I was just reading how you said that you didn't like Spiderman 2 because
it had nothing to do with you (and I am sure you are probably sick and tired of talking about it, but I have to bring it up again). What kind of movies do you think have to "do" with you? Is it a matter of identifying with the characters? I was looking at your favorite movies and I couldn't figure it out. Thanks.
On a basic level I have to believe the film to have any fun. So, my type of film is one that is dramatically believable. I was a major sci-fi fan as a kid, and from very early on I simply hated fantasy as well as comic books, which are stuck somewhere in between sci-fi and fantasy. Comic books aren't really fantasy, they're really just bad sci-fi, but either way I can't stand the genre. Just like I have no patience or interest in the "Lord of the Rings"-type fantasy, with wizards and dragons, and basically anything goes. If you want to tell me a science fiction idea then you'd better have a logical possible future, or a scientific development that causes something dramatic. Just saying a kid gets bit by an atomic spider and now he's a spider and a superhero, too, is stupid. It's for little kids, and I happen to be an adult. I resent this whole kid-oriented society we're living in and I won't support it.
Name: Calvin Gray
Actually, you are wrong about "Almost Famous." There are certain moments,
though few and far between, that pretty much indicate that those girls were humping on the band. There is the scene when Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup retreat to a hotel room; and the young journalist, Patrick Fugit, sticks a "Maid, Please Service" sign on their door to hinder their fun. And after that strange "girls dancing around kid in his underwear" bit, a conversation with Crudup's character reveals that the kid lost his virginity to them - I guess prancing about like pixies is their idea of foreplay.
I think that whole "we don't sleep with the band" line was something of a
thinly-veiled lie, either to prevent themselves from immediately coming off as sluts, or simply because they were in denial. But yeah, there was some sex going on, it was all just behind closed doors.
- Calvin G.
Yeah, it's bullshit. Groupies fuck rock stars, that's what makes them groupies. And all the groupies go down on the rock stars before the show, but I guess I missed that scene. And in 1973 they were all taking drugs like they were going out of style. "Almost Famous" is revisionist history, and therefore I despise it.
Just an afterthought. I was reading your review of In and Out and I just
thought you might find this new movie coming out as disgusting as I do.
Gay Secret Agent feat. Brenden Fraser
It certainly sounds stupid.
I have read your comments on your site about the state of Hollywood has
been in for the past twenty-five years or so, and I found it a breath of fresh air compared to the opinions of film critics that seem much too easy to please.
I'm in college now and spend a lot of my time thinking about film. I
desperately want to understand better why American movies nowadays seem to be worse than they used to be. Here are some questions, the answers to which would help me very much in helping me develop my ideas about film:
To me, film combines the great artistic traditions of literature, theater,
music and fine arts with a fifth: the moving image. I would argue that the backbone of film is the literary component, since film is a form of storytelling.
Would it be fair to say that filmmakers, moviegoers and critics have, over
the past twenty-five years, neglected the importance of the literary component, and inflated the importance of the visual components, thus decreasing the standards for what makes a good movie?
If so, is this because of improvements in camera technology over the
years, as well as the relaxing of restrictions on violence, sex, language etc., allowing filmmakers to do more and more visually, distracting them from the literary backbone? It seems to me that the films considered good in the 30s through the 60s and 70s were more literary, and, with many famous masterpieces as exceptions, were not as visually powerful as they were intellectually and emotionally powerful, making them more meaningful and memorable.
Nowadays, we have films that are gorgeous to look at and have visual
power, but little to no literary power, producing no memorable characters or movie moments. Is this a sign of changing styles and aesthetic choices, or have movies simply been going down the toilet for the past twentyfive years?
Do my musings make any sense in your mind? Do they hold any water?
Am I leaving out any important reasons to why film quality has decreased,
such as the end of the old studio system, or the decline of major studio platform release films? How much are films such as Jaws and Star Wars to blame for the current state of American moviemaking?
Thank you very much for considering to answer my questions, it is greatly
I think you see the contemporary landscape quite clearly. It's all those things you've stated, as well as a larger population, with less discrimating tastes, and with most films targeted to the 8-14 year-old market, which is more obsessive about the films they like. If a film for adults breaks a $100 million gross, it's a big deal. A film for kids, like "Spider Man," say, can do $115 million in its first five days. Hollywood wants the big scores, and they're seemingly easier deals to put together, too -- buy the rights to a comic book and put at least $50 million into the visual FX -- than to actually find a good story and get a good script out of it. Hollywood executives understand precendents and formulae, not originality and quality.
Name: John Rambo
I am very glad that Mr. Stallone would be very good casting in "Devil
Dogs". I like Rocky III a lot too, it seems most revered besides the first Rocky film. But I also think that with the sequels they kind of tied into the renewed Cold War feelings during part of the 1980s, with Rocky IV and Rambo II having plots inspired by that.
Also, I noticed you said you weren't very interested in seeing Spiderman
2, well I can understand if superhero movies aren't really your favorite genre, but some of them can really be pretty good (like the first Superman film for instance). So I was wondering why you're not as interested in them, are they usually more for kids and not serious, and are there any superhero films that you do like? Personally I thought Spidey 2 was pretty awesome. It was also very funny with Bruce and Ted's cameos. The only thing missing was Lucy, I wish she was in it, I loved her in the first one. Lucy is so hot and beautiful I love her! Maybe she will be in Spiderman 3. We can always dream.
To me superheroes can never be good under any circumstances -- they're idiotic and childish. Guys and gals in leotards jumping around, which does not hold the slightest shred of interest for me, and never did, even when I was ten. The key to stories for me is "If I can believe it I can have fun; if I can't believe it I can't have fun." I can never believe that there are any kind of superheroes, it's simply a stupid, idiotic, childish concept and I can't and won't go there. The fact that the average Hollywood film is now geared down for eight-year-olds deeply insults me. I'm not eight, and don't want to pretend I'm eight. I'm an adult and I want to be treated like one.
Name: chris winder
Hey smart guy the girls did have sex with the band,
way to watch to move!
That's movie, with an 'i', and, referring to "Almost Famous," no they don't have sex with the band, so way to pay attention, dumkopf.
Two unrelated questions.
On editing - you've said that you feel very comfortable now allowing the
editor(s) to work on their own, and then submit the equivalents of first drafts to you. My question is - assuming that you do a couple of takes of everything if not more - if you want to add something, how do you remember where it is, in all the footage that was shot? In other words, if you think you need a close-up of a reaction from Bruce at some point - how are you able to convey to the editor *which* close-up it is, if you aren't physically there in the editing room? Or do you make a note as you shoot of which take and shot was the best? (And forgive my ignorance of the editing process if this is a dumb question.)
Question 2 - I caught Spider-Man 2 over the weekend, and enjoyed playing "Spot the Shemps" all through it. I see that Tim Quill has a bit part in the big subway scene...as well as Jill Sayre (who played Ania, the fiance of Iolaus in "Amazon Women.") She doesn't have too many other credits, but has turned up in a couple of Sam's earlier films. Is she an old Detroit bud?
No, Jill Sayre is not a Detroit shemp, nor have I even heard of her. I did go to high school with Tim Quill, though, and he's in a bunch of my early movies. Regarding the editing, it's not that hard to remember what footage you've shot, and for the most part, the last take of everything is the good one, that's why you stopped shooting. But there are script notes, taken by the script supervisor, that contain any comments I may have made at the time of shooting, like "The third take is the good one, not the fourth take." But I conceived and shot the stuff, so I know what's there. Also, good editors watch all of the footage and they know what's there, too.
The New Zealanders seem to be more laid back than
lazy. You could've used Renee to the guys them off their butts. She can be quite scary when she gets a bee in her bonnett. :-P
Renee? You're kidding, right? She's as pleasant and sweet as they come. And the New Zealand crew members are bright and talented, as "Lord of the Rings" proves, they're simply not motivated like Americans. Honestly, without the threat of being fired hanging over your head people just don't hustle. In places like NZ or Bulgaria it would be very hard to replace someone if you did fire them. Whereas in America, there are many people waiting in line for your job.
My brother (a film student) had me watch "Running Time" last night. I
enjoyed it very much. Having seen Hitchcock's "Rope," I have to say I felt that you did a much better job of hiding your cuts. Was "Rope" a point of inspiration?
Two more unrelated questions...
What kind of music do you listen to?
You are kind of cute...Can I buy you dinner?
Do you live in Michigan? Yes, "Rope" was my inspiration for "Running Time." I always thought it was a great cinematic idea and I never liked the film. I figured out what it was that I didn't like, and it was the fact that the story has nothing to do with time. Why bother shooting in real time if time is not the issue? So I tried to come up with a story that I felt would be more appropriate in real time, which was a heist. Thus "Running Time."
So I screwed up buying a digital camera? I have heard
people talk about the Super-8's, but went digital instead. Christ. Oh, well.
You certainly can do a lot more with a digital camera these days than with super-8, which is difficult to get, expensive, and hard to edit. Enjoy your new camera.
Quick question. Do you have a project you are particularly proud of or do
you view all your projects equally?
Thanks in advance,
PS. A few questions back I was talking to you about Abbott and Costello
and you said they weren't your favorite comedians. I was just wondering who were or do you shy away from that entire genre. (I remember that Sam and Bruce were huge Stooges fans but I couldn't remember for the life of me if you were)
By projects I suspect you mean scripts or films, which I do not view as though they were my children and love them all equally. Film-wise, I think my last two films, "Running Time" and "If I Had a Hammer" are better than my first two films, and script-wise, I spent the longest time working on "Devil
Dogs: The Battle Belleau Wood," so I'm quite fond of it.
Yes, I am a Three Stooges fan, although not to the extent that some of these other guys are. I also very much like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Preston Sturges, and Woody Allen, up to about 1980.
Were the local crews on Apocolypse as good to work
with as I've been told, and was there a language barrier you had to bust through, that made things a little difficult?
The best film crews I've ever worked with are Americans. We're the only ones that understand how to hustle. In both Bulgaria and New Zealand there's this socialist concept that you simply don't fire people, which breeds apathy and laziness, in my opinion. If you know that if you don't do your job well you'll be fired, you do a better job, very simple. These foreign crews can do the job and get the film made, but they need to be poked a lot to get them moving. Thank goodness on this last film I had a top-notch Hollywood 1st assistant director who really knew how to kick ass, but was still a very friendly, nice guy. But without the American department heads (producer, 1st AD, production designer, DP), I'd probably still be in Bulgaria shooting.
So now that Alien Apocolypse is in post, is Bruce currently shooting his
film in Bulgaria? What stage of post is your film at now?
Bruce started shooting Wed., so today is day #4 for him. "Alien Apocalypse," meanwhile, is nearly done being cut. The editor assembled the film and sent it to me, I made notes, he made the changes, I made more notes, and he's presently making those changes. It's really just fine-cutting and trimming now to get it down to its proper length.
I am interested in independent film makeing and I was
wondering where you would get funding for projects, and how would you go about sumiting them to film festiviles?
Getting funding to make films is the big trick, and you need to figure that out on your own. As to submitting films to festivals, just go to any of the festivals' websites and they have the entry forms and rules available.
Dear Mr. Becker,
Regarding Charlie Kauffman, did you have a chance to see Eternal
Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. It is far and above his other work, though that probably doesn't mean a great deal to you.
No, I haven't seen it, but I didn't hear much good word on it, either. I'm not saying Kaufman is talentless, I just don't think he's done a great job with any of his scripts yet.
"There's no way I could possibly be pleased by a film
about a guy romping around in a unitard shooting webs out of his hands. It has nothing to do with me."
Regarding your response: Well that's not a very compelling argument for
not seeing a movie. So what, an archeologist looking for the Ark of the Covenant had something to do with you? A bunch of guys hunting a shark had something to do with you? Or how about a guy leaving his family to pursue the dream of seeing aliens had something to do with you? Come on! It's entertainment!
I'm sure Alien Apocalypse has nothing to do with me either, but I still
can't wait to see it!
Then perhaps you're more open-minded than I, but I never need to see another comic book superhero movie again in my life -- I hate them all. I didn't like comic books when I was a kid and didn't read them, and I don't need to see films made out of them now. Just because the intelligence level of most "entertainment" these days is now geared for eight-year-olds doesn't mean I have to go along with it. And you know what, movies aren't just entertainment, they can be a whole lot more than that, and have been on many occasions, too. Movies can be meaningful and important, but not when they're based on comic books or kid's books. Hell, I didn't want to see kid's movies when I was a kid, why would I want to see them now? And BTW, I didn't shit about "Raiders of the Lost Ark," either.
Name: Nick Roll
Are you or have you made a film about Belleau Wood? My grandfather fought there with USMC 96th Co. I'm 36 and he died in
1994. Anyway, I wrote a small article about it and saw something on your website. Sure hope a film does get made because it's an interesting story and often overshadowed by WWll. For a relatively young person WWl has significance as my grandfather told me about being mustard gassed as well as showing me scars from a high explosive shell when I was young. If you have made the movie how can I get it? If you haven't I wish you the best in your undertaking and anxiously await its release!
I haven't made it yet, but I'm still hoping to. It's posted here on the website and you could read it if you'd like. So, did your dad think up your name while he was shaving?
A while back you mentioned that the vast majority of the 88 (I think that
was the number?) films made for tv last year were done outside the US. That number seems awfully low, since quite a few cable channels seem to have a new tv movie almost every week. Was that the main 6 networks only?
I got that number from Lou Dobbs on CNN on the "Outsourcing America" section of his show. It sounds like a rational number to me, but I can't confirm it.
How difficult is it to master the techniques of filmmaking?
It seems so complicated: choosing cameras, lenses, sound
equipment, editing, etc.
Seriously, after all the years you've been making films,
what in your opinion is the best way to get started?
What is the most important thing for a beginner to focus
Thanks so much!
Keep up the great work!
a friend of mine once said, "Technically, filmmaking
can be taught to monkeys, it's all what you do with
it." And that's the point. The technical side isn't
really all that complicated, and people have been making
feature films for nearly 100 years, and sound films
for nearly 80 years, so how complex can it be? But are
you making a film that's worth watching? Ah, there's
the rub. So, what's the most important thing to know
about filmmaking? Writing. What is a good story, what
is a good character, what is a worthwhile motivation,
what point are you trying to make? This is the crucial
part about filmmaking that no one is paying any attention
to. If you haven't got a decent script, you have no
reason to be making a film. There are hundreds of thousands
of films out there and most of them aren't worth watching,
so we don't need anymore of those. Filmmaking is storytelling,
plain and simple. So study stories. There aren't that
many lenses, take my word for it.
I was just wondering what your opinion on M. Night Shyamalan
and Charlie Kaufman were. They seem to hold their own
originality, but many don't look close enough to see
it. What do you think?
enjoyed "The Sixth Sense," which was very
tricky, and after I saw it a second time I never need
to see it again. His next two films were just crap,
not very original, and very poorly written, so I have
no hope for him anymore. As for Charlie Kaufman, I don't
think he really knows what he's doing. I will give him
that he's trying to be different, but his stuff doesn't
add up to anything, has no depth, and no point.
I think you are spot on with your about "The house
of Sand and Fog". The only story that existed was
on the Kingsley side of things and I just wanted to
smack Jennifer Connelly's character and say "wake
up snap out of it!" I agree tht she is pretty,
but more than aloof with her roles.
I could not connect with her character at all and it
wasn't developed very well which made the film difficult
for me to sit through, but I felt that Kingsley was
superb as usual, and the actors who played his family
were very good as well, but the story just didn't add
up for me either.
most films these days, good or bad, it doesn't have
a sufficient act one -- why hasn't she gotten out of
bed in eight months, or answered any of her mail? And
in this day and age evicting someone, particularly from
their own house, is so much more difficult than the
film depicts it immediately made everything else unbelievable.
Also, throwing in that she's being evicted for not paying
business taxes when it's a residence makes it even more
unbelievable. And I needed more set up on Ben Kingsley's
side, too -- why is he so stubborn that when he sees
this deal falling apart he simply won't give in? And
whatever that motivation is, that's what causes his
undoing. As it is, I didn't understand why it ended
the way it did.
last night, in my endeavor to stay up with contemporary
sci-fi, I watched "The Core," mainly because
I think Jon Amiel is talented director. It's a good-looking,
expensive production, with a pretty good cast, and makes
almost no sense from the word go, then continues to
make less and less sense as it goes along. By halfway
into the film it's impossible to care what's happening.
I wonder if you have seen your buddy Sam's SPIDER-MAN
I caught it at a sneak last night, and I think even
you would be pleased. It was a fantastic movie! It was
rich in character development, human emotion, genuine
feeling...as well as some great action set pieces.
This film was leagues above the first one (which I still
Sam Raimi should get a big, hearty pat on the back for
a job well done...and I LOVED Bruce's cameo.
no way I could possibly be pleased by a film about a
guy romping around in a unitard shooting webs out of
his hands. It has nothing to do with me.
I have no doubt that the city hopes to make money on
the convention and I am sure some businesses will do
There was a funny story in the post about how the escort
services are going to thrive during the convention and
that escorts from all around the country are going to
fly in anticipating a great deal of work and I am sure
they will get it too.
Seems like everyone will be getting a piece :)
I hope the concert takes place too, since it will be
held close to where I live in Brooklyn across the river
Meanwhile, I spent last night under the stars watching
"The Thin Man" in Bryant Park as apart of
the free movies in the park summer series.
It was a joy to see and I forgot how funny William Powell
and Myrna Loy were in that film. Also, you know I just
finished that Biography on James Wong Howe, and of course
he shot it.
An uneven film lighting wise, but the Warehouse scenes
are great. It was a joy to see the film again in this
atmosphere. The weather was great!
Did you ever see the "Thin Man" TV series
from the 50's with Peter Lawford? I wonder if it was
I never saw the series. I must admit that I really do
love Myrna Loy, I think she's charming and funny and
a really terrific actress. She was an amazingly big
star, too, which I don't think most people remember
saw "The House of Sand and Fog," and I was
interested and thought it was intelligent, and obviously
based on a novel, but it just didn't add up to anything.
I liked the Ben Kingsley side of the story much more
than the Jennifer Connelly side, which didn't exactly
make sense. She's strange, anyway. She's very pretty,
but sort of a shape-shifter, and she plays the whole
film like she doesn't know where she is and is about
also saw "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,"
which also doesn't add up to anything, and they never
got me to give a shit about Chuck Barris. And that I'm
just supposed to accept that he was not only a game
show host, but a hitman for the CIA is pretty far-fetched,
even if it's true.
Please tell me ten examples of great characterization
in cinema.and also what emotions and/or feelings were
you able to invest in these dramatis personae and why?
you go first.
How are you? I was just wondering what happened with
the movie Biological Clock that you had wanted to make
with Ted Raimi?
happened to it, it just never got made, and probably
never will. But I've now shot five of my thirty scripts,
so I'm moving along.
Fahrenheight 9/11 is a great movie, I agree. I don't
remember who but I loved the part where they gave that
guys real life number out. I thought they said alot
of neat stuff and he really knocked on Bush by just
letting Bush say the most dumb things I've ever heard.
You know all my friends are republican (except me, I'm
undecided) and a bunch of them went to see the movie
on Opening weekend. So you know how you say in your
last structure essay that life has alot of ironies...
well there's one: A bunch of die hard republicans just
helpped give Michael Moore number one in the box office.
Of course they all hated the movie. Go figure.
didn't say it was a great movie, I said it was politically
important and I'm very pleased it has come right now.
As for me, though, he's preaching to the choir. Let's
just see if he gets some of the undecided off the fence.
off, thanks for hosting this cool site & answering
our stupid questions.
Now, I'm a film-maker (largely audio engineer) and want
to know how you recorded/synced sound back in your super-8
days. I've taken to (in addition to the slate) using
the "flash" control to send a pulse to one
channel of my recording device (usually Hi-Fi VHS but
sometimes hard drive) & just recording the actual
sound on the other channel....or we'll just do ADR later.
But in your experience, I figured you might have a better
used single-system sound on super-8 which recorded the
sound directly onto the mag track on the film. This
was slightly complicated in that the sound and the picture
were 18 frames apart so editing became something of
a challenge. Anyway, that's how it was done 25 years
I too liked Farenheit, and am glad that it is doing
such incredible business. I found certain facts shocking,
like the puppet we proped up in Afganistan having ties
with large oil companies. Did you know that before seeing
the film? Anyway I hope this inspires more independent
filmmakers to go out and make more politically charged
documentaries, that express different points of view
on subjects that are pssed over by the media. Either
way I hope Bush gets what is hopfully coming to him
in November. BTW-What's the story behind the Elm Street
Scripts. Were they speck outlines for the old TV show?
guess I should have put an explanation along with those
story outlines. The word went out that whoever it was
was going to begin making the "Nightmare on Elm
St." TV show and they were looking for stories
and writers, so I wrote those story outlines and took
them in. That was the last I ever heard of them. And
no, I didn't know that about the head of Afghanistan.
And what was the deal with all of the black congress
people saying that there districts hadn't been counted,
but couldn't get a senator to sign the petitions? Why
wouldn't a Democratic senator sign them? And what happened
to all of that? Also, I think the entire film should
have been a flashback from Bush sitting in front of
that class during the 9/11 attacks.
I have a figure here that is ghastly. The cost the city
of New York has to shell out for security at the Republican
National Convention this year is almost $50 million.
Where do you think that money comes from? Me and all
the rest of the hard working people paying taxes in
The Bush campaign made so much money this time around,
I don't understand why they don't use those funds if
they want a convention here.
My tax money has to pay for security for the convention,
yet I don't even support Bush at all. Let's waste more
money and drive our deficit even further into oblivion.
I am tired of paying for the Bush administration's agendas.
He is wealthy enough to pay for his own fucking Security
and all the other bullshit he has wreaked on this country.
I suppose NYC believes that they will make more money
from having the convention there than it will cost them,
between hotels, flights, restaurants, and bars. I hope
that guy pulls off having a big concert the same day.
wanted to say that your JFK
screenplay is wonderful. One quick question, what
is the biggest obstacle you have faced so far while
making a film? Was it financial? Something to do with
the actual filming?
Thanks in advance,
financing has always been the hardest part, by far.
If I've got the money making a movie is not that big
of a deal. And I'm glad you enjoyed the script.
just wanted to tell you that I loved the episodes that
you've done on Xena. "Fins, Femmes, and Gems";"Kindred
Spirits" and "In Sickness and in Hell"
turns out to be some of my favorite episodes of all
time!!! I love your work and think you are very original
as well as genius. I have been reading the archives
to find out when "Alien Apocalypse" comes
out on the SciFi channel, but I can't find out when
it comes on. I am a big fan of Renee and you both, and
was really wanting, desperatly to watch this movie.
believe it will air in January. I'm very pleased you
like my Xena eps, I think we achieved some good, funny
moments in them.
flip-flopped on the best approaches to blocking a scene.
As I got into filmmaking, I was very cinematic in how
I wanted to shoot a scene. Then I took a directing class
in which the teacher advocated the on-set approach,
which at the time I thought was great. Then I began
to shoot scenes this way for short films by blocking
and essentially storyboarding off the rehearsals. It
just doesn't work. The shots that I have in my head
when I'm writing the script are much more cinematic.
They also edit together properly. 9 times out of 10,
the on-set storyboards just wont edit together well
at all. Pre-production is where great films are made.
Sometimes magic happens on the set, but I've found that
most of the magic happens in pre-production or rehearsals.
Directors waiting for it to happen on the set will probably
end up with a bad film. Same thing applies to documentaries.
Michael Moore scripts his films, I think he won the
WGA for Columbine. You cant expect a great film to come
to you. As a director, you have to create it. Somehow
planning has become the antithesis of creativity, particularly
among younger filmmakers. This kind of lazy approach
is interesting because it almost never works. You can
immediately tell when a filmmaker has not properly blocked
a scene. The pacing is always off, the edits dont work
properly, and you usually get taken out of the film.
A well-constructed scene brings the viewer in and guides
them in a certain direction, referencing other scenes
in the film. Unless you're a genius, this can only be
done in pre-production.
wholeheartedly agree. The bumbling-your-way-through-it-on-the-set
approach stinks, and it's what most directors do now.
And yes, I can see right away which directors have planned
their scenes and shots, which is very few, and which
are winging it, which is almost all of them. That's
not to say that you shouldn't have your eyes open all
the time to see if something interesting occurs on the
set, but for the most part when you're shooting is not
a good time to be conceiving the scene. By planning
all of my shots way in advance, this allows me to be
somewhat calm and focused during shooting because I
know if I get my planned shots it will go together properly.
And, as much planning as you can possibly do, the crazy
filmmaking process will still undermine parts of it.
What did you think of Fahrenheit 9/11? Thanks.
liked it, and I think it's very important that it was
made and came out when it did. I did get a sense that
it wasn't as well worked-out as Moore's previous films.
This may be due to him trying to be as up to date as
possible, and editing right up to the last second. There's
also a sense of descretion that I understand since he
didn't want the film dismissed out-of-hand by folks
saying it was in bad taste, but I felt he could've gone
farther in places, like showing us more gruesome war
footage from Iraq, as well as some of the footage of
9/11 that they didn't show on TV (he handles the actual
planes hitting the towers in black with just sound).
Nevertheless, I think many people will see and hear
things they didn't know about Bush, Cheney and co. and
wouldn't believe otherwise unless they get to see it.
a question but a comment. I read, with great interest,
your answer to CD about dealing with actors as a director.
Sounds like exactly the type of director I would love
to work with. Someone who treats his actors with respect
and as individuals and human beings rather than as someone
or something to be barely tolerated until the production
is finished and then dismissed. Hope I have the opprotunity
to work for you some day. Thanks, again, for taking
the time to repond to these posts and for providing
some very interesting and informative insights into
the art of movie making.
my pleasure. You must enjoy working with actors or there's
no point in being a director. It's not about cameras
or Steadi-cams, it's about actors acting, which you
happen to photograph. Yes, how you shoot it matters,
too, but not nearly as much.
I am shooting a low-budget movie on DV and some of the
script takes place in a high school. Do you know how
much it costs to rent out an actual school? I figure
I'd need one for at least three to five days. What kind
of schools do most people rent out, anyway? Private
high schools or junior highs? What about trying to use
a college? I'd basically just need one hallway with
In LA, are there studios or companies that rent out
sets, such as a single school hallway?
are standing sets in Hollywood, like jails and airplanes.
I've shot in schools by just asking them if we could
after school was over or on the weekend. Try asking
Have you lost weight? You look good in your pictures!
How tall are you? Keep up the great work!! Can't wait
to see your new film. :-)
P.S. How much would it take to make Devil Dogs into
a good film? Just curious.
5' 10" and I've recently entered the heavyweight
category, so now I can officially fight Mike Tyson and
Vitaly Klitchko. Regarding "Devil Dogs," it
completely depends on who stars in it. If you get a
movie star, they take most of the money. And also where
you shoot it, like Bulgaria or New Zealand, for instance,
where one gets more bang for one's buck.
I don't agree with you that all Republicans are evil,
and I disagree with your assessment of Reagan. I do
think, however, that Bush and Company need to go. Their
disregard for anybody anywhere is disastrous. However
getting rid of the Administration is only half the battle.
I don't know what you know about Tom DeLay, but that
guy is corruption incarnate. An 187 page indictment
was just submitted to the Senate ethics committee concerning
his activities (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/06/25/opinion/main626150.shtml).
Bush is out front and visible, but DeLay is insidious,
operating behind the scenes. Delay and his ilk are far
more dangerous than folks like Bush because so few will
ever know what he does.
Just two cents (adjusted for inflation).
don't think that all Republicans are evil, I just think
that they adhere to an evil doctrine based on paranoia
and money, with people possibly coming third. I think
many Democrats are rule-crazy lunatics. I'm not a big
fan of the masses, if you want to know the truth. I
think the masses have bad taste. As G.B. Shaw said,
"If more than 10% of the population likes a painting,
it must be bad and should be burned."
I read almost everything on your site and found it really
helpful. I can't believe the amount of people who expect
you to help them break in , get an agent, sell a screenplay
etc. I have debated about writing and only hope you
will see I have tried and this is not my lazy way out.
I have always wanted to work in film production but
as a wheelchair user from North Dakota I was told I
would never be able to succeed in that type of career!
Recently a well known Indie Producer/Director even said
that a wheelchair has no business being on a film set!
Once I got to the SF, CA area I chose to try television
production first and fought really hard to even be considered
for an internship. In my 8 years at CBS I worked on
everything and acquired a good range of skills doing
every type of production from live audience talk show
to documentaries, huge sports remotes, weekly magazine
From approx. 1992-1996 I was part of a crew that was
filming a documentary (about me when I left CBS and
the Bay Area to move to Ireland to help the Irish disabled
community) . It was a small production so although I
was primarily "talent" (on camera), I also
did various P.A. duties and assisted the producers.
I did everything from booking travel, negotiating with
airlines and hotels to give us free flights and rooms
in exchange for screen credits, filing location permits,
to booking crew, catering, logging tape and other logistical
Film production and making movies is the only thing
I have always wanted to do. I have been trying to find
entry level production position and usually can not
even get an interview. Saying I will work for free for
the experience hasn't helped and that is really depressing!
I am mostly interested in doing production work but
I have been taking any roles as an extra or other small
parts because it gets me on a film set where I can learn
and network... I have worked as an extra on TV and film
and I am currently in a state wide PSA campaign running
on TV, in newspapers, etc.
Most of the better casting related web sites require
fees. I joined several and have gotten No work from
any of them. I think one of my biggest problems right
now is that I need to network with people in the industry
Once I can get to L.A. I have several offers of informational
interviews with various production companies tentatively
set up and I would really like to go to some of the
LA film festivals or other film industry events to maximise
my networking time. have to pay all the costs for myself
and my attendant and I would like to stay at least 10-14
days once I get there....The only way I can do a trip
like this is if I can get some of the costs covered.
I am seriously considering moving to the LA area but
I know it would be really stupid to make a move like
that without having things in place and a solid plan
I have tried to be creative and bought Final Draft 6
thinking a really low budget indie would be willing
to give me a chance and they could also use my great
software. Another reason to get Final Draft was so I
could try writing a screenplay to really understand
what is invloved. I found your articles on structure
to be the biggest help so far and I am reading many,
many books on film making.
I have offered my wheelchair as a "dolly"
becasue they are light weight, smooth and free!
Since people seem reluctant to hire me as an on set
P.A. I have tried to exploit my other strong points
hoping to at least get near a movie and show people
what I can do. I have really good PR skills, I can write
a solid press release and am great at pitching media
to get publicity stories done on films coming out. I
am a natural sales person and am good at development
I totally value your time and I know you are busy. I
also know this letter is probably much longer than you
appreciate. If you have any tips, advice, possible contacts
or any thoughts on good resources such as web sites,
books etc I would really appreciate it.
Any ideas you have no matter how far fetched would be
welcome at this point!
If you are still reading this far thank you very much
and again thank you for all the information on your
think you need to think bigger. You sound intelligent
enough and driven enough to make your own movies. Don't
wait for someone to give you a break, make your own
break. You say you're a natural salesperson and good
at fund-raising, so get a film financed. Make a feature
on digital video for $25,000-$50,000. Go for it, what
have you got to lose? Your dignity? As Laurence Olivier
said, "You think you're an artist, prove it."
I noticed that you like to collaborate with friends
and fellow screenwriters. When you collaborate how do
you work on the scripts together with the person you're
collaborating with? I only ask this because my friend
Nick and I are going to collaborate on a couple scripts
when we get the time and I'm not quite sure how to work
don't collaborate on the actual writing anymore, and
I haven't in many years. I like working on stories with
other people, where it's mainly a verbal process. But
for the actual sitting-there writing, I like to be alone.
Some people have made writing collarborations work,
but not me.
you please give me some advice about approaching an
actor to do a voice-over for my short film? The fictional
film is a grant-funded piece and the actor I'm hoping
to use is very experienced, but not at all famous (in
other words, he's more approachable).
Since the payment I will be offering in exchange for
the voice-over will be small compared to industry standards,
I worry that if I contact the actor through his agent,
the agent will toss the proposal out since there would
be little profit in it for him/her.
Also, do you know if the SAG rules concerning members
appearing in non-union productions are the same for
you're using a SAG actor you really can't expect them
to work for less than SAG minimum, it's not logical.
Check the rates at SAG's website, but it can't be much
more than $600. And if you can't afford $600, you probably
shouldn't be talking to real actors.
Josh, I just had to say that i love all your work and
its great to hear that the filming for "Alien Apocalypse"
went well, i cant wait to see it!!
Keep up the good work mate!!
love Hannah xx
ps. I love you man!!
The way you use xx's and !! makes me think you might
be a cute chick, and if you are, I love you, too.
when you direct actors, do you find that the less you
say to them (in terms of performance), the better?
Also, will you ever put the Humans in Chains script
back up to read?
no rules as to how to deal with actors, nor does the
same approach apply to all of them. Each actor is their
own deal. Some actors don't need much direction, others
need a lot. But no, on the whole, I don't think the
less you say to them the better. I think actors want
and need direction and are very eager to get it. It's
the lame fuck directors who never speak to the actors,
then just take whatever they get. Just like many directors
don't block the scenes, they let the actors go wherever
they want, then just cover their movements with various
camera angles. This seems like a total cop-out to me
and I never set up a scene that way. I have already
pre-visualized the scene and pre-blocked it, and now
the actors are going to go where I tell them to. This
is the Hitchcock method and it's what interests me.
This contemporary concept that you must work from pure
spontaneity and freedom is a big load of crap, as far
as I'm concerned. My concept as the director is what's
Joel (Rosenman) Ross
25 years ago, when you were working at a camera store
you helped a 16 year old kid buy a super 8 movie camera.
For a very short time you took him under your wing and
exposed him to the fine art of film and film-making.
From the super 8, three stoogesesque films that you
and your future Hollywood mogul friends shot, to the
Godfather Parts 1 and 2, the exposure was broad, enlightening
and much appreciated. Thanks Josh. I'm happy that you
have been doing what you always loved to do.
course I remember you. Do you still live in Michigan?
planning on shooting a film (using a digital camcorder)
with a budget between $12,000-$17,000. With that kind
of budget, how much money should I pay the cast and
crew? How much should I offer the director of photograghy,
the male and female leads, supporting cast, sound ops
etc. (what do you think is fair/reasonable)? I can't
seem to find a book/article that discusses those sorts
of rates for a low budget movie anywhere. It'd be great
if you could at least give me your opinion. Thank you...
the minimum my esteemed producer, Jane Goe, used on
my last two features -- minimum wage, and if no one
making less than minimum wage you can get cheap worker's
compensation insurance through the state, and Jane won't
shoot without worker's comp. Basically, everybody got
minimum wage, except for the department heads. I think
I paid department heads between $1,000 and $2,000 a
week. However, if you intend to go even lower-budget,
I understand, you just have to set your own rates, although
it's not easy to pay people less than the minimum wage.
Blowing up a car is definitely alot more difficult than
most people realize. I tried to do it late last year
for a music video. We were planning to use an old beater
in a local junkyard, but we never managed to figure
out a decent way to do it without putting dynamite and
gasoline all over the body, and trying to cut it into
explodable pieces. Also, I think there might be laws
as far as blowing stuff up (like having to pay for safety
people to be there) but we never got that far. On a
different note, I'm planning to F9/11 this weekend,
the first time I've actually wanted to see a theatrical
release in awhile.
me, too. I plan to go tonight. The way to blow shit
up is to hire a pyrotechnician. I blew a bunch of things
up in this new film. Apparently, in a previous film,
the pyrotechnician, Vasco Boom-Boom, sent a car thirty
feet in the air.
I was reading one of your answers and your essay about
Mr Liar, I meant Mr President Bush. I just wanted to
In Spain (where I come from) we "fired" our
president, among other reasons, for being an allied
of Mr Bush.
I though that american's were mainly fools (with good
taste for movies), but watching people like Michael
Moore or reading your essays changed my mind. There's
All the best with your new movies!
you. If all goes well maybe Mr. Moore and I will get
our druthers and George Bush and his evil klansmen will
be shit-canned in November. And with all this silly
hoopla over Ronald Reagan's death, I'd just like to
add that he, too, was a shitty president and fiscally
irresponsible, just like all Republicans. They talk
the talk, but they never walk the walk. All Republicans
go paranoid bug-shit the minute they have power and
spend all the money and more on utterly wasteful military
garbage, like Star Wars, and this meaningless war in
Iraq. Republicans cannot be trusted with your money
or your country.
E-mail: tarikdragonblood at yahoo dot com
admittedly I know your name from your work on the holiest
of shows, Xena, and most recently from the new SciFi
movie you've worked on with the goddess herself, Renee
But I'll be paying more attention in the future (and
might even take a step into your time capsule of rants
and scripts when I get the chance).
Why's that? Your article on the evils of religion had
me up and cheering! I wonder if an anti-Passion of the
Christ movie (such as toying with LaVey's concept that
Satan is a Gentleman) would do well. Probably not, but
it would be fun to make, eh?
Great simple site, man! Nothing worse than an over-loaded,
unnecessarily graphic-heavy webpage!! I'll be checking
back with ya! Thanks again for the boost I needed in
my short story "The Gospel
According to Judas," it's my anti-Passion story.
And my "Ballad of
Jehosus" poem. Let me know what you think.
Nick el Ass
as for a convicted felon running for President you can't
do it but that dont stop people from write- in ballots(im
sure you would be impeached if actually elected).If
your George w. Bush who was reported to have been arrested
for cocaine possession in Houston Texas 1972 had his
record expunged with help from his family's political
connections(i must say this is simply a allegation).I
liked Bowling for columbine and some of the stuff Michael
Moore has done but most likely will not see Fahrenheit
9/11,Because Moore's interviews in Fahrenheit 9/11 were
edited to support his ideas for lack of a better term.
Nick el ASS
course the film was edited to support his point of view,
it's his film. There's no such thing as a "true"
documentary, they all represent the POV of the filmmaker.
There's no such thing as truth in film, since the filmmaker
decides what's going in and what's being left out. The
entire process is a lie. But Michael Moore is the ballsiest
man in America and needs everybody's support. Nobody
else has had the guts to call a spade a spade, meaning
calling George W. Bush a lying, crooked, self-serving
sack of shit. If I have to hear one more fucking poll
that Bush is doing a good job handling the war in Iraq,
I'll just scream. We absolutely shouldn't be in Iraq
and every death there is utterly wasted and for nothing.
We have killed over ten times as many Iraqis as people
were killed on 9/11, and the Iraqis had nothing to do
with it. So who is the bigger monster? I think we are.
I'm still kinda new at understanding the whole Hollywood
thing but when a movie goes in to TurnAround can you
get it back? Or do you have to buy it back? I know it
was yours to start with but its their property now,
right? And by the way have you seen, "Saved!"
yet. I found it kind of fun and entertaining.
I haven't seen it. I sold the script to a company (not
optioned, sold), they developed it for quite a few years,
then they sold it to someone else. That's tunaround.
I could buy it back from the new owners, I suppose,
but I ain't got the money.
his arm around Josh's shoulder and says: "I hope
I wasn't out of line with that crack about 'I expect
a legitimate answer'"). I think it was poorly worded
and I meant that it was possibly a dumb question that
probably had a very simple answer. I hope I didn't sound
I am glad you feel the same as I do about the wet roads
in films these days. It annoys the hell out of me, especially
when underground car parks are also always wet!
On the same topic, is there a law in Hollywood that
says that all action films (wherever and whenever set)
must contain at least one large fireball-type explosion?
I am fed up seeing cars rolling down hills and then
blowing up, cars being shot at and blowing up, buildings
being set on fire and then blowing up, etc, etc, etc.
I resent being treated as a moron by people from Hollywood
- or do they just think everyone in the world is 14
OK, end of rant. Carry on.
not offended. I did find it a tad forward, but what
the hell. Hollywood just wishes everyone was 14 years
old. As I've said before, Hollywood would let 14-year-olds
write and direct the films, if the insurance companies
would allow it. The idiotic explosion I'm most amused
by is when a car goes off a cliff and explodes in mid-air,
as though the air pressure was too intense. Meanwhile,
getting a car to actually explode is almost impossible.
Cars start on fire everyday of the week and don't explode.
You can shoot a hundred bullets through the gas tank
and it won't explode. Anyway, Hollywood and the films
they make are a dead issue. They've hit rock-bottom
and there's nothing left to discuss. Hollywood can't
make a decent film, let alone a good one, under any
circumstances. It's no longer possible.
How's it going? It was very interesting to hear that
you might have Stallone star in your film. I think his
acting ability is underrated since most people think
of action, but I'm glad you liked Rocky. I think he
was great in his films and also glad you liked the first
half of First Blood, that is my favorite film with him.
He is older now but still in very good shape I hear,
I think he keeps his weight between 170 and 180. I've
heard of his Rocky 6 project and also a Rambo IV, both
very cool, I think Rambo may have less of an action
role and may be more into thinking and planning (like
in parts of First Blood) if it comes to fruition.
Also I was curious if there will be a sequel to Alien
Apocalypse? I hope no one has asked that yet. Also do
you know if Lucy is a Stallone fan? That would be very
suppose a sequel will be based on the film's ratings,
although I certainly don't have one in mind. I told
all of the story that there was to tell. A sequel would
be entirely unnecessary, in my opinion. You think "Rocky
6" and "Rambo 4" are "both very
cool"? Rocky already went two films past where
it absolutely should've stopped, and Rambo never needed
any sequels at all ("Rocky" didn't, either,
but I do have a fondness for "Rocky 3," I
must admit, although I do think it's a giant step down
from the original). As to whether or not Lucy likes
Stallone I can't say. Still, I think Mr. Stallone would
be very good casting in "Devil Dogs."
Did Andre the Russian camera operator tell you anything
interesting about the film industry in Russia?
guy barely spoke English. When I was using the Steadi-Cam,
which has its own operator, Andrey would just have to
sit there. I had several days that were mostly on Steadi-Cam,
so Andrey just sat around all day. I suggested that
he bring in "War and Peace" and read it. Bruce
interjected that what he really ought to be reading
was "How to Operate a Steadi-Cam," which I'm
still laughing about.
Not that I support Bush in anyway or that this negates
anything else that you have stated, but a convicted
felon can, in fact, be President. Michael Moore's show,
T.V. Nation, actually funded a campaign for a convicted
felon for the 1996 Election. People have run for President
from prison. It would be nice if G.W. was running from
you sure? I thought if you were a convicted felon you
couldn't vote or run for public office. But I could
be wrong. I hear in "Fahrenheit 9/11," during
the section discussing GW's youth, it's scored with
Eric Clapton's "Cocaine," which is pretty
When I read there was a slight chance Sylvester Stallone
would play Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly in "Devil Dogs:
The Battle of Belleau Wood," I had to write. I
hope to God Stallone has the good sense to sign on for
this one. I've always felt Stallone was a fine actor,
and it pisses me off that his acting abilities are underestimated
for the most part. I think he's smart to try to expand
his repertoire beyond just action movies, but many of
his failed attempts at comedy have left even me, a daily
visitor of stallonezone.com, with a bad taste in my
mouth. This is just the type of role I'd like to see
him in. Any more details you can share?
Thanks Josh, and keep on keepin' on.
nothing more to share. The executive producer I'm working
with is trying to set up a deal with Stallone and asked
me if I had any scripts that would be appropriate for
him, that could be shot in eastern Europe. I sent him
"Devil Dogs." That's where it is. Considering
how good "Rocky" is, I think Stallone has
had a truly shitty career, with each film worse than
the one before. This would be a complete departure for
him, but I don't know that that's what he thinks he
ought to do. I hear he's developing "Rocky 6,"
which couldn't be less necessary under any circumstances.
He really should have stopped that franchise at three.
I, too, liked "Holiday" more than "Philadelphia
Story" though I think they were both terrific films.
I read a recounting of a conversation between Hepburn
and Grace Kelly following the release of "High
Society". Kelly tells Hepburn that she watched
"Philadelphia" many times to get ready for
her role. Hepburn, cool as you like, responds, "You
didn't watch it enough." They don't make 'em like
Kate anymore. Great music, though, in "High Society".
From what I understand Armstrong was there at Bing's
insistence. Though now remembered for his ballads, Bing
was, at heart, a Jazz man, and was very influential
in early recording techniques.
Isn't Stallone getting a bit old for that sort of role?
Still, Stallone can still generate attention and can
be a good actor when someone is around to control him.
"Copland" may not have been a great movie
but I thought he was good in his part.
When do you get the air date for "Alien Apocalypse"?
We'll want to start programming our TIVO's.
is what I hear. There's still about four months worth
of digital effects to be done. Yes, Der Bingle was hugely
important to early recording techniques, and to jazz.
People don't realize now just how popular he was. There's
nobody around now that's nearly as popular as Bing Crosby
was in the early 1930s. The only ones that come close
since then are Elvis and The Beatles.
everyone made a stink about Stallone's performance in
"Copland" and I thought he looked like he
was right on the verge of falling asleep.
expect a legitimate answer to this question but can
you tell me why, whenever there is a night street scene
in a movie, the streets are always wet as if it had
just been raining?
expect a legitimate answer, eh? Anything else you expect
or demand? The reason they wet down the streets is that
they think it looks cool. It also allows for less lighting
because the light is being reflected up from the street.
Personally, I think it's a visual cliche that's been
beaten into the dirt. I opted not to wet the streets
in "Lunatics" in 1989 because I already thought
it was a cliche, but that certainly hasn't stopped anyone
glad to hear that "Farenheit" is on your must
see list, and I sure hope that it influences the undecided
voters to back Kerry. There is also a great looking
documentary about corporations that will be released
sometime in early July which looks interesting. I believe
it is about the pros and cons of capitalism, but the
title escapes me. Have you seen Super Size Me? It is
a pretty good documentary about the fast food industry,
and it's relation to the American obesity problem. BTW-In
regards to Bush, I love what Ron Reagan Jr. said about
him; which was, "What makes this guy think he's
capable of running the country, the fact that he no
longer an obnoxious drunk?!" That cracked me up,
and it's also very accurate.
think Bush has made it imminently clear in his over
three years that he hasn't got a clue how to run the
country. The street I was staying on in Sofia had the
American consulate at the end of the street, which had
been permanently blocked off and had 24-hour guards.
No other consulate or embassy there had that kind of
paranoid security. Is this because we're so loved around
you could direct any one of your scripts (at a decent
budget), which one would you direct next? And what's
more important to you, a character you can identify
with, or a character you don't identify with but you
can respect their decisions?
oh yeah, I'm shocked to say the new Harry Pothead movie
is actually about something (no no, you'll still hate
it cause its Harry Potter). Its a dark as hell teen
angst film about overcoming your fear despite trauma
and parts of it reminded me of Rocky 3 (no, not the
boxing). and Harry's (for once) the guy that drives
the story instead of the guy that sits in the background
and lets the story go on around him. Well you never
promised having structure would make it a good movie,
but it is a better movie than the first two just because
its about something and the characters are a little
more grown up.
it's good to know something's not just getting worse
and worse. I don't give slightest little shit about
Harry Potter movies (or books for that matter), but
for those that like them I'm sure this will be good
think I'd like to make "Devil Dogs: The Battle
of Belleau Wood" the most. I've got it out right
now with the very slight possibility of having Sylvester
Stallone star in it, but it's an extreme long-shot.
Still, I think Sly would make a creditable Gunnery Sgt.
Dan Daly. I won't hold my breath, however. I would also
like to shoot "Cycles," my script that's in
a big fan of Xena, and I'm a big fan about Lucy Lawless!
But I whont see Reneè O'Connor! Can you takeme
some photos about Reneè on te set or behind the
Thank you very mouch and congratulation, when this film
will exit in Italy I will go to see it!
I'm sorry for my English but I'm Italian!
was hoping to have more photos at this point, but I
haven't received them yet. By the way, I've met Lucy
and she's not Italian, she's a Kiwi. I bet your name
is really Claudia.
E-mail: crashpix at yahoo
Welcome back to the states, for what's is worth (which
is not much these days)!
Told Eric Maurer, who was the AD on Mosquito, what you
had been up to. He was pleased that you're getting work,
and we're both eager to see the fruits of your labor!
On the election front I just wanted to bring something
to your, and your readers', attention. A New York concert
promoter is trying to put together a massive televised
show on September 1st - the "Concert for Change"
- right across the river from the Republican national
The reasons for this are three-fold. First, to distract
media attention from junior's grandstanding. Secondly,
to make a point that there is a huge contingent of Americans
who are completely dissatisfied with the direction this
country is taking. Finally, the proceeds will go towards
get out the vote efforts aimed at ousting Bush. This
fellow, Andrew Rasiej, wants to get Bruce Springsteen
on board, figuring that he'll encourage other acts and
bring in a broader TV audience. Rasiej has set up a
website - www.draftbruce.com
- with an online petition asking Springsteen to sign
onto this effort.
While I'm not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, I think
it's a good cause and would like to see more folks get
behind this. If you think this is something that would
interest you and your fan base I'd love to see this
on your forum.
Aright, I've rambled enough. Again, congrats on wrapping
Alien Appocalypse, and keep fighting the good fight!
already signed up at draftbruce.com and I do hope he
does the show. I think it's a good cause. And I am a
big Bruce Springsteen fan.
What is old Robert Tapert up to these days? Have you
talked to him lately?
spoke with him a few days ago. He's got two horror films
coming out pretty soon, "Boogyman" and "The
hi josh! how are you doing. im doing great
i just saw running time at my video store and i rented
it. i loved it!!! it's now on my favorite movie list
of all time so far it goes like this:
1. matrix reloaded 2. running time 3. rollerball
i was wondering why arent you fameus yet? you are certanly
a great filmaker!
appreciated the compliment a lot more before I saw the
company I was stuck in. I don't suppose you mean the
original "Rollerball"? And "Matrix Reloaded"?
Not even the first one? It's like one of the kids on
"American Idol" saying her favorite movie
was "Sister Act 2."
It may be too early to ask this question, but you can
revisit it later if you'd like. The question: "Alien
Apocalypse" is a Josh Becker film, written and
directed, but had outside funding and (I assume) influence.
How satisfied are you with the project and how might
it have been different had you funded it yourself? Given
that you don't "own" the movie, what is your
sense of ownership over it?
I watched "Holiday" again the other night.
For a romantic-comedy, that's about as satisfying a
movie as I can think of; great script, great cast and
great direction. The pacing of that film is just great.
It's also somewhat poignant. When Grant is talking about
taking his holiday and says that it has to be when he's
young, I think a lot of us can feel a tinge of regret
or longing. Great movie.
think "Holiday" is wonderful, and it moved
me a lot when I first saw it. Cary Grant and Katherine
Hepburn are at their young, gorgeous best, and who else
could do a backflip anytime they wanted? That whole
same team made "The Philadelphia Story" two
years later (George Cukor, Phillip Barrie, Hepburn,
Grant), which I also like a lot, but I think "Holiday"
see what these folks do to the film once I turn in my
cut, but so far it's very much the film I wanted to
make. I saw the first rough-cut yesterday and thought
it went together very well, if I do say so myself. I
still think it will be the best film ever made for the
What are your thoughts on Hitchcock's Frenzy? I caught
it for the first time last night and really enjoyed
it. It was well structured, acted, and directed, and
I also loved the ending, for it was abrupt but perfect.
I don't think the film could have ended a better way.
I thought it was interesting that Hitchcock focused
on working class blue collar characters, as opposed
to his usual stock of the white collar upper class.
That aspect added a different dynamic to the story,
and it also had an irreverent sense of humor, which
surprised me. Was this his last film before Family Plot,
or was there another made between the two? Anyway, I
was just wondering what your thoughts were. Are you
going to catch Farenheit 9/11 this week? It's a new
film I'm actually looking forward to.
I absolutely intend to see "Farenheit 9/11"
and support it any way I can. Thank goodness there's
someone out there with the balls to bring up what horrible
crooks and monsters this administration is comprised
of. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft are really
horrible people, and the censored American "free"
press has basically given them a free ride. Anyway,
I liked "Frenzy," and was very impressed with
it when it came out. After "The Birds," Hitchcock's
career basically went into the toilet, and "Marnie,"
"Torn Curtain," and "Topaz" were
all bad and flopped. I and everyone else thought he
was all washed up. But he came back with one more good
film, "Frenzy," showing he still knew what
he was doing. His next film was indeed "Family
Plot," which sucked, then he died. I absolutely
love the shot when he's raping the woman and the camera
backs out of the office, down the hall, down the stairs,
out the front door and across the street. That's filmmaking!
read your essay "Bailing Out on LA." Reads
to me like an outline for a good film.
I recently bailed out on DC after 18 years there, and
am now settling in Oregon (Portland). The reaction among
friends has been interesting, with west coasters enthusiastic
and east coasters largely perplexed (and anticipating
my return from a certain crushing boredom).
They've never sat on the ridge overlooking Mt. Hood
where my dog and I hiked this weekend. It was not boring
and does put Capitol Hill in perspective -- literally
Best wishes to you in realizing your dream of making
good films, from your Oregon base. I'll hope to add
them to my DVD collection. Or maybe you'll get me back
to a theatre.
And thank you, as well, for the interesting web page.
bailed on Oregon, too. I've been back in Detroit for
nearly two years now. I might be close to bailing on
Detroit, too, particularly if Bush gets reelected, in
which case I may have to bail on the USA. We've gone
rule-crazy here. It was a real pleasure to be in a place,
Bulgaria, where there are very few rules -- you smoke
anywhere you want, period; there's no such thing as
a liquor license and there are little cafes every twelve
feet; a big bottle of good beer is about 30 cents; a
pack of cigarettes is a buck; you can run a business
out of your garage if you'd like since there's no zoning
laws. And there are people all over the place, walking,
sitting and drinking and smoking and it's all designed
for adults, which society ought to be. I miss it already
and I'm trying to figure out how to get back to Europe
I was very interested in your essays on George Bush's
abuse of power..it seems like a classic case of 'like
father like son'...don't get me wrong, I'm so patriotic
my girlfreind recently asked me "who do you love..England
or me more?", but I know the English and American
people deserve better than the cynical illuminati style
inteferings of a conservatively estimated 3.5 bn secretive
buisness group I've just learned about this morning,
the Carlyle group.
Amongst their ultra powerfull members are George Bush
Snr., the last English Prime Minister John Major, and,
get this, Osama Bin Laden's estranged brother (as well
as the Bin Laden family) in law was also an investor..on
9/ll all three of these gentlemen were in a buisness
conferance together when the planes hit the WTC..
for more information, please go to
Moore.com, the director of Farenheit 9/11's site
for indepth exposure on the buisness side of this war..
But more importantly, please write about it on your
site!.. BTW, Evil Dead is my favourite all time movie!
been trying to tell people this information about the
Bush Family for years now. The fact that the bin Laden
family was the single biggest investor in GW Bush's
oil company, Arbusto, and that George Sr. was with the
bin Laden family on 9/11, and how we then ended up fighting
a war in Iraq that has nothing to do with 9/11 and basically
is just smoke and mirrors to cover up the connection
between the Bush family and the bin Laden family. Here's
another bit of Bush trivia no one is discussing -- the
grandfather, Herbert Walker Bush, did more business
with the Nazi government than any other American company,
even after Pearl Harbor and our going to war against
Germany. Finally, the U.S. government had to file suit
against Bush to get him to stop doing business with
the Nazis. The Bush family is a really nefarious, awful
family. And let's not forget that GW was busted for
cocaine possession and his father had the records buried
because if they weren't we'd all know that he was a
convicted felon and ineligible to be president in the
first place. And he's a fucking draft-dodger. I reiterate
for the 100th time, George W. Bush is the worst president
America has had in 228 years.
Alien Apocallypse just be released into the cinemas
in the US or will it be released in the UK too? If it
isn't then that will be a great shame because if it
not being released on to DVD then everyone in the UK
(including me) will miss out!!
How is it decided/who decides if the film will be released
on to DVD or not?
Thanks for your time
loadsa love Jo xx
a TV movie, so it will be shown in the US on SciFi Channel.
I don't know what the deal is for the rest of the world.
The executive producer will make those decisions and
you! Thank you! One of my son and husband's favorite
movies is Saving Private Ryan and I HATE IT! The only
thing I liked in it was the storming the beach segment
which I thought was the only reality based part; soldiers
never making it to the beach because of they drowned
under the weight of all equipment and the confusion
when under heavy fire, etc.
I agree that you cannot begin a movie with an old man's
remembrances when half the movie aren't even his memories!
And Spielberg was so proud of Matt Damon adlibbing his
"story" about his favorite memory of his brothers
and the best he could come up with is catching his brother
banging an ungly chick in the barn! That is the heart
warming memory of brotherly love he's carrying into
every battle? I now believe that Matt Damon never wrote
even half of Good Will Hunting; he's either an idiot
with no imagination or an only child with no concept
of what it means to share your early years with a sibling.
And that contrived bit about the letter? Soldiers are
more superstitious than baseball players, after the
second guy carrying it ate a bullet, they would've ditched
it or left it with Ted Danson.
I also agree with your assessment of "Almost Famous",
I didn't buy the chaste groupie crap either. Yes, it
was a more "innocent time" in the early to
mid 70's; but not because they weren't giving it up
left and right but because they were screwing everything
that sat still long enough. They were innocent to the
consequences of their actions as opposed to the eighties
when AIDS scared the crap out of those that thought
they were invincible. A more believable scenario would've
been Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson and that kid in a drug-soaked
three way; with the kid attempting suicide over his
sexual confusion. But of course, that didn't happen
because his mother kept finding out where he was and
called him to tell him not to have sex or do drugs.
A neat little "PSA" wasn't? In the vein of
the Reagan era "just say no" campaigns, which
didn't work at all! But find him she did, in every town
he was in--how did she do that? The worst thing Cameron
Crowe ever did was get married and become a father,
he's totally lost his edge. They billed Almost Famous
as semi-autobiographical, do you think Crowe would document
his own drug use just before his kids are at the experimental
You and I also agree with most of the movies on your
list, with the exception of the ones I haven't seen.
Some films I saw lacking are those of John Sayles, who
is my favorite living director. I suggest, Brother From
Another Planet (ET without the syrup); Limbo; Men with
I was also impressed with the variety of films on your
list, so many people limit themselves to one genre and
then have the nerve to call themselves movie buffs.
All the best to you and yours,
what a nice change of pace having someone agree with
me about crap like "Saving Private Ryan" and
"Almost Famous," both with really rotten screenplays
and both Oscar-winners for Best Screenplay. John Sayles
is an intelligent filmmaker, but, in my humble opinion,
not a very interesting one. The key adjective that describes
most of his films is "dull." His films aren't
stupid, they're simply not all that interesting, and
they're usually pointless. "Sunshine State"
is a good example, and I actually watched it a second
time to make sure--it's bright, the characters are sort
of interesting, but it's about nothing. How he wasn't
able to get a better film out of the story of "Eight
Men Out" still boggles me. Still, John Sayles is
one of the better filmmakers working, but that certainly
isn't saying much.
every movie, tv program, movie of the week, etc. going
to dvd, is it possible that once Alien Apocalypse is
aired that it might go to dvd? If it does, will you
do a directors cut version, or possibly with outtakes,
I, along with countless other fans of both Renee and
Bruce, would love to see that happen.
Hope all is well with you.
are no plans for a DVD release, but we'll see.
Rohan the Thunder Chick
that your movie is finished filiming, do you have a
say in the editing or music, etc?
the editor assembles the film, I do the director's cut
making any changes I want. Then it's turned in and the
producers can do whatever they'd like to it. They have
hired my friend, Joe LoDuca, to score the film, and
Joe has scored everything I've ever shot, including
Herc and Xena. So I know it will have a good score.
didn't make it two weeks, just one. I'm an extra in
a few scenes and that's all I did. That's Joel and Ethan
Coen's first credit. And most filmmakers don't think
they're making a bad movie when they're making it.>>
I did show that movie to my friends 20 times though
(gee, I wonder where they went, I haven't seen them
lately... just kidding). I think I've watched RUNNING
TIME 40 times before I had to sell it. I had about 1,000
DVDs and 150 Vhs titles (not counting the 200 or above
I sold over time), and I made the mistake of writing
a few checks early after I quit my job. My last paycheck
wasn't debited to my account, and BAM! I owed like $700
in bounced check fees. That killed me, I had to pawn
almost my entire collection including the good ones
(and I bought them all on credit card too, and still
had to pay the debt). Damn man, you fooled me the first
10 times, I really thought it was all in one take. Since
CRIMEWAVE was all chopped up, I wonder what the original
film would've been like had they kept Bruce as the lead,
kept the original score and left it alone. You think
they still have the original script somewhere? That's
the sad part, the whole film just looks so enthusiastic.
Are you back from Bulgaria yet? I'm still waiting for
my copy of Hammer? thanks.
back from Bulgaria and your tape is on the table with
a padded envelope and a mailing label, so it's very
close to going out.
Oops I'm sorry, I forgot that you had wrote the script
for Alien Apocalypse years ago and that was before you
had worked with Lucy. She was in high school then? Wow!
I wish I had known her back then and that we were friends,
that's just a little dream of mine.
I was wondering if in the future you plan to write more,
or direct more, or do both? I think you're definitely
awesome at both, is there one that you prefer more?
Also, this is probably none of my business, but I heard
that you had a little falling out with Rob several years
ago and later reconciled with him at Bruce's house.
I was wondering what that was about if I can ask? Did
it have anything to do with Xena? Just curious. Personally
I thought your episodes were great but there are a few
fans who insult them even today.
and I have had a number of falling outs over the years,
that's what happens when you're friends with someone
for over 25 years and end up working for them, too.
But we get past them. Bruce and I have had a few, too.
As have most of my friends. Meanwhile, to direct more
I need to write more. I need to create the projects
so I can direct them.
Dave the Knave
Have you read David Mamet's book "On Directing
Film"? When he talks about directing actors, his
advice is that an actor should perform the physical
actions of the script as simply and unemotionally as
possible. This seems counterintuitive to me -- I can
see how it could work for a silent short film, but I
don't know about most narrative features, including
his own dialogue-heavy films.
So, what do you think about that? And could you comment
on how you get performances out of your actors?
Thanks. Can't wait to check out Alien Apocalypse.
thought Mamet's book "On Directing Film" sucked.
I think he knows damn little about the subject, and
certainly not enough to write a book about it. It's
like he picked up one theory about film direction --
the uninflected juxtaposition of images -- and that
became the word of God. Let's face it, Mamet was an
okay writer about 25 years ago, but now he's neither
much of a writer, nor much of a film director. Nor was
he ever much of a director. You get a performance by
casting an actor in the part and letting them play it.
If it's too much, you ask them to bring it down; if
it's too little you ask them to bring it up. And images
can be highly inflected, if you've got the ability to
think up those kinds of shots.
was to work with a first time actor like Remi Franklin?
I know that kid pretty well and I honestly want to know
how he was... be honest And hows was Rene?
was great. He paid attention and got better every single
day. Renee is a pro, just like Bruce and Peter Jason,
and they carry the picture. Many of the Bulgarian actors
were quite good, too. Now we'll see how it goes together.
Were those Elm Street outlines you posted pitches for
the old Freddy's Nightmares TV series? If not, what
is the genesis behind them?
Getting off the subject, like you, I barely go to the
movies anymore because I too feel as if there isn't
much watchable material out there. A friend of mine
convinced me to see a film called Napoleon Dynamite.
He was hyped to see it because it had been well received
at Sundance, and was receiving a lot of praise in the
mainstream press, yada yada yada. Knowing nothing about
this film, i took a chance, and boy am I sorry. The
word inept is an understatement in describing this film.
There was no story. A cardnal rule of storytelling is
that the lead character has an objective or a goal which
kick starts his/her journey. Not only did the lead character
not have a purpose, but every character was borderline
retarded. There wasn't an intelligent character in exisitence,
and the film was just another lame comedy trying to
be quirky, but wasn't funny. The scariest aspect of
this experience is that the audience ate it up, they
loved it! I looked at my friend and his wife who enjoyed
the movie, and told them how wretched I thought it was.
They realized that it had no story but didn't care,
they still liked it. I am now under the impression that
the downfall of the film industry doesn't solely belong
to the filmmakers and executives, the contemporary audience
is also accountable. I believe that a vast majority
of the audience no longer cares if films are nonsensical
or stupid, as long as there is at least one element
that appeals to them, they seem to enjoy modern films
as a whole. I can't speak for everyone obviously, but
after seeing napoleon dynamite in a packed house, and
listening to the audince's reactions afterward, I was
genuinely depressed. What are your thoughts in the audience's
role in why modern movies are so terrible?
the audience will take what they're given. People like
to go to the movies, and whatever is playing is what
they'll see. I think horseshit like "Titanic"
and "Lord of the Rings" proved that.
read somewhere that you were on the set of CRIMEWAVE
for 2 weeks then you bailed. Oh please enlighten us
with your story. Also, you probably couldn't answer
this, but if Sam Raimi didn't want Reed Birney from
the get-go, did Reed know this? Damn that would be fucked
up to work on a shit movie where you know you're not
wanted. On the other hand, I like the falling doorways,
and came close to laughing at the exterminator trying
to stuff a dead body in a Salvation Army collection
box ("give a gift to a needy child"). I liked
the fat guy exterminator in MAVERICK (I think that was
his last film).
didn't make it two weeks, just one. I'm an extra in
a few scenes and that's all I did. That's Joel and Ethan
Coen's first credit. And most filmmakers don't think
they're making a bad movie when they're making it.
I have three questions to ask.
i) As director, do you think that story structure is
important for a film to success?
ii)Hollywood films prefer tight story structure as compared
to the art house films. What's your opinion?
iii)Do you prefer Character over action or Action over
character in your film? why?
Thank you so much.
some of the essays on this website and get back to me.
Yesterday I just ordered "Intruder" on VHS
at Amazon.com. And I'm actually kind of excited to see
it. Have you seen it yet? Last time I heard you still
hadn't seen it. Next I will be purchasing "Lunatics-
a love story" because it sounds like such a great
concept. And like "Intruder" its not something
I can rent in my town. Too bad there is no plans for
a DVD for either of them or I'd purchase them in a second.
I've never seen "Intruder." I worked on the
super-8 version, "Night Crew."
why do you think Techniscope hasn't made a huge comeback?
It's definitely a great format and if you're shooting
direct to TV or video, you don't have to worry about
anamorphic prints, etc. Post production methods have
changed tremendously since its demise.
With letterboxing becoming more common on cable and
accepted among the general public, I wouldn't think
the widescreen image it yields would be too much an
issue either. It's too bad, because I like the format
Techniscope has made somewhat of a small comeback in
Australia under the
new name Multivision 235. Maybe it'll catch back on.
Also, I was wondering if it's possible if you could
give a general breakdown on where the budget money for
Alien Apocalypse was spent (sets, CGI, etc). Were there
a lot of sets built or was bluescreen mostly used? Is
it cheaper to use bluescreen and CGI effects or 'real'
sets, models, etc.
were many sets built, including a sawmill compound,
an alien bughouse, interior bughouse, a slave cellar,
and more. Blue screen was only used to put aliens into
the same shots as the humans, not to create sets. That
would be very difficult at this point since when you
use blue screen you either have to lock the camera off
so it doesn't move at all, or use motion-control, which
is very expensive and a major hassle. As for the actual
budget breakdown, that wasn't my department.
Techniscope was a great process, although they wouldn't
let me shoot 2.35:1 for TV. I used 1.85:1 instead, which
correlates nicely with HD 1.69:1.
Nick el Ass
Whats next after Alien Apocalypse?Are we going to see
anything else from you or are you going to take a break
from directing.thanks for taking the time out of your
busy schedule to answer my/all of our questions.
Nick el Ass
I have to whip up my next project, that's how it works.
I'll take a break because I have no other choice.
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