department heads, like George
Costello, the production designer, whose first film
was "Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill," 40 years
ago. Gary Jones, my good buddy, who has done the FX
for three of my features, designed the alien and built
the full-size practical version, which is pretty damn
cool, I must say. I think the CGI should be pretty good,
too. We'll see how it all comes very soon.
What did you think of Chinatown, and Hitchcock's The
Lady Vanishes? I caught them both this weekend, and
enjoyed them immensely. I have seen Chinatown many times
before, but it gets better every time I see it. Upon
watching it, I pondered the sad realization that if
Chinatown were made today, it would probably Star Ashton
Kutcher, Paris Hilton, and be directed by Brett Ratner.
God I hate hollywood! How is Alien Apocolypse coming?
you said, "Chinatown" just gets better and
better with every viewing. It really hasn't got a single
thing wrong with it: great cast, brilliant script, excellent
direction, beautiful photography, one of the great Jerry
Goldsmith's best scores, and a slam-bang ending -- what
else could you possibly ask for? "The Lady Vanishes"
is Hitchcock at his early best, it's snappy and surprising,
and very easy to watch. Regarding "Alien Apocalypse,"
we start shooting in 24 hours. Ready or not, here we
Dear Josh: JB,
To answer Joe's question, I believe quite recently you
mentioned the movie Tape. It was a stageplay adapted for
the screen by its author, Stephen Belber, and directed
by Richard Linklater. As you yourself stated, the result
was that the story itself was good, "but the direction
was the worst part about it."
show. I knew there were examples, and "Tape"
is an excellent one, thank you. It has a good script,
a terrific cast, and the direction is downright amateurish.
However, because the script and cast are so good, it
overcame the crappy direction.
If anyone believes that Nick Berg died because of abuse
to Iraqi prisoners, they have a mental disorder. They
were looking for an excuse, and they chose a bad one.
If it weren't for the liberal bandwagon, the prisoner
abuses would have died down and been dealt with, just
like they have been over the last year. Just because
there are pictures now doesn't mean that it just started.
And I don't believe that being naked is equal to getting
your head cut off.
beheading was in direct response to the prisoner abuses,
and let's face it, the guy had no military value. Given
that, would they have grabbed that guy otherwise? Probably
not. And the abuses are a lot worse than stripping people
naked. This whole "softening up" policy is
minimally immoral, probably illegal, and it came directly
from Rumsfeld, which means Bush was aware of it from
the outset. Not to mention the 600 or so prisoners at
Gitmo that are not being granted the most basic human
rights. Bush is moving up there with other notable human
rights abusers, like Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.
most common complaint about movies is the poor script.
I'm just wondering if you have ever seen a movie in
which you thought the screenplay was good, but movie
was bad for other reasons like bad acting, photograpghy,
etc. Basically, have you ever seen a movie and wondered
how they could ruin such a good script?
a good question. I'm sure there must be an example,
but I can't think of one. I'll keep thinking about it.
Sorry to hear you're down with a cold, and that Bulgarian
cigs aren't so hot. Are American brands even available?
Or do they cost an arm and a leg? And...ummm.... what's
the prevalent attitude towards...ummm..... other types
So I'm curious, and intrigued, about the whole "America-as-police-state"
thing. What's your impression in general of Bulgaria
(from your whopping 2 weeks there?) Can people generally
get around with out running afoul of the authorities?
(Like for having a burnt-out tail light, or having an
open container or something.) And do people seem to
worry about crime much?
Oh, and how's the casting process coming along? Have
you found any ex-patriate Americans or British actors?
Or anygood bil-lingual Bulgarians?
seems to smoke the Bulgarian brand of cigs, Victory,
which are certainly the best of the local brands. I
tried some Swiss cigs, Davidoffs, but I didn't like
those, either. I brought a lot of American Spirit tobacco,
so I'm just rolling my own, like I do at home. I'll
intentionally ignore the other part of that question
for now. I have cast a few ex-pat Americans, but mostly
English-speaking Bulgarians that I'll simply loop later.
Regarding the authorities, in your car they seem to
pull people over all the time for no damn reason, and
I've been in a car when it's been pulled over twice
already. Today it was because the plates expire in 20
days, which in my mind means they're still good. Another
time it was for speeding, and a quick bribe got us out
fast. Otherwise, though, it seems much freer than the
U.S. Everybody smokes, and you can smoke any damn place
you want. You can also park anywhere, including on the
sidewalk. Someone runs a business out of their garage
in this building. There are many stores that only have
a little basement window at street level, so you must
get down on your hands and knees to buy things. And
the crew is very good. I like it. I start shooting the
day after tomorrow.
I do tend to over analyse the concepts concerning the
characters and the story. Although I also look at the
characters each as a metaphor for human nature and the
world complexities complexities. Therefore the story
ultimately has to support this metaphor. The story drives
the characters and in turn the characters drive the
story. Also as an artistic notes, this notion of underling
connections to enhance the story and draw out the personalities
of the characters appeals to me.
agree with everything you say, and I like stories with
that kind of subtext, but never forget it's still got
to be a good story. As Joe LoDuca, the composer of every
score for everything film and TV show I've ever made
(who will do this one, too), once said, and I paraphrase,
you can have a 100-piece symphony orchestra, a 20-piece
ethnic accompaniment, and the world's greatest violinist,
but it's still all about having a good tune.
How's it going? I hope everything is going well with
your film in Bulgaria. Is it a coincidence that the
Xena theme song is in Bulgarian or am I mistaken? Anyway
just a thought. Well, I was also wondering if Bruce
Campbell will play the Spartacus-like character in your
film or will Renee? Since you originally wrote Renee's
part for Lucy did you envision her as a female Spartacus
character leading the slave revolt against the aliens?
Anyway I think your film is very interesting and will
be very hot (with either Renee or Lucy they are both
very beautiful and extremely hot).
Also, I think Roger Moore was a good Bond but most of
his films were pretty different from the novels. He
did have a lot of humor though which I thought was cool.
I thought George Lazenby was good as well but I guess
he was not as well-received. Well, it is very difficult
to follow Sean Connery successfully (a lot of people
say regardless of who starred in OHMSS they would not
have gotten a good reception if they weren't Sean).
I personally like the literary character a lot and there
was an artist who used to draw comics from the novels
before the films began and coincidently the way he drew
Bond looked a lot like Sean Connery.
good to see you're getting along with wizardbard (Warren)
around here. You know wizardbard and I are old friends
lol. I heard he wanted to try out for the Teasle part
from the novel First Blood (Teasle is a much more sympathetic
character in the novel than the film).
like Ian Fleming's character James Bond, but none of
the movies have the slightest thing to do with it. Bond
is supposed to be scary-looking, with a scar on his
face, and dead, grey eyes that frighten people. That's
because he's a killer, thus his 00-rating, not some
suave, joking playboy. Sean Connery is by far the best
actor/movie star to play the part, but honestly, none
of the movies do the books justice.
Josh,i have see on TV about the film festival of Cannes,and
this Q.Tarantoula...oh pardon, Tarantino, what he say??
he is the president from Cannes??No!no!he say.... he
is the king of fools?now serious,maybe Richard and Royler
are young ,and don't have seen movies from the 1971,72,73,74,75
from the martial arts with Bruce Lee,David Schiang,Ti
Lung and Wang Yu.Beware of the smoke from Bulgaria,they
have bad quality.George
you're referring to Bulgarian cigarettes, I completely
agree, they're shit and have destroyed my throat. The
air quality in Sofia ain't great, either, but then,
I lived in L.A. for 20 years, so what do I know.
Will If I Had A Hammer be available on DVD?
2. How are you?
there are no deals pending for the DVD distribution
of the film, or of any other sort, either. That's probably
because I think it's my best movie (and you're good
in it). Meanwhile, I'm in Bulgaria making a TV movie
for SciFi Channel, and we start shooting in three days.
I have a cold and can barely speak, but otherwise I'm
great, thank you very much.
was just curious to know how your characters are set
up in your screenplays? More so, how they contrast to
each other and, according to the situation, their mentality
Personally I find it best that each character has a
quality in him that may help the movie pervail, yet
at the same time a quality that makes him an opposition
to another person in the group. Thus character tension
is created without solely establishing characters who
are good or evil.
With horror, I usually start the characters on the same
basis. However the film may open. Then as the script
progresses the characters start to define themselves.
Every event in the script should serve a purpose, say
something, or help the story progress. If not it's arbitrary
and ultimately a waste of time. I think that's a problem
with a lot of writers. They seem to find it nessesary
to include scenes that may set up the setting, yet the
setting may serve no purpose to the story.
agree with your conclusion, but I fear you're over-analyzing
stories. If it's a good story, and you can tell it out
loud to people and keep their attention, then it's worth
writing. All the rest of this analysis won't get you
very much in the long-run, just tell good stories.
How's it to be a smoker in Bulgaria? Is Europe in general
alot more relaxed about it than the US? I just read
a ridiculous article about how some in congress are
trying to pass a bill that would keep smoking out of
the movies. I guess they want a harsher rating if the
movie has smoking in it. "Why is it OK to modify
it for nudity, for language, but it's not OK to modify
it for tobacco -- the No. 1 preventable, easily preventable,
health problem we have in this country?" asked
Sen. John Ensign, a Nevada Republican. Aren't there
more important things for our representatives to be
doing? I find it hard to believe that smoking in the
movies is really an issue of great national concern
at this moment. And then there's the jackasses across
the globe cutting peoples heads off in the name of god.
It makes me wonder what the hell we're all doing here,
it fucking disgusts me.
very bright kid on the film crew here spent two months
in the U.S. and said, "It felt like a police state
to me." When you try to accomodate everyone, like
non-smokers, kids, pedestrians, you end up oppressing
others. Meanwhile, almost everyone smokes here, you
can smoke anywhere you want, cigarettes are about 50
cents a pack, and it's just lovely. A freer society
is a better society, no question about it. If I spoke
Bulgarian, and Bush wins again, I'd move here.
agree with you completely. Religion is the root of all
evil. And we thought the Christians were dangerous!
Next to these rabid dogs, the Muslims, Christians come
off as just the whiny obnoxious pussies they are.
of every persuasion are equally as awful and evil. A
right-wing Born-again Christian is no better than a
radical Muslim or an Orthodox Jew -- it's their I'm-right-and-you're-wrong
attitude that causes 99% of the hatred and violence
in the world. Fuck them all in the ass with a phone
your statement below, don't you think you're being a
little close minded??? Even amateur filmmakers get better
with time. Is it so hard to believe that you might like
one of QT's films now or in the future?
What if Spiderman was the first film Sam ever made?
Would you feel the same way and never give him a chance
"Quentin Tarantino is a talentless, pretentious
hack. End of story. I wouldn't see "Kill Bill"
one or two if they gave away $100 bills and blow jobs
at the box office."
paid money three times to see QT's movies, hated all
three, and would happily have put money through a paper-shredder
instead. How many times does one have to get burned
before learning their lesson? And now he's making four-hour
revenge films, the worst story motivation of them all,
and trying to prove he's equal to a bad Hong Kong director,
and I'm going to go see that? Get real.
what the fuck? Another visit to your board and it's
the same old song: Movies are horrible. No one can do
it right. Everything is a retread. (Insert Movie Here)
was inept, directionless, and helmed by jackasses.
Do you not notice the spectacular hypocrisy in bemoaning
the state of film when you're making some pablum called
"Alien Apocalypse"? What the fuck is THIS
little gem going to contribute to the industry? You
> can't stand remakes but you're recycling the most
beaten-down plot in genre history? Tarantino is a "talentless
hack"? Then what the Hell does that make the "auteur"
of an alien snuff flick for cable television?
This "Do As I Say, Not As I Direct" attitude
would be laughable if it weren't indicative of severe
psychological damage. The fact that the man responsible
for the cardboard cutouts you call "people"
in "Running Time" has ANYTHING to say about
anyone's writing ability is mind-boggling. Dismount
the high horse and write something people would give
a shit about before complaining.
put up all of my own money, plus $100,000 on credit
cards, to make "If I Had a Hammer," a film
I truly believe in that has never been made before (good
or bad), which is exactly what you're saying I should
do. I already did it, motherfucker, what have you done?
its finally happened... our soldiers abused some iraqi
soldiers on video and now they're cutting heads off.
What kind of sick bastard makes iraqi pows have sex
with each other on camera? oh but Scott McClellan says
"This shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom.
They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women,
or children." yeah like our soldiers weren't abusing
only true bad guys of this piece are the Americans --
we shouldn't be there in the first place, Rumsfeld's
policy of "softening up" prisoners is inhumane
and against international law, and minimally the commander
of that prison should be court-martialed, although since
it's a policy decision, Rumsfeld should be shit-canned.
Is it really important for Americans to be the biggest
fucking assholes in the entire world? Well, that's what
we are now, due to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their
evil gang. Everyone out there, and everyone that you
can speak to, MUST NOT VOTE FOR BUSH in November. John
Kerry may not be the greatest, strongest candidate in
the world, but he's a million times better than Bush,
and America and the world cannot stand four more years
of pure evil. Even you fundamentalist Christians have
to listen to this. BUSH IS BAD FOR THE WHOLE WORLD!
things are going well on your latest film. Do you know
if any of your features has ever played at theatres
in Bulgaria? Are the cinemas there all showing American
movies, or is there a viable Bulgarian film industry?
( Or do they just show European films?)
really aren't many Bulgarian films that I know of. They
mainly show American and European films. The cinema
around the corner, with six screens, has 4 U.S. films,
a Russian film, and a Swedish film.
read your essay about Bush being an incompetent liar.
Bravo! You mention a website that lists his 250+ lies.
Do you have the Web address?
Thanks and Best of luck
a link to it in the essay. And as far as who is to blame
for the abuses in the Iraqi prison, obviously it's George
W. Bush, because we had absolutely no reason to attack
Iraq or get into a war with them, so our being there
is his stupid, goddamn fault and everything that happens
there is his fault, too.
is worse: a film that is all action or a film that has
very little action but whose idea of drama is having
the characters talk in a slow whisper occasionally shouting
asking pretty silly questions lately. Try harder.
read about you answere to Kevin,and i think, i understand
what you mean.We people out from film making, because
we go to cinema we think we know many things about movies,
but when i read this q+a to you ,and from you, then
i understand.... we are far away from reality,We are
in the (dark side of the moon)but for one thing you
can be soure ,i go better to see one old Bruce Lee movie
as KILL BILL:George
Tarantino is a talentless, pretentious hack. End of
story. I wouldn't see "Kill Bill" one or two
if they gave away $100 bills and blow jobs at the box
it going in Bulgaria Josh? Hope all is well with you
and the cast and crew. You probably heard that Michael
Moore's film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" will not be
distributed by that gutless, waste of a life coward,
Michael Eisner because he is afraid of jeb bush. If
this happened to you, where you had a deal with a distributor
and they backed out at the last minute because of political
"persuasion", what would you do? I think this
film is crucial to be seen before the election (which
Disney doesn't want). And on a personal note, I am looking
forward to seeing your film "Alien Apocalypse".
Not only are you a genius in terms of politics, but
you truly are a gifted director, as was evidenced on
for the nice compliments, but I think we all have a
tendency to misuse the term genius these days. Orson
Welles and Stanley Kubrick may have been geniuses, certainly
Albert Einstein or Rembrandt, but I'm at best competent.
We'll see how I fair under these circumstances, with
18 days to shoot a film that minimally needs 24 days,
and a mainly Bulgarian cast that will have to be entirely
looped. Hopefully it will turn all right. I have been
running my own poll here, asking as flatly as I can,
"So, what do you think of George Bush?" and
the answer has been exclusively, "What an asshole!"
Every European I've spoken with is entirely against
the war in Iraq. I'm just glad they're all not holding
it against me. Also, there isn't anyone here that thinks
the USA is the "land of the free" anymore.
One bright PA on the film said that when he visited
the US it felt like a police state to him. Regarding
Michael Moore, I can't understand why he'd make a film
for Disney, who are renowned as fascist assholes. Orson
Welles tried to make a film for a Walt, couldn't stand
him, and forever referred to him as "that fucking
Nazi." I do hope Moore gets his film released before
the election since he's one of the few voices of sanity
left in America.
Thanks for answering my questions about Running Time.
I'm hoping I get to actually see your movies in the
I just got through listening to Dov S-S Simmens lecture
on how the movie industry works. It really demistified
a lot of things on the subject of marketing your movie
in the film industry. And it really is a dog eat dog
world out there!
Anyways, how have you been getting your money to fund
your projects, or does it all come out of your own pocket?
Please don't take this the wrong way, but why ain't
you up world-wide in the silver screen yet? If Quentin
Tarantino could do it, you could do it Josh, right?
All us filmmakers need is just the mula $$. So here's
the question, where the heck does one start looking
for the big dough? I know, I know...if we all knew that...then
everyone would be out there making big budget movies,
but I mean c'mon there has gotta be a starting place,
other than our own pennyless pockets...right? Dov S-S
Simmens teaches us how to be producers. Walk up to your
"cash source" and say something to the line
of "Hey, I'm a producer. Would you like to fund
my project?" and then they ask, "Really? How
many projects are you working on?" Then you say,
"Oh, many. All in various stages of development"
(which is true because all those ideas in your head
ARE projects all in various stages of development),
and voila! you're a producer. Heh. Well, who the heck
do I say that to is what I wanna know! :P
Anyways, nice passings comments, and good luck on your
have to hit everybody you've ever met for money, then
ask them who they know. The very best suckers are your
relatives because you can use guilt on them and make
them feel like they're holding you back from your destiny
if they don't cough green. If you feel that you have
too much dignity for this, you'll never get the money
to make a movie. You must be ready, able, and willing
to crawl through shit. Bruce Campbell guilted his dad
into mortgaging their summer cottage for "Evil
Dead." I truly came crawling on my knees begging
to my mom for TSNKE. I made both Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert
feel as guilty as I could make them to get money for
"Hammer." Plus, any money I make I put into
my own films. Plus, I've charged over $100,000 on credit
cards, which is insane, but I got my movie made, and
that's what counts. Go for it, what have you got to
And why aren't I as big as QT? Because life ain't fair,
I just read the screenplay for Running Time. I was wanting
to hear your own thoughts on that script. You know what
they say, your your own critic. ;)
I have a few questions about the script also. First,
how long is that movie supposed to be anyways? Next,
what is the paradigm three act structure in that script?
I mean, when writing, do you think about plot points,
mid points, "pinches," to hold your story
together (I'm using Syd Field terminology if you are
familiar with it... If not, then how do you go about
with the "paradigm" three act structure?).
Also, have you ever attempted in doing a feature film
and trying to market it at the theatres? i.e. getting
a producer (or being your own) to fund a medium to high
budget film? I mean... it seems you know people, having
worked in the T.V. and Film industry already.
Thanks for answering these questions. My curiousity
provides me with questions, and your answers help me
really need to see the film to see why it's written
the way it is, which is continuous so I could shoot
it in real time without cuts. Whether or not you think
it's a good script, it does have a very clear three-act
structure -- Act I is up to the heist; Act II is the
heist; Act III is the getaway. The mid-point is the
security guard getting shot. All the rest of that stuff
doesn't mean anything to me.
my first film got an actual theatrical release, with
18 prints in 20 cities. My next two films I four-walled
at one theater in LA. The last one hasn't been released
at all, except here.
if I could get someone to put up the money for a mid-
to high-budget film, don't you think I would have done
luck, and keep asking those questions.
What did you think of the movie, "Bound"?
Did you like the story? The directing style?
saw it and it went right in one ear and out the other.
I don't remember one exceptional aspect of the film,
story, direction, acting or anything else.
I know you don't want any script idea's - but what if
someone has one that will be the Movie must see? I know
the story I have will be a hit but how do I get the
idea to someone? It screams M Knight Shaymalan
are a naive little babe in the woods. THERE IS NO SUCH
THING AS A "MUST SEE" story idea. Nobody gives
the slightest shit about a story idea. If you can't
write it into a good script it's NOTHING! And, as a
little note, Mr. Shaymalan, like myself, writes his
own scripts and truly doesn't need your ideas. Until
you can figure out how to write a decent script, honestly,
you haven't got anything. Sorry.
Congratulations on Alien Apocalypse.
I'm wondering if you have ever shot "day for night"
and if so what type of filters would you recommend?
hold off on the congrats until you see the film, you
might hate it. Anyway, yes, I have shot day for night,
and I used a blue filter, stopped down two stops, and
made sure the scene were in shadow and not direct sunlight.
It looks like night to me, too. It's the scene approaching
the Vietnamese village in TSNKE. Also avoid shooting
the sky if you can.
currently writing, producing, editing, and directing
a short called the "Everland" it plays out
as sort of a Twilight Zone episode in which a down on
his luck writer finds himself awoken forty years later,
after being shot in a bank, in a society ruled by a
dictator ship known as the "International Congress.
The Scripts almost completed and I'll post it on Simplyscripts.com,
copyrighted of course, to get peoples opinions. My question
to you is would I be able to distribute this film to
film festivals if I shot on a mini-DV and Digital 8
or would I need to have it blown up to a 16mm format?
And on that note as a director just starting out where
do you think would be the best place to pitch a screenplay
or produce an idie?
BTW if you haven't seen Cube see it. It's a brilliant
say that all film festivals now show films shot on DV,
so that's no longer a hindrance. I think many of them
still prefer projecting film, but I don't think it's
a legitimate issue. As for who to pitch to, or how,
you're in the same boat as everyone else, including
me, the difficult part is who to pitch to that can actually
get a film financed. That's what you've got to figure
out, and just asking won't get you an answer. If there
were a simple answer then everyone would go pitch their
scripts there. Good luck on your quest for Excalibur.
Just adding to the sequels debate, I agree that Mad
Max 2 (Road Warrior) is one of the few examples of a
sequel being far, far better than the original. Love
that film!! Whatever happened to Mel Gibsons taste in
scripts after that?
Good luck on the new film
don't know that Mel ever had any taste in scripts, he
just lucked out with those first several Australian
films because Australia was going through it's own tiny
little golden age of cinema -- that is, until all of
the good Aussie directors defected to Hollywood and
became hacks, just like directors from every other country,
like say, Paul Verhoven and John Woo. I think Mel Gibson
was very lucky to be cast in the first two Mad Max films,
"Gallipoli" and "The Year of Living Dangerously,"
and then he should have retired because everything he's
done since has been drek. And he still can't pull off
an American accent, unlike his countrymen, Naomi Watts,
Colin Farrell or Nicole Kidman.
I know you don't want to diss your pals, so if you don't
like this question I understand. I read the article
on "Spider-Man 2" in Entertainment Weekly,
and Sam Raimi is quoted in there as saying that he hoped
people leaving the film would say, "I had a blast,
I was moved by it, I feel uplifted."
I know Sam must be a smart man, so my question is do
you think he is bullshitting because it's part of the
job, or does he truly believe that a movie like this
is important and capable of "moving" someone?
Thanks, and best of luck with "Alien Apocalypse."
have no doubt that Sam is giving the film 100% and his
utter best, and since Sam honestly loves Spider-Man,
I'll bet he's speaking from his heart. I don't know
about anyone else, but I can sincerely vouch for the
fact that he really cares about Spider-Man and comic
books. This is a story I've told before, but when we
were kids, like 15 or 16, Sam dragged me along to a
comic book shop (a place I would generally not be caught
dead in), and he spent $25 on the plastic bags you put
comics into, and $25 was a shitload of money at that
time. My jaw hit the floor, I mean, he didn't even get
any comic books, just the clear plastic bags. That's
a true comic book fan. Whereas I, on the other hand,
read a few comics as a little kid, despised them, and
quickly moved on to actual books.
bought THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE. saw it for the first
time. love the world they created. digged the characters...
but watching this film is like a crying shame cause
its boring. if they weren't going to put any dialogue
in the film (which I thought was a good idea) they should've
made the action faster. its weird enough to be a cult
classic though. oh and the fat dog was the only three
dimensional character. at least it gets points for originality.
also saw Big Fish... a movie about bullshit... and though
slightly entertaining, BARON MUNCHAUSEN did it better.
even if you didn't like MUNCHAUSEN it was still a masterpiece
compared to BIG FISH.
great! If "Baron Muchhausen" is better than
"Big Fish," that sure isn't saying anything
for it because BM was a complete disaster. A movie that
can managed to not get a single laugh out of Eric Idle,
who could undoubtedly read the phone book and gets laughs.
And I'm sorry, but if a film is boring, nothing else
matters -- if it's a bore, it's crap. If that's what
becomes a cult favorite now, then it's a cult of boredom.
Just dropping in to say, best hopes the project is moving
forward as you'd wish.
I've just seen Inn of the Sixth Happiness on TV. All
I demand to know is, how could anybody not have Inn
of the Sixth Happiness on his list??
All the best,
Inn of the Sixth Happiness" is really an okay picture
at best. I mean, Robert Donat as a Chinese man, come
on? And there's that incredibly absurd montage of Ingrid
Bergman learning Chinese, even though all of the Chinese
characters are speaking English, so at the end of the
montage she just speaks English, with a Swedish accent,
and of course, she's supposed to be British.
the notes of sequels: "Dawn of the Dead",
"Evil Dead II" (although Army of Darkness,
at times was to goofy for my taste, nice one liners
though), "Aliens"( if you're into the action
genre, and it was just as good as the original except
it was an action flick whereas Alien was horror.) Kevin
Smith's "Jersey Trilogy" with the exception
of "Mallrats and Jersey Girl". Actually "Chasing
Amy" and "Dogma" surpassed the directing
and narrative of "Clerks".
I do see where your coming from though. It's like the
film "Cube" which I think at least is a well
crafted film. It worked fine as a film and did not need
a sequel, in fact it could actually be downgraded by
one. As you know a sequel was made; Cube 2: Hypercube,
by all means don't see this cash in exscuse for a sequel.
I do agree, the majority of sequels are made for cash
(it's evident with the "Star Wars" and "The
Matrix" sequels) and a lot of times are reiterations
of their predecessors. It depends on the director and
writer. Either your a hack, a mediocre entertainer,
an average filmmaker, or a brilliant director.
And on the note of video game adaptions. You can take
the original premise, ala "Resident Evil",
and place a new twist. Flesh out characters and what
and recreate the atmosphere of the game.
I know "Resident Evil" was bad but that's
simply because of Paul Anderson who can't carry a narrative
worth anything. If you have a good direction adaptions
like that can work. TV show adaptions are the ones that
get to me.
thought "Dogma" was truly unbearbable garbage,
as are all of Kevin Smith's films, but "Dogma"
was particularly awful. I've never heard of "Cube,"
I didn't see "Resident Evil," nor do I care.
the idea of Possessed Henreitta come about in Evil Dead
II? Just curious.
me, I didn't write the film. Ask Sam Raimi or Scott
Your comment about sequels really got me thinking, especially
since it has come up here before. "Godfather II"
is an interesting example, since at least half of it
(the flashback parts) were in Puzo's original novel
anyway, and could conceivably have been in the first
movie, if they had an infinite amount of time. Plus
Puzo was writing the screenplay along with Coppola for
the Vegas stuff in the sequel, giving it at least a
little more legitimacy.
And same with "Bride of Frankenstein" - I
think it's as good as the original, but goes off into
a more baroque direction, picking up a lot of themes
from the novel that didn't make it into the first one.
As for other sequels, I think *series* films often have
a better one in the middle - like "Goldfinger"
and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (minus
Lazenby himself) possibly being better than "Dr.
No" (which I guess is a sequel in itself, since
it was about the 10th book written.)
Beyond that, I would rank "Road Warrior" as
a better film than "Mad Max," "Star Trek
II" and 4 better than #1, and "Evil Dead 2"
better than the original. Oh, and I thought "Superman
2" was infinitely better than the first one, although
both were still silly.
Beyond that, though, I'd be hard pressed to find another.
Interesting notion - years ago, when a film did well,
the producers simply re-teamed the stars and director
for a different film, rather than doing a sequel. Wonder
why we rarely see that anymore? (It obviously still
works - Nora Ephron, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made a mint
with "You've Got Mail," even though it didn't
get very good reviews, just based on the popularity
of "Sleepless in Seattle.")
Anyway, good luck with shooting. Freedom! Freedom!
examples, and I heartily agree with "Road warrior"
being better than the original, as well "The Bride
of Frankenstein." Personally, I disagree about
"Evil Dead 2," which I think is a better-looking
film, but not scary, whereas the first one -- which
I had a lot more to do with -- is a much scarier, and
therefore a better horror film. Call me a stick-in-the-mud,
but I want horror movies to be scary and comedies to
be funny, and anything caught in the middle annoys me.
Also, I thought George Lazenby made a pretty good Bond
(much closer to Ian Fleming's description of him), and
far better than Roger Moore.