Q & A    Archive
Page 138

Name: kyle
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

do you like bill marr? do you like walter hill? do you like torn curtain? do you like shakespeare? do you like pizza hut or dominos? do you like paul schrader? do you like james caan?

Dear kyle:

I like Bill Maher; I liked Walter Hill's first four films, then he should have retired; I like parts of "Torn Curtain," but not the whole film; I enjoy Shakespeare's writing, but I don't think it translates into very good movies; I stopped eating pizza entirely; Paul Schrader is a good screenwriter, but a dull, uninteresting director; James Caan is a fine actor.

Josh

Name: Cameron Hairston
E-mail: lilcam21@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

My name is Cameron Hairston, and I attend indianapolis metropolitan career academy. Im 16 yrs old, and Im writing a script as a project for school. I wanted to know what equipment would I use to make just a nice film to show for school? I also wanted to know is there any places that can assit me in doing so?
Thank you,
Cameron Hairston

Dear Cameron:

I need more information. When you say "just a nice film to show school," do you actually mean film, or are you referring to digital video? And assist you doing what? Making the film? I think you'll have to do that yourself, I mean it is your project, right?

Josh

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

Josh

I agree, irony is missing from most films today. Some interesting dynamics have been in films in the last 10 years, but interestingly enough the best example I can give for comedy, structure and irony is Seinfeld.

Also, I thought I'd throw this in: similarly to your own Q&A, Ian McKellen writes an e-Post for his website, mckellen.com - so now you now.

Dear Brett:

I like Ian McKellen. He's a first-rate actor and an intelligent, liberal person. Meanwhile the best moment I've seen in a movie recently was in "Island in the Sky," a 1953 John Wayne picture (he produced it, too), about a cargo plane going down in northen Canada in the winter, and the subsequent search. The co-pilot, an Irish guy, goes off to hunt game, since they have very little food, and a storm sets in. He gets lost in the snowstorm, begins to freeze, then finally finds his own tracks. He follows them until he realizes they've led him in a circle. To cold to go on, the guy lies down in the snow and freezes to death. The camera slowly pulls back and rises up, revealing the wing of the airplane. Unbeknown to him, he has died 20 feet from his destination.

Josh

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

Happy Birthday Josh.

On to my question:
Receive any good presents? A return to the golden age of film perhaps?
No?
Maybe next year.

Keep on keepin' on.

Dear Matt:

I know you're just trying to be funny, but seriously, I don't want a return to anything. I'm not nostalgic for the old days, nor would I be interested in living any part of my life over again. We need to move forward into a new Golden Age. But people will have to start taking art seriously again, and stop viewing it as a route to an easy living, which it isn't and never has been. Art matters, it's not just silly bullshit, which is how it's treated now. I've seen the films of the 1940s, and I've seen the films of the late 1960s and early '70s, we don't need to make those films again. It's time to make great new movies that represent the world in which we presently live.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthia@cynthiaejones.com

Dear Josh,

Happy Birthday, man. I have to know: was your 19th birthday a drag because everyone was preoccupied with Elvis' death? Or did you have a swell time? I'd buy you a beer tonight, but I'm all tapped out at the moment.

"A Midnight Clear" held up to a repeated viewing. The commentary is great, but the DVD isn't widescreen. Grrrr. And there are a few too many moments when Keith Gordon and Ethan Hawke are just stroking each other, but that's industry standard for commentaries, it seems. That's why I prefer just the one commentator.

Have a good night,

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

In 1977 I was 19 years old and was living by myself in a tiny apartment in Hollywood. Although Elvis's death was a big deal, since he had been such a ridiculous bloated joke for so many years very few young people cared at all about him anymore. Once he played Las Vegas he was lumped into the same category as Wayne Newton and Dean Martin. His reputation renewed after his death.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Josh,

I just saw your movie "Lunatics:A Love Story".

It was a very enjoyable film!

It's amazing to me that this has been out so long and I have just now had the opportunity to view it.

I will never be able to hear a scratch from a rap song again and not see Ted's face being used as a needle on a record player.That was too much Josh.

It had a lot of cool shots in it too!

The keyhole shot,the POV shot from behind Ted's stereo dial plate, the shot of Ted's throat as he gets that lump and swallows it. I could go on and on.

I loved it when Ted knocked out Deborah Foreman thinking she was the whacked doctor and then she wakes up and takes a shot at him thinking he was the the thug that had promised her a "train 6 cars deep" out in the alley. Hilarious stuff there Josh!

I have your movie "If I Had a Hammer" which I will start viewing here in just a few minutes.Been looking forward to that one for a long time because you just cannot find it anywhere very easily. Matter of fact, I had to buy it directly from you.

One last comment. I have read all your scripts and I think the one that I would really like to see you make would have to be the events leading up to the assassination of JFK.To me,that one really stands out as unique and original. I do not think it would be just another movie about theories that we have watched 100 times surrounding his demise. How much do you think it would take to get that thing in the can Josh?

Have a good evening.

Tim

Dear Tim:

"Head Shot" could easily be made on a TV movie budget of $1.5 million. I'm pleased you enjoyed "Lunatics." I'm still surprised, 16 years later, that the radio dial shot not only cut in, but people know what they're seeing. Let us know what you think of "Hammer."

Josh

Name: fabio
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

Dear Josh:

Well, I will don't mistake your birthday again. Happy Birthday, Josh! By the way Madonna's birthday was yesterday. Sean Penn birthday is today... hehehe!

Oh, please, tell me. Will be too hard find in the next DVD editions of your films, subtitles in Spanish? Would be great.
have a great year,
FABIO.

Dear fabio:

Thanks. I have no deals for Spanish releases of any of my films. I do keep getting these little overseas residuals checks for showings of my film "If I Had a Hammer" on Spanish TV, which is suprising since I never made a deal with any Spanish TV companies.

Josh

Name: Pseudonym Guy
E-mail: psudo@nym.com

Dear Josh:

You asked what was with all of the pseudonyms...

a) After I sent you a question using my real name I noticed that it was archived on Google -- for who knows how many years. I was not interested in having my conversation with you searchable in this manner by potential employers, should I say something disparaging about something in an offhanded way. This happened to me once -- an employer searched my name on Yahoo and grilled me regarding my "attitude."

b) Apparently you thought my joke was lame. Using the pseudonym I now don't have to worry about Josh Becker thinking I'm an asshole with a lame sense of humor. A quick switch of pseudonyms and I get a fresh start without baggage. Maybe you'll like my next one better. On the other hand, that kind of hurt my feelings that you didn't like my gag. I guess I should stop since you don't like me. I guess I will. Bye. Sorry. I like you, by the way.

Dear Pseudonym Guy:

Your gag wasn't funny, it was slightly disturbing, and not just to me, but others, as well. I assure you that I will never be amused by being tricked. If you have something funny or amusing to say, just say it. Take your chances, just like everybody else. If you need to use pseudonyms, which I also think is lame, then do it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I wanted to extend my best wishes on your birthday, Mr. Becker. May you age like a fine wine, (although you seem to be aging more like Night Train: becoming more bitter and pungent, but that's cool, too. It's tough for Angry Young Men to maintain the anger as they grow older, but you seem to be following in Harlan Ellison's footsteps,i.e.: intending to keep giving the microcephalic weasels running Hollywood shit for as long as you can. Good on ya, mate.) In response to your Neo-Dogma rules (if I may ramble for a second,): I get the feeling most of the problems in Hollywood films today come from the committee approach to filmmaking. Every remake, sequel, based-on-a-TV-show, based-on-a-comic-book movie has already had many hands involved in crafting characters, plots, etc., even before the new Producers let lose their stable of writers, re-writers and polishers. Most great art comes out of one vision, and there aren't enough visionary producers these days who have the taste and intelligence to guide the numerous craftsmen needed to make a film in a unified, artistic direction. Maybe what is called for instead of a set of Filmmaking Do's & Don't's, is a Filmmaker's Bill Of Rights.( I'm just throwing out some thoughts here, haven't really thought this through . . .) If someone creates a story/screenplay from scratch, they probably have the best idea how to tell that story, and they should have certain inalienable rights if it is made into a movie. The Right to be the only one to rewrite your script; casting approval; profit participation; etc. I know these things seem fairly impossible to achieve, but the idea was sparked by The Creator's Bill Of Rights drafted by several independent comic book writer's and artists in the '80's. At the time, the Comic book industry had been using "work-for-hire" contracts from the very beginning for virtually all writers and artists; today, some 20 years later, there are thousands of examples of comics creators who have retained all rights to their creations, and even the artists working on company owned-properties receive some profit participation. For it to work in filmmaking, it would probably have to start as a digital film movement, since you can potentially shoot & edit a film for a few hundred dollars. The only requirement needed to make a good film is a good script and a decent cast. If all the good writers stop trying to come up with high-concept ideas they can sell to Hollywood, and instead write dramatic stories based on their experiences in the real world, in 20 years, regional independent filmmakers could rule the business,(assuming the internet provides a venue to market and distibute independent films in the next 20 years, which I'm sure it will.) What do you think? (Other than that this is way too long to post?)

Dear Raoul:

I was attempting to be practical and offer suggestions that could possibly followed up on. Unfortunately, I don't think a Filmmaker's Bill of Rights would fly in Hollywood. First of all, no Hollywood company will proceed into the production phase without owning the script; they won't invest millions of dollars into a project they don't have complete control over. Once you've sold the rights, they're gone. Just like a house, once you've sold it the new owner can paint it purple if they'd like. You have nothing to say because it's no longer yours. This concept may fly with comic books, which don't need the capital outlay of a movie, but it will never take off when millions of dollars are involved. Interesting idea, though.

Josh

Name: Evan
E-mail: ema3924@uncw.edu

Dear Josh,

Since you were mentioning bogart and the other actors that have played Phillip Marlowe, I thought I'd throw Elliot Gould's name into the mix, who played his own weird version of the character in Altman's The Long Goodbye. Don't even know if he can even qualify with the other actors, since he pretty much took the role in a whole new direction, but it's an interesting film and I was curious what your thoughts on it were. It's got an interesting soundtrack, with the title song being played in all kinds of different styles, not to mention Sterling Hayden is great as the writer. Reminded me of Hemingway.

thanks, Evan

Dear Evan:

I'm surprised that I forgot to mention Elliot Gould. "The Long Goodbye" is certainly one of my favorite Robert Altman films, and I have a wonderful fondness for the film, and I've see it quite a few times. When Mark Rydell smashes the Coke bottle across his girlfriend's face to show Marlowe what he does to people he likes, that's great stuff. Sterling Hayden was terrific, as always. The score is by the pre-"Star Wars" John Williams.

Josh

Name: Paul Blonsky
E-mail: paul_blonsky@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

This is a really odd and/or stupid question, I will readily admit, but...

As a former Michigander, I came across your site while trying to track down an ad made for Highland Appliance probably in the 80s. It's the famous Russian Sub ad that ends with the "50 watts per channel, babycakes" line. You mentioned working on Highland ads and I wondered if this was one you had worked on, even as a PA. This particular ad has developed something of a cult following.

Dear Paul:

Nope, sorry, I didn't work on that one. I don't even remember it.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: angel_ _esparza@ hotmail . com

Josh,

It seems that you weren't able to watch a lot of movies during the Pan and Scan years. Luckily, I got into film around the end of the Laserdisc years so I had a way to see these films in a good format.

I saw a Russian WWII film last night, 'Come and See'. It's an account of the Byelorussian perpective of the war. I was really impressed by several elements. The film is just gorgeous. It's style is the obvious reference for Steven Speilberg and Terrance Malick's war efforts. Secondly, it is a new perspective on the war, for me. I've never heard much in regards to the Russian involvment in WWII. Wheras, with Germany we have many accounts from their side, 'All Quiet. . .', 'Cross of Iron' and 'Judgement at Nuremberg' to name a few.

It is guilty of a few elements I know you hate. Specifically, the SS Soldiers are depicted as killing machines and not as men, with the exception of one soldier who wipes a tear from his eye as his squadron is firing upon a barn and another vomiting after the same attack.

Nonetheless, it's realism in other areas of war are undeniable. It's one of the few films I've seen that uses real artillery over charges and squibs. Rather than leaves shaking to indicate machine gun fire, you see the trees actaully being cut in half. The camera shakes as air-raids decimate a wooded area a mile away. Overall, a well made film

I hope you've seen it, it really was a great film.

Dear Angel:

I haven't seen it, but it sounds good. Look, if your SS guys aren't really characters in the story then they don't have to do anything other than kill or arrest people. It's when you make a Nazi a lead character, like Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List," and make them a raving lunatic that I think you're missing the point. A good recent depiction of Nazis was the HBO film "Conspiracy," with Kenneth Brannagh and Stanley Tucci, about the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution was put into effect. This is a remake of a German film, BTW, called "The Wannsee Conference."

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greene_chs@hotmail.com

Hi Josh

I was thinking about "Say Anything" the other day and thought about it and your comments. I realized the reason it works so well, and is so solid, is that all the characters have motivation which is clear and realistic, and we have a theme which is workable for the three leads. I'm convinced that motivation really is the key behind good films, and behind believability. You talk a lot about structure, which is the DNA of film, but really isn't it motivation which fuels the fire? If your characters don't have a REASON for pursuing their goals, and if that reason doesn't wash with the audience, your story goes nowhere. Lloyd Dobbler's was simple - to spend time as much time with his girlfriend and Holly Martin's was to track down Harry Lime. It's a simplistic view, but perhaps by focussing on one issue of a script such as this, movies will improve.

Dear Brett:

Yes, absolutely, motivation is key. But if you're paying proper attention to your structure, that's built in. Act I is entirely about setting up a character who needs something, and that need is the motivation. If you can set up more than one character, now you're starting to cook with oil. And then try to connect them themeatically. Then see if there isn't some kind of irony lurking within the connection or the the theme. As I say in all of my various screenwriting essays, the more structure, the more chance of beauty in the writing because the structure causes you to go deeper into the character's motivations, as opposed to just having any old shit happen because you need to be free. Freedom, or lack of structure, is the enemy of art.

Josh

Name: Jay H. Cook
E-mail: jayhowardcook@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your "Dogma 2006."
I've been trying to convey these very thoughts to friends for the past few years.

They wonder why I don't see movies any more. They want to know why I watch Turner Classic Movies over AMC. They want to know why I'd rather watch a Mickey Rooney "Andy Hardy" film over some "Teen-from-the-WB." They want to know why on the weekend before Halloween I'm watching Bela Lugosi or Lon Chaney and not Poltergeist or Predator II.

Thanks for saying what so many of us are thinking.

Jay

Dear Jay:

I only hope that there really are so many of you. Most of the response to my Dogma 2006 essay so far has been negative. The members of The Fraternal Order of the Status Quo having been writing in telling me how good all these sequels and remakes are, and that I'm simply too big of a dunce to appreciate them. Meanwhile, while I was in the shower today I floated back to high school when I read "The Hobbit," which I didn't love, but I do recall Mr. Tolkein's writing conjuring up a reasonable clear world of three-foot-tall long-haired bearded guys with furry feet, called hobbits, who smoked pipes, kind of looked like trolls and lived in trees. In however many pages that book is, I never once pictured Bilbo Baggins to look like a human teenager, like say, Elijah Wood or Sean Astin. If I bring that up, people frequently say, "Oh, come on," like I'm just a party-pooper. Peter Jackson looks more like a hobbit than those kids did.

Josh

Name: ashley
E-mail: freddyvjasonx@hotmail.co.uk

Dear Josh:

a pretty liked a nightmare on elm 1 and 3 the rest was boring i liked freddy vs jason that is a movie i can watch over and over again plz send a email bac thanks

Dear ashley:

If I don't will you put on a hockey mask and come and get me? I love the fact that someone wrote in to Ron Bottin and asked how he made that mask for Jason? He replied, "It's a hockey mask. I bought it."

Josh

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

Hey Josh

Just finishing Bruce's If Chins Could Kill. What a nice guy! It's clear from his writing that he's got a lot of affection for you.

(Sam comes across as a weird hybrid person - talented BUT selfish. I guess you could blame youth!)

Anyhow; a question: if I shot a feature film on my BL and composed 16:9 within the 4:3 frame, would this be acceptable to today's distributors? I know Evil Dead was composed within the BL and SR's 4:3 frame, but wondered if there's a super 16 prejudice these days?

Thanks Josh

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

What format you choose is an artistic decision. I just always make sure that there are no booms or light stands in any composition, that the full-frame is clear. But definitely choose which format you're really composing for. 1:1.69, or 1:1.85, which are very close, are kind of the standards now, and require a small letterbox. I shot "Running Time" full-frame with an Arri-SR, and I think it looks wonderful with no letterbox or anything.

Josh

Name: KimJ
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

About the remake/sequel/prequel phenonemon, I think it's not just about the "stupid audience" . I think there is a society of people who have been brainwashed into brand loyalty. They feel they are supporting a cause if they buy/participate in everything that has to do with their pet cause. It can be a particular studio, an actor, a director, a tv show. There are people in Xena fandom who truly think if they buy every trinket and every version of dvd (plus fan kits) that they are supporting they show, the actors, the possibility of a big-screen movie. The problem is, they may think their money is voting for some kind of Xena resurrection, but they are really voting for more conventions and more dvds and more merchandise.
(Speaking of Xena) I was at a Bruce Campbell event with a Q & A a couple of years ago and someone asked how we as a fan base can support an actor like him. He was asking in the context of merchandise, I think someone before was discussing action figures and Evil Dead video games. Bruce replied that if you want to support an actor, just watch the movies that you like. Don't watch every movie.
There are people who stuck through the entire Star Wars series because they feel loyal to a story they enjoyed at 7 years old. Didn't matter if the story was bad. Brand loyalty permeates throughout our culture and reaches all sorts of heights. On a somewhat related note, my son was presented a Batman t-shirt today and the lady who passed on the gift asked if he liked Batman. I said, "He doesn't even know what Batman is!"
Kim
PS Then again, I could always hope for the Josh Becker action figure from Mosquito.

Dear KimJ:

A dopey-looking guy guzzling beer, the perfect action figure. I'd say you're absolutely right about why remakes and sequels sell, but I don't think it negates the "stupid audience" theory. If you're paying to see the sequel of a film which you didn't like to start with, you must be sort of stupid, or desperate.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

As Porky Pig once said to that little Martian guy, "Happy B-b-b-b-b-b-birthday, you b-b-b-b-b-b-thing from another world you!"

Hoping your day is filled with classic film, classic ganja, and Bulgarian supermodels bearing mooch potato likor.

Thanks for all the time you've spent entertaining us over the years, on screen and at this site.

Regards,
August

Dear August:

Thank you very much. And thanks for being such an informed, bright, and incisive participant in this Q&A.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I try never to comment on the intellectual merrits (or occasional lack thereof) of the other posters in here. Granted, there are some smart folks in here whose posts I always enjoys reading.

But Herr Rice's tirade was amazing, and I feel compelled to comment. "poopy shit face"? Wow. Just... wow. No wonder he liked War of the Worlds....

Carry on.

Mike

Dear Mike:

It appears to have been a lame attempt at a joke.

Josh

Name: joshua becker
E-mail: JJBxbox@yahoo.com

to josh becker
from joshua becker
I was on the internet looking at bounty hunter classes in michagin and i saw my name. Then i thought thats strange so i went to the sight and read CLEVELAND SMITH BOUNTY HUNTER, BY JOSH BECKER, SCOTT SPIEGEL. I like your work hope to read more.

joshua becker

Dear joshua:

Interesting name. "Bounty hunter classes"? Are you trying to become a bounty hunter?

Josh

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

"It's like saying, I know I did a terrible job, but I have an explanation."

Hadn't thought of it that way but it's a very good point. Twist endings often feel like the writer saying, "wait wait wait, don't leave, my story doesn't really suck as much as you think! It was actually Butler all along, and if you watch my film again you will see all the clues I left along the way proving my genius!".

This is just one of many tricks that filmmakers these days use to make up for their lack of talent. The comic books, the remakes, the sequels, the comic book remake sequels (such as upcoming Punisher 2) are made supposedly "for the money", but I don't think it's that simple. Many filmmakers are attracted to this type of worthless material because they literally have nothing to say, and what better way to cover up your lack of talent than by doing something like X-Men 3, which no rational human being expects to be any good in the first place?

Dear Jim:

Exactly. Sequels and remakes all begin with, well, this won't be any good, nor will it have anything to say, but there are enough stupid people out there so that it might just make money. Sequels and remakes are the bastions of poor intentions, and lousy results.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

o yeah, ... I forgot what time it would be over there but in NZ it's the 17th so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :)

Dear chris:

Thanks, mate.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

OK we all understand that you don't like "donnie darko" alright lol. I don't know why or what I like about it, i just can't explain, the same goes for "garden state". I don't know why I like it but i just do.

Did you ever get around to seeing "garden state"? I had a feeling you wouldn't like it and maybe think it was pointless. I thought the director (Zach Braff) did quite an OK job.

I really hope "the horribleness" gets made, it sound slike an awesome idea! good luck :)

Dear chris:

I watched about 20-25 minutes of "Garden State" and bailed, then was given shit by my friend that I hadn't given it a real chance, so I guess I haven't given it a real chance. I wasn't impressed by the first act, nor Zach Braff, but maybe it got a whole lot better after that.

Josh

Name: Peter Gus Thomlinson
E-mail: pgus@thomindustries.com

Hey, y'all.

I just wanted to say to that fella who was concerned about Darren Rice's obscenity-laden retort to your WAR OF THE WORLDS review that he can rest easy: Darren Rice's post was a put-on. How do I know? I wrote it. I didn't object to the WAR OF THE WORLDS review at all; just tryin' to make the JoshMan laugh... I thought the combination of super-dirty language with holier-than-thou talk about protecting the children would be too obvious, but maybe not.

Anyhow, in the interests of clarity and justice, here is the list of all of the other pseudonyms I have used in posting to "Ask the Director" at this site:

Darren Rice
Ulrich Smythe
Chauncey Lee Phallup
Darryl Palmquernot
Paul "Bigfoot" Taglione
Benjamin Urgatti
Harvey Mole'
Umberto Andretti
Charles Rottwell
Sam Farnon
Tudor Wise
Gideon Rhine

They comprise a series of posts both serious and silly, but overall I don't think they have been too egregious a waste of time.

Yer pal in internet-land,

Dr. X

Dear Peter:

I didn't take it too seriously, but thanks for 'fessing up. Are you a wanted felon or something? What's with all the pseudonyms?

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: angel_ _esparza@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I was reading that 'The Color Purple' was the first videotape available on VHS in letterbox form. This brought me to wonder. This is my understanding of the fall of the theatrical run: The mid-to-late 70's were the last era in which older films were still played in theatres on a semi-regular basis. Meaning, it wouldn't be odd to see a double feature of classic films in their original scope. Then with the advent of Beta-Max and VHS, those runs seem to have stopped since films were available for home viewing in these formats. Those films were cropped to fit t.v's. It was until 1986 with the letterbox release of 'The Color Purple' that the widescreen format began to emerge for home viewing.

Was it impossible to see a film in it's proper aspect ratio for those 10 years? For someone who was able to see original prints of their favorite films, was it hell for you to be reduced to Pan and Scan video for a decade?

And yes, I'm sure my understanding and timeline may be completly skewed and wholly inaccurate.

Dear Angel:

I just didn't watch movies on TV for a long time, I only went to the movie theater. In fact, I didn't watch TV almost at all for a long time. But with the advent of cable TV and no commercials, then letterboxing, it has gotten a lot better. I have a letterboxed video tape edition of "Woodstock," which I just checked and it's from 1987, so your dates sound right. But yes, you're right, for quite some time there if you didn't see the film at the theater, you then had to see it pan & scan and with commercials.

Josh

Name: KimJ
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.dom

Josh,

Have you seen UltraChrist? It's is low-budget comedy about Jesus coming back to Earth (NYC to be specific) and is about to carry on his mission. He is told to market himself so that he can connect with the younger crowd and after going to a comic book store, he dons a superhero costume. The remarkable thing about this story is that is primarily from a Jewish standpoint. (UltraChrist is fighting sin as in the commandments, not the Gospels and he isn't aware of the Revelations) I'm pretty sure the actor playing Jesus is Jewish too. The only thing that is cheap and incomprehensive is a portrayal of Nixon (an actor with a mask). Other than that, it was really funny.

Kim

Dear KimJ:

Sounds interesting.

Josh

Name: Billy
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think the problem with the industry is more complicated than setting some completely LAME ASS RULES for making a film. Like ANYONE, ANYWHERE is qualified to decide what makes a GOOD or BAD film. While there are universally BAD and GOOD movies...there are FANTASTIC films that get severely overlooked...like, "DONNIE DARKO". I think maybe we just need to do away with the RULES all together and come together as a community. I think filmmakers...especially those who are in my age group (20-30) are all WAY TO CRITICAL of what they see...we've lost the ability to be SCARED BY THE ZOMBIE or VAMPIRES...and that...IS SAD. Most filmmakers are so removed from emotion that most of the time the spend watching a film, instead of being entertained, they're figuring out how they did a shot or complaining about what they did wrong. DONT FILMMAKERS JUST WATCH MOVIES FOR FUN ANYMORE?!!!!

Dear Billy:

Everybody watches movies for their own reasons. If you think you have any better suggestions than my "LAME ASS RULES" we'd all be very pleased to hear them. However, if you seriously believe that "Donnie Darko" is "FANTASTIC" (in caps), then you need to see a lot more movies to get some slight shred of perspective because that ain't a fantastic, or even a good, movie. There are many films like it these days, too, which sort of suck all the way through, but then have a clever twist ending. It's like saying, "I know I did a terrible job, but I have an explanation." I had a LOT more fun watching a Mongolian camel come to accept its baby than watching "Donnie Darko."

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Josh, first off let me say I don't usually respond or remark on what others post here but after reading the filth that Darren spouted in his post I had to speak up. Okay great he doesn't agree with you on Spielberg, whoopie! However he is hypocritical in his foul language and insulting behaviour while speaking of family films and thanking God that his children are raised in his home. Sheesh what happened to Pg13? If he speaks that way in front of his children he should be ashamed of himself. I say ignore posturing like his and concentrate on the valid points made here. His remarks were hateful and disgusting. So much to do over one director can't we all just get along? I don't think his kids should have been drowned but he needs his mouth washed out. Now to important stuff, Thanks for the info on options and buying, I was thinking as a print writer in regards to royalties and I totally forgot about points (nice save). After your response I got on the email line to my lawyer pronto. I looked into WAG and it's 2500 to join and some sort of point system too confusing. I will register it with them though. Good news I think is that the production company is NYC based and not Hollywood, we went there in July and while nice to visit as a tourist not quite the work field I'm looking for. Hopefully thing's are better in New York. If not there's always Michigan right? Thanks, Duffy

Dear Duffy:

You don't have to join the Writer's Guild to use their contracts and follow their rules. Not to mention that you can't just join, they have to ask you to join. That means you have credits with a company who is a Writer's Guild signatory. They do let you just join in some junior, half-assed position previous to having the proper credits. To become a full-fledged member it's more like $7,500. I think it's up to 10K to join the DGA now. Not much film stuff happening in Michigan these days.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

"It sounds like you and your kids should have been drowned at birth."

Josh, I don't know if this makes me a bad person, but I laughed for a good 30 seconds after reading that. Always entertaining coming to your site.

Oh yeah... I managed to see some of the films I mentioned at the film festival. I missed out on seeing It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I'm kicking myself for it, because it WAS a Cinemascope print! ARGH!

Badlands was probably the most beautiful thing I've seen in the cinema. Alfredo Garcia was... interesting. Dunno whether it's Peckinpah's worst or best. I enjoyed it. And Gun Crazy (I'm spelling as 2 words because the titles had Gun on the top of Crazy) was an amazing experience... I wish I could see all my favorite film noirs on the big screen like they were intended.

I've got a few reccomendations too. Some films to keep your eyes peeld out for:

Dumplings - a Hong Kong horror film. Very creepy.

Up And Down - A flim from Hungary which is very funny and very human. That and part of it is set in Brisbane (which the film festival was held.) which caused a lot of laughs

Mysterious Skin - Very harrowing. Very well acted - great story that has something to say. Probably the best film I've seen to come out in America in the last 5 years.

John

Dear John:

"Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" is definitely not one of Sam Peckinpah's best; I'd say it's one of his worst, although I like Warren Oates in everything. "The Wild Bunch" is far and away Peckinpah's best film. Too bad about "Mad World." I'll keep my eyes peeled for the films you mentioned. Meanwhile, I saw two good movies last night: "The Story of the Weeping Camel," a docu-drama about present-day Mongolian herders in the Gobi Desert, who have a camel that gives birth to a white colt (that's what they call baby camels), then won't suckle it. The film is beautifully shot in 35mm, and just goes to show how much it matters that your film look good. The other film was called "Spring Foward," and indie feature from 1999, starring Ned Beatty and Liev Schrieber, which was very interesting, knew what it was about, and felt sort of unique. It was all played out in very long scenes (which I like), and maybe had ten scenes in the entire film. It's a good example of how to make a feature in parts, that ultimately all go together into one whole piece. But if you're going to work in long scenes, like 5-10 minutes, then you are compelled to figure out who these characters are. Interestingly, the film was co-produced by Michael Stipe, and Natalie Merchant got a special thanks.

Josh

Name: Rosalyn
E-mail: rozboat@earthlink.net

Dear Josh:

I totally agree with you about War of the Worlds. I was hoping that the aliens would capture Dakota Fanning just so I wouldn't have to hear her scream one more time. Most improbable script that I have encountered in a long time. I stopped counting how many times Cruise and kids should have died. Come on. Horrible movie.

Were the critics receiving payola? I am very disappointed in them. But then, who does tell the truth in media any more? Certainly not reporters. Sorry...didn't mean to get on that subject.

Well, seems like you tell the truth. How refreshing!

Roz

Dear Roz:

I try, to the best of my limited ability. My feeling on the critics now, and my friend Paul takes complete offense at this theory, is that they all hate the movies they're seeing, but they can't say so anymore or they'll lose their jobs. No publications want to run negative reviews of everything, they'd stop getting all of the perks that Hollywood companies regularly supply -- free screenings, junkets to Las Vegas, free trips to the various video conventions, etc. So, it's simply against the rules now at newspapers and magazines to dislike every movie you see. There was a wonderful article a few years ago in the New Yorker, about how the NY critic screenings are now like "a work detail from a gulag," with no talking going in or coming out, whereas the NY critic screenings used to be a lot of fun, back when Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris and Penelope Gilliat were reviewing.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

Speaking of epics, I would like to see epic films made about the lives of Attila, Ghengis Khan, and Tamerlane (or Timur Lang in Persian, meaning "The Lame One"). I don't think the lives of these men were ever greatly explored, at least without caricaturing them. If well-written, these would make interesting stories, particularly that of Timur Lang. He was have Persian and half Turkic, yet he turned on his Persian side and became the last great nomadic scourge of the Islamic world (in central Persia, he was rumored to have built a pyramid of 20,000 skulls). If approaching it as a writer, I'd focus on the conflict of his own mixed blood, which would make for good dramatic material. If it was written by Hollywood, however, they would probably insert some politically correct motive in his actions into the script (as in "Alexander," where Alexander the Great is portrayed as wanting to conquer the world in order to set it free). What do you think?
Also, I read a post on here where someone was talking about "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and how the Japanese showed disdain for the Geneva Convention. Historically, this is accurate; the Japanese never signed the Geneva accords, and so were not obligated to obey them. Despite this fact and the propagandistic resurgence of bushido in Japanes culture prior to the war, this doesn't excuse the atrocities that the Imperial Army commited, though.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Certainly not. The Japanese left a bad name for themselves all over Asia. If they hadn't been such horrendous assholes in places like the Philippines, Bataan, Guadalcanal, and all of the other Pacific Islands, needlessly killing every civilian they could get their hands on while retreating, it may well have not seemed like the appropriate course of action to fire bomb every one of their cities, then finally drop atomic bombs on them. This revionist view of history that we were somehow mean and unfair to the Japanese is, of course, absurd. Meanwhile, Hollywood can't make epics anymore, not unless they're based on comic books. If they attempt the story of an historical character now, they just turn it into a comic book. "Troy" was like the Marvel version of "The Iliad."

Josh

Name: Martin Stead
E-mail:

Hey Josh-

Happy Birthday in advance. Have you ever seen a Canadian tv show called "Trailer Park Boys"? It's about stoner nitwits from a trailer park and the petty crime schemes they get into. It runs on BBCAmerica and is also available on dvd. It's hilarious. I really think you'd like it.

Dear Martin:

Thanks for the suggestion and the birthday wishes.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen the film "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and if so, what's your opinion of it?

Dear John:

I thought it was good, and one of the best of the Angry Young Man movies. It's a star-making performance by Albert Finney. His character reminded me of Alex from "A Clockwork Orange," and I think "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" was a direct influence on Kubrick. I was a little distressed, however, that it did not take place over the course of one Saturday night and one Sunday morning.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

My mistake; it was "The Roaring Twenties" (all I remembered of the film was that Bogart had a small role as James Cagney lawyer). As for "Troy," the fight choreography was okay (I did like the scene where Achilles defeats the champion of the enemy army with one running sword thrust), and I was happy to see Sean Bean get some screen time as Odysseus, but that was about it. To reiterate on the choreography, I also liked the fight sequence between Hector and Achilles (although if I recall, both "The Illiad" and "Troylius and Cresside" state that Hector was murdered by treacherous Spartans when meeting with Achilles, and not in battle), which demonstrated the oft-neglected versatility of Greek martial arts as an effective fighting style.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I agree, some of the fight choreography was good, although that little jumping kick-step of Brad Pitt's seemed stupid. The CGI shots of a million ships were ridiculous. Worst of all, though, is there no side or person to root for since everybody's equally as grim, uninteresting and unlikable.

Josh

Name: Darren Rice
E-mail: drice@umoja.net

Dear Josh:

I just finished reading your drool-stained review of WAR OF THE WORLDS, and have to wonder what pus-drenched, poly-diseased whorecunt you accidentally dripped out of however many years ago. Who fished you out of the toilet? Mr. Clean? Steven Spielberg is the master of the FAMILY FILM. Films that I can be PROUD to take my children to. My children absolutely swooned with joy on seeing this fantastic entertainment and here you are in the corner, whacking off your review like so much blood-tinged jism from a half-assed jerk-off into a movie theater soda cup. JESUS FUCK you make me sick. It is people like you who make it unsafe for my children to go to the movies by themselves. They might actually see one of your SHIT TURD FILM EXCREMENTS and be warped for their FUCKING BASTARD LIVES. Thank god I can raise them in a wholesome household away from your booby-milk soaked poopy shit face.

Dear Darren:

It sounds like you and your kids should have been drowned at birth.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Hey. I was just wondering if you have any suggestions as to how to raise money for films. I've tried a whole bunch of things, but most of them haven't worked out for me and ultimatly I end up with not enough money so things end up being smaller than originally imagined. I've only found two investors in my entire time, one an Englishman who loaned me $500 and one a former teacher who loaned me $50.

Any suggestions would be nice. Thanks.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

The best investors are any and all relatives with the slightest bit of money because being related you can use guilt on them. You can make them feel like if they don't invest they're destroying your future. And always get everybody you know, or hit up for money, to give you at least one name of someone else with money. It's grueling and humiliating, but it is achievable. Waiting for the fates to smile on your fair face and bestow a film on you most frequently means waiting forever for nothing. There are more people at the head of that line than there are movies being made every year.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

An interesting subtlety that I always found in Bogart's performances was the way that his appearance belied his character. He looks rough, tough, and grizzled, but almost all of his characters were either well-educated men, struggling with deep and complex inner problems, or both. The contrast between his appearance and his character set up an interesting dynamic, and made him seem unpredictable. An actor who looks like a prize fighter, but can suddenly flip his hat brim up, put on sunglasses, and affect an effete manner to get information (like in "The Big Sleep," hmmm?), or the next minute gun down a professional hit man will always be interesting to watch on screen. His characters weren't always well or interestingly written (like the lawyer in "The Public Enemy"), but he always had an edge.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Bogart's not in "Public Enemy." Do you mean "The Roaring Twenties"? Bogart could be completely charming, as he was in "The African Queen," or utterly demented, as he was in both "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" or "The Caine Mutiny." Bogart does some really wonderful facial acting in "African Queen," particularly when the German captain says that he and Rosie will immediately be put to death. Bogart's face is first astounded, then acquiescent, then horrified, then defeated, all in about 10 seconds. Meanwhile, I watched the first half hour of "Troy" last night. Brad Pitt is worse than Tom Cruise. He's completely unbelievable as Achilles, not to mention totally unlikable, as is every character in the film. It's also one of the worst examples I've ever seen of a period story where everyone is acting like they're in "a period story," not in the present-day. Junk.

Josh

Name: Nason Rumfield
E-mail: nasonrumfield@yahoo.com

Hey Mr. Becker (or "Josh" if you prefer),

I just finished reading your screenplay for "Running Time" and had to let you know personally how much I enjoyed the story. It's real creative in it's way of being so raw yet simultaneously feeling dreamy and surreal. I dunno, I guess it's pretty tough to describe. I'm not much for the pervasive language and all, but that's basically me with any movie, so I wouldn't take it too critically (I just tend to have the mindset that if they could get away without language in masterpiece films like Ben-Hur and Citizen Kane, then why can't they do it now?) I've never gotten a chance to actually view "Running Time: the movie" before but believe me, I've tried (none of the video stores around my area seem to carry any of your movies.) As I was reading the script though, I could totally imagine Bruce Campbell as Carl. If nothing else, I'm just glad you gave that guy the lead role, he's a totally underrated actor in my eyes and really does deserve a lot more attention than he's gotten in his career (with the exception of the fact that he's legendary to all "Evil Dead" fans out there.) Anyway, I guess there's nothing more that I can say but congratulations on the screenplay (I heard you were able to provide some funding for it by selling another screenplay of yours for $67,000! That rocks man!) Plus, I think the whole format of filming it in sequence like you did was a pretty genious move as well. I'm an indie film-maker myself (writer/director/producer/whatever...) and it's real encouraging for guys like me to come across other film-makers like you who started off the way they did and ended up the way you are now, so thanks for existing man, ha ha.
Well, talk to you later Mr. Becker, maybe we'll meet in the future sometime (I plan on casting Bruce myself one of these days.) God bless bro and more power to ya...

- Nason Rumfield

Dear Nason:

"Running Time" isn't that difficult of a film to find. I'll bet you can pick up a used DVD on ebay for less than $10. It will be re-released fairly soon (when, I don't know) in a 2-DVD set with my first film, "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except." I'm glad you enjoyed the script, which wasn't easy to write. Actually, I think the film turned out pretty well, and Bruce and the rest of the cast are very good. There's some really top-notch Steadi-cam work, too.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just jumping in, I think that Bogart defines the role of Marlowe. He's the face that I associate with that role. Having said that, I'd like to give a nod to James Garner's performance. Of course, I like most of what Garner did up through, and including, the "Rockford" series. Garner infused Marlowe with a wry wit which is very easy to watch. It's also interesting that the movie was directed by a Bogart.

I caught "The Devil's Disciple" the other day on TCM. It always amazes me how much screen presence Olivier had. His General Burgoyne is everything lacking in the antagonist of today; he is intelligent, motivated and even honorable. He's also very funny, of course; I loved the exchange about the melodrama.

Forgive me if you posted the information recently, but is your book on directing available yet? And through whom can we order a copy? I got about a third of the way through the book when you had it posted.

Best of luck on "The Horribleness". Can you say if this is projected for theatrical release, or will it be for television? I know that you're not always able to discuss a project freely at this stage.

I will never see "War of the Worlds", having a profound affection for both the '53(?) version and the novel. That was the third novel I ever read, following "Ivanhoe" and "From Earth to Moon". Your account of it (the Cruise/Spielberg version), however, is exactly what I would expect. I hope the eight-year olds enjoyed it. God, people can be dumb.

John

Dear John:

"The Horribleness" will not be for TV, but we'll have to see if it gets a theatrical release. I'm hoping my book comes out by Christmas, but that's not certain. I really wish "The Devil's Disciple" was a better movie, though. It's got a great cast. I thought James Garner did a pretty good job in "Marlowe," and the story updated well. Robert Mitchum was a good choice, too, but he was already too old, and the British productions were stodgy and slow, and Chandler's stories didn't adapt very well to taking place in England.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

[refering to your short film, "The Blind Waiter"]:
"That was the story of the waiter who wore too much jewelry, "The Bling Waiter." "

Laughed my ass off at your response, Josh; good one.

Did you catch the series premiere of "Weeds" on Showtime last sunday? It has Kevin Nealon (who's always funny) playing a perpetually stoned accountant and business advisor in the 'burbs. You got to check it out and let me know what you think.

Dear Jeff:

It's on my TiVo, I just have to watch it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"Dog Soldiers" is one of the better creature-features that Sci-Fi has aired in recent years, but a) there ain't a whole lotta competition there, and b) it wasn't filmed for them, just sold to them for American tv. I think just about every character in there is named for someone in horror films, and there are a ton of in-jokes and references too. It's basically British commandos vs. werewolves on location in the highlands of Scotland, and one thing that is pretty cool is that they did exactly zero cgi-shots - everything was either make-up or marionettes. It's about on the level of "Mosquito," but whoever directed it obviously has a good feel for visuals, pacing, etc. and could conceivably do a really awesome job on a big film. I think you'd have really liked it when you were ten.

Funny that "The Big Sleep" came up - TCM ran the Hawks segment of "The Men Who Made the Movies" a while back, and they used that murder as an example of how Hawks didn't let details get in the way of having a good time. During shooting, he and Bogart realized they had no idea who killed that guy, so they asked the screenwriter, who said he had no idea either, he just got it from the book. So they called up Chandler, asked him, and he told them who did it. Hawks paused, then said "That's impossible - that character was at such-and-such place when the murder happened." Chandler then said "OK, well then it must have been someone else who killed him."

I remember you said you caught that "Men Who Made the Movies" series back when it aired in the 70's, but they've spiffed it up with new film clips, and somebody else has redone the narration, presumably for a dvd release. I think any of your regulars here would love it.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I've seen a few of the episodes recently and it's a wonderful series. I think it was Richard Schickel, who originally made the series, who also updated it. The screenplay for "The Big Sleep" was by Jules Furthman, William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett, who 35 years later would write the first draft of the script for "The Empire Strikes Back" (it was completed by Lawrence Kasdan), then she died.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Josh,

I just read a piece from a link on Bruce Campbell's website.

It stated that they definitely want to do a Evil Dead remake with fresh faces and effects. There is even a new game coming out called Evil Dead:Regeneration.

They need to get it written and find a director.Everybody is for it.

Do you know anything about this new project?

How would you feel about working with everybody again on it? Would you do it?

It was also stated that Sam couldn't just be pulled off what he was doing to consider an Evil Dead movie.

It was his idea to begin with. Is there a point in the film world where you are just so big that you no longer have the freedom to pursue what you want to without somebody giving you a hassle behind it?

Just curious about all this Josh. My perceptions may be a little bent on this and I know you can straighten them out.

Have a good one.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I almost never talk to Sam anymore. I saw him for about 15 minutes two months ago. Honestly, I know everybody in his family better than I know him. So, why Sam does anything he does is entirely beyond me. My guess would be, for all three of those guys, is that they're going to make some money without having to do anything. Meanwhile, I don't see what anybody thinks is so sanctified about "Evil Dead" movies anyway. Other people beside John Carpenter directed "Halloween" movies; other people beside Lucas directed two of the "Star Wars" movies. I mean, seriously, who gives a shit?

Josh

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

Josh,

Interesting essay on War Of The Worlds. The inclusion of Tom Cruise in a film now guaratees I won't see it. As someone once said, "there's something plastic and creepy about him." Absolutely true.

Here's what one friend had to say about your review, which I emailed to him:

-------------------------------
That's funny, because every complaint he had about the movie, I did as well, except he left out a couple.

#1) The aliens burying the stuff underground and then attacking, is akin to humans burying some stone knives in the ground of some other planet, and then trying to take over the planet with that. Hell, after a million years, the aliens shouldn't even know how to USE technology that old. That's like you and me knowing how to make use of Pyramids, ancient medicine, and Mayan desert drawings. The aliens should be looking at those buried war machines and going "huh, what were we thinking when we built *that* crap?"

#2) The stupid tentaicle periscope thingie -- all that modern technology those aliens have, death rays and all, and they never thought about infra-red, heat vision, or some other method of detecting "life" except as visual? I mean, Tom and his kid hide behind a MIRROR of all things, and the alien probe, with the brains of a cat, gets all confused by it.

#3) The reviewer also forgot the most implausible part of the entire film, which is the 747 crashing into his front yard, and somehow missing the car entirely. Yeah. I believe that one. The entire neighborhood should have been a smoking cinder, and yet, they just walk into the car and drive off.
-------------------------------

Lastly-here's a little cartoon I did in reference to the discovery of Planet "Xena". I do illustration, but it's taken a back-seat since I'm focused mostly on writing right now:

http://www.obsolyte.com/~strabal/TempStuff/Planet-Xenah2.jpg

Anyway-back to writing and searching for publishers.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Thanks for your friend's additional issues with "War of the Worlds," which I completely agree with. I'd completely forgotten about the wrecked 747. Obviously, the part of my brain that blocks out really horrible memories kicked in and blocked out that scene. Also, I think my cats are smarter than those alien periscopes. If I may make a suggestion regarding your comic, I didn't know that was Xena for a minute and it got in the way of the joke. Suspend realism for a second and put her in her proper outfit.

Josh

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

Josh

Because they were shot on video and Sin City specifically on greenscreen, the set-ups for the shots took no time. Sin City's actors came in for a few days work, did their part and then their footage was composited with other footage to seem as though characters sharing the screen actually were physically present on the same day. The length of the shoots respectively, is something I'd need to check out. In terms of long shoots, both Eyes Wide Shut and Gangs of New York took over a year and a half, all told. And the only real thing either of them have going for is their visuals.

Dear Brett:

You say that like shooting in front of a green or a blue screen is easy, and it's not. I kind of dread shooting process stuff. It's very hard to light and it's slow. And yes, long shooting schedules didn't help either of those afore mentioned films. I don't think they're good for anything. I mean, if you can't figure out how to shoot your movie in say 50 days at the most, they need to just get someone else who can. Most movies should not take more than 25-30 days under any circumstances. That most movies now take 30-50 days is simply from bad planning, waste and lethargy. Movies that exceed 50 days are, for the most part, just a mistake.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Josh,

I just saw "The Bridge on the River Kwai" last night for the first time ever. I went ahead and purchased the movie because you mention it so much on this website. I wanted to see for myself what you meant.

The movie is incredible Josh. I never knew that the little whistling tune I've been doing since I was a kid is called the "Colonel Bogey March" and that it was made popular by that movie. As soon as the movie started you see the troops marching their way to the work camp and they are whistling that tune. It was, for me, one of those "Well I'll be damned!" kind of things.

What I consider very striking about the film is the camera work and the shots. This is a beautiful film.

There is one scene in the movie when some Japanese soldiers find the women bathing in a river and they do not know that the British are right up top watching everything unfold. A grenade is pitched and explodes and then they open fire on the Japanese. It is the birds , thousands of them it looks like, taking off out of the tree tops when the action starts that is so incredible. After that, a single Japanese soldier gets away and is pursued into the jungle. We can still see the shadows of the birds overhead going over the British soldiers as they pursue the Japanese soldier before the British Commander stabs the soldier to death with the knife and gets shot in the foot.At the same time we see the struggle within the young soldier holding the knife as to whether or not he could really kill someone since we already know he believes it is murder to do so.

Even the scenes at night had this incredible dignity and clarity to them.

Story aside, from a visual stand point I now understand why you mention that movie so much.

I do not know what they do in film schools to teach students but this movie should be a requirement in the curriculum.

Josh, if you work really hard on your next film you will be treated well. If you do not work hard you will be punished.

Had to do that Josh. I though you might enjoy it. I kind of liked the Japanese Commander. He had absolutely no use for "the rules of the Geneva Convention" and is clearly of the mindset that "this is war". Brutal guy.

This gem is worth its weight in gold.Anybody that does not have it should get it. I got mine brand new for under $6.00.

Have a good one Josh.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Jack Hildyard won Best Cinematography for it, as he rightly should have. Some of the day for night is a bit obvious, but one must forgive small flaws. And of course it has the worst dummy shot, when Holden goes over the cliff, in possibly any movie ever. In the middle of the jungle in Ceylon, David Lean turns to his crew and asks with his calm British accent, "Now, who brought the dummy?" and everyone looks back at him blank-faced. That aside, it's damn good stuff.

Josh

Name: Peter Goossens
E-mail: peter_goossens@hotmail.com

Hi Josh!

We are a small European company and have written this amazing screenplay. Naturally, we are interested in selling it on the American market and, if possible, to Hollywood. Problem is, nobody wants to touch it, for we do not have an agent representing us in the US. But when contacting L.A. agents, nobody wants to hear us out, simply because we are not Guild members. So basically we're forced to run around in circles. Thus, here is our question: how do we increase our chances of this material (which we truly believe in) getting read by someone who is a "player" on the US market? Are there agents who specialise in pitching first-time writers? If so, how can we get in touch with them? Is contacting Indie production companies the way to go? Are screenplay contests a waste of time? We would greatly appreciate any kind of advice...

Dear Peter:

Ah, the conundrum of Hollywood. There is no logical route to getting a film made there. Anything you can think of, like contacting indie companies, or screenplay contests, or just bugging every agent in Hollywood, is what you must do. Every agent I've ever dealt with, though, has been utterly worthless, so I wouldn't depend on that. Nor do I think anyone in Hollywood cares whether you've won a screenplay contest. Or, you folks can put some money together yourself and make the film independently, which is undoubtedly the surest path to getting a movie made. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Jennifer Lee
E-mail: asian_invasian@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I was wondering if you've ever seen the movie Thirteen? Well, if not, then I must say, it's a really gritty and awesomely made indie film.

Holly Hunter is one of my favorite actresses. I fell in love with her in the movie The Piano. Even though her character was mute, it was her over all presence that spoke to me. Also, Anna Paquin is one of my favorites too, but her latest films have been shot to shit, to put it lightly.

In this film, I felt for her. She tries so hard to make the best of everything, but I guess we all lose our sanity eventually.

At first I hated this movie. I mean, I was 13 just 8 years ago (damn, I'm old), and nothing like this ever happened to me or my friends, not that I know of anyway. Then I started thinking that not only am I a sheltered asian chick living in the suburbs, but there's a whole nother world outside the white picket fence.

I love this movie because of the ripple effect it has. How one circumstance goes to another until it goes full circle, until their back at the beginning, the problem at hand. Your friends really do make you the person you are, whether or not that is a good thing is up to you, and how you come out at the end really does effect the people around you.

Anyway, I don't really have anything constructive to say but that I loved this film, and I love to read your opinions, however brutally honest you may be. :)

Jennifer

Dear Jennifer:

I actually started watching "Thirteen," and for whatever reason didn't end up seeing most of it. I'll give it another whirl. That point of who you are is to some extent based on who your friends are, is the point of my film "Running Time," too. Yes, I agree, Holly Hunter is a very good actor. I particularly like her in "Broadcast News."

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

Bogart, of course. His screen presence is always great. One of my favorite pieces of business in "The Big Sleep" is where he grabs the would-be mugger outside of the casino and, holding the poor wretch, gives him a diabolical grin before knocking him out. He is the personification of your grown-up looking, mature male actor. Some of his dialogue doesn't quite work by today's standards (in the first scene with Lauren Bacall, he comes out with his "How to be a Detective in Ten Easy Lessons" line a little too patly, which rendered the line an over-rehearsed one instead of a spontaneous witticism), but his performances are always interesting to watch. Oh yeah, and he's fuckin' cool, too....

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I agree with you. I think Bogart was a tremendously underrated actor. He didn't have a wide range, although bigger than he's given credit for, but he was terrific within his range. He played a psychoctic very well, and could easily go back and forth between playing a good guy and playing a bad guy. And like you say, he had tremendous screen presence.

Josh

Name: Fabio Blanco
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

Hey, Josh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Iwas thinking about your manifesto and did remember the today's date: august 12th, birthday of Sam Fuller and Josh Becker. Some time I wasn't here. Was great seeing you have the War of the Worlds (that was funny) and the manifesto. That's all by the moment, happy birthday from here, Buenos Aires.

Viva Dogma 2006, amigo!
FABIO

Dear Fabio:

Thanks very much, but my birthday is Aug. 17, the day after Madonna's (both of us were born in Michigan in 1958).

Josh

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

Josh,

Just wanted to comment on this before I go cycling:

"I don't know what I'd do with 75-100 days (the schedule for many movies now), which is nothing more than a big giant incredibly expensive jerk-off. "

Speaking of "jerk-off", I want to briefly mention Star Wars I: the Fanboy Menace, er-Phantom Menace. Like you, I've basically abandoned watching movies. On VERY rare occasions, if I'm bored shitless, I can sometimes be dragged out to the cinema. So, when I was invited to see the Fanboy Menace, I was mildly curious. Then I saw the thing.

Blech.

Talk about icing on a turd. I watched this thing, and part of me wanted to scream, "Okay, you have the greatest special effects house in the world. NOW TELL ME A GODDAMN STORY, YA SHMUCK!!!" It was George Lucas literally jerking off all over the screen with his ILM effects. It annoyed the hell out of me.

I'll stick to books, thanks. And somebody tell Lucas to wipe off the screen, please.

Dear Saul:

Yeah, I saw that film, and part of the next one, too, although none of the one after that. Very miserable stuff, in my opinion. At least the first "Star Wars" film is a reasonable length (121 minutes), and kind of snappy compared to all of the others. They seemed to get more miserably serious as they went along. Meanwhile, getting back to shooting schedules, the longest one I've ever had was 22 days on "Lunatics." I had 17 days on "Alien Apocalypse," and I shot "Running Time" in 10 days.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greene_chs@hotmail.com

Josh

If you had a long shoot, you could spend money on useless things, or chuck piles of money onto the cars on the free way, or phone up Roger Corman and say "my movie has now been in production three times longer than it took you to do all of 'Little Shop of Horrors'". I've always wondered why some films take so long. It may have been a little over the top, but at least Mystic River was shot quickly, and so were Collateral and Sin City. I did just slam Collateral, though, so maybe that's not a good example.

Dear Brett:

All of Clint Eastwood's shoots are quick, but how long were the shoots on "Collateral" or Sin City"?

Josh

Name: " JIMMIE " BELTRAN
E-mail: GRAM65@WEBTV.NET

HI, DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE FIRST 99 CENT STORE OPENED? I WAS LOOKING AT THE 99 CENT STORE AD IN OUR DAILY PAPER THE OTHER DAY AND THERE IT SAID, " THE FIRST STORE OPENED 23 YEARS AGO ON AUG. 13." THEY DID NOT PRINT WHERE IT WAS. DO YOU KNOW???? ( WE LIVE IN LAS VEGAS ) THANK YOU... I LIKE YOUR HOME PAGE ON THE WEB. THANKS AGAIN, JIMMIE

Dear "JIMMIE":

Sorry, but I know nothing more about 99-cent stores than what I wrote in that essay. My only expertise was that I used to live across the street from one, and I shopped there regularly.

Josh

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

Hi Josh

Grizzly Man is about a wildlife environmentalist who left civilization to go live amongst Grizzlies in Alaska with his girlfriend, who was afraid of bears. Tragically, he was actually killed by a bear and his footage (he documented a year's worth of life in the North) was culled together for a Werner Herzog film. It seems interesting.

Saw 'Collateral' last night. There were some positives - both Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise were solid, and the tension ran high, but then you have an asinine story, dialogue that reminds me of Harrison Ford's quote to George Lucas, awful sound mixing and soundtrack, and frankly it's an ugly film. I can't tell why the DPs wanted to smudge out the frame and make the flick look like shit, but this is definately an instance where shooting on video dulls the moviegoing experience. Danny Boyle shot on video for 28 Days Later and I think it was appropriate. For Collateral, it's a travesty.

Dear Brett:

I think Tom Cruise is miscast is "Collateral." It was clearly written for someone like Robert DeNiro or Harvey Keitel, and Cruise with white shoe polish in his hair doesn't quite cut it. Jamie Foxx was good. The last 30 minutes of that film is a travesty.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

Yeah, I think you're right. An issue lead story is always going to force you to then shoe-horn characters into the plot, and if it's a short film your problem is compounded. It's like one is starting a story arse-about-face; the characters and their dilemas should come first, and then you let the themes arise. I find Ken Loach's most effective films are the ones where he puts his characters first, like Kes or Raining Stones.

I'm getting a little tired of the short film format and can see myself producing longer stories. My most recent, Camping, at 26 minutes has some well rounded characters and a real idiosyncratic relationship dilemma at the heart of the piece. The themes came about all by themselves (how as an adult you have to heal childhood conflicts and move on) - ain't the subconscious great?

I liked your idea about how the acts of Five Easy Pieces could make effective 30 minute films. I can definitely see act I and act III as short 20 min' films, although I'd struggle a little with act II. That obsessive hitchhiker is the only thing about the film that I don't quite get, although I guess without these characters we may not have the toast scene!

This is the second time you've suggested I make some shorts and then string them together into a feature. It's a great concept.

Anyhoos - it's been great to bash this li'l theory of mine out with you, Josh - I've come to a better understanding of how to originate stories and the durations I should be looking at.

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

That was basically Jim Jarmusch's approach to "Stranger Than Paradise," of handling each act as its own deal. Apparently, Act I existed as a short 30-minute film for a while until he got the money for the rest, and I think Act I is on a different film stock. I believe he got the stock for the second two acts from Wim Wenders, which was left over from one of his films. But Act II of "Five Easy Pieces" is on the road, which we've seen a million times, so it's all about who you meet on the road. In this case it's Helena Kallianiotes, who I thought was great. She won't shut up about dirty and filthy everything is. And after the chicken-between-the-knees scene, she says, "Man, that was great. I'd a punched her fuckin' lights out."

Josh

Name: edith
E-mail: edith.x@ihug.co.nz

Dear Josh:

I had been pondering whether or not to see this - only on DVD, having heard an interview with some schmoe, who said that it was "based on" the HG Wells story, actually I remember - it was the composer who made the album. Anyhow Mr Becker - I am very pleased you have saved me some money and some time. I sahll talk with you soon.

Dear edith:

I'm pleased to have helped you save the money. My people will contact your people.

Josh

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

Josh,

James Woods rants on about what he hates about Hollywood movies:

http://www.zap2it.com/movies/news/story/0,1259,---26481,00.html

I think you two would get along swimmingly. :-)

Dear Saul:

Yeah, that's terrific. I always liked James Woods anyway, but now I really like him. And he certainly knows of what he speaks, he's made a hundred movies of every shape and size, and he's frequently the best thing in those movies, too. But that's the film business now, and it doesn't work. I only know how to make feature movies in 15-20 days, I don't know what I'd do with 75-100 days (the schedule for many movies now), which is nothing more than a big giant incredibly expensive jerk-off. Anyway, Bravo to James Woods for speaking his mind.

Josh

Name: Martin Stead
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

You've said that comedy films don't have to have a theme to be successful. Can comedy films do away with other rules of structure too? Have you seen any recent comedy films that you like?

Dear Martin:

Humor usurps everything. If you're being legitimately funny, and you've got the audience laughing, all that's important is to keep them laughing, and all the themes and points and structure in the world won't help you. I just watched "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," and I enjoyed that. I don't think it's a great comedy, but it did make me laugh several times. I particularly liked when Kumar sneaks into the police station to get Harold out of jail, finds the place empty, and just sitting there is a pound of weed. It pushes into Kumar's amazed close-up, then he has a whole fantasy scene with him and human-sized zip-lock bag of pot, with arms and legs, and together they run up the beach, go to the fair, then make love. I would say it's not as good as "Up in Smoke" or "Fast Times at Ridegemont High," but it's a good entry into the stoner comedy genre.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

"Dog Soldiers" apparently was on the SCIFI Channel a few weeks ago, and it's available on Netflix. It took an often used subject (werewolves) and gave it an interesting and original twist. Interesting production note: on the producers' commentary track, they mention that one of the soldiers is named Private Bruce Campbell in the script, as the director was a big "Evil Dead" fan.
Anyway, on to a more serious cinematic question. In "The Big Sleep", who killed General Sternwood's chauffer (the one in the car after they pull it out of the surf off Lido pier)? This is never adequately explained, and apparently even the producers couldn't figure it out. The character of Joe Brody claimed to have knocked out the driver with a blackjack and stolen the blackmail photos, but he isn't convincingly tough enough to have committed murder that way. Any ideas?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Had you only asked me this question 30 years ago when I was going through my Raymond Chandler phase I might have been able to offer a possibility, but now, alas, it's all gone. Of all the actors to play Phillip Marlowe -- Humphrey Bogart, Robert Montgomery, George Montgomery, Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum, James Garner (that's all I can remember) -- who did you like the best?

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Great photo of Ted, Ellen & Bruce. Thanks for sharing it. I saw them all in Chicago a couple of weeks ago...it was a lot of fun.

Is "The Horribleness" still on the table for you?

Your Q&A is always entertaining.

Cheers...Tom

Dear Tom:

I sure hope so. Bruce plays Dracula and a cop; Ted will play Frankenstein, a priest, and a cop; and Ellen will play the Bride of Frankenstein. If all the stars in the heavens align, I'm hoping to shoot in early '06, but you never know.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Hey josh,

In regards to the discussion about young actors being cast in roles that are suited for older actors, i just read a trade break that infuriated me. As you may or may not know Fox is remaking The Omen, which is a travesty, but the worst part is that Liev Schriber, and Julia Styles are playing the gregory Peck/lee Remick roles . This reiterates points you and I have discussed. Liev Schriber is 37, while Styles is 25. In the original, Gregory Peck was in his 50s while Lee remick was in her late 30s early 40s. What kills me aside from the fact that they are remaking the Omen, is that Hollywood assholes think it's believeable to cast people who are way too young for their parts. Now I agree with you on remakes, I think they are worthless, but this trend of casting 25 year olds in parts written for 40 year olds is insane! This wasn't a problem even 10 years ago. Then again, niether was the remake epidemic.

Dear Scott:

Gregory Peck was 50 when he made "The Omen" (he was born in 1916), and Lee Remick was 41 (born in 1935). Although I completely agree with you that there's no reason to remake the film, Peck always seemed a tad old to me in that part. He's great, but it's not like the character has to be 50.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

I don´t have nothing against Lucy and Renne,and i accept every two like a Greek legends (there is no Xena in the Greek mythologia)but a planet call Xena? ha!ha!ha!A planet call Gabriela?ha!ha!ha!Josh i mean.... meaby the next new star in the universe going to be George Bush.Madrid is the center of Spain one very,very big city, you can see Madrid from 50 km away,one from the biggest comercial citys in Europa,50% from the goods from Germany, to Spain going to Madrid. Good to see Theodoros(Ted)And Bruce, is the women between Ted and Bruce, Shirley? All my family from Romania have like Ted, any time he apears like (joxer)but i think that Theodoros is and privat one good person.GEORGE

Dear George:

That's Ellen Sandweiss between Ted and Bruce, she was the star of "Evil Dead." Yes, Ted is a very good person, and quite smart, too. What do you mean there's no Xena in Greek mythology. She's the one who saved Hercules's ass, don't you remember. She also tricked Aphrodite and Ares weekly. Xena didn't used to be part of Greek mythology, but she is now. Meanwhile, some day I must get to Madrid and Barcelona. And Greece, too, of course. Did you ever see "Never On Sunday" with Melina Mercouri? It's pretty funny, and shot entirely in Greece. It was a huge hit in 1960, and the song by Manos Hadjidakis won the Oscar for Best Song (it was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Director, Best Actress and Best Screenplay). Melina Mercouri is everybody's favorite hooker on one of the Greek islands, and every night they all get together to hear her tell the ancient Greek myths, which, when she tells them, always end with everybody going to the beach and having a party. It's funny stuff.

Josh

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

Hi Josh

Saw "Say Anything" the other day and wondered what you thought of John Cusack. The film by Cameron Crowe was a little too sweet, but I actually dug it. Have you heard much about the new documentary, 'The Grizzly Man'?

Dear Brett:

No, I haven't heard of "The Grizzly Man," but I liked "Say Anything." I think it's Cameron Crowe's best movie as writer-director (I like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" better, but Crowe only wrote that). I love Cusack's little speech, when asked what he wants to do for a living by the girl's father, that he "doesn't want to sell anything that's manufactured, or manufacture anything that's sold," what he really wants to do is be a kick-boxer, the sport of the future. I like the premise of falling for a girl who's smarter than you.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

I'm just completing the dub on my second 16mm film. It's called The Leaves Are Dancing. It's four minutes. It's about toxo cara canis - basically the parasites that exist in dog shit! I wrote the story because I was so angry at dog owners who let their animals defecate on public ground where children play. The story follows a disturbed man in the woods who tries to stop a dog walker from letting his pet foul on the path. At first the dog walker thinks the wild man is mad, but realises that this wild man has a family member that has been severely affected by coming into contact with toxo cara canis. I've tried to tell the story in the most personal way possible, making it a very humanistic, non preachy story. But even so a few people who have seen an early version say it reminds them of a public information film. At first this really pissed me off; but then I remembered the initial spark for the story - the anger at stupid dog owners. So I can't really argue with the viewer's analysis that it's a PIF (public information film!) I guess this is the problem one must face when the spark of the story is an issue, rather than a character with a problem/relationship conflict.

I think with very short films it's hard to get under the skin of a character and make them seem whole - so the short length seems more condusive to issue lead stories, rather than character-lead. Can you image Five Easy Pieces being a short film? (I love that film).

I've made a longer short called Camping (26 minutes) and I've really managed to get under the characters' skins.

Have you seen any short films that have really rounded characters, or do they mainly fall into the trap of making an issue based film, or a film that's more plot heavy than character heavy?

All right, Josh. Just thought I'd run this thought by you. I'm making short films, livin' and learnin'.

Lata


L

Dear Lee:

It would be very difficult to do a character study in four minutes, but in 25 minutes you certainly could. I would say that most people who make short films either concentrate on the plot, or just get artsy-fartsy, shoot cool-looking shots, then just cut them together haphazardly to music. But in 30 minutes you could tell a third of "Five Easy Pieces," or something like it. The first third is Jack Nicholson's character living and working in small town, he goes bowling with his friends, gets in a fight with his girlfriend, gets into a fight with his best buddy at work, tells his girlfriend he's leaving and she can't go with him, then leaves with his girlfriend. Act II is he and his girlfriend, Rayette DePesto (Karen Black), on the road driving; and Act III is visiting his family, then leaving. Any third of that film could sort of stand alone as a good, character-driven short film. And if you shot three 30-minute shorts that all had the same characters, like breaking "Five Easy Pieces" up into its three acts, you'd have a feature film. As far as being mad about dogshit, well, that's a legitimate issue, I guess, it just doesn't sound like the basis of a good
story.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I'm happy with just making films. I'd like them to be successful and make money, but so long as I have a career in film (directing and writing), I'd be happy. Though I won't give up on wanting to be big in Hollywood. Yeah, there's only one Spielberg and Lucas. I don't think I'll ever be as powerful or as good as them. There are plenty of directors though who have successful careers going who started out small. Kevin Smith, Robert Rodgirguez, Sam Raimi, etc. If I could be even on par with them, I'd be happy.

Thanks for wishing me luck, I need all the luck I can get. I'm actually in the process of getting some serious hardcore writing done. Every time I start though I end up with other things distracting me. I wrote my first screenplay, then shot it, so I was on the right track then. I wrote a short film back in November which I just shot last month. I was working on a sitcom pilot, but put that on hold to do some grip work on a film called Risen (risenthemovie.com), then went back to the sitcom, but my cameraman fell through, now I just got permission to shoot another short from a woman in Kentucky named Tammy Ruggles. I've got a comic deal with a company in Texas and they'll be adapting the rewrite of my first film (it sucks so bad ... I had no experience at all at the time, so that may be the first remake to be made because the original sucked). I'm looking for work which is also fucking up my writing schedule, but I'm taking some time off of school to write. After I get all the writing done I'm gonna start a series of shorts based on my feature lenght scripts so that I'll have something to shop around ... I'm so fucking busy it's pathetic.

If I could keep this busy, be semi-successful, and not be a huge director, I'd be happy.

Dear Jeremy:

It sounds like you have the right attitude. Just keep doing what you're doing; keep writing and shooting, and don't be deterred. Those who don't know what they're talking about will say, persevere and you'll succeed, which is flatly untrue. It should be, don't persevere and you absolutely won't succeed, but perseverance does not guarantee success. I concluded long ago that just making the movies is success. I wish you good luck yet again.

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Josh- I'm sure you've answered this before so I apologize for being repetitive. I did check FAQ but had to go through a lot of griping from posters on everything from Bush to modern film. I in my bubble disregard all that and continue on in my own haze of script writing. Now that it is done (and yes you said it's never really done), sent for copyright and sent to the production company that show'd interest in it leads me to an important question. What is the difference between optioning your script and selling it? I look at like the sale of a house if you sell your house/script you give up all rights to the new owners for a flat sum of money; if they change the colour, the rugs add on to the house etc. you have no say is that correct? In this situation of selling do you recieve a writer's fee and writer's credit and they now own the film? Optioning is where you rent? the house/script and have some say over what is done for less money and still retain your writer's credit and ownership? What about God willing it's a smash and you have sold it you have no rights to royalties and if you option it you do? I know it seems like I'm getting ahead of myself but there is real interest from this company and want to have a firm grasp on my rights and choices before they start talking offers. Thanks, Duffy

Dear Duffy:

An option is a contract that states all the terms of the sale, and gives the buyer the exclusive option, for a fee, to purchase the script for the amount and terms stated in the contract, for a specific period of time. Most options are a year or two. I've never gotten a large option fee, always about $3,000-5,000, although big writers can get a hundred grand or more for an option. Until the buyer has exercised the option and paid the purchase price, you're still the owner. You ought to get a lawyer to negotiate your side of the deal. I wouldn't take a cent less than WGA minimum, and that depends on the budget. And ask for percentage points, too, although Hollywood companies are renowned for never paying them. Writers, directors and actors don't get royalties (that's for musicians), they get residuals, but that's only if you're a member of one of the guilds. Since I take it you're not a member of the WGA yet, you won't be receiving any residuals. Once you've sold the script, it's now theirs and not yours, and they can do anything they want to it. If I haven't sufficiently answered your question, try again. And good luck.

Josh

Name: dan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

what are some of your favortie books on screenwriting?

thanks

Dear Dan:

I don't think any of them a great, mainly because they're all written by guys who have never sold a screenplay, let alone had one produced. That's part of the reason I wrote my book, "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking," which contains a big section on screenwriting. I got something out of Lajos Egri's "The Art of Dramatic Writing," but it's not an easy read, or very fun. Syd Field's book was okay, and easy to read. But you can't take what any of these guys say too seriously, Robert McKee included, because they don't really know what they're talking about, having never actually done it. Read my structure essays, they're free.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

For starters, Happy Birthday, man! To have survived to 47 in this world is an accomplishment, so my congratulations to you... Apart from general well-wishes, I wanted to write in about an interesting little movie that I saw the other day, called "Dog Soldiers."
The premise of the film is potentially ludicrous (in a nutshell, British soldiers vs. werewolves in the Scottish highlands), but it wasn't badly put together, and the viewer is led to actually care about the characters (well established, even supporting roles), something that I haven't seen a horror film do properly in a long time. Somehow, trained British actors can sell a film better than almost anyone (look at the Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing Hammer films, for example). Also, the pace and the suspense were pretty well done. Not "Bridge on the River Kwai," but not a bad little production. If you've seen it, I'd like to hear your thoughts on it; if not, I recommend it.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I've never heard of it. "Dog Soliders" is the title of Robert Stone's book which became the film "Who'll Stop the Rain," a picture I really like (and is very possibly the best film of 1978), but it has nothing to do with vampires. I keep my eyes peeled. Thanks for the b'day wishes.

Josh

Name: Houston Clark
E-mail: hclark@angusclarkpe.com

Mr Becker-

I was just curious, back when you used to make Super-8 films like the Bling Waiter, what did you use to edit them? Did you use the standard tape & razorblades or something simpler, if it existed? Just wondering.

Dear Houston:

That was the story of the waiter who wore too much jewelry, "The Bling Waiter." It was edited on a super-8 viewer and splicer, and I used special editing tape that didn't cover the soundtrack.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Please don't get into a dick-waving contest with people about who knows more about movies. When you claim you're an authority on the subject, and that therefore makes your opinions true, it demeans the very real and good examples and evidence of the decline of modern-filmmaking you're bringing up. Just cite your examples and the evidence you feel they show, and let the argument stand on its own merit.

It's logically perilous to consider the source of an argument - especially in an age of rampant hypocrisy.

Like you've said in the past, anyone can claim to be anything on the internet, even an expert on films. Don't stoop to their level. I don't agree with everything you've ever said about movies, but I do take the time to process the reasons you believe the things you do, and come to some of my own conclusions. Personally, despite my disagreement with you in specific regards, I think you've proven a large enough breadth of knowledge to not have to worry about defending it to people who bother to actually read what you've written. At least not to me. I'll keep reading your site, agreeing and disagreeing with you, and not letting the idealogies where we differ bother me.

To those that don't take the time, and just dismiss you as "that Xena guy", fuck 'em.

Dear Matt:

You're undoubtedly right. I don't always deal with myself, or those who write in, in the most mature fashion. I try my best, but I occasionally fail. Thanks for trying to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Josh

Josh,

 Thought you might want a little preview of your "Horribleness" cast looking their best. 

 Ellen

Shirley:
 
Could you post this in the Q&A, with the photo.

 

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Quick question - can you think of any good film theory books that dealt with the Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s and 70s?

I just picked up "Once Upon A Time In The Italian West" by Howard Hughes, expecting some discussion of the history of the genre, its convention, analysis of plots and characters, annecdotes of the writers' and directors' processes for coming up with stories & composing shots etc. Alas, it's mostly a retelling of major plot points and trivia & minutiae about the productions. Not quite what I was looking for.

Anyway, just wanted to see if you had any titles to throw in the ring.

Thanks!

Mike

p.s. Thanks very much for your review of War of the Worlds. I especially appreciated the observation that the movie is made all the cheaper knowing it came from a guy who made a career out of bucking tradition by showing aliens as sympathetic characters, rather than pandering to the "invading hordes" angle. Ironic that Spielberg would take such great pains to CGI the guns out of the adults' hands for the re-release of "E.T." to keep the movie from seeming too violent, and then turn around to make a movie featuring mass carnage, blood tentacles, and so on. Whatta sanctimonious twat...

Dear Mike:

By Howard Hughes? I thought he was dead. Meanwhile, I can't think of any books on the topic off hand. Sergio Leone didn't write an autobiography that I know of, but there must be a biography of him. Here's the only thing I found on imdb, as far as published biographies of Sergio Leone -- Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 577-581. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988 -- clearly someone ought to write a biography of the man. Interestingly, Leone and Ennio Morricone were classmates as kids.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Trust me, I haven't seen just movies of the past 20 years. I've seen so many movies from the '50s and '60s and '70s. Again, not as many as you ... I resign myself to not having the experience you do (to say that I did would make me look like a total fucking idiot). Some of my favoirte movies come from the golden era (or before). Like, "The Last Man on Earth" and "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" or "The Omen" and there are so many more, I just can't think of 'em right now. They all rank on my favorite movies list.

From your age and experience, I'll go along with you being more informed (grudgingly ... I had being proven wrong, lol), but I'm informed enough. This is nothing to brag about, but I sometimes dumbfound my father (who's 50) with the stuff I know about movies (old and new), though to be fair he spent his years mostly obsessing over the Beatles instead of watching movies.

Anyway, I've probably come across as bitchy in some of these posts/emails (whatever they are), and some of the time I have been, but for the most part I blame the fact that you can't properly express emotion sometimes while typing.

I understand that if you work for somebody, you play by their rules or you get your ass canned, but there's something to say for being independant. If you can do a big budget movie, and kick ass with it, then people will be more willing to let you do your thang. For the most part I plan on doing my own stuff, with the exceptions of some game/comic/novel adaptations, but hopefully I'll be respected enough that I can win over who ever owns the rights to said games/comics/novels. I know I'm naive to some point, but I know what I speak of can happen. Like Steven Spielberg. Even if you hate his films, you know he can do whatever the hell he wants and who's gonna stop him? Same thing goes for George Lucas.

I think I'm now officially talking out of my ass. Long posts make me lose track of my original points, lol.

Jeremy Milk

Dear Jeremy:

I understand your dream -- make it big in Hollywood, *then* become independent and do what you want -- but seriously, it's not really rational. Just making a living on the creative side of the film business, letting alone making it big, is almost too much to hope for. LA is just stinking with so many people who came out there with exactly the same dreams who now work in video duplication facilities and the like it's a joke. I wish you all the luck in the world, but you probably shouldn't be completely unrealistic in your aspirations because you'll be focused on the wrong things. Millions have yearned for Spielberg's or Lucas's careers, but there are only one of each of them, and there hasn't been anymore since (which is okay with me). Focus on things you can actually control and get done, like writing scripts or making independent films, and never depend on just being lucky.

Josh

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

Josh: It's called "The Cascade Effect" and it's about what if in the near future one satellite blew up causing all of the other satellites to explode, thus ending space travel and stranding all of the people who live on the moon.

Hey Josh,

I read through your treatment for "The Cascade Effect" last night. Interesting premise...the best of luck to you and I look forward to seeing it.

Cheers,

Tom

Dear Tom:

Let's see if it goes.

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

Hope you're enjoying your summer.

I caught a news item via Google about Bruce Campbell being interested in becoming a radio talk show host. I tried going to the link, but it's dead.

Do you know anything about this?

Dear Saul:

I have a feeling Bruce said it offhandedly and people took it seriously. Where would he broadcast from? Medford, Oregon?

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev"? I just watched it a couple nights ago and I have to say it was one of the most astounding movie experiences. The Battle at Vladimir and the ending are some of the most haunting moments I've seen in cinema.

Dear John:

I haven't seen it. The other Tarkovsky films I've seen were severely dull, and he seemed to have a pechant for filming water, rippling, running, dripping, anything wet.

Josh

Name: Andrew
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"My turds probably know more about movies than you."

So tell me, if you're so well-versed in the current film movement you constantly deride...

Are you familiar with the work of Jean Pierre Jeunet or Alex de la Iglesia? Have you seen anything from Kinji Fukasaku, Wong Kar Wai, Jun-hwan Jeong, Chan wook Park, or Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Ever see a Sabu film? Do you even know who he is?

So Lucas is still a part of the Hollywood system because his films get studio distribution? Regardless of the fact that he pays for all his films and that he works outside the unions? By that definition, that means you're apart of that system, since Columbia released 'Lunatics.'

Oh, FYI, 'Charlie and the Choclate Factory' is NOT a remake, since it used Roald Dahl's book as it's ONLY source.

Dear Andrew:

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" isn't a remake of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," well that's very good to know. I've even seen such films as "Delicatessen," "City of Lost Children," "Bomba the Jungle Boy," Alexander Korda's "Thief of Bagdad," and the original "Jungle Book." I haven't seen any films by the Asian directors you mention, so I guess you win. And Iglesia makes cheap Spanish horror films, right? So then I guess we've hit our artistic peak, our zenith. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia" were nonsense compared with such modern masterpieces as "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars 6: Revenge of the Spleef." Meanwhile, moving beyong petty bickering, have you ever see "Black Narcissus," which may well be Sabu's best film? I highly recommend it.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

DAMMIT i was planning to buy running time from amazon.uk in a weeks time and what happens???? the price goes up.....from $27 to nearly $200 or something! what the hell.....i'll have to wait until it drops. i think i will buy the hercules box set (season 1) that looks like a mean deal (it's like $24 yay)

Anyway..i see that you mentioned a running time/TSNKE box set or something, is that true? is there actually going to be one? if so, when do you think it will be out?

Dear chris:

I wish I knew. I signed the deal for the UK, too, so whenever Anchor Bay does re-release the films, it will be over there as well. Maybe the big price increase is because that version is now out of print.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthia@cynthiaejones.com

Hey Josh,

I've been on a Keith Gordon kick lately, as I finally got a hold of his first film, "Static," which he co-wrote with Mark Romanek. Something about this film reminded me of you, and I was wondering if you were familiar with his other films ("A Midnight Clear," "Waking the Dead"). I've read a couple of online interviews with him, and he's also heavily influenced by the serious, 'grown up' films of the 1970s. Like you, that's what inspired him to want to direct (instead of act--though he was good at that as a teenager).

He recently attempted to get a film funded by making it an IPO and having film fans invest; unfortunately, this hasn't worked out. It would be great if the public believed enough in filmmakers to give them money in exchange for stock in the film's potential profits, and would help free the world from the studio system that keeps generating crap.

Have a great day,

C.

Dear Cindy:

I haven't seen "A Midnight Clear" nor "Waking the Dead," and they both sound very interesting. Maltin says that "Waking" is Jennifer Connelly's best role, do you agree? Sadly, I have seen "Mother Night," a book I've read many times and like very much, and I didn't like what Keith Gordon did with it. He also did "The Chocolate War," which I've heard good things about.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I can't speak for other directors, but if I were to do a comic book movie it wouldn't be for the money or to make the kids happy, I'd do it because I like them. Yeah, I want to be part of the Hollywood system. I want to be the guy they go to with their big projects and stuff, but I still maintain the indie filmmaker mentality of "I'll do what I want, how I want it done." So if Sam Raimi said, "Hey buddy, you wanna direct Spider-man 4" and I'd say "Sure thing." not because I know it would make me millions upon millions of dollars (though that is nice), it'd be because I love the character.

Same thing goes for every other genre. If I like a drama, I'll make it. Also, I'm not a big fan of CGI. If it's done properly, it's cool, but I'd much rather go with physical effects.

I think, though we disagree quite a bit, that we have actually have sort of the same mentality about things. And I wouldn't say that I'm that much less informed than you. I haven't seen as many movies, no doubt, but I've seen way too many movies for a kid my age. I've seen a great share of the classics, I've seen some of the best and worst 80s movies, and since I grew up in the 90s I've seen most of the movies released since the first Ninja Turtles.

So in conclusion, I've seen enough movies to know the difference between a good, bad, or great movie. I've never seen a perfect movie and I don't think there will ever be one.

I don't know anymore. I find it strange that I'm sitting on my computer having an argument with a celebrity ... I didn't think that would happen until I was semi-established, lol.

Sadly, in all the time we've spent bitching at eachother, we could have been thinking up good movies.

May we someday work together (that'd be interesting),
Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I don't think we're arguing, we're just having a discussion. You can't have a "I'll do what I want, how I want it done" attitude if you intend to make big Hollywood movies. You will have kissed so many asses to get to that point, and tried to assuage so many idiots with completely asinine ideas, you won't know which end is up anymore. Better men than you or I have been ground up and spit out by that system. I may well be an "independent" when I make my indie films, but when I work for someone else, like on "Alien Apocalypse" or Xena, I do what I'm told or I get fired. Seeing the movies of the '80s and '90s won't really do you that much good since most of them sucked. Since I've probably seen at least three times as many movies as you, as well as having read pretty much every book on the subject of directing, screenwriting, and filmmaking in general, and I've been writing and directing feature films for over 20 years, just accept that I am more informed on the subject than you. That doesn't make me better or smarter, necessarily, it just makes me older and more experienced. Take my word for it, you can't know what good or great movies are having just watched the films of the last 20 years. Nor am I a "celebrity" by any means.

Josh

Name: Buster Olnei
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Was Akira Kurasowa a great director? Curious what your thoughts are of his place in film history.

Also, do you feel that "Seven Samuari" is worth watching? I rented a copy but neglected to look at the running time: about 3 1/2 hours! That is one long movie.

Dear Buster:

It's only a third as long as "Lord of the Rings." Yes, Akira Kurosawa was a great director. I've seen "Seven Samurai" many times -- probably five times in the theater, and maybe four or five more on video. It's a very worthwhile movie, and beautifully made. Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune are both terrific. Other worthwhile Kurosawa films are: "Ikiru," "Dersu Uzala," "High and Low," "Throne of Blood" "Sanjuro," "The Hidden Fortress" (the basis of "Star Wars"), "Yojimbo." But do keep in mind that the pace of these films is much slower than western films.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: overseer2@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I didn't know someone who's seen a total of one theatrical film this year (WAR OF THE WORLDS) could have such a deep understanding of modern film. I guess you have the entire cinematic climate pinned down, huh? I guess us simpletons are so hung up on "Hollywood fluff" like LORD OF THE RINGS that we can't handle the subtle nuances and groundbreaking power of ALIEN APOCOLYPSE. Wow. From HERCULES to Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies. Truly, that's "directing from the edge."

I think you're just bitter that a film like STAR WARS will be loved and cherished till the end of time, while you continue to hock your own indie films over this website with the knowledge that your entire body of work will eventually disappear into film obscurity. So you make accusations of "creative bankruptcy" and talk about how cinema fans are starved drones, because most of us think something like LOTR is far more imaginative than some film about the death of the folk movement.

OK, enough deriding. I'm not saying you don't have a good movie in you somewhere. Hell, you may even surprise us with a great film one day. But until then, take a good look at your own situation before you preach... because right now, you simply come off as nothing more than a jaded filmmaker who's pissed because all his friends have found greater success.

Dear Rob:

I never called LOTR "Hollywood fluff." I'd say "Hammered shit that goes on endlessly" would be a better description. Meanwhile, you are one of the many who have visited over the years purporting the same false theory -- that if I don't make big expensive movies I'm somehow not authorized to comment on other movies. Given that theory, however, unless you state your credits and we all decide that they are impressive enough, you are not authorized to comment on mine or any other films. Nor did I say "creative bankruptcy," which you put in quotes, although I do agree. And since you're commenting on my film "If I Had a Hammer," and I don't believe that you've actually seen it, that really does makes you a fool.

Josh

Name: Evan
E-mail: ema3924@uncw.edu

Dear Josh,

Just wanted to write in and say that I really enjoyed the War of the Worlds review. I caught it on a bootleg DVD that a friend had, and all I could think the whole time was how glad I was that I didnt have to pay 9 nine bucks to see this crap. I agree that it was totally laughable that the aliens were underground, why would they go to the trouble of burying their tripod things and waiting years to destroy whatever evolves on the planet when they could just colonize it to begin with? It was just all just so stupid. Spielberg's trademark sentimentality was on display too, as he seems to make it look like tom cruise being a shitty father is worse than an alien invasion. A few days after I saw it I read a negative review of it in my local paper with the title: "Tom Cruise learns to be a better father, and 10 billion people die" I thought that was pretty good.

Also, I was wondering if you've ever seen Sam Peckinpah's film Cross of Iron with James Coburn. I thought it was interesting that someone made a WWII movie from the point of view of the Germans, Its got a pretty great ending, too.

thanks, Evan

Dear Evan:

Yeah, I saw "Cross of Iron," and I also thought it was interesting. It's not one of Peckinpah's best, but still worthwhile. It's a WWII version of "All Quiet on the Western Front," which was the German POV of WWI. There are a few very visual, Peckinpah moments in it, like seeing a dead soldier lying in the mud, then a tank runs them over, or a soldiers being ripped to shreds by machine gun bullets, then getting caught in the barbed wire. James Coburn, whom I really liked, was an odd choice though for a German officer.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

What's the new movie that you're currently working with the SciFi channel on?

Just Curious,

Tom

Dear Tom:

It's called "The Cascade Effect" and it's about what if in the near future one satellite blew up causing all of the other satellites to explode, thus ending space travel and stranding all of the people who live on the moon.

Josh

Name: Steve Winslow
E-mail: slow1966@comcast.net

Josh,

I was totally unaware of your site until I was reading The Evil Dead Companion last night and saw this site mentioned. Well, of course I had to hop on and see what was up with it. Pretty cool, man! I wasn't able to go through it all jsut yet (I'm at work and it's a little difficult) but I did chance upon your outrage over Bush and his misuse of power. You got it!! I am the one in my small area that has these feelings. Nobody wants to listen. Sure, some here and there, but mostly it is a town, city, state filled with ultra-conservative Republicans who either (1) don't give a shit what he has done (2) don't view it as being a misuse of power or (3) are so scared that some Muslim is going to bomb Indianapolis that they can't see the whole picture. I can't wait to read the rest of your essays and see all of what you've accomplished, but this one hit me right off. Thanks for having a website and speaking your mind.

Steve

Dear Steve:

My pleasure, sir. Come back and speak your mind. I think Bush really and truly ought to be impeached because he lied to Congress to get us into an entirely unnessecary war, where over 100,000 human beings have died. Bill Clinton was brought to impeachment for theoretically lying to Congress about whether or not he had sex with Monica Lewinsky (and I'm still on Clinton's side on this, too, getting blow-job is not "having sex," it's foreplay; penetration is having sex, therefore he didn't lie). But George Bush, on the other hand, blatantly lied (sorry, no WMDs), and due to his lies many people have died. That's way impeachable in my view. And considering he said leading up the war that Saddam Hussein could send pilotless planes full of anthrax virus that would be in the USA in 45 minutes (now there's a whopper of a lie), Bush sitting there in front of that class for 7 minutes after being informed that America was under attack is particularly outrageous. As Bill Maher just said, "He was waiting for his piss to dry." Bill Maher also pointed out that 7 minutes is VERY long time in the nuclear age, and is the length of "Layla," "Including Duane Allman's guitar solo, and the chirping birds."

Josh

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

Hey Josh

That wasn't Richard Kelly; it's well known through interviews that RK hadn't seen Harvey. So the writer's assertion that the giant rabbit is a homage to Harvey blows his/her cover.

I think most of Donnie Darko's appeal comes from the alienated teenager storyline. And this aspect of the movie is okay, but it's thin and not detailed enough to carry the movie. And all the sci-fi/time travelling stuff to me is just bonkers. At least one can follow what's happening in Back to the Future.

Nice soundtrack, tho'.

Looking forward to reading your War of the Worlds review. I've seen the film and was disappointed; all the way through I just kept thinking - I know this story. Oh, and I thought the crowd scenes were terrible - where was the sense of panic/claustrophobia? The feeling you could be crushed at any moment. They looked so... orhcestrated!

Just editing my next 16mm film I shot with the Arri BL you recommended.
What a camera!

Lata

Lee

Dear Lee:

Yeah, the BL, what a nice camera. And the Arri-SR is even better, and easier to load. The mags on the BL can be rough to load under certain circumstances, like extreme cold. This month marks eight years that Beckerfilms has been up and running (two years short of Amazon), and I was fooled a few times early on when people wrote in saying they were Sam Raimi or Lucy Lawless or whomever, but I got past it pretty quickly. The anonymity of the internet is perfectly suited to liars and cowards. As wrong as anyone may think I am, you've got to admit I'm not hard to find.

Josh

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

Josh,

Thanks for writing and posting the review of War of the Worlds. I really enjoy reading your movie reviews and a new one is like a nice present.

What do you think of Sean Connery as an actor? What do you think of him outside of the Bond role?

Thanks,

Dale

Dear Dale:

I think Sean Connery is great. He was the best James Bond, and I basically like him in everything, even if the film around him isn't great, or even good. And, he's an actual grown-up adult actor. Even at his very youngest, in "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," he seems like an adult. Tom Cruise, no matter how old he gets, never seems to grow up.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

RE:

Fair enough. This is the last time I mention comic books in reference to movies. They aren't all for kids. Some of made for adults. Now I'm done.

I don't grade on the curve either. I guess I just accept more things than you do. If a movie sucks, I'll be the first to say it does. If a movie is good, I'm not going to say it's not. I give it to people as straight as I can. I don't pull punches either, and I don't believe in sugar coating things. Movies I hail to be my favorites I'll still point out the errors in.

I haven't seen as many movies as you have, so I don't doubt that you feel my opinion is far less significant than yours, and I don't doubt that because I'm 19 and you'll be turning 47 in a few days that you think I'm less significant than you in all your vast wisdom, but sadly the comic book loving, video game loving, more accepting people are the next generation of filmmakers. I'm not saying change your ways, but if you stay under the rock you've created for yourself you'll be eternally pissed at the state of film.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I am eternally pissed off at the state of film, and this has been going on for nearly 30 years, and getting worse every year. I sat back and let it all be for the first 22 years, but I've been bitching like hell over the past eight years since I've had this website. It would be incredibly easy to acquiesce, shut up and just accept this state of of affairs, or I can try to at least make people aware that movies don't have to be unmitigated shit, as they are now. It's not that your opinion is any less significant than me, it's simply less informed. Nor is it your generation who has brought this upon us, it's mine. And it's not like the generation before me didn't also grow up reading comic books, but when they became adults they put away their childish things and moved on to adult pursuits. My generation didn't, and neither has yours. Movies used to be made by grown-ups for adults. Now, though, the grown-ups all think they have to pander to the kids because that's where the money is, and if you're pandering you are absolutely doing shit work.

Josh

Name: T.J.
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

You mentioned that you hated War of the Worlds. I did not see it, though I would like to, only because I think Dakota Fanning is a talented actress. What young actors and actresses live up to your incredibly high standards?
:)
Also, just wanted to say I think it's very nice of you to come on here and answer all these questions...I browsed the archives a bit and was shocked at all the crap you have to put up with, though recently the discussion has been quite productive and I enjoy reading it.

I have rambled enough. Just wanted to give thanks where it is due.

Best,

T.J.

Dear T.J.:

Dakota Fanning may be a talented actress, but she spends a great deal of "War of the Worlds" shrieking, or just looking scared.

Josh

Name: Andrew
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"Star Wars" was not independently produced, it was made for 20th Century-Fox. For the last 40 years or so almost all movies have been produced by smaller production companies for the large studios, that's why you see so many production company names at the beginning of films. "Star Wars" was produced by Lucas Film for 20th."

The first Star Wars was made through a studio, but all the follow-ups were INDEPENDENT (following Lucas' resignation from the DGA over the credits dispute). Since then Fox has soley acted as a distributor. Yup, most of those "crappy Star Wars movies that ruined film" were made outside the studio system.

BTW, how come remakes are evil yet adaptations are OK? Talk about a double-standard. Hell, several of these summer movies (like 'Charlie & The Chocolate Factory') are adaptations of books rather than remakes of prior versions, but you excuse them as more "creative bankruptcy" even though they fall well within your black-and-white dogma rules.

I think this all stems from the fact that your knowledge of film is limited at best. You've already demonstrated through the pages of this Q&A that you rarely expose yourself to anything modern... which is why your critical analysis is so overly generalized.

Dear Andrew:

Thanks for the analysis. I watch modern movies all the time (like "Harold and Kumar go to the White Castle" last night), but they're usually not worth commenting on. Look, movie stories have to come from somewhere, like books, plays, short stories, biographies, etc., but if you have to revert to using other movies as your source material you've thrown in the towel before you've started. There's no double-standard here, other than in your mind. Meanwhile, you keep capitalizing independent regarding Lucas, which is nuts. If you have a distribution deal through a major studio, that's how you set up your financing at a bank, then your film is released through that studio, you're not independent. Or let's say you're no more independent than anyone else making films for the major studios. But even if Lucas was releasing the films himself, so what? That doesn't change anything. Lucas is as much a part of the system as Paramount or Universal. And "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a remake, too, in case you didn't know. So, "my knowledge of film is limited at best," eh? My turds probably know more about movies than you.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

Enjoyed your War of the Worlds review, and believe me, you aren't the only one who feels that way. Everyone I know feels like a sucker for shelling out $10 to see that piece of shit. I find it comical that the science community couldn't detect the pods if they have been underground for so long. For that alone, Spielberg needs to retire. I also can't even watch Cruise and take him seriously, as there is always something forced about his performances.

BTW - in your Dogma 2006 essay, you mention that it's time to stop casting the boyish looking actors. I couldn't agree more, and it has seriously bothered me for the past eight years. When do you think this trend started? I think it started with Tom Cruise, then the plauge of the pretty boys spread in the mid 90s when that man-child Leoardo DiCaprio hit it big. Also, don't you think that one of the major problems is miscasting? They are casting 24 year olds in roles that should go to 40 year olds. And don't you think the reason why most of these boyish actors suck is due to lack of training? Pacino and De Niro were in their early 30s when they ht it big and spent their 20s training and taking their craft seriously. I could be wrong, but I don't think Ashton Kutcher takes his craft as seriously as Pacino and De Niro.

Dear Scott:

I'd say you're right. I also think you're correct about when this trend of casting boys in men's parts started, and it was with Tom Cruise. Once upon a time male actors looked and sounded like Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Robert Ryan. Now we get Leonardo DeCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Ashton Kutcher,and the creepy Tom Cruise, who won't do us all a favor and become a full-time Scientology instructor.

Josh

Name: gregak@yahoo.com
E-mail:

Josh,

Discoved Jeff Franklin of TV'S FULLHOUSE as producer of AA!? Wtf? Didn't this guy also write Summer School? What was your relationship with him like and will the two of you work together in the future? Do you even like Full House?

Also, do you have anything to do with this new Dark Horse Bruce Campell zombie movie?

Dear gregak:

I was mistaken, there are actually two Jeff Franklins. The one I worked with didn't do "Full House."

No, I have nothing to do with Bruce's Dark Horse film.

Josh

Name: Tiffany Yu
E-mail: tiffanyayu@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thank you very much for taking the time to send me the personally autographed picture I requested. I know how busy you must be and I just wanted you to know how much it meant to me to have a photo signed by you! This is a very cherished keepsake, and I thank you! Good luck to you in the future and I truly wish you all the best! Thank you again and God bless!

Your friend,
Tiffany

Dear Tiffany:

My pleasure. May you get great enjoyment out of it.

Josh

Name: Jennifer Lee
E-mail: asian_invasian@hotmail.com

Dear Josh: Hiya, I was wondering if you've ever seen Battle Royale?

If you have, what do you think? Hate it, love it, or did you throw the disk against the wall cause you hate subtitles? :)

If you haven't seen it, then it really is a great film, and I'd really like to hear your opinion about it, if and when you ever see it.

Dear Jennifer:

I haven't seen it yet, but I don't mind subtitles. Last night I watched "Kid Blue" (1973) with Dennis Hopper, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson, and it was an interesting film. Sort of vaguely like a western "Rebel Without a Cause," and Hopper was a good choice for the part, as were Warren Oates and Ben Johnson in their parts. It fell apart by the end, but it interested me.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

It's me again. I'm sure you're tired of me by now (god knows I'm tired of myself).

I just read the post by Ulrich and your response, and I just wanted to say that I too want movies to improve. I have sat through unbelievable piles of crap, that are so remarkably bad that I have seriously wanted to cry. I admire your determination to get us to a point where are films are more consistently great, but I think you're too hard on the films you watch. The minute you start watching movies as a critic and not as a fan is the moment movies no longer matter.

There have been great films made from 1978 to today, maybe not as many, maybe they weren't groundbreaking masterpieces, but some have been great.

It's obvious you and I have different tastes in films, so I'm not gonna press that matter.

You might enjoy movies more if you were less hard of them (and that's including your own work).

Still a fan,
Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I can only see movies the way I see them. The fact that everybody has decided to grade on a curve and I won't is simply how I view life. Those are my standards, which I'm not interested in lowering. Originality counts for something; a lot, actually. Intelligence counts for something, too. Yes, there have always been stupid movies, but that wasn't all there was. Every studio legitimately tried to make 5-10 really good movies every year, and succeeded quite a few times, too. But first you have to want to make the best films you can make, which no studios are interested in anymore. There are no Sam Goldwyns or David Selznicks anymore, producers who attempted to make the very best films ever made, and occasionally succeeded. If I watch a film with a poorly-written screenplay it just screams at me, there's nothing I can do about that except get a lobotomy and join the masses.

Here's the new rule on Beckerfilms.com -- Josh does not want to discuss movies based on comic books ever again. To me it's like this was a website dedicated to books and we can't stop discussing "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." I'm going to be 47 years old in a few days, and I seriously don't give a shit about kid's books, kid's movies, or kid's anything. This is a website for adult thinking about movies (no matter how old you are). That may be an oxymoron at this late date, but that's still how I feel -- movies can be intelligent, and can rise to the level of art. But if you can't bring up anything other than infantile nonsense about twits cavorting in leotards, don't bother writing in.

Sincerely,

Josh

Name: Christopher William Lee
E-mail: freak_me_firefox@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Yeah I know this answer could nothing be for you, but for me its all of my life, I just wanna know how can I be an actor of movies, I always was interested by cinema, movies, things like that, but here where I Live cant have any answer or a suggestion of it, thats why Im looking for help of someone. Well Im Brazilian if you want to answer me by e-mail thank you, if you dont no problem, I wanna be an actor this is my dream of my life.

By:Christopher William Lee
Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu - Paraná

Very thanks, Sorry for my English, I know its very bad,I just wanna live in an English country to have a better english. Bye

Dear Christopher:

Christopher Lee has already been used by an actor, you'll have to come up with a new name. So, you wanna be in movies, get your ass to Hollywood.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I'm 19 years old, but please don't group me in with the everyday average 19 year old, I try to be more rational.

How can you rank the original Batman in your worst 100 list? I'm flabbergasted (I like that word). As far as comic book movies go, that's one of the best. Spider-man 2 is my favorite, but Batman ranks up there in the top 10 at least.

If you want to see a truly bad comic book movie, watch The Hulk. I've never been so dissapointed in Ang Lee.

Dear Jeremy:

"Batman" was one of the most miserable experiences I have ever sat through. There's nothing about that film I like, not even the production design. The photography is ugly, Michael Keaton is completely miscast, Jack Nicholoson is awful, the story blows, and Tim Burton directed it like it all doesn't matter, which of course it doesn't. Sadly, I don't like "Spider-Man 2" any better.

Josh

Name: Andrew
E-mail:

Josh: Josh, Josh, Josh. Why do you continually preach about an era of filmmaking you just don't understand?

"Yes, concentrate on personal relationships and characterization, but that's in regard to any and every genre, including action, FX, horror, sci-fi, and everything else. Personal relationships and characterization are better than plots, but plots are necessary, as well. But FX in and of themselves mean nothing; they only exist to enhance the drama."

I agree. And more films do this now a days than you think - from 'Lord of the Rings' to 'Revenge of the Sith.' Even well-made comic book films like 'Batman Begins' follow this rule. You'll more than likely throw out some blind disagreement, so I won't even attempt to elaborate (that would be like explaining the joys of sex to an impotent old man). Needless to say, a quality film like 'X-Men 2' will always be around, while the hollow 'Fantastic Four' will fade into obscurity with the rest of the Hollywood garbage. Yes, these films ARE different, even if YOU can't see it.

Also, the "sequel" rule is a tired excuse. In the early days, they were made soley for money...but times change and so does art. Even independent filmmakers are making sequels. If there's a need for one, there should be one. These days, a story doesn't have to be contained in one film. If 'Star Wars' (an INDEPENDENTLY PRODUCED franchise, by the way) brought on any new trend, it would be that of serialized feature films. I know that annoys someone who's obsessed with the overused "Three Act Structure"...but to a lot of creative people, it creates less bounderies.

This year offered some great films both from Hollywood (which still produces diamonds from the rough) and abroad (foreign countries like Japan have been consistently putting out incredible material for over a decade). Sorry, but creativity is alive and well, no matter how many easy excuses you give.

Dear Andrew:

"Star Wars" was not independently produced, it was made for 20th Century-Fox. For the last 40 years or so almost all movies have been produced by smaller production companies for the large studios, that's why you see so many production company names at the beginning of films. "Star Wars" was produced by Lucas Film for 20th. Anyway, clearly you are a crusader for mediocrity, so bang that drum. Sequels are fine, thoughtlessness is great, things couldn't be better. Movies have clearly reached their pinnacle, their apotheosis. Who could ask for anything smarter than "X-Men 2"? This is truly heaven on Earth.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative

Josh,

I just watched "Thou Shall Not Kill...Except".

Just one question so far.

There a quite a few scenes that show an old wall mount grandfather clock in the lead man's little homestead there.

Is that the same clock that was in "The Evil Dead" movies?

Also, for Sam Raimi to have pulled that character off in the exact way that he did it would indicate that he must be a little whacked or at least he was. I've never seen anything quite like that.

Josh have you ever watched a movie called "Blood and Black Lace"? It was directed by Mario Bava I think.

If you have watched it what is your opinion of it?

Tim

Dear Tim:

Yes, that's the clock from "Evil Dead." I've always enjoyed Sam's performance in TSNKE, although there are those that didn't (like the NY Daily News, who voted him "worst performance by a director" that year). Sam was the wackiest I guy I knew when we were young, and keep in mind that Bruce and Scott are both very wacky guys, too. No, I haven't seen "Blood and Black Lace."

Josh

Name: Ted Johnson
E-mail: JohnsonEJ@JTFGTMO.southcom.mil

Dear Josh:

How can I order a copy of Alien Apocalypse???

Dear Ted:

It will be available everywhere soon. September or October. You can check at Anchorbayentertainment.com.

Josh

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

Josh,

This was a quote from Terry Gilliam on the Brothers Grimm site:

----------
Well, this is kind of a confession here: we've moved on from making films from scripts. Scripts are very limited things. Tony Grisoni and I are dress pattern makers; what we've done is started making films from dress patterns, rather than scripts. They're more flexible things, they're big, you get the whole crew around them, and you get the actors. The script is definitely a starting point, and the Writers Guild will defend the position of the scriptwriter, but this film is really made from a dress pattern. Ehren [Kruger] was really important, he wrote the basic shape of the thing.

--------

What the heck is he talking about? Does that sound serious? Is he a wacko?

Dear Ben:

You got me. A dress pattern? In "Lost in La Mancha" it was pretty clear he didn't have a clue what he was doing, I think he's probably just dropped off the deep end.

Josh

Name: Ulrich Smythe
E-mail: ule@bittensturm.org

Okay, Josh, I've been reading your thoughts here for awhile and I've finally formulated what bothers me about your approach to criticizing the work of your colleagues. The most recent example that disturbed me was when the writer of "Donnie Darko" wrote in and said he was a fan of your work. Your only response was to insult his work to his face.

The reason this bothers me is not because I think you should suck up to other people to get ahead, but simply that by now as a writer/director of some experience you should have some sympathy for the difficulty in making a good film. I have read you put the flaws in your own films down numerous times on these pages, and I've even read you go so far as to say you hadn't yet made a good film.

If it is truly the case that you have yet to make a good film, despite a lifetime of devoting yourself with honesty and seriousness to the craft, perhaps you should have more sympathy for others whose work contains serious flaws. As you should know by now the process of making a film is very difficult, and making a truly worthy film much harder. I would think that this would teach you the lesson that your colleagues in the field of writing and directing films may just be trying as hard as you are, and aren't necessarily trying to cheat the American public by producing flawed work. I would think that given that you think that despite having good taste and good intentions and a commendable work ethic that you have yet to make a film that meets your own standards that you could be more civil to those in your profession who have yet to please you either. The advantage of doing so would be making valuable contacts who could help you in your career. You do not have to lie to these people and tell them they are brilliant. But you do not have to attack them as if they are swindlers who have purposefully robbed you of the time you spent watching their work. Perhaps they are as sincerely intentioned as you are and could be worthwhile friends if you would give them the chance rather than treating them as scum. Treat them as you would like to be treated: an honest broker struggling to make good films in an imperfect world. A little kindness and respect might get you the same in return, which might make your life as a filmmaker a bit easier than it sounds as if it's been thus far.

I do not offer these words as an expert on the profession of filmmaking, simply as a student of human psychology. If you spend your time telling everybody around you they are purveyors of shit, you are sooner or later going to end up alone, because no one wants to listen to that, however true it is. Try giving others the benefit of the doubt that you would like yourself: you are trying hard to make good films. Maybe they are too.

Dear Ulrich:

That is a thoughtful, honest response. Personally, I don't believe that really was the director/writer of "Donnie Darko" who wrote in. Believe it or not, there are folks out there on the worldwide web who lie about who they are, and it's happened to me on several occasions already. However, if indeed that was Richard Kelly, he's got deals in Hollywood, and enough young kids who think he made a good movie that he doesn't need my approbation. But, as I say, I kinda doubt it was him. Meanwhile, I know that I'm acerbic, snotty, and preachy, but I'm on a one-man crusade here. Who else on the planet Earth gives a shit about the state of movies improving? No one. Everybody else has knuckled under and accepts the status quo, but I don't and won't. You want to hear that "Donnie Darko" and "War of the Worlds" are good movies, made by artists worthy of respect, go to any other movie website in existance.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Are you planning on viewing or posting a review for the movie "Downfall" That is, the movie about Hitler's last days in the bunker. It is reputed to be well made. It is just out on DVD at Best Buy and such places. I am thinking of buying a copy, so I can watch it now, and also avoiding the cost of rental, to watch it in the future or lend it to others.

Dear Bob:

If you invest in the DVD, I hope you enjoy it. Meanwhile, I don't review very many movies anymore. I did review "War of the Worlds" yesterday and I just need to proof-read it before it's posted.

Josh

Name: Jeremy MIlks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Reply to my previous post. I actually didn't expect a reply.

I hope I didn't offend you in any way with my last post, though I probably did.

Some comic book movies didn't turn out good at all, I'll agree with that, but to actually say that you'd rather cause yourself physical pain than sit through some comic book movies has got to be an exageration or it's just kinda sad. I haven't seen Fantastic Four yet, but it doesn't look to hot, and I haven't seen the new Batman though it looks great. The first two Batman movies (Batman and Batman Returns) are great films, same goes for Spider-man (Spider-man 2 was better though), the X-Men series is rather good too, and one of my all time favorite comic book movies is Sin City. These movies, while maybe not the most enlightening or thought provoking, are great movies. Movies are meant to entertain. Spider-man is basically a coming of age story only Peter Parker has super powers. X-Men is a movie about people's fear of the unknown. Sin City was just pure gritty fun (crotches getting shot aren't things I see everyday).

I can't think of a good video game movie to made yet. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was decent, but it wasn't based on any of the games. However, I read on here that you don't actually play games yourself, so how can you really know whether there is any hope for a good video game movie to be made? So many games are almost movies now days, so it's just a matter of transfering them over. The only problem is, most of the movies they're making are things like Doom where people just shoot demons all day long. Resident Evil was so screwed up. It isn't based on the game at all really, so that's a bad example too. Never watch any Uwe Boll movie ... they are horrible excuses for films.

As far as remakes go, I have liked some remakes better than the original. I expect to get so much hate from this, but I like the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre better than the original. The original bored me. It may have been groundbreaking in it's day, but to me, it was just slow (and I like a lot of slow films).

I haven't seen War of the Worlds, so I don't know how bad it may be, but I like Spielberg. He's one of my favorites (George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi in that order).

I personally think, that there is absolutly nothing original anymore, and they're never will be. Movies have been being made for how long now? Over a 100 years. How can anything new happen. We've covered everything. As much as I want something new to come along, I don't hold my breath. The best we can do anymore is adapt books, games, comics, anything, into "new" movies. The remake trend will end soon, I hope.

Again, hope I didin't offend. Best of luck to you. And I think you should give Donnie Darko another watch. It makes more sense the second time around.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

No, you didn't offend me. The first two Batman movies are "great"? How young are you? I would absolutely include the first "Batman" on my 100 worst films of all time list. I consider that film a true misery, and Jack Nicholson's single worst performance to date.

Josh

Name: Sandy Magaret
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You complain that the current state of filmmaking is terrible, but there is one shining star: the documentary genre. There have been many recent good documentaries, including two that I would recommend called "March of the Penguins" and "Murderball". Have you seen eiher?

Dear sandy:

I have not seen either, but I will keep my eyes peeled. I've brought this subject up many times. Yes, the documentary genre is doing fine, and prospering. All of the technological advances in digital cameras and photography, which have meant very little to features, have been great for documentaries. I personally watch them all the time. I watched a very good one last night called "Crazy," a Dutch film from 2000, about former Dutch soldiers with the UN who have served in every hot spot in the world for the past 55 years, and the songs that reminded them of their time in these war zones. They then put on whatever song it was, got a tight close-up of the guy (or gal, there was one) and let them react to the song. In one instance the song was "Crazy" by Seal, another it was "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Guns & Roses, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2. Anyway, I thought it was fascinating. The only thing it really takes to make a documentary is the brains to do it.

Josh

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

Josh

You can tell me if this makes sense. Some directors feel the need to do remakes (often as directors for hire) because they loved the original so. Why try to emulate or remake it? It makes no sense.
A poster just today remarked that all it took for video game flicks to be good was a strong screenplay. But why would anyone want to see a movie version of a game they have control over? Video games and movies just seem a really disparate pair.
As for sequels, if the story needs to fit over two movies, by all means. Kill Bill was excessive, and most sequels are just fluff. Personally, I'd love to see a sequel to Unbreakable, but perhaps that's an indication that the film asked too many questions and didn't answer them.

Brett.

Dear Brett:

Sequels and remakes are made to make money, no other reason. It's not because anybody loved anything.

Josh

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

Josh

Re: Back to the Future

I suppose it differs with opinion (though it shouldn't) but the end of Act One is when our lead, Marty McFly, is already in the past and finds out he has to maneuver his way into getting to his home time, effectively setting up the "point of no return" and leads into the exposition in Act Two. Act Three begins when Marty does indeed go Back to the Future and we're given closure on all the story's threads, though there is an opener for a sequel. Originally, Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis did this as a joke (Christopher Lloyd's character says Marty has to go into the Future with him because his family is in trouble) but had to be used when the flick became successful. It was a success, I think, because although it never gets too deep, it's refreshing, well-structured and plausible within the limits of cognitive dissidence. If summer movies (popcorn flicks) had the brains of this movie, we'd all be better off. But there are few...this, Jaws, Star Wars...not many!

Dear Brett:

I'm not a big fan of "Back to the Future," or anything by Zemeckis. Previous to that film, after "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "Used Cars" and the script for "1941," the guy was considered a complete joke who had nothing going for him except his friendship with Spielberg. That changed, but my feelings haven't. I must say I really despised the idea that a stupid white kid showed Chuck Berry how to rock & roll, just like I hated the stupid white kid showing Elvis how to shake his hips in "Forrest Gump."

Josh

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

Josh

Re: War of the Worlds

You should have gone next door to 'Batman Begins'. That at least has a good set-up, though most people agree the second hour isn't as good as the first anyway.

Dear Brett:

I probably wouldn't have been much happier watching "Batman." Meanwhile, I'm just finishing a review of "War of the Worlds."

Josh

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

Josh

For me, a good first act not mentioned before was "Back to the Future" - perfect set-up because we know where our lead will go, who he'll wind up meeting, and there's a definite motivation to watch because the point of no return is so strong. Silly movie, but I've seen many, many times....

Dear Brett:

What's the end of Act I? Does he go back to the past? I haven't seen it in years.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

For the record, I'm still a fan of yours even though I disagree with a large portion of your Dogma 2006, and I respect your opinion. I'm not going to go through the entire list of things I disagree with (keep in mind, I do agree with several of your ideas). I'm a big fan of the Star Wars series, the newest three being my favorite (this is blasphemy I know), so I don't consider movies nowadays to all be horrible. There are plenty of good movies out there.

Comic books and video games are not bad sources for movies if they're done properly. Look at Sam Raimi with Spider-man, and pay no attention to Uwe Boll's video game adaptations (those will lead you astray). There hasn't been a really good video game movie in awhile, in my opinion, so I can almost grant you that point, but if they'd have done Resident Evil properly or if somebody able were to make Metal Gear Solid (I'd love to do the job) then we'd have some good video game movies.

Remakes and sequels. I have very mixed feelings in this department. Sequels, I'm all for as long as there is more story to tell. Honestly, if the story is dead, I believe in ending the series (however I have an extremely liking of the "trilogy" idea). Remakes on the other hand, I'm mostly against. However, if the original film was done poorly but had potential, I say remake it. I made a movie called "Homecoming" in August of 2004 and oh my god does it blow (I blame myself fully for it's demise), so when I can gather a worthwhile budget, I'm going to remake it. If there is no need benefit in remaking a film however, I say don't do it (i.e. Evil Dead, The Omen, etc. ... however, I'd love to direct the Evil Dead remake simply because I think since it's gonna happen whether we like it or not, then somebody who loved the original trilogy should helm the new one).

I agree, zombies and vampires (for the most part) aren't scary anymore.

Now, one issue I did have (and I assure you I'm still a fan) is that your whole essay has a holier than thou feel to it. This may have been unintentional (I have that problem sometimes ... hopefully not in this though. Many people, including myself know that you've made a few stinkers. Who hasn't? I have the saying that "everybody is entitled to a turd" and I stand by it. Alien Apocalypse and Thou Shalt Not Kill ... Except! are great examples of your contributions to the bad films out there today, and it hurts me to say that because of my love for Bruce Campbell. However, you've also cranked out Lunatics: A Love Story, which I thought was extremely awesome, and though I have yet to see it, I've heard nothing but good things about Running Time.

I hope I haven't come off as harsh, or as too much of a bastard. I mean for this simply to maybe shed some different light on some of your points (not that I'm saying you should change your mind). And if nothing else, I'd love to debate these topics with you face to face sometime. It'd be interesting.

Dear Jeremy:

Well, you haven't changed my mind in any way. Perhaps I do have a holier-than-thou attitude, and I'm sure this comes from having lived through a time when good and great movies were made regularly. I know it's possible, and I have a clear comparison of how bad today's movies are. Shit, I just sat through "War of the Worlds," which is bordering on worthless, with a screenplay that was completely worthless (nice FX by Dennis Murren). Regarding Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, and all the rest, I'd rather stick myself with a pin, or hit my toes with a hammer. If anyone ever remade a movie because the original sucked and they wanted to improve it, that might be a precedent, but it's never happened. It's always films with a name and a reputation that get remade, and they ALWAYS blow it. No video games have ever made a good movie, there's no precedent for that, and I wouldn't hold my breath, either.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was browsing Wikipedia and noticed that there is no article on you. I was wondering if you would mind me trying to put one together? Also, if your answer is yes, could I use a few of the pictures from your site?

It would also be great if you could check it out afterwards and make sure all of the information is correct.

Thanks!

Oh! What did you think of "Man With the Screaming Brain"?

Dear Trey;

Go ahead. I don't even know what the Wikipedia is. Regarding "Brain," I think Bruce is a pretty good director, and seems to know what he wants. I thought the tone was pretty good, and the shots were well set-up. However, it desperately needed to be shot at night, which was how it was written, but the low budget wouldn't allow it, and it undermined the whole film. I thought Bruce's performance was quite good, but I would have liked to see a lot more of him fighting with his screaming brain. Meanwhile, the 35mm print made from the digital master (off of 35mm negative) didn't look very good, and it would definitely look better than anything shot digitally, so I'd say digital technology still isn't anywhere near film yet.

Josh

Name: Chauncey Lee Phallup
E-mail: chauncey@xcel.net

Josh, one question on your dogma rulebook:

Why is adapting a novel, short story, or play better than remaking a film? Both are examples of retelling an existing story. In both cases the secondary films are usually inferior to what they are adapting / remaking. How do you see turning novels into movies as a good idea, when inevitably the novel is cheapened by the process of removing interior dialog, rich descriptive language and wordplay, and mounds of scenes and plot elements which simply won't fit into a 90-minute film? I thought your concern was attaining originality in film: adapting existing novels won't get us there.

Dear Chauncey:

Screenplays have to come from somewhere, and original screenplays aren't cutting it, nor have they been for a long time. The bottom line is that most screenwriters aren't anywhere near as good a writers as novelists, and left to their own devices generally come up with garbage. But novels have proven many, many times to be good source material for movies (even if the movie isn't as good as the book), whereas remakes, sequels and comic books almost always prove to be awful. But this gets back to the filmmaker's intentions, which are crucial. If, say, you're adapting "Empire Falls" into a film, nobody had ever done that before, so no one knows how it will turn out -- will it be good, won't it be good, will it work as film? No one knows. If you remake a film, your intentions are specifically and explicitly to make money; not to improve on the original, not to make a good movie, just to put asses in seats. Remakes and sequels are whore's films, plain and simple. That's not true for any adaptation that hasn't been made into a film before. Most of this gets back to producers just being cheap and not wanting to pay to option a book, then have to pay to adapt it. It's much cheaper and easier to just work with original screenplays, even if they suck, as they generally do. But there have been hundreds, possibly thousands, of good and great movies based on novels, whereas you can't name ten good sequels or remakes in the entire history of motion pictures. And nobody needs to write in with: "The Godfather Part II," "The Road Warrior" or the 1959 version of "Ben-Hur."

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

When it comes to religion, I'm not so sure people are afraid of lightning bolts raining down on them. I think it's rejection and isolation from the rest of society if they don't embrace a religion. I truly believe deep down most people have their doubts about god (does an atheist have to capitalize god?).

Anyway, I'm in the small minority with you that thinks all religion (and the concept of a god) is bullshit. I love George Carlin and agree with almost everything he says in his standup (especially in regards to religion). He says it way funnier and better than I could. A friend of mine is also an atheist. The only other admitted atheist I know.

It astounds me in this day and age people still follow religion. I think it's just easier to say you're a 'catholic', a 'jew' or a 'muslim'. I once attended an atheist gathering and I was very surprised that almost all of them were old people.

An interesting show you may have heard of is Penn and Teller's BULLSHIT. On one particular episode that aired, Penn and Teller rip into religion and even Mother Theresa. They actually wore hats with lightning rods on the show pleading for god to do something. It was funny.

I went to watch it again on Showtime on Demand and found it removed from the listing of episodes. It had every episode from like 25 to 35, but that one (which was #29 I think) was gone. I have a sneaking suspicion Showtime got complaints and yanked it from On Demand. Pathetic.

To swing it back to moviemaking, I'm out here in Hollywood and though I don't hate it like you do, I do find it disturbing that the new breed of 'wannabe' filmmakers (not to mention actual industry executives) out here now know nothing about movies and seemingly have no passion for it. It isn't Hollywood the place I'm getting tired of, it's the passionless new breed I've been running into lately.

What's mainly keeping me out here is the fact that I do love the movie industry with all its flaws and LA is rich in cinematic history. I also happened to generate interest in one of my 'creature feature' scripts which may be set up at the Sci Fi Channel. Believe me, I don't hold my breath. I've been through it all before.

Dear CD:

Good luck with your script at SciFi. I have one there as well, and their system seems to move at the pace of glaciers. I've seen quite a few of the episodes of "Bullshit," and I finally took it out of my TiVo because the show itself ultimately seemed like bullshit. It was funny a couple of times, but got unfunny and wearisome quickly (just like Teller not talking). I agree with you that most people probably say that they're part of a relgion just to be part of a group, which isn't such a bad thing. But people are undoubtedly better off being part of community groups or the PTA than mystical, superstitious, unfounded, ridiculous groups like religions. Up in Oregon, around Medford where I lived for a year, the big thing there are all of these born-again Christian groups, and their meetings draw hundreds of people. If I ran into any of these of these people, who are always proselytizing, and I'd say I was Jewish, they'd go into this big song and dance about how they really admire Jews, and Jews are in touch with God, and all this silly horseshit. I couldn't help but think, if you admire Jews so much, why are you a Christian? That's like saying, I really admire "Jaws," that's why I bought "Jaws 2." As George Carlin has said, religious people can't even get with the commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," and it ought to be changed to "Thou shalt not kill, unless someone believes in a diiferent invisible man than you, in which case it's okay."

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Howdy.

Thought I'd put in my two cents on the great ACT I pictures.

I think "Quest For Fire" has a tremendous ACT I. With the fire appearing as a small speck in the first pan across a bleak and desolate landscape...Then the Sasquatch run in and kill everyone, thus depriving the human clan of home and fire, other than a small ember kept in a lantern-type contraption, which promptly goes out. That movie as a whole I think goes well.

Also, "The Enigma of Kasper Hauser," like most Herzog films, had me totally intrigued for the first 20 or so...Oddly, it felt long and short of ideas thereafter, which I still think is unusual due to it's status as one of Herzog's best.

"The Last Picture Show," which seems to have a very long ACT I, I think never stops moving forward (the whole film is one of the few I'd call perfect).

There are many others too...Like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," (which only gets more bone-chilling as is goes on) and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," which is my all time favorite. An absolutey perfect script. It is to me what "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is to you. And I just love young John Huston's cameo ("From now on, you'll have to go through live without my assistance.")

Personally, I've never liked "The Exorcist." In fact, I think it's a pretty half-assed movie that is full of too many ideas that don't matter (like J. Lee Cobb's character). A product of the times, like "Easy Rider," or "Billy Jack." Taken out of context, they aren't very good.

Oh, and I'd also like to add that I too like credits at the end of a film. I thought "Bigfoot's" points made perfect sense.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I really hate the credits at the end, but maybe that's just me. It's not like putting the credits at the end is new, I just watched "It Came from Outer Space" and the credits were at the end, and I was annoyed. I think the proliferation of this idea is pandering to a a supposed impatient audience, just like not having sufficient or complete Act Ones. Meanwhile, everyone keeps mentioning good beginnings, but the really important part of Act I is how it ends. It's that moment of no return. In "Kwai" it's after Col. Nicholson has been let out of the oven, has met with Saito and decided that his men will build the bridge, then one of his engineer officers tells him that there are trees there that are like the oak sections of the London Bridge, and those lasted over 500 years. Nicholson says, "500 years, think of it." In "The Godfather" it's the shooting of Don Corleone, which ends with Fredo sitting on the curb crying. In "Casablanca" it's Pter Lorre giving Rick the letters of transit, then being caught and killed -- "Rick, help me!" Rick: "I stick my neck out for nobody." Just having a good opening doesn't make a good Act I.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

In reference to pop music and your "Dogma 2006" argument, I agree with another post on here that pop music in films can work, provided it is handled with the same artistry as the film itself (the example of using the Stones in Scorcese's "Mean Streets" was mentioned). While more of an orchestral score fan myself, I recognize instances where pop music can work.
On another note, have you seen Guillermo del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone" yet? I recall mentioning it awhile back, after hearing about the film on TV. I rented it on Netflix recently, and was impressed. There's nothing intensely original about the supernatural aspect of the film (a ghost story), but the plot has several other layers that tie together well in the end, and del Toro is very good at establishing mood. It's in Spanish (with English subtitles), and it's a period piece (northern Spain, mid thirties, the height of the Spanish Civil War), which make the film uncommon and engaging. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Okay, my eyes are peeled. Yes, pop songs were used well in "Mean Streets," but that was over 30 years ago. Pop songs were used well in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," and that was nearly 25 years ago. That's when the filmmakers tried to pay attention to what song they were using where, but now it's any old song stuck anywhere. Worse still, we've now got jerks like Wes Anderson who just arbitrarily lay songs straight across the entire film, and none of them fit. But that to me is still preferable to the films that throw unknown new songs in just so they can release a soundtrack.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Had to take a peek at your favorite films list to spark my recollection of films with good and bad first acts.

Some good ones that hooked me right away were:

Gone With The Wind - within just a few minutes, we know what the frivolous youths we see at the barbecue don't - that war WILL break out, and they'll have their lives turned upside down. Plus we know that we'll see it from the viewpoint of a spoiled brat, not a soldier in a trench.

7 Samurai - within just a few minutes, we know the menace, and the plan the villagers come up with... and we just *have* to keep watching to see if it can actually work. And with each samurai who is recruited (and they keeping getting tougher) we begin thinking "Hey - they may actually have a chance."

Planet of the Apes - I always thought Heston's monologue at the beginning before the credits is a wonderful and believable way to pretty much set up the theme. As above - as soon as they crash, you just *have* to keep watching, just to see what happens. (Although I guess, given the movie's title, you sort of have an idea...)

The Godfather - there's none of the action and intrigue and betrayal of the rest of the film in the extended wedding sequence... but you call tell what we're in for: this will balance the public and private life of the "family," and they drop hints all over the place as to what will follow. (Like Michael telling Kay about his father and Luca Brasi.)

Some films that I thought had really slow first acts were Unforgiven, Zulu, and Deliverance. But in each case, the slow start is necessary for there to be such a violent shift later on, which is sort of the point of each story.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I just saw a film with an insufficient Act I, then two and half acts of nothing but smashing, crashing, banging repetition -- the remake of "The War of the Worlds." Someone wrote in when it opened and asked, "What's not to like?" I must retort, "Oh, yeah? What's to like?" By the time Tim Robbins enters, that film is so dull and wearisome I could have screamed, or walked out. But I didn't (I was with other people). And that which was a good ending in both the book and the 1953 version completely fails here. Also, what's with the red shit? That's supposed to blood? What's the point? Meanwhile, the effect of the vaporizing ray was exactly like the way people blew up in "Time Bandits," with their clothes flying through the air, which is just silly. One more bad remake.

Josh

Name: Darryl Palmquernot
E-mail: meow@tonsil.org

Dear Josh:

On the subject of movies with really great openings that establish the conflict of the film, I would propose the otherwise horrible film "The Trigger Effect" by David Koepp. The film is about the fragility of human civility and the potential for society to degenerate into dog-eat-dog violence and it opens with the lead couple in the film arriving at a movie theater to watch a movie. The result is that, during the film's opening run, the audience arrived at the film, and then the film proceded to show in a long tracking shot with no cuts all of the annoying social interactions which make up a trip to the movie theater which have the potential to lead to violence, culminating in the lead actor almost getting into a fight with a couple of guys who won't shut up once the movie starts rolling. It was a neat trick.

Dear Darryl:

It sounds interesting, but the subject, I believe, was well set-up Act Ones, and certainly the first scene is an important aspect of Act I, but it's just the beginning. How did Act I end? A good Act I, as I recall, was the James Stewart film "No Highway in the Sky" (1951), where he's been running a new kind of stress tests on a certain brand of airplane wings, but nobody takes his tests seriously. There is a plane crash in northern Canada and he goes to investigate. As the plane he's on is taking off he realizes this too is the same brand of plane, and as it takes off it immediately begins to show signs of stress, like the wings will fall off. End of Act I. "Network" has a terrific Act I, which ends with Howard Beale (Peter Finch) saying on the air that "Life is bullshit" and he intends to kill himself on the air next Tuesday. The station manager, William Holden, who is busy arguing on the phone with his boss, is told that Howard Beale just said that life is bullshit and Holden replies, "Well it is, isn't it?" While I'm on 1976, "Rocky" has a good Act I, which ends with his meeting with the fight promoter, who asks, "Rocky, how would you like to fight the champ, Apollo Creed, for the world championship?" And Rocky says, "No. It wouldn't be a good fight. I'm just a ham & egger."

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was wondering, what movies do you think have the most effective first acts? What do you think sucks the viewer in the most as far as beginnings? On the one hand, there's the background you have to fill the viewer in, but at the same time you have to get them interested. Off hand, the only beginnings I can remember that are really and truly memorable and at the same time servicing the plot are those in "Apocalypse Now", "The Exorcist", "The Lion in Winter" and "The Maltese Falcon".

Cheers,

Nick

Dear Nick:

Most movies have a better Act I than an Act III. One of my very favorites (as I've mentioned many times before) is "The Bridge on the River Kwai," which brings us to our main dramatic conflict in ten minutes, which is Colonels Saito and Nicholson facing off against each other. Every time I see the film I can't believe we've gotten there so fast. "Lawrence of Arabia" has a great Act I (and Act II, although Act III three is a bit rough). "Casablanca" has a great Act I, "Gone With the Wind" has a great Act I (and a rough Act III). I think "The Exorcist" has something of a sluggish Act I, and doesn't really get going until Act II. "Platoon" has a great Act I. Anyone else have a suggestion?

Josh

Name: Sarah Packard
E-mail: abbagirl@cyberspace.org

Hi Josh!

I've been meaning to write you for a couple weeks now...I was at the screening of Bruce's "The Man With the Screaming Brain" in Royal Oak (I'm from Ann Arbor), and was excited when I thought I spotted you walking past me in the theatre aisle...I wasn't 100% positive it was you though, and you looked busy and on your way to a seat, so I stopped myself from randomly yelling out, "Josh!!" :) It was already exciting to see Bruce, Ted, and Tamara Gorski all in one room, and to finally witness another Michigan film celeb (and Xena director! Yup, I'm one of those nutty Xenites) in the flesh was a thrill. When I talked to Ted that night I asked if you were there, and he confirmed that yes, it had indeed been you that I'd seen...I was kinda proud of myself for recognizing you, lol. Alas, I didn't get a chance to actually say hi and all that, so I just wanted to do so now! Loved your work on Xena, loved "Alien Apocalypse" (mmm...Renee O'Connor in white flightsuit...sorry, got distracted there), and I'm also the proud owner of a vhs of "Lunatics: A Love Story," which I, like, psychotically adore. :) (Am also a Ted fan, clearly!) Anyway, enough fangirly babble...best of luck with all your future projects, and go Michigan!

-Sarah, aka the abbagirl-

Dear Sarah:

Yep, that was me. I came out of my little hole to see Bruce's movie. Bruce, as always, was pretty darn funny speaking before the film. I particularly liked, when someone asked where the film was shot, Bruce held up his hand and pointed at his palm, saying, "Bulgaria is here, Romania is here, and Iraq is over here," as though one can use their hand as a map everywhere in the world, not just Michigan.

Josh

Name: Ilan
E-mail: ilanmuskat@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Is there any unifying theme to your "Dogma"? Can you cite an example of a movie that fits it and benefits from it? Does being "cool" and "trying harder" ultimately fill the criteria you're looking for?

I know that Dogme 1995 was never adhered to completely, but it at least had a unifying aesthetic -- something like "Breaking the Waves" or "Mifune", though of course neither of those fulfilled every criterion. But Domge 1995 was supposed to be a challenge, something *optional* that imposed limits on a director in order to create a more stylized piece of work, that could be more creative *within* those constraints. It wasn't meant to apply to every movie, and the films produced within those constraints were very interesting to watch.

Your Dogma 2006 doesn't seem to want to stylize, so much as to "improve". And yet your criteria don't lead in a unified direction. And they don't seem "optional" -- you suggest that any movie would be improved by following them.

Although the counterexamples to this assertion are numerous, I'll just point to Quentin Tarantino's work. Pop music abounds. Pulp Fiction had no "lead", nor "plot". It had the "pumpkin/honey bunny" exchange before the titles. Tim Roth looks boyish. What's the "point" to it? That accounts for roughly half of the rules you've set out.

I'm sure that a large part of your motivation is to see people stop attempting to re-make Pulp Fiction. Granted, there were a lot of risible attempts to do so in the late '90s. But that time is long past. You demonstrate that you've missed the point of the Dogme 95, and I think you're focusing on superficial concerns in your current "Dogma". If you're serious about writing something to spur creativity, it takes a lot more than being a wiseass about commercial motivations. Try harder.

Dear Ilan:

Maybe you're right. Maybe I don't have a unifying theme, other than better movies. But it is getting a dialog going. Yes, you're right again, I don't want to "stylize" anything, that's for each individual director to choose. Since I really dislike "Pulp Fiction," I'd say it's a pretty good example of many things not to do in a movie. But "Kill Bill" is really the perfect example -- a two-part, four hour film that's truly about nothing, while being derivative and unoriginal in every moment.. So, that's where we are. If you have some better suggestions, please make them.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Hey Josh-

6 Degrees of Seperation concerning Donnie Darko and you

From IMDB:
In the theater scene, Richard Kelly originally intended to have Donnie and Gretchen going to see C.H.U.D. (1984). However, there were problems with finding out who owned the rights to the movie. Finally, Sam Raimi came to the rescue by allowing Kelly to use and distort footage from The Evil Dead (1981), free of charge.

Dear :

Yeah, and I was up to direct "C.H.U.D. II" for a second, too.

Josh

Name: Paul "Bigfoot" Taglione
E-mail: bigfoot@feetstore.com

Dear Josh:

Hate to hound you, Becker me boyo, but thought I'd bark out a jive-ass response to your newly minted dogmatic essay. I vibrate harmoniously with the majority of your jaunty sine waves, so for sake of dramatic conflict, will stick herein to those points with which I take some measure of umbrage.

"4. Pop songs and music videos within feature-films are always a bad idea, and are to be avoided at all costs." I believe this commandment could use a rewording for purposes of clarification. Based on some of your later elaborations on this point, I assume you are not arguing against the rap scene in "Lunatics" or the songs sung in "If I Had a Hammer." The final episode of Patrick McGoohan's television program "The Prisoner" features one of my favorite dramatic uses of pop music: the lead character is shown indiscriminately spraying automatic machine gun fire at everyone within striking distance while The Beatles tune "All You Need is Love" wells up on the soundtrack. Lovely stuff.

"5. [...] the credits go at the front of the movie for a reason, so we all know who was doing what while we're watching the film." The opposite method strikes me as more appropriate, simply for the reason that I usually don't know if I'm interested in who did what until after I've seen the movie and been impressed by their work. When the movie begins, all of the names are nobody special to me... just random names. After the movie ends, I have a reason to look and see who the special people were who impressed me with their work, so I can go find out what else they've done. This is the same reason I prefer to hear the names of musicians announced on the radio after the song has played, because it's always after I've heard an incredible song by someone I don't know that I am desperate to perk up my attention and listen to the DJ tell me who I heard.

"6. Comic books are, for the most part, bad source material [...] 7. Novels, short stories, plays and historical counts are all good source material [...]" I don't think this advice is helpful. While it's true that the majority of comic books are crap, so are the majority of novels, short stories, and plays. It doesn't matter if someone is adapting one of Clive Barker's novels, or one of his comic books -- it's likely going to suck either way. Judge each work on its own merits. I would rather see a movie based on the comics of Daniel Clowes ("Ghost World") than any movie based on a Tom Clancy novel.

"13. Young, boyish-looking actors are weak and passé. Try casting actors who actually shave and look like grown men." Nine times out of ten, I'd prefer to watch Ted Raimi more than Wilfred Brimley or Ernest Borgnine. Yet, in comparison, Ted is much more boyish looking. You see my conundrum? Also, I don't know about you, but I prefer boyish-looking women acting in movies over women who shave and look like grown men.

"15. Just because the pretty lead actress has a pretty (or even a plain) female friend doesn't mean there has to be a lesbian sex scene." That was exactly my response to the movie "Boys Don't Cry." Talk about gratuitous... And this TV show "The L Word." Every gal in these shows is getting frisky with the other ones. You can't turn around without seeing some young gal's tongue investigating another gal's tonsils -- searching for hidden wiretaps or cyanide capsules? I think not. Call me a prude, but I prefer old fashioned romances with Rock Hudson with Doris Day. Those movies had family values up the ying-yang and the hair on that guy's forearms never fails to get me hard as steel.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this delicate matter.

Dear Paul:

All valid responses. Ted's not a lead actor, he's a character actor. His only lead so far has been for me. Yes, pop songs can and have been used well, but 999 times out of 1,000 they're not, so I say ban 'em (and to clarify, I'm not referring to songs written for your movie). Meanwhile, you're just wrong, it's better to to know who did what before the movie than after. There may very well be many comic books that are better than Tom Clancy books, but there are also millions of other books, stories, and historical accounts to work from, whereas there only seems to be a limited number of comic books so far, almost all of which have proven to be poor movie material. I think comics are mainly about the drawing, not the writing. That's what I think, and I'm stickin' to it.

Josh

Name: rosey
E-mail: roisin_bevan@hotmail.com

HI JOSH,

I WOULD JUST FIRSTLY LIKE TO SAY HOW MUCH I ADMIRE YOU AND YOUR WORK. MY QUESTION FOR YOU (AND NO, I'M NOT TRYING TO GET A JOB FROM YOU) IS HOW YOU CAST YOUR FILMS? SURELY YOU DON'T JUST HOLD AN OPEN AUDITION, AND IF YOU DO I IMAGINE PEOPLE WOULD BE SPILLING THROUGH THE DOORS? ALSO HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO'S THE "RIGHT ONE"? OH AND LASTELY, AS I WOULD LOVE TO EVENTUALLY WORK IN YOUR FIELD CAN YOU GIVE ME A SHORT PIECE OF ADVICE ON HOW TO REACH SUCCESS. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME... ROSEY

Dear rosey:

Are you yelling at me? I hire a casting director and they put out the call through their sources. They receive about a thousand headshots, go through them and whittle it down to about 75-100, or however many people we can get in during a day or two of casting sessions. Interestingly, whoever is the best for the role is usually pretty obvious. I don't know much about success, so I can't give any advice on that subject. Regarding being an artist, as Laurence Olivier said, "You think you're an artist, prove it."

Josh

Name: Richard Kelly
E-mail:

Josh,

Long time reader and admirer of your work. I wrote and directed Donnie Darko and am about to begin production on my second feature film, Southland Tales. It's fine if you didn't like my film but from your description of the plot, "a giant bunny as the monster," I doubt you've even seen it.

The rabbit is a reference to Harvey, but he is not a monster, nor is my film a "monster movie." The rabbit is a guide that enable the lead character to begin and end his quest. As a filmmaker and a knowledgeable movie buff I do think you reserve the right to pass judgement on movies but please, for the sake of truth, actually watch them first!

Best,

R.K.

Dear Richard:

I actually watched the film, and actually (and mirculously) sat through the entire film. It seemed like the height of absurdity to me, not scary, very poorly-written, and the most egregious use of needless titles, like, "Saturday, June 5, 5:37 PM" that I have ever encountered in a movie. I wish you all the best on your next film, and I hope you have a better script to work with.

Josh

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

Josh,

Lucy and Rob might find this very amusing, so pass this along to them. A 10th planet has been found, and apparently, it's being named Xena-at least, for the moment:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/29/science/29cnd-planet.html

From the article:
--------------------
It is guaranteed bigger than Pluto," said Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech and a member of the team that made the discovery. "Even if it were 100 percent reflective, it would be larger than Pluto. It can't be more than 100 percent reflective."

The discovery was made Jan. 8 using a 48-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Dr. Brown and the other members of the team - Chadwick A. Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and David L. Rabinowitz of Yale University - then found that they had, unknowingly, taken images of the planet taken as far back as 2003.

Last year, the same team announced the discovery of a distant body they named Sedna, which, until the latest discovery, had held the title of farthest known object in the solar system.

Dr. Brown said they had a name they had in mind for the planet, but did not want to disclose it publicly until it had been formally proposed to the International Astronomical Union. "We have a name we really like, and we want it to stick," he said.

Informally, the astronomers have been calling it "Xena" after the television series about a Greek warrior princess, which was popular when the astronomers began their systematic sweep of the sky in 2000. "Because we always wanted to name something Xena," Dr. Brown said.
----------------------------------

Oy vey...

Someone is watching a little TOO much TV.

L8r.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Wow! Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Xena. If they find another planet I guess it will be Gabrielle. Very amusing. I'll pass it along.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

"The monster is giant bunny rabbit? It's like the horror version of "Harvey," which, since you undoubtedly haven't seen it, is a classic film about an alcoholic (played by James Stewart) who believes he has a six-foot rabbit named Harvey as his best buddy."

I know this doesn't really matter, but it could be a big reference. And the rabbit isn't a monster it's what ends up being the costume of a guy at this halloween party...so it isn't meant to be scary if thats what you may have thought.

thank you for your forgivness haha but alos although i may be fourteen i have a great love for movies and watch heaps of things that most of my friends think is absolute crap because all they like are horrors/actions or really funny movies with big budgets....I seem to appreciate movies more for other things and all your site does is make me want to see more!

Dear chris:

Try watching some good movies, then come back and discuss them. Challenge yourself. Watch some films you wouldn't naturally watch, like some old films on TCM. Buy Leonard Maltin's movie and video guide and look up the films in the guide that seem interesting, then watch them. I've been doing it my whole life.

Josh

Name: Starky Robbins
E-mail: judydarelene@aol.com

Dear Josh:

i have been a fan of yours since i saw evil dead and read your name in the credits... but i would like to know when the hell is sci fi putting Alien Apocalypse on dvd?! my VCR is starting to eat away at my recorded VHS tape and sci fi isnt putting it on again for me to record it again so if you dont mind me asking WHEN?!
Starky

Dear Stray:

In September or October. Maybe it says on the Anchor Bay website.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

You are welcome,next week i send you the disk,Barcelona is realy great,meaby if you come again in Europa?you visit the catallan sity,today i ´ve loaded goods in Magdeburg Germany,for Madrid Spain.George

Dear George:

How's Madrid? Do you like it more or less than Barcelona? It's actually legal to grow pot in Spain, but you can't smoke it in public.

Josh

Name: Gord
E-mail: gcmcfet@telus.net

Dear Josh:

I've just re-read your essay "All Religion is Evil" and want to thank you for putting into words what I have always believed. It is comforting to know that there are others who share these sentiments and, while I merely shrug, roll my eyes and give up trying in this pathetic, hypocritical and religion-soaked culture, I applaud your effort here and hope it reaches more of the rational, thinking people.
Cheers!

Dear Gord:

That's what I think. It's too bad there aren't more people out there with enough clarity and sense to see what I'm saying. But religion is an early childhood psychosis, drummed into frightened little minds so that they never get over it. People can be rational in all other ways, but when it comes to religion they transform into frightened five-year-olds, look up into the sky and await lightening bolts to hit them. Very silly, particularly for grown-ups.

Josh

Name: rgjones
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

you seem to not like horror movies very much and think there not original these days

maybe you can tell us what the good horror movies are you think (maybe two per decade) and what kind of horror movie you do think would be good and maybe original these days (if not vampires or zombies or aliens coming to earth then what/)

okay/

Dear rgjones:

I've given my list of favorite horror films a few times, and if you use the handy search engine I suppose you can find them. If someone has to come to me to get an idea, then it's no longer original to them. A writer would actually have to do their job and look inside themselves to find out what they actually think is scary, as opposed to just stealing ideas and making the same horror films everybody else has been making for years.

Josh

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

Hey Josh, not to nitpick about garbage... But, yeah actually to nitpick about garbage:

Donnie Darko was intended as a remake of "It's A Wonderful Life", with the giant rabbit a "shout-out" to Harvey, and standing in for Clarence. At the end, instead of discovering why he should live, he discovers that if he were to die, everyone else's life would be better - and so he chooses to die.

It's an idea that's been done in about a thousand sketch comedy shows over the course of the history of time, one I blame on poor defense of a copyright.

Donnie Darko also had a hefty amount of pseudo-intellectual new age bullshit.

And it sucked. Hard. Like all other remakes.

As for my question : Have you ever tried playing a modern video game? If not, and you find yourself with free time/money, I can suggest a few.

Dear Matt:

I don't play games. What I do for a living is such a continual gamble that I am fulfilled. If I'm not working, or trying to work, I just want to watch movies or boxing or Nova or Frontline or the American Experience or The Simpsons, or hang out with fellow humans, or possibly even read a book. That it now takes me a few months to read a decent-sized book I find slighly humiliating. There's no time for games.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: angel_ _esparza@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

In response to your "Nouveau Dogma" I was curious about your section on pop music appearing in films. I've completely grown tired of the montage set to the music of a forgettable band. However, the use of popular or recognizable music isn't so bad in itself. Pop-music can offer a great alternative to voice-over by helping create the tone of the imagery or the context in a scene. Granted, when the music is there for no other reason then to spare a lazy writer the hassle of having to actually write, then the device is misused. When someone like Scorsese has the Rolling Stones' 'Jumping Jack Flash' as the camera dollies in on an aggravated Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets), the device is sublime.

I guess, my interpretation is, only use music for a reason. Just because you like this song and were listening to it while you were writing or it's your friends' band doesn't mean it should be in your movie.

Likewise, saturating your film with music you can't possibly afford will be just another hurrdle you'll create for yourself in the event someone wants to pick up your film. Didn't you have that issue with 'Stryker's War'?

Apparently, upon completion of a Dogma 95 film, the director must submit a form to the other members indicating where they strayed from the restrictions and why the film wasn't worthy of the Dogma 95 seal. Will you be requiring such a document?

Dear Angel:

Absolutely not. It's up to each person's own conscience. I do think you're correct, though, that pop songs can be used effectively, but it's so rare as to almost not matter anymore. Martin Scorsese also used "Monkey Man" very well in "Goodfellas." And if the song is written for your movie, that's another exception.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

I always thought that Katherine Hepburn (raised in Connecticut, I might add; I drove by her childhood house in West Hartford once) was an excellent actress, but that her features were too bony. Much like Bette Davis, the main force of her attraction and congeniality was her personality, not her physical looks. Speaking of Huston's "Moby Dick" I recall that Huston cast his friend Orson Welles in the small role of Father Mapple, which was enjoyable. I also recall that in the recent TNT version (the one with Patrick Stewart as Ahab), Gregory Peck was cast in the role of Father Mapple. I've noticed that with alot of remakes, this thing about giving the principle actor from the original version a small role in the newer one. Several films have done it, including "Get Carter," "Alfie", and "Shaft" to name a few. I wonder if the filmakers on the remake do this as a tribute to the past version, or an apology? What are your thoughts on this?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Then I must assume that you're not very familiar with Katherine Hepburn's early films, either. Your comment, which I've heard from several other people, makes perfect sense for all of Ms. Hepburn's career from about 1940 forward. But in her early films, from "Bill of Divorcement," "Christopher Strong," "Morning Glory" (her first Oscar), "Little Women" (the best version by far), "Alice Adams," "Sylvia Scarlett" (her first film with Cary Grant), and up through, say, "Holiday," Katherine Hepburn was one of the most beautiful women to ever appear in a motion picture. What she looked like later is unimportant. But if you haven't seen her early films you don't know what I'm talking about. As for casting the star of the previous version in the remake, it's just a schtick. Gregory Peck also got a bit in the remake of "Cape Fear."

Josh

Name: KimJ
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Josh,

Regarding Lorraine and Phil, I always felt that they were two dimensions of the same personality. Which would make their coupling impossible. They are both denying something major about their existence-Lorraine is busy rejecting her middle class privilege and Phil is rejecting the need to find direction (of his own). Neither see the irony of discussing "negro rights" at a country club or gender equality while Mom is busy with the housekeeping. I think this is why my friend doesn't see herself except in Phil's most desperate moments.
Kim

Dear KimJ:

They're two of the sides of my personality. I've never written any other script where I wasn't sure which of the two main characters was the lead. This persisted right through editing. I ended up switching the first two scenes, which may have been a mistake, but I really do think that Phil is the lead, so it ought to start with him. Logically, though (and in the script), it starts with her. I definitely respect Lorraine much more than Phil, even with her misplaced values. She has a social consciousness, he doesn't, and she's just smarter. She'll probably grow up into a decent adult; he'll always be kind of an idiot. But Phil, in my opinion, is the perfect representation of today's world -- stupid, uneducated, unmotivated, but wants to be hip.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

um cabin fever is sort of an evil dead rip off but it's based on real life experiences of the director. He just wanted to make a horror movie and he made a flesh eating disease the killer but yes it does rip off other movies. I didn't think donnie darko was THAT bad but i'm only 14 so I find it pretty cool anyways. as for Peter Jackson, yeah heavenly creatures is his best but i agree about those clay scenes too. thanks for your opinion.

Dear chris:

Since you're only fourteen I forgive you, but "Donnie Darko" is a ridiculous piece of junk. The monster is giant bunny rabbit? It's like the horror version of "Harvey," which, since you undoubtedly haven't seen it, is a classic film about an alcoholic (played by James Stewart) who believes he has a six-foot rabbit named Harvey as his best buddy. "Donnie Darko" can also be classified with the another piece of crap, "Night of the Lepus," another giant bunny rabbit monster movie.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

I ´ve one question,i know you don´t like comics, and comic movies,and i know that, it,s good to read books,about themes for the real live. But.....if we say,if? Marvel enterprise ask you to direct one Marvel movie, because your job is directing,you take the jop???Friedly GEORGE

Dear George:

I got the postcard of Barcelona. Thank you very much. It looks like a great place, what do you think? Luckily for me I would very probably never end up in that position since things just don't work that way. So, what you're really asking is, do I have any integrity? And all I can say is, I do the best I can.

Josh

Name: KimJ
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Josh,

I don't know if you need reminding or not, but I just want to repeat my praises of your film, If I Had a Hammer. Some movies are great fun to watch only once and then it's all over. Hammer is just as funny and hopeful each time as the first. I finally showed it to a friend that I thought would hate it. (She's as vain and privileged and has that lack of self-awareness as Lorraine) But she totally identified with and rooted for Phil the entire time.
Anyways, looking forward to Alien Apocalypse's release.
Kim

Dear KimJ:

Thank you. Considering that "Hammer" tried to kill me -- and continues to this day -- it pleases me greatly that somebody is enjoying it. It may not be great, but it's the kind of independent movies I want to see -- stories that are about something. Nobody needs to make anymore horror films about kids stuck in a cabin beset by evil forces, or dull family get-togethers where everybody argues, or a road trip out west, or the trials and tribulations of attempting to make a movie, or zombies attacking. If this is the best you can come up with, get a job in a shoe store. If you haven't got stories to tell you shouldn't be a filmmaker.

It's amusing that your Lorraine-like friend identified with Phil.

Josh

Name: chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Hi

What gave you the idea for "An act of god" ?

also thanks for all the great writing advice! it has really helped me. i love reading your screenplays. I have not made a movie except only two stupid pieces of crap with my mates that didn't get finished because they were complete jokes. I am writing a structured script at the moment and will start filming soon. The inspiration for it was "An act of god". The movie i'm writing is VERY loosely based on it....as in the whole "ask and ye/thy/thee shall recive" idea and it is not "Bruce Almighty".... so thanks!

also...I was wondering what you thought of some of my other favourite directors. i know what you think of Tarantino and Raimi...but what do you think about Eli Roth (cabin fever) or Richard Kelly (donnie Darko) and have you seen any of Peter Jacksons older stuff like meet the feebles or heavenly creatures, braindead/dead alive, etc.

Can't wait to see running time. i will be ordering it soon off amazon and then someday all of your others.

Dear chris:

What gave me the idea for "An Act of God"? It's a true story; the event itself gave me the idea. Unless you have spare millions of dollars, I suppose you could do that story all in one room with a bunch of sound effects, like a play, but I think it would feel like a rip-off. It would be like doing the story of a natural disaster and never showing any of the damage. Meanwhile, I didn't see "Cabin Fever," which sounded like nothing more than an "Evil Dead" rip-off, and "Donnie Darko" was pure, unadulterated crap. Yes, I've seen Peter Jackson's old films, and no, I wasn't impressed. Certainly, "Heavenly Creatures" is his best film, but I don't think it's very good. He never convinced me for one second that these girls would commit murder, and his approach, that the girls were really giddy, was woefully insufficient motivation, in my opinion. All of the clay people scenes were stupid. "Brain Dead/Dead Alive" is just another "Evil Dead" rip-off.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

$78 for the complete original run of Star Trek is a damned good deal. That's less than a $1 per episode. Did it come with any extras (commentaries, featurettes, anything like that)? I just paid $89 for the "Band of Brothers" boxed set, and that was just $10 episodes total. What do you think about just about every TV series being available on DVD? It comes in handy if you missed the original run, and the episodes can be watched at leisure. Still, I've seen some shows put on DVD that ought to stayed in the vault.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

It's not the whole run, just the first season. It says that it has "Over 4 hours of never-before-seen special features," with "5 retrospective featurettes." It says nothing about a commentary track. I like movies and TV shows being available in good-looking, remastered versions. I just like going back and looking at things for which I have fond memories, and see if they hold up. I just watched John Huston's "Moby Dick" again, and it was very nice seeing a good print, properly formatted, without commercials. I also just rewatched "Quality Street" (1937) with the young, radiant, gorgeous Katherine Hepburn, which I hadn't seen since I was about 14, and without commercials it was much better. Only people who haven't seen Ms. Hepburn's early films, say from 1931-38, could think that Cate Blanchett was anything like her. Katherine Hepburn was so beautiful, so photogenic, and so breathtaking, it goes entirely beyond what the film itself is. Although Ms. Blanchett is a fine actress, she's got none of those qualities. It was like watching Rich Little imitate Cary Grant -- yes, he sounds like him, but that's it.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthia@cynthiaejones.com

Josh,

I loved "The Palm Beach Story." That Joel McCrea sure is fun to watch. I didn't realize the dorky millionaire was Rudy Vallee until the end credits! Good stuff.

I totally agree about the use of the Pluto cartoon at the end of "Sullivan's Travels." It just wasn't funny enough to elicit that level of laughter. But the point was made. I think the Stooges would have been better. I'd have laughed at that.

I returned the Criterion disc to the video store, however, to discover online that there was commentary by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest! Have you heard it? (The disc was buggy so I was lucky to be able to play the film and didn't mess with the special features.) Seems odd they would be chosen for such a task.

If you were to do the audio commentary for a film that wasn't yours, from a deceased director, what film would that be?

Have a good night,

C.

Dear Cindy:

I suppose if somehow I was asked to do one of William Wyler's films, I certainly would, just to be connected to him in some way. Although I certainly wouldn't get me to do it. Meanwhile, "The Palm Beach Story" is really something, isn't it? That beginning and ending? Have you ever seen anything like that? I love the sequence when you first meet Rudy Vallee in the berth below Claudette Colbert, and she keeps stepping on his face and crushing his glasses into his eyes. Then we see that luckily he has a whole box of glasses. Or when the hunt club guys get drunk, begin to shoot up the train (the porter, BTW, who tosses crackers in the air like skeet, is Dudley Dickerson from The Three Stooges -- "This house shore done gone crazy!"), then they all decide to go get Claudette Colbert. Wacky, wacky stuff. Preston Sturgis died within an hour of completing his autobiography.

Josh

Name: Tim Roessler
E-mail: tim@timroessler.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you for this site. It's inspirational, and a really generous act on your part. In fact, I'm writing a Dogma 2006 film now. Which brings me to my question: How do you approach the RE-write of a script? You've outlined your writing process, but could you be more specific about the revision stage? What are the pitfalls that you keep an eye out for? Do you go through the script systematically, say, dialog in one pass, story sense in another, pacing and length in a third? Or do you just hammer away at whatever seems wrong?
Thanks again.

Tim

Dear Tim:

The latter. Once I've got a 1st draft, I then just keep going back through it and making changes in the margins. When I have enough marks all over the script I go back onto the computer and enter them all, and if it seems better, or at least different enough, I print it and call it the second draft. I keep this process going until either, A. the script gets filmed, or B. the script gets abandoned, or C. I lose interest and move on to the next script. Good luck to you, sir.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Have Joe LoDuca and Yourself ever planned to release on CD any scores and music he has done for your films?

I would've liked to have seen him interviewed for any the Hercules/Xena DVD sets or anything else he's worked on, he must be camera shy or somethin'.

Cheers,

Tom

Dear Tom:

I record company has to want to release it first. Joe has had all of his Hercules and Xena music released on CD, and his "Evil Dead" scores, and the French film he did, too, just not my films, which haven't been all that popular.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

No, you were far from being ripped of on the Star Trek the Original Series DVD set. I paid 100 bucks for mine at Wal-Mart. I guess I should have shopped around a bit first.

Anyway, I was poking around Amazon.com and if any of those guys posting reviews there are truly in film school and are our future directors than I don't see anything getting better. They trash Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, and other great films. I'm sure these would be the type to hand you a script and when you tell them it's bad they would declare they are rebels.

Also, if another Golden Age comes about, do you think it's going to be started by new comers, already established directors, or a mixture of both?

Dear Trey:

Hopefully, our future filmmakers aren't wasting their time posting meaningless horseshit on Amazon, they're writing screenplays. Let me tell you, I'm working on my 33rd script right now, and they don't get any easier, not if you hope to do a good job. It's a long road that has no end.

Josh


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