Q & A    Archive
Page 129

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

Josh,

I know you said the reason Sam and company are resurrecting "Evil Dead" is to make money, but Rob and Sam already have a ton of money. At this point, they could make any film they wanted; why would they remake the original "Evil Dead" instead of just creating a sequal? Sam won't even be directing it, and Bruce won't even be in it. Seriously, what's the point? I don't understand.

Your fan,
Rocky

Dear Rocky:

I'm not sure you've noticed or not, but no one ever seems to have enough money. Why does Bill Gates bother going into work every day? Why did John D. Rockerfeller, at one time the richest man in the world, work until he was 98? People who make money get good at making money, that's why they have so much of it. Look, there was never going to be an "Evil Dead 4," it was absolutely impossible with Sam directing and Bruce starring, and instead of letting the franchise die, they're resurrecting it. It makes perfect economic sense.

Josh

Name: Joseph Burton
E-mail: burton.joseph@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

I recently received some feedback stating my manuscript possibly lacked a clear three-act structure. I polished this script and have to submit it back to a major studio. Would I come off as a novice If I labeled Act 1, Act II, and Act III in the appropriate areas? Thank you and I wish you continued blessings and prosperity.

Dear Joseph:

I always indicate where the act breaks are while I'm writing, but I usually remove them before sending the script out. The reason is that studio execs are so stupid that if they see the act breaks, which generally aren't in screenplays (but should be), they become confused. I had one exec ask specifically regarding the indicated act breaks, "Was this written as a play?" I replied, "No. Why?" "Well, it has act breaks, and I couldn't figure out why they were there." So, I suggest removing them before sending out the script. Have you read my structure essays?

Josh

Name: Ryan McGoogle
E-mail: intruderisgod@lycos.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, do you believe that Bruce Campbell is a talented actor? And do you think he is academy award worthy?
-Danny Hicks II

Dear Ryan:

Yes, I do believe that Bruce is a talented actor, and I think he gets better and better as the years go by. Bruce can do some things that almsot all other actors cannot do, which is physical comedy. He hasn't been called on to do it very much since we all got into features, but he can do ten minutes of hysterical comedy just bending down to pick something up, then having all the crap in his shirt pocket fall out. Since the Academy Awards are officially both meaningless and useless, who cares?

Josh

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

Dear josh.

Bisexual or not Alexander was for his time one very clever man,and with who he have like to go in bed,this was his problem. I think 2350 years aren´t so many for to forget the history of someone like him,my name (Pilalidis)for exampel coming from Atridis, and Atriden was the children of Atreas,and Atreas was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaos,think Josh what are 3000 years?that means every 100 years 2 persons,and on 3000 years 60 OR 70 persons, there not can by more as 100.I see one picture from you and Bruce,and this picture reflecting 2 realy friends, this picture tell´s me that you two are god frinds.George

Dear George:

I don't care what Alexander's sexual orientation was, and every book I've read said he was bi-sexual, so I admire Oliver Stone for putting that in (it's not in the 1956 Richard Burton version). As for Bruce and I, we are good friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Josh

Name: Scabby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You have mentioned The Barbarian Invasions a few times recently. How do you compare it to le Déclin de l'empire américain, with all the same characters. I saw the latter later and was very disappointed. I was wondering what you thought.

Scabby

Dear Scabby:

I didn't see the first one, but I liked the second one. Not as much as Leonard Maltin, who gave it four stars, but it was still worth seeing. It's much too talky and uncinematic for me to consider giving it four stars, but it was intelligent.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

you ever track down a hard to find film and found out it sucked awful. I'm one of the few idiots that shelled out $50 for disney minstrel show SONG OF THE SOUTH (for historic purposes). I can't throw it away because I paid over $50 for it, I can trade it cause its a pirated movie, I can't really watch it cause its awful save for a few moments, its just sitting there on my shelf I still have it. Who the hell casts 3 1/2 year olds as film leads (maybe they're four or five, but they look younger than taylor momsen from that awful grinch movie). James Baskett does deserve an honorable mention, he did Uncle Remus, the voice of butterfly, Brother Fox, AND the best voice of briar rabbit in the last segment and I couldn't tell the voices apart. I hear he was the first live actor (black or white) cast by Disney, and he couldn't attend the premier of his own movie because no hotel in town would let a black man stay there. Such a shame, he was talented.

also I watched Harry Potter 3 again so I can finally judge it. It's not a good film, but its not a shitty film, its just mildly mediocre. Nothing you'd watch. the first two films are so unwatchable, they look fake just watching the trailers so I'd call this a step up. Saw was mediocre too, but with a nice twist ending that freaked me out. I don't need to watch it again though. Cary Elwes has no charm in this film and no longer looks like he did in PRINCESS BRIDE or TWISTER, he's starting to get old. sheesh, the man even had charm in ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS and LIAR LIAR and SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (no comment on any of these), but not here, no, I think he just totally lost it with old age.

Dear kdn:

As Shakespeare said, "Age makes fools of us all." I just had the same feeling about seeing Mickey Rourke in "Man on Fire," and thinking, can that really be him? He looks like he's sixty-five (he's actually 54). James Baskett may well be the first live-action actor to appear on-screen in a Disney film, but they did cast a live actress as Snow White in 1937, then rotoscoped her afterward. Disney's first live-action feature, BTW, was in 1950 with "Treasure Island," which I'd love to see again (but I wouldn't pay $50 for it). Regarding "Song of the South," hey, you pay your money, you take your chances.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<I didn't like the original "Ladykillers,">>
it didn't make me laugh but I enjoyed the novelty of seeing alec guiness, peter sellers, and herbert lom in a film together before Pink Panther. I'm gonna watch every film (available) on your list in alphabetical order so I should start having some good questions soon. right now I have THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, BEN HUR (59), BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, COOL HAND LUKE, DEATH WISH, DELIVERENCE, DIRTY HARRY, DR STRANGELOVE, EASY RIDER, THE EXORCIST, FIVE EASY PIECES, THE GREAT ESCAPE, ITS A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, JFK, JAWS, THE KING OF COMEDY, MASH, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, MONTY PYTHON'S MEANING OF LIFE, ANIMAL HOUSE, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, PINK PANTHER, PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, THE PRODUCERS, THE ROAD WARRIOR, ROBOCOP, ROCKY, ROCKY 3, A SHOT IN THE DARK, STAR WARS, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THE WARRIORS, and on vhs: PLATOON, FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, THE DEER HUNTER, TRAINSPOTTING, etc. (that's just from your list) How many DVDs and VHS you have? Also, you didn't like MAN OF 1000 FACES?

Dear kdn:

"The Deer Hunter" isn't on my list, I hated that movie. "Man of a Thousand Faces" was okay, but certainly not great. There are 50 James Cagney movies I'd watch again before that one.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just to clarify a couple of my positions:

1. I don't think you're a clown, nor are you here for my amusement. 2. Unlike some, I was kidding about you being Ash in the Evil Dead remake. Although, I do sometimes wish one of your hands was a chainsaw. 3. I greatly enjoyed Firefly the series when it was on the air, but I enjoy a lot of things - take that as no sign of its inherent quality. 4. Chronicles of Riddick is out on DVD, and I'd completely forgotten how bad the camera work/lighting is in the film. Still, the script (when read) remains cohesive with three acts, and a protagonist who exemplifies the main theme of the film, that of solitude. It's a wierd one.

So, here's my completely unrelated question:
Oliver Stone recently said about making films (in particular trying to make Alexander) in Hollywood:

"There is so much that is wrong, so much to fight against. If we had to do things the American PG way, then we were screwed. This had to be an R picture. If you work in Hollywood, you have to get past the studio development committees. The thousands of demands. The previews where they dumb it down for the audience. The system wears you down. It's a monster -- demanding, uncompromising. Marty Scorsese and Spike Lee have been through hell ..."

Maybe, despite his omnipresent lack of recent ability as compared to your consistent quest for quality, you two might have at least a common enemy?

Dear Matt:

The "Do you think I'm a clown" line is from "Goodfellas," speaking of Scorsese. I was kidding about me being Ash, too. But I am co-starring with Jackie Chan in his next film, mainly because I can kick his ass. I'm just a kiddin' son-of-a-gun. Yeah, the studio system has gone into the crapper, no news there. Boy oh boy did "Alexander" get unanimously bad reviews. I still whole-heartedly contend that once a director has crapped out, they never come back. Stone crapped out after "JFK" and has never made another decent movie. Scorsese crapped out after "Goodfellas." Once the magic is gone, it's gone for good.

Josh

Name: Lee
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

Yeah, about $700. It brekas down like this: I can get 400 foot of Fuji for £50. (If I negotiate with Kodak they'll give a 50% discount and do 400' at the same price). A lab in London will develop and transfer 400 foot colour neg' to digibeta and mini dv (with same time code for edit) for £100. So my short films (I've shot three, all around the five minute mark) are about £300. And if I can split the cost with my cast and crew, all the better. I'm using regular work lights from a local hardware store (B & > Q!); their tungsten-halogen lights are about 200 degrees K off 3500K, so are good for shooting on tungsten film. But the worklights act as flood lights, so I make snoots out of bean cans and sweetcorn cans. The smaller bean cans narrow the beam a little more than the larget sweetcorn cans. And cos they're made of illuminum they disipate the heat from the lights. (I use tin foil to cover the edges of the lamps). SOmetimes on location my actors have to warn me about the duct tape holding my snoots together getting too got. And you know what? I've just shot my third 16mm short, which has a thriller sequence at the start. And with my work lights and my bean cans I've created a noir sequence that looks great on tungsten film.

My buddy at the radio station (I write radio spots as a day job) does the sound recording on an old Marantz analogue portable. I offline on Premiere Adobe round at my cousins house. I have an editor friend in London who onlines the digibeta. And my sound buddy and I do the sound mix (working to a Quicktime movie) at night at the radio station when everyone else has gone home.

Actors are a good friend (who's a superb actor), his actor friends and people I've met at the local theatre.

So yeah, £300 for a film shot on 16mm and finished on digibeta. This has come about by improvising (bean cans!), calling in favours and just having the pug headed determination to keep the film's spirit alive and pushing, pushing ahead.

It's tiring with a full time job, but now I can say I'm a film maker. I suffer the joys and the pains film makers experience. And all that experience is getting hard wired into my brain. Yeah, it's a long shot wanting to be a film director, but I'm giving it my best shot.

Wow, that was a long answer.

Just before I go, do you rate Paris, Texas?

Lee :-)

Dear Lee:

I was bored with "Paris, Texas," just like I am with all of Wim Wenders' films. But they all look good. He should have been a DP. I like your bean can snoots idea, and your whole attitude, and I have no doubt you can make a great-looking noir movie on film for cheap, that's what the real noir films of the 1940s were all about, being cheap, but cool-looking and effective. That's what I tried to do with my film "Running Time." Here's an idea for you, one I've considered many times over the years but never followed-through on--shoot eight or nine ten-minute shorts with the same cast, that all narratively connect, and when you're done you've got a feature film. It's kind of like what Jim Jarmusch did with "Stranger Than Paradise," in that he made the first 30-minute act as a stand-alone short film, as well as being the pilot for the whole feature. And I think it was Wim Wenders (speaking of the devil) who gave Jarmusch a bunch of unexposed black & white 35mm film, with which he shot acts 2 & 3. Anyway, you sound like you could pull that off, several shorts that connect to make a feature. What do you think?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks a lot for the funny westerns you mentioned, very cool, I'm quite a Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy fan myself (and someone else I know is an even bigger fan). Best of luck playing Ash in the new Evil Dead that's awesome! Very glad you will be doing the fitness regimin, I was reading your Biological Clock script (I thought it was very cool and I loved the fantasies) and I noticed the one-handed push ups, I used to do some of those. What's harder though is to do them with the legs closer (like in Rocky though sometimes they're not as much). Will conditioning be much of your regimin? I was curious if you still lift weights, you know I think years ago in the boxing community it wasn't supported because they thought it would slow one down, but I think that's really changed now and can give people great power.

You know I was watching a country music special with Lucy talking and I really love how she says "bad ass" that is really awesome I love her! I mean I really admire her. I don't know, sometimes I wish I was a sweetie so to speak but I guess I could strive for the "bad ass" designation lol! I now say "bad ass" the way Lucy says it I love it, it sounds so sexy! I really love Lucy's accent among the many things I love about her (I greatly admire her I mean).

Well have a very Happy Thanksgiving I hope all is gravy! I mean groovy!

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I still lift weights every day, though not extensively, mainly just to loosen up the muscles in my neck. Boxers do lift weights now, but it's not considered a real important part of a boxer's training. Road work is much more important, which gives you the legs to go the distance. If strength was what boxing was all about you'd see many more weight-lifters as boxers, which you don't. If you matched a young Arnold Schwartzengger against a somewhat unmuscular-looking fighter like James "Lights Out" Toney, Toney would win every round every day of the week. Muscles that are too developed make you slow and uncoordinated.

Meanwhile, I have no doubt that just like all of the other stupid remakes these days they'll cast young, attractive, not-particularly-talented, nobody actors who don't earn big paychecks or demand points, so the producers can all make even more money. That's the entire point of these remakes, money. Period.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Firefly was a horrible show and anyone that tells you otherwise is an idiot. Its not as lame as Buffy, from the same guy, but it was still pretty much unbearable. I've seen some fans compare it to Star Trek, but it doesn't have one tenth the IQ of that show. That they're making it into a movie now just basically says to me that Hollywood is willing to throw money at anything, even horrible tv shows that bombed in the ratings. Generally cult shows are bad anyway, and this is no exception. I think people get into this stuff because you watch like 5, 10 episodes and suddenly who gives a fuck whether the story is good, you've put time into the characters, so you're watching it to basically "see what happens next". Not necessarily because the show is any good.

Dear Jim:

Another country heard from. I have a feeling I'd probably agree with you if I ever saw the show, but I probably never will. I couldn't even go with"Star Trek: The Next Generation" which seemed like horseshit to me, let alone any sci-fi show that's followed. The idea in all of these shows that you put a little ridge-brow make-up appliance on an actor and say they're an alien is painfully stupid to me, and unwatchable.

Josh

Name: Ra0ul
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You've probably already heard: Dreamworks bought the rights to make a feature film based on the "Baywatch" TV show. I am shocked and indignant over this latest affront to Baywatch-ers and fans of quality cinema the world over. I know what you're saying: "It might be good, especially if Spielberg directs." Yeah, JAWS is great, but his last two pictures really shampooed my nuts. And David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson are too old for their original roles, they'll never find a better pair (than Pam's, I mean.) Perhaps you could use your site to start a boycott of what is sure to be a disappointment to all film-lovers everywhere? My question is: If Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg fought, who would win? Thanks again, and BTW: "Lunatics: a Love Story" is the best film ( of it's kind,) I've ever seen.

Dear Ra0ul:

You think I'm some kind of clown, here for your amusement? Sure, make sport of me, what can I do about it?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Re: Evil Dead

"They made it to make money and get into the film business"

I agree, but that's not what it became. It has been embraced by fans on a global scale and it is the very film that made Raimi who he is today. I think he has a responsibility to those fans. To his supporters. If he wants to make money, make a SEQUEL. But don't remake the same film.

As someone who rails so heavily against the "money machine" and current filmmaking, I'm surprised you're taking this stance.

Richard

Dear Richard:

Well, he is my friend, even if I don't see him very often anymore. "Evil Dead" is one of the films that made Sam what he is today, but so is "Darkman" and"For Love of the Game" and "The Gift" and all the others. Not to mention two big hit Spider-Man movies, as well as being the executive producer of two big hit TV series, and now the executive producer of the big hit lower-budget horror film of the year, "The Grudge." Sam's his own studio, and he consistently makes smart business decisions and I have no doubt that remaking "Evil Dead" will be yet another one. Personally, I don't believe that an artist has any responsibility to their fans. I'm a Hitchcock fan and was for quite a few years while he was still alive, and he owed me nothing. It was and is my honor to watch his films.

Josh

Name: Lee
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

It's that fellow from the UK, again. (I've never been called a fellow, before. I kinda like it!)

I'm gonna add a bit more to the HD vs film debate. There's a camera engineer over here in the UK (based in Wales) called Les Bosher (pretty unfortunate name for a camera engineer, bless). Anyhow, he's a smashing bloke and he's happy for me to call and just chat about films and film-making. He'll drop into the conversation his time on Out of Africa, The Emerald Forest (Boorman mentions him in his Money into Light), Reds... Anyhow, I was saying how pissed off I am with people these days talking about the death of film. Les said that WAY back in 1965, when he began to train as a camera engineer, people were telling him THEN that he was wasting his time.

If the day comes when HD looks just like film, then I guess the industry could use it as the standard. But my fear is that it will eventually be chosen for economic, rather than aesthetic, reasons.

What do we call films if that time comes, BTW?

And I still maintain that on my VERY low budgets (£300 approx. for a short film, that includes film stock and processing and transfer onto Digibeta) with 16mm film I can compete with the big boys.

Do you rate Wim Wenders Paris, Texas, by the way? His commentary on the DVD is very self effacing and illuminating. I've just bought his Wings of Desire, which I haven't seen yet (although I HAVE seen Cioty of Angels. Hmm - think I did THAT one the wrong way round!)

Keep rockin' 'n' rolln'.


Lata

Lee

Dear Lee:

300 pounds? That's about $700 US, right? That's a pretty cheap movie. I've shot movies on Super-8, 16mm, 35mm, video and digitally, and I honestly don't care what method we use to record our stories as long as I have the ability to make it look good. When I'm presented with a method as good as, or better than, film I'll take it. Right now I will only consider shooting on film. I just watched part of a Sundance production on cable, "Love in the Time of Money," reasonably well-shot on DV and it looks like shit. It looked like a South American snuff movie. If possible, I want my film to look like "Reds" or "Out of Africa" or "The Emerald Forest." Call me old-fashioned, but I want some cinematic beauty.

Josh

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

Josh

Many people have concluded there aren't very many good films being made and almost no great ones, either. Nobody seems to know how to rectify this situation, but tell me if this is at the root of the problem: poorly executed filmings of bad concepts and pitches. Pitches are made into films, aren't they? They're served up to writers and made into incredibly bad films...here's why: pitches are usually two-act ideas, not three, right? ie. Regular man gets zapped by cosmic rays, becomes menacing giant monster, goes on rampage....
Now, that's no way to make a flick.

Saw Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes last night...overall not a very strong film because it isn't one, really. As a series of vignettes it strings by with no cohesion, but I laughed a lot during the Iggy Pop-Tom Waits discussion and the one with Alfred Molina and Steven Cooghan.

Dear Brett:

I bailed out on "Coffee and Cigarettes about 35 minutes in, after the first three scenes, and it REALLY SUCKED!! Very poorly conceived scenes which are then very badly improvised by bored, uninspired actors. I really can't think of anything worse off hand.

Meanwhile, it's usually the writers who are coming up with the pitches, but nobody makes a film based on a pitch, or a treatment, it's based on a screenplay. Many, many people read and comment on these scripts before they go before the cameras, and that's the problem. As Bill Cosby so aptly put it, "I don't know the secret for success; but I do know the secret for failure -- try to please everybody."

Josh

Name: Josh Cryer
E-mail: josh@fakeshemps.com

Hey Josh,

Yeah, "Firefly" is a TV show, ran for about 12 episodes on FOX before it was axed (14 were made in total, though, which you can get on a DVD set, and I wholeheartedly recommend you getting). It had a really unique story in my opinion, and I'm not too big on "unrealistic" scifi, or at least, "unconvincing" scifi (I hope Alien Apocalypse lives up to my standards!- aliens enslaving humanity? man, you have a lot of work to do, heh, I kid); and when scifi incorporates friggin cowboys and bandits, you have to be doing something really special to keep things convincing. The show is being made into a feature length film and should be out next year (yay fandom). It'll be called "Serenity," and I hope you check it out.

An interesting technique done in "Firefly" (which "Battlestar Galactica,"> and ABC's "Lost" now incorporate extensively, much to my liking), was handcam filming. The whole show was filmed by hand, no real steady cam; indeed, the more there was action, the more erratic the camera became. On the DVD commentary the camera operators spoke about this unconventional filming style, making things slightly out of focus intentionally, zooming in arbitrarily, not caring about lense flares or misframes or other mistakes (sometimes going as far as to intentionally do them), putting the CGI camera in places where you wouldn't normally go and embracing effects that are generally taboo in CGI (like the before mentioned blurry and zoom shots, which cannot be easily repaired). Almost like how one would film a documentary (but not as bad as a the close up zoomy shakey handcam of "Dancer in the Dark," mind you). What do you think of that filming style?

Anyway, maybe you should watch more TV, Hollywood might be out of originiality, but TV shows like "Lost," and "Battlestar Galactica" (which hardly qualifies as a remake, much to the distaste of diehard fans; you might be right that remakes are about money, but the guys working on "Battlestar Galactica" have serious character development going on, something sorely missing from scifi), and cancelled shows like "John Doe," > and "Firefly" have plenty of it. Just because TV stories are drawn out over a whole season, and you never really get a finality, doesn't make 'em unwatchable. And since Hollywood *is* lacking in origniality, may as well try to get it from somewhere, rare though it may be.

Sorry for the long email.

Dear Josh:

Hey, your's and Royler's and Matt David's opinions are every bit as valid as mine, and it's not that I never watched TV shows, I just don't watch them now. Hell, I saw damn near every episode of "Sex & the City," and was sorry when it went off. But I'm probably not going to start watching sci-fi TV series now. To me, if it's not a feature film or a documentary I just don't want to see it. Regarding hand-held, shaky, arbitrarily zooming, in and out of focus photography, I HATE IT. Deeply, and down to the core of my soul. I find it to be a complete and total cop-out on the part of the director (and on TV shows, the producers), it's not interesting, it's not helpful, and it's any but "unconventional" at this late date. If that's how they shot "Firefly," I won't make it five minutes.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Becker writes - "I have no more respect for sequels than I do for remakes. As William Goldman so succinctly put it, "Remakes and sequels are whore's films." They both meant to cash in on the original, and the entire point of both remakes and sequels is money. Period. So, to say that an "Evil Dead 4" would be good, but a remake is bad, is insane to me."

I think that's an ignorant blanket statement. While remakes are largely pointless and MOST sequels are souless abortions, a sequel isn't shit by the exclusive virtue of being derivative.

Serial entertainment has been around since the beginning of civilization. There are plenty of stories that can sustain their narrative through several films, books, comics, etc. Is Conan Doyle a whore for writing dozens of Holmes stories? What about great novels that were fragmented throughout magazines?

I don't feel the need to apologize for looking forward to sequels. If I enjoy a character, further exploration is welcome. None of this is rocket science, especially in regard to "Evil Dead." Bruce is probably too old to play Ash again, but in the mid-90s I would have appreciated another sequel. The movies are fun to watch. Isn't that the point?

I think "Godfather II" has every reason to exist; "Superman II" has Reeve's best performance as the character; "Empire Strikes Back" is actually the only "Star Wars" movie worthy of attention.

As for Goldman - his miserable "Invisible Man" and "Maverick" duties would seem to make his quote fairly hypocritical. I won't even mention his latter-day Stephen King pablum that doesn't even work on a junk viewing level.

Dear Royler:

There are a handful of exceptions of good sequels, like "The Godfather, Part II" and "The Road Warrior," just as there are a few examples of good remakes, like Wyler's 1959 version of "Ben-Hur," but for the most part I think Goldman got it right, sequels and remakes are whore's films. When the motivation is strictly financial, 99% of the time the results are shit. It's not necessarily because the sequel is derivative, it's because the intention is so mercenary. And most serials were the bottom of the lowest end of filmmaking. To me, "Superman II" and "The Empire Strikes Back" are as bad as any other sequels.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You said to another reader: "I don't watch TV shows, and certainly not remakes of shitty old shows. I didn't watch "Battlestar Galactica" the first time around. I don't even know what "Firefly" is. Is it a movie or a TV show?"

My response: Firefly was a short lived (12 episodes aired, 2 released with the DVDs of the series) TV series, a sci-fi show, with a strangely literal American western influence. It had 10 major characters (though the captain was clearly the main character) and the primary theme was freedom. What it means to be free, and how it's defined.

Firefly is unique in that due to the support of a creator who was so in love with his creation, its cast and all other aspects of the show, a small but incredibly dedicated fan-base and strong DVD sales, and a devoted cast willing to forgo other projects in the hopes of the show being revived, that the setting and characters are being made into a motion picture due out next year.

Firefly is definitely a cult favorite, and is very well written if strange television. It was on Fox in their timeslot of death (Friday nights at 8:00,) where mediocre ratings destroyed it.

The film's coming out in April, under the title of Serenity. Due to my love of good TV, and the respect I have for the writer of the film (for his good TV and his intense-though not quite Beckerian-belief in structure and theme) I'm planning to see the film.

Hopefully that answers your question.

Can't wait to see you as Ash in 2006 in the Evil Dead remake.

Dear Matt:

Yeah, I guess I better start doing some sit-ups. Well, when they make a feature out of the show I may very well watch it. Meanwhile, I just watched"Betty Blue" for the first time. If it wasn't 185 minutes long I would have liked it a lot more, but I still found it interesting and it had some the hottest sex scenes I've ever seen, to the extent where I think they're actually fucking in the film. It may be the best use of explicit sex in a drama I've ever seen. Still, at over three hours it's so self-indulgent that I'm very glad I watched it on DVD, where I could stop and come back to it the next day, and the next day, too.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

I recently watched Nosferatu (the original) and I found that the modern variation of the soundtrack that was added to the film really detracted from the actual film. The music didn't seem to fit the scenes and took a lot of suspense out of it. Do you find that this happens frequently with silent movies???
Nate

Dear Nate:

Actually, I do. I think if they did a better job scoring most silent films they'd be a lot easier to watch. If you saw a silent film at a big movie theater it would have had a full orchestral score, but all we generally get now are tinkley piano scores that are supposed to remind of us of the old days, which is just wrong. I think that a silent film should be scored just like a modern film, from the dramatic point of view, not nostalgically. TCM holds a silent film scoring competition every year, and so far (three years?) they've all been crummy.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

$1 Dollar says you end up somehow attached to this new "Evil Dead" project in some fashion.

Dear Matt:

Yeah, I'm playing Ash.

Josh

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

Josh:

My buddy Danny in halls gave me a few Tom Waits albums (Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Mule Variations) and I'm now listening to some of tbe best music made in the past 25 years. What's your take on Tom Waits? He's an original, for sure...

Dear Brett:

He was kind of funny for a while with his early albums, but I just don't care for his voice. If I want to listen to the blues I listen to Leadbelly or Robert Johnson or Pinetop Perkins, or the 1960s British interpretation of the blues, via The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

Alexander the Great???Who is this.....Peter Pan!!!ah i think we ask the author from Troy? meaby he know.George

Dear George:

Of course I haven't seen "Alexander" yet, but I have heard that the Greek government is suing the production company for depicting Alexander as bisexual, which, as far as I know, and I've read several books about him, is accurate. Honestly, he seemed more gay than straight. I think the great love of his life was his servant boy (Mary Renault wrote a very famous book about the servant boy called "The Persian Boy"). But you probably shouldn't judge the film until you've seen it. Speaking of that, I watched the first 35 minutes of "The Passion of the Christ," which was incredibly dull, very badly written, and poorly directed. It's a huge dramatic error to not let us get to know Jesus before he's having the shit kicked out of him every twelve seconds. To make Jesus a non-character is a great example of shockingly bad writing.

Josh

Name: Mwafag A/ Salam
E-mail: mwafag_ibrahim@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I think Anthony Quinn like Arabic & islamic history he presented Omar Almokhtar lybian fighter what do U think?

Dear Mwafag:

What do I think of what? I suppose you're referring to the film "Lion of the Desert," which I found unwatchable. I did like the uniforms the Italian soldiers were wearing, though, particularly the hats, which I'd never seen before. The fascists had a great sense of style.

Josh

Name: Josh Cryer
E-mail: josh@fakeshemps.com

Hey Josh,

Have you seen the Scifi channels "Battlestar Galactica" remake (I know it's not out yet in the states, but you may have seen last years pilot episode)? If so, what do you think of it? We've been... getting... the show since it started airing on Sky One in the UK for about 5 weeks now, and all I have is praise for this show. And I'll throw out another science fiction question while I'm here; what do you think of Firefly (assuming you've seen it)?

PS. I wasn't too surprised that Bush won, 2004 has been an exceedingly shitty year, so it didn't surprise me at all.

Dear Josh:

I don't watch TV shows, and certainly not remakes of shitty old shows. I didn't watch "Battlestar Galactica" the first time around. I don't even know what "Firefly" is. Is it a movie or a TV show?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

hey, I just saw M on your favorite movies list, I thought you said you haven't seen that yet, or did you just add it, or was it that other guy that added RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK?

Dear kdn:

I probably saw "M" the first time before you were born, not that I know how old you are. But no, it wasn't just added to the list, it's always been there. That other guy was the original webmaster here, Gerry, and he hasn't had anything to do with this site in about five years.

Josh

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

<<Fuck "Shrek." The first one was pure shit.>>

And while we're at it, fuck THE LADYKILLERS remake, 20 minutes into the story, they're still introducing characters I don't care about, 20 minutes into the original film, they're already starting the heist. I saw THE COMEDY OF TERROR, that film was funny, which is surprising cause its from the same people that made THE RAVEN and that sucked. Come on man, are there ANY good movies you've seen lately, at all. Is A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE worth tracking down? What about RED RIVER or THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (is that the title)?

Dear kdn:

I didn't like the original "Ladykillers," which I think is the least funny of all the Ealing comedies (along with "Kind Hearts and Coronets," another highly-regarded, unfunny movie). For those of you who are interested, the best Ealing comedies (Ealing was the studio in England, BTW) are: "The Lavander Hill Mob," "The Man in the White Suit," "All at Sea," "Passport to Pimlico" and "Last Holiday." And surprisingly, "A Comedy of Terrors" was sort of funny considering that Roger Corman has no sense of humor. "A Streetcar Named Desire" is definitely worth seeing, although it's mainly just a filmed play, but there had never been anything like Marlon Brando before that, except for "The Men," Brando's debut the year before, which I enjoyed more than "Streetcar." "Red River" is a very solid western and incredibly easy to watch (although it was directed by Howard Hawks, it seems so much like a John Ford film that people complimented Ford on it for years, and he always replied, "Thank you"). "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is a great film, and John Ford's last great film. Now that's a screenplay. As for decent recent films, I just listed these, but I'll do it again: "Two Family House," "Shadrach," "Eden," "Vatel," "Better Than Sex," "The Barbarian Invasions," "The Human Stain," "Normal," "Crooked Hearts," "A Home of Our Own," "In America." There, that's a few.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just to add my two cents...

Yep-I don't care for an Evil Dead remake, but I guess someone needs the money for something. (shrug) It seems rather pointless to me. I guess all the fans clamoring for an "Evil Dead 4" (and how many fans ARE there, anyway?) are gonna get their wish. Ugh...

As I said-I feel the same way about that possible Xena film supposedly being kicked around. It really is embarrassing to be a Xena/Lucy Lawless fan, given how much some of these folks tend to micro-analyse "kisses" between Xena and Gabrielle. I read some of this bullshit on the net, and I'm reminded of William Shatner's Saturday Night Live sketch where he tells Trekkies to "get a life." I don't give a shit what ANYONE says-I'm willing to bet this is something Shatner wanted to say to fans for YEARS-and at least here, he gets away with it.

I personally can't stand ANY fandom. I'm tired of dealing with the kooks you find in it. But I'm a very solitary person anyway-so I guess it works out in the end. With one or two exceptions-I've mostly cut myself off from Xena fandom. There are too many adults in it with the mentality of children.

Frankly-it's a wonder Lucy and Renee deal with fandom at all.

Dear Saul:

I've never minded being considered a film fan, but I've also never participated in any sort of fan doings. My fandom is entirely my own deal, and my fellow fans are the ones I've run into over the course of my life who, like me, love movies, have seen a lot of them, but also have a sense of critical evaluation. Just being gaga for all movies to me is a sign of ignorance. Joining fan clubs to me is a sign of insecurity, that you don't deeply love what you're talking about, you just want to be part of a community, which is a rational desire, actually. I don't really understand being a big fan of anything on TV because none of it is very good, nor was it ever intended to be. TV is a wasteland, and one episode is supposed to be very much like the last one. It's all based on comfort and familiarity. That's why I hate when those concepts are applied to feature films, meaning sequels. I have no more respect for sequels than I do for remakes. As William Goldman so succinctly put it, "Remakes and sequels are whore's films." They both meant to cash in on the original, and the entire point of both remakes and sequels is money. Period. So, to say that an "Evil Dead 4" would be good, but a remake is bad, is insane to me.

Josh

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

Becker,

I wanted to chime in with the outrage being expressed over Raimi's knucklehead decision to remake "The Evil Dead." What is the point? Argue that "Dead by Dawn" was a sequel if you like, but any boob can see it was obviously a retread with a bigger budget and sense of humor.

The remake/prequel fad that has Hollywood by the balls is resulting in some of the most uninspired product in decades. Hell, it's hardly as though "teens in the woods" screams to be revisited. Who the fuck watched these movies for the plot? It was about Raimi's signature style and Bruce's performance as Ash. Without those components, the premise doesn't even have a reason to exist. I'm trying to think of another filmmaker who has filmed the exact same plot on three different occasions, but can't come up with anything.

There would be riots in the streets if Lucas recast Indiana Jones, but Ash's cult status means that we'll be the vocal minority while Ashton Kutcher or some other fuckhead shits on our memories.

This is the worst example of selling out I've ever seen. I can forgive Campbell his direct-to-video trespasses, but pissing on a body of work that a lot of people have idolized for decades now is depressing. I can ignore the typical industry upchuck, but this is the first time an announcement has actually made me mad.

And don't give me the "commerce over art" bullshit. Raimi's coffers are overflowing with Spider-Man money and he could take risks if he wanted to...or at the least, not choose to sully his trademark series. What a disgrace.

Dear Royler:

That's how I felt when I heard they were remaking "Carrie" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," so I understand what you're feeling, but the whole film industry has been in the crapper for so long it no longer surprises me or matters to me. Of course they going to remake the films we like into pieces of shit, that's what it's all about now. I mean, come on, did they really need to remake "Psycho" or "The Manchurian Candidate," either? It's all the same thing. When you think the film business can't stoop any lower, they figure out some way to stoop even lower. However, since "Evil Dead" holds no fond memories for me, I don't care at all.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Not much to discuss in the boxing landscape lately. I was one of the suckers who bought Don King's Heavyweight card last week. Ugh...There may be some solace in the upcoming weeks, Mosley-Wright 2, Morales-Barrera 3, and even Klitschko-Williams may be interesting.

My question is that I'm looking for a movie prop, I specifically need a glass bottle that breaks/explodes on contact (i.e., cracking it over someone's head). Is there a technical name for this type of prop? I've been searching high and low to no avail.

Thanks much,

Rich

Dear Rich:

It's called a break-away bottle, and there are prop houses in LA that sell such things. If you check in the LA 411 book or the Hollywood Flip-Book (which I own and can't find), they both have all of the prop houses listed. Try running props and Hollywood on a search engine and see what you get.

Being a complete boxing geek, I enjoyed the heavyweight card last week. Watching little Chris Byrd (6'1", 215 lbs.) fight his best buddy, the monsterous Jameel McCline (6'7", 270 lbs.), and beat him was my idea of entertainment. I didn't mind watching Evander Holyfield get beat, either. I enjoyed the Hasim Rahman-Kali Meehan fight, too. The Ruiz-Golota fight was a bore, but all of John Ruiz's fights are a bore.

Josh

Name: Jeff Farley
E-mail: Obsart@aol.com

Josh,

I just got back from Bulgaria where I did the puppet effects for PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS. Gary Jones was on as our 2nd unit director. He was great. One of the coolest guys I've worked with. I saw the creature from ALIEN APOCOLYPSE over at Seven Hills and can't wait to see the show. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

Congrats,
Jeff Farley

Dear Jeff:

I heard you had a helluva job on your hands, that all of those puppet effects were a real motherfucker. Yes, Gary is a great guy (for a Republican), and he's bailed me out on a several occasions. Bulgaria was cool, wasn't it?

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The comments that you made concerning the decline in the level of art, that is music and the visual arts as a symptom of the overall decline of US civilization were interesting. This would be worthy of your next essay subject although you certainly expend enough on the Qs and As as it is.

I assume is was US civilization and not overall 'Western Civilization' that was being addressed. If anything, it seems that the events of the last four years have exposed a rift between the US and Europe and raise the question of whether the civilizations are in fact, separate. It is true though that Europe is in a decline of its own, but due to somewhat different forces that what is affecting the US.

Just to single out one comparison, such as between Rome and the US, I think we can see some trends. When Rome became a miltary dictaorship imperium, it retained the trappings of its old republic. We can see the same trends in the US. While we go through the motions of elections and Congressional debates and Supreme Court machinations, in the end the Presidential branch holds the effective power, and this power expands daily. I don't know about the decline of the arts under the Caesars, but most of its early expansion and institutional development seems to have occurred during its republican period.

As far as this decline affecting our personal security, I don't think that the US as a structure is on the verge of dissolution, but our way of life will slowly become more difficult, as far as expressing dissent against the regime, etc. We may have personal security, but will have to trade liberty to do it. As Orwell predicted, the government will point to the existence of low grade entertainment as evidence of our continued liberties. These trends are already occurring, despite the so called democratizing influences of the internet. This entity called the United States of America, will no doubt exist beyond our lifetimes and probably the lifetimes of all the readers of this forum, but could too face extinction at some finite point.

So anyway, as far a question. I went to Bruce Campbell's web site and I read that he was a Lost in Space fan. I think that Irwin Allen was a genius and that LIS was the greatest show ever made. Did you like it too?

Dear Bob:

I thought "Lost in Space" was good when I was a little kid, but even then I knew it had gone into the shitter by the third season (with Hans Conried as a carrot monster). I was very pleased when the original "Star Trek" came on, which I thought was a huge improvement over "Lost in Space." I would heartily disagree that Irwin Allen was a "genius," and I think it's a complete misuse of the word. He made intellectually low-end, reasonably thoughtless entertainment, and the highlight of his career was "Towering Inferno," which I admit I enjoyed, but it ain't great art, that's for sure.

The fall of the Roman Empire took several hundred years, as did the fall of most empires, although the British Empire collapsed in less than fifty years. I think we're already in the midst of our fall. If you cut off our oil supply we'd probably collapse in less than ten years.

Josh

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

"I didn't even hear about it, and I just saw Bruce a couple of days ago. Quite frankly, though, it don't mean shit to me."

Josh,

It does to us though!

Raimi can't be doing this...it has to be a joke. Why would he prostitute his own legacy? Fans are really going to let him know about this one. Without Raimi directing and Bruce starring, there is no Evil Dead!

Richard

Dear Richard:

Oh, come on. They remade "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Carrie," why not"Evil Dead"? You think making horror movies is about art? It's about money, and that's why they do what they do. You think they made the first"Evil Dead" to blaze a new path in the art of cinema? They made it to make money and get into the film business; it was a commercial venture from the very outset. Get with the program.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I don't know if this comment is a appropriate for this section, but I just read your Stevie the Cat essay and it seriously brought tears to my eyes.I had a cat once who I loved very dearly who disappeared for a very long time..months..then one day my mom took me to the vet and there he was.It turns out a week before the vet trip my cat came climbing over our fence bone skinny and blood stained. He had been ran over and hadn't had the strength to make it home and when he did the vet was certain he would die.But here he was back at home,only keeping a limp from the whole ordeal.Then one night as I dumped my scraps to our dog I heard a terrible shriek emit from my room.I rushed inside to find Veil on the floor blood and saliva shooting from his mouth as he shook violently and rolled all over they place.He then slowly died in my arms.It turns out he had bitten some wires coming from out old computer..after all we went through...well,you don't have to post this,just wanted to let you know how your essay moved me,even thought it happened a few years ago.Later.

Dear Trey:

Thanks, Stevie was a great cat. I have three cats now that I'm pretty fond of, too.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Variety just had a blurb about your buddies:

WAKING THE 'DEAD'
Raimi revisits horror roots

"Spider-Man 2" director Sam Raimi and original producing partners Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell are reteaming to produce a remake of the cult hit "The Evil Dead" through Ghost House Pictures, the joint venture of Raimi, Tapert and Senator Intl.

Can you tell us anything more about it?

Boston

Dear Boston:

I didn't even hear about it, and I just saw Bruce a couple of days ago. Quite frankly, though, it don't mean shit to me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<The last novel I read that really impressed me was Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral," which won the Pulitzer Prize.>>

I still need to go out and find that HOLLYWOOD book on the making of Barfly. Have you ever read the book Bartleby The Scrivenger? What do you think are the five best books you've ever read worth checking out? I thought Bartleby wasn't the best idea for a movie, they had to pad it out, still I thought the story was interesting and It pretty much explained how I felt about the jobs I was working. It made a statement to me about how doing something to improve your life is a lot better than doing nothing and wallowing in self pity till you die. HAMMER seemed to have that effect on me too. But I'm sure there are a lot better books than this out there. Also, what do you think of Crispin Glover's early film performances? He was pretty much the only thing worth watching in that awful movie Willard (he did the best with what he had to work with, and for the most part, he played the film about a nervous breakdown... this is probably one of the few exceptions where they've taken an awful movie and made it better... but good god, not by much... a sea of cgi rats falling out of the elevator, sheesh)

Dear kdn:

Crispen Glover does nothing for me. I had to read "Bartleby The Scrivener" in high school and now I don't remember it at all.

Josh

Name: Sally
E-mail: hiro390@hotmail.com

Josh,

I see you've openly discussed marijuana use several times. Have you ever had to take a drug test? Any tips for passing one?

Dear Sally:

I've heard that health food stores sell a tea that washes you right out. My former brother-in-law used it numerous times while he was on probabtion. I personally (and luckily) have not had to take a blood test for work. I did have to take both a blood and urine analysis when I was busted about 13 years ago, and oddly I passed both of them. Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

The only new film I've seen lately that made me laugh was SHREK 2, a film with an awful first act without introducing any characters just a bunch of hit and miss jokes (the hits being the gags they pulled during the songs), a funny second act (once they introduce the new characters and FINALLY get a decent theme) and a nicely done third act... even though it feels ripped off of BLAZING SADDLES, GHOSTBUSTERS, and SHORT CIRCUIT 2 (Human Shrek rides a giant gingerbread man named Mongo...even has the blazing saddles voice... while the fairy godmother belts out 'I NEED A HERO, HE'S GOTTA BE STRONG AND DRESSED FOR THE FIGHT)... it was ripped off, but nicely done. I didn't really think the first Shrek was funny anymore. It think it was just the new characters and the story. got a company name and bank account, just need to work on building it. strange, I was waiting for work in one of those Labor Finding places, and I wound up talking to this mid-twenties homeless guy who looked like a young sam raimi, that's weird.

Dear kdn:

Fuck "Shrek." The first one was pure shit.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Finally got a chance to see "Bridge on the River Kwai", mostly because you rave about it structurally and script-wise, and I'll say I agree-what a great film!

What struck me the most about the writing was twofold: on one hand the characters possess amazingly elobarote motivations. Nichols wants to build the bridge well because he wants to maintain and exhibit the pride of the british soldier-and he is a PRISONER! Thats an elaborate motive. First thing comes to mind as a motivation for a prisoner would be, A. escape, B. survive, something like that. But this guy wants to essentially help the enemy to save his dignity. Nichols is in a moral grey area; he has a very interesting dilemma on his hands. This dilemma makes for a great charater and really good drama.

On the other hand there is something you talked about already, how quick they get to the conflict. This is nice because now you have two hours to explore that conflict. This is in contrast to most modern films that get to the conflict towards the middle or end of the film having what amounts to a long, boring ACT I.

To me the theme of the film is something along the lines of what makes a good soldier. And all the characters have different takes on this theme which makes for a very tight script.

All this leads me to a question. What has happened to these types of interesting motivations to characters in modern films? Why is it always a simple revenge motive or one throw away line about somebody doing something for greed purposes. I cant think of a film released in the last 10 years that has more elegantly written characters than "Bridge..." has, any idea why?

Dear joe:

Yeah, because movies have gotten stupider and stupider in the past 25 years, and now there's no one smart enough to write a film like "Kwai." As movies become more and more globalized, they have also gotten dumber to appeal to a wider audience.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Just thought Id add to the DV/film debate. I love film over DV, but do still think that when DV is transfered to film it has a unique look. Much better than pure DV. Maybe because it is imitating film. It only seems to work on documentary's or real gritty violence/horror fare. I recently made some enquiries about a 35mm transfer from mini DV and discovered that an 80 min film would only cost about £15,000 to transfer. Yeah, it looks shit, but at that price it looks quite a less risky investment to low/no budget filmmakers. On the same note, the guy who gave me the quote transfered 28 days later (which i saw bits of when I was a projectionist and thought looked horrible on the big screen)and he said that the director was very strange during the transfer process and kept asking him to make it look worse. the guy couldnt seem to figure out why cause he seemed quite confident of the transfers ability to look really good. (but then again he would wouldn't he?)

Keith

Dear Keith:

But if no one will buy the movie or distribute it because it was shot on DV, what money have you saved and how have you decreased the risk on the investment?

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I saw this posted on a site:
------------------------------------
Raimi & Campbell Remaking The Evil Dead
18 Nov 2004
"Spider-Man" franchise director Sam Raimi and original producing partners Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell are reteaming to produce a remake of the cult hit The Evil Dead through Ghost House Pictures and Senator International, reports Variety.

Raimi wrote, directed and produced the 1981 film, which tells the tale of a group of friends who go to a cabin in the woods, where they find an unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. One by one, the teens become deadly zombies. With only Ash (Campbell) remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle The Evil Dead.

Raimi will not direct the remake, so Ghost House is looking for a helmer to reinvent the franchise before a script is written.

The original film spawned sequels Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

Source: Variety Magazine
November 18, 2004
-----------------------------------------

Oh-and Happy Turkey Day-though I don't suspect the turkey will have the same feelings. :)

Saul

Dear Saul:

Apparently, that's the big news.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

If you haven't already heard Sam, Rob, and Bruce are remaking "Evil Dead" or in the works of doing that. I think its the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Wasn't "Evil Dead 2" a remake of the first? I think the whole idea of remakes is the most unoriginal thing Hollywood could do. Not only is Hollywood remaking Evil Dead but they are also remaking, "The Warriors" and at one point Howard Stern was remaking, "Rock and Roll High School" and "Porkys"... WHY? Not saying those are the best movies in the whole world... but why not try to remake something that isn't a classic or cult classic for that matter and make it better. Oh well. Hollywood has been scaring me for years but with all this crap, Now I wouldn't want any of my scripts getting in the hands of some stupid producer at this point.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't heard about it, but it doesn't surprise me. The movie business has completely run out of ideas, and the only good ones anymore as far as they're concerned are the ones that have already been made. Hollywood is truly a wasteland.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Dear Mr. Becker,

You've stated something to the effect of, in order to even get a foot in the door to sell a movie, that you must shoot on film. But since DV is relatively cheap and can be edited in the home, it is probably a better way to practice film-making. So after someone has spent the time making shorts and maybe a few features length movies for practice, how big of a jump is it to switch to film??? Will there be a significant road block with new cameras or dealing with film and the different types???

Completely off subject, but you struck a chord with a recent post. I recently felt that there was no good music being made anymore, but there is, and lots of it. The music just doesn't get any air time or much publicity. Three of my favorites right now are Bright Eyes, Wilco, and Sigur Ros, the latter is an Icelandic band. All have a very distinct sound and voice.

Thank you,
Nate

Dear Nate:

DV is a great format to practice with right now. How big of a jump is it between DV and film? Not that big. It's still just a camera aiming at actors. The only real road block is money. Beyond that, it's all what you do with it. But everyone ought to keep in mind that for most movies the film and the camera are not the major expenses in making a movie. If you intend to work with decent actors, they cost a lot more than the camera and film, not to mention sets, locations, effects, etc. The bottom-line is, if you're going to go to all of the trouble and expense of making a feature-length movie, you cannot limit the potential for sales afterward, which DV will now do to you. I don't set the standards, I'm just an observer, but if I was going to shoot a low-budget feature right now I wouldn't screw myself in advance by shooting it with DV.

I'm glad you've found new music you like, I'm stuck listening to rock from the '60s and '70s, jazz from the '50s and '60s, and classical from about 1700 up through WWII.

Josh

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

Josh,

Your comparison of the United States to other historical civilizations seems inappropriate to me. One of the things that all of the other civiliations you mentioned, as well as the others that I can casually think of, were all predicated on scientific, technological or social innovations rather than on artistic merit. Most art critics believe that Rome's contribution to the art world was liguistic, while the visual and dramatic art were derivitave of the Greeks. The Babylonians were the first to make prctical use of chariots, the Egyptians were strong as long as the Nile waterway afforded them superior transportation.

Obviously in every case there are a multitude of factors, but there are a multitude of factors in our case as well. From a scientific and technological perspective what we are achieving today is without parallel in history. And, for now anyway, the United States is the only entity capable of producing the science that we produce because of the level of capital investment required.

I do think we will see a major cultural shift, probably toward Latin cultural norms. It's my opinion that this shift will be unfortunate, particularly for women, but time will, hopefully, prove me wrong.

Part of the reason I don't think our civilization will "collapse" is a lack of viable alternatives. The day after we make the shift away from a hydrocarbon-based economy the Middle East will cease to have relevance, barring terrorism which is hardly likely to be emulated en masse. China is a cultural introvert and has, in any case, moved closer to us rather than the reverse happening. Europe is aging faster than bananas in a paper bag; it can't expand membership forever. The better part of Latin American states fit the description of a failed state and Africa is, if anything, even worse.

The United States still innovates, it still builds and it freely borrows what it cannot make. Nuclear terrorism might change everything overnight but the decline then will be externally produced rather than internally. In the meantime I would guess that we are set for the next hundred years anyway.

Pardon me both my huge simplifications (which you are free to point out) and my optimism (which the world is stuck with for now). Thanks,

John

Dear John:

The Romans, Babylonians and the Egyptians may not be well remembered for their art, but that doesn't mean they didn't think their art was the best. I've heard many people say that movies are as good, or better, now than they ever were. Whatever time period you live in seems like the best time period of all, but that doesn't mean it really is. And for all of our technological advances, we're still using up our natural resources very rapidly, and I'm not just referring to oil, we're destroying our soil, our water and our air (and now that Bush has "political capital" to spend, we'll get on to destroying our wildlife areas in places like Alaska). First you use up your natural resources, then your civilization collapses. Nor does there have to be a "viable alternative," civilization-wise. Just because our civilization collapses doesn't mean that another must immediately rise up. The fall of the Roman Empire was followed by the Dark Ages, and perhaps that's what we're moving into right now.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

1)Sorry for the Bruce C. crap.
2)The reason for wanting your autograph is I hope to have one day had all the Evil Dead/Detroit alum sign an item for me and you have become one of my favorites since you have,as stated earlier,truly inspired me and helped me become a better writer(I hope)by reading your essays.
3)Do you thing Oliver Stone will redeem himself with Alexander?Personally it looks like he's back at the "shitpie"stand to me,though I'd like to be proven wrong..I highly doubt I will.Oh well,I'll just sit silently when my friends praise it as the best movie ever.
4)I read "Alien Apocalypse"is airing either in Jan. or Feb...is this true?I sure hope so,I'm really looking foward to seeing it.

Dear Trey:

"Alien Apocalypse" premieres in January on ScFi Channel. I don't have the date yet. I hope "Alexander" is good, too, but I'm not holding my breath. Oliver Stone hasn't made a decent movie since "JFK," and that was fourteen years ago.

Josh

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

Hey Josh, forgive me if this is answered elsewhere:

My question is on treatments. I've read your "Need for Structure" essays countless times and seem to recall you mentioning that they are very necessary. But I was just curious as to how many pages your particular treatments amount to?

PS: Had an excellent movie night tonight. "A Woman Under the Influence" followed by your "Running Time". Great stuff!

Dear Aaron:

I'm honored to be in a double-bill with John Cassavetes. My treatments are generally 12-14 pages, single-spaced. There are several of them posted so take a look.

Josh

Name: David Respecki
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you like Star Trek? (I'm refering to the TV shows, not the movies)

Dear David:

I liked the original show, but I paid no attention to any of the sequels.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

I'm finding all this discussion over the merits of traditional film and the new digital HD technology pretty interesting! Though I know little about filmaking, I am a musician, and the music industry has been going through a similar situation between magnetic tape and digital recording for quite awhile now. I've used both and have gotten great results but not without taking misteps along the way from which to learn from. The mistakes made are not from the technology I used to record with but my evaluations of the source material I'm trying to record. I imagine it's similar with movie making! Is your movie idea worth making? Is the script tight? Are your sets and locations visually interesting? Do the camera work move along the story or bog it down? What's the best way to light a set and does it enhance/conflict with the script? Do your actors have a clear understanding of their roles and the tone of the story your telling? These are the things to be learned by trial and error and the device you record with is just a functionality not a method. The method is in your prep work! I think the mistake people are making is believing the digital technology is going to make it easy when really it's not much different than the old! If someone's HD movie looks bad, chances are if they made it in 16mm film it would still look bad, and they are just inexperienced and still learning the basics of their trade. People are also perfectly right in complaining about bugs in new technology because without the complaints nobody would try to improve on them! Ten years ago I would have never imagined having a 24 track recording studio in my house for $1,600.00 and I can compose and record whenever I want! You could easily spend that in just a few days in a proper recording studio and it sounds like filmaking is heading that way as well, at least in the post-production/editing stages. But that also means more amateur cruddy films just there's been an influx of cruddy music being made nowadays. I know Josh that you're finding it harder and harder to find good films as I find it harder to find good music! That's because there's so much more of it to wade through and the disspointment is the time you waste on the bad to get to the good! The stuff that get promoted by the majors tries to appeal to too many people at once and then loses all it's personality! Homogenized crap the looks and sounds pretty at first but just leaves you constipated! But maybe that's the way it's always been in our post-industrialist society and I'm just getting old and cynical!

Dear Tom:

Join the club. All of the same technology issues that music has dealt with movies have dealt with at the same time, from switching from recording location sound on 1/4 tape to digital recording, from physically splicing film to digital editing, from mixing sound on mag to recording and mixng digitally, and now with the picture, too. But it's taking longer for the picture to change over to digital, which it will do eventually, but hasn't yet. But as I've already pointed out, and you just reiterated, it doesn't change the process. If your script sucks, who cares what medium you shoot it with? If you don't have the right actors, HD won't help, 70mm won't help, nothing will.

Our civilization has peaked and is now cascading downward. There are no great movies anymore, nor is there any great music. As Marshall McLuhan said, "Art is the early warning system for a society," and our art is in the crapper, so our society is either in the crapper, too, or headed there. Great civilizations do not last. There have been many great civilizations before us, Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Incas, the Aztecs, the Mayans, and they all failed for one reason or another, and we're on the slide. And our art tells us so.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

1)"The Godfather Part II" never happened according to this guy..I really don't know who the hell he thinks he is to say it never happened..but oh well he won his little contest and I guess he thinks he now has the right to change whatever the hell he wants.2)Is there anyway I could get your autograph?3)Could you foward this message to Bruce(don't know if you still do this),but just tell him that I really enjoyed his book "If Chins Could Kill"and I am looking foward to reading "Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way"whenever that comes out..also if he knows when we will be seeing "Man with the Screaming Brain"?And finally..will he be making any stops..for any reason..in or around GA I missed the Chins tour sadly.Thanks(If you no longer foward to Bruce,just ignore the last section).THANKS!

Dear Trey:

I never did forward mail to Bruce. Yes, you can have my autograph (although I can't imagine why) and Shirley (the webmaster) will tell you how. Meanwhile, "Screaming Brain" won't be on TV until June, I believe, but Bruce will be touring the U.S. with his new book and will be show the film, too. Check his website for more details.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Ok...I don't know if you have heard about this but the Puzo literary estate held a contest for someone to write a sequel to the actual "The Godfather"novel. It looks like a piece of shit to me...just another attempt to cash in on "The Godfather"name...I hate judging books before I read them,but I mean seriously..can this actually be good?I read the new author turned Fredo into a bisexual..oh well.There are lots of good books out there still..Any recommendations?I need a really good fiction book.Thanks.

Dear Trey:

This means as much as Margret Mitchell's estate hiring someone to write a sequel to "Gone With the Wind." Do they think that "The Godfather, Part II" doesn't count? We all know what happened to Fredo, he was assassinated in the boat after his mother died. And since Moe Green stated that he was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time, I assume he was straight. I don't read fiction anymore, but I can heartily recommend "Best American Essays 2004," which was a particularly good collection this year. The last novel I read that really impressed me was Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral," which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Josh

Name: marky
E-mail: marklobosco@hotmail.com

hi josh.

just a couple of quick questoin about evil dead , i know u did sound and lighting. what were the surroundings like at the cabin and was the story about the inmans girl hanging around the cabin when u guys got there 2 start shoting true ?? did any abnormal acuresnces happen? how did u achive that excelnt wind noise throughout the movie ? I also have some very recent pictures of whats left of the cabin and surrounding area if u would like 2 see them. http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/jillcrociata/album?.dir=/1021&.src=ph&store=
&prodid=&.done=http%3a//f2.pg.photos.yahoo.com/jillcrociata

Dear marky:

The cabin was surrounded by woods. It was about a quarter of mile down a very rutted mud driveway, which ran off of a pretty rural back road. I don't know what you're referring to about "the inmans girl." No abnormal occurences happened while we were shooting, that's all horseshit dreamed up afterward for publicity purposes. It was a particularly cold, miserable 11-week shoot in the middle of a very cold winter. I'm not sure where Bruce dug up the wind track, but it's just a standard "hollow wind" background track with some reverb on it.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Josh,

I'm sure you're already bored out of your mind with this discussion so I'll keep it short. Essentially, it comes down to this: I prefer using digital technology in filmmaking. It's just that, a preference. When it is used properly, I love the look of it. This is not a situation where digital filmmakers "hate" celluloid. As a movie lover, I obviously appreciate the beauty of film. I'm just not willing to say that film has and will always be the best format to shoot a movie on. I think moviemaking is an artform that embraces technology and change. Guys like Spielberg who basically say they'll never edit on a computer or shoot on video seem like cranky old men who refuse to learn new technologies. Saying that 16mm is obviously better than HD is just an ignorant statement with no basis in fact. I've seen alot of shitty looking 16mm movies, absolutely horrible looking. I've also seen quite a few beautiful looking HD movies. Right now, they are not significantly different in quality. HD looks cleaner. If you want texture, go with 16mm. My opinion is that the "grainy" film look is a very lazy visual choice that has been done a million times before. To me, a great filmmaker will make texture out of lighting, set design, costumes, etc. And no, Super8 is probably not a valid format anymore when there are like 3 places worldwide that even process the stuff.

Dear Jim:

But for a low-budget production at this moment in time, 16mm film still makes more sense, economically and technically, than HD. This too will change, I'm not arguing that. But for the time being I still believe this to be case. To shrug off film as simply being "grainy" is to not really be thinking about the many looks one can achieve on film. Of course film can look like shit, but so can everything. But it's much easier to get film to look good than anything else, at the moment. As the great DP John Alton proved time and again with all the B noir films he lit, you can make film look great with one lightbulb, and I've done it. But if you have your heart set on shooting HD, then do it. I still point out, for the millionth time, that if you want to know what's being bought and shown, turn on the premium movie channels because that's the market, and it's pretty much all still shot on film. And since the ultimate point of making a movie is to sell it and it have it shown, film is till the way to go.

Josh

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

Josh,

Are you saying that if someone offered you less than Guild price for a script you wouldn't take it or that you are legally bound not to take it? Can't someone buy a Guild-member's script for a non-Union production?

Dear Ben:

I'm not a member of the Writer's Guild (although I do receive Writer's Guild residuals), it's simply a base rate of pay to work from, and it's the minimum amount I care to deal with. To answer your second question, no, you cannot buy a guild-member's script unless you become signatory to the guild.

Josh

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

Josh,

Yes, I agree that Vincent D'Onofrio is a good actor, and he is quite versatile actually. Of course, he was excellent as private Pyle in "Full Metal Jacket".

Another film that you have absolutley no idea it is him at first is in "The Salton Sea". He plays the sadistic character "Pooh-Bear"

I had also forgotten that he was in that really horrible film "The Cell", and you don't even know it is him either. Of course, he is all made up in the film, but I still forgot that was him., however, it was a very forgettable film.

What did you think of "Steal this Movie"? I liked the film on the whole, and I thought D'Onofrio was good in the role of Abby Hoffman.

With regards to DP's and light meters, I do think it is a combination of insecurity, and also a nervous habit of double checking, and depending on the lighting set up, they can be quite complex, and you never know who may have bumped a light, or messed with the spot/flood knob by mistake etc...

I agree with you, it is always good to double check, and I think it is a good thing that you like to play a little with DP's and give them shit because I think a good DP respects you for that.

Dear Scott:

I liked "Steal this Movie," but it wasn't great; but then again, nothing is great anymore. I just watched "Shadrach" for the third time, and it's about as good of a movie as I've seen in the past several years, and that's the extent of what it is, good. Not real good, and nowhere near great. The same for the other movies I just mentioned. Another one is "Beautiful Girls," which is also good, but not real good. I've also seen recently:"Dancing at Lugnasa," "Jasper, Texas," "The Harmonists," "The Hard Word," "Slums of Beverly Hills," "The Barbarian Invasions," "Miracle," "The Human Stain," "Normal," "Monster," "Something the Lord Made," "A Home of Our Own," and I'd give them all a thumbs-up instead of a thumbs-down, but with no great enthusiasm. The best films being made at present are okay, but nothing is great. And I still contend that the last great movie made was"The Unforgiven" in 1992.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

A couple of things in response to the thread I've missed out on...

1- What did you think of Vincent D'Onofrino in Full Metal Jacket? I really think his Pyle ended on a horribly bad note and it wasn't a very effective performance.

2- Speaking of Kubrick flicks, I watched The Shining again twice with two different people this past weekend. It's an oddball film of Stanley's isn't it? I really like most of the film, especially visually but found just recently Kubrick tells the whole story musically and I found it a bit unsettling. It seemed a bit of an auto-pilot feature, you know? (Still, I liked it and his last two movies)

3- The visual aspect of storytelling IS present in plays and I've always worked hard to tell a good stage story through colours and costumes. What other art form do you have to spend so much time worrying about visual fields and sight of vision angles?

Dear Brett:

How about movies? A big part of the game of film direction is what angle are you seeing it from, and how are you moving the actors in regard to where you're seeing it from? That's why I resent movies that are all hand-held, which is a cop-out position compared to choosing 500-1000 specific angles, and considering how each angle juxtaposes with the one it's cutting to. But yes, a well-staged, interestingly-conceived stage play can be very visual, in its own static way.

I regard Kubrick's version of "The Shining" more now that Stephen King made that awful, literal TV movie out of it. But of the three versions, the book, Kubrick's film, and the TV movie, the book is still the best. I love those low-angle Steadi-cam shots with the Big Wheels, and the sound changing from the wood floor to the carpeting. And it's a brilliant cut from looking down on the miniature maze to the real maze.

Meanwhile, I think Vincent D'Onofrio is really terrific in "Full Metal Jacket," I really feel for the poor slob, and I believe how he's freaking out. The fact that he shoots his DI is a silly plot turn, but that's not the actor's fault, that's in the book. D'Onofrio must have put on at least 50 pounds for that part.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Sometimes I think the actual excitement over DV is not its low cost or that it looks good and is acceptable nowadays, but that a Hollywood filmmaking career is now within reach. This is where the 'excitement' is truly coming from, but as you stated, it's not making it any easier to get a film made and distributed. The 'wannabes' need to understand this and not get too deluded.

I just don't understand this newfound hatred towards film...or maybe I do. I think it's a defensive reaction to 'filmmaking wannabes' belief that because professional filmmakers have used the format, it brings them closer than ever to a Hollywood career. Just because you're using a format Spike Lee used for one of his films, does NOT make it any easier for you. He's Spike Lee, you're not.

Honestly I think Super 8 (when lit right) looks better than DV. The only reason I don't shoot on Super 8 anymore is because the cost is so close to 16mm nowadays, you might as well just shoot 16mm (which has many more advantages, as you, of course, know).

Almost everyone thinks film will be dead soon, but many don't realize that Kodak still makes Super 8 film. If any format should've died it's Super 8, but there it is alive and well.

I would bet that NTSC/PAL DV will die before film does.

All these DV advocates also seem to think it was never possible for the 'average' person to make a feature film before DV. That it cost too much. As you stated, maybe it was a pain in the ass to work with Super 8 back in the day, but if you loved making films enough, you found a way to do it. It was just more 'painful' (especially editing).

During Super 8 film's heyday, do you remember how they marketed Super 8 then? Was it anything like the hype DV gets? I bet Super 8 was aimed at the home movie 'dad' and not aspiring 'Spielbergs' as DV is these days.

Dear CD:

I don't recall much marketing for Super-8 ever. I don't think it was ever all that popular. The ease and ubiquity of DV just adds to the general delusion that anybody can be a star, that fame is waiting around the corner and without much effort or money ivested it can be achieved. Any rational person, particularly with the slightest bit of experience in the film biz, knows this isn't true. It's harder now than it used to be, mainly because a lot less films are made and distributed.

I'll tell you what is rather disturbing to me is that many of the best indie films get no release anymore. I just watched "Eden," "Crooked Hearts" and"Two Family House," all of which were good films, and none of which got any press or even slightly decent distribution. These films were much more worthy of Oscar nominations than the shit that now gets them, but no one would get behind these films, and all three are at least $2-4 million films."Crooked Hearts" has a top-notch cast, too (Peter Coyote, Vincent D'Onofrio, Noah Wyle, Peter Berg, Juliette Lewis). So, basically, you now have to figure out your own distribution scheme, too, because the lower-budget distributors handle so few films.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

to all: get an HDTV and watch anything shot in HD on it, it looks like shit compared to film. In its natural meduim HD looks like whats its supposed to, cleanly defined video.

Dear dustin:

The film/HD discussion rages on. The bottom line is, anyone who believes that technology will make getting a feature film made and distributed any easier is kidding themselves. Whether you shoot 35mm, 16mm, DV or HD, all of the same problems remain -- did you choose a story that was worth telling to start with? Did you write a script that's any good at all? Did you get the right actors? Have you got enough money to realize your script? Can you get anyone to watch it after it's done? Etc.

Josh

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

Josh,

Funny you mentioned the film "The Whole Wide World", it was just on IFC the other day and I watched it again. I really like that film, and I agree with you about Renee Zellweger in that film, it is the only one she is halfway tolerable, as you know she bugs the shit out of me too. Speaking of twitches and body movements, Vincent D'Onofrio has many himself, but I like him as an actor.

Scott

Dear Scott:

But for Vincent D'Onofrio the twitches and mannerisms are part of his actor's bag of tricks, and he doesn't use them all in every film. For Renee Zelwegger they're just bad habits. D'Onofrio's character in "The Whole Wide World" bears almost no resemblance to his character in "Full Metal Jacket," nor the film I just saw him in, "Crooked Hearts," nor as Abby Hoffman in"Steal this Movie." He is a good actor.

Josh

Name: David Respecki
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Could you post the treatment for "Head Shot"? Or even just a general snopysis of the story. I don't have time to read the whole screenplay, but I want to know the story.

Dear David:

If you're curious enough I guess you'll make time to read the sceenplay, or else you'll never know of JFK lives or dies.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Somewhat off topic but I could use your help. My acting coach is now my manager and is receiving a weekly casting list second hand from LA but they're out of date when they arrive. Do you know of a company or publication that provides these notices to casting directors, talent agents and managers so she can get them directly. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Dear Warren:

I know Backstage Magazine has casting calls listed in it. Here's the link for their online version http://www.backstage.com/backstage/index.jsp. I'm sure there are other resources, too, I'm just not an actor.

Josh

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

Josh,

The HD debate continues!

I would like to add my two cents and say to Jim that yes, I have shot and edited two HD projects at work, and Josh is correct in saying that it is not a cost effective way to shoot a low budget feature.

I think it is suitable for TV shows because the end product will go to TV, and I can you tell for sure that all the shows you mentioned which are shot on HD had a certain amount of post work done to them which drives up costs even more when you want to shoot a feature film.

Also, I have been fortunate to have worked with many great DP's, and any good DP will tell you that when they have been shooting a long time, most of them will rarely use their light meter to determine their lighting aesthetically, instead they rely on their eye and only refer to the light meter as habit or to appease directors and such.

Does HD look great? Yes, there is no doubt to me, but the problem is that it still doesn't have a standard that a DP can say, "ahh, it is going to look like this if I light it this way." Instead, you have to rely on a monitor and actually more tweaking to get it right, and more electronic equipment than shooting film which can go down at any time.

One thing that I can say for sure is that monitors are fallible, and I have used many fallible monitors where the colors are completely different from one to another. Most HD shoots have to have an HD engineer on set to make sure the monitor is true to it's colors, and they cost much more than the film loader which is who they are replacing on the crew.

The biggest problem with HD is ultimately not quality, but it certainly takes longer to light than does film, it is really the cost. The two projects we did at work actually cost almost double than if we shot them on 16mm or super 16mm.

Scott

Dear Scott:

One of the games I play with DPs is making them guess what the exposure is before checking with thier multitudes of light meters -- just like the old guys -- and guess what? They're all correct all the time, but they won't trust it. They all must double- and triple-check out of sheer insecurity, which is fine with me as long as they get it right, but I'm still allowed to give them shit for it.

Josh

Name: Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I have a historical question and a movie question.

The historical question is do you think Hitler had a good chance of conquering Great Britain in WW II? The convention thinking is that Germany could have won the Battle of Britain if Hitler hadn't turned his attention to Russia. I am wondering whether Britain may have been tough in any case. The Luftwaffe inflicted serious losses and it is was pretty much Goering's show without Hitler's interference. If Germany did neutralize the RAF, they would still have faced the formidable Royal Navy in the British Channel during amphibious landings and in supply operations. If the Nazis did gain a foothold in Britain then there would have been fierce resistance by the British. Finally, would an actual German landing in England have provoked the US into intervention, perhaps landing in Scotland if necessary. To me it seems that for Germany to have successfully conquered England it would have had at the least invested more into its surface Naval fleet, on which ironically, I believe Hitler obeyed the Versailles treaty by keeping the German Navy small.

The movie question has to do with the movie Cold Mountain. I have not seen it and I don't know whether it is a good movie. Is this Renee Zellweger person a good actress? Her hillbilly rendition in the trailers reminds me of a young Granny Clampett, except that Irene Ryan was hilarious and Renee Zellweger is not. I'm not sure that I'll see it.

Dear Real Bob:

I must say, historical what ifs don't interest me very much, like what would have happened if the south won the Civil War? Or, what would have happened if Germany won WWII; or, like Phillip Roth's new book, what if Lindbergh became president in 1940. Yeah, but they didn't. Did Germany have a chance of conquering Britian during WWII? Yeah, they had a chance and they didn't pull it off. They bombed the living crap out of London and what good did it do them? What if Germany hadn't gone to war with Russia? If my grandma had balls she'd be my grandpa. If Germany had invaded England previous to December, 1941 it would just have gotten the USA into the war sooner, and we still would've won. As good of a run as they gave it, Germany cannot stand up against the whole rest of the world, and particularly not the USA, because we can out-manufacture anybody.

Meanhwile, Renee Zellweger bugs the shit out of me, with all of her facial twitches and weird lip movements. I did think she was good in "The Whole Wide World" with Vincent D'Onofrio as Robert E. Howard, though.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just to clarify a few things in the DV/Film discussion. First of all, DV is not HD. They are not the same and no one is saying that DV is a format that rivals film. HD, however, is considered by a growing number of DPs to be "very close" to Super16 when used for TV shows. For example, great-looking sci-fi and dramas on the major networks shoot on HD: Joan of Arcadia, Enterprise, Bernie Mac, Arrested Development, and The Dead Zone. A new showtime series called Huff is also shot on HD. I can actually see a slight difference between the look of these shows and those shot on 16mm. But 99% of the viewing public doesn't notice the difference, and I don't personally see a significant difference myself. It can't compete with the look of 35mm shows like CSI, but I don't think that is all that far off. Theatrical use of HD is a ways off because it falls apart when blown up. So I guess most filmmaker's that want their film shown on a big screen at some point or another should stick with film for the time being. But if you're doing a tv movie or a direct to video, it really makes sense to go with HD these days.

BTW, have any of you guys actually used it in production? I think it's great because you can light to an HD monitor. I don't need to light meter at all and I can do riskier lighting setups without worrying that it will be fucked in transfer/developing. You can literally paint an image, which to me is an improvement over the guesswork that goes on with film shooting. I've spoken to professional gaffers and DPs who say that when they're working with film they KNOW what they're getting, even though they don't have a specific image to work with on a monitor. But for the rest of us that are working in the dark to a certain extent, it's really great to be able to get exactly what you want on set. It's great for directors as well, since they typically have a major impact on how a film looks, and since some do not have a photography background, being able to see what they're getting on set seems to be a major advantage. To me it's almost getting to the point where it's a CD vs. record debate. Can you guys honestly tell me that a show like Enterprise looks any worse than a show shot on 16mm? It aired last year on film and this year in HD, and apparently most of the fans and crew agree that it doesn't look much different at all.

Dear Jim:

Bruce Campbell starred in the one and only production that SciFi has used HD on (I forget the name, but Sean Cunningham directed), and everyone thought it was a nightmare, and they haven't used it since. Also, at least right now, HD equipment is more expensive and more difficult to use than shooting film. The discussion here is mainly about low-budget movies, and HD isn't yet a legitimate option for that. BTW, when you light a scene you do have eyeballs to look at it. The old-time DPs didn't use light-meters.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail: cmr17@scasd.org

Dear Josh:

How incredibly ignorant can a nation be? I mean my god, people with brain cells are becoming a repressed minority. An illiterate redneck who lives by the law of shoot first, asks questions later can win a second term.
The War on Iraq has nothing to do with the "War on Terror" of which we have basically abandoned.
I do agree with going after Bin Laden, however Bush/Cheney used Afghanistan as an exscuse to get through towards Iraq. So I figure, I'm going to capitalize on this morons term.

Dear Michael:

In the course of my lifetime I've lived through such knuckleheaded presidents as: Nixon, Reagan, Carter, and Bush, Sr. (LBJ deserves to be in there, too, with how he handled Vietnam, but he did get a lot of important legislation through congress). I'll live through this age of idiocy as well. So, this too shall pass.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Yeah. I can't agree enough with you. DV sucks. It looks shitty and honestly HD doesn't look too good either. On their own, they each look good, better than ever, but compared to film? Forget it.

Pretty pathetic about your book not getting published because it doesn't cover DV enough. I'm actually surprised by this. I guess most 'customers' for 'film' books these days are the 'dreamers' and 'phonies' who otherwise never would attempt to make a movie if it wasn't for DV (or more likely, its 'hype). I guess the DV market is much bigger than film when it comes to 'beginners' nowadays.

It reminds me when I heard about that Dov SS 2 day film school guy suddenly pushing DV on his 'students'. This is a guy who used to say in his seminar 'The audience pays to watch feature films, not feature tapes'. Not anymore. My guess is that he doesn't want to 'alienate' the numerous 'dreamers' and 'phonies' out there. They are his customers. He needs these paying 'customers' to survive (not unlike your publisher it seems). I heard one filmmaker say 'there's no weight behind saying you've made a feature film anymore'. I attribute this to DV as well.

I constantly find myself defending film over DV these days (it wasn't that long ago when video wasn't even considered for a movie). Call me stubborn and 'old fashioned'. So it costs more to shoot film and DV looks good now, but that doesn't make DV suddenly superior. I usually end up being called a 'film snob'. I then wonder why these same 'video snobs' want their video to look like film. Filmlook actually degrades the image and makes it worse if you ask me. I watched the All in the Family series on DVD and it appears they filmlooked it. It looks much worse than the TVLand broadcasts (not filmlooked). I never heard of someone trying to make film look like video. Film is film. Video is video. Leave it alone.

I also love pointing out to the DV advocates how The Wizard of Oz still looks great in terms of image. Something shot in 1939 (or 1938) blows away anything shot in 2004 on state of the art DV or HD.

My old Frezzolini 16mm newscamera with Angeniuex zoom and a roll of the new Kodak 7218 film blows away any state of the art DV or HD camera out there. An awesome image, I assure you. What did I pay for that camera? $1200 a few years back. You can get them much cheaper nowadays.

I have an eye for film and can tell DV from film easily. I can tell HD from film easily. It's definitely getting more difficult as time goes on, but I can still tell.

I'm currently discussing a low budget project with an aspiring producer right now and he wanted to shoot DV and I told him immediately the disadvantages.

I bring up shooting in 16mm because the truth is distributors still prefer film. I also bring it up because I prefer the 'texture' and 'look' of film (not to mention there's greater resolution and a 'negative' seems 'tougher' than tape) and I was just plain brought up on it.

Being that I'm looking to shoot a horror movie, I also feel strongly that it must be shot on film. I don't want that 'clean, slick' video look. Not for horror. It must have that texture and bit of grain I grew to love.

Anyway, just wanted to vent a little about the current DV hype (and that's really what it is...hype).

Dear CD:

DV is a great alternative to super-8, which was difficult to work with because it was so small, nor could you make clean edits. Let's face it, you can shoot with a old $200 used Bolex 16mm camera and get a FAR better image than shooting with the best DV camera made. No, shooting film is not as easy, but that which is easy generally doesn't achieve great results. If you watch a film like "Pi," at least half of the enjoyment is the look of the B&W 16mm reversal film. Had Darren Aronofsky shot that movie on DV, no one would have paid any attention to it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I have personally found that if, while looking for something to watch, I happen upon something shot in DV, I simply turn the channel without consideration. There was something or other on TRIO the other night (a channel which often has decent programming) which was shot on DV. I changed the channel almost without realizing I was doing it. I am of the opinion that, even for documentaries, DV is really for practice, not distribution.

Meanwhile, I watched "A Yank at Oxford" the other night. It was corny but fun. That was an example of a small movie, not intended for greatness, which was still better than the best of what is produced now, and it was a "B" comedy at best.

I had another question for you; I read somewhere once that the set for the original(?, 1928) "Ben Hur" was buried in the southern California desert and is now used for excavation practice by anthropology students, who then re-bury it. That sounds just wierd enough to be true. Do you know anything about this? Thanks,

John

Dear John:

It's possible that some part of the set is till there, but I never heard that story. A fair amount of the 1926 "Ben-Hur" was shot in Italy, then when the production went way over budget it was brought back to Hollywood and finished. William Wyler was on of the many assistant directors who worked on it wrangling extras, so it was an extra thrill for him directing the 1959 remake. As a little trivia note in the same vein, the enormous Babylon set for "Intolerance" sat rotting on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Los Feliz Blvd. for about 20 or 30 years before the city finally tore it down.

Meanwhile, "A Yank at Oxford" was an A-picture, with three of MGM's biggest stars, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, and Maureen O'Sullivan, as well as one of their top directors, Jack Conway, it was just shot at MGM's British studio, which gives a slightly lower-budget feel. And how about that young Vivien Leigh the year before GWTW.

I disagree about DV isn't for real with documentaries, it's by far a better way to go than shooting film. The camera are way smaller and much easier to make inconspicuous, you can shoot for an hour as opposed to changing mags every ten minutes, and you can shoot in much lower light. As that fellow from the UK mentioned yesterday, if you're going to shoot a lot of footage and search for your movie in the editing room, which is a crappy approach for features, it's exactly how most docs are made -- the structure and direction are imposed in the editing room. DV is simply way easier and cheaper and better for that purpose.

Josh

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

Josh,

Thanks of the correction on Hall's Oscar nomination.

I had heard he was pretty difficult to work with as well, but I never heard he was slow.

He came from a pretty privileged background and his father was a successful writer as I am sure you know he was the co-author of "Mutiny on the Bounty".

I think he had this cocky confidence that had a lot to do with his upbringing and maybe he felt entitled like so many other people I meet with that type of privileged background.

Of course, I don't think there is any excuse to be a prick to work with as a professional, but he did shoot very well and even when he had taken years off, he came back and still got work, and Hollywood is full of pricks, so I guess you can be successful that way.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I never heard he was a prick, he was just dreadfully slow and would not be pushed under any circumstances. Look, his work is the top of the heap, and you don't get such consistantly great results without putting in a lot of effort, and time. But I couldn't have tolerated it. If a DP takes more than about 15 minutes I start to get pissed off. Meanwhile, Conrad Hall was nominated for "Morituri," but he didn't win. He was also nominated for his terrific work on "In Cold Blood" in 1967, but he didn't win for that, either (that year it went to Burnett Guffey for "Bonnie and Clyde," that was also the year they stopped giving serpeate awards for B&W and color).

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

What's your favorite Midnite movie? Don't tell me you don't have one. Everybody at least has one. I like THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (I just know they use cranberry juice for the blood in jars scene... I would use real blood (pig's blood, I'd go to a butcher shop). I like anything that puts the villain in the lead, not some likeable lead and the person they pimp the movie about is pushed aside to the background (cough cough SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN cough cough).

Dear kdn:

Real blood stinks and goes bad, that's why they don't use it in movies. Movie blood is Karo syrup, red food coloring, and a few drops of blue. I don't know what the definition of a "midnight movie" is. I suspect you mean"bad movies," and those I don't care for.

Josh

Name: lee
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

This talk of digital taking over film really annoys me. I ran around shooting tape of various descriptions for years (VHS/Hi 8 etc). But I never called myself a 'film-maker' until I did two things. The first was to learn how to write feature scripts, by reading the books and just, hell, sticking the seat of my trousers to the seat of the chair. The second was to buy an ex-BBC Arriflex 16BL and start shooting films with it.

And when you shoot on film you are disciplined, cos those seconds mean money. What you don't do is run around shooting a bunch of stuff and kidding yourself that you'll find the story in the edit. True film-makers have a pretty good sense of the film before picking up the camera; they get the story right, the storyboards right, the prep' right.

I'm a life-long learner, and I feel I'm getting a really good handle on how to write a professional screenplay, and I'm really getting a handle on how to expose film.

Sure, if you can afford HD, like Lucas and Rodriguez, then do it. But on a VERY low budget, I can make a 16mm movie that looks like a movie. But with miniDV, it looks like the news.

I tried to get some money last year from one of our Arts Councils over here in the UK. And you know what? They wouldn't give me a penny, cos they said they were having a drive towards digital. They were prejudiced towards me cos I was shooting 16mm film. I suggested to the Arts Council lady that they weren't funding film-making. But she was having none of it. (I wanted to point out that their website featured loads of film can graphics but I let it go). Anyhow, I saw the results of the Arts Council's investment. There were a couple of films that had potential, but had weak scripts. The rest... were folk running around and figuring it out in the edit.

So... I pay for my own film stock and developing. Cos there's nothing like the experience of shooting on film.

L

Dear lee:

I'm with you, man. I agonize over my scripts, plan every single shot, and much prefer the aesthetic look of film. DV just looks cheap, and if the visuals don't matter then put on a play.

Josh

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

Josh,

I know it's not movie related, but have you heard any tracks off the new U2 album? I know you're a fan of their music, so I was curious.

It's fantastic!

Richard

Dear Richard:

I heard one cut and it seemed okay, but it immediately sounded to me like they didn't have Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno producing, and all of their best records have been produced by those guys. But, of course, I could be wrong. I'm eager to hear the rest of it. I thought their last album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," was great.

Josh

Name: Reader
E-mail: Dallas@Texas.com

Dear Josh:

Your reviews are funny to read, only because I can't see anyone taking them seriously.

I read thoroughly your review of 'Saving Private Ryan', and concluded that you must have written it with a stick up your rear. How else to explain the over-use of the fertilizer discussion.

Then I merely glanced at your review of 'The Matrix'. You wrote something about 'gun powder in the future' or somesuch. IT WASN'T A FILM SET IN THE FUTURE. Do your research, or at least accord it more attention than half-glazed eyes can afford.

Sheez, enjoy films for what they are. Eye candy, some with a little more substance than others. Many with a lot of fluff, I'll grant you. But don't take life so seriously.

Dear Reader:

If you care to not take movies serious that's up to you, however I do care to take them seriously, and I believe they can even be great. They haven't been in a while, but they have been in the past, and the could again in the future, but not with your attitude. So, enjoy your eye-candy, I hate it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Thats really rad that your coming out with a low budget guide book and I can't wait to see it. Is it gonna be free or would I have to purchase it? I'm working on getting my first feature looked at by an independent producer my friend knows, so your book should be coming out just in time. I'll read it from the first to last page.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

No, it'll be free. As with many things in my life, it was the wrong book at the wrong time. All the publishers I spoke with felt that a book that was mainly about making movies on film (although I do mention DV, too), and not entirely about shooting on DV, was out of date. Meanwhile, I just watched a few minutes of something with Steve Buscemi last night shot on DV, and the quality of the image just sucks. I think it's much too much to give up for the ease of not shooting film.

Josh

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

Josh,

I found this quote from Conrad Hall regarding shooting for TV back in the mid-late 60's.

It is in the Leonard Maltin book "The Art of the Cinematographer". I know that you own it.

I don't think he could get away with it now, but I thought the quote was pretty damn funny for that period of time.

"On ' WILLIE BOY', for instance, most recently, I was called into a projection room one day, and there were about eight or ten people in black suits sitting there, all with a dour look on their faces, and the lab man was there. I said, 'What's Up'?' They said 'There is a shot here that they say won't pick up on TV.' I said, 'So what? I'm not shooting a thing for TV, I'm shooting a feature. I don't give a shit about TV!'

Well, they do, because they want to sell it to TV, and if there's a shot that somebody thinks won't register well on TV, they come and tell you, and try to make you feel bad, and probably would fire you if they could. But I just had nothing to do with them, I just turned around and walked out of the room.

They have to justify themselves, and they justify themselves for really stupid reasons of all. 'This was a beautiful shot and it will look great on TV'. One of the greatest compliments I've ever had was when Philip Scheuer, who used to review for the L.A. Times, said about "MORITURI' (The film in which he had one his first Oscar for Cinematography), 'I hope I never have to see this on TV, because it is too dark'.

I hope he doesn't have to see it on TV either, because I don't want him to see it on TV - I want him to see it in a theater."

Good stuff.

Scott

Dear Scott:

As great of a DP as Conrad Hall was, I always heard he was a pain in the ass, and slow. Perhaps in the mid-'60s one could take such a stance, but now the life of a film is mainly on DVD and TV, so it's definitely a consideration. BTW, Conrad Hall did not win an Oscar for "Morituri" (AKA"Code Name: Morituri") in 1965, he was nominated, but lost to Ernest Laszlo for "Ship of Fools." Conrad Hall's first Oscar was for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in 1969.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was reading user reviews of Gone with the Wind today out of bordem(I'm sick),and mind these "user critics"aren't professionals,but reading their reviews of great classics and then looking at their reviews of shitty movies shows why Hollywood is falling down!This one user gave Gone with the Wind an F...and Resident Evil:Apocalypse and A+...I mean COME ON..those movies aren't even in the same league!This A+guys reasoning in Gone with the Wind "sucking" was "its way too long and boring and has no action"..well..while it doesn't have half nude bad actresses running down skyscapers..it does have bits of action..but anyway,that's not the point..one should never base his negative opinion of a movie on action alone.My point is,people like this guy are why films are going to hell..because Hollywood gives people what they want so they can make a shitload of money.During Hollywood's Golden Age the majority WANTED movies like "Citizen Kane" and "Gone with the Wind".Now the majority wants big boobs,big guns,and big explosions..fuck character,fuck story,fuck everything that doesn't add to "popcorn flick value".Don't get me wrong..a good,well made popcorn flick is fun every now and then..but come on!

Dear Trey:

Yeah, so? If shit-pies are selling, and all you want to do is sell, then why not make shit-pies? They only make decent movies by mistake now anyway, and not very often, either.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: abreumichael2002@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I was wondering. The scripts that are featured on your site...are they for sale?

Dear Mike:

Some are, some aren't. "Cycles," for instance, I no longer own. The scripts I've already produced, obviously, are not. The scripts that I co-wrote with Scott Spiegel would entail a separate realm of negotiations with him. And nothing is for sale for less than Writer's Guild minimum.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Many Hollywood films these days are shot on Super35, which has a ton of top and bottom and allows for a fairly easy full-screen transfer. The framings sometimes suck but its better than chopping stuff out. Worst full-screen transfer I can remember is this movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton. It about cloning I think, the story was pretty bad, but anyway there were all these shots clearly framed for widescreen with tons of Michael Keaton's in the shots interacting with each other and the pan and scan guys in post kept panning back and forth, it gave me a major headache. BTW, I think your response to the election is very mature. I know alot of people freaking out, but I really just feel sad more than angry, mostly for those that are going to be genuinely hurt (or outright killed) by this guy being in office. But it's bad to dwell on this kind of thing, I'd probably go into major depression. I guess I'm mostly flipped out about the fact that 57 million in this country genuinely believe in the guy's policies. That makes me wonder whether we've really progressed socially as a nation in the last 50 years. It sure doesn't look like it.

Dear Jim:

Bush is a terrific example that you can fool most of the people most of the time. Benny Hill had a gag called "Wide-Screen Theater," a TV show that showed wide-screen films with both sides of the frame cut off. The feature they showed was "--raid of Viginia Woo--" starring --ibeth Tay-- and --ichard Bur--. There have been so many terrible pan & scan transfers of wide-screen films it's a joke. I first became aware of pan & scan when I was about 15 and was watching Vincent Minnelli's "Some Came Running" on network TV. It kept cutting from a flat profile medium shot to another flat profile medium shot, and I just couldn't imagine Minnelli actually shooting a scene like that. After several optical pans across the frame it struck me that this was actually a CinemaScope film that was being fucked with in the lab. I was outraged. The whole concept undermines the work of the director.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

I´am very disapoinded about the re election of George Bush and I´am sure you to,but live is going on.You friend George

Dear George:

48% of this country, and the entire rest of the world are disappointed, too. As my friend Marvis and I concluded, the various forms of political thought are: conservative, liberal, laissez faire, then below that comes Que serra serra, which is the mindset I'm now adopting. Below that comes, Where am I?

Josh

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

Josh, there is an ongoing debate in the home theatre arena over which is better: fullscreen or widescreen. I happen to prefer widescreen, though I realize that some films are shot in an aspect ratio that is closer to what fullscreen would be on a standard television. So I guess I would rather see a movie in the aspect ratio that is closest to how the film was meant to be displayed. And I realize that there is a bit of an art to converting a film from widescreen to fullscreen. And some companies do a better job of it than others. My VHS copy of Monty Python's the Meaning of Life is in fullscreen and it's exceptionally well done. I've also seen some horrible widescreen to fullscreen conversions. One that comes to mind is the Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (Which, despite its title, has nothing to do with the priest sexual abuse scandals). Whoever was responsible for converting it to fullscreen was obviously the laziest person on the planet. It looks like all they did was set up a video camera and pointed it at the middle of a movie screen as the film was playing, and didn't move the camera once. In other words, in the fullscreen version of the Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, throughout the entire film the camera is always focused on the exact center of the screen and doesn't show what was going on on either side of the screen. There are scenes when you can see the tips of the actors' noses as the face each other from the extreme sides of the screen. Now don't get me wrong, the Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys is painfully bad movie, and I'm sure what was going on on the extreme sides of the screen was just as stupid as the rest of the film. But I'll never know for sure. (At least not unless I rent the widescreen version, which, barring memory loss, is not something I think I'm very likely to do.) Anyway, my point is that while fullscreen can be annoying, converting a film to fullscreen can be done well or done poorly. My first question to you is this: Do you prefer watching a film in fullscreen, widescreen, or do you simply prefer to watch a film in the way the director intended it to be displayed. Second, it seems to me that a director can in some ways exert even more control over what the audience sees in his or her film by supervising the process of converting a film from widescreen to fullscreen him or herself. So if you were offered the chance to do so, would you wish supervise the conversion from widescreen to fullscreen for one of your films?

P.S. You're probably not interested, but I'm going off to start at broadcasting school tomorrow, after which, hopefully, I'll start a career as a radio personality. If, and this is a big if, I ever get my own radio talk show, I would love it if you would be a guest on it. But don't hold your breath. I won't be holding mine.

Dear Ben:

I always prefer to see a film in the aspect ratio in which it was shot, which means I prefer widescreen since nothing is shot fullscreen anymore (except "Running Time," that is). A big part of the issue when converting a film (or "modifying" as they term it) is how was it shot to start with? Some directors make almost no use of the widescreen and center all of their images, so it's very easy to modify them to fullscreen because everything is happening in the center of the frame. By the end of Xena we were shooting 1.69:1, the HD widescreen format, but we couldn't make use of the excess frame on wither side, we just had to keep it clear of equipment. Then you have, as an example, Woody Allen's "Manhattan," where he's forcing the images all the way to the sides of the frame, which makes much better use of the widescreen format, but makes the modification (which he won't allow) very difficult. I would absolutely want to supervise the conversion of one of my films from widescreen to fullscreen, which was done to "Lunatics," but no one asked me. Things are coming together, though. Since the standard for theatrical projection is 1.85:1, and HD is 1.69:1, there's only a 16% loss between the two which can either be ignored or can be handled with a very slight letterbox. Good luck with broadcasting school.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was reading your "Lunatics" journal again today and I was just wondering what you did to raise the funds for such a project? It seems to me its the hardest task and one I haven't had to do yet but I'm gonna have to do pretty soon. Just wondering what you did to get get the 300,000 you used. Thanks. Your fan, Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

We raised the money for that film the same way we raised money for TSNKE and"Evil Dead," with a limited partnership, taking a thousand meetings, and just being persistent as hell. When my filmmaking book gets posted soon there's a chapter on raising money you probably ought to read. In a nutshell, you basically have to be obnoxiously persistent, and just not let up on anyone who has money or shows the slightest interest. And you must get every person you attempt to raise money from to give you another name of someone with money. Family member are the most prime because you can accost them with guilt. It's all rather degrading, but that's how it's done.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

What happened? I was stunned to see the election results this morning. Is our country truly deaf and blind? If you need to find me, I'll be in my local pub crying in my beer for the next four years wearing my "The few, the proud, the democrats" T-shirt. I'd like to move to Canada, but it is just way too cold right now. Ah, maybe in the spring. :-)

Boston

Dear Boston:

We did what we could, and now we all have to move on. Cigarettes are ten dollars a pack in Canada. I guess I'll stay here.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Sigh.The one chance we had to vote Bush out of office and we blew it. I guess half of America deserves him. Sounds like something out of "If I Had A Hammer".oh well, I'm from Travis County and most of Travis County voted for Kerry, can't say the same for the rest of Texas. Hey, four more years and this pipsqueak will be gone... right after he drafts my family and kills half of America. He can take his one-fingered victory salute and shove it up his ass. Four more years and he's gone.

Dear kdn:

I've already moved on.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

As I'm sure you've heard by now, Bush won four more years in the White House, beating Kerry by more than 3 million ballots. Apparently, Kerry has made a public statement this motning simply stating to a crowd of supporters, "We cannot win this election."

It's a deeply disappointing day. Based on your intelligent and quite wonderfully realized essays on this site against Bush, not to mention your countless posts on your distaste for his 'politics,' I'm sure you're utterly disturbed this morning. I, for one, am very shocked that Bush won (to say the least). I was afraid it would happen, but was also keeping an open mind that Kerry would pull through this election and defeat Bush to hell. However, I was wrong.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Dylan

Dear Dylan:

The Buddhists say "Life is suffering," and here's proof. So, we'll keep fighting endlessly in Iraq, we'll watch our young men die, as well as many more Iraqis, spending enormous amounts of money as we continue the cut the taxes of the rich, which will naturally drive up the deficit. Thus, no social security or medicare for any of us baby-boomers or anyone younger. But this is what America wants, so this is what America gets.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"Seriously, have you ever read a great screenplay?"

I'd like to think I've written a good one or two.

And I've read a couple of great screenplays, nothing that's been made into a great film, but I'd call them great screenplays - But you're right in saying that for the most part screenplays hide great films in them as opposed to being great on their own. It's tough for a screenplay to be a great read.

As far as them being the foundation, and structure for a film, that's true. But it's more than that. They're like the raw pieces.

Someone I know once compared filmmaking to sculpture, and I thought that was a pretty apt. He said that a screenplay is the block of marble or clay the sculptor is sculpting to make into a film. I'd go one further to say it's also the idea of what the artist is trying to create. In addition to being what they're making it of, it's why they're making it, and what they're making it for. The screenplay is all of those things.

It's the purpose of the film, and source of the film, but it's definitively a different thing than a film.

Screenplays aren't really an easy read. Remember a while back, I mentioned that instead of films (and video games) I've been doing a lot of reading to keep entertained. Especially in the middle of the night when we were finaling our game and I needed to clear my head..

That's basically when I read through most of the screenplays on your site.

"Cycles" is a wierd screenplay, Mr. Becker. I know you sold it, which is way hot, but I know it's not my favorite.

There's a few little things about it that bug me:

1. I've never really liked the mechanic of someone waking up out of a nightmare screaming, it always seems forced even when it's post-traumatically related.

2. Virgil really alternates between being a really learned individual and someone who hasn't a clue, and sometimes his common sense is pinging out, and sometimes it's completely lacking. I can't really get a handle on what he does and doesn't know. Also, I think in the beginning he opens up way too easily to Shirley (not that Act 1 needs MORE dialogue,) but I think Virgil's portion of the dialogue doesn't really fit him as I understand him by the end.

3. The initial reunion with Shirley is creepily shallow. And shots of fat chicks being fat are yucky (but that's just me. I'm creepily shallow.)

4. I think the dissolves are too widely spaced in act 1.

As far as BIG stuff that bugs me, there's not much. It's a really good screenplay, and it has a great story. The one big thing I suppose is the finale seems unlikely. I don't really believe in the young men's motivation to let them go... Specifically with the sense of community in that timeframe that's present in the rest of the story.

Either way, it's good, but I think the stuff that bugs me about it stopped me from thinking it was really terrific. But that's likely personal preference anyhow.

I hope it gets made into something great someday. There's always that chance. Meanwhile, Showtime is a GOOD place for Head Shot. I really think you've got a chance, and I wish you the best of luck. The more Becker films I'm subjected to, the better.

Well, no questions, but I thought I'd clarify my position somewhat.

Dear Matt:

Yes, "Cycles" is a somewhat strange screenplay, and it's one of the reasons I like it. I think the folks that optioned it, then bought it, spent a decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars rewriting it into a "normal" story, and I don't believe it ever allowed itself to become one. It's also a strange script to me because it left my hands so quickly, and I was never involved in any of the rewrites. It's not like it was necessarily an easy script to write, I did labor over it for three or four months, but then I gave it to the very first person to read and they optioned it, and it was gone. Several years later I got a big check. It's weird.

Josh

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

Josh,

You say "nothing like killing in the name of God. . " How about people killing in the name of sex or pride. Or a few bucks.

So have you decided what country to move to? I voted for Peroutka, myself, but I think I can handle Bush.

At least Kerry will disappear.

Dear Ben:

Killing in the name of anything, it's all bad news. Now the war in Iraq will just go on and on. We're back in 1965 in Vietnam, when we had 150,000 soldiers there. What came next? We went up to 500,000 troops. We ended that debacle with 58,000 dead, so let's see if we can now beat that. Go
USA!

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Having finally checked out "Head Shot," I can at least say that I've now read ten of your screenplays, plus all four treatments, as well as those tv episode outlines. And like everyone here, I thoroughly enjoyed "Head Shot" (although "Humans in Chains," "Happiest Guy," and "Warpath" still remain my favorites.)

It's been, what, 10 years? 12 years? since Oliver Stone's take on the Kennedy assassination came out, so I don't remember all the details, but I prefer your hypothesis much much more than his. I really like the way you included all the usual suspects (Shaw, Ferrie etc.) but at the same time sort of place them on the fringes of everything. And I think you're about the only person to ever really explain what the hell Jack Ruby's connection was. All the stuff with him, Giancana, and Marcello is just excellent.

So I'm curious - this is a screenplay without any one main character. That's very different for you, right? Did that make the writing proccess harder? And do you think that will have any effect on its marketability?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I don't know about the marketability, but it was a big change of pace for me, and it did make it harder, as far as I was concerned. I don't think it's the proper approach for most stories, but as hard as I tried no lead character ever made themselves apparent to me in this story. So I tried to equalize it and make it several people's perspective of the same story. It's just as much Sam Giancana's story as it is Lee Harvey Oswald's and Jack Ruby's story, as well as the assassins, too.

Josh

Name: steven
E-mail: anthonysluvr@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

i was wondering..in the movie army of darkness "ash" says something about "camp" what does he mean??

Dear steven:

I don't know.

Josh

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

Josh,

Well, unfortunately, it looks like you're going to have to find another country to move to.

I have this INCREDIBLY annoying ability to be right about things I don't want to be right about. Looks like I was right again. I wish I wasn't. Bush rules the roost once more.

My friend calls the trait I have "pessemism."

Four more years of the "Private Parts" Administration. How apt, since we'll end up getting fucked for 4 more years.

Gives you that warm & fuzzy feeling, doesn't it??

Saul

Dear Saul:

I have absolutely no idea why I was so optimistic, that's not how I usually am. In fact, in high school in the mock elections I was voted "Biggest Pessimist." But the number one bit of knowledge in Buddhism is "Life is suffering," and so it shall be.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Looks like we will be stuck with that fucking moron for another 4 years..how are you feeling now?...I've given up on America..and no offense to anyone,but Ohio has to be the dumbest state in the US.They've lost so many jobs under Bush and yet Bush is leading and will probaly claim it.What a sad day.

Also,any idea on where I can pick up a VHS copy of Lunatics..Amazon has some used but I never order used online unless they are in perfect condition,and the used perfect on Amazon is 50 bucks..so,any ideas on where I can find a very good cheaper copy?I asked my local video store and they tried to order it but the Movie Gallery warehouse said its out of print.Thanks

Dear Trey:

"Lunatics" is a collector's item and it's never been released on DVD, so what can I do? I've got Joseph Lewis's 1941 film "The Invisible Ghost" on DVD, but my film from 1992 isn't available. However, since I don't own"Lunatics" there really isn't much I can do about it.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

I wish you'd been wrong about the boxing, and right about the election.

-Mike

Dear Mike:

Me, too.

Josh

Name: Brennan
E-mail: enjoiskaterguy@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Will this movie be avaible for the public? Does it depend on how well it does in a film festival? Is it avaible to download somewhere on the internet?

thank you for your time.

Dear Brennan:

What movie?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I've read 18 of the screenplays posted on this website, I'd personally say out of all of them that Head Shot was the best. It's purpose was clear and concise, the narrative was really gripping.

Also, as you said, it is the only explanation that makes sense.

In general, the themes are coming across very concisely in these. For the most part, it's fairly clear what the intent of the film is, which is a refreshing change.

I'm not meaning to be critical, but in general a lot of the dialogue in many of these seems forced.

Maybe that's just the difference between reading a screenplay and seeing it as a film, but it feels often like characters are using language they wouldn't necessarily have access to. Sometimes their voices just aren't distinctly clear.

Also, I think you work better without collaboration. I'd say that the screenplays you've wrote with Scott, though interesting and definitely different from your solo efforts, haven't been as strong or interesting a read as the ones you've personally written.

I loved Running Time, and I still need to get around to owning my own copy.

I've never seen TSNKE, but I'm aiming to at some point.

None the less, I think you're a great screenwriter, with a knack for understanding what movies are REALLY about, and a real talent for telling stories that make sense and don't abandon the viewer/reader.

On that note however, I feel like although all of your screenplays deserve to become films; and in fact would be really good films; none of them fall under that "great" category (except possibly Head Shot.)

I'm sure many of them would end up in my favorites list if/when they're made, but I think that as most craftsmen who are artists will attest, there's always room to improve no matter how good you are.

Bottom Line:
I still think your best work is yet to come.

Also, James Garner, though I lurve the guy, was in Space Cowboys.
*shudder*

Dear Matt:

You've read 18 of my scripts? That's a lot. I think I work better by myself, too. Seriously, have you ever read a great screenplay? I have Robert Bolt's script for "Lawrence of Arabia," and it's tough to read because there's so much explanation, but the whole movie is lurking there. I've never found screenplays to be the world's best reading experiences, personally. If I can get through the whole script I'm pretty impressed. But I think great films could be made from several of my scripts, like "Devil Dogs," "Cycles" and even "Head Shot."

Josh

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

Josh,

You might want to read this. A film maker was killed for criticizing Islam in his movie:

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041102/ap_en_mo/netherlands_filmmaker_slain

This infuriates me-and frightens me too. I wrote a short story influenced by my 9/11 experiences called In The Name Of The One, which can be read here:

http://users.erols.com/strabal/creations.html

My story is HIGHLY anti-religion. I've often wondered about people getting very offended by it-which could happen. The news item above didn't surprise me-but it sent a chill down my spine.

It's Salman Rushdie all over again-except in this case, the zealots actually carred out their threat.

Assholes...

Dear Saul:

There's nothing like killing in the name of God to get your day off to good start.

Josh

Name: Emmet Kearney
E-mail: emmetfk@aol.com

Hello Josh,

Can you recommend any good books on the history of film-making itself as opposed to the history of the film industry. I'm looking for books that explain the evolution of film technique such as style, genre, editing, narrative, cinematography, trends, acting, etc.

(And if you have any recommendations of good books on Hollywood history, throw them in at the end as well.)

Thanks for any guidance,
Emmet Kearney
NYC

Dear Emmet:

I have a recommended reading list on the site. There was a book I had to read in film class in college,"Understanding Movies" by Giametti (thanks, Paul) that took you through film technique blow by blow. I recall it being interesting, but somewhat dry. It's funny, I have literally hundreds of movie books, but I never read some writer's history of Hollywood, or some film scholar's assessment of film techniques. I always read books that are either by people I know and admire, meaning autobiographies, or biographies about the people I know and admire. If there isn't a human story involved, I'm generally not interested. For instance, regarding cinematography and it's history, I'd recommend "The Light on Her Face" by Joseph Walker, who started as a camerman at the beginning of the film industry, he photographed all of Frank Capra's great movies of the 1930s, and he invented the zoom lens. Another good book about cinematography is "Seventy Light Years" by Freddy Young, the man who photographed David Lean's great movies, like "Lawrence of Arabia." As for editing, I'd recommend Edward Dymtyk's "On Film Editing." For straight film technique, not it's history, I'd say, "Shot By Shot" by Steven Katz.

Meanwhile, I will be posting my unpublished masterpiece, "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking," quite soon on this very website.

Josh

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

Josh,

"Support Your Local Sheriff" is a favorite movie of mine. I loved Elam, of course; his reaction to being told that he was faster than Dern's character was priceless. I also loved the jailbreak scene when the bars won't come out. "Sheriff" is one of my favorite Dern movies, though his part is secondary.

Harry Morgan's role in that movie was my vision of Morgan prior to M*A*S*H (he played that type bumbling-mayor of role often; e.g, "Music Man). I remember that when he debuted on M*A*S*H as Colonel Potter, I expected more of the same. He had actually played a slapstick-style demented general earlier in the series.

Back to "Sheriff", I think it holds up really well and still stop to watch it when it comes on TV. Garner, particularly when he was young, had a wonderful comic aloofness. I can't really think of another actor with quite his way of acknowledging the obvious. He was great in "The Great Escape" as well and held his own with a terrific cast.

"Head "Shot" would go great on Showtime. Kennedy remains a hot topic and everybody likes a gangster movie, especially in these days of "Sopranos". I know that logic has nothing to do with movie deals, but if the deal happens I'll bet you get a great response from John Q.

John

Dear John:

I'm thinking of Danny Aiello as Sam Giancana. It would be difficult to do better than Gary Oldman as Oswald. As a little trivia note about Harry Morgan, he used to bill himself as Henry Morgan back at the beginning of his career in the early 1940s, like "The Ox-Bow Incident." But there was a radio comedian named Henry Morgan who went into the movies in a very funny film called "So This is New York" (produced by Stanley Kramer) and Harry changed his name. Harry Morgan may also have been a regular on more TV shows than any other actor, with ten series to his credit.

Meanwhile, since you brought it up, I think "The Great Escape" is a great movie. The opening scene of the film is a half an hour long, of everybody arriving and trying to escape. When my old buddy Sheldon Lettich was writing "Rambo III," Stallone's company was located on the MGM lot which was in the process of becoming Lorimar Telepictures, and has since become Sony Studios. Anyway, they were tearing apart everything on the lot, everything was in disarray, and in the copy room there was a mountain of screenplays clearly waiting to be thrown out. I dug through them and found an original shooting script (meaning a copy from the time) of "The Great Escape," dated April 26, 1962 and solely credited to James Clavell. The movie has Clavell second-billed to W. R. Burnett, the man who wrote "Little Caesar," "High Sierra" and "The Asphalt Jungle." The script I have contains every scene in the movie plus a few more, but there's no reference to W. R. Burnett. The script is 210 pages and 745 scenes, with about 30 main characters and three different tunnels, and you're never confused for a second. Yes, and James Garner is great in it. It's also the film that catapulted Steve McQueen to real superstar status.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

This is a comment just directed at Boston's last posted question:

This isn't the first time that Kurt and Bruce have worked together, read Bruce's autobiography for an interesting story related to that fact.

Dear Matt:

Yeah, that's right, they already worked together on "Escape from L.A." I thought Kurt Russell was good in "Miracle," and did a Minnesota accent very well, as opposed to everyone in "Fargo," who were really doing Canadian.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"Support your Local Sheriff"

That's probably in my top ten favorite films of all time.

I just think it's great someone else has heard of it. People in my "peer"> group generally try to stay away from movies that don't have at least one "actor" with only a single word for a name.

On to my question however:
You're still writing, right?
More screenplays, getting better every time?

Because frankly, with your attention to structure and theme eventually you're going to nail down a damn good screenplay.

It probably won't get made on the "most screenplays don't get made"> principle, but at least you'll have written a damn good screenplay.

And if it's any consolation, I'll read it (if you'll let me.)

ALSO, one more quick aside... You're website has seemed to be an inspiration to a great number of people, and that alone is an accomplishment worth a lifetime of effort.

If you weren't moving people, so many of them wouldn't be concerned enough about you to intuit your feelings and attempt to cheer you, right?

If you've inspired just one truly great writer/director out in the world to make a movie that isn't complete and utter shit someday (like they would've made likely without your gentle directions/essays,) then you've been indirectly responsible for a great film.

That's got to feel pretty good.

Dear Matt:

We're all doin' what we can. You know, there are about twenty screenplays posted here and I don't think I missed nailing it down on every one of them. Try reading one, you might like it. And I saw "Support Your Local Sheriff" in the theater when it came out, and laughed like hell, too. It's the quintessential Jack Elam part, and James Garner's always good. I even read the writer-director, Burt Kennedy's, autobiography ("Hollywood Trail Boss").

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just finished reading your "Terrified"treatment and the "Head Shot"screenplay and I just wanted to tell you how amazing I thought they both were,especially Head Shot!I have no idea why a screenplay of that quality is not in production right now,but I guess that shows how Hollywood feels about genuinely good scripts these days.Hopefully you will be able to produce Head Shot someday(and hopefully Terrified too)and I will be able to enjoy one(or two)well written movies on the big screen after all this "shit"that is being tossed up there of late.Thanks again,Mr. Becker,in all sincerity you have inspired me.

Dear Trey:

That's good, I'm glad to do it. Meanwhile, I've got "Head Shot" going out to Showtime, which I think is the right place for it, so we'll see.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"Two horribly uninteresting characters, a bad set-up, and basically no story, not to mention that Jim Carrey is a second-rate actor, it was poorly directed and shot entirely hand-held for no reason. What was to like?"

Josh, youre usually dead on with your comments (btw, I wish you would post some more reviews-great stuff) but I disagree with you here on eternal sunshine.

The setup is what drives the film and its a good one. Who hasnt been in a relationship in which you werent worried if your partner is happy or if you yourself are really happy. The ultimate betrayal is a partner erasing all existing memories of you so as to forget you. And when carrey finds this out and decides to have the same operation ultimately to realize maybe he made a mistake, he must spend ACT II trying to keep his memories, because they have worth regardless of being good or bad ones.

In a nice emotional scene on the steps of the beachouse a shy, reserved carrey changes things by saying goodbye to clem and not just running off.

As for the directing, the dreamlike execution certainly dovetails nicely with the idea of plodding through someone elses memory.

Theme wise this film makes worthy statement-namely that relationships are worth having regardless of how they turn out. Its about the journey not the destination.

Dear Joe:

The way you describe it it sounds good. Unfortunately, Charlie Kaufman likes to work with creep characters that don't engage me, but it could just be me.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

Happy Halloween! Yes, I'm happy 'cause my team won!! Now, if Kerry wins, it will be one hell of a great year! I don't put my real name on my messages because I've had problems in the past with over-zealous online people. Hey, did Bruce have fun working with Kurt Russell? I've always thought Kurt was a cool, down-to-earth kinda guy. Oh yeah, I meant "Cycles" not "Winds of Fate." The Psychic lady said the script you had sold. I have my fingers crossed for you. :-)

Boston

Dear Boston:

Bruce didn't comment on Russell or the film. I know he enjoyed shooting in LA for a change. Well, we'll see if your psychic has a line on the future.

Josh

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

Josh,

I am sick of hearing about the election as well, but I sent the Roy essay because he touches on other points, which I agree with, and I thought that you would like to read it and maybeothers would too.

There are some humorous things he says and my favorite is when he discusses how the media tried to Analyze Bin Laden's Tape:

"Within minutes, the American media flaps around like a headless chicken, both sides trying to weigh up who this outburst favours the most. It'll probably favour Bush because the Americans are likely to go against any advice offered by the bearded wonder. Both sides disagree on the fact that it favours the other. The Israelis duck. The boys on the street in Fallujah search for messages. Everyone searches their underpants for traces of beard."

Back to Film talk:

I agree that there is a mentoring mentality in the camera department and I think that is because the camera department has to rely on each other as a team, and if that doesn't happen bad mistakes will occur, and camera assistan't get fired a lot for either making mistakes or getting blamed for them. Fortunately, I was never fired from any project due to a hair in the gate, flashed film or anything else for that matter.

I think that the director being thought of as an "Auteur" maybe has something to do with the difference in a mentoring mentality and the Director has to be just about everything which is an all encompassing job and the most difficult in this business as far as I am concerned. Also, being an AD is far different than being a Director where as being a camera assistant is much more of a linear climb to being a Cinematographer.

What are your thoughts on this?

Unfortunately, like you, I never had a real mentor even when I worked as a camera assistant, although I worked with some great people when I was in the camera dept., I was never taken under the wing of anyone with the exception of a very knowledgeable camera tech who taught me a lot about Arriflex and Panavision cameras and took the time out of his own work schedule to teach me those things.

When I went into editing, I simply taught myself AVID through my friend's company, so in a great way he helped me out, and I always remind him that every time I talk to him.

I think in this business you have to rely on people to help you out in some way, but like many things in life, it is always up to you to make your life what it is in the end.

Jack Green mentions another thing in his chapter, which I found interesting, and I am wondering how you feel about this?

It goes back to our discussion about Cinematographers becoming Directors, and I agree that Cinematographers don't make good directors, and I also thought about what you said about editors making good directors which is funny because I have been editing for 8 years, and I have never thought of that, even though I never wanted to be a director, I believe you are right on the money.

Green mentions also that DP's don't make good directors, and that the hierarchy of the camera department is not "well-designed" because In the Hollywood camera department heirarchy it is usually the operator who gets promoted to the role of DP and the camera assistant gets promoted to the role of camera operator which he feel is wrong in a sense.

He believes that Camera Assistant's make good Cinematographers because "they are constantly watching the lighting very carefully and they pay attention to where the lights are placed so they can flag the lens, they watch the DP meter the exposure and probably know where the exposure is going to be ahead of time".

On the other hand, he felt that Camera Operators would make better Directors than would Cinematographers because "they sit on the dolly and discuss the composition and choreography of the camera with the director. Their job is to constantly watch and pay attention to the actors and movement and talk to them discussing their marks."

Of course operating varies from DP to DP and from Europe and America, so there is a bit of a difference there, but I found his comment interesting and I wondered how you feel about that?

Scott

Dear Scott:

Many DPs have directed over the course of time, but the only good director that I can think of who was formerly a DP was Victor Fleming, who directed"Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" (both in 1939). I'd say that most film directors were previously stage directors, TV directors, or screenwriters who finally got fed up with dumb directors screwing up their scripts, like: Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Joseph Mankiewicz, Oliver Stone, etc. Then there's the editors who became directors, like: Robert Wise, David Lean, Mark Robson, Edward Dymtryk. There are even a few Assistant Directors who became directors, like: Robert Aldrich and Andrew V. McLaglen (Victor's son). As for how people should move up in the camera deptartment, the order has always made sense to me. Most camera operators I've met won't become DPs, let alone directors.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was reading your articles once again and I was just wondering a few questions. Are you going to ever be putting out the 180 page draft of "Bloodbath"? I'm not sure if you even still had it on your computer or anything. I think it would be cool to see what you and Sheldon had written and how it was so different. Also, are you gonna be putting up "Stryker's War" the pilot short sometime. I know you said your site had some server problems and what not and you were getting that fixed but could that be the next one you send to Scott whenever you get everything up to speed? That's all and have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

When Sheldon and I wrote "Bloodbath" they hadn't invented home computers yet. If you said the word "computer," the common image at the time would have been of an IBM punch-card machine that was the size of a Buick. There's a lot of shit I'll post ahead of "Bloodbath," which was basically just a severely fucked-up 1st draft (as many 1st drafts are). And sorry, no, "Stryker's War" will not be the next film posted. It's too long and will take up too much space. Scott has already digitized "Holding It" for me, which was the film I made before "The Blind Waiter," in 1979, and it's a suspense/Hitchcock-like story with Bruce, Sam, and the late Bill Kirk in the lead.

Josh

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

Hi Josh:

Here in Belfast, we're busying ourselves with a film called Genre, now in pre-production. It's an ambitious effort and basically, is a short with a feature-length production style. We've got university societies involved, friends are scoring it and so far, it looks like a huge undertaking. The proceeds from screenings and DVD sales go to cancer research, which is as worthy a cause as any, you know? It should be "good craic" as they say here.

Saw Eternal Sunshine last night and really felt drawn to it. What didn't you like about it?

-bg

Dear Brett:

Two horribly uninteresting characters, a bad set-up, and basically no story, not to mention that Jim Carrey is a second-rate actor, it was poorly directed and shot entirely hand-held for no reason. What was to like?

Good luck on your film.

Josh


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