Q & A    Archive
Page 128

Name: Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The election is Tuesday. I was thinking of a possible scenario. There will be no clear winner because too many states will be too close to call. Eventually the Supreme Court will declare Bush to be the winner. The Republicans will retain control of both houses of Congress. The Democrats will boycott the Supreme Court decision by walking out of congress. The Republicans will declare the absent members as being in contempt of Congress and will vote to expel all absent members. The Congress will then resemble the long Parliament of Oliver Cromwell. A national emergency will be declared and the Congress will vote to declare Bush President for life. Bush will accept. A lawsuit will be place to determine the Constitionality of the president for life declaration. The SC will either refuse the case, or say it is Constitutional. As a last resort the Congress will vote to expand the SC to get the desired result.

Do you think this is fiction or possible?

On another note, what is all the negativity about your directing career. You have a movie - Alien Apocalypse - coming out on a major cable network and a lot of people are looking forward to seeing it. I would say you are in a good situtation with a lot to look forward to.

Well here's to the next President.

Dear Real Bob:

I didn't mean to give everyone the impression that I'm down-in-the-mouth or feeling negative, because I'm not. I was just trying to be honest and compare my early dreams to my later reality, since I do have 25 years worth of experience now. I think part of my position here is to be a blast of reality to the youthful dreamers, which I was certainly one of. I just met with some folks here in Detroit who have written a feature script, and want to get it made. I told them various scenarios for getting a film made, which all involve going out and raising money. They poo-pooed me, saying they intended to get it to a big studio and wanted to get $20 million to make it. Well, that has nothing to do with the world we live in, and they may as well be hoping to sprout wings and fly to Jupiter. When I became highly skeptical the response I got was, "It's possible, anything can happen." To quote my own dialog from "Hammer," "So is being hit by a meteor," but I wouldn't count on it.

Meanwhile, I don't think anything you've predicted will occur. I think all of the news media has their heads up their asses. John Kerry will win by a clear plurality, the results will not be in dispute, nor will it have to go to the Supreme Court. Then we can all get on with our lives in a somewhat more rational country.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I've wanted to make movies almost all my life. I officially started on this path about 16 years ago. I've been out in Los Angeles for almost 10 years now, struggling along. I've worked as a PA and a mailroom clerk at a major studio. I don't hate Los Angeles as much as you do, but I only like it at all because there's a lot of 'film activity' here.

What have I accomplished in all those years? I've so far written 20 scripts, have at least 4 failed attempts at producing a few of my scripts on my own (in 16mm) and actually did get one 'in the can'. Not worth finishing though.

Where has all that gotten me? All I can say is I've made headway. I optioned a script (paid, still unproduced) and was hired to write a script (extreme low pay and as yet unproduced).

More important, doors have opened. The one big obstacle I don't have to worry about anymore is getting a script read and taken seriously (without an agent either). It truly is all about who you know, but I got to know who you need to know. That's not enough though.

I've had countless 'close calls'. Those are the worst. At first, these 'close calls' sound like done deals. Months turn into years, then they simply just never happen. I don't know what it is, but it's absolutely frustrating and maddening.

Anyone out there thinking about doing this needs to really think long and hard about it. You better love it more than anything and I do mean anything.

That's what keeps me going. In fact, I can't stop even when I try. Right when I say 'I quit', some little thing always happens that sucks me back into it. Usually renewed interest in a 'dead' script I have out there. They all seem to lead nowhere though. When will I learn?

I know of a writer out here who wrote a high concept script and a huge producer took an interest in it. I'm talking huge. A guy who gave one of the biggest working filmmakers today his first break and whose father founded a major studio (to give you a hint).

This producer took this writer and the script to all the studios in town. Guess what? They all passed on it (including the studio this producer's own father founded and the big working filmmaker's studio).

That's when I began to really question what I'm doing. Talent doesn't have much to do with it. It certainly takes a 'talent' to write and make movies, but just because you're talented doesn't mean you'll make it.

Connections don't have much to do with it. What does? I'll never know. As someone else mentioned it's probably mostly luck. Lottery type luck. There's enough good material out here to last several lifetimes. Why add to it? They don't need your script.

Many 'Hollywood' books say it takes talent, perseverence and a little bit of luck to 'make it'. No. It takes a LOT of luck. Planets must align a certain way.

From your perspective, how has the movie industry changed in the years you've been at it? What did you see change in the industry from the time you started to the time you left Los Angeles (besides that movies pretty much suck now). How was the moviemaking 'climate' different back in the 70's (both independent and studio) or was it much different than today?

Dear CD:

Richard Zanuck? Clearly, you're still in Hollywood playing that game because you can't even bring yourself to name the people in your stories due to the fear that someone might read it, tell them, and you'll lose a connection. That is the underlying issue of Hollywood, fear and paranoia. The year I got to Hollywood, 1976, a $1 million film won Best Picture,"Rocky." You think that could happen now? In 1976 a very expensive movie cost $20 million, and your average Hollywood film was probably about $5 million. Now the average film costs over $60 million, and an expensive movie costs $200 million. So, costs have gone up by ten times. But inflation hasn't gone up anywhere near that much, maybe two or three times what it was then. In the preceding years Hollywood stopped making reasonably priced films that might be good, and has gone almost exclusively into the kid's blockbuster business. I once asked Rob Tapert why films cost so much money now? He said that every film in the top ten cost at least $100 million, so obviously you must spend at least that much to make it into the top ten. And that's how they think now -- if it didn't cost at least $100 million, it can't possibly be a big grosser. So, Hollywood is no longer interested in smaller films, the ones that might possibly be good. Since there is the belief that 14-year olds are the main audience, that they have no taste anyway, and you can't possibly know what they're thinking, a film being good has nothing to do with anything anymore. Therefore, no studio executives have any taste of their own anymore since it would just get in their way. That's why I can't and won't play that game anymore. The concept of quality, which was important to Hollywood from the dawn of the film industry up until "Star Wars," and is all-important to me, is gone, and was replaced by overpriced economics. Well, I didn't go into filmmaking with the hope of making blockbusters for kids, nor was I willing to alter my worldview to fit in. I only care about good movies, and if I have to attempt making them for ten cents in my own backyard, so be it. Thanks for your thoughtful letter; it's good to know others are in a similar boat to my own.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I think we all sort of caught you on a "down" day, and coincidentally a couple of questions led you to reflect on your career thus far. Musta been that red moon eclipse thing. But lo and behold - within about 48 hours, look at all the people from all over the country who wrote in to give you a little pep talk.

Sure, you haven't won the Oscar yet. But to the rest of us schmoes, you've done stuff the rest of us only dream of. I remember about a year and a half ago, this same thing happened, and you observed that it wasn't all bad, because you had a script out being reviewed by the Sci-Fi Channel, and had hopes to get revved up on some new scripts too. And sure enough - now you got a honest-to-goodness tv movie coming out in a few months! Yeah, yeah, I know - giant termites may not be where you thought your career was going when you were 18, but then I bet Bruce thought he'd be doing Hamlet back when he was 18.

So buck up, little camper.

Hey how's the music score coming along for "Alien Apocalypse?"

Regards,

August

PS - if you're taking requests for the next Super-8 to be transferred to digital, I'd vote for "Cleveland Smith."

Dear August:

Honestly, I wasn't down. I'm not down now, either. It's called facing up to reality. I know where I stand and I'm not complaining about it, but it's not a msitake to recognize where you are and accept it. The dreams of youth are not necessarily the same dreams one has in middle age. Robert Browning said, "Fame is a thirst of youth," and that's true, I think. By the time one is in their forties, being famous doesn't seem very important anymore. I was giving Bruce shit last night (he's in town). Next year he has coming out, "The Man With the Screaming Brain," his new book, and a Disney film with Kurt Russell he just finished shooting. I said, "Hey, maybe this will be your breakout year." Bruce rolled his eyes since everyone has been predicting his breakout year since "Evil Dead" came out over 20 years ago. Anyway, I don't need to buck up since I'm not down, but thanks for the thought. Meanwhile, Joe LoDuca hasn't started on the music score yet, nor can he until the picture is officially locked, and that won't occur until SciFi signs off, whenever that is.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

I'm sorry to get all Vince Lombardi on you. I truly like your work, and I respect you as a person. I just really want to see your stuff on the big screen is all. Sorry if I came off like a jerk trying to pump you up. I am working on several screenplays right now, and I have made several contacts in the business. So, I am trying to make it myself. Of course, it's my biggest dream. Hopefully, not just a wet one! LOL!!

I'm going to make a prediction for you in the coming year; you will meet a dark headed woman in late spring. Someone you've either met before or spoke to before. She will produce 3 of your films. ($500,000 - $1 million a piece.) You will buy back "Winds of Fate" and make it, too. You will start a new production company. This info comes from a psychic lady my girlfriend made me go see last night for Halloween. She's supposed to be right on. I asked her to predict your future. I sincerely hope all of this comes true for you. :-) I wish you much success and happiness, Josh.

A Becker fan,
Boston

Dear Boston:

You're just all pumped up because your baseball team won. I might actually pay more attention to your advice if you weren't anonymous. Some folks are actually willing to identify themselves, which lends credence to their words. Not that what you were saying, in essence, isn't good advice. I probably should try harder, and I have no doubt become somewhat complacent in my old age. Meanwhile, I don't need to buy back "The Winds of Fate" from anyone since no one ever purchased it. I wish I believed in psychics.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I just wanted to post this for you and anyone who is interested in reading. As you know, I am a huge Roy Harper fan and most people ont this may not have a clue as to who he is, but I think his latest diary entry is excellent, and I think you would enjoy reading it.

He is always long winded, but this one is an excellent read through with only a little meandering in the middle.

The perspective of an intelligent and articulate artist from the U.K..

http://www.royharper.co.uk/shop/display_page.php?page=diary/entry18

Scott

Dear Scott:

He's an articulate guy, but I don't need to hear anymore about this election.

Josh

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

Josh,

Thanks for the documentary recommendations! There is one I would like to recommend to you that I saw when it was in the theaters, and it is now on DVD, and you can get it through Nettle.

It is called "Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy". Goldsworthy is a very cool artist who uses natural settings and natural elements to create his pieces.

The film was very inspiring to me, since I have always enjoyed his work and seeing how he does it was pretty cool!

As for the "Reflections" book, I think it is one of the best film books I own, and like you; I have many.

I have the Leonard Maltin book too which I believe is very good as well.

I agree with you about American Cinematographer, and I subscribed to it for many years, but it had been about 6 years, since I read it and the magazine. I recently picked up a couple free issues when I attended the DV expo and started reading it again, with the exception of a few articles, the magazine is pretty thin on good content and that is mainly because the films are not very interesting.

Although, I have to admit that the article on the film "Collateral" was very good and it was interesting to see how HD is being integrated into features now.

I will leave you with another quote from the book "Reflections". I think it really encapsulates how I used to feel about making films and one of the reasons I chose to become involved in filmmaking.

I want to preface this quote by saying that my feelings about collaboration mirror those of my close relationships with my friends and family. I have worked on projects where absolutely everyone clicked and the feeling of a big family unit permeated the project.

One of those projects was a feature I had worked on for five weeks, and it was truly sad when it ended.

Of course, projects don't always have this environment, and I believe this has much to do with egos and the ability of the director to treat the crew as human beings and not chess pieces.

The main reason that I click with your ideals is because you really value working with your friends that you had grown up with and those times were great for you. I have similar feelings about my friends I worked with and now we are all over the country, which is ok, but it was the loss of innocence I guess, and something many of us never forget.

This quote is from Jack Green who worked with Clint Eastwood after Bruce Surrtees. He shot many of Eastwood's later films including "Unforgiven".

Green talks about another mentor of his, cinematographer Joe Dieves, who prompted his interest in filmmaking.

I personally feel that what he speaks of in this quote has sadly gone away in this business. I think mentoring someone is very important, and I think, in essence, this is what you are doing for others here on your site.

Here is the quote:

"He was such a generous person. He would bring home equipment the night before the shoot, and I would go over to his family's house with my wife; they would feed us and we'd have a laughing time. After dinner he'd spread the equipment all over his living room floor and we would put it all together. I had such a good time; I really got hooked on film. Then he just covered my act: he watched over me and saw to it that I was always finding work. And he always made sure that I was put with people who weren't afraid to instruct.

One day many years later, I said to him, 'I owe you so much, Joe, what can I do to pay you back?' And he answered 'You know all that information you got from me? Pass it on. You'll pay me back.' So I've almost felt as if it was an indictment to pass on knowledge whenever I can. Teaching has its own rewards: not only am I able to pay Joe back, but I am also able to get do much out of it myself."

Dear Scott:

It's a nice quote. Jack Green was the AC for David Worth, the DP I just worked with, who shot "Bronco Billy" and "Any Which way You Can" for Clint Eastwood. Meanwhile, I didn't have a mentor, so I guess it's nice if it happens, but if not, you have to get ahead anyway, that is if you care enough. I do think there's more of mentor relationship in the camera department anyway, going from clapper/loader to 2nd AC to 1st AC to operator. Those are strong professional relationship that entail a lot of trust. On the other hand, being an AD doesn't lead to being a director, and the ADs are generally more on the side of production than on the director's side.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<You can't be what you're not. As Mrs. Raimi once told me, "Josh, not only are you not a good schmoozer, you're insulting." I don't even have to speak, either, because my facial expressions give me away. Not only will I never be a Hollywood insider, I can't bear living in Los Angeles, and I hate taking meetings with film executives and agents. I can't change that. I yam what I yam. It's the big irony of my life that no matter what I may have accomplished, or will still accomplish, I will forever be a footnote to Sam Raimi's career. So it goes.>>

That's okay, you could insult me a 150 times over, it wouldn't faze me. It's just my opinion in film. I have the same fucking problem... if I don't hold my tongue, I'm afraid of what might come out. I'll say one thing and I'll have a totally different meaning to it. Most people notice I'm not trying to insult them, but over the internet you can't translate emotions you just get whatever is written. And I like Good movies too. I love bad movies (or used to) but there is too goddamn many of them, and hollywood doesn't even make them funny in a ridiculous way. A DIRTY SHAME could've been really funny if only it had gone farther over the top. It was just a PG-13 NC-17 with two shots of nudity. If I wanted a trash film, I'd watch a movie about a racist druggie elf who's dug up out of giant watermelon to raise hell, not some knockoff of every other movie out there. I like COOL HAND LUKE and BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (which are far superior) but that's not going to stop me from checking out ROTK EE (the real film, be it bad or not). I want to see all the victims from the 200,000 battle. At the end of the battle, they just show a few dead horses on the battle field, that's because in the real cut, they have a scene where they spend all night picking up the bodies.

Dear kdn:

Shit, I sit here and look at things like ROTK EE and I have no idea what's being discussed. "Return of the King"? What's EE? And shouldn't that have LOTR in front of it? I remember the first time someone used an abbreviation like that and said, "GWTW" for "Gone With the Wind," and it seemed the height of pretention to me. Meanwhile, my candid, frank, and call it insulting, attitude isn't really something I want to change. I don't want to be a great schmoozer, nor have I ever wanted it. To be a great schmoozer means to be a liar, and I decided a long time ago that I would rather tell what I believe is the truth, and whatever happens happens. To create any sort of great art (not that I have, mind you), means that you can spot the truth when you see it and put it to use in your art. If you spend all day everyday lying, truth becomes meaningless and impossible to even recognize.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

After thinking about it...you are really pissing me off! If you had chucked it all in at the beginning, what do you think you would've done? Man, how lucky you are to even get a taste of your dreams!!! You had friends who helped you get your foot in the door, you lucky bastard! They kissed ass and you got a blowjob!!! What a fucking good deal! Pull your fucking jockstrap up, quit complaining, and write something shocking/gritty/bold/powerful!!! Quit pussyfooting around, ya little pansy!!! LOL! :-)

Truly a Becker fan,
Boston

Footnote: Ten years later...Josh gets his head out of his ass and makes his dreams a reality. Sam who? Oh yeah, that guy who used to hang out with Josh Becker.

Dear Boston:

Hey, man, get off my case. I'm not complaining, I was just attempting to explain why I'm where I am, and others are where they are. It's a tough fucking business, and anyone who thinks otherwise has no clue. And if you seriously think that coming up with a great/shocking/gritty/bold idea comes from watching other movies, you have no clue. This isn't a high school football game, and a locker room pep talk won't get anyone anywhere, not that I don't appreciate the effort. But since you seem so clear about what it takes, why don't you do it?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

"Blind Waiter" discussion, huh?

Well, let's see. I thought it was funny as hell. For what it was, of course. I'm guessing Scott was the chef? Funny, I'd always thought of him as taller. And John Cameron was the complaining customer? And I'm assuming Tim Quill had to be another customer? (Can't say I'd recognize him without his shaved head and Fu Manchu mustache from AoD.)

So was it my connection? Or are the voices sort of sped up and much higher in the first few minutes?

And of course the obvious question is..... why did you guys do this to begin with? Just for fun? I mean, I know in high school days you sort of learned your craft this way. But if this was in the 80's, post "Book of the Dead" shooting, then you were already putting together your first feature film, so I'm assuming this wasn't intended to be shown to anyone in the business, right? (As opposed to your short version of "Stryker's War.")

Either way, I'm a sucker for all that stuff - the chef angrily re-claiming the chef's salad is just hilarious.

Looking forward to more....

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Yes, Scott is the Chef, Bruce is the blind waiter, Sam is the stuttering busboy, Rob is the deaf manager, John Cameron is the complaining customer, and Tim Quill is the patron who gets the bone in his throat. It was 1980 and we had just recently returned from making ED, so we were all 21-22. This was the first time that Scott and I collaborated, and we wanted to see what that was like, as well as just getting another movie made. For me, though, I was a tad desperate to make a comedy that was actually funny. I had made two other comedies in the past few years, "The Final Round" and"Acting & Reacting," which nobody thought were funny, so I had something to prove. Meanwhile, I was just writing the short version of "Stryker's War," but there were no plans to make it a feature. That didn't occur for four more years. The speeding up, BTW, was done by Scott during the video transfer. Anything he felt moved too slowly he just cranked up to 24 fps (from 18 fps).

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Bullshit, Josh! If you wanted to make it at this point, you still could and you know it. Write something bold and gritty. Make the sickest psychological horror film ever made. All you need is one hit and you are a major player. Then, people will be begging to produce all of your screenplays. You have cache because you ARE a footnote to Sam's career. Use it!!!! I believe in you and I know you are capable of great stuff. Just get over the hump. Sell out once -- who really gives a shit. How many asses has Rob and Sam kissed, I'm sure they hated it too, but they had the bigger picture in mind. I wish I had the money to produce your films; I would in a heartbeat because I know that you are only one film away from the bigtime. And, if you hate meetings and dealing with Hollywood people, send in your sales agent or get a partner who knows how to pucker up. Sam has always had an advantage because what he lacks, Rob more than makes up for. What you are missing in your life...wife, kids, career, etc. can change at any moment. It's up to you. My sister thinks you are hot and interesting, and she loves film, too. Now, if she was only wealthy enough to bankroll your films!! lol!!! A match made in heaven!

Ask yourself, what is truly scary?

Duel
Deliverance
The Tenant
Peeping Tom
The Hitcher
Cape Fear
The Changeling
Night of the Hunter
The Devil's Backbone
Rosemary's Baby
Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer

If you do make a killer horror film, keep me in mind for a production assistant. I'll work for free or craft service, whichever is better. LOL!

Boston

Dear Boston:

Yeah? What does your sister look like? I sincerely thank you for the apparent faith you have in me, although it may well be misplaced. Finding a producer partner has always evaded me, and you can't just give the job to anyone. Scott Spiegel and I tried, but neither one of us was really a producer. I worked with my good friend, Jane Goe, as producer on my last two features, but she's more of a line producer and wasn't interested in raising money or putting together deals, so it fell back to me. She also doesn't want to be involved in the film industry anymore, either. Sam and Rob finding each other in college was a great stroke of luck for both of them. Look, I'm not lamenting my fate. We all have to deal with whatever life throws in our path. Meanwhile, sales agents are a different breed of animal all together. These sales agents couldn't make a production deal if their lives depended on it. It's not like I have tons of integrity and just won't sell out, I'm more like a hooker standing on a corner who no one will stop for. It's all a lot more difficult than just go for it. Many, many people are just going for it. There's more to it than that.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to add that it would be a 50/50 chance that you would like "Gardern State". I actually liked it, but it took a little time to get moving.

I think the father & son relationship is well played out, but the film had some standard problems that I have found in many films of late.

I actually enjoyed "Station Agent" much more which was also shot in New Jersey, but was a smaller film, no pun intended, or maybe it was...

Scott

Dear Scott:

They'll all get to DVD and cable soon, then I'll see them. I just saw two good documentaries: "Stone Reader" and "Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale," both of which I recommend.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

You're right, yes, infatuated, obsessed, lust, "in love" I would say, but yes I agree with what you mean by love between people who know each other. I'm kind of reminded though, in From Russia With Love Tatiana is supposed to "fall in love" with James Bond's picture, as if he were a film star or actor one might be obsessed with, so I think a lot of people could fall "in love" with Lucy since she is so beautiful and funny and wonderful and an awesome actress. Like me, I would say that I am "in love" with Lucy, I would describe it that way though the other ways you mentioned too of course. So I love to say, Lucy is awesome I love Lucy, but of course I agree that you are right.

Well, I also like westerns, War Wagon for instance, and The Apple Dumpling Gang was funny. Do you know any other comedic westerns? I can think of Blazing Saddles, but I also liked The Shakiest Gun in the West with Don Knotts, and this sexy female character that reminded me of Xena.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

"Support your Local Sheriff" and the sequel, "Support You Local Gunfighter." There was the wonderful TV movie from the '70s, "Evil Roy Slade," with John Astin, which I thought was hysterical at the time. There are also the Bob Hope films, "The Paleface" (which "The Shakiest Gun in the West" is a remake of) and the sequel, "Son of Paleface." There's also the Laurel and Hardy film, "Way Out West," and The Three Stooges' "The Outlaws is Coming."

Josh

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

Josh,

I guess we Scott's think alike in many ways.

What the other Scott said is very true about you, and I can say that because I know you.

I am going to be 38 next week and I am coming to a point in my life where I feel like I haven't accomplished what I felt I wanted to when I was in my 20's either, but I can say that I tried and you are correct that perseverance doesn't always pay off, and I believe that a great deal of what happens to us in life has much to do with a combination of luck, personality, and talent.

To me luck seems to be the key factor in the Hollywood movie industry, and in these times, I can't find any rhyme or reason as to why certain people are more successful than others.

I do agree that you have to be a social butterfly or "schmoozer" to really get anywhere in this industry depending on the job that you want, but some of us put more effort into our craft than we do schmoozing, however, you could argue that schmoozing is as much of a craft as directing or editing.

I find myself going back to a book on Cinematographers I have lately because it is an excellent book not only for the craft of Cinematography, but also for advice on life as an artist which is exactly what you are Josh.

The book was released only a few years ago and it is called "Reflections" - Twenty one Cinematographers at Work. It is expensive to buy new, but I found a used copy for a very good price, and for me, the book was worth every penny.

I mention because there are some very good quotes in it that I wanted to share with you.

One of the best quotes in the book is from the great Haskell Wexler and he says:

"Every film, whether it intends to or not, presents some view of how people interact with one another. In contemporary films, that view is often narrowed and reduced to comic book interrelationships. It seems that such films are deemed more commercial than others. I am not saying that all films are that way, I but I don't know anybody in this business whether they be actors, directors, or cinematographers- who isn't aware of the diminished quality of what we do. But we do it anyway, because we get paid to do it.

Motion Picture artists, from the director on down, try do do what they are assigned to do is often like a child's paint-by-numbers coloring book. They have to fill in the colors on time and by the rules-otherwise, it's not an acceptable product.

In My opinion, we're at a cultural ebb worldwide now. I've been living a long time and it is absolutely the lowest point ever."

That was the exact quote!

Cheer up Josh, you can hang with my kid and me anytime you wish!

Who needs an Oscar anyhow?

Scott

Dear scott:

That sounds like a good book, one I'd enjoy. I have two books of interviews with cinematographers, "Behind the Camera" by Leonard Maltin, and "Masters of Light" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato. I used to read American Cinematographer every month, too, but after a while most of the DPs began to sound alike, so I stopped reading it. The reason I mention Oscars is because they really meant something to me for the first twenty years of my life, and I thought they really mattered. After the next twenty-five years of bad movies receiving Oscars, I no longer care. But, as my sister says,"This isn't a dress rehearsal, this is the only life we get" (unless you're a Buddhist, in which case you get more), so you have to go for as much gusto as you can.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I have a discussion for ya... Where's Johnny Guitar in your top 10 of Westerns? And how come Unforgiven comes before Butch Cassidy? As for the Blind Waitor: How long did it take you guys to shoot the flick? And how did you and Scott work as co-directors? I mean did one concentrate on the shots and one concentrate on the actors? And did you and Scott both write it out together?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Those westerns aren't in order, just as I thought of them. But for me"Unforgiven" does go ahead of "Butch Cassidy," which has many problems, like three needless montages, a silly song, and dated score. And come on,"Johnny Guitar" is a silly, ridiculous, campy movie. When the toughest gunslinger in town is Joan Crawford you know you're in trouble, not that Joan wasn't giving it her all.

Regarding "The Blind Waiter," it was shot in two long nights over a weekend. We arrived as the restaurant as it was closing, shot all night and into the next day, cleared out so they could reopen, then we came back the next night, too. There are actually a few sequences that got cut out, as well. Anyway, I had already storyboarded it, and I operated the camera, Scott kept the comedy atmosphere going for 12 hours at a time and we both worked with the actors. Scott and I had come up with the idea in a restaurant while watching a bad waitress blunder her way through her job. We then went to the restaurant next to the grocery store where Scott worked, Maria's, where we knew they'd let us shoot, then Scott and I just wandered around the empty restaurant pitching gags back and forth. We did that a couple of times until we felt like we had enough gags, then pounded out a short script, which we made Bruce type on his brand new IBM PC Junior computer, the first computer any of us owned.

Josh

Name: Dale Richardson
E-mail: dsrichardson@firstam.com

Josh,

I'd put 'If I Had A Hammer' up against any film of Sam's. That is a geniune great film. Solid. I am by no means trying to bash him by saying this. I am still a comic geek, I loved Spiderman. But it wouldn't stand up next to 'Hammer'.

Hollywood churns out eye-candy and excretainment. You don't.
Footnote?
Blah.

Thanks again,

Dale

Dear Dale:

Geez, thanks a lot. I put my heart and soul (and all of my money) into that film, so it's particularly painful that it hasn't gotten any release at all. For a while there it appeared like I'd attempted to commit suicide by making it. Meanwhile, "Excretainment" isn't bad. My friend Rick used to use a variation of that, describing films as "excremental." That's how I'd describe "I Heart Huckabees" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," excremental.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

You're definitely very welcome about your script, it is an awesome script, and a very original and interesting idea. Well, thanks very much for your advice about obsessing over actresses. You're right, but I also see it differently, because I love Lucy and she has inspired me to be a better, more fulfilled person. I am a very devoted and dedicated fan of Lucy and I've strived to be more like her, free-spirited and funny, and embrace my own individuality. About a girlfriend well girls usually just don't like me. I try not to let it get to me much. I have other problems on that end too. But I've been too used to it, for years. You know when kids go through that phase when they start maturing and everything and they usually start developing more matured relations with the opposite sex, like whatever they do, dates or talking, well I was basically left out of that. Instead I got only pain. Actually at one time around then was the first time I saw "First Blood", and I thought wow look at that tough guy out there alone in the woods, nobody's on his side, but look at him survive. Wow! I would kind of feel like him too sometimes. It was in the fall years ago. So that was inspiring.

Thanks for your advice, but because I am in love with Lucy it means a great deal to me. She helps me to fulfill myself. I love watching her on Xena and anything else. I was very upset when I read in the Metro article about how the nasty so-called "fans" had upset Lucy, that was extremely unfair and those people needed a serious dose of their own medicine so to speak. They think have power over the internet. They've got nothing where I'm concerned, I wish I was on the boards then. I want to greatly support and help Lucy, she is so awesome and amazing and gorgeous and beautiful and perfect, I love Lucy. I understand about fantasy and reality, I love being a loving fan. Being Lucy's loving fan is much more important to me than the girlfriend thing. I might never have one, but I will always love Lucy.

Thanks for understanding Josh you are very kind. I will always respect and admire you because you are a great director and writer and are Lucy's friend.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

You cannot "love" someone whom you do not know, who doesn't know you. You can be infatuated by them; you can obsess over them; you can lust after them, but you can't love them. Love is a mutual experience.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What are your 10 favorite westerns?

Dear Boston:

Lists, what a bore. What happened to discussion? I thought we might get a discussion out of "The Blind Waiter," but there's been almost nothing.

1. True Grit
2. The Wild Bunch
3. The Shootist
4. Hell's Heroes
5. Unforgiven
6. Red River
7. Rio Bravo
8. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
9. My Darling Clementine
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

http://www.udecide.org/downloads/YouDecide-Booklet.pdf

just one more fun link for all the bush supporters to look at.

Dear kdn:

Why anyone would need to see this at this late date I don't know, but here it is.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<Well, I dealt with those shit-heads at Troma for quite a while, and they really are the very bottom of the heap. I'll bet those guys have never returned a penny to any filmmaker ever.>>

Probably not, but their shitty movies ARE really shitty and they ARE out on show which is the most these filmmakers could hope for at the moment. ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT FILMMAKING FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER really is a funny book cause it shows how admittedly incompetent Lloyd Kaufman really is and proves how incompetent can move up the ladder. Also, there are no contracts between Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz for the company since it opened... either one of them could walk out with all the money at any time, yet they're still together making crap. The best story is how Lloyd got kicked out of the DGA because they charged larger fees for him to direct, so he directed under his grandfather's name, then they caught a picture of him in an interview for TROMA'S WAR (worst 2 film leads until VAN HELSING came along) telling this guy with a pig nose to snort and insulting the cast and crew (he always threatens to blow his own brains out and blame it on them). When they confronted him about it, they let him off saying "You call THIS directing?!". He was shortly let go a few months later. He also tried to market a jewish film in synagogues called BIG GUSS WHAT'S THE FUSS? where he spent most of the directing curled up in the opposite corner of the room while the asst. director raised hell. No theater took it and all the synagogues were insulted. This was Michael Herz's great idea. Their history of film is really funnier than anything they ever released. the book also had the same editor (BARRY) as Bruce Campbell's novel. They left the editor's argue notes in the troma book to take up more space... they even insulted him a couple of times.

Dear kdn:

I does sound amusing, but I really so try to avoid the whole shitty, bottom-of-the-heap end of the film industry (even if I may be in it). I know a lot of people that take great pleasure in seeing how awful movies can actually get, but I don't. I know it's rather passe, but I like good movies. Nevertheless, I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to deny you your pleasure. If you'd like to read a very amusing book about filmmaking, may I recommend Charles Bukowski's "Hollywood," about the making of a good, low-budget movie, "Barfly."

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

You aren't a slacker, dude. You just have a raw/take no bullshit personality that doesn't lend itself to schmoozing at all, which is sad because we will probably never get to see what you are truly capable of filmwise. You also only want to direct and produce what you've written, whereas your buddies are willing to produce and direct other people's stuff which provides them with opportunities you'll probably never get. Now, Sam is an A list director and producer. He can write his own ticket. You could be in the same boat. I guess, at this point in your life you have to ask yourself what is more important kissing a little ass to get your films made, or ending up an old man with a wrinkled and faded DGA card folded in his wallet. I am a major fan of yours, so I hope you wet those lips good and make the films I know you are capable of!! :-)

Boston

Dear Boston:

You can't be what you're not. As Mrs. Raimi once told me, "Josh, not only are you not a good schmoozer, you're insulting." I don't even have to speak, either, because my facial expressions give me away. Not only will I never be a Hollywood insider, I can't bear living in Los Angeles, and I hate taking meetings with film executives and agents. I can't change that. I yam what I yam. It's the big irony of my life that no matter what I may have accomplished, or will still accomplish, I will forever be a footnote to Sam Raimi's career. So it goes.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

Your rants about what it takes to make a living in the industry are very telling and honest . What's interesting as well as puzzleing is that those with the best social skills seem to reap the rewards and not only ramain employed, but excell. I'm currently working on a major network show for a very reputable producer, and the amount of ass kissing that permeates the office is unbareable. I have watched many people. who do their jobs very well, get fired because of personality issues, and I'm not talking about issues that are unacceptable. These people were merely shy, but did superb work. I over heard an EP stating that his underlings had to be lively people with entertaining personalities who would kiss his ass at the drop of a dime. God forbid they actually know how to do their jobs. That is the disheartening aspect of this industry. In regards to perseverence, I agree that it doesn't provide any gaurantees, however from my own observations it may not get you exactly where you want to be, but it will usually get you somewhere. I have never met anyone who has persevered and failed miserably every time. Is it possible? Of course, but I have yet to see it. In your case, I think that you have done quite well for yourself considering the odds. You have written and directed five feature films, and have directed quite a few TV shows. That ain't chopped liver, and the fact that people come to your website, and actually give a shit about your work is pretty damn great! you may not have 5 mansions, millions of adoring fans, or the ability to greenlight what ever you want, but you've certainly done more than most who give it the old college try, and who needs five mansions anyway? To me, what you have accomplished says a lot, and is inspireing as well, because perseverance has worked in your favor.

Dear Scott:

But then you get to the next level, which is recalibrating your goals to what actually seems possible. When I was 25 I certainly wanted to be rich and famous and win Oscars. By the time I was 45, I had discarded all of those goals as unreasonable and probably unattainable. Now my goal is to keep doing what I do and keep making a living at it. But if the goals of youth mean anything, just because I've persevered hasn't caused me to achieve any of them. But if I had been given a clear picture of what my life was going to be like 20 years later--single, no kids, living in Detroit in a small house with three cats, no fame, no fortune, no Oscars -- I might well have chucked in the whole thing at the beginning.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

No offense to to you Josh... but Entertainment starved? I showed it to him in respect of you, Bruce, and Scott did. And why do you diss Troma so much? They have done nothing but movies that the fans have want them to put out. They have a strong fanbase... and they have put out three of the best scriptwriters out there: Trey Parker, James Gunn, and Trent Haaga. I just hope that Lloyd puts them all to work and can afford them when he can. Did you ever try to send anything to Troma? Maybe you should try. You could at least get Bruce to act in it. Lloyd would love to produce it I'm sure

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I didn't base my disparaging comments on nothing, I dealt with those assholes for over six months on a regular basis when we were attempting to set up a distribution deal with them for my film TSNKE, and they're really awful to deal with. They finally made life so miserable for myself and the sales agent that we told them to get lost. Let's face facts, shall we? Troma makes the worst shit movies on the planet Earth. My entertainment starved comment was a joke. I was kidding. I say, that's a joke, son.

Josh

Name: abadactor@hotmail.com
E-mail:

Josh,

Who are some of your favorite modern actors? Are there any young actors you like? Do you think trained actors are better than instinctive actors? Have you ever experienced a time when an actor couldn't get what you were after as a director and needed multiple takes? What did you do?

Best of luck to you!

Dear abadactor:

You end up having to shoot multiple takes of just about everything. Actors and the crew rarely get it all exactly right the first time, it usually takes a couple of takes just to get warmed up. Yes, I've had many actors not give me what I wanted, and each time is it's own ordeal with it's own solution. As an example, Anthony Quinn wouldn't hit any of the marks I had set for him under any circumstances, he'd just wander wherever he felt like it, then I had to quickly improvise what coverage I would need to construct the scene. I thought about this a lot, then decided to begin shooting all of Quinn's scenes with his close-up, which not only appealed to his vanity, it made better use of his limited energy (he was 82 at the time), and, best of all, when I got around to shooting the wide shot, Quinn knew if now didn't hit my mark I would have to reshoot his close-up, which he was really not interested in, so he hit my mark. I had an actress who was terrific at the audition, seemed just fine in person, then when the day came to shoot her big scene she stuttered every line, and no matter how many takes I did, she still stuttered. Now, I could have stayed there forever, burned up all of my film, and not gotten the rest of the scenes on the schedule, or figured out an answer. The answer was simply, I'll have to replace her voice with another actor's in post-production. Having concluded that in my head, I then treated her stuttering like it wasn't a problem and finished the scene. So, whatever the problem may be, it's the director's job to figure out an answer right there. Regarding contemporary actors, there are many I like, but nobody seems to be doing very good work lately, which isn't their fault, it's the material. And I definitely like working with trained actors, and the more trained and experienced the better.

Josh

Name: monkeyman
E-mail:

hey josh,

you always say any monkey can be a director, but seriously where do you learn the techniques? I mean, if you are just starting out, how do you know what a 1-shot, 2-shot, closeup, pan, etc. are? how do you learn to set up a crew (and actually have them listen to you?)Seems like there is a lot more to do than just turn the camera on and shoot a couple of actors.

thanks,
monkeyman

Dear Monkeyman:

Yes, that's true. There are three choices, or any or all combinations of the three: 1. just go out and start doing it, 2. read books about it, 3. study other movies and see what those directors have done. I'm convinced that in the process of learning filmmaking it's very important to make every possible mistake, recognize the mistake, then you won't do it again. I only had to shoot my over-the-shoulder shots incorrectly once to learn how to never do that again.

Josh

Name: Leon
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Not a question. Thanks for semi-opening my eyes regarding the HUAC and Kazan. I will certainly read his book.

Still think the whole thing is fucked but I do realized he was not in a good situation.

Thanks,
Leon

Dear Leon:

It was fucked up, and it was all based on fear, just like Bush's campaign. But holding grudges against the poor, unsuspecting citizens who were caught in that mess is like, in my opinion, holding it against people who believed there actually were WMDs in Iraq, and of course, were wrong (luckily, I'm not one of those people). But when the government takes a staunch position on something it's very difficult for average citizens to disagree.

Josh

Name: Alex Tobias
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Somewhere along the way your bulletin board has become a great little political discussion forum. I love all the exachanges of ideas. Keep up the great site man!

Dear Alex:

Thanks. Once John Kerry gets elected maybe we can de-politicize here and go back to discussing movies. I was wonderfully politically apathetic during most of Clinton's eight years, and I long to return to that state.

Josh

Name: Peter Strausse
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You mentioned before you read Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels". I love that book. I have read it along w/ all of his son, Jeff's, novels as well. Jeff has a new novel due for release this week about WW I called "To the Last Man". It covers the Battle of Belleau Wood. I know you wrote a screenplay w/ this battle as the setting, so I thought I'd give you an fyi. Have you read any of Jeff's books?

Dear Peter:

No, I haven't. I couldn't sit through the film "Gods and Generals," but that's not his fault. I have read all of Michael Shaara's books, though. I've read "The Killer Angels" a couple of times. Thanks for the info on the new book, I'll check it out.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

man, I just heard on the radio that 14,000 people in Florida might be excluded from the vote just because they forgot to check the box stating them as an american citizen. son of a bitch. Why do people like Bush land in office and people like JFK get shot? I hope Bush gets voted out by a landslide. I also noticed the people I know that want to vote for Bush aren't eligible for the draft. I doubt they'll get off their ass and vote. Everyone should just try to vote early, why wait 6 days when you can vote now. that doesn't make sense. I'm also pissed off some of my friends who bitched about bush didn't bother to get registered. bump bump bump. see that Eminem internet video MOSH. lousy animation... good message. all the poor people riot their way into the voting office to get rid of Bush.

Dear kdn:

This is a democracy and not voting is our right, should we care to exercize it. And remember, only the good die young. Here in Michigan we can only vote on Nov. 2, so that's when I'll vote. I wish we did have early voting and I would've voted already.

Josh

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

<<And in Orson Welles's case, "Citizen Kane" is considered the greatest movie ever made by quite a lot of people, and that sure ain't chopped liver.>>

Sadly, everyone at imdb seem to think its below Return of the King (#2) Oh, but fuck them, they aren't amc. Say if Bush wins for some fucked up reason (don't look at me, I voted for Kerry), you're not really moving to Bulgaria are you? You'll keep this website up right? I mean if Lorainne really cared about the Springfield Five, she would've stuck with them instead of leaving to Italy over a grudge... even if the outlook wasn't good.

Dear kdn:

I certainly wouldn't move to Bulgaria, where I can't speak the language and never will be able to. At one point I tried to buy some mustard and couldn't get anyone in seven different stores to understand me, and I finally settled for maynaise in a yellow container (I kept pointing at things that were yellow). I could see living in Amsterdam or Paris, although I don't speak French, either, so that could be a problem. But I was just talking the talk, I probably haven't got the guts to walk the walk. But I honestly don't believe that Bush will win, nor do I think it will even be close. Here, I'll stick my neck out and say that John Kerry is going to win by at least two million votes, so it won't even be close or contested. I called Trinidad-Mayorga and Hopkins-De La Hoya, I think I know what I'm talking about.

Josh

Name: Rick
E-mail: rickytavi@hotmail.com

Josh,

Does it blow your mind that little Sammy Raimi has actually achieved his dreams? I mean, the guy down the street actually made it. He is a perfect fit for contemperary cinema. (Making no judgments here.) How does it make you feel knowing your bud is actually living his ultimate dream?

Was it just your small group of friends who were into filmmaking when you guys all started out? Or, were there other kids doing the same thing? Did they eventually get into the film business, too?

Thanks,
Rick

Dear Rick:

I never called him Sammy. It doesn't blow my mind because Sam's a sharp guy, and he had an amazingly wide grasp of filmmaking very early. Like you say, he's a perfect fit for films like "Spider-Man" or "Darkman," because he's not faking an interest in comic books, he truly loves them. But beyond any of that, Sam's a great schmoozer, and that's vitally important to making it up the food chain in Hollywood and not being consumed along the way. Meanwhile, of the initial group of us filmmaker from Detroit -- Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert, Scott Spiegel, John Cameron, Mike Ditz, Bill Kirk and me, Bill Kirk has since died, Mike Ditz is a professional photographer (which is all he ever wanted to be), and the rest of us are still making movies. John Cameron just produced "Friday Night Lights." Scott Spiegel has his own production company, Raw Nerve. I guess I'm the slacker of the bunch.

Josh

Name: Carl
E-mail: vic_mancuso@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I was just wondering if you have seen Garden State, or if you intend to. Thanks, Carl

Dear Carl:

I've heard good things and I'd like to see it, I just don't know that I'll drag my weary ass out to the theater. We should've gone for "Garden State" the other day when we went to see "I Heart Huckabees," and walked out in 30 minutes. Oh well.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was reading "Make your own Damn Movie" by Lloyd Kaufman the other day and I loved the introduction by Trey Parker. Its really cool because what Trey says is that Lloyd basically told him that when Troma would distribute his first movie, "Cannibal!" that he'll give Lloyd the movie with all the rights and recieve nothing back. However Troma would put it out on video and people would at least see it. I think it opened my eyes in to thinking that, thats fantastic. There are independent distributors out there that put movies out for people to see and the producers hardly see a dime but at least its out there. "Make your own Damn Movie" is very inspiring and even though I'm sure you don't need to read it, its still a good book to read. Also Lloyd and Trent Haaga (A formerTromaphile) argue about the difference between film and video.

Btw... My dad liked "Blind waitor" alot. The "Hold the turtle and make it pea" bit got a big laugh out of him

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

You showed it to your dad? You folks must be enetertainment starved. Well, I dealt with those shit-heads at Troma for quite a while, and they really are the very bottom of the heap. I'll bet those guys have never returned a penny to any filmmaker ever.

Josh

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

Josh writes:

"The common wisdon of today is, persevere and you'll succeed, which I'm sorry to inform everyone is bullshit. Just because you persevere does not mean you'll succeed. But if you don't persevere, you absolutely won't succeed. There are no assurances."

I can't tell you how reassuring it is to see I'm not the only one who thinks this. It's something I've believed for a LONG time. Hard experience has hammered this home in a big way for me-as well as seeing other people struggle.

Everyone likes to look at the success stories. Almost nobody likes to look at the failures. And yet, you learn more from the failures than the success stories.

One thing that REALLY pisses me off about many people-including some friends I know-is that they find it rather easy to sit down and criticize someone else's shortcomings, oftentimes saying that it's the person's own fault for not "getting ahead" in life, whatever the hell that means. Yes, there are those folks that are lazy and that basically have their priorities fucked up-which results in their being limited in how far they get ahead in life. Yet, there are also those who've done everything possible to try and make something of themselves, and have nothing to show for it. It oftentimes just comes down to bad luck.

While I'm a big fan of the rock group Rush, drummer Neil Peart once wrote something in a concert program guide for the Roll The Bones tour back in 1991 that REALLY pissed me off. And it was this:

"Sure, there are those who don't achieve artistic or worldly success, but I think there's usually a reason-a failure inside of them."

How arrogant. It's really easy to say something like this when you become a successful rock star in your mid-20s. I respect the man as a musician, but that statement definitely lowered my opinion of him as a person. I wonder if he's matured any since then.

While I don't agree with everything you write, I respect the fact that you are a blunt person, and that you aren't shy about the harsh realities of this business. It's why I keep coming back to this site.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I just call it as I see it, and I've been around long enough at this point to have seen a fair amount of it. Just pulling a number out of the air, I'd say of the average 100,000 people who go to LA to make it as writers or directors or producers or actors in the film business, 90,000 of them give up within five years, 9,999 assimilate into service positions, like working at the lab or video duplication facilities or into lower crew positions, and one person actually makes it a position where they make a living doing what they intended to do in the first place.

Josh

Name: Trey Smith
E-mail: cobra_commander_of_cobra@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

This really isn't a question..I'm sorry..but I know of no other way to contact you. I just wanted to thank you for scaring me shitless about how hard it really is to be a director and/or screenwriter..I knew it was difficult..but..you really opened my eyes.However, you have not made me want to give up..I love film and I want a life of creating it..I know I am ready for the hard work..I will be content with an entire career of independent films..I just want to make movies.I also would like to thank you for your essays on structure..after reading them I read over the short film script I had just finished and reworked it almost completely,though it did have somewhat of a structure that resembled the "3-act structure",it needed some revisement(I'm proud to say it atleast could not be rearranged on a corkboard,haha). Mr. Becker,I needed a reality check...yes you scared me shitless as stated earlier,but you've also caused me to be as dertermined as ever,and for that I humbly thank you.

Dear Trey:

You've got the right attitude. If you're absolutely determined, then at least you've got a chance. The common wisdon of today is, persevere and you'll succeed, which I'm sorry to inform everyone is bullshit. Just because you persevere does not mean you'll succeed. But if you don't persevere, you absolutely won't succeed. There are no assurances. There's no dishonor in producing independent films, and a much greater chance of making the film you want to make. Now it's your duty to study stories, to read everything you can get your hands on, as well as to see every movie that's considered good, so you'll have a basis for what you're trying to do. Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

That is a great analysis of JFK and very interesting motivation, and must also be very unique, you are a great writer. I like mystery type stories, sometimes I write for myself, but often the stories have some pretty hot scenes that might seem kind of out of place, I just put them in there you know but sometimes they're not as relevant. Script writing is different though, I'm more used to novel type format. Do you have any advice on how to write script as you did in "Head Shot" and others? It's kind of difficult unless I envision it as a play or film, I guess that's what should be done.

Also I wanted to say as Saul said definitely Lucy is an amazing actress with awesome screen presence (and awesome real presence) but I also think Lucy has done a lot of very cool things since Xena. I love all her guest appearances they were so awesome and sexy (respectfully)! I thought she was awesome on Tarzan, I loved her role it was so beautiful and sexy (respectfully), and the show was improving, it just wasn't given enough of a chance. I thought it was so unfair, they hadn't even got to the expanded part with Lucy and they stopped filming. I had some interesting ideas too myself for Kathleen Clayton and the other characters, it was a cool premise and just needed time to get better, and more Lucy! I'm kind of like the John Clayton kid I love Lucy and I know I can be childish sometimes but I love Lucy and I also work on my pecs so I envisioned myself in that. Seriously, and I was very sad when it got cancelled. I loved seeing Lucy on that show.

Lucy also did Warrior Women, it is totally awesome and extremely gorgeous, and very educational. It seriously needs to be released in the US, hopefully soon. Discovery Channel baby!

I thought Lucy was so beautiful and gorgeous and perfect and sexy on Less Than Perfect, it was kind of ironic they call it Less Than Perfect because Lucy is so perfect! She is so beautiful and sexy (respectfully), as meant to be, when she was with the Will Butler character that was so beautiful and sexy and funny as well! Respectfully I wish I was in Eric Robert's place then!

Sometimes I'm reminded of the date thing but I have some staying power you know and one should keep active. I like reading and films and TV because I think they stimulate the creative process, and other things, that's important to me.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I'm glad you liked my script, and the premise I presented. I think it makes more sense than anyone else's theory, if I do say so myself. Dude, you clearly need a girlfriend. Obsessing over movie stars will never get you anywhere. There are many actresses I think are babes, but they have nothing to do with my real life. Obsessing over a movie star is like obsessing over a cartoon character. You may well be in love with Bugs Bunny (like Robert Crumb), but it doesn't really mean anything. Don't let your fantasies confuse your reality.

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to "Super Size Me", I had actually seen it when it came to the theater here in NYC. I thought the film was well done, but there was nothing there that was any astounding news to me, but the guy had a lot of balls to eat that shit for that long everyday.

As for me, I could count on one hand how many times I have eaten that shit within the past six years, and the last time I had actually ordered a veggie burger at Mcdonalds, and it was pretty good.

After I graduated from college back in 1990, I avoided that food like the plague, since I found myself living on it my las semester there.

I lived in Europe (Switzerland) for 4 months back in 1996/97 and I cooked something different just about every night, and everything was frash and good! I have carried that experience over to my time in NYC. I tend to cook when I have the time, but when I don't, there are so many good restaurants here that it is easy to eat well and avoid that junk.

I have a friend who works for Pepsi, and she said that Michigan is the state which has the highest consumption of soft drinks out of any state in the country, and that shows when I go back home and see how fat people are there. I think the fast food thing is a big problem as well.

I don't want to sound like a snob because I am not, and I grew up in a blue collar family in the Detroit area, but we rarely ate fast food when I was a kid unless it was a special treat because my parent's could not afford it, and my mother cooked all the time, and we always had a garden. I was lucky, since kids now live on this crap and it is not a good thing.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I thought the filmmaker and star of "Super Size Me," Morgan Spurlock, found a very clear, visual way to present the idea, and it's clearly an idea that needs presenting. After 21 days of eating nothing but McDonald's, three doctors are astounded at what it's done to Spurlock's cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as nearly destroying his liver. In one month he puts on 25 pounds, then it takes him five months to lose it. Anyway, the film is well-made and presents its case clearly. Meanwhile, I got wrangled into seeing "I Heart Huckabees" yesterday, and after about 30 minutes I walked out. It's truly hammered shit.

Josh

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

Josh,

You're dead-on about people making judgements of other people in extreme circumstances. Trying to judge anybody without a thorough understanding of their historical context is, for instance, The height of conceit. I've found that, in almost all cases, the more one understands the historical context of a controversial person the less apt one is to condemn. That is even true of characters like Hitler and Stalin, neither of whom can get a fair hearing today. I'm not saying that either man acted humanely or was in some way "right", but in today's climate it would be impossible to say even that "Hitler was a good cook." I don't know if he was, but if he was, one should be able to acknowledge the fact.

The HUAC was established to investigate potential infiltrations by Nazi spies. The Nazies clearly represented an immediate threat to the US (unlike the Ba'athists). When the spectre of the Soviet Union arose following the war the committee turned it's attention there. In those early days, particularly, the threats the HUAC investigated were at least plausible. They eventually got out of control but for the average citizen it would be difficult to know when that line had been crossed.

Guantanamo is a similar situation today in many ways. Power is being applied outside of the rule of law but it is happening outside the purview and awareness of most people, so little is said about it. We must remember that the Nazi leadership said that getting the German (and French) citizenry to go along with their plans was surprisingly easy, and those were mostly decent people. I know you know all of this but it still bears stating.

John

Dear John:

The Nazis used the same tactics as the Republicans, which is mainly fear of outsiders. Through fear you can get people to give up their rights, just as has been going on for the past three years since 9/11. As Ben Franklin said, "Those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither."

Josh

Name: Gilbert Smith
E-mail: profelmore@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Okay so I just finished this ten minute horror movie and... uh... now what the heck do I do with it? I want to send it to some film festivals but I have no idea which ones. Should I just google and see what I can do, is there some extra sage advice that goes along with this sort of thing? Thanks.

Dear Gilbert:

Sorry, no sage advice. Just get it out to as many places as you can, but don't expect anything. It's not like having made a short you'll now get you a feature. Making a short film is practice. Whatever you do next -- make another short, make an independent feature, give up -- is up to you.

Josh

Name: Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just watched Open Range and I thought it wasn't bad. Actually, I thought one of the best movies of the last 5 years.

Your favorite films list does not include the Friends of Eddie Coyle. With the recent run of movies about Boston, starting with Good Will Hunting, do you think we have to look back to something like Eddie Coyle for one that was really good? Actually, I didn't think GWH wasn't too bad, it at least exposed Boston's caste system, a nasty little secret, however the Boston movies following, up to and including Mystic River, really haven't been much to watch.

Dear Real Bob:

I thought "Open Range" was awful. The townsfolk kill Costner's and Duvall's buddy in the first five minutes, then they stall for 110 minutes, then there's a poorly shot shoot-out. I just hated it. "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" was all right, and Mitchum was terrific, as usual, but I don't think it's anywhere near being a great film. "Good Will Hunting" was bullshit. Matt Damon makes marks on a blackboard and a lot of professors with leather patches on their elbows go Oooh and Aaah, so I'm supposed to accept he's a genius? But he's really just a regular guy who drinks beer with his buddies on weekends. Yuk! And everything with Robin Williams was almost directly stolen from "Ordinary People."

Josh

Name: Kit
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Of the two versions of Touch Of Evil (the original and the restored director's cut) which do you think is the superior version?

Dear Kit:

I thought the restored version was better. With the sound mixed properly it was more suspenseful.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I just wanted to comment on Lucy for a moment...

Sadly, I can't say I've been impressed with the stuff she's done, post-Xena. I don't blame her, though. She's a great actress with a tremendous screen presence. Unfortunately, given the kind of shit Hollywood puts out nowdays, there's not much you can do. Lucy has tried her best with what she's been given, but no matter how good the icing is-if the cake's a turd, it's still a turd. Tarzan was the worst of the lot. They couldn't have cancelled that piece of crap soon enough. (I hope everyone involved in Tarzan finds plenty of work.)

It's why I rarely-if ever-watch TV or go to the movies. I'll stick to books.

Did you ever get a chance to see Triumph of the Nerds & Nerds 2.01-The History of the Internet? They were WAY better than Pirates of Silicon Valley-that docu-drama on Bill Gates & Steve Jobs. Pirates was a piece of garbage-a total waste of time.

Nerds & Nerds 2.01 are both out in book form too, I believe.

TTYL.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I haven't seen those films, but I did enjoy "Pirates," and I thought Noah Wylie and Anthony Michael Hall were good casting as Jobs and Gates. As for Lucy, we'll see what she ultimately does, post-Xena. As yet, she really hasn't done anything.

Josh

Name: Leon
E-mail:

Josh,

Elia Kazan eh? He's an interesting fellow. Great Film maker but an asshole what with all that business with the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Anyway, I'm wondering what you think of Trey Parker and that other guy.

Thanks for the list, I'll have to check a few of them out.

Leon

Dear Leon:

If you want to know that actual story behind Kazan and the HUAC, read his autobiography, "A Life," which was very good. Nobody holds it against John Wayne or Gary Cooper or any of the other score of Hollywood stars who cooperated with HUAC. Quite frankly, I don't think anyone who didn't live through that time can legitimately comment on it. Keep in mind that the HUAC was part of the U.S. government, and until your own government turns on you and begins arresting people for no reason, putting them in jail for undetermined lengths of time, and ruining the careers of hundreds of people, will the rest of us truly understand what those folks had to deal with. I'm not necessarily agreeing with Kazan's position, but I don't know how I would deal with the same situation, nor do you.

Meanwhile, I've watched "South Park" a few times and it's okay. I couldn't sit through "BASEketball," and I had no intertest in the puppet thing.

Josh

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

Josh

Do you think somewhere out there the lost 40 minutes from The Magnificent Ambersons exists? If so, what's on that reel?

Dear Brett:

That's easy because all of the excised scenes are listed and the script pages are published in the book "This is Orson Welles" by Peter Bogdanovich. They're all unnecessary scenes, I completely understand why they were edited out, and I don't think it matters. I would venture to say that it's probably a better movie at 88-minutes than at 130-minutes. Even at 88-minutes it's not an easy film to sit through. I love it as it is, even with its fucked-up ending. Although neither the original ending of the movie, nor the ending of the book, are much better than the ending on the film as it is. But I'd surmise that the missing footage is long gone, and if it didn't get burned right away, it got tossed out when RKO became Desilu in the early 1950s.

Josh

Name: Peter Greenberg
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has been re-released in a special 2-disc collector's edition (I love those 2 disc sets). Is it a great movie?

Dear peter:

Not in my opinion. It's amusing, and Sergio Leone had a vision of the west that was pretty much his own, but I don't think he was a great filmmaker, nor did he ever make a great film. I think his spaghetti westerns were influential, too, and certainly launched Clint Eastwood's feature career, but Leone never got anywhere near a good script. I do like some of his directorial technique.

Josh

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

Josh,

You still did not answer my question as to why you thought the girls were unsympathetic? I am not implying that being picked on is an excuse to being unsympathetic, since I did no feel the girls were unsympathetic, however you did.

Trying to re-educate "The Black" out of them through religion is just a little bit more than being picked on don't you think? They were scared shitless and maybe that is why they appeared unsympathetic to you, I don't know?

The idea of the film was nothing like "Labrynth", and the fact that it actually happened made it far more interesting to me than the fictional Bowie flick even barring your criteria for script structure.

I don't fell anymore noble for having watched the film, but I do feel a sense of knowing something about the darker side of a country I really enjoy very much, and that someone else (An Aussie) felt it was important enough to make into a pretty decent film about this important problem which still carries reprocussions in that country.

If you would have watched the rest of the film, you may have enjoyed the journey or you may have not, but we will never know.

Scott

Dear Scott:

No, we won't. Perhaps it got great just after I turned it off. I did just watch "Super Size Me" which I thought was well-made and I enjoyed. It got me thinking, too, which makes it a good documentary, in my opinion. It's enough to put you off McDonald's forever, although I must admit, I've been off that shit for several years myself.

Josh

Name: Raimifan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think is the hardest thing to master as an independent director, besides the screenwriting?

Dear Raimifan:

Getting the financing and getting distribution.

Josh

Name: Raimifan
E-mail:

Hey,

Are you going to check out Sam's Ghost House Productions' film, "The Grudge"? Looks pretty good.

Dear raimifan:

Sooner or later.

Josh

Name: Peter Greenberg
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Your discussion w/ Diana about films made in Chicago and on-location shoots reminded me that "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" was at least partly shot in location in Mexico. It was released in 1948, so I suppose this was towards the beginning of on-location era. I think other parts were shot in California as well, albeit very near the studio. I just got the Warner Bros. two-disc DVD set for the film, and its excellent. Hope you check it out.

Dear Peter:

Yeah, that's when location shooting really started, right after the war. Meanwhile, I'd love to check out the DVDs of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre," and certainly will at some point soon. As a little movie trivia note, 1948 was one of those weird Oscar years where best director was different than best picture. John Huston got best director for "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (as well as screenplay, and his dad, Walter, got best supporting actor), but best picture went to Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet" (he also got best actor). The king of that anomoly, BTW, was John Ford, who three out of his four Oscars were for films that didn't win best picture: "The Informer" (1935, best picture "Mutiny on the Bounty"), "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940, best picture "Rebecca"), and "The Quiet Man" (1952, best picture "The Greatest Show on Earth"). John Ford also won in 1941 for "How Green Was My Valley," but that did win best picture. A few others in this oddball category are: Oliver Stone for "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989, best picture "Driving Miss Daisy"), and Steven Spielberg for "Saving Private Ryan" (1998, best picture "Shakespeare in Love").

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to "Rabbit Proof Fence" could you be more specific with what you mean by "unsympathetic" kids. I mean they forced from their home and taught to be good little white Christians then made a trek in the middle of the outback, trying to get back to their rightful home, what sort of sympathy were you looking for in them?

I am not quite sure what you mean by that and I felt the film was quite good actually barring a few problems, and it dealt with a problem that Australians brushed under the carpet for many years and never acknowledged anywhere, films, books or otherwise.

I suspect that since you said you could not sit through it that you actually did not even watch a 1/4 of the film?

I actually think films like this are not a waste of anybody's time and they are truly about realism and life.

It highlighted a true stain on the Australian white culture which having been there, I now realize why people don't talk about it, but I am glad someone had the balls to make a film aobut it.

Maybe life is too short, but learning about things like this may help to prevent these same warped ideas from happening over again, and I believe the story was truly harrowing.

And you call yourself a liberal...

Scott

Dear scott:

Just because the kids are being picked on doesn't make them sympathetic. And just because an injustice is being portrayed doesn't make it a good film. It's one of those films where you can feel noble for having seen it. Ultimately, it reminded me of "Labyrinth," where the evil goblin David Bowie steals young Jennifer Connelly's baby brother, then tells her the only way she can get him back is to make her way through the endless labyrinth. Suddenly, my stomach dropped out. "Oh, shit, we're gonna be stuck in this labyrinth for the whole movie?" Yep. "We'll just follow this 2,000 mile-long rabbit-proof fence on foot and everything'll be okay."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Did you like some of the old Peter Jackson flicks like "Dead-Alive", "Bad Taste", "Meet the feebles", and "Heavenly Creatures". I know you don't like Lord of the Rings and all but most of those were before he became famous and was just trying to make movies just to make movies. I loved "Dead-Alive" and now I'm trying to watch the other ones.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Clearly, "Dead-Alive" was severely influenced by "Evil Dead," but it just wasn't very good. "Meet the Feebles" was terrible. "Heavenly Creatures," although a big step forward toward realism for Jackson, was so shrill and one-note I grew to hate it before it was over.

Josh

Name: Claiborne Clark
E-mail: clark048@mc.duke.edu

Dear Josh:

I could not access the webpage that had the number of times Bush lied, a password was required. Can you send me that info (copy/paste)?

Dear Claiborne:

I'll let the webmaster here, Shirley, field this one. Take it, Shirley.

Josh

Dear Claiborne:

I don't know what website you went to that required a password, but here is the original government website, no password required: http://democrats.reform.house.gov/IraqOnTheRecord/

-webmaster

 

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Well, I think "Chimes at Midnight, "Macbeth" and "Othello" double the total of important, brilliant or significant Welles films that you mentioned...I myself love "The Trial," but agree that there certainly is no consensus on that one...but to oversimplify him to the 3 mentioned below isn't a satisfactory assessment of his career, either!

Dear Jim:

Sorry, but I don't think Welles pulled off any of those Shakespeare films, particularly "Macbeth and "Othello," which honestly are rather poor films. Admittedly, they were shot very cheaply and very fast for Republic Pictures, but those are excuses after the fact. "Chimes at Midnight" had even worse production problems and took years to make, being shot over the world, and given that it comes together reasonably well, but it's still not all that great of a movie. I also don't care for Welles's performances in any of those films -- Shakespeare seemed to really bring out the overblown ham in him. Nope, his film career is entirely comprised of those three films. But what films they are. Let's face it, David Lean is one the greatest directors of all time and his career honestly boils down to two movies: "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Lean made several good films before and after those two, but none of the others are great movies. But to have ever made even one great film is a hell of an accomplishment. And in Orson Welles's case, "Citizen Kane" is considered the greatest movie ever made by quite a lot of people, and that sure ain't chopped liver.

Josh

Name: Diana
E-mail: upon request

Hi-ya,

I stumbled onto a brief film history lesson on the news this morning. It was claimed that "Chicago was once the center of film and t.v. production", for all the wrong reasons- meaning films about Capone, the mob, the t.v. show "The Untouchables", etc... gave a negative impression of the city, and that in the early 1970's, the mayor, Richard J. Daly (sp?), actually went so far as to develop a policy of squeezing out filmaking by making filming permits almost impossible to obtain. Now, eventually producers returned; I think The Blues Brothers and Ordinary People in 1980 marked a change, and all those John Hughes flicks - Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink...

But before that, they listed:
North by Northwest - '59
In The Heat Of The Night - '67
5 Easy Pieces - '70
Silver Streak - '76
as being the only hits made in Chicago that weren't old gangster movies.

Surely there was more successful films out of the windy city than that, pre-mid '70's, yes?

Do you recall what the impact was in the industry over Daly's attitude? Do you know what exactly his problem was? Simply that he didn't want Chicago's reputation to be 'crime'? And I wondered if the premise was really true; that Chicago was "the center" at one point. Never heard that.

Dear Diana:

It's not true. For quite a long time Detroit had more film production going on than Chicago, due to all of the car commercials and industrials. But keep in mind that before the 1960s they rarely shot anything on location, so all of those gangster films of the 30s and 40s were all shot in Burbank at Warner Bros. They really first started to shoot on location after WWII, with crime films shot in NYC, like "Naked City" (1948) and "House on 92nd Street" (1945) and "Side Street" (1949). I also have no doubt that the TV show "The Untouchables" was shot in Hollywood, too. I don't know anything about Mayor Daly's problems.

Josh

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

Josh

A friend and I are going to rent a few classic movies a week over the next month and I think I'll toss in a Kubrick here or there. What's your favorite of his films? And do you feel there's any redeeming value to Eyes Wide Shut? I gravitated towards it and loved the photography, his music choices and the idea that infidelity can provide a good mindfuck but felt a lot of it just didn't hold up.

Cheers!

Dear Brett:

It's reviewed on this very site, check it out. I recommend "The Killing," "Paths of Glory," "Spartacus," "Dr. Strangelove," "2001" and "A Clockwork Orange," in that order, which is the order he made them. Have fun.

Josh

Name: K
E-mail:

Hey Josh. I know you're an Orson Wells fan, what's your opinion of The Trial, as I didn't see it in your favorite films section?

Dear K:

I didn't like it, I thought it was boring. Let's face it, Orson Welles's career is exclusively about three films: "Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Touch of Evil." Everything else is either a near-miss or a strike-out. I do like "The Stranger," but it certainly not a great film.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Seems like there are few roles for "older" female actresses in films, expecially those made in Hollywood. Who are some (living) actresses over 50 or so whose work you admire and/or would want to work with?

Also, I saw "Rabbit Proof Fence" recently. Iit was a little uneven but enjoyable, though there were some plot points which, had they been developed a bit more, would have made for a stronger film.

That's it!

Mike

Dear Mike:

I couldn't sit through "Rabbit-Proof Fence." Do I really want to watch some unsympathetic kids walk along the longest fence in the world in the middle of nowhere? No. Life seemed too short. Meanwhile, I don't necessarily want to work with anyone, unless I have a part for them. Ellen Burstyn, Meryl Streep, and Gena Rowlands immediately jump to mind.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Yikes... Not too good a week for questions so far, huh?

Well, I'll continue the trend... Ever had an ingrown toenail?

My suggestion is, if you haven't, don't.

That's not my real question.
My actual question has to do with your screenwriting process.

You've stated before that you use a treatment, and that the treatment contains all of the really pertinent details which you then expand on.

How does knowing who your cast is going to be, or keeping a budget in mind come into play? Do you write parts for individual people?

You've stated before that there are parts in some of your scripts that have just belonged to Bruce. Were they as designed, or was it coincidence?

Thanks in advance for answering.

Dear Matt:

For the most part, I don't think about actors when I'm writing. I have had Bruce in mind for several parts, but I don't write them thinking about him because the characters are not him. He'll make the character his own when he plays it. Regarding the budget, that only comes into play if I'm writing a script for what I believe might be an independent film, otherwise I don't think about it.

Josh

Name: Leon
E-mail:

Josh,

Ok, I'll focus on the good rather than the bad. Who are your five favourite directors of all time?

Leon (spelt it right this time)

Dear Leon:

Here's my top twenty directors, though not in order. This is based on who made the movies that I love, the movies I can go back and watch over and over. Not who is important for historical reasons. For instance, Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman are important directors, but I don't really love their movies so much as admire them. Whereas, Franklin Schaffner isn't nearly as important as Bergman or Kurosawa, but I really love "Planet of the Apes," "Patton" and "Papillion" (all made in a row, and all starting with P).

1. William Wyler
2. Fred Zinnemann
3. Elia Kazan
4. John Huston
5. Billy Wilder
6. Alfred Hitchcock
7. John Ford
8. David Lean
9. Robert Wise
10. Stanley Kramer
11. Stanley Kubrick
12. Martin Scorsese
13. Michael Curtiz
14. Victor Fleming
15. Sidney Lumet
16. Orson Welles
17. Francis Coppola
18. Franklin Schaffner
19. Howard Hawks
20. Frank Capra

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you think Courtney Love is hot?

Dear Rich:

No, I think she's a horrible skag, scumbag, with absolutely no talent, who's responsible for Kurt Cobain killing himself.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Cool man gotcha, I get the point. Absolutely. I made a mistake regarding those submissions. But you know where I'm coming from it's awful easy for that sort of thing, did you know I've never even been on a date? But I personally think that's cool (the date thing that's how I do it man). Anyway from here on I won't have any comments about any impure thoughts about Lucy, I understand your point, although I also wanted to say how easy it was for me to slip into that kind of error especially considering how beautiful Lucy is and how fans like me would naturally think of her in that way. Fans like me, people like me. Of course.

Well, about "Head Shot" that was a great analysis then in terms of putting facts together, except weren't Giancana or some other mobsters deported? I remember doing a report on this a long time ago and I looked at different things, even the LBJ angle although I really don't buy into it despite some circumstantial things. Giancana had the animosity and made some comments that might lead one to believe he was after JFK. But you presented it as revenge for JFK's father's angering him instead of returning a favor. Well, if the entire thing was really a mafia hit, and that makes them look pretty powerful (in fact I think the part of your story where Dulles doubts they could that was good), wouldn't they be able to do more to other people? Also wouldn't they be after Kennedy and his brother (Attorney General) for cracking down on them as opposed to Kennedy's father crossing them? I think that seems more motive to me but I guess I'm not familiar with how their vendettas work.

I once met Walter Cronkite and he probably thought I was a bit of a nut although I was more just acting, but not too long before then I was likely to blame aliens for the JFK assassination. I guess I continue to mature.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Joe Kennedy personally screwed a mafia don after asking for and getting a favor from him. That seems like the most motivation that anyone had to do that deed. That's why I wrote the script. Being a writer is like being a detective because they're both after why did someone do something? In "JFK" Oliver Stone is saying that LBJ was behind it so that he could then increase spending to the military industrial complex. I don't buy it, but it's a motivation. I think the Sam Giancana-Joe Kennedy vendetta is a stronger motivation.

Josh

Name: Zemeck
E-mail:

Josh,

PASSION is one of the few films actually shot in Panavision these days...(most wide screen films are in a phony process called Super 35, which is simply standard format with a blown-up letterbox cropping). Can you name any other current films shot in Panavision?

Z

Dear Zemeck:

Panavision is a camera company that makes many various types of cameras. You're referring to the anamorphic wide-screen process at 2.35:1, and many films are still shot using anamorphic lenses -- that means that convave lens is used to shoot the film which squishes it, then a convex lens is used to project it which stretches it. But there's nothing phony about Super-35, which makes use of the area of the film stock general used for the optical soundtrack, and doesn't need anamorphic lenses so there's more lenses to choose from and there's less distortion. I'd use Super-35 in a second if I could.

Josh

Name: jeremy saacks
E-mail: jeremys@cfss.co.za

Hi

Would you consider doing your audio post production for a feature in South Africa?
Regards
Jeremy

Dear jeremy:

Why? Why travel halfway around the world to do something that can be accomplished by one person in a room with one computer? I certainly wouldn't. I could see shooting there, if the story took place in Africa (like my script "The Winds of Fate"). I know someone that shot in Johannesburg, and they said it was crime-ridden and somewhat difficult to shoot there. But they do speak English there, and that's a big plus over places like Bulgaria or Romania.

Josh

Name: George Pilalidis
E-mail: agamemmnon@msn.com

Dear Josh.

To duke of New York,well Mr Duke Hercules was!!and still is one examle.Hey Josh i hope we see hier in europa to, Allien Apokalipsis, a (Greek) word.George

Dear George:

Thanks for coming to my defense. Yes, Apocalypse is a Greek word, as are many words in English. You Greeks were really on top of the action 2,500 years ago.

Josh

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

RE: THE BLIND WAITER

LMAO! Now I KNOW there is hope for all actors and filmakers!

;)

Dear Edith:

Really? "The Blind Waiter" does that for you? Wow. And I just thought it was an old super-8 movie.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Do you keep a notebook or something with you while you write to keep track of what a character's eye color is, what they look like, etc? Or do you have another system of organization for writing?

Oh, and when do you write? Do you go for the early morning "first thing I do is write" system that I've read is better because you're fresher?

Thanks,

Nick

Dear Nick:

Yes, I write first thing in the morning, which for me is very early (it's 5:23 AM right now). I don't need to know what color a character's eyes are, it doesn't matter. As I've said before, if you write a 12-14 page treatment first, then you'll know what you're trying to write when you get to the script. When you write a script you should not be inventing, you should be remembering and expanding.

Josh

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

Josh,

Has there ever been a film biography of Poe made? It seems, with his life and times, his story could make a compelling film.

John

Dear John:

There's a 1942 film called "The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe" which wasn't very good. Writers aren't the best movie heroes, though, because all they do is sit around and write, then go out and get drunk.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How's it going man? You know I was reading your JFK film script and I think it was very interesting, definitely congratulations on it. So you really think it was Giancana? Interesting. Have you read the James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever? Well, at first Bond thinks of the mobs as perfumed bums but he later realizes their intricacies and is more impressed (used to dealing with enemies like SMERSH as opposed to organized crime). Of course, I still have my doubts regarding the JFK analysis. I've heard it speculated that Bay of Pigs had something to do with it. But have you heard of something called the Octopus? It's some sort of transnational cabal steeped in international conspiracy or something like that, I've heard they were involved in this story with the tramps at Dealey Plaza.

Also I'm sorry to say this but I don't think I should discuss the war, politics, or terrorism on here because I want to stay on better terms with you and I doubt my views would provide that, as it seems you have very strong reactions to those discussions. I do think Bush is much more serious and vigorous about fighting terrorism and has the resolve, but I understand my descriptions will only antagonize you. I was also hurt by your response to someone but I think I'll try to stay on the bright side here. Only furthers the point.

I hope it's all groovy, you know JFK included From Russia With Love as one of his ten favorite novels and it is certainly one of mine as well. The Klebb woman would have made a rabid Xena subtexter!

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

The key to the Q&A, John, is don't bore me, and don't act like a pervert regarding Lucy. You may well think those things, but you don't need to share them with me. We've all stated our positions on Bush and Kerry and now we can leave it to the electorate. Meanwhile, the explanation I put forth in "Head Shot" is the only one that makes sense to me. It's easy to point fingers at various people, it's much harder to make all the facts go together logically.

Josh

Name: mike
E-mail: mike@wsai.net

Dear Josh:

Actually it was English artist/sculpter Peter Janson who died. But then, fangoria has a habit of getting things wrong. unless Josh Beckett is doing your directing. (hehe).

I'm glad to say the only criticism I got recently being told was spelling faux pas wrong

Dear mike:

Well, that's good to know. Thanks.

Josh

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

Josh

What type of humour do you think is the hardest to pull off? Funny, quick-witted alogue? Perverse irony? Slapstick that's funny? Embarrassment humour? The latter was accomplished to the tee by an English show called The Office about a tit of a boss who thinks himself a great motivator and an entertainer but who falls on his ass everytime. Maybe making gags work is harder, though...as a kid I laughed my ass off to Spaceballs, but let's face it, sight gags just lose their energy - and fast.

Dear Brett:

As has been attributed to George Bernard Shaw, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Certainly, making a feature-length slapstick comedy is a very difficult thing to do, and not many people have pulled it off in the over 100 years of film history. "Spaceballs," however, was never funny, you were just very young.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

i just read the short article in the latest issue of Fangoria on Alien Apocalypse. I can't wait to see it. My queestion is, when the article mentioned Peter Jason, it refered to him as the late peter Jason. Did he pass away recently? I sincerely hope not.

Dear Scott:

Not that I've heard of. I certainly hope not. I just went to IMDB and it doesn't say anything about him dying. I'd say they're mistaken.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: mike@wsai.net

Dear Josh:

I contemplated the same question. There are films I thought were great as a kid. But know... Do you think being in the business and knowing the mechanics causes you to lose your innocence and cast a more critical eye on it?

Dear Mike:

I was like this long before I was in the business. I think if an art form has any real value that it should be able to stand up to whatever criticism you can aim at it. And movies used to be good enough to be worthy of real criticism, but they're not any more. I don't feel that I've changed so much as the films have taken a precipitous drop in quality. And most of the films I liked as a kid, I still like.

Josh

Name: The Duke of New York
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

C'mon, Josh. You're still avoiding the question.

I'm not asking you to "work" here. A filmmaker should be able to throw out at least ONE real theme from his film without even thinking hard.

If LORD OF THE RINGS is "childish, shallow kiddie garbage," as you constantly reiterate, I wanna know what makes your HERCULES movie so thematically and intellectually superior.

You may think I'm just busting your chops, but I'm genuinely curious here...because as is, it looks like your entire body of work contridicts your own film dogma.

Dear Duke:

"Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur" isn't a good example because I didn't write it, but let's take "Running Time" as an example since it's showing now on IFC, okay? The theme is trust, and the point is: who you trust is who you are. There you go, now watch the film and see if I'm pulling your leg.

Josh

Name: Peter Greenberg
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you read much of Edgar Allen Poe's work? "The Raven" has got to be one of the best poems ever.

Dear Peter:

I've read all of Poe's works, which wasn't all that hard since it's just one volume. I think "The Tell-Tale Heart" is one of the greatest short stories ever written. I used to do it for speech class every year. I also like the poem "The Conquerer Worm."

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Was it "Morning Dew" with Rod Stewart?

Boston

Dear Boston:

No, it was "Beck's Bolero," which was already put forth. I think "Morning Dew" is a great song, though.

Josh

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

Josh,

This Andy Ellis guy unwittingly raises an interesting point; there is an ideological movement among conservatives which would seem to suggest mandating military service as a prerequisite for the presidency. This is odd as their favorite president, Ronald Reagan, like many conservative icons (John Wayne) did not himself serve in the military, though he, Reagan, did serve the war effort. I find the idea that one must have served to be president extremely disturbing. After all, isn't military service the primary qualification for president in places like Afghanistan, Columbia, Lybia and Pakistan? Not the model I'd care to follow.

As for why the military seems so much to love Bush I think there are two big reasons. The first is that the military is by its very nature a conservative organization. The only change the military does not resist is increases in its budget.

The second reason is that Bush, like the military, is not fond of subtlety. Even now, a dozen years after the end of the Cold War, the US military is designed for and trained to fight World War Three in the wide open fields of Iowa. My father was a military analyst for forty years so I'm not just speaking in hyperbole. The preferred military response to any situation is "blow the hell out of it". That isn't the only response, mind you, but that is what the military feels it does best. Bush is of a similar mind-set. He's a guy who will not allow any member of his cabinet to use the word "nuanced" in his presence. Bush wants the military to do what it does best, blow the hell out of things, and the military knows it. It is only natural they should have warm feelings for such a Commander-in Chief.

On your "The Birds" discussion, I read somewhere that the screenwriter and Hitchcock originally considered explaining the birds behavior but, a) couldn't find a good reason for it (rabies was discussed, I think) and, b) decided the story worked better without the explanation. Any light on this?

Lively discussions recently,

John

Dear John:

Good points. Also, I don't think the whole military is backing Bush. Quite frankly, I think there are a lot of service people who will vote against him. Just as there are a lot of Republicans who are going to vote against him, but no one's discussing it. As George Carlin said, America's favorite hobby is bombing brown people. The last time we bombed white people was the Nazis, and that because they wanted to dominate the world. Well, that's our job.

Meanwhile, I read Evan Hunters book, "Hitch & Me," years ago and can no longer recall what the reasons were for the birds attacking. Hunter also began writing "Marnie" for Hitchcock, but he was fired.

Josh

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

Josh,

You have to do better than that with music trivia; I worked in a music store for like 8 years dude.

The answer to your question is the wonderful "Beck's Bolero" and all of these great musician's played on it; Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon, and the name of Page's future band was allegedly coined by Keith Moon at the "Beck's Bolero" session when he said that his and Entwhistle's participation in the project would "go over like a lead zeppelin" with The Who's management.

Also, The Jeff Beck" group album "Truth" contained the Willie Dixon song "You Shook Me" which appeared on Led Zeppelin's first album the following year.

Who was the singer on "Truth & Beckola" during that incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group?

Coincidentally, Page never gave Willie Dixon credit originally on the album for the song "You Shook Me" which resulted in a law suit many years later that the group lost and had to pay back royalties from 1989 to 1969 to Willie Dixon and his estate. Another song Willie Dixon penned was "You Need Love" and it too was used without credit in "Whole lot of love".

This then prompted other blues men to do the same with the group including the most unknown of all the original blues songs the band covered "Dazed and Confused" which Page originally performed with the Yardbirds was actually written in the thirties and recorded by a very obscure bluesman in the early 40's. A friend of mine actually has the 78 of the original version of the song.

Page never made mention that he had taken that song and basically fooled everyone, crediting it as his own composition. "Babe I'm Going to Leave You" was actually made pretty popular by Joan Baez as a folk song before Page and Plant got a hold of it.

Last but not least, the lyrics to "Bring it on Home" are from an old blues standard of the same name, which in turn the band never credited. Howlin Wolf does a good version of the original

Incidentally, the credits for some of these songs did not appear on the records and subsequently the CD's until after the band lost the lawsuit to Willie Dixon.

Led Zeppelin were a great band and Page is a great guitar player, they were just not very good at giving credit to the artists they admired and emulated.

Many argue that the band made the songs better than the originals, however, always give credit where credit is due.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Good work on "Beck's Bolero," oddly written by Jimmy Page. Ripping off the old bluesmen was standard practice at that point. The Rolling Stones did a straight cover of Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain" and didn't give him credit, whch always bugged me. On the other hand, Cream covered Johnson's "Crossroads" and did credit him, which I always admired. Then there's Blind Willie Johnson's "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed," which Bob Dylan covered as "In My Time of Dyin'" without crediting Blind Willie Johnson, as well as Led Zeppelin's cover on "Physical Grafitti," which is once again credited to all the members of the Led Zepplin band. I seriously think that Jimmy Page thought it would be cheaper to steal the songs, credit himself, make all of the money on the songwriting royalties, then pay whatever legal costs were necessary later. He was probably right, too.

Josh

Name: Nick el Ass
E-mail: therealnickelass@yahoo.com

Josh,

I just wanted to think you for posting "The Blind Waiter" i could not stop laughing after watching it.However i was wondering if it will ever be released in another format like Quicktime or Wmp etc.. Also are you going to make any more shorts availible in the future.

PEACE,
Nick el Ass

Dear Nick:

That's the format that was chosen, so that's what it is. Yes, more short films will be available soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<Just wanted to say a special thank you to you for sending "the Blind Waitor">>

ditto. That movie reminded me of THE THREE STOOGES. I saw a gag Sam later used on ARMY OF DARKNESS were he lands face first on the grill and has to peel himself off. Oooh, that was a dirty gag where the chef took his salad back. Hey, I saw TEAM AMERICA last night. It was pretty entertaining. It's only better than the best Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movie because the puppets were better actors and it had offensive humor. The more Ed Wood cheap it got, the funnier it was, the more bruckheimer dialogue it had, the less funny it was. But I'm not sure if I'd like it on video. Some movies lose their effect when they hit home video (like RETURN OF THE KING, MOULIN ROUGE), without a good sound system, you're just left with the story, and if it isn't that good to begin with, then... still TEAM AMERICA was definately funnier than the previews. I hear SHAUN OF THE DEAD being quoted on the radio and I don't see anything funny about that movie that makes me want to see it. I watched the SHAUN trailer, didn't look funny or scary. someday I'll see it.

Dear kdn:

Yeah, that face in the frying pan gag did end up in AOD.

Josh

Name: Ronald
E-mail: rpill@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Can you give a short list of popular movies that you don't think have held up well? For example I recently watched "Little Big Man" and was surprised at how much better it was than "Dances With Wolves".

Dear Ronald:

That's not a good example, "Little Big Man" clearly held up well for you. Or did you mean that "Dances With Wolves" didn't hold up? As for me, I never thought "Dances With Wolves" had anything to hold up to start with. I suppose there would be two views of this: 1. the film didn't hold up well for me personally, or 2. the film just didn't hold up due to being dated. For instance, "Grand Hotel," which won Best Picture in 1931-32, doesn't hold up because it's just old and stodgy. Whereas something like Jerry Lewis' "The Family Jewels," which I thought was hysterically funny as little kid, just isn't very good, so it's really an issue that I outgrew it. The same goes for "The Geisha Boy," which I thought was great as a kid. I feel that way toward all of the James Bond movies, too -- they were great in their day, but don't hold up very well. I thought "Oliver!" was brilliant when I was a kid, but now it's rather difficult to sit through. For the most part, though, if I ever liked a film, I'll probably still like it.

Josh

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

Josh,

In response to your triva question on the lyrics; "Poor Otis dead and gone, left me here to sing this song, pretty little girl with a red dress on, poor Otis dead and gone" that is of course The Doors "Runnin' Blues" from "The Soft Parade" album.

Like you with movies, I did not have to look that up. I am pretty good with many lyrics.

My question to you is do you know who the lyric is refering to in the song? BTW, Robby Kreiger wrote this song, not Morrison which was the case with most of the songs on "The Soft Parade".

"If all else fails, you can whip the horses eyes and make him sleep."

Scott

Dear Scott:

Sorry, dude, someone already answered that question, it's about Otis Redding. Robby Kreiger wrote all the Doors' hits, like "Light My Fire" and"20th Century Fox," but Jim Morrison wrote all the great, long, rambling, psychedelic songs, like "The Soft Parade," "When the Music's Over" and "The End." Morrison also wrote the hit "L.A. Woman," so that last statement wasn't entirely true. I listened to that song for 20 years before I realized what those first lines were, "Just blew into town about an hour ago/Took a look around me which way the wind blows." All right, here's a good rock quiz question -- what Jeff Beck song is considered the first Led Zepplin song, and who played on it?

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Just wanted to say a special thank you to you for sending "the Blind Waitor" to Scott and thanks to Scott for converting it and thanks to your webmaster for putting it up. And thanks to my buddy Burt from http://www.angrynakedpat,com to show me the site and to tell me about you.

I loved the short film. It was more than I hoped for. It was slapstick to the extreme and to me it was better than what "Crimewave" was trying to do. I mean I love the Coen Brothers and Raimi but "Crimewave" needed to be only 20 minutes or less. With Bruces' cameo included. And it would have been perfect. Just like "The Blind Waitor". Hope to see more short flicks on your site though.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

More short films will be going up, but not right away. We have a little bit of a space issue on the server, but we're working it out. I am informed that if you download the file first, then play it, it's not quite so compressed and it looks better. Anyway, it's a lot easier to make a 16-minute slapstick comedy, than one that's feature-length. I'm still struggling with that idea.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to add to your response to Mr. Ellis that George W.'s Military record is somewhat suspect, and he never went to war nor did he really serve his country in any great manner like his father, and now he is dividing this country instead of bringing it together.

As for Kerry, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, and he served his country, yet he saw what was going on in Vietnam and when he returned he was smart enough to know it was wrong and rallied to bring home our soldiers.

I have two uncles who were in Vietnam, and one of them came back very damaged, and for what?

So it amazes me that everyone in the military in Iraq loves Bush so much.

What exactly has he done to earn that love? You guys are risking your lives and you buy into his "Freedom" crap when Iraq has just become a calling card for more terrorists who are willing to kill you and not think twice about it, and if you think it will end, you need more training.

Chew on that when you are eating your next rations.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I'm sorry, it's beyond my comprehension that anyone could possibly "love" Bush. Then again, many Germans loved Hitler, and the Italians loved Mussolini, so there you go.

Josh

Name: The Duke of New York
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"It ain't fittin' to ask a writer to explain his themes. But they're there, I assure you." - Josh Becker

It's not fitting? Writers and directors discuss their themes all the time. Sounds like you're avoiding the question to me.

I'm with the Baron on this one: Explain the themes in 'Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except' and 'Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur.' A filmmaker who fills his entire website with prudish analysis and theory should be able to at least do that.

Dear Duke:

"Prudish analysis," eh? Look, figure out the themes in my scripts or don't, but don't assign me jobs. Here, I have a job for you, fuck off.

Josh

Name: mike
E-mail: mike@wsai.net

Dear Josh:

It's a pity most have so over-covered that shot that it totally lessens its dramatic effect. It's been so over-covered that I'm half expecting it to show up in "Sheep In The Big City".

(A minute's silence for poor ol' Otis)

I musn't have been paying attention, I thought Jessica Tandy played Mitch's (Rod's) wife, Lynda. His Sister?? Boy, is my face red!

I agree, the birds gathering with Melanie in the foreground to foreshadow using suspense was pure genius (or a good reason to give up smoking).

The reaction cutaway (fire) was standard for Hitch. Haven't we all copied that in one way or another, to show the effect the action has on those nearby, and push the scene into hire gear emotionally? In that way we've superceded Hitch.

The one thing about Melanie I can't get out of my mind is there's not one redundant expression on Melanie's face. Every expression makes a point. Even the slight nuance of a smile when she says, "What can I do for you, sir?" One look says, "I'm going to play a gag on him".

Dear Mike:

No, the reaction shots in the fire scene are freeze-frames (or the actors holding a pose like a freeze-frame), and as the fire races along it keeps cutting back to slightly different looks and poses. It's very odd, and the only time he ever did it.

Josh

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

Howdy Josh.

"("Poor Otis dead and gone, left me here to sing this song, pretty little girl with a red dress on, poor Otis dead and gone" -- name that lyric)" It was actually a tribute to Otis Redding, who had just died when they recorded the song.

The Doors, "Runnin' Blue", from the album Soft Parade.


Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

Good work. I didn't even think about that song when I wrote the script and made the film TSNKE, which has a character named Otis who gets killed. After the premiere of the film an old friend came out of the theater singing the song and said, "That was a tribute to The Doors, right?" I was thunderstuck that it hadn't occurred to me before that.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: mike@wsai.net

Dear Josh:

The one thing that blew me away about The Birds was the man with no eyes--zooming the camera in--the staccato jumps are almost like catching your breath. Magnificent directing, camera work and editing working together. Wow!

Dear Mike:

It's cutting forward, not zooming. I stole that gag for TSNKE, when Stryker finds Otis's dead body ("Poor Otis dead and gone, left me here to sing this song, pretty little girl with a red dress on, poor Otis dead and gone" -- name that lyric). Another one the screenwriter, Evan Hunter's, issues was why is Rod Taylor still living at home? And there's a hell of an age discrepancy between Taylor and his sister. I love the sequence with the gas running all over the place and the guy lighting his cigarette. The cutting gag of the people watching the fire erupt, then their reactions in a series of freeze-frames, is interesting, but doesn't really work, I don't think. I also love the lead up to the first major bird attack, with Melanie sitting in the foreground smoking a cigarette, and the schoolhouse in the background with the kids singing that repetitive nursery rhyme song, while birds are landing all over the phone wires and monkey bars behind her. Terrific stuff.

Josh

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

Dear Josh -

Per your discussion with Peter Strausse about Fred Zinnemann's films -- I agree with both of you on their excellence: "From Here to Eternity," "The Sundowners," "The Member of the Wedding," and "A Man for All Seasons." I owe myself viewings of the others you mentioned, which I haven't seen yet.

I've never been as fond of "High Noon," and couldn't figure out why, but maybe it WAS the mismatch between Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper.

In an example of how viewing a film at a certain time in life can affect even someone who really loves movies, I watched "The Nun's Story" on television when I was a kid (long ago). I was too young to understand it and no adults were around to explain. The movie really troubled me. As an adult, it still makes me uncomfortable (and that's OK now), though I know intellectually that it's a good movie -- and Audrey Hepburn gives an amazing performance.

Fred Zinnemann always brought out the best in one of my favorite actresses, Deborah Kerr. In both "From Here to Eternity" and "The Sundowners," he helped her perform against "type" and she was WONDERFUL -- especially with Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, and Glynis Johns in "Sundowners."

Zinnemann even made a very good musical film of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma."

What a fine body of work to leave as a legacy. Thanks to both of you for reminding me that I need to dust off my copy of "The Sundowners" and watch it this weekend.

-Cath

Dear Cath:

I think Robert Mitchum was a very underrated actor, and his performance and Australian accent in "The Sundowners" was perfect. His southern accent in"Cape Fear" was great, his Irish accent in "Ryan's Daughter was also great. Fred Zinnemann had the wonderful ability to really bring out the reality of a situation to where you completely believe it, and that's a stupendous ability for a director. I admire Zinnemann for taking on "Oklahoma!", but it certainly isn't one of my favorite movie musicals. It's got some good songs, but I just don't like the material.

Josh

Name: Kaya
E-mail: kaylar029@sympatico.ca

Dear Josh:

I thought that too about Melanie before, but there's a scene in the dinar where a fisherman says that one of his boats was attacked by birds and injured one of his men. The incident took place before Melanie got there. In the behind the scenes interviews, the writer says it wasn't intended that Melanie was the cause of the bird attacks. The reason why they put in the woman with the two children (in the dinar) accusing Melanie is to show how people tend to look for scapegoats when they don't understand what's going on. They wanted to leave the reason for the attacks ambiguous.

Oh yeah, the original ending would have been really cool ;)

Kaya

Dear Kaya:

There's a very interesting little book by Evan Hunter called "Hitch & Me," about the writing and making of "The Birds." Evan Hunter wrote the script, and went through hell with Hitchcock, who was basically starting to come apart at the seams at that point, and no longer cared if his films made any sense. I mean, why does Melanie drive the love birds to Rod Taylor's house? She just met the guy. The film works in spite of a slightly dumb script.

Josh

Name: Andy Ellis
E-mail: andyellis@bellsouth.net

Dear Josh:

Do you or have you ever in any way been associated with the miliatry? Have you ever been sent to war and truly understood what is was about? If you answered no to either of these questions then I think you do not even have a clue what loving or hating the USA is all about. You would not know treason if it jumped up and bit you. The troops love George W. Bush and guess what I am one of those troops. Get off your soap box and try serving this country you love so much....I do! It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and talk, but you should try to walk some the walk and you might see the W. is not so bad. This country, better yet world will fall to pieces if John Kerry gets elected. He can't fight a cold much less terrorism.

Dear Andy:

Seriously, who gives the slightest little shit that you're in the military? You think that makes your opinion any more meaningful than mine? It doesn't. If you love George Bush then you're an idiot because he's a terrible president who's made absolutely every single decision wrong. And since I want to see all of our troops safe and removed from harm's way, I guess I love the military more than you. John Kerry has more brains in one of his boogers than Bush has in his whole cabinet.

Josh

Name: JimmyJ
E-mail: jimmyj89@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

Did you work with or were you friends with Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman? They are doing pretty well for themeselves with several upcoming films and a first-look deal with Dreamworks. Not too bad for the Xena, Jack of All Trades, Hercules' guys. What does a first-look deal mean?

Congrats on your scifi project!

JimmyJ

Dear JimmyJ:

I met them a couple of times, and they seemed like nice, bright young men. When I first met them, though, I thought they were production assistants because they're so young, or at least young-looking. When I found out who I was actually speaking with I was somewhat aghast, and had to quickly run over in my mind our last ten minutes of conversation to see if I'd given myself away, but I don't think I had. A first-look deal is giving a company the right, for a fee, to see all of your projects first before you show them to anyone else. It's a form of a development deal where you're not a work-for-hire, meaning the company owns the project. When the smoke clears you still own your script.

Josh

Name: Kaya
E-mail: kaylar029@sympatico.ca

Josh -- I caught most of the 3 Kerry/Bush debates, and aside from what they were talking about, the body language is the thing that stood out for me. Kerry carried himself with dignity and class, and took notes of Bush's comments to use as weapons against him. Meanwhile, Bush acted like a 12 year old boy, making faces etc while Kerry was speaking. Not only is that highly disrespectful, but do we really want a 12 year old boy running the most powerful country in the world? Needless to say, come November I'm voting for Kerry. Oh, not for his body language <g> but because of Bush's disastrous presidency in the last four years.

On another note, I bought the DVD for The Birds last week and watched it for the first time in years. What an amazing movie! It isn't Hitchcock's best movie, but it is very well done and the movie had an actual plot with a theme. Every shot meant something. Every scene meant something. You cared about what happened to all the characters, even the minor ones. Hitchcock didn't answer the question of why the birds were attacking but he had the characters ask each other what the audience was asking themselves. Very clever.

Funny how when I saw the movie several times years ago, I always thought the movie insinuated that Melanie Daniels was the reason the birds attacked, but that wasn't it at all. The birds started attacking before she got there and near the end, it was hinted that the birds were just regrouping and Melanie and co. were leaving in between bird attacks.

Oh, and there was no music soundtrack. Just the sounds of the birds, which made the tension and suspense all the more excruciating. I just can't imagine anyone these days making a horror movie without a sound track.

The DVD extras includes an hour and 1/2 of behind the scenes interviews. Most intrigtuing was how Tippi Hedren told of having a nervous breakdown after filming that final bird scene.

All in all, a brilliant film that holds up over time, especially given the special effects and what Hitchcock had to work with in 1963.

Take care -- Kaya

Dear Kaya:

I've personally always thought that Melanie was the cause of the bird attacks, that she was an "albatross," using bird metaphors. That she was cursed or bad luck or something. Isn't the first attack Melanie getting hit in the head on the boat going over? Meanwhile, the ending Hitchcock originally intended, of the Golden Gate Bridge entire covered in birds, would have been great.

Josh

Name: Melvin Butters
E-mail: barnholtzacquisitions@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Are the North American home vid/dvd distribution rights available to,"Alien Apocalypse?" If they are, can you please forward this querie to the rights holder?

Thanking you in advance.

Dear Melvin:

North American video/DVD distribution has been picked up by Anchor Bay Ent. BTW, who are you folks?

Josh

Name: Baron Victor Van Vorhees III
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"And almost everything I see these days has no theme at all, which inherently makes it shit."
- Josh Becker

Could you tell what you feel the themes to all of your films are? Don't leave out Stryker's War or Alien Apocolypse.

Thanks!

Dear Baron:

No, I won't. It ain't fittin' to ask a writer to explain his themes. But they're there, I assure you. Some are certainly stronger than others, but I've been wrestling with structure and theme and subtext and metaphor and allegory my whole life, with greater and lesser success along the way. If you want to dissect my writing, be my guest.

Josh

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

Josh

Re: bureaucratic channels.

Might a better question be, why does he make the films he does? To satisfy himself, to make his business profitable, to entice thought? I won't dismiss him as a director because he has glimpses of good things in AI (which couldn't be more split into Kubrick darkness and Spielberg sentimentality) and in Minority Report because they ask important questions. Unfortunately neither really addresses the questions very well. But to be sure, you won't be seeing the NC-17 Spielberg anytime soon since he has a foundation, an image, and a studio to maintain. Right?

Dear Brett:

You're asking a rhetorical question -- why does Spielberg do what he does? Well, why do any of us do what we do? Many things go into our decisions, and since Spielberg doesn't have to jump through any hoops to get his films made, I'd venture he makes the films he does because he sincerely thinks they're good. Ultimately, he's doing the best he can. As am I, with far less success. But we all rise to our own levels of ability and ambition.

Josh

Name: Tobey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Oops, regarding "Enigma", I meant to write Mick Jagger, not Mike Jagger. And who is this David Keith you're talking about??

Dear Tobey:

Oops right back, David Keith wasn't in "Enigma," he was in "U-571," which was also about the Enigma machine.  I went back and read the blurb on "Enigma," and although it was well-produced, what an absolute nothing of a movie.  And who's that guy in the lead?  Nobody.  "U-571" was better, and it wasn't all that good.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

One can always tell that a question/slam is *really* stupid if you don't even bother to dignify it with a straight response. As in the case with ...ummmm..."Captain Picky Pants." Yeah.

So I'll just speak for myself and observe that "Robo-Cop" was set in the 1990's, the Mad Max films in the 1980's, and "Planet of the Apes" in a future with a technology akin to the late 19th century. (I always liked the added twist in the novel that the apes had managed to...well... ape the scientific advances that humans had reached, but had never moved beyond them, in 2000 years.) And "Aliens" - and the other films in that series - seems to be set in some sort of future where progress has likewise been stagnated.

As for merit or quality being connected to how many people see something... well, that's so absurd I'm not even going to comment, beyond wondering how come 50 million people didn't switch from the Super Bowl over to Anton Chekhov Playhouse or Sophocles Theatre.

Anyway, now on to a real question. I notice that so many of the "big" film directors now come from a photography background, whether as video directors, or DP's, or whatever. I should think a good stage director - Elia Kazan or Josh Logan or someone - could simply rely on the advice of a DP and a good asst. director, and learn to translate their technique to film as they go along.

But do you think there is a way for someone with a photography background to learn how to work with actors? Is that something that they too could pick up just from watching actors at work? Is it something one is born with? You at least had the opportunity to act in school plays and super-8's as a kid, so presumably you sort of developed all your skills simultaneously. But I suspect the McG/Tony Scott/Michael Bay/Barry Sonenfeld crowd never even did that.

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I'd say there's no other way to learn how to work with actors other than working with actors. Nobody is born with any of this knowledge or ability, it's all learned. When Elia Kazan came to Hollywood to direct his first film, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," he said to the studio head, Darryl Zanuck, that he didn't know anything about filmmaking. Zanuck replied that that wasn't a problem because Kazan knew how to work with actors and move them around, so he'd just assign him an experienced older DP like Leon Shamroy (four-time Oscar winner, who 40 years later would shoot "Planet of the Apes"). Zanuck's final piece of advice, which is a very good one, was,"Make every scene the best scene in the movie." Meanwhile, coming from a music video background is useless, and basically no experience at all. You don't have to know how to block actor's movements, and since nothing has to logically cut together, it's no help with creating montage, or even setting up a rational shot. A DP has at least worked with a director or two who knew what they were doing, so they've seen what it takes. But most DPs don't make good directors. I think editors make better directors than DPs, and so do screenwriters.

Josh

Name: craig crass
E-mail: crass_93230 @yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

The Short Film format (small space and time) fits The Song format, or The Poem format, better than The Story format. A poet or a musician would do well within the structural format of a Short Film. I've been searching for a Short Film entitled: The Barber 1997 for a long time. Do you know anything about this 12 min. film produced by Symonds? Thankyou, craig

Dear Craig:

Sorry, never heard of it. That's a an interesting point you've made. A short film could well be likened to a song or a poem, or a short story, for that matter. A song is a good comparison because it's such a structured form. Whereas if a poem is structured, or even rhymes at this point, it's old-fashioned. But no one fights the fact that a song is a highly-structured form, and that's what a screenplay ought to be, too. Another reason why a song is a very apt comparison is because it's theme is so clear, and a good script should be the same way. A good theme relates to everything in the piece. Let's take Pink Floyd's song "Time" as an example. Every single line of that song is about time.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on is quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

(Lyrics by Roger Waters)

This is how a theme in a script or a story should be viewed and approached, as well. Every single moment should relate back to the theme, if possible. You really can't write a song without knowing the theme, and the same should hold true for screenwriting. And almost everything I see these days has no theme at all, which inherently makes it shit.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just watched the behind the scenes deal of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN where Mr. Abagnale talks about what was truth and fiction. It sounds like there really wasn't a good explanation for why he did it other than he was on the street, ran out of money in his account, and one thing just lead to another. also He said he never saw his father again after he ran away.

I take it back, the first 20 minutes of Eternal Sunshine are unwatchably boring and a jumbled mess.

Dear kdn:

No, not from Charlie Kaufman. I have a feeling when I finally see "Eternal Sunshine" Mr. Kaufman will be batting .1000 for me.

Josh

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

Josh

I was thinking about this the other day, so indulge me for a bit. There is endless and often circularly wrong arguments about Steven Spielberg's work and I don't particularly agree or disagree with any one side. I like some of it and don't like other works. BUT- I do have a complaint. Unlike a lot of filmmakers who must scrape together to provide for themselves and their art (and thus have a truly vested interest in the process), anything Steven Spielberg does has money thrown at it. He can secure a $100M budget without any problems. That's a fantastic thing if the story was enabled to flow better thanks to time and enhancements like special effects, but I feel a lot of the time because he has to go through such a bureaucratic channel, the audience is served story-by-wrote milquetoast flicks that are of little interest because they don't challenge anyone. I will say I actively liked Minority Report (and know you didn't) but few of Spielberg's films come off with any trace of intimacy or edge. Instead, we're fed pre-packaged movies which coddle the hand that feeds him and are given more advertisement inside the film than out. I miss the days when it looked like hard luck had come to him, because then it looked like filmmaking mattered to Spielberg. If only Bruce the Shark had broken down more often....

Any thoughts?

Dear Brett:

What bureaucratic channels does Spielberg have to go through, he owns the fucking the studio? I personally think he'd shot his wad before making "1941," and everything since then has been crap, but that's just me.

Josh

Name: DH
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How hard was it to start up Panoramic Pictures, did you have to file a small business claim or did you just tack it on to your films? I've been putting the same name on all my short films for the past seven years but it would be cool to actually own it, in the eyes of the government at least, or would they tax the shit out of me?

Dear DH:

All you need is a DBA, which means "Doing Business As," which holds no tax liability, but allows you to start a business bank account in that name.

Josh

Name: Captain Picky-Pants
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just noticed a bit of self-contradiction (god-forbid) between your review of "The Matrix" and your list of favorite films. You said:

"Perhaps it's just me, but any vision of the future that still contains gunpowder-driven, bullet-firing weapons is moronic."

Yet, you list among your Favorite Films:

1) Aliens
2) Robocop
3) Mad Max
4) The Road Warrior
5) Planet of the Apes

Does that make you a moron? Perhaps that's being harsh. One might say that you enjoy moronic films (by your own definition) but there is no real need to be insulting.

Who knows, maybe after watching 3,735 movies, the moronic ones might start to bleed over into the good ones, creating a confusing mishmash of quality films and bullet-firing tripe. I wouldn't know as I've only seen 2,464.3 movies and have yet to experience the problem.

By the way, need I point out that the gunpowder-driven, bullet-firing weapons utilized in "The Matrix" were part of a computer-simulation of the year 1999 and were therefore, technologically correct. The people in the "real world" used EMP devices and spiffy little guns that shot electric charges at the baddies. But, that's beside the point.

My point is this: YOU DON'T THINK.

Yours Truly,
Captain Picky-Pants

P.S. I don't think you should be so quick to deal out judgement to people like Joel Silver and The Wachowski Brothers seeing as how their movies actually get viewed by the public. I don't recall seeing people line up around the block to catch a midnite screening of "If I Had a Hammer". I might attribute this to your integrity as an artist and your refusal to sell out but, you directed "Hercules in The Maze of the Minotaur", you have no integrity and would probably sell out in 10 seconds if anyone was buying. So there :P

Dear Captain Picky-Nose:

I am so castigated, and I feel so small. Worse still, my self contradiction grows deeper in that I just used gunpowder-driven, bullet-firing weapons in the sci-fi film I just made. I guess I am a moron, and I just don't think. But luckily there are smart people like you out there to remind me what's true. And if the masses lining up to see the film is the real criteria for quality, then "Titanic" is the best film ever made, right?

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I hear that a sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep may be in the works. Go here to read it:

http://www.darkhorizons.com/news04/041011k.php

Personally, I don't want a sequel. While I love Bubba Ho-Tep (I have it on DVD), I think it's a terrible idea to do a sequel. The original film had its charm-and it was more than just a mummy picture. It had to do with the harsh realities of growing old-becoming unwanted and useless.

It should be left to stand alone.

About the only thing I didn't like about the DVD is Bruce doing a play by play commentary on the movie as Elvis. That was REALLY stupid. In the context of the movie, I didn't mind Bruce's Elvis routine. But as commentary on the film, his Elvis impersonation gets old REAL quick. It's not funny-it's just plain lame.

I like Bruce-but I gotta call it like I see it.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

You do that. Bruce hasn't mentioned any sequels to me, but then we don't discuss everything. I saw the film once at the theater and that was sufficient for me. I liked the first two acts, and I thought it dropped stone cold dead in act three.

Josh

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

Hey Josh, thanks for the tips. Your opinion always appreciated!

Does the news, magazine articles or what not ever influence your writing? I've heard of a lot of writers basically just stealing material straight off the headlines of the paper. Someone pointed out to me that this was "insensitive" a little while back, and it got me thinking...what's the difference? I mean, take any reality-based movie. More than likely, someone in real life has already done what you've written. What's your take?

- Nick

Dear Nick:

Whatever sparks your imagination is a good source. If you can write a good story based on the headlines, go for it. Darryl Zanuck was the first guy known for making films based on yesterday's headlines, and that's where all the gangster films came from. Stanley Kramer followed up on this concept 20 years later, and made a number of films based on the immediate problems of the moment -- racial problems with "Home of the Brave," "The Defiant Ones," "Pressure Point," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner;" the problems of returning vets from the war with "The Men," motorcycle gangs with "The Wild One," nuclear war with "On the Beach," religious intolerance and communist blacklisting with "Inherit the Wind," etc. A contemporary issue is good subject matter, if you can make use of it, and have a point to make.

Josh

Name: Peter Strausse
E-mail:
Dear Josh:

I just watched "From Here to Eternity" for the umpteenth time, and it never gets old. What a truly great film. Do you think its Zinnemann's best? "High Noon" was okay, but having seen FHTE first, I found it so lacking in variation and scope that it just didn't interest me.

P.S. - Tell me some of Montgomery Clift's best films. Is his Alfred Hitckcock film "I Confess" any goood?

Dear Peter:

Not really, although Clift made a believable priest, and it's got a few good Hitchcock shots and gags in it. I'm a big fan of Fred Zinnemann, and I'd agree, "From Here to Eternity" is his best film. You're right, it never gets old. I also love "The Member of the Wedding," "The Nun's Story," and"The Sundowners." "High Noon" is a good western, but it's never been one of my favs, and old Coop and the very young Grace Kelly seemed terribly mismatched. Other good Zinnemann films are: "Act of Violence," "The Men," "A Hatful of Rain," and "A Man for All Seasons." Other good Montgomery Clift films are: "Red River," "The Heiress," "A Place in the Sun," and"Judgement at Nuremburg."

Josh

Name: Tobey Adams
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you see "Enigma"? Its a WW II flick about the work to break the german "enigma" cipher. Quite good, and produced by Mike Jagger of all people.

Dear Tobey:

I saw it and it was okay at best. David Keith seemed like he should have been the star, and when he dies I wasn't sure who to pay attention to. Is Mike Mick's brother?

Josh

Name: Janine Antram
E-mail: bodyissues@xtra.co.nz

Dear Josh:

Hi, fantastic article. I worked as a body double to American Fitness Model Victoria Pratt on the set of Cleopatra 2525 until it ended and wonder if you could give me any advice/suggestions regarding doing some more. I had a blast!
Also, do you know Marica (casting director for Pacific Renaissance Pictures NZ?
Many thanks
Janine

Dear Janine:

Marica came in at the very end, it was Diana Rowan who was casting director for Pac Ren Pix from the beginning of "Hercules" up through the fifth season of "Xena." I'd say talk to Di or Marica. Good luck.

Josh

Name: JO
E-mail: jo.field1@ntlworld.com

Hi Josh,

some1 said that u and Edgar Wright would make an interesting team. Edgar Wright worked on some british films and shows, such as "spaced" and "Shaun of the Dead" ...I believe that "shaun of the Dead" has recently released over in the US!! its a great film and Edgar wirght is a funny guy...and i totally agree that u would work really well with him, the meeting of great minds!!

Jo xx

Dear JO:

Okay, if you say so. "Shaun of the Dead" certainly doesn't look like it will appeal to me, but I could be wrong, unlike say, George Bush, who has never been wrong about anything ever.

Josh

Name: Daniel Loeb
E-mail: danl@mercurylink.net

Dear Josh,

Getting into Dan Daly's head is indeed a herculian task. Too bad I didn't know that you were researching his life. My family donated his medals to the Marine Corp. Museum. Anyway, what we didn't donate was a collection of letters 1901-1915 addressed to his sister.
I haven't read your script yet as my brother just stumbled across your site and told me about it. I'll read it and see how close you got to the real guy.
After all, nobody could tell you who he really was.
Lots of B.S. but he was quite an individual.
Did you know he did 30 days bread and water in solitary confinement for a certain infraction of Marine Corp. etiquette?
Anyway- Daly hated publicity and was a very private person.
So- I'll take a look at the script with great interest and if I've got anything constructive to say I'll e-mail (just for the heck of it)
Respectfully,
Dan Loeb

Dear Dan:

I'd love to read those letters. Is there a chance of getting copies if I pay for the copying and postage? Considering what a big hero he was, there's damn near nothing written about him. The most information I could find ( and I really looked) was a single article in Leatherneck Magazine from the early 1970s, and that didn't have very much info in it. In my attempt to create a full-fledged character I had to invent all of his motivations. I'll be very interested to know what you think of my script, that I hope does not defame him or the Battle of Belleau Wood, which was very important battle. I still think it would make a helluva film. Just as note, "To Hell and Back," the film about Audie Murphy, who was the biggest Army hero of WWII, which was really a somewhat low-budget B-film, was Universal's biggest money-maker for 20 years, until "Jaws."

Josh

Name: Rocky
E-mail: rocky58@aol.com

Josh,

Have you seen much of 1960s Underground Cinema? Like:

Roger Corman's The Wild Angels
Alice in Acidland
Riot on Sunset Strip
You are what you eat
Head
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
Putney Swope
Scorpio Rising

What do you think about Kenneth Anger?

Dear Rocky:

Anger's films are okay, for experimental stuff. I haven't seen "Alice in Acidland" or "You Are What You Eat." I laughed like hell at "Putney Swope" when it came out, but it didn't hold up at all. "The Wild Angels" and "Riot on Sunset Strip" are just garbage. "I love You, Alice B. Toklas" isn't funny. Anger's films are okay, for experimental stuff. I was highly amused by "Head," but it's a film I've avoided seeing again because I know it won't hold up.

Josh

Name: Carrie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Ah, I stand corrected on Gerald Ford. I only knew that he was adopted, and that was because of those commercials that tell you what a winner you could end up with if you adopt. Was Henry Ford adopted? For some reason, this reminded me of the Simpsons episode when Homer was on a space shuttle and they had James Taylor come in and sing to the crew. "Former president James Taylor!" As for the Ohio presidents, you listed all of the names, but there were two Harrisons. William Henry (9) and Benjamin (23).

Dear carrie:

But William Henry Harrison was from Virginia. Meanwhile, after living here for two years I just met my neighbor up the street (because he has several Kerry-Edwards signs up on his lawn), and he's a relative of president Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY and his nickname was "Old Kinderhook." His campaign slogan was "Van Buren is O.K." which is where the expression OK comes from.

Josh

Name: James
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How hard was it making a documentary? Is the process much different from making a film? Why did Tapert want to do it? I imagine you guys already had distribution set up when you started filming it.

Thanks,
James

Dear James:

No, as matter of fact, Rob didn't have distribution arranged when we made his documentary. How could he if they hadn't seen the film yet? Meanwhile, how hard is it to make a documentary is silly question because every single movie, documentary or fiction, is its own ordeal. as the old Hollywood expression goes, "It's hard to make a good movie, and it's hard to make a bad movie." Meaning, movies are just hard to make.

Josh

Name: Rosco
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How much would your services cost if someone wanted to hire you to work on their project?

Dear Rosco:

Why do you ask?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Gerald Ford is from Nebraska. Were we referring to Henry Ford, Funny Guy?

Dear Carrie:

Gerald Ford was born in Omaha, but his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan when he was little and that's where he grew up and lived his life. But you see, even the one president from Michigan wasn't even born here. Here's the blurb from the White House website -- "Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913, he grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He starred on the University of Michigan football team, then went to Yale, where he served as assistant coach while earning his law degree. During World War II he attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy. After the war he returned to Grand Rapids, where he began the practice of law, and entered Republican politics."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

There were not sixteen presidents from Ohio. There were eight.

Dear Carrie:

I was misinformed. Actually, I only get seven: Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinnley, Taft, and Harding.

Josh

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

Hello again Josh,

Have you thought of doing a sort of colaboration with other directors on a project, kind of like a "4 Rooms" scenario? And, if so, who would you like to work with? I was thinking that you and Edgar Wright would be an interesting time.

And thanks again for letting me use your reviews. I really appreciate it.

Amber Hanson

Dear Amber:

I suppose I'd do something like that if it was offered to me, but for the most part, I don't like collaborating. I'd rather do a shitty job all by myself than have to fight for my ideas anymore. I've never even heard of Edgar Wright.

Josh

Name: Gilbert Smith
E-mail: profelmore@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Oh by the way, I caught Running Time the other night and I must say... I was really blown away by it. It was amazing how it didn't feel gimmicky at all, but rather the one shot trick actually heightened the drama and suspense.

Dear Gilbert:

Thanks. That's exactly what I was after making use of the no-cutting, real-time shtick, so I'm pleased it worked.

Josh

Name: Gilbert Smith
E-mail: profelmore@aol.com

Dear Josh:

How does one get into directing for television? I'd like to make movies for a living and I think I'm on the right track, but if I ever got paid for ANY directing work at all I'd pee myself with glee.

Dear Gilbert:

There are no reliable, logical routes to get into movie or TV direction. There's an intern program at the DGA, but there's certainly no assurance that will get you to where you want to go. For me it was all based on who I knew, and my having enough experience when the chance came. My first TV gig was on "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol," and as fate would have it, I grew up with the producer here in Detroit. After the first season of "Real Stories" I switched over to "Hercules," and I happen to have grown up here in Detroit with both of the executive producers on that show. I wish I could give you better advice. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Could you please tell me what the minimum requirements are for selling a feature film, with regards (only) to the film print itself and essential documents.. (no need to list all releases etc)

Thankyou for your time.

Keith

Dear Keith:

These are called "Delivery Requirements," and are stated in the contract with the distributor or the sales agent. Delivery requirements vary depending on what sort of deal you are making. If you're making a deal with a theatrical distributor who intends to release your film in movie theaters, they may very well want: a 35mm Inter-positive or Inter-negative, a seperate Music & Effects soundtrack (the M&E) on DA-88, release forms for all of the locations, contracts for all of the actors, all of the proper copyright forms for the script and the film, as well as the contracts that show the rights of the story and screenplay have been purchased legally, still photographs taken during production, clearances for all of the music, a dialog-continuity script for dubbing or subtitling, bios of all the actors and top crew people, as well as an EPK or electronic press kit, which is like a little documentray on the making of the film. If you're just making a video/DVD deal, you wouldn't necessarily need a 35mm IP or IN, but you would need a Digital-Beta broadcast-quality master, hopefully transferred from the IP or the negative. If there's a lot of swearing some distributors want a non-expletive version, too. Completing the Delivery Requirements part of making a deal if tough.

Josh

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

Josh -

You mentioned that you wanted to see Bush screw up on tonight's debate...me too. Though he didn't screw up in any one particular way, his overall performance was horrible, and when you read the transcript of the debate, most of his utterings were muddled garbage -- "word salad" to use an old mental health term.

On another topic -- a "plug" plus some questions:

"One Weekend A Month" -- a very good short film directed by Eric Escobar and starring Renee O'Connor -- has just made it into the AFI Fest 2004 in Los Angeles. It will be shown there twice in November -- I guess in competition with other short independent films.

I had the pleasure of seeing Eric's movie at another film festival in San Francisco last month. It lasts 12 minutes and was made in 35mm, so it looks polished. Renee gives an excellent performance (naturally) and the film makes a compelling statement about the "economic draft" that would send a dysfunctional, young, single mother to Iraq.

The unique aspect of the movie is that all the dialogue is improvised, yet it comes off very professionally and seems to flow naturally. Eric explained that a LOT of planning went into the improvisation and that it took about 13 hours to get 12 minutes of story.

How much do film festival competitions for short films matter? What effects/benefits do they have (if any) for the director, cast, crew? Are they a good place to "sell" a movie? Is there even a market for short films?

Thank you.

Dear Cath:

For the most part, short films are made strictly to learn the craft of filmmaking, not to sell, not to move one's career forward. Film festivals are great for shorts because it's probably the only place it will ever get shown in front of an audience. However, if you think you've made a particularly good short film you can always try to get it eligible, then nominated for an Academy Award. There are three short film categories: Live action, animation, and documentary. That's 30-minutes or under, I believe. Features are 60-minutes or over, and that's what the film business is about, features, not shorts.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I've been thinking, and often you say that writers today need to write a story that's worth writing. How do you decide, of your own work, what stories are worth pursuing and which are not?

I'm very curious, because I know that one of my problems in writing is making myself believe in the project enough to commit 100%. It might be a self esteem issue, I'm not sure.

Thanks,

Nick

Dear Nick:

That's a good question. Ultimately, I let the story itself, and the process, motivate me, or not. What I mean is, if I keep thinking about a story and feel like I want to write it, then I write it as far as it takes me. And if I run out of steam somewhere along the way, then I just do. If it's a strong story, though, it will resurface through the primordial tar pit of my mind, and if it does then it's showing that it's at least memorable, if not necessarily good. Also, I really do love to write, so when a story has ripened sufficiently to actually need to be written down, I go with it. The process I use is to first write a treatment of 12-14 pages, single-spaced. This is the first test of a story's value -- can I even complete the treatment. If I can, and it makes sense, then maybe I'll write the script. But very frequently I do not write the script right away, I just move onto the next idea, and it takes months or years for that 12-14 pages to blossom into a 100-120 page script in my head. The whole process works in its own time, if you're willing to run with it and to not panic along the way.

Josh

Name: garret
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

>The dumb son of a bitch lost 10 points in the polls from his last
>performance. Without other people around to support him, and
>depending on only his own wits, brain and mouth, he's sunk.

Apparently, he wasn't even depending on his own wits. There's a pretty convincing theory about him using an ear piece to be fed answers during the debate that can be found at www.isbushwired.com.

garret

Dear garret:

It's called "The Ear," and it wouldn't surprise me if Bush uses one. They use them for industrial films where the actors have to spew long lists of products. They make the actors look like they've gone dead in the eyes. Bruce did an industrial for Mopar years ago (as Cleveland Smith) and had to use The Ear, and I still chuckle thinking about the dead look on his face while he listed every replacement car part that Mopar made.

Josh

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

Josh,

Thanks for clarifying your answer on the DP discussion, it makes more sense to me, and I agree that a good DP will never slow down the production, they will just og with the flow.

Funny, Bruce's story about the Jack Green is typical of a good DP who knows what to say and do and I even find myself editing like that many times.

I think it is a great psychology and it works most of the time.

You said that you don't get much rehearsal time, was that just with "Zena" or even on you own films? Seems to me, you could set your pace better on your features than on a television show.

I know what little time is afforded TV directors, and as I mentioned before, I have been on the set of "Law & Order" a few times and that show is a on a very tight schedule. It is just the nature of shooting for TV.

Scott

Dear Scott:

TV shows, TV movies, and low-budget movies, they all have short schedules. I've had rehearsals on all of my indie films, and I find it invaluable, but there's no rehearsals in TV. On this last film we didn't even have a read-through. Working on these kinds of schedules is sort of a shit-fight all day every day, and anyone that doesn't get with the program and slows me down is my enemy. Since time is money, my indie films have had pretty much the same schedule as TV, meaning 6-7 pages a day. I shot "Running Time" in 10-days, "Hammer" in 19-days, and I just shot "Alien Apocalypse" in 17-days. There was no time for goofing around on any of them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Have you ever been in Columbus, Ohio?

Dear carrie:

As a matter of fact, no. I had an uncle that lived in Akron. I've got a good buddy from Cleveland, and my brother-in-law is also from Cleveland. 16 presidents came from Ohio, also known as "The President's State." Only one president ever came from Michigan, Gerald Ford, and nobody voted for him.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You Stated:
"I don't play video games so it's rather difficult for me to commiserate. Has there ever been a video game that was made into a decent movie? But as you alluded to, in some sense movies and video games are sort of opposites -- a video game is interactive and the player is imperative to the process; whereas with a movie, it's entirely passive, and it all occurs in front of you, whether you pay attention or not. I think I'd just try to make it the best video game is could possibly be and not worry about movies."

I reply:
Frankly, that's very sound advice. I just want to write a movie that someone HAS to buy and make for a change, but I guess I'll just do my job the best that I can, and then vice versa write the best screenplay I can (gleaning as always lots of fun info from you and your website, for which you of course never receive one-red cent... Which is kind of neat in a philanthropic sort of way, but I do feel bad for you. Like I'm stealing your brain juice.)

As far as your "video-game to movies" question for me, the answer is GOD no... They're all terrible. Like, really horrid. "Mortal Kombat" is probably the best one. And that's just FREAKING sad.

Thanks again, as always.
Matt David T.

P.S. See Serenity, this April.

P.P.S. You better still vote Kerry. (Well, duh.)

Dear Matt:

If I can be of any use to anyone, it's my pleasure. I have plenty of excess brain juice. Certianly the movie business hasn't wanted most of it. Meanwhile, someone stole the Kerry-Edwards signs off my lawn. My friend said that her's were stolen, too. The Bush-Cheney people are getting desperate. I'm very eager to see Bush completely screw up tonight at the 2nd debate. The dumb son of a bitch lost 10 points in the polls from his last performance. Without other people around to support him, and depending on only his own wits, brain and mouth, he's sunk.

Josh

Name: leon
E-mail:

Josh,

Of all the terrible films you have seen, which is the worst?

Next time you're in Vancouver I can smoke you up. The grass is greener in Vancouver.

Lron

Dear leon:

You misspelled your own name, dude, you're too stoned. Honestly and very seriously, I do not care about bad movies and which one is the worst. That whole line of thinking is a waste of time. There are far too many bad movies to try to quantify them. Instead, try thinking about good movies.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

In my limited experience on movie sets, lighting is really the bane of the director's existence. When I shot a fairly high budget short a few months ago, our AD kept things moving and if the lighting wasn't perfect, we still moved ahead and just kept on shooting. As far as I can tell, getting behind is absolutely one of the worst things that can happen on an indendent production. A variety of things can cause this, from weather to complicated camera moves, but consistenly lighting is the real jerk-off zone where lots of time is spent on something that may not necessarily have a huge impact on how the scene plays. We were lucky to have a gaffer that was always thinking ahead to the next setup and knew our time crunch. I've had friends work with DPs on their independent movies and they literally had to fire the guys because they slowed down the production so much that nothing got done. And I also tend to disagree with the statement that film is solely a visual medium. Yes, technically it is. But it's also about dialogue, situations, ideas, all sorts of things play a role in what makes a movie work well. When I turn on a movie I'd much prefer to see something amateurishly shot with a great script than the opposite. Unfortunately, I think that many filmmakers these days would disagree with that.

Dear Jim:

But the main thing going on while shooting, in my opinion, is to create a comfortable enviornment for the actors to feel free enough to give you their best work. Everything is secondary to the actors and the scene being performed. We didn't all show up there to watch the lighting crew light, or to see the camera crew set up the camera, or to observe the craft service people set up the table with coffee and donuts. We're all there to enact this scene from the script, and record it. Any director who has actors on the set ready to do a scene and is instead talking to the DP is foolish. You have forever to talk to the DP while the actors are away in costume and make-up, but when the actors are there and ready, the entire crew should shut the hell up, get out of the way, pay attention, and let the director and the actors do their jobs.

Josh


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