question is simple. I must be a filmmaker. I can't afford
film school. I don't know where to turn. Basically,
how the hell do you get into this industry with no connections.
How'd you do it?
Edison once said, "Good things come to those who hustle
while they wait." Make movies and write scripts. Read
my structure essays, commit
them to memory, then practice, practice, practice. You
can't spend enough time working on writing.
so much a question but more of a comment in regards
to all these folks who are interested in the name of
a good film school. I'd like to give the following advice.
currently enrolled at Sheridan College in the Media
Arts program (aka Film and TV Production) in Canada.
Despite a few problems, it's a very good school for
film production. Here are some things you should try
looking for in a good film school:
it comes to learning how to be a director/producer/dop/gaffer/etc.
Josh is absolutely 100 per cent right. You learn best
by being on set. Fortunately, our program is based entirely
around producing material throughout the school year.
And let me say you learn a LOT more shooting a film
than you could ever pick up in a classroom. So wherever
you're thinking of going to school, make sure it's a
program that emphasizes the practical and technical
of our instructors are required to stay active in the
industry, so their information and production knowledge
go out and shoot shoot shoot. This year, I've made six
short films (4 shot on video, 1 on 16mm and 1 on Super16mm).
My final film for the year has been my most ambitious
to date. And I'm damn proud of the results, if I do
say so myself. But I couldn't have honestly done it
without the technical knowhow of my instructors (not
to mention the hard work my friends/classmates and I
put into it!)
me, the film school route has been a great way to get
my feet wet in the film industry. I had been fumbling
around in the dark for a while, trying to figure a way
into the business before I finally settled on going
back to school. And it's definitely been worth it.
yes, film school can be helpful in getting into the
industry. But film school or no, if you can't get off
your butt with at least a video camera to go out and
shoot something (and I mean REALLY put some effort into
shooting something), then give it up and get a real
job now, cuz you're only kidding yourself.
my 222 cents.
for jumping in and giving a decent answer to that question.
You've got just the right attitude, keep up the good
work and the best of luck.
have read your most interesting story involving the
running of various drugs in the '70's. Were you not
the least bit scared of doing time in jail? I would
be scared out of my mind. I know this is long before
the 'Just Say No' Nancy Regan era but you guys had a
ton of blow, pills, and weed in your car. I loved the
story, it was very well written and funny as all hell.
I also think you are brave for admiting you were a disco
dancing fool. Thanks, Josh, I've read the story 3x's
OK, we're not all against you . . . just some of us.
Actually, I don't recall ever being scared, but then
I was so stoned it makes sense. I'm glad you enjoyed
the story, I've been meaning to write it down for almost
am going to be a director. I would like to know what
you consider the best school to that can give me proper
education. I would like a formal education. However,
I'm open to many sugestions.
get this question a lot and, honestly, I don't know.
Nobody I'm acquainted with learned what they know at
film school, including me, so what can I say?
enjoy the site and the various essays and reviews that
you have here.
was wondering what your opinion on writers directing
their own work. After the success of "The Sixth Sense"
do you see this as becoming more common as writers see
this as perhaps the only way to get their film made?
done it before do you think that a writer/director combo
makes a film stronger than it otherwise might be? I
know that one of my favorite directors Billy Wilder
also worked with his partner I.A.L. Diamond on the scripts
and I think that his movies were always very tight script-wise.
I find it interesting that when a movie works it's because
of "the vision of the director" yet when it sucks it's
because of the writer and the script. It's also kind
of funny because it's the exact opposite of the theatre
where the playwright is god. I think the only way writers
will ever get any respect from the masses, and see their
script turn out the way they envisioned, is to be a
interested in you thoughts on this,
and directing are very different skills, although both
come in handy doing the other thing. When writing a
scene it's good to know if it's directable, and when
directing a scene is good to be able to rewrite it if
it's not working. But just because you might be able
to do one doesn't mean you can do then other. My favorite
director, William Wyler, was not a writer, but he knew
what the writers were supposed to put there. So, I guess
my real answer is--it depends.
Michael Anthony Lee
deal with the "Script editor," is this. They guys have
it in a different format and the descriptive text is
way too long. Also the guys are in England and things
as well as film, is kinda different over there. They
want an americans point of view, too bad for them I'm
Canadian, but it should be close enough eh? Lucky for
me, and them, I have read "Josh Becker's essays on screenwriting!"
Ha Ha so I will make sure everything is proper and the
damn thing has 3 acts. Then it is off to shoot this
summer on 35mm or 16. They already have financing and
so I'll gladly take the screen credit. They came to
me as well, I didn't even need to look for the job.
Anyway, the contracts are signed and the casting started.
I'll let you know how it all works out.
for the advice and help.
a good movie!
for answering my question the other day. Well anyway
I have a few more questions for you, so hopefully you'll
be able to help me. In a film course that I'm doing
we have had a lot of discussions about the actual writing
of scripts. Now today we learned about the three act
structure and how important it is to use it if you want
to get your work used by the big Hollywood companies,
Paramount, Warner, etc. So my question to you is this,
when you are writing scripts did you use the three act
structure and if not then how did you write it. (I prefer
to write myself by just letting the pen flow) Also I
was curious to know is it true that the big companies
only take scripts that follow this type of structure,
and in your experience with them is this what happened.
Thanks again and I look forward to reading your reply,
you haven't looked around this site very much. Read
my five structure essays,
then come back and tell us what you think.
Michael Anthony Lee
friends sent me their screenplay to edit for them. It
will be an independant shot sometime this year. So far
I know I need to put it in the proper format, cut the
discriptive text, and maybe work on some dialogue. Now
I am to get screen credit for my work, I am just not
too sure what credit that would be. They suggested "Script
Editor" and I was wondering if this is the proper term
editor" sounds as good as anything, although I fail
to see why whomever wrote the script could not "edit"
it themselves. Scripts are short, with wide margins,
and a lot of spacing, so there's really very few words
per page, what's the big deal?
commented on the visual aspect of films; I would like
to ask you opinion of the sound aspect. What sound format
do you use (e.g., how many channels in final form).
Do you think multi-channel sound is useful? If you use
relatively few channels (e.g., mono or two-channel stereo)
is this perhaps largely a financial consideration or
an aesthetic one? If financial, what would you use if
cost were not an issue? Finally, I've read an interview
with Michael Hurst in which he stated that Xena is recorded
with Dolby surround or something similar. Do you know
if this is the case? Thanks!
are a number of issues here: how was the sound originally
recorded? How was the sound originally mixed? What are
you listening to it on? For instance, "Xena" is recorded
in stereo digital, then is mixed in Dolby Stereo, but
if you're watching on a mono TV, it's in mono. My film
"Running Time" was recorded in stereo, mixed in stereo,
and on the video and DVD is in stereo, but the film
prints, both 16mm and 35mm, are all mono.
am a student of Keller High School. I have been asked
to do a project in my math class about what you wish
to do for a living and what colleges you must attend
to become this. I have chosen Film Directing because
I have a passion for it. I have also been asked to interview
3 people who are professionals at this. If you have
the time I would be extremely pleased if you would answer
the following questions. If you feel you do not wish
to answer some of questions, I understand.
Place of Employment? Contact Phone Number? Job Title?
Years in profession? Job Description? Education required
for the job? What Math did you take in High School?
Do you have any comments on the importance of high school?
Is their anything you would have done differently in
College? Do you have any comments of the importance
of college work in your career? Was Graduate School
necessary? Please State 3-5 ways in which you use math
in your profession. Please
make any comments that you feel would be of importance
to high school students as they prepare themselves for
You For Your Time.
am not a school project! I'm a human being! BTW, I always
saw Kindred Spirits. I agree that this episode was great.
I loved when Renee was all full of mud and was howling.
I bet she loved being all muddy. what fun????
she loved it. When we finished shooting the scene, Renee
came up to me and before I knew what she was doing she
gave me a big hug and a kiss and suddenly I too was
covered in mud. It was funny.
Dear Mr. Becker,
gosh dude, you drove 3000 miles to see this girl?? My
friend and I drove 700 miles just to surprise his girl
and we thought WE were gods!! Was she at all flattered
by the fact that you drove across country to see her??
Have you ever seen her since?
for your time,
guess she was somewhat less than flattered in that she
dumped my sorry ass post haste. I saw her at a party
years later and she was smash-ass drunk and came onto
me with her husband standing there. It seemed like a
bad situation and I left rather soon. That was 20 years
ago and the last time I saw her.
to agree with Melosa's comments, Kindred Spirits was
great really enjoyed it. Particularly loved the ending
with X&G lying under the stars at the end, it was very
like the ending of Fins Femmes and Gems, did you have
this in mind when you directed this??? Hope you get
to direct an episode in season 6 you always do a good
job and produce a very funny show. You may say Xena
is a kids program but this is one adult who enjoys your
work on Xena very much and is not ashamed to say so.
thanks. I don't think calling something a kid's show
is a negative comment. As I keep reiterating, "The Simpsons"
is my favorite show and it's definitely a kid's show.
It wasn't me that asked for the FF&G ending, it was
Rob Tapert. And I hope they hire me on season 6, too.
bothered you about a month ago with a question about
low-budget camera tricks. Thank you, I tried some of
the stuff you suggested and I was able to get them to
work (coincidentally, I have a wheelchair and that worked
really well). Now I have another question. How would
you recommend I go about getting funding? What are some
of the ways you have convinced people to part with their
hard-earned cash? Thanks Josh, you're a good man for
helping poor suckers like me.
am one of you poor suckers. Other than earning the money
myself, the only other method I've found is making my
family and friends feel guilty and getting their money.
Some people have a knack for raising money, but sadly,
I grew up with Brett Beardslee but only talk to him
sporadically when we are both "home". My questions are
about "If I Had A Hammer". What is it about, does Brett
have a big part, is he as talented as he seemed to me
in high school? When will it come out?
the story of the end of the folk movement in 1964, Brett
has the lead, and I wouldn't have given him the lead
if I didn't think he was very good. As to when it will
be out, I have no release date.
Kim Smith (a.k.a. Melosa)
normally do not write to anyone in your line of work.
Kindred Spirits has forced me to make an acception.
I enjoyed that episode more than any other this season.
You did an excellent job and I am greatful for the quality
entertainment. Thank you for your hard work. And tell
anyone else that worked with you on it I said so.
you very much.
have to agree with August, there is a point at which
"poetic license" stretches a bit beyond recognition
-- and the problem point, for me, is when the (even
admittedly) "work of fiction" is taken as truth or even
think 'Braveheart' is a great example of this. Yes,
there was a William Wallace, and yes he was a big pain
in Edward's ass.. but was it necessary to infer that
Robert the Bruce was a backstabbing prick directly responsible
for his death, or that Wallace sired the next heir of
England? I actually got into a heated debate with a
Scottish guy in a bar about this once -- because he
loved the movie, and felt (therefore) that it was 100%
indisputable historical fact. I, on the otherhand, thought
it was a 90s remake of Spartacus.
the greatest example of this is Shakespeare's Richard
III. I don't know if you read historical fiction much,
but (if so) I heartily suggest "Sunne in Splendour"
by Sharon Kay Penman -- it basically brings to light
the fact that Shakespeare's hunchback, fratricidal Richard
is pretty much unfounded, historically. A sad testament
to the fact that entertainment, given enough popular
exposure and time, can eventually become "historical
don't think you ought to be picking on Shakespeare for
his historical innaccuracies, it's pretty damn impressive
that he knew what he knew, given that there were very
few books around in 1600. As to "Braveheart," I don't
know the true story, I simply didn't like the movie.
It was fine as long as his girlfriend was around, but
as soon as she was dead, about 60 minutes into the film,
I lost all interest. It seemed like the entire next
two hours was bashing people's skulls in with big sticks.
I thought "Rob Roy" was a much better picture that came
out at the same time--John Hurt and Tim Roth are both
great in it, and the central relationship between Liam
Neeson and Jessica Lange is MUCH stronger than anything
Michael Anthony Lee
setting up an area at my website called "Friends & Fellows."
It will be a links page to places on the web I used
to learn my craft. I would like to include a link to
Beckerfilms.com and will also ask Bruce for permission.
My website deals with screenwriting, filmmaking, acting,
and the promotion of myself and my career. I feel it
meets your guidelines, but I still wanted to ask you
you have any amusing stories about Ted Raimi, when he
was younger or from recent experiences? If so, would
you please tell some, or one? Thank you kindly.
there are an enourmous amount of funny Ted stories since
most everything he does is funny. He loses five scripts
a day and I won't let him touch mine--I'll hold it up
for him to look at, but he can't touch it. One day down
in New Zealand Ted came out of his apartment and couldn't
find his rental car. He looked up one side of the street,
then down the other side, then concluded it must have
been stolen. He told the folks in the office, who in
turn called the police and Ted filed a report. As he
and I were being driven home that night, we turned down
the street a block over from Ted's street and lo and
behold, there was Ted's car. Once, a long time ago,
Ted went to see "The Elephant Man" at an inner-city
Detroit theater. The crowd must have thought they were
about to see a horror film because when the nurse first
sees the Elephant Man and screams, someone in audience
yelled, "Kill her, Elephant Man!"
do you think of Robert Trebor's work on Hercules and
Xena? And do you know why he was written out of both
shows? Is it true he got into some kind of fight with
Lucy or Rob? That's what some rumors are saying.....
Also, have you read his book Dear Salmoneus: The World's
First Guide To Love and Money? Thanks for your time.
don't think Salmoneus was ever funny. To me, the character
was always the pretense of humor, not actually funny.
I think others felt the same way. Bob Trebor sure knows
his movie trivia, though.
add me to the fans who defend you here, even though
you hardly need assistance!
quick observation or two on the couple of Xena-obsessees
who've posted questions/tirades recently. Just remember
- most of the viewing public doesn't even know of the
existence of the "fan" world, debates on Joxer or subtext,
or even the names of most of the performers. They just
happen to surf over to that channel and enjoy a fun
show. For all the online temper tantrums that the "dedicated
fan base" may have, there are countless more who hardly
even know what the internet is. At the one fan convention
I've attended, there were several hundred fans who appeared
to derive their information exclusively from magazines
and newsletters, and not even half that who were actively
involved on the internet. So illegitmi non carborundum,
dude. They'll get a fuckin' clue sooner or later.
the other hand, I do enjoy your Don Rickles-style observations!
May I amend the guy's comment on your being his favorite
director. You're my favorite opinion to read, because
invariably you make me think. Plus you have bothered
to put thought into your opinions. And of course you
don't hesitate to say what you think, and that is rare
enough in life, not to mention show business. It's very
refreshing, and always enjoyable.
the way, ironically, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed
"I Claudius" as a child, or a teen anyway, but enjoy
Xena, Herc, etc. as an adult. Go figure.
that brings up your observation on historical accuracy,
as in "The Hurricane." I remember this debate came up
when Stone's "JFK" came out. There was the usual disclaimer
saying that it was a work of fiction, but many made
the point that due to Stone and Costner's prominence,
kids seeing the movie will assume that it's a foregone
conclusion that there was a vast govt. conspiracy to
kill Kennedy. And LBJ's family is all still alive and
well, and couldn't have been wild about the film's implications
the other hand, "The X-Files" does that every week,
but no one minds. Is it because that show is widely
understood to be "sci-fi" and therefore speculative
or fantastical in nature? Also, I wonder if there is
some statute of limitations on accuracy. "I Claudius"
for example portrays Livia as an evil murderer, and
we see it as a fascinating hypothesis. What if a work
portrayed Jackie Onassis thus? Or Hillary Clinton? I
was watching the old Heston/McMurray movie on Lewis
and Clark recently...."The Great Divide," I think? It
portrayed, very inaccurately, Heston and Sacajaweya
as lovers just to spice up the movie. But there is no
outcry, nor was there in the '50's to my knowledge.
in the case of "The Hurricane," since it's not a story
I'm familiar with, the inaccuracy doesn't bother me
a bit. There was a TVM some years back called "Nighmare
in Columbia County" based on a murder in my hometown,
and much was changed for dramatic purposes (the name
of the county, for example!) including the entire personality
of the main character. But no one really minded, because
it was understood that it was "for TV."
I think that the films that say "inspired" or "suggested"
by a true story may have the right idea. So are there
some other contemporary films that you feel have overstepped
(the inquiring mind)
Tapert made sure to check early on as to what percentage
of viewers had computers and went online and it was
less than one percent, so we've always known that the
online Xena fans are not to be taken seriously. They
make a lot of noise, but don't represent anything.
somewhat recent film that distorted it's facts was "Hoffa"
with Jack Nicholson wearing very silly false teeth.
Bruce, Sam and I grew up two miles from the restaurant
where Jimmy Hoffa was kidnapped and it was one of the
most expensive places in town, a place where you could
order a $1000 bottle of wine. In the movie he's in a
diner. Anyway, "The Hurricane" bothered me in a number
of ways: I wanted to be on Hurricane Carter's side,
but am I honestly supposed to believe that the chief
of police in Patterson, N.J. singled him out as a small
child, then persecuted him his entire life? That this
guy spent most of his life in prison because of an evil
cop? And most evilly portrayed by Dan Hedaya. Also,
I'd like to be able to feel like I can trust Norman
Jewison at this late date.
this is my first visit to your message forum but I've
been on your site a few times and must say that it is
refreshing to see a successful filmmaker contribute
advice and material from his experiences in the business.
My main purpose for this post is that I wnated to get
an insight into what you think of Film courses in College,
do you think their good and what are the good ones as
far as you know? I ask this because you seem to be a
nice guy trying to warn us wannabe moviemakers of the
pit falls of the business. Personally I have heard that
USC in California and NYC in New York are good, what
do you think of them? Finally I was wondering how you
got into the business, did you go to a college to study
film or did you do it another way? Thanks for anything
you might say in advance, and keep up the good work.
schools with the big film programs are: USC, UCLA and
NYU. Myself and my buds went to none of the above. We
simply began making Super-8 movies as kids, which became
16mm movies, which became 35mm movies. I'm not sure
what they can teach you in film school that can't be
learned from watching a lot of movies and making a number
of short films leading up to a feature. I really do
feel that filmmaking is a trial and error process, and
it's important to start making films ASAP so you can
make every mistake ASAP and get them out of your system.
Nevertheless, you must pursue your dream in your own
fashion, and if you see film school in your future then
was just curious about the status of the TSNKE DVD.
Did you have any luck with aquiring musical rights for
the original Super 8 version? It's been awhile since
I've heard any mention of it anywhere. The Running Time
DVD is quite great, fun commentary with you and Bruce.
Keep up the good work, your site is one of the best
on the web!
Did you get those Running Time fliers I mailed you quite
word on anything from the folks at Anchor Bay. We made
a beautiful Digital Beta transfer of TSNKE, so it ought
to look terrific on DVD. I'm out of the loop. And yes,
I got the flyers.
Michael Anthony Lee
Josh but I must rant here for a bit. Please bare with
me for a few lines.
little under two years ago I plugged into the internet
for the very first time. I was watching a show called
"Xena" that came on Saturday afternoons here in Canada.
I soon discovered Bruce Campbell Online from one of
the fan websites. I saw that you could email Bruce himself,
and immediatly declared this bull. I said "This is some
crazed fan or computer nerd pretending to be Bruce."
Well time proved me wrong. When things interest me,
I research everything I can find on this subject. Within
a month I discovered the company called "Ren Pics, and
the filmmakers called Shemps." This led me to the discovery
that one of my favorite, late night, horror flicks,
The Evil Dead, was indeed made by these talented people
when they were just breaking into the buisness. The
fact that you guys just went out and did it, impressed
me and gained my respect. I have always wanted to write,
or to be more accurate, I have always wanted to create
in every medium I could. Bruce gave me some advice I
am sure you can agree with. "If you want to break into
this buisness and make films, then go out and make one."
Hey it worked for them! So at age 25, I decided to do
just that and write a screenplay. I did not go to any
fancy school, I did not read all the "How to," books,
I just took my years upon years of watching movies and
though to myself "What did I really like, and why?"
Bruce emailed me his little notes on format and sent
me over here. I read all your essays relating to everything
on film took notes. I joined a few mailing lists and
listened, watched, learned. I taught myself with no
support from friends, or family. In my small town up
in Ontario, NOBODY knows what a screenwrite does, or
is for that matter. But in this buisness we must never
give in. I have been told by everyone who wanted to
waste breath, "I would never make it, I don't have the
talent, nobody would even look at my first script, bla
bla bla" but I always kept in mind that you and Bruce
and the gang must have heard the same at one time or
the other. Learning proper format and structure are
a must, but I also had to realize that this is a buisness
and not an art. It is a craft. Learn your craft, perfect
your craft, never stop learning, and then conduct yourself
in a professional manner. These are things I have learned
from the online contact I have had from both you and
Bruce. I have sent you about 10 emails total in the
past 18 months, and your advice has always been honest
end this little story, I am writing my second screenplay
at this moment. My first is currently at five production
companies, by request. Will I get an option? A sale?
Who knows in this crazy lifestyle, but the point is,
I did it. I made something out of nothing, I learned
the proper format and the proper procedures. I fulfilled
a lifelong dream of getting something from inside my
head and out onto paper. I have made contacts with agents
and managers and have even taught myself HTML and put
up my own website. I have artists that work for me and
bring visuals to my creations, and I even registered
and opened my own local production company. Not bad
for less then two years and on ones own.
I sent you an email siding with you agianst the constant
slander you get here from people who do not agree with
your opinion. I mentioned that I admire your honesty
and even though I might not always agree with you, I
respect you taking the time to share with us your insight.
I also mentioned that I was working on a screenplay
of my own.
responded with the following. "Good luck, you have the
right attitude as far as I'm concerned." That sentence
has stuck with me quite some time. To hear from someone
who is, to be blunt, quite hard to please, was another
reminder that my hard work has been worth it all, and
that I am on the right track.
impresses me the most about you guys, is the bridge
you open between fans and yourself. That you take the
time for good or bad to have contact with us. For that
I would like to thank you again.
am not an ass kisser Josh, and I am not kissing your
ass, even though is sounds very much so. But I will
give you points for posting such rants from fans like
"david" and others that act like they have been brought
here at gunpoint and made listen to your opinion and
have it declared the gospel. I have learned in my internet
travels that none are more serious, protective, and
stubburn then the adult Xena fans. I really enjoy the
product Rob Tapert has givin the public and have for
years. Personally I do feel it has lost some of its
magic and I do not like the last few seasons, but I
do still enjoy the show. To have people come here and
rip into you for reaons only known to them, and try
and twist your words and have you say something bad
against one of your friends, and co-workers is beyond
me. Honestly I wish there was a way to filter out certain
messages and I would not blame you if soon you stopped
posting the crap we have been reading of late. I thought
the whole "American Beauty" thing would never end, but
it has now been replaced by this other guy and his supporters
in an even more assanine cause. I think they are here
for no other reason but to try and make you look out
to be an idiot. Even though you have given them this
place to come to, and reply to messages most people
would have deleted long ago. I don't understand this,
but I do think they should seek treatment for it. Maybe
not take the show too seriously, especially when it
will be ending soon.
in closing I just wanted you to know that some people
not only enjoy your advice and opinion, but you have
inspired and helped myself and perhaps others with your
blunt, honest take on this buisness.
yourself, I will never stop trying, and will continue
to write and learn and re-write and learn. Nothing is
better then doing what you love for a living. I hope
someday I can pass on what I have learned to others
as you and Bruce have so kindly done with me.
may post this online if you want, if you do not, I understand.
I just wanted you to know you have indeed made an impact
and a differance. Bruce also told me "Don't get stars
in your eyes." and advice like that is priceless. I
just wish more people would listen to what you say,
and not get mad because it was not what they wanted
fighting the fight. I'll see you in the credits someday
you do have the right attitude, I knew it. Well, I certainly
am pleased that I may have accomplished more here than
arguing about "American Beauty" and "Xena." I was beginning
to think this was really Insults.com and I was standing
in for Don Rickles. And if nothing happens with your
first script, then you write a second script, and if
nothing happens with that, write a third, etc. The first
script I got made was my fifth and the second one I
got made was my fifteenth. I've now made four out of
28. It's like Tim Robbins in "The Shawshank Redemption,"
if you just keep pounding on the wall with your little
hammer, eventually you'll break through the wall.
the very best and thanks for the encouragement on this
Dear Mr. Becker,
I thank you for your prompt replies and your accessability.
I read your responses with interest. I found some movies
on your last list of films (chick flicks) that I have
seen and *loved*. I don't know if there was an earlier
version of "Funny Girl" or not, but I loved the version
with Striesand. It was really the first musical film
I ever saw in the theatre and I have loved Barbra Striesand
ever since. And if her portrayl is true to form... I
am sorry we don't have Fanny Brice on film somewhere...
I would have loved to see "the real thing".
are some others I have yet to see, but I am taking your
list with me to the video store next time I go to check
question of creative liscense vs. lie is an interesting
one. And, yes, I do believe that has been debated on
that forum from time to time. In my own opinion, any
movie, tv show, book, that casts itself in the catagory
of "biography" or "true to life" has an obligation to
play it straight with the facts. I don't think "history
surfing" in the case of Xena or other shows that have
never touted themselves as other than "Sci-Fi" or "Sci-Fantasy"
should be held to those standards however. I think the
issue begs us to define "truth".
it seems to me, is based in part on perspective. My
perspective is different than yours and so how I veiw
a specific event, my recall of what actually happened,
will be different. My truth, is different from your
truth. This brings me back to a question I asked on
my last post, and one I would really like your response
the audience and what they bring to a movie have as
much to do with defining it's meaning as the content
of the movie iteself?
also seems to me there is more than one type of truth.
There is the factual truth and there is an emotional
truth... or center to a piece. Is it ok to sacrifice
technical facts for the sake of moving the audience
to a place where they can "feel" or "find" the emotional
center of a story? Maybe some facts but not others?
Does the end justify the means? Surely even "Funny Girl"
didn't get all the facts right.
do we decide what it is ok to leave out or alter for
the sake of getting the story told?
it better sociologically speaking to teach the audience
a moral lesson, even when it means omitting or altering
some facts, or to be true to all facts regardless of
whether they make a point? Does the "lesson" ring less
than true if the facts are skewed? (Why do I think it
would depend on which facts are altered or omitted,
but I couldn't tell you with any certainty which ones?)
I realize, that ideally you would have no compromise...
tell the story, make a point, move your audience, and
keep the facts intact. Seems, however, a nearly insurmountable
task to me.
only one "Funny Girl" that I know of, directed by my
man, William Wyler, and starring Barbra Streisand. The
real Fanny Bruce wasn't all that much like Streisand,
but she can be seen in a few films, such as: "The Great
Ziegfeld" and "Ziegfeld Follies."
to defining things, I think the less definition the
better. Why not just take things for what they are?
That's why I stopped fighting this silly issue of "kid's
show" vs. "adult show." Who cares? Once again, "The
Simpsons" is a kid's show and, in my humble opinion,
the brightest show on the air.
the "Truth" in a true story, it's not a simple task
and the facts really can't stay intact. The second you
tell a story that covers some amount of time--a day,
a week, a year--and you jam it into 2 hours, you've
messed with the facts. But to say Ghiardello was a bloody
mess and the audience was screaming "Travesty!" when
in fact they weren't, while Ghiardello is still alive,
I think is going too far.
Dear Mr. Becker,
what extent do you appreciate symbolism in film? I've
seen dozens of movies that incorporate metaphors and
such like into its characters, but I feel there are
some films that substitute symbolic meaning for a good
story. Do you think that the theme of a story should
be presented with subtlety through a story? Or should
it have characters that act and react based upon what
they represent rather than who they are.
you for your time,
you know your theme, in my opinion, you can't find enough
ways to express it, through secondary characters, through
symbolism, through metaphor, it's all good. Symbolism
for the sake of symbolism means nothing. I've also got
no problem with coming right out and saying what you
Dear Mr. Becker,
fear I owe you an apology. In sharing some of your answers
and your addy at the Xena Fan Forum, I and others there
seem to have generated quite an interest in this site,
and an increasing number of Xena related questions posted
here. I understand it isn't your favorite topic and
that you yourself are not a fan of the show per say.
So I sincerely apologize if I have contributed to any
undo irritation on your part.
even with that said, it seems to me that your knowledge
of Xena by your own admission, is limited to the episodes
you directed and/or wrote. Additionally, the experience
of the audience, what they bring with them when they
come to watch, seems to me to be as much a factor in
defining the meaning/impact of a story as do the contents
of the work itself. Granted, Xena is not likely the
most complex and sophisticated show on television...
but, even if RT never *intended* to write/produce a
show that moved so many adult women so deeply... that
is indeed what has happened.
we define the show by it's intention or by its effect?
mean, even VBUA's need a place to look for reminders
of simple truths don't they?
am not a Simpson fan... it has it's moments but mostly
I find it irritating. I do like King of the Hill, Ally
McBeal, and Law and Order however, and I was wondering
what you thought of those shows?
all started with Xena fans picking on Joxer, which is
insane to me. It's like saying, I love "Star Trek,"
but I hate McCoy. Anyway, I like Ted and I like Joxer,
and if you don't, I don't want to hear about it. Arguing
over whether "Xena" is an adult show or kid's show is
pretty pointless, too. Honestly, anything--movie or
TV show--that has a mandatory fight scene every ten
minutes can't be taken too seriously. Also, being a
student of history, the history lessons put forth by
"Xena" (and "Jack of All Trades") are so bogus they
make my head spin. Both shows are anti-history. Julius
Caesar didn't need Xena's help, and the French had nothing
to do with the East Indies in the early 1800s. Quite
frankly, TV seems too insignificant to argue about or
even discuss seriously. I really don't want to talk
about "Ally McBeal" or "King of the Hill," which mean
nothing to me.
I would like to discuss here, for example, would be:
What is dramatic license, and how far can someone go
with that before it's a flat-out lie? The example I'm
thinking of is "The Hurricane," where facts are being
presented that are utterly false to increase the dramatic
punch of the story. We see Hurricane Carter beat the
snot out of Joey Ghiardello, whereas he did not beat
him up and rightly lost the fight (Ghiardello is suing,
BTW). I personally think it goes too far into the realm
of lying. What do you, the folks that frequent this
forum, think? I would much prefer to discuss movies,
books or ideas here and let's skip the TV references,
Dear Mr. Becker,
just read your bit on the "99 Cent Store". Now this
is an experience I can relate to. LOL. But if you really
want to live on the edge...try the "Canned Food Warehouse".
"Canned Food Warehouse?" That sounds scary.
Dear Mr. Becker,
just read your bit on "Stories and Society" and began
wondering if you had ever seen, "I Know Why the Mermaid
Sings", "Cold Comfort Farms", "Pricilla Queen of the
Dessert", or "Like Water for Chocolate". I also noted,
when reading your essays, that it seems as if the majority
of films you use as examples could be catagorized more
as "guy oriented films"... which is fine... just an
observation. However I was wondering if there are any
movies people would generally deem to be "chick flicks"
that you have on your favorites list?
list you put forth doesn't interest me, although I didn't
see "Cold Comfort Farms" and didn't finish watching
"Like Water For Chocolate." However, I don't know that
you can call these "chick flicks," but they're not necessarily
"guy films," either. I love: "Marty," "Tender Mercies,"
"Jezebel," "All About Eve," "Funny Girl," "Friendly
Persuasion," "Mrs. Miniver," "Roman Holiday," "Mildred
Pierce," "Black Narcissus," "The Nun's Story," "Gigi,"
and many more.