Q & A    Archive
Page 126

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

Josh

Someone should tell that to the other patrons - my lungs were nice and pink and healthy and now are charred quite black. No smoking indeed.

When do you think gratuity in nudity or sex is warranted? I believe there was a post a while back about Monster's Ball and I agree it was needed because the characters of Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton needed it - sex was character development. Any comments or ideas? Because as much as a little skin is good to get you through a bad movie, sometimes it's just unnecessary (see Swordfish).

Dear Brett:

I don't understand what your first line is regarding. Personally, I don't like shooting nudity, I find it stressful and embarrassing. Particularly this silly, unwritten rule that it's okay to show tits and pussy, but not cocks, and never an erect cock. On that level it's pure exploitation. I have nothing against sex scenes, per se, but if I never see another sex scene in a movie, with all sorts of close-ups of skin against skin so you don't even know which parts of whose body is touching the other one, it will be just fine with me. I say, put in sex scenes when it's necessary to the story.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I agree with you about films looking the best they can and as you know I love great cinematography, but I still feel that it must compliment the story and not just be a visual jerk off.

As far as "Running Time" goes, I believe your choice to shoot black & white was indeed a good one for that film. It is my favorite film by you, and I believe that the black & white images enhanced the story much more than color, and far more than shooting it on DV.

Funny, a friend of mine and I were talking the other day about shooting films in black & white and it is odd to me that more people don't do it anymore.

I am sure much of it has to do with the fear of Hollywood and distributors not picking films up shot in B&W., however, "Pi" was shot in black & white and on a bigger budget "Ed Wood" as well.

Also, the most recent Guy Maddin film "The Saddest Music in the World" was shot in B&W and painstakingly shot in the traditional style of the films from the 30's and 40's. It was an interesting film.

One of the reasons I decided to get into to this line of work was because I was in love with photography and visuals, and I love black & white photography.

To me, shooting on DV is not as exciting or as challenging as shooting with film. Like a painter choosing their subject, the lighting, colors, brushes , and canvas, experimenting and developing my eye with shooting film is far more rewarding than shooting DV, and when I have he opportunity, I would always choose to shoot film over DV.

Scott

Dear Scott (ie):

You don't seem like a Scottie to me, you seem more like a Scott. Anyway, as much as distributors bitch about black & white, and they do, if the film is good enough they'll take it, like "Pi" and "Running Time." The second you throw in the towel on the visual side of filmmaking, you may as well get a job in a hardware store because you shouldn't be making movies. DV is the modern equivilant of super-8, it's a great way to learn your craft, but it's not of a high enough quality to really sell. Honestly, super-8 looks better than DV.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<And it's over nine fucking hours long!!!>>
twelve if you count the finished cuts of the movie (ee). to say its one movie is bullshit. Its three completely different stories held together by a midget with a magic ring. I've seen them cut together. If it was one movie, it wouldn't switch stories 3 hours into the movie. That's not story-telling, that's pulp fiction. You cannot have a three hour act one, three hour act two, and a three hour act three. As you stated, it's like a joke, you want to entertain people with it. Its like you telling that joke about the bimbo and alligator, where the first three hours focus on the alligator, the second three focus on the blowjob, and the last three focus on the bimbo. only toss in video game soldiers getting stomped on by elephants.

Dear kdn:

I think it's a perfect example for where we are right now, art-wise. My friend in LA and I have been chuckling about for years that all movies reviews now begin, "Sure, it was horrible, dreadful bore, but the special effects were great." "No, the characters meant nothing to me, and I left the theater six times for more popcorn, but the photography was gorgeous." We've gotten to a point where the best movies made are hammered shit, and that's sad.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<And I can stump you and everybody else a thousand times in a row if I care to. So, please don't send these silly trivia questions.>>

fair enough, man. fair enough.

<<Although I will readily admit that question #2 is a good one. I once again assure you and everyone else I'm not looking in any books.>>

And thank you, thank you very much. Yes, there's no chance in hell that I would know half the shit you'd ask. I just saw the documentary Empire of Dreams (up until they hit the Empire Strikes Back). It was interesting. They didn't sit around talking about the hype or how good their movies were, Lucas talked about the shit studios gave him on THX and AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the political state of the 60's effect on film (like MASH or DEATH WISH). And how all the problems on the first star wars were making it go over budget, he couldn't get a good cut, the actors couldn't read his lines convincingly, everyone didn't take it seriously because it was a kids film, the studio shut it down, and he had one week to finish it, and the special effects weren't going as planned. It's kind of sad though, you get the feeling Lucas had all these great movies in him, that Star Wars was only meant to be one movie, then it took off, and he started making crap like WILLOW, and HOWARD THE DUCK, and THE NEW STAR WARS. I only like STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (actually, I thought the Empire was better, instead of blowing up a death star... which I thought was kind of boring but obviously ahead of its time, they had an ending where the lead characters where screwed over and one hell of a cliffhanger. Then they replaced the drama with RETURN OF THE JEDI and those goddamn prequels)

Dear kdn:

"The Empire Strikes Back" was released while we were doing pick-ups shots for "Evil Dead" in Marshall, Michigan in ealy 1980. So after shooting all night. the cameraman, Tim Philo, and I drove all the way back to Detroit to catch the very first matinee showing, then we both promptly fell asleep because the film is such a bloody bore. I don't think "American Graffiti" holds up very well, either. And "THX 1138" just sucks. So, basically, I'm completely underwhelmed by George Lucas, who I don't believe had much talent to start with. And those last "Star Wars" films are some of the worst shit ever committed to film (yes, they were shot HD, but then were burned to film).

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How's it going? I hope everything is cool and groovy! I was wondering, on Alien Apocalypse, will that be released on video or DVD anytime? I heard it will be on the Sci-Fi channel. Very cool man!

Also for Scott on the political thing, I can look at issues different ways, but I suppose I have my own reasons regarding the president. His approach seems tough and that's what I want. Sorry to disappoint. I totally understand the Hollywood perspective though, I can be quite liberal myself.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

"The Hollywood perspective"? I live in Detroit and Scott lives in Brooklyn, what's Hollywood got to do with it? If you think attacking the wrong country makes us tough, you're just not thinking clearly. To the Arab world we don't come off as tough, we come off as complete idiots. We Americans may not be able to tell Arabs apart, but Arabs certainly know that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are very different people. The entire Arab world is very clear that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, so us attacking Iraq for no reason only makes us come off as confused morons who seem to enjoy killing any Arabs at all just for the fun of it. The more we make ourselves hated around the world, which our needless attack on Iraq has amplified at least 1000 times, we are that much more prone to terrorist attacks. Considering we are doing as badly as we are in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we don't even come off as competent warriors, let alone as tough. Bush is only considered tough by those who are not paying attention, and that doesn't include anyone outside of America. I will give Bush that he's unwavering -- he makes every decision wrong, then sticks to it like glue. Whereas rational people. when they see they've made a mistake, change courses. I don't know if you have kids or you know any kids, but a vote for Bush is saying that you want to see those kids humping M-16s in Baghdad, you want more unemployment, and a higher deficit. That's what you're voting for.

And yes, "Alien Apocalypse" will be out on video and DVD from Anchor Bay Ent. after it shows on SciFi in January.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

not to prolong this whole dv vs. film debate any more, but I've taken workshops with a number of hollywood DPs and the concensus seems to be that DV or 35 is where things are going. The only reason to shoot on 16/Super16 anymore is if you plan on having your film blown up to 35 and shown in movie theaters. If your final goal is to have you movie shown on someones tv (or digital projector) its kind of silly to shoot it on 16mm since quite a bit is lost in the video transfer anyway. With DV you light to the monitor, know exactly what you're getting on set, and (at least with the newer DV cameras) get an image that is of about the same resolution and color depth as a 16mm video transfer. With 24P and low-end HD cameras selling for less than 5 grand now, the direct to video market and tv movie will be primarily shot on video soon if not already in many cases. My local video store stocks all sorts of shitty b-movies that were shot on 24p digital cameras. I rented this equipment for $500 a week last spring and I think the images looked great. With a 24 fps and 1/48 shutter speed, it is very close to film look. The highlights and shadows are still weak, but I assume that will be improved as the chips get better. Theres no question that projected, 16mm looks a hell of a lot better than DV. But on a 27" tv very few people will notice the difference. I've shot on super8, 16, and a variety of DV cameras. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but I love the control that DV cameras give me during production right through to post. To some extent its what you're more comfortable with. I know I can get a certain quality out of a DV camera consistently. With film I have to rely on a number of different people and companies to get things right.

To give an example of how this lack of control in film gives me agita:
I recently got out of a one-year film production program. The final semester involved several groups of filmmakers going out and shooting short film projects we developed in a script class. 3 films were shot on DV, 3 on film. The first one on film cost around $5k. It was a stop motion film shot in 16mm (vision 2 stock). It was a grueling shoot that went on for weeks. Director got his film back, half the frames were totally fucked because the camera (an Arri SR2) apparently had a malfunction where every other frame only moved half a frame up and blurred. I dont know all the details other than he blew $5k on something essentially unuseable. Another classmate shot on B&W super16, another $5-$7k movie. Professionally lit, shot, etc. Only to learn most of the film was shot out of focus because the lens was not properly fitted. It looked perfect through the viewfinder, so apparently it got screwed up somewhere else. And then just recently a friend of mine shot his color Super16 short and had light leaks because the casing has some sort of crack in it. I'm willing to admit that these guys might be complete idiots. And probably exceptions to the rule. But I dont want to have to worry about that shit. I just want to see what I'm getting when I shoot it and know that its not gonna get fucked up along the way. Maybe I just don't have the balls to shoot on film when I've got that kind of money on the line. If I was working with professionals, I might think differently. but as a low-budget filmmaker I'm working with whoever is available, talented, and cheap. Often times that means eliminating any possible fuckups. And I still see shooting on film as having more potential for major fuckups.

Dear Jim:

There's no question about it, film is harder to shoot than DV. To say that you "get an image that is of about the same resolution and color depth as a 16mm video transfer" on DV is flatly not true. There is a world of difference between the images. If you shoot HD, that's another story. But DV still looks like a news report or a reality show, and film looks like film, even on TV. As low-budget as my friend Paul's movie is, he'll still have an easier time getting people to look at it, and festivals to show it, since it's on film and has a lot of photographically beautiful images, which are fairly easily achieved on film, and very difficult to achieve on DV. And if you end up making a direct-to-video deal, with no advance (which none of those folks pay), you're not even going to make back five grand. This will all change eventually, but it hasn't yet. If guys like Roger Corman, Charlie Band, or Jeff Franklin are still shooting the lowest-end films on 35mm, that's because they have to to make sales, and the people who buy the movies still demand film. Jeff is actually about to shoot a movie on HD, but it's pre-sold to a low-end TV channel that doesn't care, and they still have to bring a special DP to light it. So, DV-wise, HD is the very minimum right now, and a channel like SciFi, after one bad experience with HD, won't even use that. The bottom-line is that if you want to get out there and compete and actually sell your film at the film markets, like AFM, MIFED, or Cannes, the first question a distributor will ask is, "Was it shot on film?"

Josh

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

Josh,

In response to Richard's comments about LOTR; First, my guess is that we'll see much more of the same. "Sky Captain" is similar in that it's essentially a cartoon done on computer with a few live actors. It's probably similar in other ways but I, with any luck at all, will never know.

As for the story, I happen to be someone who has read all of Tolkien's published work. Like many other stories, LOTR does not lend itself well to a screenplay. This is true of a lot of science fiction. I never thought that "Dune" was well-suited for adaptation, for instance, and there are two lousy versions of it to bear me out. Someone seems to think that "Ender's Game" will adapt well but I don't think that will translate either. Inner dialogue, a staple of science fiction, is difficult to sustain on film. For all the accolades "Blade Runner" garnered, the fact is the director didn't know how to handle the inner dialogue question either and so released two versions. "2001" was a film which handled introspection well, but it was a one-in-a-thousand film by a great director at the height of his powers.

Isn't Peter Jackson now remaking "King Kong"? That, surely, is the mark of a great director. I wonder if Kong will climb the as yet unbuilt "Freedom Tower". I wish there was someway we could sue these people for destruction of cultural property.

John

Dear John:

Really. If there's one thing that this world certainly does not need it's yet another remake of "King Kong." Since I couldn't even finish "The Hobbit" I can't say whether Tolkien's books were suitable screen material or not, but I found the films unbearable. I loved the book "Dune" and it didn't translate to the screen at all. I caught the last two minutes of the film the other night (waiting for whatever was starting next), and it really does have the most absurd last line of any movie ever. The midget girl exclaims (with no earlier references), "He is truly the Kwisatz Haderach!" Fade out. Wow! No that's something you can discuss over coffee later.

Josh

Name: Danny
E-mail:

Josh,

When you are trying to secure name SAG actors for your indie projects, how do you go about contacting them? I mean, do you pitch your idea to their agents, or do you try to reach them through their publicists, or their lawyers? What's the best approach in your opinion? An example: How would you reach Sylvester Stallone to discuss a role in your Devil Dogs' film if you got funding?

Best of luck to you!
Thanks so much,
Danny

Dear Danny:

It wouldn't be me who was contacting him, it would have been the executive producer, who happens to be buddies with Stallone's manager. But you need an agent or a lawyer to contact the actor's agent. Meanwhile, unless you've got financing, and can prove it, the agent will not forward your script to the actor. No actors will read scripts without financing, and a real offer, not even good old Bruce Campbell.

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I'm not receiving an advance upfront. Perhaps I shouldn't say *distribution* so much as they'll be representing the movie at the different film markets. They've stated they'll sell the movie overseas but I'm not expecting much. I don't have delusions of grandeur at all, most of the films this company distributes are that of what you see on "Showtime Extreme" and the like. They accepted it in June and I'm just now getting all the legal things together. I let you know how things pan out.

I totally agree with you about Roy Jones. I can't think of one his fights that I consider memorable. I always thought he took the fights of least resistance but was a great talent nontheless.

I'll disagree with you on Mayorga-Trinidad though. Mayorga did, in fact, defend the belt twice (the 2 bouts against Forrest were both title defenses/unifications as he originally won the WBA belt from "Six Heads" Lewis). I think he's got the same macho but inconsistent mindset of Roberto Duran in that he can get up for the big fights (Lewis,Forrest) but really can't get up for the lower profile bouts (Cory Spinks really wasn't highly touted until after he beat Mayorga.) Trinidad has, in essence, been inactive for three years. I didn't think he looked so hot in his *farewell* fight against the Frenchman Cherifi, his legs looked really stiff. Add another two years of rust to that version of Trinidad and I think he'll get clubbed down by Mayorga's caveman technique.

I have somewhat of a legal question for you and would appreciate any input. I'm interested in the prospect of writing a screenplay based on a true story of a boxer. About a year ago I approached some members of the Jerry Quarry family about prospectively writing a screenplay about his life but they told me the rights to his story had already been sold (evidently a script has been written but there are no takers to produce it.) There is another living fighter whose story interests me but he has pugilitic dementia. Question is, can a person write a true story screenplay about a public figure without that individual's/family's permission. I ask because I know that you "Devil Dog's" is based on a true story and perhaps you have some insight on the above.

Best,

Rich

Dear Rich:

But I wasn't writing about anyone living in "Devil Dogs." The story takes place in 1918, so everyone of those folks are long dead. Sgt. Dan Daley has been dead since 1936. But if you write about a living person, you do need their permission. You're not thinking about Oliver McCall, are you? What a looney-toon. His craziness completely freaked-out Lennox Lewis the first time, although Lewis beat him easily the second time. And the reason I'm going for Trinidad is because he's much smater, and a far better boxer, than Mayorga. Ricardo Mayorga, like Mike Tyson, comes into the ring with Plan A, and that's it. If Plan A doesn't work, he's fucked. Tito is marter than that, and brains are more important than brawn. Tito should be fighting Corey Spinks, but maybe that'll come next.

So, you don't have a distributor at all, you have a sales agent. From my experience, and I've got a sales agent in LA right now that is actually making sales on two of my films, these guys NEVER RETURN ANY MONEY EVER. I think film sales agents would cut their own wrists before ever returning any money under any circumstances. I think it's written into their corporate bylaws. This has been my experience with two out of three sales agents.
Good luck.

Josh

Name: Sam
E-mail:

Josh,

If someone gave you the funds to make three of your scripts, which one's would you pick? And, what kind of budget range would you need to make them good?

Dear Sam:

I would make "Cycles," "Devil Dogs," and "Head Shot." The budgets depend on the casts and the approach.

Josh

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

Josh,

The DV debate posts keeps a comin'. I just want to say that I use the program "Magic Bullet" at work for color correction work as well as other things and yes it is a relatively cheaper alternative to shooting film on the surface, but in the end it only enhances what is already shot and the time consuming chore of enhancing the footage in post doesn't really save you that much money unless you have someone that knows what they are doing and doesn't charge you or you do it yourself.

As you mentioned earlier, if the footage is shot well and the story is solid, there is little need to obtain the film look other than distribution which is the bottom line at this point if you want your film to get out there.

The problem is that no matter what one does to DV, it never looks better than film or even close even with the use of programs like 'Magic Bullet".

I was reading a good article a couple months ago with various female cinematographers which there are very few), Carolyn Chen of whom I have worked with in NYC made a good comment about shooting film in the article.

She said, and I am paraphrasing "On one hand it is exciting to embrace the new technology which is offered to filmmakers in the realm of DV and on the higher end HD, since it gives everyone access to go out and get creative and make their own stuff, however, it is also a bit disconcerting to know that many of us have spent much of our lives developing our craft and learning to expose film and interpret light, then have someone come in and believe that they can get the same effects with a DV camera."

I believe that statement is something that I feel holds true for the film world and the music world. The access is great with the new technology, but that also means that there is going to be a lot of shit that gets made because more people have the access.

However, as you said once, I paraphrase again "If you are creative enough you could make a kazoo sound good" or something to that extent.

With films it is a combination of content, story and visuals, but story being the most important aspect of the three in my meager opinion.

Scott

Dear Scott:

But the visuals do matter, too. It would have been 100% easier shooting "Running Time" on digital or tape, but it wouldn't have looked anywhere near as good. It's combination of not cutting combined with the dynamic look of film that makes it into something. I would much rather see a movie shot entirely with a Bolex on 16mm film than a movie shot on DV, mainly because it's much more difficult to expose film so you naturally pay more attention to what you're shooting and how it looks. You don't take your image for granted, which most things shot on DV do.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"the third "Lord of the Rings," film which is completely unwatchable."

Come on, Josh. Even if you are one of the few (very few) that isn't a fan of those films, you have to appreciate the skill that went into crafting them. The are wonderfully directed, technologically amazing, and have a look and feel that we are never likely to see again. I think Peter Jackson is a real force and I expect good things from him in the future. As the "Rings" stories go, he made them as good as they can be made. If you don't like the story, blame Tolkien not Jackson.

Richard

Dear Richard:

How on earth can a film be both dreadfully boring and "wonderfully directed"? Those two kids in the leads are AWFUL!!! There's no possible way to give a rat's ass about the whole thing. And it's over nine fucking hours long!!! If there's a hell and I go there, they'll prop my eyes open like Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" and make me watch the "Bored of the Rings" movies over and over again. As I already stated, those films represent everything wrong with the contemporary film industry -- they're"technologically amazing," but as exciting as watching paint dry.

Josh

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

Josh

I'm here in Belfast, Northern Ireland on a university exchange and tonight we're seeing a bit of Movieoke. Have you heard of this and what do you think?

I think it should be a good laugh.

Dear Brett:

It's one more way for people to feel famous when they're not. Have fun, but remember, no smoking in the pubs.

Josh

Name: Randy
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Is Sam Raimi a down-to-earth kinda guy? Do you still hang out with him or see any of his family? What about Scott S, your former roomie?

Dear Randy:

I don't see Sam at all anymore. Not since he got married and had kids and all that stuff. I just went to the movies last weekend with Ted, Ivan, and Mrs. Raimi, to see the utterly terrible "Silver City," and I walked out. It was nice of them to invite me, though. I haven't seen Scott in years.

Josh

Name: Solari
E-mail: solari001@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

My question is more of a fun question..I'm just curious if you could do a remake of any old movie, silent to modern and have Lucy and Renee be involved which movie would you pick...my choice would be "Gone With the Wind" with Lucy as Scarlet (with her natural beauty and poise she would be fantastic in that role) Renee as Melanie (with her beauty and look of innocense she could easily make that role hers)I was also thinking of Bruce Campbell as Rhett (he has so much on screen Charisma he would have no trouble bringing Rhett to life...) another choice of mine would be "Baby Jane" of course Lucy and Renee are much too young for such movie roles but after all isn't that what make up is for??

Dear Solari:

I hate remakes of any kind, and I certainly don't want to see a remake of"Gone With the Wind," for goodness sake. I'm sorry, but Lucy is already too old for Scarlett, who is supposed to be about 17 when the story begins, and maybe 25 when it ends. Vivian Leigh, who is astounding as Scarlett, was 25 when she made the film. And as much as I love and repect Bruce, I wouldn't want to see him competing with Clark Gable, who was one of the really great movie stars. Nor would I want to see Renee competing with Olivia DeHavilland. Remakes are a bad idea. Period.

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

What's your take on what happened to Roy Jones? I've never seen a great fighter deteriorate so rapidly. Pretty amazing that two of the greatest boxers of the 90s (although Hopkins may be the best of them all) get their comeuppance in the past two weeks. Trinidad going up against Mayorga may make it three in a row. In his prime, I would take Trinidad over Mayorga without reservation but because of the layoff I'm taking Mayorga to send him to la la land.

My two cents on the DV vs. film debate, I just received a distribution contract for a feature I shot on DV. I *film-looked* it with a software called the Magic Bullet, info on that is at http://www.theorphanage.com/ if you or anyone on your board is interested. Basically I used this software to get rid of the soap opera/porn video look. You can tweak the footage to your own specifics, making colors more warm, cool, etc, the better the lighting the better the results... I'm not suggesting this method is better than 16mm but it is just an inexpensive alternative to practicing the craft until you can afford film and not altogether impossible to garner a distribution deal.

Rich

Dear Rich:

Tell us about the deal. Did you get an advance? Is there a publicity budget? Will anyone ever get to see the film? I hope they do for your sake, but it doesn't discount what I've been saying. I mean, and with all due respect, you didn't sell your film to HBO or Showtime or Cinemax did you? Have you made any overseas sales? There's absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a feature in DV, but just don't expect to make decent sales with it.

Meanwhile, I've never been a big fan of Roy Jones. The guy has bored me to tears at least 20 times, several of which were pay-per-view. I missed the Traver fight because I was in Bulgaria at the time, but I took a certain amount of joy from hearing he had been KOed in 2 rounds. It took Glen Johnson 9 rounds, but he's nowhere near the fighter that Antonio Tarver is. I knew that Oscar couldn't legitimately fight Bernard Hopkins, it was too big of a step up, weight-wise. And I'll take Trinidad over Mayorga, who I think is just a flash in the pan and isn't all that talented, whereas even after his long lay-off Tito is a much more talented, smarter fighter. I mean Mayorga couldn't even defend his belt once.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

It says on the imdb.com that David Kelly was in "Thou Shalt Not Kill Except" and he's playing Grandpa Joe in the new version of "Charlie and the chocolate factory"... who was David Kelly in TSNKE.. by the way IMDB lists TSNKE as "Stryker's War" I'm sure you know that but I think thats cool since that is the title I know your more fond of.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Yeah, but it's the wrong title. The film has been on the market as TSNKE for nearly 20 years, far longer than imdb has existed, you think they could get that right by now. The David Kelly in TSNKE is a local Detroit actor, not the big TV producer, nor the actor in "Charlie."

Josh

Name: Kevin Provo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

well becker I just want to tell you right off the bat fuck you. ? how bout it? I would like to know what makes you credible for saying a movie is or isnt good when you cant make a good movie yourself. Ps. Do the world a favor and stop making movies

Dear Kevin:

Does that mean you've actually seen one of my films? If so, which one? And what was your problem? My opinion is as credible as anyone else's, why shouldn't I state it? My opinions is certainly as credible as yours, maybe even moreso. Try actually saying something next time and we'll all find out.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

what did you think of Training Day and Bulworth? I like Training Day up until Ethan Hawke is saved by a coincedence, then the story and dialogue get really stupid (Alonzo Harris's son helps out Ethan Hawke instead of running to his dad, the neighborhood gangsters just let him in and the dialogue is so downright stupid, people still make fun of it). But I like the opening story about wanting the job to improve yourself so badly, that you overlook the other guy who's trying to fuck you over. And Bulworth's just funny.

Dear kdn:

"Bulworth" was awful, a real stinker. The only possible memorbale aspect of"Training Day" was Denzel's performance.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

ever wake up in the morning thinking your next film is going to be more important than you. that its going to be around forever, and if you go to the bare limits of hell, it'll be memorable?

Dear kdn:

No. There's been human civilization for 10,000 years and movies have been around for just over 100 years. I don't think movies have anything to do with "forever." Not that I'll be here, but I'd be surprised if movies were around 100 years from now. Also, I don't think anyone has made a really important film in at least 20 years, and even if you could get an important film made, which is doubtful, I don't think you could get it released. Not that I thought it would be around "forever," but I did think that "If I Had a Hammer" was unique and had something of an important message, and no one would touch the film with a ten-foot pole.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

As a pretty big advocate on DV, I'd like to say that you guys are right when you say many movies on DV aren't distributed. The only movies that seem to really be distributed are on either HD or film. But I would like to say that many DV films are good and get distributed somehow. My examples are "Chance" Starring, Produced, Written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV Show)'s Amber Benson. I liked it alot. It's not the best written movie but no one's first feature really is. However she had made a good movie for 150,000 dollar budget that was entertaining. Not many people can even do that. And the other one I want to bring up was "Chuck and Buck" though I know you may not like Miguel Arteta and Mike White because of "The Good Girl", I think "Chuck and Buck" was a very interesting character study and in fact was hard for me to watch in many ways because it seemed almost TOO real and I had to stop it. Both films there were good. One got great theatrical attention and one had to be done independently sold online. However, they can be distributed. Though lots of DV movies will not be because people think they can shoot almost anything on DV and most of it sucks and shouldn't have been shot at all. I think whatever the format is... if its a good compelling story, well structered, Well directed, and well acted, I think people will over see the low budget.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

It's not an issue of what people will overlook, it what will distributors handle and pay for. If you're making a film strictly for the experience of making film, then definitely shoot it on DV. But if you hope to get a distributor and make sales, at this point you still need to shoot film. Distributors are truly awful people, a notch above child pornographers, and they are looking for a reason to NOT handle your film. Right now, if it's shot on DV, that's a sufficiently good reason to reject it. I mention for the umpteenth time, if you want to see what films are being bought and sold, just turn on the pay cable movie channels, which is the biggest market for movies in the world. No one is yet buying or showing severely low-budget movies shot on DV. Even the lowest-budget crap is still shot on 35mm film. If you're going to spend $100,000-150,000 on a film, why not shoot it on film? Let's not forget, also, that this is a visual medium and your film looking good is important. Making DV look good is much more difficult than making film look good.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You couldn't answer those questions, or you didn't care? not hard enough eh? I had to look these up:

1. How many films did Peter O'toole make BETWEEN Lawrence of Arabia and The Stunt Man? And what was the one he made right before The Stunt Man? (hint, they turned it into a porn film... without the actors knowing)

2. In James Earl Jones first movie, name the special effects people that would later go on to be special effects supervisors on 2001: A Space Odyssey.

3. What was the name of the last chapter in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

4. He's banged Geena Davis in two films, and in his first film role, which one of Paul Kersey's family members did he spray paint a circle on their ass?

5. Named the actor who killed Saitu on River Kwai.

oh and, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended Stuart Gordon for the job on Fortress, his body double was in Re-Animater as one of the corpses. Tim Robbins dropped out of Soul Man to get a role in Howard the Duck... damn he screwed either way, at least Soul Man was a hit. The William Lustig/Tom Savini film was Maniac. William Finley, the first lead in Phantom of the Paradise was also in Brian DePalma's Sisters. The lost sequel to buckaroo banzai was turned into Big Trouble In Little China, Humphrey Bogart was surprised by the leaches in The African Queen, and Alec Guinness conned George Lucas into killing him off in Star Wars, which he later appeared in two sequels, and admitted it was responsible for the next jobs he got. And the hitchcock remake of Dial M For Murder was A Perfect Murder with Michael Douglas who was the third lead and co-producer of The China Syndrome. But you knew that, I just thought that shit off the top of my head.

Dear kdn:

Quiz games only work in real time, and on-camera. If you or I have the ability to look in a book, what's the point? And I can stump you and everybody else a thousand times in a row if I care to. So, please don't send these silly trivia questions. Although I will readily admit that question #2 is a good one. I once again assure you and everyone else I'm not looking in any books.

1. I don't know and I don't care.
2. Wally Veevers
3. Jupiter and Beyond
4. Jeff Goldblum--Hope Lange ("Death Wish")
5. Geoffrey Horn

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just wanted to fire off a couple of quick question, because I'm kind of curious...

Have Lucy and Rob told you their feelings on George Bush? The war in Iraq? I know Bruce doesn't like Dubya-but what has he said about the war in Iraq? I imagine his feelings are right along with yours.

I hope everything's going well for you.

Saul

Dear Saul:

We're all lilly-livered, Hollywood liberals. I don't think you can find a human being outside of the United States that likes Bush, he is internationally hated by one and all. That's why right-wing Republicans like him, I think, but they confuse hatred with strength. Bush is not feared, nor respected, he's hated because he represents everything that's wrong with the USA -- arrogant pushiness mixed with blatant stupidity.

Josh

Name: Eric Rosenthal
E-mail: eric30202002@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

Have you seen "The Kid Stays in the Picture" about producer Robert Evans? What do you think of Evans? He seems like an interesting (if egotistical) guy who was responsible for getting a lot of good movies made.

Eric

Dear Eric:

You far underestimate my movie geekiness -- I read the book when it came out in hardcover, and yes, I saw the movie, too, which is like Cliff's Notes version of the book. I have little to no respect for Robert Evans, and I think he takes way too much credit for the films that were greenlit while he was head of production. Yes, it was a good slate of films while he was at Paramount, and he did make the occasional important decision, like not allowing William Castle to direct "Rosemary's Baby" and suggesting Roman Polanski. For the most part, though, he was pencil-pusher, bean-counter, and as soon as he was shit-canned as head of production, and was stuck with nothing but his own taste and abilities, he never made another good film. When he wrote the book he was just developing "The Saint," which he goes on and on about at embarrassing length, that "it will be the biggest franchise of all time," etc. He was simply very lucky to get the gig at Paramount when he did, when all the studios were making many great films. Evans had very little to do with it.

Josh

Name: The Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

It looks like "Alexander" will win Best Picture for 2005, and it hasn't even been released yet. The competition is so weak that it seems that the release date has been advance so as to make 2005 oscar contention.

I just bought the DVD Judgment at Nuremberg, just released on DVD this month. For you readers, it is not exact history, but it based on real events and it explains the issues of how the Nazis came to power, and the aftermath more than any other movie could. The acting is impeccable.

This is not a plug, but I got my copy at Best Buy for $9.99. I know you don't like big box stores, but BB is convenient and cheap, and their web site will even tell you what stores the DVD is in stock in. So anyway it is out.

Dear Bob:

I really like that film, and I have the video tape. I'll probably buy the DVD sooner or later, too. It's a much, much better film than "Schindler's List," and quite provocative, as opposed to being pure propaganda. Maximillian Schell (Ocsar-winner for Best actor), Richard Widmark, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift are all terrific. You even get to see a very young William Shatner who's not overacting. Spencer Tracy is perfect as the judge, and Burt Lancaster does a very credible job considering he's pretty seriously miscast. As a little trivia note, this is the film from which they stole the gag for "The Hunt for Red October," where it begins in one language, then switches to English at a point like we now understand it.

Considering that Oliver Stone hasn't made a decent, watchable movie in fifteen years, I think your hopes may well be dashed by "Alexander."

Josh

Name: Justabloke
E-mail: justabloke22@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

You used to have a guy who posted here named Bird or something who was working on a "Billy the Kid" script. Braun Entertainment Group is looking for a completed "Billy the Kid" script to produce.

Their credits include: Edges of the Lord, Lethal Vows, Abducted: A Father's Love, Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills, Split Images, A Seduction in Travis County, Baghdad Cafe (TV Series) Murphy's Law (TV Series) and others.

If he's interested in submitting a synopsis, tell him to email me and I'll give him contact info.

Justabloke

Dear Justa:

If he reads this then he can respond. Since there's already been about 50 versions of Billy the Kid's life, and none of them were any good, I wish you the best of luck.

Josh

Name: R.T. Byrum
E-mail: rtbwriter@bellsouth.net

Dear Josh:

It's probably by the grace of God that I left directing and California before liberal poisoning set in. As a Christian, a veteran, and an author I strive to understand all sides before making a decision--and I would never do so driven by mental venom. Your essay on President Bush belies the intelligence and skill that you must have to be a successful director, therefore I can only conclude that one of the deadly sins called hate overrides your talent. Sad.

Dear R.T.:

George W. Bush is personally responsible for the deaths of a lot more people than those that died in the World Trade Centers on 9/11 -- thousands of other American's children, as well as tens of thousands of innocent civilians -- all based on lies, isn't that sufficient reason to hate the motherfucker? We're supposed to hate Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden for killing innocent people, why shouldn't the same rules hold true for Bush? Anybody who uses phrases like "liberal poisoning" and has to invoke god and Christianity in a discussion about politics is clearly very weak and extremely frightened.
Sad.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

well, I don't really think that Bush will win. One thing that shouldn't be relied on is polling. I remember being in Minnesota during the elections for Governor and Ventura won. NONE of the polls had him even close to winning. He was a deep third just before the election. This was because the polling process is imperfect. I think that this election will have many new, atypical voters that will firmly put it in Kerry's hands. Not that I think Kerry is a great candidate either, but he's a change, and seems to have some sort of a working brain. The only thing keeping Kerry from winning the election is something truly major happening in the next 4 weeks. Whether its Bin Laden, an attack, or who knows what else. But I honestly believe that if the election were held today, Kerry would be the winner.

Dear Jim:

I do, too. This is the angriest I've ever been politically, and the same goes for many of my friends, as well as many people I talk to. Well, anger is one of the motivations that will get Democrats out to vote, and the more people that vote, the more votes Kerry will get. A large voter turn-out means that the Democrat will win. And the other aspect of this election that's not being discussed is the fiscal conservatives, like my dad, who aren't going to vote for Bush. Although i can't say exactly why, I'm still optimistic.

Josh

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

Josh,

I second your notion about 16 mm vs DV because we shoot a lot of both plus 35 mm here at work, and it is really hard to make DV look good and we are using very good Cameras (Canon XL1S's).

Video and film are very different mediums physically and film is a far superior format for many reasons I won't discuss here.

In the end, if these young filmmakers are only able to shoot DV I would suggest first getting a camera like the Canon XL series which allows you the option of changing the lenses because the lenses that you use are as important if not more important than the quality of the video chips your camera has in it.

With regards to film, we shoot with bolex cameras Aaton, and with Arriflex cameras and I can safely say that if you use crappy lenses with any camera, your image is going to suffer and mainly in low light. You will get grain and all sorts of other problems.

DV is even worse in this respect because it doesn't take to light and contrast as well as film, so the image suffers even more and if you can't light than you are really in trouble.

We always have to spend much more time getting DV to look good than we do film, and right now, there still is really no comparison between the two. My suggestion is if you want to get the film look, learn how to expose film and shoot film.

I read about the film that Wexler shot, but I haven't seen it yet. I now he shot it on a prosumer DV camera, so I am not surprised it did not look very good. Odd that he would do that.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I'll bet Wexler and Sayles just wanted to give it a try, see what happens. And if you really light the hell out of a scene you actually can make it look good in DV, but if you're going to shoot by any kind of natural light it looks awful. Whereas with black and white 16mm film, screw in one 150-watt light bulb and it will look great, and you have achieved actual film noir for fifteen cents.

Josh

Name: tim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"What a DV 'filmmaker' of today really needs to do, in order to have the best chance at some sort of video distribution, is to shoot a 'lesbian vampire movie', a cheap gory 'slasher horror movie' with nudity or some sort of pornography"

i know that film looks better than DV, but with a small budget, i think it would be better to make good looking DV movie than a crap looking 16mm movie

and i think the look of the film is scondary to the plot. dont you think its better to have a DV movie with a good script than a 35mm film with a bad script?

Dear tim:

Why would shooting on either DV or film effect your script? And I've got news for you, it's WAY easier to make 16mm film look good than to make DV look good. I just saw "Silver City," shot on DV by the great Haskell Wexler, and it looks terrible! The film was so horrible, BTW, that I walked out. But unless you've made some technical mistake, like focus or exposure, 16mm film almost always looks good, particularly black and white. I've been helping my friend Paul with his 16mm feature for years now, and it's been entirely shot with wind-up Bolex cameras, and he has some great, great images to work with. You probably won't get any great, or even okay-looking, images from DV. Nor will you be able to sell it to most of the existing markets for movies, either.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Right, because I've found that, for the most part, no one in the film business is looking out for anyones interests but their own. Its an extremely selfish industry. I think there's this perception that those of us working in film are a little light in the loafers, the typical lazy artist types. But you really need a strong backbone to work in this artform while maintaining something resembling integrity. Now more than ever, I think this idea of staying true to yourself, to your art, is getting completely lost in filmmaking. Worse, it is infecting the entire independent scene. I think that independent movies are really in horrible shape right now. The vast majority of them are simply wannabe-blockbusters. Young filmmakers are becoming obsessed with the technology.

The desire to tell a great story seems to be less importance than impressing the audience, or somehow convincing them on a momentary basis that what they are watching is worth something. I read somewhere recently about this idea of a "gimmick" in movies. It might have been a Mamet article. The idea is that the filmmaker tries to be a magician, to fill the film so full of tricks and gags that the audience gets caught up in the visual nonsense, while not really caring about the story either way. They come out "feeling" like they watched something substantial, but it ends up not meaning anything at all and is probably forgotten within a few hours. With the exception of documentaries and the occasional good one that slips through, I think that this "gimmick" cinema is basically taking over the marketplace, and will continue to do so until the audience stops responding. Its too bad, because I think there's alot of great film stories out there left untold, and they're probably sitting on a shelf somewhere while the studios obsess over remaking Superman, Batman, and whatever other piece of crap they decide is $$$.

Dear Jim:

To even believe there's a scheme or a plan behind all of this lame filmmaking is to way overstate the issue. Art is the representation of society's state of mind, and right now our society's state of mind is unoriginal regurgitated confusion. That anyone could possibly consider voting for an ignorant, lying, wrong-headed moron like Bush only proves how fucked up society is. Look at the most recent winner of the Best Picture Oscar -- the third "Lord of the Rings," film which is completely unwatchable. The year before was a thoroughly inept, terrible musical, performed by actors who can neither sing nor dance, "Chicago." We're now at a point where the very best films made are flatly awful. And that's what we are.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I know you say you don't like comics, but have you seen "Ghost World" or "American Splendor" which were based on non superhero comics. I like them better than 90 percent of the Superhero comic-turned movies out there. I also like what Robert Rodriguez is doing with "Sin City" since that comic is kinda film noir-ish to begin with. However I know how you feel about Rodriguez but I admire the guy because he knows how to make movies in Hollywood alot cheaper and he loves to give advice to any aspiring filmmakers. I buy his DVDs now for the commentary tracks, sometimes not even seeing the actual movie just because I want to hear how he did it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I didn't like "Ghost World," and I sort of enjoyed "American Splendor," but it certainly wasn't all that good, and cutting to the real Harvey Pekar didn't help anything. And I seriously don't give a shit about Robert Rodriguez.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Have you seen "The Motorcycle Diaries" yet? If you haven't, definitely check it out. Are you working on a screenplay right now? What's it about?

JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

Nope, I haven't seen it. I'm just kicking another sci-fi story around with my buddy, Gary Jones. This is a story I came up with 16 years ago when we were shooting "Lunatics," which I had completely forgotten, but Gary remembered. I don't think it's a good idea to discuss it this early in the game.

Josh

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

Josh,

Do you ever get depressed about some of your original screenplays lying on the shelf gathering dust? I've written a couple that I'm proud of, but I can't afford to make them myself and I haven't had any luck getting financing for them. So essentially, they are worthless. I'm glad to have gotten the ideas out of my system, but its depressing that I think they may never see the light of day. With other forms of art, you can usually find some sort of venue to get the work out there. But an unproduced screenplay has no outlet at all.. Just very frustrating. I guess you have to always be optimistic. Alien Apocalypse is what like 15 years old or so?
So you never know.

Dear Jim:

Exactly. There are two ends to a screenplay: it gets produced, or it gets abandoned. You've also got two choices regarding the movie business: persevere or give up. If you persevere, nothing says you'll get your films made, but if you give up you certainly won't. Now you need to take the expereince of writing those other scripts and put it to use writing a script that you can make. You've constantly got to force the issue. I may never get another script produced, but I sure as hell go down swinging.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

To help that guy who asked about permission for bands... the thing for me is I like to use local talent I know. However I am lucky to have met so many different local bands around my town... coming from a tourist town of Williamsburg (which I have also gotten permission from Williamsburgs' own Bruce Hornsby who owns all the rights to his songs but won't actually use any of his songs until I have a good film done. Then all he wants is to see it) everybody in my town wants to be famous and be in a band and alot of them suck but alot of them are awesome too. So my advice and I'm sure Josh would back me up is to find local talented people who want to get their work out there. And check band websites with MP3s, and contact those people. Don't plan on having anyone like Pink Floyd in your movie but a Pink Floyd (I'm just using Pink Floyd as an example) sounding band that has a CD out around your area. Josh is lucky to have a talented composer to use in all his movies who is also a good friend. So thats my advice.
Take it or leave it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

That's very good advice, and exactly what I did on TSNKE. I initially wanted all these hit songs from 1968-69 to set the period, like "You Were on My Mind" by the We Five, and "Journey to the Center of the Mind" by The Amboy Dukes, but ultimately I couldn't afford any of them. So, with Joe LoDuca's help, I got trhe rights to three songs by the local Detroit band, The Rockets (who had a national hit with "Turn it Up, Turn Up the Radio"), which sounded like they were from the '60s, but were really from the '70s.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Glad to hear things are moving along with 'Alien...'

Just a few questions.

In a recent interview with Renee, she was speaking about 'AA' and said how she looked forward to playing the love interest of a 'man'(referring to how she felt she had played a love interest to Lucy for several years). She said the reason it worked so well with her and Lucy was because they just had a great chemisty and truly liked each other and that came through on screen.

She claimed that she felt it would also work with Bruce since she felt she also had good chemistry with him and they also truly liked each other. in your mind, did the Renee and Bruce have that chemistry that just seemed to work on screen.

Also, Renee and Bruce both have families. Since they spent extended time in bulgaria shooting, I was wondering if Bruce's wife accompanied him there and if Renee's husband or son accompanied her there and if so did they spend any time on set.

Thanks

Dear David:

Bruce and Renee are both so good they make it all look easy, and I thought they worked together on-screen very well. I think a big part of "chemistry" is in fact respect for your acting partner's ability -- if they're good, then you'll be good, too. Lucy and Renee both wanted the other one to be good, as did Bruce and Renee. And the kid in the film (by kid I mean 20), Remy Franklin, who had never been in a movie before, Bruce just took him under his wing, ran all the lines with him, worked with him, and let him hang out with him, and Remy got visibly better every single day. Remy's first day of shooting he was so petrified that when in went in for a reaction close-up who couldn't do anything. I finally just asked him to turn away, and that's what I used. So, at the end of the first day I said to him that he was just like the old 1920s Russian editing experiment by V. I. Pudovkin, where he cuts from a blank-faced soldier to a bowl of soup and everybody thought the soldier was hungry, then he cut to a baby and they thought he looked tender, etc. Then I burst out laughing, as did Bruce. So, given that kind of humiliating shit from the director, he's lucky as hell Bruce helped him out.

Meanwhile, I'm not giving out these people's personal details.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What most young 'filmmakers' today who are caught up in the hype of DV fail to realize is that most DV movies that get distributed widely have stars in them and/or are made by established filmmakers (and usually cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to make).

This new breed of 'filmmaker' out there now believes that because the 'big boys' are using DV and getting theatrical releases, it brings them much closer to Hollywood. Just because they can afford and use the same camera, they believe they're on the same playing field when in fact they are not.

Other distributed DV movies include Bamboozled (10 million dollar Spike Lee movie) and Tadpole (which cost a few hundred grand, had Sigourney Weaver in it and was made by the producer of 'Tape').

The other distributed DV movies mentioned (Anniversary Party, 28 Days Later, Full Frontal) were made by established filmmakers and stars. Anniversary Party costed 2 million dollars. 28 Days Later cost millions as well. Your homemade DV movie doesn't stand a chance against something like that no matter how good you make it (nor probably a movie you shot on film for that matter).

The only examples of shot-on-DV movies (that I can think of) which got distributed theatrically that don't have 'stars' in it are Open Water and Blair Witch. The filmmakers of each weren't exactly inexperienced either (just 'undiscovered'). Blair Witch was not even DV, it was Hi-8, a technology that has been around for about 15 years. Where was the video 'hype' then?

I think DV is great, especially in regards to post-production, but it's deluding amateur (excuse me, they like to call themselves 'independent' these days) 'filmmakers' today believing they have a shot at theatrical distribution on their very first go at it.

What a DV 'filmmaker' of today really needs to do, in order to have the best chance at some sort of video distribution, is to shoot a 'lesbian vampire movie', a cheap gory 'slasher horror movie' with nudity or some sort of pornography.

The harsh truth is that in order to stand a chance in the mainstream marketplace, you have to shoot something as professional as possible on 35mm (hopefully with a 'name' actor). There are always exceptions of course. Don't count on being the 'exception'.

Use DV to learn on, then when you're ready, write (or secure) a great 'marketable' script, raise the money to shoot on film, hire a 'name' actor and do it as right as possible.

DV or not DV, it's as hard as it ever was.

Dear CD:

That's basically the case. Not to mention that most of these released DV movies were shot high-def with extremely expensive equipment.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dalty_smilth@hotmail.com

Hi Josh.

You know, it's understandable that people would forget given all the scandals that rocked his presidency, and especially since the Monica Lewinsky scandal was happening right around the same time, but does anyone remember when CLINTON was searching for WMD's in Iraq? I do. I remember Clinton kept saying how sure he was Hussein had such weapons, and he kept threatening Hussein to let the U.N. weapons inspectors do their job, or else. If the WMD's are indeed entirely an invention of the Bush administration, then I must say that it's quite an impressive conspiracy. I mean, not many people have successfully invented an excuse to order the invasion a foreign country several years before they had the power to order the invasion of a foreign country. And I agree that Garrison Keiller is a great writer and has a wonderful speaking voice. (Not to mention a heavenly singing voice.) And I agree with what I believe the main point of his essay was: that the Republican party today is not the Republican party of 50 years ago. But it must be pointed out that the same goes for the Democratic party. Any political science professor worth his salt will tell you that much. And they might go on to point out that the two parties pretty much switched places. It was Nixon who started it. Before Nixon, the South was pretty much populated by small-minded racists who mostly voted democrat. And Nixon was pretty racist himself. So when he ran for president in '68, he told the South "Hey, I'm just as racist as all of you, and I'm Republican!" So the South said "Okay, we'll be Republicans too from now on." I realize I'm oversimplifying, but the fact is that before Nixon, the South mostly voted Democrat and ever since Nixon, the South mostly votes Republican. Go to http://www.uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/ and compare the map from 1964 to the map from 1972. Oh sure, in '76 a lot of the South went to Carter, but in '80, they went to Reagan. And they've pretty much stayed mostly with the Republicans since then. What do you say to that?

Dear Ben:

The southerners do not represent the entire Democratic party, nor even the majority of it. And whether or not Clinton thought there were WMDs in Iraq is meaningless. Clinton suspected that there might be WMDs, but he wasn't sure so he didn't attack. Since Bush became president, U.N. inspectors went into Iraq and found nothing. The best intelligence going was from Hans Blix and his men, and he was intentionally ignored and falsely discredited, just like Bush did to the entire U.N., whom he now needs. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO ATTACK IRAQ. And Colin Powell's speech in front of the U.N. Security Council was as offensive and moronic as anything I've ever seen in my life. He showed a satellite photo of six sandbags and proclaimed, "This is indisputably a chemical weapons factory." He then showed a satellite photo of truck, stated, "This is indisputably a mobile chemical weapons factory," then showed a diagram of what might possibly be inside of it, which of course wasn't. It's not an issue of a conspiracy, it's an issue of George W. Bush attacking Iraq for his own personal reasons, probably based on a severe Oedipal complex, where he was trying to show his dad that he could clean up the theoretical mess his dad left, meaning Saddam Hussein.

Josh

Name: Chris
E-mail:

Josh,

You ever had a Faygo red pop?

Dear Chris:

I live in Detroit, how could I not have had a Faygo Redpop? As a kid, all we had was Faygo pop in the house. I was a particular fan of rock & rye. I've been away so long that I asked for a "soda" the other day and was corrected, "Oh, you mean 'pop'."

Josh

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

Josh,

I just returned from an enjoyable evening with John Boorman. BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) film theater is having a Boorman festival this whole week. Tonight was the first night and they showed "Hope and Glory" and he was there tonight answering questions.

He made some excellent points about Hollywood now and that films are much more difficult to get made that equal originality because you can't sell originality in a poster ad and expect it to flourish over one weekend at the box office. I can see that he feels as many of us do that contemporary films are suffering and that is sad.

He had two stories that were really funny. The first was a story about him pitching a film to an executive in Hollywood and the guy said "Give me the 30 second Television commercial version", and Boorman said "why the film is not 30 seconds, it is feature length. The exec said "I want the 30 second commercial version because if I can't sell it in 30 seconds, I don't want to make the picture."

The other story was one about the script for "Point Blank". He was meeting with Lee Marvin in London to look at the original script, which was given to him to make, and he felt it was terrible.

After Lee Marvin read it, he thought it was terrible. At the time, Marvin was in London working on "The Dirty Dozen" and he was renting an apartment there which were he and Boorman were meeting to discuss the script.

After Boorman told Marvin he though the script was terrible too, Marvin threw it out his open apartment window. The script was re-written into the version, which was released.

He went on to say that years later Mel Gibson Was gearing up to make "Payback" and Boorman read the script and saw the film and he joked that he thought that "it was quite possible that a young Mel Gibson was walking by the window where Marvin threw the script out of and it landed in the gutter where Gibson then found it."

I didn't get to ask him any questions during the Q&A, but I did talk to him briefly in the lobby after the film, but not before getting side stepped by some sci-fi geek who only wanted to talk to him about "The Exorcist II" and "Zardoz". Boorman was being very kind to the guy, but I could tell he did not really want to talk about either film, and then the guy just kept going on and on. Luciana was patiently waiting, and I could not get a word in, but finally I did and then he had to go.

This always seems to happen to me. I always get sidestepped by the sci-fi geek.

I am going to see "Point Blank" on Saturday, which is one of my favorite Boorman films; I haven't seen that film for years. I did not get a chance to ask him when it will be coming out on DVD, since I asked him a couple of other things. I owe that to the sci-fi geek.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I watched "Point Blank" again a few months ago, when I read Boorman's autobiography, and it didn't hold up all that well. The first act is really great, though, and some of the sound and picture editing are brilliant. I also rewatched "Hope and Glory" and that completely fell apart in act three, where he and his family go off to spend the rest of the war with grandpa in the country and practice cricket. One cannot help but wonder why they didn't just go there right away.

My friend and fellow writer, Ron Zwang, had a wonderful Hollywood pitch meeting a few years ago. Just as he was about the launch into his story pitch, the exec said, "I hate act ones, start with act two." Cut to Ron with his mouth hanging open, thinking, "How on Earth do you tell a story where you haven't been able to introduce any of the characters or set up the story?" Nevertheless, he gave it the yeoman's effort, and when he got to the end, then the schnook said, "Okay, now tell me act one." I had a female exec drop her head straight back about two minutes into my pitch and make wheezing, strangling noises for the next four or five minutes as she stared straight up at the ceiling, oozing boredom out of every pore. During another pitch I had an exec put his feet up on the desk, take off his shoes and socks, then clean between his toes and smell it. During yet another pitch, the exec took six phone calls and had his assistant come in three times, and this was all in the course of 15-20 minutes, and also after he had told his assistant, "I'm not taking any calls." These are the worst people on the planet, along with agents. I'd rather spend time with terrorists.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho...legends...yahoo

<<That show, "The Ultimate Film Fanatic," is nonsense. The real, serious, ultimate film fanatics, like say me, aren't going to appear on a stupid show like that, where part of it is "collectables," and they assinine questions like, "Name a black and white Steven Spielberg movie." >>

Yeah, They asked really sucky questions. I wasn't sure what the show was, but they asked the dumbest questions alive (what was the tagline of HOUSE or COBRA... who gives a shit). All I knew was there was a cash prize and you could program any movie you want on IFC (or maybe that was fine print horseshit). Perhaps bad tv shouldn't be banned... just ignored.

Dear kdn:

If you want tough quiz questions, watch "Jeopardy."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I'm so glad to hear all is going well with "Alien." I'm assuming that the storyline pretty much follows your original "Humans in Chains" script, so this raises a couple of more questions. You've got the "practical" alien creature for close-ups and reference, like when the astonauts are being interrogated. Does this model get manipulated like a puppet? Or are they inserting cgi-effects for moments with dialogue? And if the latter, did you have someone basically stand in for the alien(s) and/or have someone read the lines from off-camera?

And in the action/fight scenes - do the actors pantomime their moves, and the cgi gets filled in later? Or do you have other stuntmen to do the basic moves, and then they get "painted" over with special effects?

And if those aliens end up making that appearance earlier in the film than you had planned.... since you didn't shoot it that way....and everyone is long gone from Bulgaria now... how would they do that? Just insert some more cgi creatures into a scene where they have no dialogue? And cut to a generic reaction shot of someone who sees them?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

No one is seeing them. They inserted aliens just wandering aimlessly while the rest of the story goes on. They also inserted aliens peeking out from behind trees. It's stupid and horrible, and actually does hurt the film. They also added a little pre-credit sequence to show "Before the invasion," which is akin to putting a title card at the front of "Citizen Kane" saying,"Don't worry, Rosebud is the sled." It's really awful, but there's not much I can do. Anyway, yes, the practical alien was manipulated like a big puppet, with wire controls. It will be intercut with the CGI effects. And yes, I had a very tall Bulgarian actor standing in for the alien doing his dialog so that the actors knew where to look and react. When CGI aliens interact with the actors they either pantomimed, or I had actors in blue-screen suits grab them and they're subsequently removed.

Josh

Name: tim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i can think of 3 films that were all shot on DV and were distrubited: full frontal, the anniversey party, and 28 days later. there must be more

how do you get promission to you songs in a film, do you contact the band and how are you supposed to get that info

also is there going to be anything new on the upcoming dvd of running time / TSNKE
-coming out on dvd tomorrow is coffee and cigarets from jim jarmush--have you seen any of those short films

Dear tim:

No, I haven't seen them, but Jarmusch bores me to tears. He completely shot his wad with "Stranger Than Paradise." Meanwhile, the bands have nothing to do with the rights to their songs. You either need to contact the record company or a music clearance house, and I can assure you that you can't afford any song you've ever heard of. And yes, there have been a couple of films made and distributed on DV, but not many. Since it's incredibly difficult to get a film distributed these days -- much harder than getting it made -- and distributors are, for the most part, very stupid people who are just looking for a reason not to handle your film, do you really want to give them such a good reason right up front? Shooting DV right now, unless you have an all-star cast, will not help get your film released.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail: boston22@hotmail.com

Josh,

Did you and your buddy Rick ever work on a screenplay together? Did you ever think about writing his story?

Boston

Dear Boston:

Yes, Rick and I wrote the story for my script "Above the Line" together, and it's posted on the site. I have thought about writing his story, but I haven't done it. He wrote a book that was published posthumously, called"The Boys Across the Street," which you can get from any big bookseller, and I'm a character in it, aptly named Josh.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

What is Lucy Lawless working on these days? Is Rob still producing?

Boston

Dear Boston:

I'm not sure what Lucy's up to, but Rob is still producing away. He made two horror films last year, "The Boogyman" and "The Grudge," both of which will be out in '05, and he's doing more horror films next year.

Josh

Name: Michael S
E-mail:

Josh,

What were you working on in LA last week? Did you visit old friends while you were there? BTW, how are your cats doing?

Michael S

Dear Michael S:

I was working on the dialog replacement for "Alien Apocalypse." We removed all of the Bulgarian-accented actors and replaced them with Americans. I saw several old friends, including Bruce Campbell and his wife, Rob Tapert and Lucy Lawless, my former producer and good buddy, Jane Goe, Shawn Paper, the editor of the film, whom I had never met, and several other old friends, too. My kitty-cats are fine; these are the cat-days of summer here in Michigan.

Josh

Name: Lisa
E-mail: mikki_62056_1

Dear Josh:

what age would you consider as being "too old" to consider an acting career?

Thanks,

Lisa

Dear Lisa:

I don't think there is one. Old people can be actors, too. Jessica Tandy won an Oscar at 83, Don Ameche was 77 when he won his.

Josh

Name: Amber
E-mail: amberhanson1984@hotmail.com

Hello again Josh,

I am currently just in the beginnings of a review site and I was wondering if I could include some of your movie reviews. Along with a bio, I would include links to your site. Thanks.
Amber

Dear Amber:

Sure, go ahead.

Josh

Name: dustin
E-mail: dustglas@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

how much time in preproduction did you spend on Though Shalt Not Kill... Except ? Its a feature a little bit more my budget than the other two posted.

Dear dustin:

We rushed through the preproduction on that film because winter was staring us in the face and it's almost entirely an exterior shoot. I believe we did 8 weeks of pre-pro, but we could easily have used twice that. And due to extreme planning, and way more pre-pro, I was able to make "Running Time" for half the money I spent on TSNKE, and it's a much more professional film, I think. The key to extreme low-budget is to shoot as fast as humanly possible, and to do that you have to plan the hell out of your production, which is what cuts down the number of production surprises and snafus. I also suggest writing a script that's a lot more limited in scope than TSNKE, and a lot more like RT with a much smaller cast. Good luck.

Josh

Name: nicole
E-mail: nsforza@yahoo.com

dear josh,

i had no idea who you were before stumbling upon your site. but i like your attitude and advice, and want more. are you planning to teach any classes/seminars/what-have-you in manhattan? i bet you'd get more than five people to sign up. thanks.

Dear nicole:

No, I'm not planning on teaching anywhere. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have right here, though. Now that you can't smoke in the bars or restaurants in NY, I don't even have any interest in going there anymore. Detroit's turning out to be one of the last civilized places in America, as I can smoke in the bars and the restaurants.

Josh

Name: tim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i keep coming close to making my own feature film (writing a script, finding out where i can rent camers, etc...) but i have this fear that i will put alot of money into this movie and have it go shit, and i'll put my self into a financial hole that i wont be able to get out of.

my question is: you having done 4 or so feature films, do you still need to work at a normal (retail or something) job to make enough money. also can i ask what you got paid when your movies were picked up by studios or T.V.

-also for a person's first film do you think it would matter if it was done on DV or film

thank you

Dear tim:

As I've stated before, they way to check if DV is acceptable to distributors is to turn on any (or all) pay cable channels and see if any of the movies being shown are shot on DV, and the answer is still no. But if you're very concerned about spending too much money, then you probably should shoot on DV and keep all of your costs to a bare minimum. But you'll have a harder time convincing a distributor to pick up your film. Meanwhile, I haven't made any money on my four feature films, I'm still in the hole on all of them. The first one is probably going to break even soon, and it only took 20 years. I've made all of my money in the past 12 years working in TV. My last civilian job was before that in 1992, when I worked at a furniture store.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was listening to the commentary for Richard Linklater's first feature film, "It's impossible to learn to plow by reading books". The movie itself is boring and even Richard says that in the commentary but the commentary is very informative. He goes into great details about how pretty much the movie was him going from Train, bus, and car to all these different places and doing normal boring stuff (brushing teeth, etc) and its supposed to be pretty visual. Though basically the movie was just him and the camera it's pretty neat to hear about. And he even speaks about how the best way to get crew is to put a camera in a train station, leave for 2 seconds and people will walk up to you and say, "Hey, what are you doing" and so you ask them to help you with the movie. I dunno if you'd ever pick it up but I think if anything the DVD is worth a rent.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Thanks for the suggestion (and the memories).

Josh

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

Josh,

I thought you and many people here would find this interview interesting. Roger Waters just released two new songs: "Leaving Beruit", and "To Kill the Child".

"Leaving Beruit" is a song he had written around a trip he had taken hitchhiking around Europe and then ending up in the Middle-East whe he was 19.

He was picked up be a simple farming family outside Beruit and they opened their home to him and he believed he never properly was able to give them back what they gave to him.

The song intertwines this story with his feeling about the attack on Iraq.

He has been living here in NY for almost two years now and he really has a distaste as many people do for the Bush regime.

The interview is very candid as Waters always is and he expresses his anger towards Bush in the song and the interview. As always, he brings up some very good points about the way our society and our governments deal with things.

http://www.ienner.com/pages/_rock&roll_pf.html/roger_waters_interview.html

BTW, I have been keeping in touch with Shirley your webmaster and as per your apporval, I believe the "Blind Waiter" will be ready to go. I have a had a few people who had written to me when you were away, so I wanted to give an update.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I am, of course, in complete and total accord with Mr. Waters, who states the issues quite elequently. Thanks for sending it. Meanwhile, I hear that Shirley has the proper software she needs to work with the uncompressed Quicktime files, as well as cleaning up the image, so those super-8 films should be appearing on website near you very soon.

Josh

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

Hi Josh;

I got the new issue of Non-Sport Update Magazine and it had an ad for a new series of trading cards entitled, "Army of Darkness" I scanned the ad and tried to copy it for you but it didn't come out. Sorry. It's a 72 card base set with chase cards including an autograph from Bruce Campbell and sketch cards. It's coming out in October 2004. If you are interested in seeing the set you can go to www.dynamicforces.com or www.inkworks.com
Take care and can't wait for "Alien Apocalypse"

Dear Sarge:

It holds no interest for me, but others may have some.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I noticed the sci fi film Phase IV on your list of favorites. I was surprised to see that there because most people seem to hate it. I thought for sure you would too. I actually like it a lot. Not great, but certainly not bad as most suggest.

Also, what do you think of The Innocents with Deborah Kerr? I noticed it wasn't listed on your favorites. Do you not like it? Personally, I think it's superior to The Haunting. Probably my favorite 'ghost' film of all time.

Finally what did you think of The Other (1972) which was based on Thomas Tryon's novel and Magic (1978) with Anthony Hopkins.

Dear CD:

I really like "Phase IV," which I think is incredibly made, and is one helluva piece of filmmaking. It's the only feature film directed by the great title designer, Saul Bass. I actually talked to him about it, too. I was bored by "The Innocents," directed by that stick-in-the-mud, Jack Clayton. Nice black and white photography by Freddie Frances, though. I liked "The Haunting" much better. "The Other" was crap, as was "Magic," (directed by another true stick-in-the-mud, Richard Attenborough), although William Goldman's book was very enjoyable, and tricky, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just picked up the "Slacker" DVD the other day. And I think that's Richard Linklater's best movie up to date. Did you like "Slacker" or have you not even seen it? It also has his first feature film which was more experimental than anything called, "It's impossible to learn to plow by reading books". It's a really neat Criterion DVD and if you like "Slacker" you should pick up the DVD. Did you also get to see "Waking Life"?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I saw "Slacker" when it came out, and I was amused for about two-thirds of it, then it drops dead. I tried watching it a second time and couldn't get through it. I couldn't make it through ten minutes of "Waking Life." I liked "Tape," but that's for the script and actors, Linklater's direction is pretty awful.

Josh

Name: joe
E-mail: joecap74@optonline.net

"Have you heard about any lawsuits against Michael Moore for defamation of character? For anything? No. Do you think that the Bush family can't afford lawyers? Ergo, everything in the film is true."

Josh, while I agree with you almost entirely regarding film, your political views seem a bit conspiratorially paranoid. Surely you know that lack of proof is NOT proof. Just because no one has sued Moore doesnt mean that everything in the film is true. By that logic, since no one has provided proof of alien life form, that must mean aliens dont exist.

I agree that Bush has acted in his own interests, partly, with going into Iraq, but I am not willing to let a dictator who has funded and harbored terrorists, invaded two neighboring countries, has a clear hatred for the west and who was known to be pursuing weapons of mass destruction go unchecked. Post 9/11 that type of inaction is even more dangerous than action. If you dont do anything about terrorism it will get worse not better. Perhaps kerry has a better method.

Also Bin Laden is free. This is true. But Al Qaeda is not as strong as it was since there hasnt been an attack in america since 9/11, and abroad their hits have been on much smaller, softer targets.

The presidents first job is to protect america. I hope Kerry, if he wins, can do so.

Dear joe:

I'm sorry, but that's false logic. It took Osama bin Laden and Al Qeada 8 years between their strikes on the WTC, and when they want to attack us again, they will. Bush has done nother to deter them. You're also wrong about Iraq "persuing weapons of mass destruction." They were not. They had purchased a number of centerfuges in the late 1980s, which can be used for peaceful purposes, too, but they were never set up, nor even unpacked from the German newspapers in which they were wrapped. The only thing Saddam Hussein did was thumb his nose at America, period. He was no threat to anyone, not his neighbors, and not us. And if there was anyone in the world that didn't hate us before, they certainly hate us now, and that's the worst approach to deterring terrorism. To believe that Al Qeada is any weaker is silly; that's Republican propaganda. And the situation in Iraq is completely out of control, and getting worse by the day. This is per both the CIA and Christiane Amanpour, and she knows a helluva lot better than Bush does. Sorry, but Bush's position on everything is indefensable.

Josh

Name: Lisa
E-mail: mikki_62056_1@yahoo.com

Hello Josh,

I only have a couple of questions for you about the industry. Right now I am studying to be an actress and other areas of film making. I love every aspect of it and have a deep respect for alot of the talent I have seen, both on and off screen and someday I hope to be a part of that. I love to learn and am open to any information or advice I can get, no matter how small it seems. My first question is, I have been told that tattoos are taboo in the movie making business, I dont have one yet but wanted to get one, but I do not want that to hinder my opportunities and someone take notice of my tattoo instead of my talent, is there any truth to this rumor? Also I have a friend who is very interested in the business, but fears she is too old to study anything that has to do with movie making, is there an age limit?
Thanks for your time, and good luck with your future projects.

Lisa

Dear Lisa:

I've never heard of any taboo against tattoos, except possibly facial tattoos. You might want to show some discretion about the size and location, however. Also, there are no age limits, per se, but youth is certainly venerated in the film industry, and younger folks have a better chance of being hired than older folks, particularly in acting.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

dear josh,

I once had to sit through one of those deals where they show you television pilots and ask which ones should be made into a series... only the shows sucked and they seemed more interested in what store products we would buy (it took up more time than the shows advertised). you think they make awful shows on purpose just to pimp tide? or should these stupid practices just be banned?

kdn

Dear kdn:

I don't think anything should be banned. Everybody should have complete freedom to do whatever they want. If people didn't watch these stupid shows they wouldn't make them. Then I'd have to go back to driving a cab.

Josh

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

Josh

What do you think of re-using shots in the same movie, but in a different context? I saw the Punisher, and his character moves a fire hydrant in the movie, twice. Now the same shot was used both times. Is that just laziness?

Dear Greene:

Yes.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

dear josh,

have there really been no good questions for the past week?

Dear ____:

No, no, I was in LA and didn't have a computer with me. There were actually about 50 or 60 decent questions awaiting me upon my return. The Universal Hilton wanted $.95 A MINUTE to use their fucking computers! They also had internet through the TV, but it wouldn't load my ISP because, as they explained, it was a competeing service?????

Josh

Name: Matt D. T.
E-mail: msturnbull@comcast.net

Dear Josh:

Alright, I must know:
Did you see Chronicles of Riddick?

It's pulpy, it's campy, it's relatively poorly acted, the cinematography is bad, the special effects are overdone, and the plot is derivative.

But the script is structured. There's definitely a single character lead. Hell, there's even narration at parts. Exposition is kept to a fairly medium amount, and it has a definitive 3 act structure, (although act 2 is split in twain much like a television program.) It's not white bats versus black hats, there are some moral quandaries, and the theme is an exploration of solitude, both the positive and negative aspects of such.

The theme is somewhat understated due to the movies intention to be entertaining first and foremost, but it's definitively there, and everything the main character states relates to it in some fashion, with the supporting characters building onto this theme, and challenging his viewpoint.

If you haven't seen it, I suggest you give it a shot. I'm curious to see the opinion of this film from someone who places such a significance on one aspect of filmmaking.

So, if you have seen it, what'd you think?

Thanks!
Matt D.T.

P.S. Please try not to pre-judge this film based on Pitch Black, or the director's other works.

Dear Matt D. T.:

Okay, if it pops up I'll watch it.

Josh

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

Josh

I don't think you've ever been more right than when you said that pre-production is key for a film to be as good as it can be. I saw The Punisher last night and it was an unmitigated failure. The director said on a featurette he was stunted by his short shooting schedule and low budget ($28 million) and in his original draft, he wrote a pinnacle scene which every scene was hinged on (speaking from a character development POV). He had to scrap that scene from production and cut a sideplot of 35 minutes in post - and throughout the picture complained bitterly about what he had to work with.
Why didn't he reshape the script? Decide on a running length earlier on in the proceedings instead of filming a half hour of footage that was never used? Work more conscienciously with his budget? He had a case of the Gilliam!
The magic is in pre-production, isn't it? Wow.

Dear Brett:

I suspect the director if this film, as well as everybody else in the world, does the best their abilities allow them to do. In "From Here to Eternity" Pruett says, "I think a man should be what he can do." You've got to want to make something good before you've ever got a chance of doing it. And yes, there's no such thing as too much pre-production. My producer, Jane, and I did at least a year of pre-production on "Running Time," which was shot in two weeks, and about six months on "If I Had a Hammer," which was shot in three weeks.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I just auditioned for ULTIMATE FILM FANATIC (I'm obviously not the> ultimate but what the hell). They were boasting ads for it all over the> radio all week. First 1000 people interviewed only like its gonna be huge. I show up, there's maybe 16 people. One of them had a glass case with the three shrunken head from that moronic charles band movie. I talked my ass off waiting from movie to movie to the point where some of the people in front of me were looking at me funny. Then when the interview came, they didn't ask any really good questions. I cited Arsenic and Old Lace as the greatest movie of all time (or at least my new favorite... I would said Bridge on the River Kwai, but that's your gig) I hope the guy in front of me gets it. The one in front of him was really articulate, but he cited Reservoir Dogs and Royal Tenenbaums up there with Lawrence of Arabia. The man in front of me had worked at that particular theater back when it was an arthouse. I didn't get called back cause I'm too quiet a person in front of the camera. They stopped asking me good questions cause I drew a blank on the favorite movie quote (I remembered your favorite line from BRIDGE, but I considered it cheating if I used it). This looked like it had to be a pathetic disapointing showing cause they kept talking about New York auditions and how they wanted us to scream and act crazy like new york. Pathetic considering Austin's supposed to be the "new" movie town. Still it was fun. On your productions, how much ab-libbing do you allow. What is your stance on ad-libbing, like say, does the person have to talk to the director first or the directors going to get pissed off for wasting film, or they just do it and pray it works? Do you think Bruce Campbell or Ted Raimi would be good at this? I mean, why do you think their personal appearances are better than their movies? Have you ever had problems with weather conditions on your films. When they shot WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, it was cold and raining the whole shoot. They had to fake it (and they did it pretty well, I never guessed.

Dear kdn:

That show, "The Ultimate Film Fanatic," is nonsense. The real, serious, ultimate film fanatics, like say me, aren't going to appear on a stupid show like that, where part of it is "collectables," and they assinine questions like, "Name a black and white Steven Spielberg movie." I know Chris Gore (who's from Detroit), and he's a totally half-assed film fanatic, and he knows it. He hasn't got the balls to ask real, serious film trivia questions, like "Who was the cinematographer who shot that black and white Steven Spielberg film?" (Janusz Kaminski). Which isn't even a difficult question. How about, "Who were the cinematographers on 'Gone With the Wind'?" I assure you I'm not looking at any books, and it was Ray Rennahan and Ernest Haller, who won Oscars, and that's not all that hard, either. How about, "Who directed the 1926 version of 'Ben-Hur?" Fred Niblo. Those are real movie trivia questions.

Meanwhile, ad-libbing is not done in front of the camera, it's done in rehearsal. Or, as Bruce and Ted and I do it, we meet several days in advance of shooting and kick line changes around to see if the other one likes them. You can't surprise everybody with new lines when you're actually shooting because the sound mixer and the boom operator have to know who's speaking when so they can be on mike and mixed properly. Also the camera operator ans the focus-puller have to know who's saying what to have them in frame and in focus. And yes, Bruce and Ted are wonderful at coming up with new lines for their characters, but they do it in advance. Weather-wise, it pissed rain on us all the time on Xena and Herc, nearly everyday at some point, as it just did in Bulgaria, too, but you just keep shooting. Interestingly, I think, unless you back-light rain you can't see it, so if you just put a silk (which is a big parachute that light comes through) over the actors and the camera's heads, no one knows it's raining.

Josh

Name: Matt D. T.
E-mail: msturnbull@comcast.net

Josh,

I've noticed amongst the films you count as your favorites, as well as your various essays/written works/FAQ responses that it would appear your primary candidate for whether a movie is "good" or not, is its story.

Although I agree with you that most modern filmmaking today tends to be crap, I'm not sure I've got the same basis for my opinion, in that for me, the story takes backseat to the experience of watching something. Generally speaking, I've never seen a story committed to film (and I've seen a large percentage of the films on your favorites list) nearly as good as many of the stories I have read. I find books/magazines/short fiction to be more than adequate for telling stories with excellent plots & character development, the only place they lack punch is on presentation (in that I don't get a visible spectacle with my expository meal.)

Whenever I've seen you complain about modern film, it has always appeared that you've stated that people aren't making great stories anymore. Whenever a young filmmaker hits you up for advice, you tell him/her to make sure they've got a story to tell. This seems counter-intuitive to me.
I feel a lot of great films (those I count amongst my favorites,) have flourished with really lack-luster or derivative storylines, but truly epic visual feats. The film "Hero", is a good example of this. This is a film who's director of photography I'd be honored to have touch me in places I don't let my wife, who's storyline was though thematically appropriate, rather common.

As far as a filmmaking team is concerned the director/producer/writer each have an important role to play, and maybe this is just my perspective as a producer in a different but similarly pathed (and getting closer all the time) industry, but I've always felt that the director is about the What, the writer is about the Why, and the producer is about the How.

In books, I look for the Why. In film (unless I'm reading a screenplay,) I look for the What. I'm thinking your a Why guy.

As far as film today is concerned, there's a number of problems worse than the Why. They're telling the same 20-25 story's they've always told.
"The man who betrays his people and seeks acceptance/trust from those he betrayed them too."
"The winding characterization piece, with the odd twist."
"The Epic heroic tale."
"The former hero who needs help to return to his old state, seeking advice from various mentors."
"The Meaning of Christmas-Film Form."

For me, the lack of innovation in filming techniques and cinematography, as well as general photography and the arts of costuming/set design are all much more lackluster now then they were in the past, relying on computer effects too heavily. Also, camera filters (though interesting when applied judiciously,) are often the suck. Traffic comes to mind immediately.

This gets me to my question, why are you so obsessed with story?

And out of the elements that make up a film's story, which is more important to you, theme, mood, characterization, or plot?

None the less, on the "unexamined life" principle, I just thought I'd mention to you some observations I'd made from perusing your wildly entertaining website, as a preface for my questions.

Can't wait to see A.A. in January, I've missed seeing Renee on the telly.

Oh, and your politics rock.

Thanks!
Matt D.T.

Dear Matt D. T.:

I think you put forth a very reasonable, intelligent argument, but of course I disagree. Feature films are a storytelling form. You must have a story to tell or there's absolutely no reason to make a feature film. If you want to just goof around with film equipment, then make a short. But if you expect me to sit there for 75 or more minutes, it's the story that will keep me interested, then secondarily how you visualize it. If you have a great script, then you don't need a great director to make a good film. But a great director is left high and dry without a good script. I haven't seen Yimou's "Hero," but something like "Crouching Tiger . . ." to me is just visual masturbation, and ultimately a big bore. Quite frankly, I find all martial arts films to be asexual pornography, where you fast-forward through the crap between the sex/fight scenes, and those are just like all the others. What's most generally most important in writing is characterization and motivation, then plot. If can empathize with the characters then I can care and get lost in the film. As an example, I just watched "Miracle," which is okay in a button-pushing, sports-film kind of way, but I never get to know any of the hockey players, so I never really cared. Yes, human nature makes me want to see the underdog win, but it could have been a whole lot more than that. At the end they show still photos of each of the players, and I felt like I'd never even seen three-quarters of them. That's just bad writing. Feature films are the merging of several artistic forms: writing, directing, acting, music composition, editing, etc. But it all begins with the script, which almost nobody is interested in putting in the time it takes to do properly anymore. And it's not rocket science, either. But you can't make a good film from a bad script. End of story.

Josh

Name: Angelo
E-mail: aem00327@marymount.edu

Dear Josh:

Aside from the many things that bother me about your articles about politics (such as the fact that only recently have I seen you bother to even mention any kind of statistic or anecdotal evidence), your point about Moore's movie being 100% truthful-simply because somewhat of a counter-point isn't true, that Bush hasn't sued him-is ridiculous on its face.

Just take one example. Moore's movie holds up Richard Clarke as the moralist in all of Bush's immorality. And, of course, it claims that Bush sent out his bin Laden buddies on the day after Sept. 11. Not only was the first reporter to report on that story shortly after it happened have a different story, the 9/11 comission had Richard Clarke testify that not only was he responsible for the dozens of Saudis leaving the country, but it happened several days after Sept. 11, and he was solely responsible. Bush had nothing to do with the decision, as he claimed, because this was one of many decisions he made with the CIA that did not go above him.

And this is just a little of my own advice-it does you no service to prop up your position and ideaology as perfect, and as the enemy's as 100% wrong, as you claim of Bush. Because once you do that, any hole poked in your beliefs makes the whole thing come down. It's much more useful to decipher between what's true and what isn't, and in this case, just where Bush has gone wrong-as opposed to saying he's a 100% failure. Otherwise, it becomes hard to admit truths which don't reflect your worldview, such as Richard Clarke admitting Bush had nothing to do with the bin Ladens leaving the country after Sept. 11.

Dear Angelo:

I agree with you, but I'm really using hyperbole to get a rise out of people, just like you. The real issue with Bush supporters, and those on the fence, too, is that they're picking on details and ignoring the major issues. Why were 25 of the bin Ladens here in America? They were visiting George Bush, Sr. Why did Richard Clarke have to make that decision to allow the flights to leave? Because the president wanted it. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I don't want a president who does business with our worst enemies; misleads us into a needless war; ignores the intelligence given to him by his intelligence services; and clearly has his own agenda that has nothing to do with what's best for our country. The idea that Bush's biggest knock against Kerry is that he flip-flops, when in fact most of this country was fooled by Bush about WMDs (I wasn't, but that's another story), is ludicrous. Bush makes 100% wrong decisions, then sticks to them like glue -- that doesn't make him a better leader, it makes him a complete idiot. A smarter person realizes they've made a mistake and corrects it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Got lots of "Apocalypse" questions for you. What's the next step? Looping? Do you get to supervise that? At what stage will the musical score be added? And are the cgi-effects the very last element to be added? And how much input - if any - will you have at that stage (like if a particular effect sucks?)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

You give good questions. I just supervised the looping, and the American actors did a helluva job replacing the Bulgarians, considering that when Bulgarians speak English it looks like they've got marbles in their mouths. The only advice that we could give to the actors on many occasions was "Good luck." Joe LoDuca has the film and is beginning his process. The digital effects are being done and are coming in bit by bit, and they look pretty good, too. Yes, I have input on them, and have made a number of suggestions already, which the FX guys are very happy to deal with. It's all coming together.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Though there may be other postings in the pipeline in response to comments regarding the veracity of Michael Moore's assertions in Fahrenheit 9/11, I felt compelled to add my two bits.

Anyone who's heard from *anybody*, liberal or conservative, that the facts in Fahrenheit 9/11 are anything less than rock solid is having a load of smoke blown up their ass. All the facts in Moore's film have been fully checked and vetted out for accuracy. There is a list of all assertions made in Fahrenheit 9/11 with their sources here: http://www.michaelmoore.com/warroom/f911notes/index.php?id=16

I would encourage anyone who's not seen the film to do so - it's hard to look at Bush the same way once you've seen a goodly portion of his misleadership laid out in sequence. If nothing else, you right-leaning folks should at least see what your dreaded foe is up to, yes?

I agree that the fact that nobody has laid a legal hand on Moore is less irrefutable proof than vindication that everything in the movie is true. However, when you consider the hyper-aggresive M.O. of the Bush PR juggernaut and the willingness to attack anyone they percieve as a threat, the lack of direct action against Moore can be seen as de facto acknowledgment that his facts check out. Anyone who doubts that hasn't been paying attention to how the Bush machine opperates. I'm sure Rove and his ilk were grinding their teeth when the film came out, but fuck `em - they don't have a legal leg to hop around on.

And as far as the assertion that anyone who supports Bush as a traitor -
while it *is* a tactic Bush and his handlers have been using for a while, you have to ask yourself, which is the greater treason? Supporting a man who could quite easily be labelled the most whored out, unelected, duplicitous, anti-constitution, anti-peace, explotive "leader" this country has ever known, or letting him slip through one of the most un-American agendas in the history of our country without raising the alarm?

Admittedly, that *is* more oppinion than fact, but those of us who see Bush and his owners for what they truly are (flunkies for the oil/military/industrial corporate interests) feel that the facts are firmly enough on our side to call Bush a traitor. It's my humble oppion that people who don't see Bush in a similar light are willfully ignoring the host of facts against him.

Okay, soap box is being put away now. As always, fight the good fight!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Thank you for the link and backing up my assertions. I seriously and honestly do believe that a vote for Bush is treason, and as paranoid and fearful as you may be, a vote for Bush means you hate America. Four more years of this moronic jerk will be irreparable to this country. A vote for Bush means that you really want to see every kid in this country get shot at in Iraq for no good reason, even down to infants, because he'll make sure we're stuck there for at least 20 more years. And what about this CIA report that was just made known, that the CIA doesn't believe that Democracy will ever come to Iraq, that the chaos will just keep getting worse, and that a civil war may very well be coming, and Bush has know this info for 3 months, but has been ignoring it and, as usual, lying in every one of his campaign speeches? Isn't that enough for you conservative right-wingers? What is going to take? Even my dad, who is a Republican and a member of the Republican 500 Club, can't bring himself to vote for Bush this time around. This gives me hope that there is a big part of Bush's "base," meaning the fiscal conservatives, who are not voting for him because he's screwed the economy so severely. There is hope.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I've just finished ARSENIC AND OLD LACE for like the third time. I wish they'd make more movies like this. I like the idea that Cary Grant thinks he's above everyone cause he has to live up to a family name, then finds out everyone in his immediate family has gone dangerously insane. That's a great twist. I also got a kick out of Dr. Einstein telling Raymond Massey his two little old aunts are just as good serial killers as he is. Plus the injoke that Raymond Massey looks like Boris Karloff and Boris Karloff was in the original play. Why can't comedy be this funny anymore? Look what we have now: Without a Paddle. A remake of DELIVERANCE. And then Resident Evil 2... which looks more unwatchable than SUPER MARIO BROTHERS... just the look of it from the trailer is unwatchable. Damn man, a film should look entertaining from the trailer, not crappy. I liked the Trailers to TORA! TORA! TORA! and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. I guess if the movie is really THAT good, you can give away the point of the film in the trailer rather than the scenes. Then again, I liked the trailer to SHAKES THE CLOWN... shudder.

Dear kdn:

Yeah, but "Arsenic and Old Lace" would have been a lot funnier on stage with Boris Karloff, and having everyone keep saying that he looked just like Boris Karloff, that's the joke. Raymond Massey really doesn't look all that much like Karloff. But Cary Grant is at his astounded, bug-eyed best. His little shrieks of astonishment and horror are wonderful. Meanwhile, Bruce finished the first cut of "The Man With the Screaming Brain," and everyone LOVES it and thinks Bruce and Ted are hysterical. I intentionally didn't watch it in this rough-cut form because I want to see it finished, but it sounds great. And the innumberable digital effects are coming along nicely on "Alien Apocalypse." The voice replacement of Bulgarian accented actors to Americans went very well.

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

The boxers in "Next Champ" are super middleweights/light heavyweights. Whoever wins gets a promotional contract with Oscar's Golden Boy promotions.

Did you get a chance to see Miguel Cotto on HBO this past Saturday? I thought he was very impressive. He seems to get better with every outing. If you're out of town for ODLH-Hopkins they'll replay it on the 25th...

Looking forward to seeing the boxing short posted...

Dear Rich:

Yes, of course I watched the Cotto/Santos fight, and Miguel Cotto did look great. He's the new big man of Puerto Rico, picking up the torch from Felix Trinidad (I think Tito will kick poor Mayorga's butt). The De La Hoya/Hopkins fight is tonight and I can't wait. Although I'd love to see Oscar win, and I like him very much, I must lean toward Hopkins. This is his natural weight, and Oscar has come up in weight so his punch won't be nearly as devastating as it was at 154. Even though Bernard is 38, I think he's a monster, and very smart, too. It will be a good fight, at least for us boxing fans, although it may very well go the distance.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Howdy Josh,

It's been a while. My fellow Xena goobers and I got on the discussion of unproduced Xena scripts and story ideas. Somebody mentioned that they'd heard that Josh Becker had a story idea involving the last days of Socrates. It was called 'Socrates On Trial' and it was supposed to air during Season 2.

Is this true, and if so, can you tell us about the plot?

It was also mentioned that Ted at a convention spoke of an episode idea - "Weekend at Joxer's" - where the 3 get marooned on an island and the local populace mistakes Joxer for a god. LOL! Sounds like a comedy they'd choose Becker to direct. But maybe Ted was just pulling legs. Do you know of this idea or any other story ideas that never made it far?

Dear Diana:

I've posted a few of my unproduced Xena treatments, and I think I have one for Socrates story, too, and I'll look around for it.  [here it is --webmaster]  No, I never heard of the "Weekend at Joxers," but then I was not in the loop like Ted was. I did just see Lucy yesterday and she looks terrific, as always.

Josh

Name: William Brace
E-mail: weirdscience22@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hello, I am from Michigan (lapeer). I am a RAPID movie fan, and writer. I have worked as a comedy writer for a TV show out of Detroit (Switchplaytv). I know I am about to seroiusly piss you off. As one Michiganite to another Will you give me a chance to prove myself to you. I will do anything, including giving you a lifetime supply of magic mushrooms [one of the other gifts god has blessed me with]. I am a hard worker. Please write me back even if it is to tear me a new asshole. If you do not I will continue to write you. I will do anything, even be your personal assistant for free. I know how hard it is to get into show business. So go ahead, and tell me what a jerk I am for asking you for this. But if you give me a chance I will repay you a thousand fold. Everybody gets their big break somewhere even when it is the result of years of hard work, and dedication. I am not an ass kisser, and I do not play games.

Dear William:

I suppose you mean you're a RABID film film, as am I. I completely understand your desperate need to get into the film biz, I felt the very same way. Sadly, there's nothing I can do for you except give you advice. Make your own films and make them as good as you possibly can. Shoot on DV with your friends, do whatever you have to do, but get out there and make movies. And make the very best movies you can make, which means spend some time thinking up a good idea, and actually write a script. That's what you have to do. Hooking yourself to someone else, or being someone's assistant, isn't the answer. Be your own man right from the start. Although this isn't empirically true, and to quote Goethe, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." Good luck, and write in any time you'd like.

Josh

Name: Edith
E-mail: arosedagger@aol.com

Dear Mr. Becker:

Just wanted to let you know I really enjoy reading your essays and stories. You have a way of expressing yourself very clearly and precisely in both opinion and fiction.

As for directing? Well,...hehehe keep it up. I am the proud owner of my own copy of Running Time! Very cool.

Thank you for being true to you!

Edith

Dear Edith:

Well, thank you. I do my best, and that's the most we can all do, right? I was speaking with a young filmmaker yesterday in the LA airport, and as I said to him, if you just make the films you honestly believe are good -- whether or not they actually are -- that's what will fix the film business. The second you give in and say, "Oh, hell, I'll just make a horror film because they sell, even though I don't have a good idea for a horror film," you've already thrown in the towel and failed. As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true."

Josh

Name: Cath
E-mail: mscl@ix.netcom.com

Josh -

Thank you so much for posting the Garrison Keillor piece. I know there are (or were) good Republicans -- women and men of conscience. But they aren't coming forward when they're so badly needed -- like now -- to rescue their party from the truly evil neocon clutches of George W. Bush and his handlers.

Keillor can certainly write.

Dear Cath:

Yes, he can write, and he's got a beautiful speaking voice, too. I used to enjoy "The Prairie Home Companion." As he said, now's the time for people to step forward. And if everybody just gets out and votes, historical precedent tells us the Democrat will win, so everybody get out and vote! No excuses!

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Josh,

Underground filmmaker Simon Nuchtern received a special thanks on Evil Dead. What did he have to do with the film? Have you seen any of his films?

Dear Daniel B.:

I remember the name, but I don't remember what he did. No, I haven't seen any of his films.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dalty_smilth@hotmail.com

Hey Josh, been awhile. I read your most recent essay, and I must say I'm a bit surprised at you for accusing anyone who supports Bush of treason. I'm sure countless hardcore right-wingers have accused you, whether directly or indirectly, of the same. On the one hand, I applaud you for using your opponents' tactic against them, but on the other hand, I want to ask: aren't you better than that? I mean, I know that since September 11 conservative @$$holes have been saying that anyone who criticizes Bush is unpatriotic, but it seems like all you're doing is saying: "Nuh, uh! YOU'RE unpatriotic." Now I've not seen Fahrenheit 9/11 and as such am not in a position to judge its accuracy, but I've heard from both hardcore conservative AND hardcore liberal sources that the information contained in it is significantly less than 100% true. As to your assertion that because the Bush family has not sued or threatened Michael Moore with a lawsuit, the information in his film must be true, I'm afraid there is a large problem with that logic. If someone were to punch me in the arm and I choose not to respond to it, does that mean that I am admitting I deserved to be punched in the arm? No. There could be many reasons why I choose not to respond. Maybe I feel that instead of going with a knee-jerk reaction to the punch, like punching the person back, I should find a civil manner in which to respond to the punch. Or maybe I've been punched in the arm so many times from so many different directions by so many different people that I don't even notice being punched anymore unless it's a particularly devastating blow. Maybe I'm surrounded by a hostile crowd, and if I dealt with the one person who punched me in the arm, I would leave myself open to attack from the guy who wants to kick me in the shins. But regardless, maybe you're right, about at least one thing. Maybe we do need to get rid of George W. Bush, if for no other reason than it will stop people from whining about George W. Bush.

Dear Ben:

Here, I'll let Garrison Keillor answer this one.

Garrison Keillor has a point or two

By Garrison Keillor

August 26, 2004

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it
was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed
spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their
communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They
were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their
party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists,
the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man,
a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to
vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the
Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in
Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly)
American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned - and
there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were
giants compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to
feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward
down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public
service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the
Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and
fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed
flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in
World War II, took a pass and
made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the
passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on
pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term for date rape," says
Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish
government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into
the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems
and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of
hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists,
fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance
racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats,
nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons,
hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who
believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little
honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their
Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of
information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of
badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild
swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket
lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write
legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine
like cat turds in the moonlight!
O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age
reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of
Divine
Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of
tragedy - the single greatest failure of national defense in our history,
the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a
tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep
secret even as it ran the country
into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed,
hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government
impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was
undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the
American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose
is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this
country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death
knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived
this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours.
The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear - fear, the greatest political
strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered
warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition.
And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip
the bark off the Constitution,
eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a
standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida
recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming
back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our
history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And
patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man
who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time. Whenever I
think of those New Yorkers hurrying
along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward
their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think
of that
non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a
little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in
November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second
term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as
embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and
communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads.
They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen
in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and
they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by
Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln
spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to
death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag
burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their
sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and
mark up the constitution on
behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public
airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a
sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however
we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in
time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you,
dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to
life than winning.

Name: lyn bence
E-mail: gabrielle102@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

i was looking at the pics from your current movie 'Alien apocalypse' and i noticed there were photos of Bruce Campbell, but none of Renee is she still in it and when will the film be released next year?

Dear lyn:

Yes, Renee is in it, I just don't have any photos of her. It will be on U.S. TV in January.

Josh

Name: carrie
E-mail: carrierosser@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

How about dinner?

Dear Carrie:

You live in Detroit?

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

"The Next Great Champ" is a farce to say the least. I laughed out loud when they made they strapped them upside down and made them do sit-ups/punch buttons to test their "skill".

I'm eager to see ODLH-Hopkins as well. I do think Oscar has a chance but he has to sustain perfection for all twelve rounds. He has a bad habit of fading in big fights (Mosley, Trinidad) and can't afford to do that against a strong finisher like Hopkins. Hopkins has a way of luring fighters into his traps and taking them into deep water so I see Oscar being battered in the late rounds. But you're right in suggesting Hopkins could show his age real soon...Makes for an intriguing bout.

Any chance we can see the screenplay of "The Final Round" posted? What was the story about?

Rich

Dear Rich:

I'll be posting the film itself soon. The world heavyweight champion has brain damage and they need to find a sucker to fight him who won't beat him, so they go to a boxing gym and find a young man who's not much of a boxer -- me -- to fight the champ. This is my one and only starring role, and I must admit I'm not very good. Bruce plays the promoter, Sam plays the former champ. It's a silly little movie, but the first well-planned production any of us had ever done. Bruce and I put it all together, and it all came together pretty well, other than the script and the lead actor. This was 1977, so we were 19 years old.

Meanwhile, what weight class do you think those guys in "Next Champ" are? If they're very lucky Oscar will beat Hopkins, then the winner of the show will fight the executive producer, who might take pity on them. If they have to fight someone like Diego Corrales or Bernard Hopkins they're in deep shit. I really like Oscar De La Hoya, and I think he's a very tough fighter, but as he's moved up the weight classes he can't seem to KO anybody anymore. Maybe he should've stayed down at 154. But Hopkins is 38, I believe, and that's getting kind of old for a boxer. It'll be a good fight.

Josh

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

Josh,

Another good camera rig is a sash or rope harness which you can attach to the camera and have two people holding each side of a length of rope(or two ropes which is more secure) with the camera in the middle( craddled in a harness made out of more rope).

When the two people holding the rope(s) can move towards or away from the subject from the front or behind, and they can move in towards each other to make the camera dip down slightly or drasticly as well as move back and pull the ropes tight which can then creates a floating upward movement.

it takes a little rehersal keeping the camera straight etc.., but the effects can be cool and give a floating effect as well as movement, but a wide angle lens must be used as well or the movement will be too much.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Or you can simply mount the camera on a foot-long piece of 2x4, hold either end and run like hell. Or you can lie down on a floor dolly, for going under cars, and be pushed along for low-angle tracking shots. Or here's a novel idea, try not moving the camera and only cutting, or not cutting.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

What are your suggestions for cheap modes of producing a good tracking shot, long shot or having the feel of a dolly? If your audience is students, what's the cheapest and most effective? I find a wheelchair DP (or a cameraman on castors) works best.

Dear Brett:

Yeah, a wheelchair is the way to go. We used them all the way through our short films, as well as on the first few features, too. Many of the moving shots in both "Evil Dead" and TSNKE are with a wheelchair. The drawback is that it must be a reasonably smooth surface, or you have to lay down plywood, euphemistcally called "Dance Floor." There's nothing wrong with hand-held, either, as long as you use a fairly wide-angle lens, like 35mm or wider to remove the bumps, which is also a good idea on a wheelchair, too. Another cheap, sort of impressive camera move, to get the extreme low-angle from behind shot was invented by Sam on "Evil Dead," called Blank-O-Cam, which is the cameraman lying on a blanket, and four people holding the ends of the blanket, lifting the cameramn just slightly off the ground, and floating them behind somebody or something. With a really wide-angle lens it's a cool shot.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66mac.com

Josh,

To ad to your rant on Bush and Iraq, i caught Bill Maher's show the other night and one of his guest was Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld).

He was pretty much silent through all the debates and then the discussion about Iraq harboring terrorists came up and he said something that i absolutely agree with when it comes to attacking any country under such pretenses.

He said and I paraphrase: "We need to understand that what we are dealing with when it comes to Iraq is not fighting terrorism, it is fighting 'terror' meaning that a great many people in Iraq are terrified of the US coming in and messing with their culture, and in turn they are fighting for what is rightfully theirs in the first place. You can't go into a country and force your own culture on that country and expect them to just step in line. It never works and it never will work. You can win battles, but you will never defeat the concept of terrorism, it will always exist and has always existed at the cost of thousands of lives."


I don't believe you can declare a war on terrorism because terrorism is a tactic which is the result of many things including what we are doing in Iraq. So many people worship Che Guevara, but remember the main reason he was found and killed is because of one the biggest mistakes he made in his life.

He went to Bolivia and tried to start a revolt against the fascist government, and he tried inspire the peasants and workers into a revolutionary movement. The trouble is many of them did not want any part of it because they were quite content with their lives. His movement failed and he was finally caught and shot by a firing squad.

And this was an intelligent man who helped free Cuba, but became caught up in his own ideals about what South America should be when he did not count on how others wanted to live their lives.

Basically he went too far and that is precisely what the Bush administration has done in Iraq. We had seen this in Vietnam and we should know better.

My point is almost all revolution comes from within. It takes either economic circumstances or the will of the people from within the country or nation to incite change, but an outside entity imposing its culture and belief systems on another culture never works. It only harbors animosity. Enticing Iraq with our money is a good bribe, but as we are seeing, not everyone wants to be bribed there and i don't blame them.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Yes, that's a very good point. We're not fighting "terrorism" in Iraq, we're fighting a needless war in Iraq and the "insurgents" are using terror tactics on us. We will not defeat terrorism in Iraq, nor will we defeat it anywhere else. It's simply a tactic. What we're doing in Iraq is inciting terrorism against us. And since it seems to be getting a response I'll repeat it -- a vote for Bush is treason. You must want many more American soldiers to needlessly die in Iraq, our deficit to get larger, our poverty rate to increase, our jobless rate to increase, and the division in country to get stronger if you vote for Bush.

Josh

Name: Dave
E-mail: daveshubcaps@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

I find your comments regarding Bush as treasonous rather odd, to say the least. Particularly your reasoning as to exactly what Bush's mandate was after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Also, I find your reasoning behind why F9/11 is 100% factually accurate to be faulty. For example, the following link is to an article that contains no less than 59 deceits in Moore's film.

http://www.davekopel.com/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm

I wonder, did you actually do any research before you went on to make such a proclamation?

Also, do you not remember what Bush said three years ago? He proclaimed a war on all terroists and those who harbor them. Now Saddam may not be directly linked to 9/11, but to say he was absolutley no threat and was not harboring terrorists of any kind is to ignore the last 15 years of history.

I would hope you peruse the link I have provided and see how that holds against your opinion.

Dave

Dear Dave:

The link you sent is, for the most part, horseshit. You need to watch the documentary "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election" to get a much clearer view of what occured. Everything in that article you sent about purging the felons from the Florida voter's lists is crap. Kathrine Harris, Florida Secretary of State and head of Bush's Florida campaign, as Michael Moore said, "the vote-count woman," made sure that the electronic net used to purge the felons was as wide as humanly possible -- much wider than that company had ever used before -- so that if you had the same birthdate or last name as a felon, you were purged, and that was 500,000 voters, mainly black and mainly democrats. Once you add those votes back in, Gore would have won by a huge margin. If the Democrats had demanded a hand recount for the whole state, which was their right, Gore would have won. The fact that James Baker got on TV every night and proclaimed that hand recounts were not trustworthy and the whole country was about to fall into chaos and rioting was complete shit, too. Hand recounts are more trustworthy than the machines, and the most recent precendent for that was set in Texas when Bush was governor. Garbage like Gore's "victory rally," which Michael Moore "made it seem" like it was later than it was, is a problem with the viewer, not the film. But the core issues presented, that the Bush family has done business with the bin Laden family, that the bin Ladens were visting George, Sr. on 9/11, that the bin Ladens, and 100 other Saudis, all got to leave the U.S. on 9/12-13, the only flights leaving this country, which was illegal because the FBI didn't get to question these 25 bin Ladens, the closest connections we had to the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks. That Bush lied over 230 times on TV and in print to get us into a needless war with Iraq, on and on, are all true. But you and everybody else have to understand that there is no such a thing as a "true documentary." You have to take each fact individually. I just watched a documentary on Ronald Reagan, and Goddamn did they try as hard as they could to make him look like a good president, and ultimately just couldn't. This was the PBS show "American Experience," and they had Nancy and the kids and Bushes Jr. & Sr., so it was totally authorized, and it was severely slanted. But you can't alter some facts, like he tripled the deficit and doubled the unemployment rate. But nobody screams and yells when they try to make a schnook like Reagan look good. And you don't have to do anything really to make George Bush look bad, he's never made a correct decsion.

And another thing, when Bush rushed us into a needless and pointless war with Iraq, he set a completely arbitrary deadline, and when neither our allies nor the U.N. would go along with him, he turned on our allies and discredited the U.N. for absolutely no good reason, and has never had to answer for this. The U.N. is a good and necessary organization in our global village, and to discredit and negate them, when in fact their inspectors had the best intelligence going, all of which has subsequently been proven true, was criminal. As former secretary of defense, Robert MacNamara, says in the film "Fog of War," (and I paraphrase), "If you can't convince your own allies, people with similar values as you, that a war is a good idea, then it's not a good idea." That was the case with Vietnam, and that is the case with Iraq. Since the Persian Gulf War Saddam Hussein did nothing. He was no threat to anyone, us or his immediate neighbors. The former head of Iraq's weapons program has stated that they had nothing and were developing nothing. All they had a was a big-mouth dictator strutting around in a military uniform, thumbing his nose at the USA. That's it. The second we made a move he went and hid in a hole. And no matter how hard you try you cannot morph Saddam Hussein into Osama bin Laden, they're two distinctly different people. Saddam Hussein was up to nothing; Osama bin Laden and his organization blew up the World Trade Centers and killed 3,000 people. We can kill Iraqi "insurgents" until the cows come home and it will NEVER avenge the attacks on 9/11!
Whether we attack Iraq, Rawanda, or Switzerland, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11! Get with the program!

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Surprised to read you're a boxing fan. Were you able to go to any of the bouts in the Detroit area in the 80s (any of the Kronk fighters, Hearns, Kenty, McCrory, etc.)? Have you ever considered writing a screenplay centered around a fighter?

Rich

Dear Rich:

No, I didn't go to any of those fights. I just watch boxing on TV, but I watch I all of it: Friday Night Fights, Sunday Night Fights, ShoBox, CSI Boxing, Ballroom Boxing, etc. I'm very eager to see De La Hoya vs. Hopkins weekend after this one, although I'll be out of town and I'll have to work that out. Bernard's no youngster, so De La Hoya could take him. Meanwhile, Oscar's new reality show, "The Next Great Champ," is pretty idiotic. All of these unranked fighters with no records fight each other in a series of elimination bouts, then the winner has to fight the champ? I'm not sure which weight class they're in, but an unranked fighter with no record has to get in the ring with Diego Corrales or Corey Spinks? It's insane. I wrote and made a short boxing film, "The Final Round," back in 1978. I've thought about a boxing story, but I haven't come up with one that I like.

Josh


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