Q & A    Archive
Page 151

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

I have seen many pictures of you and of people who are your peers in the movie making arena.

I've never seen one of you or your peers holding a light meter. I guess I would expect it more on a film you might be personally financing and doing more than just the one job of directing.

Do you subscribe to the train of thought that a light meter should be used on each and every shot?

Tim

Dear Tim:

I'm a director and directors don't use light meters.  The DP, or cinematographer, uses the light meter.  Most DPs I've worked with use several light meters on every shot.  There are three kinds of light meter readings: incident, meaning the light hitting the subject; reflective, meaning the light bouncing off the subject; and a spot reading, using a spot meter, which is a reflective light meter with a zoom lens to pick out specific readings within the image.  If you've shot a lot of film then you pretty much know what the exposure is, using certain film speeds under certain conditions, like bright sunlight, or clouds.  But yes, if you're shooting film you should definitely use a light meter.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Well, I know you've pretty much disavowed all connection to Harpies (much like the "Secretary" in the old Mission Impossible recorded tapes that Mr. Phelps would receive) but just in case you're interested, you tied for # 4 for the week for the network, with a 1.4 rating, or (I'm estimating) about 1.75 million viewers.  That's average-to-good for Sci-Fi, especially if it cost virtually nothing to make.  Exact same rating as  Shark Attack 3, for example, the film where your friend Rossi bared it all for her art.   (Not that that's really relevant, but figured the image might bring a smile to your face.)

The really weird thing is that the producers were determined to spend so very little on SFX. Had you known that, I'm sure some local theatrical costume designer could have whipped up some halfway decent, feathery/scaly costumes for the crack-whores-from hell to wear, and some suitably scary make-up, for next-to-nothing.

Anyway, given the film's ...errrmmm....challenges, I must say that I noticed a lot of your trademarks, like for example the lateral dissolves (wipes?) that would transition one scene to the next, and one that sort of telescoped in on the open mouth of one of the characters laughing.  And towards the end, when Jason throws his sword to impale the bad guy... that's that whip-pan thing you used in Running Time, right?  Where the camera spins around so fast we never see the edit?

As Diana mentioned, the bit with the trebuchet and the innocent passer-by was hilarious, as was Caleb doing a spit-take when Lord Castor shows up alive.  As was the exaggerated dip Jason gives the blonde babe, followed by her expression when she realizes she has the amulet in her mouth. Kristin Richardson really is quite pretty - she reminds me of the older sister in the old Lost in Space series.

Also loved the line where the bad guy says "I'm not interested in the girl," and Jason cracks back "I'm not surprised."  Ba da bum *ching*

Was that big marble-steps area where Jason fought the queen harpy at the end part of a real museum?  If so, it really was a fortuitous design, with a sort of ready-made arena for a fight in the center.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

As always, thanks for the info.  It's nice to know that "Harpies" wasn't a total loss.  For the sake of discussion I'll post the harpy designs I had done leading up to not getting any design at all.  The two pencil drawings are by Gary Jones, and the color one was by a fellow in CGI department at UFO named Daniel.  Both of these guys did good work for nothing, and I thank them both.  Meanwhile, yes, wipes have become something of a trademark of mine.  I discovered them during Xena, then used them more and more on those shows, then on "Hammer," too.  And the museum location was actually the Boyana Museum in Sofia, the big museum in town.  The folks in Sofia were very cooperative.

 


Moving on, I've watched half of "These Are the Damned," and it truly is a weird film.  Weird for Hammer, weird for Joseph Losey.  It's interesting seeing Oliver Reed so young.  It also seems like an inspiration for "A Clockwork Orange."  The mixture of social drama and sci-fi story doesn't seem to be working.

Josh

Name:              Joakim Andersen
E-mail:             massepost@gmail.com

Hello Josh. I have a question about blocking actors and camera setup. I saw this behind the scenes documentary on Roman Polanskis "Rosmarys Baby". He basically said that he prefered to go through the scene with the actors first, then follow them with a directors viewfinder, after that he would position the camera and shoot the scene. He said: "To constrain actors to a locked-off shotlist is like tailoring a suit, then go searching for a man that fits that particular suit." I really liked this quote and it made me question the whole shotlist thing. I was wondering if you have any viewpoints on this comment? I am asking you this, because I read in you book that you prefer to plan shots very carefully so you have complete control on the set while shooting. Thanks for your time Josh ;)

Dear Joakim:

Yes, I completely disagree with Mr Polanski, respectfully, of course.  And if you watch "Rosemary's Baby," most scenes are very simply blocked and played out, so whether he blocked it in advance on paper or in his head, or it just fell together that way naturally during rehearsal, it's still pre-planned before shooting.  Sadly, one of the realities of shooting movies and TV is that you frequently don't get any rehearsals at all, so then what do you do? Either you've figured it out in advance, or you're screwed.  Beyond that, the really, really great film directors, like Kubrick or Hitchcock, pre-planned everything, and I like their bodies of work way more than Polanski's, whose career really ended after "Chinatown," 35 years ago.  I do believe that Polanski made four exceptional movies: "Repulsion," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Tenant" and "Chinatown," but that's it.  And nothing of any real note since then.

Josh

Name:              Randy
E-mail:             randalwashburn@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I can't make a film I'm too poor, and if I sell my script someone will steal it? Is this what I just read in your essay? Maybe I'll just tell it as a bedtime story to my grand kids! I have a major midwest Civil war/love story in creation. But in Sioux City Iowa who would have any connection to make a film?
Enjoyed your writting.  Thanks

Dear Randy:

Although I'm not sure what piece you read, I don't think that's what I said. If you've sold your script, how then can it be stolen?  Not to mention, if it's not yours anymore, then if it's stolen it's not being stolen from you. I've had over 20 of my scripts posted on this website for quite a few years, and so far nobody has stolen any of them.  Since I have a deep and abiding faith that no one in Hollywood at this point has the slightest clue what a good script even means, nor what constitutes a good story, why would they bother stealing anything?  Most of the movies that get made now don't even seem like they had a script, just soiled toilet paper.   And I must say that people who piss and moan about being stuck in the middle of nowhere, unable to get to L.A., give me a pain.  Detroit is a longer distance from L.A. than Sioux City, yet somehow I've made it there and back many, many times.  If you really believed your script was any good, and that someone might actually buy it, you'd get in your car, drive west, and in 24 hours you'd be in L.A.  If you're to lazy to play the game, don't complain to me.

Josh

Name:              Dr. Scott Giles
E-mail:             scottgilesmusic@yahoo.com

Dear Mr.Becker,

I'm a big fan of Alien Apocalypse. This surprised me, because, after all, it's a low-budget flick about wood-eating space aliens who've attacked Earth and the intrepid astronaut who rouses mankind to etc. and so on.

But this is such a clever, light movie! It doesn't take itself too seriously yet isn't too campy, either. As well, the score by Joe Loduca is excellent!

I enjoyed this film so much I've written to the SciFi channel suggesting they hire you to do another film. I'm very impressed with your work.

Sincerely,
Scott Giles

http://www.myspace.com/scottgilesmusic

Dear Dr. Giles:

Thank you very much.  I forwarded your letter to Joe LoDuca.  At this point in my life, though, it would be perfectly okay with me to never do another Sci Fi Channel movie.  I've done a pretty good job of burning my bridges with the executive producer of both of the Sci Fi films I've done, as well as the studio in Bulgaria that makes many of the Sci Fi films, so I may very well get my wish.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

Josh,

What did you think of the 1984 film... err.. "1984"?

It didn't seem like such a bad movie. I'll never get that BIG BROTHER image out of my head ("I'll chop off your head!"). The whole set design was disgusting (rats on a whore... awesome). So what do think is going to get here first: Big Brother or The Road Warrior?

Dear K.:

Are you referring to the 1984 remake of the 1956 version of "1984"?  It was pretty gloomy, all in all.  I was sort of moved by the 1956 version as a kid.  Meanwhile, Big Brother is already here.  The Bush/Cheney Neo-Conservative agenda is Big Brother: no accountability, spying on your own people, torture, aggression, utter propaganda trying to make us out as Pure Good and everyone else as Pure Evil.  I have no doubt that Cheney is collecting rats together right now to eat out the eyes of his enemies, which are all liberal Democrats.  Let's just hope those evil, Neo-Conservative, Republican assholes get voted out in the very near future.

Josh

Name:              MikeP
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What's the latest on Hammer?  Wasn't there a company considering it for distibution on DVD?

Have you ever heard of http://www.customflix.com/ ?

It seems like it would be a good way to get it on DVD if the other deal fell through.

Dear MikeP:

There is no latest on "Hammer."  I haven't followed up on the little theatrical release I was doing.  Customflix won't do me anymore good than what I already have.  At least Synapse Films is willing to put enough money into the film to do a good transfer and nice packaging, they just don't believe they'll get their money back.  But there's no way on earth I'd put the film out there with the shitty, one-light, print transfer I presently have, and I new transfer will be at least $5,000.

Josh

Name:              DREW
E-mail:             cocheezy@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I agree with you on Ron Paul.  Although I like what he's saying, I feel like he should be on the other side.  It really didn't surprise me when I found out he ran on the Libertarian ticket back in 1988.  Why he deceided to switch to republican is beyond me.

I got curious at work and started to look up celebrities and their campaign contributions to presidential campaigns.  I was suprised to find how many people supported George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, including your old pal Sam Raimi.

It's kinda stupid, but I felt depressed the whole day after reading that .
. . .:-)

I know who gives what to whom is none of my business, but how do you feel about that?

Thanks.

Dear DREW:

All Americans are free to have their heads as far up their own ass as they care to shove it.  Anyone who ever supported Bush doesn't hold a high place in my esteem.  Meanwhile, in all of the years I've known Sam, we never once discussed politics.  Regarding Ron Paul, even though I like what he says, he still seems extremely ineffectual to me.  Of course that still makes him the best Republican out there.  But there's only one man for the job of being the next U.S. president and it's Al Gore, and he knows it.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Have you seen "Army of Shadows"? It was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and released in 1969, but supposedly never seen theatrically in the US until last year. The NY Times called it the "Best Film of 2006", which I find odd. How can a movie made in 1969 be the best film of 2006? Anyway, I've read excellent things about the film and was wondering if anyone here has seen it.

Dear David:

I can't stand Jean-Pierre Melville.  His films are dull and pretentious, like watching paint dry.

Josh

Name:              DREW
E-mail:             cocheezy@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I was impressed with your response to my last question.  Thanks!

What do you think of presidential candidate Ron Paul?

Also, I was intrigued by how you said the earth will figure out how to take care of itself.  Have you ever read any works by Theodore Roczak? I'm reading "Flicker" as we speak . . .it's a great read.

Take care.

Dear DREW:

No, I haven't read him.  Regarding Ron Paul, he's by far the best Republican out there, but he's still a Republican, so he has deep, inherent flaws.  He reminds me of gay orthodox Jews who are hated by all the other orthodox Jews.  Why be part of a group that hates you?  It's like a black person desperately wanting to be part of the KKK, or a Jew who needs to be a Nazi. Also, Ron Paul is a self-proclaimed "conservative," and I think I've made my thoughts known on that topic.  I don't want any backward-looking people in positions of power.

Josh

Name:              Charles Corder
E-mail:             cscorder@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I'm a fan of "Sahara", too. It's one of Bogey's best and one of the best World War II movies made while the war was going on. (It was on TV again recently; it's one of those movies I always watch if I get the chance.)

The battle scenes, particularly the final showdown, are excellent. They look real, despite lacking all the modern advantages of CGI. I also liked how the filmmakers took a shot at then-segregated U.S. military by making the Sudanese soldier one of the film's biggest heroes. And the final shots of the Allied soldiers graves left behind is moving.

Charles

Dear Charles:

One aspect of "Sahara" that puts it ahead of other American war films made during WWII was that it was directed by Zoltan Korda, who was Hungarian, but a British citizen, and it's subsequently not filled with American propaganda.  Korda also gave it a much greater sense of realism, I think. Bogart was terrific in it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

At some point I really will ask you a few questions about "Harpies," which as you said is by no means the worst Sci-Fi film ever, although it perhaps had fewer SFX than any in history.  Although you'll be amused by the quip one wag made at the IMDB, on how it could have been better:  "Add a porn scene between the blonde chick and the bald guy with the mustache."

But in the meantime, I was curious if you'd ever seen "These Are the Damned," aka just "The Damned," which was on TCM last night.  It's the most curious film I've ever seen:  at times it's shot like a stark Imgmar Bergman film with an existential Swedish artist (Vivica Lindfors) wistfully gazing out at the craggy shores of east nowhere England and waxing philosphical... at times it's like a Richard Lester documentary on Teddy Boys with a broody Oliver Reed leading a bunch of droogies as they terrorize this little town... but it's actually a Hammer sci-fi film about radioactive children locked under a British military facility.  But quite ambitious for an early 60's Hammer film, with real live helicopters pursuing Reed in a sportscar down a highway, sweeping location shots from the sea to the cliffs above, boats zipping around a harbor, the camera following the young toughs all through the streets of a real town, etc.  I wasn't familiar w/ the director, Joseph Losey, but it's as if he got hired to do a low-budget thriller, and decided he wanted to sneak an art film in there instead.  Are you familiar w/ this one?

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I've got "These Are the Damned" TiVoed and I'll let you know once I've seen it.  Joseph Losey, BTW, was an important director.  He was American, and was blacklisted and moved in England in the early 1950s.  His first movie, "The Boy With the Green Hair" really got me as a kid.  Losey made three very interesting films written by Harold Pinter: "The Servant" (1963), "The Accident" (1967), and "The Go-Between" (1971), all of which are worth seeing.

Josh

Name:              4th of July Hangover
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Happy fourth! I hope you drank some beer.

Since it's a patriotic day, I figured I'd ask you a government question. If the election were to be held tomorrow, who of all the current presidential hopefuls would you vote for?

Dear 4th:

I still believe that Al Gore will announce his candidacy, and he's truly the man for the job at this point.  Otherwise, I'd have to vote for Obama because A.  I like him, and B. He didn't vote to give Bush the power to go to war, as all of the others did.  That vote was the most important decision of their collective lives, and given just a little bit of pressure they all folded.  As always, though, I'll vote for any Democrat over any Republican any day of the week.  And while I'm talking politics, one of the true evil culprits of the modern world was Ronald Reagan.  When he came into office we had a brilliant energy program put together by Jimmy Carter, that had we followed we wouldn't be using any middle-east oil at this point.  But that scumbag Reagan scrapped the whole thing, got us using more oil than we'd previously been using, and even went so far as to tear out the solar panels Carter had installed for the White House.  Had Regean not thoughtlessly done that, a lot of the shit we're presently dealing wouldn't be happening. Ronald Regean was a first-rate lifeguard, a second-rate actor, and a third-rate politician.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

A lot of THE TRAIN came through improvisation and accidents. Whenever the resistance workers had to leave to work on another film, Mista Frankenheimer arranged for the nazis to shoot them on film. He thought the town at the beginning of the film was so good, he arranged for the train to go in a circle so they could continue using it. And because it took place in wartime, all the lights would be out in the town, and they had to find interesting sources of light. This was responsible for the train passing "bombed air raided towns". And the loop lead to two good shots: the lantern revealing the name of the town and the map revealing they were going backward. And that one shot of the train derailing and running over the camera was a complete accident. And Burt Lancaster hurting his leg during golf led to the shot of him taking a bullet in the leg on the bridge.

Also, I just noticed this: the score Maurice Jarre uses... during the exact scene right after Paul Scofield lies saying the train "left thirty minutes ago"... the music that plays in the next scene is his score for William Wyler's THE COLLECTOR.

Dear K.:

When you say improvisation, it's not like they were making things up while the camera was rolling, they were figuring out how to achieve their script given the circumstances.  I just saw an homage to Burt Lancaster on TCM narrated by Frankenheimer.  He was pointing out some of the dangerous cool things you could get Lancaster to do, like in one shot in "The Train," he climbed down from a tower, ran out and jumped onto a fast moving train without a cut.  Anyway, they had a very good story and script to work with on "The Train," which makes a huge difference.  As I've mentioned before, "The Train" has a wonderful sense of irony, something that's very rare in American movies, nor is it something blunder upon in improvisation. Meanwhile, other than his scores for "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago," I've always been exceedingly underwhelmed by Maurice Jarre.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

I watched "The Sugarland Express" tonight. A Spielberg film and I know you aren't a big fan of his.

I thought some of it was just way over the top even for 1974 but I will say that I thought the camera work was awesome.

There was one shot where we have two police cruisers coming up on the camera and the POV comes in close to catch the officer in the closest car and then the officer in the car next to him.

Every time the closest officer pressed his microphone button his face lit up in a kind of tube glow I guess you would call it.The shot ends with the far officer singing into his mic and a drift away POV.I guess I found it cool because I know this wasn't a shot whereby the vehicles were being towed on a flatbed to get the best shot stabilization.

Silly but somewhat entertaining story with awesome camera work.I felt Goldie Hawn and William Atherton gave good performances even though I found myself asking the question...Were these two people that stupid in real life?

I know you are bound to have seen it Josh.

Any thoughts on it?

Tim

Dear Tim:

It was shot by the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who would later go on to win an Oscar for Spielberg's "Close Encounters."  Beyond that, at least "Sugarland Express" doesn't have that cloying, goopy feeling of most other Spielberg films.  But I don't think it's a particularly exceptional story, and the two leads aren't very appealing or interesting.  At the time it came out I was unmoved, and I wouldn't have bet that Spielberg had a career waiting for him.

Josh

Name:              DREW
E-mail:             cocheezy@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I really admire your political stance, and was wondering why is America so stupid?  I got angry last night when Bush commuted Libby's sentence, and it fires me up.  We have been duped by a president that has taken this country in a direction so obtuse that we can't even see the horizon anymore, and yet we seem to let this adminstration do it.  Why? How did we let this happen?

I'm interested in your response.

Thanks and take care.

Dear DREW:

I don't think the real issue is, why are Americans so stupid, so much as why are human beings so stupid?  I personally don't give a shit about Scooter Libby, and whether he does time or not because he's just one more schmuck who had to fall on his sword for Cheney and Bush.  And why did those assholes get into office?  Because Bill Clinton got a blow job.  I grow weary of the whole thing sometimes.  Nobody really wants to talk about what's really going on -- that the last major untapped oil reserve in the world coincidentally happens to be located in Iraq; Americans use 30% of all the oil in the world, and world reserves have peaked.  So what do we Americans do about it?  We drive Hummers, Escalaides and Suburbans, then in our spare time we go exploring in our motor homes hauling a car, with two motorcycles on the back; or we stay home and ride around on our lawnmowers, while also having every single electrical appliance in the house going at once.  And I'm as guilty as everybody else.  I don't believe that this planet can comfortably sustain the 6 1/2 billion people who are presently here, and we're in complete denial of the situation.  By the time we begin to wake up there will be at least 8 billion people, and China and India will have surpassed us in oil consumption.  Then life won't end on the planet, but the planet will figure out some clever way to get rid of about 6 billion excess people.  That's what I'm thinking.

Josh

Name:              Meblo Paloma
E-mail:             meblo@honano.com

Dear Josh:         

hello! my name is Meblo, I live in spain I love your cinema and am friends with Paul.  like Paul, I thing that your best film is RUNNING TIME, is fantastic!  I apologize for his bad engish. Since I am smarter can you give *me* your answered? please!  I deserve answered more tan Paul.

Dear Meblo:

Is this Spanish humor?  Okay, my answer is 9.  Wait, 10.  No, 9.

Adios, amigo,

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Yeah i was just wondering the other day if the reason Allen didn't direct "Play it Again Sam" was because of lack of experience. I'm pretty sure he had only made "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas" at the time. I think "Play it Again Sam" is his funniest movie next to "Love and Death".

Regarding the other Bogart films you mentioned, I have seen nearly all of them. I havn't seen "Sabrina" (which i really want to see since i like Billy Wilder a lot), "Sahara", and "Dead End". You have mentioned a couple of times how great "Dead End" was and how it moved you. I will make sure to track down a copy.

Good to hear "Rushes" is coming out soon. I will definately pick up a copy. It will be good to finally have all your essays collected in one book. Are there going to be any in the book that we havn't seen yet?

Dear Chris:

Yes, and most of the rest have been rewritten and expanded.  I agree with you that Woody Allen's funniest movies are: "Love and Death," "Play it Again, Sam," "Annie Hall," "Sleeper," "Bananas," "Take the Money and Run," in that order.  I like "Manhattan," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," but they're more serious and less funny.  His movies of the last 20 years are just crap.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you think you will see Sicko?  You are overdue for a film review.

Do you think that the US needs a National Medical program, or is it more important to just try to preserve Medicare.  That will get me going on why LBJ is such a hugely underrated President because of Vietnam, where Medicare still exists today, (how many Presidents still have that kind of legacy?) but that is another question, and I know that it is polite to only ask one. Thanks.  Oh, and sorry for mixing up camera work with editing on the New World question, and thanks for taking time for the clarification.

Dear Bob:

I've seen all of Michael Moore's other films, and I'll undoubtedly see this one, too.  As usual, I think Mr. Moore is addressing one of the most serious issues in America right now.  Our health care system is a complete failure, is the most expensive health care system in the world that gives the least coverage to the least amount of people.  This is one more bogus example of the conservative, right-wing Republican perspective that things work better if the government is not involved and everything is privatized.  Bullshit! Next to the oil companies, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have the highest profit margins in the country, but we get the least service and the least coverage.  Not to mention that health care costs have destroyed the U.S. car industry.  As the boss of a friend of mine, who works for a car parts company, said, "I'm in the health care business, and I make car parts on the side."  The U.S. health care system is a disaster, and it takes provocateurs like Michael Moore to get things changed.

Josh

Name:              pablo
E-mail:             pablocampbell2@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

hello! my name is Paul, I live in spain and I love your cinema, I thing that your best film is RUNNING TIME, is fantastic! Can you give me your answered? please!

Hola, pablo AKA Paul:

Unfotunately, I don't detect a question, so how can I answered?  I'm glad you liked RT.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Have you seen Northwest Passage on any network lately? I thought it was a pretty good movie, and would like to see it again, but have read that it has been blacklisted as being racist.

Dear Bob:

I don't know anything about it being racist, nor do I know if anyone's showing it.  The story behind that film, BTW, is that when King Vidor went to make the film they'd only finished writing the first half of the script. He and the cast expected the second half of the script to arrive every day they were shooting, but it never came.  So, once they were done shooting the first half of the script, production was shut down.  He was told that production would pick back up in a month or so when the script was done. This never happened, so Vidor went off and made another movie.  One day while shooting this other film Vidor saw that at the local movie theater "Northwest Passage" was playing.  He watched it and it was just the first half of the script with "The End" tacked on.

Josh

Name:              J.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

There's a thing floating around myspace, it's a bulletin (which if you're unfamiliar with myspace, it's basically an email forward that goes to all of your friends at once) and the bulletin asks "What five movies changed your life?" and I thought it would be interesting to hear your answer.

So, Mr. Becker, what five movies changed your life?

Dear J.:

Interesting question.  The first film to change my life was certainly "How the West Was Won."  I saw it when I was six (in three-screen Cinerama) in 1964 and decided right then that movies were better than reality.  Second was "Oliver!" in 1968, when I realized that Mark Lester, who played Oliver, was the same age as me, but I was a dumb kid in Detroit, and he was the star of a big giant movie.  I thought, "If he can be in a movie, why can't I?" It also made me realize that actual kids had stood before a movie camera, sang and danced, and it all became a movie.  It made me realize that human beings actually made these movies.  Somewhere around this time I saw William Wyler's "Dead End" on TV, and it's depiction of poverty in NYC during the depression really moved me, and it made me understand the emotional power of movies.  In 1970 I saw "Patton" five times, and I think this was the film that got me to understand that there were these folks called writers and directors, and that they were the ones who were responsible for actually making the film.  And finally, I saw "Play it Again, Sam" in 1972, laughed harder than I ever had at a movie, and realized that there were other obsessed movie geeks out there who watched "Casablanca" over and over again. It also made me understand, somehow, that I really wanted to be a writer and director and make movies like that.  There, that's five.

Josh

Name:              Charles Corder
E-mail:             cscorder@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I can't say that you didn't warn me about "Harpies" ahead of time. I caught the second showing, which started at midnight my time. I managed to watch the entire thing. One good thing about it: my insomnia was cured. Am I correct in thinking that the funny bits (like the cart driver's mishap) were contributed by you?

I'm puzzled about why Sci Fi, which shows more than its share of crap, would allow a turd like "Harpies" to air. Is cable TV really that desperate for programming?

Better luck next time, Josh, when hopefully you can use your own script.

Charles

Dear Charles:

Yes, I added the bit with the cart driver.  I can't imagine why SciFi accepted the film either.  They really must be hard up.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was searching around in your archived Q+A pages to see what you thought of Humphrey Bogart (he is quickly becoming my very favourite actor) when i stumbled across this comment from you:

"When I first saw "Play It Again, Sam" I thought I would die I was laughing so hard. I felt like he had made the movie just for me, since I happened to be a "Casablanca" freak (in the days before video tape, I had cassette taped the film off of TV and would just listen to it). I actually saw that film more times in a theater than other film (18 times). "

18 times!!!!! wow!. I was glad to hear that because i also love "Play it Again Sam". It's one of my very favourite Woody Allen films. I'm not sure why he didn't direct it though.

Anyway what are some of your favourite Bogart films? I, like many other Bogart fans think his best performance could be in the film "In a Lonely Place" but I didn't see that movie listed in your favourites. I also love "Casablanca", "The Maltese Falcon", "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "The Big Sleep", "The African Queen" and a bunch of others.

PS. Sorry to hear "Harpies" didn't turn out very well. I probably won't end up seeing it since i don't have the Sci-Fi channel and I don't plan on buying the dvd. As long as it paid the bills Josh! I, like most people that post here, look foward to your future projects.

Dear Chris:

Quite frankly, I think one of the reasons I like "Play it Again, Sam" so much is that Woody didn't direct it (not that I'm a fan of Herbert Ross, mind you).  But it had been a hit play on Broadway, with Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts, Paramount bought the movie rights and didn't feel that Woody Allen had enough experience at that point to handle such a big film.  Another aspect of it that I really like, that's unique to that film, is that it takes place in San Francisco instead of NYC.  Also, and this was something I happened to be discussing yesterday, it's by far Woody's most polished script, due to having played it so many times on stage.  He's never put that kind of time and effort into any of his scripts before or since. We're at a point now where everyone wants to be John Cassavetes, improvising all of the dialog.  Sadly, there was only one Cassavetes and no one else has come within a mile of his ability to do that.  The idea of really working on your script and polishing and polishing it until it glimmers and shines is old-school, mainly, I believe, because it's much more difficult, and nobody now is willing to put in the time and effort.  All we get now are lazy, shitty, poorly conceived, and even more poorly worked out scripts.

Regarding Humphry Bogart, yes, I'm a big fan.  I just watched "The African Queen" again last week for about the 20th time, and Bogart gives one of the truly great reaction shots ever in a movie.  When the captain of the Louisa (Peter Bull, later to be in "Dr. Strangelove") condemns Bogart to death, his reaction goes from utter horror to apathy, back to horror, back to apathy, and ending in confusion.  It's brilliant, and hysterical.  I like "In a Lonely Place," but I don't think it's a great film, nor one of Bogart's best performances, either.  Beyond the films you've named, which all terrific Bogart performances, I also really like: "The Petrified Forest," "Dead End," "High Sierra," "Sahara," "The Big Sleep," "Key Largo," "The Caine Mutiny" (very possibly his best performance, along with "Sierra Madre") "Sabrina (in which he's miscast, but still pulls it off), and "The Desperate Hours."

Josh

Name:              Bill Apelette
E-mail:             na@yahoo.com

Josh-

What is your next project?  Anything on the books yet?

I know you must be doing a fair amount of soul searching at this time following the Harpies fiasco.  I've had my fair share of hardships.  This type of growth is rarely easy and more often outright painful.

I wish you the best of luck, hang tough as your character gets built further.

Dear Bill:

We're just finishing the final editing on my book, "Rushes: Essays on Film and Filmmaking," that will go to print in the next month or so.  I'm still hoping that my next film is my zany horror/comedy, "The Horribleness," with Bruce, Ted and Ellen Sandweiss, and this could just possibly be so.  We'll see.  Thanks for the kind wishes, and I'll keep hangin' tough.

Josh

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

hey josh,

just watched harpies the other night.  i absolve you completely, as one who stood witness to the shooting of the thing.  it did bring back many happy memories of simpsons quoting and lamenting the sorry state of bulgarian cuisine.  chin up!

cedric

Dear Cedric:

Good to hear from you.  Thanks for the absolution.  Perhaps I won't go to movie hell now.

Josh

Name:              Will
E-mail:             wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Thanks for sharing your opinions on Bronson. It's really unfortunate that his 1980's partnership with J. Lee Thompson produced so much crap. Thompson, a British director, had made some decent movies, like the original Cape Fear and The Guns of Navarone, and had made some decent movies with Bronson, like St. Ives and The White Buffalo. But in the 80's, Bronson and Thompson came out with 10 to Midnight, Murphy's Law, Messenger of Death, and Kinjite, not to mention Death Wish sequels, that were just awful, and offensively knee-jerk conservative.

Regarding "Harpies," which I won't be able to see until it comes out on DVD, I thought the critical response to the film was interesting, considering your own opinion of it. Gloria Goodale, writing for The Christian Science Monitor (the only paper I trust for decent national and world news, despite its slightly conservative editorial page), gave Harpies a "C+," ranking it just below Fantastic Four 2 (B-) and just ahead of Evan Almighty (C). She considered it campy fun: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0622/p12s01-altv.html
Coincidentally, she gives a nod to Bruce Campbell's new USA tv series.

Dear Will:

The original "Cape Fear" and "The Guns of Navarone" are better than decent movies; they're both good movies.  J. Lee Thompson also directed "Taras Bulba," "Return From the Ashes" and "What a Way to Go!", three films I liked a lot in my youth.  Meanwhile, "St. Ives" and "White Buffalo" are as bad as all the rest of those '80s pieces of crap you've mentioned.  The mechanical white buffalo was painful to look at it was so awful.  Oddly, though, I didn't hate Thompson's film "The Ambassador," based on Elmore Leonard's book, and one of Rock Hudson's last performances.  Thanks for pointing out the CSM review, which is about as kind as one could be to that film.

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             upon request

Dear Josh:         

I'm confused because I my understanding was that Peter Jason was playing "Vorian", and some sites list him as such, and no mention of Scott Valentine. Which is it? I couldn't read the credits at the end as SciFi channel did their usual irritating compression of the screen to run a promo on top. I went online to find glossies of Valentine and I stumbled on this delightful 80's tidbit (warning - link contains nudity): http://www.magazine-empire.com/PLAYGIRLmagPLAYGIRL198805.htm

Is this the same actor who played your Vorian?

I was sweet on the fellow playing Hamish.  Not sure about the honker braids on one side of his head, though.  Who was that actor?

I enjoyed very much the "bit" of the cart and donkey traversing the line of fire.  During the set-up to the gag, I thought you were doing a little homage to that great scene in "Pink Panther" where the wino waltzes out in the middle of an intersection as Inspector Clouseau and his minions along with Sir Charles and George give back-and-forth chase all around him. Then - WHAMO! - the cart driver gets nailed! Didn't expect that, so kudos on making me laugh out loud.

Interesting to learn that even Harpies get the dreaded panty lines and bra see-throughs.  At least one loose Harpy wore a thong!  Was she begging you to CGI out her undies?  Heh.

Another quick question - Garek offers Jason a hilted Middle Ages-looking silver sword ("Do you know how to use it?"-"No sweat."-"Good."), then Garek oddly resheaths it, and next we see an extreme close up of Jason's sword as he mounts up, and it appears to be an oriental katana-type sword. What gives?

Hair of the dog, today, Josh ... hair o' da dog ...
(I still adore you.)

Dear Diana:

Nice to hear from you.  Yes, that was Scott Valentine as Vorian, and I thought he did a good job.  Were there a show to steal, he stole it. Meanwhile, Stephen Baldwin chose his own sword, and that's the one he liked best.  Since it was never specified in which country this was all occurring, I didn't think it mattered if he had a Japanese sword.

Josh

Name:              Seth Winston
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you sign personalized autographs?

Dear Seth:

Not if I can help it.  I think my autograph brings down the value of an 8x10 photo.

Josh

Name:              Alan Hawley
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

A couple random question for you, Josh..

How many of Danny Boyle's films have you seen and liked? I just think he's one of the very few truly interesting directors working today. Of his work I saw and enjoyed: "Shallow Grave", "Trainspotting", "Millions", "28 Days Later", and "Sunshine" (not yet released to you across the Pond, but just wait!)

Secondly, am I the only one who is astounded that Sidney Lumet, who directed "12 Angry Men" over 50 years ago now (!), is still very active in the film industry? He's 83 (and still turning out some good films I might add--for example, "Find Me Guilty" with Vin Diesel release in 2006). This also begs the question, what's the oldest a director has been and still made a legitimately good movie?

I look forward to your response.

Cheers,
Alan

Dear Alan:

I liked "Trainspotting" quite a bit, and I've seen it three or four times. I bailed out on "28 Days Later" about 30 minutes in, and I haven't seen the other films.

Although Sidney Lumet continues to work, I don't think he's made a legitimately good film since "The Verdict" in 1982, 25 years ago.  "Find Me Guilty" was okay at best.  Being stuck in a courtroom for the entire film was sort of painful.  And even though it's undoubtedly Vin Diesel's best performance to date, he's still not very good.  I did like the little attorney, though.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Since "The New World" has been mentioned, I thought I would chime in.

In a way it was better than I expected. The Pochohantas character was more realistic and well done than I had been led to believe.

My biggest puzzlement was about the camera work. The was a constant use of cutting up scenes.  I am having trouble explaining it. There would be short scenes and the scene would be cut several times during the same scene and sometimes in the middle of dialog. I'm not sure what this technique was meant to convey.

There were a lot of cockney accents too, for a movie that I presume was largely intended for an American audience, and probably is not even historically accurate, although that is what is intended to be conveyed.

Am I making sense about the choppy camera work?

Dear Bob:

"Choppy camera work" is called "editing."  It's not that you didn't like the camerwqork, which was pretty, you were bugged by the editing.  What you're referring to are called "jump cuts," meaning cuts that are not smooth. These used to be considered bad, but now you see them all the time.  I personally find jump cuts lazy, boring and overused, and frequently a bail-out for those who didn't plan their montage properly.  Undoubtedly part of the editing problem with "The New World" was that Terrence Malick turned in a nearly three-hour cut, and the studio recut it and removed about 30 or 40 minutes of footage in the vain attempt to make it less boring, which they completely failed to do.

The Native-American girl playing Pocahontas had an interesting face, but was clearly not an actress, had no clue what she was doing, and ultimately was like watching paint dry.

Josh

Name:              Jordan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

This is part comment, part question.

The comment is: Harpies wasn't nearly as bad as you made it sound. It was by no means a good movie, but Ive seen worse.

The questions begin now: One, were you confused at all by the scenes where people would battle the harpies? Beause I'd see the dad go to stab the harpy and then suddenly he's wounded, but I didn't quite catch how. Also, were they completely computer generated sometimes, because a lot of the what they did didn't look real at all ... even the simple stuff. ( I don't blame you for the sfx, I know you're not to blame )

The other two questions are about your past work. 1) Running time is nearly all handheld camera work, so I was just wondering why you diss handheld so much. Do you just not like unplanned handheld work? Is handheld okay so long as you know what you're planning to shoot as you shoot it in your opinion?

2) I noticed you don't really like rap music so much, so i was just wondering why you chose to do a rap song in Lunatics?

Thank you for your time,
Jordan

Dear Jordan:

Confused?  There was no FX supervisor/designer of the film, so therefore there was no design or approach to the effects.  No one knew what was going on, and no one could believe that girls in cheap nightgowns with black circles around their eyes (we referred to them as "flying crack whores") would remain in the movie.  I and everyone else could only believe that the girls would either be didgitally removed, or substantially changed at some point in post-production, which of course never occurred.  This is what happens when the executive producer decides to not put one penny into the special effects, then attempts to bail them out later with ten cents.  Part of what happened in post was that they tried to cut out as much of the FX scenes as possible, leaving only bits and pieces that no longer went together properly.  Yes, some of the FX scenes were completely digital, and they looked worse than the live action stuff.

Meanwhile, "Running Time" was NOT shot with mostly handheld camera, only act 2.  Acts 1&3 are entirely on the Steadi-Cam.  In act 2 I knew where the camera would be every single second, and had planned the whole thing.  You are correct in saying that I hate unplanned handheld camerawork.  I good director ALWAYS knows where the camera goes and NEVER leaves it to chance. Watch what Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock did with their camera -- it's never arbitrary.

Regarding rap songs, I wrote the song for "Lunatics" in 1989, at a point when I thought that rap had already outlived it's interest or usefulness, and would soon die.  Slow, slow dissolve to nearly 20 years later and rap is still here, as dull and useless as ever.  To be a rap "artist" you don't have to be able to sing, write a melody, come up with your own rhyme scheme, or even have witty or interesting lyrics.  Rap is a refuge for those who are musically untalented.  Personally, I'll take the worst Moody Blues song ever recorded over any rap song ever recorded because the Moody Blues were musically talented, could play their instruments well, could sing, and frequently had terrific melodies.  If you haven't got a melody, in my opinion, you haven't got a song.  Just turning on a drum machine isn't writing a tune.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I really hate to be among the many who are writing you about that stinker of a film, but geeeez what the fuck were they thinking? The special effects were horrible, as was the really bad Harpies make-up. The script is what really gets me though. Other than being an obvious "Army of Darkness" rip-off, it was extremely uninspired and cliche. I mean, you expect such things from a cheesy Sci-Fi Channel flick, but this really took that formula into a new realm of shit. I agree with what you said in an earlier post, Sci-Fi should sue the hell out of the producers.

Anyway, I must say I am really looking forward to your next film, Josh. Here's hoping it will be one of your own scripts.

Also, as a funny side note, it appears as if the writer of "Harpies" was on IMDB.com last night after it aired. He only responded to the one positive post about the film, which was about the PBS line. I hope this guy has a stout heart if he's going to continue looking there, because the script is getting the worst treatment by the posters.

Later Josh. Hope you aren't too depressed over that piece of shit, a lot of people know what you are capable of. =)

Dear Trey:

Thanks for the commiseration.  I actually got sick to my stomach while watching it.  If I'm lucky I'll never see it again.

Josh

Name:              Casey Jones
E-mail:             dangerjones@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I've read your book and I know how you feel about film vs video/dv. You're completely right when you advise pretentious fledgling film-makers to stray from DV, because as you said, unless your name is Robert Rodriguez, George Lucas, or Danny Boyle, your movie will never make it into a theater.

My education is in Television and video production.  I've got a serious hard-on for Digital Video, because it's easy and cheap.  But never would I ever imply that it looks better than 35mm film.

This year I travelled down to Las Vegas for this year's NAB convention, where I stood in line for the Red One exhibit, which is a 4k High-Def camera.  I got to watch the fancy 10-minute movie that Peter Jackson shot with it over two days, or something equally impressive.  All I can say is that it was gorgeous.  Equal to even some of the best 35mm films I've seen.

Now, my question for you, is what specifically is it that stops you from giving the rapidly-developping, fancy-pants HD technologies, a chance.  Is it that you still maintain that the best video will still never look as good as the worst film, or is it that you oppose the convenience it represents, and will enable more and more movies to be made by idiot amateurs for less and less, and turn the industry into nothing more than a higher-budget youtube?

Thanks for your time,
Casey

Dear Casey:

Thanks for the update.  Look back a few days in the Q&A and I explain what I think about "easy."

Josh

Name:              Jim Waid
E-mail:             jimwaid@mindless.com

Dear Josh:         

You really made this film on purpose?  The acting was horrid, the plot insipid, and the special effects were worse!

PS...  If one is going to rip off Bruce Campbell's Army of Darkness, the least you could have done was hired Bruce as the lead.  He at least would have stood a chance turning this steaming pile of crap into classic camp.

Dear Jim:

Honestly, I don't think even Bruce could have saved it.  That fucker was a dead duck before we even started shooting.

Josh

Name:              Smilez Q.
E-mail:             QQQQQ@Q.cue

"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."

'Badlands' is superb, & although I agree with you on 'The Thin Red Line' I think 'Days of Heaven' & 'The New World' are masterworks.

You say he's an incompetent screenwriter, but what you may not realize is that most of his scripts are historically littered with dialogue. It is said that for 'The New World' the two main characters were forced to reherse & reherse over & over again... but the young girl who played Pocahontas stated in an interview that after learning so much dialogue she was originally shocked & eventually impressed that scene after scene Malick would ask his stars, instead of recite the immense dialogue they knew by heart, to simply think it & say it back & forth with their eyes & they're gestures. I for one think this is a brilliant & beautiful decision on Malick part, although pathological & borderline obsessive compulsive.

My point is, you may want to rethink that criticism of Malick more constructively, because I don't think it's the scripts which are "incompitent" at all, on the contrary I believe what you dislike about his films lies soley in his directing & editing choices.

Thanks for your time.

Dear Smilez Q:

Yeah, but "The New World" is incredibly, shockingly, painfully, and unacceptably dull.  Colin Farrell and that Native-American girl are both relentlessly BORING!  Yes, it has pretty photography, and so does "Days of Heaven," but I repeat, they both have crappy screenplays.  I don't care if the director drops all of the dialog along the way while they're shooting, what I'm seeing, the lines I am hearing, and in Terrence Malick's case, the awful, ever-changing voice-over narration, is the screenplay.  And meanwhile, his direction in "The New World" and "The Thin Red Line" didn't impress me very much.  Basically, Malick likes to follow along behind people on the Steadi-Cam.  Big deal.  I think you need to rethink your position.

Josh

Name:              Quix Otic
E-mail:             quixotic@shemail.com

Dear Josh:         

i read someone on here smarming about how you said something derogatory about HD, DV, or digital film in general. so i have to ask if you have seen David Lynch's most recent experiment, INLAND EMPIRE?

because although i agree that filmstock has that beautiful glossy depth to it; this film proves, whether you like it or not, that one can produce gorgeous, startling, & lasting images that would've been just as memorable if they were made on 35mm. though Lynch may not have been able to get certain shots had he not been using a portable handheld camcorder as opposed to an uberheavy film camera that isn't nearly as manueverable. i find this choice he made to be rather admirable. upon originally hearing what he was doing i thought he finally went legitimately nuts, but after seeing the product, i found it rather bold.

also, stating that "film lasts longer" than digital is simply absurd. film deteriorates overtime & yes, can be restored, but i can upload any digital film onto a Mac & leave it there for centuries (theoretically) & export it & get the same quality then as i would today.

Dear Quix Otic:

Yes, but is the movie any good?  I hear not.  And meanwhile, I don't think Lynch had made a good movie in years, since "Straight Story" in 1999 anyway, and that came out after a a whole string of stinkers.  Your final argument is specious because you have no idea what you're talking about.  Take, as an example, the fishing documentary I made in 1989, "Battle the Big Tuna," shot on the brand-new format of S-VHS, which was a good looking format for a short time (with its own problems, of course).  We mastered it on the very top-end video format of the day, one-inch, and it's a nice-looking documentary.  But I can't make it into high-def.  If I could find a place with one-inch video machines I could transfer it to DigiBeta (the top-end format of today), but it won't be any better than the one-inch original, with whatever amount of lines of information it contains.  Whereas, a 35mm or 16mm film image still has a lot more information than any video/digital format yet has, so each time they come up with a new one, I can always go back to my negative and make a new, top-quality transfer.  I can't do that with "Battle the Big Tuna," nor will David Lynch be able to with "Inland Empire."

The bigger issue here, I think, is the concept of: What's easier?  Certainly shooting hand-held DV with available light is easier, but I the viewer don't care what's easier for the filmmaker.  I the viewer want the very best you can give me under all circumstances, and if it breaks your back, that's fine with me.  Easy is for wimps.  Easy is not for the bold or adventurous or those with a spectacular vision or the hope of making great art.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

I just watched a remake of "The Omen" which originally had Lee Remick and Gregory Peck in it.

Needless to say, even with the help of some modern CG tricks, the movie just was not too much to write home about. As you have said many times before...there aren't many remakes worth watching.

I find it interesting though, in this age of DVD extras, when you have the actors talking about the movie.

One actor is talking to the home audience justifying a 30 year old remake and it was the script that sold him on doing the remake.

Do you think actors have fallen somehow victim to the Hollywood machine whereby they state a script is good when it clearly sucks? I have noticed this more and more frequently on these soul baring alternate tracks heard on these DVD extras.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Actors are actors.  If they're in it, it's a great script.  End of story. The old Hollywood joke, which isn't really a joke, is that actors read scripts like this: "Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, my line, bullshit, bullshit, my line . . ."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

its been a few days but when i was reading over some of the new Q and A I saw a movie title with three letters..."Bug"....followed in some way shape or form...."good" i say NAY NAY

i work at a large theater in my area and that movie came and "graced" us with its "glory".."..it was technically speaking....poorly done....painfully acted...down right retarted..." and that came from an older gentlemen who didnt get to see maney movies i didnt belive him it couldnt be that bad...well shit on me, it was unacceptable, even for trash cinema....Just HORRIBLE

please stick with your first instinct...and stay away..dont waste your time

but i could be wrong you may like it but i wouldnt bet on it

so what do you plan on doing the night of the premeir of your new movie?

and have they (the people at scifi)offered you any new projects...or mention optioning something new you have written or some such thing?

not that you wish (at least i dont think you do) to work exclusivly with scifi but from what i can tell its paying the bills

best of luck to you on your next project in what ever it may be

and again stay away from "bug"

Dear Brandon:

Thanks for the warning, although I already had a pretty good sense of what the film would be.  That the same person gave a thumbs-up to an Alain Resnais film and a Ken Loach film made it all very suspicious to me. Regarding Saturday night, as I've already mentioned, I intend to drink all of the beer in Michigan while simultaneously smoking as many cigar-sized joints as I can lay my hands on.  Should someone offer me ecstasy or heroin that night, I'd probably accept.  What's sort of amusing, I think, is that when I warn anyone around here that "Harpies" will most definitely be dreadful, they respond like I'm just being humble or coy or something, saying things like, "Oh, I'm sure it's fine."  Well, I'm not being humble (although I have plenty to be humble about), and the film will be dreadful. I apologize in advance.  From my perspective, the reason I haven't disowned the whole thing is that I was put into a totally untenable situation ("Sorry, we're not spending one cent on special effects"), with a non-English-speaking crew, in a land far, far away, and I brought it in on time and an on budget.  As a director-for-hire, that's all I can do.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just a quick note to wish you all the best for the upcoming premiere of Josh Becker's Stan Lee's Harpies!

You may or may not have noticed that for unknown reasons, Sci-Fi has tweaked the line-up for Saturday morning, with another rerun of AA at 11 AM Eastern, preceded by "Screaming Brain" at 9.  Unsure if this is a tie-in for your new film, or if this is the last full weekend in the ratings 2nd quarter and they just want to stack the deck with their bigger hits  ("Pterodactyl," "Mansquito," and both gargoyle movies are scheduled too.)  At any rate, we now get to see Jonas Talkington die a painful death in four films, and that's what really matters.

One thing I recall about AA was how subtly you managed to slip humor into a story that the characters took very seriously.  Like the cluelessness of Ivan's followers, who sincerely kept alive the hope that the President LIVES! and the alien commander who stormed past his guards like Moe from the Stooges.  "Spread out, you 'mites!"   Anything we should look for, or anything you care to share in advance with "Harpies?"

Also, unsure if you know this, but there are about a thousand daily production photos from "Harpies" online at a location I accidentally stumbled across and I'm sure the public isn't supposed to know about - did they give you access to these?  If not, I'll be happy to pass along the location if you want more for your scrapbook.

Hoping you break all records this weekend,

August

PS - I'm very excited that "Hammer" had a real-live theatrical premiere, although somehow imagining "Josh Becker at the Magic Bag" keeps making me want to devolve into a Cheech and Chong routine....

Dear August:

Always a pleasure to hear from you.  I really and truly don't like to make excuses for my work, and I believe that I generally don't, but in this case IT'S NOT MY FAULT!  I think this could have been a perfectly okay SciFi movie had the executive producer put more than five cents into the special effects.  I haven't seen the finished film, I had nothing to do with post-production, I haven't heard a note of the score, nor do I even know who composed the score (this is my first film ever without a Joe LoDuca score). I showed my buddy Paul the very first rough cut (the first editor quit halfway through and new editor came in), and his comment was, "It won't be the worst film of all time because the scenes between the awful effects scenes are competent."  I said, "That should be on the poster."  Although I don't think I have what might be termed a stellar ouvre to start with, this will certainly rank as my worst film ever.  I'm still shocked and amazed that SciFi accepted it and didn't just sue the executive producer.  Were I SciFi, I would've sued.  My plan, meanwhile, is get so fucked up Saturday night that it won't matter.  On the plus side, I think the photography is pretty, Scott Valentine is funny, Stephen Baldwin and Kristen Richardson both come off pretty well, and Jonas Talkington is splendid, as always.  And no, I don't know about the site with the photos.  I've truly had nothing to do with this movie since I shot it last year.  Anyway, those are my excuses.

Josh

Name:              WIll
E-mail:             wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I remember not too long ago you lamented the loss of masculinity in our actors, pointing out that the flaccid, wimpy actors of today's generation couldn't hold a candle to the McQueens, Gables, Bogarts, Grants of the world. I agree one hundred percent. I've recently seen a lot of movies that feature Charles Bronson. To tell the truth, I always assumed him to be a Dirty Harry-lite, because previously I'd only seen his pretty low-quality 1980's output. But his earlier performances, for example in The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, The Battle of the Bulge, and Once Upon a Time in the West, really show  a great degree of subtlety and nuance, especially in his pantomime. He reminds me of John Wayne in that he listens, observes, and acts mainly with his eyes. He didn't have a great range, and clearly did a lot better as part of an ensemble cast rather than a lead. He was a coal miner before picking up acting for the paycheck. One thing's for certain, they don't come more masculine than that. I wondered if you had an opinion on him.

Dear Will:

I thought Charles Bronson was great.  The fact that he lived through both "The Great Escape" and "The Dirty Dozen" impressed the hell out of me as a kid.  Bronson was in movies ten years before Eastwood, back when he was still Charles Buchinski.  One of his first parts is in the Tracy-Hepburn film "Pat and Mike" in 1952.  He was a good actor, and had a ton of screen presence.  Meanwhile, I met him once in Toronto in 1985, and actually spoke with him for about ten minutes, and he couldn't have been any nicer.

Josh

Name:              Duffy
E-mail:             roguewriter1@juno.com

Hey Josh,

It's been forever and a day since I've popped in, thank God I've been too busy writing. On my third script now and really feeling the flow so thanks to you for the kick in the arse about two years ago. Two questions; what do you think of Scriptblaster or any service that offers to send out your queries to "thousand of industry representatives" or some such thing? Worth it? No? For a yearly fee of course. And does Stephen Baldwin have an exclusive contract with Sci Fi channel or what?! He's a loveable goof but almost every film lately he's been the star. Just wondering if when they option my script I'm going to have to put my foot down and say "No Stephen!" You know I'm kidding, as if I'd have any say over who they cast. Best to you, Your girl, Duffy

Dear Duffy:

Good for you, keep writing.  You missed the InkTip debate, which is another sort of version of Scriptblaster.  No, that's not the way to sell a script, but it's better than nothing.  My feeling is that if you really think you're writing salable scripts, get your ass to Hollywood and hustle, just like the other screenwriters.  In lieu of doing what you really should be doing, InkTip or Scriptblasters are ways to at least make an attempt.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Any idea if they are going to show "The Harpies" in it's correct aspect ratio? Or are they going to pan and scan it for the TV showing?

Dear Trey:

Although I haven't seen it yet myself, I would assume that it will be shown at 1.85:1 with a small letterbox, just like "Alien Apocalypse."

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Hey Josh :)

Hope you've been doing well.

Well, speaking of films we've all seen lately, I just came back from an impressive film festival and I'd recommend several of the films I saw to you and others on here. Let me take a deep breath first...

First, there was Alain Resnais' new film "Private Fears in Public Places," based on a play by Alan Ayckbourn, with some lush, distinctly European 'scope photography and some very entertaining characters, Herzog's strange and interesting "The Wild Blue Yonder," Friedkin's latest horror film "Bug," based on an excellent play, with Ashley Judd really giving her all in the lead role (she handles the monologues quite impressively), the veteran English director Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barely," which won at Cannes a year ago, "The Lives of Others," the Oscar winner for best foreign film 2006, "La Vie en Rose," a gorgeously shot and acted biopic on the singer Edith Piaf, and "Away from Her," an excellent adaptation of "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," a 1999 short story by the Canadian writer Alice Munro.

Have you heard of any of these, Josh?

Oh, and "Once" is *mostly* handheld, dogme style I suppose. I didn't mind that at all, actually (and I'm a cinematography major!)...I just paid more attention to the characters, the compelling drama and the excellent soundtrack. I really liked it.

Agree with you on "Lord of War," which I saw when it came out. It's a surprisingly good film, and almost nobody saw it.

Talk to you later.

Dear Kristie:

Thanks for the recommendations.  Have I heard of any of them?  Yes, I don't live on the moon.  I would be very surprised to like an Alain Resnais film or a Ken Loach film, but anything's possible.  Too many people said they liked "The Lives of Others," so I'm naturally suspicious.  I've never finished reading anything by Alice Munro, and I've tried.  And I absolutely can't imagine "Bug" being any good, but, once again, anything's possible.

Josh

Name:              Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Wow Josh, you were very kind to Little Miss Sunshine, I was expecting a scathing vitriolic rant. I agree with you in regards to Alan Arkin, he was the best part of the film. My biggest complaint, aside from the film being completely pointless, is that it's very deceptive in that the film gives you the impression that it's about Steve Carell's character at the very beginning, who could have been interesting had he not been shoved to the side. Shortly after, the film turns into a road movie about a stupid beauty peagent. My girlfriend and I saw this at a screening before the hype machine took over, and it amazes me how easily people can become brainwashed. Once the hype set in, everyone I spoke with loved the film, and I got ridiculed for hating it. I had to ask myself if I had seen a different movie. It saddens me that people want to be told what to like and will gladly accept force fed horseshit. As long as this continues we will always have more Pirates and Shrek films.

Dear Scott:

And "Little Miss Sunshine" as the prime example of "independent " filmmaking.  I am so pleased that I didn't see this film when it came out. It's amazing to me that anything that pushes people's "cute" button they will defend like you've insulted their children.  Had I brought any of the myriad asinine plot twists up when the film was new -- like stealing Arkin's body out of the hospital; or the cop stopping them, seeing porno magazines and letting them go -- many people would have gotten furious with me.  They still are, over a year later.  I'd still rather watch this film than anything III.

Josh

Name:              Rex
E-mail:

Josh,

Thanks for your help with my previous question.

One more question: Let's say someone buys a DVD of one of your films (not the Sci-Fi Channel stuff...but stuff that your company actually produces, like RUNNING TIME) at Border's or something, for $20.

How much of that $20 does your production company get?

Thanks,
Rex

Dear Rex:

You make a film, then you make a deal with a distribution company.  If you've made a decent deal you get an advance from the distributor, although many distributors don't pay advances anymore, or at least they try not to. The deal includes a percentage of sales, which begins after the distributor has recouped their expenses, including the advance.  Therefore, on the first run of DVDs, you probably wouldn't receive any part of the $20 retail price. Once the distributor has recouped all of their costs, then the percentage kicks in, which is called "overages."  I personally haven't received many overages in my life.  That's how it works.

Josh

Name:              George
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Can you tell me if you think this is cheating?

Before I officially start writing a script, I go over it time and time again in my head for weeks, months, sometimes years before I ever actually type a single word. Before I start officially writing it, I'll write a very brief outline (not a lot of details, but enough so that I know what the hell I'm talking about), and then I'll start writing.

While I'm writing, I tend to change so much from my original ideas that it's almost like I'm rewriting the script already, despite the fact that it's not even all on paper yet.

So here's where the possible cheating comes in. When I finally finish my script, and it's very much unlike the outline, I kinda consider it a second draft already. Is it cheating to go ahead and just call it a second draft? Or is that just like me trying to appear like a faster writer than I actually am? Tryin' to pass off a first draft as a second draft or something?

If you could tell me, that'd be great.

Dear George:

Theoretically, using Hollywood logic, it's a first draft until someone pays you to rewrite it, then it becomes second, third, etc.  In the real world, though, I'd say you're kidding yourself, not that it really matters.  But I do the same thing of working an idea in my head for months or years, writing outlines, treatments, more treatments, then when I finally write the script, that's the first draft.  It doesn't matter what it took to get there, it's still the first draft.  As I say, not that it really matters, or that anyone really cares what draft you're on.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I've seen a handful of good movies of late and thought I'd write in about them.

"The Painted Veil" I saw recently. I give it *** out of ****, although Act I is kind of rough. If you stick it out though you'll be rewarded with a fine movie. Also of note since it was the first major motion picture (starring foreigners) shot entirely in China.

Michael Apted's documetary, "49-Up", was very good in all respects. Truly interesting idea and excellent execution. There was one bloke who went through a stretch of homelessness and it was fascinating to see the filmmakers track him down and interview him. This was the first in the "Up" series that I've seen, but I'll definitely be checking out future installments.

Also good (and I know I've mentioned before) is "Down in the Valley". Most folks have probably never heard of this (or have only seen the cover at their local video store) but it's really worth checking out. They did several homages to Taxi Driver that were just terrific, and Ed Norton is excellent throughout. Good script, too!

Lastly, there's a beautiful French film titled "Paris je t'aime" which is actually a series of 15 or so short films from famous directors all over the world (Alfonso Cuarón , Alexander Payne, Gérard Depardieu, Gus Van Sant to name a few,) all set place in Paris. I had never liked a single multi-director omnibus film prior to this one. Recommended!

Dear David:

I've seen "28-" through "42-Up," and will certainly follow up with "49-Up." They're the same age me.  I just saw and liked "The Lord of War" with Nicholas Cage and Ethan Hawke.  An interesting idea and lead character, a believable script, clear direction, and good looking photography.  It's the arms dealer version of "Blow."  Meanwhile, I finally saw "Little Miss Sunshine," which was half of a good little movie, while Alan Arkin was alive; and half of a forced, melodramatic, unbelievable, sentimental, "feel-good" movie that doesn't really know what it's saying.  Is this somehow an indictment of the kid's beauty pagents and how they sexualize minors?  If so, why is Olive doing a striptease to "Super Freak"?  And I thought she'd been rehearsing, why doesn't she have a routine?  It's like the first half of the film is R-rated, and the 2nd half is PG-13.  It all comes together at the end in a fashion I think could best be termed "cloying."

Josh

Name:              Stoner Boner, Robble Robble
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey, this is a stupid dumb question, but you do prefer to write screenplays and teleplays and books and all that stuff sober/un-fucked up or drunk/fucked up?

Can you list some experiences as to why you feel either sober or fucked up is better?

Thanks a million gajillion zillions,
Stoner Boner, Robble Robble

Dear SB, RR:

I don't like writing when I'm drinking, although there have been quite a few other, better, writers than myself who swore by it, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Bukowski, and perhaps even Ernest Hemingway, too, to name a few.  Cocaine seems to make some people feel creative, but not me. It makes me feel pensive, nervous and insecure, which isn't a prime state for writing.  I do like smoking pot, but I can't say that it makes me a better writer, and it may very possibly make me a worse writer.  I flash on W.C. Fields dying words, when he said (and I paraphrase), "I wonder what I might have accomplished if I didn't drink?"  Maybe more, maybe less, who knows?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just thought I'd drop in and see how you were doing.  It's been awhile, but things have been busy.  I got home from Afghanistan and jumped in on an independent documentary project in Thailand.  That being said, I was in a mall in Pattaya (about two hours southeast of Bangkok) and saw a Thai edition of RUNNING TIME for sale for 99 Baht (or a little over $3).  Just thought I'd let you know that the film is still alive and kicking.

                        Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Good to hear from you.  I'm glad you're okay.  Thanks for letting me know you can pick up my films cheap in Thailand.  It's nice that they're available somewhere.  Let us know how the documentary goes.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Harmon Comics
E-mail:             vampirestevil@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Had a question about film making
I have a few published works what would it take to get my work to film
maybe trying to do the process myself. Starting from scratch with film making
Thanks for your time
Steve Harmon
Harmon Comics
http://www.harmoncomics.net

Dear HC:

Read my book.  Come back when you're done.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Don't pretend there are any original ideas left. There are original approaches, but no original ideas. Everything is a copy of a copy. And it's been that way ever since the execution of the first, original ideas.

Ever hear of ROMEO AND JULIET? Remake of PYRAMUS AND THISBE. Shakespeare then mocked it and referenced it again in A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM. Then, Tom Jones wrote a musical version of PYRAMUS AND THISBE/ROMEO AND JULIET that became THE FANTASTICKS. It was then updated and remade into this little Oscar winner called WEST SIDE STORY.

Remade and remade, multiple times, and each version is worth a damn. There are some versions of this story, not worth a damn (UNDERWORLD, a vampire/werewolf take), but don't dismiss the entire remake cycle as worthless and destructive--it is a necessary component in the evolution of storytelling.

Dear bobby:

When was it that we ran out of original ideas?  1950?  1980?  2000?  I daresay my movie "If I Had a Hammer" is an original idea, and I didn't complete it until 2001.  Maybe that's when all of the original ideas got used up.  Perhaps I came up with the very last one.  Look, there's a world of difference between stealing ideas, which is what a remake is, or being inspired by something and making it your own.  "Hammer" was inspired by "The Magnificent Ambersons," but I didn't steal the story, nor is there a single reference to it in the film.  Certainly stealing ideas and doing remakes is a component of storytelling, it's just not a good one.  It's a cop-out.  As I've said before, and I'll say again, it's better to steal a story than to not have one at all.  Just like it's better to steal food than to not have any food at all, but there are better ways of getting it than stealing. Considering there hasn't been a decent remake or sequel in over 20 years, maybe it's time to stop for a while.

Josh

Name:              Jarrell Wattley and Titus Mallory
E-mail:             jarrell1764@yahoo.com

Hello,

I would like to first introduce ourselves, our names are Titus Mallory and Jarrell Wattley. We are both full-time college students, both pursuing our bachelor degrees from Albany State University in Albany, Georgia.(TM) I am a Sr.Marketing Major,a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity,INC.of Delta XI CHAPTER FALL2K6 .This opportunity as young men would of never crossed my mind.It was a blessing in the sky for this thought.  We were first sitting down relaxing at our apartment. While relaxing, we got a phone call about a situation that happened about a year ago. So after hearing the situation we were astounded by the conclusion of the incident. From there on we been thinking of ideas about a movie. I would not be taking the time out to write you if we weren't serious about this. This is a different part of entertainment, we were hoping as struggling college students that this company would understand and take time out to hear us present our idea. We desperately need guidance on how to Patent, write the movie and all. So if you would please make the consideration of accepting our idea and give us some insight we would greatly appreciate it .

Thank You.

Titus Mallory
Jarrell Wattley

Dear Jarrell & Titus:

You guys need to buy my book, "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking," and read it.  All of your questions will be answered.  I also have more than 20 screenplays posted on this site.  Read some of them to see what they look like.  BTW, you copyright a script; you patent an invention. If after you've read my book you still have questions, come on back and ask them and I'll be happy to try and answer them.

Josh

Name:              abi
E-mail:             abi96@abv.bg

Dear Josh:         

Did you like you visit in Bulgaria?

Dear abi:

I did enjoy my two trips to Bulgaria, but I'd prefer to make movies here in America.  Being a film director is about communication, and it doesn't make my life any easier having a crew that doesn't speak English.  I also found it disconcerting that I couldn't read any of the street signs.

Josh

Name:              abi
E-mail:             abi96@abv.bg

Dear Josh:         

hello I'm  Bulgarian and I want to ask  you are  been at   any els Bulgarian city town?

Dear abi:

I've just been in and around Sofia.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I have a quick question about the upcoming re-releases of your films "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except" and "Running Time". You've mentioned numerous times that these releases will be hi-def, my question is will they be released as HD-DVD's or just higher quality transfers on normal DVD's?

If it's the former, looks like I'll finally have to break down and purchase an HD-DVD player, which I've been holding off doing until they are a bit cheaper.

Dear Trey:

I believe it will be a high-definition transfer onto a normal DVD.

Josh

Name:              Digital Guy
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Here's a question for you for the on going digital vs film debate.

If you shoot something digitally, and then transfer it to film, couldn't you then make a negative of the film transfer? Is that possible? Or is that not possible?

Because if it's possible, then anything shot not-on-film could still last and be able to be converted into all the new mediums that come along.

If it's not possible, then shucks. It should be. :(

Dear DG:

You can make a film negative from a digital master, it just doesn't look very good.  It looks like the commercials you see in the theater before a movie, meaning it looks like shit.  And it's expensive, too.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I noticed "Little Fugitive" in your favorite films list. I watched this film once twenty years ago. I never knew the title of this film until recently. I liked the film alot yet I don't really remember many details. What are your memories of this film?

Dear Stan:

I've only seen it once quite a few years ago, but it seemed like a pretty cool example of early, extremely low-budget filmmaking. Most of it was obviously shot silent.  It has a nice feel to it, and the kid was good.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

"When anyone pays money to see a sequel or a remake in essence they're saying, "I hate art and I love commerce.  Please give me more unoriginal movies so that I can help big corporations make more money, which is all that matters to me."

That must have been what you said about THE GODFATHER: PART II, ALIENS, ROCKY 3, THE ROAD WARRIOR, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH ('56), and A STAR IS BORN ('54), all of which are either sequels or remakes, and are listed on your "Favorite Movies List."

The big corporations thank you for your contribution, Josh.

Dear bobby:

Wow, you really zinged me.  Of the seemingly 10,000 remakes and sequels there have been about five good ones.  Let's focus in on the less than .1% of exceptions to the rule, all of which were made at least 20 years ago. After this many god-awful remakes and sequels, it still boggles my mind that there are people that will go to the trouble of defending them.  You could start a club, The Unoriginal Thinkers or The Defenders of Bullshit.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was just wondering...what was it like for you being a film geek when you were a teen? For me it's a little annoying when my friends say things like "If spielberg has anything to do with it...you know it's gonna be great!". Were your friends as into movies as you were? I mean of course Sam, Bruce, Scott etc were big into movies but did you feel like a know it all sometimes?

Also when you visited Auckland, did you see alot of Auckland?  Places like St Heliers, Remuera, Newmarket Meadowbank etc.? I ask out of curiosity since I live out that way (St heliers at the moment).

PS. Just watched "In Sickness and in Hell" last night. Funniest Episode yet! You really do comedy very well Josh.

Thanks.

Dear Chris:

Yet?  I hope you're not waiting for any funnier episodes to come along. Looking back, being a film geek in the late 1960s and early '70s was an absolute joy.  Great movies were coming out constantly.  There were so many movies being made that the new ones opened on Wednesday and Friday. Meanwhile, none of those other guys were film geeks like me.  They saw the big movies, and the horror movies, and the cheap junk, as did I, but I also saw all the foreign films, as well as constantly seeking out and seeing the old films.  I was the only one in my high school to be a member of the Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, where they showed the weird, oddball films, and the old movies.  But in 1970 Spielberg's feature film career hadn't started yet, so there was no reference to him, or Lucas, who hadn't started yet, either.  Francis Coppola had just won an Oscar for co-screenplay for "Patton," which is a brilliant script, and everyone wondered what he would do next ("The Godfather" was still two years off).  The films that were big and popular and winning Oscars were in fact terrific movies, like "Midnight Cowboy," "Easy Rider," "Patton," "Women in Love," "The Last Picture Show," "Five Easy Pieces," "The Godfather," "The Last Detail," "The Godfather Part II," etc.  I've always felt like a know-it-all, at least regarding movies.  Movies used to be an artform, but alas, I don't think they are anymore.  Now movies are just an extension of series TV, where the key term is "familiarity," where you've seen it all before, and nothing is new, bright, intelligent or challenging.

Josh

Name:              Marc
E-mail:             bswks@concentric.net

Hi Josh. Would you mind explaining to me how Aronofsky used reversal film stock to shoot Pi? Did he immediately have the processed footage transferred to a digital medium so that he could edit the entire thing on a computer and then output to film?

The movie looks so beautiful, but I don't understand how he was able to use reversal without damaging it. Wouldn't he have to use workprints and such? Forgive my ignorance of the filmmaking process, but did he forgo negative stock to save money or was it simply because he desired a specific look that only reversal provides?

Thanks.

Dear Marc:

I can't tell you Darren Aronoksy's intentions, he may just have gotten a good deal on the stock, or he may have specifically wanted that look, either way it looks terrific.  You would do the same thing with reversal stock as you'd now do with negative stock: shoot it, have it processed and immediately transferred to digital, cut digital, then have the computer put out an EDL (an edit list), then conform the positive original, and from it you'd strike a negative, and from that you'd make the prints.  That's if you're going to make prints.  Otherwise, you'd transfer the positive original to digital, cut that and you're done.

Josh

Name:              David Lindsey
E-mail:             lindfam99@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I wrote a novel back in 1998 about the Persian Gulf War and self-published it.  I recently sent this novel to a professional actor who has expressed interest in it. If he wants to turn it into a screenplay (which he has done before) and make a movie, what is a fair price to ask for the rights to it? I am not a professional writer.  I am a teacher with a Masters Degree who decided to write something because the original idea presented itself. I don't have an agent yet...have been living in Europe since 1984. Any comments would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Dear David:

You should probably set up an option agreement, where you get a fee for an option-to-buy, say $5,000 for a year against say $50,000 as the purchase price.  I don't know what kind of budget is being kicked around, but a common writing fee is 3% of the budget.

Josh

Name:              PJ
E-mail:             philipjon@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

thanks for your response. I think it's fair to say you are a little fed up with this business. If you could re-write and direct any movie in your own terms or write and direct any sequel what would it be? I would love to see somebody of your class redo "They Live". I love the Short "Eight o'Clock In The Morning", but I thought Carpenter made a balls of the movie. Rowdy Piper?? Are you kidding me?!? This is my last mail to you as I don't want to p1ss you off. Best wishes PJ.

Dear PJ:

You're not pissing me off, and I'm sorry I sounded depressed.  Occasionally is unavoidable.  Very seriously, I don't want to rewrite or remake any movie, nor make a sequel to anything.  In my humble opinion, if you're remaking something or making a sequel, you've thrown in the towel on one of the most important aspects of art, which is originality.  Art is the most extreme form of personal expression that we have on our planet, and if that's not important to you then you shouldn't be in the arts.  Sequels and remakes exist for one purpose and one purpose only -- to make money.  When anyone pays money to see a sequel or a remake in essence they're saying, "I hate art and I love commerce.  Please give me more unoriginal movies so that I can help big corporations make more money, which is all that matters to me."

Josh

Name:              PJ
E-mail:             philipjon@hotmail.com

Josh,

I love your articles/essays on "The Need for Structure", I think they are really great. Just wondering if you think the same way some ten years after the first one was written. Any changes or updates you would make with an exrta ten years under your belt? Best wishes PJ.

Dear PJ:

The concept of a well-structured, well-told, potentially original story in a movie is so out of date I may as well take those essays down.  Our choices now are sequels of sequels of infantile bullshit, or meaningless slices-of-life with no ending and no point.  Art in our society no longer matters.  All that now matters is money.  Movies, music and theater are only about sales; not about having anything to say.  Had I been able to see where movies would go, I might very well have not gone into them.

Josh

Name:              Kevin N.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I just watched IDIOCRACY. You'll probably laugh at its juvenile humor then rightfully dismiss it as it crosses the line into the same stupidity it intends to lampoon. We're not always laughing at these stupid people, we're laughing with them (a film called ASS wins BEST SCREENPLAY).

Mike Judge DOES have a valid point to make in the first five minutes before the credits. Because someone like you is too sensible to have kids, you'll always be outnumbered by the offspring of the jackass who doesn't care if he pulls out in time. It implies having book smarts doesn't necessarily mean you have the best judgment, but its still better than being completely ignorant. You might not agree with that statement, but its a statement none-the-less.

Had the rest of the film been as good as this statement, I'd recommend it, instead its an exercise in hypocrisy... and it has the same annoying narrator as BASEketball.

I followed it up with STORM WARNING (1951) which had been sitting in my closet since you last recommended it. The direction in the first act is PERFECT. The director clearly knows what he's after with these shots and performances. The second act is just okay, but the direction picks up again when the Klan celebrates their victory in court. It seems the director is better when his scenes take place at night and oddly these scenes are when the performances stand out. I wonder why the daytime scenes weren't better?

It also reminds me of a story I was told in school (I don't know the names), where this woman was dating a politician, and wondered why every time he made a speech people threw money and jewelery on the stage with him. She finds out he's the grand wizard of the KKK, and tries to leave him. So he has her kidnapped and tries to force her to marry him. Instead she drinks some (I think he said silver nitrate) which turns your skin black, but is poison when swallowed. They couldn't take her to the doctor and she suffered a drawn out and painful death. The story was so horrifying that Klan membership dropped immediately.

Good night.

Dear Kevin:

I really like "Storm Warning."  It's certainly one of Ronald Reagan's best performances.  I particularly like the scene near the end when the sheriff, Reagan, arrives at the KKK meeting and recognizes everybody in their robes and masks by their voices.  Meanwhile, I'm a total sucker for young Doris Day, and Ginger Rogers is great, too.  This is the movie that Tomothy Bottoms' character is watching while kissing his girlfriend in the book of "The Last Picture Show."  In the movie Bogdanovich changed it to "Father of the Bride," with young Elizabeth Taylor.

Josh

Name:              Donkey's Best Friend
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

This may be a dumb question. But I'm a dumb guy, so I suppose that's appropriate.

When it comes to song lyrics being used in a movie, I know there are all sorts of rights issues involved, but what if it's something that's commonly said, or could be commonly said depending on the situation?

Like, if you have a character named Marjor Tom in a movie and he gets shot while talking over a radio, could the people on the other end of the radio say, worried, "Can you hear me Major Tom?" Or would that cause legal problems in the long run?

Also, is there any safe way to use song lyrics in dialogue that doesn't require any royalty payments?

Any info you have would be cool cool daddy-o.

Dear DBF:

I think people are way too paranoid about these sorts of things these days. If you're just quoting a line from a song it's perfectly okay.

Josh

Name:              Zen
E-mail:             Will send if needed.

Hello Josh,

I met you at the Magic Bag when you were screening your film "If I Had A Hammer." I doubt you'll remember me but I think I was the only or one of the only mixed (half black) person there, so maybe that will make it easier. I'm also a female director.

Don't worry, I don't need a job.

Will there be anymore screenings of your films or anymore appearances anytime soon? I had a good time talking to your friends but it's hard to make contact because they rarely email you back aka as what happened when I emailed Jerry Chandler at Synapse Films...ahh..the film industry. Persistence can be the bain of existence when your too lazy one week to do it.

PS. I appreciate you recognizing that Hollywood movie scripts are terrible, it's hard to pinpoint who's contributing and who's trying to help. (Although I know Hollywood doesn't like or want the help). Do you think it will change?

Dear Zen:

Thanks for attending.  There's possibly going to be another screening at the Main Theater in July for a film club, so I'm not sure it's open to one and all.  As for Hollywood changing, it just keeps getting worse.  I've been waiting for the upturn for 30 years and still hasn't begun to occur.  As long as people are willing to pay money for the third sequel to kid's films, why change?  Adults don't matter to Hollywood, and they barely matter in our society anymore.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Let's set this straight: TSNKE is anything but a blunder. I love this film. I've seen it at least 100 times and I would be damn proud of it had I directed it. I shown TSNKE to all my friends and they all love it. When is the Synapse release?

Dear Stan:

Thanks for the support.  Not serious, okay; blunder, I disagree.  I believe it will be released by Christmas, but I'm not sure.  We still haven't re-transferred the films.  Most of the extra stuff is done, including taped interviews with Bruce and I.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:         

I'm just looking for a fight.

Dear bobby:

That's okay, just try another topic.

Josh

Name:              dhal
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Taken seriously does not mean distributed. Do you think Lou Arkoff took half the shit he distributed seriously? C'mon!

TSNKE is still in distribution because it has early performances by Bruce and Sam Rami. It probably pulls in a little dough, no question, but taken seriously?

You know the clip they show of Spielberg's early movies--it's in all those docs about his life--there's a clip of his earliest war movie, where his buddies shoot each other with toy rifles and bullet shots are replaced with tiny explosions of dirt...THAT is taken more seriously than TSNKE.

You wanna talk about Becker movies people take seriously? Talk Running Time and Lunatics...and hopefully, maybe someday, HAMMER. TSNKE is an early blunder.

Dear dahl:

I won't look at the film as an early blunder because I finished it and got it distributed, however I do agree that it's anything but a serious film. TSNKE is nothing more than a silly, cheap, exploitation movie.  That's what it was meant to be, and that's what it is.  As a note, Bruce isn't in it.

Josh

Name:              Joe Don Baker (Not my real name obviously)
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was just wondering if there are ever any days when you look at yourself and your work and your life and you just think "Why do I bother making movies? Why do I bother writing scripts? Why haven't I given up yet?"

Because I have a lot of those days any more, and I just wanted to know if even bigger wigs than me have similar feelings. Maybe make myself feel better (or worse depending on the answer).

Thanks buddy. Thanks pal.

Dear Joe:

Yes, I have plenty of those days.  Considering that Hollywood doesn't seem to give the slightest damn about the quality of the scripts anymore, and most movies are now shot from scripts that I wouldn't bothering wiping my ass with, why did I bother going to the trouble to learn how to write scripts properly?  It's a conundrum.

Josh

Name:              Paul
E-mail:

Josh,

Regarding the attack on my letter to you. I was not trying to push your buttons or say anything negative about IIHAH at all. It is all in the readers interpretation.

Yes I did not proof read my letter. I should have, but it takes a second to send a responce and then it is too late. And I'll take back my comparrisons of AMW meets PV because I can't stand those types of comparisons myself as they are just too simplistic and really unecessary, just simple mentions of titles.

Anyways it was pretty funny.  You have some mighty loyal fans, myself amongst them.

Dear Paul:

Thanks.  I'm glad you came to see the movie.

Josh

Name:              Jim
E-mail:             starion106@aol.com

Hi Josh,

Just wondering if you happened to see the film "Idiocracy" from Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead, Office Space, King of the Hill)? I caught it on DVD and found it very amusing and smartly written (though it kind of falls apart in the last half hour). The studio basically dumped it in a couple theaters after it got horrific test screening reviews. But definitely worth checking out:

http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

Dear Jim:

I'm not really a fan of any of Mike Judge's stuff, but I'll check the film out when it comes on cable.  The premise sounds a lot like "Sleeper."

Josh

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

Josh,

I wanted to let you know about this film called "Once" that is opening all the over the place in America this week (Detroit, May 25th).

It won the World Cinema Audience Award for Dramatic Film at the 2007 Sundance and Fox Searchlight picked it up.

I haven't seen a film get this many good vibes in a long time and if you go to Rotten Tomatoes, it has received 98% positive ratings.

I am posting this because it is said to be the best attempt at a modern day musical and one of the best music films ever. I am also posting this because the feature was shot on DV and you can watch the trailer here.

http://www.foxsearchlight.com/once/

Apparently, the format of DV was suitable for the story and there have been almost no complaints about it being shot on DV.

I am curious to know what people think here if they go to see it?

Scott

Dear Scott:

It looks interesting, and sincere, and I hear the musical scenes are very good.  I also hear that the boy and the girl meet in a music store, just like "Hammer."  However, from the trailer is appears that it's all hand-held, which I think is a shame.  I hope I'm wrong about that.

Josh

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

Josh,

Your response to Sean's comment on HD was right on the Mark, however, I would like to add a few things that I feel are important to express as well.

In addition to wanting to make your film look the best it can by considering to shoot film(even if you do not), if you decide to shoot it in SD video or HD, you still treat the production as if you were shooting film, meaning that you that the time to block and light the film with the same attention as you would if you were shooting film.

I think Vittorio Storaro made a great point in the interview piece that Josh was kind enough to post here, and that is the goal of HD video should be to get to the quality of film and not make film lower itself to the quality of HD which is actually what has happened.

As I mentioned above, uncompressed HD has effective pixel quality resolution of 1920 x 1080 and if you are to translate the latest 35mm film stock grain structure into pixels 35mm film still has close to twice the resolution of HD and Super 16mm is still about 2/3 above the resolution of HD.

Also, film has a much more pleasing tone when it comes to photographing people's faces and mainly female actresses, where as HD is too sharp and very unforgiving with regards to this issue.

HD works wonders for sporting events where seeing the sharp detail of things is beneficial, but when it comes to photographing and aging actresses face, it is too sharp and time has to be taken into manipulating that image by using filters and different types of lighting that have to accommodate this innate problem with HD.

Also, regarding the issue of more people being able to make films because of the new digital film technology as well as the new technology in audio recording for making music, I can say this, they are both great advancements, however, just because more people have the ability to make their film on video or record their songs on their computer in there own home doesn't mean that there are better films being made or better music being made. In short, quantity doesn't equal quality, and the fact is, to make an album of music or a film one must put in a great deal of time and effort into all aspects of both artistic forms.

In regards to the advance in audio, the advent of mp3's have actually lowered the quality of audio and they only benefit this medium in that they are more convenient or compact. The fidelity is much lower than a CD or even a Vinyl LP.

And I will reiterate what doesn't seem to get through people's heads here, even though Josh has mentioned it and I am sure I have mentioned many times before, the fact that the film negative is still, at this stage, the best and by far the most versatile format for archiving moving images as a master format and transferring to the obscene amount of various video formats that have graced and cursed this business over the past thirty to forty years.

The film negative has endured numerous years beyond any video format and you can take a 20 to 30 year old negative and still get a beautiful transfer from it now, but can we say the same thing about something that was recorded on one inch video tape 30 years ago. Absolutely not!

Lastly, Vittorio Storaro made another point about then HD format that I did not send to be posted and I think this is very important to mention here

"Since the Cinema is a language of images, by changing the original composition of the cinematographic picture we are altering the linguistic expression, the style and indeed the film itself. It is like altering the size of an artist's painting to suit the wall where the painting is supposed to be shown. A film in any video transfer, when recorded in letterbox and in full screen versions, is without a doubt actually two different movies.

"In the jungle of different aspect ratios in today's Cinema and Television, the upcoming advanced High Definition Video system will introduce yet another one, an aspect ratio of about 1:78:1. For a while, we will have three different visual proportions, and therefore three different compositions, of the same movie.

"I don't know who made this decision for a new aspect ratio, since it doesn't resolve any past, present or future problems for a common composition between different media. I am not aware of any Directors or Cinematographers who have been asked for their opinions about the possible new area or new composition for future audio-visual systems."

So, Sean, stop scratching your head and be better informed.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I always appreciate you joining in with your greater knowledge of the digital mediums.  As you say, even though you can now make a full-length movie in DV for very little money, it hasn't helped the independent film movement at all.  Indies were much better in the 1960s and '70s when they were all shot on film.

Josh

Name:              amber
E-mail:             amber17@rogers.com

Dear Josh:         

All I can say is that I agree.  I got sucked into the religious  thing for a while and it did nothing but separate me from the world.

We are brainwashed to believe it is good but maybe it is the thing that is evil.  As far as Gibson goes he is a woman abusing NUT. I cannot believe people actually took their children to see that horrible movie of his.

Dear amber:

A big part of religion is based on brainwashing kids at a very early age, then making them believe that if they question any of the dogma they're going to hell.  This is exactly what the Nazis did to the children of Germany throughout the 1930s with the Hitler Youth, and look how much obedience they got.  It was nearly total.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Sorry, but you're a hypocrite.

When the guy wrote in about his Inktip script being shot by a production company using DV equipment and no budget, you balked at my comment that it shouldn't be considered a real sale, or a real movie. You fought me for days on how getting a movie made, regardless of the details--Inktip/DV Shoot or something more classically "legit," is what counts.

Here's what you said a couple of days ago: "There's nothing wrong with shooting HD or DV, but just know that you're not making a real, lasting movie, you're practicing, which is very important, too."

So, is the Inktip guy's movie suddenly NOT a real movie because it's shot in DV? What about the countless other scripts that are made into DV movies through Inktip (which is the most frequent occurrence)?

Yeah, those "producers" who bought the script from him must think of their movie as merely a trial-run, a good practice...but definitely not a REAL MOVIE.

It's okay to have contradicting opinions, just admit to it, and also admit that if you were given $1,000,000 to shoot one of your scripts in HD or DV, you wouldn't make it for practice, you'd be making it for REAL.

Dear bobby:

Oh, come on!  Get over it.  As a screenwriter if you can make any sales at all, it's a huge triumph.  99.9% of all scripts end up in the recycling bin. As an independent filmmaker, I suggest using film because it looks better, lasts longer, and is taken more seriously.  If these two positions make a hypocrite, so be it.  Is there anything else on your mind, or are you just looking for a fight?

Josh

Name:              Mark Farrell
E-mail:             farrellmiki@clearwire.net

Dear Josh:         

Thank you for standing up and making your voice heard. I just saw the documentary movie "Jesus Camp" with my wife and it frightened the "bejesus" out of us. If things get too bad in this great country we'll move to my wife's country (Japan).

One nation under the Constitution.

Yours fraternally - Mark

Dear Mark:

I haven't seen "Jesus Camp" yet, but I'd like to.  You might also consider New Zealand, where there's no nukes of any kind, it's very pretty, they have mild winters, and best of all, they speak English.  Oh yeah, there's no snakes, either.  On the other hand, Bush and his evil corrupt cronies will be out on their sorry asses soon enough, then we'll see if we can't fix our country, as well as our standing in the world community.  It's probably worth the 18 month wait, I think.

Josh

Name:              James Dhal
E-mail:

"We could have shot "Evil Dead" on video when we made it in 1979, and I could've shot TSNKE on video in 1984, and if we had we I don't think either film would have been taken seriously by anyone."

Let's get one thing straight: TSNKE isn't taken seriously by anyone.

Dear James:

Really?  Then why has it stayed in release for over 20 years?  It was taken seriously enough to have been nationally theatrically released in 1987.  I'm not saying it's good, nor am I saying that it was anywhere near the success of ED, but I am saying that it was, and continues to be, taken seriously by distributors.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I know how much you're not a big fan of Woody Allen's newer movies but alot of what you talk about in your screenplays happen in his movies. Meaning he really does he care about his own structure for his movies.

Theres lots of irony in his flicks...  1 Example: Small time Crooks- Woody Allen and his friends help start his wifes cookie company so they can rob the bank down the block by drilling holes meanwhile his wifes cookie business skyrockets and they get busted.

Or even Hollywood Endings irony is in pretty much the plot: An out of work directors one last shot for commercial success happens when he goes blind. The real Irony being the ending in which he is an outstanding success in France but now he can see again.

Last but not least is Curse of the Jade Scorpions Irony in which a detective basically is following his own crimes and yet he doesn't know it because he's hypnotised.

Now I know Irony in itself doesn't make just for a good movie but I think he's got good humour and interesting stories to tell and I think thats what makes good screenplay writers these days. And you can't fault the directing because their shot on film and actually look good.

Now I do wanna say that his recent movies haven't obtained my interest as much. I want him to get back to his goofy irony filled comedies that kind of stopped when he did Anything Else.  Melinda and Melinda was god awful. Match Point was okay and mildly interesting. And I'm afraid to watch Scoop.

Also with his movies there are always some kind of theme involved. There's always some point. And there is always some kind of love behind it. And I think those are the things that make a good movie.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I was as big of a Woody Allen fan as he ever had from the beginning of his filmmaking career in the late '60s through "Annie Hall" in 1977.  After winning all of the Oscars in '77 and finally being accepted as a "serious" filmmaker with "Interiors" in 1978, his films took a huge drop in quality that has never returned, nor do I expect at this late date that it ever will.  Woody Allen is absolutely a smart, well-schooled screenwriter, as well as a very solid, visual director.  Since 1978 I would venture that he has made four good movies: "Manahattan," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Husbands and Wives."  However, since 1992, fifteen years ago, I don't think any of his movies function properly, nor are they particularly funny.  And with stuff like "Small Time Crooks" or "Hollywood Ending," where he was really attempting to be funny again, I think he just falls on his face.  All of those films seem painfully uninspired to me.  I seriously believe that as Woody Allen gets older he simply wants to stay in production all the time, and to do that he has been shooting the first drafts of his scripts for many years.  It's been a sad metamorphosis to watch.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

What do you think of Green Day doing a cover of John Lennon's song "Working Class Hero" for their forthcoming CD... Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save Darfur, proceeds from which help support Amnesty International's campaign to focus attention on the urgent catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan.  I think its funny because I have never seen them get so political than Green Day does now. Basically every song off American Idiot was all about politics.

You probably couldn't care about GD just because they probably aren't your style. But I think its cool to finally see them get more mature with their lyrics and sing about something they actually care about and also have an audience respond well to it. What is your view?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I think it's a good thing when art is actually heartfelt and about something, as opposed to being drivel entertainment that's just trying to be successful and make money, as most stuff is these days.  Which doesn't mean that all art should be serious or political, but there's nothing wrong with being serious and political if that's how you really feel.

Josh

Name:              Sean Stanley
E-mail:             stanleysean@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Browsing your FAQ, I scratched my head at your comments about shooting in HD, and how it can only be considered "practicing."  Of course anyone filming anything worthwhile on video can rest assured that their films with be transferred to the next generation format when it comes around.  I believe you can easily obtain music on CD's that was originally recorded on vinyl lp's.  Don't you think Evil Dead would've been shot on video if you were starting right now?  For all the loss of resolution, video is so flexible in post production that it can actually be a better choice, even if film is affordable to you.  Why would you recommend a potentially bankrupting format to amateur filmmakers?  A good story filmed with a webcam is still better than a crap story filmed in 70mm.

Dear Sean:

I absolutely agree with your last statement, but when you're ready to put your best foot forward and give a movie everything you've got in you, part of that is making it look as good as humanly possible.  Movies are a visual medium.  We could have shot "Evil Dead" on video when we made it in 1979, and I could've shot TSNKE on video in 1984, and if we had we I don't think either film would have been taken seriously by anyone.  Part of what's kept both of these movies alive for this long (and I recently made my fourth distribution deal on TSNKE, this time in high-def), is that we have the negatives to go back to.  The different video and digital standards over all these years are very different than audio recordings, and they don't upgrade well, or at all.  A more recent good example would be "Pi," which, had it been shot on DV or whatever, as opposed to gorgeous black and white 16mm reversal film (which isn't all that expensive), I don't think it would have launched Darren Aronofsky's career.  It certainly is possible to make a good movie on DV or HD if you have a great script and talented actors, but if you've gone that far, why not make it look great, too?

Josh

Name:              John
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

You've grown. You're now at a different level.

A year ago you would have let an asshole like Paul Meyers, Mr. Film critic extraordinaire, have it with both written barrels. I mean the dumbass didn't even edit his own critique. It was a blatant and pathetic attempt to push your buttons.

"Hammer" is an excellent film, with or without a full house and whether it was shot 6 years ago or 26 years ago. Mr.Meyers should just blow it out his ass because I don't recall ever hearing of or seeing his name attached to any independent film venture let alone anything he might have had to put up nearly half a million dollars of his own money on.

I don't have any professional magnifying glasses watching me so...Mr. Meyers Fuck You and the horse you rode in on. Have a nice day though.

Josh I know you don't need a champion but please keep up what you are doing. You've got fans that don't want a thing from you except for you to keep plugging forward.

John

Dear John:

Hey, he paid for a ticket to see the movie, he can say what he wants.  I don't have to agree with him, but I'm not going to censor him, either.

Josh

Name:              Kevin N.
E-mail:

  <<I hate comparing one film to another as in (Film x meets Film Y) but I would say "Pleasantville" meets "A Might Wind" (without the snarkyness) with an occasional David Lynch vibe in the cafe scenes where all these characters and caractures meet.>>

I thought it was more like LITTLE MURDERS. In LITTLE MURDERS (misleading title), the world has become such a scary place for Elliot Gould that he uses Apathy as a weapon to shield himself from it. He uses it to such extent, that he doesn't care ABOUT anything (not even the muggers who beat him up or the woman who tries to stop them, he just walks away and continues talking his "photos"). The girl goes so far out of her way to prove to him that life can be good even IF the world is shit, she even marries him. And he manages to fuck up that too by having Donald Sutherland give an atheist wedding ("I once married a novelist to a painter... we were all on hallucenogenic drugs... the ceremony lasted for three days. NEVER did the words have SUCH meaning").

Sounds pretty awesome by now doesn't it. It should be, but its seriously talky and it takes a couple of viewings to truly appreciate its genius ("I'm very content with my work" "TAKING PICTURES OF DOGSHIT?! IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH ALFRED!")

Meanwhile EMPEROR OF THE NORTH has this character named Cigarette, who you want to punch in the stomach for the duration of the film. But he's there to serve a point (like Brett Beardslee).

I figure these two films were minor influences whether Josh knew it or not.

Dear Kevin:

I really like "Little Murders" and I've seen it quite a few times over the years.  It never gets past its stage origins, but it's got a lot of terrific moments, great lines and funny performances.  Alan Arkin as the psychotic police detective is hysterical in his one long scene.  Elliot Gould has that great monologue about realizing that his mail is being read by government agents, then he begins writing letters to the guy reading his mail telling him he must feel really awful having such a crummy job reading other people's mail.  That letter arrives having been torn to shreds.  And though I've seen "Emperor of the North (Pole)" several times, I don't specifically remember the character you're referring to, which doesn't mean it wasn't an influence.  As for "Pleasantville," other than watching TVs, I don't see the connection, and I shot "Hammer" long before "A Mighty Wind" came out.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to post this for you and others here and the reason that I want to post this is that we all have opinions on the future of technology in our craft and many of my beliefs closely reflect yours, however, I still study a great deal to further my knowledge in the area of the ever changing world of technology with regards to the image in Cinematography and Editing.

These are excerpts from an interview that was done back in 2000 with the great cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC. In the excerpts, he discusses his views on HD and the new digital video technology.

He also introduces his idea of a 2:1 aspect ratio which  he later called Univisium which he has implemented on various films. He believes shooting in this aspect ratio is a balance between shooting 16x9 (1.78:1) HD format and widescreen format which is 2.35:1.

I find this idea very interesting as well and I think it works.

He was interviewed by Allen Daviau, ASC & Bob Fisher.

"DAVIAU: Not to get off the subject but have you had any experience in Europe in discussing the 16:9 or 1:78 aspect ratio the electronic companies are trying to impose on the industry?

STORARO: Yes, I have. A few years ago there was a proposal made at the CamerImage Festival in Torun, that we accept 16:9 or 1:1.78 as a standard for both cinema and HDTV. This means taking film composition down to video composition. It is exactly the same as the proposal to accept 2K resolution as a standard for an electronic intermediate system. That would require sacrificing so much of the quality of information that we use to express ourselves on film, and move film down to the lower quality of high-definition video. I think that is wrong. Our goal should be to attempt to raise digital video quality to the level of the film. I was at the Electronic Film Festival in Tokyo and at the WideScreen Film Festival in Amsterdam, where I discussed my feelings about the evils of not respecting the aspect ratios of classic CinemaScope and 70 mm films by panning and scanning them to fit the shape of TV screens. I think the electronic companies need a 4K camera - twice the resolution they propose today - with a 2:1 aspect ratio instead of.

DAVIAU: You don't think it is too late with all the commitment to 16:9?

STORARO: There is a lot of mastering being done at the current 16:9 standard for future release to TV but this doesn't mean it is the end of the world. It is just a step in-between the past and a future where we work to make video look more like film rather than making film look like video. I normally transfer any anamorphic picture in a 2:1 aspect ratio. I remember several years ago when ASC, the Cinematographers Guild, and the Directors Guild of America all fought to protect the original composition of movies shown on future HDTV sets. That was a good beginning. I would like to see a new generation of monitors that are 2:1 instead of 16:9 and a single 2:1 standard for production. This is an issue that all of us at ASC, ICG, Imago in Europe, the DGA and other directors around the world ought to stand together on. You already have the American Movie Classic (channel), the Italian National Television Station and some other cable systems showing respect for the original aspect ratio of classic films. Think of all of the time, money and effort that goes into building and lighting sets, and producing movies, and tell me who has a better right to decide how the audience should see our films?

DAVIAU: The thing that gets me when producers talk about shooting in high definition and they think you just take the camera out of the box, and its ready to turn on and shoot. They also think that you don't need to light anything, so they can save time and money on everything. Did you run into that situation?

STORARO: Once the producers realized that with Univisium, they were going to cut 25 percent off the film budget, they didn't see any reason to risk shooting in high-definition. They were very happy that we found a way to shoot film. They told me yes right away. You are right though that attempts are being made to confuse producers. While I was in Los Angeles supervising the transfer of Dune, I saw a demonstration of the Sony (HD 24P) camera with Panavision lenses. It was supposed to be a comparison of the same scenes produced on 35 mm film with some footage shot with the high definition camera. But they transferred the film in high definition format, so you immediately lost a lot of information. Also, the shots were not very interesting. They were flat lighting with very little contrast. They used video projectors, so of course, it didn't look very different. It would be a different result if it were a high-contrast scene with a lot of movement that you finished and projected on film.

FISHER: What do you say when you stand up in front of a class at a film school, and they ask you to predict the future?

STORARO: There is no doubt that human beings need to evolve. We can't stand still. If we stood still we would still be painting graffiti on the walls of caves. It's a journey that we can slow down or speed up, but we can't stop it. If we stop it, we stop the world's evolution. Whether we are using paint or light, we are using a form of technology to translate our ideas to some type of a canvas. Because of the advances that have been made, we have a lot more freedom to express ourselves today with modern cameras, lenses and films. Believe me, we don't require additional light for exposing images like we did in the past. The films are so sensitive that we can light the way we like to express ourselves. We can come very close to achieving what we see in our minds. Our knowledge of technology, our experience, makes us free. You have incredible freedom today. You have access to the knowledge of the world. You can find anything you want on the Internet or find any book in the library. Of course, technology will continue to change and it will give us more freedom. It doesn't matter whether it will be film, tape or some other media that we use to record images. It is all part of our life's journey. The unknown isn't our enemy. It is our friend. What counts are our ideas. Cinematography will always have a future as long as we make a contribution and help to tell the stories. We just need to push technology in the direction that we love the best."


Scott

Dear Scott:

2:1 would have been a great aspect ratio to adopt, and I was all for it, but the Asian TV manufacturers won that battle.  At this stage of history, big corporations will win over artists every day of the week.  As Mr. Storaro points out, if you shoot a bright, flat image with no camera movement, then show it on a video projector it looks similar to film.  If you shot a dark, high-contrast image with camera movement and showed it on film, HD would look like shit in comparison.  At the present moment HD and film are not comparable; film is still miles ahead.  Which is why I still say, if you want to make movies for practice, shoot DV or HD; if you have any notion of your film having lasting value, shoot film.

Josh

Name:              patrick
E-mail:             milner

Dear Josh:         

mate u r so right. religion i believe all started as a form of control just like a evil dictator ship that has just been given a nice cover about it. they say they preech love and unity but just about all wars are over religion. spot on mate

Dear patrick:

I think John Lennon had it right in "Imagine."  If you want to imagine a peaceful world, you first have to imagine a world without relgion.  As long as there's religion there will be no peace.

Josh

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

Josh:

Saturday night, PBS screened "12 Angry Men" (1957). I've written in before expressing just how much I like the film, but seeing it again sparked some inspiration. For anybody who thinks a film needs action beats, explosions or - in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean - a running length of three hours, he or she should check the flick out. Sidney Lumet has a great trick of changing the focus to characters so adeptly that viewers never lose focus. Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, George C. Scott are all fantastic in the film. The cinematography is pitch perfect.

Great, great film.

Dear Greene:

George C. Scott was in the TV remake playing Lee J. Cobb's part.  The original is much better, although the remake, with Jack Lemmon and directed by William Friedkin, was okay, just poorly directed.  Sidney Lumet did a MUCH better job directing the original.  Meanwhile, yes, "12 Angry Men" is a well-written, well-directed, well-acted, and properly edited movie, something we humans haven't been able to make in at least a decade, although more like two or three decades.  Let me just add that people right now taking these third films, second sequels, seriously, I find both mind-boggling and depressing.  You can judge a society by its art, and ours is severely unoriginal, infantile, and insanely over-long.  What does that say about us?

Josh

Name:              paul meyers
E-mail:             paulpmeyers@yahoo.com

Hi Josh.

I went to the unfortunately sparcely attended screening of "If I Had A Hammer" (Did I really expect a sell out?) at the Magic Bag and also read the nice write up in the Metro Times and the Oakland Press. A good friend of mine said you sounded pretty whiny in the Metro Times story that if only were only grew up on the same block as the Raimi's...I thought this was funny.

Anyways I was a bit dissapointed that you didn't speak before or after the screening. I was expecting if not a lecture at least a short Q and A.  Or at the leastest a "Hi I'm Josh B". Oh well...

I was not expecting much (after expecting too much from "Alien Apocalypse") and half way through thought why is he showing an entire act by act open mic scene. The horror! Having sat through actual open mics why would I want to watch one.  But you won me over with the underlying premise and a glimpse into a lost world.

I hate comparing one film to another as in (Film x meets Film Y) but I would say "Pleasantville" meets "A Might Wind" (without the snarkyness) with an occasional David Lynch vibe in the cafe scenes where all these characters and caractures meet.

I also saw it as a classic example of a pre-digital indepentantly made regional low budget flick.  There is something about the new digital indie scene (you can hardly throw a rock without hitting some kids digital indie masterpiece)that I don't quite like.

Did you ever see the film "Dogfight" with Lili Taylor ? It also feature a folkie chick and was set at that time and is otherwise excellent.  That and the documentary "Tales of the Rat Fink" about Ed Roth (you had a picture of Rat Phink on the kids door came to mind.  In "Tales.." a point is made that after the Beatles took over all the garages that kids worked on their hotrods became practise spaces for bands, or one culture ends and another begins.

The most interesting moment of the night aside from the movie was when at the the end you played the Ed Sullivan clip and Beatles started "All my Loving" the audience started singing along !

Congratulations even though you finished the film 6 years ago.  Oh and I loved and was tremedously entertained by Spidey 3 and probably for the reasons so many people didn't like it.  did you read about Kristen Dunsts ideas for #4! She's brilliant !

Dear paul:

Thanks for the assessment and review, and thanks for attending.

Josh

Name:              Rex
E-mail:

Josh,

I recently set up an L.L.C. so that I could begin looking for investors for a film project (budget: $900,000). I was under the impression that all you needed to do was set up your LLC or Limited Partnership, and then you were free to go after investors.  But the lawyer who set up the LLC says that, because I'm going after so much money, I need a Private Placement Memorandum, which can cost several thousand dollars (?!?) which I most certainly do not have.  Do you know anything about this? Is it absolutely necessary?

Before you get the wrong idea, the lawyer wasn't trying to get more money out of me.  He says he doesn't actually do PPM's and that it's a very specialized thing. And he couldn't even refer me to anyone, he just recommended I call the bar association.

Do you know anything about this? Naturally, the lawyer was pretty much useless and kept giving me all these vague answers to my questions...Do you have any idea if there is some kind of cut-off point, with regards to budget or number of investors, where you legally have to have a PPM?  I know that you're not a lawyer, but that's why I'm asking you first...I trust you. The only lawyer the bar association recommended doesn't give free consultations, so I'd rather have some idea as to what I'm doing (and if I even NEED one of these stupid things) before I fork out my hard-earned cash.

I appreciate any help you can give me.

Thanks,
Rex

Dear Rex:

All right, let's be very clear up front that I'm not a lawyer.  Given that, the cut-off point, as far as I've always known, was either at 25 "accredited" investors, or 35 "accredited" investors, depending on the rules of that particular state.  Accredited means that the investor is worth at least a quarter or a half a million dollars, and has the ability to lose the money they've invested.  What this is all about, as I understand it, is that after either 25 or 35 rich investors, you're basically selling shares like it's a stock, and that's a whole other can of worms and brings in the SEC. That's why most indie movies usually aren't $900,000, because then the shares must be $40 - 50,000 each.  Maybe you need to bring your budget down, unless you know 25 people who can each put up 50K.  Anyway, good luck.

Josh

Name:              Brandon
E-mail:             mrb8694

Dear Josh:         

At least im not the only one that finds it unbearable (btvd) i will give Faster a chance if i manage to see it on tv or even dvd.
...i still havent finished it

are thier any tv shows in which you enjoy to watch (currently on air or within the past 5 years)

i have cable in my room....i cant stand any of it was jsut wondering if you thought somthing was interresting

as always thanks for your time

Dear Brandon:

These are the shows I have computed into my TiVo: "Nova," "Frontline," "American Experience," "American Masters," "60 Minutes," "Real Time with Bill Maher," "The Daily Show" with John Stewart, Wednesday Night Fights and Friday Night Fights.  That's it.  I absolutely won't watch anymore cops shows, doctor shows or lawyer shows, nor will I watch any sitcoms or reality shows.  And just for the record, as we're in the midst of a barrage of third sequels to dumb movies, I HATE SEQUELS!!!!

Josh

Name:              ()()=-
E-mail:             http://www.myspace.com/coppolascocaine

Dear Josh:         

Since you probably won't answer this till tommorrow, How did the IF I HAD A HAMMER screening go tonight? I guess I'll have to watch it again (just finished watching YELLOW SUBMARINE again, saw IMAGINE: JOHN LENNON a week earlier) Shit, I might have to finish up tonight with NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN.

Regarding Mike Leigh's CAREER GIRLS, what the hell is wrong with these two women, are they on crack or someting? It never shows them doing drugs but DAMN, they sure act like it. Good movie though, I grew to care about those two and Andy Serkis had a funny cameo.

Dear  ()()=-:

I liked "Career Girls," and I recall laughing quite a few times, but I'll be damned if I can remember anything else about it.  Meanwhile, the screening of "Hammer" went fine.  There was a decent crowd, many friends, I think everyone enjoyed the film, and it really looked good on the big screen in 35mm.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

I saw a movie the other night called "Baby of Macon".

The movie was pretty hardcore in some of it's elements and I can express it as being a bizarre movie with a bizarre ending.It has one of those long rape scenes you can't stand in it due to the character being sentenced to 208 rapes. I was able to get past that because the rest of the film leading up to that point is definitely, to me, an exercise in what makes human beings so scary at times.

Strange as it was I liked it and watched it a second time just to be sure. It just went right for the kill.

It was directed by Peter Greenaway. Mr. Greenaway has been around for quite some time apparently but this is the first I have known of him.

Any personal or professional opinion about Peter Greenaway Josh?

Tim

Dear Tim:

I don't have a real opinion of Greenaway since I've never sat all the way through one of his movies.  He seems to always have pretty cinematography, but from what I've seen he always seems pretentious, obscure and dull, which doesn't make me want to seek out his films.  There are those who really like him, though.

Josh

Name:              Sascha Zimmermann
E-mail:             saschaz77@yahoo.de

Hey Josh,

My name´s Sascha. I´m a filmmaker from germany. I was very lucky to get your low budged filmaking book from a comic store in my city. I read it two times yet and I think its a great stuff. I really know what you meant about script writing and having a shooting list etc. And I know enough people who give a shot about it (which is soooo dumb!) I still could learn a lot new things which I´m very thankful for. There is just the thing with this $100.000 budget for an independent film and shooting on film. I don´t know how it is in the states but here in germany we have a very cool new and fresh market for HD and DV films which makes it a lot cheaper to shoot. My last 45 Min. film "A writer´s tale" was shot on HD and cost me (incl. the postproduction) just $2.500.

But still: I really like your book - its funny and its very understadable for each one. Good job!

After I finished your book I went to the video store and bought "Running Time" - AND I was blown away! Bruce Campbell was as cool as always, the story was simple but brilliant, and I really enjoyed the camera work!
Thanks for this flick, Josh!

Cheers from Hamburg, Germany
Sascha

Dear Sascha:

I'm pleased you got something out of my book.  There's nothing wrong with shooting HD or DV, but just know that you're not making a real, lasting movie, you're practicing, which is very important, too.  In ten years nobody will know what HD or DV are, and there probably won't even be a way to watch something shot on those formats.  Whatever the knew digital standard is at that point, the chances are very good you won't be able to upgrade from a lower digital format to a higher one (you can't now).  However, since motion picture film doesn't have hundreds or even thousands of pixels, it has millions of grain particles, you'll undoubtedly still be able to transfer film to whatever the new digital format is.  Shoot HD and DV to figure out what you're doing, then when you actually get serious, shoot film.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey, I've read up a little bit about the MPAA rating movies based on smoking. What I read said that they weren't going to give an automatic R rating to a movie with smoking, but it would be a factor in deciding what it should be rated. They also said that if it's like, historically acurate, they wouldn't take the smoking into account ... just in modern day situations and stuff.

So it's not as bad as it sounded originally, but I still hate the fuckers for doing this.

Dear Joe:

At least Jack Valenti's not around anymore.  And now Jerry Fallwell's dead, too, so things are looking up.

Josh

Name:              Richard James
E-mail:             alphawolfprod@gmail.com

Josh,

I went to "If I had a Hammer" last night.  Brew and view is always nice. I really thought it was a entertaining film that touched on some really great interpersonal and social themes that left me thinking quite a bit about a bunch of different issues.  The Beatles and that era was the beginning of a great change.  It's as if, as a country we grew up for better or worse.

All in all I had a great time.  Now to my question - The film tore, or slid off the projector at one point after the intermission - What did we miss?  Because the next shot Loraine gets on stage, and her hairs a bit messy.

Rich

Dear Richard:

I'm glad you attended and enjoyed watching the film.  Thanks for bringing up the film breaking, that was of course a highlight for me.  You missed the introduction of the band the Four Feathers, that's all.  As for Lorraine's messy hair, as well as the M.C.'s, well, you make of that what you will.

Josh

Name:              little phil
E-mail:             dandyJr@mfa.net

Dear Josh:         

you are so full of it, your eyes are brown.

Dear little phil:

Is the "little" in your name in regard to your brain or your penis? Probably both, right?

Josh

Name:              Alan
E-mail:             picquickstudio@aol.com

Hi Josh

Have you any idea in all holy Hell why a movie like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3 needs to be nearly 3 hours long? If a story can't be told in less than 2 hours then I don't want to be told it. Even the much lauded CASINO ROYALE outstayed its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

Dear Alan:

That's a very good question, and one that I ruminate on with some regularity.  We're constantly told that young people have short attention spans, due to music videos and sound bites, yet for some unexplainable reason movies keep getting longer and longer.  I was with the first "Pirates" film for about 90-100 minutes, but the next hour was not only interminable, it ruined everything that came before it for me.  It was such a slim, unimportant piece of fluff that after two hours everything seemed strained and awful.  There was no way on earth I would see the sequel, which was even longer than the first one.  But we're in a time when it's been so long since a legitimately good film has been made, particularly one that was edited well and was the proper length, that I don't think most people even know what that's about anymore.  I'd put forth that most people 30 years old and younger have actually never seen a good movie, let alone a film that was well-edited and not too long.  The concept of the "good movie," meaning a film that might actually have a shred of originality, isn't completely stupid, and isn't too long, went out with vinyl phonograph records.  We're stuck here in the age of stupid idiotic garbage aimed at moronic 12-year-olds, and I think it sucks.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I suppose that by now you've heard that the MPAA has bowed to the anti-tobacco lobby and will consider giving 'R' ratings if a movie character is smoking. This is utter insanity. A 'PG' rated film can have murders, but not characters puffing cigarettes. What next? :(

Dear Stan:

Based on that criteria, my film "If I Had a Hammer," which has no sex or violence, but literally has almost everybody smoking, ought to get an X for smoking.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:

Hey Josh.

How's it going?

Two quick ones. First, My buddy and I wrote a treatment which we are now writing the cript for. We've never shot anything before this with our own money. We can't decide if it shoud be feature or short and why. Any input you could give into the matter would be great.

Also, straying from film, what do you think about Jerry Falwell's death?

I appreciate the answers.

Rob

Dear Rob:

If you've never shot anything before then you really, really ought to make a short first to see how the process works.  If you then decide to make a feature you'll be much better off for the experience.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

hello once again its been some time but i am back

one: the guy against inktip is an idiot nuff said

two: i jsut attempted to finsih the movie "Beyond the valley of the dolls" by Russ Myer what do you think of it and what do you think of myer himself

a good buddy of mine highly recomended him to me and said that i would really like the movie  and myer himself very much....maybe i should try another because i say "nay nay"
i thought it started off ok and begain to wonder how many breasts he could fit into one shot but sense that number is limited how maney diffrents "cuts" could have breasts in them...i lost count (mind you i like breasts.and didnt mind...really like them)

the movie itself to me became very boring and i still havent (as i said) finished it

i also estimate that their is a million cuts  in the first ten minutes....cuts where their doesnt need to be cuts....or am i just off my rocker and he is the greatest film maker of all time???

Dear brandon:

Not to me he ain't.  The only film of Russ Meyers that I like is "Faster Pussycat Kill Kill."  The rest, including "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," I found unbearable.

Josh

Name:              John G.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Three things dude. First thing: Have you ever worked with Charles Band, or been approached about working with him. Because I think you two would make a killer combo.

Two thing: Have you seen Spider-man 3 yet? It's highly dissapointing and that's comin' from me and I'm a fan of the series. Bruce is awesome though.

Three Thang: What do you think of John C. McGinley. I love the man and think spreading the word about him is important. All fans of him need to unite and cast him in everything!

Dear John G.:

I've briefly met Charlie Band at a party, and my good friend and co-producer, Jane Goe, used to be head of accounting for him.  I've never liked a picture he's made, though.  I have not seen "Spidey III" yet.  I thought John McGinley was terrific in "Platoon."  When he comes out from underneath the dead bodies at the end it's a shocking moment.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I agree with you about the whole inktip thing. The thing is what you are saying is getting money for a script and somebody actually paying you with plans to actually get it made is better than having a script sit on your shelf for 20 years and not do a damn thing. It takes alot of work to write a script. Alot of long hours. And lots of rewriting after its done. And to have no one even look at your script sucks. So the guy that wrote the script and got it sold to anyone I say congrats. Plus the guy had never said he was trying to make a "Hollywood" movie. Since Hollywood movies are all remakes, sequals, and crap these days anyway I say congrats on getting it in the hands of a low budget producer. Someone who will most likely stick with the script and not change it so badly. So there ya go. Thats my two cents on the whole thing. Hope you agree with me Josh.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

No, you're agreeing with me.  Getting any movie made is better than getting no movie made.  Period.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I've been going through your favorite films list, watching as many as I can. I was really impressed with John Huston's "Fat City". There is a moment near the end of the film where Stacy Keach is in a bar and everything freezes for a few seconds. I interpreted this to mean that Keach was having a bitter realization of his own mortality. What did you think this moment meant? Any other thoughts on the film? How do you feel about ambiguous endings?

Dear Stan:

If the ending is appropriate for the story I just watched, I don't care if it's happy, unhappy or ambiguous.  I love the ending of "Fat City."  It's an incredibly bleak movie, but really brilliant.  Conrad Hall's photography is wonderfully gritty and blown-out.  It's has the most painful fight scene I think I've ever scene.  I read the book and John Huston did a terrific job bringing it to the screen.  It would make a perfect double-bill with "Barfly."

Josh

Name:              Bruce
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Why didn't Bruce Campbell ask you to work on "My Name Is Bruce?" I mean, he had some many other people from olden days working on it. He should have had you there too. :(

Dear Bruce:

A.  A movie only needs one director, and B. I was shooting "Stan Lee's Harpies" in Bulgaria at exactly the same time Bruce was shooting his film in Oregon.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'm not a screenwriter or director, or a creative person at all. I have no credits. But that doesn't make me an argumentative schmuck by default. I am someone who knows the business, because I work in it, and was merely making a point about an aspect of my profession.

You DID imply that Inktip is as good a resource for a screenwriter as any. You said, "You think you know something?  I say bullshit!  You think you can make a generalized statement about Hollywood producers, and what they think, like they're cohesive group?  It's utter nonsense."

I then backed up my generalized statement by giving you factual examples. While I agree with you that one would be better off looking back at a career of Hallmark credits rather than no credits at all, I still stand by my INITIAL point, which is that if you think your script is worth a damn, hold out for something better than Inktip. If you've put your work into perspective, and see that it is of Hallmark or Straight-to-DVD quality, then maybe Inktip is for you.

I think you overreacted and you're fighting with me for argument's sake, but it's cool, 'cause your Josh Becker, and me...I'm just some argumentative schmuck with no credits. I had no right to express my opinion.

Dear bobby:

A knowledgable opinion is one thing.  Sadly, you haven't got a fucking clue what you're talking about.  Sit down and put in the time and effort that it takes to write a script, make some attempt at selling it, then maybe I'll listen to you.  As it is, your uninformed opinion is truly worthless.

Have a nice day.

Josh

Name:              Kristina
E-mail:             backlotdirector@hotmail.com

Josh,

Being in this public forum I guess a certain amount of brow-beating will occasionally come into play.

Bobby, the Boy Wonder, is so convinced he has all the right answers but refuses to acknowledge what is so easily seen. That is that Inktip is merely a potential vehicle to possibly get your script noticed.I mean seriously...Who are you to judge what or who equates to a Hollywood writer versus a Hallmark writer? At least they are out on the battlefield while you smugly write in your textbook opinions on the subject.

Hallmark isn't exactly small potatoes there buddy.

Maybe not everyone wants to be a "HOLLYWOOD WRITER".

Each individual measures thier successes on their own terms just as they do their learning opportunities.

I think it has been apparent for quite some time that there is an unbelievable wall between the countless people who write and/or direct their own projects every year versus what actually gets into a real powerbroker's hands that could move a project forward.

Therein, I believe,lies the whole point...To attempt to close the gap that currently exists between writers with potentially good stories/scripts and the "honchos" that could pick it up and run with it.

Inktip recognizes that and here you come along shitting all over the potential of the thing.Maybe you just like to sabotage other people's potential success.


The point is to not take away a potential writer's sense of possibility that it can be done. There is even a new reality show coming on soon whereby an unknown gets thier shot at stardom. Spielberg evidently has a hand in that. To me, it says that a recognizable gap might be starting to close.

I'm with you Josh...Instead of someone writing in and crapping all over other people's potential and hurling insults about skin thickness and "getting over it" and "getting out" this person needs to post a list of all the A and B pictures he has written and produced VIA the Hollywood circuit over the years.

Thank you Josh for your time. This is my last on it.

K

Dear Kristina:

I don't even know if this putz, bobby, lives in Hollywood or not, and is even in the film business, but the folks out there think they know something that they absolutely don't know--how to make a decent movie.  So, whatever the system presently is in the film business, it's broken, it completely doesn't work, and all we get out of it now is garbage.  Acting like you understand how a completely failed system works is ludicrous.  I had eight Hollywood agents over the course of 20 years, and not one of them ever got me a job or sold a script.  I pitched every studio in Hollywood many times each and never sold a script.  Yet I did sell my script "Cycles" because I happened to be sitting next to the right guy on an airplane.  Is that how it's really done?  The point is, it's done however you manage to do it.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What kind of response is that, Josh? "You're wrong because I say you're wrong."

If I'm full of shit, then explain to me why the most that's ever come of a produced Inktip script is a Hallmark Channel movie (Source: Inktip.com).

In their entire history of successes (listed on their website), they have countless scripts which have been optioned, bought, and/or made by no-name production companies, and then nothing ever happens with them...aside from the aforementioned Hallmark exceptions.

Now, go look up some Hallmark movies and their screenwriters. Then, tell me if those Hallmark screenwriters have written anything but TV movies of the week and/or no-budget movies that never make it past the festival circuit. The answer is no, they have not. Their scripts, which sold to Hallmark on Inktip, have, for better or worse, pidgeonholed them for their entire career.

I am not being a prick or fucking-know-it-all...I'm simply pointing out that Inktip has not historically been a helpful tool in getting one's start as a HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER.

If, let's say, you want to write Hallmark movies and/or have Sledgehammer Films of the Netherlands shoot your coveted script for a $10,000 budget...they by all means, use the damn thing.

If, let's say, you want to be writing movies that get shown in thousands of theatres across the globe, and make a helluva living doing it, then by all means, DON'T use the damn thing.

Either way is groovy, but let's be reasonable, and agree that a distinction must be made between these two types of screenwriting careers. To present them as the same to your fanbase of aspiring writers would be dishonest.

Dear bobby:

I don't know what your big issue is here.  I never said that InkTip was a great resource, but it's at least something, and potentially a way to get started.  Since there's no logical route to getting scripts produced, it's a very difficult business to get into.  Pitching your script to the low-end studio execs that can be gotten to means absolutely nothing.  Most agents couldn't sell cocaine to a crack addict, let alone get to an exec that could actually say yes to anything.  And getting a high-end agent is nearly impossible, unless you've already had a hit film.  I repeat, and I stick by, any credit is better than no credit.  So that I don't think I'm dealing with nothing more than an argumentative schmuck, please list your credits.

Josh

Name:              john and jenn
E-mail:             jnaboles@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

what can we do to get are five year old into acting

Dear john and jenn:

A. put the kid in acting class, B. wait thirteen years until they're old enough to get a job, then see if they still give a damn about acting.

Josh

Name:              john
E-mail:             kentucky1976!@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

i have a comment im 30 years old but i have notice that all the people that bitch about the trees and land getting developed are the ones who own the farms and the  land who sell them for the money that they dont need and then use some of money to fight the fact that its getting developed               hope you understand what im tring to say here thanks for your time.

Dear john:

Are you trying to say that nothing makes sense?  Or that everything in life moves in a circle?  Or that farmers are evil?  For goodness sake, I'm trying to understand you.

Josh

Name:              Joy
E-mail:

"I'd love to work with Renee again.  She's an absolute joy to work with.  I have a good part for her, too (as well as Lucy Lawless) in my script, "It's a Lost, Lost World."  I just can't get financing."

So does that mean Dark Horse isn't interested in your movies anymore?

Dear Joy:

I'm not sure that Dark Horse was ever interested in my scripts since I've never personally dealt with them.  Bruce presented the scripts to them, then the sands of time blew across the desert, slowly eroding the pyramids and flattening them.  After a point you simply have to assume that there's no interest.

Josh

Name:              Jaimie Pierce
E-mail:             jp@toronto.ca

Hey, Josh...

As regards your opinion that directors burn out after awhile and once they do, never make good movies again, check out this new interview with John Carpenter.  It offers a pretty clear picture of a guy who absolutely doesn't care anymore who is willing to sign off on any number of bad remakes and sequels for the cash.  I guess I can't get up on a high horse and judge him until I've been in that position and refused the money, but geezus:

http://suicidegirls.com/interviews/John+Carpenter/

 

Dear Jaimie:

Yeah, but I never gave a crap about John Carpenter to begin with.

Josh

Name:              A.J.
E-mail:             ajky1111@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

Well I just now got to watch  the entire season of "Jack of All Trades". I thought it was a very enjoyable show myself. I thought you did great with both "Return of the Dragoon" and "The People's Dragoon". Of course its always a treat to see Bruce do his thing, but how bout that Angela Dotchin? She is a very beautiful woman, and I thought she played her role well. Did you like working with her? I wonder why she hasnt done much else.

Dear A.J.:

Ang Dotchin is a complete pro, and gorgeous, too.  I think of her fondly in her extremely tight cat burglar outfit.  I actually like the second episode we did, "The People's Dragoon," better than the first one.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just read the latest interview linked above and I couldn't agree with you more.  I've said time and time again that you have a special gift for comedy, and at a time when comedy is sufferring.  There have been so many movies I've either seen recently or seen previews for which absolutely sucked.  But if you, Josh, were given the chance to find the potential in them you could produce intelliogent, sarcastic,ironic and snappy comedies. I don't remember if you play a musical instrument but you've got the musician's sense of timing.  More importantly, you know that a comedy requires a strong plot and that plot requires a payoff in the end.

Hooray for Sam!  He's got some good numbers with Spidey III and why the hell not.  He's the best guy to direct this sort of thing, so if they're going to be made he's the one who should be making them.  That I know of, he didn't cheat or anything so bully for him.

I'm still looking forward to "Harpies" and even more forward to the discussions to follow.  Best of luck with it and with your developing projects, and, Shirley, a shout to you for running this show.  If provides far too many people with something funny or thought-provoking to look forward to every night.

John

Dear John:

Thanks.  Oh boy, the discussions that will come after "Harpies" shows, I can't wait.  If I could find a place where they didn't have television I'd go there.

Josh

Name:              tj thomas
E-mail:             tj007@aol.

hi josh, do u think u might ever work with renee o'connor again, recently when as about working on xena she said josh becker's comedies were always the best, fun fun fun.It was nice to see u bruce and renee team up on AA. good luck with all of your other projects.

Dear tj:

I'd love to work with Renee again.  She's an absolute joy to work with.  I have a good part for her, too (as well as Lucy Lawless) in my script, "It's a Lost, Lost World."  I just can't get financing.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'm sorry that the truth can be percieved as "putting someone down." I was not being negative, I was being honest. If you can't handle honesty, you probably don't have thick enough skin to work as a screenwriter anyway.

My post was meant to distinguish, for the benefit of readers and aspiring screenwriters, that while our Inktip friend is getting his script produced, it might not be the best way to do it, and in fact, could hinder his career. It's not true that anything on your resume looks better than nothing. It is not negative to say that a Hollywood producer will not care at all whether your script sold for pennies on Inktip magazine...it is TRUE. Hollywood producers will, in fact, look down on you if you're in Inktip. This business is perception, and nobody wants their new writer percieved as a loser.

All's I'm saying is: if you want to be writing Hollywood movies (and I acknowledge that not everyone does) then don't sell or option your script on Inktip. As simple as that. Accept it. Get over it. Or get out.

Dear bobby:

You think you know something?  I say bullshit!  You think you can make a generalized statement about Hollywood producers, and what they think, like they're cohesive group?  It's utter nonsense.  And you think having a low-budget writing credit is worse than no credit at all.  Once again, total bullshit.  Quite frankly, I think you haven't got a clue what you're talking about.  Accept it.

Josh

Name:              M. Donar
E-mail:             mddonar@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Nice interview in the Metro times. Glad you have kept a grounded perspective about success, film direction, and life in general. Give yourself some credit. Like you said you are "further along than 97% of the other would-be writer-directors out there. Good Luck.

 

http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=10467

Dear M:

It's not like I can let success go to my head or anything, but thanks for the nice wishes.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was just watching, "Big" one of the movies I used to watch as a kid. I know you say the first act is supposed to end at around page 17-20 minutes which would be 17-20 minutes in to the movie. So when I was watching the movie I thought when the character Josh actually gets his wish and becomes BIG thats when the 1st act ended. But that was only 10 minutes in to the movie. Did Anne Spielberg and Gary Ross do something wrong or did the first act end when he moved to New York on his own and started crying because he was on his own without his parents? Which would be around 25 minutes in.

I know its prolly been a while since you seen the movie but thought you might be able to shine some light for me. Thanks man.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

First of all, I never said act one was supposed to end in 17-20 minutes, it's 30-35 minutes.  And I would say that Josh becoming big was indeed the end of act one, even if it was ten minutes in.  Act three in "Marty" (Oscar-winner for Best Adapated Screenplay, 1955) is about five minutes long.  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.  In the case of "Big," they just wanted to get to their big shtick ASAP; in "Marty," Paddy Chayefsky didn't want to linger on the resolution.

Josh

Name:              Kristina
E-mail:             backlotdirector@hotmail.com

Josh,

Kudos for your response to the gentleman who felt the need to put down the "Ink Tip" individual who had met with some success by going that route.

I think we all know that life is not a bowl of peaches but that kind of negativity is what we could do very well without a lot of.

InkTip may not be the way big scripts are bought and sold but at the very least they are doing something positive for the working writer.It conceivably is better than sending out a script blindly to someone who is probably gonna shitcan it anyway. They freely admit that not every story is going to be looked at and they make no guarantees about anything.

Thank you for keeping a positive attitude. Your statement may very well have kept a lot of people writing that otherwise might have stopped after reading what he had to say. I believe that is one of your goals...To encourage and not discourage, through visiting your website, people to learn how to write better stories/scripts.

Kristina

Dear Kristina:

I try to do my bit.  Being a writer is a lonely road to travel, and I applaud anybody who's willing to sit there day after day, year after year, trying to craft something they believe is worthwhile, and possibly even good.  Often we're wrong, but you've got to keep at it anyway, because occasionally we'll be right.

Josh

Name:              Wanda Corbett
E-mail:             wmcorbett61@yahoo.com

Josh, I am interesting in opening a 99 Cent Store in North Carolina. Can you help me.  I love these stores in California and I am always telling family and friends about the great things I find in these stores.  They only wish they could enjoy the same things.  If possible, I would like to operate one of these stores in North Carolina, there aren't any.  Please help me.  Thanks.

Wanda Corbett

Dear wanda:

Being the King of North Carolina, I grant you permission to open a 99 cent store.  May you live long and prosper.

Josh

Name:              Jack Daniels
E-mail:

Josh,

Do you think getting a master's degree in film will benefit a filmmaker in making films?  I have a friend who will be attending grad school for film this fall and I asked them why and they told me it's hard making movies these days and that one can benefit greatly from the extra knowledge and contacts you make in grade school. I'm not sure I agree with that.  I believe that if you truly want to make films you should just do it.  What do you think?

Dear Jack:

I think the more information you have on anything the better off you'll be. If you think you can find that information st school, go for it; if you think you need to do it on your own, then do that.  There's no one way of gaining knowledge, but if you think you automatically just know, you're kidding yourself.  There are a lot of basics and fundamentals that need to be learned to simply perform the craft of filmmaking competently, let alone well.

Josh

Name:              Treat
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was wondering if you could explain to me exactly what a treatment is and how one goes about writing one?

Dear Treat:

A treatment is a short story version of the script, generally running between 8 - 14 pages.  I have several of them posted on this site, read one.

Josh

Name:              Ronald
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Whoa! Just goin' through the archives on this kickin' website and I noticed an inconsistancy. You said at one point that you're not really a fan of any Sam Raimi films, but at different times you've said that you like the first two Evil Deads. Are there any other Sam Raimi films you like? Any you absolutely despise? Don't leave me hangin' Big Dog, I'm takin' bets.

Dear Ronald:

I have no need to pick on Sam, he's a very nice guy.  I've known Sam since he was eight and I was nine, and I truly only wish him all the best.

Josh

Name:              bobby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

No offense to the fella who made the cover of Inktip Magazine, but I think it's important to distinguish between a real spec sale in the Hollywood marketplace (I.E. - "Cycles") and a group of people who own a Cannon XL2 scouring the pages of Inktip magazine to find a cheapo script and happening upon yours.

I know the motto is, do whatever you can to get your movie made, but if "Lost Mission" was truly a great script, this guy should not have listed it on Inktip. Nobody in the professional industry uses Inktip as a means to find scripts -- there's already a surplus of scripts coming in from agencies and lawyers, so there's no need.

It will be very hard for agents to take this writer seriously if "Lost Mission" becomes a straight-to-DVD movie distributed regionally to local mom and pop videostores or even blockbuster. As a writer, Josh, do you agree that if you feel you've got something real special on your hands, don't peddle it out to the first buyer just because you want to see your work produced in some capacity?

Dear bobby:

Somebody's got to write the super-low-budget films, too, and I'd say it's better to have a writer do it than to have the producer write the script. No, Inktip isn't how big scripts are sold, but somebody's doing something there.  Getting anything produced is a triumph.

Josh

Name:              Gwendolyn
E-mail:             yeahright@at.com

Dear Josh:         

The fact that you stoop so low as to attack & namecall those who attack and namecall you personally just goes to shows how pathetic and feebleminded you really are. If you were an even moderately respectable person with any taste aside from that in your mouth, you wouldn't post strangers bickering at you and you bickering back. Now, watch this end up on your site with an o-so unclever retort. You absolute loser.

Dear Gwendolyn:

Yep, here it is.  So you think I should only post the Q&As that agree with me?  Or should I post the ones that disagree, but not answer them?  Or should I just not have a Q&A at all?  Since you went to the trouble of writing in to attack me and call me names, don't you think that makes you just as pathetic and feebleminded as all the other attacking name-callers? Or do you suppose it makes you even worse?  Who do think is the real absolute loser: the guy with website that name-calling attackers write into, or a name-calling attacker?

Josh

Name:              Jason Roth
E-mail:             scootermcgurk@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

Just watched Robert Wise's cracking good Odds Against Tomorrow- I was curious what you thought of the film.  I couldn't help but think of Running Time during the climactic heist.  Harry Belafonte appears to have hardly aged in 50+ years!

If you are looking for Michigan venues for If I Had a Hammer, there's a nice arthouse theater out here in Grand Rapids.  When Bruce came to town with Man With the Screaming Brain, he screened it there.  The webpage is at http://www.wealthytheater.com

Your thoughts on Grindhouse ring true.  The 2 features were lame-o vanity projects without a trace of sincerity.  They were trying to be trash, and they succeeded.  Feh!  The fake trailers did make me laugh, but they were hardly worth the price of admission.

Best,
JR

Dear Jason:

"Odds Against Tomorrow," just like most of Robert Wise's films, is a solid, well-made, well-cast, interesting, atmospheric movie.  Robert Ryan was great, as always.  Here's a bit of trivia: Robert Ryan lived in an apartment in the Dakota on Central Park in NYC for many years.  When he died, John Lennon and Yoko Ono bought the place.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How are you? I was wondering your opinion on the possibility that Sam Raimi may not direct Spiderman 4,5, and 6 which the studios plan to make (including producer Laura Ziskin). Since the films have been very successful do you feel it is better for him to continue or let others go on with them? I also heard the original cast may be replaced. I pose this having read you're not much into superhero films but since it involves Sam I thought your perspective would be considerably interesting. Thanks.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:

From what I hear Sam has not signed up for anymore "Spiderman" movies. That's all he's done for the last 5-6 years, so it's probably time to move on.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

Every now and then the wife makes me watch a "chick flick" with her.

Being a man I usually find it hard to watch one of these types of movies even though I'm a real sap at heart.

So, she brings home a copy of a movie that came out a couple of years ago called "The Notebook". This was an adaptation of a novel by Nicholas Sparks and it was directed by Nick Cassavettes.

Needless to say it caught me off guard right from the beginning and I knew I was going to like it.

The movie was wonderfully shot and I thought the story itself was an interesting idea. The enthusiasm of the actors really made it work for me.

I don't know if this kind of movie appeals to you but did you see it? If so, do you have any feedback you might like to offer on it?

I thought it was a cool movie Josh and it wasn't all loaded down with a bunch of CG and junk and the Nick is clearly old school. Maybe not a grand spectacle but very entertaining in it's scope.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I saw "The Notebook" and enjoyed it.  I was also surprised by the ending.

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewpro

Dear Josh,

I have been visiting your site for a few years now and you have advised me on many occasions with regards to my writing and selling of screenplays to which I am very thankful. I just thought I would send you this article regarding a script I sucessfully sold which has made the cover of InkTip magazine. Your advice in lieu of an agent was invaluable and gave me immence help in understanding the Hollywood system. Thank you.

Regards
Keith

LINK http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=62894012&blogID=258561116&MyToken=ee7211b2-bfc1-4511-b0b7-6bea6a03ee38

Dear Keith:

I'm pleased I could be of help.  And may the next movie you get made from one of your scripts get at least 18 days to shoot.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I have a few questions about your writing habits. When you come up with an idea for a screenplay, how do you usually start? Do you sit around and plan the story out completely in your mind for a few days or weeks? Or do you just plan the story out enough to write a treatment and then expand on it from there with your first draft of the actual screenplay? Do you scribble down an outline before the treatment or afterwards? Also, when you are writing the actual screenplay do you break it apart and focus on one scene at a time chronologically or do you skip around?

I've found that planning the whole story out in my head (at least enough for an outline and a treatment), creating an outline and then writing the treatment works best for me.

Thanks! I'm looking forward to the upcoming DVD re-releases. I'm especially looking forward to new "Running Time" DVD, as my ex-girlfriend never returned my original copy.

Dear Trey:

If you haven't got the story entirely worked out, how can write a treatment? I kick a story around and plan it in my head over the course of weeks and months (occasionally years), making notes and outlines, then I write the treatment.  When the entire story seems to there and functioning, then I write the script.  I take the script on chronologically, scene by scene, until the end.  Then I rewrite and rewrite the script until I'm either satisfied, or I've had enough and move on.  There are only two ends to a screenplay: you either shoot it, or you abandon it.  There's a basic misunderstanding about writing that I encounter all the time.  Like this book I've been writing for a year and a half, "Going Hollywood."  When I tell anyone that I've been working on it for a year and half, frequently the response is, "When do you think you'll get to the end?"  Well, I got all the way to the end over a year ago, I've just gone back over it minimally 500 times -- and it's 250 pages long.  Writing is rewriting.  If you think you can actually spit out something good in the first draft, you're kidding yourself in a big way.

Josh

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