Q & A    Archive
Page 150

Name:              NIHESHIA HODGES
E-mail:             badest_chick_gabby@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

WHERER DID YOU GET THE NAME "DEVIL DOGS" WAS IT BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE GERMAN WAS AFRAID OF YOU?

Dear NIHESHIA:

Afraid of me?  Or do you mean Americans?  The Germans termed the U.S. Marines during the battle of Belleau Wood "Teufel Hunden," which means Devil Dogs.

Josh

Name:              Capt. Nathan Earl Hess, I.
E-mail:             thisisnotlegit@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

you don't know me so there's no reason for you to care about my opinion.

i merely wanted to let you know that your musings on The Thin Red Line & especially Days of Heaven make you appear as an incompetent fool, a complete 'dumbass' or 'douchebag' as you kids say these days. To miss the transcendental beauty of Malick's films is to miss out on an essence of humanity that clearly your individual dullness won't let you fully comprehend.

gee, isn't the internet great? you can post your honest opinion & if someone disagrees it doesn't matter.

Dear Capt. Nathan Earl Hess, I:

What an interesting coincidence.  Your musings on my musings make you seem like a dumbass or perhaps even a douchebag as far as I'm concerned.  You're obviously one of those simpleminded viewers who believe that pretty cinematography alone equals "transcendental beauty."  Realisitically, though, movies are made up of many more elements other than the photography. And if the script isn't very good, which in both stated cases here it wasn't, then you end up with a cinematographer's product reel.  Try watching Malick's newest film, "The New World," which also has pretty photography, and an awful script (with multiple deadpan narrators, which is apparently his trademark) and see if it ascends to the level of transcendental beauty. To me it equalled one more bad movie.  Were it not for "Badlands," which I think is a very good film (with only one narrator), I'd dismiss Terrence Malick out of hand as nothing more than a moderately interesting director, and an utterly incomptent screenwriter.  Now drop on your face and give me fifty, maggot!

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Have you seen "The Masters Of Horror" series thats out on DVD? I'm sure you must have heard but its basically a collection of different big name filmmakers who have done either one movie or more in the past that dealt with horror. For me to call John Landis a master of horror just because he did "An American Werewolf in London" is silly. I'm surprised Sam didn't end up on the show. He's much better than alot of the filmmakers that are there. Are you famililar with the show? And if so have you tried to watch any of them even out of curiosity?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Yeah, I saw a bit of the series on Showtime.  It seemed like nothing.  Why would Sam bother?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Breaking news - it would seem that your movie premieres on Sci-Fi at 9 PM EDT on Sat. June 23rd, then repeats at 1 AM, then again on Thursday June 28th, at 9 PM EDT.  This is not official at all, but if you play around with the schedule pages for June at the network's site, that's what's tentatively scheduled.  As of now, the title still appears to be "Stan Lee's Harpies."

(Further monkeying around with the URL's reveals that "Alien Apocalypse" is getting rerun on the preceding Saturday, Jun. 16, at 10:30 AM EDT.)

I realize that you said not to expect too much from this due to the whole budget/schedule issue, but at the same time I seem to recall you had nothing but nice things to say about your cast, and the overall fun premise of this.  Given that you would prefer to work in the US, to direct your own scripts, and to avoid any in-depth "making of..." commentary, do you think it's likely you'll be doing another film for this production company?  If, for example, this one does extremely well in the ratings? (FYI, the mythological beastie films in the last year are the ones doing the best overall in the ratings, although you still hold the all-time #2 slot, beaten out only by rapper Coolio in "Pterodactyl."  Yo dawg, what's up w/ that?)

One other thing that may amuse you, since you said you enjoyed "The Sopranos" initially.  In this season, Tony's nephew Christopher, the would-be screenwriter, has finally made a movie:  a low-budget, direct-to-dvd exploitation creature feature called "Cleaver," which he describes as "Edward Scissorhands, but with meat cleavers," set in the NJ gang world.  The star?  Your boy Stephen Baldwin's brother Daniel (guest-starring in the series as himself.)

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Yo, dawg, thanks for the cool, up-to-date info.  As for me working for this production company again, well, me and the executive producer bumped heads pretty hard this time around, so I'd be a little surprised if he offered me any more jobs soon.  I'd be happy to make a SciFi film for one the number of other production companies that make them, but of course you have to find your way in.  I've made inquiries at UFO in Bulgaria where they make a lot of these SciFi films.  The fact that we, UFO and I, pulled off "Harpies" at all under the circumstances we were handed was something of a miracle, I thought.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Have you been watching Delahoya/Mayweather 24/7 on HBO? What's your take on this upcoming bout?

Rich

Dear Rich:

No, I have not been watching it.  They don't need to turn boxing into a reality show as far as I'm concerned, I just watch the fights themselves. Meanwhile, I have complete and total faith in Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  I believe that he is indeed the best pound-for-pound boxer out there, and he will intelligently kick Oscar's ass, as Mayweather has done to every single other opponent he's ever faced.  He's too fast, hits too hard, and is just too smart.  Someone will beat him at some point (unless he retires unbeaten), but it won't be a broken-down Oscar De La Hoya.  When Oscar lost the fight to Felix Trinidad, by blowing off the last several rounds, something important left his soul that has never returned, nor do I expect it ever will.

Josh

Name:              Plamen
E-mail:             plen_2000@yahoo.com

Hi,

I have read your comments for Bulgaria and most of them are true. Anyway if you are looking for or need some info for movie shooting place here in Bulgaria drop me a line. I have in mind very nice quiet place in Nort-West Bulgaria very suitable for science fiction or history film. I am 41, male and live in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Plamen

Dear Plamen:

With all due respect to Bulgaria, the only reason I made two movies there is because that's what the production company demanded.  Were it up to me I'd shoot all of my movies right here in the USA, where the cast and crews actually speak the same language as me.  I would much prefer to just give my directions, as opposed to having to have them translated through an interpreter.  Also, there's almost no actors to choose from in Bulgaria, particularly actors who speak decent English.  If an actor (or even a non-actor) walks in and can speak English, they get the part.  I much prefer having a decent choice of actors when I cast.  Meanwhile, Bulgaria is indeed a pretty place, but America is loaded with pretty places.  I'm 48, male, and live outside Detroit, Michigan.

Josh

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

Dear Josh

I read at Fangoria that Synapse is def. working on doing Thou Shalt Not Kill Except and Running Time on Special edition DVD. My questions are: First of all Why not If I had a hammer as well as a regular DVD, 2nd of all why not put Lunatics on DVD as well (I know Columbia owns the rights but why just do nothing for a movie that could do well now), and I heard they were thinking of putting Strykers War on the Thou Shalt Not... why not a couple of your other shorts on Running Time just for fun? If you have any chance of asking them to put whats what I can't wait. Tell Don May we all love him and can't wait for the DVDS.

Your fan 4 life,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

The nice folks at Synapse watched "Hammer," said it was the best movie they've ever had submitted to them, and said they'd release it on DVD, but they felt that no one had ever heard of it and that it probably wouldn't sell a thousand copies, which doesn't make sense to them.  So I've started the process of showing the film to get some awareness of it, as well as getting reviews.  "If I Had a Hammer" will be screening here in Detroit May 17 at the Magic Bag Theater, the only revival/art house theater in town. I'll then take my one print of the film and do my best to get it shown wherever else I can (I'm going to try for Ann Arbor next).  As for "Lunatics," exactly as you said, Columbia owns the rights, so they've got to make the deal.  Anchor Bay wanted to rerelease the film, but couldn't get Columbia to make the deal, and Synapse would also rerelease the film, but seemingly can't make the deal.  I don't know anyone over at Columbia or Sony so there's no way I can help.  Regarding the second disk that will be included with both RT and TSNKE, each one will contain a newly-transferred super-8 that actually relates to the feature that it accompanys.  In the case of TSNKE, it will have "Stryker's War," the earlier version of the same film; in the case of RT, it will have "Holding It," the earlier running/chase movie.  Both will also have a documentary around the super-8s about the good old super-8 days.  That's a lot of extra stuff for a DVD release.  I'm pleased with what Synapse is doing.

Josh

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

Hi Josh:

I wondered if you had any comments on John Landis' 1982 flick, The Twilight Zone, as pertains to safety on set. I imagine that after the helicopter accident, there was a lot of press coverage and conspiracy theories surrounding what happened. I wasn't, however, alive in 1982, so I'd like to hear your opinion about it. It seems a completely avoidable tragedy from an ego-driven director.

Dear Greene:

Yes, exactly.  There were no conspiracy theories, it was purely an issue of a director ignoring safety warnings and demanding to see Vic Morrow holding two kids in the same shot as a helicopter and an explosion.  The explosion interfered with the rotors of the helicopter, which then fell on the actors. They ultimately brought the production manager up on charges, which was ridiculous since it was entirely not his fault, but he got off.  But John Landis ought to have been charged with negligence and manslaughter, since it was indeed his fault.  Luckily for Landis most folks don't really understand how movies are made.

Josh

Name:              ()()=-
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I did see a nice movie the other day called BUTLEY. Alan Bates surprised me, he seemed to play it straight in ZORBA THE GREEK, WOMEN IN LOVE, and THE KING OF HEARTS (been a while since I've seen that last one), but he was a real character in this one.

For those uninitiated, Bates plays an openly gay college professor who's wife is marrying another man, and gay boyfriend is cheating on him. So for a good deal of the movie, he just bitches about it and throws insults their way. Is there any interesting behind the scenes trivia you know about?

I liked the ending, where Alan Bates takes his revenge on the next guy before he has the future chance to hurt him.

Dear ()()=-:

Of the two years, and maybe 25 films, that came out of the American Film Theater concept, I thought "Butley" was the best of the bunch.  Ther American Film Theater was an experiment by producer Eli Landau of making feature films based on plays that were sold on a subscription basis, meaning you bought your tickets for the whole season in advance, then nobody else but subsrcribers could see the movie for a year.  Sadly, though, most of the films weren't very good.  Anyway, "Butley" is the only film directed by playwright Harold Pinter.  Alan Bates is brilliant in it.

Josh

Name:              suck it
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

this was not the best compre to the others.

Dear suck it:

See, this is the kind of bullshit I usually don't bother with.  Too stupid to even come up with a comprehensible insult.

Josh

Name:              ()()=-
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Well GRINDHOUSE completely flopped at the box office so I don't see a reason to complain about it. It was fun at the theater, but it's going to lose that quality on dvd.

A lot of these directors were better at making fake trailers than feature length films, PLANET TERROR was a hilarious John Carpenter spoof, up until they meet Bruce Willis on the bridge, then it gets too silly like Rodriguez other post SPY KIDS films.

DEATH PROOF stops the film dead, but I don't think anyone got the joke of what it was. It's an unearthed Drive-in chick flick where you make out with your date rather than watch the film which is a bunch of talking and you only really pay attention when Kurt Russell is onscreen. And Zoe Bell rides the hood of a Dodge challenger that's really going 100mph while Kurt Russell attempts to knock her off.

Which brings me to the OTHER film I'm thinking of Herschell Gorden Lewis THE GRUESOME TWOSOME. This film is so awful, it isn't even a movie. Really there's no plot (save for a scattered 20 minutes of scalping). Kids sit around and talk about nothing to do with any scene. One part is at a drive-in, where we're forced to watch 10 minutes of a movie where nameless hands fondle a bowl of fruit. In comparision TO THAT FILM, I'd say DEATH PROOF wasn't that bad. And isn't that supposed to be the type of comparison this time around.

If the movie is meant to be a spoof of bad movies, aren't they supposed to be the comparison? Or can it cross the line into the same territory like WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER.

Dear ()()=-:

The comparison with every movie, as far as I'm concerned, is: does it compare favorably to any movie I've ever seen that I enjoyed?  Just because Tarantino's aspirations are so low doesn't mean that we the audience have to go along with him.  Considering that he has unlimited money and unlimited time to make his films, just the fact that he uses that power and money to attempt to make garbage says to me that he absolutely has nothing worth sharing with the rest of us.  Since I've actually made a grindhouse film, TSNKE, which played all of the best grindhouses, I can assure you that I was not trying to make a piece of shit.  I was trying to make the best violent action movie I could make, with almost no money, no time, no equipment, no nothing.  There's a world of difference between that and having $60 million (or more) and just having no ideas, no stories to tell, and making an homage to an homage to an homage, etc.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I was wondering, do you have any particularly warm and/or remarkable memories of certain movie going experiences? Ones that you reflect on often because it was just really fucking good?

I'll never forget the day (a teen in the mid 1980s) where I caught "The Bad and the Beautiful" on television, then that night seeing a late showing of "The Last Picture Show" (probably the same time I was reading Vonnegut, too). Taking a quick glance at your PDF list, I'll bet you had a ton of great experiences going to the movies.

Dear Kristie:

Yes, I have.  From seeing "How the West Was Won" when I was six, and making such a fuss that my parents had to take me back to see it again a week later, to seeing "The Longest Day" at a matinee when I was about eight, or seeing "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" about the same time, or seeing "Goldfinger" when it came out, or "You Only Live Twice," or seeing "Oliver!" when it opened, or seeing "Patton" six times in 1970, or seeing "Papillion" and "The Sting" on the same day in 1973, or being the only person in the huge theater for the first matinee screening of "The Godfather Part II," or seeing "Play It Again, Sam" fourteen times at the theater, or sitting through "Member of the Wedding" twice in a row with my friend Rick.  I've had many, many great experiences at the movies, but none in a long, long time.

Josh

Name:              Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

On the subject of Zoe Bell, did you ever see the documentary "Double Dare"? Broadly, (no pun intended) it was was about stunt women, but the focus of the film was on Zoe Bell and veteran stunt woman Jeannie Epper - one career on the rise (she was hired as Uma Thurman's double on 'Kill Bill' as the doc was being made), and the other in the twilight of her career. It was pretty well done - take a look at it if you haven't.

Also saw Grindhouse and agree that Tarantino is a derivative hack who's brought into his own press whole hog & is in love with the sound of his own dialogue. His half of the movie was unwatchable. I walked out after 20 minutes, and that was like 19 minutes too long.

Anyway, keep it up!

Mike

Dea Mike:

"Grindhouse" wasn't good?  I'm so surprised.  The only surprising aspect from my POV is that he didn't fool all of the audience yet again into going to see it.  I thought he'd manage that feat with those utterly derivative, awful, hammered pieces of shit, "Kill Bill" films, yet people went anyway. I guess that Rodriguez will have to return to his "Spy Kids" films, and Tarantino can keep doing half-assed adaptations of Elmore Leonard books.

Josh

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

Josh,

Regarding "Stryker", I thought you mentioned licensing issues with the soundtrack.  I take it there was a resolution of some kind?

I assume the NRA will fail to see the line between the gun culture and Virginia Tech.  What fools these morons be.

John

Dear John:

The super-8s are going to be within the context of a documentary about the old super-8 days, way back when.  This puts the whole thing into the legal framework of "fair use."  Meanwhile, Americans demand the right to shoot up their schools, and everyone in them, because the Bill of Rights says we have the right "to bear arms," and the rest of us have to bear the responsibility for the idiots with the guns.

Josh

Name:              Stephen
E-mail:             soundman@gcmstudio.com

Dear Josh:         

Thanks for the reply on your old S8 movies.  Just a couple more questions.  Are you "correcting" anything about them or just having them scanned?  If you plan to correct the problems like over exposure etc, why not fix the audio too?  In all my years of audio restoration, I've found most problems can at least be subdued.

Thanks.

Dear Stephen:

No, nothing is being "fixed."  The sound is the exact sound from the films. These are historical documents, and this is exactly what they looked like and sounded like back in the day.

Josh

Name:              Stephen
E-mail:             wado1942@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I heard you're getting your old super-8 movies retransferred and restored.  Will it be available to the public and how will I find them?

Dear Stephen:

Yes, it's true.  On the new deluxe DVD editions of "Runnning Time" and "Thou," the former will include the super-8 film, "Holding It," with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, and the latter will have "Stryker's War," also with Bruce and Sam.  On the extra disks will also be a documentary about the old super-8 days, as well as about the features.  The films themselves will also be newly transferred in high def.  Meanwhile, the super-8 transfers look terrific, and have all of the funky sound included.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

First Freddie Francis...now Kurt Vonnegut has died, another great artist I know you were also a fan of.

From NYTimes: "Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island. Mr. Vonnegut suffered irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, according to his wife, Jill Krementz."

...and so on. (those in the know will understand)

"Breakfast of Champions" was a revelation in my early teens, one of the funniest and brilliant popular novels of the 20th century. Loved almost everything he wrote, from "Wampeters," "Slaughterhouse Five," "Time & Timbuktu," "Palm Sunday"...all of it. What a good, genuinely good dude. Would see him every once and awhile around the "Timequake" years writing on a park bench, scratching his notes on matchbooks, paper bags, etc. in the Turtle Bay area.

Dear Kristie:

Kurt Vonnegut had a huge impact on me as a kid, and I read all of his books at the time.  Several of his books, like "Slaughterhouse Five" and "Mother Night," I've read as many as five times.  But for me, reading Vonnegut's books as they came out, once he had written "Breakfast of Champions," his biggest hit, and the book that made him truly famous, his books got worse and worse and worse, until by "Galapagos" and "Dead-Eye Dick," he had become entirely unreadable.  Somehow I believed that fame and fortune couldn't ruin someone like Vonnegut, but they did.  Meaning, if they can ruin Vonnegut, they can ruin anyone.  Vonnegut was only about 50 when he wrote "Breakfast of Champions," but something important in him died then, 35 years ago, and it simply took the rest of him this long to follow along.  So it goes.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What's your schedule for maintaining this section of the website? It's not updated every day, so do you just kind of get to it whenever you can? Are there ALWAYS questions waiting for you in your mailbox? Do you ever censor questions? If so, can you give us an example of one you haven't included?

Dear bobby:

I get questions every day, then I answer them and send them to my webmaster, Shirley, and she posts them when she sees fit.  I get all kinds of bullshit questions, many of which never make reference to what they mean, saying shit like, "Good stuff.  Keep up the good work," or "You're full of shit, you have no idea what you're talking about."  Either way, I'd answer them if they'd bother to mention what they were referring to.  I also get a fair amount of requests for me to read scripts, watch films, or help people get their scripts or films sold.  Lately I've been getting a lot of stuff loaded with links that I immediately delete.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Recently saw "Down in the Valley" and I've got to say I was really blown away by it. I don't know who this David Jacobson is, but he did a helluva job directing. Wondering if you or any of your readers have seen it?

Dear David R.:

I haven't seen it or heard of it.  Is it new?

Josh

Name:              Grindhouse Fan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I know you're not a fan of either Rodriguez or Tarantino, but putting that aside, what's your general opinion on the idea of releasing two films together as a double feature? Also, how do you feel about the fake trailers included along with a movie?

Also, would you ever consider releasing two movies as a double feature?

Dear GH:

Tarantino is the king of stealing ideas from slightly obscure sources, then acting like he had an original idea.  "Grindhouse" is the exploitation version of "Movie Movie" (1978), which was a single feature film containing a double feature with trailers in between.  In the case of "Movie Movie," it was all comedy, and both films "Dynamite Fists" and "Baxter's Beauties of 1938" both had the same cast (as did the trailers in  between), with: George C. Scott, Red Buttons, and Art Carney.  I liked "Movie Movie" quite a lot. As for QT, I don't think he could come up with an original idea (let alone a good one) if he had a .45 pressed against his head.  His last film, "Kill Bill," which set a new standard in unoriginality, he dragged out into two features when he barely had material for one.  Now he's making a double feature within his feature.  In lieu of actually making a good film, or having an original idea, next time he can try putting electric cattle prods in the seats, or hand out scratch and sniff cards.

Josh

Name:              bueatifulraven
E-mail:             Reanddoa@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I write scripts and am going to directing the most visually story driven movies you will ever see, well, got that out of the way.  Okay, now I have a problem.  I tend to read messages people send me like they are talking to me.  I actually can, metaphorically, hear their voice and feel what they are feeling, but when I read my own dialogue back, I seem to not be able to get that same emotion from the writing. Other people read it and say goodthings about the dialogue, but it just doesn't work for me.  People have read it back and even if they didn't act it well, I still can see what they are going for, but I can never seem to have the same experience while reading.  Now I know exactly what they (the characters) are feeling (I mean I wrote it), other people tend to get that back to, but I can't.  Am I insane, or just crazy?  Since I already declared myself crazy, certain emotions I have are overwhelming and I tend to feel things (love) for people I don't like at all, I am not crazy. That was a little about me, the point was you can't say I am crazy since I already declared myself that, but does this revelation make me more, or less, or is that normal.  Does everyone who writes have a problem getting it back through the reading portion.  Like I said when someone speaks it to me I get the emotion.  I seriously need help if my scripts need retooling.
    Well, just to bug you more.  I have a three or four stories planned out for movies, I can tell you the titles: Shot, Everybody Loves Pornography, and Kill Made in Heaven.  This is mostly about Everybody Loves Pornography and to explain myself about it, it's not what it seems.  It's about a teenage kid who is obsessed with pornography and him and his teenage buddies get together and watch movies with him.  I named it so after I was messing around with a script for it and I wrote the boy trying to convince another kid to watch a video with him.  At one point he says "everybody loves pornography."  I hate pornography personally.  I hate watching it, I hate hearing about it.  I just can't stand it, so in the story I actually fixed it to were I never have to show one of the tapes actually play, when he holds up the actual tape to show his friends it could be an old Die Hard VHS, or something.  Anyways, the question was, in my mind seems fairly cheap to shoot, mostly private locations and my house, but I would it be a good idea to just go out and make this movie with a small budget and friends, or should I wait for more money and shoot it with local "actors"?  Maybe I should just try to dell the script and not make it independently, but I am afraid of losing control on my own production.
What should I do about it?
     By the way you want to read the script.......................................................................
I'm kidding

Dear bueatifulraven:

I think you should definitely shoot the film yourself, if you can get it together to actually do it.  This concept of "I'll just sell the script" is complete nonsense.  How?  And to whom?  It'll be a lot easier putting a whole film together, casting it, shooting it, and cutting it, then selling the script.  The problems with selling a script in Hollywood are A. nobody there reads scripts, B. nobody there would know what a good script was even if they read it, since none of them have ever seen or read a good script in their whole lives, and C. getting to someone who could actually say yes, which is really not possible without at least a mid-level agent.  Therefore, you're much better off doing it yourself.  You may just have the affliction that haunts many, many writers, which is never being satisfied with your own work.  Meanwhile, just because you say you're crazy doesn't mean that I can't say you're crazy, too (not that I think you are).  That's like saying, just because I say I'm black means that nobody else can say I'm black. Anyway, good luck.

Josh

Name:              ()()=-
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

It says Zoe Bell doubled for Lucy Lawless on XENA, did you ever get to work with her. If you did, are you going to watch her movie DEATH PROOF when it hits cable? (she's in the second half)

Dear ()()=-:

I did work with Zoe many times, and she was a fine stunt double.  There were times on the Xena set when there were four women of basically the same shape and size dressed as Xena -- acrobat double, fight double, camera double, not to mention Lucy herself -- so stepping up behind any of them and tapping them on the shoulder was always surprising, and I was forever being fooled. There were generally a few Gabrielle doubles running around, too, as well as stunt guys dressed as Joxer.  It was all very confusing.  Meanwhile, I've made no concrete plans regarding Zoe's film.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sci-Fi has its May schedule posted, and no word of Harpy, Harpy Slayer, or Stan Lee's Harpies, so apparently it may be a while longer.  Have you seen a final cut?  And were you actively involved in the post-production process (editing, dubbing, etc.) ?

I recall that last year you enjoyed the first few episodes of HBO's Rome series, but then felt it declined.  Did you catch any of the second season?  I felt the actors' performances were excellent as before, but the first half was a very confusing mess... while the last few episodes really were remarkably well done, from the death of Cicero onward.  (Oddly, your correspondent who claimed to be a writer for the show while trashing a screenplay of yours never seemed to turn up in the credits for either season.)  And speaking of HBO, I've never noticed you comment on The Sopranos.  Ever watch it?  Any thoughts?

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Always good to hear from you.  For the first time ever I was not involved in post on this film.  I made editing notes when the first editor was cutting, but then another editor came in and that's really where my participation ended.  I have not seen a final cut, and I'm not sure they have one yet.   I can assure you that "Harpies" will have the worst special effects you have ever seen. Maybe it'll be funny, but it won't be to me.  Regarding "Rome," I watched every episode, I thought it had picked up a lot in season two, and I was sad when it ended.  As for "The Sopranos," I watched a few episodes when it began, and though it seemed like a very well-made show, it seemed like the TV version of "Goodfellas" to me, so I bailed and never went back.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was curious, was Joe LoDuca able to score "The Harpies" or did Sci-Fi hire another composer or track the film with previously existing music (which I guess they've done before)?

And everybody who reads your posts know that modern filmmaking, fundamentally, does nothing for you, but is there a modern (i.e. fairly young) screen presence or actor out there that you've thoroughly enjoyed?

Dear Kristie:

No, Joe didn't score "Sten Lee's Harpies."  This will be the first film I've made without Joe's music.  Meanwhile, SciFi doesn't directly make these movies, they're produced by individual production companies, and that's who decided to not hire Joe.  I think Ryan Gosling is a good, fairly young, actor.  I also think that Leonardo DiCaprio is a talented actor, even if he's generally in crappy movies.

Josh

Name:              Anna
E-mail:             anna.bowers@gmail.com

Hi Josh,

According to IMDB, 'The Harpies' will be released on May 1st. Cedric and I are dying with anticipation. Can it be true?

Dear Anna:

Nice to hear from you.  Are you two in Brooklyn?  If that's what IMDB says, I guess it must be true.  But don't get too excited, you'll just be let down.

Josh

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

Hey Josh -

Long time no write, I just wanted to check in and see how you were holding up?

Also - directing question - have you ever thought about straight up, hardcore, and without reservation selling out to the LCD (lowest common denominator) and mass-producing what they want to slowly accumulate wealth with which to pursue your stated goal of creating art (someday)?

It's been a frustrating (but shockingly lucrative and fast-moving) life course for me thus far, so I thought I'd suggest it.

Dear Matt:

I don't even like watching pornography, let alone making it.  I always end up feeling bad for the performers and wondering what their parents must think.  But if it's working for you, more power to you.

Josh

Name:              Kurdt
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I am writing to ask your advice on screenplay option renewals. I had two scripts optioned for 18 months each at the cost of $1500 for the pair. The renewal is coming up and no money has been discussed yet. Also I rewrote both scripts about four times each and wondered what would be fair to ask for as they are asking for another 12 months option on each. I do not have an agent and I wondered what you thought?

Regards
Kurdt

Dear Kurdt:

I'd say you should at least get what you got before, only this time make it for 12 months.  You could even ask for more since they must feel they've got something going or they wouldn't want to renew.  If they don't have anything going, then they're just wasting your time, and a lot of it, too.  Ask for $1,500 each for 12 months and see what happens.  What's the worst they can do?  Say no.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:

Josh

Hello. I'm an aspiring screenwriter/independent filmmaker and have taken your structure essays to heart. They seem to be the only resource I can find which teaches one to be more concerned with lasting value and posterity than how much money a film makes during it's first two or three days in theaters, only to disappear into nothingness as more blockbusters are rolled off the assembly line the following weekend. However, I still have some questions about parts which I feel you did not adequately espouse on. Such as:

You state that having a theme is when "not only does your lead character make a point but every other character in the story is making a variation on the same point." What exactly do you mean by this? Are you suggesting that every characters' behavior reflects the theme (as in, if the theme was duty, would each characters actions be precipitated directly by this theme)? Also, could you give some examples of themes from your favorite films other than the ones you've mentioned, and how the theme is reflected in the characters behavior?

Regarding the three-act structure, does the second act end at the climax only to be followed by the third-act denoutment, or does it end at the turning point 2/3rds into the story (as is the impression I gather from your treatments), while the climax happens in the third act?

Also, are there any books you've found particularly useful on the subject of screenwriting?

Dear Nick:

You could always buy my book, which has bit more about screenwriting than my essays.  I personally got something out of "The Art of Dramatic Writing" by Lajos Egri, although it's a pretty old book at this point.  Let's use my film "Running Time" as an example.  The theme is trust.  This is the lead character's issue regarding his buddy, as well as his buddy's issue with him.  It's also the girl's issue, as well as the prison warden, and the prison guard.  The whole heist is put into jeopardy because they trusted someone to give them the correct information on what type of safe it was, then they got screwed.  They are all trusting the getaway driver to be where he's supposed to be.  The ending is based on can the girl trust the boy to come back?  Once you have a workable theme, the trick is how many ways can you weave it back into the story, and how many ways can you view the idea? The theme of my film "Hammer" is commitment, which is also the theme of "Casablanca."  How committed are you to whatever it is you find important? When we first meet Rick Blaine (Bogart), he's no longer committed to anything -- "I stick my neck out for nobody!"  Louis (Claude Rains) is waffling in his commitment to the Germans and the French Vichy government. Ilsa (Ingrid Berman) is waffling between her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), and Rick.  Laszlo, on the other hand, is suremely committed to the cause.  The dramatic arc is getting Rick to care again, thus regaining his commitment to the cause of freedom.  The climax does not come at the end of act II, it generally comes at the end of act III, meaning the end of the story.  Just like certain other activities, once you've climaxed, you're done.

Josh

Name:              Blake
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

"I think it's obscene to kill animals for movies. Nothing should actually die because you're making a movie."

Your statement about the killing of aminals for films got me to thinking somewhat seriously today, because it sort of took me like a remark made either by some snobish, bleading-heart vegan, or someone who was bugged by a question in the first place and just didn't want to talk.  Don't get me wrong, I agree with your point; animals should not be harmed for the sake of entertainment (or art, or whatever).  But there's another layer not addressed here, and it's actually interesting that you churned it up.

For instance, the scene in "Heartland"....This film was obviously shot on a working cattle ranch in Montana or Wyoming, and a real butchering was just filmed, with Rip Torn filling in and actually doing most of the work. The film is about a rancher in the American West during the turn of the century.  The responsibility of the filmmaker is to take the audience there...It's a matter of the subject of the picture, and in this case, it's certainly not a form of explotation.  So, is this offensive?  It definately could be, depending on the viewer, but is it wrong to be shown in a film?  I sure don't think so.

I remember a similar butchering of a hog in the film "Brother's Keeeper." It goes on and on and the damn hog goes trotting off after it's been shot twice in the head and had its throat cut.  I had to look away because it was so upsetting to me.  But what I would term definately on the disturbing side, I would not call offensive, let alone an act on the filmmaker's part.  I mean, was it wrong for them to shoot this and use it in thier film?  "Brother's Keeper" was, after all, a documentary about farmers, and the scene mentioned above was making a point about the retarded brothers (accused of murder) not being able to butcher their own hogs; having to take them to someone else.

And then there's what must be the most famous, authentic animal killing on film; Coppola's working the slaughter of the water buffalo into the end of "Apocalypse Now."  Do you feel the same way about that, too?  Are you offended?  It was, after all, a real ritual caught on film, documentary style, then edited into the picture litterally at the last minute (to brilliant effect, I think).  This wasn't Francis Ford Coppola saying "I'm going to get a live water buffalo and chop it up for the end of my movie." > I think there's a very clear line here.

A specific example of an animal being killed for the sole purpose of the director's satisfaction is the chicken in "Pink Flamingo's" that gets its head ripped off while Divine's daughter and her boyfriend fuck in the trailor.  (Water's also chops the heads off about five chickens, in a row, at the beginning of "Mondo Trasho").  He said of the chicken in PF, "It got into a movie, got fucked, and got eaten that night.  It got two more things than most chickens ever get."

This is an obscure and odd topic, but your response made me feel there's a deeper subject here, one of censorship.  Where's the line between obscenity and art?  To me, actually seeing people fuck in a movie that isn't porn (Winterbottom's "9 songs" for instance), is more "obscene" than seeing an animal get butchered on a farm (not that I was offended by "9 Songs," I wasn't).

And to be sure, I'm absolutely not, in any way, for the mistreatment of animals, EVER...let alone be it for the specific purpose of making a movie.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I was offended by the killing of the water buffalo in "Apocalypse Now" too. I also think it's a truly lame cop-out of an ending; attempting to use the shock of actually killing an animal as opposed to being able to write an ending that was dramatically shocking.  If you're against the mistreatment of animals for movies, then killing animals for movies should be unthinkable.  Beyond that, I have an issue with how our society treats animals anyway.  We seem to believe that because we're at the top of the food chain that we have the right to mistreat animals, keep them in tiny cages their whole lives, feed them ground cardboard as well as the waste products from other slaughtered animals, then keep them jammed together and up to their knees in shit.  We are truly poisoning the food chain, which is why horrors like Mad Cow Disease come into being.  And once your food chain is poisoned, your civilization collapses.  Read Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel."  I'm also completely against hunting.  Once again, yes we're at the top of the food chain, but that's not why 99% of hunters hunt; they do it for their own amusement.  I find it offensive that living creatures should die for our own shallow amusement, be it hunting or making movies.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Sorry to harp on Binder but it just so happened 'Coup De Ville' was on TV tonight. It seemed like a decent first-time script steered wrong by inept director Joe Roth.

On Joe Roth...what do you think of studio heads like him and Bob Shaye directing movies? They don't seem creative enough to pull it off. Their movies are slick but shallow.

Totally random, but what are your thoughts on "Love and Death?"

Dear bobby:

No, studio heads generally don't make very good directors.  Another exec now plying the directing trade is Irwin Winkler, who's also not all that good. Ernest Lubitch was head of production at Paramount for a while in the early 1930s, but he had been a director long before becoming an exec.  Meanwhile, "Coup De Ville" was okay, although I didn't believe you could get that car fixed that fast.  I think Mike has become a much better writer since then, although I still don't really buy his stories.  "The Upside of Anger" has some good things in it, but I never accepted the basic premise of the husband splitting without a word.  I do admire the hell out of Mike's fortitude, though, and he's really clawed his way up to the A-pictures. When I got to Hollywood in 1976, Mike was already there.  We were both seventeen years old at the time.

Regarding "Love and Death," it's one of my very favorite comedies.  I love it.  It's exceptionally silly, extremely funny, and still intelligent.  I only dream of making a comedy that good.

Josh

Name:              Nate
E-mail:             ddrbanchee@msn.com

Mr. Becker,

What was the hardest part of starting out in film?  such as, what type of confrontations occurred and what were some of the hardest obstacles to rise above?  Thanks.

Dear Nate:

The same obstacle that still stands in my way, which is how to make a steady income just doing this.  I've also branched out into writing books, which is pretty much the same process as screenwriting, meaning getting up everyday and writing.  Still, my fortunes continue to wax and wane to an extent that makes me nervous.  Other difficulties were figuring out how to write a screenplay, which took me at least five years and five scripts; raising money; rasing more money; living in L.A.; bailing out on L.A.  I don't recommend this profession to any but the stout hearted.

Josh

Name:              Charlie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey, I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the movie Sin City? Did you like it at all?

Also, what's your opinion in general about shooting a movie entirely against green screen?

Dear Charlie:

I found "Sin City" dull, visually and dramatically.  I think it's a crappy idea to shoot a whole movie, or even a lot of a movie, in front of a process screen.  It's not a fun place to work, and there's no sense of where you are.  As Dorothy Parker said of Los Angeles, which is even more true working in front of a process screen, "There's no there there."  Green and blue screens have their purpose, and I've shot in front of them plenty, but it's just about my least favorite place to work.

Josh

Name:              ()()=+
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

<<It's obscene to kill animals for a movie>>

I like John Waters take on this: "Some people ask me 'how could you kill a chicken in your movie?'. Well, I like chicken, I eat chicken, and I know that chicken didn't land on my plate from a heart attack. Really I think we made the chicken's life better. It got to be in a movie, got fucked, and afterwards, we ate the chicken." (in reference to PINK FLAMINGOS)

Dear 00=+:

That's John Waters.  I'm against it.  I have no problem with my position on the food chain, I just don't believe we should mistreat the creatures that happen to be below us.  If I go see Fredrick Wiseman's documentary, "Meat," which is about slaughterhouses and meat packaging, then I expect to see animals actually being killed.  If I go see a fiction film, I don't want to see anything should actually die.

Josh

Name:              Blake
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh:         

By the way, Richard Masur was in "Altered States"??? Where?  (Have I gone dumb)???

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Sorry, I meant Charles Haid.

Josh

Name:              Blake
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Hi, Josh.

Gosh, seems to me a strange thing that you won't post your essay...after all you posted the conservative essay because someone asked.  Ain't this a filmmaking site where folks can learn how films are made and all that? Where Josh Becker will say anything about anyone?  The underlining feeling is that you will piss someone off by posting what happened.  You, of all people care?  C'mon!  I for one (once again) would be very interested to read about the making of the film.  Perhaps some of the other old timers to this site should speak up...if they're even here anymore.

On HEARTLAND, I know well the scene that got you.  I found it absolutely amazing to see Rip Torn butcher a hog.  Not because he did it, but because he looked like he knew what he was doing.  Later in the film, the entire herd freezes in the cold and Torn is clearly actually skinning the dead carcasses, his hands visibly frozen with cold blood.  And later again, at the end, he actually delivers a calf...his hand way into the heffer's you-know-what.  Now, Rip Torn may have well done all of these things growing up on a farm someplace, but how many actors can you see pulling this kinda stuff off?  I mean, you, a director, got so sick watching a butchering that you walked out of a very wonderful film.  What would Tom Cruise do???  I wonder.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I didn't get to the butchering, I walked out when the pig was shot in the head.  I think it's obscene to kill animals for movies.  Nothing should actually die because you're making a movie.  As for the essay, you can't goad me into posting it.  It won't do me any good, so that's the end of it.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

I recently got to watch "Mosquito" which you were in during 1995.

I think I would have done your big tent scene for absolutely free just for the opportunity to do some melon munching. All in the name of acting of course and in good taste obviously.

I think the cheese factor is what makes the movie fun to watch.

My question about it is whether or not you got to spend any time getting to know Gunnar any? The guy was the 16mm horror dramatized embodiment of Eddie Gein in his Leatherface role.I would have looked at it as an honor to work with such an individual.

What did you gain from the experience, if anything, in working with Gunnar? I ask that not to be a smartass but in knowing you had already been in the field for 20 years before the part in "Mosquito".

Tim

Dear Tim:

I didn't work with Gunnar; we weren't in any scenes together, so we weren't scheduled on the same days.  I did work with Ron Ashton, guitarist for Iggy and the Stooges, and he's a very nice guy.  Meanwhile, the film is dated 1995, but we shot it in 1994.

Josh

Name:              Blake
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh:         

I recently saw a film I really liked.  Ever seen HEARTLAND (1980) with Rip Torn?  Just a wonderful film, I thought.  The tone, editing and unmannered performances all reminded me of TENDER MERCIES, which came several years later.  Raw and seemingly honest account of a housekeeper on a Wyoming ranch, circa 1910.  It was clearly a very low budget; looked like full frame 16mm to me, but still sharp and just plain good.  Torn is an actor I rarely think of, but am consistently impressed each time I see him in something.  Any thoughts on him or this film?

Also, I remember you saying there wouldn't be any "making of" essay on "Harpy Slayer."  Was it because the shoot was really that bad of a time? If so, hasn't there been enough water under the bridge by now to have a go?  An essay is missing on one of your features and that's just a big chunk gone missing.  Doesn't seem right for this site.  I'm sure many others would also love to read about the making of this latest picture, warts and all.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I saw "Heartland" at the theater when it came out -- it's definitely 35mm -- and I had a rather specific (for me) response.  At one point it cuts to a pig, then Rip torn fires a rifle and they really put a bullet into a pig's head and killed it on screen.  I became physically ill, left the theater and never went back in.  As for The Making of "Stan Lee's Harpies" (that's the final title), which I've actually written, it absolutely won't do me, or my pathetic little career, the slightest bit of good to let anyone read it.  I wrote it while it was fresh, though, so I'd have it were there any call for a sequel to my upcoming book of filmmaking essays, "Rushes."  As a final word on "Harpies," let's just say that it won't be my best movie, nor was it a lot of fun to make.

Josh

Name:              Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I recently saw Altered States for the first time in many years and I have to say that the film still holds up quite well. I haven't seen much of Ken Russell's work but am interested in seeing more. What are your thoughts on Ken Russell as a director, and are there any other films of his that you would recommend? I hear that The Devils is quite good.

Dear Scott:

I love "Altered States," and I agree that it holds up very well.  The best tripping scenes ever, and very possibly William Hurt's best performance, too.  And Richard Masur and Bob Balaban are both great, as well.  "The Devils" is a good film, although it's not fast, and somewhat difficult to watch in spots.  I also like "Women in Love" quite a lot, and "The Music Lovers," too.  Ken Russell definitely has an interesting, and unique, grasp of cinema, although most of his movies aren't all that good.

Josh

Name:              tim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

on your imdb.com page it says that you were an extra on John Cassavettes's "Opening Night".  Any truth to that?

thanks

Dear tim:

Yes indeed.  I did four days of extra work on "Opening Night," in scenes with Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Paul Stewart and Joan Blondell.

Josh

Name:              Jeff Look
E-mail:             jefflook@comcast.net

Hi Mr. Becker,

I came across your very interesting website while doing a websearch on my great-great uncle W.N. Selig. Not to be a nitpicker, but the address you have listed (3800 Mission Rd.) for the location of Selig's first studio was actually the address of his second studio in Lincoln Heights. 1845 Alesandro, now Glendale Blvd., was the address of the studio in Echo Park. This studio was later leased by William Fox. Thought you might appreciate the info.

Sincerely,

Jeff Look

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for the correction, and it's nice to hear from a relative of one of the pioneers of cinema.

Josh

Name:              Pam Minty
E-mail:             paminty@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Actually, Demon Lover Diary is a Joel Demott film. She shot, edited, and the voiceover is her as well. Of course she collaborates extensively with Jeff Kreines (the cameraman for Demon Lover) I'm surprised not to see her mentioned once in your essay considering you appreciate the film. Anyhow, I"m part of an organization that is showing that film next week, April 3, in Portland Oregon (40 Frames, at the Northwest Film Center). If you're anywhere near here, you can see it again.

Dear Pam:

No, I'm nowhere near there.  I did like the film, but it's been at least 15 years since I've seen it and I didn't know any of the credits.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What happens when a Director feels that a script needs to be reworked?  I was thinking of The Departed which dragged on for about 45 minutes after the climax and almost became a mini movie within the movie, although I assume that Scorese approved of this.  Will a director ever return a script to the writer with 'suggestions' for revisions?  I would imagine where there is famous Director versus a newish screenwriter, the Director would have more clout and vice versa.  When both the Director and Writer are big I would imagine there could be clashes of egos.

Dear Bob:

Scripts go through many, many rewrites before they're shot.  The writer has to address not only the notes of the director, but the producers, the executives, and the star actors as well.  If Martin Scorsese wants anything changed in a script, it gets changed.  The writer is the low man on the totem pole.

Josh

Name: bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Ted Raimi has a small but noteworthy part in Mike Binder's 'Reign Over Me.' He makes the most of his role and definitely stands out in his scenes; for that alone, it's worth seeing.

Binder has once again gotten great performances from his actors and shown some talent in writing and directing certain scenes, but as the NY TIMES said in its review, more often than not he let's his bad ideas get in the way of his good ones. The movie loses its way about mid-way through and never recovers. I thought what this reviewer on Ain't It Cool News said about Binder is true: "Mike Binder’s an interesting filmmaker. As far as I can tell, he’s not chasing any trends. He’s not trying to make the next giantsupermegablockbuster. He’s just a guy who seems to be honing a personal voice, film after film, getting better as he does. He’s never become a hipster fave like Wes Anderson or PTA, and he’s never achieved the pop culture significance of Woody Allen in the early days. But he manages to keep getting funding and he manages to keep making fairly personal films the way he wants to."

And yet, in my opinion, Binder has yet to make an all-around GOOD movie. They're always too flawed. But I think he has it in him, and I continue watching and supporting his stuff in hopes the next one will be the one.

What do you think of Binder's career and how did he fit into the old Michigan gang? Was he more of a summer camp friend to the Raimi's or did he hang out with you guys and make shorts and talk and see movies and dream?

Dear bobby:
 
Mike wasn't part of the Detroit mafia, he was his own deal.  He was in my cabin three or four summers at Camp Tamakwa, so I knew him better than Sam did.  I haven't much cared for any of his films, but as I've already said, I don't care for almost any films anymore.  Mike did bring me in as a possible director on his HBO TV show, but he didn't hire me.
 
Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What happened to all the directors who *used* to make good films? Just as an example, I recently watched Ridley Scott's "A Good Year" and it sucks! This is from a guy who'd previously made two very good films-"Alien" and "The Duelists" (I know it was a long time ago, but still). What the hell happened to all these directors? The cuts in AGY were out of control, like something you'd see on MTV. Do you think the producers mandate these sorts of things in the film? Do directors no longer have the say-so on such things?
Christ, it's annoying.

Dear Jeff:
 
I will bet you that all those annoying sylistic flourishes are 100% Ridley Scott, as he slowly but surely morphs into his awful brother Tony, who has never made a good movie.  At least Ridley's got "The Duellists" and "Alien."   But the relentless decline of movies coincides with a relentless drop in all the arts, so it can't be the fault of the movies; it's got to be society.  Art is just representation of society's mindset.  We're in an artistically dull, technologically advanced time.
 
Josh

Name: Peggy
E-mail: starkeeper4444@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Hi, I was looking to see if there are any single (as in not in a relationship) screenwriters in the world, and happened upon your site. I loved your article about irony. Are you available??? LOL

Dear Peggy:
 
Are you a babe?
 
Josh

Name: gloria
E-mail: gloriam47@netscape.com

Dear Josh:

I would like to know if Mr. Quinn starred in an older version of 300 Spartans, If so where can I get a copy of it
Thanks Gloria

Dear gloria:
 
No, Anthony Quinn did not star in "The 300 Spartans."  That was Richard Egan.
 
Josh

Name: Vince A. Tinebra
E-mail: azrael_vat@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've just read your book on low-budget film making, and while it was extremely informative, it also led me to wonder: are the costs for producing a film general, or strictly U.S. prices? I live in Canada and would like to know if you think the cost would be roughly equal? Thank you for your time.

Dear Vince:
 
The Canadian dollar is about equal with a U.S. dollar these days (I think), so it's about the same.
 
Josh

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

Hey Josh,

This question is sort of a moral question I think. I'm DPing a project and the director (a first-timer) is lagging. He's straying from the shot list and schedule for pickups and the entire shoot is falling desperately behind. My question is, (to someone who has worked both under and as a director) is it my responsibility to pick up the pieces? To argue for the rest o the crew (who seems to be taking the "silent" approach)? Or, do I simply let him do what he wants despite the fact that the film may end up lacking in coverage and just make sure the lights and shot comp is pretty?

Dear Rob:
 
In my experience, good DPs cover lame director's asses all the time; that's part of their job.  Good luck.
 
Josh

Name: les
E-mail: sentenal5@yahoo.com.au

Dear Josh:

the destruction of the world trade centre gives you any idea why the world needs to be prepared. If you do not know if america and its alies were not prepared there are others in this world that would love to see the destruction of the usa and other countries of the western world. But film direcrors such as yourselves who have their heads buried in hollywood hills would not know about the real world. Because you not lugging a backpack in Iraq to protect and preserve. God help us in the world of people like yourself who bury their heads in the sand. maybe next time you might have a sks rifle barrel stuck up your arse. Amen.

Dear les:
 
No, I'm lost in the utterly unreal world of Detroit, Michigan, where there isn't the slightest sense of reality, and life is beautiful all the time.  So, was there a world trade centre in Australia that got destroyed?  Or are you afraid your former British penal colony will be attacked by islamic jihadists, and you'll no longer be able to wrestle crocodiles in peace and freedom?  And do you have a brother named more?
 
Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: Nansemondnative

Josh,

I just got through watching the "Unforgiven" which I purchased due to the recent discussion on here. I had never seen the movie before. Didn't even know it existed. Sad but true.

You are right. That was one good movie. It had more than one thing to say and it ran the entire spectrum of human emotion I would say.The photography was beautiful.

I thought it interesting that Clint's character fought off his whiskey demon the whole movie. However, when that young lady rode up on the horse and reported his friend Ned had died at the hands of Little Bill it didn't take long at all for him to grab that whiskey bottle out of t he kid's hand.After that, all hell breaks loose and we see what a fine line he has walked all this time.

The kid himself was interesting in that he wanted so badly to be a part of the gunfighter crowd and really talked the talk.He changed his tune big time though after blowing away the actual slicer who was taking a dump when he met his end at the hands of the kid.You notice he hesitated a bit before firing the first shot.Then he writes off killing others for good.

It was an extremely interesting cast as well with Gene Hackman being one of my all time favorites. The man is just very powerful with his acting.

I would have to say this is another one to hang onto and study every now and then.Took me a while to get through it because I stop-watched all the shots.Most shots were anywhere from around 50 seconds all the way down to 2 seconds or less.The only exceptions were the beginning and the end.

Excellent movie.

Tim

Dear Tim:
 
Why don't you try putting down the stop-watch and really paying attention, it's worth it.
 
Josh

Name: Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I just heard that the great cinematographer Freddie Francis has died at age 89. Here's a link to his obituary:

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117961465.html?categoryid=13&cs=1


Any thoughts on the man and his work?

Dear Kristie:
 
I hadn't heard.  Freddie Francis was a top-notch DP.  I love his work on "Elephant Man," "Glory," "Sons and Lovers" and many others.
 
Josh

Name: Two Question Guy
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Hey. I have two questions.

First question. I don't know if you've been able to see it or not, but what are your thoughts about "Reign Over Me"? I'm askin' because I know Ted Raimi is in it, so I was wondering if you thought the movie at least looked interesting.

Second question. If somebody did write a script, and wanted you to read it, what would it take for you to read it? Would it take money? If it would take money, about how much would it cost to have you check the script out?

Also, I guess there are three questions here. If somebody wanted to make a movie from one of your scripts (like direct it and produce it and all that) how much is the minimum you'd accept for the rights to shoot the script?

Two Question Guy (who should be Three Question Guy)

Dear TQG:
 
I didn't even know Ted was in that film, nor do I anything about it (I'm on vacation in Florida right now).  I really don't want to read anyone's scripts, not for love or money.  Regarding producing one of my scripts, you'd have to at least start at WGA minimum for a feature film, which you can research at their website.
 
Josh

Name: bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you mean when you say you got the most bang for your buck with RT?

Also, what do you think of Scott Spiegel's movies? His career? Do you think he's a good writer/director? And what of his newfound success with HOSTEL and HOSTEL: PART II?

Dear bobby:
 
RT was my cheapest movie that's done the best in the shortest amount of time.  As for Scott, I wish him all the luck in the world.  His stuck it out and persevered for a long time to achieve his success.  He's not making movies that appeal to me, but then nobody else is, either.
 
Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Regarding the Conservatism article you discussed the responsibilities of society towards the least able members.

I had this discussion once with a conservative, and his point of view was that the family is primarily responsible for caring for other family members in need. I said well what if the family members are unable or unwilling to do this, whether because of economic or geographic reasons or whatever. His response was then that person should die.

Do you think this sums up the conservative viewpoint?

Dear Bob:
 
On some level, yes, just as I said in the piece.  Conservatism is an illogical, unreasonable, and ultimately mean philosophy.
 
Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

The Director of "Cool Hand Luke" Stuart Rosenberg, recently passed away at the age of 79. What are your thoughts on his films? I've only seen "Luke", which I loved, and the dreadful "Amityville Horror".

Dear Stan:

Sadly, other than "Cool Hand Luke," Stuart Rosenberg made only mediocre or poor movies.  "Cool Hand Luke" was a total anomaly in his career.  In pace requiescat.

Josh

Name:              Angel
E-mail:             aesparz2@depaul.edu

Dear Josh:         

With regard to your recent comment about writing for who "they" are, I had to share this Bukowski quote:

"As we live we all get caught and torn by various traps. Nobody escapes them. Some even live with them. The idea is to realize that a trap is a trap. If you are in one aad you don´t realize it, then you´re finished. I believe that I have recognized most of my traps and I have written about them. Of course, all of writing doesn´t consist of writing about traps. There are other things. Yet, some might say that life is a trap. Writing can trap. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past. Then they are finished. Most writers´ creative span is short. They hear the accolades and believe them. There is only one final judge of writing and that is the writer. When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers, then he´s finished. And, of course, when he´s swayed with his fame and his fortune, you can float him down the river with the turds." -The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship.

Dear Angel:

Bukowski's comment is predicated on receiving "accolades" and "fame and fortune," which most of us will never get.  Also, writing for the movies isn't the same thing as writing poems and stories for literary journals.  I sort of live by the Ricky Nelson line, "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."  Also Bill Cosby's line, "I don't know the secret of success; but I do know the secret of failure -- try to please everybody." Ultimately, though, this is a balancing act because you can't forget that you desperately want an audience to sit there throughout the length of your film and not walk out.  You may well create your art mainly for yourself, but you don't live in a vacuum.  And if you expect someone to invest millions of dollars into your script to produce it, in my opinion it needs to minimally be compelling story that's worth telling.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Cool...but were the budgets on all of your films?

Dear bobby:

TSNKE was about $225,000, "Lunatics" was $650,000, RT was $130,000, and "Hammer" was $350,000.  I got the most bang for my buck out of RT.

Josh

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

Josh,

I like the car-with-the-wheels-on-top comparison.It wouldn't matter how good the tires were, or what kind of hubcabs you use, it just ain't gonna' work.

I read your "Conservatism" essay and had a couple of thoughts.  First, what the Supreme Court decided in Miranda didn't create any rights, only clarified how states should comply with the 5th & 6th Amendments. We've always had the "right to an attorney...", etc.

"One state hasn't got the right to hold out and still have slavery... when every other state has concluded that it's wrong."  That's true after the 13th Amendment, but the states were explicitly given that right in the Consitution(Art.IV, Sec 2.3).

You refer to the Jim Crow laws but they were prevalant in the solidly Democratic South.  That brings up the question of who is a conservative. American Militia groups are anarchists, Bush is a dictator (sorry, "Decider") and both call themselves conservatives.  I think the term is too vague to be useful, unlike Liberal which means something very specific, though not what a lot of people think.

Finally, I think you were a bit harsh on poor Goldwater.  States' Rights are a constitutional issue and one of Bush' great crimes has been his undermining of them (Nat'l Guard anyone?).

Just chiming in, thanks,

John

Dear John:

Moral issues can't, or at least shouldn't, be a state's rights issue.  That was the attitude before the Civil War regarding slavery, which was the southern states can do what they want, and we in the north will do what we want.  Meanwhile, I didn't say a word about Democrats, southern or otherwise.  That the bigoted segregationists in the south were all Democrats doesn't apply to my discussion of liberal and conservative.  Regarding Barry Goldwater, were it not for his stand on civil rights, which he said was a state's rights issue, he might have been president in 1964.  I think more people liked him than LBJ, even if he was Kennedy's vice-president.  As for Bush, he's presently undermining everything we hold dear and meaningful.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I was happy to find out that you liked "The Shining". For a long time I assumed you disliked it since it wasn't on your favorites list. What moments of the film stand out for you? One of my favorites is the first maze scene. Danny and Wendy are in the hedge maze, then the film cuts to Jack inside the hotel over the model of the maze...CUT TO an overhead shot of the maze, and it's suddenly IMMENSE. Much larger than it was, and symmetrical. (Kubrick liked symetrical shots.) The Grady twins and the old woman in room 237 really creep me out. Also, Kubrick's use of music is perfect. The fourth shot of the film is the smoothest helicopter shot ever. The entire film is beautifully shot.

As for this business about there being no great film since "Unforgiven", I disagree. I finally caught "Hammer..." on YouTube. I think it's a great film. It's a real film. No bullshit about time-travelling mailboxes or 'high concept' ideas that don't mean a thing. Thanks for making the film, Josh. And thanks for this website. Your writings have made me smarter in general, and smarter about movies in particular. Keep up your fine work.
Best,
Stan

Dear Stan:

I'm glad you like "Hammer."  I didn't like "The Shining" when it came out, and have only come to appreciate it over the intervening years.  I don't think it's a great film, or a scary horror movie, or even a decent adaptation of the book, but it's a bravura piece of filmmaking.  Yes, the cut from Nichcolson looking down at the model of the maze to the overhead shot of the actual hedge maze is brilliant, and one the really great cuts anyone has ever made.  The tracking shots of the kid riding the Big Wheels over wood then carpet then wood again is breathtaking.  The opening helicopter shots are great, too.  Sadly, it doesn't all add up to a great movie, and neither does "Full Metal Jacket," even though I keep watching that over and over, too.   I honestly and seriously don't believe we've had any director that even comes close to Kubrick's ability since his demise.

Josh

Name:              frank starr
E-mail:

"In any case, art is not about freedom, it's about the restriction of freedom. The greatest art generally has the most rules and restrictions applied to it."

Couldn't agree more.

With that said, what are your feelings on Dogme 95 and Von Trier and his crusade for cinematic purity?

Dear frank:

The concept was sound on a certain level, meaning the most important aspect of a film is the script, and it's a terrifically good idea to have a script that's about the interactions of people, not superheroes or super-villians or cars or fish.  However, I completely reject their restrictions as being unhelpful, and ultimately against good cinema.  I personally hate hand-held photography that's used for no reason, or entirely throughout a film, and I believe that you can NEVER achieve great montage hand-held.  But Dogme banned the use of tripods, dollies, cranes and Steadi-cams, which I think is such a huge error that it negated the whole movement.  Also the ban on special effects is ridiculous, too.  These are all simply tools in the filmmaker's toolbox, and taking them away only makes matters worse. Nevertheless, the script's the thing, and I'm totally with that.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

Yes...I can see your point on that. "Dead Men" which I watched recently was funny as hell when I was 15.It wasn't too funny when I watched it about a month ago. I just thought it impressive how they took the old classics and cut them to match their script. I guess at the time it might have been unique.

One piece of feedback to you on your reply and it is really something I never thought of before.You stated that I would be making the short for my own amusement and not yours. It put me in the frame of mind that you kind of responded as a customer.

I work for a company that prides itself on customer service, with a 48 or less hour turn around on all customer orders. So we consistently strive for top marks in customer satisfaction both in the products we offer and the service provided before , during, and after the sale. A little corporate talk there for ya Josh.

I don't know if you meant to do it or not but it made me visualize a film as a product to be put before the customer and maybe if if you treat them right the first time around you might get a little repeat business.

So my perception is to make the best possible product for your customer and get it out there to them. I never looked at it that way before because I never thought of a film like I would say an Apple laptop computer with full editing capabilities.

Again, I don't know if you mean't it like that but thanks for that gem Josh.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I don't believe that a writer ought to be thinking, "What do they want?" because who the hell are "they"?  But you do have to keep in mind that you hope people will watch what you're presenting, and sit all the way through it.  That's why in my book I pound the idea of making your script "compelling."  I think that pandering to what you assume are the public's tastes is a big mistake.  I think it's way, way more important to write a story you honestly and sincerely believe is a story that's worth telling, then to tell that story in a compelling way.  That's where story structure comes in.  I don't push the concept of story stucture because I'm old-school or a stick-in-the-mud, but because that's how you make a story compelling; that's how you get the audience to sit there for two hours wanting to know what happens next -- it's a technique, it's not a miracle.

Josh

Name:              Joellen
E-mail:             joalienhousego@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I know how you feel. I love cats just as much as if they were people. My boyfriend's cat's name is Stevie (after Stevie Wonder). I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry about your Stevie, and I'm glad you wrote the story down. You're a good story-teller. You created a great tribute to Stevie and to human-feline friendship. This way, he'll always be remembered.

Dear Joellen:

Thanks.  Stevie was a wonderful cat.

Josh

Name:              AL Conif
E-mail:             alconif@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Do you have any recommendations concerning DVD commentaries?  I've heard them described as an excellent alternative to film school.

Dear AL:

I'll suggest an excellent alternative to film school -- go make a movie.  As for DVD commentaries, they don't particularly interest me.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

what are the budgets on all of your films?

FYI, I recently bought the 2007 Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever book and this is what they had to say about Lunatics:

"A well-acted fable of how love fragilely connects even the most unlikely of people."

None of your other films were listed.

Dear bobby:

I could well be wrong, but I think that book has TSNKE and RT in it, too, although they're not listed under my name in the index.  I was just looking at the Scarecrow Movie Guide that has TSNKE, Lunatics and RT in it, and in the RT review they say, "Director Becker is an ass for claiming this film is better than 'Rope'."  I have a feeling that I may very well be the only director in that fat book at whom they take a personal shot.  Of course, I never said that RT was better than "Rope," I said that I believed that I had made better use of the real-time aspect than did Hitchcock, although it's his idea and he thought it up.  I still stand by that statement, too, but I certainly didn't say that RT is better than "Rope."

Josh

Name:              Jeffrey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

It seems as if you dislike most big time movies.. Get off your high horse because when some of these movies are compared next to your own films yours look just bad. you need to look at your films and stop pretending that they're better than everything else you see. You make yourself out to appear jealous, especially because the only parts of the Matrix that you enjoyed were aspects that once had to do with you.

Dear Jeffrey:

Christ almighty, what a bore!  Fuck "The Matrix"!  It's crap!  I can't even express how weary I am of stupid people like you attacking me for my opinions on movies.  I don't judge movies in comparison to my own, okay?  I have never ever said that my movies were good, so what the fuck are you talking about?  NOTHING!!!  You like that insignificant piece of shit, "The Matrix."  Great, defend it.  Tell me why my opinion doesn't hold up.  But attacking me only makes you look like a complete idiot.

Josh

Name:              Cindy
E-mail:             crl.thesis@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I just read your criticism of "American Beauty" and I do find myself agreeing with a lot of what you had to say. I have but one question for you, does every single story have to have the exact same structure? Isn't that a little bit monotonous? Perhaps if you did not think of every movie you see so critically, maybe you would enjoy them more.

I'm not telling you to throw all of your beliefs out the window, that would be silly and pointless. What I am suggesting is that maybe you need to set aside what you know as "wrong" and "right" when it comes to a story and simply enjoy it for what it is. You seem to have a superior attitude towards to others who are less educated in story and structure, and I can understand that. It's good to know what you're doing, especially in your field, but movies are made for entertainment and it seems like you're letting yourself down when it comes to personal enjoyment.

Dear Cindy:

Ah, the neverending discussion -- are movies nothing more than entertainment; or are they perhaps an artform?  Since I've seen quite a few movies that I truly feel have reached the level of art, therefore I absolutely believe movies are an artform.  So, when someone like you says "movies are made for entertainment," as though that's all movies are or ever were, I must take exception.  Some movies are merely entertainment, some aren't.  "American Beauty" was most definitely attempting to be more than just entertainment; it was trying vainly to be "meaningful."  Sadly, though, it had no idea what it was saying, where it was going, or what "meaning" it was trying to mean.  Your argument, which I find completely specious, works like this: you know too much about the topic, therefore you can't enjoy yourself like the rest of us idiots.  Let's say I was an automobile designer and you show me a car with tires sitting on the roof, and the chassis resting on the ground.  I say, "That's wrong, it'll never go anywhere."  You reply, "There is no right or wrong, you're just closed-minded."  Oh, yeah? Well, the car with the tires on the roof is still not going anywhere, and guess what?  There is a right and there is a wrong.  As I've said before, and will no doubt say again, a story is like a long joke, you set it up, then you pay it off.  If you tell the punchline first, then the set-up, you're wrong, and you won't get a laugh, either.  "American Beauty," in my opinion, fails for a number of reasons, but mainly because it didn't know where it was going or why.  By the time we see Kevin Spacey jerking off in the shower the second time, that story is as dead as the Dodo birds.  I think what disturbs a lot of people about me is that when I don't like a movie I actually know why.  When I state my reasons I often get the response, "But it's art; there are no rules."  In the same breath I often hear, "Hey, movies are only entertainment."  First of all, art has rules; secondly, are movies art or are they entertainment?  Maybe they're both.  In any case, art is not about freedom, it's about the restriction of freedom. The greatest art generally has the most rules and restrictions applied to it. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand art.  I guess if I really, really wanted to see movies the way most people see them I could just push a screwdriver into my ear until I've pierced my brain, but that would be my only other choice and it doesn't interest me.  Maybe as opposed to me getting dumber, you should get smarter.

Josh

Name:              Chuck
E-mail:             chuckroitinger@comcast.net

Hey, Josh, do you give a shit about James Bond (on film)? If so, what is your favorite Bond film, or your favorite actor who has portrayed him?

Just curious.

Dear Chuck:

Honestly, no, I don't give a crap about James Bond movies.  I did like them when I was a kid and Sean Connery was Bond.  But then Sean quit, the cold war ended and I grew up.  I was completely done with James Bond when Roger Moore took over, and there was no getting me back after that.  Personally, I need more substance in my action films.  Not a lot, but more than that.   It causes me sadness that Action Film is now synonymous with Stupid.

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You've got me reconsidering color, if just for the fact that I wouldn't mind making my money back.  I was hoping that B/W would be cheaper and compensate in some way for my inexperience.  Did you have a hard time getting quality color with your first experiences?

Since a large audience for low-budget films is home video, how do the formats stack up against high resolution standards?  Is the difference between 16mm and super16mm, both in letterbox, noticable on the transfer to HD-DVD or Blu-Ray with 1080 lines of non-interlaced resolution?  How do the different film mediums translate to pixel resolution?

Do the distributers of high definition content show preference for a particular format?

Dear Batdad:

"Distributors of high definition content."  That's everybody now, even the low-end distributors.  The new deal I've made for the re-releases of TSNKE and RT will both be new, high-def transfers.  Because I have film elements to go back to, in the case of TSNKE it's a 35mm IP blow-up from 16mm, and in the case of RT it will be the original 16mm camera negative, I can transfer them to any high-def medium in existence, and they'll look great.  That's the beauty of having film elements to go back to.  When they come up with even better formats than HD-DVD and Blue-Ray in 5 years, I'm cool.  I don't know the number, but in a single frame of 16mm or 35mm there are hundreds of thousands of grain particles.  Pixels still have to go a very long way to go to catch up.  As for the color on my first film, TSNKE, well, I was the DP and I didn't really do a brilliant job, so it will never look better than how I lit it.  I don't think the film looks terrible, but neither does it look great.  If you put the time into the lighting and production design it can absolutely look great, no matter what format you shoot.

Josh

Name:              Brian Peterlinz
E-mail:             bpeterlinz@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Brilliant essay-- I came over here when I saw the link on Samuraifrog's blog.

As someone who has a bachelors and masters in Political Science, I've long been puzzled why the conservatives still insist on being called "conservatives." The proper term is "reactionary."

The "conservatives" don't really want the lower classes to cease to exist-- they need them as a cheap source of labor and as their perpetual bad guy. And they seem to do everything they can to increase the number of poor in this country.

I remember Barry Goldwater scolding the Republican Party, saying it had gone too far to the right. My response was "Barry Goldwater warning you you've gone too far to the right is like Keith Richards telling you you're doing too many drugs."

Dear Brian:

I have WAY more respect for Keith Richards than any conservative.  Keith has been to the edge, and returned with more wisdom.  The conservatives want to take us blindly over the edge.  Nor should we forget for one second that the conservatives are lead by the neo-conservatives, who truly have an evil nefarious plan for world domination, just like the flipside of the coin, the Islamic Jihad.  Part of the neo-conservative worldview is that we must be at war all the time, because you cannot create a trillion dollars worth of weapons a year and not use them.  We just so happen to have a military contractor as our vice-president, who also happens to be a staunch neo-conservative, too.  This isn't simply an issue that our president and vice-president are foolish bumblers, which they are, it's that they have a totally different agenda than they're admitting to.

Josh

Name:              confused
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

just read your "misuse of presidential power" essay which is great. but, as my aponymous name suggests, i'm confused. in the end, you make a rousing call to arms for the generation of kids growing up in America. you ask why they aren't doing anything. you tell them if they don't, they deserve to live under an Adolf Hitler type ruler. you also group yourself in with them, "You and I only have one life to live."

My question is this: are you an invalid? have you suddenly lost your mind, your wits, your energy...your life? YOUR balls? I mean, other than posting a heated essay that gets read by MAYBE 100 people, what the hell are you doing to fight this regime and create change? other than voting, what the hell have you done? and don't play the past activisim card either...you're a member of this society in the HERE and the NOW along with the youth generation your speaking to and if you want change, get off your lazy entertainment, movie-obsessed ass and do something about it.

otherwise, pipe down because any shmoe could post an anti-Bush anti-war blog on myspace and get 1,000 hits. having your own website doesn't mean you're doing anything of importance.

Dear confused:

Yeah?  And what are you doing, other than picking on me?  The reason I left that essay up (it's dated 9-03), and I used to have several other anti-Bush essays posted, too, is because I was just about the only person saying those things four and five years ago.  I was one of the very few people he never believed one word Bush, Cheney or Colin Powell said right from the very beginning.  What does that get me?  Nothing.  But who the fuck are you anyway?  Confused?  So what?  Try getting unconfused.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

Yep. I agree 100% about Kubrick. I read somewhere that for "The Shining" he had shot over a million feet of film. That is a whole lotta film there Josh but I think it might be indicative of a shrewd perfectionist which is evident in that film.

I recently saw another film of his called "Lolita" ca. 1962. I enjoyed it to a point and have always liked James Mason. It was simply, to me, not a foreshadowing of the great things to come. Who would have ever guessed in 1962 that "2001" was right around the corner?

Lately, I've been thinking of doing a short B/W comedy ala "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" though not as tongue in cheek. B/W reversal is very cheap as opposed to B/W negative which has to been transferred telecine at unbelievable rates.

In any event, in watching some of the old films and doing research I found that some of the "cool" things I had heard in some of the older films were directly influenced by the flapper movement of the 20's.

For example, in Marty ,the term "tomato" was a flapper slang. So if I had a line like " Hey you look like a real sweet tomato hows about you and me gettin' together tonight?" and my actress answered "Sorry Jack. The banks closed."I would be in the correct period language.

You have done period films before.What kind of pitfalls would you tend to want to identify before embarking on something like this? I've thought clothes and language, settings and vehicles but what else? I'm thinking of the time of 1946 right after the war.I don't know that I could pull this off in 2007 without a whole lot of masquerading.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Why bother, it's been done, and it's not that good of a gag.  I tried watching "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" again last year, having not liked it when it came out, and I found it unbearable.  It's a one-unfunny-gag-bailout instead of writing a funny script.  I'm against it.  Just like "mockumentaries," which I think is a false genre.  There's "Spinal Tap" and all of it's rip-offs.  But at least "Spinal Tap" is funny.  In this case you'd be ripping off an unfunny film, strictly for your own amusement, not mine.

Josh

Name:              Richard Sloan
E-mail:             emma1231@optonline.net

Dear Josh:         

Where can I find still photos, taken at ground level, of features of the Roach studio, and learn what structures served what purpose on the 2 aerial photos that exist?

Dear Richard:

Let's see . . . ?  How about trying that new-fangled invention called the internet.  If that doesn't work you might try going to the library and looking at a book.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

You stated before that Black Narcissus is one of your favorite movies.  It is one of mine as well but I've only had the opportunity to watch it on VHS and DVD at this point in my life. Is a film print of Black Narcissus ever screened nowadays?  I think you mentioned it is annually somewhere but I'm not sure.  If it is, where would I need to go in order to see it? Also, as a fan of the film do you feel that it has influenced as writer and director?

Dear Keith:

I haven't lived in L.A. in six years, but the L.A. County Museum had a nitrate print they used to show once a year.  It was something of a big deal because they had to hire a special fire marshal to be there when they showed it.  The nitrate print legitimately looks twice as good as the DVD.  Since the demise of nitrate stock it's just not possible to get those kind of deep blacks anymore.  Michael Powell has influenced me as a director, at least conceptually.  He's said that "Black Narcissus" was his first "impressionistic" film, where how it looked mattered more than the reality of the situation, which was why he shot it all in England and didn't use any stock shots.  It's sort of a follow-up to Joseph Von Sternberg's approach to films like "The Scarlet Empress," where he wouldn't look at any research about what Russia really looked like then, it was all how he conceived it.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I have a question regarding agents.

You wrote:

"I don't like agents, but unless you have your own high-level contacts at movie studios, you need one."

How would you recommend an emerging screenwriter to go about getting an agent? What should we look for (or look out for)?

Thanks,
Kristie

Dear Kristie:

You just have to start contacting agents and submitting scripts.  If you can actually find an agent that will rep you, that's the one you'll go with. The bottom-line of agents is: the agent you want is the agent who wants you. You very probably won't end up with a choice because most will just turn you down.  But out of eight agents over 20 years, I never had one that got me a job.  So, the real answer to the question of how do you get your script to anyone worth getting it to is to move to Hollywood and start schmoozing.  If you really want to get ahead you'll find someone with some power, like a studio exec or a producer, then you'll glue yourselves to them like your long lost sibling.  This is called "ass-kissing" and it's undoubtedly the best, most proven method for getting ahead in the film business.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              c.r. macnamera
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

As a side note, since you mentioned the film, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER just jumped JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG as my favorite movie. I liked it so much I bought a copy to loan out to my friends.

Dear c.r.:

I've brought up "Judgement at Nuremburg" many times, generally in regard to it being a MUCH better movie than "Schindler's List."  The casting of Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift was brilliant, and Maximillian Schell, Richard Widmark, Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster (although miscast) are all great. I think Stanley Kramer's direction is first-rate, too.

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Although I've read that B/W film stock is not as cheap as it used to be, does it reduce costs in other ways?  On some "behind the scenes" segments, directors complain about the amount of time to set up lighting.  Even getting a shot of each actors face in a conversation takes a lot of set up.  Also, I've read that color correction is a necessary pain in the ass during post.

Are crews and actors enthusiastic about working with B/W?  How many DPs are competent in B/W or even include it in their reel?  According to your website, you shot Running Time in 10 days for about $120,000, which is much quicker and cheaper than any other film I've liked enough to research.

In what areas does shooting B/W provide the most savings of time and money?  Does it simplify lighting, filters, costume and set design, special FX, prep time, etc?  How did it enhance your experience as a director?

Dear Batdad:

B&W is none of those things.  It does make going from inside to outside, or vice versa, easier because you don't have to change filters.  But the film stock is no cheaper, and might even be more expensive because it's probably a special order item now, as the stock on RT was.  It's no cheaper to process, and it won't save you any time.  If a DP is competent they can light color or B&W.  Film crews don't get enthusiastic about what film stock you use, color or B&W, but do become enthusiatic when there are naked girls on the set, or the end of the work day is near.  Yes, you have to do color correction in post, but you also have to go in correct B&W, too.  Choosing B&W is purely an asthetic decision, not a money-saving or time-saving decision.

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to your answer about other big directors not being in the DGA, you have to add Quentin Tarantino who one of the directors who has stayed out of it his entire professional career.

Oddly enough, I just read an article about him regarding this matter and he stated that the reason his doesn't belong to the DGA is he still considers himself and "amateur" and until he has done something that he feels to be on a professional level, he "doesn't want to lose his amateur status".

I am certain that you for one agree that he is films are not very good, but what do you make of this? I wonder if it is just a publicity thing or a genuine statement. I know he and Robert Rodriguez are good friends and Rodriguez is notorious for thumbing his nose at the union on his past films.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Rodriguez was a DGA member, but he quit.  It appears that Tarantino never was.  One might believe that you lose your "amateur" standing when you win an Oscar in a major category, and you're making expensive movies with big movie stars that receive wide releases, but if that's how Mr. Tarantino wants to look at himself, what the hell?  Meanwhile, all trade unions were a good idea when they started as a way to slightly curb the avarice of the owners and give the workers a way to collectively bargain.  Soon, however, unions become their own little mafias that try to squash and kill everything they don't control, as well as controlling an ever-increasing pension fund that can always be misued.  Therefore, since the inception of most of these unions in the early part of the 20th century, with their peak being in the 1950s and '60s, now most American workers are not members of unions. Hollywood has desperately tried to remain an old-fashioned union town, but it's all fallen apart, too.  When NBC-Universal can out-source their TV movies to Bulgaria and Romania so they don't have work with the Hollywood unions and pay residuals, it's all a big joke.  I have to give up my health insurance, residuals and pension payments so that NBC-Universal can make more money?  That's what it comes down to.

Josh

Name:              Marco
E-mail:             blunder3829@aol.com

Hi Josh,

I've noticed that a few very successful feature directors are not members of the DGA. Could you please explain how, in a very basic way, being or not being in the union affects one's career? I'm guessing the union must have the ability to place undesirable obstacles in front of directors, if some people avoid membership altogether.

Thanks for being such a good guy and answering the questions that come your way.

Dear Marco:

The only big director that I know of who isn't in the DGA is Robert Rodriguez, who was a member, but resigned before "Sin City" because they wouldn't allow him to co-direct with Frank Miller, who is not in the DGA. George Lucas resigned from the DGA, too, but I think he rejoined before picking his directing career back up.  But, for the most part, I'd say all the big directors are in the DGA.  All of the major studios and production companies are signatory to the main unions: DGA, WGA and SAG, meaning that they will abide by the union rules, one of which is to not hire non-union people.  If a signatory company does hire a non-union person, that person must be paid union rates and is now eligible to join the union.  There is a little known rule in all of the unions, however, called Financial Core, where you become a non-voting member, which doesn't effect your pension or residuals, but you can now work any job you want, union or non-union.  This what I have done, as well as quite a few people I know.  That's how I can go do these SciFi films in Bulgaria that are non-union.  What's bullshit is that SciFi is owned by Universal (which is in turn owned by NBC), so why are they allowed to make non-union films?  Universal is certainly signatory to all of the trade unions.

Josh

Name:              malisa
E-mail:             p-unit_m@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

who are the characters in the movie hte perfect storm?

Dear malisa:

The characters are the ones they get actors to portray.

Josh

Name:              bill
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

what do you think of John Cassavetes as a filmmaker? which one of his independent films is your favorite?

thanks

Dear bill:

As a filmmaker I think John Cassavetes was unique, his films are entirely his own.  Although, I'm a much bigger fan of Cassavetes the man than Cassavetes the filmmaker.  For me his best movie by a mile is "A Woman Under the Influence."  Coming a distant second is "Faces," then all of the others.

Josh

Name:              Mark
E-mail:

Mr. Becker

I was introduced to Bob Perkis the other day and he mentioned producing films for the sci-fi channel.  I asked him whether he'd worked with you and said he had, adding that:  "Josh Becker is a pain in the ass, but he knows a lot and he does it the right way."

He seemed like a really high strung, but competant, producer--any stories?

Dear Mark:

Bob's also a pain in the ass, but he did a pretty good job producing that film.  We brought it in a day under schedule, and I basically had everything I needed when I needed it -- except for a decent make-up FX person who could do believable beards.  C'est la vie.   Bob did have one total meltdown, when I informed him we'd have to redress the sawmill to look like the aliens had bombed it.  He yelled at me, "You can take every stick of wood here and shove it up your ass, including the piles of sawdust!"  I'm still chuckling about that.  But the set got redressed, and everything turned out fine, and I didn't have to shove any of the wood up my ass, either.  All in all, AA was pretty good, no nonsense, straight forward shoot, unlike say the upcoming "Harpy Slayer," which had quite a few problems.

Josh

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

Hi Josh

I just wanted to let you know I've finished my book called "Filming the Fantastic" and within its pages have highly recomended your book.  I did this not as a favor or the fact that you hired me as an actor in a terrific film but because you wrote a damn good book and I'm happy to be able to spread the word.  I get the impression that you moved back to Michigan is that correct?  At any rate, I was fascinated to read your brief history of the movie studios.  I guess the site of the Kodak theatre where they simulate the Babylon set is not really where the original once stood.

All the best,
Mr. Buckley

Dear mark:

Not only fine actor, but a first-rate photographer as well.  I might add that I've used you as an example on sevberal occasions.  Having ended up with too few still photos on films before, on "If I Had a Hammer" I bought four cheap 35mm cameras and 100 rolls of film and gave them out to all of the production assistants on the crew, with the instruction to shoot anything they thought was good.   Meanwhile, you stopped by the set a couple of times with your own camera, and those are the best photos I have from that movie.  The moral of the story is that although it's practical to have as many photos as possible, it's still better to get someone who can actually shoot good pictures.  Someone who "has an eye."  All the best to you with your book, and thanks for the recommendation.  I may possibly be inching my way toward a deal on Hammer."  Cross your fingers.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

I've been watching Kubrick's "The Shining" here lately.

I'm on a mini-vacation this week so I have royally torqued the old lady off by watching the movie about 6 times in the last 3 days.

It's the color and the beauty of the photography that keep me coming back to it.

I feel that color plays a big time role in the way any movie might impact the viewer and the color scheme on Kubrick's hotel sets are awesome not to mention the big bush maze set filled with tons of salt for the snow effect.

The only thing I saw out of place was at the beginning with the flyover where you can see the shadow of the helicopter that the camera was operating from. No biggie there certainly and I know maybe 5 or 6 frames would have taken it right out with probably minimal impact on the shot itself. Had to have been a nice wide angle lens for that opening following the VW down the road. Beautiful.

What about that magnificant gold ball room? That was a set and that thing was incredible.

I guess on the surface it seems vague but what is your view on Kubrick's use of light and color in "The Shining"? I guess you would need total control over the environment you are shooting in to pull that look off?

I thought it interesting enough to ask.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I think it's brilliant.  My respect for that film has only increased over the years.  Kubrick's direction so totally impresses me that it entirely overshadows the material.  The same is true for "Full Metal Jacket," which I've been watching over and over again of recent days.  To see direction, and cinematography, and production design so beautiful it can get me past everything else, including the script.  But it needs to be that good. Kubrick was that good.

Josh

Name:              MALIKIA AMEER
E-mail:             AMEERMALIKIA@AOL.COM

Dear Josh:         

I'VE JUST FINISHED WRITTING MY LATEST SCREEN PLAY, COULD YOU LEAD MY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN SELLING IT OR SENDING IT TO THE RIGHT PERSON. I AM A WRITTER, YET I HAVE NO CONNECTIONS NOR DO I HAVE A AGENT. I KNOW A AGENT IS THE WAY TO GO, BUT FOR SOME REASON I BELEIVE THAT I COULD BREAK INTO THE BUSINESS WITHOUT ONE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND ADVICE

                  MALIKIA AMEER

Dear MALIKIA:

Sending unsolicited scripts to production companies is a waste of time and paper because they just shit-can them, that's why you need an agent.  I don't like agents, but unless you have your own high-level contacts at movie studios, you need one.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I watched Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" for the first time tonight and what a great film it was. It was extremely well directed (what happened Clint?)and dealt with issues that are very important to me. Sometimes the way movies treat human life really bothers me. People are killed left and right and it means nothing, as if taking a life is really that simple. In this film every death meant something. When a character was killed it was either as a result of something they did, to set other events into motion, or both. And people were affected by the lives they took. They were either extremely upset (The Schofield Kid), couldn't do it (Ned Logan), or boasting (Little Bill). And the slow transition of Bill Munny back into his former self (or did he ever change? Some say a killer is always a killer)was brilliant. I can't even imagine a great film like it coming out today. Hope things are well and I enjoyed the essay on Conservatism.

Dear Trey:

As I've said before, I seriously believe that "The Unforgiven" was the last great film made, and nothing has come close since.  I love the scene near the end when the Kid sitting under the tree drinking and Munny is standing beside him.  The kid says, "I killed the hell outta that guy.  But I guess he had it comin'."  Munny says, "We've all got it comin'."  The whore rides up and says that Little Bill killed Ned, then Munny reaches out, takes the bottle and starts to drink.  At the end Little Bill says to Munny, "You must be William Munny, assassin of women and children."  Munny replies, "I've killed women and children.  I've killed everything that walks or crawls, and now I'm gonna kill you, Little Bill."  Munny has the rifle in Little Bill's face and Little Bill says, "I'm building a house.  I don't deserve this." Munny replies, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it" and kills him.  Yes, it's an utter amazement to me that Clint Eastwood made a great movie; I never suspected he had it in him, and he hasn't shown it since.

Josh

Name:              mike
E-mail:             m.musumali@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I seriously doubt the authenticity of the account given here. It really sounds like a well thought out narrative to discredit Christianity. If this event had occured at all, McPhillips i'm certain would have confided in someone else in the church. I/'m sure there are several doubting Thomas' there too. I'm sorry, but this all seems like fiction to me. I need proof that this event really occured (ie the deciphering of several scrolls in one night).

Dear mike:

That you believe any of it at all just shows what a complete and utter sucker you are.  That's probably why you buy the fable of religion to start with.

Josh

Name:              Justin Hayward
E-mail:             hayward@ionadfilms.com

Dear Josh:         

How would you compare Alien Apocalypse to "horseshit like "The Departed" or "Crash" or "Chicago"?

Justin

Dear Justin:

There's no comparison.  AA was meant to be horseshit, it wasn't a mistake. The entire point of the Saturday Night SciFi original movie is that it's crap, like something you'd see at the drive-in the '50s or '60s, ostensibly. The three films you mentioned were supposed to be good, had an endless amounts of money to achieve their goal, great casts, but failed.  That's a whole different can of worms, in my opinion.

P.S.  Although I do like The Moody Blues.

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

After actors and sound, what is the most important position for getting consistant, properly colored, fully realized film? DP, cinematographer, camera operator, production manager?  And how do you get a skilled person on a non-guild film?

What are your opinions on the writers guild's dispute over uncreditted distribution through websites?  If they get credit for one method of distribution, then they should get credit for all methods.  A busy executive might not go to the trouble to track down a person not listed in the credits.

Also, have you considered adding a graphical timeline or family tree to your new article?

Dear Batdad:

What new article?  The one about the movie studios?  No.  Meanwhile, every position on a film crew is important.  It's been said that a film crew is no better than the production assistants.  The most important positions are writer and director.  If your script sucks none of the rest of it matters. If you want a good-looking film, hire a professional DP and shoot on film. I don't anything about the WGA dispute of which you speak, but why would anyone change the credits between DVD and internet downloading?  If you're not in the WGA then it's not your problem.

Josh

Name:              Batdad
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

It is clear that color video is inappropriate for a feature.  Is B/W video closer in quality to B/W 16mm?  What are the odds of a B/W feature making a return and getting distribution?  What about a short film?

How much can be saved by filming in B/W video or 16mm?  Is lighting as much of an issue?  Are most DP's trained in B/W?

Ed Wood bombed, Sin City was a hit, Good Night and Good Luck was oscarworthy, and Clooney quickly made a second film in B/W.

Dear Batdad:

Video is video unless you're shooting high-end high-def.  I'd shoot on 16mm over video any day of the week.  B&W doesn't help any in distribution, but the chances of anything low-low-budget getting released aren't very good anyway, so why not do what you really want to do.  Lighting is always an issue if you want it to look good.  As for DPs, look at their reel.

Josh

Name:              branodn
E-mail:             mrb8694@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

...No problem anytime

My girlfreind and i enjoyed the subplot in "S" also and i am glad they got somthing for it as far as "Fargo" goes i do agree it is one of their better movies...but for some resone I really get a kick out of "The Big Lebowski" im not to sure why maybe its jsut the simplicity What (if i may ask) was the movie or what have you that gave you the idea that you wanted to make movies for a living?

Dear branodn:

It was "How the West Was Won" in three-screen Cinerama in 1964 when I was six.

Josh

Name:              John
E-mail:

Josh,

I don't know if this is worthy of anything or not but I would have to disagree with a recent post describing James Cameron's "Titanic" as being "worse than turd water".

Yes I know the movie is 10 years old and yes I know that you don't particularly care for it but the movie was a grand endeavor and it paid off.

Sure there are some flaws in the storyline in particular towards the end when Billy Zane is running around with a gun shooting at his ex while the ship is sinking. I know there are other examples.

The special effects were killer and the attention to detail was incredible. The set itself was about 3/4 the size of the actual ship. It had a happy ending and most of it was believable as it accurately described what more than likely transpired as the ship went down.

Was it "Gone with the Wind" or "Citizen Kane"? No. But then again what is?

Love it or hate it, and whether or not it brands me as incapable of recognizing a good movie or not, I and millions of others would not categorize this movie as "turd water". Does that really mean all of us that liked the movie are complete morons? Hope not.

It was simply an enjoyable piece of cinema presented on a grand scale. Who was it that said "The point isn't just to make the film, it's to amaze yourself and everyone at the same time. If you think what you are doing is neat, chances are everyone else will too."?

There ya go...It was a neat movie to watch flawed storyline, Winslett hocking a wad into the ocean and all.

John

Dear John:

I didn't say it was "worse than turd water," although I entirely agree.  It was not an accurate depiction of the Titanic sinking, nor does it even come close to telling the story in its tremendous over-length.  In less than two hours "A Night to Remember" tells the story 100% better.  The screenplay for "Titanic" was used toilet paper, and I don't think it has a believable moment in it.  It is truly hammered shit.

Josh

Name:              Dean
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You remember the video game, Dragon's Lair, right? Dirk the Daring? I think Bruce C. would make a perfect Dirk The Daring in a live-action Dragon's Lair film. Fantasy/comedy.

I'm a screenwriter as well. You want to team up and make this happen? Gary at Blum Studios told me they are attempting to get an animation film off the ground, but would be open to a live-action one as well. The film rights are available.

Dear Dean:

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Josh

Name:              c.r. macnamera
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

<<Everything comes from somewhere.>>

I watched LADY SNOWBLOOD early this morning, and you can picked apart everything that was stolen for KILL BILL: the music, the shot looking up at the four killers from the victim's pov, the chapter structure, the fake red paint blood spraying out like a hose from the neck. But this film was so much better than QTs.

Then there was this exploitation film called BATTLE ROYALE that was from one of the japanese directors of TORA TORA TORA. The government decides since teens are so insolent towards their adults, to kill of 42 of them a year as an example. They choose a class at random, put them on an island with automatic weapons, and tell them they have to kill or be killed (by their best friends) to the last man standing in three days or their electronic collars will explode. This film entertained the hell out of me for some reason. Felt like a cross between LORD OF THE FLIES, ROBOCOP's satire, and DEADLOCK.

Dear C.R.:

As I discuss in my book, there's a world of difference between being inspired by something and stealing.  For instance, my film "If I Had a Hammer" is directly inspired by "The Magnificent Ambersons," in that it is about the end of one era and the beginning of the next.  In "Ambersons" it's the change from the 19th century to the 20th century, and the metaphor for the change is the automobile.  In "Hammer" it's the Folk era to the Rock era, and the metaphor is the music, drugs and TV.  Even though I was directly inspired by something else, you wouldn't know it unless I told you because I'm not stealing anything.  Stealing is a drag and a bore.

Josh

Name:              Jeff Alede
E-mail:

"I did recently write an essay about Conservatism, but I didn't post it because it seemed inappropriate for this website."

Seeing as you've already written and posted essays on your site entitled "Religion is Evil" and "The Misuse of Presidential Power", I don't think posting an essay about Conservatism is inappropriate. I, for one, would genuinely like to read it. Please post!

Dear Jeff:

Okay, if you say so. 

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

So, some people are commenting about the Oscars. I have no respect whatsoever for them. I was pretty much indifferent about them until I heard that Titanic won Best Picture for whatever year that came out. I'd rank that film as worse than turd water.

Heck-I've pretty much stopped watching movies. At this point, I think I see a movie once every 3-4 years. Nothing grabs me anymore. What's really sad is-I don't feel I'm missing much, nor do I give a fuck.

Hm.

Dear Saul:

Me, too.  Beyond the fact that the movies themselves suck, the Oscar show sucks, too.  The last host to get it was Steve Martin.  Although I like Ellen, and John Stewart, as well, you don't bring your TV show to the Oscars -- the Oscars are bigger than your show, and have more weight and gravitas, or at least they should.  Also, when will they ever get it through their thick fucking skulls that the point of the show is the folks winning the awards, not musical numbers or shadow plays or films of the nominees acting goofy or schmoozing with the audience.  Two of the four hours of that show are pure bullshit.  And while we're at it, get rid of the technical awards like sound editing or sound mixing and give them during the other technical awards.

Josh

Name:              Brandon
E-mail:             www.mrb8694@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Hello im back (you probrobly dont remeber me but i was the one that was talking to you a month or so back about the movie "Drugstore Cowboy").

Like I was saying its been a while sense I have left anyting becouse low and behold i have been doing other things (like work)....But I decide sense the Academy Awards(a worthless stupid award...completely lost its putpose) were on the other night that I might would stop in and see what people are saying and what your thoughts were about who one (nobody worth winning)....who lost (they all deserved too), and in general read about people talking about my favorite pastime....movies

Nope....I come onto the site and what seems to be the topic of importance (no not movies) SMOKING!!!

Now personaly i dont smoke and i dont like smoking but if you want to smoke then smoke its your choice so their for its not MY business you want to do it do it.

But for every person that comes onto this site and trys to convince you to stop, tell you how bad it is for you ect....GET OFF! This site is not designed for PSA's, so thier for I (and when I say i know I know their are maney people that feel the same) dont want to come onto this site and read a bunch of PSA's. besides who gives you the right to be a walking PSA?? Correct me if im wrong buti thought this was suppoesed to be a site pertaining to you your work and the discussion of movies. Some times off (the occasinal thought on religion polotics ect...) topic is ok but i dont see the point YOUR NOT GOING TO QUIT so for everybody trying to tell you that "you belive that you need it"...or "your being the gov. bitch" Shut up!You wnat to be a PSA then get your own damn site otherwise your wasting your time. Lets get back to topic...movies

So what did your think of the 1957 Marlon Brando movie "Sayonara"?> I thought it was good the accents were kinda funny (im from the south) and it was a bit too long for my girlfreind and I's taste.

and also what do you think of the Coen brothers?

Dear Brandon:

Thank you for your PSA.  I sort of can't bear "Sayonara" due to Brando's phony southern accent.  The Red Buttons, Miyoshi Umeki subplot was good (they both got supporting Oscars for their roles).  Other than "Fargo," I can't stand the Coen brothers.  Their screenplays seem like used toilet paper to me.

Josh

Name:              Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You are right, the industry is in the toilet, but I think that there have been some pretty good documentaries made within the last 10 years. That seems to be the only medium that's flourishing somewhat. Have you ever thought about going back to that medium?

I know you're sick of recommendations but I recently saw Deliver Us From Evil. The story about Father O'Grady, a child molesting priest who molested over 100 children. It was one of the biggest church cover-ups in recent years. Anyway, the film was very well made and interesting to boot. Definitely worth seeing. If you ever decided to make another doc, you could make one about the decaying state of the film industry. I would see that.

Dear Scott:

I've been bemoaning the decaying state of the film industry for so long now that it's all a big bore to me.  There's no sense that it's even hit the bottom yet, let alone starting an upswing.  I'm getting the feeling this may not occur in my lifetime, or ever.  There's an entire generation of people who have never seen a good movie and have no idea what "good movie" means (I think "good movie" is now an oxymoron).  It's like when Bruce took his son, who was 15 at the time, to see the last "Star Wars" film.  When they came out Bruce asked his son what he thought of the film?  His son replied, "It was great."  Bruce said he didn't like it, and here were his reasons, which he listed off.  His son said, "Oh, then I guess it sucked."  Bruce asked, "Well, was it great or did it suck?"  His son said, "How am I supposed to know?"  But when horseshit like "The Departed" or "Crash" or "Chicago" wins Best Picture, then being the best really doesn't mean very much, and the distance between best and worst becomes ever more difficult to define.

Josh

Name:              Peter Gustavson
E-mail:             pgus@thom.com

Dear Josh:         

This is a fairly out-there question, and I know you don't watch a lot of TV so you may not know what I'm talking about, but I was wondering if you have any theories as to why corporations hire Hollywood actors to do voiceovers for commercials (without appearing in the flesh), when unknown voiceover experts are  presumably cheaper.

I've been discussing this with someone who apparently doesn't have as good an ear for celebrity voices as I do, and she doesn't believe me when I identify the commercial voice-overs as done by Jeff Bridges (Duracell), Gene Hackman (Oppenheimer Funds), David Duchovny (Pedigree dog food), Kevin Spacey (Honda Civic), etc.

My skeptical friend asked me how I could know these were the real celebrities -- they could get sound-alikes -- but I told her that Tom Waits successfully sued Doritos for hiring a guy to imitate him in a radio commercial, so I doubt that's the case.

Anyhow, just seems weird, especially since not everyone seems to recognize these expensive voices they're using.

Dear Peter:

The advertisers feel it gives their product class to have a big name spokesperson, and those are definitely the actual stars doing the voice-overs.  Donald Sutherland does the voice-over for several products, and he has sort of a lisp, and a funny Canadian accent.  If you've got an ad budget of tens of millions of dollars you've got to figure out someway to spend it, right?

Josh

Name:              Dave Mogen
E-mail:             nostromo99[at]excite[dot]com

Hi, Josh--

Great read, the journal from the filming of 'Book...'. Thanks for posting that public.

For a few years now, I have been wondering about any possible connections between a film called 'Terror Creatures From The Grave'(1965 B&W, Italian; Barbara Steele, et.al.) and 'Evil Dead'. Specificly, whether or not Sam and Robert were 'influenced' by it at all. If you are unfamiliar with it, which most people are-mainly cuz it's a yawn-fest pretty much--it has a large supply of camera angles, cuts, scenes, dialogue, 'situations' and in general, I guess--'similarities' to the film Evil Dead. To the point, Josh, that I am a bit unsettled about it. I LOVE the movie Evil Dead. It changed my life, and it remains a masterpiece of film , never to be forgotten for its impact then and long life today.  But, if there was as much gleened from this other film as it seems, someone needs to acknowledge their influence, pronto, wouldn't you agree? Now, without sounding like a total freak, or a person with divested interest in that wreck of a film, 'Terror Creatures...' I would advise you to attempt to locate it somehow, and sit down and watch it. The WHOLE thing. It will be rough at times, due to the dull as a butter knife screen presence of the lead actor, mainly. But see this film all the way through and tell me there isn't something fishy going on.

I need some closure on this one, amn. It's beginning to consume me, because I want it to be all in my head, or a coincidence or SOMETHING! When I came upon your site, I figured it's worth trying to contact someone directly involved, yet 'outside' as well. If you need a copy, I will dub one and send it no problem.

Also, before I go, Bob Dorian was the voice on the recorder right?

Well, it sure sounds like him doing the American English voice over for that lead hack in 'Terror Creatures From The Grave' as well. There's more similarities where that came from, but I'll wait.

Thanks again Josh. The journal ruled. Any insight on this whacky theory of mine would be awesome.

Cheers,

D. Mogen
Seattle, WA

Dear Dave:

Honestly, I have no idea whether Sam ever saw that film or heard of it, and I certainly haven't.  But let's face it, ED really just is a mish-mosh of many previous horror films.  I don't think that's what makes it a memorable film, it's entirely the way Sam directed it.  I was there for the whole thing, I lit a lot of it, ran camera, blew blood through tubes, loaded the film, changed the lenses, and I had no clue how that film would go together, or even if it would go together -- but Sam certainly knew.  He had a visual plan, and there's a bunch of well-directed, well-edited sequences.  Even if he did see that other film, who cares?  I hear that "Reservoir Dogs" is a complete rip-off of a Hong Kong film, but does it matter?  Best Picture this year, "The Departed," was based on a Hong Kong film, and even though they acknowledge it, what's the difference?  Everything comes from somewhere.

Josh

Name:              Danielle
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Can you think of a decent movie in which time suddenly jumps forward a few decades between the first act and the second?

I'm currently writing a script in which the protagonist appears to reach a conclusion concerning his "big problem" by the end of Act 1, but his solution turns out to be superficial and, consequently, short-lived. By abruptly jumping ahead twenty years, I could present a greatly altered version of the character (the aftermath of the dramatic first act events having taken their toll). I also think it might be fun for the audience to fill in the blanks of the intervening years based upon information given at the start of Act 2.

Do you think I will lose narrative momentum if I abruptly jump ahead with the character? Is the device (like flashbacks) simply weak writing? The troubled protagonists of FIVE EASY PIECES, TAXI DRIVER, THE CONVERSATION, etc. were presented in states of "aftermath" without any kind of prologue, so I fear that my desire to skip ahead in time is a bad idea. Perhaps my Act 2 should really be my Act 1.

Am I making a common screenwriting mistake?  Thanks.

Dear Danielle:

I don't think you're making a mistake, but don't switch actors if you can help it, meaning don't go from 10 years old to 30 years old.  Go from 20 to 40, let's say, or 30 to 50.  The film that immediately came to mind, and it's not a 20 year jump between Acts I & II, just a year, if I recall correctly, was "Sixth Sense."  But my short story, "Grave Error" (which is posted), actually does that.  Anyway, if that's how you feel you need to tell your story, then that's how you should do it.

Josh

Name:              Michael
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you have any advice for screenwriters who wish to tackle adapting novels and short stories into films? What is the general process of obtaining the rights to a novel or short story for such an endeavor? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Dear Michael:

My advice is to write original screenplays if you don't have the agent and lawyer necessary to get the rights to a book or a story.  If you have to ask, you're in no position to do it.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

So "The Departed" won Best Picture and Director and a couple of others.  I read in the news that an actor said it was time that Martin Scorsese won an oscar since he is the 'best living director'.  In this day and age does that really mean that much? It is those types of quotes that spurred me to comment in my last post as to why are directors so idolized, rather than anything to do with your work.

So I happened to be watching The Departed last night.  I thought it was ok but not a future classic.  To me it was a formulaic cop movie.  Whether it deserved BP or not I guess is more a reflection of the competition.  It wasn't a bad movie, but not a great movie.

When I say formulaic, what I mean is that it relied on a lot of cliched devices.  Good Cop, Bad Cop. Mole on the inside and mole on the outside. A lot of the so called surprises, I thought could be anticipated moments before their happening in the scene.  Usually, the surprises involved someone getting killed.  I thought it was a stretch that DiCaprio would be admitted to the inner circle so quickly, and Costello even expressed his doubts about that.  Also, the two guys winding up with the same girl...very convenient to the story.

I think Scorsese was effective with pacing of the movie.  Fairly short sequences, hopping between the various themes of the movie.  However, the last 20-30 minutes of The Departed, after the big warehouse scene, seemed to be drawn out.  There already seemed to have been three acts and a climax and the conclusion seemed to stretch on longer than it should. And I thought the rat on the railing at the end was a corny metaphor.

I guess about the only other award winners that interests me is The Last King of Scotland. I've read that it has problems, but I will probably see it anyway. I also intend to see The Queen.

So do you think "The Departed" deserved Best Picture and Director, or do you care that much?  Thanks.

Dear Bob:

I don't care at all.  It's an unbelievable story that's an hour too long (so give it best editing).

Josh

Name:              Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Couple questions and a statement. First off, when do we get to see more of your writing? Your essay on the history of Hollywood studios was a good read - I'd be happy to see more. Secondly, did you see Little Miss Sunshine? If so what were your thoughts on it.

Finally, I heard something that I wanted to relate to you - it should give you some hope for the future of moviegoers. In a recent conversation with a friend the subject of kids and movies came up. She told me that a friend of her family raised his daughter showing her only movies from about 1938ish until the 70s. His daughter is 8 years old now and her favorite movie is 'The Searchers'. Granted, she's a minority, but it proves that kids aren't beyond redemption.

That's pretty much it. Fight the good fight!

Mike

Dear Mike:

I haven't seen LMS yet.  It's one of those films that I didn't need to fight about while it was new.  I'll see it soon on cable and I'll let you know.  I honestly believe that most people prefer good movies to bad movies, given a choice, but if the only choice is bad or worse they'll still go, bless their hearts.  Meanwhile, the big ironies of my life are 1. I grew up around the block and friends with Sam Raimi, now an A-list director making $200 million movies, so that I never lose my perspective of how miserably I've scaled the Hollywood food chain, and B.  I grew up while they made one great movie after another after another, but by the time I got into the business, they'd stop making good movies.  I love irony, don't you?

I'm not writing anything at the moment.  This is the situation often referred to as "writer's block," but it's not.  I liken it to a bucket hanging on a Maple tree, filling with syrup drop by drop.  When it's full you dump it out, then you have to wait for it to fill up again.  I did recently write an essay about Conservatism, but I didn't post it because it seemed inappropriate for this website.

Josh

Name:              beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

So what do you think about Martin Scorsese finally getting an oscar for directing?

Dear beth:

It's a shame he had to win it for a piece of junk.  He should've won in 1980 for "Raging Bull."

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

Might I ask who the Spanish you met at the San Paolo Film Festival was?

And have you seen any interesting or good films lately?

Thanks.

Dear Kristie:

I don't remember his name, it's been ten years.  I saw "Prince of Players" (1955) with a very young Richard Burton as the actor Edwin Booth, son of the famous actor, Junius Brutus Booth, played by a well-cast Raymond Massey, and the brother of John Wilkes Booth, who murdered Lincoln, played by a young John Derek.  "The Last Sunset" (1961) with Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson, written by Dalton Trumbo, and directed by Robert Aldrich, which should have been better given all of the talent.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I can't smoke because it makes me sick afterwards, I don't care if anybody else does it in public or restaurants (hey its not stinking up my home). Of course, I've got a much healthier way for someone to die before 75. Just save some money for a few years, get the Scarface Suite at the best hotel (I'm talking hot tub in the center floor). Get a group of $500 an hour multi-ethnic prostitutes together for a wild time along with a serious amount of drugs, then taking a fucking swan dive out the window. Also that reminds me, does a guy with a trachyea have to come up for air when going down on a broad?

Dear Stroud:

It's better to burn out then to rust out.

Josh

Name:              Allan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I laughed out loud when reading your response. Cigarettes have a chemical that inspires creativity? So you're attributing creativity to smoking cigarettes?

Rod Serling wrote great TV episodes because he smoked? What about Richard Matheson who wrote even better TV and never smoked? Last time I checked, Stephen King, the most prolific and celebrated author of our time isn't a smoker either!

And congratulations Josh! You've solved our overpopulation problem! Get more people addicted to cigarettes! YAY! GREAT IDEA! Oh wait...sorry, you're nearly twenty years late on that one. See, awhile back it was revealed that cigarettes were hazardous and harmful to the health and the government didn't put a ban on them like every other lethal drug...why? MONEY and POPULATION CONTROL. Years later, America is wising up (it always takes us a little longer to catch on) and progress is being made on this issue. Smoking is on its way to being obsolete. PROGRESS. HEALTH. LIFE.

Face it, Josh. You're a sheep. A government-herded sheep...your pockets are being emptied and your blood's being sucked dry. Faster than the rest of us...and yet...still...you enjoy it...because "it makes you creative."

No, it doesn't make you creative. That's a load of a bullshit and you know it. Only thing it makes you is sick, sicker than non-smokers and then dead...in most cases, sooner than non-smokers.

Now I've got a question for you. If you could go back to when you first got hooked (knowing everything you know now) would you stop yourself from smoking?

I've asked this question to every smoker I know, including myself when I smoked and 100%, without fail, the answer is always "OF COURSE I'D STOP MYSESLF FROM GETTING HOOKED."

Why?

Because NOBODY LIKES BEING A SMOKER. Despite the bullshit they feed themselves.

Dear Allan:

You have an interesting, if ultimately false and dishonest, technique to your argument -- you keep stating with absolute assurance that I'm lying to myself.  Since you don't know me, you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.  This is a technique that may have worked for you with others, but it doesn't work with me.  I enjoyed my first cigarette, I enjoyed my last cigarette, and I've enjoyed damn near every cigarette in between.  I'm not sorry I started, and I'm not trying to quit.  Yes, cigarettes may kill me, but sure as shit something's going to.  Meanwhile, Stephen King may have quit since he got run over by a van, but he was a big smoker for most of his life.  Enough.  Now you can officially fuck off.

Josh

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

Josh,

Regarding Colin Farrell in Alexander- I thought it was funny they cast an Irish kid as the young Alexander, just to be consistent in their miscasting.  Only made it through about 20 min of that one, oy!

I may regret asking, but what was so horrid about the Sao Paulo Film Festival?

Best,
JR

Dear Jason:

Let's see . . .  First of all, after flying 6,000 miles to get to Sao Paulo, no one met me at the airport.  Well, no one there speaks English, just Portuguese, the money-changing booth was closed, and my ATM card didn't work in their machine.  I ended up having to hitch-hike into the city, the 3rd largest in the world.  I miraculously found my way to the festival's office, and no one was there, nor could anyone be reached.  I did finally get to the hotel, but it took most of the day.  No one working on the festival gave the slightest shit about me, and no one is even the tiniest bit apologetic for not picking me up.  I then got to watch the idiots fuck up the projection on every single movie they showed, missing all of the reel changes all of the time.  They told me that they'd have subtitles for my film on a TV, but didn't, so no one could understand it.  That wasn't too big of a problem because there was no sound at all for a great deal of the sceening.  Since it was a 16mm print there was thankfully only one reel change (as opposed to 6 or 7 with a 35mm print), and after the first reel ended, the screen went white, and it then took the utterly incompetent projectionist 15 minutes to make the change.  When reel two finally began -- no sound.  Meanwhile, during the screening they locked the big metal doors into the auditorium, so if anyone had to go to the bathroom they had to pound on the metal door for a minute or two until they were let go, then the door was relocked, and the process repeated over and over.  I made friends with a Spanish director who had shot his film in anamorphic wide-screen.  During the screening the projectionist screwed with the lens on the projector, causing the image to first stretch one way, then the other, for the entire film, never managing to get it right.  Finally, the sickened director left the theater.  They had also told him he'd have subtitles, but he didn't get them, either.  On top of all of that, the folks who ran the festival simply weren't very nice, clearly didn't care about the filmmakers or the films.  If all goes well, I hope to never go back to Sao Paulo again in my life.  I hear Rio is cool, though.

Josh

Name:              Joakim Andersen
E-mail:             anjoa@mail.westerdals.no

Hello Josh.

I am a filmstudent from Norway and I have a question. Do you like to work on multiple projects at once or do you prefer to just focus on one at a time? I am asking, because I have alot of unfinished shortfilms on the editing table that I am struggeling to get done. Plus I always start a new project before my last film is completly finished. So I just leave it there sort of. Do you have some tips or words of wisdom? Cheers man ;)

Dear Joakim:

Yes, my words of wisdom are -- finish your films.  Just starting things without finishing them is basically worthless.  Only finished films have any value.  There are many people who start things, there are far fewer who see things all the way to completion.  All of my friends who are professional filmmakers finish their films.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Nothing personal, but what is so great about the Director of a film?  The actors do all the work.  The writers have to create the story.  The Director seems to be more or less a manager.  So why to they get such a hallowed position in the hierarchy of film making?

Dear Bob:

A reasonable question.  The director is the one who takes it from the page to the screen, which can be done in an infinite number of ways.  The director is frequently the only person on the set that has any clue what's going on.  Actors don't know where to go unless you tell them, the cameraman doesn't know where to put the camera, the DP doesn't know what he's supposed to be lighting, the grips don't know where the dolly track goes, etc.  A director can be just a manager, or merely an expediter, but good or bad the director is really in charge of everything, from the pace the lines are delivered, to the movements of the actors, to where each and every cut is, to what direction everything's moving, to the size of the shots you're seeing, on and on.  Does that help?

Josh

Name:              Kenneth Harris
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

What do you think of "art" films? I mean abstract non-narrative movies by the likes of Brakhage.  I'm sure in your short experience in different movie-related schools you've had to watch quite a few.

I dislike most "experimental pieces" I've seen. Somehow when there is no story or even actors, only form, films just end up feeling dull and soulless.

Best,
   Kenneth

Dear Kenneth:

They don't interest me.  However, if you're going to experiment with arty, non-narrative filmmaking, short films are the place to do it.  But I am completely and totally convinced that feature filmmaking is entirely about narrative storytelling.  What drives me crazy these days is that there seems to be a disdain for the concept of narrative, yet no one has anything to replace it with but bullshit.  The idea that "I'm an artist and I can't be constrained by a narrative" is what has totally undermined movies.

Josh

Name:              Allan
E-mail:

"The dumb idiot who came here a few days ago telling you you really didn't enjoy smoking..."

"Anyone who tells me what to do can go fuck themselves..."

First off, I never told you what to do...I only told you what you were capable of doing: quitting. The notion of quitting sent you into a defensive fury and the first thing you probably did was light up a smoke in defiance of the truth I was spitting.

That's okay, Josh, you're just like every other unknowingly self-loathing smoker. Every time you light one up, conscious or not, you're asking yourself why you're doing it. Because you know you feel enslaved by the cigarette -- if you didn't feel enslaved you would quit because you're a smart, rational human being who knows that:

cigarette smoking kills nearly about 430,000 people a year, making it more lethal than AIDS, automobile accidents, homicides, suicides, drug overdoses, and fires combined. It reduces smokers' life expectancy by 15 to 25 years.

The list of shocking facts goes on and on as you know. And the cherry on top?

IT'S THE MOST PREVENTABLE CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE WORLD.

All you've got to do is quit. But you're afraid to, because you're trapped in cigarette brainwashing land. Get over your pathetic little summer camp fascination with cigarettes and start thinking about your health.

You can bitch and moan all day long about how religion kills and war kills, but it means zilch coming from a man whose self respect is so low that he deludes himself into thinking that he actually enjoys the suicidal poison he inhales multiple times a day.

Self hate is the greatest love all, ain't it?

Now go light up another cigarette and...ENJOY.

And Josh, if you don't post this...that's okay...I know you read me loud and clear, partner.

Dear Allan:

There are nearly six and half billion people on the planet right now, most of whom will live a lot longer than the generation before them.  You know what that achieves?  In 50 years there will be twelve billion people, and half of them will be 65 or older, and who the hell is going to support them? Of the remaining six billion, two billion of those will be under eighteen. Therefore, four billion people will be expected to support the other eight billion, and that will be a disaster.  Everybody doesn't have to live to be 90, not to mention that between 75 and 90 seems like a complete drag where you get to not only watch yourself fall apart and die, but you get to watch everyone you know fall apart and die, too.  Also, you non-smoking fanatics will not own up to the fact that cigarettes contain a drug that inspires creativity.  The writer Colleen McCullough was recently diagnosed with a disease that's making her blind (not caused by smoking), but the doctor told her that smoking exacerbated the disease.  Ms. McCullough said that she would not quit because "the words are in the cigarettes."  Now you can deny that up one wall and down the other, but she knows way more about creativity and writing and smoking than you ever will.  So, do I want to be Rod Serling, who smoked a lot and wrote tons of good stuff, or do I want to be my non-smoking, non-drinking grandmother who lived to be 96, and spent her whole life bitching (her best quote was, "I've had good times and I've had bad times, but mainly just bad times"). Finally, I believe that my self-loathing is not only one of my biggest motivations, but possibly one of my most endearing qualities.

Josh

Name:              Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Been a long time since I last wrote. There was a comment you made that got me thinking. I have always agreed with you in regards to the current state of films as well as the declining quality of our actors, writers, and directors. It's sad to think that one of the most respected actors today is a former rapper whose performances offer nothing more than a whiny voice and a furrowed brow, I'm of course talking about Mark Whalberg. His success, and praise make no sense to me, but he has certainly fooled a lot of people. I find it interesting that the last batch of decent actors, i.e. Pacino, De Niro etc. didn't really achieve any success until they were in their early 30s. They spent most of their 20s developing their craft and training to be legitimately good actors. A vast majority of the new crop of successful actors made it solely on their boyish looks, and a lot of them became successful in their early 20s.  Their training wasn't as extensive, as the crop that came before them, and many of them just fell into acting to begin with, i.e. Whalberg. Don't you think this is a huge part of the problem? Filmmakers should not allow this.

I was reading Ball Breaker recently, which I liked, and I was thinking that there aren't many name actors out there that could play Joe. Hollywood has fucked up so badly they have very few bankable actors in their 40s & 50s that would fit such a part. When you wrote the script, did you picture anyone in particular for the role, and could you picture any working bankable actor playing that role if it were to be produced this year? BTW - I think the success of Tom Cruise catalyzed  the plague of the pretty boys. Tell me if you agree.

Dear Scott:

Yes, I agree.  At this point there are very few masculine actors, and seemingly just as few well-trained actors, as well.  But there are also very few well-trained filmmakers, too, so to ask them to not cast pretty boys is a waste of time.  A perfect recent example is Colin Farrell, who isn't bad, but has been consistently miscast in almost everything.  Colin Farrell as Alexander was completely laughable, and his John Smith was like watching paint dry.  The second Hollywood gets a tiny whiff of someone being popular, they immediately appear in seven big-budget movies, then Woody Allen's latest fiasco.  It isn't about ability, it's about percieved popularity. None of this is surprising because the whole movie business is in the toilet.  Look at the Oscar nominees, for goodness sake.  All the categories should begin with, "The least shitty of the five nominees is . . ."  But the actors aren't the big problem, the scripts are.  The art and craft of screenwriting is entirely lost.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I'm a non-smoker, and even I'm appalled by the Nazi-esque way (worldwide, apparently?!) they're trying to stamp it out.  It's almost enough to make me light up out of spite.

I made a point to have all of the characters in my movie smoke, just for the hell of it.  And it sure does look cool, espcially in black and white.

Keep on puffin'!
JR

Dear Jason:

At the horrid Sao Paulo Film Festival in Brazil, a filmmaker from Slovenia said, "I don't trust anyone who doesn't smoke."  I don't entirely agree with him, but I understand what he was saying.  It's like that dumb asshole who came here a few days ago and told me I didn't really like smoking, like somehow because he doesn't smoke he gets to tell me what I think.  Anybody that thinks they can tell me what to do can go fuck themselves.

Josh

Name:              Bobita Johansen
E-mail:             Sportyj49@aim.com

Dear Josh:         

the movie sucked!!!it was the worst movie i have ever seen u need to make a movie like a remake!!!

Dear Bobita:

You need to put a subject in your sentence.  Do you seriously believe that anyone on the planet knows what you're talking about?

Josh

Name:              Lee Price
E-mail:             lee.price@gcapmedia.com

Hi Josh

I sent you a web-site link yesterday. Just to let you know I've uploaded a better resolution of my short film. It's here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh0VOYqzbow

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

Your film is cute, and well-directed, for what it is.  I'd say it's at least twice as long as it needs to be, maybe more.  You should try something now with a story.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Its been a while since I checked your site. How have things been going? I'm trying to work out a website to host all my or alot of my radio shows on at some point and I'd put yours on there for sure so I'll keep you updated with that. My question is about "True Romance", I know you ain't a Tarantino fan at all but did you think True Romance was a good movie or at least a good script. I think its Quentins best script he's ever written to this day. And thats actually coming from a QT fan. Just wanted to see what you thought.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I thought it was bullshit.  A lot of false grandstanding, without a believable moment, or a thing to care about.  I don't Tarantino has a clue how to write.

Josh

Name:              Guy Bellinger
E-mail:             guy

Dear Josh:         

I agrre with you. Wyler is a great director. The subjects he deals with are always interesting, he is a great actor director and technically speaking a master. In France, he was considered a genius in the post World War II period before Les Cahiers du Cinéma ("intellectual terrorists" who gave rise to the French New Wave") desacralized him, belittling him more and more before discarding him as common as dirt. A very unfair and foolish attitude. My favorites: "These three", "Dead end","The best yeras of our lives", "The desperate hours", "The collector" and "Funny Girl". But I still have lots of films signed by him to discover.

Dear Guy:

It's amusing to me that the Cahiers du Cinema critics took up the cause of Sam Fuller as a great artist, but shit on William Wyler, who was a much greater artist.  Personally, I think Wyler was way ahead of John Ford, another French darling, and a fine director, but with nowhere near the depth or expanse of Wyler's POV.  Could Wyler have directed "The Grapes of Wrath" or "The Quiet Man"?  Certainly, and he might have made "The Grapes of Wrath" an even better, snappier film (Ford used Wyler's DP, Gregg Toland).  Could Ford have directed "The Best Years of Our Lives" or "Ben-Hur"?  I don't think so.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thank you for the explanation. Well as a lady I'm not eye to eye with neo-cons I guess they're called, but someone showed me a list of the laws of Islam called the Sharia and it was violent, I was upset. It says that everyone who is not Muslim must either convert or be killed, and all former Muslims who are no longer Muslim must also be killed (apostates). To me it seems to teach violence. That is more what I meant. As far as I know, the only other "religion" today that teaches that is Satanism oh dear.

It just makes me uncomfortable, and as a woman too. Please let me know your ideas about the Sharia in this discussion, but if different that is fine I see that sweeping comments can alienate some people.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:

It says in the old testament bible that if a man should lie with a man the blood guilt is upon him and he should be stoned to death.  Does that mean everybody who believes that the bible is a holy book is a potential murderer?  Isn't that professing violence?  There's no getting past that religion is mainly about us and them -- we're holy, they're not; our god is the real god, there god is false and profane.  It's all bullshit.

Josh

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