Q & A    Archive
Page 131

Name: cosmicbrat
E-mail: occultrush@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

"rude people, mean people, vicious dogs that give good ones a bad name, irresponsible people, violent people, reality shows, spiders, sleet, freezing rain, jellyfish, disease, poverty"...

Things that we wish should have never existed....


All that discord is religion based... The "faithful" are taught that "everything is god", and given that they are the chosen few in the everything, they are conditioned to consider themselves to be god as well... That gives them the authority to be rude, mean, vicious, irresponsible spiders, who sting everything which doesn't fit into their mindless conditioning's and inadequacies trap...

Sleet and jellyfish are just in a whole world of their own... one best to be avoided...

Poverty is the result of the parasite class suppressing the masses in their evolved slavery program, in which the peasant works themselves to death for the federal government's crude policies... The ancient Romans would be envious and proud of our democratic slavery system, in which the slaves don't even realize they are slaves, and even praise their oppressors...

The biggie is that religion was initially based upon defending the innocent against oppression, war, and slavery... all being extreme negatives..
Without oppression, war, and slavery, religion would crumble and go obsolete... Therefore for religion to maintain its existence it must propagate those negatives, and is...

The little Arabic cultures had dope 10 thousand years before there was an America... What is America so afraid of...?
This latest impending WW3 was started over 40 years ago by America's worldwide christian based DEA concoction, to destroy fun herbals at their source, in a last ditch effort to keep it out of America, because Americans liked them too, and it just wasn't godz way, decreed the 13 Colonies Salem antiwitch committees...
Their militarized DEA thingy decimated crops, and families, and whole cultures, in their mindless process of murdering, burning, imprisoning, plundering, looting, and TERRORIZING little peoples worldwide... till the little terrorized nation's folks just had Enough! and employed the only option America left to them to get America out of their lives, being to declare war on America... to fight to the death for their freedom from American terrorism and christian democratic tyranny...
Now this American Militarized DEA War against little cultures has almost grown to the well prophesied nuclear WW3... a christianity based war... If religion didn't have any money, this war would stop... Boycotting tithing worldwide would pull the life out of this horrid new religious war, which threatens to extinct all the planet's fragile pollinator's, if their new war bathes the planet in radioactive fallout, it will extinct all the pollinators, and our food will run out in two years... Poof! The End...
Money is spending life faster than the planet can repair and restore... One day the planet will simply run out of life at this rate... Deny religion our money, and the evil beast will collapse and die... and peace will be restored.. and Life and Love will again reign supreme...

Dear cosmicbrat:

Religion isn't all about money, it's mainly about fear. Fear of the unknown; fear of death. All religions lie and say they know what occurs after death, but of course they don't. However, people are so frightened by life, that they're wasting it and not getting any of the things they really want, that they demand that there be another, better life after death where they'll get their just rewards. Since everybody deep down knows that this is complete horseshit, and that the only life they'll ever have is the one they're presently living, and they're in the midst of wasting it, they're all panicked. Religion is basically about getting the poor folks to work their lives away for the rich folks with the promise of a better life in the afterworld. It's a trick to keep the slaves quiet.

Josh

Name: Adam Godfrey
E-mail: agodfrey@kent.edu

Dear Josh:

I am ALMOST done reading the 4th section of your guide to filmmaking. So far so good. Do you have any plans to sell copies of the completed guide? I would really like to have a hard copy of it and I'd rather give something to the author instead of....well printing it myself.

Dear Adam:

No, I'm giving it away, so print it if you'd like. Publishers apparently only believe that books about digital filmmaking have any relevance anymore. This isn't true, but they don't know it. Hopefully, people will get some thing out of it, and if it's free more people will have a chance to read it. The point of this website is to help filmmakers get going and make decent films, and I think the book will be helpful for this purpose.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I had a quick question about Alien Apocalypse...

Did it pay very well? Is that money going to be used to pay off the credit card debt mentioned in your guide to low-budget filmmaking?

Have you looked into where and how you'll be budgeting your next feature?

Dear Matt:

It paid pretty well, although I certainly didn't make a killing of any kind. No, the money will not be used to pay off my credit cards. I'd really have to get way farther ahead to do that. Meanwhile, I'm not budgeting "The Horribleness," a professional production manager is.

Josh

Name: Raoul
E-mail: ra0ul01@yahoo.com

Josh sez: "Coppola was on fire from 1970-79, from "Patton" up to "Apocalypse Now," then it all went up in smoke."

Once again, in your rush to badmouth fellow directors, I think you're exaggerating (very slightly.) 'Peggy Sue Got Married' is a fun piece of entertainment with a great Nic Cage performance and some of Coppola's best camera direction. 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' is an incredibly stylish and beautiful movie ( and just 'cuz you'll say it sucks, don't make it so.) What's so sad about Coppola, I think, is that he was such a fine writer; as you say, his script for 'Patton' was brilliant. On the other hand, Martin Scorcese's best films were always written by someone else. This is why I question your dismissal of his post-1980 work. Do you really think his direction on 'The Aviator' is so much worse than his earlier films? I think the reason 'Goodfellas' is so great is because he got ahold of a good script, and I believe if a good script came his way tomorrow, his direction of that script would be as good or better than anyone working in film today. What, specifically, about his direction do you feel has diminished? ( Also, Curtis Hanson's works may not be 'important' in the history of film, but 'Bedroom Window', 'The River Wild', 'Wonderboys', and '8 mile' are all well-crafted and entertaining, with Hanson bringing out solid performances from all the actors [and non-actors in Eminem's case.])

Dear Raoul:

"Peggy Sue Got Married" is exceptionally insignificant, and doesn't even hold up all that well. Nicholes Cage is funny, but it's a silly, caricature performance. "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is just plain old dreadful, and the"stylish" monster POV's aren't handled as well as the first "Evil Dead" movie, which was in 16mm by kids. As the LA Times summed up that film,"It's like a bad high school play." Meanwhile, a big part of a director's job is developing the script, and you can be absolutely certain that when you get the point of being a Scorsese or a Coppola, you have A LOT of input, and if the script ultimately turns out to be weak (like, say, "The Aviator" or "The Gangs of New York"), then the director is at fault for accepting it. Considering Scorsese has made one good film in the last 25 years,"Goodfellas," I'd say he wouldn't know a good script if it was in his hands. Martin Scorsese, BTW, has co-written several of his own scripts, including "Mean Streets" and "The Age of Innocence." Sorry, none of those Curtis Hanson films are even good, let alone important in film history. "The Bedroom Window," "Wonderboys" and "8 Mile" are all total nothings, and "The River Wild" was entertaining for a while, but completely falls apart long before the end.

Josh

Name: Mike Garcia
E-mail: tghsri@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

You stated, "Biggotry (SIC) is of course evil, and if your religion condones it, then your religion is evil, too."

Given that the generally accepted definition of "bigot" is "one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ", or something similar to that, your blanket statements regarding Jews and Christians is in fact bigotry, and you are no different, nor better, than those who you despise.

Cloak it in all the philosophical B.S. you want - if Jews, Christians, etc. are bigots, then you, by definition, are a bigot as well. No deeply though-out response to my comment will change that ugly truth. By simple definition, both you and I are bigots.

Now for my question: Can you name any feature films that were shot in 8mm and "blown-up" to 35mm (not including short scenes shot in 8mm for that "home movie" look)? I've heard that producing 35mm prints from 8mm is done, but I haven't heard of any examples.

Dear Mike:

What you're saying is rhetoric, semantics. If I'm critical in any way of anything, then I'm a bigot? Nonsense. If I point out that the KKK hates blacks, then I'm bigot because I'm critical of the KKK? You think you speak"the ugly truth," but alas you spout nonsense.

There was an Eddie Deezen vampire movie that was shot in super-8 and blown up to 35mm, but no one paid any attention. My buds at Renaissance Pictures did a test before making ED, and shot a short film in super-8 and had it blown up to 35mm. I watched the results with them, and it looked truly awful. As Rob Tapert muttered, "It looks like a South American snuff movie." I think you'd get better results at this point shooting home DV and having transferred to 35mm.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Nope, not quite right...Walter Hills first film after "The Warriors"> wasn't "48 Hrs" it was "The Long Riders." Sorry to correct you on something you already know.

Hey, I loved what you wrote about Welles. He truley was a brilliant filmmaker. I talk about him all the time. What a performance he gives in "Touch of Evil." The entire performance is mumbled, he's fat as a lark and yet he steals the show. That's really one of the all time great performances..."It's either the candy or the hooch."

Blake

Dear Blake:

I stand corrected. "Southern Comfort" also goes in there between "The Warriors" and "48 Hrs." Meanwhile, everything post-"48 Hrs." is unbearable.

I got to hear first-hand stories about working with Orson Welles from Peter Jason (he plays the president in the film) while we were making "Alien Apocalypse" in Bulgaria. Peter still has Welles's Cadillac he appropriated instead of payment on "The Other Side of the Wind."

Josh

Name: Bane Mcallister
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Which american film studio produced the most great movies over the years? I'd say Warner Brothers, but that's just me.

Dear Bane:

That's a good question. Obviously, there are many people who would immediately jump aboard the MGM train, but I'm with you, I'll take Warner Brothers. Those were certainly the films that had the biggest impression on me in my youth: Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis. And then, oddly I think, Columbia, who was always making the more unusual movies, from all the Frank Capra films, many Howard Hawks films, and"The Member of the Wedding" and "From Here to Eternity" and "On the Waterfront" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Columbia was where you went if you were under contract somewhere else and you weren't getting the best projects. Harry Cohen would let you do anything you wanted, as long as it wasn't too expensive. Then, for me, it's 20th Century-Fox, with the Elia Kazan films and "All About Eve." Old Paramount pictures still look pretty good, but they're the most dated. Most of the MGM stuff I think was just nonsense. RKO was good studio for a while there in the '30s, with "King Kong" and the Astaire-Rodgers films. And other than monster movies, Universal was never much of a studio to contend with.

Josh

Name: Kristin Lambert
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Can you talk about some of your fav directors whose primary body of work has been made after 1970? For example, what do you think of Curtis Hanson as a director? William Friedkin? Johnathen Demme? Thanks, Josh.

Dear Kristin:

I really don't have any fav directors working after 1970. As far as '70s directors go, clearly Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese were the best of the bunch, but they're careers have since turned out to be disappointments. Coppola was on fire from 1970-79, from "Patton" up to "Apocalypse Now," then it all went up in smoke. Scorsese was really used up by 1980 and "Raging Bull." He struggled all the way through the '80s, finally and miraculously, made one more good movie with "Goodfellas" in 1990, and that was the end. William Friedkin's entire career is "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," then he should've retired. I don't give a crap about any of Jonathan Demme's films. (I liked Ted Demme's "Beautiful Girls"). Oliver Stone was of interest from "Midnight Express" in 1978, through "Salvador" and "Platoon" and "Born on the 4th of July," up to "JFK" in 1991, then he should've retired, too. I keep going and seeing Clint Eastwood's films, but they're mainly disappointments, too. As far as Curtis Hanson goes, I enjoyed "L.A. Confidential," although it's certainly not a great film. Everything else is inconsequential.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I didn't see this information posted by any or your readers today so I thought I would pass it along. I just checked the Sci-Fi channel web site and 'Alien Apocalypse' is on the schedule for March 26 at 9:00 pm. It will be repeated a couple of times. There was also a little blurb about it saying what it was about, and mentioning that it was starring Bruce Campbell and Renee O'Connor.

I am looking forward to seeing it.

Bob

Dear Bob:

The information is posted on the main page, but thanks for reiterating it. I'm quite curious to see how people respond to it.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I just watched three great films that I haven't seen in a while, Touch of Evil, The Bridge on The River Kwai, and 2001. All of these are seminal films that get better every time I see them. I'm like you; I am now revisiting older classics because there hasn't been a good modern film in a dog's age. Every time I watch Touch of Evil I am astounded by the look of the film, as well as the content. It was way ahead of its time, and I'm shocked that a lot of it slipped passed the sensors, especially the strangulation scene. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems as if Polanski was greatly influenced by this film, because I see many stylistic parallels to Chinatown. I also recently revisited the Warriors, which is a fun movie. I know you liked Walter Hill's earlier films. Which ones do you recommend? BTW- What's the status on the horror/comedy script you just finished? Are shopping it around?

Dear Scott:

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Polanski was influenced by "Touch of Evil," as I would say every filmmaker was. I don't think it's possible to be a filmmaker and watch Welles' films and not be influenced; he was the master. His sense of where to put the camera and how to block a scene was truly unparalleled. But I don't see any direct connections between "Chinatown" and "Touch of Evil." They're certainly not shot the same way. The other early Walter Hill films I like are "Hard Times" and "The Driver." With "The Warriors," I consider these films to be Hill's existential action triliogy. His next film after those three was "48 Hrs.," which I like, but it's a complete change of a pace, a star vehicle, it made an enormous amount of money, thrust Hill up to the A-list, and he subsequently never recovered. Meanwhile, I'm not shopping my new script around, it's gone specifically out to one company, but I'm not at liberty to discuss the details just yet.

Josh

Name: mark sawicki
E-mail: biztoon@yahoo.com

Dear Josh

I hadn't visited your site in a while and I just wanted to say how terrific your book on filmmaking is. I've just had a chance to skim it and especially appreciate your candor on the credit card issue. PBS Frontline just did a repeat piece on the dangers and problems of those cards. I suppose another way of raising money might be to tap in to home equity from potential investors. It is a risky endeavor. I think only 5% of films submitted get distribution deals. As far as SAG goes I agree about the fines. There is so little SAG work out there that I have opted to go financial core. It was a tough decision but since I work so infrequently it doesn't seem worth it to open myself up to being fined for working on a non union film. Of course it is thanks to directors like you who use non SAG actors that they can get the experience to become SAG actors of note and become marketable commodities. As to digital capture, I've just finished a villain part in a feature comedy called Rescue Rocket X-5 being made by one of the FX folks you worked with on Xena at Flat Earth. Kevin Kutchaver is shooting with the high definition JVCHD10u. The camera was so small the shoot moved like lightning. I'm very curious to see the results. It was a great part for me in that I got to chew the scenery big time. You can see some background on the project at sheerforceofwill.com if your curious. I'm glad to see your still very active and thanks again for putting together that fabulous book! I am so grateful to have taken part in "Hammer" ,it was a great experience.
All the best,
Mark Sawicki

Dear mark:

Good to hear from you. I still haven't gotten a distribution deal for"Hammer," so you'll just have to wait on being a movie star and put off buying that house in Malibu. Sorry. (Mark plays the father in "If I Had a Hammer"). Yes, shooting that film was a great experience for me, too. Meanwhile, the rest of the book will be posted soon.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was just wondering if you've had a chance to see The Grudge yet? It's not a great movie, but it scared the shit out of me and Ted gives a fun performance as the head of the Care Center. Shimizu is very good at creating a scary film but alas some of the best parts of the Japanese version have been "lost in translation". Though the ghost in the american film are much, much scarier.

Dear trey:

Sorry, haven't seen it yet. It certainly doesn't look like my cup of tea.

Josh

Name: Michael Block
E-mail: Mpblock@artsci.wustl.edu

Dear Josh,

Yes, the screening is in Madison, WI. Since you asked, I'll try to do what I can and keep it relatively short on why I think Thou Shalt Not Kill ..,Except is such a solid movie, but I guess there's a lot to say for it. First, of all, the fact that the seams show in the acting, the locations, effects and the overall aesthetic work extremely well in the film's favor and give it a lot of life. It adds a lot of spontaneity to sequences that would probably seem predictable and routine in a different movie (like, the piggyback rescue would have had a jeep jumping over a tank and lots of stunts and things exploding same old shit) After the stock footage credits and the shotgun piggyback rescue in the beginning it became pretty clear that the movie there were no limits to what and how things would happen. Whether intentional or not, I also feel like TSNKE completely mocks action movies, and specifically war movies, from that time, making them look pretty stupid. The scene where Stryker and his friends are sitting around and just decide to blow the shit out of a shack because they're bored is a total rip on the stereotype Hollywood view of the 'unhinged,' mass-murdering Vietnam vets. Movies like First Blood, the Exterminator, Snake Eater, the Punisher and even Taxi Driver are a little hard to take seriously after that scene. Beyond that, TSNKE is a perfect example of how far low budget filmmaking can be pushed. Basically this movie shows aspiring filmmakers that it can be done with drive and imagination and doesn't have to be compromised by not having a shit load, or even a half-way decent amount of money. The movie's a lot of fun, it's got a lot of charm and personality and it stands out. So there you have it. Thanks for your film and for writing back. I guess that doesn't really makes sense about Evil Dead but it is what it is. Ok. Good.
PS. TSNK Soundtrack will never be released, will it?
-Michael

Dear Michael:

Thanks for the nice review. I'm hoping at some point that all of Joe LoDuca's scores for my films will be released on CD. He's really done some exceptional work on my films (as well as other people's films, too). He was in a such a time bind this time around that I haven't heard any of his score for "Alien Apocalypse" yet. Meanwhile, I certainly had a lot more ambition than money on TSNKE. Did you attend the screening? How did the old print look?

Josh

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

Josh,

I did not know that about the Director's Cut. that is really interesting.

I think that some editors like being editors because they have so much control over what they are cutting.

To some extent that is true, however, I also believe in staying to true to the vision of the Director, unless they are really off key with what they are asking for with regards to the cuts or "joins" as they call then them in Europe.

I actually prefer the word "join" over "cut", since it has a much better connotation to it. After all, that is what we are doing, joing scenes and shots to make one nice film.

Scott

Dear Scott:

The editor used to be king-shit-of-the-mountain in the world of post-production, running an operation that employed 10-20 people. Now they sit all alone in a little room with a computer. The same goes for the supervising sound editor, who used to have rooms full of people cutting mag tracks, now they're stuck in a somewhat larger room all by themselves, with a computer. Technology has really made post a lot leasier, but a whole lot of jobs bit the dust, and they didn't go overseas, they disappeared into thin air.

Josh

Name: David S.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Haven't seen any posts on your site about Johnny Carson's passing. Were you a fan, Josh? I am too young to have seen Johnny in his prime, but I saw enough to appreciate his charisma and his wit and his humour. He will be greatly missed.

Dear David S.:

Yeah, Johnny Carson was terrific: much, much funnier than Leno and Letterman combined. I made sure to watch his monologue every night for many years, although I'd frequently not watch the show. I'm still repeating some of his jokes, like, "Did you hear that Dolly Parton and Orson Welles have gone into business together? They're selling shade."

Josh

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

Josh,

I have found that the straight forward approach with Directors and Producers is the best approach when I am editing a project.

Every good editor knows what they are capable of and they can bring that with them to the edit. The best editors can interpret the Director's ideas if they are any good at what they do.

I like to run with an edit and see where it goes, and 9 times out of 10, I can get pretty close to what the Director or Producer intended. That is my job. Also, a good editor will be very good at picking the good takes which cut together the best, if that has not already been done by the Director.

Editors like to have fun and as one of my friends said, "editing is hard work, but it is also fun, and it beats working in a bank".

I like to be left alone to do my editing, but I also like the colaboration with others when it comes to time for changes.

I did not know that happened to Sam on Evil Dead. That editor should have been fired. There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour form an editor.

Scott

Dear Scott:

That used to happen all the time, until the early '60s. Then, one of the directors on "Twilight Zone" got so pissed off about the editor completely ignoring him that he brought it up before the DGA, and that's when they first passed the Director's Cut rule. Now at least the director gets his own cut to show what he had in mind, then the producers can do whatever they want to it.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Josh, regarding editors, have you ever had a situation where you felt like the editor was screwing up your work? This probably happens more in TV than on your features, but I can imagine situations where the director shoots things a certain way, and then editorial gets it and totally fucks things up. Which is not to say that directors always have the best eyes in the editing room, but I suspect that many professionals cut things a certain way, and if a shooting style doesnt fit into their craft, things get screwed up and there may be some conflict. On the other hand, I notice that many directors these days are also doing the editing on their films. Gus Van Sant and Soderbergh come to mind - doing the editing on their films Elephant and Solaris. And those are two of the most boring films I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through. I guess it comes down to the ability to collaborate. I can't see how a director can just shoot the stuff and hand it off to the editor. On the other hand, fresh eyes are a good thing. The collaboration between the two in the editing room is where the best stuff can happen.

Jim

Dear Jim:

I've liked almost every editor I've worked with. They are for the most part a very pleasant group of people, ready to laugh at a moment's notice. They are also very amenable to any suggestions by the director. This is now an enforced concept by the editor's and director's guilds, meaning they have to do whatever the director asks, at least during the director's cut, but I've found most editors are happy to make any changes a director asks for. I have encountered what I felt were lazy editors who barely did any work until the director was there with them. I guess they think why cut it, then have to recut it when the director comes in, let's just cut it once. That method works, too, but it means the director has to be there a lot longer. I prefer editors who know their own minds, and are willing to stick their necks out and actually cut the piece the way they believe it ought to be cut. I am also a total fan of the Editor's Cut, meaning they have complete freedom to cut it anyway they want the first time around, then I make my changes. I've found that if you just leave an editor alone, they'll cut like they're on speed, and will have the whole thing assembled before you know it. Then making changes isn't a very big deal. The only obstreperous editor I've ever encountered, who wouldn't make the director's changes, was the woman who cut "Evil Dead" in New York. No matter what Sam asked for, she wouldn't do it. Finally, when she proclaimed the film was finished being edited, Sam took it all back to Detroit and completely recut the entire film. But, luckily for me, I've never had that experience.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Of coarse it was made just for money, I may be young, but I'm not that ignorant.

It's still sad though. Not just because of the cut, but the whole movie. Here we have two characters with huge fan bases, fans who have been waiting for this movie for over 10 years. It finally gets greenlighted and right from the start the studio is like fuck the fans we want money, which I'm sure is also the only reason they greenlighted it anyway. Paul W.S. Anderson is directing and writing. Big screw there. He has never done anything worth shit, as soon as he was annouced to be the head of this project everyone knew it was shit, and not halfway decent shit...the worse shit imaginable.

But there was one thing that kept the fans excited, sure it's a mindless thought, but it made us happy anyway. The only reason this movie was going to be worth it...seeing the alien's and predator's kick each others asses with gore aplenty. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not that type of guy who always wants that type of stuff, my favorite movies consist of Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai, and A Man for All Seasons, but still...it was the only reason this movie was to be made, well at least that's what we hoped.

It wasn't and I wasn't suprised...not in the least. I wasn't like those Batman and Robin kids, I knew I was going to get shit, but I didn't care, I wanted them make another...so we could see more ass kicking, but boy did I regret that. But it's my fault, I was the idiot. I guess I am a little ignorant since I put some faith into Hollywood, that we'd at least get to have a slight good time watching what we've wanting to see for over ten years. I guess that's just too much to ask for these days, eh?

Dear Trey:

Yes, it is. All I want is halfway decently-written scripts, and that's clearly WAY too much to ask. If you want better movies you'd better make them yourself.

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to cutting into camera moves, as an editor I will refuse to do that if anyone asks. It is one of the ugliest and worst cuts you can make in a piece.

How do you feel about dissolving through camera moves if you are joining two shots together both having camera moves such as a pan, a tilt, or a dolly shot?

I have found in my years of editing that if the moves do not end and the dissolve joins the two shots on the moves, it works much better than having the incoming shot stop and then dissolve. This is editing 101, but just curious what your thoughts are on that?

I haven't seen the "Aviator", and the main reason is that I have a hard time with Leonardo Dicaprio. I have never really liked him in anything with the exception of "What is eating Gilbert Grape", but he was playing a retarded kid.

I think his acting is very one dimensional, and he is never convincing to me in his roles. in fact, he is a big bore, and he was horrible in "Gangs of New York" which I really disliked too.

When he is put up against an actor like Daniel Day Lewis it is embarrassing.

Speaking of Daniel Day Lewis, did you ever see the Irish film he did called "The Boxer"? I thought it was a very decent film and you might like it if you haven't seen it yet.

Scott

Dear Scott:

As I say in the book, if you intend to cut into a camera move, you ought to do it with another, similar camera move, like reaction shot push-ins. Frequently, I see films where they did a push-in on a reaction of the lead character, but didn't push-ins on the other characters. So, it pushes in a bit on the lead, then cuts to a static reaction of someone else, then pushes some more on the lead, then a static shot of someone else. Personally, I think it's embarrassing. As you well know, dissolves are weird. Sometimes they're great, and other times they just don't look right. And no, I haven't seen "The Boxer."

Josh

Name: Michael Block
E-mail: Mpblock@artsci.wustl.edu

Dear Josh:

There were several posts about distribution, I think about Lunatics not getting a DVD and limited printings of If I Had a Hammer. As a filmmaker, how would you feel about people making copies of your films and giving them to friends or something like that if purchasing them is no longer an option or extremely difficult to do? Obviously there are all kinds of issues with this, but the tradeoff is that it could help keep them alive for future audiences. Evil Dead and ED2 existed through kind of a network of bootlegs from old tapes and foreign laserdiscs before Anchor Bay brought them back, and I feel like that stage helped those films get to where they are now. What are your feelings about this? Also my older brother is playing a 35mm print of Thou Shalt Not Kill at his school, a movie that has a very special place in my heart.

Thanks,
Michael

Dear Michael:

Is this in Madison, WI? I hope the print isn't too severely chewed up, but it's a 20-year-old theatrical release print, and that's all I have. Look, I can't do anything about people bootlegging tapes, nor do I really care. If someone cares to go to the trouble of copying one of my films, then they just will. Nobody gave a shit when I made cassette tapes of a friend's albums. I honestly think fans kid themselves about things like, "Evil Dead and ED2 existed through kind of a network of bootlegs from old tapes and foreign laserdiscs before Anchor Bay brought them back, and I feel like that stage helped those films get to where they are now." I can absolutely assure you that Anchor Bay buying the rights to distribute ED and ED2 had NOTHING to do with how many bootlegs there were out there, and was entirely based on how many tapes were sold on the previous deals. Other than the FBI, nobody pays attention to how many bootleg tapes there are of something out there. If I may ask, why does TSNKE have "a very special place in my heart"?

Josh

Name: Brett
E-mail:

Hey Josh.

A fun question.

A read on another page that you thought about asking Renee O'Connor out. Was that during the filming of "Alien Apocolypse" or back during Xena........also, do you really think you would have had a chance with Renee.:)

Also, have you seen the finished version of "AA" and if so, what do you think?

Brett

Dear Brett:

No, I haven't seen the completed version of the film yet, not with the score, the sound mix, and the color-timing. Look, I'm a single guy, so any available woman is a theoretical possibility. Renee is pretty and bright and talented, but she lives in LA and I live in Detroit, so beyond anything else, we're geographically incompatible. And I've known her since she was in her early 20s, so I feel more like a big brother to her. Which isn't to say that if she suddenly showed great interest in me I wouldn't drop this big brother thing in a second. But that's how it is.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Sorry for the comma errors.

Anyway..wow. I think most movies that come out today are pretty shitty, but one I saw recently really takes the cake and is a prime example of what Hollywood is turning in to (or rather, already is).

House of the Dead. Now I knew this movie was going to be shitty from the moment it was announced, however, a friend of mine rented it while I was over at his house so I decided I'd check it out just because I love the video game. Oh my god. I'll just say one thing about it, when the zombies were shot they would cut to a video sample TAKEN STRAIGHT FROM THE VIDEO GAME! I mean, come on, what the hell were they thinking?

Also, I read an interesting story about Alien vs. Predator this week. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a shitty movie and is only fun to people who are HUGE fans of the original franchises, but it's really sad what happened to it right before it's release. First of all, the movie was shot to be R Rated, you know, gore and language all the way through, but 3 weeks before it was release the execs in Hollywood said, "Mmmmm, A PG-13 movie would mean more kids could see this movie...which means....MORE MONEY!" So these guys took the movie cut out all of the death scenes and resubmitted it to the MPAA until it was given a PG-13 rating, all for the sake of money.

Dear Trey:

Ah, to be young. Why do you think they made "Alien vs. Predator" to begin with? Money. So who gives a shit if they recut it? It's entire reason for existing is to put asses in seats. Period. From a purely economic point of view, which is the only way a corporate franchise film should be viewed, cutting it to get more asses into the seats is a very good idea.

Josh

Name: eric r
E-mail: eric30202002@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

I read in an interesting rule in the book "5 Cs of Cinematography" about cutting during camera moves. It said you cannot cut directly from a moving camera to a still camera shot of the same object, unless the object itself is moving. Do you agree with this? Do you have any rules about how shots must cut together when the camera is moving?

By the way, your book is awesome, I can't wait until you post the rest of it.

Eric

Dear eric:

I address this issue in the book, although that section may not be posted yet. But I absolutely agree that cutting from a moving shot of something to a static shot of the same thing is a bad cut. Also, and you see this all the time, to cut into a moving a shot of one person with a static shot of someone else, then back to the camera move, is just plain sloppy, thoughtless direction. The first thing I tell and editor when they begin cutting one of my films is, "Don't cut into my camera moves," which many editors will do without thinking. When I do a camera move I generally want to use the entire move before cutting. Of course, all of these concepts go out the window when you hand-hold the entire film, then it's all cutting into camera moves, and it all ends up looking sloppy and basically like shit.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I'm curious as to what is your take on the works of Robert Bresson?

Best,

Rich

Dear Rich:

I've only seen a couple of his films, but I found them pretty seriously boring. I do like the work of the DP he collaborated with, Ghislain Cloquet, who also photographed Woody Allen's "Love and Death."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Sorry about the last email,I accidently hit enter.

Anyway,I was just over at imdb and on the Deliverance forum I saw a topic that was focused on the cause of Drew's death and the "deer hunter"Ed kills. I was wondering what your take on these events were. Do you think the toothless redneck shot Drew as Lewis kept repeating or that he just fell out of the boat? Or do you think he comitted suicide(I personally don't think this,I mean sure,he didn't like burying the pig redneck,but he had a wonderful family to go back to).

Also,do you think the man Ed killed was a different person than the toothless redneck?Some people say it wasn't because the sheriff said another mans brother was missing.

Personally I think Drew was shot by the stalking toothless redneck(Lewis kept looking up at the cliff and was shouting not to stop)and the the man Ed killed was the Toothless redneck(he's upset when he finds teeth,but he them removes and is relieved to see they were fake).And to counter the "missing deer hunter"the toothless redneck IS that man's brother who is missing.

Dear Trey:

Just as a note, there's a space after a comma, like this,not like this. I always thought it was the toothless redneck who shot Ronny Cox, and that's who Jon Voight killed. I don't think it's a big mystery.

So, I just saw "The Aviator." It's certainly better than "Gangs of New York," although it's still not a good movie. "Sluggish biopic," would be my thumbnail review. It's a great example of having to watch an unmotivated character for three hours. Shit just keeps happening, but none of it really matters. Cate Blanchett isn't Katherine Hepburn and never will be, although it's not a bad vocal imitation. Kate Beckinsdale ain't Ava Garner, either. After about 2 1/2 hours my mind began to chant during each scene, "One, two, three, end. One, two three, end," but it just keeps going.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<No, that would not be allowed. As I say in the book, you have to be all-SAG or all non-SAG.>>
Ted Raimi did a cameo in a.... um, independent film? never mind the small, small, pitiful company that did it. But I know they never really hired -all- SAG actors.

On an earlier question, I asked how you worked your bluescreen effects in the film on LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY. What I meant was, you've shot your bluescreen, You've shot your stop-motion effects, how do you print them together on one film. It was a technical question. How do you feel gritty dark Black and White can help a low budget film in terms of hiding effects. I performed a little experiment on the 4 hour Return of the King, which I haven't been able to repeat, where I got it to look visually like an early david lynch (ERASERHEAD, THE ELEPHANT MAN) film and visually, it covered up the fakeness of it, it made the monsters and armies look more real, the shadows covered up a lot of the scenery in the background, and it focused you more on the parts of the picture that needed you to focus on like a particular expression of the face. It kind of hid the bad acting, making it look creepy. instead of seeing an obviously fake mountain, I see a real dark black with just the lightening over the mountains, to get the real picture. It gave me the sense they could've saved a LOT of money and had at least a visual artsy picture. Didn't work on the first two films though, and I couldn't repeat the effect again cause I screwed up my tv levels. haven't found the right combination to get it perfect again. damn. but I get the feeling with black and white you could pull a lot of cheap illusions like instead of getting a dark hallway, you could just film PARTS and FRAMES where the light would hit, have the rest black in the background like a shadow, and there's your set. My favorite illusion in Labyrinth was where Jennifer Connelly walked through the brick wall, that was a good trick.

Dear Kevin:

How do you know they didn't hire all SAG actors? I did on "Lunatics" and"Running Time." Meanwhile, I didn't do any blue screen composites on"Lunatics." It's all rear-screen, meaning the image is being projected on a screen behind the actor and the compositing occurs in the camera. But compositing to either a blue or green screen is a post optical effect, which can now be done in the editing system so you can see it in advance. Although I love black & white, and it certainly evens out effects, I don't think it's a good idea for low-budget movies because you'll lose so many sales. Distributors have a bug up their asses about B&W, and many European distributors, as well as TV stations, won't show B&W. The most ingenious director of low-low-budget films, who enjoyed making use of solid blacks and no sets was Joseph Lewis, who directed "Gun Crazy." He was great at shooting actors in a single spot of light and letting you assume what kind of set they ought to be on. I have a crappy C film he made, "The Invisible Ghost," with Bela Lugosi, which has a fairly long courtroom scene, except there's no courtroom set. It's all in close-ups, with the occasional shadow of a gavel hitting a desk. He did another film called "The Burma Road," entirely shot on a soundstage, with a dirt road going past a burnt-out farmhouse, then the road disappears into the distance past increasingly smaller and smaller burnt-out farmhouse miniatures. The most famous shot in "Gun Crazy," which several folks have compared to "Running Time," is in the backseat of a car with two bank robbers. The car stops in front of a bank, one of the robbers goes into the bank while the camera stays in the car. We hear gunshots and an alarm go off, then the robber comes out with a bag of money, gets in the car and they drive away. Well, Lewis didn't even have permission to shoot at the bank. The actor went, waited a minute, then came out holding a bag. Everything else was sound effects put in later. That's clever.

Josh

Name: Cal
E-mail: calredding@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've been browsing your Q&A forum for a while now, and> something occured to me. You said that, in your opinion, the last 4 star film is Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven". Fair enough. What I don't get is why that film was so highly praised, yet his last two films, "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby", are also almost unanimously praised, yet you can't stand them. What gives?

Dear Cal:

I don't care what other people say, this is my opinion. I think"Unforgiven" was a big fluke, and entirely unprecedented in Eastwood's career. Nothing before it or after it has come close. But it all boils down to the script, as always. I don't like the scripts for "Mystic River" or "Million Dollar Baby," and nothing Clint can do as a director will fix them.

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Josh,

When your writing a screenplay, and you get stuck, how are you able to move foward and think of ideas to progress the story?

Jay

Dear Jay:

The bottom line of screenwriting, as far as I'm concerned, is that you can't begin writing the screenplay until you know the entire story, specifically the ending. If you don't know the ending when you begin the actual writing, you will not write any scene correctly because all scenes must inevitably be leading to that conclusion. That's why you write a treatment first, and you keep working on it until the whole story is worked out. Then, and only then, do you start the actual writing of the script. And if you know the entire story and the ending, you'll never get stuck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Ok..quick question from something I read in your book. Let's say a few years down the road I have a feature length film financed and decide to hire non-SAG cast members to star in this paticular feature. Buut,I have extra money for a cameo by a SAG actor,like..Bruce Campbell,Ted Raimi,etc. to play a character who is maybe only in a scene or two...would that not be allowed?

Dear Trey:

No, that would not be allowed. As I say in the book, you have to be all-SAG or all non-SAG.

Josh

Name: Rudy T.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"A network TV movie is one price, a cable movie is another, a low-budget feature is another, a high-budget feature is yet another. What are you talking about?"

What is the WGA's minimum for each of the above you mentioned? Thanks

Dear Rudy:

I don't have a WGA rate book, so you'll have to look it up yourself.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

is there a book or listing of every film rental house in the u.s. ? - there must be, but i cant find one

also
do they still use film projectors in theatres, i mean dont they make projectors that play dvds, do film festivels use those?

thanks

Dear tom:

Try the internet. Yes, they mainly still use 35mm projectors at movie theaters, although some have installed digital video projectors now. I'd say most festivals have a video projection systems these days, but they all still show film, too.

Josh

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

Josh:

I saw Million Dollar baby last night and I thought I'd weigh in on a few things. First of all, despite strong performances, the script was heavily cliched. Act Three is unbelievably disconnected from the first two, I agree...it's unlikely that Maggie's accident would have played out like that. At the close of Act Two the film changes into a sombre weepy flick and while it evokes some emotion, it's hard to argue that it's not manipulation. Danger is a horribly written character. Why does Dunn go to confession exactly and how has he wronged his daughter? Why is Morgan Freeman's character narrating? The end result is uneven to be sure, but I still liked a lot. I liked the photography. There's a transition from outside into the gym I loved, specifically. The fight scenes were vivid. We looked at real cut-man technique. Clint fared well and in fact, there's nothing truer than a line of his which echoes the theme: 'Girlie...tough...ain't enough.' For a film about redemption though, it hammers in the spike in a roundabout way.

-Brett-

Dear Brett:

Considering that no fighter in over a hundred years of professional boxing has ever been injured that way, I'd say it's complete horseshit. And just like a character can never discuss their future or their retirement in a movie without dying in the next scene, the first second they showed Maggie on a respirator I knew it was going to be disconnected. Like you said, all of the set-up with his daughter is never worked out, his going to church everyday and giving the priest shit seemed like nothing more than a weak set-up, why is Morgan Freeman narrating, and why is he hiding in the shadows at the hospital? Also, to say that Maggie is the Mike Tyson of female boxers and knocks out a half dozen fighters with one punch is truly absurd--there is no Mike Tyson of female boxers, there never has been, and there probably never will be since women don't punch very hard. They frequently throw twice as many punches as the men, but not harder. And another thing, I'm I supposed to accept that just because Maggie comes from a small town in Missouri she more desperate to be a fighter than someone who comes from the ghettos of Mexico City, or Brooklyn, or Accra, Ghana? Boxing is the sport for the desperate characters of the world, which is why I like it, and Maggie is no more desperate than any of the others. Also, she says her mother is 312 pounds, then you meet her and she's certainly not 312 pounds. It's kind of a dumb, run-of-the-mill, unbelievable boxing film up until act three when it becomes an over-long, three-hanky weeper which I could have very easily walked out if before it was over. And that's a Best Picture nominee? Yikes!

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I know your a big fan of William Wyler. I just watched The Letter which I thought was a great film, simplistic and suspenseful. I also caught The Big Country which was fantastic. One of the best musical scores for a western and that fight betwen Peck and Heston was increadible. You don't see fights like that now. Did you read the Wyler book, A troubled life and would you recommond it?

Dear john:

Yes, I did read "A Talent for Trouble" by Jan Herman, and yes I do recommend it. And now that you mention it, I feel like I could easily read it again. I also have a documentary about Wyler, called "William Wyler Directs," on tape, which contains an interview with him three days before he died and he's perfectly well and lucid, and funny. In the interview with Charlton Heston he tells the story that after three or four days of shooting on"Ben-Hur" Wyler pulled him aside and said, "Chuck, you're just not good enough." Heston was horrified, and asked what he could do? Wyler shook his head sadly, said, "I don't know," and walked away. The pay-off is that Heston won the Oscar that year for Best Actor. Wyler was the greatest.

Josh

Name: D.S.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I'm sure you'd dislike "The Aviator." I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't like it (I liked it a lot less than "Gangs"), and ultimately found it to be terribly disappointing (though I'm not sure what I was expecting). The script was the worst part. Beckinsale just sort of magically appears the film, with no proper introduction or anything. Blanchett is okay. You'll certainly like the photography, I think, and perhaps the first fourty-five minutes, which depicts the filming of Hell's Angels, and that part is certainly fun. I'm interested in what you'll think though, we'll see.

And "Mars Attacks." It may not have much of a script but I did laugh many times. My favorite part was actually the score...gotta love the theremin!

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is certainly the best script Burton has had to work with, and it's a wonderful, witty, imaginative film. And that had good music too (reminds me of Nino Rota, which is very appropriate, as Pee-Wee is a bit Felliniesque...naive, childlike, kind of reminiscent of Gelsomina in "La Strada").

Dear D.S.:

Yes, Danny Elfman's score for "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" is homage to Nino Rota. Sadly, "Mars Attacks!" did not make me laugh or even smile once. All I could see was tens of millions of dollars being flushed down the toilet. My buddy Paul assures me "The Aviator" is better than "Gangs of New York," which I thought was pure hammered shit. If it's not as good as "Gangs," that's saying something.

Josh

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

Josh,

If you don't mind I would like to add something for Jana's last post with regards to getting into this business if you are wheelchair bound.

When I first moved to NYC in 1998, I was teaching AVID Editing courses for about six months, and one of my students was a young man from New Jersey named John. He was a paraplegic. He still had limited use of his hands and full use of his head, and his upper body still functioned well.

This kid had one of the best attitudes of any of the able bodied students that whisked through my course. He was a very bright and vibrant guy and we became good friends even after he finished his courses.

He was able to operate the keyboard on the computer and he also had a damn good eye for editing. What I usually found in my classes is that some people have it and some people just do not and no matter how hard they try, the may never get it. He did, and most of it was due to his relentless concentration.

Anyhow, One day, I asked him how he was able to get to and from the classes in the Manhattan from New Jersey. He told me that he drove himself in from New Jersey all the way to East 48 Street in Manhattan which is were we had the courses.

At first, I thought he was pulling my leg, but then he said, "If you walk me out to my van I will show you". So I helped him with his stuff and walked him out to the front of the building where there was a van parked.

The van was customized with a lift so that he could get his scooter into the van. He was able to then move his scooter with a little help to a special steering wheel that was designed for him with controls that he could work with his hands. As I recall, the controls interacted with the scooters controls and they worked in tandem. There was no driver's seat, the scooter locked into place safe and secure.

I was amazed as I said goodbye to him and he drove off down 1st Avenue on his way home to New Jersey.

After the classes finished, he was actually hired as an editor and we lost touch with each other, but I think he is still out there editing away and driving his van to wherever he pleases.

So, the point to this whole bloody story is yes Josh is correct, it would be nearly impossible for a person in a wheelchair to work in production, but it is very possible to get work in Post-Production. In fact, my friend John is living proof of that.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Back in the old days when women weren't hired for almost any film production jobs, they were always hired in the editing room. Barbara McLean, who cut"All About Eve," and won an Oscar for "Wilson," was nominated for seven Oscars. Anne Coates, who won an Oscar for editing "Lawrence of Arabia," is still cutting and did "Erin Brockovich." The biggest screenwriter in the late silent period and early sound period was Francis Marion, who won an Oscar for "The Big House." In post-production and in the writing phase nobody cares who you are, what you look like, or how well you get around. If you do good work you'll get hired.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I caught Million Dollar Baby also...

And yeah it wasn't so good. You're not wrong about act 3, it really did change the pace and tone of the entire film - and not in a good way.

If it had had a solid act 3 that followed necessarily from the first two acts (which were ok), I think it would've been better.

Still, it's probably the best movie that came out this year. I think I just made myself sad by admitting that fact.

Ah well. I disagree also with your opinions on Tim Burton's best films. I think "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was probably his best work, followed by Ed Wood, then Pee-Wee, then maybe Big Fish (which I didn't really care for.)

I'm looking forward to Corpse Bride by him also.

Dear Matt:

I don't think you can officially call "The Nightmare Before Christmas" a Tim Burton movie since he didn't direct it, but that's just me. I just watched"Mars Attacks!" which has everything going for it, limitless money, a great cast (Jack Black in an early role), terrific photography and effects, and absolutely no script, so therefore it ultimately has nothing. And the more I think about "Million Dollar Baby" the more it pisses me off. Why wouldn't he reconnect the respirator at the end? And what is Morgan Freeman doing lurking in the shadows? And to cast Lucia Rijker, one of the three most famous and talented women fighters there is (along with Laila Ali and Christie Martin), as a criminally dirty fighter is really thoughtless and stupid. And what happens to Hillary Swank has never occurred in boxing history, so it's just ridiculous. And Morgan Freeman mumbles every line.
Aargh!

Josh

Name: Rudy T.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's the SGA "minimum" for a script?

Dear Rudy:

It's not SGA, it's WGA, Writer's Guild of America, and it depends on what the script is being used for. A network TV movie is one price, a cable movie is another, a low-budget feature is another, a high-budget feature is yet another. What are you talking about?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey it's been a while since I emailed you and thought I'd say hey. I printed out your book so far and I've been reading it. Its very informative. In fact I've been trying to get my friend whose interested in helping me make movies to read it. Anyway I guess my questions have nothing to do with with the book but I just wanted to know what your thoughts on sketch comedy are. Have you seen the cult movie "Wet Hot American Summer" yet? Or have you even seen the comedy central show "Reno 911!" Both are very funny in their own ways. You should check them out whenever you get a chance. Okay thats all I got to say and ask. Your fan,
Jonathan.

Dear Jonathan:

I loved SCTV and first three or four seasons of "Saturday Night Live." I even liked "In Living Color" for a while, too. But I haven't found anything like that funny in some time. "The Simpsons" still makes me laugh, even new episodes.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I finally saw in it's entirity "THE HUSTLER".

Maybe it's a goofy little detail, but I gotta know: In the scene where Fast Eddie goes to the men's room, he sees a> machine/dispenser on the bathroom wall and gives a slight chuckle or at least an amused, knowing reaction.
The dispenser had: "You'll get lucky tonight!" or "Your luck is high tonight" or something along those lines.

My question is- was that supposed to be a Fortune-teller dispenser, or a condom machine?!
LOL!

It works either way as a funny little prop for Newman to react to, but I'm really not inclined to buy the idea that a somewhat effeminate thing like a Horoscope machine would be in a '50's or '60's public men's room. But it had *I think*, not sure, the sun and moon and stars decals on it, so...

If not, that leaves Condom dispenser. Did they have those back in the day? Heh.

I'll also remark that I thought the prolonged stares between Piper Laurie's Sarah and Eddie were overdone and after a while meaningless. And I did not understand why she slept with "Bert" at the end, especially when she was apparently "on to him". Was it to show her personal failings - ie. the depths of her drinking problem, or was it to bring home the point that she knew Bert was going to "win" Eddie and so she goes out of her way to sully herself in her grief.
I just didn't quite grasp her story.
I take it she was a real person in Eddie Felson's (Parker's?) life? From what I read, there's a person who once took 2 polygraph tests claiming to be the real dude, and performs pool clinics now-a-days.

Dear Diana:

It's a weird movie, and Piper Laurie's character is particularly weird. Her suicide message on the mirror was creepy. I would say it was a condom machine, which they did have back then. The joke is "You'll get lucky tonight."

Josh

Name: Bernard Silverstein
E-mail: bernie31907@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Need the address of the 99cent Only Store in Melbourne Beach FL

Dear Bernard:

Look out the window, there's one right there.

Josh

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

Josh,

I saw The Aviator and liked it quite a bit. It'll definitely take best picture this year.

I think DiCaprio was somewhat miscast, but still did an admirable job of doing what he could with the material. It's kind of funny, Colin Farrell (who's not much better) actually looks a lot more like the real Howard Hughes when he was young.

Cate Blanchett's peformance as Kate Hepburn was fantastic, and worthy of an Oscar nomination.

The film gets a little weak towards the end, but pulls it all together with a wonderful closing line. very memorable.

Richard

Dear Richard:

Thanks for the critique. I must say just from seeing the clips that Cate Blanchett seems miscast for young Katherine Hepburn. Cate Blanchett is plain-looking and Hepburn at that point was ridiculously gorgeous. And Leonardo seems miscast for Hughes, too. Anyway, I'll reserve judgement.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: davidm@aol.com

Dear Josh:

You say that your films have merit because you tried to put emotion into them, but I veiw them as frivolous shlock with terrible dialogue and unrealistic plot twists. I was bored to death watching three of your films: Lunatics, Running Time, and Thou Shalt. I hope to God you haven't reached your peak yet, but you are getting up there in age. You remind me of a guy who has china taste but eats on paper plates everyday.

David

Dear David:

That could well be. My best may not be all that great, but I still try as hard as I can. I never said that my films have merit because I tried to put emotion in them, that's an interpretation of yours. I don't believe that I've ever purported that my films have any merit at all, other than I try to follow the structural rules of screenwriting, and I attempt to tell stories that have a point. But that certainly doesn't mean they're good, just as good as I can make them. But my films have nothing to do with my taste in watching films. I'm allowed to have the highest standards I care to have. How about you? What have you done that I can judge?

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you feel like you "shot your wad" as a filmmaker?

Dear David:

No, I don't.

Josh

Name: Jana Overbo
E-mail: janao@earthlink.net

Hi Josh,

I wrote to you asking for advice on trying to break in to a film production job. I am a wheelchair user in the SF area and I can't seem to get my foot in the door.

I am still trying and have not given up but I have been trying to think outside the box and take your suggestion of thinking bigger.

I am still not working in film production but I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to answer my email.

I know you are really busy.

Thanks again,

Jana

Dear Jana:

It's very difficult to get into the film business, but being in a wheelchair would only make it that much more difficult. I have to admit that I wouldn't hire anyone in a wheelchair to work on the production side of a film, there's so much hiking through rough areas to get to where you're shooting. Locations are frequently not in easily accessible places, and there are already so many things to worry about, I wouldn't want to have to worry about whether or not handicapped crew members can get to where they need to go? That leaves writing, working in the production office, or post-production. So I would recommend focusing on those possibilities. Nobody would care at all if the writer or the editor were in a wheelchair, it wouldn't effect their jobs in the slightest. The very best of luck to you.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just got finished reading installment three of your filmmaking book. Just terrific work. I love your attitude, and how you're using healthy portions of reality getting points across (which I'm sure possible publishers may not have liked). As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I tend to be even harder on myself than you are on the reader or even posters on this site. Strict determination mixed with some fine dreams (everybody has those) and also an immense dose of reality. And your book is witty too (the part in the casting section about casting people because you want to have sex with them was a hilarious touch).

Glad to hear you thought "Big Fish" was okay. I liked it a lot, and thought it was by far Burton's most mature film. The ending, with the son telling the father the final story, was well done, and Philippe Rosselout's cinematography (you've said in the past that you were a fan of his work) was also quite nice. I know that this is, maybe the third Burton film you thought was okay, after Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Ed Wood (which you said you have reservations on, and you've talked about it many times). What do you think of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure? Better than "Big Fish?"

Also, any favorite surrealist films? I know you like "Discreet Charm" and "8 1/2" quite a lot.

Dear Dylan:

I think "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" still remains Tim Burton's best film, then"Ed Wood," then "Big Fish." But "Big Fish" didn't move me. I didn't care at all about Billy Crudup or Albert Finney. I liked Ewan MacGregor, but all of the preposterous stories he's in don't really mean anything, and ultimately don't add up to anything. For Crudup to tell Finney that he is that big fish, and he becomes the fish at the end, what does that mean? If it were a metaphor for him being a big fish in a small pond, that's one thing, but it's not. Since I never cared about Crudup or Finney, their reconciliation meant nothing. Yes, Philippe Rosselout's photography is very nice, but why wouldn't you be able to get good-looking photography with limitless money and one the best DPs in the world? Ultimately, just like everything else these days, it's simply a weak script.

Speaking of that, I just saw "Million Dollar Baby," which, as I suspected, isn't very good. The first two acts are okay, if basically unbelievable, but act three is AWFUL! It becomes a seriously maudlin melodrama which I just hated by the end.

I like a bunch of Luis Bunuel's films, like "Los Olvidados," "Simon of the Desert," "El," and "The Exterminating Angel."

Josh

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

Josh, I'd like to retract a recent recommendation I made of the film Elephant. It's actually a horrible piece of shit The first half hour is interesting, which I started recommending it on.. But just goes to show that it's stupid to recommend something before you're even done watching it. Another movie that fits in with your philosophy of good directors gone bad after becoming successful. Ugh, this one hurt.

Dear Jim:

It's okay because I didn't pay any attention to your recommendation. I know that Gus Van Sant completely shot his wad with "Drugstore Cowboy," and has not made a worthwhile film since. I hold out no hope for him. Anyone see"The Aviator"? What do you guys think? I haven't seen it, I'm just asking.

Josh

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

Josh

Regarding the post about how intelligent Planet of the Apes is - there are others out there creeping about. A Japanese cult flick called Battle Royale (last man standing for survival, but with kids) displays unusual depth and understanding, strong themes (how much of your humanity are you willing to sacrifice, and how much to keep, in the name of survival?) and generally, interesting minutae. Add that is features some splendid suspense, and you'll find it better...well, better than I had thought it was going to be.

Interesting thought that: action with brain.

Dear Brett:

It's what I miss most, intelligent action movies. Not necessarily "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Kwai," which are the best, I'm talking about the more of run-of-the-mill action films they used to make, like "The Sand Pebbles" or"Von Ryan's Express" or "The Guns of Navarone" or "The Great Escape" or"Airport" or "Ulzana's Raid" or "Attack!" or "Jeremiah Johnson." Normal movies that weren't stupid.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<Tough guys run around and shoot people, or kids get into trouble and their parents must come and bail them out.>>

eh, I only liked FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. Had an issue about a preacher's faith hidden in it but its mostly a cool vampire western. That's about it for his career. his tv movie ROAD RACERS tried (david arquette wants to quit being a tough guy and play music, then finds out the band that invited him lipsyncs gay ass songs for money, he gets pissed off, commits a crime, runs away a fugitive, and has to leave spanish girlfriend salma hayek behind... there you go, living proof that rodriguez gave a half-assed try(if you can call that half-assed))

I watched A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY recently and was shocked that Quentin COMPLETELY ripped off the score. Well, i shouldn't have been shocked, I know he rips movies off expected his score to be SIMILAR but not THE SAME FUCKING SCORE. Goddamn, I think ROAD RACERS is better than RESERVOIR DOGS or EL MARIACHI.

I was a little surprised to find THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY to be more about the ugly but entertaining Eli Wallach, with Clint Eastwood really more of a Bugs Bunny foil, and the Bad rarely in sight. But I still liked it, although I see why its not on your list and FISTFUL OF DOLLARS is (which was small, contained, completely about Eastwood, had a nice small story and great atmosphere, while GOOD, BAD, and UGLY was more about a civil war quest). But you gotta love the part where they blow up the bridge to stop the fighting and get across the river.

I'm currently watching MASH right now, I just finished COOL HAND LUKE again. My favorite part on MASH so far had to be when Hot Lips is exposed in the shower, and she runs into her superior's tent ranting about him letting them treat her like that, then he just looks at her and says"okay hot lips, resign". and then she starts crying about her commission (goddamn, that cold, they wanted to see if she's a natural blond, he he). And I'm in the middle of the little stunt where Sutherland and Gould are in Japan trying to get to the golf course. Say, what do you think is Paul Newman's better performance, COOL HAND LUKE or FORT APACHE, THE BRONX (hmm, that movie was really interesting, I think I'll watch it again after TOUCH OF EVIL... say was Orsen Welles really that fat when he did EVIL or was it just that brilliant make-up again?) I noticed, you liked SID AND NANCY (I still need to see it), but what did you think of REPO MAN. I thought it was a bunch of funny gags put together with a great soundtrack and Harry Dean Stanton, but no real one through-out story other than they were looking for a car with dead aliens. still I laughed my ass off when Emilio told that black family he wasn't repossessing their car, then tried to snatch it and it was on the jack, and they all came out and beat the shit out of him. Yeah, I need to get that one again with SID AND NANCY.

Dear Kevin:

You're getting into long, rambling diatribes that are difficult to read. Remember, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Sorry, "Repo Man" was bullshit. Every time it cut to the utterly phony shoes left by zapped humans, with fresh razorblade slices in them, I wanted to bail out. A film about nothing. Most Sergio Leone films, like "The God, the Bad, and the Ugly," go on forever. It's not that there aren't some good things in them, and wonderful Ennio Morricone scores, but his pacing is dreadful, and the length of his films is, at least for me, unbearable. Meanwhile, I think Paul Newman is terrific in both "Cool Hand Luke" and "Fort Apache, The Bronx."

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" may well not be a great film, but it's a million miles ahead of Baz Luhrman's "Moulin Rouge." In Huston's film it's just kind of fun to watch him cutting between Jose Ferrer on his knees and the actual dwarf.>>

Oh yes, its very colorful with the dancing and the drawings. I haven't finished it yet. I buy these suckers so fast that I always have close to 20 movies sitting on the shelf to watch (and I just started rewatching some old ones I bought) so I don't like to skip around too much. I love John Huston's Humphrey Bogart films so far even though I'm still not much for THE AFRICAN QUEEN (but I wouldn't disregard that film, I think its fuckin cool that they turned their ship into a torpedo). I wasn't really into THE ASPHALT JUNGLE but I'll wind up watching it again. It got more interesting as it went along for me. The only thing Baz Luhrmann's version had going for it was it was freaky... and Jim Broadvent singing LIKE A VIRGIN (TOUCHED FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME).

<<"The Ice Storm" was all right, but I didn't give a damn about the whole wife-swapping finale which didn't pay off. The scene with the electrical wire was pretty amazing, I thought. But like most contemporary films, there seemed to be something deeply insignificant about it.>>

I loved that it took the adults story and the teens story both seriously, unlike most stupid teen flicks. I went through exactly the same shit Tobey Maguire. And there was a parallel between the parents and their children. Plus I thought it was funny that the parents kept catching their kids screwing when they were cheating on each other.

<<I just watched "Big Fish" last night, and it too was okay, but seemed sincerely unimportant.>>

Yeah, but as I was watching it, I kept wanting to see the REAL edward bloom's life, not some fairy tale. I watched PLANET OF THE APES and I was amazed at how intelligent it was. From opening act to the very end, When Heston was talking about whether human was still fighting each other. Tim Burton's version looked good, and captured the weirdness, but it would've been much better if he had kept to the script of the original movie. I think the original is beautifully shot, and the only way you could make it better is if you could transplant Tim Burton's visuals into some of the scenes with Charlton Heston and everyone else. I mean seriously, why do away with a smart script.

<<Yes, I'm down to the last 50 "Hammer" tapes. It only took me three years to move 150 of them. At this rate I'll sell 500 in just ten years.>>

That's just the price you pay for trying to be original.
I watched A STAR IS BORN last night (the one with Frederick Marsh) and i loved the movie. The problem was it was on a crappy quality $2 dvd, and then I went to BORDERS cause they had this deal where you buy 3 dvds, get one free (found MILDRED PIERCE and TOUCH OF EVIL... sweet), and I found out there was another version with Judy Garland directed by George Cukor... but I'm not really interested in seeing this as a musical. I liked the version I got, its got that guy that played the cowardly sheriff in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE in it and some great lines ("We burned in summer, and we froze in winter, but we kept going, because that was what we WANTED to do"). My eyes lit up when I heard that line because, Stephen King inserted it into CREEPSHOW during the story where he stars as the dumb farmer getting eaten by moss. I just liked this old movie. I also liked the David Lynch version of THE ELEPHANT MAN but I don't know if that's the one from your list cause I thought Lon Chaney did a version. It was creepy, it reminded me of ERASERHEAD, except it had a heart. I never did finish ERASERHEAD, I made it to the part where he's sitting there with the weird ass baby whining, does it have an actual story or does it just spend the whole movie trying to be weird? Also, what do you think about when other films have older films playing somewhere in the movie as kind of reminding the audience these films existed. oh yeah, fuck harry potter, i like the 200 films I've got so far.

Dear Kevin:

Movies are a part of life, so why shouldn't they be in other movies? I love looking at the movie marquees in old films shot on 42nd St. in NY. Meanwhile. "The Asphalt Jungle" and "The African Queen" are great movies. I watched "The Asphalt Jungle" a couple of times recently, and I think it's terrific. I love the way Sterling Hayden keeps saying, "Are you tryin' to bone me?" Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake is utterly useless. It's a perfect example of what movies used to be, and what they now are. We used to get Charlton Heston, who was an actual movie star; now we get Markie Mark Wahlberg, wh isn't even an actor.

Josh

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

Josh,

What do you think of Dashiell Hammett's writing style? What I love about it is his ability to create vivid scenes and characters without getting overly descriptive. He's one of the few writers who uses the "less is more" philosophy and pulls it off brilliantly.

Like you, I believe in "getting to the point". Some writers just drag stuff out WAAAAAY too much. I still remember reading Steven King's "The Tommyknockers". Sheesh-that book needed to be trimmed down at least 300-400 pages. The story was bogged down in too much unecessary detail, and it went off on tangents that didn't serve the story at all. I forced myself to finish reading it, because I wanted to try and learn about what NOT to do when you write.

Have you ever read John Kennedy Toole? "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "The Neon Bible" are BRILLIANT. Sadly, he committed suicide at age 32. If it wasn't for his mom doggedly trying to get people to see "Dunces", we'd never know about him.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I read "A Confederacy of Dunces" when it came out, and I liked it. I don't think it's brilliant, and certainly not in caps. But it was good. It got the Pulitzer Prize that year, so I have a first edition hardcover in my Pulitzer collection, which was VERY difficult to find. The original hardcover printing must have been about 2-3,000. I got to the same point with Stephen King while reading"Christine." I had faithfully read every one of his books, but that one was hundreds of pages too long, and just a lame story to start with. And that was the end of Mr. King for me, and that must have been about 20-odd years ago. I haven't read any Hammett in years and I honestly don't remember his style. But I liked him and Raymond Chandler, back when I was reading detective stuff. Now I almost only read non-fiction.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I googled for the Ted Raimi web site, and sure enough he has an official web site. It is www.tedraimi.com. The graphics are pretty good. The story about you is there.

I believe you once said that something like that you never thought that Xena was a good show and it was difficult to watch an episode. Do you still think that? I always thought that seasons one and two were fairly creative and innovative TV. Certainly moreso than anything being produced nowadays. After season two the show became serialized and increasingly tedious. I have opinions on which of the lead characters did better acting jobs, but I will keep them private.

Not that I will make it there, but do you think you will ever appear at a LA Xena convention?

Dear Bob:

No, I don't think I will. If I didn't go to the Xena convention at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium when I lived in Santa Monica, one mile away, then I suppose I never will. Honestly, if I hadn't worked on Xena I would never have watched it, it's not my cup of tea. But then I don't watch any TV shows, except for "The American Experience," "Nova" and "Frontline," and boxing. Otherwise, I just watch movies.

Josh

Name: Raoul
E-mail: ra0ul01@yahoo.com

Josh-

There have been numerous discussions on your site concerning the use of themes in art, so I thought of you recently when reading an interview with the late comics legend Will Eisner:

"Q: Do you think all of your works address heartbreak on some level?
WE: Probably. I'm dealing with the human condition, and I'm dealing with life. For me, the enemy is life, and people's struggle to prevail is essentially the theme that runs through all my books."

Do you feel man's struggle to prevail is a valid theme? It seems to me if all drama concerns man in conflict (with nature, himself or other men,) then the struggle to prevail is inherent in all drama, and therefore a little too broad as a 'theme' of any particular work. Any thoughts?

Dear Raoul:

I agree, I think it's broad to be a good a theme. Since on a basic level no one wants to die, then consequently we all want to prevail. And that's a silly term anyway since we're all doomed to fail at prevailing over life. We all muddle through one way or another. Courage is a good theme regarding getting through life, or fortitude or defiance, something that affects how you get through life. But to just "prevail" to me means nothing.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just got done reading the first installments of your book. You paint a bleak picture but sprinkle it with advice; lifelines for the truly devoted (demented?). I did think to wonder at your statement about never having learned to deal with Hollywood. How does your experience with "Alien Apocalypse" fit with your book? It seems to me that your experience with "Alien" actually lies outside of the scope of the chapters you've so far posted.

I recently visited Ted Raimi's website for the first time in a while. It's got a new format and some new essays from Ted. He recounts one conversation he had with you. I don't know if you've seen it but it's a good read. He, like both you and Bruce, is a good essayist. Anyway, I didn't know if you've checked it out recently.

On a separate topic, though one under discussion here, I remember seeing "The Big Red One" when it came out and I was terribly disappointed by it. I've tried to watch it several times since and it always seemed disjointed and episodic. I was not aware that it had been so heavily edited, nor that a fuller version had been recently made available. I'd like to see it. My father was posted to the "Big Red" when it was located at Fort Riley, Kansas. Theirs really is a remarkable story.

Finally, you mentioned a while back that there had not been a great deal of reaction to "The Blind Waiter". I have a bootleg version of many of those shorts, I'm sure you're aware of them. I imagine that my reaction to them is similar to yours, without whatever memories you might have of filming them. In a way, Ted's essay about his conversation with you provides the best context for viewing those shorts; they are an integral part of your development as a filmmaker.

Anyway, interesting reading so far in the book.

John

Dear John:

I guess I'll have to go to Ted's website and see what you're talking about. I don't think the "Alien Apocalypse" deal changes anything about my POV of Hollywood. I also made that whole deal, and the film, outside of Hollywood. I don't think I paint anymore bleak of a picture than it really is, though. I know we're in a period where everybody makes the little league team so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, and that all kids are told if they really want something then they'll get it, but of course that's just not true. Most of the people who attempt to get into the film buisness will fail and give up. That's just how it works.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Josh,

Terrific job on the first posted installment of your filmmaking book. I'm sure you worked terribly hard to make it all read well, and I found the writing to be insightful, refreshing, and witty. Keep posting, I look forward to more! (and a shame this couldn't have been published)

One note, I didn't notice "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" on your favorite films list. What do you think of that film, and its score?

And another question, how often will you update your 'complete film list'? Take care.

Dear Dylan:

"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" has a lovely, haunting Bernard Herrmann score, but the movie never enchanted me. I'd say it's definitely lesser Joe Mankeiwicz. Although she was very pretty, I have reservations about Gene Tierney, who seemed very cold and distant. Since The Complete Film List is a PDF file, it will be difficult to update. It really ought to be typed in and completely alphabetized, but it doesn't seem very important.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<I liked "Mildred Pierce" a lot (terrific direction by the great Michael Curtiz), but "Grand Hotel" was a big bore, and Wally Beery as a German is just awful. It was the first-all star movie, and it won Best Picture, but it's not very good.>>
Thanks for the heads up on GRAND HOTEL. I saw John Huston's Moulin Rouge and its nice and colorful but I don't give a fuck about Jose Ferrer at all (unlike THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE and THE MALTESE FALCON which were fuckin excellent). Also, I will never mention Troma or Lloyd again. I did like THE ICE STORM, it was funny, and I liked all the setups although I didn't see the point in having Elijah Wood jumping up and down on the diving board like he was going to die AND having the scene with the power line... aw well, who am I to question authority, it beats THE HULK by 1,000,000.00. You're down to your last box of HAMMER? Serious? Damn.

Dear kdn:

John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" may well not be a great film, but it's a million miles ahead of Baz Luhrman's "Moulin Rouge." In Huston's film it's just kind of fun to watch him cutting between Jose Ferrer on his knees and the actual dwarf. "The Ice Storm" was all right, but I didn't give a damn about the whole wife-swapping finale which didn't pay off. The scene with the electrical wire was pretty amazing, I thought. But like most contemporary films, there seemed to be something deeply insignificant about it. I just watched "Big Fish" last night, and it too was okay, but seemed sincerely unimportant. Yes, I'm down to the last 50 "Hammer" tapes. It only took me three years to move 150 of them. At this rate I'll sell 500 in just ten years.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I think by "box drama," Brett meant a film that retains its stage setting of one enclosed space. Like "Rope," for example, which I've always thought was pretty claustrophobic. Or "Detective Story," which works better since the camera is all over that squad room. I really like all those play-to-films you mentioned, but in most of those, the directors wisely moved much of the action out into the open. Just like in "The Sunshine Boys," where Herbert Ross had a lengthy conversation between Matthau and Richard Benjamin take place as they're walking down a NY sidewalk, rather than in Uncle Willie's tiny apartment. Same exact dialogue, but it just livened things up a bit.

Some others that come to mind, that I think worked well, would be "Mr. Roberts" (which is almost entirely set in just a couple of places on the ship, even if some are exteriors on a real ship) "Arsenic and Old Lace," and "His Girl Friday" (i.e "The Front Page")where the last half is all in the press room.

Regards,

August

Dear august:

I wasn't just coming up with plays that were turned into films, I was trying to come up with plays that had been transformed into a visual movie. I don't think "Arsenic and Old Lace" or "His Girl Friday" are particularly visual films, they're merely filmed plays. And just moving the location of a play outside isn't what I'm talking about. When you watch what Stanley Kramer is up to with "Inherit the Wind" or "Judgement at Nuremburg," he's working overtime to figure out how to cover the action in interesting, visual ways, with big complicated camera moves. Whereas Bob Fosse with"Cabaret" is doing many cool, quick camera moves that cut beautifully with other cool quick shots. Musical films like "The Sound of Music" or "West Side Story" have so totally become movies that you can't tell they were ever plays.

Josh

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

Josh

I'd always heard plays turned into movies referred to as 'box dramas' because you have to stick all this emotive action and turmoil into one room, like rats in a box.
Caught up with To Kill A Mockingbird the other night, as well and was reminded of how simple and gratifying Atticus Finch's exit from the courtoom was. Today, you'd have big bombastic fanfare and forced emotion.

Dear Brett:

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a great film all the way around. Terrific, Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Oscar-winning screenplay (Horton Foote), Greogory Peck also won an Oscar, it's Robert Duvall's first film and he's perfect as Boo, it has astounding kid performances (as a little piece of trivia, Scout is played by Mary Badham, whose brother is John Badham who would go on to direct such films as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Stakeout"), thoughtful, intelligent direction, and one of the prettiest music scores ever. They don't make 'em like that no more.

Josh

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

Josh:

I watched 12 Angry Men the other night for the third or fourth time and was reminded just how good Henry Fonda was in that film. It's a great example of how to handle a box drama because as the film flows, it progresses with interesting character interaction and great script. Do you know any other good box dramas just as good? I liked Glengarry Glen Ross, which was shot on a soundstage, but I suppose it's an approximate. The camera work in Angry Men is quite good, too.

Dear Brett:

The cinematography in "Glengarry Glen Ross" is beautiful, too (Juan Ruiz Anchia, a great DP). I don't know where you came up with this term "box drama"? Are you looking for a box drama to lens soon? As for plays on film, there are many (and I include TV dramas adapted into movies), and a few have made the transformation very well. "Cabaret" immediately comes to mind. Stanley Kramer did a helluva job with both "Inherit the Wind" and"Judgement at Nuremburg." William Inge's "Picnic" opened up very nicely into a movie, as did "A Man For All Seasons." One of my favorite films is"Member of the Wedding" which is almost entirely in a kitchen with three people, and was based on a play, which was in turn based on a novel (by Carson McCullers). "Casablanca" was actually based on a play, although rather loosely I hear. It's always been a trcik to make a movie out of a play and have it not seem like a play.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Josh,

Read most the posted portions of your guide to low-budget filmmaking. Very interesting. I recognize a lot of it as coming from your online essays. No questions, just two things in the book that made me want to comment.

First, the whole "Hit List" thing, and not taking a camera crew up on the roof, I remember the first (and only) time I watched the Matrix and seeing a bird's-eye-shot of the characters walking into a building that barely lasted for more than a second. All I could think of was the poor guys who got to lug the equipment up that high, the cinematographer who had to set everything up, and everything else that had to be done for that inherently meaningless shot-it probably took all day. And it helped me realize why movies take so much time and money today.

And on "Bridge on the River Kwai", I'm so endeared to that movie. I still feel the same mental anguish I felt the first time I watched it and that bridge was about to explode. Proof of it's excellent writing is that I can put myself into any of the main characters' heads at any point of the movie and know exactly what they were thinking and feeling. I felt emotionally torn in two by the whole ordeal.

Sorry there was so little response to "The Blind Waiter," but after reading the script for "Cleveland Smith," I can't tell you how much I want to see the corresponding short.

Darin

Dear Darin:

At some point we'll continue posting the short films. The problem is that they take up so much space on the server. Right now we're posting the book, and as you can see from the Table of Contents, there's a lot more of it to come. That "Hit List" example is really just Practical Filmmaking 101, which directly relates to screenwriting. Why ever write a scene where nothing happens and nothing important is said? Every scene should have a good reason for existing. Considering most scripts only have between 75-100 scenes, each one better mean something.

Josh

Name: Rachel
E-mail: BoxerQT@aol.com

Dear Josh,

What is the most gratifying part of your job?

Rachel

Dear Rachel:

When the checks clear. I'm kidding, although that is a fairly gratifying part of the process. Having a scene come to life in front of the camera, based on my script and direction. It's also kind of nice when the footage cuts together afterward. It's also rather fulfilling to see the finished product, with music and effects. But probably the best part is watching a film I've made with an audience and hearing them react in the proper places.

Josh

Name: Kevin P.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i just bought "if i had a hammer", i hope its as good as your other films.

your down to your last box of "if i had a hammer" tapes, does that make you happy [for selling so many] or depressed [theres a chance no one else will see it].

Dear Kevin:

I didn't sell very many and it makes me neither happy nor depressed. That I wasn't able to get the film distributed is depressing, but I've moved on.

Josh

Name: Rudy T.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How much are you selling "If I Had A Hammer" for? I went to the link on your main page but didn't see a price.

Also, saw they have "Running Time" at a local video store here. Only $5! (I spent $50 on it back in the day!!!)

Dear Rudy:

It's $19.95, plus $4.00 S&H (within the U.S.). I don't know where the listing of the price went. I'm down to my last box of tapes, too, and when they're gone, that's all there is.

Josh

Name: Boston
E-mail:

Josh,

Why would you say "no" to this question?

"I would be interested in knowing if you think that the actor Robert Trebor would be capable of handling the demanding role of Max Bialystock in the stage version of "The Producers". I have a valid reason for asking this question."

Dear Boston:

Look, I'm not interested in picking on Bob Trebor. I was asked a question and I answered it.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<< "Rambo" is bullshit, although not as bad as "Rambo III.">> I figured as much when I read the storyline, putting him back in war is completely against what the first film is about. I watched DELIVERANCE again the other night, in reference to your complaints about the rape scene in A BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA (which I wouldn't watch anyways). I liked DELIVERANCE, but it kind of went to shit for me during the Ned Beatty rape scene. Did it REALLY need to get THAT explicit? I had that image stuck in my head the rest of the film. I have to watch DELIVERANCE looking the other way during that scene just to enjoy the movie. Oh but there was this funny skit Lloyd Kaufman did hidden on one of his dvds. He re-enacted a deal he had with New Line Cinema to make a live-action movie of THE TOXIC CRUSADERS (then a hit Saturday morning cartoon responsible for my corruption... it lead to me watching the TOXIC AVENGER, which freaked the shit out of me with all the sex, and the kid getting his head run over... I was such a good christian before that, then I saw the cartoon again lately and it was one of the biggest pieces of shit ever, they repeat themselves nonstop and its WORSE than Spy Kids).

Anyways, New Line was pulling this stunt were they buy the rights to one movie, to coax the films competitor into going with their deal, then when they got the deal to the film they wanted, they refused to release the rights to the initial film they bought so they wouldn't have any competition. This wasn't just screwing up TROMA's toy rights and sub-deals, loosing them money, they were doing this with other films too. You probably know more about this than I do.

So Lloyd comes on Happily welcoming the New Line Execs... and they tell him he dropped the contract on the floor, so he bends over to pick it up, then the New Line Execs dress up like HillBillies and rape Lloyd Kaufman while the theme to DELIVERANCE plays in the background... and Lloyd says,"So, does this mean we have a deal?" Then HOORAY FOR CINEMA!! is superimposed over the screen.

Aw well, what do you think of MILDRED PIERCE versus GRAND HOTEL? I have yet to see either but I noticed GRAND HOTEL wasn't on your list. aw fuck it, I'll get both.

Dear kdn:

I don't care about Troma or Lloyd Kaufman. And I think "Deliverance" is a great film, and you need that rape scene to motivate them to what they then do, which is kill the sons of bitches. Unlike "Bastard," where it's all about "love" and "forgiveness," so that 30 seconds of that rape scene would have sufficed. Also, Ned Beatty is a grown man, if he wants to do an intense rape scene, that's one thing. But Jena Malone was way underage at the time they made "Bastard," and I think it's wrong to put a kid through that, even if it's a movie. I liked "Mildred Pierce" a lot (terrific direction by the great Michael Curtiz), but "Grand Hotel" was a big bore, and Wally Beery as a German is just awful. It was the first-all star movie, and it won Best Picture, but it's not very good.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Why do you register your scripts with the LOC and not the Writers Guild? Have you ever used the Guild?

Keith

Dear Keith:

Yes, I have, but it's not the official place to do it. If and when you make a deal on a script, one of the aspects is transferring the copyright. If you don't have a copyright, then you must get one, and you'll look like an idiot for not having it. Nobody gives damn if it's registered at the Writer's Guild, which is just a trade union and means nothing. Registering your script with the Writer's Guild is a perfectly fine secondary way to protect your script. But if you ever end up in court due to your script, it will be over "copyright infringement" (not "Writer's Guild registration infringement"), and if you haven't registered with the copyright office, you haven't got much a case.

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Josh,

As you know I really look up to you for the way you keep the Independent Film spirit alive. I have just finished a five minute short film, and I wanted to nkow if I could put you in the credits under "Special Thanks". I don't have to if you don't want me to, but I thought i'd better ask first.

Jay

Dear Jay:

Sure, go ahead. Good luck with the film.

Josh

Name: Julian
E-mail:

Dear Josh

I would be interested in knowing if you think that the actor Robert Trebor would be capable of handling the demanding role of Max Bialystock in the stage version of "The Producers". I have a valid reason for asking this question.

Dear Julian:

No.

Josh

Name: Camden N.
E-mail: Lonchaney20@msn.com

Dear Josh:

I'm just wondering if you've ever met Danny Hicks (meaning the one from 'Evil Dead II' and 'Intruder') and, if so, what was he like?

Dear Camden:

I've met Danny a few times way back when, but not in about 20 years. He seemed like a nice enough guy.

Josh

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

<<Do the wolves catch up and tear you apart?>>

he he he he. You'll get more work. I read nothing but good things about you as a director. I watched ZORBA THE GREEK. That freaked me out how they killed the widow, raided the foreign lady's place like vultures before she was dead, and the whole mine deal fell down... to which Zorba worries about the rack of lamb and says, "You need a little madness, or else you'll never break the strings and live." oh yeah, TROY sucked, it was like an episode of XENA/HERCULES (which at least had a sense of humor). LAWRENCE OF ARABIA had a better story to fill up its time. Yeah, I wish you had some kind of great producer with lots of cash to make your indie films, they would be pretty entertaining. Were Stallone's movies okay before ROCKY (not great, I'm expecting). was RAMBO okay, It didn't seem like a good idea to take the story back to Vietnam, that defeats the purpose of everything I like about FIRST BLOOD. Oh yeah, I walked out of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, got my money back, got THE ICE STORM and PLANET OF THE APES. Hope they're good.

Dear kdn:

Stallone's movies before "Rocky"? He's just a bit player in a couple of films ("Take the Money and Run"), and he co-starred in the unexceptional,"The Lords of Flatbush." I saw "Zorba the Greek" the first time when I was about ten, and the scenes you mentioned really freaked me out, too. "Rambo" is bullshit, although not as bad as "Rambo III."

Josh

Name: J. Paul Zimmerman
E-mail: jpaulzimmerman@verizon.net

Dear Josh,

Will there ever be a DVD release of "Lunatics: A Love Story?"

J. Paul Zimmerman

Dear J. Paul:

It doesn't look like it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I think you told me that you had seen "White Dog" in the theater. I actually saw it on video, it was a bootleg copy of Fuller's original.

You are correct, it wasn't a very good film, but there again his intention and idea was quite good.

I know that "The Third Face" is his autobiography, my mistake in saying that it was just a biography. I picked it up the week it came out, since I saw it here at the "Strand" bookstore for a pretty reasonable price.

If I am not mistaken, the reason it took so long to get published was due to publishing and legal rights problems. After he died, it was tied up for some reason.

I really enjoyed the book and the stories he tells about his life are great! I just wish his films translated his idea better. I do like "Pick up on South Street", "The Naked Kiss", "Steel Helmet" and "The Big Red One" which is probably his best film.

That's interesting about Rod Steiger. "Run of the Arrow" was ok.

I knew that he directed "Hell and High Water", and I had also seen an interview with him where he talks about how much he disliked the experience very candidly, but he really liked working with Richard Widmark in both "Pick up at South Street" and "Hell and High Water".

I mentioned this before, but it was Widmark who asked him not to fire his gun on set anymore during "Hell and High Water", and after Widmark's request, he stopped firing it for the rest of the shoot.

Widmark is one of my favorite acotor of that period. He was great!

Fuller was a very colorful human, I just wish his ideas translated better to films.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I too like Richard Widmark very much. He's a very good actor (he's still alive, I believe, and is 90 years old) with a pretty wide range, and went back and forth between bad guys and sympathetic leads his whole career. Many of his performances have a great intensity to them. Interestingly, I think, Widmark is baseball pitcher, Sandy Koufax's, father-in-law. Meanwhile, I recently re-watched "Pickup on South Street," which is certainly one of Fuller's best films, and it didn't hold up very well -- it's nearly as wooden and sluggish as most of his other films. I just recorded"Fixed Bayonets," also one of his better films, so I can reassess it. The tough, cigar-chomping sergeant in it, played by Gene Evans, is named Sgt. Rock, long before the comic book of the same name. BTW, one of the dogfaces in the film right before that, "The Steel Helmet," is a very young James Dean in his first movie role. As an homage to Fuller, the war story Sgt. Stryker tells in TSNKE is the plot of "Fixed Bayonets." Anyway, even though Sam Fuller was a clunky writer and director, I still think he was miles ahead of most filmmakers now.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

that answer you gave "rex" was soo funny!

anyway - i always hear about how much a movie costs and how much it made, but i always wanted to know how that money is divided.

could you write a rough list of what each of your movies cost, how much you made, and how much the film grossed. some people dont like to talk about money, but i dont see what the big deal is

another thing i always wounder about - do you worry about finding work? do you need to? are you in some sort of a union? what happens when you get old, do you get retirment?

thanks alot - i hope you dont have a problem talking about money - it seems like no one wants to talk about it

Dear tom:

I don't want to go through the money issues, which are in fact somewhat private. These are business deals after all. Suffice it to say I've never really made any money on my indie films. They continue to generate money, which is nice, but I would probably have to live to be a couple of hundred years old to break even on them all. Yes, I am a member of a union, the Director's Guild of America, and I am vested in their pension plan, so I will be receiving a pension from them when I retire. Do I worry about finding work? Of course. I didn't have a job from the middle of 2001 until the middle of 2004 (except for two days on the TV show "Worst Case Scenario"). I wasn't sure if I would ever work in films or TV again. I don't know if I'll ever get another job now.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You mention The Big Red One quite a bit. This seems to be an almost forgotten movie, although I guess it is probably on TNT or USA more often than I would expect. Do you think it was a good movie? I saw it in the theater when it first came out, fairly big marketing by the way. I didn't really like it that much and haven't seen it since. One reason I didn't like it though, is that I was never a big Luke Skywalker fan. Lee Marvin was good, but wasn't enough to carry the film. I just didn't find the movie that realistic, Mark Hamill was too wimpy, and it just didn't do it for me. The scope of the story was too vast too, with Mark Hamill like Forest Gump, right at the forefront of every major event.

On the other hand, I always saw the movie as being significant as being the last old style WWII movie. What I mean by old style is the war movies from around 1943 to around 1970. The genre basically died with Patton, but sputtered on through the 70s decade with such mediocre fare as A Bridge Too Far, and finally breathed its last with Red One. After that war films regardless of conflict, became psychological melodramas, with the officers deranged psychopaths, and the enlisted men hapless demasculated screw ups. Oh well enough of that, I'd like to hear your opinion.

Dear Bob:

I've mentioned "The Big Red One" a couple of times lately because I'm reading Sam Fuller's autobiography (I'm almost done, it's a pretty big book), and it's the project he spent his entire professional life trying to get made. Meanwhile, they've just released the restored director's cut, which is nearly two hours longer than the released version, and my friend who saw it said it was the best film he viewed in 2004, and he wasn't crazy about it in it's original truncated version, and neither was I. To have half your movie cut out by knucklehead Hollywood execs is enough to destroy anyone. Anyway, I'd very much like to see this new version. Yes, war movies took a hard left turn with the Vietnam War in about 1969-70, when they all became anti-war movies and it was then no longer PC to make a heroic war film. "A Bridge Too Far" is kind of caught in the middle, in that it's a big-budget, all-star war film, but it's about a failed mission. You came out at the end not knowing what to think. My script, "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood," is the old-fashioned sort of war film, where what these soldiers are doing actually matters and you want to see them succeed, and when they do it's hopefully worth cheering. I'm not trying to promote war, I'm trying to say that some wars, and battles, actually did matter, and your fellow countrymen gave their lives for an important cause.

Josh

Name: rex
E-mail: littlemisssunshine356@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Josh:

what i wanted to ask you is about making films? i mean how do u get all the equiptment on a low budget please i need an answer quick because i want to be a film director so i need to start soon.
thanks for listening

rex

Dear rex:

Why, is someone chasing you? If you don't start soon, then what happens? Do the wolves catch up and tear you apart? Well, I won't you tell you where you get film equipment, and since I'm the only one in the world who knows, you're now in big trouble. All right, here's the secret -- you have to whittle everything from trees: the lights, the camera, everything. Good luck.

Josh

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

Josh,

Even though I am quite knowledgeable about the technical side of filmmaking, I still first and foremost believe in the story. If you can't tell a story than what's the point of making a film?

As witnessed by your Super 8mm film "The Blind Waiter", you can make something good shooting on any format as long as the content is interesting.

I too believe that story and ideas have taken a backseat to technology and the reason I had to immerse myself in the technology side of the business is that the market demanded it from me as an editor and I have somewhat of a healthy interest in it, although sometimes it is exhausting and simple is better.

I know that you are not that fond of Fuller's films, and I do think his films are interesting, but he wasn't a really good director, however I do like him as a individual and I know from seeing enough interviews with him that he despised racism in all forms and he felt were there was any type of racism, there would always be violence.


Human connection was the basis for most of his ideas in his films.

I do believe that he is more interesting of a character than some of his films. The biography is good. Enjoy the reading!

Did you ever see "White Dog"?

Scott

Dear Scott:

I'm one of the very few human beings who actually saw "White Dog" on it's original theatrical release, which was very, very limited, but one of the few places it did show was Detroit. It's not a very good movie, but is based on an interesting idea, just like most of Fuller's films. "The Third Face" isn't a biography, it's his autobiography, which for some reason came out five years after he died. It's a pretty good autobiography, too. I like Fuller the man, and I respect more than like his movies. I saw him speak once (after a screening of "Run of the Arrow"), and he basically told most of "The Big Red One," which he hadn't made yet. He gave Rod Steiger his first lead role in "Run of the Arrow" and Steiger would never discuss the film afterward. Someone asked why that was, and Fuller replied, "That's because Rod Steiger is an asshole." I met Rod Steiger, too, and he seemed legitimately crazy. I also attended Sam Fuller's memorial at the DGA.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

A few things. Firstly, when you register a script with the WGA are subsequent (or even previous) drafts of that script also considered registered, or do you have to submit those separately?

Secondly, have you ever read any of the books by or about the mathmetician and physicist Richard Feynman? He seemed like a hell of a character - definitely his own man. I read "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!" a while ago and just picked up "The Beat of a Different Drummer". It's not as colorful a read but is much more of a true biography, and pretty good. Thought that given your interest in biographies you might appreiciate it.

Finally, though you didn't seem interested in earlier responses, I would encourage you to check out "Firefly". While some of it is shot handheld it's fairly tight handheld - not the obnxiously intrusive style ala Homcide with bobbing cameras and constant focus pulling. What makes it worthwhile is the writing, which is very solid & entertaining, and a good overall story arc. And as you've pointed out, writing is key. So if you can forgive a handheld shot now and again I think you'll find the writing and performances more than make up for it.

That's it for now. Looking forward to seeing Alien Apocalypse soon!

Out,

Mike

Dear Mike:

You really only need to register your script once. I generally send out the completed first-draft. But I never register anything with the Writer's Guild. I register all of my stuff with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov), which is the official place to do it.

I've read several of Feynman's books, and I liked them all. He was a great character. There's a film about him, "Infinity," starring Matthew Broderick as Feynman, which isn't bad (it's certainly not great, either, but I enjoyed it). It's mainly about his first marriage to his dying childhood sweetheart (played by Patricia Arquette) while he was working on the Manhattan Project. He wrote a second autobiography, BTW, called "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" which was good, but not as good as "Surely."

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<Well, that's BULLSHIT!>>
Back for a split second. Hey, I thought for most of ADAM'S RIB they were trying to say women's rights actually have somethign to do with that case... I mean what bullshit, I had no respect for hepburn. There are lots of abusive marriages out there, it doesn't give them the right to kill each other, they do have the right to divorce each other and hit each other up for child support. But then I finally saw the scene with the licorice gun and gained my respect back for George Cukor. Hell, it was a great scene.

Dear kdn:

Okay, but it hasn't got anything to do with "A Bastard out of Carolina." If you're going to show me an 11-year-old girl getting beaten and raped literally for 3-4 minutes, when I clearly understood what was happening in 15 seconds, then you'd better have a REALLY good reason for putting me through that, which they didn't. And to put an actual 11-year-old girl (Jena Malone, who is very good) through that, even for a movie, you'd better have a terrific reason, which they didn't. Yes, terrible shit happens in the world, but why are they telling me this story?

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

kdn
jericho_legends@yahoo.com

<<"Godfather III" completely sucks. It has no redeeming value. It's a total miscalculation in every possible way. As my friend Rick summarized it as the lights came up, he muttered, "Disaster.">>

THIS ISN'T A POST... I Had a good one, I don't have time to type it up yet, but I will. but I completely agree with you, its like how we were talking about scarface and the first two acts were interesting but act 3 fell apart. this is just a part of michael corleone's life i didn't need to see.

P.S. Hammer's great, if anything, Phil Buckley comes off as too goofy at the beginning and todays audience assumes its gonna go nowhere cause of the crap they are used to.

Dear kdn:

I don't even accept that "Godfather III" is part of Michael's life. It's simply not whewre the story should have gone. My friend Rick and I discussed what "Godfather III" should be many, many times between in the 16 years between II and III, and I think we had it pretty well figured out. It should have picked up in 1967-68 when drugs are sweeping the country, and now there's no way to stay out of the drug business and still retain power. So the Corleone family (including Michael's son, who is in his early 20s and ready to step into his father's shoes) goes into the drug business, and to secure their position must eliminate the heads of all the other drug rings, which they do, then Michael's son takes over, even though that's not what he wanted to do (but I would NEVER have made him an opera singer). All the crap with the Vatican is just garbage and means nothing. And there was no reason to make Michael any older than Al Pacino was at the time of filming.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

No problem about not posting my last e-mail, I kind of figured it was too long and too technical, but you can see what problems and solutions the HD format holds in the industry and how it will be incorporated in the future. When I let go on these subjects, I really try to do it in a way that people can understand it. I hope it was clear.

I agree that "Selling out" means absoulutely nothing anymore in the film business or the music business for that matter. It is the first phase of what used to be the last phase for middle age artists. These avenues used to be places that people could express interesting ideas and points of view while still entertaining.

Maybe it has a lot to do with the times and how much more money plays a role in it all, but "A" list Directors and Actors were always paid a lot of money, so that is not the answer.

However, twenty five years ago the average top pay for a professional athlete was maybe $150,000 a year and now look at it?

These are the heros and mentors of the last two generations. "Bling Bling" has won out over intelligent and evocative ideas and art. Searching for happiness through material success is what our society is all about.

As Marshall Mcluhan predicted, TV has become a "vast wasteland". Intelligent shows like the "Twilight Zone" and "The Prisoner" are just a memory, and now we have the "Sureal World". We have reached the lowest common denominator with very few shining moments.

A friend of mine who is a computer programmer and lives in Seattle said to me once, "Everyone sells out at some point, it is inevitable". He is a little more pragmtic than I am I suppose.

I said that may well be, but most people are not even motivated to make interesting art anymore and they just skip that part and go straight for the selling out phase of it all which makes for lack of interesting art, films, and music.

I believe you are correct in that Robert Rodriguez is just an industry survivor and he never really had anything to say, he just paid homage to the action film genre, horror film genre and now he is paying homage to the kid Serial films of the 50's. Nothing special.

"Come the Revolution!""

Scott

Dear Scott:

I think this is a very big issue, perhaps the biggest issue facing movies. Bigger than any technological issue, which is where everyone's mind seems to be these days. If you haven't got anything to say, or even a point of view, who cares whether you shoot on film or digital? It's going to come out as a piece of crap in either instance. I'm just reading Sam Fuller's autobiography, "A Third Face," which is very good. Although I'm not the world's biggest Sam Fuller fan, and I find many of his films clunky and heavy-handed, he still had important points to make about racism and violence and friendship and loyalty, and many other issues as well. He says, and I believe him, that he consistently turned down high-budget films with stars, with much higher paychecks, just so he could make the films he wanted to make without interference (he made one high-budget film based on someone else's script, "Hell and High Water," and he didn't like the experience). But to watch these little indie features on IFC and Sundance that have people talking for 90 minutes with nothing to say is worse for me than trying to watch big, stupid action movies.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

I agree with you about Robert Rodriguez. I really, really admire his enthusiasm and his get up and go attitude. His book Rebel Without a Crew is the reason I bought my Arriflex 16BL. It's an extremely inspirational book and it's written by a guy with a big heart. I'd recommend any aspiring film maker to read it.

My problem with Rodriguez is that he isn't a strong SCREENwriter. He has cool ideas, but his stories don't hang together.

And all his films have the same tempo. One thing I've realised about film-making is that you must exercise RESTRAINT. The over riding issue is: will this type of shot/lighting style/effect compliment the story/scene? I don't see this kind of film making intelligence in Rodriguez' work. He's full of energy and ideas, but he has absolutely no restraint. The pacing of his films is all on one level. There's no artistry involved. It's just popcorn.

I see Rodriguez as a populist film maker in the MTV mould. He's got the energy I'm sure the studio exec's love. I do think he may redeem himself in the future; but at the moment I feel he's just too giddy with the whole sand pit. He needs to work with a good writer.

I cherish my El Mariachi DVD, but when I watch the film what I'm doing is enjoying the story of HOW the movie was made, rather than the movie itself (which is okay).

All right, Josh. We're just finishing the dub on my third short 16mm film. I love this stage of the process. The sound just makes everything... real. I'm just trying to gather the energy to jump into the next short film - hard but satisfying to do when you've got a full time job! Catch ya later.

Lee

Dear Lee:

I think you're making an interesting point, but I don't think "restraint" is necessarily the word. I don't think Orson Welles is showing the slightest bit of restraint in "Citizen Kane," but he's telling a big story that covers a lot of issues, and he's using every film technique he can think of. Just like all novelists used to attempt to write "The great American novel," Welles was trying to make the greatest movie ever made, and very possibly succeeded. Robert Rodriguez, on the other hand, is only trying to prove that he can make a movie. Yeah, so what? He's not even trying to make a good movie, just any movie. So it all boils down to: what are your goals? If it's just to expose film, who gives a shit? If you're trying to make a great movie, even if you fail to realize that goal, you've actually tried something.

Josh

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

Josh,

I have the same problem that you do with Robert Rodriguez. I think he keeps making the same movie over and over and his subject matter isn't all that interesting.

His "Spy Kid" stuff does well with the kids and they seem to be fun films, but when it comes to his adult films, they are boring.

I too respect him for how he broke into the business, but his films are just reruns of the same story which isn't that good.

He is a big advocate for shooting HD over film which is interesting.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Just getting into the system is apparently enough these days. It's like the issue of "selling out," which no longer means anything. Someone like Rodriguez sold out before he started. He had nothing to say, nor even a new POV on what he was doing, he just wanted to prove he could handle action as well as the next schmuck. When that didn't seem to be paying off, he switched to kid's films. He's a survivor, not an artist. But the entire point of becoming a filmmaker now is to make money, be a success, and make "Free Willy 5" when it's offered to you. Selling out is the point.

Meanwhile, sorry I didn't post your last letter, which was interesting, but it was just too long and too technical.

Josh

Name: Richard
E-mail: rick686@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

You said, "I just don't think he has anything to say, and that's an important part of being an artist" in regards to Robert Rodriquez. I'd really like to know, based on the films you've made and the screenplays you've written, what exactly you are trying to say?

Dear Richard:

I have no single point I'm trying to make with all of my films, each one is it's own deal. But if you haven't seen "If I Had a Hammer," then perhaps you should. In just that film alone I cover a gamut of issues, from racism, to drugs, to caring, to a sense of being committed to a purpose, to what actually does matter in life. It's by far the film of mine that has the most issues I'm trying to address. But even a film like "Running Time," which is an action story, still has a theme (trust), which at least to me, has some meaning and a point. And to a lesser extent, so do my other films, too. This is my biggest gripe with modern movies -- they don't have anything to say. Worse still, is when a film mistakenly ends up saying something that they didn't even know they were saying. For instance, I just watched"A Bastard out of Carolina," Anjelica Huston's directorial debut. In the story a mother remarries a man who abuses and rapes her 11-year-old daughter, but the mother, who knows about the abuse and the rape, loves the guy and won't leave him. At the end the little girl forgives her mother. Well, that's BULLSHIT! The mother is a knowing accomplice in the crimes and absolutely does not deserve forgiveness. The fact that she "loves" this fucking creep means nothing -- he's a criminal, and her not stopping him makes her a criminal, too. So, what were they trying to say? That no matter how thoughtless and an asshole your mother is, you should always forgive her? Honestly, I don't think they knew what they were saying. But at least there are issues there, even if they're not addressed well. Robert Rodriguez has no issues at all. Tough guys run around and shoot people, or kids get into trouble and their parents must come and bail them out.

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Hey Josh.

Before I ask a question, just a bib thank you. I have read a lot about you from your journal, The Evil Dead Companion and Bruce Campbell's autobiography. My question for you today is if you would ever be interested working with Sam Raimi in any capacity ever again? Rumors of The Evil Dead remake and Evil Dead 4 are on the rise. Also, do you know if Sam seems ashamed of the Evil Dead series, it sometimes seems like it. Thanks, Josh, you truely keep hope alive with Independent filmmakers such as myself.

Dear Jay:

If Sam and Rob wanted me to make a film for them I certainly would consider it, although they haven't offered. I think this ED remake is pretty sure to happen now, but no ED4. I don't think Sam is ashamed of the ED films, why would he be? I think he's the most eager for the remake.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"I do admire how he got himself into the business, I just don't think he has anything to say, and that's an important part of being an artist."

Well, I have to admit...that's a good point. There's no arguing with you on that one. :)

Richard

Dear Richard:

Robert Rodriguez does know how to set up a good-looking shot, and that's not chopped liver. And he keeps working, so he's got that going for him.

Josh

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

<<Meanwhile, I probably like"The Godfather" more than "The Apartment.">>

Yeah, I just watched the Godfather part 2. I hope 3 is okay, my brother says it sucks, but you never know. I liked ATTACK with Jack Palance and Eddie Albert. I loved every scene in it. I loved how they did the opening credits starting over Palance's face. I like how Aldrich staged all his shots, including this one where Jack Palance wants to kill Cooney, and you see the light on Jack's crazy face, but a shadow lays on the face of the soldier keeping him from walking through the door, then when Jack is pushed away, you see the soldiers face uncovered. I love how at the end, Jack Palance's body is in one of the most twisted expressions ever, and those scenes in the tiny house remind me of EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2's atmosphere (which beats the shit out of private ryan).

Dear kdn:

Yeah, "Attack" is a terrific film, and probably both Jack Palance and Eddie Albert's best film. "Godfather III" completely sucks. It has no redeeming value. It's a total miscalculation in every possible way. As my friend Rick summarized it as the lights came up, he muttered, "Disaster."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks a lot for telling me about your boxing experience, that is really interesting. Is "The Final Round" available in any rental stores these days? Also I'm curious if Bruce boxed any there himself?

Well, anyway, those guys you sparred sound really tough, very interesting, must have been really good amateurs I geuss unless any of them went professional. Explosive and powerful.

I actually passed out once but it was more of my own accord, but I haven't experienced anything like that though I can imagine the violence of the ring. I've never really done serious contact sparring, but once I hadn't been practicing for a while and somebody got me with a hook kick, though surprising it was actually more of an embarrassment and didn't really feel much (though I imagine boxing is different).

You know for years I had thought myself an expert but recently I learned that in the East they would only really consider someone an expert if they were at a "master" level, whereas over here the perception is different (media).

Curious though, who are your favorite boxers? Historical and/or contemporary?

Really looking forward to Alien Apocalypse!

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

"The Final Round" is a 20-minute super-8 short, so no it's not in any rental shops. Bruce boxed as much as I did, and he's bigger and stronger than me, so he fared a bit better. He and I boxed and he gave me a little bit of a beating. I boxed his macho brother, Don (who is an MP at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba right now), and beat the daylights out of him. My arms hurt from punching Don in the face. I don't know that those kids there were "really good amateurs," they were just run-of-the-mill, though serious, amateurs, who wanted to get to the Olympics, and probably none of them ever did, let alone become pros. I like smart fighters, like Lennox Lewis or Muhammed Ali. I like Kostya Tzsu, Corey Spinks, Diego Corrales, Joel Casamayor, Jeff Lacey, Panchito Bojado.

Josh

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

"Also, Robert Rodriguez doesn't interest me at all."

Come on, Josh. I would think you of all people would respect Rodriguez, even if you don't care for all his films. This is a man who does not let the constraints of a studio or a budget requirement hinder him from doing his best work. If "they" say no, he goes off and does it himself, and has found great success in doing so. He practically puts these movies together all in his own home here in Austin.

As someone who's always preaching "to just get out there and do it" as opposed to just talking about making films, I would think you's be willing to give him more of a chance.

Richard

Dear Richard:

But I don't like his movies. Nothing he finds interesting do I find interesting. He sets up a shot pretty well, I just never care about what he's shooting. I do admire how he got himself into the business, I just don't think he has anything to say, and that's an important part of being an artist.

Josh

Name: Vicki Gordon
E-mail: samvicco2@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I feel that I possibly am intruding on your site, and I'm sorry, but that is the sweetest story about Stevie, and I'm sitting here crying like a baby over his life and loss. I'm so sorry that you have lost him, I can't tell you how sorry I am. Thank you for telling his story.

Dear Vicki:

Everyone is welcome here. Stevie was a wonderful cat, and my good buddy. Luckily, now that I have three other cats I don't miss like I used to. Still, he will forever have a place in my heart.

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Actually there is such a thing as anamorphic DVD's. This at first confused me too as I, too, was only aware of lenses being anamorphic (which I love by the way).

DVD's that are anamorphic are ones that 'squeeze' the full 525 vertical lines of resolution into the picture between the letterbox bars as opposed to 525 lines covering both the picture and the bars (thus leaving only maybe 300-400 lines of resolution between the bars). This of course makes for a sharper picture when letterboxed.

You have to have a TV, DVD player (and of course a DVD) that has this feature. Most DVD's released these days have the 'anamorphic' feature and are usually labeled as such. I hope that makes sense.

Dear CD:

Thanks for the explanation, and I'm glad to know that there is one. I just thought the term "anamorphic" was being misused. In fact, if it's coupled with "widescreen," then it is being misused because the anamorphic process has nothing to do with the widescreen, it's about the resolution.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Regarding the HD ratio, I find it very amusing that the people that shoot these movies have absolutely no input as to how they are shown. As you said, 1.69:1 is a ridiculous ratio. Are the tv companies afraid that people wont buy TVs that are slightly wider, at 1.85:1?

Also Josh, have you seen the movie Elephant? I watched it on DVD last night, not the biggest fan of Van Sant but I thought it was really good. Check it out if you get the chance.

Dear Jim:

I believe the Japanese and Chinese TV manufacturers made the final decision, which was based on the fact that they had already gone into production on widescreen HD TVs at 1.69:1 and were not going to change. Once we gave away the TV manufacturing business in the '60s, we no longer get any say-so in the matter. Regarding Gus Van Sant, he seems like another director who completely shot his wad with one film, "Drugstore Cowboy," and everything else he's done since then has been basically worthless. But I'll keep my eyes peeled for "Elephant."

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

I was wondering, on your scrapbook page for "Running Time" there is a picture of a cop writing something on a clipboard. The caption was you saying something about supporting the local law enforcement. I was wondering what the cop was really doing.

Thanks.

Dear Jay:

He was writing us a ticket for having a vehicle out on the roads with no registration. Since the truck was a rented from a movie vehicle rental company, we had a PA go and get the registration, which we should've had with us, and that was that. Cops are frequently a hassle when shooting movies, but particularly so in LA. If I never shoot there again it will be too soon.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I tried to do some internet research on wide screen anamorphic DVDs. From what I gathered, the 1.78:1 ratio is apparently new. It has to do with converting TV productions that were designed for 4:3 ratio to wide screen displays. I think they somehow expand the original image and fill in the blank parts with new digital information. Supposedly the newly enhanced presentation will work on both regular TVs and widescreens. The reason for this is so that DVDs sold today will not become obsolete for the foreseeable future.

Dear Bob:

1.78:1 is the format stuck between 1.69:1, which is the new (silly) HD widescreen standard, and 1.85:1, which is the theatrical film standard. None of these formats is all that widescreen. The DGA and the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) were pushing for a 2:1 ratio on HD TVs, but no one paid any attention. So now the widescreen format of 1.69:1 doesn't suit anything, and anything that's even slightly widescreen still needs a letterbox. It's ridiculous.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:

hi,

i was woundering if you could give me any info on "Mickey Spillane" he was a writer and wrote a bunch of movies in the 50's through the 80's with the main character being Mike Hammer [based on books also written by spillane]. i cant find any info on these films/ books -other than that

also

i read on here that you know frank miller, are you going to see the upcoming movie "sin city" based on millers work - just the look of the movie alone seems to be a good reason to see it

Dear tom:

I don't know Frank, I've met him. Any film based on a comic book holds no interest for me. Comic books are bad source material for movies. Also, Robert Rodriguez doesn't interest me at all. Meanwhile, Mickey Spillane (real name, Frank Morrison Spillane), was born in 1918 and is apparently still alive. He didn't really write that many movies, but several were based on his books, as well two TV series (Mike Hammer was played by Darren McGavin, then by Stacy Keach). Spillane played Mike Hammer himself the in the 1963 British film, "The Girl Hunters."

Josh

Name: Steven
E-mail: stevensrt12@aol.com

Josh,

These questions may seem stupid to you, but can you film on people's property without their permission? What if you film and strangers are present in the shots, do you have to get signed release forms from them if the shots are used in your film?

Thanks a lot,
Steven

Dear Steven:

Theoretically, you're supposed to have permission and release forms from everybody and every location. Where this finally shakes down is when the film is completed and you try to get a distribution deal, one of the things that's often demanded is an Errors and Omissions insurance policy (known as an E&O), and to get that you must prove that you've got the rights to every song and piece of music you use, and that you have release forms for every location, and every actor. So far, I haven't had to get an E&O policy on any of my films. Admittedly, I have had shitty releases on most of them, but the E&O policy was never the issue.

Josh

Name: Doug
E-mail:

Josh,

I was watching "Easy Rider" last night, and was wondering why road movies are supposed to be so hard to shoot?

Doug

Dear Doug:

Because you're on the road and you have to shlep everything you need with you everywhere, plus put everybody up in hotels every night, plus feed them all three meals everyday. It's a big hassle.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Josh, you can disregard my question about playing widescreen anamorphic DVDs on a regular TV set. I had to change a setting on the DVD player. Basically it displays as a wide screeen image with two black bars at the top and bottom, but the 'image stretching' is eliminated. It still seems like part of the picture is being cut out, but that is probably the way it was originally made. Of course, if you have any thing to say about anamorphic DVDs or the Millenium series, that would be interesting too. Thanks.

Dear Bob:

I know nothing about the Millenium series. A DVD can't be anamorphic, just the lens with which you shoot the film. The way anamorphic lenses work is that the lens on the camera is concave and squishes the image on the negative, then the lens on the projector is convex and stretches the image out to the widescreen porportions of 2.35:1. This widescreen ratio can also be achieved with Super-35, which allows the image to print on the negative all the way over to the sprocket holes, across what ought to be the soundtrack. There was a terrific system in Italy for many years called Techniscope (which was the widescreen system Sergio Leone used for all of his films), that printed the 2.35:1 image horizontally across half of the 35mm frame, thus giving you 20 minutes of film on what would otherwise be a ten-minute roll. However, once any of these widescreen systems is transferred to DVD, you can't tell the difference. The only give away with anamorphic is that occasionally at the very edges of the image the anamorphic lens would cause distortion.

Josh

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

Josh,

Good stories about the cold and shooting. I have been on my fair share of cold shoots well. The first experience I had with extremely cold weather and cameras is on the film "Ethan Frome" with Liam Neeson (1993) which was shot up in northern Canada. The production was encountering well below zero temperatures and pretty extreme conditions.

At the time, I was interning at Victor Duncan, the big camera and lighting rental house in Detroit(which no longer exists), and the production needed our technician to solve the problem of the 35mm camera film freezing in the gate while shooting was commencing.

They flew both of us up to northern Canada where we stayed on the production for a week, and I helped out our tech develop a system that would keep the camera gate warm enough to shoot without freezing up. It was a Panavision camera, and they already had heated barneys, but the condensation in the gate would build up so fast that it would freeze to the film and the camera would jam.

The other problem was that the battery life on the camera batteries was short because of the cold that it held up shooting as well. After a while, they would not hold a charge for more than an hour, so we also help develop temporary heated covers, which covered the batteries to improve their lifespan.

It was an interesting experience and I enjoyed the troubleshooting part of the whole thing.

This experience helped me out when I assisted my first feature, which was shot primarily at night in mid-October in upstate New York. I encountered a lot of condensation problems, which would freeze the camera. The condensation would build up between the film gate and the film, which would not allow the camera to function properly.

After a few takes, I would have to pull the film away from the gate and wipe the gate with a leather chamois cloth which would dry the gate and we could commence shooting.

We were working a with a Moviecam 35mm camera and I dubbed it "Moviejam" after that shoot because not only did I encounter this problem, but the removable circuit boards fried about 5 times during the shoot which was a five week shoot and it was directly related to cold and condensation issues as well as battery problems.

This happened to me the first time on the shoot in a very complicated scene being shot inside a moving bus. We were going from the pouring rain outside to shooting in the interior of a bus.

The board fried and the camera went dead. We had to pull the bus over and I had to swap out the boards, which was a pain in the ass on that camera because you had to open the side cover and unscrew about six screws using a small jeweler's screwdriver. Unlike a Panavision camera where you can open the side cover with a tool they provide to change the bad circuit board.

I became the immediate hero on the bus shoot that day. It felt good!

Needless to say, I never worked with that model Moviecam again, but as Josh says, you just have to keep on shooting because there is really nothing else you can do and the budget usually demands that as well so you don't get behind on your schedule.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Speaking of Moviecams, which really are nice cameras, I directed the very first Xena episode in 35mm (ep #1, season 2) and we had brand new 35mm Moviecam cameras, and on every single shot there was dirt in the gate -- it was shredding off the film's emulsion. So, what do you do if after every single set-up the AC calls out, "Gate's dirty, gotta go again," then you go again and the gate's still dirty? Pretty quickly I just ignored it, and when they said the gate was dirty I'd say, "Right, moving on." Getting the dailies back was a nerve-wracking situation, but it was all fine. I mean there's dirt in the gate, but what can you do? The cameras were sent back to Switzerland or Austria and the gates were all recalibrated. They used those Moviecam cameras for the next five seasons and they were great.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Help me Josh. I bought Season 2 of the TV series Millenium on DVD. The format is Anamorphic Widescreen aspect ratio 1.78:1. I have a regular TV set and the image is enlarged and not all is captured and it is narrower than it should be. Do you think I need a new DVD player or do I need a wide screen TV. I ask you because I know you are up on these technical things.

Dear Bob:

When you say "narrower," do you mean that there is a letterbox, meaning a black frame at the bottom anfd the top of the picture? In which case, that's how it's supposed to be. Your TV and your DVD player shouldn't matter. Most movies these days are shot at a wider ratio than what you're talking about (1.85:1 is the standard now), and there's nothing anamorphic about it, nor should there be at the odd ratio of 1.78:1. Anamorphic doesn't come into play until you get to 2.35:1.

Josh


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