Q & A    Archive
Page 130

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

Hi Josh

Do you know of any shoots that were delayed because of cold? I imagine 35mm is temperature sensitive and it'd be common to have long difficult takes in places like Siberia or Northern Canada...

Dear Greenebrett:

Not that I know of, you just shoot through the cold. I've shot out in the cold on a number of occasions. It's kind of awful, but you just do it. It got so cold a couple of nights on "Evil Dead" that cables snapped. We had this big horrible kersosene heater in the cabin and we'd huddle around it between takes. Bruce's clothes were so covered in Karo syrup blood that the heater turned his shirt into rock candy and it actually cracked and fell of of him. One night while shooting in the graveyard, it was so cold and we'd been up for so long shooting that I went psychotic and couldn't stop laughing for about an hour. Rob Tapert got so cold and tired he collapsed into a mud puddle and fell asleep. We found him half submerged, asleep and shaking. Sam's next film, "Crimewave," was all outside in Detroit in the winter, a lot of it at night. After four days of being an extra I had enough. I visited the various locations a few more times, but basically it was just too cold. But they kept right on shooting. I worked on a bunch of commercials out in the snow. You just do it. Robert Flahrety shot "Nanook of the North" up in the arctic in 1922 and had to process his own film in an igloo.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I'm in the middle of watching Lawrence of Arabia for the third time,such a wonderful film. Anyway,right before the intermission a moment in the film happens that has to be one of my favorite moments of any movies I've seen thus far in my life.

Lawrence: "I killed two people. I mean, two Arabs. One was a boy. That was...yesterday. I led him into a quicksand. The other was a man. That was...well...before Aqaba, anyway. I had to execute him with my pistol, and there was something about it that I didn't like."

Allenby: "Well, naturally."

Lawrence: "No, something else."

Allenby: "I see. Well, that's alright, let it be a warning."

Lawrence: "No...something else."

Allenby: "What then?"

Lawrence: "I enjoyed it."

I get chills each time I see that scene.

I was wondering..what is your favorite,or at least one of them,scene of all the movies you have seen.I also love the whole blowing up the bridge scene in Kwai,but who doesn't?You were right when you said it shows slow motion isn't needed to have such a powerful moment.

Trey

Dear Trey:

Oh, man! My favorite scenes? I have tons of them. I love Ali's introduction scene at the well in "Lawrence"--Ali picks up the pistol,"Your's?" Lawrence: "His." Ali: "Then I will take it." Ali picks up the cup. Ali: "His?" Lawrence: "Mine." Ali: "Then I will use it." Lawrence:"He was my friend." Ali: "That? He is nothing. The well is everything." Let's see . . . The dinner party in "All About Eve," the final shoot-out in"Unforgiven," Michael Corleone decides he will kill Solozzo and McClusky and becomes "The Godfather," when Vito kills Don Fanucci in "Godfather II," Patton's speech at the beginning of "Patton," Rod Stieger arresting Sidney Poitier in "In the Heat of the Night" ("Where'd you get so much money, boy?" "I earned it." "And what can you possibly do to earn this much money?" "I'm a police officer!"), Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer doing the Austrian kick-step dance in "The Sound of Music," Tom Jones' mother realizing she's had sex with her own son and shrugging if off in "Tom Jones," the dance at the gym in "West Side Story," the chariot race in"Ben-Hur," the finale number of "Gigi" that keeps turning into Lautrec paintings, the scene where Saito brings in Nicholson from the oven and offers him scotch in "Kwai," Marty calling the girl from the RKO Chester in"Marty," on and on.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

<<Personally, I'd rather be Ed Wood than not be a filmmaker at all, and if you're just talking, you're not making movies.>>

All films have some degree of entertainment but so far every film on your favorite list has been top notch (the worst for me being ANGEL AND THE BADMAN... which now that I think about it, was actually pretty good for what it was, I was just in the mood for John Wayne action). You think people would watch Troma if there weren't SOMETHING entertaining about them. Besides, I think Brett Leonard is a worse director than Ed Wood. Take a look at DEAD PIT or LAWNMOWER MAN. Or LEONARD PART 6, That movie, combined with THE WALL put me in the mood to kill myself. LAWNMOWER MAN wasn't even suitable to be made into a movie, It would've made a hilarious short film to see Jeff Fahey strip naked, crawl around on the grass like a snake eating all the grass till his belly was full, while his lawnmower chased the man around the house, and then Fahey sacrificed him to the birdbath (which was in the movie but out of context). What are some of your favorite old monster movies? These aren't old, but I enjoyed FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and DEEP RISING (fucking cheap ass cgi ruined to the movie, but the music score was fucking awesome, plus Kevin J. O'Connor, plus the whole thing where the monster shit out the bloody skeletons of its victims all over the boat, this would've been great if it had been shot in old black and white style like KING KONG and Treat Williams is obviously a ripoff of Bruce Campbell... Otherwise, I hate THE MUMMY movies and VAN HELSING). FROM DUSK TILL DAWN just accidentally worked for me, I couldn't spot any movies being ripped off, The "Heroes" aren't worth rooting for, almost everyone dies, vampire strippers, and it just worked for me in a good trashy sort of way.

On to some GOOD MOVIES, I was watching CARRIE and I noticed it was more like a comedy than a horror film, although killing everyone is a pretty kickass way to end a dark comedy. Oh yeah, I liked Brian DePalma's PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE too. On BONNIE AND CLYDE, I thought they were supposed to be nailed on their way out of a movie theater but I guess I was wrong, I don't recall them shooting the car up enough, I thought the car was supposed to be so bulletridden than it would cave in on itself. But I loved the whole movie, it had this story going for it about loneliness, They outcast themselves from society, then they band together and never get a moment alone from each other, plus its got that whole thing about Clyde's sexual dysfunction going for it. I liked RUNNING ON EMPTY, I heard this sad story that River Phoenix was supposed to have been killed the day he was going to meet his hero Terry Gilliam. I guess the difference between Terry and Orsen Welles is Welles fought for a good movie and Terry fought for a boring one... but I've seen Sheinberg's version of BRAZIL, Terry's version at least felt like his own movie, not a chopped together piece of crap which was Sheinberg's version... oh no wait, technically Sheinberg didn't know his cut was in existence till the day they showed it on television.

fuck this, back to RUNNING ON EMPTY, What do you think was Sidney Lumet's best film and directing style. I liked NETWORK (fuck Spike Lee the ripoff artist) but I noticed a serious change in tone between this and RUNNING ON EMPTY, how badly can a director's style change with time? I watched ALL THAT JAZZ after CABARET, and while it felt completely different, I loved JAZZ'S ending... where Roy Scheider and Ben Vereen sing Bye Bye life, it creeped me out, it was also climactic, cause you knew the closer to the end of the song, the sooner he would die, and then you watch Roy scheider become unimportant bye shaking hands with the people that would be taking over his life. I love how Ben Vereen rolls his eye and points when Scheider is laying underneath him in the number, it was really well done, it just pisses me off that Fosse Subjected us to Air-Otica when he new it wasn't very good and even the characters on screen knew it sucked and was volatile. My favorite number in CABARET was Money Makes The World Go Round, I love all the comic bits in that song, with then twirling their hips, and bells ring and shake when Liza Minelli shakes her tits or Joel Grey belts, and the part where She's moving forward singing about being cold and Joel Grey's mimicing here everymove and they end it with Hunger at the window.

Where did you find that Flinstones cigarette ad in HAMMER?

Dear :

Please don't make me respond to nameless questions. If you can't put your name on the thing, don't write in. "Carrie" is my favorite DePalma movie by a mile. I love "Bonnie and Clyde" (it was John Dillinger who was gunned down coming out of the movies, and the film was "Manhattan Melodrama" with Clark Gable). I think "Cabaret" is one hundred times the movie as "All That Jazz," and ten-thousand times the movie of "Chicago." Anyway, I never bought Roy Scheider as a dancer, the show he's directing looks like shit, and the movie he's made looks like shit. All in all, I think film just doesn't work. Whereas "Cabaret" is great. Regarding Sidney Lumet, I'd agree that "Network" is his best film, but the guy made a lot of good films:"12 Angry Men," "Long Day's Jouney into Night," "Fail Safe," "The Pawnbroker," "The Hill," "Serpico," "Muder on the Orient Express," "Dog Day Afternoon," "The Verdict." That's a lot.

Josh

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

<<I found the Herzog remake of "Nosferatu" boring, although Klaus Kinski seemed very well-cast.>>
Boring, true, I thought the kinski/herzog films were beautiful nonetheless. I fall asleep during nosferatu cause it feels so much like a dream. You ever have that problem, you're watching a movie, and then you realize you can't hear what they're saying, and that you've seen this part before, and then you realize you fell asleep again wake up, and you're later in the movie... and then this happens constantly through the whole film. I don't hate Nosferatu cause It reminds me of the time, I was in the hospital with my pregnant wife (who kept having these dangerous fevers)... and there is not much to do except watch tv, and that was just one of the films I watched. My daughter's 9 months, she can sit through MAD MAX and EASY RIDER for some reason. She could sit through EASY RIDER when she was 3 months actually. That's weird. What Stanley Kramer film do you think is better? IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD or GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? (now there's a older Katherine Hepburn role I like... I cracked up when she met Sidney Poitier and broke out crying). I like GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER more, besides the interracial marriage theme, it had something else I love, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn swore off racism their whole lives to their daughter and now it comes down to it, it makes them realize perhaps they're more racist than they though. I like that, you don't see that in much films. It is a compromise, everybody's got something racy to say, whether they like it or not, but if you can't bring yourself to look past it, you're always gonna be that way. So really, I don't think you can peg anybody as racist or not racist (unless that person wants to cut your head off for being jewish and put a flaming cross on your lawn, those people suck... that's really more like Racism mixed with Assholism, hey that's a good topic, where the hell is the line between racist and not racist?). And I love the scene where Sidney Poitier tells off his father "You see yourself as a colored man, but I just see myself as a man"). IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD had all those great comics, but I like the theme of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER more than greed. And what a way for Spencer Tracy to go, I mean, how many actors can you think of that died with a bang-out great important film. George Kennedy and Orsen Welles weren't that lucky. I also saw THE GODFATHER... that had a lot of far shots, it didn't bother me, you think it ranks third to BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and THE APARTMENT?

Dear kdn:

I don't fall asleep during movies. If I start to get tired I turn them off. I agree that "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" has a better theme, and is all-around a more important film, but I like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" more because there's so much wacky funny stuff in it, and so many funny people. There were films about rascism before and after "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," but there's no other comedy spectacular that holds a candle to "Mad World." There is one very provocative scene in "Guess Who's . . ." that amazes me every time I see it--the scene between Sidney Poitier and his dad, who is a mailman and tells his son that he walked his feet to the bone to put him through school and now he owes him. Poitier responds,"I owe you nothing. You did what you did for you, not for me." There's no other parent-child scene like it, I don't think. Meanwhile, I probably like"The Godfather" more than "The Apartment."

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you have funding in place for "The Horribleness"? You have Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell in mind so far; anyone else? Will it be filmed in Michigan?

Dear Boston:

There's certainly no financing for anything until there's a script. And until there's financing there's no telling if, or where, it will be shot. Regarding movie deals, the guy who comes up first is the screenwriter, and they're the one who must gamble with writing a script for free, then see if anyone gives a shit. That's where I am.

Josh

Name: Justin
E-mail: moosebase1@aol.com

Josh,

Just wondering if you have seen any of Mike Leigh's films (Naked,Meantime,Secrets and Lies, All or Nothing),and your thoughts if you have? Most of his films are bleak character studies but I have found many to be very good. They remind me of the movies Cassavetes made in the 70's. Speaking of Cassavetes, been watching the new DVD box set that came out. I saw Women Under the Influence for the first time the other night. Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands are great. The dinner scene where his co-workers come over was classic. Adding If I Had of Hammer on my films to watch list.

Dear Justin:

I like several of Mike Leigh's films very much, particularly "Life is Sweet." I also quite liked "Topsy Turvy" and "Secrets and Lies." "Naked" and "All or Nothing," while well-acted, were too bleak for their own good. I think "A Woman Under the Inluence" is Cassavetes' best film, with several scenes that are unparalleled in the sense of uncomfortableness they create. I'm an extra in "Opening Night," BTW.

Josh

Name: Hunt
E-mail: hk3@sbcglobal.net

Josh, hi, I've enjoyed your website. Quick question for you. I've read that Quentin Tarrantino's RESEVOIR DOGS bears a heavy resemblance to an earlier foreign film. I belive I've found the name of that film. Can the same be said for PULP FICTION? Were plot elements or was the story line of PULP FICTION 'borrowed' as well? I thought I'd heard it was derivitive just after it was released - and I'm trying to track down any information on the subject. Thought you might know. Thank you and what are currently working on?

Dear Hunt:

Someone else knows all of the details about which films QT ripped off for his scripts. I would assume he stole plot elements for PF, too. By the time you arrive at the "Kill BIlls," he's not even bothering to steal anymore, it's all just "homage," meaning you're stealing and everyone knows it. Meanwhile, I'm just about done with new horror/comedy script, "The Horribleness."

Josh

Name: Phil LaForce
E-mail: handkphil@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Thanks. Your story brought back many old memories of Detroit advertising highlights. Any idea who did the old Highland Appliance radio spots, such as "Chester Moss, Rumor Circulator", or "Lillian Zaremba, Namedropper" ? There was another one I think, called "Phil Merlo, Disclaimerer". It won a couple of awards, I think. Anyway, thanks for the story.

Dear Phil:

Sorry, no idea who did the radio spots. They were top-notch TV commercials, though.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Yeah,your right Rickman was pretty good,and certainly better than the person who played the Lt. And I was referring to the original Nosferatu, I haven't seen the remake, it sounds pretty dull and lame.

Anyway,a quick comment. Don't get your hopes up for a new generation of great film makers(I'm sure you don't have any,haha).I have two friends who want to makes films and both well..say they want to do films like the "genius"..cough cough..Tarantino. These guys haven't even tried writing scripts yet,but they want to make "cool,hip movies". Oh well,I'm trying my best to write good scripts(I've read your Need for Structure essays and follow them now). I'm working on a treatment now that I really enjoy, I don't think today's Hollywood would ever allow it to be made since the hero isn't really all that good and has character flaws(intended ones). Not that I really intend for it to,I'm writing this for the sake of gaining experience,but I also would love to see it followed through. Anyway,my point is...these two guys have no passion..they have only dreams of making "cool,hip movies"and think going to film school will automatically make them suceed. I think many kids think that now,I used to,but you and a few others have opened my eyes..too bad Hollywood doesn't think like you do,then maybe some really good filmakers who ARE out there could get a chance someday...instead of more "cool,hip"kids getting lucky b/c they make movies from the wrong kinds of inspirations.

Sorry..did I say quick?
Trey

Dear Trey:

It's easy to talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Whatever you want to say about QT, and I guess I've already said it, he got "Reservoir Dogs" made, and he did it pretty much out of sheer determination. And with 120 pages of paper, and some hip talk, he somehow got an all-star cast to agree to make his film from the get-go. I think with each succeeding film he continues to prove his deep lack of talent, but he keeps making movies. Personally, I'd rather be Ed Wood than not be a filmmaker at all, and if you're just talking, you're not making movies.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was looking back at your articles today on your short films, And I remembered you saying that if you got the bandwith problems fixed that you would put up another one of your short films and said which one you would... which one was that? I'd really love to see Holding it, Cleveland Smith, or The Final Round. The way you describe those short films just sound like stuff I'd love. And I think Cleveland Smith would go well with The Blind Waiter. I'm working on doing some more short films on DV because like you say its a great learning tool. Was it really hard for you to get the cast and crew together for all your movies? That seems to be the hardest thing for me. I hope to see some more of your short films in the future and also can't wait for the book.

Your fan,
Jonathan

P.S. my friend Rachel said she saw a preview for Alien Apocolypse and said she can't wait to watch it.

Dear Jonathan:

The response to "The Blind Waiter" was reasonably underwhelming, so I haven't pursued posting more films, on top of which we don't really have the space on the server. The webmaster, Shirley, says she'll be posting the book soon. No, I never really had much trouble putting casts and crews together. Getting the money to make the films was always much more of an issue. I'm glad to hear they're showing the preview for AA. The film has been through the online edit and the color timing, now it just needs to be scored and the sound needs to be mixed, and it's done.

Josh

Name: Wanda Maness
E-mail: wandamaness@yahoo.com

Josh, thanks for all your pics and personal info posted on the web. I worked on Evil Dead in Wadesboro,way back. I was an extra in the movie and was lucky enough to meet the zombie gang a few times. Sam was sweet enough to let me watch him film a full day in the Faison school gym in Wadesboro. Before he left he took my picture and I took a few great photos of him. He gave me his address in Mich. but I lost it! I am now a art teacher in Wadesboro,N.C. Is it possible for you to give me e- mail or address from Sam? Just tell him it is Wanda Maness from Wadesboro that knows he likes vanilla shakes, Lucky Charms, and great tomato plants! Thanks a zill, Wanda Maness

Dear Wanda:

You're obviously referring to "Evil Dead II." No, I won't give out Sam's email address.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

Do you read any film industry mags, if so which one's? And, on a side note, I've been meaning to ask you this for a long time; what is a typical day like for you?

Boston

Dear Boston:

No, I don't read any film magazines. I get up very early every morning, like 5:00 AM, and I generally write from say 6:00 to 10:00-11:00, then take a nap, get up and start again. I start making phone calls in the afternoon, when folks on the west coast are finally up. And I also spend some part of everyday reading. After dinner I watch movies. That's my dull little life in a nutshell.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

Just wanted to add to my last e-mail. Spielberg did make quite a few 16mm shorts and he showed them to the executives, but got little reaction. Then Spielberg had a brekathrough. The eureka moment. He thought to himself, "Until I can FILL that big cinema screen, none of the studio executive are going to take me seriously."

(I love the analogy "filling the screen" equating to playing with the big boys).

And that's when he went away and made Amblin' in 35mm.

Best


Lee :-)

Dear Lee:

Deciding to shoot 35mm that quickly was a very bold move for Spielberg, and it certainly paid off. He was an employed TV director when he was 22 years old. And was a feature director by 26 (having already directed a couple of TV movies). So, is struttin' your stuff in the best-looking format available a good idea? You tell me.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

I think you made a really good point in your letter to Austin. It's one thing to have a beautifully composed shot, but you've also got to know how it edits with the enxt shot. I get a big bang out of designing shots, composing them well, but then ALSO seeing the effect when their juxtaposed. I'm thinking now of the jump cut Kubrick does in The Shining, from Nicholson lumbering around the maze to the still shot of him being frozen. But it doesn't have to be that grand. Just the joy of sequential shots coming together. And then of course editing is the key to knitting together special effects.

Great point, mate: it's not just the composition of the image, it's how it goes with the next image.

Just off on a tangent, but I've been reading some of Wim Wenders essays on film. He says that the CU is overused in film. His theory is that this overuse has come about because of the influence of TV. I think he has a really good point. It's something I'm going to think about when storyboarding my next 16mm short.

Catch ya later.

Lee

Dear Lee:

I think the close-up is overused, and I do think it's the influence of TV. It's pretty much a rule--unless you're in a scheduling jam -- to always get close-ups when shooting for TV, which allows the producers to recut the scenes as they please. Without close-ups recutting is much more difficult. On the other hand, close-ups of good actors comprise many of the very best moments in movies. And watch Ingmar Bergman's movies, or his progentitor, Carl Dryer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc," to see how dramatically close-ups can be used. But as you mention, there can't be nearly enough discussion of how film cuts together, how one shot is juxtaposed against the next shot. As Hitchcock pointed out, that's the basis of cinema -- two shots cutting together. And whose cutting style is more recognizable than Hitchcock's? Whereas, there's no way to tell the difference between the jerk-off who directed "Amores Perros" and Steven Soderbergh and the jerk-off who directed"Eternal Sunshine of the Blah Blah." The second you decide to go hand-held for the whole shoot, and that none of the cuts mean anything, you may as well hand the camera off to the next guy and get a job selling shoes.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Happy New Year.

I had a wonderful Christmas this year since my presents mainly consisted of movies, some I've seen,some not:

Lawrence of Arabia
Bridge on the River Kwai
A Man for All Seasons
Deliverance
Running Time
Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except
Nosferatu

To name a few..anyway,the point of telling you is I have a few questions and comments:

1)What do you think of Nosferatu?I found it boring until Count Orlock showed up and then it became slightly more watchable b/c of the creepiness of the character.

2)I loved Running Time. The hidden cuts all worked for me and I think you did a wonderful job in creating a "one continuous shot"movie.Kudos.

3)I really would have liked to see Bruce in Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except as Stryker..other than Tim Quill...I didn't like the actors..well,Sam Raimi was fun to watch.

4)Maybe I'm just stupid..but were the sick British soldiers on the train that crashed into the Kwai? Nicholas mentions Saito allowing them to leave on a train...but was it this train? I don't think it was since I believe Nicholas would have shouted out that sick/wounded soldiers were on the train if they infact were...just curious though to what you think.

5)Finally, was the helicopter shots from Thou stock footage, or did you actually film it yourself?

And one unrelated...any new updates for Alien Apocalypse...?It isn't mentioned anywhere on Sci-Fi.com and is not listed in the January-Feb. TV schedule.

Thanks

Dear Trey:

I believe "Alien Apocalypse" will be on in March. At least, that's what they tell me. I'm certainly honored to be included in that group of films. I found the Herzog remake of "Nosferatu" boring, although Klaus Kinski seemed very well-cast. Regarding the casting in TSKNE, I think Robert Rickman as Sgt. Jackson is very good, too. Otherwise, I did the best I could without Bruce. The helicopter shots of the jungle at the beginning of the film are stock footage, the shots of the military chopper were shot by my friend, Sheldon Lettich, for his short film, "Fire Fight." In regard to the train in "Kwai," that's the train that's coming, not going.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I recently read Sean Astin's book "There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale." It's not an autobiography per se, but more of a series of reflections on some of the work that led him up to playing Sam in "Lord of the Rings," and then a pretty detailed account of filming over the next couple of years. I know you're not a big LotR fan, but it's an interesting actor's viewpoint take on Hollywood in general. He even has some kind words about Bruce, with whom he co-starred in "Icebreaker." Also interesting tidbits about his parents' lives.

He mentioned one interesting technical thing that made me think of you. Astin has directed some short films as well as some tv episodes. Early in his adult career, he was asking some older producer about an idea for a short film, that he proposed to shoot in 16 mm. The guy said "Why not shoot in 35 mm - it's not that much more expensive." Which he took to heart, seeing this as advice to a young director, rather than to a young *aspiring* director.

Any thoughts on that? For example, would it make more sense and/or be more cost-effective to shoot a slightly shorter film on 35 mm, if it would look more professional?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

This is the exact opposite POV of shooting on digital video, and I'm all for it. How good can you make your film look, as opposed to how cheap and shitty can it look? When Steven Spielberg was loitering around Universal Studios as a kid in the late '60s, someone, perhaps Sid Sheinberg, gave him the same advice, so he made his first short film, "Amblin," in 35mm, and everyone took it seriously enough to give him a gig directing a TV episode, and the rest is history. He could have gotten his hands on a 16mm camera (there wasn't any home video yet) and run around like a half-assed John Cassavetes, or he could show everybody that he knew how to shoot a movie like the big boys do, which is what he did. Times have changed, but the concept hasn't. Every idiot can run around with a DV camera, cover everything hand-held, then try to make some sense out of it in the editing room. Very few can shoot a film and make it look beautiful. Even when Orson Welles only had ten cents to shoot his film with a borrowed camera and non-professional actors in someone's garage, he could still make it beautiful. Spielberg, for as much shit as I give him on a content-level, knows how to make a shot beautiful, and how to make two shots cut together, which is it's own beauty that can never be achieved with haphazard shooting. As always, August, good question and topic.

Josh

Name: Dana
E-mail: ddplus@comcast.com

Dear Josh:

In a previous answer, you wrote: "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."
Sounds interesting. Could you expand on this method? But what's the point really? And by doing this, wouldn't you risk breaking the rules of structure, since the script must be written to fit around the shorts?

Dear Dana:

The point is to end up with a feature movie, while spending the least money with the least production problems. It would probably be a series of weekend shoots. If you were on your game you could actually shoot fifteen minutes in the course of two full days of shooting, so then you'd only need to do that six times to end up with 90 minutes of material. I shot the film"The Blind Waiter" in one weekend and it's 16 minutes long. Five of those stuck together would have been a feature. The key is to be clever.

Josh

Name: Iva "jest ye not madame" biggun.
E-mail: -

Josh,

Although im not sure wether you have answered this question before (it is quite a chore combing through hundreds of previous letters and responses so as not to retread old ground, perhaps you should divide them by how many times they have been asked in the past)I still feel it could be helpfull to my future exploits as a film maker. I intend to shoot a feature on digital video and transfer the finsished and edited product to a film appearance. Director Mark Pirro has himself pioneered his own method although opinion is divided as to exactly how credible a color transfer looks (b+w is generrally considered to look fine).For an example you may choose to snag a copy of the 2003 epic 'rectuma'. Would you reccommend this method as almost all of the budget would end up on the transfer itself? It seems to be an effective way to churn out a feature and still leave change from my bank account.

regards,
Iva

Dear Iva:

I'll repeat myself for 100th time, I recommend shooting 16mm instead of DV, at least at this moment in history. That's if you're even slightly interested in selling the film when you're done. DV is still not an acceptable format for feature films at this time. If you don't believe me, turn on any of the premium cable movie channels, which is the biggest market for movies, and note how many are being shot in DV. Answer: none. So, if you save money at the front end, but then can't sell the film at the other end, how much money have you saved? Good luck.

Josh

Name: Sean
E-mail: vanishingpoint@sympatico.ca

Dear Josh:

On the commentary track on the Anchor Bay DVD Running Time, you refer to Art Lefleur as "Art Lafleur, who played Cobra's boss in Cobra." While your comment was hilarious, has Art Lefleur shown any signs of being displeased by having his large character actor resume reduced to "Cobra's boss in Cobra"? Just curious.

Thanks and please enjoy my attached screenplay. It's about a world wherre people can't touch. Just kidding.

Sean

Dear Sean:

I have not spoken with Art since we made the film, so I don't know what he thinks about that comment. Every time I saw him on the set I'd imitate him,"Cobra, you've got some explaining to do," and since he's a funny guy he always smiled. Bruce enjoyed hassling him, too. I saw him on an episode of ER and he was really great. He and Peter Jason, who plays the president in"Alien Apocalypse," go out for many of the same parts.

Josh

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

Josh,

I don't have to interview 1.2 Billion Chinese people to get a consensus of what the people are like there. One just has to go there and it is pretty easy to see for yourself, and I did. Yeah, China has a lot of problems as does many part of the world, but as you said, it is in the way that people deal with suffering in life that makes the difference.

Who said I was talking about living until I was 100??? Actually, after age 70 things start to fall apart on most people's health, so it is not my goal to live until I am 100.

As for me being "gooey" because I have a kid now, I believe I have always been kind of gooey in the middle and hard on the outside, and having my son hasn't changed that much, even though my life has changed, I am still the same person, I just have a little person to take care of now and it is hard work, but it is also really cool as well!

Anyhow, I am not here to bicker with you and what I say is how I feel and I know the same goes for you.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Okay, so let's not bicker. Happy New Year to you and everyone else on this silly planet.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

So I've been reading your scripts to get a feel about what scripts look like and I just had to say that Cleveland Smith reminds me so much of Blind Waiter. Hilarious parody of Indiana Jones. I mean the jokes come in rapid speed. It almost seems like Airplane! and Three Stooges mixed. Good stuff. How did you and Scott come up with so many hilarious jokes? It must have taken you a while to get it to be so good.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

That script took the better part of two years to write. Meanwhile, that's exactly the sort of script I'm writing right now -- straight out zany comedy, and it's an interesting process. You really have to tap into your subconscious thoughts, and simply believe in the fact that if it made you laugh it will make others laugh, too. And a joke trumps everything else, logic, plot, characterization, everything. Besides, what could be better than doing a job where the point is to laugh? I've been working on this new script now for about three months and it's really been terrific.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<Meanwhile, you need to watch "The Apartment" again because act I is great, too.>>

Act one is great, but act two is great in its setups. Considering how awful the stereotyping is in GONE WITH THE WIND I'm happy to see Hattie McDaniel still got the good lines (I kinda cringed at the guy chasing the chickens and the regina hall lookalike getting slapped, but I LOVE that end line where Clark Gable just doesn't give a shit about Scarlett anymore). Funny, I just watched CITIZEN KANE, THE BATTLE FOR CITIZEN KANE, and RKO 281:THE BATTLE FOR CITIZEN KANE back to back. I spotted the goofy Clark Gable lookalike in that last one (that wasn't a very great film but it had some novelty value in it, James Cromwell is very well cast as the cocksucker). Wow, so the makers of GONE WITH THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and Walt Disney were blackmailed about being Jews in the industry, plus child porn photos, sex with black people, and homosexuality, eh? Orsen Wells must've really wanted to piss him off, that was hilarious that Rosebud was really a pet name for Kane's girlfriend's twat... I liked how Orsen Welles aged himself in citizen kane, the makeup was flawless in black and white (like THE ELEPHANT MAN) and I kept wondering if that was the same actor, it was freaking me out. That whole this with Xanadu freaked me out too, along with the puzzles. I heard that Orsen welles made a name for himself by going to Harlem and putting on a performance of Voodoo MacBeth? Why haven't they made that into a movie, that would make an interesting film. They should make it from one of the actors point of view.

Dear kdn:

I thought Liev Schrieber made a credible Orson Welles, too. Although John Malkovich doesn't look a thing like Herman Mankeiwicz, he was also good. And yes, the makeup in "Kane" is brilliant. Meanwhile, before "Kane," Orson Welles had five hit shows running in NY at the same time, as well as being the voice of "The Shadow" on radio.

Josh

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

Josh,

I do agree that Americans do not confront death the way other cultures confront it, however, the way in which you are confronting it is absolutely the opposite of how other cultures confront it.

By embracing life, you are also embracing the inevitable conclusion to life, which is death. When I was in China, I had never met one person who treated the life in the manner in which you have been lately.

The majority of people I met had much less than the average American in terms of many things, but their attitude towards living was quite vibrant and they were full of life instead of drowning in it.

The majority of the Chinese people I met were Buddhists, and one thing I realized is that they were confronting their suffering in a way that made them enjoy their lives much more.

It is ironic, but your attitude is more akin to that of the Christian belief of the afterlife, by embracing that life much more than the one you have now. In other words, living for death, which is quite silly to me.

I too think about death, and embrace that inevitable side of life, but in turn, I don't find a reason to be so negative of the life that I have. I have gone to the dark side of life a few times, but I have always comeback and I am glad I did, it has made life more enjoyable for me.

You know Josh, me teeing off on you has very little to do with the "holiday spirit", since that has never meant much to me, and this year in NYC, the crowds of toursits is astounding, tiring, and too much. It is the busiest I have seen this city around the holidays in a long time.

I actually say these things because I genuinely care about you and I do think that you tend to be pessimistic, but lately, you have turned it into downright hatred, and I know that you are better than that really.

Maybe you are jaded, but many of us are too. Hollywood does suck, but you were weaned on it, you lived there for 20 years, but you never embraced it, so take your lumps like the rest of us and do what you can my friend.


Take Care,
Scott

Dear Scott:

I have no hatred in me, I think you're overreacting. Nor am I "living for death" as you said. As they used to say back in the 1920s, "Live today, for tomorrow you die." But this idea that we should all hope to live to be 100 is absurd. From what I've observed, everything after 80 looks awful. Personally, I think you're getting all gooey because you have a kid now. Meanwhile, after you interviewed all 1.2 billion Chinese, then what did you do?

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Dear Mr. Grinch, lol!

Are you into the Ultimate Fighting Championship at all? BTW, your take on the world is definitely a tad nihilistic, but funny as hell! :-) I always laugh my ass off when I read your comments. You are such a straight shooter! I feel like I'm reading "Portnoy's Complaint" when I enter your site!! lol! I think I know your political and religious views pretty well, but what do you think about social issues like Affirmative Action, gay marriage, and illegal immigration?

Have a happy and safe New Year!!
Cheers,
Boston

Dear Boston:

No, I don't follow ultimate fighting. I find it too brutal to watch. I really don't like that you can hit people when they're down, and the whole grappling part of it, which is right out of Greco-Roman wrestling, I find boring. Meanwhile, I'm for affirmative action and gay marriage, but I'm against illegal immigration. I completely don't see why we don't have a fifteen foot electric fence that's runs from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas that would nip this whole issue in the bud. The argument that we need illegal immigrants to be migrant workers and earn less than minimum wage is utterly bogus. If there are jobs that need to pay less than minimum wage than we should lower the minimum wage. This idea that illegal immigrants should have rights, driver's licenses, access to public schools is insane. As Supreme Court justice Earl Warren once said, "To be a citizen is the right to have rights."

Josh

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

Josh,

And why is the oral sex part so good? Because a teenage girl feels that she has to do this in order to be accepted into the group or to appease the Alpha Male of the popular group? There is nothing good at all about a master and servant relationship like this, and I wasn't comparing the Catholic church's power with giving head.

I was comparing the power trips that this type of group mentality fosters to that of the control that the Church had over the masses for many years, although it is not the same anymore, it still exists to an extent.

After reading your responses over the past month, you seem to have become more negative (If that is possible) about the human race.

You keep spouting that world is too populated, blah, blah, blah. That is complete crap.

The world is too populated in narrow portions of the world. Yes. The world is too populated in some big cities. Yes. However, the problem is not population, the problem is solving the problem of population density in the places it is most dense.

I have already sent you a great article on the myth that world will run out of space for people, but you chose to ignore that.

If you want to stay away from people, then move to northern Canada. I know you won't though, because you enjoy cities. So instead of complaining, get off your duff and contribute something.

There are many people contributing to the problems that we have in the world, and they are not sitting in their living room with apocalyptic visions. Why? Because maybe it is inside some humans to believe they can correct the problems that we have caused. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes we are not. Absolutely nothing is for sure and that is life buddy, but I have to say it makes you feel a lot better if you have something to contribute instead of spewing about the problems of the world without any real solutions.

I find it pretty sad that you find most people in the world to be stupid or rude.

You have a hypocritical view of war; you think it is wrong, yet you hope there will be more and more of them as well as natural disasters, so it wipes out populations. That is a real nice thought; did you borrow that from George Carlin's shtick from the 90's?

If you have nothing to contribute or enjoy from society then why to you still want to be part of it?

In fact, Most of us would rather live, and most of us would rather not have to go through what Asia has just gone through. Life is a gift, and yes we suffer, but I would not trade living for death. Would you?

Scott

Dear Scott:

I, and everyone else, will have to trade living in for death sooner or later, and there's nothing wrong with considering or discussing the idea of death. We Americans treat death like it's evil, but it's not. It's everyone's inevitable conclusion, and it's better to think about it than to hide from it. Meanwhile, did I piss you off because I won't spout platitudes about the sanctity of life or that I won't get into an appropriate "holiday spirit"? Whether it's oral sex, tattoos or piercings, whatever the fad of the moment is, that's what everyone will be doing to be accepted into the group. I don't feel bad for the people who get tattoos or piercings, nor do I feel bad for girls who give head to be accepted. Nor do I even feel bad for the girls who wear ugly shoes to be accepted. Nor do I legitmately have to feel bad for people whom I don't know dying. And yes, there are times when I find the whole human condition very sad.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I can't help but think that the Bubba T comment was about my post to you or something. Anyway I would disagree with Bubba though because I just read "Above the Line" and it is my favorite script by someone who's not a friend. I thought it was very well written and the lines made me crack up. Plus I don't want to go to Hollywood anyway. I want to just make my own movies for now. But the internet gives people a chance to bitch and moan to the world and others will read them. I'm gonna be reading all your other scripts. I'm particularly interested in the ones you did with Scott. How many scripts have you written with Scott that aren't up in the script section. Cause I remember reading that you guys wrote a draft or few for Hit List. Did you guys write many more? Well have a good one man and have fun with those mean spirited emails.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

The mean-spirited, snotty emails don't bother me anymore. I think all of the scripts that Scott and I wrote together are posted: "TSNKE," "Cleveland Smith," "Delerious," "Dark of the Moon," "Crime After Crime" and "Ball Breaker" (Scott gets the co-story credit). We did do a couple of rewrites of "Hit List," but we didn't get credit, and I don't think I even have a copy of that script anymore. I'm glad you enjoyed "Above the Line," the story of which was written with my late friend, Rick Sandford. I have problems with that script, but I like where it finally goes, and I don't think anyone else has ever figured out how to get a film within a film within a film.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Way cool I really like The Sand Pepples too, I first saw it several years ago after it was recommended to me by someone. Well, I know what you mean about the real fights ending more quickly, and those fights that really go on are more cinematic entertainment of course. I even hurt myself once, I know what you mean. Honestly I haven't seriously been in too many physical conflicts except for the schoolyard stuff when you're a kid, and you're right most of those that were considerably serious ended with a few strikes (I actually feel sorry for those kids now). Of course, not that I've really experienced it, but now and then some fights can result in grappling situations which I think would last a little longer. But really I agree Stallone does a great job of boxing on film and according to Lundgren he would actually be a good light heavyweight I think he said, but of course not as great as professionals.

But anyway, I guess you have some pretty good boxing experience? I am interested in it, I don't have the footwork or timing down as they say is very important but I used to spar martial arts style. There's a story where Robert Conrad was boxing/sparring with one of the stuntmen and the other guy was so good Robert was unable to land a punch despite experience (neither could the other guys), so Robert said "Teach me," and he has a real passion for it I think.

Is there any advice you could give me on boxing? They say it's quite practical. I'm very used to the jab and straight punch I think they call it from my martial training, but I was never the greatest sparrer.

Also I've got to check this "Betty Blue" that sounds very hot!
The tsunami tragedy is just horrible, I think it's times like these people really wish there was a Superman.

I don't know a great deal about religion/God but I was ill with something for months (still) and sort of had this vision, there may be though I really don't know much about it. Just my opinion on that.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

My actual boxing experience is very limited. In 1978 I made a Super-8 boxing film called "The Final Round" and I needed a boxing ring to shoot in. Bruce and I located one in Redford, a community directly next to Detroit, at a community center. The only thing they asked of us is that we join the boxing club, which was five bucks each. I don't think they ever expected us to actually show up, but we did a number of times. We dragged along Bruce's brother, Don, and the cameraman from ED, Tim Philo. We four were the only white guys there, and everyone else but us took the boxing VERY seriously. I was matched up with a an 18-19 year-old, muscular, wirey black kid. We went around for a while not doing much, then I saw his guard was down and I popped him in the nose with a jab. The next thing I knew I was in the corner being pummeled, punches raining down on me from every direction, until finally the coach got in the ring and pulled the kid off me. Another time Tim Philo and I were in the ring--this was for three three-minute rounds -- and Tim is a tall, athletic, strong guy, and helluva a baseball player who can throw a baseball hard and fast all the way from the outfield to homeplate. Anyway, we're sparring, then I dropped my guard and stepped forward just at the moment Tim launched a right hook from somewhere near Toledo. I saw one big yellow star for a couple of frames, then found myself on my back on the canvas with a lot of people looking down at me. I'd actually been knocked cold for a second. It didn't really hurt, but it put an end to my boxing career.

Josh

Name: david
E-mail: david.famularo@dompost.co.nz

hi

i watched Almost Famous for the first time last night and was looking for some comments that would agree with what i thought about the movie and your's were pretty spot on. i essentially see the film as a piece of conservative revisionism ie you don't show people taking drugs and enjoying themselves because drugs are bad. likewise, sex etc. as you point out. the film in no ways captures the spirit and philosophy that i remember as underpinning the rock revolution, probably because that philosophy actually challenges the whole mileu that creates a film like Almost Famous. Ultimately, after the first 10 minutes the film becomes a limp piece of smaltz (once the mother and daughter/sister) stop being at the centre of the story line) with dull directing, editing and acting.

regards!

david

Dear david:

Worse still, it won the Oscar for Best Screenplay that year. Politically correct revisionism, I can't think of anything more offensive.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just read this off of a Xena site-and this site is pretty reliable...

"Liddy Holloway died today (29 December) after a long battle with cancer. She is best remembered in New Zealand for her roles in Shortland Street. She is also well known in the Herc. and Xena communities for playing the role of Alcmene, mother of Hercules.

She is also the real life mother of Joel Tobeck who played Strife and Demos in Hercules and Xena."

Horrible. My condolences to Joel.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Thanks for the news. I didn't know her.

Josh

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

Josh,

While watching the news on one of the most horrific natural disasters of our time-which as of this writing has the death toll around 65,000 dead, with this tragedy occuring the day after Christmas-I am reminded of Harlan Ellison's essay in Edgeworks: Volume 3 entitled: "No Offense Intended, But Fuck X-Mas!"

Boy, did that essay ring true for me when I first read it. And when I watched news of this tsunami disaster, Ellison's essay hit me with the force of a freight train.

How people can go around saying "Merry Christmas" when we have people suffering such as we see in this tsunami disaster is beyond me. I find that I'm growing to hate Christmas more, every passing year. I'm not just thinking of my own problems; I'm thinking of others. And that is why Harlan's essay just knocked me flat on my ass while watching this unfolding horror in the Asian Pacific.

I'd like to see how religious leaders explain THIS away. It reminds me of a time I took my mom to church shortly after 9/11. My mom is religious-but I don't let her in on my true beliefs. She's a decent woman, is nice to everyone-and has been through too much bullshit. If this placebo called religion gives her some peace-fine. At 73 years of age-I'm content with letting her be.

Anyway, the priest says, "I know a lot of you wonder why God allowed this to happen." He then paused and said, "I don't know."

Asshole. You supposedly have a direct line to the Big Invisible Man upstairs, but you can't get answer as to why 3,000 people died that bright sunny September day?

Fuck you, Father. Fuck Christmas. And fuck you, Tiny Tim!

Saul

Dear Saul:

Priests, and "holy" people of all stripes, are the biggest liars on our planet. They're all saying that they know something that they in fact don't know. Instead, they have "faith," which, as I've quoted Mark Twain many times before on this subject, is: "Faith is believing in something you know ain't so." Meanwhile, priests, rabbis, ministers and mullahs have no more of a direct line to god than my cats do. And no one wants to own up to the issue that at over six billion people on this planet, that number growing geometrically every second, we need as many earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, forest fires, and wars we can get. And they ought to hand out free cigarettes on every corner.

Happy New Year.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Hope you are having Very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year soon.

Thanks for mentioning those other films with the fight scenes, will look those up and have to see them. So I guess you are more interested in the realistic fight scenes, well I see what you mean, they can be pretty messy (but I thought the fight scenes in Herc and Xena were very well made and so much fun to watch, especially Xena's WOW!). I see they weren't as realistic of course. But you know, it's kind of hard to do martial arts type fights and make them as gritty one punch type thing. The martial arts work too but people can have misconceptions about them I believe. The boxing scenes in Sand Pepple were pretty messy and intense I recall. Anyway, I wouldn't be considered a true expert in the East at this point.

But, speaking of fight scenes and boxing, I read that Stallone told theproducers of Rocky he could box while at first he wasn't as experienced, his timing was off and everything, but later he came to be a good boxer (also according to Dolph Lundgren he would be a good boxer). Personally I know the boxing punches but I haven't actually boxed, it is a brutal thing but a manly art they say.

But you know, have you watched The Wild Wild West? They always had some great fight scenes, don't know if they were as realistic, they started out more martial arts but later went to more boxing/fists type thing, Robert Conrad is a big fan of both. Hope this question has considerable interest.

Also, I thought Hillary Swank was interesting in the fourth Karate Kid film (sexy too).

Well wishing a Very Happy Holidays!

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Hillary Swank seems too skinny to be a boxer. Laila Ali would whup her ass good. But everyone seems to like the film, so that's good, although everyone seemed to like "Mystic River," too, and that was crap. I just don't like fights that go on and on. Punch someone in the face with your bare knuckles and neither one of you will be fighting for too much longer. All the fights I've ever been in, and that's not too many, have all been just a couple of punches. I'm sure Stallone is not a great boxer and never was, but he knows how boxing should look on film. I'm sure Martin Scorsese can't box at all, but he knows how boxing should look on film. The boxing match in "The Sand Pebbles" always seemed fake to me, and absolutely hate the lighting in that bar, it's ridiculously bright. But I do like that movie very much.

Josh

Name: Eric
E-mail: ubaeee@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Did you go to Bayside High School? I knew of a "Josh Becker" when I went there ('77-'80) Also, did you have a younger sister who went there? (I heard of a bad rumor regarding her - you dont have to respond to this part if you dont want to) Just curious - thats all. PS - I went into writing myself after graduating from college and wrote one episode of "Married With Children" before i started my masters degree in education. Anyway, i gotta go to the 99 cent store right now. Hopefully, i can meander my way successfully around the boxes that are always in the aisle on my trek to the masking tape in the aisle next to where the kid told me it would be lol Later Josh

Dear Eric:

Nope, I went to Wylie E. Groves High School in Birmingham, Michigan, the same high school as Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. I should've graduated in 1976, but I instead graduated two years early in 1974, then went straight to college. Have fun at the 99-cent store.

Josh

Name: BubbaT
E-mail:

Hey you old shrew,

Why are you such a jaded mother fucker? You wouldn't even have a career if you hadn't ridden on the coattails of your friends. May all teenagers aspiring to be writers/directors be so lucky. You write shitty (granted structurally sound)lowest common denominator crap. I'm shocked you're still a nobody. You wouldn't know how to write a good/compelling script if it bit you in the ass. You are a crude, rude, arrogant, know-it-all who thinks his shit doesn't stink because you've made a couple of lousy, low-budget films and several crappy tv episodes. Who the hell are you to try to squash the dreams of kids who want to write and/or direct? You truly sound like the sour old man that you are. Geez, with as much dope as you've smoked over the years, you'd think you would've kinda mellowed out by now. Sadly, you are still the creepy little twit you always were.

Best,
BubbaT

Dear BubbaT:

Happy New Year to you, too. I seriously don't think I'm here squashing anyone's dreams, I'm just a little voice of reality. And if whatever I say here squashes someone's dreams, they didn't have very strong dreams to start with. If you can't handle my comments, what will you do when you get to Hollywood where no one cares whether you live or die? Besides, who else will answer your questions?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

After you're done outlining your movie and you're ready to write the script, do you start from the beginning or do you just kind of write out scenes and place them wherever you think they should go? Or do you do both? I'm sure theres not a better way to do that but I find its easiest to start from the beginning and then if I think I should start with something else I go up and write more in to it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Of course, I don't write the script after outlining, I write the treatment first. When I'm satisfied with that, then I start the actual script writing, and I always begin at the beginning, which is a very good place to start. I write the script right over the top of the treatment, meaning I re-save the treatment as the script file, then adapt it into script form. That way after one perfunctory pass I generally have as much as 25-30 pages of script.

Josh

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

Josh

Happy Holidays from Canada and Northern Ireland (I'm back home until mid-January)... I saw the newly released Affleck film Survivng Christmas (which came out last month and is now on DVD...how appropriate) and noticed it had two DPs and wondered how often that occurs, deaths and disease notwithstanding.

Oh, and the flick is shitty, by the way.

-bg

Dear Greene:

If there are two DPs listed it's probably because the first one either quit or was fired. There are two DPs listed on one of the Xena eps I did because Donny Duncan, the show's regular DP, was arrested right off the set for not paying his taxes, so another DP had to come and fill in until Donny got out of jail. The old Technicolor movies (like "Gone With the Wind") have two DPs listed, one was the regular lighting guy, the other a color consultant working for Technicolor (in the case of GWTW, the regular DP was Ernest Haller, the Technicolor consultant was Ray Rennahan, both of whom got Oscars). Here's a good quiz question. What film had five DPs listed?

Josh

Name: Henry Bagge
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You didn't like "To Live and Die in L.A."? I didn't see it on your list favorite movies...

Dear Henry:

It was okay, but definitely not one of my favs. Willem Dafoe made a good bad guy. William Petersen is a bore.

Josh

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

Josh,

I believe the group dynamics with regards to this generation "Y" is much more than just a comparison to Socialism or communism because I believe that there are quite a few aspects of socialism that are healthy for a society.

I belong to a food Co-op here in Brooklyn and to stay in the co-op you must work one day of the month in the co-op stocking shelves processing produce etc. In turn, you are allowed to shop and invest in the co-op. The price of groceries in the co-op is much cheaper than in a regular market and the food is better quality and much fresher, and most people have a lot of fun working and feeling a sense of contribution.

I think that that problem with this new generation "Y" group mentality is not a socialist one, but it is about fitting into the group itself instead of being an individual inside of a group situation.

It is taking the group dynamic and mixing it with an unhealthy dose of acceptance through the control of power or popularity of a minority within the group instead of working as a community to better society.

For instance, I played baseball for many years up until I was 21, and I was pretty good, but I did not play to be part of a group, although I had great relationships with my teammates, I actually enjoyed playing baseball because I enjoyed running, playing centerfield, being outside no matter what the weather, playing at night, and a feeling of personal satisfaction from being able to do all these things

I was never overtly competitive, but playing baseball gave me confidence, and I was a pretty shy kid, however, I was still an individual inside the group and all my teammates were as well. However, like on a movie set, when things had to come together, we all came together and tried our best.

The problems in the group dynamic we see now is that kids are trying to impress the group and not only the group as a whole, but whomever the dominant leader(s) of the group happens to be at the time.

Instead of building respect in themselves, they try to fit into the group in order to be popular or accepted or whatever. This is of course nothing new, but the way in which it is happening is getting even weirder.

It is a common trend among young teen girls now to perform oral sex in order to be accepted within the group. Teenagers will always engage in sex no matter what anyone does to stop it, however, this trend of engaging in oral sex has nothing to do with experimenting with one's sexuality, it has to do with exploitation of an individual, so they will be accepted into the group. It is akin to a cult to me and that is what is fucked up. A master and servant mentality inside of a group dynamic.

The choice of being an individual is compromised by participating in this trend and it will send us back to the days when groups like the Catholic Church controlled everything including art.

Without any form of individuality you won't have great art, and without any form of true community and not one that rewards and punishes through a minority, you will never have a group that will function in the better interests of society.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Yeah, but the oral sex part seems good. As long as there's a lot more oral sex, then as society goes to hell it won't seem so bad. But I don't see the connection between young girls preforming fellatio and the rise of the Catholic church, unless the church has made some serious changes lately. I know that the Catholic church has always condoned priests going down on young boys, but if they could just get the girls to go down on the boys things would definitely be looking up.

Josh

Name: Cindy Roberts
E-mail: clynnroberts@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Is it normal practice for 99cent store employees to be 1. stupid. 2. rude 3. so stupid that they don't realize they are being rude to the customer that buys the crap that pays their wages. 4.Then gives the customer a Toll Number to call to report the store to Corporate where they intern are too cheap and stupid to realize that if they open a store in Texas which by my last look at the map is THREE STATES away from California they might need a TOLL FREE NUMBER. At last Glance they are doing poorly in the Texas Market...Gee I wonder why? I know why cause when Texans get screwed they Complain and then they don't come back. There are plenty of competitors in the Dollar Store market around here so I am not feeling beholding to 99 cent store...I can go elsewhere...I just wanted to vent.

Dear Cindy:

Since I seem to be Mr. 99-Cent Store, this must be the place to complain about them. I find most people in the world to be stupid and rude, why wouldn't the folks working in a shitty 99-cent store be that way? Luckily for me, the 99-cent store across the street from where I used to live had 100% non-English speaking employees, so there was no communication at all. As for Texans, you stupid motherfuckers brought us George Bush, drag folks you don't like around behind trucks, and regularly put people to death for unpaid parking tickets, so who are you to talk. Pay your 99-cents and shut up!

Josh

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

Josh,

Your comment to Saul about art originating from the individual was an interesting one. I wonder what you think about Oriental art? China and Japan, particularly, have always emphasized the group over the individual, yet I think their art is generally well regarded.

My own take on the subject is that the generation you refer to, born after 1980, has never faced hardship or opposition. I read somewhere that "standard" housing now consists of twelve-hundred square feet for a family of four whereas in 1975 it was seven-hundred. Where we once had the "Haves" and the "Have-nots", we now have the "Haves" and the "Have-not-as-much-as'". Have you driven past a high school parking lot recently? Those kids are driving nicer cars than I am and my wife's a doctor. At some point art, even celebratory art, entails suffering (if only as contrast) and we have a generation which has never suffered - reality television notwithstanding.

On an aside, I've been watching footage from the Asian tsunamis. Putting aside for a moment all of the destruction and loss of life, I am struck by how little the real thing resembles Hollywood's depictions of such an event.

Good luck with the Horror/comedy screenplay. I believe comedy to be your forte, and that is no insult. I'll look forward to its posting.

John

Dear John:

Asian art has never meant anything to me, other than the films of Akira Kurosawa, and his films are clearly his own. But art is the epitome of self-expression, it's not a group effort, and when it becomes one it's no longer art, then it's a Hollywood movie. Meanwhile, for Generation Y, they may not yet have experienced any hardships, but they're coming; no one is spared. The focus group being interviewed on "60 Minutes" all had this idea that they would get everything they ever wanted, which of course is just not true. I get to experience it myself with this Q&A, where folks (presumably young) think they'll write a screenplay and just sell it, or because they want to be a director then they just will be. Well, most of them won't be, so they're disappointment is to come. As for suffering, everyone suffers; life is suffering. Here's my boiled down theory of life: To live is to suffer, and how you deal with that is who you are.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

P.S. And god bless HARD TIMES, THE DUELLIST, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, its a shame they don't sell the Godfather 2 on dvd separately in stores but I'll find it. "I declare you dead, and state that you should act as a dead man should"... he he he. they should've put Harvey Keitel in the movie more.

Dear kdn:

I think Harvey Keitel is in "The Duellists" just as much as he needs to be.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<Who is this? I sort of don't like answering emails with no name. >>

My bad. that happens sometimes. I agree, the apartment IS better than Some like it hot (I was just referring to the beginning, ACT TWO is brilliant). I saw GONE WITH THE WIND for Christmas... wow, an epic about a dysfunctional marriage, Now that's something you just don't see anymore, that and beyond Scarlett and Rhett's performance, I loved that shot where Scarlett is running to get help for the baby and she runs into the area with the 100s of wounded soldiers on the ground and the shot is staggering. Peter Jackson had the computer technology to do anything and he was one upped by an old movie. Oh yeah, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore ruled.

Dear kdn:

The shot of Scarlett crossing the railroad tracks with all of the wounded soldiers is incredible as it's occurring, but to have it end on the shredded Confederate flag waving makes it brilliant. GWTW is better than "Lord of the Rings" in every possible way, including at 4 hours long, it's still much shorter. The audacity of making an epic film about the Civil War and Reconstruction, and using a snotty, petulant little girl as the lead character (and she is a perfect metaphor for the antebellum south), is an incredible concept of Ms. Margeret Mitchell. The meeting between Scarlett and Rhett is one of the great meetings in a movie ever -- she's just thrown herself at Ashley in the library and been rejected. Asley leaves and Scarlett throws a vase into the fireplace, then Rhett sits up from the couch, "Has the war started?" Scarlett is utterly horrified to realize that Rhett has heard the entire embarrasing scene with Ashley, and says, "You, sir, are no gentleman." Rhett grins, "From what I just heard, you're no lady." And Hattie MacDaniels slaughters me in that film. Every one of her reaction shots is brilliant "It ain't fittin', it just ain't fittin'"). Meanwhile, you need to watch "The Apartment" again because act I is great, too.

Josh

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

Josh writes,

"At this point in my life I can't comfortably eat McDonald's food for one meal -- the garbage goes through me like castor oil."

**snicker**

That gave me a good laugh. I'm reminded of what a friend said about Taco Bell's food: "Just forget the middle man and toss the taco into the toilet."

Good luck with your horror/comedy script. I'm trying to finish up a short story, which happens to be a horror/sf piece. Hopefully, I'll find a buyer.

I hope you have a productive new year.

Saul

Dear Saul:

You, too. There was an interesting segment on "60 Minutes" last night about the "Echo Boomers," otherwise known as Generation Y, the group that goes from grade school to just starting to graduate college, born between the mid-'80s through the mid-'90s, the generation who have been utterly catered to, taken to soccer on Monday, science club on Tuesday, religious school on Wednesday, etc. Anyway, the upshot is that this group is all about "team effort," everyone working together for the common good. Well, everyone working for the common good is called Communism or Socialism. Individualism is now considered bad. This is a giant step downward in the group dynamic. No good art will ever come out of socialistic thinking, nor anything else of value. Art is all about individualism. Anyway, that may be an explanation of why movies are so bad these days -- the filmmakers keep thinking about what's best for the group, as opposed to what they personally think is the best.

Josh

Name: Peter Strausse
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Favorite movies by Billy Wilder? I'd have to go w/ "Double Indemnity", "The Apartment", and "Stalag 17", how about you?

Dear Peter:

Here is my ten-best Billy Wilder list, in order:

1. The Apartment
2. Sunset Blvd.
3. Stalag 17
4. The Lost Weekend
5. Ace in the Hole
6. Double Indemnity
7. Some Like it Hot
8. Sabrina
9. The Spirit of St. Louis
10. The Major and the Minor

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I rented DVD for Super Size Me. I respect your opinion on movies highly and the rotten tomatoes website compliled an over 90% postive rating for the film, but I do not see it. It is a huge topic to tackle, that it, the problems with nutrition in the U.S., however I don't think Sherlock while starting off ok, doesn't get too far with the subject.

I think the documentary does establish a starting point for the debate on where should America go as far as its nutrition and obesity problem. I think it fails though at pinpointing a cause. Everyone knows that hamburgers, french fries, milkshakes, and egg mc muffins are fattening. No one in the film pretended otherwise. It did touch on certain issues though but didn't reach conclusions however. Something that sticks out is the issue of added sugar in food. He commented that only a few items, mostly breakfast, did not contain added sugar. From personal experience, a hamburger bun for McDonald's hamburger seems much 'sweeter' than an average supermarket bun that would be used for a barbeque. It would have been interesting if he had a McDonald's bun analyzed to determine if it contained more sugar than an average bun. In another scene he mentions that the ketchup used by McDonalds contains high fructose corn syrup, i.e. sugar. I checked my bottle of Heinz, and that contains the same ingredient. If an analysis of McDonalds ketchup indicated a higher concentration of corn syrup then that might prove that McDs was intentionally changing the taste of its burgers to make them taste different than the burger cooked at home, no such analysis was undertaken. In one of the deleted scenes on the DVD an analysis of a 'good burger and fries' from a restaurant along with Mc Ds products are put in separate jars for long periods to prove that the 'good stuff' decomposes more naturally than the Mc Ds food. Sherlock calls the big burger good meat or something like that and the Mc Ds lousy or something. Here again, some analysis would be helpful. Mc Ds hamburger patties are small, but is there evidence that they are not in fact ground chuck? I worked in a food processing plant that produced steaks and I was told that the fat trim was sold to McDs and added to the chuck because federal regulations allowed hamburger to be called hamburger up to 28% fat content. Most chuck is less than that and does not reach the 28% level without added beef fat. Is this fact true? Was it mentioned or researched in SSM? Nothing about the lack if quality of the food was really substantiated by Sherlock, and I wonder if he intentionally avoided the issues for concern about lawsuits.

On the other hand, Mc Donald's refusal to talk to him was disgraceful. If McDs wants to continue as an entity there should be a department that is dedicated to proving that its food is at least no worse that anything else out there and hopefully nutritional in some areas. They should have someone that can argue like a Jesuit the nutritional value of a french fry.

The final message that I gained from SSM was that to stay healthy if you are a guy is to have a vegan girlfriend health nut who will make sure that the beer and chips that you bought for the game are down the sink and in the trash before you can get to them.

Dear Bob:

It sounds like you wanted to see a Nova episode on nutrition. Why didn't have all the food analyzed? I'll bet he didn't have the money for that. It's a pretty cheap, independent documentary. And an original idea, too. I've never heard of anyone trying to live entirely on McDonald's food for a month, and I was very interested to see the results. At this point in my life I can't comfortably eat McDonald's food for one meal -- the garbage goes through me like castor oil. But the filmmaker had a worthwhile topic, and an approach, and that's a lot for a documentary. I didn't love it, but I respect it.

Josh

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

Josh:

Thanks for answering my Bruce question. But like I said I don't plan on using Bruce anytime in the near future. However I just got Final Draft 7 for my screenwriting. It is really neat and it really helps me with formatting which I've been needing. Do you use it at all? And I also got another book on screenwriting called Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter, a professor at UCLA. So my family has been super supportive of me wanting to be a screenwriter now I just gotta come up with a good idea. Well I hope you had a good Christmas. Did you get everything you could possibly want/need and more?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

You mean, peace on earth, good will towards men? No, not this year. Meanwhile, Lew Hunter's book has been around a long time, it's nothing new, but then none of these concepts are new. I think all screenwriting books are worth reading, and all of them contain points worth remembering, but don't take them too seriously. Whether it's Syd Field, Lew Hunter, Robert McKee, or Lajos Egri, keep in mind that none of them are or were professional screenwriters and none of them sold any scripts, let alone had any scripts made into films. If something strikes you as useful, remember it and use it, but too many rules will ultimately hinder you. The guys who tell you there must this kind of plot turn at this point in act one, and this sort of character change by that time, don't really know what they're talking about. But it's all worth thinking about. Meanwhile, no, I don't use any screenwriting software. Script formatting is far too easy to need software for. I can type easily in script form since it's only four tab stops.

Josh

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

Merry Christmas Josh,

I saw that you are hoping to do another project with Ted and Bruce. And it would be a horror project which I'm excited about considering Lunatics a love story is my favorite film of yours so far. I'm hoping to do a digital feature film called, "Zombie Ninja Masters From Earth" in the spring. I know it wouldn't be your kind of flick. My question though is... I know Bruce has said on his site that you can hire him to act in your movie as long as the budget is all worked out already and that it doesn't conflict with another project of his... but how does he feel about working with inexperienced directors? I'm not saying I'm gonna hire him yet mainly because I just don't have the money and/or a good enough script that I would dare show to someone as talented as Bruce.

Totally un related note but speaking of Bruces' I live in Williamsburg, VA which is Bruce Hornsby's hometown. And I rented him out a movie one day and thought what the hell why don't I ask him if I could get his permission to use his music for a movie. He actually said he owned all the rights to his songs and that he would be okay with me using his music as long as I sent him a copy of the movie. I have yet to do this because just as I want a movie script to be perfect for Bruce Campbell and I would want it to be perfect for Bruce Hornsby. Bruce also told me to check out his latest album and use songs from that. So I guess you could always get music rights and stuff if you just simply ask.

Well I hope you have a pleasant Christmas with your friends and family and I'll chat with you later.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

If may interpret Bruce for you, it's not that you've worked your budget out, it's that you have the money and can pay his rate, and he likes the script, and it doesn't conflict with anything else. I don't know what Bruce's rate is these days, but I'll bet it's more than your whole budget. And from what I hear he's not available at all in 2005, and probably well into '06. Nevertheless, it's always worth a try, if you can get to him. What I'm writing, BTW, is zany slapstick horror comedy, not just horror.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

hi,
i come to this website all the time, and you seem to know alot about older movies, so i have a question

in alot of comedies and paradies theres always a black and white shot of a private investigator behind his desk, and then some good looking women comes in and askes for his help - it accured to me, that i have never seen a movie where this happens and its not ment to be a bit of a joke

so what movies is this shot based on

thanks

Dear tom:

I would say it's a parody of "The Maltese Falcon," with Humphrey Bogart as the detective, Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as the beautiful woman, Bridget O'Shaunessy, coming in to hire him.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I'm planning to offer an experienced but not famous actor (through the sag/indie "experimental film agreement") $5000 to do a voice-over for my feature. It's undoubtedly less than he typically earns, but since the recording session would be over and done with in one afternoon, I feel the deal is not insulting.

However, in order to contact this guy, I'll have to go through his agent or manager and I'm thinking once they hear the meager salary offer and realize just how low-budget the movie is, my request will go no further than their office. Do you have any advice for avoiding this kind of dismissal? Perhaps I'm being paranoid.

Dear Dana:

You have every reason to be paranoid, nevertheless $5,000 is a real offer for a day's work, and theoretically an agent must tell their client of any actual offer of money. Besides, what have you got to lose? Go for it. Good luck.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Yeah, but I admired Larry Fishburne's character furious, and the thing with the kids and the dead body happened to my wife and brother-in-law when they were kids (no gangs, but they did find a dead body behind their favorite donut shop). That's okay, I liked THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (not on your list but what the hell, I like it anyways, I like how the score pops up everytime Sinatra is about to screw himself and I love the twist with the girlfriend in the wheelchair) better than SUDDENLY (which was Sinatra's movie all the way, I hope Sterling Hayden has a better part and better acting in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE like he did in DR. STRANGELOVE... oh by the way, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES comes out on dvd in January). And I finally found a Katherine Hepburn performance I like (ALICE ADAMS)... my god who can complain with a performance like that, kinda reminded me of Lisa Records in hammer by coincedence (some of the goofy facial tics). I wasn't really into her (hepburn) serious "I'm better than you performances" yet but I've nothing truly against them they were obviously created by the time those movies were made in. I love everything about that movie. I also noticed the score was the same as THE APARTMENT (maybe BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S I don't remember I'll have to pop that in). they also shared Fred MacMurray. I but John Hughes was inspired by ALICE ADAMS for PRETTY IN PINK. I love the injoke where the band is asked to play the song again in the middle of the movie and they state "but we already played it five times". You were right, I love how THE APARTMENT was staged, it was brilliant, I kinda missed Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis from SOME LIKE IT HOT (although there is an injoke to Monroe) at the beginning but it was funny anyways and it got really good at act two. I thought it had a good point about how by giving up his home life for a job, it took away a little of his humanity, and he gained it back with the elevator girl. I loved how it pulled off turning deadly serious in the middle with the suicide attempt and how Jack Lemmon took the full blame for it. So being that Jack Lemmon and Katherine Hepburn were younger in these movies, here's my question: What do you feel works better, people in their younger years or later years? Some in their later years have more experience, but sometimes their performance has to change with age. I'm also in the middle of CABARET right now, amazing how Liza Minelli isn't that good looking but she gets away with it based on talent, I think that kind of goes with your speech in hammer about some people can write but can't sing. some people can sing but can't write. Some people have good looks. and some people are just plain talented despite. Any good Ossie Davis/Ruby Dee movies you like? What do you feel was Billy Wilder's last good movie. Merry Christmas.

Dear ____ :

Who is this? I sort of don't like answering emails with no name. I liked"Suddenly," I like how confined it is, and I think it works very well for a pretty low-budget movie. I love "Alice Adams," although it's not quite as good as Booth Tarkington's book, which does not have a happy ending (I always laugh at Hepburn's final line of "Gee whiz!"). I also think young Katherine Hepburn is pretty enchanting as Jo in the 1933 "Little Women, and she's just gorgeous in "Sylvia Scarlet," which isn't a great film (although it's the first pairing of Hepburn and Cary Grant). I also think she's wonderful in "Holiday," which is the same group that later made "The Philadelphia Story." I care much more for Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon in "The Apartment" than I did for Monroe and Curtis in "Some Like it Hot." I think "The Apartment" is ten times the movie as "Some Like it Hot," which I do like, mind you. Billy Wilder's last great movie is "The Apartment," and all his films sort of went to hell after that. Those very late films of his, "Fedora," "Buddy Buddy," "The Front Page," "Avanti" and "Kiss Me, Stupid," are really awful. Meanwhile, I'm not sure what you're referring to about the music. "Alice Adams" was scored by Max Steiner, "The Apartment" was Adolph Deutsch, and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was Henry Mancini. I really like Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee's first film, "No Way Out" (1950), which was very gutsy for its time and stars a very young Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark. And Liza Minelli is great in "Cabaret," as is everything else about the film, particularly the direction, photography, and editing.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I wondered if you saw dogville, one of the worst films I ever tried to watch? The director has strict rules about his new approach to filmmaking, such as no sets and more cuts than a michael bay movie but at least he adds sound effects(I don't know why he bothered). Are you a fan of this great new film movement dogma 95?

Dear john:

There's nothing new about it. Dogma 95 was started, oddly, in 1995, so it's nearly ten years old already. I do agree with some of the ideas, like the script and the actors are the main reason we're watching, so let's focus on them, not special effects. But this idea that you can't use a dolly or tripod is very, very wrong and stupid, and to me negates almost all of the films shot under this concept. As a director, if you haven't planned all of your shots, as well as considered how they will juxtapose with one another, you're a thoughtless, bad director, and I don't care how much you pay attention to the script and the actors. Also, special effects have their place, and when you need it's good to have them. I haven't seen "Dogville."

Josh

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

Josh,

All this "Million Dollar Baby" talk and boxing movies brings me to "Body and Soul" which I just watched again a couple weeks ago and I haven't seen that film in ages.

I think it is one of the best films about boxing ever made and Howe's hand held camera work made the boxing scenes that much more realistic. He did the shots on roller skates which was cool! Using hand held shots with motivation inside of just for the hell of it is filmaking that I miss the most.

Anyhow, I hope "Million Dollar Baby" is worth all the press. I too have a problem believing Hillary Swank as a boxer, but as you said "it could be a good film".

Scott

Dear Scott:

"Body and Soul" is one of the best boxing movies, but even still it has that old-fashioned phony boxing. It wasn't until the first "Rocky" film that we finally got something of a realistic sense of what boxing is about. Nobody has yet surpassed "Raging Bull," though, for getting across the sheer brutality of the sport. Nor has anyone yet really gone into a boxer's mind to see what their strategy is. Rocky had a knuckleheaded strategy, but at least he had one -- punch him enough times in the head and he'll finally wake up and hurt you, which reminds me of Felix Trinidad. But a film like "Ali" was the perfect place to show the strategy of a smart boxer, like the way Ali faked out Foreman by saying over and over during the build-up to the fight that "I'm gonna dance all night long," then when the fight came he didn't dance at all, let Foreman punch himself out, used the rope-a-dope, which I'd never seen before, then KOed the meanest heavyweight of the past 50 years. Muhammed Ali achieved this through brains and guts, not muscles.

Josh

Name: Martin
E-mail:

Josh,

I watched "Running Time" today, and I liked it for the most part. I can appreciate the technical aspects involved in filming it, and I like the nod to Hitchcock's film, "The Rope" but I thought the 3rd act was really flat and hokey. The whole romance angle seemed contrived and forced. I wish you had made his inner conflict a choice between staying straight or commiting the robbery; instead of whether or not he stayed with the girl. Just my humble opinion.

Best wishes,
Martin

Dear Martin:

I'm glad you enjoyed the first two acts. Hitchcock's film, BTW, is entitled"Rope," no "The."

Josh

Name: Rick
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's going on in the world of Josh. Are you working on any current projects?

Dear Rick:

Yes I am. I'm most of the way through the first draft of a slapstick comedy horror script for Bruce and Ted, entitled "The Horribleness." It would be my great desire to shoot it next year, but of course, we'll see. And "Alien Apocalypse" is winding up its final post-production, and will be delivered in mid-January. It will air, so they now tell me, in March.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Well, I'm not a 'Clint Eastwood as a director' fan, and I don't think you are either... At least, not his recent work...
But you seem to have many similar sensibilities with the 74 year old who'll probably end up with a best director academy award this year...

Here's excerpts from an article detailing his latest effort to get the film "Million Dollar Baby" made.

All of the excerpts below I've placed in parentheses.

("I'm going to make the movie regardless of whether you want to or not," Clint Eastwood told the suits at Warner Bros., when they balked at financing "Million Dollar Baby." They'd read the screenplay, Eastwood recalls, and they said "we don't think boxing movies are very popular right now." You can imagine Eastwood's eyes narrowing as he responded, "This to me is not a boxing movie. It's about hopes and dreams, and a love story.")

This part of the story I think is probably a little too saccharin to be entirely believeable, but I like the idea that Clint did have to fight to get the movie made. Since it was made on a $25 million dollar budget, and only half of that was paid by one studio, and half by another, it sounds like he really did have to push his Clintosity to get it done. This next part reminded me directly of several of your quotes.

(He has been there a long time. Twenty-five years, on and off, making millions for the studio as a star and director. "I can't promise you you'll make a zillion dollars, like on one of your sequels or remakes," Eastwood told them, "but if everything goes well, I think it'll be a film you'll be proud to have your name on.")

That just reminded me firstly, of your philosophy that making films to be good is better than making them to earn cash-money. Also, his disdain for sequels and remakes is reminiscient of your viewpoint.

This next part spoke of his approach to making the movie, which I feel that when you're 74 and a respected filmmaking veteran, you might end up having as your approach also...

(Eastwood said he took a low-key approach in preparing the movie. "I just wanted to make it. I don't want publicists hanging about. We stayed under the radar. With all the big $150, $200 million films out there, they thought this film was at a different importance level. I had about $25 million to make it with. They had their 'Alexanders' and 'Polar Expresses' they were working on, and I figured my movie was going to have to live or die on its own terms.)

Sounds like you, I've got to say.

This next part is just a good Clint Eastwood quote.

("If boxing movies weren't supposed to be popular, I asked, what were? Sword and sandal movies? Bill Goldman, the writer, was right when he said: 'Nobody knows nothin'.")

And this part here... This part is where his Beckerness really seems to shine through.

("At the major studios, you see people wanting to remake a TV series, wanting to make a sequel. I guess I've done it in my career, three different sets of sequels, but I'm too old for that now. I kind of try to advocate that maybe they should just concentrate on writers and original scripts and go back like the old days and have writers in the building ...)

Seems like he's got some idea, Mystic River not-withstanding.

This last part is about the speed in which they filmed.

("I made this movie for the story and the relationships. No computer special effects, nothing to slow things down. We shot it in 39 days, the same as 'Mystic River.' When I look back at the pictures I grew up on, like 'The Grapes of Wrath' -- it was made in 39 days. Everybody accuses me of moving fast when I direct a picture. I don't move fast, but I just keep moving. I come to work ready to make films. I love it. I've been doing it a long time, and every time I think I'll quit, something good comes along.")

I know Clint hasn't directed TV as much as say... You have, but I gotta respect his traditional viewpoint that they were made in that amount of time for a reason, not just because they didn't have the money to work the originality out of every single performance with 9 month shoots.

None the less, this has made me even MORE interested in seeing this movie, and even a negative review at this point from you Mr. Becker won't be able to dissuade me. I'll let you know what I thought soon, and if you do see it, let us know how you're feeling about it too.

I'm curious if he got it right.

Dear Matt:

Thanks for comparing me to Clint Eastwood, I appreciate that. I entirely agree with everything he says. To me, 39 days isn't moving very fast. I never get more than 20 days to shoot a film. I shot AA in 17 days, and I can assure you that it's FAR more complicated than "Million Dollar Baby." On a 39 day shoot you're covering perhaps 3 pages of script a day, which I would find downright leisurely since I generally shoot 6-7 pages a day. But in theory I complete agree again. Anything over 40-45 days of shooting is going into total jerk-off mode, where everybody stands around with their thumbs up their asses for most of the day. I don't aspire to that kind of work situation, nor does it interest me. I like moving fast, it keeps things interesting.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I assume that overseas filming in places like Bulgaria and NZ results not just from the lower cost of living, but from assorted incentives and lures provided by the local governments, since it benefits them too. When filming "Apocalypse," did you have to employ a certain number of locals vs. Americans? Or guarantee to spend x amount of dollars in order to get a certain type of deal? Or was that stuff all handled by the producers?

Also, I think you mentioned that the budget for this was in the $1.5 million range. How much of that was salaries (for you, the actors, the crew, the rights to your script, etc.) and how much was actual production costs - sets, costumes, flying you guys over, feeding and housing you for three weeks, and so forth? Or was that too handled by the producers?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

All money issues are handled by the producers. I was merely the writer-director and handling money wasn't in my department. There are no incentives that I know of to shoot in places like eastern Europe other than the low costs, which are significantly lower. In Bulgaria they didn't even have work visas. Film budgets are broken up into two basic divisions: above the line and below the line. Above the line are the "talent," meaning actors, writers (and script fees), director, and producers. Below the line is the actual cost of making the film, which includes the salaries of everyone in the crew. By the time the above the line fees were paid on this film there wasn't half a million dollars left to shoot the film, which is why we were in Bulgaria.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Seen "Million Dollar Baby"?

I haven't, I'm not a huge fan of Clint Eastwood as a director, but every review I've read seems to suggest that it's a "triumph of classical story-telling."
Or, if you prefer:
"It hearkens back to the days when writing mattered in movie-making."

It's comments like those that make me curious about movies, and I'd be willing to do the legwork for you if you'd want and then report back to you on the film. I just thought it's possible you might've already caught it, and could save me the inevitable disappointment.

Dear Matt:

Hey, I never thought Clint Eastwood had a great movie in him and he went and made "Unforgiven," the last great motion picture produced before the fall of civilization. Believing Hillary Swank as a boxer seems like a stretch to me, and I really don't like most boxing movies anyway because they're so fake and never understand the basic aspects of boxing, but it's possible it could be good.

Josh

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

Josh,

I should have clarified "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935). I do believe that "Mutiny" is my favorite Gable movie, though he made any number of great ones. "Run Silent, Run Deep", "Mogambo", "Across the Wide Missouri", "Command Decision", "Test Pilot", Call of the Wild", "Hell Divers" (go Wallace Beery!) and, of course, "It Happened One Night"; those just off the top of my head. I was more impressed by "Gone With the Wind" than I actually enjoyed it. You just have to admire the scale of that film.

Gable, of course, was a genuine war hero during World War II and figures several times in Bob Hope's various books on his own times with the USO. I don't know how much to trust Hope, though I see no real reason not to, but he conveys an impression of Gable as a really genuine person.

John

Dear John:

And an honest-to-god movie star. It's damn hard to look anywhere else but at him when he's on the screen, even at Vivian Leigh and the whole GWTW production going on around them. The first half of GWTW is really great, the second half is kind of rough. And yes, Clark Gable was a legitimate war hero. He was in the Air Force, rose from lieutenant to major, was on many bombing runs over Germany, and won the Distiguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. I happen to be quite fond of two of his last films, "But Not For Me" and "Teacher's Pet."

Josh

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

Josh,

It's my humble opinion that the most adult superhero movie ever made was "Batman, the Movie", 1966. That was a movie which knew what it was about. It was an absurdist movie which had a secondary appeal to children. I recently learned that my father saw the movie in Vietnam in 1969, about the same time I watched it for the first time. I was just a kid watching Batman while he was in a war laughing at trivialities. It is not a great movie, obviously, but it knew its place and its purpose.

I was watching "In Harm's Way" this evening on AMC, I think. I've always thought that movie a bit disjointed but Douglas' character flaws seemed a bold direction. I also noticed for the first time that when John Wayne's character looks at the childhood picture of his son, it's the kid from "Shane". I know a lot of people who can't divorce Wayne's movies from his politics, but the guy had a helluva run in movies, one we won't see again. A good number of his movies are among my favorites.

It really is amazing how many great movies have been made and how many lousy ones are now produced. I remember seeing "Mutiny on the Bounty" for the first time and spending a week dreaming of going to Pitcairn Island. I just hope my kids can appreciate those movies.

John

Dear John:

It's not only Brandon De Wilde from "Shane" in the photo, that's him playing the son as a young man, too. Sadly, he didn't turn out to be much of an adult actor, although I do love "Hud." He died in a car accident when he was 30. Meanwhile, I'm a John Wayne fan, and I like quite a few of his films. He had damn fine taste in scripts, and he was really good at what he did. He didn't have a big range as an actor, but he was terrific within his range. Which version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" are you referring to? I, of course, prefer the 1935 version with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I recently watched Planet of the Apes for the umpteenth time, but it was the first time I had seen it on DVD in it's original aspect ratio. I have to say that it was the first time I had noticed how beautiful the film looks. The cinematography just blew me away as did the direction, editing, and production design. I was also saddened by the fact that no one has made a recent attempt to make an equally intelligent sci-fi film. Due to the current political climate and general state of world affairs, material for great sci-fi is ripe for the picking, and it seems as if no one is taking advantage of it like they did in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I truly miss writers like Rod Serling, because he would have a creative field day with what's currently happening in the world. I know that Alien Apocolypse was heavily influenced by Planet of the Apes. What was your opinion of the film, and do you think it holds up?

Dear Scott:

I think it holds beautifully, and I agree with everything you said. I just love the fact that Heston is a creep and won't let up for the whole first act. Now, of course, he'd have to be a nice guy or he wouldn't be"likable," because that's how the simple-minded execs see things. It's far more important that a character be believable, and possibly interesting, than likable. And all of the apes are cast so well: Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore (I know, he's an orangutan). Not only was it Rod Serling who worked on that script, it was also (and probably more importantly), Michael Wilson, who won an Oscar for "A Place in the Sun" and co-wrote "Bridge on the River Kwai," as well as all of the early drafts of"Lawrence of Arabia" (his credit was recently restored on both "Kwai" and"Lawrence"). The film was also shot by one of the great old DPs, Leon Shamroy (who had won three Oscars). It's a great film.

Josh

Name: Sara uk
E-mail:

Dear Josh

I've just recently seen the French film Breathless(59) and absolutley loved it, and was woundering what your thoughts were about it.
Thanks.

Dear Sara uk:

I think "Breathless" is the best of all of the French New Wave films, and was a real trend-setter. Jean Seberg, who's at her sexiest, and Belmondo make a great couple. It gets a tad dull in spots, but it's an impressive first film.

Josh

Name: Dr. solomon C
E-mail: lilsalman9@yahoo.com

hello.
that is one of the most ridiculous comments i have read. I own several 99 C and up stores across New York. Every store is different. All their suppliers are different and the strategies used are different. For you to assume that products dont cost more than 50 cents is misleading. There are at my stores that cost me 90 cents (for exampe BOUNTY TOWELS) which i sell for 99cents leaving me 10 cents of margin. That's just one out of 100 of items that are less profitable. I don;t know when you wrote this article but all the prices of any item is anywhere 55-75 cents. Be appreciative that you have the 99 cent stores. I am not stopping you from writing a negative article but what about crediting us about the money we save you and the products that you pay $3 at other stores are now availble to you for less than a dollar?

Dear Dr. solomon C:

I wish my movies got as much comment as that 99-cent store essay. Okay, we're all very pleased that there are 99-cent stores. I think it's important that products produced by Chinese slave labor have so many distribution outlets here in America. Globalization at work.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

hi, i just read your essay "a lesser form" - very good - and i agree completly

you talk about the golden age of movies, and i agree it ended years ago. now i can only hope for one good movie every 5 or so years - tha last great movie being "the shawshank redemption". you agree with that?

but on another topic in the essay, i dont agree with completly. that of comic books and comic book movies

i dont like most comic book movies but i did enjoy the first superman movie and the first batman movie. i thought they both had great direction, great acting, and wernt "campy" - but thats just me. what did you think?

anyway i also read comics. i find most people who think of comic books as crap made for little kids are remembering the comic books of the 1960s to the 1980s. comic books of today are much more darker, well written, and amied at a more adult audience. for instance i just read the story "identy crisis", which had murder, rape, suspience and i think a real good mystery. but hey think what you want about them.

also in your essay you mentioned that movies are aimed at 12 year olds. which reminded me of a quote i have herd many times - when your making a movie you have to imagine your audience is stupid and spell things out for them -

take care

Dear tom:

Which I won't do because it's erroneous thinking. As Frank Capra realized in the early 1930s, the mass audience is smarter than a single adult sitting and watching a film. An audience picks up on everything twice as fast as an individual. Anything you think is subtle that an audience might not get, they'll get twice as fast as you anticipate. Meanwhile, I don't think "The Shawshank Redemption" is a great movie, but it is a good one. I think you could easily edit out 20 minutes without losing a thing. I also wish they had shown his escape in more detail like Stephen King described it in the book -- he had to make through 500 yards of sewer pipe filled with waste, with only enough room at the top of the pipe for his nose to stick out. Pretty horrible. Also, to say that the first Superman movie and the first Batman movie aren't "campy," is ridiculous. They're entirely campy. I really hated everything about "Batman," from Michael Keaton's lame performance, to Jack Nicholson's horrible, completely over-the-top performance, the dark, ugly photography, Tim Buton's clunky direction -- everything. "Superman" is just a silly comedy, and not all that funny, either. And Gene Hackman is giving the definition of a campy performance.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

It's funny that you mention Flight of the Phoenix as a remake, because I had no idea. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting, original, maybe even a good story. It's disheartening that oftentimes the small number of hollywood movies that look interesting turn out to be based on previous works. I don't hate adaptations, but I think most writers would admit that it is a bit of a copout. BTW, I'm stunned that you watched Super Sucker. Not that it's necessarily a horrible movie (although you seem to think so) but it's got such low-rent box art and no real critical acclaim at all that I'm surprised you'd waste your time on it at all. Are you that desperate that it's sunk to watching direct to vids called "Super Sucker" in the off chance that you hit the lotto at the video store? I think that's very amusing.

Dear Jim:

Yeah, but that's not why I watched it, or that other hammered piece of shit Jeff Daniels made, "Escanaba in Da Moonlight." It's because I was talking to the producer at Jeff Daniels' company (which is here in the suburbs of Detroit) for a short time and he sent them to me. I'm really sorry I wasted my time with both of them. Meanwhile, there's no chance the remake of "Flight of the Phoenix" will be anywhere near as good as the original, nor have anywhere near as good of a cast (James Stewart, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, George Kennedy, Hardy Kruger, Dan Duryea), so I recommend seeing the original.

Josh

Name: Colin Hives
E-mail: colinhives@msn.com

Howdy Josh

Thought I'd ask you about what you think of European Trash Cinema over the years (If you are interested that is). Have you seen the work of Lucio Fulci, Jesus Franco, Aristide Massacessi? I was brought up on this stuff and it seems to creep into my own filmmaking activities. Mario Bava & Dario Argento are big influences on me, infact I just ripped off a famous gun shot from Opera were the bullet travels through a peep hole in a door and into a phone.

Your thoughts?

Col
Liverpool
England

Dear Colin:

I really find most of that shit unwatchable. The writing is always terrible, the acting is terrible, and everything I've seen has been ridiculously stilted. Yes, there's an occasional bit of interesting direction, but so what? Basically, I hate bad movies. I have no fondness
for trash.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<There is no "Merlin" on my list>>
Really? How strange, I dunno. I never thought Excalibur was worthy to be within a 100 miles of your list, I just enjoyed some of it anyways, like FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. I just finished watching FIRST BLOOD, which kicks the shit out of all those other stupid Stallone action films (and the two films listed above), Now I'm on to ALL ABOUT EVE. I'll definately track down THE DUELLISTS for christmas. And yeah, to me, so of those long shots in Lawrence did feel like they take forever, I'm well aware that they wouldn't feel that way to anyone else. But I'm probably gonna watch BOYZ IN THE HOOD and NETWORK first.

Dear kdn:

I have reservations about "Boyz in the Hood." I only saw it once and I've never wanted to see it again. It probably shouldn't be on my list.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I was just wondering if there was any chance of photos of Renee from the set of' Alien Apocalypse'? You said that they were gunna be posted not long after the ones of Bruce!! but they never were? are there any to be posted?
Luv JO xx

Dear JO:

I didn't take any pictures myself. I mooched these from Bruce's wife. That's all she sent me.

Josh

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

Josh,

I completely agree with you about "Excaliber". I walked into that movie with high hopes and was completely bored and disgusted by it. I watched part of it several years ago, in case my memories of it were over-harsh; I'd say the reverse was true.

I wanted to follow up on a comment you made some time ago which stuck with me. You advised someone (I don't recall whom) to look in used-CD music stores, that all he or she would find there would be new recordings, basically post-1985 or so. It occurred to me that the various incarnations of digital-downloadable music are all about the disposability of current "music". We're beginning to see it with movies as well. It seems there's a tacit admission on behalf of both producer and consumer that the down-loadable product is not worth preserving; it's all just hook-of-the-day so delete it without a thought. As I say, I was just reflecting on a previous discussion.

On a completely completely unrelated tack, what did you think of "The Man Who Would Be King". I enjoyed it and think it holds up fairly well, particularly Michael Caine's role. Kipling's stories seem to adapt well ("Gunga Din", "Captain's Courageous", "Kim", "Jungle Book", "Wee Willie Winkie", though not "Soldiers Three" which I thought a pale imitation of "Din" and several others). Thanks,

John

Dear John:

It surprises me somewhat, but I've never really liked "The Man Who Would Be King." I was highly disappointed when I first saw it, and I was disappointed again when I watched it again not too long ago. I think it's too broad for its own good. I kind of have the same problem with "Gunga Din," which is so well thought of, but I've never really liked it. Everybody's having too much fun in the movie and seemingly didn't leave anything for me as the viewer. I do love "Captain's Courageous," though, as well as the Disney cartoon of "Jungle Book."

The downloadable aspect of music is fairly recent. The fact that music no longer has catalog value has been going on for a long time. This struck me very hard when I was living in Santa Monica and I had a used CD store across the street. You'll rarely find any CDs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or David Bowie (at least his early, good albums), but anything that's new there will be a hundred copies available. That's because nothing has any lasting value anymore.

Josh

Name: Blake
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Hey, when are you gonna post your filmmaking book? Been checking in for it.

And what was the story behind meeting Robert Aldrich? I really like his stuff. In Bogdanovich's book "Who the Devil Made It" there's a animated still of him in mid stride showing Lee Marvin how to kick John Cassavetes on "Dirty Dozen" and then ANOTHER photo several pages later of him showing Davis how to kick Crawford on "Baby Jane." Great! His films all had an authentically rough edge that I vividly recall.

And by the way I just saw Payne's "Sideways," and really liked it. I think he's on the ball. Have enjoyed and respected all of his pictures to date. One of few contemporary filmmakers.

Hey, have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Everyone is speaking highly of "Sideways," but I'm a tad skeptical. I didn't really like "Citizen Ruth," although I did respect what it was up to; I liked the first two-thirds of "Election," but felt that act III completely failed; and I didn't like anything about "About Schmidt." Anyway, I'll see it sooner or later.

I went to a school in Hollywood in 1977 called Sherwood Oaks Experimental College on Hollywood Blvd. where they brought in professional filmmakers and you got to talk to them and ask questions. Robert Aldrich came in for that class. Sadly, however, we had just seen "Twilight's Last Gleaming," which sucked, so nobody was in a very good mood. I personally like quite a few of Aldrich's films, like: "Attack!" "Vera Cruz," "Apache," "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" "The Flight of the Phoenix," "The Dirty Dozen," "Ulzana's Raid," "Emperor of the North Pole," and "The Longest Yard." That's a lot.

The webmaster, Shirley, has been very busy lately, but I think she'll be able to post the book soon.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail: CMR17@scasd.org/

Dear Josh:

Although I'm against the idea of a remake - there really is no reason for it- I'd rather see a it done well. And automatically dismissing a newcommer, is pretty close minded. If you consider, Raimi was a newcommer when he originally filmed the movie.

The idea of a contest wasn't to capitalize on reality TV, it was to offer undiscovered talent a chance to make a film.

Dear Michael:

And I think it's a terrible idea. In my opinion, anyone with experience is better than any newcomer. I repeat, anyobody that's directed an episode of Herc or Xena, or any other one-hour dramatic TV show, is much better suited to direct a feature than a newcomer. Filmmaking is an experience-intensive craft, and the more experience the better.

Josh

Name: Stargazer
E-mail: ministargazer@yahoo.ca

Dear Josh:

I was told that movie treatments don't usually have dialogue but I noticed that yours do. Why is that?

Stargazer

Dear Stargazer:

Because I think it helps get the story and characters across, which is the point of a treatment. I don't put in much dialog, but if a good line occurs to me, I throw it in. Who's rule is that anyway? Syd Field? Robert McKee? Those guys have never sold a screenplay.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<but both "Alien" and "Aliens" scared me.>>
Those are great movies, but I have ADD and that makes the beginning atmosphere of ALIEN really hard to take. to me, it feels like it goes on and on. I did pay close attention to LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and loved the character story. Everytime it cut to a far shot of the desert with loud music, I literally felt cut out of the story and unfocused, that movie is a lot of work for me to watch, its like reading a book... but the end result is gratifying. Besides, Lawrence is mostly desert, rings is a little more colorful and the shots constently move, but the story isn't as good as Lawrence. I noticed Lawrence and Exodus took only 20 minutes to set up and shot off beautifully... Rings took 7 hours. I guess its ironic that the "great" Lawrence just couldn't deal with being a leader right. Character flaws seem to make the best movie. I liked how in THE FRENCH CONNECTION, they set up that Doyle had been constently wrong and screwed things up and this time was no exception. That was a nice dark ending. What's THE DUELLISTS about? That poster looks interesting? What is its theme? I watched THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, and loved it, now I gotta see ANGEL AND THE BADMAN. LIBERTY VALANCE made a really good villain. I also saw ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, that was surprisingly good for a tv movie. Why do you think most tv movies are always shot in the same awful style, instead of like in a movie theater and they just show the film on tv. I noticed MERLIN on your list, is that the tv series (I liked the Sam Neill series... it was more coherent than EXCALIBUR... which was still entertaining despite SERIOUS plotholes, the thing was like a piece of swiss cheese, I love how well they aged King Arthur with the same actor. Are you ever going to try that?)

Dear kdn:

So you're saying if you have ADD and the director cuts to a long shot, you lose interest? Odd. Act I is longer than 20 minutes in "Lawrence." It doesn't end until he he says "Aquba, from behind" to Omar Sharif, and that's solidly an hour into the film. "The Duellists" is based on a short story by Joseph Conrad, about a duel between two soldiers during the Napolianic War that goes on for 20 years. I absolutely love that film, and I have been imitating Harvey Keitel's little offhanded "La!" ever since. I also think it's one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time, as well as having brilliant costume design. There is no "Merlin" on my list, I don't know what you're referring to. And I'm sorry, but "Excalibur" just sucked. Nigel Terry, the lead, is a complete bloody bore nobody, and it's simply a terrible screenplay. I hated it when I saw it the first time, and I just hated it again when I watched it on DVD.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<No, I have no idea. I certainly did submit "Hammer" > to all of the major festivals, but nobody explained anything when they rejected it, nor would I expect them to. My feeling was that it didn't have any name actors or an upcoming theatrical release, and since all of the big festivals have all been sold out to the film companies, like Miramax and Fine Line, there's no room for actual indies anymore. But then again, the movie may just suck.>>

May just suck? Compared to what Josh? Compared to what? 13 Going on 30? Lord of the Rings? Spiderman 2? Donnie Darko? Heavy? It may not be Deliverance but its better than Excalibur (which was entertaining despite serious plotholes). IF I HAD A HAMMER was pretty good. It was original. Some of what I got from it may not have been intentional, but I liked it anyways. Lots of movies are flawed and still work. besides, who the hell says all film festivals have taste, Jeff Daniels made a movie called SUPER SUCKER about a loser Vacuum salesman who convinces a whole town of women to buy (and have sex with) his vacuum cleaners. The movie was fucking awful and it won the festival award for best comedy. And jeff daniels put up his own money to make it.... maybe I'm too cruel, jeff daniels obviously put his heart and soul into Super Sucker as much as you did Hammer.... oh bullshit, he just wanted to make enough money to pay his cable bill. Remember, that guy that directed ATTACK! and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (I forget his name) went around raising money for baby jane and nobody wanted to shell out for Betty Davis and Joan Crawford just because they were old (despite their acting ability). And Baby Jane was excellent. I don't like most the movies Hollywood makes anymore and on second viewings, the ones I did like were awful, but I liked Hammer... and I haven't seen Leonard Maltin give you a bad review yet.

How many movies can you think of that had to fight their way to get released, nobody wanted them, and now they're classics? I just watched Adam's Rib... Lisa Record's character from Hammer kinda reminds me of Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn's cause doesn't make sense at all, the idiot girl tried to KILL her husband, if he had tried to kill her for cheating, he would've gotten the same punishment. So where's the discrimination? Oh but the girl was hilarious ("afterwards... I felt... hungry." "Yeah I knew he was cheating, but 4 nights in a row, it was starting to become a habit")

not greatly remembered quotes:
"Unfortunately, this beer kinda tastes like Wonderbread" "Wow Lorainne, what a jew canoe!" "hey, that's not nice!" "He just doesn't seem to give a shit about anything lately?" "What, so I can grow up, be president, and get shot. That's a lot to look forward to." "So, you listen to Muddy Rivers?" "That's Muddy Waters" "yeah, I heard he joined with a band called ? Rivers" "Boy you don't know nothing, do you?" "Jesus, I don't give a damn about a different job!" "I know, but I'm not buying it, and don't you ever speak to me again, you spineless wimp (pregnant woman takes a drink)"> "Yeah heroine's great, once you throw up, its all good"> "Lorainne, you have to help me... you must sleep with me?" "What?! no!" "You need to use my club tommorrow, right?" "You said I could use it anyway." "Damn, that's right, I did." "No, Kennedy was killed by one man, tv said so!" "If I had a hammer, I'd hit myself" "But Phil, what about the rights of women... and the negroes?" (aw screw it, The Beatles are more important) "sweet Lorainne, the great recruiter" "What's it like to be black? People hate you, and unless you live in the ghetto, you're basically outnumbered" (after the meeting goes sour, loraine is more upset about her potato salad than the 5 boys she felt "empathy" for) "You're what the world's coming to Phil! And I don't like it! i don't like it one bit. Drop Dead!" "Lorainne, where you going?" "Italy! Arrive derci!" "Aw, who gives a shit about the Springfield 5?"
Its amazing how many quotes one can screw up. Yeah, most freaky thing about CASABLANCA was it was just another movie they crapped out much like todays movie and it magically worked. That's frightening.

Dear kdn:

I was just offering the possibility that the reason the film didn't get into any major festivals is because it sucks. I don't think it sucks (like, say,"Super Sucker," which truly did suck), but then again, I made it so my opinion doesn't count. I was actually just trying to be a tad less cynical than I really am. But I think every major film festival in this country will show "Super Sucker" over "If I Had a Hammer" every day of the week simply because it has Jeff Daniels in it. BTW, it was Robert Aldrich who directed "Attack!" and "Baby Jane," and it was Judy Holliday as the defendant in "Adam's Rib." I met Robert Aldrich, BTW.

Josh

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

Dear Josh: Is it true that Sam's doing a remake of "The Evil Dead" and they're looking for someone to direct?

If they are I think it'd be an iteresting idea to have a film competition where, much like project Greenlight, for a newcommer to helm the film.

For many fans and upcomming directors it'd be the chance of a lifetime.

Just a thought to pass on to Sam.

Dear Michael:

That's a shitty idea. I'd hire any director that had worked on Herc and Xena before hiring a newcomer. And making competitions out of these things is just part of the whole reality TV mentality, which is a bore and ultimately generates a bad product.

Josh

Name: Patrck Mendota
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Thanks for the endless stream of information/entertainment.

Recently caught Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry." I didn't see it on your list of films you liked. I thought the acting was pretty great if the stroy was weak but the dialogue was hialrious and intelligent.

Dear Patrick:

It didn't make me laugh and it's a comedy, therefore, at least for me, it's a failure. I don't like Hitchcock's other comedy, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," either.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hmm. What aspects do you think make the best car chase in a film? I watched BULLITT recently, and was a little disapointed in the car chase (I loved the car chase in EVIL DEAD 2 and I kept reading it was stolen from BULLITT so my expectations may have been a little too high... otherwise its an a-okay film. The scene reminded me of THE DEAD POOL when Clint Eastwood tries to outrun the toy car with the explosive on it). Then I watched THE FRENCH CONNECTION which I thought was more of an okay movie with some GREAT EXCELLENT MOMENTS but the in-between was so-so. The poughkeepsie lines were cool, the part where Popeye walks into a club with the singers, My god, that mother of all CHASE DOWNS, I think people should just track this movie down and fast forward to that chase I love it. It's awesome. To anyone reading this that hasn't seen the movie, Gene Hackman chases a sniper all the way to a train station, misses him, commandeers a car and tries to chase down the train underneath the bridge, but the traffic in his lane is backed up so he has to drive in the lane where the cars are coming at him. He has 3 hard collisions along the way and almost runs down a woman with a kid, meanwhile the french sniper takes the conductor hostage... who dies of a heart attack, and can't stop the train, which crashes him into the window. Then the two meet shellshocked from the collisions at the staircase and have a shootout. Now THAT'S a fucking chase. And it feels like it could really happen (unlike BAD BOYS 2 where the boat magically flies over the car). THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT.

Dear kdn:

My favorite car chases are in Walter Hill's "The Driver," which took the whole concept of car chases to a new level, I think. The way the were conceived, shot and cut really impressed me. The entire movie is built around the chase scenes. Meanwhile, I just love Hill's first three films,"Hard Times," "The Driver" and "The Warriors," which all seem very pure to me in what they're trying to achieve in the world of action films. I like"48 Hrs.," too, but it's Hill's first big Hollywood film, and the beginning of the end for him, in my opinion. I also love all of the car chases in"Mad Max" and "The Road Warrior."

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I got the info about Scorsese watching every movie made up to 1980 from a recent interview with Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm sure you are right though; it seems nearly impossible to be true. Scorsese is a walking film encyclopedia--no question. He said that working with Roger Corman was a film school in itself. You worked with Corman, what was your opinion of him?

Boston

Dear Boston:

I tried to work with him, but never did. It looked like his company was going to produce my script "Ball Breaker" for a month or two, but then it evaporated. Meanwhile, Leonardo is just exaggerating. By the by, I was acquainted with Leonardo's dad, George, for a short time 25 years ago when George and my friend Sean were drawing a comic book together called Ultimato, about a superhero tomato. Leonardo was a toddler at the time. But I just checked and I've seen 3,909 films, and I'm 46. My late friend Rick had seen just over 5,000 when he died at 45. Scorsese is eight years older than Rick, so he's got that edge, but then again, Scorsese's he's been pretty busy a great deal of his life making movies, whereas Rick just saw them. I'll bet you Mr. Scorsese hasn't seen more than 7,000 movies, and there are nearly 20,000 films in Leonard Maltin's book, and it's nowhere near complete.

Josh

Name: Phil
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Heard mention on the internet of an Evil Dead remake, dismissed it as rumour but it seems pretty definate.

Wondering what your views on this are? and also of remakes in general.

Personally don't see the point.. Why are filmakers so starved for original ideas?

Dear Phil:

That's the six-million dollar question, isn't it? Why are filmmakers so starved for original ideas? What do I think of remakes? I HATE THEM. Sequels, too. And I don't give a shit what they do with "Evil Dead."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just finished watching Lunatics:A Love Story for the first time and I wanted to tell you that it is such a wonderful film and that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now for some questions about it.

1.How did you do the keyhole shot at the beginning of the film when entering Hank's apartment for the first time?
2.How was the earthquake sequence near the end pulled of?
3.Was the little "rat tail"hair Bruce had his real hair cut for the time...or just for the movie?

Also,Ted Raimi's performance was wonderful as was your direction.Bravo and a standing ovation to you.

Dear Trey:

Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Going through the keyhole is slightly complicated moving optical matte -- this was in the days before digital effects. I did a dolly move combined with a zoom to go up the hallways and end with the keyhole filling the frame, then we opened the door, kept the camera at keyhole height, and did the daolly move around the apartment and into Ted's eye. The optical effects guy made a key-shaped matte, and as the first shot got near enough to the keyhole he faded in the shot inside the apartment in the shape of the keyhole, then he optically continued the zoom on the keyhole until the second image overtook the first image. The earthquake was a couple of different effects cut together: there was Ted standing there with a shaking camera and smoke coming up, there was a fake piece of pavement that was splitting between his feet, with smoke and red light coming out, then there was a miniature of the entire street and a two-inch miniature puppet of Ted at the center of the street. We had a full-sized car that we pulled off of blocks, which then cut with a miniature car falling into the crack in the miniature street. Bruce had the rat tail for the character of Ray, he doesn't have it as the mad doctor.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Welcome back to the frigid north!

Recently I had the opportunity to shoot with a Glide-Cam. It was surprisingly cumbersome - I'd thought the vest would have distributed the weight a bit better. The owner of the rig said that they restricted the operators to 15-20 minute stints before they had to take it off. Made me think of your use of the Steady-cam in Running Time. Are the Steady-cams more comfortable? It seems like you made extensive use of yours in Running Time - how did you ensure the operator was not going to throw his back out? How much of the film was shot with the Steady-cam, and what are the benefits and problems with using them?

Anyway, looking forward to seeing the fruits of your and Bruce's labor next month.

Take care!

Mike

P.S. - On a slightly tangental note I also learned that the smartgun rigs Jeanette Goldstein and Mark Rolston used in "Aliens" were Glidecam vests.

Dear Mike:

How did I achieve all of the Steadi-cam shots in "Running Time"? I hired a young Steadi-cam operator named Bill Gierhart, who neither smoke nor drank, and then kicked his ass until his head was spinning. He actually got so dehydrated he took glucose pills a few times. Anyway, acts I and III of the film are on Steadi-cam, act II is hand-held.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Did you watch the Actor's Studio interview with Martin Scorsese? He said that his style was highly influenced by Kazan's "East of Eden" and "On the Waterfront." Man, that guy sure knows film! He and your friend Rick would've been the best of pals, I'm sure. Scorsese has seen every film made up to 1980. Now, that is a true film geek! Who or what influnced your directing style the most?

Boston

Dear Boston:

Where did you get that silly factoid, that Scorsese has seen every movie made up to 1980? That's ridiculous. I know I've seen a few movies he hasn't seen. There's a trillion fucking movies, way more than you or I or even Mr. Scorsese can see in a lifetime. All those B-westerns and cheap foreign films from the '50s and '60s? Come on. Meanwhile, you ask a very good question in who or what has influenced my directing style the most. My immediate reaction was Time and Money, but that's a bit facetious. I guess it's Orson Welles and "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Citizen Kane," in that order. John Huston put the concept into words quite well in his autobiography, "An Open Book," where he said if you can get a single shot to function as three shots, that's a good shot. This concept is visually represented all over the place in Welles' work, where you're in a beautiful composition, someone takes two steps, the camera tilts a little and suddenly you're in another great composition for a line or two, then it happens again. Then of course there's Alfred Hitchcock who has always been a strong influence on my sense of cinema, and how shots are juxtaposed and edited.

Josh

Name: Deborah Swanson
E-mail: talkintodeb@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I am desperately searching for a tape of real stories of the highway patrol. I'm not sure the year, but it features an officer from California and his name is Harvey Ray, he is an african american officer and he was out of Los Angeles. If you could help me, or give me some advice on how to get this, I know he would be really excited, he never got a copy, and it was a neat event in his career.

Dear Deborah:

I worked on the first season in 1993, and I only did reenactment segments in Lansing and Sacramento. That show was on five days a week for five years, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of episodes, and each episode was made up of two or three segments. Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How's it going man? Hope all is great. I was just thinking on films the other day and a classic one I really enjoyed was The Manchurian Candidate. I saw someone asked you on that one recently. Well, I wanted to say, I really loved the karate scene with Frank Sinatra and Henry Silva I think it was, that was totally awesome! I was mesmerized by that, that was terrific! I used to act that out too, like even to the end part "What was Raymond doing with his hands! What was Raymond doing with his hands! What was..."

Anyway, right like I think that was either the first or at least one of the first martial arts scenes in American cinema. Also I heard Frank Sinatra actually permanently injured one of his fingers when he chopped that table in half, that scene was totally awesome!

I really enjoyed the film, gloomy though.

Well, as for my question, in your opinion what are the most outstanding, best fight scenes in classic cinema? Two of my favorites are The Manchurian Candidate one (Sinatra was awesome!) and of course the Bond-Grant fight aboard the Orient Express.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

The original "Manchurian Candidate" also has one of the great bullet squibs in a movie, when Laurence Harvey shoots the guy holding a carton of milk and the bullet goes right through the milk carton. I liked the fight scenes in"The Warriors," which I thought were well-conceived and shot nicely. Most fight scenes, however, bore me. I hate when people just keep punching each other and nothing really happens. I'm much more interested in a single punch, like when Captain McCluskey punches Michael Corleone in the face and dislocates his jaw -- now that hurts, and it works every single time I see it. Also, when the sergeant punches the condemned man in "Paths of Glory" and cracks his skull. Particularly after shooting all of those ridiculous fight scenes in Herc and Xena, fights just don't interest me very much anymore.

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr.
E-mail:

Since I saw someone mention Johnny Depp, did anyone see the trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yet??!? It sure looked pretty freaky.

Josh,
I'm glad you and Bruce finally did another movie-tv movie together. After seeing Running Time when it first came out on DVD, it was and still is one of the best acting I have seen in a long time. Todays movies are just garbage. But Its good to see another movie under your belt, and I can't wait to see Bruce as a Astronaut. Many blessings to you,


TJ

Dear Tommy Jr.:

Good god, I hate remakes. A pox on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "The Flight of the Phoenix" and all the other remakes. They are a loud, clear declaration to the world that Hollywood hasn't got a single solitary idea left.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Why were you in Jamaica? Was it a vacation? Or a new film project? Any pictures for us land-locked suckers with frozen thumbs and asses? :-)

Boston

Dear Boston:

It was just a vacation, and I wanted to see what Jamaica was like. The weather was perfect, the ganja was excellent, plentiful and cheap. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

What are some of your favorite movies that freaked you out? I recently watched ALTERED STATES (which was fucking cool) and it freaked my wife out, she woke up in the middle of the night demanding I destroy the movie cause of one of those messed up life-like dreams where she was stuck in a closet with the monsters from the movie... to which I say "bullshit, its a movie about a guy that turns into a monkey with some cool satan imagery". Its people IN FRONT OF A CAMERA and A SHEEP WITH BUG EYES, what the hell is to be afraid of? jesus. No no, I liked WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? I like how you can rewatch it over and over again cause of the performances and go oh yeah, Blanche does kinda look guilty the whole movie... plus Betty Davis kicks ass and its got that whole thing apart Child Stars being emotionally fucked up. They used a real Betty Davis movie for the bad acting footage, right?

Dear kdn:
 
The first film to freak me out was "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein," which I saw at the theater when I was 6 or 7, and I had no idea it was a comedy.  Then I saw "Rosemary's Baby" when I was 10 (I don't know why they let me in the theater), and that completely freaked me out.  I saw "Night of the Living Dead" when it was initially released in 1970 at a midnight show, and that gave me a few nightmares.  "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" scared the bejesus out of me the first time I saw it.  The first time I saw "Carrie" in 1976 it kept me up all night.  Oddly, I think, so did "The Howling," which I don't think is a great film, but it struck a chord.  Nothing else has given me nightmares, but both "Alien" and "Aliens" scared me.
 
Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer102@msn.com

Dear Josh,

Just one thing more. I just read your early essay, "Wandering," and was wondering who Darryl was. He's mentioned without introduction, then passes out of the narrative (which seemed to have a disjointed, Travis Bickle influence to it) again. Just curious.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:
 
I was living in this old house in Hollywood across the street from Hollywood High, which was sort of a hippy hang-out for quite a few years, and Darryl was one of the folks living there.  I was actually the very last person to reside there before it was torn down.
 
Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer102@msn.com

Dear Josh,

How are you? I haven't been on the site in a while, and was just checking in to see what's up. That said, here are my questions/comments/miscellaneous rants:

Did you happen to see ALEXANDER yet? If not I won't go into elaborate detail on it, save to say that Oliver Stone showed surprising restraint in the style in which he filmed it. Only near the end do you see a few signature Stone shots (cutting between black and white and color, different camera speeds, etc), and George Lucas could take a lesson or two from him on how to use effects to ENHANCE a story, rather than overwhelm it. The only really obvious piece of CGI was in the battle of Gaugemela [I'm sure I spelled that wrong], but it works pretty good, and does nothing more than its job. Other than that, all that I have to say about the film is that it was rather heavy-handed in its treatment of the relationship between Alexander and Hyphilion; Colin Farrell and Jared Leto may just as well have made out on screen, and stopped tripping fairy-like around the subject. Changing the subject, I also just read Fangoria's article about ALIEN APOCALYPSE, and was pleased with the image you projected in the interview. Normally, you come across with an irritated "Why do you bring fools to judge my work?!" air, but here you were surprisingly upbeat, both about making the project and discussing it. Having a project again seems to agree with you. Lastly, do you have a projected air date for ALIEN APOCALYPSE? I look forward to seeing it, and wish you success with the film.

Darryl

P.S. Just curious, but were you involved at all with MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN, or was that purely Bruce's project?
D.

Dear Darryl:
 
Good to hear from you.  I think the initial air date for AA is Jan. 17, but I'm not entirely sure.  Nope, I had nothing to do with "Screaming Brain" other than breaking in the crew for Bruce.  I haven't seen it, but I hear it turned out very well.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just picked up Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence and I am finding it to be quite an enjoyable read.Have you read it?If so what did you think of it?

Also,I was browsing old used movies for sale at my local Movie Gallery when I came across the original VHS release of Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except for only $3.99.I didn't buy it since the DVD version had arrived that day,but I just found it funny to find one of your films at our movie gallery,we are such a small town and NEVER get any decent movies in..I mean...our store doesn't have Ben Hur,Lawrence of Arabia,Gone with the Wind,Citizen Kane(anymore,I bought their only copy in a pervious used video sale)etc...but we have a whole section devoted to bad 80's porn.

Dear Trey:
 
That's the world we're now stuck in, where crap is valued and excellence is not.  Actually, TSNKE sold pretty well on video, probably at least 50,000 copies in the U.S., so there's a few of them still floating around.  It's been re-released on video three times already, and is about to come out yet again.  It may be a piece of crap, but it keeps selling.
 
Josh

Name: Emmy Shellabarger
E-mail: emmy@17thtee.com

Dear Josh:

Since it says comments, I quess a comment is okay.

I too loved Mickey's Banana Flips.

Dear Emmy:
 
Yeah, they had really good frosting inside.  Mmmmm.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Was "Running Time" submitted to SIFF? (Seattle International Film Festival)

Dear Matt:
 
I think it was, although I don't remember that clearly now almost eight years later.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I found it fascinating that "Running Time" got shown at so many of the second-level festivals given that it's extremely well done, but by no means an "arty" movie, the type that are so popular these days. Refresh my memory - did you submit "Hammer" to these same festivals? And did any of them give you any feedback? I can certainly see how distributors might be idiots and think "oh this isn't marketable - no car chases" but you'd think films festivals would be somewhat open to something like "Hammer." (Although I realize that so many "independent" films these days are nonetheless multi-million-dollar projects with name brand stars.) Any idea, in retrospect, what their deal was?

Regards,

August

Dear August:
 
No, I have no idea.  I certainly did submit "Hammer" to all of the major festivals, but nobody explained anything when they rejected it, nor would I expect them to.  My feeling was that it didn't have any name actors or an upcoming theatrical release, and since all of the big festivals have all been sold out to the film companies, like Miramax and Fine Line, there's no room for actual indies anymore.  But then again, the movie may just suck.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was a little surprised at how much I liked CASABLANCA (I had that sucker in my film library for 2 years and this is the first time I actually sat down and watched it). Wow, almost every line in this movie was quotable, the story was excellent, I always thought Bogart was a detective or something before I watched it (some of my favorite lines being (to Peter Lorre on him killing two german officers)" But You're Right, I AM a little more impressed with you"... that's messed up and the part where the chief closes the place down stating he's totally shocked to find gambling... oh, wait sir, here's your money, oh thank you my good man. The last movie I remember seeing this quotable were AUSTIN POWERS and ZOOLANDER and those movies were fucking stupid. And a lot of the cool shit in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is the same kind of weird material that people watch bad movies for... except CANDIDATE had a really good story. I noticed, I didn't really like the first 20 minutes of EXODUS, but then it started to get really good, the best character moment for me was when that guy tried to join the terrorist organization and it comes out that despite all his pride he sold himself out when he was in a concentration camp to spare his own life (NO! NO! I WON'T TELL! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!... (1:30 minutes of struggling with himself later)... They used me... Like they would use... a... a woman!) You think part of the problem with cinema today might be that to watch these good movies, you have to actually sit down and pay careful attention to them to know what the hell is going on, but in these bad movies, you can just tell instantly so that's why people watch all this crap? Oh yeah, what are your favorite quotes or parts from CASABLANCA (another one being when Bogart shoots the german officer on the phone right in front of the police chief... and he just tells his officers to round up the usual suspects... he he he)

Dear kdn:
 
Like you said, the whole movie is quotable.  I've been quoting every part of that film my whole life, right from the opening narration (which I've always related to my own life), ". . . So they come to Casablanca, and wait, and wait, and wait . . ."  Or the next scene where they're rounding up the usual suspects while a middle-aged British couple watches.  A slimy-looking fellow sits down with them, warns them that there are "Vultures, everywhere vultures," then leaves, and the man pats his pockets, saying, "I must've left my wallet back at the hotel."  They pay this off wonderfully by having the pickpocket bumb into Cuddles Sakal, the waiter, and he quickly checks his pockets to make sure he still has his wallet.  Or the Bulgarian girl who comes to Rick for advice, and he says, "Go back to Bulgaria."  On and on.  It's a shockingly good movie, and much better than anyone in it or at Warner Brothers ever suspected it might be.
 
Josh

Name: Peter Strausse
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Somehow I just know you like Bob Dylan's music. Did you see his interview on 60 Minutes tonight? The normally reclusive Dylan hadn't done a TV interview in 19 years.

Dear Peter:
 
No, I missed it.  I was in Jamaica for the last week.  Did Bob say anything interesting?  Remember, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
 
Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I am intending to see Supersize Me, sometime soon. However, do you really believe that McDonald's alone is the cause of obesity in the US. I think it is more of a general restaurant problem. If you were to go to one of the high end chains, such as say Bennigans or Appleby's and ordered any meal, I'm sure it would be calorically higher than say a Big Mac and medium fries. The Bennigan's burger, while considered higher quality, will probably close to a pound of hamburg, and a half pound of steak fries. I would say that you would consume more fat carbs calories and everything else at Bennigans or Uno or one of those restaurants

Dear Bob:
 
That could well be, I don't know since I'm not a nutritionist.  It is sort of horrifying watching what this guy goes through eating nothing but McDonald's for a month -- he puts on 20 pounds, and raises his cholesterol and triglycerides up to seriously dangerous levels.  But I don't think he or anyone else is saying that McDonald's food is the cause of all obesity, it's just an example.  And it's well-made documentary.
 
Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail:

Yo Josh...I read your treatments for the Nightmare on Elm Street TV show. Although the series was ultimately disappointing, it did spawn a few good episodes. Yours would have been among the good, if they'd been produced. What's the story behind writing them? Were you hired to do so or something? If so, were teleplays ever written for the treatments? Take care..........

Dear Tim:
 
The producers of the show had many writers submit treatments for episodes, before they really knew what the format was.  Anyway, they rejected all of my stories.
 
Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

is there a book or listing of:
-festivles
-film print labs
-film rental houses

also a little while ago you said music written before 1935 is mainly public doman. Does that include classical music

thanks

Dear Tom:
 
Most classical music is in the public domain, however the performances and the recordings are copyright.  If you can perform it yourself, or know people who can, you can use most of the classical music out there, from Bach to Stravinsky.
 
Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

times martial arts were shown in an American movie. There's some wonderful direction in the film, by the late John Frankenhiemer.>>

Cool. And to quote the man himself, "You're only as good as your material"... which explains REINDEER GAMES. Meanwhile, I've bought and watched AMERICAN GRAFFITI ( I liked it, what do you feel didn't hold up? I guess it was that the film was only about hotrodding at night, but I've done that and it captured the mood perfectly... I wanted to slap Ron Howard everytime he came on film and moped cause he reminded me of one of my pathetic old friends, thankfully, his scenes were short and mostly focused on the other characters... plus I'm a sucker for oldies music, I knew every song lyric by heart), ATLANTIC CITY (god I love that movie, I bow down to you for putting it on the list, I'd have never of seen it otherwise), APOCALYPSE NOW (this movie freaked me out, its more like a Universal Studios ride to hell... I loved it, it had great atmostphere and characters, I thought Marlon Brando was utterly repulsive in every way I couldn't even stand to look at him, and that was the point, they built him up the whole movie and when you get there, he's pathetically torn apart), AIRPLANE (Hilarious, but very hit and miss, the hits hit hard, and the misses get annoying, which is the case with all Zucker Brother films... but this is the best one), ALIEN, ALIENS (great movies, but I've watched them 50 times already, they give me a headache now... I don't know, the first one focuses a lot on atmosphere so much to the point that it slows it down, I suffer the same problem with the POSEIDON ADVENTURE), THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (that end speech where he puts down Richard Drefyus sounds suspiciously like Bush), ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (ah, so that's where they stole that Kirsten Dunst movie from... I like the Jason Robards speech at the end... when I wrote it down it didn't sound as good, it was the way he delivered it... and who can honestly hate a movie where Hal Holbrook plays a character named Deep Throat), DINER (excellent film, I like Daniel Stern's take on marriage and Mickey Rourke was the best part of the film... or was it Kevin Bacon... ah screw it, they're tied) and I still have to watch BULLITT, EXODUS, CADDYSHACK, CASABLANCA, I'm getting THE APARTMENT tommorrow (with ALTERED STATES, ALICE ADAMS, AUTUMN SONATA, ANNIE HALL, ATTACK!, ALL ABOUT EVE, and BEING THERE, CABARET, MIDNIGHT COWBOY... something about ATLANTIC CITY that reminded me of MIDNIGHT COWBOY... maybe the theme, I dunno)

Dear     :
 
You've got a lot of good movie viewing to come.  Yes, "Atlantic City" is pretty wonderful, and unlike all contemporary movies, it incredibly well-written, by the playwright, John Guare, who wrote "Six Degrees of Separation."  Have fun.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh,

So they're cutting it pretty close with "Apocalypse," if it's to air next month. Is it pretty much just the SFX that have to be inserted, in order for sound, music etc. to be added in last? Or are there any more "changes" that may get made? And will you have a hand in any of this last stage?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:
 
All of the FX are cut in, but the sound still needs to be cut (at least I think it does, I'm out of the loop now).  This is when all of the sound effects are put in, as well as backgrounds like wind, saws in the sawmill, crickets, etc., as well as the sound mix, where all of the sound levels are straightened out.  But the mix can't occur until the score is recorded, and that can't occur until the picture is locked, which won't occur until SciFi signs off on it.  This is TV, and everything is done right up to the last second.  That's how Xena and Herc were, too.  No, I have nothing to do with anything at this point.
 
Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

He's sssmmmookkkiiinnn'

Johnny Depp was having dinner at trendy London eatery Scalini when an American woman, who obviously wasn't aware that smoking is still allowed in restaurants in the U.K., asked him to put out his cigarette. Depp reportedly leaned over and said, "I'm sorry, but [you're] not in L.A. anymore."

Josh,

Has anyone ever asked you not to smoke? What did you say? :-)

Cheers,
Kevin

Dear Kevin:
 
I've been asked not to smoke many times in LA.  Once, while we were outside, I even had a girl take a lit cigarette out of my mouth and throw it away.  She was about to rub off a lottery ticket at that moment, and I was so offended that I grabbed the lottery ticket out of her hands and tore it up.  Luckily, that kind of shit doesn't occur in Michigan, or at least not too often.
 
Josh

Name: Butch
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

***Yes, thought about it, but no, I didn't ask her out.***

Oh my god; are you serious? Why would you consider asking out a married woman with a child? You MUST really be bold.....or insane.....or desperate.;)

A question about Bruce. I remember his scene in Evil Dead 2 where he had the possessed hand, and also in a few other things where he did some amazing things with his body(throwing himself around, etc.). I was curious if you would if he had any special stunt training....or was it just a physical gift of Bruce to allow himself to be able to do that.....since it seems it would be easy to be injured doing that stuff if you didn't know what you were doing.

Dear Butch:
 
Bruce didn't have any special stunt training, he's just sort of fearless and well-coordinated.  When we were kids he used to fall down on purpose all the time and just crack me up.  One time after it had snowed a lot and there were huge, 6-8 foot snow piles on the sides of the streets, Bruce kept climbing to the top of them and just falling off, and had a whole bunch of us in stitches.  He does several great falling down gags in the early Super-8s that he's never had a chance to repeat in the features.  He does a schtick in one of the Super-8s of him slipping and sliding a soapy floor that's still making laugh, 30 years later.
 
Josh

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

Becker,

I just finished watching 12 Angry Men and absolutely loved it. There is something that I just need to discuss and since I watched it alone, this was the first place I thought to bring my thought up in. When you watched the movie, did you get the feeling that, in the end, Henry Fonda's character was the murderer??? There were things throughout the movie that I didn't think about until the end when his character stood in the doorway and stared at the empty room. It was almost as if he did know that the boy was not guilty and was trying to protect him. Maybe I'm so used to twist endings now that I expect them all the time, but I can't stop thinking that he was the murderer.
Thank you,
Nate

Dear Nate:
 
No, I never got that sense.  I think you are too used to twist endings.
 
Josh

Name: Barby
E-mail:

hey Josh.

i was just wondering if you have seen full fnished, edited, etc. version of 'alien apocolypse' yet; and if so, how do you feel it turned out?

also, do you feel that bruce and renee had a chemistry that came through on screen?

one last thing; how is working side-by-side with a gorgeous lady like renee. you seem to be a very bold guy, so did you ever consider asking her out....if she's single? just curious.

barby

Dear Barby:

Yes, thought about it, but no, I didn't ask her out. She lives in LA and I live in Detroit, we have geographical differences. But she is cute and sweet, and do enjoy the way she looks in her tight spacesuit every time I watch the film. Meanwhile, the film is not entirely done yet. There could still be some last minute changes, and it hasn't been scored, and the sound hasn't been cut or mixed. I'll reserve my judgements until others have seen it. As for "chemistry," which to me is a class I took in high school, I worked with two highly professional actors who played their scenes very well and got along wonderfully, so we'll see if that translates into screen chemistry. As for working with Renee, she's a doll and I'd love to work with her again.

Josh

Name: Colin Hives
E-mail: colinhives@msn.com

Hi Josh

Just a quick thank you for your advise. I asked you about filming multiple actors a couple of months ago for my new film "Wrong Way To Hell". The scene is great thanks to you and hopefully the whole film will come together pretty well. Can I put thanks to you on the end credits?

Just caught a film you made a few years ago called "Running Time" which is pretty cool and fantastically made. Hope you can do some more stuff in the future.If only filmmaking didn't cost money!

Best
Colin Hives
Shivilenco Pictures
Liverpool, England

Dear Colin:

Glad I could be of service. Sure, you can put my name in the credits. The fact that movies are expensive and difficult to make keeps the riff-raff out.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

You truly missed the "fight of the year" in Barrera-Morales 3...Barrera took a majority decision. You're right, the second fight was a snoozefest, they both didn't want to go into that cauldron again...But this go around had the dramatics of their first match but with both fighters, particularly Barrera, showing more subtle veteran moves. The eleventh and twelfth rounds were toe to toe, both fighters exhausted but exchanging head snapping shots, lots of shifts of momentum...HBO typically replays their pay per view shows if they're significant or entertaining enough so there's a possibility they'll replay this underneath a future show.

Best,

Rich

Dear Rich:

Oh, they will replay it, and on Dec. 4, in case you're interested. They're two tough hombres, that's for sure. But watching two guys stand toe to toe and just slug it out is grueling, in my humble opinion. I found that first fight very difficult to watch. I watched Marciano-Walcott I last night (the 1952 world heavyweight championship), and Rocky Marciano was a very dull, flat-footed fighter with a very hard punch, but most of that fight was boring. I still don't know exactly why championship fights are no longer 15 rounds. 12 rounds seems too short to me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

My friend Nick and I are planning on collaborating on a bunch of screenplays. So far we have only collaborated on one. And in my experience I have only written 4 or 5 feature screenplays and I am only planning on making two of them happen. The other 3 I have lost interest in. Anyway, my question is should Nick and I just keep writing tons of scripts together and try to make some for fun with people around town and then the others sell. And would it be wise to write a sequel or film I know is already a Hollywood property and maybe show to managers. I mean I have an idea of a sequel I want to write. It would be a sequel to an 80s film I liked as a kid so it would be something I would do from the heart. Anyway I thought I'd ask your oppinion on this.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Joanthan:

I think you'd be wasting your time writing a sequel to a film to which you don't own the rights, and I'd bet any Hollywood exec would think the same thing and wouldn't waste their time reading it. Thinking you will sell your screenplays to Hollywood is bordering on fantasy anyway; the only thing you can know for sure is if you decide to put in the extreme effort of producing the film yourself, then you may possibly make the movie. The second you let your destiny out of your own hands and pin it on somebody else, like Hollywood buying your script, you're living in Candyland.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail: Keithtdell@msn.com

HEllo Josh,

I've got two technical questions that i'm sure can be answered very simply (I've tryed searching online and couldn't really find a clear answer).

1. What is a director's viewfinder for used for? (i'm sure it's for framing, but what practical use does it help with? to design shots?)

2. What is the difference between using a zoom lens and a prime lens?I read that the zoom will go to every point that a prime can, while the prime will only have one length. Is there a reason someone would use a prime instead of a zoom?

Thanks!

Dear Keith:

1. The director's viewfinder, which I don't use, is to discover which lens to use. It's just a zoom lens that indicates at which focal length it's set. They probably start at 10-12mm at the widest end and can be zoomed into about 150-200mm at the tightest end. The director looks through the viewfinder, zooming back and forth until they find their shot. Then you look at the viewfinder and see what focal length they've chosen and you can put on the appropriate lens. Which leads us to . . .

2. A prime lens has a lot less glass in it than a zoom lens, so it gives you a sharper picture.

Josh

Name: Justine
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Sorry, I forgot to also ask if 'Lunatic: A Love Story' will be eventually getting a DVD release. I haven't seen this film, but for years I've wanted to. I'm a big fan of Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and admire Debra Foreman, not to mention yourself.


Thanks a lot

Dear Justine:

Not that I know of.

Josh

Name: Justine
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I was just wondering when 'Alien Apocalypse' is getting released? Some time next year? Will the DVD have extras?

I can't wait to see Bruce and Renee', sounds like great fun!

By the way, I loved 'Running Time'. Keep up the great work Josh, I like your films a lot!

Dear Justine:

Thanks. "Alien Apocalypse" will start airing on SciFi Channel in January. I don't know what will be on the DVD.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

when you put music into a movie you have to buy the rights, but is there any music with free domain. music really old or music where the artist has died- can you get that music for free?

also did you submit running time to sundance. did it go to any festivels?

thanks

Dear tom:

Although they've recently changed the copyright laws, pretty much any song from before about 1935 is in the public domain. The music industry publishes a list of all the songs that go into the public domain every year, which is mainly for lawyers. Whether or not the songwriter is alive doesn't matter.

I submitted "Running Time" to every major film festival, and I didn't get into any of them. It did get shown at a number of the second-level festivals (and won first place at the film festival in Phoenix), like Helsinki, Finland; Sao Paulo, Brazil; NY Underground; Chicago Underground; Ft. Lauderdale, etc.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

I watched THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE 5 times already. I thought parts of it were laughable (in a good way) in the beginning (ever notice the opening narration sounds suspiciously like Criswell from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE). "Poop tastes good, like a cigarette should), and that whole fight with Chunjin had me cracking up... I couldn't stop laughing, my favorite part is when chunjin (or chin chin) gets the job as the cook for that prick laurence harvey, and says he'll fix meal JUST LIKE IN ARMY!... oh dear god, I hope not. But then it got to the part where you saw what the movie was really about, Shaw's humanity and it really went somewhere with that, I went back and watched it and the whole thing was about the prick remembering and gaining his humanity and his sacrifice for his country. I love this movie. Now it doesn't seem so laughable, I kept falling asleep before I got to the part about his humanity 4 times, gave up, and fast forwarded to the end (great ending)

Dear kdn:

That fight with Henry Silva was one of the very first times martial arts were shown in an American movie. There's some wonderful direction in the film, by the late John Frankenhiemer.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How about that Morales-Barrera bout?! Like Larry Merchant said, it was the boxing equivalent of two marathron runners giving it their all until they cross the finish line in exhaustion. I'm jaded on the heavyweights right now (although Klitschko-Williams may be competitive) but the junior lightweight/featherweight divisions are incredibly competitive.

My question this time is do you know of any films in the past that were shot exclusively on Super 8 that have garnered any semblance of distribution or exposure?

Best,

Rich

P.S. Thanks for the tip on the break-away bottles. I found a prop store.

Dear Rich:

The heavyweight division is kind of lame right now, particularly with no unified champ. Vitaly Klitschko could be the man, but that remains to be seen, and fighting Danny Williams doesn't prove anything, the guy isn't even a legitimate contender. I actually didn't watch the last Morales-Barrera fight. The second fight was kind of a bore, and the first one slightly horrified me in that they didn't stop slugging each other as hard they could in the face for 10 rounds. Try some D, ducking and weaving, moving around, something. How was this last fight?

Regarding Super-8, no, no one made a Super-8 film that got real distribution. It just doesn't look that good, nor sound that good, and you can't get a really good video transfer. Super-8 was just fine to practice with 25 years ago, but it's pretty much a useless, outdated form.

Josh


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