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Name:              jc
E-mail:

"Freedom equals chaos which ultimately equals garbage. That's where we are right now."

Yeah, that's so right. Some dude with crazy hair and black fingernails slaps some paint on a canvas and because he says he's an "artist", immediately what he created is art. Nonsense.

Art, like you said, is about imposing restrictions. Its more about elimination, what not to do than it is about free expression. When you write a script first you pick the genre, hey theres loose rules that go with every genre, then you select and write with regards to tone, character, plot, structure -- which are all related. If you sit down and bang out your life story on a computer and call that a script, call yourself a writer. Sorry, its not and youre not.

I'm of the opinion that art must be designed. A script is designed so that all parts work in concert to form a point. Youll never achieve this by writing the first thing that comes to mind. It must be meticulously planned and outlined. A piece of music as Josh said, is designed to elicit some kind of reaction. Mozart didnt sit down and bang out the first thing that came to mind. A chair isnt a block of wood with four pegs stuck on it. Someone had restrictions imposed on them before creating the chair. Who will sit on it? How will it be used? In what environment? Out of order and structure comes good art.

Art isn't art just because someone says it is. Its not really self expression either. Art has to have a point, it must comment on humanity in some emotional way. And if nobody understands what the hell you're doing thats not art either. Youre not a misunderstood genius, you're just confused about what youre doing.

Well said Josh.

Dear jc:

That's why every time I see a film covered with nothing but hand-held shots, which is many to most films now, I immediately grow deeply bored on a very important level.  I think, "Oh, the director has no visual plan at all. What a drag."  Unless your film actually is a documentary, it shouldn't look like one.  I just thought I'd take this moment to reiterate my stance on this issue.

Josh

Name:              Bobby
E-mail:             gnign@hotmail.com

Greetings Josh,

To answer your question for the masses, I have read a lot of Philip Roth. Of his novels, my favorites are "Operation Shylock", "I Married a Communist", and "American Pastoral."  "Portnoy's Complaint" is funny.  I suppose, if pressed, however, I would have to say my favorite writing of his appears in his earliest collection, "Goodbye Columbus", a short story called "The Conversion of the Jews".  Its compact, feels true, and very well-written.
I couldn't get through "The Human Stain" or "The Plot Against America", though.  The latter, an alternate history story, seemed too forced of a stretch for me.  I would say that for the most part, Roth has kept up the steam in a very long career. Any thoughts on Delillo?  I re-read "White Noise" every couple of years, and the first 70 pages of "Underworld" are some of the best in contemporary literature as far as I'm concerned.
Take care.

Dear Bobby:

I'm halfway through "Sabbath's Theater" and I'm liking it a lot.  I read "Operation Shylock" right before this and was seriously impressed.  I was completely intrigued all the way through, and I thought he presented the other side of the argument of a Palestinian living in Israel very believably and sympathetically.  Roth doesn't not make being a Jew seem right or superior or even easy, which is amusing.  My first Philip Roth book was his Pulitzer Prize winner, "American Pastoral," and it's an incredible book that I will definitely read again.  I found it cosmically depressing, in a very important way: as blessed as you may be, the Sword of Damoclese is still hanging over your head, and no one gets out unscathed.  I also really liked "The Ghost Writer."  I must also say that I thought the movie "The Human Stain" was probably the best recent movie I've seen in years.  It may be the best thing Nicole Kidman has ever done, and Anthony Hopkins is brilliant. Meanwhile, I've read "White Noise" twice, and enjoyed it both times, and both times I've convinced myself it's happening in Ann Arbor, although he never says what college town it is, with the ensuing "Airborne Toxic Event." I've got "Underworld" but I haven't read it yet, and it sure looks daunting. I didn't finish DeLillo's book "Great Jones Street."  Anyway, thank you very much for allowing me to spend a moment thinking and writing about something that I love and respect, as opposed to constantly dissing things.

Josh

Name:              Gosling
E-mail:

Dear Mr. Becker:

I have a question regarding screenwriting. I am a young, unproven writer, who is just starting out. I am looking to catch a break any way I can get it...provided it makes sense, of course. What I mean is, recently I was offered (by reputable producers, not shady nobodies) an opportunity to write a screenplay for them...however because I am a nobody, they want me to write it for no upfront money. If the movie gets greenlit, I will be payed accordingly. There are, however, no contracts in play here.

What do you think about this scenario? Should I do it? Should I try insisting that at least a contract be drawn up?

Thanks.

Dear Gosling:

If you don't trust them then you certainly can't work on a handshake.  Draw up a simple contract yourself, which are not only legally acceptable, but preferable as far as a judge is concerned.  But if they're in fact reputable producers then this should standard operating procedure.  Nobody works without a contract.  I'm also of the belief that you're worth exactly what you're getting, meaning if you're getting nothing, you're worth nothing. Nobody works for free, it's unAmerican.  Even undocumented, illegal aliens get paid, why shouldn't you?

Josh

Name:              jc
E-mail:

"Comic books are the step between kid's books, like "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish", and adult books that have no pictures, just words.  If you're still reading comic books after the age of 14 then you're a case of retarded development."

Agree with you on the American beauty thing bro, but youre just so way off base with this nonsense.

First of all what do you think you do for a living? Hello! film is nothing more than a comic book that has sound and motion and runs in linear time. Its virtually the same execution. In fact, most films work up complete storyboards a.k.a. comic books, as a means to visualize a film.

And with that comment you just called Frank Miller, Darren Aronofsky, Allan Moore, Peter David and tons other better writers than yourself --  sorry, but I think even youd admit that --  underdeveloped human beings. Cmon, more comments like this and itll be hard to take you serious guy.

Dear jc:

Then don't take me seriously.

Josh

Name:              jc
E-mail:

"Of course "American Beauty" falls apart halfway through, stops making sense, then reaches no logical or discernable point, that's life, right?  But that's not good art, and it never will be. Art does impose a structure, a logic, and hopefully even a point, into this utter chaos we call life.  I don't need to be spoonfed anything, but I am very aware of when I'm watching a film based on a half-assed screenplay."

Agree 100% josh.  I can't count how many times I've been told I want a film spoonfed to me just because I like dramatic films with a point to them. I don't want a slice of life movie, or a film that meanders and is just like life.

Good film is life without all the irrelevant stuff. You never see people going to the bathroom in films. Why not? Because its boring and irrelevant, and non-emotional. Movies are life where only the dramatic stuff happens. Theres no time to go to the bathroom or say goodbye before hanging up the phone. Likewise theres no time to watch a dysfunctional family be dysfunctional (american beauty) just because its "slice of life".

As Josh said, film and art does impose order and function as a way of driving home a point as elegantly as possible. If you call that spoonfeeding than you really have a fundamental misunderstanding of what art is, what its trying to do.

Sorry, that spoonfed comment really jacks me up.

Dear jc:

I big part of what's wrong with art these days is that it's all seemingly moved beyond (or below) criticism.  Now you're just supposed to accept whatever is handed to you with the belief that this was created by artists so it's beyong reproach.  I think that's utter nonsense.  There are absolutely better and worse things in life, including art.  Everything is not equal.  Rembrandt and Jackson Pollack are not equal.  There is a world of difference between performing your art with great craft and talent, or throwing a bucket of paint at a canvas.  As I've explained on a number of occasions, non-artists and young wannabe artists under the delusion that art is about freedom.  It's not.  Art is the exact opposite of freedom; art is all about the restrictions imposed on it by the artist.  A composer first chooses a key, thus eliminating all of the other keys.  Then they decide what form they're working in: is it a piano concerto, a rock opera, a pop song, a symphony, a be-bop jazz film score, whatever.  Then they decide which instruments they'll use, and which ones they won't use -- it's all brass and no strings, it's all woodwinds and no percussion, etc.  Each restriction that the artist imposes on their work makes it more specific, makes it more their work.  Freedom equals chaos which ultimately equals garbage.  That's where we are right now.

Josh

Name:              claire
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Have you been watching your friend Lucy Lawless performing on Celebrity Duets on Fox? If so, what do you think of Lucy's singing?

Dear claire:

No, I haven't.  What do you think?

Josh

Name:              Darryl Mesaros
E-mail:             darryl.mesaros@us.army.mil

Dear Josh,

This post is part question, part rant (albeit a short one).

    Is it true that Joe Besser had a "no violence" clause in his contract, and hence we never saw him get slapped around in the later Stooges' shorts?  Someone told me that once, and looking at his performances, it seems to fit.

    Second, have you ever seen the original British production of "The Wicker Man"?  I ask this because I went to see the Nicholas Cage remake of the film tonight and, for lack of a better way to put it, thought it sucked.  The trailer made me think that it was a supernatural thriller (what is it these days with using creepy little kids in horror movies?), but it turned out to be a more straightforward mystery thriller.  Besides that, it had enough holes in the plot to drive a truck through.  Not to give too much away, but the main premise is that Nicholas Cage (a California highway patrolman with a traumatic past) gets a letter from his long-lost ex-fiancee asking him to come to a remote island in Washington state and find her missing daughter.  So Nick simply shows up at the island on his own, blithely sidestepping the fact that he's an entire state out of his jurisdiction, that kidnapping is a federal offense that falls under the FBI, and that he doesn't even bother to call either the FBI or at least the Washington state police to give him backup or help with the investigation.  There are several other plot gaps, but that was the glaring one for me.
   Sorry to rant, but I figured that if I could get a sympathetic ear about a bad movie anywhere, it would be here.  Also, if you've seen the original, you could let me know if it was worth the time to track down.

                            Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I have seen the original, and I can only vaguely remember it now.  It was very well thought of at the time, and seemed mildly creepy, very long, fairly dull, and reasonably unmemorable.  Although it has been over 30 years since I've seen it.  But it did seem like a story that was very specific to its location, which was a small island off the coast of England, where it would wouldn't be unthinkable to find a lost band of Pagans.  The second you lose that location, I would think you lose all hope of believability.

I've always heard the same thing about the "no violence" clause, but it wasn't for Joe Besser, it was for Joe DeRita.

Josh

Name:              Ed
E-mail:             elederm1@nycap.rr.com

Dear Josh:         

Will "If I had a hammer"  ever be available to be purchased again?

I am glad to see "Rear Window" and "12 Angry Men" on your list.   Those movies have a simple, yet realistic feel that can't help but draw you in.

Dear Ed:

Regarding "Hammer,"  I don't know.  I grew tired of selling it myself.  If someone finally wants to distribute it, then it will be available again. Meanwhile, "Rear Window" and "12 Angry Men" are great movies, with incredibly well-written, solid scripts, something you never see anymore.  As I've said before, to write a good script you don't need (and probably shouldn't have) a complicated plot, and both of those films prove it.  Just tell a clear, understandable, believable story, and tell it well.

Josh

Name:              J Wrath
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Your review of American Beauty is of course your opinion, but if I may....

Life isn't a story like most movies, and sometimes things happen and don't even make sense with the rest of it. It almost sounds like you need a story spoonfed to you.

This doesn't mean I like all movies with no obvious direction or simplistic plot, but this movie I really did like. The guy is a pervert, lazy at work, unhappy, but for some reason, you kind of feel sorry for him like he has tried to do right and lost hope with the world.

That's my opinion, and a simplistic view in itself, but to say the movie was boring because things didn't happen in a specific order reinforcing one point after the other to tell a story everyone knows the ending of halfway through, would be to say that all of our lives are boring as well...

Dear J:

We're at a point in time where the idea of applying critical thought to art no longer seems to make any sense.  Of course "American Beauty" falls apart halfway through, stops making sense, then reaches no logical or discernable point, that's life, right?  But that's not good art, and it never will be. Art does impose a structure, a logic, and hopefully even a point, into this utter chaos we call life.  I don't need to be spoonfed anything, but I am very aware of when I'm watching a film based on a half-assed screenplay.

Josh

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

Hey josh,

What do you think of "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr"? I like the show a lot. Bruce kicks ass in it. He gives a great performance in every episode.

Dear Chris:

Bruce is great, but the show isn't funny, so I don't care for it.

Josh

Name:              Alotta Fagina
E-mail:             alottafagina@home.com

Dear Josh,

How are you. I was curious of your opinion of the famous New Zealand film "Once Were Warriors." I have thought it very interesting, and just a couple months ago PM Helen Clark noted in a violent incident there that it involved a "Once Were Warriors" type family. Thanks.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:

I thought it was a very powerful, brutal, realistic, and well-made film, but not one I really ever want to sit through again.  I think Lee Tamahori is a talented director, but sadly he went to Hollywood and got homogenized, like so many talented foreign directors before him.

Josh

Name:              Zane Pink
E-mail:             zp@zpproductions.tv

Dear Josh:         

In a reply to someone recently, you wrote:  "I have no interest in how phony-baloney superheroes work problems out, or gods, either, for that matter, only how humans do it."

This interested me because it seems to imply that the role of drama is educational to a certain extent.  By which I mean that you seem to be stating that the reason you watch movies is because you're interested in how the characters within them solve problems.  Is this because you're interested in how your own actions might play out in hypothetical situations?  To get ideas on how to act in real life?  What were you getting at with this statement?

Dear Zane:

I think one of the roles of drama is most certainly educational.  It's exactly what you've said.  It's watching and connecting with characters who are not all that different than us and seeing how they deal with these humanly possible situations, and being able to think and compare how I might deal with the same situation.  One of the main purposes of stories, just like mythology, is to show us how to live.  To show us how others of our species live and handle similar situations.  For a long time storytellers only told tales of Gods.  At some point over the millenia, however, stories began to be about humans, but first they all had to be about royalty.  Only the stories of kings and queens and their progeny were worth telling. Finally, somewhere around 400 years ago, stories began being written about regular folks like you and I and our travails in getting through this vale of tears we call life.  This is when modern literature started to develop, and part of this development is the movement away from telling stories about Gods or those with supernatural powers.  Those stories are severely old-fashioned, never have any depth, and really have no ability to teach us anything about the human condition.  Thus they bore me.

Josh

Name:              jc
E-mail:

"So, to me, the second you have to introduce a supernatural element to work your story out -- like Superman lifts a train off a kid,"

Just because superman can lift a train off a person doesnt mean he should. What if that person were a homicial maniac? Is superman obligated to save this person? Supernatural elements dont rule out dramatic situations. Thats kind of a false dilemma.

But yeah, i see what you mean about zeus.

Dear jc:

This comic book topic really bores the piss out of me.  Comic books are the step between kid's books, like "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish", and adult books that have no pictures, just words.  If you're still reading comic books after the age of 14 then you're a case of retarded development. Okay, there are some brighter graphic novels out there, but so what?  It's still a sub-intellectual form that completely and utterly doesn't interest me.  Anyone out there ever read any books by Philip Roth?  I'm on my fourth one and I'm very impressed.  Roth writes prose beautifully and has level upon level of story, character development and themes that are just fascinating.  But alas, there are no drawings, so you have to use your own mind and imagination to see the images.  Enough with superheroes.  I'd honestly rather discuss Dr. Suess.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You mentioned "Crumb" recently. Though I have not seen it, I do think that Terry Zwigoff is one of the more interesting directors working. He certainly picks some eccentric projects. Have you seen a film he made called "Bad Santa"? That was one of the best comedy/dramas in recent memory.

Oh, and it looks like another excellent batch of documentaries is on the way. "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" and "The Road to Guantanamo" are a couple I'm looking forward to. Did you watch "Why We Fight" yet?

Dear David:

I haven't seen "Why We Fight" yet, although I have seen the old Frank Capra documentaries called "Why We Fight," which is where the title comes from.  I really hated "Bad Santa," which I did not find funny at all.  I also didn't care for "Ghost World."  So, for me, Terry Zwigoff's whole career is "Crumb."  Meanwhile, "This Film is Not Yet Rated" seems like it should have come out about 20 years ago, like when Spielberg paid the ratings board off to create PG-13 for "Temple of Doom."  Who gives a shit at this late date? Seriously, I don't need to hear one more thing about the Iraq war or Guantanamo Bay.  I need no more explanations or examples of why the Bush government is evil; I'm convinced.  I did see all four acts of "When the Levees Broke," which was interesting.  It's one more indictment of the Bush government, and there can't be enough of those as long as any Republican holds any public office.

Josh

Name:              Chris Johannson
E-mail:             I don't give it out if I can help it.

Dear Josh:         

Sorry to jump into the conversation about comic books. I agree that comic book serials are the antithesis of storytelling. They're designed to drag out for years, hell, even decades, with no attention to consistency, just filler for ads for novelty toys and whoopie cushions. I do think that graphic novels have taken  things that are great about the genre and made it readable again. Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore's stuff, etc. Many of which have no hocus pocus factor, just regular people. And they have a beginning, middle and end.

Did you catch Stan Lee's "Who wants to be a superhero?" show? I won't post anything negative since you are currently working on a Stan Lee project.

Dear Chris:

Whoops, I missed it.  So, Stan Lee gets to make someone a superhero every week?  Does he take them up to the top of a building, then tell them if they really believe they can fly?  Once you've been made a superhero do you then have to save the world from a supervillian?

Josh

Name:              jc
E-mail:

"I don't like superheroes and I don't care who plays them.  To me the entire genre is garbage and unworthy of any thought or consideration.  But once again, I apologize."

This kind of talk shows a serious misunderstanding of the genre and storytelling in general. Because what are superhero stories if they're not retellings of the greatest stories ever told: the greek tragedies, Roman and other world myths. There is a reason these myths have been around forever --

They're good stories! The Greek myths are more dramatic than most films made today.

Most superheros are just characters modeled off old greek gods. Flash is really just Hermes.

Superhero stories -- good ones anyway -- take real-world problems and give to them to "god" like men as a comment on the human condition. Most comicbook writers understand theme better than a lot of hollywood screenwriters working today. Theme is that which comments on the human condition. Open some good comics today and see a good dose of this, or go see "Little man" on the big screen. Your choice.

Ciao.

Dear jc:

To me anyway, the ancient Greek myths are not what we would now consider good stories because they don't work themselves out logically.  There always has to be the appearance of a god to cast some supernatural spell or something to make the story work out.  This was an issue over and over again on Hercules and Xena, where we used the Greek myths as a basis for a lot of episodes.  If for instance Zeus is in a story, and he can do anything, then how can you have any drama?  If he has a problem, any problem, he can just fix it.  So, to me, the second you have to introduce a supernatural element to work your story out -- like Superman lifts a train off a kid, or Spiderman shoots webs out of his hands to swing from skyscrapers -- you've copped-out on rational storytelling.  I have no interest in how phony-baloney superheroes work problems out, or gods, either, for that matter, only how humans do it.

Josh

Name:              Dude
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Man, you're breakin' my heart by not answering my first question :( :( :( :(  How you wound me!

Dude, I watched "2001 Maniacs" a few months back ... what the fuck is wrong with Scott Spiegel? How can he possibly be responsible for getting so many bad films to the screen?

Dear Dude:

I know not what Mr. Spiegel does.  But his last co-producing effort, "Hostel," was a hit.  Good for him.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:             habejr@mac.com

Josh,

I meant wide angle and fish eye and such. I think Landis used it during the train station chase scene in American Werewolf in London, but that was the only scene. As far a Wes Anderson, he uses it in most scenes. So to restate the question, do you think Wes overuses it? Do you think it has any place at all? Thanks for answering the other question, and thanks in advance for this one.

Also, have you seen "Crumb"? I watched it last night and it was pretty diturbing but I was also bored at times.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

Wes Anderson's movies have entirely left my head.  Personally, I like wide angle lenses, although the distorted fisheye lens are bit much.  But every single shot in a movie, and there are generally between 500 and 1,500 shots in a feature film, calls for a choice of lenses, and those choices are an important part of the style and aesthetic feel of the film.  My favorite lens on this last film was the 16mm, and that's pretty wide.

Meanwhile, I've seen "Crumb" quite a few times and I like the film, and Crumb himself and what he stands for, very much.  I completely agree with his repugnance and exasperation with American culture.  It's also a very well-made documentary.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

[This incident occurred during the making of the film "Skippy," for which Norman Taurog won the Oscar for Best Director, by the way.]

...and Steven Spielberg won best director for Schindler's List, so what's your point? Winning an Oscar has never been a measure of quality. They hand those things out in Cracker Jack boxes now. Phil Collins has a fucking Oscar.

Dear          :

That was pure minutia, trivia, nothing else.  Only that Norman Taurog told his own nephew that he would shoot his dog if he didn't cry for the scene, then got an Oscar for it.  It was the fourth Oscar ever given for Best Director, by the way, in 1930-31.

Josh

Name:              Juno
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

How was "Schindler's List" pretintious? I'm not saying it isn't, I just never noticed. Could you enlighten me?

Dear Juno:

You never noticed?  Not even after 195 minutes, and the 300th elderly Jew slowly stepped forward and placed a stone on Schindler's grave?  I'll bet that's because you were asleep.

Josh

Name:              ramesh shah
E-mail:             rameshshahphone@yahoo.com

dear,i have written 4 story as
1--twin brother different father3 country&solareclipse
2-10000years visa [god]earth&planet]
3--secuirity-12year boy save town by nature
4--president of president [extreme sexy]
please take inetrest and contact me
ramesh shah-5516891784

Dear ramesh:

I love your little summaries, and I wish you all the best.

Josh

Name:              N. Brigham
E-mail:             brigham@pace.edu

Dear Josh:         

I watched a documentary recently about child actors. It was depressing. Do you think it's wrong to only require the parents to save 15% of the child's salary? Then the parents can "hire" themselves as managers/agents to give themselves the rest of the money?

One of the saddest tales was Jackie Cooper recalling his Uncle (the director) pretending to shoot his beloved pet dog behind a trailer so that he would cry during a certain scene. He said he lost alot of respect for his Uncle for the rest of his life because of that incident. I don't blame him.

From, Natalia

Dear Natalie:

Frequently child actors' lives haven't worked out very well, so it doesn't seem like a good thing to do to a kid.  Jackie Cooper's uncle, Norman Taurog, who directed many movies over the course of a very long career -- he went from silent films all the way up to directing several of Elvis's films -- was doing what he felt he had to do to get a performance.  Obviously you can't use that trick more than once or twice because even a kid is going to catch on that you're not really going to shoot their dog.  But Norman Taurog was known as a son of a bitch, so it's not suprising.  This incident occurred during the making of the film "Skippy," for which Norman Taurog won the Oscar for Best Director, by the way.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:             habejr@mac.com

Hey Josh,

It's been quite a few months since my last post - I missed out on your production. I hope it went well. As for my question, what do you know about the structure of a short? Figure 20 to 30 minutes in length. Does a three act script still apply? I figure one would also limit the characters and locations to focus purely on dialogue. Does that sound right?

On a slightly different note (but interestingly connected to my first question): What are your thoughts on image distortion via the lens. I know directors like Wes Anderson shoot almost every scene with some time of distortion. I can't figure out if there's art in the distortion, or if the art is making sure no distortion is apparent.

Thanks for your help as always.

Rob

Dear Rob:

You can absolutely still tell an entire, three-act story in 20-30 minutes, if you care to.  A short film, like a short story, can also be an incident that doesn't really add up to anything, but I find films and stories like that aggravating.  Limiting the amount of characters and locations is always a good idea on a low-budget, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to stick to dialog and not shoot action.  It's all about what story do you feel you need to tell.  As for distortion, I'm not sure what you're talking about, particularly regarding Wes Anderson.  What kind of distortion?  Very wide angle lenses?

Josh

Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@spcglobal.net

Dear Josh:         

I didn't get a chance to see WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE, did you? Was it any good?

Dear Aaron:

I've got it in my TiVo, but I haven't watched it yet.  I haven't watched a whole movie in at least six weeks.  I watched half of "I Walk the Line" on the flight home, and that was complete garbage, then I watched half of "Broken Flowers" since I've been home, and that was unbearable.

Josh

Name:              Cedric Vara
E-mail:             cedric.vara@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

Have you seen "Snakes on a Plane" yet?  You'll love it.  Not only are the characters finely drawn and subtly nuanced, the director really seems to CARE about the issues that must inevitably arise from such an unusual situation.  Wow.
  As an aside, I hope post-production is going well.  "It's all coming together," as they say, or at least I hope it is.  Looking fwd. to the big debut.

Best,
  Cedric

Dear Cedric:

Ah, you bring a whole new strain of dry humor here to the Movie Geek Salon. For those of you who are interested, Cedric is an American who was an intern/production assistant on "The Harpies," and did a truly outstanding job.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I too enjoy Rob Thomas and Michelle Branch's songs with Santana, though I must say that I'm not head over heels in love with "I'm Feeling You" or whatever the other Michelle Branch/Santana song is. "Smooth" is the awesome cakes though.

You don't like U2's new album? I'm shocked. I think "Vertigo" is one of the best songs to come out of U2's mouths in awhile. That and "Stuck in a Moment".

Why don't you listen to U2's album very much?

Dear Rob:

"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" seems like outtakes and leftover stuff from the previous, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," sessions, which in fact a bunch of it was.  The only U2 records I like are all produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who I think hold Bono and The Edge to a much higher standard than they place on themselves when they produce their own records, or when they get someone like Steve Lillywhite, who's really a mixer and engineer, to produce them.  That's why I think the Eno/Lanois U2 albums take twice as long to record, because Eno and Lanois don't have any reservations about saying, "That song sucks, try harder."  "Vertigo" is a pretty good song, but it's really the only one on the whole album.  "Stuck in a Moment" is from the previous album, which I think is really good, and was produced by Eno and Lanois.

Josh

Name:              Juno
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was reading on here about how you didn't like Donnie Darko, and I was just wondering if it pissed you off at all that a film that you hate so much featured a film you had worked on (The Evil Dead) in it?

Dear Juno:

No.  Nor do "hate it so much," I just don't like it.  I save my hate for special things, like pretentious bullshit like "Crash" or "Schindler's List."

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I absolutely agree with you about the Stooges. Very good analogy there man. I also believe that they were the first truly enduring low budget filmmakers we had in America.

Even though they were contracted through Columbia for their shorts, their budgets were very low for making them and they never really made much money until their shorts were aired on TV in the 60's when they had a renewed popularity and made some really awful films with "Curly Joe" > DeRita.

However, I think with what they had to work with during the Columbia days, they made some of the best comedy ever exposed on celluloid.

I wrote a paper in college about the influence "The Three Stooges" had on popular culture and I really enjoyed that paper. I had quite a few books on The Stooges including onof the the best and most comprehensive one; "The Three Stooges Scrapbook" which was hardcover and put together by Moe's daughter.

I grew up on "The Three Stooges" just as you Bruce and the rest of the gang did and I know you guys have always had this running gag with "Fake Shemp" and I always liked that. My best friend and I also had this thing we used to call "The bald wig" which was when we would see Curly's stunt double who always wearing a pretty bad a bald wig and quite obvious.

Back when you were talking about the short with the Stooges as Plumbers ("A Plumbing We Will Go") you did not mention one of the other great lines by the cook, actor Dudley Dickerson, which happens as he keeps getting sprayed by water through the kitchen appliances. At one point he says, "This house has sho'gone crazy!"

Regarding Brazil, actually it was under a Military dictatorship between 1964-1985 which in many ways was worse than being under communist rule. The worst period of the dictatorship was the mid to late 60's. A lot of things were band including certain music, but out of this repression grew the tropicália musical movement in Brazil which was a way to express distaste for the regime with mising different styles of music and obscure lyrics. It consisted of flagrantly oddball collision of bossa nova, psychedelic pop, and rock'n'roll music produced some of the coolest Brazilian music including bands like "Os Mutantes" who were subsequently band by the government for a time.

Oddly enough, "Os Mutantes" are touring America right now and they haven't been together in over 30 years.

Here is a quote from a review fo their concert at the Fimore West which I think is an interesting statement.

"Not to get too far-flung, but maybe the fact that the stifling political climate that initially spawned tropicália parallels America's present pressure-cooker culture is a kind of Bat Signal to summon the Mutants to rattle some cages once again."

Brazil has a huge amount of music and I have been exposed to a lot of it down here and much of it never makes it to the states which is sad because some of it is really terrific and a refreshing change from the stuff that you here in America now.

Scott, "The Goiaba" in Brazil

Dear Scott:

Apparently, the Stooges' budgets for their shorts never changed throughout their tenure at Columbia, which was about 1935 to 1958, nor did their pay ever increase.  But I think Sam, Bruce, Scott and I all picked up a number of film techniques and tricks from the Three Stooges that we still use.  I just did a shot of a shotgun going into a harpy's mouth, and I shot it in reverse motion, with gun already in her mouth, then we pulled it out, and that's straight out of the Stooges' filmmaking handbook.  They also made very good use of dummies, which I actually tried to explain to the Bulgarian prop department, but alas it didn't seem to translate.  Instead of a 150 pound dummy that only bent at the joints, like I asked for, I got a 10-ounce foam rubber dummy that bent everywhere, and was subsequently useless. Unlike many Stooges' fans, even though I can't stand "Curly Joe" DeRita, I quite liked Shemp, and Joe Besser, who I think was an underrated comedian. He had been on Jack Benny's show before joining the Stooges, and those last Columbia shorts with Joe Besser are some of their best.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Really? There's nothing '90s up as far as music goes that you like? I really dig Matchbox 20, Jewel, and Michelle Branch ... and Vanessa Carlton to a lesser extent. Do you like any of them? They don't often use rap beats and such.

:)
Rob

Dear Rob:

I like Rob Thomas and Michelle Branch's songs with Carlos Santana, and "Shaman" is probably the newest record I own that I actually listen to, as opposed to the latest REM, U2 and Mark Knopfler records that I bought but don't listen to.  I listen to XM Radio through DirecTV, and I switch all day between Top Tracks, which is classic rock; Deep Tracks, which is obscure classic rock; Real Jazz, which is good, but plays too much bebop for my liking; Classical, which is classical; and Pops, which is more well-known classical.  Otherwise, I listen to my CDs that represent that same taste. What's new doesn't matter to me.

Josh

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

Josh,

Europeans I have met have never heard or seen "The Three Stooges". I found this out mostly when I lived there in the mid to late 90's

In general, I don't think they were ever shown that much there with the exception of France.

When my ex-girlfriend who is Swiss came to stay with me in the U.S. some years ago she saw them for the first time one night when they were aired on TV and she laughed a lot

I was actually surprised because a lot of women don't like "The Three Stooges" and when I would meet a women who did, I always knew they were pretty cool and not so uptight and quite possibley would have agood sense of humor or at the least a silly sense of humor.

In Brazil they are well known and they are called "Três Patetas". Patetas means clown or silly and the Disney character Goofy is also called Pateta here.

The other great words in Portuguese for silliness are bobo, goiaba (which is also a fruit here), mongol and abestado.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Luckily, Brazil wasn't under Soviet domination and Communism, that's why they were allowed to have The Three Sillies.  Meanwhile, the direct diametric opposition to totalitarianism is of course The Three Stooges.  As Moses Horowitz, better known as Moe Howard, once said to his brother Jerome, also known as Curly, "Shut up!" then Moses smote Jerome on his bald head with an iron bar, which subsequently bent.  I think often of the moment the eldest of the Horowitz brothers, Shemp, unknowingly sits on a hot plate. After a moment smoke begins to rise up around him.  Shemp smiles happily and asks, "Who's cookin' ham?"  He looks down, says, "Yow, it's me!" and hops away on his smoking rear end.

Josh

Name:              Dude
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Question number deuce: you said you use pot for creative purposes. Is that only for when you write, or do you spark up a doobie before you direct also?

Dude

Dear Dude:

I deleted the first part of your question because we're on the world wide web, dude!  As for part two, I never smoke before shooting because I need all of my energy and all of my wits about me.  Shooting is the most intense, time-compressing, stress-filled activity that I ever do in my life and I don't need to be inspired or confused.  I need to be in control.

Josh

Name:              John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I've always wanted to see "hammer" but never had the chance :(   I heard there was talk of Rhino taking "hammer" so I figured I'd ask. That's why Im so interested! :D

Dear John:

I managed to find a connection to Rhino and I sent the head honcho there (the alpha rhino) the film.  Now it's up to them.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Oh my mistake. I just guessed you might have been. I saw movies like "Horse Feathers" and "Duck Soup" in your favourite movies list. And also seeing the groucho puppet in "Cleveland Smith" (One of my favourite parts).

All of the CCR songs you mentioned are great. I think my Dad's favourite is "The Midnight Special". The CD I play the most is their greatest hits.

I have another question. What do your parents think of your films? Do they have favourites? Are their any funny stories you would like to share of their reactions? (I guess I'm picturing anyone's parents watching TSNKE). I know that you've mentioned that your dad didn't get his $80,000 back and it put a strain on your relationship.

Thanks.

Dear Chris:

He's gotten money back since then on TSNKE, or he ought to have, but he was kind of enough to let me keep it.  It was supposed to be coming out now on DVD with "Running Time," but Anchor Bay seems to have been swallowed by a conglomerate and I'm not sure what's going on there.  And yes, I suppose I have "Horse Feathers" and "Duck Soup" on fav list because I did once like those movies, and those were the best of the bunch.  The early Paramount films are better than the later MGM films. Oddly, I've come to like W.C. Fields more as I've grown older.  And even though I don't watch the Three Stooges much anymore, I think of them fondly.  In Bulgaria no one there had ever heard of the Three Stooges.  I found it shocking.

Josh

Name:              Ray Meese
E-mail:             meeseman@meesewerks.com

Hey, Josh. 

I recently read a poorly written amateur fan review about "Alien Apocalypse" which mentioned that there was a scene where Renee O'Connor's character sees two chicks making out.  I only saw the movie on Sci-Fi Channel (haven't seen it on DVD).  Was this make-out scene only in the DVD version, or did I simply forget it was in the broadcast version?  I'm usually a perv enough to remember that sort of thing when I see it, but in this case I don't recall any chicks making out in the movie.

If this was a DVD-only scene, were there any other differences between the broadcast and DVD versions?

Dear Ray:

It's a girl and a guy with long hair, and it's the same in both versions.

Josh

Name:              Darryl Mesaros
E-mail:             darryl.mesaros@us.army.mil

Dear Josh,

   First, congratulations on the successful completion of your new film.  I don't know much about the project (one of the annoying side effects of not being able to log on very often), but I still wish you the best.  Do you have a tentative air time for SciFi?  I'll be home on leave for a few weeks, and will try to catch it.
    Second, have you seen the Russian film "9th Company"?  It's about the last Soviet unit to leave Afghanistan in 1989, and I recently watched it over here (on a Russian DVD that came with printed instructions on how to navigate the Cyrillic screen menus and turn on the subtitles).  Although it follows a fairly standard formula for military dramas [it follows a group of Siberian conscripts from induction all the way to a climatic battle], I found the story gripping and well constructed, with memorable characters.  The only odd part of the film for me was looking at places that I had been, like the airfield at Bagram [it reminded me of when I watched "Gunner Palace" and saw places in Baghdad that I recognized].

                         Darryl

Dear darryl:

Thanks for the congrats, although it was really no big deal.  Sci Fi makes about 40 of these films a year.  Being where real bullets are flying by seems like a much bigger deal.  No, I haven't seen "9th Company," nor even heard of it.  Should it possibly surface on cable I'll keep my eyes peeled. As far as I'm concerned, Cyrillic writing is a pain in the ass.  This was Bulgaria's great gift to the world, from the Bulgarian brothers Cyril (thus Cyrillic) and Methodius.  My running joke was that while Cyril invented an alphabet, Methodius invented Method Acting.  But it made being in Bulgaria very difficult, because every sign is equally as foreign as every other sign, and there can be no attempt at pronounciation.  Luckily for us, most of the world didn't go with the Cyrillic alphabet.

Josh

Name:              John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

How goes the distributing of "hammer" ????  I'm dying for info.

John

Dear John:

Nothing yet.  Why are you so interested?

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Why do films often use generic brand products?  Can you profit from product placement?  If your lead actor is drinking a Coke, do you call Coke and ask for a fee?  Does it have to be worked out beforehand?  What's the most glaring example of inappropriate product placement?

Dear Batdad:

Yes, product placement is a big thing in movies, and yes, the company pays to have their product in the movie.  The first filmmaker to really take advantage of this was Jerry Lewis, but it's been going on since the days of silent movies.  The most egregious example that comes to mind was that fucking soccer ball named "Wilson" in "Castaway" (not to mention all of the FedEx product placement, too).

Josh

Name:              Jason Roth
E-mail:             jason@visualnoiz.com

Josh,

Regarding The Warriors, had you heard about Walter Hill's recent "director's cut DVD?  Apparently he added in pompous narrated prologue & a bunch of random comic book stills throughout.

It wouldn't be so bad if the first version was kept available, but apparently it will no longer be in release.  Augh.  There oughta be a law against directors who have "jumped the shark" tinkering with their decent older films.

Where did you meet Robert Aldrich?

Best,
JR

Dear Jason:

I met Robert Aldrich at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in Hollywood in 1977.  He came in to speak to our class, after we screened "Twilight's Last Gleaming," which was a shame.  Others who came in for that class were: Francois Truffaut, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, and Robert Wise.  I haven't seen the director's cut of "The Warriors," but it sounds awful.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I'm guessing you're a Marx Bros. fan. What are your favourite marx bros films. Mine are "Duck Soup", "A Day at the Races", "Horse Feathers", "Go west", "A night at the opera"....aw heck, I love em'  all! But those are my very favourites. I have yet to see "Love Happy" or "The Cocoanuts". "Cocoanuts" is very hard to find.

Also, do you like Creedence Clearwater Revival? If so, what are your favourite songs? I'm a fan and my favourites are "Green River", "Run through the Jungle", "Lookin' out my back door", "Bad moon Rising" and many many others.

Dear Chris:

You guess incorrectly, I'm not a Marx Brothers fan.  They amused me when I was a kid, but as I grew older I found their films harder and harder to sit through.  The more times I've seen their films the more they seem like stale reproductions of their stage shows, which is what they are.  Also, I never thought Chico was funny in any way, shape or form, and Harpo's routines grew dull and repetitive very quickly.  The best thing about their movies, in my opinion, is seeing Harpo play the harp and Chico play the piano.  I personally will take Groucho on any episode of "You Bet Your Life" over any of their films because it's his wit and humor we're hearing, not some writer's.  "The Coconuts," which is a very early talkie from 1929, is pretty much unbearable.

As for CCR, yes, I'm a fan.  Beyond all of their hits, which were numerous, I love John Fogerty's version of "Midnight Special."  I also love "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" and "Who'll Stop the Rain," which were back-to-back hits, and both about rain.  And let's not forget "Suzie Q" or their brilliant version of "I Heard Through the Grapevine."

Josh

Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

<<I was the only person in the theater for both "Hard Times" and "The Driver."  "The Warriors" was a hit.>>

Out of the three, I'd say HARD TIMES is the best (and an excellent companion piece to EMPEROR OF THE NORTH). THE WARRIORS builds to a climax that never happens (but they prove themselves in earlier fights, it makes me appreciate the lee marvin/ernest borgnine ass-kicking more). I am curious however if it was the one-time shown director's cut of THE DRIVER that you saw (with more character development).

Dear Aaron:

I don't know.  It's the same version I have on video tape.  I agree with you that of the three films "Hard Times" is the best overall movie.  It's certainly got the best cast, with Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Strother Martin.  It's has a wonderfully rich, believable feeling for the Depression era, too.  I like your comparison to "Emperor of the North (Pole)," which also seems like a somewhat allegorical action movie.  The last time I saw it I was very impressed at how much of the action was staged with Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine on a moving train, which is very dangerous.  That was one of Robert Aldrich's last watchable movies.  He too was a very interesting director.  I met him once.

Josh

Name:              Jenny
E-mail:             fairfaxj@pace.edu

Dear Josh:         

Are you still in touch with Ted Raimi? He put up his own website, which has gone to seed. His "blog" was updated a year ago. Too busy for his fans???

Dear Jenny:

I'm as in touch with Ted as I've ever been, which means we talk every couple of months, unless he comes into town, in which case we generally hook up. Ted has been busy lately.  He just did a Showtime Masters of Horror show, then co-starred in Bruce Campbell's new film, "They Call Me Bruce."  I've actually got a call in to him and I await his reply.

Josh

Name:              Ray Meese
E-mail:             meeseman@meesewerks.com

Dear Josh:         

As a publicly avowed friend of Mary Jane, I was curious as to why in IF I HAD A HAMMER you seemed to depict marijuana as a force antithetical to aesthetic quality.  The lead character is successful in his performance with the crowd as a result of "loosening up" with the herb, yet the overall force of the film seems to argue that his victory is actually a defeat for aesthetic values, given that his victory represents the moment folk music as a sophisticated artistic and social force died in favor of sloppy egotistical rockstar performance as shock value.  Are you ambivalent in your enjoyment of the weed, or do you believe it helps your creative work?

Dear Ray:

An interesting observation on your part, and one I've certainly thought about myself.  Part of the reason I had him get stoned was to rationalize why he'd have the guts to get up on stage and perform when he had no talent, but also as an indication of the force of what's coming.  Nevertheless, getting stoned didn't make him talented, it just got him up on stage.  I find pot to be a creative influence, as did my pothead mentor, Louis Armstrong (who was also hyperthyroid).  But that doesn't make it a creative influence for everybody, or even most people.  If you don't have some talent to start with, pot isn't going to give you any.

Josh

Name:              Jacob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

why have you had so many falling outs wiht your friends over the years? i'm not trying to mock you or be mean or anything. i just curious.

Dear Jacob:

I haven't really, but unlike most people I've been working with my friends my whole life.  Or in the cases of Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, I've been working for them on and off throughout my adult life.  Creative endeavors are always contentious on some level.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You've said a few times on here that music isn't as good as it used to be. I was just wondering if there are any recent bands (like, ninties and up) that you enjoy? If so, what bands are they?

Thank you very much! :D

Dear Rob:

Look, I just listened to "Let it Bleed" by the Rolling Stones.  That's my kind of music.  I listen to classical music everyday, as well as jazz, too. I never stop listening to music.  But no, nothing that's been produced lately.  On this shoot crew members kept coming up to me with their MP3 players and having me listen to new songs, and other than the fellow with Louis Armstrong's greatest hits, it all seemed like junk: thin, tuneless, dumb lyrics, that same rap beat inserted into everything over and over again.  Yuk!

Josh

Name:              Ross
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was asking about the permission things because I shot a movie awhile back, and I don't have everything signed as far as likeness and things like that go, so i was concerned that maybe a distribution company wouldn't even consider it if all of the actors hadn't signed contracts.

Also, how do things work with special thanks credits? Do you have to have permission to list the names under "special thanks". Like, if I wanted to thank you in my special thanks section would I have to have you sign a form?

Dear Ross:

My goodness you're paranoid.  You can thank anyone you want and you don't need anyone's permission.  I've made distribution deals on three of my four independent features, and so far nobody has wanted to see any release forms for anything.

Josh

Name:              James Jordan
E-mail:             jjordan@unitedearth.biz

Dear Josh:         

On your essay "religion is Evil. Very well stated, but seems a bit angry. I notice that you excepted Buddhism from your list of those religions which promote violence, oppression, and thoughtless adherence to mindless dogma.
You may be interested to know that Buddhism is not a religion, rather a philosophy. Buddha himself (Siddhartha Guatama) was atheistic and rejected all notions of gods, ghost, and spirits.
In fact, The search for reality based truth is the great tradition of buddshism and buddha's own dying words to his followers were (paraphrased) to never follow anyone mindlessly and to always seek out truth for yourself.
Buddha's fundamental message was that most of us live our live's in a shroud of mental illusions (money, power, etc...) which cause us endless anguish and pain.
The solution is primarily to seek clarity of understanding (truth) concerning ourselves and our world and thereby release ourelves from the bondage of these self imposed illusions.
Hope I haven't bored you to much with my mini-lecture on buddhism. You may want to check it out, it is quite an intelligent and enlightening philosophy

an American Atheist/Buddhist
James Jordan

Dear James:

I'm very aware of Buddhism, and some of my best friends are Buddhists.  But to say Buddhism isn't a religion when in fact it promotes a faith-based afterlife, meaning reincarnation, is nonsense.  It's just as silly and fairytale-like as all the others, but with a better philosphy at its core.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I don't think anybodys asked this yet but have you checked out, "Little Miss Sunshine". I heard good things from everybody whose seen it and thought maybe it would be something that might interest you. Have you heard of it? I know how you feel about most indie movies these days but this could be different. I'll be seeing it on Tuesday.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't seen the film, but I've seen the commercial numerous times.  What on earth is "indie" about that movie?  It's a somewhat lower-budget Hollywood movie.

Josh

Name:              joe hoyt
E-mail:             jjhoyt123@yahoo.com

josh,

i am an old friend of scott spiegel from franklin and wanted to know if you could let him know how great i think it is that he is living his dream.
thanks,
joe hoyt

Dear joe:

I haven't seen Scott in years, but I'll be sure to tell him if I see him.

Josh

Name:              Ross
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What exactly is the legal doings with using people in films? I've heard that like, if they don't look in the camera then it's okay to use them without written permission. I've also heard that you don't have to anybody's permission at all when it comes to documentaries and media coverage. Can you maybe clear up some of this info for me?

Thank you very much,
Ross

Dear Ross:

Permission for what?  If you ask a lawyer they'll say you need to get signed persmission from everybody and everything.  The question is, what are you doing with the movie?  Who's ever going to see it?  Why would anyone go to the trouble of suing you?

Josh

Name:              Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Long time, no write. I have a bit of rambling, followed by a quick question: Just watched "The Warriors". I liked it well enough - nice simple narrative, though I thought the writing at the ending was weak ("Hey! We found some guy who saw the whole thing happen! Won't show you who or explain why we believe him though!"). What really struck me was the cinematography - it was worlds better than I'd expected from a youth/gang/fightin' film. The CP, Andrew Lazlo, did a gorgeous job. I saw that he's written several books, amongst them "Every Frame A Rembrandt". Have you read it? If so what did you think? And what are your thoughts of "The Warriors" in general. I seem to recall it being mentioned in passing in your forum some time ago, but jog our memory if you would.

As always, thanks for doing your thing. Fight the good fight!

- Mike

Dear Mike:

I love "The Warriors."  I had no idea that Andrew Laszlo had written books on cinematography and I'd certainly be interested in reading them.  Yes, it's a very well-shot, fairly low-budget film.  It was still a real Hollywood movie, though.  It's the third in the Walter Hill existential action trilogy, which as far as I'm concerned is is his whole career (with "48 Hrs") and he could have retired right there.  "Hard Times," "The Driver" and "The Warriors," all three of which are stripped-down, minimalist action films with characterization boiled down to the stereotypes, like in "The Driver" the cast is made up of: the Driver, the Cop, and the Girl. And basically non-stop, well-shot and choreographed action.  There's nothing quite like those films.  I was the only person in the theater for both "Hard Times" and "The Driver."  "The Warriors" was a hit.

Josh

Name:              Jason Roth
E-mail:             jason@visualnoiz.com

Hi Josh,

Like many I'm sorry there won't be a Becker behind-the-scenes lowdown for Harpies.  However, if it hurts the chance of more work from Sci-Fi, it's totally understandable.  Hopefully the inevitable DVD commentary for Josh Becker's Stan Lee's The Harpies (sic) will provide the goods.

I watched If I Had Hammer recently and I'm amazed no distributor bit at it.  It's a perfectly entertaining movie w/ good performances.  Have you tried submitting it anywhere recently, or is that a dead issue?  Just curious.

Finally watched the Godfather films.  1&2 more than lived up to the book, which I read in grade school.  Trying hard to scrub III from my brain.  It burns!!!

Best,
JR

Dear Jason:

For me "Godfather III" has one worthwhile memory.  I saw it at the first matinee screening on the day it opened in 70mm at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  When the film began and there was no dialog, although we were hearing all of the background tracks.  After about ten minutes of about 1,000 people in the audience yelling that there was no sound, they stopped the film.  The manager came out and said that clearly there was something wrong with the 70mm print, but luckily they also had a 35mm print and would start the film again, which they did.  The image completely filled the screen in the same perspective, but was somewhat grainier and the depth and clarity of the sound was obviously thinner and weaker.  After the first reel they switched back to 70mm, and the change was noticable, but not that noticable.  Mostly the difference is in the sound since 70mm prints have 6-track magnetic sound and it runs faster.  And that's my one fond memory of "Godfather III," the clear comparison between 35mm and 70mm theatrical prints.  The film itself was succinctly summed up by my friend Rick, who had slid down as far as it was humanly possible in a movie theater seat without being on the floor, as he looked up me and croaked, "Disaster."

Meanwhile, I did just send "Hammer" out to Rhino Records, who do seem like the appropriate people to handle it.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Approximately what date is your movie expected to be aired on Sci-Fi?

Dear Bob:

Actually, I don't know.  Not until next year.

Josh

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

Josh,

I know that SciFi contracts out for its originals, but do they have lists of personnel they recommend? I guess I'm wondering how you got the gig. It seems to me that "AA" came in on time and on budget which, for this sort of job, might weigh more heavily than the ratings.

I also wondered when you got the shooting script; how much prep time were you given.  From your postings, it seemed like you had just a few days before getting on the plane.

Not to ask about specific finances, but could this gun-for-hire work finance your indies?

I look forward to "Harpies" and hope for the best for "Horribleness."

John

Dear John:

No, this won't finance any indie films, but it will keep the wolves away from door for a while.  I'm still paying for "If I Had a Hammer," which I shot seven years ago.  As I understand it, when Jeff Franklin got this script from Sci Fi, he submitted a list with five directors on it, me amongst them, and Sci Fi picked me of the five.  Considering the film is sort of an homage in its own way to "Army of Darkness," I guess I was an appropriate choice.  Meanwhile, I had the script several weeks ahead of going to Bulgaria and I completely planned out my approach, which was a damn good thing.  When I got to Bulgaria 3 weeks ahead of shooting, the film facility, UFO, was busily shooting "Lake Placid 2."  This film wrapped a week before we started shooting "The Harpies."  So, given these restrictions, and a script that did not want to be scheduled into an 18-day shoot, we did the best we could.  I think it will be a perfectly reasonable Sci Fi movie.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

"Are you really suggesting that Josh beg his sell-out "buddies" (one of whom once compared Josh to a sucker fish who latches onto sharks for free meals) for a job directing one of their shitty movies? I think you're wasting your breath."

Who was it who referred to you as a sucker fish? I hadn't read or heard this anywhere. :(  That's not a nice thing to say at all ... especially if it's said by somebody who is supposed to be your friend.

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:

No, it wasn't a nice thing to say, but friends sometimes do that.  I've said enough snotty things about them over the years so that it's only fair that they respond in kind.  The point is, Mo, that the movie business and movie deals are WAY more complicated than you might imagine.  Even a relatively small film like "The Harpies" is still a complex labyrinth of international banking and dealmaking.

Josh

Name:              Doug
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What do you think is Bruce Campbell's best film? What do you think his worst film is? Also, what do you think of Bruce's film "Going Back". I thought "Going Back" was an interesting little movie.

Dear Doug:

Is the point here to get me to diss my own friends?  I think Bruce has been very good in a number of things, including "Running Time," "Bubba Hotep," and particularly his appearances on "Ellen" and "Homicide."  Bruce has been in a bunch of stinkers, but that's life.  He keeps working, and since they mainly make stinkers these days, that's what you get to be in if you work. As for "Going Back," I think it redefines the concept of "boring."  The writer/director, Ron Teachworth (a very nice guy), had me read his 35-page script before he shot and asked my opinion.  I said, "It's too long," so he made a 90-minute movie out of it.  So, it was a poorly-written, extremely dull, 35-page script that became a three times longer and duller movie.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

If Ghost House did offer you some work though, would you be interested in it?

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:

I'd rather direct a $15 million dollar film than a $1.5 million film, if no other reason than I'd get a bigger fee.  Also, I wouldn't mind finding out what it's like having more than 18 days to shoot a film.  Nevertheless, I don't stay up at night thinking about it.

Josh

Name:              Danielle
E-mail:

Dear Mo,

Are you really suggesting that Josh beg his sell-out "buddies" (one of whom once compared Josh to a sucker fish who latches onto sharks for free meals) for a job directing one of their shitty movies? I think you're wasting your breath.

Dear Danielle:

These guys have a scheme for what they're doing and it seems to be working for them.  If they want me, they know where to find me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

Few weeks ago,I'm writing two times to the Q.A, but i didn't get any answere from you, is there anything wrong?, meaby i didn't write the last time to the Q.A,but this is not meaning,i'll don't think about you, and abour shirley.George

Dear George:

I got your Qs and post card.  Thanks.  All's well.

Josh

George: I was pleasantly surprised recently to receive the pretty postcard from you of Kempen, West Germany. Thank you very much, and "Happy Trails To You..." --Shirley (If I had your address, I would "in turn" send you a postcard of Maine, USA.)

 

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Maybe they just haven't offered you any Ghost House gigs because they don't figure you'll take 'em. So maybe you wouldn't be able to direct the Evil Dead remake, but I think you could easily get a gig directing some of their other movies if you really wanted to.

I'm not trying to give career advice. I'm not that cocky.  I think just think there's a bit of a gift horse sitting around here and if I were you, I'd certainly look it in the mouth.

Dear Mo:

Please see the previous answer.

Josh

Name:              JD
E-mail:             redlangston@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

Just speaking from my point of view you are not really losing anything by not running with the wolf pack over at Ghost House.

Not taking anything away from any of the individuals accomplishments but these heavy hitters keep coming up with crap.

The Grudge? The Grudge 2? Give me a break. Simply an off shoot of the successful "JUON" franchise in Japan. What's scary in Japan doesn't always translate into scary in the US. People flocked to see the junk though.

The Boogeyman? Horrible. The best part about it was the shot of the classic Ford Mustang.

The story itself sucked and it certainly lacked in some of the key elements you need to have a good story.

Evil Dead remake? The first one was good enough.

This is not a personal attack on anyone especially since some of these guys are your friends.

I'm just saying that some of these splendid Ghost House pictures aren't so splendid and you are doing well without them.

I certainly wouldn't let it ruin my cup of green tea.

Thanks.

JD

Dear JD:

I'm not lamenting the fact that I'm not hired for the Ghost House films, I'm just stating the facts. But some folks seem to think I could direct the "Evil Dead" remake or another of these films if I just asked, and that's not the case.  My buds at GH would always rather hire someone they've never met before, who may very possibly not have the first clue what they're doing, than hire someone they know.  Why?  Because that's how they work.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You have an advantage though to most other filmmakers out there when it comes to the Evil Dead remake. You actually know three of the producers (I'm unsure if they've added any more). You could probably just talk to Tapert or Campbell or even Raimi and try to pursuade them. I think you could easily get the job.

I guess it's a just a matter of wanting the job.

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:

Oh no it's not.  The entire point of remaking the film is to restart the franchise with the younger generation, and hiring a director who's older than Sam isn't part of that plan.  Meanwhile, you don't see those guys offering me any of their Ghost House films, do you?

Josh

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

Josh,

Just jumping in a little on the guy that wants to do some shooting on a boat.

I've got a little experience with that boat stuff.

Handheld can be a real challenge with a moving boat and even more of a challenge if the waves are remotely rough. Viewing the product can actually make you feel ill because of all the movement. It made me feel queasy so I can only assume that some others would be affected the same way.

Here's something cool though. Tripod mount the camera and then rig the tripod and everything securely to the floor of the boat.This of course assumes a sturdy wooden or steel floor vessel and not an inflatable boat.

When the boat rocks back and forth it will have the illusion of being still while the horizon goes on a wild ride. A dutchy pitchy kind of ride.

To me, this is far superior to handheld work on a moving boat.

I guess it all depends on what anyone pursuing that is actually looking for in the final product.

Have a good one.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I found using a tripod difficult on a boat, although I did do it.  They ended up hand-holding quite a bit of the footage on the boat in "Jaws." Camera operator, Michael Chapman, did such a good job hand-holding a big Panavision camera that he was immediately promoted to DP his next film, which was "Taxi Driver."

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail:             khw03@hampshire.edu

Josh,

Thanks for the comment.  I would still like to make an attempt at a short film partially shot on the water. I've spent quite of bit of time on the ocean and luckily have a pretty strong resistance to sea-sickness. I'm not immune, but I've never spent any time vomiting on board a ship.  Of course it will be hard to find crew members that are both good in film and on the sea. And the ocean is pretty unreliable weather-wise. What was that documentary you worked on called?  Did it come together satisfactorily despite the problems you guys had during those nine days? That's very interesting about the tablets and how they keep the cameras dry.  I will also see about finding water-proof or water-resistant cameras, although they must be very expensive to rent.
Thanks for the suggestions of the maritime films.  I'll make sure to check them out.
I also really love Captains Courageous.  It is one of those rare times where the movie improves on the book.  The film took much more time to develop the  change in Harvey from a spoiled brat to good member of the crew.  I'm also a sucker for the surrogate father/son relationship between the boy and Manuel, something that is non-existant in the novella.  The author Rudyard Kipling said he was more interesting in depicting that era of the United States and in some ways satirizing it.  He himself never actually set foot on fishing vessel.

Dear Keith:

The documentary is called "Battle the Big Tuna," and apparently it's still available (under the title "Battle of the Big Tuna").  Someone just sent in a link to where it's for sale.  I thought the film all came together pretty well.  It's part of a trilogy, sort of, and the one I did, the first one, outsold the other two by quite a big margin. There's also "Knife in the Water" and "Dead Calm."

Josh

Name:              Johnny Ace
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What the hell does that ad have to do with being a Republican, I ask you or Alice Vutey-Fruity over there. I saw nothing in the ad advocating the actions in Iraq or any other hawkish war-mongering pseudo-patriotic bullshit. It shows Hollywood's united support for Israel, a first-world country in a third- world part of the world. "What a drag..." What a moron! We should be glad people like Sam Raimi aren't teary eyed bleeding heart liberals who whine for the dead citizens of a country that supports, harbors,funds, and votes into office an organization hell bent on the destruction of a group of well-meaning people...this very same organization that builds their strongholds in nurserys, hospitals, and other well populated areas...We don't need to get into the debate of the entire Israel/Palestine conflict on the Josh Becker Film Q&A Message Board, I for one just don't like mud slinging. And calling Sam Raimi a "Republican" for being bold and putting his name on the line, I believe, qualifies.

Dear Johnny:

I'm not sure calling someone a Republican counts as mud-slinging.  Half of this country openly admits to being Republicans.  Some people are even proud of it, although I can't say why.  I don't know what poltical party Sam is part of, if any.  I, on the other hand, am one of those "teary eyed bleading heart liberals," and proud of it.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Here's an idea. I know this goes against some of your very being, but why don't you direct the Evil Dead remake? We all know you're a good writer and good director, why not put your own spin on this baby. Make it your own! I say vote Becker!

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:

You think it's up to me?  The chances of them asking me to direct that film are zero.

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail:             khw03@hampshire.edu

Hi Josh,

Do you know anything about underwater motion picture photography or about shooting on the sea (in a boat)?  I imagine it is a very difficult, but I've become interested in attempting it in the future.  Could suggest any books or even movies I could refer to, if any come to mind? Are there any maritime-related films that you enjoy?  Some of my favorites Captains Courageous (1937), Atlantis (1991), Mutiny on the Bounty (Laughton and the Brando version) and The African Queen.
  -Keith

Dear Keith:

I shot a deep-sea fishing documentary.  We spent nine days on the ocean in a 60-foot boat, 300 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  I was seasick non-stop for nine days and I'll never go out on the ocean again.  The three things they say to avoid in movie making are shooting with kids, with animals, and on the water.  I did get some underwater shots using an airtight plastic bag made for underwater shots.  What was interesting, I thought, was that you put an Alka-Seltzer tablet in the bag with the camera. If water starts to leak in it causes the Alka-Seltzer tablet to bubble, releasing carbon dioxide, which then seals the bag.  Regarding maritime-related films, I recently re-watched John Huston's adaptation of "Moby Dick," and enjoyed it.  I love "Captain's Courageous."  There are also: "The Enemy Below," "A Night to Remember," "Run Silent, Run Deep," "The Last Voyage."

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was checking out youtube.com again for some Bruce stuff and I came across some new clips. I thought you or the people who visit here might enjoy some.

An early interview with Sam and Bruce (Contains clips from "six months to live")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6WM1MFNBjg

Torro, Torro, Torro!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSr9Mfw5_6s
(I must say this movie gets a lot of laughs out of me every time I see it. "help help! I'm losing ma miiind!" and bruce's speech "They came from that direction! and that direction! etc." Good times.)

Enjoy!

Dear Chris:

Weird how this stuff pops up.  BTW, "Help, help, I'm losing my mind" is an homage to the Three Stooges and particualrly to Duddly Dickerson, the black actor who appeared in a number of Stooges' shorts.  A lion gets loose on a train and begins terrorizing the red cap.  He tries to climb out the window, gets stuck, and the lion begins shredding his butt, at which point he exclaims, "Help, help, I'm losing my mind."  Duddly Dickerson also plays the chef in the Stooges' short where they're plumbers ("A Plumbing We Will Go"). First he turns on the stove and water comes out, then he turns on the light and the bulb fills with water and explodes.  Finally, a guest at the house asks where he might get a glass of water?  Duddly Dickerson replies, "Turn on anything, you'll get it."  He's also in Preston Sturges's wonderful film, "The Palm Beach Story."

Josh

Name:              Christina
E-mail:             christiball@gmail.com

Josh,

I just finished reading your book, which was an excellent read, by the way.

What are your thoughts on female directors? Is it harder for a woman to 'sell' a film/script, and why or why not?

Dear Christina

I don't think it's any harder for a woman to sell a script than a man.  It's just hard.  For everybody.  As far as grant money, though, for something like a documentary, a woman may have an easier time now than a man now.  And there are a lot of women at the executive level in the film business these days.  But as for female directors, there haven't been all that many, and there have been even fewer good ones.  But this can and should change.  Film direction is certainly not a male-oriented job.  You just need to have a point of view, and be willing to push it.  Women are perfectly suited for that.

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Everybody's buzzing about "Snakes on a Plane" without even seeing it, based entirely on its title.  Based on the premise, Samuel L. Jackson is the main disquinquising facter from most Sci-Fi movies.  Are there any other know cases where a movie created so much buzz based solely on its title?  Have you considered changing the name of "Harpies" to "Harpies on a Plane"?

Dear Batdad:

People have to get excited about something, don't they?  If they don't get something that's legitimately worth get excited about, they'll get excited about anything.  Personally, I wouldn't want to get caught on a plane with a bunch of poisonous snakes loose.  I don't want to see the movie, either, but I give them credit for coming up with an interesting title.

Josh

Name:              Julie
E-mail:             shemping@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

A previous post had the following statement:


("Stephen Baldwin is good. I love actors who know what they're doing."

Bio-dome. Threesome. Fled. The Flinstones 2.

Please tell me you were being ironic.")

Yes these are crap movies, but that doesn't mean the people who worked on them were unprofessional. It doesn't seem fair to equate someone's work ethic with the overall quality of the productions they have been in. I think its cool to hear about actors and crew who take all their jobs seriously...Do I have to bring up Lindsay Lohan who is being paid millions, yet can't stop partying and failing to show up to the set when she's supposed to? That's tackier than any movie Mr. baldwin has ever been in.

Dear Julie:

Since they don't make good movies anymore how can you hold being in bad movies against someone?  If you want to work in the movies you must work on bad movies, that's all there is.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

How would one go about using a quote to begin their screenplay (I'm speaking in terms of permission, etc.)? And I'm speaking specifically of the quote of an author or philosopher.

And also, if you're writing a screenplay and you'd like to interest some specific actors (not famous ones, up and coming or fairly well-respected indie actors) or a specific composer/DP (again, nobody famous, just somebody YOU know of and love that you'd like on the film), how would you personally go about it?

Thank you very much in advance, and a (belated) happy birthday from me as well.

Dear Craig:

You can just use a quote, it's called fair use.  As for actors or DPs, you have to go through their agents.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Even though you've said you haven't spoken to Sam Raimi in years, I was just wondering, do you get invited to premieres of his movie? And if so, do you go to them even if you know you're gonna hate the film?

Dear Mo:

No, I don't get invited to Sam's premieres, but then I live in Detroit and he lives in L.A.  I do get invited to his parents' house for many holidays, like Thanksgiving and Passover, and I generally attend those events.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Your birthday already! Seems just like a couple of months ago I was wishing you a happy birthday for your last one.

One question, why did you only direct two episodes of "Jack"? Did it clash with other projects or something?

Happy Birthday Josh, thanks for all that you've taught me over the years. You've practically taught me everything I know. Thanks you for your films also which are pretty much the best in my collection. And finally, on behalf of everyone who visits this site, thank you for Beckerfilms.com, the best site on the net!

Dear Chris:

Jeez, thanks.  Shirley and I do our best.  As for "Jack," I was the one and only American director to work on the show, and after I did the first two episodes it was all New Zealand directors after that, who made much less money than the Americans.  I would have very happily directed as many more as they would have hired me for, but they wouldn't spring for it.

Josh

Name:              Alice Vute
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

When did Sam become a Republican?  What a drag.....


The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

A who's who of Hollywood heavyweights joined Kidman on the ad.

The actors listed included: Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton and William Hurt.

Directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi also signed their names.

Other Hollywood powerplayers supporting the ad included Sumner Redstone, the chairman and majority owner of Paramount Pictures, and billionaire mogul, Haim Saban.

Dear Alice:

I literally haven't spoken with Sam in years.  But I have observed that wealth has a tendency to make people conservative.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Congrats on wrapping up "Harpies," and I must say I rather like your new title:  "Stan Lee's Josh Becker."

I was fascinated by your observation on the early script for "Jack of All Trades."  I recall when the original press release came out, they referred to Jack as a British spy, Emilia as the French governor's daughter (or was it niece?) and it was set around 1700 in a more Henry Morgan-ish Caribbean setting.  But since things usually change during development (there was a press release from '95 about Xena and a recurring character "Pan, an acrobatic dancer of the woods" for example) so I just figured that was sort of changed over the course of many months.   But as I recall, it was months and months before you got the directing gig, like November perhaps? At that late stage, was Bruce still supposed to be English, and Emilia French?  Even after they had cast Angela Dotchin?  Can you go into a little more detail?  (Since that crucial change would have affected all the subsequent scripts too, which surely other people had already done drafts of.)  Did you do some ghost-writing on that first one, like perhaps inserting Jefferson?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Although really that was just an excuse to make you think about Angela Dotchin in her swimwear, which is something all men should do, at all times.  Can't think of a better way to brighten up today, since.... it's your birthday!  Hope you have a happy one!

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Ah, Ang Dotchin in swimwear . . .  Well, anyway.  I directed the pilot and the second episode (which ended up being the fifth episode on the DVDs). Being the director of the pilot, I'm the one who suggested that Jack be American, Emilia be British, and it be set in 1800 during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson.  I originally suggested that each time we see Jefferson he's out in front of the half-built White House directing the construction. I feel wistful and nostalgic about "Jack" because we came that close to doing something good.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:             blind.sentinel@gmail.com

Josh, a while ago you mentioned interst in hearing Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre production of "Heart of Darkness". Well, good news! It's available for download in mp3 format here:

http://www.mercurytheatre.info/

I have not listened to it yet (although I will at some point), but I have listened to several episodes of "The Lives of Harry Lime". They are great fun. Here's a link for those:

http://datajunkie.blogspot.com/2006/06/w-is-for-welles.html

Cheers,
David

Dear David:

Thanks.

Josh

Name:              Bob Thackert
E-mail:             bbob@twister.net

Dear Josh:         

Is it a weird experience going back and forth from the lifestyle of a screenwriter to the lifestyle of a director?  That is, from a life where you're basically working by yourself with your cats trying to come up with stories and refining them into shape, then suddenly you're in a foreign country having to be an extroverted center of attention making sure a bunch of other people are on task and maintaining a steely, unflappable appearance in order to keep actors and studio execs satisfied you're not only competent but have your fingers on the pulse on the entertainment desires of the American consumer?  Does it feel odd to suddenly have all of these co-workers and "friends" who you work with intensely on a daily basis in close quarters, who disappear as soon as the shoot is done, never to be heard from again?

Dear Bob:

You've certainly got a clear view into my life.  Yes, it's very weird switching between the two roles.  As far as not staying in touch with the crew, well, they're all in Bulgaria, a long way away.  But that's how film shoots are.  They're like summer camp.  You know everybody really well for 8 weeks, then you never see them again.  What was particularly intense about this shoot was that there really wasn't enough time to do what we needed to do.  The schedule had never worked all the way through prep, then we were shooting.  And the whole crew had just come off another movie that finished shooting a week earlier.  In many instances I had barely enough time for one take, then we had to move on.  I've never moved as fast, yelled so much, or gotten as mad as often as I did on this film.  Yet even still, I think it pretty much all came together.

Josh

Name:              paul  Katte
E-mail:             megfx@bigpond.net.au

Hi Josh,

Really enjoyed 'Alien Apocalypse' I was just curious: was it 35mm and what ype of budget was it done for?
regards
Paul

Dear paul:

It was shot on 35mm and it was made for $1.5 million, although by the time the smoke clears there's really only a half million left for production.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

If Dark Horse does take your script, do you think the movie would be released theatrically and if so, would it be a wide release or just select cities. I'm unsure of how Dark Horse distributes their films, so I figured I'd ask.

I'm not offering, but if some joe blow with a million bucks came on here and said "Hey Josh, I've seen work and I'm a fan and I want to turn "Devil Dogs" or "The President's Brain Is Missing" into a movie! How 'bout it pal! Eh?!"  would you be interested in working with that person?

Also, since this is Dark Horse we're talking about with The Horribleness, do you think there'd be a comic book adaptation?

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:

I haven't spoken with the folks at Dark Horse yet.  It's Bruce's deal. Their films seem to be direct-to-video releases.  I don't worry about or even think about people offering me a million dollars.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Yeah, Krystof Komeda's scores were pretty cool, like "Knife in the Water" and the creepy "Rosemary's Baby." Then after Jerry Goldsmith, Polanski started working with Philippe Sarde, who wrote two terrific scores for the French co-productions "The Tenant" and "Tess."

As for the film, "Chinatown," I hadn't seen it in so long I wasn't prepared for the (excellent) punch in the stomach in gave me. After the two hours of grinning and swooning, I thought long and hard about the story that night. To me, the greatness of CHINATOWN is all about the depth of true human feeling which it depicts. Jake has loved someone before, and is so traumatized by her loss that he leaves the police force and shuts himself off from his feelings completely. However, when he falls in love with Evelyn he finds himself drawn back into the world, fighting for her in the way he had fought to protect the previous woman in his life. It all ends in the same tragic way as before, and in the very same location, and Jake is so stunned by his second failure that he practically has to be carried away. This time his loss takes on the larger shadow of destiny, and he may be wondering whether he's on some cosmic loop, doomed to endlessly relive his worst nightmare.

That the original script didn't have that ending is shocking, and I'm very, very happy that Polanski brought that extra darkness and irony to it.

Dear Craig:

Komeda writing a little lullaby, then having Mia Farrow hum it for the main title theme of "Rosemary's Baby" has always seemed particularly brilliant to me.  In Robert Towne's orginal script everybody lives.  He apparently didn't see the circular aspect of the story, which is incredible.  He was very upset with what Polanski did, but I think Polanski was very right.  "Forget about it, Jake, it's Chinatown."

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Good Morning Josh.

Just got through watching The Fury which is some 1978 Brian DePalma.

This was another one I had not watched since I was a teen-ager.

This is truly a cool movie Josh despite some of the "cheese factor" that is present in some of the film though there isn't a whole lot of that.

At the beginning I found it almost humorous that one of the attackers was documenting everything on an Arri 35. Pre-Video. Very Cool.

Depalma does this 3 frame zoom in thing that I find interesting.In addition, I found his unusual use of slow-motion action combined with an unusually intriguing score very interesting as well.

He also appeared to like to get unusual shots such as the over the shoulder shot of Kirk Douglas in the elevator in the mall scene. The thing there was reflections. Slowing it down I could see the camera in the reflection covered by a black cloth which I guess was an attempt to make it blend.Most folks would never have noticed the camera anyway.The Matte Box just kind of jumped right out at me.

Another shot I want to mention is the precursor to Cassavette getting blown up. It's the back of Amy Irving's hand POV low looking up at John.

The shot reminded me of the back of Sandweiss's bloody pencil hand shot walking towards Bruce in the first ED.

Finally, I would like to ask a question as it relates to the beach scene in the first few minutes of the movie where Amy and her friend are walking along.

How are scenes such as this shot as far as crowds of people go. How would you keep all those people from wanting to look at the camera while you are dollying along getting or trying to get your shot?

Thank you for your time.

Tim

Dear Tim:

They're called "extras."  You pay them to pretend to be normal people, then tell them specifically not to look in the lens.  Raymond Dunwoodie.  It all comes back to me.  Yes, a particularly good and unique score by John Williams.  I love the Dick Smith throbbing veins on Andrew Stevens' forehead.

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail:             khw03@hampshire.edu

Josh,

I just finished If I Had A Hammer and thought I'd give you my thoughts on it.

In short, I'll say that I really enjoyed the movie.  It was interesting and funny, with some great music.  The only feature film of yours I have seen before is Running Time.  Hammer is definitely the better movie.

It's pretty obvious that you are a smoker.  Reading the script I didn't think that tobacco would be so apparent in the movie.  It was an integral part of the culture you are depicting, though.  I loved the old commercials that you played.  The sight of Fred Flintstone selling Winston cigarettes on television would be horrifying to most Americans today! I had some worries that the long musical section during the second act would distract from the characters' story.  For the most part everything came together well.  The only time it felt a little awkward to me was when Lorraine played and it first cut to the guys smoking pot outside.  This was mainly because you had kept the audio of the music playing during the earlier performances.  When it stopped completely with that cut it was a shock.  I don't think it could have worked any other way, though. The acting was solid across the board, which is rare for low-budget movies (and most movies in general).  The only aspect that bothered was Brett Beardslee exaggerating the wobbly "bad singing" voice early in the film. He seems like a naturally talented singer, not surprising he would have a tendency to go a bit over-the-top to sound bad.   Beyond the leads, who were both quite good, I would give special mention of Jason Kyle Webb and David Zink.  Very talented musicians and played cool characters.  The Bobby Lee Barker section was my personal favorite part of the film. The depiction of being stoned was well-done.  The paranoia moment where Phil imagines himself all alone at his table had me laughing out loud. Your 1950s family, mainly the Buckley's, came across as pretty authentic. Hearing the visually "perfect" Mom and Dad swearing and getting frustrated was a nice touch.   Everybody was just as full of shit back then as they are now.  The folkies, even Lorraine, never came across as honestly and fully devoted to their causes.  It seemed like she was more in search for a way to feel important and worthwhile than actually achieving her noble verbalized goals.
You obviously love folk music but you weren't afraid to show the hypocrisies that filled the folk music movement of the early 1960s.  Like today, a lot of these kinds of political action are driven by upper-class/white guilt (as one of your character's points out). The ending was depressing and appropriately so.  This is about the death of an era.  Once again, it felt authentic not to have the attractrive main characters get together at the end and better their lives.
Thanks for making this movie, Josh. I appreciate it.

By the way, what do you personally think of rock & roll of the 1960s? Phil is an apathetic goofball and loves that kind of music.  Does this reflect a general opinion of yours about rock and the majority of the young people of that generation?

Dear Keith:

I love rock and roll, particularly of the 1960s and '70s, that's my era.  I was too young for the folk movement, although I saw it going on and remember it.  I could even tell at the time that something was changing.  Between 1964 and 1968 everything changed.  Visually, the real change occurred between 1966 and 1967, where suddenly there were hippies and psychedelia, and all TV went from black and white to color.  Anyway, I tried to catch a bit of American life before the big changes of the '60s.  I'm glad you appreciated my effort.  If nothing else, I don't think there's another movie quite like it.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Sorry to ask this question again but I don't know if the first email I sent you that had this question in it got through. I am interested in how people get to be movie critics or how people get to write movie reviews for magazines. You mentioned in your Evil dead Journal that you were gonna be annoyed if your reviews didn't get published in the "Magazine" I think they may have been for "1941" or something ( I believe that you had seen this movie before you wrote the entry about you maybe being annoyed). Did you have a job writing them or something?

Also have any of the reviews posted on your site (Old reviews included) been published in any way?

Thanks in advance for any answers you may give me.

PS. I'm thinking about doing my speech for my english class about you. I recently wrote a "reading response' for school, I wrote a response for "The Happiest guy in Town" (a screenplay which i liked a lot. You should indeed be pleased with it.)

Dear Chris:

All of those old reviews were published in a newspaper called Magazine, plus there were many more, too.  I first reviewed films for the community college newspaper, then for newspaper at Eastern Michigan University, then for the paper at U of M.  I reviewed for Magazine for a couple of years.  I got each of the gigs by showing some reviews from the previous paper.

Josh

Name:              Chris
E-mail:             shenanniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

You've probably already thought of this but maybe you should get in touch with Dark Horse about your "Horribleness" script. They're the ones who are making Bruce's film, maybe they'd be interested in another new and interesting type of script (which I'm sure "the horribleness" is.

Dear Chris:

The script is there.  That's the plan.  We'll just have to see what they say.

Josh

Name:              Kevin M.
E-mail:             mills2004@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Cool shots of The Harpies production. Looks like there won't be any god-damned awful wigs in this one, unlike Alien Apocalypse. I really hated those wigs.

Dear Kevin:

Me, too.  This film has its own issues, take my word for it.

Josh

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

Josh, how important is your relationship to the DP? Like for The Harpies, did you have time to go over the various setups, general lighting ideas, etc. before production? Or do you leave a lot of that stuff for the DP to figure out on their own?

Dear Jim:

The relationship between the director and the DP is crucial.  I went over every set-up in my shot list with the DP in pre-production, then right before the shoot the DP dropped out and I got a new one and there really wasn't time to do it again.  But the fact that I had a shot list was entirely unique to these folks, they'd honestly never seen one before. Meanwhile, I choose I every camera set-up, which some DPs find disconcerting.  I have no doubt that with many, if not most, lame, unprepared directors, the DP must help conceive the set-ups, and between each set-up it bcomes a big discussion.  In my case I always know exactly what the next set-up is and I don't want to discuss it, just do it.  This saves a couple of potentially wasted hours a day.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Just figured I'd write about this since you'd probably find it sort of interesting. Last night at the Academy's "Great to be Nominated" screening of CHINATOWN, the panel discussion featured screenwriter Robert Towne along with many supporting players, the casting director, and the assistant art director. It was great to experience the film again on the big screen and then listen to the memories of some of the people who created it. What was really fascinating was that when the topic of Jerry Goldsmith's score was raised, Towne's version of events started with the original score by Phillip Hambro (later rejected), which the screenwriter referred to as "tortured Schoenberg." Apparently Polanski was sticking by this score until he heard from composer Bronislau Kaper, a fellow refugee whom he greatly respected and admired. Said Kaper: "That music is a cancer on the film." So that, according to Towne, is when they hired Goldsmith for the fast re-write, which was something like ten days that included the recording itself. Ten days! And it's really one of the great scores.

And hot damn did the film looked magnificent, I had forgotton how beautifully Alonzo shot it. But really, isn't this one of those one could go on and on about?

Dear Craig:

Oddly, that's how quickly film composers work.  Ten days is a bit fast, but I'm sure it was nothing new to a guy like Jerry Goldsmith.  Until then Polanski had always worked with his friend, the Polish composer, Krystof Komeda, who had recently died (he fell off a balcony at a party at a house in the Hollywood Hills). Yes, "Chinatown" is a great movie in every respect. And I love the way Polanski changed the script's ending, which really pissed off Towne, and got him an Oscar.

Josh

Name:              Janice Wright
E-mail:             janice@distsols.com.au

Josh, you have expressed my frustration and thoughts on religion exactly, and word for word. I shake my head at the stupidity of religion and am frustrated that so many humans in this day and age believe such unsubtantiated crap. Open their eyes someone so they can see what their religion is doing to their world.

Janice.

Dear Janice:

Five-sixths of the population of our planet believes in one religion or another.  Therefore I conclude that five-sixths of the human population is as dumb as a box of rocks.  What are you going to do?

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Thanks for posting the photographs from the "Stan Lee's The Harpies" shoot, I'm sure we all appreciate it. I have a few brief questions...

Do you plan to write a "Making of" entry on your site about your experiences on this film?

How is your novel about living in L.A. in the '70s coming along?

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects and scripts?

I look forward to everything you do. Take care, man.

Dear Criag:

As I've already said, no, there won't be a making of essay this time around. I have completed the 1st draft of my Hollywood novel and now I need to write the 2nd draft, whatever that may be.  I'm just hoping that the next film up will be "The Horribleness" and it will be shot in Oregon, just like the film Bruce just made.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

So Josh, why was "The Harpies" an ass-kicker of a shoot? How does Stephen Baldwin compare to Bruce Campbell as a leading man? And why do these movies always tend to be shot outdoors? Isn't it a bitch to shoot outdoors?

Dear Jim:

It was a very complicated script that was shot without enough time or money. To even come close to doing that script properly I would have needed 22 days.  At 18 days I was in a shit-fight from the second I arrived in the morning until the moment I left at night.  Meanwhile, dissing anybody or anything about this production won't do me the slightest bit of good.  As for shooting exteriors, if the weather's nice, as it was, it's not bad.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was going to wait until to returned from Bulgaria to ask any questions, but I just formulated this one in my head.

I was wondering what the basis is for your belief that there is no afterlife.  The way I think is that the afterlife is a possibility.  I don't believe a probablility of its existence can be assigned, since there is no empirical or physical evidence of it, however, I think that the possiblity of its existence remains for two reasons. First, that there is consciousness, and second, that life exists at all.  These two occurrences are both facts, but also both impossibilities, if one to were rely on reason alone.  Therefore, my conclusion is that the afterlife, similarly is a possibility.

Dear Bob:

I just kinda fuckin' doubt it is all.

Josh

Name:              Si
E-mail:

Hello again Josh

You've probably answered this question many times before, but what sequels do you actually think improved on or were at least worthy successors to the originals? There are genuine exceptions to the rule that sequels are a bad idea, like Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (the best of the Trek films, without doubt) and The Godfather II. I suppose I could even throw Nick Park's The Wrong Trousers in there, although that wasn't so much a sequel as the second animated short featuring Wallace & Gromit. (Their feature length debut never had the same charm, sadly.)

It all depends, I guess, on two things: Is there somewhere really interesting you can take the characters, and do you have a good story to tell? Personally I liked The Empire Strikes Back (even though I know you don't), and found Return Of The Jedi okay (it's very flawed, but enjoyable enough), but the prequels are lifeless. I remember when a friend got really excited after seeing the most recent Star Wars film... my response was a simple shrug. Still, at least it wasn't as bad as the abominable Da Vinci Code...

Si

Dear Si:

I think you completely explored the subject and there's nothing left to say.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Hey Josh;

if there has ever been something you've worked on where the sheer incompetence of one person has nearly ruined it all?

This is currently happening to me and I was interested to see if it's a common occurrence or if my current co-writer is just an ass-hole.

Good luck with the movie and keep writing those film reviews.

Craig

Dear Craig:

Yes, all the time.  Dealing with idiots is just part of the process.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

So, are we going to get a Behind the Scenes essay for "Stan Lee's The Harpies"?

I just looked at the Behind the Scenes photos and Stephen Baldwin seems like he would be a joy to work with.

(Sorry if you got a blank message before this, I believe I accidently hit enter).

Dear Trey:

No, there won't be a "Making of . . ." essay for this film.  I get a lot of shit for the last one and I don't need the aggravation at this point.  Let's just say that this was as difficult of a movie as I've ever made, but if the CGI is good it could well be a cool movie.  It'll be silly, but it's supposed to be.  The live-action part turned out pretty well, me thinks.  It has some scope for a TV movie.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

1.What is your opinion on the screenplay for "The Harpies"?

2.Have any of your screenplays (The ones that haven't been produced) come really close to being bought?

PS. DUDE SWEET BEARD!...Grow it even bigger.

Dear Chris:

It's a silly screenplay, but just silly enough for Sci Fi to like it and want to make it, whereas I can't seem to get my scripts to that level even when I try.  I sold "Cycles," although it's never been produced.  I thought "Ball Breaker" was going to get made a couple of times.

Josh

Name:              mary grassham
E-mail:             mary@woolcraft.co.nz

Dear Josh:         

i make or try to make films but i always have problems with my camera and i also have difuities trying to find actors to preform for me what do you sugest i coould do.

Dear Mary:

Find a better camera and better actors.

Josh

Name:              Eric
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

But Bruce Campbell was approached then? He just couldn't do it? Bummer. Be honest, did you do The Harpies just for the money, or did you honestly like the script?

~Eric~

Dear Eric:

I took the job before I'd read the script.  I absolutely needed the money. And no, Bruce wasn't even approached.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just curious, where are you livng at the moment? Now I did not mean for that question to make me sound like a stalker or anything. I mean that during running time you were living in an apartment and then (I'm guessing because of the debt you were in from "Hammer") you moved into a trailer in Oregon. You then went on to make Alien apocalypse....so are you still living in that trailer or what? I think it's cool that you seem to have moved around a lot in your life. The view is kick ass from that trailer by the way.

Dear Chris:

I live in Detroit.  I've been here since 2002.  I live in a small house with my three cats on an acre of land, about six miles north from where I grew up.

Josh

Name:              Christina Louise
E-mail:             christiball@gmail.com

Mr. Becker,

I came across your site this morning and something struck a nerve. I've recently begun writing my own screenplay, and I've had some doubts as to whether or not I should continue writing. People tell me that I shouldn't get my hopes up, or that it's just a waste of time. But, I don't believe so. And you've just confirmed that through your articles on The Need for Structure. Writing this screenplay has given meaning to my life, it's put so many things into perspective for me (especially since it's based on my life). So, basically, I just want to thank you for confirming that this is not a bad thing. This is a passion,my passion, and I will not let it die.

Dear Christina:

And why should you?  Having a passion for something, anything, puts you way ahead of most people.  Cherish it.  Nurture it.  Allow it to bloom and flower.

Josh

Name:              Eric
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Why isn't Bruce Campbell in "The Harpies" ??!??  You would think Sci-Fi would be begging him to be all their movies. Espeically ones that you direct.

Dear Eric:

Bruce wasn't available, he was busy starring and directing his own film, "They Call Me Bruce," for Dark Horse Productions.

Josh

Name:              Grego Bogosian
E-mail:             GBoggs@yahoo.com >

"Stephen Baldwin is good. I love actors who know what they're doing."

Bio-dome. Threesome. Fled. The Flinstones 2.

Please tell me you were being ironic.

Dear Grego:

Irony is my middle name.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

That's cool that you've wrapped your new film. Quite a short shoot.

What are your opinions on the television shows that you've directed but didn't write. Like do you like the show "Jack of all trades". I myself just bought it and enjoyed it a lot, very funny show. What did you think of actor Stuart Devenie?

Dear Chris:

Stuart was wonderful.  I really enjoyed working with him.  He's my kind of actor, with a ton of experience, and completely uninhibited.  I truly loved directing the pilot and the one other episode of "Jack," but it was a seriously flawed concept.  Bruce and I fought and fought to make it better and were shot down.  It should never have been stuck on that stupid island, and the French should not have been the bad guys.  Besides, it took place in the Dutch West Indies, so what have the French got to do with it? Meanwhile, when I got the pilot script Jack was British, Amelia was French, and there was no Thomas Jefferson.  I changed those things.  I thought it should have taken place on Ibiza, and the bad guys were the Barbary Coast pirates, who were in fact America's enemies at that time and kept abducting American sailors and making them slaves.  Oh well.

Josh

Name:              Rick LeValley
E-mail:             identitystolen@yahoo.com

Hello, Josh. I was wondering if you might know where I might find some diagrams or plans on how to construct my own passenger door car mount, one strong enough to support an arri 16BL? Thanks for your time.   Rick L.

Dear Rick:

I don't think it's a good idea to mount an expensive camera on a car unless you have the real item, and know how to mount it properly.  For a low-budget movie I'd suggest just shooting from another car.

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail:             khw03@hmapshire.edu

Hey Josh,

I just checked out your list of favorite movies and something confuses me. You have two of the Monty Python movies, "Meaning of Life" and "Life of Brian", but not "The Holy Grail".  Why the mysterious absense of that film?
It is overrated and WAY overquoted by Python fanatics, but still a very funny movie.

Dear Keith:

It certainly has funny parts, it's just not one of my favorites.

Josh

Name:              Charles Napier
E-mail:             cn@comuj.net

Hey, Stan Lee's Josh Becker:

Do you like any currently practicing stand-up comedians?  If so, which practitioners?

Dear Charles:

I like Chris Rock, although his last stand-up routine wasn't all that good. Bill Maher does good stand-up.  Robin Williams last HBO special was terrific, but that was already several years ago.  George Carlin's last one stunk.  Sarah Silverman is very funny, and cute, too.

Josh

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

Josh,

I am responding to help John with his choice of filters using B&B film.

First, I would not use a red filter unless you are only going to shoot exterior establishing landscape shots and you want the sky to be dark and anything white or light colored in the scene to "pop" meaning bring it out more there by creating contrast between light and dark (in this case anything close to blue). Using a Red filter is very good for darkening the blue sky and bringing the clouds out more, but it can be too much and creates a dramatic look that may not be suitable for what you want to achieve.

You will need to open up on your lens quit e a bit with a typical Red #25 as it is a very dense filter and requires more exposure when you use it, so keep that in mind. I think it is close to 2 & ½ stops.

I would never us a red filter with actors that are close in frame or with actors in the shot at all. Depending on what they are wearing, you will receive too much contrast, so it is better to use a Red filter for dramatic establishing shot exteriors without people in the frame or be very meticulous with the choice of clothing for the actors and the set colors.

The best thing to do as Josh mentioned is to test the filters first and you should start with light yellow filters and work your way into orange and then the different densities of reds. The yellow and orange filters will darken any blue colors such as the sky, but it will be far more subtle and they won't affect the actor’s faces and clot hing as much unless they are wearing blue in which case it will darken that color.

If you want to create a dramatic sky in your scenes using yellow, Orange or Red filters I suggest you watch the film "Hud" which was shot by the great DP James Wong Howe. He used a variety of Yellow, Orange, and Red filters throughout the film for much of the landscape shots and he did it very well actually, in my opinion, it is one of the best examples of the best use of B&W filters used in any motion picture and it is a damn good film too!

Also, Josh mention John Alton’s book “Painting with Light” which is an excellent resource for B&W Cinematography. He was one of the best Film Noir Cinematographers and one of the best Cinematographers in the history of American films.

Try to find articles on the making of that film and read them, you will learn a lot about this subject.

Also, read about Ansel Adam’s techniques as he was the king of using these filters for B&W photography as well as enhancing his images this way through darkroom techniques.

Test, Test, Test is the key to using filters you don't know much about. You can buy a roll of 35mm still film with the equivalent or near equivalent ASA/EI you will be using on your film and shoot stills to save money for your filter tests; it is a good way to see what you will get from these filters without burning your film.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your film.

Scott

Dear Scott:
 
Ditto.
 
Josh

Name: Jules
E-mail: shemping@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hi. I haven't been to this site for awhile. I am so pleased to hear about this new project (Harpies). Who takes care of the cats while you're on Bulgaria?

Take care,
Jules

Dear Jules:
 
I hire a cat-sitter.  Meanwhile, I just wrapped "Stan Lee's The Harpies" an hour ago.  Boy oh boy was this an ass-kicker of a shoot.  I'm pushing for a title change to "Stan Lee's Harpy Slayer."
 
Josh

Name: J
E-mail: spazzfrog4@aol.com

Dear Josh:

A couple of the pictures on the site make mentions of being on the sets of "Holding It" and "Acting and Reacting". Were these your films/super-8s? What were they about?

Dear J:
 
Yes, they're both super-8 shorts.  "Holding It" is a Hitchcock-like, wrong man suspense film, and "Acting and Reacting" is sort of an arty drama.  They're both about 20 minutes long, and Bruce and Sam are in both of them.
 
Josh

Name: Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Sorry, follow-up Gibson question. How do you feel about Mel saying the anti-semetic slurs, seeing as you said you were raised "half-ass Jewish"?

Mo Mo Ma Mo

Dear Mo:
 
The more religious you are, the more intolerant you become.  They naturally go together.  The more deeply you feel your beliefs are right, the more strongly you have to feel that other people's beliefs are wrong.  I could seriously give a shit less what Mel Gibson, or any other fundamentalist, thinks.
 
Josh

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

Hey josh, it's been a long time. Looks like I'm finally getting my film started soon. My question for you is about the use of color filters on b&w film, I haven't any info on them. Are they worth looking into, and if they are, which ones? My friend shoot with a red filter using more light than necessary and the image was still too dark. thanks and good luck with the new film

Dear John:
 
I don't have the book onhand, but if I recall correctly there's a section on color filters for b&w photography in John Alton's book, "Painting with Light."  I've shot b&w a couple of times, but I only used neutral density filters.  Red and yellow filters in b&w can have very interesting effects, particularly for exteriors.  You should make tests before actually using the filters on a feature film.  Good luck.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hmm, I noticed a few typos in my last email. Those always bother me, but oh well.

Anyway, I know this has been brought up before, but do you know anything about this:

http://www.moviehole.net/news/20060706_campbell_remaking_strykers_war.html

Even though I enjoy the original "Stryker's War" feature, I have always wanted to see Bruce as Stryker. However, instead of hoping for a remake, I think I'll just continue my search for the pilot version. I'd rather see a new Josh Becker film than a remake of "Stryker's War".

Anyway, I'm sorry you have to come back to this country and deal with the bul lshit...even though I'm sure you will be happy to be back in your own bed.

Dear Trey:
 
Bruce has been talking about this for a couple of years.  He has an idea to update the story, and now that he's the proper age for the part he wants to play it again -- he starred in the super-8 version in 1980, with white shoe polish in his hair.  Now he no longer needs the shoe polish, and neither do I.  He thinks I should direct, but since I've already made the film twice, I think he should direct it.
 
Josh

Name: Vanishpoint
E-mail: No Thanks

Josh,

After my last missive I may be unwelcome on your site but this one's much briefer.

I know you enjoy irony. I found this example on your very own site:

**I still don't buy ( Mel Gibson's ) phony American accent.**

The irony is he is a Native New York Boy although bought up in Australia where he was bullied as a child because of his ... American accent!

Vanishingpoint

Dear V:
 
You're perfectly welcome to disagree with me, just as many other people do.  I know that Mel Gibson was born in America, but he was brought up in Australia and he has an Australian accent, which was clearly on display in his early films.  When he became a big star he intentionally dropped the accent and I'm not sure what he replaced it with.  To me he sounds like he comes from the 51st state -- the state of anxiety. 
 
Josh

Name: Vanishingpoint
E-mail: No Thanks

Josh,

You're intelligent, you've read widely and you have an in depth knowledge of film. I suspect your brief comment on Heavenly Creatures was flippant humour and not a considered review but I'd like to take issue with you. I hope I don't regret this

I have seen the film and I didn't think much of it. But it's not my type of film anyway.

However it was a film Peter Jackson was determined to make. At the time he was known only for zero budget "splatter" movie Bad Taste and slightly higher budget zombie movie Braindead.

Heavenly Creatures tells the story of perhaps the most notorious murder to have tak en place in Jackson's native New Zealand.

Jackson had to fight to be allowed to make it. Many didn't want the film made. If it had to be made they certainly didn't want the "Horror film man" to be the one to make it. But he had a passion and a drive to make it and he did the best job he could.

I'm going on a bit already so to try and keep it brief: Your comment was:

The entire explanation for the two young girls becoming killers is that they giggle a lot. All of the clay people fantasies sucked.

The "giggle" explanation is simply not true. The film makes it clear the girls met as teenagers, one a naive, shy Kiwi the other a much more worldly English girl. The girls became very close friends and created a fantasy world together. In time the relationship became increasingly intense and exclusive leading to suggestions - in the film made by th e doctor - the girls had formed a sapphic relationship. Note in real life 1950's New Zealand was akin to Victorian England - a lesbian relationship was literally unthinkable. In the film the (soon to be murdered) mother is shown struggling to understand what she is hearing. I guess you struggled even more, Josh.

The families decided to split the girls by returning the English girl to England. In turn the girls formed a plot to kill the mother of the Kiwi girl in the hope this would allow the girls to remain together. Not a great plan perhaps but it's what they actually decided.

All this is contained in the narrative of the film and as far as can be determined - neither girl has discussed the murder since their trial - is all true.

Does this automatically make it a good film? No.

Does being the most notorious murder in New Zealand g uarantee a good film? Of course not. Perhaps the story is unfilmable.

But please don't deny that an explanation was given in the (Oscar nominated as I suspect you know) script. It demeans your abilities to appear so obtuse. Maybe the explanation could have been better (but then it wouldn't have been true to life as the director intended) and perhaps it could have been clearer.

The clay people fantasies sucked? The fantasies were based on the diaries the girls wrote which included similar fantasies. The fantasies sucked? Well perhaps the message of the film was that once upon a time two girls committed matricide over such pathetic fantasies.

Please indulge me to explain one more thing. I don't like Folk music - I have no interest in it. I have never seen your film "If I Had A Hammer"

Would you consider it appropriate for me to posit that a f ilm YOU felt strongly enough to make MUST be worthless shit because I don't like Folk music? I wouldn't insult you (or myself) talking that way.

Doesn't a film Jackson felt so strongly to make (when he could so much more easily got a quick pay day for another cheap splatter flick) deserve a mature criticism from you?

He may be the richest man in New Zealand now and turning out bloated special effects laden remakes but at the time of Heavenly Creatures we wasn't quite so far removed from the Josh Becker who made If I Had A Hammer.

Just my opinion and I hope this hasn't offended you.

Vanishing Point

Dear Vanishingpoint:
 
What Peter Jackson went through to get his movie made, or what I've gone through to get my movies made, means nothing.  All that matters are the films themselves.  To me Heavenly Creatures had a very thin script with a painful lack of motivation, and that's mainly what the film is about -- why did these girls do what they did?  I was not convinced in any way that they needed to kill the mother.  Yes, it's a true story, but that doesn't mean it's a well-written script.  That the two girls had a fantasy world together is an interesting concept, but to me I was unimpressed with how Jackson envisioned and filmed it.  The film seemed to me to be mainly about two giggly girls who inexplicably kill one of their mothers.  I don't consider it a good movie.  Okay?
 
Josh 

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

Dear Josh:

Sorry for the double email, but I thought some of your friends(and perhaps you) will be interested in this:

http://www.onlinemarine.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/online_superstore/videos/fishing/battle_tuna.htm?E+scstore

Hope things are well.

Dear Trey:
 
It's been really nice not hearing about or thinking about American politics for the past 7 weeks.  As for the fishing the video, the joke is that the real title, the one that's on the film itself, is "Battle the Big Tuna."  This somehow got on the video box as "Battle of the Big Tuna," which makes me envision tunas fighting each other, sumo style.
 
I'm about to start shooting day #16 of this epic.  We're on night shoots, so my mind is truly in the Twilight Zone.  Three more nights to go, then back to my own bed.
 
Josh

Name: Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Mel Gibson as both an actor and a director?

Dear Mo:
 
I'm unimpressed on both counts.  I still don't buy his phony American accent.
 
Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail: khw03@hampshire.edu

Hi Josh,

What is your opinion on the movie "Heavenly Creatures"? As someone who has lived and worked in New Zealand I would bet that you have some perspective or knowledge in regards to the Parker-Hulme case it was based on. I think its effective attempt at depicting the girls's perspectives as they lost touch with reality. It is certainly a far more interesting movie than any of Peter Jackson's later works. I couldn't believe he stretched the story of King Kong to nearly 3.5 hours.
-Keith

Dear Keith:
 
I agree that it's Peter Jackson's best movie, but I didn't like it.  The entire explanation for the two young girls becoming killers is that they giggle a lot.  All of the clay people fantasies sucked.  I thought it was an exceptionally uninsightful script.
 
Josh

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

Hats off to you Josh!

I'm guessing you are the first one on the set in the morning and the last one to leave at the end of the day possibly after looking at the dailies and going over the set to get it together for the next days shooting.I'm guessing anywhere between 14 and 16 hours for that on a daily basis maybe even more on some days.

In between those two times, start and stop, you are doing your best to bring in a movie on time and under budget for the Sci-Fi Channel while juggling and communicating with probably at least 125 different personalities.

By some miracle you are finding time, after doing all of the above, to rea d and address your fans questions and concerns on your website.

That is truly a dedicated professional.

Again...Hats off to you!

Tim

Dear Tim:
 
Except that I don't speak Bulgarian, so communication is somewhat limited.  On to day #12.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey man! I just watched "Cleveland Smith" and "Torro, Torro, Torro" thanks to Chris telling me they were on You Tube. Let me just say that they were well worth the wait. I wish somehow I could take the stuff on You Tube and put them on DVD but they can't do that. It was really cool to see. The Special F/X in both of them were incredible. How did you get the lawnmower to move in TTT or how did you get the rock to go over Cleveland Smith and make it look like they were actually happening? I will admit though even if Super 8 is lousy quality it still looks better than video. Great job Josh! Wish you and Scott were still maki ng movies together but I guess every great group has to split up sometime.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:
 
I'm glad you liked them.  They were both 16mm, though.  We used a variety of methods to move the lawnmower, from animation to wires to gravity to reverse motion.  The ball rolling over Bruce was a combination of rear-screen and miniatures.
 
Josh

Name: Frank Raimo
E-mail: rai44260@yahoo.com

Dear Josh

My 16 year old daughter wants to attend a school to become a cinematgrapher. I am American living in Mexico. We go to Hollywood often and she enjoys it. Can you suggest a school or give us some idea. Since I am on limited funds I would appreciate any suggestion you may offer.
Thank you

Dear Frank:
 
The big film schools in L.A. are UCLA and USC.  Cal State Northridge has good film program, from what I hear.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I finally watched "Black Narcissus" today and what a brilliant film it is! I mean holy shit, Hollywood couldn't even have a wet dream of producing a film as well written or as well made as it is. And the set was absolutely gorgeous, as was the color cinematography.

I love the looks Deborah Kerr would give David Farrar when he said something rude and insulting. And it was great when he showed up at the Christmas celebration drunk and how the young General compliments his grand singing voice right after Deborah Kerr tells him off.

I simply cannot say enough positive things about it.

Dear Trey:
 
It's one of the really great films ever made.  You should see it in a nitrate print, it's ten times as gorgeous as the DVD.  When David Farrar is drunkenly leaving the Christmas celebration on his little horse he sings, "Oh, I won't be a nun, I can't be a nun . . ."  And that great moment when Deborah Kerr is praying and flashes back to her near marriage, then jolts back to reality.  And the last shot of the rain drops hitting the leaves.  It's all too good.
 
Josh

Name: Sam Sheldon
E-mail: sheldon@ucsc.edu

Dear Josh:

William is my grandfather, although I never actually got to meet him. Unfortunately he passed a few months before I was born in 1982. I enjoyed your site tremendously and I thank you for honoring my grandfather. I try and educate the younger generation on who he was, because its important to remember there was more than Goldwyn and Hitchcock. Keep up the good work, and good luck to you in your career.

Dear Sam:
 
William Sheldon was your grandfather?  I jest.  I assume you must mean William Wyler.  It's my pleasure to honor his memory.
 
Josh

Name: Cedric Vara
E-mail: cedric.vara@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

What is the most evil force in the world today?

Dear Cedric:
 
George Bush and Dick Cheney.
 
Josh 

Name: Alotta Fagina
E-mail: alottafagina@home.com

Dear Josh,

Well I'm glad you liked the original films in those series with Stallone. I also agree, as with most critics, they are probably the best, especially First Blood. They are more along the lines of classic films which I think you would like. You know in his book he says he was 168 pounds in the first Rocky, not a heavyweight really, but he sold it very well and it looked believable. Since we're on the topic, I'm curious what are your other favorite boxing films, and war hero films.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:
 
As far as I'm concerned there haven't been very many good boxing films.  Let's see . . .  Raging Bull, Rocky, Body and Soul (with John Garfield), Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Set-up, City for Conquest (I'm reaching now).  That's all I can think of.  Regarding war heroes: Patton, Lawrence of Arabia, Pride of the Marines, To Hell and Back, Wake Island, The Red Badge of Courage.
 
Josh

Name: David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen Michelangelo Antonioni's "The Passenger"? And, if so, do you recommend it?

Dear David:
 
I've seen it a couple of times, and yes, I do recommend it.  Even though it's one of Antonioni's most accessible movies, it's still an Antonioni movie, so be careful.  Have a double espresso before watching it.
 
Josh

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

Hey Josh,

A couple of things:

First, I was reading some of your treatments when I came to warpath, why do you consider this a treatment? It is written like a script. Did you just write it as a very very basic script or something knowing that when you were going to turn it into a screenplay later that you would add much much more? Also at the top is says "An origional Screenplay...". I'm little confused.

Also do you think that maybe (if it is easy) in the future (when you are not busy making a film) you could put up a treatment of yours that you later turned into a screenplay like one for "If I had a Hammer" or "Head shot" or something. Any treatment that you've turned into a screenplay that is posted on this site. I think it would kind of helpful to people like me who are learning about this stuff to see a treatment and the screenplay that it was later turned into.

And finally, what happened to "The Horribleness"?

Dear Chris:
 
But "Warpath" wasn't written as sceenplay.  Anyway, I could do what you suggested, but I can't now, not from Bulgaria.  Meanwhile, I am truly hoping that I get to make "The Horribleness" with Bruce Campbell in the near future.  If that doesn't fly I'll post it.
 
Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Morning Josh.

I gotta jump in on the 5 sexiest actresses!

1)Katherine Hepburn
2)Sophia Loren
3)Grace Kelly
4)Brigitte Bardot
5)Anita Ekberg

Moving on to the next five though they weren't asked for...

6)Racquel Welch
7)Elizabeth Taylor
8)Farrah Fawcett-Majors
9)Dyan Cannon
10)Adrienne Barbeau

Now I know this is all in the perceptions of the individual choosing the actresses. This is just my thoughts on the Top 5 and then the Top 10.

Have a good one!

Tim

Dear Tim:
 
At least you answered the question.  I'm so tired I can't even think of sexy actresses, and that's tired.  Grace Kelly did come to mind, and I think she was very beautiful, but I don't think she was sexy.  Young Ava Gardner was much sexier than her.  I'll go with Brigitte Bardot.  I could never really get onboard with Sophia Loren, either, although she certainly has an amazing slim waist compared to her large breasts.  I'm still too tired to give this important topic the serious consideration it deserves.
 
Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail: khw03@hampshire.edu

Josh,

I'm taking out the book "The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction" with a week or so (ordering it from another library). I've gotten the impression that you think very highly of the movie "The Magnificent Ambersons" despite the fact that it was heavily altered by the studio. The book promises to have the original shooting script which interests me the most. Have you read the original script and do you think "The Magificent Ambersons" would have been a better film if Welles had released it the way he wanted to, in a much longer cut?

Dear Keith:
 
Honestly, no.  I have read the shooting the script (as well as the book) and I understand exactly why everything that was cut was cut.  What's left, excluding a few short scenes at the end, is brilliant.  at 90 minutes the film is a complete ten- course meal.  There's no point in lamenting about what it might have been, savor what's there.
 
Josh

Name: Herb Wedekind
E-mail: herb@ww.com

Josh,

Superficial question, I know, but who would you list as the five sexiest actresses in the history of cinema?

Dear Herb:
 
Yeah, but it's a good superficial question.  I must say that very young Katherine Hepburn really gets me (1935 back).  Very young Lana Turner was pretty spectacular, too (like in They Knew What They Wanted).  I can't think anymore, I have to shoot tomorrow.
 
Josh

Name: Alotta Fagina
E-mail: alottafagina@home.com

Dear Josh,

Well I liked all those Rocky films. Four was something special I thought. It was a good Cold War film too and I think it was filmed in 1984, Stallone and Lundgren were going to the gym together for that. I understand Stallone's age is certainly not his prime, but I think that makes it particularly interesting. I know he is average height, but I think he may have more muscle mass in this film than in some of the others. In his book he says he weighed 161 pounds in Rocky III.

Maybe he couldn't get Bernard Hopkins for it, but he has boxed someone as huge as Lundgren on screen. I think he's about Lennix Lewis's size, w hom Tyson said was simply too big and too strong for him in 2002. I like the idea of a smaller man battling a larger one bravely. It's kind of like the David and Goliath effect Stallone went for in Rocky III with Mr. T, who is a bit less than 5'11" > actually.

Stallone is not really a heavyweight, I understand your point, but please let me know if you think it can still look believable, after all in all the Rocky films, the ring announcer exaggerated his weight. If you don't think so, what other advice would you have for the film, and as a boxing fan.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:
 
I absolutely hated Rocky 4, as well as 2 and 5.  I just watched 3 again and I don't think it held up very well, either.  The only one that's really good, in my opinion, is the first one.  But meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone hasn't made a good movie in so long I can't even remember.  Probably not since First Blood, meaning not in 20 in years, so I hold out no hope.  My advice is that he should retire.
 
Josh

Name: Alotta Fagina
E-mail: alottafagina@home.com

Dear Josh,

Well, I guess you don't like superhero films, but I heard you were a boxing fan. What do you think of the new film "Rocky Balboa" coming out late December? I think it's going to be good in my opinion. They emphasize Rocky doesn't have as much speed, but he has power.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:
 
Hope springs eternal.  Why on earth would the sixth Rocky movie be any good when number 2, 4 and 5 SUCKED!!  I don't think Mr. Stallone is getting any more talented as he ages.  Also, there are no profesional boxers his age.  40 is the very end of the road for a boxer, and Stallone hasn't seen 40 in over 15 years.  Plus he cast Antonio Tarver, the very short-lived light-heavyweight champ who just got his ass kicked by Bernard Hopkins, as the heavyweight champ, and that's just bad casting.  Bernard Hopkins would have been MUCH better.  But Stallone can't even get in the ring with an actual heavyweight because he's too small.  Next to Vladimir Klitchko or Lennox Lewis, Stallone looks like a midget.  I predict that the film is awful.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey man... I know you've done lots of short films before you finished your first feature "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except" but do you think that people starting now who have no money at all and can't shoot any action scenes should possibly do just dialogue if they finally find a way to do it that matches their own unique style. Alot of people tend to do dialogue heavy material (and believe me I use to try but couldn't handle it until ALOT of practice) and they can't quite pull it off without making them seem like a rip off. I'm only asking because it seems that my last few scripts (one of which I'm actually shooting soon) have been very dialogue heavy and less action-y but have seem to have a pretty good beginning, middle, and end. What's your idea on people mainly using diaglogue and not really cool camera set ups?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:
 
You've got to tell the stories that you believe need telling.  But just because there's a lot of dialog doesn't mean it can't be well-shot and directed.  I love shooting dialog, and it's a helluva lot easier than action, and more satisfying, too.  Shooting action is a pain in the ass because it's a lot of complicated little bits and pieces that you're just hoping will all go together in the editing room.  With dialog scenes you can see right there if it's working or not.  I also love blocking actors, and how you then cover that with the camera can be very exciting.  One of my very favorite movies is The Member of the Wedding, directed by the great Fred Zinnemann, which pretty much all takes place in a kitchen, and it's beautifully shot.  Or watch how Mike Nichols handles dialog scenes in films like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or The Graduate.
 
Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Good to hear you're on top of things over there!

I assume IMDB is wrong when the have put up the title "The Harpy" instead of "Stan Lee's The Harpies"???

PS. I ordered my copy of jack of all trades. I can't wait. I know you directed 2 episodes including the pilot.....Did you direct the opening sequence? I've been watching that non stop on youtube. I showed my mum and she recognised Angela Dotchin right away as a kiwi actress who has been in a few things.

PSS. A note to all fans that post here. The following can be found on youtube.com:

Clockwork
Cleveland Smith bounty hunter.
Within the woods (split into two parts)
An old ad starring Bruce Campbell.
2 parts of 6 months to live.

and maybe some others....I can't quite remember. The ones I'm dying to see are "It's Murder" and "holding it".

Dear Chris:
 
They get a lot of stuff wrong on Imdb, but it's still a terrific resource.  I didn't direct the opening credit scene of "Jack," but it was my idea.  I called the composer, my buddy Joe LoDuca, and said that it ought to be like the opening credits of "F Troop," and that's all Joe needed.  All Joe needs is the tiniest little push in a direction he believes makes sense, then he's off and running.  I did a shot list for it, too, but due to scheduling they got Charlie Haskell (who had been my 1st AD on the 2nd unit of Hercules), and I think he did a great job. 
 
Meanwhile, I completed week #1 on Stan Lee's The Harpies, and I think it ought to be amusing.  Stephen Baldwin is good.  I love actors who know what they're doing.
 
Josh

Name: raym c. hensley
E-mail: zombieplanter@gmail.com

Aloha!,

Very good of you to have an open line with your fans.

I enjoy your films very much, with Running Time being one I really want to see. Next to Mr. Raimi, I believe that you're the only other director that knows how to make use of Bruce Campbell's comedic skills.

A question on directing, if I may...

HOw do you handle difficult actors?

Wells, I'm off. Thanks for the time. Never change, and best of luck with your future work!

Mahalo,
Raym

Dear Raym:
 
Mahalo back at ya.  I believe that you must handle difficult actors very tenderly.  Actors are hyper-sensitive people and need extra care and consideration to start with.  Most actors really just want to do a good job.  There certainly are the ball-buster variety of actor, too, and they take their own individual care.  When I couldn't get Anthony Quinn to do anything I asked him to do, nor follow any of my direction or blocking, I first had to confront him to let him know he couldn't walk right over me.  Next, I figured out his personal issue -- he was 84 years old and wanted to get the hell out of there ASAP -- so I began shooting each of his scenes with his close-up.  First, it was the best use of his limited energy; second, it made him happy; third, if we started with the close-up, then backed up to the master, he now knew that he had to hit the mark I set for him or we'd have to reshoot his close-up.  Once I had that figured out he was putty in my hands.
 
Josh

Name: Elizabeth Fleming
E-mail: FM9300@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I have several ideas as well and certainly believe they would make wonderful movies, unfortunately I don't know who I am supposed to contact to get consideration for these ideas / novella books I have written.
Could you please help me with this?
Sincerely,
Elizabeth Fleming

Dear Elizabeth:
 
If you'd like your ideas to be considered for movies you have to write them as screenplays, then send them to agents or producers, or raise the money and shoot them yourself.  If they're novellas (as opposed to novelettes or novelinis), then you ought to be sending them to publishers.  Sadly, though, novellas aren't a very recognized or accepted form, so you'd undoubtedly do better to expand them into full-length novels.  Good luck.
 
Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: darryl.mesaros@us.army.mil

Dear Josh,

I haven't been on for awhile, and I was wondering about this Bulgarian project that everyone's eluding to. Are you filming one of your own scripts, or is this a contract job?

Pardon my ignorance,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:
 
Good to hear from you.  I'm sorry about what I said, it's not your fault, you're just doing your duty.  No, this film isn't from my script, it's by a writer named Declan O'Brien who's written a number of other films for Sci Fi.  I just completed day #5 (of 18).  After a slightly rocky start I'm now one scene ahead of schedule.
 
Josh

Name: Trout
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just had a look at the website for HBO's Rome and they have a listing of cast and crew. Strangely, George Putnam isn't listed in the writers, I don't suppose he could have been fibbing could he?

http://www.hbo.com/rome/cast/

On imdb, he's credited as contributing to Deadwood. Maybe he forgot which HBO series he wrote for.

Dear Trout:
 
Thanks for the info.  I honestly don't think the ancient Roman story I wrote with my late friend Jim, "Centurion," is all that bad, even if it isn't finished.  It's also mainly true.  C'est la vie.
 
Josh

Name: mark farrell
E-mail: farrellmmiki@cs.com

Dear Josh:

I agree with the statements made here. Just wanted to let you know that there are others who see through this curse perpetuated on mankind.
Thanks for your web -site.

Dear mark:
 
Well, that's one pro and one con today.  I'm batting .500.
 
Josh

Name: George Putnam
E-mail: the-critic44@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I just read that story segment you posted about Rome. It was really bad. I mean REALLY bad. Why post such a thing? Just curious. I bet I know your response:

Who the fuck are you? Why don't you post something on line so we can all read it and judge it.

I'll tell you who the fuck I am you wise ass, I'm a writer for MANY successful television shows, one of which just HAPPENS to be HBO's Rome.

How do you like them apples?

Dear George:
 
I posted it because I thought it was interesting, and I wrote what there is of it with a friend of mine who has since died, so it was sort of in tribute to him.  Meanwhile, I kind of enjoyed the first two or three episodes of "Rome" (which you certainly didn't write), then the show went straight into the shitter.  So I guess you must have written some of those later episodes, huh?  But I do accept that your opinion is as valid as anyone's.
 
Josh

Name: Labhaoise
E-mail: fuzzyfunkster@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

What a jerk! Why bother making a site about a movie you dislike so much? You're an emotionless fool!!

Dear Labhaoise:
 
There are times when I sit here and seriously look at some of these questions thinking, "What on earth could they possibly be talking about?"  But that's the beauty of the internet, everyone's invited, even the painfully obtuse.
 
Josh

Name: G. Papps
E-mail: g-pps@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

Uh, yeah, I was just wondering how it felt to have your parents producing your first major motion picture? That's kind of weird, isn't it?

Dear G.:
 
"Major motion picture"?  It was a severely low-budget indie.  My mom and dad kindly came in with the finishing funds after we'd finished shooting the film, so I gave them the executive producer credits. 
 
Josh

Name: David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How you can you not like "Dazed and Confused"? It's at least as good as "American Grafitti", and maybe better. The performances are very good, the soundtrack is great, and all-in-all it's just a damn good time.

Dear david:
 
I thought it was mean-spirited, I didn't care for the characters, and I didn't believe the limited, PC, use of drugs.  To me it felt like history being toned down and white-washed for the sake of wider accetance.  As my friend said as we came out of the film, "The only reason we smoked pot in high school back then was to come down from the acid." 
 
Josh

Name: Kevin Kindel
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Good luck tomorrow. I think I speak for all of us movie weirdoes, that dawdle about your message board, when I say we look forward to seeing the results of your Bulgarian exploits...

Dear Kevin:
 
Thanks a lot, I can use it.
 
Josh

Name: Aaron Stroud
E-mail: coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

This isn't a question, you once stated that William Friedkin's entire career was THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE EXORCIST... what about that wacky career ender SORCERER? It had serious problems as a whole, but that scene on the suspension bridge nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I saw it. That 20 minute prologue nearly killed the film. It was a complete waste of money to shoot in those cities, had nothing to really do with the story, and could've been told in a couple of dialogues in a bar. That makes me miss the shot of the gangster walking across the floor for a confrontation. the bit where they blow up the tree wasn't bad, but I recal l the danger in WAGES OF FEAR that the rubble might land on the trucks and set off the nitro. In fact, why the hell are there only three cases of nitro per truck and the whole truck is loaded up in WAGES OF FEAR? There's also that nice scene after the old man is shot with Roy freaking out on the final drive, running out of gas, and walking with the final crate in his arms. The showing of the two friends dying in explosion was surprising, but I liked the WAGES OF FEAR way better when they didn't know what set the nitro off, made a comment about the truck just taking off, and had to drive through the pool of oil. As I've stated, it's got problems, but it had its moments too. I couldn't stand THE GUARDIAN.

Sadly, SORCERER is better than PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2.

Dear Aaron:
 
You sort of asked and answered the question yourself.  Sorcerer certainly has its moments, like the rope suspension bridge, but it's nowhere near as good as Wages of Fear.  Therefore, it's really just one more lame remake.  William Friedkin did a very reasonable remake of 12 Angry Men for cable, with Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott, but it's still not as good as the original.  I seriously believe he shot his wad with The French Connection and The Exorcist.
 
Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you like David and Lisa, the original one from 1962. I watched it again recently and still liked it. One review that I read said that it would be a good movie for would be indy movie makers to study, since it was made on a low budget, under $200,000, apparently even low for the early 60s, and made many times more than it cost. I also read that the only camera used was a hand held camera. Is this true?

Dear Bob:
 
I don't recall if it was all hand-held, but I don't think so.  I haven't seen it in at least 20 years, but I kind of liked it, in a mild sort of way.  It's sort of the precursor to my film Lunatics -- and a few reviewers made the comparison -- in that it's also about a crazy boy and a crazy girl falling in love.  The best thing in it was Howard DeSilva as the psychiatrist, who hadn't worked for about 10 years before that due to blacklisting.  I was buddies with his son, Dan, for a while, who mysteriously disappeared off the face of the earth.  Howard DeSilva was great in Lost Weekend as the bartender.
 
Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you like David and Lisa, the original one from 1962. I watched it again recently and still liked it. One review that I read said that it would be a good movie for would be indy movie makers to study, since it was made on a low budget, under $200,000, apparently even low for the early 60s, and made many times more than it cost. I also read that the only camera used was a hand held camera. Is this true?

Dear Bob:
 
I don't recall if it was all hand-held, but I don't think so.  I haven't seen it in at least 20 years, but I kind of liked it, in a mild sort of way.  It's sort of the precursor to my film Lunatics -- and a few reviewers made the comparison -- in that it's also about a crazy boy and a crazy girl falling in love.  The best thing in it was Howard DeSilva as the psychiatrist, who hadn't worked for about 10 years before that due to blacklisting.  I was buddies with his son, Dan, for a while, who mysteriously disappeared off the face of the earth.  Howard DeSilva was great in Lost Weekend as the bartender.
 
Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Speaking of junkie films did you ever see "Born to Win" with George Segal and a very young Deniro before he did "Mean Streets"? It was on late one night when I was still living in NYC and I liked it, but I had never seen it before that.

George Segal seemed like a very good actor back then and of course in "Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolf?" Some years before "Born to Win".

Another junkie film that I just thought of is "Spun" (20020 with. That film was hard to watch do to the ramping of the shots and the chaotic editing and camera work and it is not a very good film, but it is another junkie film to mention here.

Scott

Dear Scott:
 
I've never seen Born to Win.  Yes, George Segal was good at the beginning of his career.  I really like him in King Rat.  Another notable junkie movie was Panic in Needle Park with the young Al Pacino in his first film.  It was very realistic, and I'm pretty sure the actors were actually sticking needles into themselves, which I found disturbing.  A friend of mine who has done heroin said that the best depiction he ever saw in a movie was the scene in Sid and Nancy where they're both nodded-out on a bed and the room starts on fire.  Sid wakes up, sees the room is burning, lights a cigarette, takes a puff and passes back out.
 
Josh

Name: greg bogosian
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

apparently he's a distant relative, cousin maybe, but i've never met him nor do i really care to. i picked up 'the essential bogosian' a few years back and found his work to be kind of juvenile and incomplete. by incomplete i mean, they don't ever conclude in a satisfying way. either as entertainment or social and political commentary.

i thought linklater's SuBuRbIa was decent. your thoughts on him?

Dear greg:
 
I've met Eric Bogosian.  He and I were on a panel at the Boston Film Festival in 1991, as well as Bruce Campbell, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Ismael Merchant.  I never got to say a word.  Meanwhile I haven't seen Suburbia.  I liked Tape, I sort of liked Slackers, and I didn't care for Dazed and Confused.
 
Josh

Name: Aaron Stroud
E-mail: coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

<< I'd say it's the second best junkie movie, next to "Drugstore Cowboy.">>

Would you place SID AND NANCY third? I liked DRUGSTORE COWBOY a little more than TRAINSPOTTING (if only because TRAINSPOTTING seems more flashy). I like when Tom the Priest gives a prayer for Matt Dillon for delivering his drugs. One thing that bothers me is if all these people seem to do is rob drugstores for themselves, how can they afford the house they live in? Do they have day jobs? Do they sell the drugs? It looks like they just keep them. It's the same thing with LUNATICS A LOVE STORY, if Hank hasn't left his apartment for six months, how was his rent paid? Or did you just want us to assume his mother paid for it?

Dear Aaron:
 
Ah, a questioning mind.  I never questioned how they paid their rent in "Drugstore Cowboy."  They always had a ton of stolen drugs which would immediately convert into money on the street.  Also, they could very easily, and probably, take the money from the cash registers in the drugstores.  As for Hank, in many of the earlier drafts it was explained that he receives a government subsidy due to the doctors having used an experimental anti-psychotic drug on him in the mental hospital that turned out to be a failure.  This bit of factual reality (it's what happened to the killer Gary Gilmore) was apparently too factual and too real for the producers, and over the course of 14 drafts it went away.  Meanwhile, "Sid and Nancy" seems like a good nominee for the third-best junkie movie.  I'm not sure what would come next, possibly "A Hatful of Rain," written by Michael V. Gazzo, who later co-starred in "The Godfather Part II ."
 
Josh

Name: ozie
E-mail: bassrockaz@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

hey, we went to visit the evil dead cabin today.. well the remain's anyways.. I was wondering if you could tell me of any other sites in morristown or nearby area you shot evil dead.. I'd really like to vist them since it's only and hour drive to morristown..

Dear ozie:
 
We shot all over the place in and around Morristown, but it was 27 years ago and I never really knew where I was.  The answer is, I don't know.
 
Josh

Name: greg Bogosian
E-mail: greg@yahoo

Dear Josh:

would you consider yourself a pothead?

Dear greg:
 
Yes, very much so.  Are you related to Eric?
 
Josh

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

Hi Josh,

This is for Ray, who recently wrote in regarding European cities. I'll throw my two cents in:
I've heard Budapest and most of Lithuania are for bohemians and artist wannabes, so if you're interested in the artist enclave, it might be for you. I personally recommend Belfast, Northern Ireland - it's a complex, refreshing, decidedly new take on European civilization. It's got a huge, thriving art community and tourist attractions for everyone and anyone, plus it's a quick train from Dublin or an even quicker plane ride from London, Edinburgh and Paris. I should mention, too, that Edinburgh is pretty magnificent though the Old section of town is centered around tourist attractions. Still, it's a beautiful city - so check it out.

Dear Greene:
 
Interesting suggestions.  Let's not forget Barcelona, which, though I haven't been there, seems great, and I've never met anyone who didn't love it.  I'm also a big fan of Paris -- I think it's an astounding city, and the Left Bank completely enchanted me.  I also hear that Prague is very cool.
 
Josh

Name: Si
E-mail:

Josh

I'm back, just thought I'd add my thoughts on a couple of things.

First, Trainspotting. I have the special edition of that film on DVD. Like you, I love the performances and the story, but I actually feel that the film also makes a very good case for the use of songs within films. Especially "Lust For Life" at the beginning of the film, and Sleeper's "Atomic" when Ewan McGregor's character first sets his eyes on Kelly MacDonald's.

But what I like most about it is that it tells its story coherently without trying to be too clever, without any condescension or overly visible pandering. I doubt that Danny Boyle will ever match what he achieved wit h this film.

Likewise, I don't think Ricky Gervais will ever match what he achieved with BBC's The Office. Have you seen it? Great cast, great direction, spot on writing...one of the best comedies of the decade. Unfortunately, as Gervais's fame has grown, he's become more self-indulgent. So even though his latest show, Extras, has moments of brilliance, it succeeds more in spite of his presence than because of it, if you know what I mean. It does seem these days that the more famous most actors or writers become, the less tolerable they become. (Think Scarlett Johansson as an example...I actually liked her in Lost in Translation, Ghost World and Girl With A Pearl Earring, but she sold her soul to Hollywood after those films and became over-exposed.)

Yes, there ARE good films and TV shows out there, but you just have to look harder to find them.

Si

Dear Si:
 
"Trainspotting" is a good movie, and the songs are well used, too, unlike that jerk who made "The Royal Tennenbaums," who hasn't got a clue.  I'll keep my eye peeled for "The Office."  I think Scarlett Johansson is a nothing, and has been right from the beginning.  Nor is she even particularly attractive.
 
Josh

Name: Ray
E-mail: rjshepard@aol.com

Hi Josh,

If you were to relocate to a European city, which would you choose? Paris is always described as a big "viva la cinema!" town, but I know that you're not all that fond of French films. How about an Italian city? It's beautiful, it has a strong movie legacy and the women are very sexy.

I want to leave the U.S. for awhile and I'm looking for suggestions.

Thanks.

Dear Ray:
 
No question it would be Amsterdam.  It's the only place in the world where I don't feel like criminal.  It's a beautiful little city, loaded with great pubs, wonderful coffee shops (that sell pot), many of the finest museums in the world, including the Van Gogh Museum, and there are many beautiful women.  They also have a famous film museum, but I've never been there.  But that's just me.
 
Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

I haven't written in a while. Busy moving and such. anyway, I skimmed the last few pages of the post and saw nothing about An Inconvenient Truth. Have you seen it, or be willing to see it? I saw it yesterday, and to me, it seemed like half fact, half Al Gore surprize political campaign. If it was really part of a secret campaign strategy, I don't know that it would really upset me.

-Rob

Dear rob:
 
I'm a tad busy right now, and I don't think it's showing here in Bulgaria anyway.  I must say that it didn't look all that interesting to me, since I completely agree with the premise and need no convincing.  I really and truly hope that Al Gore does run for president in '08 because he seems like the best man for the job.  Had he not been screwed out of the presidency in '00 by the supreme court -- supremely partisan, that is -- we would not be stuck in the quicksand of this meaningless war in Iraq, we wouldn't be a zillion dollars in debt, gasoline wouldn't cost as much, the US dollar wouldn't be completely down the shithole, and perhaps Americans wouldn't be the most hated people on the planet Earth, who are now known as torturers and aggressors.  I do wish him all the best on his film, though.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I rarely try to bait you, I just normally speak my mind and sometimes I speak without thinking ... even when I'm typing.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:
 
Whatever.  Moving on.
 
Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What is it that you like about Trainspotting?

Dear Bob:
 
I completely believed it, all of the performances are very good, particularly Ewan MacGregor and Robert Carlyle, the direction is interesting and inventive, and it tells a complete, whole story.  I think it's one of the best films of the past ten years.  I'd say it's the second best junkie movie, next to "Drugstore Cowboy."
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

This is not really a question, more of a comment. I keep forgetting you shot AA in Bulgaria. And thats cool you're shooting your next one there too. I work at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, VA and theres a good amount of internationals there. And I'm friends with all 4 of the Bulgarian guys. They are even teaching me some words. When I tell them about wanting to be a filmmaker they get interested really quickly. Good luck with the shoot. And I'll see if I can show them AA and The Man with the Screaming Brain. Maybe they will see places they know.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:
 
If they're from Sofia they certainly will, particularly "Screaming Brain," which Bruce shot all over the city.  I shot quite a few woodsy scenes in the big park in the center of town.  However, since the US dollar is doing so poorly (thank you George Bush), and is almost even with the Bulgarian Leva, I'm not 100% sure why I'm here.  I'll bet Bruce is doing just as well, or better, shooting his new film in Oregon, without any language problems.
 
Josh

Name: Harris Quade
E-mail: puffinstuff@krofft.com

Dear Josh:

Given the meaning Superman holds for the wheelchair gimps of America due to the martyred Passion of Christopher Reeve, saying "fuck Superman in the ass with a Kryptonite flagpole" is the equivalent of saying "fuck Christ in the ass with a sesame bagel cross." What's next, a concentration camp for Aryan superheroes? I hope you take your shame to the deli, put it on a lightly toasted tuna on rye, and eat it raw. Kosher it ain't.

Dear Harris:
 
There's always somebody out there waiting to be offended by most anything.  I've got sad news for you: Christopher Reeve, whom I already stated seemed like perfect casting for Superman to me, was actually not Superman.  He was an actor who had an unfortunate horse riding accident.  When I say that I don't care for the comic book character Superman (or superheroes in general), I'm not saying anything about the late actor Christopher Reeve.  To make that connection is slightly insane.  You also win for being the first Anti-Semite to show up at this website in nearly nine years.  Congratulations.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You're right, I have been coming here a long time. I think it's been nearly a year now. Maybe that's too long.

Anyway, apology accepted. I apologize for any negative things I've ever said to you.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:
 
Perhaps it is too long, that's up to you to decide.  But you know when you're baiting me, and at this late date you shouldn't be surprised by my responses.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Haha sorry I forgot how to spell seymour for a minute so I just put hoffman. Looking at it now it still don't look quite right.

By the way are you a fan of Clint Eastwood as a director? I sure am. I finally got around to buying a box set that contains "Unforgiven", "The outlaw Josey whales" and "Pale Rider". All are excellent movies in my opinion. I quote "josey whales" all the time.

"Dyin' ain't much of a livin' boy"

PS. Sounds like you might be considering living in Bulgaria.

Dear Chris:
 
Not a chance.  Anyway, I think Clint is an okay director who astoundingly and inexplicably made one great film, "Unforgiven."  I like "Outlaw Josey Wales," and I've seen in quite a few times, but A. it was started by Phil Kaufman, who got fired, B. it's about 30 minutes too long, and C. I just don't think it's tremedously well-directed.  I don't like "Pale Rider," which I think is a bore.
 
Josh

Name: David R.
E-mail:

"The fingers sticking out of the manhole is a legitimately great shot" (in reference to "The Third Man).

I definitely agree with what you said. It really stuck in my mind as well. Loved the sound effect of hearing the wind rushing through the street, but other than that... nothing. As an aside, the "stand-in" fingers in that seen are actually those of director Carol Reed.

By the way, have you heard the radio dramas entitled "The Lives of Harry Lime"? (they were based on Orson Welles' character in the film, and many were written and performed by Welles as well) There was one on the Criterion disc--I forget the title of the particular episode now--but it was excellent! I'll have to see if I can find the rest somehow.

Dear David:
 
The only one of Welles's Mercury Theater dramas I've heard is, of course, "War of the Worlds."  I'd love to hear his radio version of "Heart of Darkness."
 
Josh

Name: Ron
E-mail: adrcs@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Would it be okay to link to your site from mine or to quote you with full credit back to you?

Dear Ron:
 
What's your site?
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I think that Anthony Hopkins deserved the oscar for best actor more than Hoffman.

Anyway have you heard about what Clint Eastwood is doing at the moment. He is post-production of two movies. The first one, "Flags of Our Fathers", is about "The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII."

The other movie, "Red Sun, Black Sand" is about "The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it."

I think this is pretty interesting. It would be cool to walk out of the first one and then walk across the hall into the second one and see the war from a different perspective.

By the way congratulations on another Directing gig. The plot sounds interesting. I look foward to it and hope it does well. From the listening to the commentary on AA it sounds like you enjoyed your time in Bulgaria last time you were there.

Dear Chris:
 
You had me completely confused for a second.  I thought, "When was Anthony Hopkins up against Dustin Hoffman?"  Considering I haven't seen "Capote" or "Indian," I can't comment.  Meanwhile, yes, I like it here in Bulgaria.  People are WAY less uptight than in the USA.  Nobody bitches about smoking or swearing or drinking.  If perchance you want to have a beer when you first get to work in the morning, then do it if it doesn't infringe on your job.  If three people in a car want to smoke, the fourth person who's a non-smoker doesn't get to overrule them, nor would they even consider it.  Everywhere I've been in Europe the attitude is basically: stop at a cafe, kick back, relax, have a beer and shoot the shit.  In America the attitude now is: go to the mall or the Wal-Mart, buy as much shit as you can (on credit), then go home; don't hang around or you're loitering.   In America in the name of "freedom" we keep taking a way people's freedom.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Regarding your thoughts on the score of 'The Third Man', I always thought it brought a strange irony to the movie, and immediately fell in love with it upon my accidental viewing of the middle of the film on TCM (which I unfortunately couldn't finish because this was 30 minutes before I had to leave for school.) I later sought the film out, and found it was as masterful as I had expected it would be. Those profuse tilted shots also bug the hell out of me, as they seem to be tilted just for the heck of it, and not for the sake of getting a good shot. I'm willing to overlook those, though, because some sequences are genuinely great. My personal favorite s hot of the film when the camera goes through the flowers in the window, revealing Orson Welles standing outside the house, across the street.

But getting back to the score, I understand why you wouldn't like it, but I personally think it goes very well with the film (except during the tense scenes. The zither is just not fit for generating tension...)

Dear Camden:
 
It's a very famous score, and how many of those are there?  It's also completely unique, which is also saying something.  However, like cinematography or costume design, if that's what everybody's talking about, then, in my opinion, something's wrong.  I don't believe people should come out of a movie saying, "Hey, that was a terrific score," or "What beautiful photography."  What that means to me is that there was probably something deficient in the script.  As I already said, "The Third man" isn't even my favorite Carol Reed film.  It's a good film, but I think it falls short of great.
 
 Josh

Name: Franklin
E-mail:

Hey Josh, how did you gather the budgets for all you films?

Franklin

Dear Franklin:
 
For my four indie features I raised the money from individual investors; the remainder -- like the one I'm doing now -- the money came from film companies.
 
Josh

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

"Oh, fuck you and fuck Superman in the ass with a kryptonite flagpole. Who gives a shit? It's all crap!"

Dude, I was just asking. There was no need to jump up my ass. There's been need in the past, but on this rare occasion, my ass need not be jumped.

I'm not a big fan of Superman either, okay. I like superhero stuff but Superman has never been a favorite of mine. So what ever your opinon of Brandon Routh, I really wouldn't have cared.

But fuck me? No no, sir, fuck you. Sure, you and I don't always get along and agree on things, but what the hell? Is "fuck you" gonna be the response I get for any future questi ons? If you thought the question so stupid, why didn't you just do like before and not respond?

You piss me off sometimes, Becker. I don't know why I still like you.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:
 
I'm sorry, but I can't stand these ongoing superhero questions, and you've been coming here long enough to know that.  I don't like superheroes and I don't care who plays them.  To me the entire genre is garbage and unworthy of any thought or consideration.  But once again, I apologize.
 
Josh

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

Josh,

You are definitely not losing your sense of humor and I believe that Brazil has definitely made me more subtle.

First some info regarding film formats in still photography and then my question.

Just to clarify 2 1/4 or 6x4.5 and 6x6cm negative sizes are referred to as medium format in still photography as well as or 6×7 cm, 6×9 cm, and 6×17 cm panoramic. The 6x4.5 format is most commonly referred to as "645".

Large format consists of 4x5 and 8x10 negative sizes.

I have worked with all these formats when I was assisting still photographers in Detroit. The most impressive negative size is the 8x10 w hich has amazing quality.

Now for my question. I am sure you have seen the western "The Appaloosa" with Marlon Brando and John Saxon. I am curious of what you think of that film? It was just on here in Brazil last month (Not subtitled thankfully).

I had not seen it in many years and one of my ideas is to make a western here and what I noticed about the film is that it is really confined to a small number of locations which consist mainly of the town itself, the Ranch of his amigo, and the way in between the two.

>Other than paying Brando's salary, that film's budget must have been reasonable and I thought the characters and the story were believable.

I like that film and I think John Saxon is terrific as the heavy and you can really see how great Brando is as an actor with his subtleties in the close-ups that give an entire meaning to his scenes.

Meanwhile, you are a seasoned veteran and I am sure you will kick ass on this Stan Lee project!

Good Luck,
Scott

Dear Scott:
 
I was the assistant to a still photographer, too, although in L.A., and everything that wasn't 35mm he called "large format,' so I was misinformed.  He shot 2 1/4 and 4x5, but not 8x10.  Meanwhile, I haven't seen "The Appaloosa" since I watched it on the 9:00 movie in the late 1960s, and other than the final gag, with the light reflecting off the rifle, and the bad guys dragging Brando around behind a horse, I don't remember it.  Shooting a western in Brazil sounds like a cool idea.
 
Josh

Name: Clark
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Okay, you got me Josh. I'm Superman. I don't want Superman's address public.

But I jest. You skirted the issue. I want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. Was "Alien Apocalypse" crap? If the answer is no, then tell me how all the other films you hate are crap and your film wasn't. Sell me the dream. What I'm reading here is total jealousy of succesful directors. The "hate everything popular" camp. It's okay to be jealous, but if that's the case, admit you're jealous of their successes. Hey, I'm jealous of people who are rich for no good reason. But what's the issue here, do you think the movies you've made are deserving of three hundred million dollars at the box office?

You can defend a made for TV movie saying that it was intended as made for TV movie fare. What's wrong with Hollywood blockbusters that are made to be just that? Popcorn movies that make money?

By the way, you answer questions in an extremely aggressive, juvenile way. I half expect you to threaten to beat up your detractors here in the hallway after third period english. I'm not posting you my email, you seem pretty unstable to me, man. Sorry.

And I really was a fan, once. Left my autographed Running Time at some chick's house ages ago though. I suddenly don't miss it.

I'm going to go pick through garbage dumpsters now. Hey look, it's an Alien Apocalypse DVD.

Dear "Clark:"
 
If jealousy is what you read into my responses, then so be it.  I certainly would like to have more money with which to make my movies, but otherwise, I assure, I'm not jealous of these contemporary films in the slightest.  I honestly and sincerely think that they're hammered shit.  Is "Alien Apocalypse" crap?  Of course it is, but unlike, say, "Saving Private Ryan," it was meant to be.  That's the entire point of the Sci Fi Saturday Night Original Movies, and if you don't believe me, watch some of them.  Sci Fi tries to make better stuff for all their other shows, like "Stargate" and whatever, but the Saturday night movie is supposed to be the place where you yell insults at the movie and throw candy wrappers at the screen.  Given that, "Alien Apocalypse" is the "Gone With the Wind" of those films.  I also think that Bruce and Renee are both good, and, if I may say so, the script is a big solid notch above most of these sorts of films.  Yes, it has some terrible production issues, like bad dubbing, awful beards, and crappy costumes, but that's just how the cookie crumbles on severely low-budget films shot in Eastern Europe.  But do I think it's a legitimately good movie?  Of course not.  But that's not what I was hired to make.  Okay?  But whatever movies I make has nothing to do with my taste in watching other movies.  Are we clear now?
 
Josh

Name: Aaron Stroud
E-mail: coppols_cocaine@hotmail.com

<<THE DUKES OF HAZZARD 2, X-MEN 3, SUPERMAN BEGINS, BATMAN ENDS>>

Eh, I just gave up and watched POOTIE TANG, if that's what its takes to get my friends to watch WAGES OF FEAR and EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE and STREET SMART. Not that I'm recommending this. Your favorites list spoiled me rotten.

What is Robert Altman's THREE WOMEN supposed to be? A comedy? A horror film? It's certainly creepy. Sissy Spacek plays a good creep in this and BADLANDS. What's with all the 3 monster pictures all over the film, are they supposed to represent something? I like this film in a weird way, but I'm curious as to the point of it. I agree that roommates will turn you into a rotten bitchy person, and they'll sneak behind your back. I'm debating the dark comedy because of the Shelley Duvall scenes with her dress caught in the car door, and her nonsense about being a popular cook. The old folks in the water make this look like a horror film, but the only horrific act is watching the artist give birth to a stillborn baby. Love that shot of the blue water through the window. Any comments on this weird mysterious film? Has anybody on this website besides you seen it and care to comment? Any takers?

Dear Aaron:
 
I completely agree with your assessment of "Three Women."  It's a weird, strange, creepy, basically unexplainable film, that I enjoyed watching.  Seeing the two old folks fucking was pretty disturbing, too.  I've met the artist who painted all the pictures, and the bottom of the pool, who's named Bodi Wind.  I asked him, "What's your real name?"  He replied, "Bodi Wind is the realest name I've ever had."
 
Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Josh,

You were right about the movie "A Night to Remember" concerning the Titanic.

To me it was real easy to see where Cameron got not a little but a lot of his inspiration from. Some of the ending scenes were nearly identical. Would it be ballsy to say Cameron ripped off a few scenes from it?

In a quest to go back a little bit I have recently watched "The Entity" with Barbara Hershey, "Audrey Rose" with Marsha Mason,Anthony Hopkins and Susan Swift.Also "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud" with Michael Sarrazin and Margot Kidder and all 4 of the "Billy Jack" films of which I probably enjoyed "The Trial of Billy Jack" the most. The whi pped toppping was "This Gun for Hire" with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.

Were any of these movies mind blowing or exceptional? Nope. Not really except for "This Gun for Hire" which was just incredible from start to finish. It was fun, however, to go back and watch a movie I hadn't seen in twenty years through different eyes.

Good Luck with your current project in Bulgaria.If I were there with you I would pull cables and haul boxes or whatever for you for free just for the opportunity to watch a feature being made.I guess that would all hinge on you letting me work for free though.My guess is it would be a lot easier to work for free on an independent shoot. Of course, I'm not exactly a spring chicken though but I still act like one.

Strange society we live in these days. You aren't supposed to work for free even if your goal is to learn as m uch as possible and actually be a benefit to someone.Can you even believe that?

Good luck to you again.

Tim

Dear Tim:
 
"A Night to remember" is a million miles ahead of Cameron's "Titanic."  It's only flaw is that the FX aren't all that good.  If I had an editing system, and some spare time, I'd take the FX from "Titanic," decolorize them into black and white, then cut them into the end of "A Night to Remember," making sure to remove all traces of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett.  Meanwhile, "This Gun for Hire" is a very good, tough little film, and it's easy to see why it launched Alan Ladd's career to stardom.  I completely believe him as a killer.  And Veronica Lake was a babe, with trademarked peekaboo hairdo.
 
Josh

Name: Tim Roessler
E-mail: tlrboulder@gmail.com

Josh,

Sorry, I didn't phrase my question precisely -- I meant still photography -- you mentioned you had a 2 1/4 camera rather than a 35mm, thus the medium format question. Your answer, though, was helpful and smarter than the question I'd asked about your involvement with still photography -- but, have you found taking photographs helpful?
Thanks
Tim

Dear Tim:
 
I think 2 1/4 is still referred to as "large format."  No, I found it to be a big pain in the ass to be the director and the still photographer, too.  I'd much prefer someone else to handle that responsibility.
 
Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Do you know if there is a really good Stanley Kubrick biography out there? I know "Eyes Wide Open" is on your book list and I do intend to read it. However, I've read that it only tells of the making of "Eyes Wide Shut".

I've searched Amazon.com for one that really seems interesting, but so far no luck.

Dear Trey:
 
I've read three books on Kubrick (but since I'm not home I can't reference them), and I enjoyed "Eyes Wide Open" and Michael Herr's book, which I think is just called "Kubrick" or possibly "Stanley Kubrick."  There's another one called something like, "The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick" that I didn't care for.  There have been several more in recent years, but I haven't read them.   Perhaps one of the intrepid readers have a suggestion for you.
 
Josh

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

Josh,

Once again Josh, I was just kidding with you. I know you can afford your own camera and of course I would not want you to publish BTS photos of your shoot before it was completed, so keep directing man!!!

Yes, whatever happened to Richard Edson?

Allen Goorwitz (Garfield) was very good in LET IT RIDE and I even liked David Johanson (Looney).

I actually worked with Jennifer Tilly on a commercial shoot once in NYC. She was kind of funny and she has some very large cleavage and wasn´t afraid to show it, although, she is kind of dizzy and her voice started to annoy me after about an hour working with her, but the view was nice!

Scott

Dear Scott:
 
Either I'm losing my sense of humor, or being in Brazil is making you subtler.  I'll bet it's the former rather than the latter.  But I keep laughing.  Thank god I worked on Herc and Xena or I'd be panicking now.  Thirteen days until we start shooting, and they don't finish shooting the film they're on until next Monday.  If I didn't have series TV experience I'd be shitting in my pants.
 
Josh

Name: Alotta Fagina
E-mail: alottafagina@home.com

Dear Josh,

I agree Christopher Reeve was perfect in the part. It is a long film, but I think the director saw something in Brandon Routh. It is a darker Superman film, I thought you might like that. But, what are your favorite superhero films, though I heard it isn't your favorite genre. Like what do you think of the developing Spiderman III for instance.

Alotta Fagina

Dear Alotta:
 
Guys running around in leotards saving the world from supervillians is simply asinine to me no matter how it's repackaged.  I didn't like that kind of shit when I was ten, and I like it even less now.
 
Josh

Name: Larisa Gavrilova
E-mail: zest@samtel.ru

Dear Josh,

Thanks for the help in my searches.

It is necessary to fulfil a variant - to hand them personally, for example on the annual Official Xena Convention.

Successes on your way,
Larisa

Dear Larisa:
 
All the best to you, and I hope you figure out how to get Renee your script.
 
Josh

Name: Jay Mendota
E-mail: jaymendota@gmail.com

Josh-

Congratulations on the Sci-Fi Stan Lee flick.

I was wondering what it is like to work w/ the Born again George W Bush loving Steve Baldwin. Has he read your 'Religion is Evil' or 'The Misuse of Presidential Power' essays?

Do you just agree to not discuss certian topics to get the job done or do you used the tension/friction to get a performance?

Thanks

Dear Jay:
 
A.  I haven't met the guy yet, and B. we're not getting married, we'll just be working together for a few weeks.  I actually have good friends who are Republicans.  Not many, but a few.  We just agree to disagree, then go on with our business.
 
Josh

Name: Si
E-mail:

Josh

I've been a regular visitor to your "Ask The Director" section for months now, and although I don't always agree with you, I'm very impressed with your responses to people's questions. You're certainly not afraid to state what you think and you've opened my eyes, via this site, to a lot of what's really wrong with Hollywood films these days. Even the most critically acclaimed films are scoring mostly for the aesthetics (i.e. camerawork, music) and acting, not the scripts.

But anyway...

I've just gone through your filmography...well, it appears you got a reasonably well-known cast together for Running Time!

I saw the n ame of Anita Barone in there...the same one who appeared on Friends in the days when it was actually good? Discovered from the IMDb that her husband, Matthew Glave, has gone on to appear in Stargate SG-1. My friends love it but I'm struggling to get into it. Have you ever got round to watching it yourself?

Dear Si:
 
Nope, I've never seen it.  I think Anita Barone is a terrific actor, and she impressed the hell out of me on RT.  I'd work with her again in a second.  Meanwhile, I'm glad you enjoy the site.
 
Josh

Name: Clark
E-mail: anonymousguy@nowhere.com

Dear Josh:

Where does the guy who directed "Alien Apocalypse" get off calling a Spielberg film "crap"? How do you have any right to call ANYTHING a bad film? I thought Uwe Boll was deluded. "Running Time" was a great movie, but to find out that you're an opinionated, pretentious loudmouth is a little unsettling. Again, YOU DIRECTED ALIEN APOCALYPSE. Ed Wood would have laughed at you. But you wouldn't go see a Bryan Singer movie, right? No, that'd be against everything you stand for. Unfreakingbelievable.

Dear Clark:
 
Anonymousguy@nowhere.com?  How big of a fucking wimp weasel are you?  You don't even have the balls to admit who you are, so who gives the slightest shit what you think?  Meanwhile, I can't pick on Spielberg, but you can pick on me?  Don't you have some garbage dumpsters to go pick through?
 
Josh 

Name: David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I finally saw "The Third Man". Looking back thru your archived q&a, I see some interesting comments. You said you find Anton Karas' zither score annoying. I had a very similar reaction the first time I tried to watch the film (unfortunately the video/audio qualilty was so poor I could not sit through it. Luckily the Criterion Collection did an excellent restoration). Anyway, this time around I really enjoyed the score. It's so strange at first, but it's grown on me. I guess you either love it or hate it.

Also, what about all those slanted shots? I think Carol Reed overdid it big time. A couple would have been fine, but he does it so many times that it's to the point of distraction.

Dear David:
 
I've seen the film three or four times and have never come to appreciate the score.  To me it just sits on top of the movie, it doesn't set the emotional landscape.  I agree that Carol Reed used too many Dutch angles, which is what they call cockeyed shots, although I don't know why.  The Dutch masters certainly didn't use goofy angles.  The fingers sticking out of the manhole is a legitimately great shot, and Orson Welles's bit is wonderful.  I like Joseph Cotton, but he's sort of a weak lead.  If you get a chance check out the film Carol Reed right before that called "The Fallen Idol," which I thought was really good.  So was "Odd Man Out."
 
Josh 

Name: S
E-mail: scornett@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

Haven't posted anything here in a while. We usually don't agree on opinions about current films that I think are good (although we do seem to agree that most are utter crap... I just like a few while you seem to like about absolutely none). I was just wondering if you'd seen "The World's Fastest Indian". I just saw it, and thought that it might be one that you might actually enjoy. No frills, just a solid story structure (based on a true story), and the characters were really well developed.

S.C.

Dear S:
 
It looked good to me and I actually planned to see it, but it left before I got a chance.  In the trailer Anthony Hopkins sounded just like a kiwi.  I'll catch it on cable.
 
Josh

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