Q & A    Archive
Page 125

Name: Savannah Little
E-mail: fugeneons2002@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Could you ask Josh Hartnett if he would maybe date me???????

Dear Savannah:

No. You're unworthy.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail: Unknown@Unknown.com

Dear Josh:

I agree with your thoughts on George W. It's worse yet that he's ahead in the polls. Doesn't anyone remeber the last four years?
He claims he's creating jobs, turning the corner in Iraq, and giving tax cuts. Right, most of the jobs are shipped over seas, we're still stuck in Iraq, and the only tax cuts are given to the rich.
I watched parts of the Republican convention, and it's hard to beleive the people there. They hang onto every word this man says, even those of hipocrasy. Is America really that ignorant?

Dear Michael:

Apparently some large portion of the population is as dumb as a box of rocks. The actions of this administration are indefensable. The only reason anyone would vote for these lying assholes is out of unadulterated fear. As though indiscriminately attacking the wrong country has frightened the terrorists. It's utterly ridiculous. Every single speaker at the RNC mentioned 9/11, yet no one there ever said the unspeakable name of Osama bin Laden. Anyone that thinks attacking Iraq, who had nothing to do with 9/11, has made us any safer is a complete moron. And as long as U.S. soldiers are in Iraq, it will never calm down, get any safer, or come any closer to being a democracy.

Josh

Name: Robby
E-mail:

Josh,

When was the last time you hung out with Ted Raimi? What about Rob Tapert? Are you friends with the Coen brothers?

Best,
Robby

Dear Robby:

Now that I live in Detroit again, I see these guys when they come in for family visits. I just saw Ted and Rob and Lucy in the last couple of weeks. I've only met the Coen brothers a couple of times. Way the hell back when in 1980 when Joel was the assistant editor on "Evil Dead" I went out to eat with he and Ethan and Sam a few times in NYC, then I ran into them a few other times at various parties and events. I recall being seated next to them at a party at Rob Tapert's house when "Barton Fink" was new and since I really didn't like it, nor any of their other films, either, I couldn't think of a thing to say them. I finally ended up talking with the comic book artist Frank Miller for most of the night, and he's a very friendly, funny, nice guy.

Josh

Name: Walt Zumbrennen
E-mail: Gomezy3k@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Is there plans to release "Lunatics A Love Story" on DVD? Please do so...it is an awesome movie and there are a lot of fans out there who want to get it... Thanks...

Dear Walt:

Sorry, no plans to release it on DVD that I know of. It's the only one of my indie features that I don't own, Columbia Pictures does, so it's up to them.

Josh

Name: J. Rovinski
E-mail: rovinski47@exisle.net

Hello,

I have some questions about your anti-Bush post of August 31, 2004: http://beckerfilms.com/BushFailure.htm

First, you state that Bush's two goals were to destroy Al Qeada and find Bin Ladin. First, do you believe that destroying Al Qeade in three years is a realistic goal? Secondly, do you believe that capturing Bin Ladin would actually deter terrorism?

You then make the claim that everything in Michael Moore's film was true. This is factually inaccurate; for instance, MSNBC (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5335853/site/newsweek/) reported that Bush 41 didn't even join the Carlyle group until 4 months after said corporation sold off BDM, the subsidiary that did business with the Saudis. However, more generally, are you aware that it's almost impossible for public figures to sue for defamation? Under American law, it's almost impossible for public figures to prove damages.

I'd also like to see your evidence that the Texas dropout rate is, in fact, over 50%. The best information I've been able to find is at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/research/abstracts1.html#aug2004_dropcomp which says the dropout rate is 0.9%. How would the state of Texas engage in such a massive cover-up? Could I see the links? I also have access to the Lexis Nexis, if the information was reported in a newspaper or somesuch.

Also, are you aware that the definition of treason is specifically spelled out in the Constitution? What part of voting for Bush, in your opinion, matches up with that text?

If you have to go look it up to see what the constitution says, I humbly submit you throw around the word treason too easily.

I'm not saying I support Bush, but the best way to fight is with facts. I highly advocate the liberal blog washingtonmonthly.com, which contains well-researched anti-Bush posts on a regular basis.

Respectfully,
JR

Dear J.:

It doesn't matter if catching or killing Osama bin Laden deters terrorism or not, any more than catching Ted Bundy would stop all serial killing. Bin Laden was responsible for the destruction of the WTCs, the biggest act of terrorism so far in the world, and that's sufficient reason for capturing and killing him. Attacking Iraq certainly hasn't helped avenge the loss of those 3,000 people. But after 9/11, not to mention the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the African embassy bombings, and the attack on the marine base in Lebanon, al Qeada made it very clear they were our enemies, so why aren't we going after them with all our might? Why are we stuck in Iraq who had nothing to do with it? Did the bin Ladens finance GW Bush's oil company? Is there a bin Laden on the board of The Carlyle Group? Is Bush, Sr. on the board of The Carlyle Group? Were the bin Ladens visiting Bush, Sr. on 9/11? Come on. Regarding the Texas drop-out rate, watch "60 Minutes" from last week. The definition of "Treason" is -- "Treachery toward one's country." And "treachery" is defined as "An act of disloyalty." Attacking Iraq when we hadn't caught or killed our mortal enemy was an act of treachery. Lying to the world over 230 times on TV and in print to get us into a meaningless war was an act of treachery. Sacrificing over 1,000 young Americans, and over 10,000 others, to catch a guy who was no threat to us or anybody else was an act of treachery. Taking our economy from surplus to extreme deficit was an act of treachery. Rewarding American companies for outsourcing jobs is also an act of treachery. So, I reiterate, voting for Bush is an act of treason.

Josh

Name: Godfrey
E-mail: russhers@nokomisa.co.uk

Josh,

How could you stand Sex and the City? To me it was such a sad exposition of dumb, unorganized, man-hunting women who would never have become so successful in their respective jobs because of these glaring personal faults. To me, it's a pretty damn irritating show. But, just my opinion.

I liked Ed, though, although I might be too much of an optimist. Sex is just sex and the L Word is just a lesbian Queer As Folk. But oh well!
Cheers!

Dear Godfrey:

Well, I liked "Sex & the City" very much, and it was the only TV show I watched for quite a while. Now there are none. And the writers for that show did understand the concept of thematic writing, which most writers don't understand, and couldn't achieve with a gun against their heads. You liked Ed? Who's Ed?
Mr. Ed?

Josh

Name: Jay Payton
E-mail: jaypay111@aol.com

Dear Josh:

What if the celebrity is dead? Can they still have a star of the walk of fame? What about the late singer, songwriter, actress Laura Branigan?

Dear Jay:

I don't think it matters if they're alive or dead, it's will someone submit the person's name and the fee to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail: Unknown@Unknown.com

Dear Josh:

Have you ever considered shooting a silent film? I just thought the concept would be interesting.

- By the way, on your comment "nothing new can be done in a zombie flick" look at "Shuan of the Dead" and "28 Days Later". And for a student film I'm making a silent, zombie flick based on the works of Charlie Chaplin and in the style of such flicks as "Nosferatu."

Dear Michael:

I couldn't sit through "28 Days Later," and there was certainly nothing new in the first 45-minutes. It's just one more poorly-written zombie movie. At least in "Omega Man" you get to know Heston a bit before the zombies attack. But honestly, zombies are a horrible bore.

Josh

Name: Nick
E-mail: nichlas03@sbcglobal.net

Hey Josh, it's been like a year since I've written in! Sheesh, how time does fly.

What interested me today was seeing the discussion of what exactly theme is. What was being suggested I think was that a story's theme has to be more than one word - that they should be a complete thought. Some movies are like this, like "A Clockwork Orange" - "are people genuinely good people if they are not allowed the choice of doing evil, and, would you care that your freedom of choice was stripped as long as you were protected from being hurt?" - but that's a thesis statement, not a theme. A theme to me is much more simple, can be a single word, and should have some effect on every element in the story, like "Bridge Over the River Kwai", as you said, or even something as "lowbrow" as "Weekend at Bernie's", for God's sake. Isn't it sad when you could sit down and watch "Cannonball Run" and get more intellectual food for thought than the crap that comes out nowadays?

As for "Heart of Darkness" and "To Kill a Mockingbird", I would argue that each - and most literary works in general - have a number of different themes, some of which contradict eachother. But literature can do that because it has so much room to work with, just look at "War and Peace". Movies have to be much more narrow minded and are lucky if they hammer home even one good theme, or even less common, a thesis.

Josh, you're one of the few director/writers that I know of today that can consistently do that - tell a story with a message that doesn't suffocate the story. To me, "Running Time" is probably the best example of drama in modern filmmaking - best part of which is that it does feel so real, even without the illusion of the whole film being one take. That's why I watch your movies and check out your point of viwe on things. Keep up the good work!

As a last thought, I do a lot of writing myself and it's hard to get a consistent theme going until the end. Do you ever start with a theme ("I'm going to write a screenplay about friendship" or something) and build a story around that? Or do you just come up with a story and trust the theme will develop naturally? How much does the concern for entertainment value and pacing interfere with your building a theme, if at all?

Anyway, that's my thought for today. Cheers!

Dear Nick:

Good to hear from you. To me the theme comes into play when I expand it from a 12-page treatment to 120-page screenplay. I never know the theme when I dream up the story, but it really helps in the development of the story. What's nice about using a single word is that it doesn't imply positive or negative, it's generally just neutral adjective, like, as in the case of "Kwai," duty. That way each character can potentially represent a different aspect of the theme. Colonel Saito can't fulfill his duty; Colonel Nicholson is taking duty too far; Commander Shears (William Holden) is shriking his duties until he can't anymore; and Geoffrey Horn, the young soldier, doesn't know if he has the guts to fulfill his duty, etc. That's why one word works so well, you can come at it a dozen different ways for all your different characters. The only place I ever see strong thematic writing anymore is in one-hour dramatic TV, like "ER" or or one of the better cop shows. They also did it pretty well on occasion on "Sex & the City." Movies, however, have pretty much thrown in the towel on decent writing. I don't think a strong theme can possibly get in the way of entertainment, on the contrary, I think it makes it more entertaining when you realize there is a theme.

Josh

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

Josh,

I thought "Love, Actually" was a nice try but had two too many story lines. I don't know if you've seen "About A Boy" but it's a much better role for Grant than is Prime Minister. It's also just a better film, I think.

I've been wanting to ask you about the musical numbers in "Hammer".> Specifically, I was wondering how the songs and performers were chosen. Were the songs those the performers already had or did you or Joe pick them out? Did you shoot any other performances or do we get to see them all? You've said in the past that you leave the score to LoDuca so I was wondering if he was involved in the performance scenes as well. Thanks,

John

Ps. Did you read this crap Cheney said about a terrorist attack being more likely if Kerry is elected? Everybody overseas, except the Saudis of course, hates Bush and nobody overseas has any idea who Kerry is. Which candidate is more likely to provoke a terrorist attack on the US? Besides, if they kill the Kerry's wouldn't that interrupt international ketchup supplies?

Dear John:

I agree with you, "About a Boy" was a much better film than "Love Actually," although I don't think "About a Boy" was all that great, either. It was certainly a much better role for Hugh Grant, though.

Meanwhile, in the musical numbers in "Hammer," I chose all of the songs myself and I worked with the musicians to get them the way I wanted them. This was all in LA, and Joe lives in Michigan (not far from me now) and was never there during shooting. All of the actor/musicians were cast through a casting agency, and when I told them that most everyone in the film would have to be able to act, sing, and play and instrument, one of the casting agents said, "Aren't you setting the bar kind of high?" I replied, "No, I don't think so. If an actor came to Hollywood in 1945 they would have known how to act, sing, and dance." And it wasn't all that big of a deal, not in LA, anyway. There are many talented people running around that town, it's just that Hollywood makes almost no use of them anymore.

Anybody who accepts anything the Republicans say is an idiot. We needed to attack Iraq? The situation in Iraq is improving? With a $442 billion deficit, the economy is getting better? We're safer now? It's all bullshit. John Kerry says he'll get us out of Iraq in the next four years. John McCain just said that we'll be in Iraq for at least ten more years, more like twenty years. So, if you have children of any age, including newborn, if you'd like to see them dodging bullets in Baghdad, vote for Bush.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Bruce Campbell just cited RUNNING TIME as one of the influential films in his career in Entertainment Weekly (out of the few chosen). He also stated it as better than Lord of the Rings. Is that good publicity or what? (although he also mentioned Crimewave, the term he used was "Studios were destroyed, Careers were Destroyed).
P.S. I have no good film ideas so I'll keep my mouth shut from now on. Its okay, not everybody is meant to have talent.

Dear kdn:

"They are able because they think they are able." --Virgil, The Aenied.

Meaning, if you think you can do it, you can do it.

And yes, that was nice of Bruce. He's a nice guy, and a good buddy.

Josh

Name: Richard
E-mail: filmfan_1@hotmail.com

Josh,

We talk a lot on this site about serious films and serious topics, but I was wondering after looking at your film list what you thought about some of the films that you've seen that were just meant to be "just plain fun."

Specifically, I thought that Love Actually and Pirates of the Carribean were fun, hugely enjoyable movies. Sure Love Actually had problems, but the feeling it left me with made up for any script flaws. The same goes for POTC.

Also, thoughts on Johnny Depp as an actor? I think he's terrific...one of the best we've got under 50.

Richard

Dear Richard:

I was with "Pirates" for about 80-100 minutes, but that next 50 minutes was deathly. I mean, come on, that piece of fluff needed to be two-and-half hours? And though Johnny Depp is amusing doing his Keith Richards impersonation, it really isn't exactly appropriate for the story, it's more like a bored big-shot actor slumming in Disney film, like Peter Ustinov in"Blackbeard's Ghost," or the ridiculous performances that Laurence Olivier gave near the end of his life, like in "The Boys From Brazil" or "The Betsy" or "The Jazz Singer," where he's just trying amuse himself. I think Johnny Depp is good, but I don't think he's yet given a great performance, and that's probably more to do with there not being good material around for him to play. I didn't buy "Love Actually." It felt like sheer manipulation, and I didn't really believe a single story. And High Grant as the Prime Minister? It was silly.

Josh

Name: Haywood Jublomie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Robert Redford as a director and as an actor?

Dear Hatwood:

Robert Redford is a full-fledged movie star, and he handles his small range very well. He's an all right, sort of run-of-the-mill director. I thought he handled "Ordinary People" and "Quiz Show" pretty well. His other films I didn't care for. That he won the Oscar over Martin Scorsese for "Raging Bull" is a crime.

Josh

Name: The Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I recently viewed an interesting old movie. Rain (1932) with Joan Crawford. Considering the time period, the subject matter seemed to be ahead of its time. Maybe the box offices needed a boost given the 1932 economy and they loosened the code a little. The overall tropical setting and the old authentic US Marine uniforms made things interesting. Lots of great acting too. I checked you favorite films list and didn't see it listed. Nevertheless, do you find the quality of a film like 'Rain' to be far ahead of most of what is currently being produced? Thanks.

Dear The Real Bob:

The Breen Code hadn't kicked in yet in 1932, not until the end of 1933, that's why the early sound films of 1929-1933 are as racy as they are. These films are collectively known as "The Pre-code Films," and you can buy collections of them on video. TMC has done whole prgrams of them. Meanwhile, "Rain" is the second version of W. Somerset Maugham's story, the first is the 1928 silent film, "Sadie Thompson" with Gloria Swanson and the director, Raoul Walsh, as the Marine; then there were two more versions after "Rain." I like it, but it's a silly story. I just watched "Pork Chop Hill," which was also directed by Lewis Milestone (who directed "Rain" and"All Quiet on the Western Front"), and he was an interesting director. He may have been the only director to make a WWI film, a WWII film ("A Walk in the Sun"), and a Korean War film, "Pork Chop Hill." Were films better then? I think so.

Josh

Name: Maria
E-mail: wisegypsy@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,
You're hilarious. I was just skimming through the archives and came across a right-on comment of yours: "If the big studios took a roll of 35mm negative and ran it between their ass cheeks, then spent $75 million advertising it, it would be number one for at least a week." Priceless.

Do the television shows that shoot on 16mm use reversal stock? Also, do you know which digital format the footage is typically transferred to prior to editing? Thanks.

Dear Maria:

No they do not use reversal stock, they all use negative stock. The only film that I know of to use reversal stock in I don't know how long is "Pi," which looked terrific. Apparently, "Pink Flamingoes" was shot on reversal, too. Everything is transferred to Digital-Beta these days.

Josh

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

Josh,

Yeah, I think Fuller does capatilize on cliches, but I think many humans fit into these cliches and that is what he plays upon in his films. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

Funny thing about his gun firing, during the first day of filming on "Pick Up on South Street", Fuller fired his gun on the first take of Widmark's first scene and then afterwards Widmark asked Fuller not to do that again and he did not for the rest of the shoot. He seemed like a very colorful and likeable guy and I know he disliked racists in any form.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Good for Widmark, whom I admire. Firing a gun at the beginning of takes it simply a bad idea. I'd rather do what Clint Eastwood does, which is to sneakily shoot rehearsals. But to be a good actor is based a great deal on concentration, and extremely loud noises right before you must perfrom isn't going to help. As far as I'm concerned, everything on a film set is there is help the actors do their job, and if it's getting in the way it shouldn't be there. The actors performing is the most important thing going on, more important than cameras and lighting and everything else. Crew members on my films that don't understand that concept are going to be in world of shit with me. On one of the last Xenas I did, I had a young, inexperienced 1st AD, who was doing his best to keep things together and moving. I went over to the speak to the actors, and he came up, cut me off and said, "We're ready to go." I said, "Okay, one minute, I'm talking to the actors." He replied, "No, we're a little behind, we have to shoot now." I said very simply, "I'll decide when we shoot, and right now I'm speaking to the actors, which is more important than anything you can ever say or do, so go stand by the camera and shut up, and I'll let you know when I'm ready." Any director that allows an AD, or anyone else, to push them into shooting before they've spoken to the actors is a bad director. As Marlon Brando pointed out in his book, most directors now don't have anything to say to the actors, they just yap with the DP and the camera operator all the time. Brando considered every director like that a bad director, which was most of the directors he worked with. Sam Fuller was not a good actor's director, and it shows in all of his films.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

Josh, I was wondering how you felt about the use of split-field diopter lenses in movies. Brian DePalma, to me anyhow, seems to be the king of utilizing these lenses (practically every picture). Can these lenses be used for 16mm?

Dear john:

Split diopters are the cop-out version of doing long focus, like in "Citizen Kane" and "The Little Foxes," both shot by the great DP, Gregg Toland, which is created with lighting. The problem with the split diopter is that it leaves a fuzzy line in frame between the two sides and it's almost always visible. It also looks somewhat unnatural. Whether it's 16mm or 35mm doesn't matter, it's can you get a split diopter for the size of your lens. Of course, if it's daytime and bright out you don't need it.

Josh

Name: Gareth
E-mail: garethgazz@hotmail.com

Hi there
I recently read your script "Devil Dogs" as you suggested and wondered if it was ever filmed or is available from anywhere? I'd like to see it if possible and watch how the character building in the script works on screen.
Also where can i get hold of a region 2 copy of"thou shalt not kill"
Ta
Gareth
Thanks, Gareth

Dear Gareth:

As a matter of fact, no, I haven't made "Devil Dogs." And if Amazon doesn't sell it, try Anchor Bay Entertainment, the distributor.

Josh

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

Josh,

We were talking about Samuel Fuller the other day and I just watched "Pick up on South Street" and it is indeed one of his best films. Richard Widmark is excellent and Thelma Ritter is great as the stool pigeon "Mole". Fuller manages to really capture the essence of real people which is difficult to do as you discussed with KDN.

I think that even tough his films can be dull at times, he had the knack for creating very real human characters and this film was one of his best. I think it a had a lot to do with the fact that he was a crime reporter in NYC when he was younger which exposed him to the realities of society

The one thing I did notice though was that there were quite a few close-ups that were badly out of focus mainly of Jean Peters who plays the character "Candy". There are a few scenes whre she is close-up and the focus is actually on the side of her head and not her face which is completely soft.

This film was with Zanuck and 20th Century Fox. It is amazing they let that go, but I know Fuller was known for rehearsing a lot, but only shooting one take of a scene, so that could be what was happening.

There is a gret interview with him on the DVD just before he died.

Scott

Dear Scott:

That film has better characterization than most of Fuller's films. He did work in the realm of cliche often. I think he was nuts only doing one take, and firing a pistol instead of saying action. Once you're there and it's all set up, doing another take or two only constitutes a few minutes, and in my experience take three is almost always better than take one.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I saw an interesting documentary this evening called Bush's Brain which is about karl Rove's involvement in the administration. Now I already knew that rove was a major player in the administration, but the documentary delves into how ruthless that motherfucker is. I am now convinced that Rove is the invisible co-president, not Dick Cheney, as many believe. Did you know Rove was fired from the regan-Bush campaign for leaking classsified information to Robert Novak? I think that might answer who the leaker in the white house is. The film also featured an interview with joseph Wilson who mentioned that rove had called him and told him that his wife was "fair game." Rove's smear campaigns have worked agaisnt the former governer of texas, as well as John McCain, and it seems as if it is working against john kerry, now that Bush is 11 points ahead in the polls. I am extremely depressed about the potential outcome of the election, but plan to do everything in my power to convice undecided voters to send Bush and his asshole cronies packing. We need our country back, and yes Michael moore's facts are legit, and I am so glad that he will be sending multiple camera crews to florida on November second to make sure that jeb dosen't pull the same shit he did four years ago.

Dear Scott:

John Kerry has allowed the Republicans to set the tone and choose the playing field for this election, and that's why he's losing in the polls. He's also not done a good enough job differentiating himself Bush. As long as Kerry supports the war in Iraq he's coming off as a hypocrite, even to his own supporters. Kerry has 60 days to prove he's not only presidential material, but to prove he's a different man with a different policy than Bush, so he better get on it. Playing Mr. Nice Guy isn't getting him anywhere. Bush is an easy target on many levels, as Michael Moore has proven, so it's time for Kerry to take off the gloves and get serious. I suggest using the footage of Bush sitting in front of the class on Sept. 11, with a slogan like, "Our commander-in-chief making an executive decision," and let him just sit there, just like he did for seven minutes. The Democrats also need to remind everybody that Saddam Hussein is not the same person as Osama bin Laden, and that the Bush administration has not avenged the terrorist attack of 9/11, which the Republicans were so eager to bring up every 30 seconds at the RNC. If they don't start doing things like this, John Kerry will lose.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

<<You may want to read my script "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood," where I was confronted with the same issue -- fleshing out a platoon of characters. There's no other way than to sit down and figure out each guy's bio, where's he from, how old is he, did he graduate high school, has he started college?>>
I have an Uncle-in-law with a screwed up Vietnam story. When he was 17 he wanted to sign up (with his brother) to go to Vietnam because they were promised college money. Well his brother backed out of it by eating a bunch of sugar to make himself sick. then after training, instead of college, they just shipped him off to war and he got lost for three years, then came back with a fever he still hasn't gotten over. well, he had to have his father's permission to sign up, so that meant his parents had control over his bank account, which his father handed over to the brother that backed out and he spent all the army money on fixing the father's house. So the guy that came back had nothing for his troubles, and he was waking up in the night thinking there were enemies in his room (he attacked my mother in law one night by mistake). He got his college, but then the father left the house to the brother that screwed him over. So he pretty much hasn't spoken to them since. He became a fireman. The crooked brother became a lawyer. I haven't met either of them. I met the crooked one's boyfriend one day though.

Dear kdn:

That's real people for you, they have all that back-story and all those weird motivations. Trying to capture the real human spirit in art is like trying to catch smoke in a butterfly net.

Josh

Name: Silk
E-mail: ----------------

Dear Josh:

R-E-A-D "Stupid White men" by Michael MOORE.

How many siblings have u got??

Dear Silk:

Yeah, yeah, I've got my own books to read. It really pisses me off that these knucklehead Republicans keep calling Michael Moore a "liar" and"disingenuous," but never have the guts to say what it is he's lying about. Did Michael Moore use digital effects to make it look like Bush was pissing in his pants for seven minutes in front of that class? Did Moore dream up that the Bushes and the bin Ladens having been doing business together for years? It's ridiculous. If there's been a more vetted documentary ever I'd like to know about it.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Josh,

Did you hear that Indian Larry died? Did you happen to get a chance to meet him when you did your documentary in Sturgis? He was one of my fav chopper builders.

JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

Sorry, I've never heard of him, although he might have been the dude with the '36 Indian Chief I kept seeing all over the place. But asking if someone met someone specific in Sturgis during the bike rally is like asking if you happened to run into someone specific because you were in Cleveland. There were hundreds of thousands of people on motorcycles.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

In case you didn't find my last question entertaining: THE LAST DAYS OF PATTON. I was unaware that they made a sequel. and seeing that its on sale for a dollar I can't imagine it being any good. Any comments?
(unrelated subject)
What about ALIEN APOCALYPSE being distributed on dvd by Anchor Bay? How did that come about? What's the status on IF I HAD A HAMMER distribution? Is the Independent Film Channel still interested? I read on here that you don't really make any money off of HAMMER when someone buys one: what happens when some crazy guy or gal decides to buy 999 copies for $20,000 (something like that)? Yeah, I know the chances of that happening. How much would it cost to get a copy on dvd? it doesn't have to be a great dvd, just one where you don't have to worry about tracking and sound (I'm not a big vhs fan). Any word from Sly on DEVIL DOGS yet?

Dear kdn:

The Patton film is a TV movie, and let's face it, once the war was over Patton did nothing but wait to die. The executive producer set up the deal with Anchor Bay. IFC was never interested in "Hammer," and nothing is happening with that. I'd have to sell 15,000 tapes to break even. And if you want "Hammer" on DVD you have to burn it yourself from the tape. And"Devil Dogs" may well have dropped dead before it even got to Stallone.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Do you have any movies that come to mind with a theme that should be remade? Like how you went and took ROPE and made the idea better with RUNNING TIME. I think they should redo THE CABLE GUY... the movie gets annoying when Jim carrey gets too far over the top, but there's something about his sociopath that makes sense. If you grew up watching movies and tv nonstop without making any friends instead of actually going out and doing something (play ball, get out of the house, do SOMETHING) you wouldn't really be developing any social skills. while others would have memories and stories about their friends, you would only be able to refer to some film you had just seen. It would screw you up. The lonliness would eventually get to you. It also makes sense that he feels he has to lie and cheat his way into a social life, despite the fact that he has so many "friends" (people he bought off with free cable), they're all as weird as he is, so he has to find someone he considers normal to hang out with. but then he's afraid of rejection so he uses a fake tv name and sets them up just in case. he probably doesn't even think he's setting them up at the time he does it. since he has no social skills, and took in old tv shows instead of proper parenting, he's off in his own little world. creepy movie. its a shame it wasn't better. dig the jefferson airplane scene and the part where broderick finds out his date is a prostitute. aw well, there's always TAXI DRIVER and THE KING OF COMEDY.

Dear kdn:

I don't like remakes. I didn't use the theme of "Rope," I used Hitchcock's visual approach. Other than that, the two films have nothing in common, and RT is certainly not a remake of "Rope." Also, I don't think Jim Carrey is funny. He's goofy and crazy, but he's not particularly funny. And he's a ham-handed actor. But this whole concept of remakes and sequels is just bad, and if you begin with not coming up with a good idea, or any idea, just taking another idea that's already been made, you've given up before you've started.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

I was wondering if you shoot 16mm and blow it up to 35 do you lose the top and bottom of the frame? Is this something you had to deal with on Evil Dead or did the crew shoot the film with a cropped image? How much of the image do you lose?

Dear john:

You don't lose any of the image. The full frame of the 16mm original is on the full frame 35 blow-up, it's just how you crop it when you project it. On both "Evil Dead" and TSNKE, which were blown-up from 16mm to 35mm, with the intention of having it projected at 1.85:1, we both left room at the top and bottom of the frame for the 1.85:1 cut-off. Neither of us had a hard matte or even lines on the ground glass indicating where the 1.85:1 cut-off was, we just guessed. Meanwhile, with "Running Time," I shot the full frame on 16mm, then had the 35mm projected at 1.33:1 and you see the full frame, and it looks fine.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

Been reading your poetry...
I write and read a lot of poetry - it's a passion of mine if I do have one. Writing it isn't easy work and it's even harder to show people. Do you still work at it? You've stated the bulk of it's from 1977. Have any influences? What was the inspiration?
I'm consumed by my love of Eliot, Sandburg and American verse from the late 19th century.

Dear Greene:

It was all Edgar Allan Poe for me at that point, with a dab of Robert W. Service for color. I was an 18-year-old crazy man locked up in a very small apartment ($65 a month, including utilities) in a shithole part of Hollywood.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Speaking of noir, adaptations of novels, and Bogart, I read that Dashiell Hammett envisioned Alan Ladd playing Sam Spade. Spade *was* described as looking like "a blond satan" complete with goatee, so I can kind of see his point. Obviously, once you've seen someone play a character it's usually hard to unimagine it (law of primacy and all), but do you think Ladd would have been a better Sam Spade? And what do you think of Alan Ladd as an actor? I've only seen him in Shane, and supposedly he had a brief and uncredited appearance in Citizen Kane as one of the reporters, but that's pretty much it.

Also, is there an ETA for the posting of your short films, or is it too early in the process to say?

Out!
Mike

Dear Mike:

I believe the first film is digitized and will be up within a week or two. I'm going to post them one at a time. Alan Ladd was an honest-to-goodness movie star with a lot of screen presence and very little range. I don't think he could come within a mile of Bogart's performance, which is far more nuanced than anything Ladd ever did. Also, Alan Ladd has very little sense of humor, whereas Bogart clearly has a good one, and it comes through all the time.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I just rented "The Player". Which I think is one of Robert Altman's best films. Obviously one of his most famous. But I watched a biography on him and its really interesting what he did with that movie and how he does most of his films, mainly with improv and all of his tracking and dolly shots. I probably didn't get alot of the inside jokes. But it was a really well put together Hollywood movie apparently how Hollywood seems to be. I was just wondering if you liked it since you seem to hate most Hollywood movies to come out in the past 10-20 years.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

It was pretty good. Certainly Altman's best film in about 20 years. And it does give you something of a sense of the film business. Sadly, I didn't really care about the plot, with poison pen letters and the threats. And, as I recently mentioned, there's a cut in the big opening shot, when it moves down to close-up of the letter on the ground, which sort of negates it from being compared with the other big shots that are being discussed by Fred Ward and the other guy.

Josh

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

Howdy Josh.

Just read "Wandering" in the Very Old Stuff section, and wanted to tell you I really dug it. As an L.A. resident, it's amusing to think about how little the experience of being broke in L.A. has changed since you wrote this in 1981. Still a filthy, sleazy place as hot as hell and filled with degenerate scumbags. I think you captured it perfectly. And a $9 bag of pot?! How good was the stuff? L.A.'s known for having some good shit, but that price seems awfully bargain basement to me, even for '81. Also of interest was the part where you're at Cantor's Deli and Milton Berle sat in the booth beside you. Uncle Miltie, eh? Pretty cool. Legend tells that Milton Berle had an enormous penis, I'm talking John Holmes-like proportions. His penis could have probably reached you from where he was sitting! A little weird, but all the same, fascinating stuff.

Thanks for sharing these old writings. I'm reading the screenplay next.

Your friend,
Bird

P.S. Big Ups to Scott for helping to put your short films on the site. I look forward to seeing them.

Dear Bird:

Yeah, $9 for a bag of pot, those were the good old days, and it wasn't bad. I probably just went in with someone else on a $35 bag or something. Hell, when I was in high school, and I was dealing, I used to pay $100-150 for a pound of very good pot. Now it's over $400 an ounce for good shit. Meanwhile, that was a really awful little period of my life in 1981, living in the fucking Hollywood Bowl Motel. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed
"Wandering."

Josh

Name: Riddley
E-mail:

Josh,

If someone wanted to invest in one of your projects, would you be willing to allow the film to be produced through their production company instead of yours? How much control would you be willing to give up in order to get a screenplay financed?

Riddley

Dear Riddley:

That's what I just did with "Alien Apocalypse." It was produced through the executive producer's company. Once they've purchased the rights to the script, it's theirs and they can do whatever they want to it. I was only asked to add one scene, which was fine with me. But now they're talking about adding some shots to act one, which I don't agree with and I told them so, but that doesn't matter at all. The film is theirs and they'll do what they want. If I want complete control I must produce the film myself.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Just saw something good last night. No it wasn't THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (though I saw that too), it was South Park's THE PASSION OF THE JEW. They released the episode on dvd to whore off the jesus movie and its one of the funniest episodes I've seen yet. I heard you don't really watch that show, but the it gets really funny at Season 3, then keeps getting better and better each season by laying on the social commentary (from Eliot Gonzalez to Bush's Election). By season 7, they start ripping the war a new asshole (one episode is a take-off of Post-War Looney Tunes with Osama Bin Laden as Elmer Fudd. Another one has Airport security so tight, Mr. Garrison gets really pissed off with the wait and creates a new mode of transportation to drive the airlines out of business. 600 miles per hour, 200 miles to the gallon, all you have to do is sit up and down on a dildo for gas, take a dildo in the mouth for throttle, and pump dildos for steering... and everybody buys it cause taking it in the ass is a much better alternative to waiting through the airline security. Anyways, the passion of the jew has Kyle getting traumatized after seeing the jesus movie (he was let in despite the R-Rating because the ticket taker thought everyone needed to learn the lesson of Jesus), Kyle denounces his faith as a jew and tells Cartman he was right for ripping on him. Cartman starts praying to Mel Gibson and calls together all the hardcore christians to spread the message and put all the jews in camps (only he doesn't call it that, he says "what needs to be done" and speaks german, the christian all assume he is speaking aramaic (I forget how its spelled) and start repeating it thinking they're going to spread the word of jesus, and follow him down the street like a bunch of nazis. Meanwhile, Stan and Kenny go see the movie and track down Mel Gibson to get their money back for that awful snuff movie. All the religous people claim you can't hate the movie cause its jesus and it really happened. Then they find Mel Gibson and he turns out to be a wacky psychopath jumping off the wall like a gremlin spewing lines from his movie in his underwear. He chases them all the way back to town. Kyle goes before his synagogue and asks everybody that they don't have to believe Jesus was the son of god, but apologize for his gruesome death. Everybody freaks out stating the movie stereotypes do cause anti-semetism (all said by the worst jewish stereotypes), and march to the theater to get the movie removed. Everyone gets in a big fight as the christians think its a good idea for the jews to apologize... in pops crazy Mel Gibson in his underwear spouting gibberish and smearing swastikas on everybody's doors with a piece of his own crap. Everyone sees what a nutball he is and realize they've been fighting over THIS crazy guy's movie? Then they come forward with a message that its more important to follow Christ's beliefs than be guilted into following by his death and blaming others. Then Mel Gibson craps on Cartman when he tries to pray to him. Oh well, made me laugh. Just bought Lunatics for 20 bucks on Amazon... but it was used and supposedly in good condition, there's a few more left though if anybody is interested.

Dear kdn:

Yeah, I saw that episode when it was on. Very funny. I liked the fact that the film keeps making the kids barf, and you only hear the soundtrack which is non-stop whipping and screaming.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Dear Josh:

How do you feel when they change your words or the tone of your script? I've directed a few videos, plays and radio plays and find myself pretty protective of what I've written, especially if I believe I've written a scene with a clear purpose. How do you do it?

Dear Brett:

Getting a scene to play and come to life is far more important than sticking exactly to the script. This all shakes down very clearly in rehearsal, where you play with each scene until it seems to work. If there's important information or plot set-up that's being lost, I'll have them put that back in. There are some actors that simply can't say the lines as written, but they know exactly what the scene is about, they know the basic meaning of all their lines, and are giving proper ques to the other actor, so what the hell. A lot of the very good actors are like this. It's like a rehearsal technique that Arthur Penn mentioned, that after the first read-through of the script, when all of the actors absolutely don't know their lines, he will often take the script away from the actors and have them run the entire thing again to see if they have the meaning of the scene without the words getting in the way. As a director you must do whatever you have to do to get your film to come alive, and just making the actors stick to the script verbatim usually won't help.

Josh

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

Josh,

As you know, I have been watching a lot of film noir stuff lately, and among the ones I have been watching I just realized that I recently watched "The Big Combo", "The Big Heat", and "The Big Sleep". I called it my "Big" two weeks, since Lucas arrived as well.

I had never seen "The Big Combo", but it was my favorite and it was shot by John Alton. Next to this film I have to choose "The Big Heat" as my second favorite and I though Glenn Ford was excellent in that film. He played a sensitive family man and a tough guy angry cop really well.

I hadn't seen "The Big Sleep" in many years, and even though Bogart has some great lines and presence, I found this noir film to be my least favorite and the story was too disjointed in many ways.

I wanted your opinion on that and what you felt about "The Big Heat"?

I also agree with you about Don Siegel's version of "The Killers". I prefer it to the 1946 Siodmak film and it really wasn't over lit as much as I remembered.

There is a great audio by with Don Siegel on the DVD where he discusses just about every aspect of the film including Ronald Reagan and his unhappiness with being connected to the film, since he never wanted to be the villian, but he was pursuaded to do it.

Speaking of unhappiness, this Republican convention is making me sick. These speeches are so full of shit it makes me want to puke all over "Arnoooooold".

Scott

Dear Scott:

I loved "The Big Heat" as a kid, and I still like it now, but it didn't hold quite as well as I would have liked. But I saw it the first time when I was about twelve, and the whole Lee Marvin character putting out cigarettes on a girl's hand, then throwing a pot of coffee into Gloria Graham's face seemed really awful. I like Glenn Ford, I think he was generally pretty good."The Big Combo" is a solid, low-budget film noir, and I think Joseph Lewis really knew what he was doing. I don't even think "The Big Sleep" is film noir. It's a detective film, which can cross over into noir, but I don't think that film does. Even though Bogart makes a first-class Philip Marlow, it's ultimately a silly film. You still need to see the Anthony Mann film noir pictures, like: "Desperate," and "Side Street," and "Raw Deal." Really good stuff.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

How much does a film resemble it's script's final draft or even the shooting script? How often is the final draft changed to an extreme when progressing on the shooting script? And, how much is added when you shoot that day?

BG

Dear Brett:

The only difference between the final draft, which is not a real term, and the shooting script is that in the shooting script the scenes are numbered. As to how much a director strays from the script, which doesn't happen all that often in TV, is really up to the director. On Xena I used to change a lot, but that's because I was friends with the executive producer and could get away with it. Most directors didn't change anything. On my independent films I've always given the actors a fair amount of leeway to change their dialog as long as they're not changing it too much. If you watch "Running Time," then read the script, as an example, you'll see the difference.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Yay! I can't wait to see, "The Blind Waiter". It was one of the first of the shorts you mentioned in your short film essay that grabbed my attention. It just sounded great. And just like TSNKE I love to see Sam act. He was even great in "Indian Summer" which I thought was fun, but only for Sam. Alot of dragged on and wasn't as funny as I was expecting.

Now I guess my question of the day is... Have you ever written some of a screenplay drunk? If so, how did it turn out? I've tried that once but got really bored real quick. I guess I write better sober.

Once again I can't wait to see all of your short films up here. And I wanna send a quick thank you to Scott, cause he's the man for being able to do this for everyone.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Yes, it was very nice of Scott to do this. Thanks Scott.

I'm not all that good at drinking to start with, and I can't write when I'm drunk. I've certainly tried, but it dulls my brain and makes my hands and fingers uncoordinated. Drinking, though, has worked for quite a few other writers over the course of time, like Eugene O'Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Bukowski, to name but a few. My feeling is that you must do whatever you have to do to get the writing done. Coffee, cigarettes, and pot work for me, so I basically abuse them.

Josh

Name: John Parett
E-mail: jpnoor@parettlines.com

Dear Josh

It's something to consider, but usually a theme is more than one word. To think that something like "chaos" or "trust" is a theme isn't quite enough. The idea usually stretches to a fact verified by the story, like as in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, "Man's heart of darkness is revealed when most social constraints are removed." Or in To Kill A Mockingbird, the theme is resoundingly remembered through the mockingbird's presence -- "there are things too precious to be kept locked up."

Just a thought.

Dear John:

Considering that most films don't have any theme at all, one word is a whole lot better than nothing. Also, films are not as dense as books, and are generally much more structured and much more pointed than books. I'm not sure what you mean exactly by "The idea usually stretches to a fact verified by the story . . ." A theme is the reason why the lead characters are doing what they're doing. If your theme is strong enough it will cover more than just the lead characters, but the second-leads as well. My favorite example is "The Bridge on the River Kwai" because it's theme, which is one word, duty, covers a half a dozen characters. But each character looks at a different view of the duty. A supposed theme like, "there are things too precious to be kept locked up," won't do you the slightest bit of good while you're writing, nor do I think it actually functions as a theme. What does that phrase mean to Jem or to Atticus? What does it mean to the man on trial? What does it mean to Boo Radley? A good, workable theme means something to as many characters as possible. It is the connection, the glue between the characters. What you're putting forth is not a connection, it's just a statement.

Josh

Name: Brett
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

That kind of sucks. Those are films I'm recommending. But obviously anything I've put forth is without value. So here's a real question.

What's your process for answering questions? What interests you (which letters do you post and why) and how much research goes into your answers?

Brett.

Dear Brett:

But I'm not asking for your recommendations. I watch the movies I want to watch and I don't need your help. I answer most of the questions that comes through, just not the ones I find boring. You may have noticed that I didn't post several of your last queries, that's because they bored me. This Q&A isn't here for you to prove you've seen a lot of recent films. So what? Is there something about filmmaking or the film business you'd like to know? I'll be happy to do my best to give you an answer.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

Been trying to think of movies I've liked in the last few years that I think were a little better than the rest and I came up with these: the aforementioned Frailty, The Life of David Gale, Identity, Changing Lanes and....there are others.
David Gale was an intriguing story and while Kevin Spacey wasn't at his best, I was fascinated to learn what happened to his character. It seemed to lack focus though. I don't think Alan Parker really knew what kind of movie he wanted to make and so it was forcefull in parts but splintered down genre lines
Changing Lanes was a smart thriller and few people I know who have seen it thought it was dull which is a pity since Sam Jackson does some great work and I can tolerate Ben Affleck. Oh how I loathe Affleck...

I'll try to think of more.

Dear Brett:

Don't bother, I don't give a shit. I don't care about these films. If you have a legitimate question, or you have something you really want to say, or have a film you really want to recommend, fine. But you just keep writing in and babbling.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

What are your thoughts on the Oscar-winning German film "The Tin Drum?" I see it on your favorites list, and you mentioned it a few years ago on these boards as one of the most important films of the late 70's. I always thought it was a daring, startling, surreal, and very funny film. One of my personal favorites.

Dear DS:

I haven't seen it since it came out, but I went back and saw it twice at the time. I found it very disturbing, and quite a bit of it has stayed with me over the past 25 years. A truly weird, fascinating film.

Josh

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

Josh,

When I was in Australia, my friend and I took a cab home one night after pub hopping and the guy driving the cab was kind of young.

We struck up a conversation and it turned out that he was an ex-Rugby player, and he was only 27 (A year younger than I was at the time).

He proceeded to tell us that he had to retire because he had too many injuries, then he went on to tell us how many bones he had broken.

I lost count after about the 5th injury when he told me he broke his back. That was enough for me. He had one of those beaded seat rests in his cab. I thought shit, this guy is going to be in a lot of pain when he is like 50, but he was one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, however, that was how most people were there.

I have to say that I have seen rugby matches and even though they are not constantly punching each other like in boxing, it sure does give boxing a run for its money as being a knock em up sport.

Unlike American football, they wear little to no padding, and the highest paid Rugby player in Australia at the time (1995) was earning about $100,000 Austrailian dollars which worked out to be about $70,000 US. They play because they love to play.

I can't stand watching American Football. There was a time when College football was exciting, but not anymore. Professional American Football is the Equivalent of watching baseball on TV or watching grass grow which may be more exciting.

As for Bill Maher's comment, it goes back to what we were talking about how far he goes sometimes with his comments, but he speaks his mind and it's his show, so that is how it goes.

I know he wasn't happy living in NYC anymore and when he moved to L.A. he became an asshole towards NYC which was really stupid on his part, but L.A. can have him and I agree with you, it can sink into the fucking ocean and I wouldn't care either.

BTW, your fans will be seeing the first of the series of your Super 8 shorts "The Blind Waiter"on your site very soon!

Scott

Dear Scott:

Regarding "The Blind Waiter," I tap the ends of my finger together like Mr. Burns, "Excellent." Rugby is a tough sport, but you still play rugby. Nobody's ever been taken off the rugby field and straight to prison, at least I don't think so. I also just like the word "scrum," which is what they do at the beginning of the play. They all put their heads together in a circle, then toss the ball inside the circle. There's also no time-outs, which seems very cool. Time-outs are a bore and they make basketball and football go on forever.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Just wanted to chime in on the attention span of gnats thing. I wonder if it isn't a lack of good writers as much as it's a lack of good publishers. If everyone out there has micro-attention spans the publishers are going to find writers to cater to that market. It's a direct corollary to the lack of good movies these days. I've no doubt that there are very good film makers and writers out there - but without the means to get their work publish, or to get their movies funded, we'll never hear about them. Frankly I think that's an even greater sin than releasing utter drek like "The Chronicles of Riddick" or the latest ghost written non-novel. Market-force driven censorship is much more harmful to the arts than allowing inept people to helm multi-million dollar projects, or crank out millions of copies of craptastic books. At least give us a choice!

So that's my $.02

Carry on, man!
Mike

Dear Mike:

Publishers are just failed writers. And they're just variations on the theme of film studio executives, who are constantly trying to figure out what "they" want, as opposed to ever figuring out what they themselves want. Trying to predict trends or to cater to the mass unwashed is a waste of everybody's time.

Josh

Name: Brett
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

What are your preferences for aspect ratios? Do you think any offer certain characteristics not covered by the others? Any good examples?

P.S.
As I remember from my reading, wasn't Ben-Hur in the widest field at 2.75:1 in it's 70mm print?

Dear Brett:

I don't have a preference in aspect ratios, I like them all. It depends on the subject matter. I shot RT at 1.33:1, an aspect ratio that hasn't been used in a long time -- all old movies before 1953 at at 1.33:1. I haven't yet had a chance to shoot widescreen 2.35:1, although I've shot two films at the standard 1.85:1, which I like, too. 2.35:1 is the most impressive, and probably the most wasted because it's the most difficult to make use of. It's rather difficult to compose shots in 2.35:1, particularly close-ups. If two people are standing right next to each other it's very difficult to get singles, or individual close-ups, without including the other person. "Ben-Hur," meanwhile, was shot in the short-lived MGM Camera 65 process -- 65mm negative, 70mm prints, and anamorphic squeeze and stretch lenses -- which gave you anywhere between 2.35:1 to 2.76:1. The only two films shot with this process were "Raintree County" in 1957 and "Ben-Hur" in 1959, then the process became Super Panavision 70.

Josh

Name: Warren Serkin
E-mail: wizardbard@comcast.net

Dear Josh:

I did a holiday in NZ Jan 2002 and went back in June to look for a job (after being downsized). The only thing on TV was rugby and cricket. I tried to watch a cricket match but fell asleep after about 5 minutes. I asked one of the locals to explain the game but was more confused after the explanation than before. I think I'll stick to football.

Dear Warren:

They can't explain cricket, but they do love it. But I have a problem with all games, which I find boring. That's why I like boxing, it's not a game. You play basketball, you play football, you play rugby, you play cricket, but you don't play boxing. It's the only sport where someone dies doing it almsot every year. One boxer, James "The Harlem Hammer" Butler, lost a fight and as soon as the gloves were taken off he went over to the other fighter and sucker-punched him, breaking the guy's jaw. Cops jumped into the ring, handcuffed Butler and he was taken straight to Riker's Island Prison, where he served four months, then was suspended from professional boxing for three years. Is there any other sport where if you do off the clock what you just did one minute ago on the clock they take you to prison?

Josh

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

Josh,

Well, I mostly drank beer at the Cricket matches I attended, and that was fine by me. However, since the matches can last for days, they have to serve tea, but that is England for ya!

lu and I went into Manhattan yesterday to pick a few things up at the baby store which happened to be smack dab in the middle of the protest. I twas pretty cool to see so many people protesting and with little incidence. I wish the rest of the country felt the same as much of NYC.

There are many more protests planned this whole week. As for me, I am always protesting, and I have been listening to a lot of Roy Harper's political songs lately and that helps fuel the cause!

No More Bush!

Scott

Dear Scott:

I was a bit shocked this week when Bill Maher, whose show isn't coming back together this season all that well, said that everyone in NYC should riot and throw chairs through Starbuck's window. Not that it's a bad idea, but it was still shocking for him to suggest it.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Do you any funny stories about raising money for your films? like maybe lunatics or running time. Also, how well did those films do at the box office, I'm curious.

Dear kdn:

Both films played for one week at one theater in LA, what kind of box office receipts could they possibly have? Besides, the second "Lunatics" was completed it was purchased by Columbia, who didn't release it theatrically, then did a really shitty video release. They have licensed it to cable TV numerous times over the years, but I have no idea what revenues that has generated. Between the video release and the IFC licensing. RT has done all right. Its video deal is about to expire and the distributor wants to renew, so it will make a bit more money now. There's very little that's funny about trying to raise money, it's a gruelling, awful, soul-crushing
experience.

Josh

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

Josh,

Well, the stodgy Archbishop of Canterbury can have his opinon, I enjoyed> the Cricket games I watched and I also learned how to use the Cricket bat which was pretty cool. The game is only similar to basball in that you have a "bowler" (pitcher) and a "batsman"(batter).

That's it really. In baseball the batter is the offense and in Cricket the batsman is the defense and has to protect the wicket.

I don't agree with you that "everyone" has the attention span of gnats. This is the negative Josh coming out.

I know quite a few people who have great attention spans and concentration and get things accomplished. In NYC they are difficult to find, but fortunately, I have met some.

Scott

Dear Scott:

All right, Mr. Optimist. Meanwhile, I got stuck watching a few cricket matches and they made baseball look like the most exciting sport of all time. I love the fact that during a cricket match they'll just stop and have tea, which is served on silver carts. So, you NYC people, get out and protest the Republicans. No more Bush!

Josh

Name: Chris Gay
E-mail: cgay@nyc.rr.com

Mr. Becker:

Enjoyed reading some of your work on your web site. Question: Have you attracted any interest in "Devil Dogs"? I'm a journalist who also has written a feature-length screenplay based on an actual event in World War I, a fantastic story that I'm surprised has never made it onto the screen, and wonder if you have any advice as to whom to pitch it to. Do you know any production houses or referal services that specialize in historial drama?
Also, I have a minor suggestion for your "Head Shot" script if you're interested.

Sincerely,

Chris

Dear Chris:

The only place that makes historical dramas with any regularity is TNT, and their stuff is shit. And films don't get made from people sending in scripts or pitching, sorry. As horrible as it seems, if you don't have the proper contacts yourself, then you need an agent. As for your script suggestion, go ahead and send it. What's your WWI story about?

Josh

Name: Lilia
E-mail: ephany9@excite.com

Dear Josh:

First off i just wanted to congradulate you on your directing/writing talent. I love everything you've worked on. I cant wait to get a hold of Alien Apocalypse...im sure it will be great like always.

I was catching up on my Xena news when I read that you were recently shooting in bulgaria. I was in Bulgaria on vacation with my friend for the entire month of june. My friend is a international student in the u.s. (drama major)and stayed in Sofia visiting family for 2 1/2 months. We both speak perfect english!!! I wish i had known you were there! Many of her friends speak english also...Did Bruce go to Sofia, because i could have sworn i saw him walking down Vitoshka St...I was just wondering what your impressions were of the country. I dont know many americans that have been there. I personally had a great experience. Loved the food. Did you happen to have lunch @ Happy or eat the ice cream from the streets? haha, I loved it. Bulgarian feta, lioutenitza and rakya...hmm.

Dear Lilia:

Yes, Bruce was in Sofia, he starred in "Alien Apocalypse," then he stayed on after me and starred in and directed "The Man With the Screaming Brain." I was there for seven weeks, and Bruce was there for eleven weeks, so you might well have seen him strolling down Vitoshka St. I was staying two blocks off of Vitoshka, on the street with the American Embassy. I liked Bulgaria very much, particularly all of the little cafes everywhere and the people all over the streets, and the good-looking gals with their very high-heels walking on cobblestones. It was a good experience.

Josh

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

Josh,

I can see you are very passionate about what the definition of storytelling really is! You don't have to convince me.

Without getting into a debate of what storytelling is or is not, I can only say that the reality of life now is that Video Games are becoming the preferred entertainment medium for many of the younger generation.

I believe from the inception of MTV combined with the Internet and Video> Games we have succeeded in creating two generations (starting with mine) of people who have the attention span of gnats. I believe this contributes to the reason there aren't many very good writers anymore. They don't have the focus to sit down and formulate a decent story or their influences just aren't strong enough to inspire one.

I played a lot of different board games, card games, outdoor games(Remember Jarts Or Croquette?)Over the years, however, there are only a few games I enjoy playing now, "Scrabble", Euchre (a Card game), Poker, and sometimes Chess.

I had a friend, who was really into "RISK" as well, and he would have people over to play, but I never got into that too much.

I don't like to watch sports on TV with the exception of soccer and I grew up playing baseball until I was 21 (I was pretty good), but the only time I would ever watch it now is at the stadium, it bores me on TV. Oddly enough, I have been to two Cricket matches and I enjoyed them very much.

Scott

Dear Scott:

As the Archbiship of Canterbury said, "Cricket is organized loafing." I can't think of a duller sport to watch, personally. It keeps seeming like it will break out into a baseball game, but doesn't. And the matches go on for three days! Meanwhile, I didn't say that video games aren't entertainment, I said they have nothing to do with storytelling. Video games are not an extension of movies, they're simply games, like all other games. Video games are no better or worse than checkers. And let's face it, most people have the attention spans of gnats.

Josh

Name: Sofia
E-mail: sofia.stenroos@mhskol.aland.fi

Hi Josh:)

If you haven´t read Michael Moores book called "Stupid white men"... Read it..!!! And are the Raimi clan jewish, I`ve heard rumors about it on the Internet. And is Sam still toturing Teddy, if so, why, how? Does Andrea, Ivan, Sam and Ted have good relationships with eachother? What do you mean when you say that Andrea was, you know, like an Hell´s Angel? What the f*** did she do? I need some new ideas..........
Spank You

Sofia

Dear Sofia:

Yes, The Raimis are Jewish, as are the Beckers. Regarding their relationships with one another, that's their business. I didn't say Andrea was like a Hell's Angel, I said she raised hell, along with my sister Ricki. So did I. It was the late 1960s, early '70s, and it was a wild and crazy time. But it's not for me to be revealing Raimi family secrets.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

What do you think of "Dogma 95"? I've been reading about it and about their vows of chasity and I think it would be fun to try it but it's gotta be hard as hell. It's got so many rules you must follow. I was wondering if you'd ever think of directing a "Dogma 95" movie?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Their concepts about story and character are fine, their ban on tripods, dollies and Steadi-cams is stupid and something I could never pay attention to. How each shot is set up matters. The Dogma 95 folks don't believe in the visual side of film, and that's too bad. That was also John Casavettes' view, but I don't buy it, even though I respect Casavettes. I think he achieved a unique visual quality in spite of himself because he happened to be a very good, steady cameraman.

Josh

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

Josh,

While you and I frequently disagree, I appreciate the fact that you believe that Freddie Mercury doesn't need his own biopic. People equate dying of AIDS with some kind of heroism which, regardless of one's views, it is not. Unless I misunderstood your comment. . .

Ben

Dear Ben:

You did. I don't care what he died of, he was a singer and rock star, which is not necesarily good material for a movie. What would you end up with, some guy faking he's Freddy Mercury while lip-synching "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Then he dies a protracted, miserable death. It sounds awful.

Josh

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

Josh,

This discussion of Music videos is a valid one, since I did a few back when I was shooting and it is a medium were there are definitely too many cooks in the kitchen and they all come out looking that way.

Then there is either the band who is really cool to work with and enjoyable on the set to the band or group who are miserable and want to take control of the shoot or don't show up on time etc...

When I did watch music videos years ago (in the mid 80's through early 90's) I was always drawn to the ones which people considered boring, mainly because they were shot and edited well with some form of structure as opposed to the "Sloppy Joe" mentality of most music videos.

On the other hand, Video games hold no interest for me, but as a fellow editor friend of mine said "They are the new generation of stories and entertainment like motion pitures have been for the past years."

I think what draws many people to the new generation of video games is the interactive quality of the games matched with a story which is usually terrible, but now you don't even have to be in the same room with your friends to play these miserable games, you can link up your "X box" to the web and play each other on line. Just another tool to disconnect us to each other physically. Great!

Dear Scott:

I've got news for you and everybody else, video games have nothing to do with storytelling, they're an extension of all other games, like chess, checkers or tiddlywinks. Their games. Visually complicated games, but games nonetheless. I don't enjoy playing games and I never have, which always made me something of a pariah in my neighborhood. There was a daily Risk game going on at the Raimis, and I just never cared. I tried to take chess seriously for a little while, but grew weary of it pretty fast. The bottom-line is that storytelling is not interactive and it never will be. The person who is telling the story is active, but everyone else listening is passive, because the point of listening to a story is put yourself in the hands of the storyteller and let go. And during the course of a story there actually is a God, or an intelligence if you will, that's guiding the fate of these characters toward their inevitable fates. If I'm watching a good movie I don't need to help the filmmakers arrive at a resolution, they'll do it on their own.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think the Yimou sellout is just another sign of how American cinema is influencing international cinema. Foreign directors are growing up on the horrible American movies that get over there (typically our worst, since you dont need subtitles for explosions) and they think that this is what movies are supposed to be about. Plus this whole fascination with box office has crossed over, as if directors are now supposed to be part-time accountants. I bet Yimou did this film because martial arts is 'hot' right now, which is the worst reason to make a movie. And am I the only one out here thats really tired of hearing filmmakers these days cite Star Wars as a huge influence in their decision to go into making films? No wonder theres so much crap being made. I dont think I'm the most intelligent guy around, but the SW movies seemed lame to me when I was like 10, I liked the explosions but they just didnt do jack shit for me. I was watching stuff like Stand by Me, Goonies, alot of the 60s Disney live-action stuff.. I didnt have the best taste around, but I wanted to see movies about human beings that I could relate to. I always found the comic booky stuff to be.. boring. But now we have asian directors that grew up on kung fu and americans that grew up with star wars, so its no wonder their stuff is so bad.

Dear Jim:

Yeah, but can't at least some people try harder? Doesn't the word"integrity" mean anything to anybody anymore? When I was younger we used to level the term "sell-out" at artists when they took a stupid project for the big money. Now the point is selling out. The only reason to make an independent feature is to get to make "Free Willy 8." Modern movies suck because the people who are making them have no artistic aspirations, just monetary goals. Money is bullshit, and if the reason you want to make movies is to become rich, don't go into movies. We don't need you. Go into real estate, or investment banking. There are more than enough hacks working in the film business already.

Josh

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

Josh,

I've mentioned "War of the Buttons" before. It's a well-made film, I think, and it has a point to get across. Allow me to repeat my recommendation of it.

In the meantime, I was wondering what you think of "A Man For All Seasons"(1966). I think Scofield's performance was one of the great individual performances in film. I know the film won several Oscars, including best film and best director for Zinnemann, but I feel that it's a film which has largely been forgotten. "Season"'s portrayal of More is probably the most complex and, therefore, most admirable portrayal of a person with profound religious conviction. It isn't a popular subject these days, obviously, especially given that More was a Catholic.

A film in a similar vein, "Beckett", while a very good film (I loved the scene with the forks-as-daggers), failed for me to establish the depth of sympathy I felt for More. Something the film did very well was explain More's sense of conviction; his motivation for defying Henry. "Seasons" had a great cast as well; Orson Welles, Leo McKern, John Hurt, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport. Given your own profoundly secular outlook, I wonder what you made of the film? Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I think it's a really good film. I'm a big fan of Fred Zinnemann. Not only is Paul Scofield great, so is Robert Shaw as the King. As for More's convictions, I think they're ridiculous, but he clearly believed in them, and that's all that matters with a good character in a drama. I don't have to agree with him, I just have to empathize, which I did. I absolutely loved "Beckett" as a kid, and I'm not completely sure why. I suppose it must be the strength of their friendship. Both films are based on very strong plays, which helps immensely.

Josh

Name: tim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

you said you would like the 45 min version of "thou shalt not kill...except" on a new dvd. is there plans for a new dvd?

did you ever watch or like the tv series "kolchak the night stalker"> and/or "the x-files"?

also have you ever listened to screaming jay hawkins?

thanks

Dear tim:

Yes, there will be a new DVD of TSNKE, which will be in a 2-DVD set with "Running Time." No, the super-8 version will not be included. I liked the first TV movie of "The Night Stalker" very much, and it still remains for me the scariest vampire film of them all. I did not like the sequel, nor the TV show. I watched "X-Files" a few times and it was azlways the same story, which I found utterly wearisome by halfway through the first season. Yes, I've listened and own some Screamin' Jay Hawkins, although, quite frankly, I like CCR's covers of his songs better than his versions. Hawkins wrote CCR's first hit, "Susie Q," BTW. I enjoyed the use of Hawkin's music in "Stranger Than Paradise."

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

<< . . . No, I'd take the 1958 British version of the Titanic sinking, "A Night to Remember," and cut in some of the ship sinking scenes from Cameron's miserable piece of crap "Titanic.">>
I edited scenery clips from 2001: A Space Odyssey in there too. I should've edited out Bilbo. Oh well, I can wait till december. I like Frailty, but I like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER better as symbolic of good and evil purposes of religion. It (hunter) was a little choppy at the beginning, but it was better the 2nd time around. A lot of that film looks so chipper goody two shoes that its flat out shocking when Robert Mitchum brainwashes their mother and puts her at the bottom of the river. And I really love the scene where the Hypocrite Preacher is outside singing a hymn (for evil) and the Old Lady is inside singing the same hymn (for strength). That was a really good movie. Also Zhivago still rules.

Dear kdn:

I like "Night of the Hunter," but I do find it all kind of sluggish. I attribute it to the fact that this was the one and only movie Charles Laughton ever directed, so he didn't exactly know what he was doing. Still, for a first film it's exceptional. And Mitchum is great, as always. The car at the bottom of the lake is a terrific image.

Josh

Name: ChrisD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I thought I was the only one who thought the same way you do about music videos. Most are uninteresting to watch (because most music sucks these days anyway) and they're so uninteresting to make because of the reasons you cited. You can do anything and get away with it. It demonstrates nothing on the part of the filmmaker. Amazing the film industry of today holds these directors in high regard. I shouldn't be surprised though.

I find things to be ironic like you do. All I ever wanted to do was make movies and I 'trained' myself to do so, but it seems these days you have to do everything but make a movie or write a screenplay to show your abilities.

Comic books, music videos, video games. Those are the new 'training grounds' for movies these days. I have no passion for those things. I don't read comic books. I don't watch music videos and while I do play a video game here and there, I have no interest in making one.

The biggest thing that scares me though, is that the industry I learned to love and wanted so bad to be a part of isn't there anymore. So even if I did get lucky and 'make it' in the movie industry, it still isn't the one I grew up and read about.

It really sucks.

Dear ChrisD:

I agree. I fell in love with movies back when they used to make really terrific movies all the time. Now they don't make them at all. But you and I can't let what other people do or think effect us. I intend to make the films I want to make, and I have so far to a certain extent. If they don't fit into the scheme of things these days, that's fine. I don't want to fit in. And just as a side-note, I find it really depressing that Zhang Yemou is now making martial arts films, as he was one of the last filmmakers on Earth who was making legitimate dramas. I know I'm not part of the masses because everytime I see a clip from "Hero," with people flying around on wires just like "Crouching Tiger" (which I hated), and knocking away a million arrows with a sword, it looks SO stupid it makes my head hurt. And Yemou has already completed his next martial arts extravaganza. Oh my.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

What did you think of the use of the old "man who knows to much and confesses" crutch used in Frailty? I think for a film so reliant on the fully realized past, it should have remained there.

Did you see Wonderland yet? I fell asleep for 10 minutes and lost my damn place. At least Val Kilmer was pretty good...he irks me for some reason but turns out fairly strong work.

Dear Greene:

I must admit that even though I enjoyed watching "Frailty," it went in one ear and out the other. I tried watching it a second time and bailed before it got going. I did see "Wonderland," and I didn't believe Val Kilmer was John Holmes for single second. Nor did I believe Mark Wahlberg in basically the same part in "Boogie Nights." Neither one acts like a guy with 14-inch penis. John Holmes may well have been a scumbag, but he was clearly a bigger dude than Kilmer or Wahlberg. Anyway, there isn't a character to care about in "Wonderland," and it's all about these horrible junkie thieves. It did have the "Rashomon" structure of seeing the crime several different times from various POVs, which was sort of interesting, if unoriginal.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

At least BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and DR ZHIVAGO are all better than TROY, HIDALGO, LORD OF THE RINGS (I edited that movie down to 6:30 hours for a more three act structure... needs more trimming, I think I'll let everyone die at the end and make it look like they lose both battles. Return of the King got cut the worse) don't think of it as a loser with time on his hands, think of it as LORD OF THE RINGS EE doesn't have copyguard, plus its twelve hours long making it a editing exercise. If you can't edit 12 hours of footage into one funny 4 hour movie, what's the point of having twelve hours of footage in existence?... Okay, I give. You win. but my version was still better than jacksons.

Dear kdn:

I have no doubt your condensed version is better, how could it not be? Now if you can figure out a way to digitally replace Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, you might even make it good. If I had an editing system, I'd edit in the morning, I'd edit in the . . . No, I'd take the 1958 British version of the Titanic sinking, "A Night to Remember," and cut in some of the ship sinking scenes from Cameron's miserable piece of crap "Titanic."

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

Got back from the cottage -- was out there for the better part of the week, actually. We got in some flicks, mainly THE MEANING OF LIFE, FRAILTY, ANALYZE THAT, HELLBOY and a whole lot of Futurama, Season Three. I was disappointed to find upon further inspection how uneven The Meaning of Life was -- it's up there with And Now For Something Completely Different in terms of nearly no structure or sense of place....not to mention that, apart from a few brilliant pieces, most of the humour falls flat. Gilliam's design is pretty cool in the pre-show short, though. ANALYZE THAT defined the already redundant term "needless sequel" - the kind of movie that begs no more of the story than to see old characters return. Good sequels should bring about a new or continuing story that the audience felt was lacking in the last piece. Always leave them wanting more, of course. It's main problem is that it has no real act two. It remains in act one for nearly the whole movie, skips over any real conflict and zooms into some idiotic catharsis with Robert DeNiro and Billy Chrystal singing show tunes. What in the hell? FRAILY was a fairly good film, however, and dutifully removed the bad taste left by AT. Bill Paxton chose a nice subject and took on quite a role, but the way the film chose to reveal itself was hackneyed. Kudos to his storytelling, though. I was compelled to sit through it, at least. FUTURAMA...always a nice distraction and some hearty laughs. HELLBOY I'd seen twice already. It's a very very decent movie. And compared to some others I've seen recently, I'll take just decent as a happy qualifier. (We also revisted War of the Buttons -- I just love that damn flick! -- has anyone else seen it?)
.................................................
Also shopped at the local bookstore and now aim to have STANLEY KUBRICK: COMPLETE FILMS on my list. It's a beauty of a coffee table book with nice stills. There's a similar package for Hitchcock and Billy Wilder fans. Now if I could only get my hands on Eyes Wide Open and KUBRICK the book. Fascinating, yet crazy assed man.

I'm out of the vault!
- BG

Dear Greene:

I liked "Frailty." It creeped me out.

Josh

Name: Maria
E-mail:

Hey Josh...I just came back from Las Vegas, where they are hyping a new musical called "We Will Rock You" based on the music of Queen. It got me thinking that a biopic about Freddie Mercury might be a good one. What do you think?
Also, have you ever or would you ever consider directing a music video?
Love xxx,
Maria

Dear Maria:

I hate music videos, and I don't think it's humanly possible to display any talent "directing" a music video. Since there's no way to fuck one up, how do you know if it's any good or not? You just shoot a whole bunch of crap and the editor cuts it together any which way they want. And if you took every shot, threw them in the air, then cut it all back together in any order, it wouldn't matter at all. Music videos are no training ground at all for directing movies. As for Freddie Mercury and Queen, I enjoyed them at the time but I don't know why Freddie Mercury should have a film made about him. Other than singing in a rock band, what did the guy ever do, other than die?

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

what is it that you like about Lawrence of Arabia so much. I can't sit through that movie. I didn't care for peter otoole or the othe actors bland performances... but it did get interesting 3 hours into the movie when lawrence turned into an utter asshole. I liked the music. It wasn't a bad movie, I just couldn't get into it. I just watched Dr. Zhivago last night, and felt that film and Bridge on the River Kwai to be much more interesting (especially Zhivago, I loved the part where Klaus Kinski breaks the ice off the train door and all the houses have been torn apart for firewood by their owners, plus the lady uses a dead kid to get herself on the train). Also DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE was pretty funny, Especially when the wife starts dating other divorcees that have married and remarried and had kids to an obsurdity, and their so busy running around, they left one kid alone in the yard.

Dear kdn:

That was a funny scene. Meanwhile, i think "Lawrence of Arabia" is 100 times the movie that "Dr. Zhivago" is. I really never give a shit about Zhivago or Lara, whereas I really do care about Lawrence and Ali and Feisal. I must admit that I'm always a bit shocked by how embittered Lawrence becomes by the end, but that's part of what I love about it, there's no concession to what the audience may think. Near the end when they're hiding in the cave and Lawrence says, "I will take the Arab revolt into Darah," and someone says, "But you're not even an Arab." Lawrence replies, "Someone lend me their dirty cloak and I'll pretend." And that whole scene with Jose Ferrar, which is clearly leading to a gang-rape or something. It's pretty shocking stuff for huge-budget spectacle from 1962. I really do love that film.

Josh

Name: Curt Pennington
E-mail: WriterManX@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I'm just wondering if you've seen Lars von Trier's film "Dogville." In case you're not familiar with it, the entire film (set in a small town) was shot on a sound stage with practically no set; the "walls" of buildings are drawn onto the floor and the actors frequently have to open doors that aren't really there, etc. (in short, the film is essentially a stage play). What are your opinions of this directoral method? Do you think that such a minimalist approach can, in some ways, benefit a story?

Dear Curt:

No. Film is too literal of a medium for that approach. You can absolutely make a good film out of play, even a very confined play, but you have to approach it literally, me thinks. If it takes place in a kitchen like one of my favorites, "The Member of the Wedding," then shoot it in a real kitchen, or a believable kitchen set, which they did. But the bottom-line in filmmaking is, in my opinion, make me believe it and I can have fun, no matter what the story is. If I can't believe I can't have fun. Period.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Hey glad you liked the idea and hopefully we'll be able to see your short films sometime soon. Just got done watching, "Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except". That was actually a fun movie. The way you talk sometimes I keep thinking you don't like it that much, but I'm surprised. My friend Vittorio thought it reminded him of a feature length version of the A Team. And we both loved the really big black guy in it. Did you originally have Bruce in mind for the lead, cause it seemed like it might have been written for him specifically. Brian Schulz did a great job I think.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Yes, it was written for Bruce, and he played the part in the super-8 version, as did Sam. I'll post that film, too, sooner or later. Regarding my liking the film, it's my most extreme example of having one thing in my mind, and achieving something else on film. I simply didn't have enough money to pull off what I was envisioning -- like when Jackson, with Stryker on his back, attacks the village, he's supposed to have an M-60 machine-gun, not that silly weapon I whipped up out of nothing. I do think the story holds together, though.

Josh

Name: Sarge
E-mail: del23dtu@excite.com

Hi Josh;

So the dickwad Cheney is against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and believes the states should decide - which goes against scumbag bush and the platform of his party. How much do you want to bet that cheney will mysteriously have a "heart attack" or some "serious ailment" after the convention so the lying coward thief can replace him "honorably" with giuliani. The conservatives are furious with cheney because of this. Also, who wants to place odds on Bin Laden being caught before the November elections? You know damn well that that coward knows where Bin Laden is and is hiding him until October. That waste of a life has been caught in another lie(s)again with his denial of his involvement in the swiftboat ads. His henchman lawyer resigned because of it. That drunken piece of shit who got out of Viet Nam because of his asshole father DARES to criticize Kerry. Moveon.org has a great ad that they will be showing about republicans running for office and the hatred that they spew. It is brilliant.
Hope all is well with you and can't wait for "Alien Apocalypse" All of Renee's fans are literally counting the days for it to show.

Dear Sarge:

It's an amusing scenario, the Republicans dragging in Osama bin Laden on a stick at the convention, but I don't believe it for a second. Osama bin Laden has outsmarted us now a half a dozen times, and is a lot sharper than we all want to give him credit for. And if he wants to attack us again, he will, and he'll surprise us again, too. We might possibly have caught or killed bin Laden had we put half as much personnel, money and equipment into Afghanistan right away as we've wasted in Iraq, but Bush had his own personal agenda to deal with -- meaning Saddam Hussein -- and the security of America meant nothing to him. So he blew his chance to do what was right so he could pursue a course that was 100% wrong.

Josh

Name: Maria Mulroy
E-mail:

Hi Josh:

How about a few new movie reviews? You're so crabby, but at least you say what you think. I like that.

Have you seen THE VILLAGE? Opinion?

Finally, are any of your films available for rent on Netflix?

Maria

Dear Maria:

No, I don't think any of my films are available at Netflix. You could request them if you'd like, though. Sorry, but no films I've seen lately seem worth reviewing. No, I haven't seen "The Village." I just watched"The Outlaw Josey Wales" again, and that went pretty well. It's too long, and a bit wooden, but otherwise it's a pretty good film. Nice widescreen photography by Bruce Surtees.

Josh

Name: Peter McGarry
E-mail: pmcgarry@fmrealty.com

Dear Josh:

1. I have a great idea for a movie, want to pass it along to a screenwriter and don't want to have the idea "taken." a. How can I protect myself? b. How do I sell the idea?

PS. Q & A has interesting politics...I am copying a fwd I received today below...


FW: Impact Iraq

The following was compiled as of 8/25/04:
A. Taxpayer costs of Iraq War
B. Dead & Wounded - Iraq
C. US Personnel in Iraq
D. US Personnel in Afghanistan
E. Halliburton Revenue Report


A. Taxpayer Costs of Iraq War (Source: Washington Post.com):
1. Since January 2003: $150 Billion 2. Actual Cost per month: Projected between $4-5 billion (quick math: $4 billion = $129 million/day = $5.3 million/hr = $89,600/second) LINK: http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2004-06-16-contract_x.htm


B. Dead & wounded (as of 8/24/04)
1. Iraqi Dead : 11,600 (estimate)(Source: Iraqi Body Count.com) LINK: http://www.iraqbodycount.net/ 2. US Dead: 966; wounded: 6,497 (Source: CNN.com) LINK: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/ 3. Contractors Dead: 529(Source: USA Today.com) LINK: http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2004-06-16-contract_x.htm


C. US Personnel in Iraq:
1. US Military: 114,000 (Source: Global Security.org) LINK: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_orbat.htm 2. Military Contractors:20,000 (non-reconstruction personnel) (Source: USA Today.com) LINK: http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2004-06-16-contract_x.htm


D. US Personnel in Afghanistan:
1. US Military: 20,000 (Source: Global Security.org) LINK: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_orbat.htm 2. Military Contractors: UNKNOWN


E. Halliburton revenue report (Source: Money.com):
1. 3Q 2003 Revenue: $4.1 Billion (up 39% over prior Quarter) 2. 3Q 2003 Net Income: $58 Million 3. NOTE: Beginning in 2004 revenue forecasting ceased by Halliburton LINK: http://money.cnn.com/2003/10/29/news/companies/halliburton_earns/?cnn=yes

Dear Peter:

Well, thanks for the data. To protect your idea what you need to do is write it out as a story and copyright it. But you can't sell an idea, no one's interested. You most probably can't sell it as a treatment, either. You really need to write the script. A script can be sold, although it's incredibly difficult. But you can't even copyright an idea.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Its funny that you bitch about Pleasantville, I was at the premier in Austin. I think it was the world premier, gary ross was there. They showed it at the Paramount, where they show all the old movies that you like. I remember the projector breaking down three times in the middle of the movie. Gary Ross was so embarrased that the theater had the projector replaced.

Dear kdn:

Bad projection is heartbreaking. You work for years on a movie, then some inattentive asshole can really fuck your film up for you. I've had it happen many times, and very little in life upsets me as much. At the screening of "Running Time" at the Sao Paulo, Brazil Film Festival, the film starts and there's no sound at all. It just keeps going and going, and people are hollering in Portuguese, but nothing. Finally, ten minutes in the sound pops in. Meanwhile, they've locked the auditorium doors, so if someone has to go to the bathroom they must bang on these metal doors until they are let out. Since the film was in 16mm it was only on two reels, but there still needed to be one change-over between the reels. I thought to myself, "What are the chances of this schnook pulling off the change-over?" The chances were in fact zero. Reel #1 ended, the screen went white, flap, flap, flap, for about ten minutes. When reel #2 finally started, no sound. And I flew 11 hours to be there.

Josh

Name: Tom C.
E-mail: kisssucks@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

any idea if Lunatics is coming to DVD?

Dear Tom C.:

Still no plans for that as far as I know, but it's not like Columbia Pictures checks in with me.

Josh

Name: a liberal
E-mail:

Josh,

No questions, just a reminder for Ben: Jesus was a liberal. Not only that, he was a long-haired, sandal-wearing, establishment-defying liberal.

That is all.

Dear a liberal:

Yeah, and he was a Jew, too. And with that long hair, probably homosexual as well.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just did a search on the Internet for "bush iraq" and everything that comes up is liberal. 90% of what I read in the past two years, talks about Bush's mistakes, and if they seem to be non-partisan, they pepper the articles with words like "seems," "claims," "reports" when they talk about something Bush or Cheney said, but report Kerry's words as gospel. Many, many tricks of the liberal media. All this is largely irrelevant anyway, since I'm not voting for either Bush or Kerry. Michael Peroutka should be the next president.

The two liberals wasn't really a joke, and that's the scary part. Sure, it's meant to get a laugh, but it truly represents the liberal mindset.

And what ever happened to Air America? They haven't taken anything by storm, as far as I know. As long as Hannity, Rush, and Savage get more listeners, they'll be the voice of talk radio.

Ben

Dear Ben:

The internet is one thing, TV news is another. And there is no left-leaning TV news. CNN makes an attempt to be somewhat impartial, but they're still a mouth-piece for the white house. You didn't reply to any of my examples, which is basically everything in "Farenheit 9/11." Michael Moore wouldn't have had to make that movie if there was any TV news outlet that would show the footage, but they won't. Regarding talk radio, I can't stand it in any direction, right or left, so it makes no never mind to me.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

You are right about Bagala and Carville, however they have to share the stage with assholes like Robert Novack, and tucker Carlson. There will only be a fair counter balance if someone like Carville gets his own show. He's interesting, animated, and has good television presence. It's about time a loud mouthed liberal takes the spottlight to act as a voice of dessent against Republican smear campaigns like the swift boat ads. Schmucks like scraborough, and hannity have been championing those ads for weeks, and it's unfair that there isn't a single voice of dissent in the media defending John Kerry. BTW-I never understood what Tucker Carlson was going for with that dorky bow tie. I know it sounds shallow, but how can anyone take him seriously? Whenever he engages in an obnoxious rant, I can't help but to laugh hysterically because the bow tie looks like it's practically strangleing him.

Dear Scott:

It's his trademark, silly. What amuses me is that Carlson is clearly an intelligent guy, but to defend the Republicans takes such an incredibly twisted, tortuous mental path that he must always end up somewhere other than where he started. I do think the key to understanding the right is that they are basically frightened little children. Meanwhile, I wrote a letter to John Kerry yesterday saying it's time to take off the gloves, since the Republicans won't wear them, and start hitting these guys back, hard. Bush was given a mandate on 9/11 to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda, and he's failed at both tasks. Nothing more needs to be said. He was given a job, he hasn't done it, nor even given it a solid attempt, he's a failure, shit-can him. End of story.

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to Ben's liberal joke, it was terrible and he is a truly blind when it comes to the media in America.

Maybe that is why some developed European countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark have such great social systems because they don't treat humanbeings like shit, even ones with problems. Instead of conservative Amereica which tries to hide problems and "fight" for this and "fight" for that. Blah, blah, blah...

BTW Josh, you know that you could send your copies of your Super 8 shorts to me and I can transfer them properly and make quicktime movies out of them for you to post on your site? I have everything at my disposable at work.

It may take me a little time, but it's no problem.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Well, that's the best offer I've had all day -- actually, all week. If Mr. Pelzel here will be so kind as to do that, I'll post the shorts and anybody can view them who cares to. Scott, I'll call you about it. Thanks.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I was wondering what you thought of John Carpenter as a director? He does fall under the auteur theory, being a consistant storyteller using the same themes. I find his early films effective but not his recent ones. Are you a fan of Carpenter or Howard Hawks?

Dear john:

I'm a fan of Howard Hawks, but not of John Carpenter. He's made a couple of bearable movies, like "Escape From New York" and "Starman," but most of them are truly unbearable, and certainly nothing in the past ten or more years. Whereas with Howard Hawks, on the other hand, there are quite few of his films I like, such as" "Red River," "Scarface," "Rio Bravo," "Only Angels Have Wings," Sergeant York," "Air Force," "The Thing" (as producer), "Monkey Business," "The Big Sleep."

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I meant to say host your short films on your website... I know how music rights can be but from what I've known you can put them online if its for free and you're not selling them. But I don't know how hard it would be to transfer them from super 8 to the computer. Or if that's even possible.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

It's certainly possible, technically. I have all of the super-8s on video tape, so I would just have to have them digitized. Of course, I'm not technically advanced enough to do it myself, nor am I interested in paying for it. So there it is. But it's not a bad idea.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I was reading your article today about your short film experience. I also bought a book called, "short films 101" its pretty cool and helpful. My question is I would really love to see some of your short films. In particular, "Public Enemy Revisited", "Super Student", and the "Blind Waiter"... all of them sound just fantastic. Would you be able to find a way to host the short films? I'm not sure how they looked but I'm sure if you were able to it could be beneficial for some people to see.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Host them how? Where? The reason that our short films have never been released is that they were all scored with music from other movies. If you remove the music it ruins the films. I'm going this this nonsense right now because the super-8 film "Stryker's War," which stars Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, and is the 45-minute pilot version of TSNKE, really ought to be on the new DVD release of TSNKE, but Anchor Bay, the distributor, will not deal with the music. Their answer is just remove it, and that's why Sam has never allowed them to put the pilot version of "Evil Dead," called "Within the Woods," on the DVD.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

It's utterly ridiculous to hear that the media is largely conservative. Mainstream media -- newspapers, magazines, news television -- is predominantly liberal. You never hear anything that promotes conservative values. Rush, Hannity, Savage. . . they're all on talk radio, a medium which requires some degree of concentration, that's why no liberals have successful talk radio shows. You could count Air America Radio, boasting their full line of liberal commentators, but last I heard, they couldn't cover the payroll. Now I don't know if they're even around. Too bad.

Two liberals found a man in an alley, beaten within an inch of his life. One looks at the other and says, "We need to find the man responsible for this." The other nods back, "Yes. He needs our help."

Ben

Dear Ben:

You are a sucker of propaganda. Name one TV news organization that opposed the attack on Iraq? That cast the slightest doubt on the complete horseshit the Bush administration spewed previous to the attack on Iraq? Was there one single TV news service that showed Bush's seven minutes of panic in front of the class on 9/11? Is there one TV news service that ever mentioned the Bush family's connections to the bin Laden family? No, no, and no. There are no liberal TV news shows. Yes, there's still some newspapers, like the NY Times, thank goodness. But no TV, and other than the failed Air America, no radio, either. I'm sorry, Ben, but you speweth crap.

Josh

Name: Royler
E-mail: Royler20@aol.com

Hey, Becker,

No cutting barbs this time around. It would be inhumane. In an undated post, you write...

"Meanwhile, I don't think Bruce will ever condescend to being in Freddy vs Jason vs Ash."

I'll accept that you might not want to elaborate further and speak for Bruce, but...why the Hell wouldn't he? I enjoy Campbell's onscreen persona, but this guy has been in some of the worst dreck ever committed to film. If you have problems with stuff like "Kill Bill," I can't imagine formulating a defense for "Serving Sara" or "Icebreaker," brutally unwatchable movies.

So the rationale behind him turning down a nice paycheck for a big-budget studio film that actually sees a theatrical release would be what, exactly?

Dear Royler:

Here's how I understand it, and of course, if they offered Bruce a big enough check he might change his mind, but Bruce has told me on a number of occasions that the only way he'll make another "Evil Dead" movie -- the three most difficult films of his career -- is if Sam writes and directs, and Rob Tapert produces, so that it's a real "Evil Dead" movie. Quite frankly, I respect his POV.

Josh

Name: Gabriel K.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Can you think of an example of a movie that could have been even better with an enitrely different third act? For example, I loved "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", but I didn't like the turn the story took after Cody (Bruce Bennett's character) follows Curtin back up to the mining site. The sudden appearance of the bandits ("We are Federales. You know, the mountid poliss"), was a fine turning part, and beginning of the thrid act, but it could have been even better.

The two conversations between Dobbs, Curtin, Howard and Cody are classic script writing. So good, I wish there had been many more. Instead of the appearance of the bandits immediately after Cody's arrival, the story should have continued with the four men at the mining site. Although Dobbs is and will be entirely against it, with Curtin and Howard's reluctant acceptance, Cody will be allowed to stay. However, the tension between Cody and Dobbs will run ever higher, until reaching a breaking point. Curtin and Cody seem to think a like, and they will try to distance themselves from Howard and Dobbs. Thus we will have two competing factions ready to go off at any moment. From here things spiral out of control, with a bloody confrontation between Curtin and Cody against Dobbs and Howard. All four men end up killing each other. As the ending scene the bandits will discover the dead bodies of all four men, along with the stash of gold spread across the mountainside.

Dear Gabriel:

I see what you're saying, but I really think the story needs to boil down to only Dobbs and Curtin, which is why Walter Huston splits. It's the issue of you can't let him walk in front of you because he might jump out and cut your throat, and you can't let him walk behind you, either, therefore you must kill him in cold blood. That's pretty strong stuff. Two against two isn't as strong.

Josh

Name: Phil
E-mail:

Josh, did you catch "Roger Dodger"? Great dialogue. Because I visit your site frequently, I think you might enjoy it.

Dear Phil:

No, I haven't seen it yet.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I still find it hard to believe that people like John Rambo, as well as scores of others, are still swayed by Bush's lies, and the media's slanted view, but then it hit me. As you and I have mentioned before, the media is deviously conservative. If you look at most of the editorial shows, they all feature conservative mouth pieces, or moderates that attempt to stay in the middle, yet lean toward the right slightly. Aside from all of the idiot Fox commentators like Sean hannity, and Bill O'Rielly, MSN has Joe Scarbourough, and I believe they used to have that lunatic Michael Savage who called a gay man a sodomite on the air, then thankfully got fired. Hardball's Chris Matthews POV swings both ways, and Kieth Olberman doesn't take sides. My point is that there aren''t any commentators that represent the left, and if you can think of one let me know. Why not give Al Franken, or Howard Dean a show on MSN, or CNN to counter balance all of the president's celebrity mouth pieces, namely Dennis Miller. Bill Mahar is on HBO, but perhaps he should be on CNN instead. This will never happen of course because the Bush administration gives these media conglomerate's their tax breaks. Also, the media wanted the war in Iraq because they knew that people would watch, the ratings would go up, and the advertisements would pour in. My advice to John Rambo is always question what the media feeds you.

Dear Scott:

Yeah, man! Power to the people! Chris Matthews completely and utterly negated himself forever when he cut off Al Sharpton at the Democratic convention because he didn't like what was being said. Guess what, Chris? You don't get to decide what's news and what isn't. The Rev. Al Sharpton was a candidate for president, and was asked to speak at the national convention, you are nothing but a measly little newsman. Report the news. Let's face it, when your one claim to fame is that you're ill-mannered and won't let your "guests" speak, you haven't got much going for you to start with. But I heartily agree with you, Scott, there are no clearly left-wing commentators, other than Paul Begala and James Carville on "Crossfire." There's Bill Maher and John Stewart on cable TV, but that's not much.

Josh

Name: Steven Hardy
E-mail: himboy32@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Mr Becker.

My story concerns your latest project Alien Apocalypse, I read somewhere on the internet it is based on the Francis Ford Copola movie 'Apocalypse Now' is this true?

Thank you in advance for answering my question.

yours sincerely

Steven Hardy

Dear Steven:

Not in the slightest, other than the use of the word apocalypse in the title, which wasn't my doing. My title was "Humans in Chains." It's directly influenced by "Planet of the Apes," "Spartacus" and "Lawrence of Arabia," but I daresay it is its own animal.

Josh

Name: Stan Balin
E-mail: rfleming@tds.net

Dear Josh:

I'm currently writing the script for a film called 'Ex Oblivione' based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft (no one owns the rights to his stuff, so they're public domain) [Only Lovecraft's works prior to 1923 would be in the public domain by copyright law; Arkham House appears to hold the copyright to the remaining material. --webmaster] , and the majority of the film will be set in a golden valley, with forests and gardens. The problem is that I need to have the main character walk by a field of roses, but I can't afford to make a field of roses (even if they're artifical), so I need to know just how to create this setting on an extremely low budget. (And how to have "strange stars" in the background.)

Dear Stan:

You got a problem with special effects? I've got news for you, King Kong was only three-feet tall. Either have your character walk past a blue-screen and put the entire background in later, or have the character walk past an appropriate-looking field where roses and "strange stars" can be put in later. If you use the latter method, make sure to lock-off the camera on a solid tripod, then shoot 30-60 seconds of the field without the actor in it, which is the plate, then have the actor go through. I got a young computer geek kid to do my one digital effect in "If I Had a Hammer" for $500.

Josh

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

Josh,

I saw "The Adventures of Robin Hood" on TV yesterday; it had been a while. I've always loved the cast of that movie; Flynn, De Haviland, Rains and especially Rathbone and Alan Hale. Alan Hale always seemed to be having so much fun on a set, as, for that matter, did his son. I had never noticed before, however, that when Robin threatens Marion's guard after dispatching Rathbone, Robin's tin-foil sword is bent nearly in half. By the time he walks into Marion's cell, however, it's straight and steel.

I also watched, for the twentieth time or so, "Red River". There was some discussion earlier about Tom Cruise. Cruise should dream of being what Montgomery Clift was in that, and subsequent, pictures. My favorite performance of that movie was again by a supporting character; Noah Beery as "Buster".

Here's to great supporting characters,

John

Dear John:

Good films, the both of them. No, Tom Cruise can't come within a mile of Montgomery Clift. I think he was absolutely brilliant in "From Here to Eternity." As for "The Adventures of Robin Hood," that's studio filmmaking at it's best, and that early three-strip Technicolor is to die for. Personally, I don't think Alan Hale, Jr. is anything compared to senior, who was really something. Let's not forget Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck, or Claude Rains, either. I keep an eye peeled for the fake sword when I see it again, but I generally overlook such things because I know how hard it is to make a film without them.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail: dont_tear_my_sweater@yahoo.com

dear mr. Becker.
i was wondering just a couple little things. 1. is i read the making of lunatics and i was wondering if you and scott speigal ever worked out your problems.

and is the romor true that your co writing with ivan raimi, adam marcus, and jeff burr on the screen play for freddy vs jason vs ash? becuase i read part of the treatment and your name was on it.

and just one more thing.... running time kicked ass make more films like
that man!

Dear Dylan:

Where on Earth did you read that? I know Ivan, and I know Jeff, but I'm not writing anything with them, as far as I know. Scott and I worked out our problems by basically never speaking again. I'm glad you liked RT, we enjoyed making it.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I have just been contacted by a production company which wants to develop one of my screenplays and wants me to start re-writing it for them. They want me to meet some producers and Im asking if I should contact an agency regarding representation on this matter.
Can you offer any advice?

Regards
Keith

Dear Keith:

Dealing with agents is such a royal pain in the ass, unless you already have one, or know one, I wouldn't start up with some agent cold at this moment. Don't get overly excited and rush into a bad deal, either. Do they intend to option your script? If not, then they have no right to ask for a re-write. Get a contract before doing any work, or you'll probably be working for free, and that's never good and won't expedite going into production. You're worth exactly what you're getting paid, and if you're working for free you're worth nothing, and that's how you'll be treated. Use the Writer's Guild rules and minimums, if you can. WGA minimums are certainly a good basis to work from. As my late sales agent, Irvin Shapiro, used to say, "Get your money in advance, and be sorry later." This is in regard to points on the back-end, and anyone who gets their money in advance is never sorry later. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Buck
E-mail: buck@comicbooks.net

Dear Josh:

I saw your film Running Time on IFC and thought it was really quite brilliant. Do they give you any money when one of your films is shown on a movie channel like that? Man, I hope you get the chance to do another "continuous take" film like that... it was to cool of an idea to not try it again. I'm gonna try to find your film on DVD and then show it to all my friends... thanks for a great film!

Dear Buck:

I'm glad you liked it. Yes, believe it or not, cable channels do pay to show all those movies, even IFC.

Josh

Name: Ryan Phillips
E-mail: ryan_002000@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Do you think you'll ever do an African-American movie?
What about hooking up with Sam and writing the next Spider-man film.
There's talk about a Freddy vs Jason vs Ash. Have you written the screenplay for that yet?
Where can I rent or see your work?

Dear Ryan:

You can buy several of my films, but as for rentals, you'll have to do your checking on that. Sam is writing the next Spider-Man film with his brother, Ivan, with whom he wrote "Army of Darkness" and "Darkman." Sam and I have never written together. I did write one script that was mainly African-American characters, called "Hoops," but the script didn't turn out all that well. I guess I didn't know what I was writing about. Meanwhile, I don't think Bruce will ever condescend to being in Freddy vs Jason vs Ash.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I notice that Gary Jones has worked on your films all the way back to the beginning. What's his story? How did you and he first meet?

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Gary was just sort of hanging around our offices in Ferndale in 1983, and ended up doing some extra work on "Crimewave." Then we began putting TSNKE together and Gary came wandering into the office and said, "I do special effects." Scott Spiegel and I asked him a few questions, which Gary readily had answers for, so we hired him. Scott cut him a check for $50 for supplies and told him to make sure to keep the receipts, and that was that. Gary worked at the Lear car seat factory at that time making Fiero car seats -- 89 seats a day. I asked, "Why 89? Why not 90?" Gary replied, "Hey, you've got to draw the line somewhere." -- anyway, so Gary got off work at 3:00, then drove straight out to our location and did all of our squibs and explosions, which we'd save for the end of the day and Gary's arrival. That's why a whole scene will be in flat, gray light, then someone gets shot and the squib going off is in warm, sunset light. Gary then worked on "Evil Dead 2," and made the miniature cabin and the rubber trees that bang on it, which I think look really good. Gary was the FX supervisor on "Lunatics," which has a lot of all different kinds of FX: rear-screen, miniatures, full-size spider parts, giant brains, etc., and he pulled them all off for not a lot of money. Since I had been the original 2nd unit director down in New Zealand, when Xena started I got Gary the gig as 2nd unit director on the show, and he was really good at it, so he was promoted up to main unit director, did several Xena eps, then has been directing ever since. He did the FX and 2nd unit on "Alien Apocalypse," then did 2nd unit for Bruce on "Screaming Brain," is doing 2nd unit on "Puppet Master 8" right now, then main unit directs "American Black Beauty" next. Gary is a tremendously good-natured, extremely talented guy, who can handle anything you throw at him, and do it well.

Josh

Name: Aaron
E-mail: agraham83@hotmail.com

Hey Josh -

Recently re-watched some Altman films and was curious on your take on "The Player". I think it's up there with the best about-Hollywood films (such as "The Bad and the Beautiful, my favorite) and I don't think there's one character in that picture that isn't in the moviemaking business for any other reason than financial gain.

I think Altman went to hell after "Three Women", personally, and made only one exceptional film after that period (the aforementioned "The Player"). Now he's returned back to dreadful bores like "The Company".

Take care,
Aaron

Dear Aaron:

I think that's a pretty fair assessment of Robert Altman. I liked "The Player," although I was not blown away. I don't think it's in the same league as "The Bad and the Beautiful," which is a really terrific film. I'm not a very big Robert Altman fan, and I don't love any of his films. I do admire his tenacity, though. Just by the way, in the big opening shot of "The Player," when it moves into a close-up of the letter on the ground there's a cut.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Al-Qaeda was dealt a serious blow by taking out the Taliban, despite that some Taliban remain in the country. Despite what they claim they are weaker. A number of high-ranking leaders from their evil organization have been captured or killed. Bin Laden will be caught or killed (or he may kill himself). It's only a matter of time. I'm definitely very sad about the casualties in Iraq but you asked what good these two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) did.

Let me ask you another question. After Saddam was toppled, Libya was scared enough to back down and put away their own WMDs. Libya was one of the biggest supporters of terrorism in the 1980s and is still dangerous. Don't you think this was good?

Also I don't expect to go on as long again but once you mentioned about my
questions containing phrases such as "Thanx 4 U" which you discouraged, so I hope my grammer has become more impressive.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Your grammar is fine. Libya was of no threat to anyone after George Bush, Sr. bombed Tripoli and killed Kadafi's daughter. That was 14 years ago. Getting Libya do surrender what they had left of their defunct WMD program was purely political, and was mainly the doing of Kadafi's son, who wanted the embargoes and trade restrictions on Libya lifted. I assure you, nothing we've done in Iraq, nor Libya's giving in has made us the slightest bit safer. The Bush family is in bed with the bin Laden family and has been for 30 years. I don't ask a lot of our leaders, just that they not be in bed with our worst enemies, is that too much to ask? And I ask even less of the vice-president, just that they not be completely corrupt assholes in bed with the most horribly corrupt giant business, like Cheney is. I honestly and seriously believe that to support Bush-Cheney and to vote for them is the single most unpatriotic act you can do. To vote for Bush is to say you hate the USA.

Josh

Name: Gareth
E-mail: garethgazz@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

I need to make the audience care about a huge group of individuals in my story, and wondered if you knew of any books that give good character building/developing advice and ideas. Or if you have and hints yourself.
It is a WW2 story about a British platoon but I don't want to make the mistake Black Hawk Down made (too many nameless men we couldn't feel sorry for getting killed).
I know the WW2 craze has been done to death lately but this is for myself,
although i still want it to be good!
Cheers,

Gareth

Dear Gareth:

You may want to read my script "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood," where I was confronted with the same issue -- fleshing out a platoon of characters. There's no other way than to sit down and figure out each guy's bio, where's he from, how old is he, did he graduate high school, has he started college? Etc. Once you've done that, every scene will make a lot more sense. Since you're working with Britsh characters from the 1940s, you might want to read something from that country and period. I read WWI novels by John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway while I was writing my script, just to get a feel for the time and place. One book that immediately comes to mind is James Clavell's "King Rat," which is mainly about British POWs in Singapore during WWII, and Clavell had a real knack for bringing out the nationalities of characters. Good luck.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

This is most likely a dumb question, since you've been so damn busy...but were you able to buy Harlan Ellison's EDGEWORKS, VOLUME 2-the one with SPIDER KISS in it? I remember you telling me you were searching all over the place, and didn't have a copy of it.

Like I said-SPIDER KISS is easily among Harlan's best work. It is dark, brutal and in-your-face. Anyone here who hasn't read it MUST read it. A true gem from one of the masters of story-telling.

I'm halfway through Harlan's EDGWORKS, VOLUME 4, and damn, this is incredible stuff. It reminds me I have so much to learn as a writer.

Lastly, I saw this cartoon, got a big laugh, and I figured I'd pass it along to you.

The link:

http://www.cartoon-artist.com/gif.Images/xena.gif

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I still haven't read it. I will, though, sooner or later. I just reread "Dangerous Visions," Volume I, which was pretty good.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Lol about the crazy Xena fans so they came after you too? Oh man! I don't blame you for not having much sympathy. I've heard about those crazy ones, some very disturbed people. Glad most of the real nutty ones look like they've left by now. Although there are still close-minded bashers, I defended you and your very creative and funny Xena episodes against the remaining nasty sentiment when I saw it recently, and I've always defended Lucy and Rob against that vile pernicious element since I became aware of it. I always thought it was a shame I wasn't involved enough in the online fandom earlier as I definitely would have felt the same way if I had seen the vileness. Some of those people on the boards are really jacked up, and the degree of nastiness existing within the fandom for years and its malicious influences are very upsetting.

Anyway, you have good points as always, but I don't really watch much FOX News actually. I understand it has a more conservative slant which would be more supportive of the president, which is what you mean I think. I watch some news here and there but see a lot of current events on msn.com. Anyway, did some checking, and Prime Minister Allawi, the Interim PM, is head of the legitimate government there, a democracy. The insurgency is definitely a big problem. Just today I heard a group of insurgents mentioned they would not cooperate with him. Well the insurgency stuff is definitely a problem, but I don't they'll last. I think we'll win. They're fanatics, but they don't have rule of law. The main problem as I saw it was that there are more insurgents than expected, about 20,000 I heard, and they have access to too many weapons. That does not look very promising, but I think eventually they will all be dealt with and democracy will prevail, and things will get better. It's a matter of time. But of course the loss of lives to our troops and everything is very saddening.

As for Afghanistan, checked that too, and you are right that the new government is still Islamic. However, the Taliban is no longer in power, and has not been since we took them out in fall 2001. Unfortunately there are still some elements of the Taliban and insurgents in the country, but the Taliban itself is out of power. The current government, while admittedly Islamic, is still better than the evil malicious Taliban. I expect things to get even better as there was a transitional phase I think, and there should be more democratic elements in the current government in the future hopefully. Anyway, that is an improvement (at least the Taliban is out of power), though of course there is still a lot of poverty, lack of skilled and unskilled labor, infrastructure, and dangerous land mines everywhere (but of course a lot of these conditions already existed). So things can get better. It needs more time. Anyway, a lot of this is mentioned in the CIA's World Factbook if you consider some news stations to be unreliable. If the Taliban had taken right back over, the war would have gone on until they were gone, because that was the deal after the September 11 attacks, no more Taliban. They were smashed, out of power.

Anyway, about that poll you conducted in Bulgaria that is pretty disappointing. Are you serious? I know there is some sentiment that Bush is seen as a cowboy doing things his way, and I actually found that kind of amusing (as in for instance the film Eurotrip where the kids go to Europe) as that is what Hussein said if I am not mistaken. Well, it is unfortunate, but I say do what's right and let the world follow our example as best as we can set it. It's true that Bush and his administration take a more unilateral approach, but that is a very active, take-charge style and I think it is all the more appropriate given the world's situation and especially after the September 11 attacks. I understand that others perceiving America as arrogant can have a negative effect, but I don't think that for a minute we should doubt that doing all we can to ensure our security and that of the world's should take a back seat to worrying about what some nations think about it. Of course we should always strive for a positive image, but you can't please everyone right. And of course, not all nations see us that way. Some supported the war in Iraq, some didn't (for various reasons). Despite your poll, Bulgaria as I understand it definitely did. In fact they were kind of seen as a little America in those regards if I remember correctly. So I think, anyway, despite some people viewing us that way that our safety is more dependent on destroying terroristic and totalitarian regimes that can condone, sponsor, or support terrorists.

So if I could pose a question, do you think that if things improve througout the world, with more democracies and less governments that may support terrorism, that those people around the world who might see us negatively now may change their opinion? And, of course, even if they didn't, in my opinion our security is definitely more important than worrying about it.

Also by the way this is off-topic but I did a little research and it appears I displaced or damaged my jaw joint which led to what they call TMJ or TMD (Temporomandibular Dislocation I believe), as the symptoms all seem to match to a tee almost. Now all I have to do is have it treated I think. Groovy man! I've vowed never to do anything like that again lol.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

You do go on and on. After 9/11 America had one job and only one job to do -- destroy Al Qaeda and catch or kill Osama bin Laden. In three years our intrepid cammander-in-chief has accomplished neither. Attacking Iraq was a complete and total mistake, and had nothing to do with the very clear goals that had been set for us. Therefore, the Bush administration has 100% failed at their duty. We are now embroiled in a complete fucking mess in Iraq, where we presently have 1,000 soldiers KIA, and 6,500 casualties (which means 30% of those soldiers are dead, too, meaning there's actually over 3,000 dead American soldiers), and probably in and abouts 100,000 dead Iraqis, and it's all for nothing! The war was with Al Qaeda and bin Laden, remember? He blew up the World Trade Centers, and it remains unavenged. Saddam Hussein did nothing except thumb his nose at us. There were and are no WMDs, nor was there any attempt by Saddam to build them in over 13 years. Can I get it through your thick fucking skull that George Bush is complete failure as a president, and a worse failure as commander-in-chief. The Taliban is not destroyed, Afghanistan is not a democracy, Iraq is not a democracy, and we are in no way safer due to Bush's thoughtless foreign policy, which, as Walter Cronkite said, "Attacking Iraq is the worst foreign policy decision ever made in this country." What part of George Bush being a complete fuck-up do you not understand?

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I finally got to check out your friend Gary Jones' movie "Crocodile 2: Death Swamp". It was fun for the lil horror flick it was. The story was eh but Gary's direction was pretty cool. I liked a lot of the shots and one of them actually made me jump which I was surprised. It was also cool to see Martin Kove back in another movie again. Have you seen it yet? Did you watch it with Gary? You don't have to comment on it if you don't want to.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't seen it, nor does it seem like it would be my cup of tea, either. But Gary's a terrific guy, and I'm sure he did as good as humanly possible given the material he was working with.

Josh

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

Howdy Josh.

This Greene fellow makes my stomach hurt. There hasn't been a film version of Catcher in the Rye because J.D. Salinger refuses to allow one to be made, or any other adaptations of his work for that matter. Ever since a 1949 film called My Foolish Heart poorly adapted his short story "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" he has vowed to never let it happen again. It has nothing to do with filmmakers' lack of balls. Plenty of hacks have dreamed of capturing the beauty of Catcher on film, but Salinger has the good sense to realize it would be a futile attempt. I hope his son and daughter respect his wishes after he passes away and continue to stop any efforts to make movies out of his work. Seeing as how his son Matt Salinger played the title character in a horrible Captain America movie, I have my doubts.

Changing the subject entirely, I just viewed my new dvd of Steven Spielberg's DUEL. I enjoyed it immensely, especially seeing Dennis Weaver as a scared yuppie coward. I got to know him as a tough cowboy in CENTENNIAL, so it was interesting to watch his performance. What do you think of DUEL, Josh? I thought it was a silly little movie but it sure was a lot of fun.


Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

"Duel" is a really wonderful piece of low-budget filmmaking, and certainly one of Spielberg's very best films. Between "Duel" and "Jaws" I think he shot his wad. I really like Dennis Weaver as the crazy hotel manager in "Touch of Evil," (which seems like the inspiration for "Psycho"). To me, "Catcher in the Rye" doesn't even seem like good movie material, since so much of it is in Holden's head. As I mentioned, I think there's an interesting film lurking in all of the Glass family stories, "Franny & Zooey," "Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters, and "Seymour, an Introduction," and a few of the stories from "Nine Stories." Nevertheless, I have np problem with Salinger not letting anyone film his writing because the chances are very high it will be ruined.

Josh

Name: Henry
E-mail: gangeship@toures.com

Dear Josh:

Have you ever read the excelled short story Paul's Case by Willa Cather? It's a beautiful story and very filmic, too. If one had the money to recreate the term period, one could make a very successful and touching film...Cather's words are so evocative, after all. Although to say, I thought so too of John Irving's works. Then I saw the films adapted from the books!

Dear Henry:

Yes, I've read "Paul's Case" several times, as I have with all of Ms. Cather's short stories. They actually have already made a film out of it, which was pretty good. It was for PBS. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "One of Ours," would make an interesting movie, but it's never been made. John Irving isn't in the same league as Willa Cather. When they film Irving's books you then get to see his plot deficiencies very clearly, which he's pretty good at hiding with his writing. I think one of his early books, "The Water-Method Man," would make a decent film. John Irving's book about the making of "Cider House Rules" called "My Movie Business" was very interesting.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Dear Josh:

I read back awhile ago you guys were talking about Birth of a Nation. Just wanted to mention there's a great collection from the Disney people that includes some propaganda gems. One is about the indoctrination of the Nazi regime into school children. Who knew Walt could do it? ;)

BTW on the quest to find good recent movies....I really like The War Zone (1999) and Love Liza (2002) although for me, the one flagship thing keeping the latter up is Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance. Lost In Translation (2003) was a good little flick about a quick romance during Japan's crazy nights and Bill Murray is pretty charming, but aside from that and some very pretty shots, it's a rental.
And Josh, in Canada, we have a similar service called Zip.ca which ships four DVDs at a time. You can try (and will most likely turn up nothing) to find a true gem called War of the Buttons (1994) on Netflicks. Love that one to death.

Dear Greene:

"Lost in Translation" was absolutely terrible, with a truly shitty screenplay. It winning Best Screenplay was the worst case of nepotism ever in Oscar history. Bill Murray sleepwalks through the film and Scarlett Johansen is a total nobody. I really hated it.

Josh

Name: Jasper Jenkins
E-mail: jasperonfire@clubdefone.com

Hey Josh

What is some music you like? I ask having just heard Mona Lisa and the Mad Hatters by Elton John, Just Like Honey by Jesus and Mary Chain, Between the Bars by Elliott Smith and Karma Police by Radiohead.

Dear Jasper:

I like jazz, which I'm listening to right now, like Stan Getz, (early) Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Paul Desmond. I also listen to '60s and '70s rock & roll, like ELP, The Beatles, David Bowie, The Moody Blues, King Crimson, Santana, Bruce Springsteen.

Josh

Name: Boyd
E-mail: boyd@jarrardanthony.com

Dear Josh:

www.leedsanimehorrormusicfest.co.uk
putting on my first film festival... im showing evil dead courtesy of anchorbay films uk..... i would love to show your work. do you have a film that would fit with the mood of my festival... and can you give me rights to show your film... and can you send me a copy on dvd...
yours

Boyd

Dear Boyd:

You can show my film "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except" if you'd like, but you'll have to buy your own copy 'cause I'm not sending one.

Josh


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