Q & A    Archive
Page 152

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Good Evening Josh.

I think you are right on time with your view of Oliver Stone's work and what he has done since "JFK" leading up to "World Trade Center". I almost passed it by because I am not a big Cage fan except for "Raising Arizona". However, it took me off guard and it's underlying, I feel, theme of basic human hope made me care about what I was seeing.

I will say, and this is not schmoozing - it is sincere, that I believe with my soul that "Head Shot" would have been better theatrically than "JFK" was. This is not meant to take anything away from that film though.

I know you will disagree but I thought "Natural Born Killers" was a trip to watch because it had this mix of comedy and violence that I found to be unusual in the format. Juliette Lewis I thought pretty much stole the show. In addition, I'm pretty sure Stone had shot and mixed some Super-8 in with the regular 35. It's not the first time anybody has seen him do this as evidenced in "JFK". The blight would be that the story was penned by QT and I know he's not big on your list of guys to slam down a beer with.

Finally, I saw a movie the other day called "A Face In the Crowd" with Andy Griffith and a young Lee Remick along with Walter Matthau. It was directed by Elia Kazan. Griffith played Lonesome Rhodes and I will say he was the ultimate cunning lying snake in the grass. Excellent movie I thought! Expert performance by Griffith. No Opie in this one and I think it would blow most people away who have never watched it.

Thanks Josh.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Yes, "A Face in the Crowd" is a great movie, and Andy Griffith couldn't be better.  And Lee Remick in her first movie is so cute it's ridiculous.  It's also a very early performance of Walter Matthau, who's also very good. Meanwhile, I just hated "Natural Born Killers," which seemed like a total jerk-off to me.  Oh boy, you can switch from 35mm to super-8 to video to black and white to color -- so what?  Making fun of a TV news reporter, even at that point, was meaningless.  The reality of TV news turning into pure entertainment had already occurred, so the movie said nothing.  I'll take "Badlands" any day of the week.  Thanks for the nice comment about "Head Shot."

Josh

Name:              Tom
E-mail:             tomkat91@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Greetings from England Sir, I am a sci fi fan and would love to add your autograph to my collection. May I send you a monster card to sign? Please send me a postal address which I may contact you. All the best. Keep up the great stuff! Cheers from, Tom (somewhere over a desk in London)

Dear Tom:

A monster card, eh?  Sure, why not.  Shirley will give the address. [Please allow a few weeks, send to: Shirley (Robbins) LeVasseur, BeckerFilms; c/o P.O. Box 86; East Vassalboro, ME 04935; USA]   Please include return postage.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You wrote-
>>So, seven years into making a feature, eh?  Where are you along the path?
>>What lessons did you learn?

The film, Too Dead to Die, is in the last stage of editing, with a couple tiny insert shots to grab & some CG FX work.  I'll be premiering the beast in October at the local Grand Rapids arthouse theater, to kick off an indie horror & sci-fi film festival.  It'll be an absolute gas to be done with it and see how an audience reacts to it.

As for lessons learned, I learned a lot of basics, such as: never go into production without a solid script (biggest lesson of all!), never let actors get drunk, don't wave around toy guns in front of a bank without informing the authorities, never work with animals or children, and so on.

I've also learned which of my cast & crew are truly reliable- the ones who stuck with the project for faaaar longer than anyone should be asked to. Made a lot of good friends, and now I've got a good stock company of actors, crew, & musicians who are willing to do more projects.

So all in all, a protracted, painful, but ultimately positive experience. I may stick to animated shorts for a bit before tackling the next live-action feature, though!

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

You obviously learned the important lessons.  The solid script realization is a big one.  Many folks think they can improve their poorly-worked-out script on the set, and you can't.  As good old Bruce Campbell once said, "If you have script problems and you don't fix them by the time you shoot, your script problems then become 40 feet tall."  Drunk actors are worthless.  And you just have to figure out how to deal with kids and animals because they keep ending up in scripts.  Anyway, good luck with your film, and good work getting it finished.

Josh

Name:              Rob Mclaine
E-mail:             info@evildeadchainsaws.com

Hi Josh,

I need some help, I'm trying put together a Score/Soundtrack list for "within the woods". I've idenified 2/3 of the tracks and listed them below. Would you be able to shed any light on the remaining tracks, or even the films they may have come from?

I'd really appreciate any help you can give me.

Cheers, Rob.


Within The Woods Score
----------------------

1. Main Title (Death Wish Score - Paint Her Mouth)
used as main titles moving through swamp to house

2. Going For A Picnic (????????????????????????????)
Bruce & Ellen walk from the house into the woods

3. BAAA! (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Infiltration (Suite))
firelighting sound effect

4. Bruce Has Gone (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Main Title)
Used as ellen wakes up & realizes bruce is gone

5. Main Title (Death Wish Score - Paint Her Mouth)
Used as ellen is starting to be chased

6. Chasing Ellen (Death Wish Score - Suite Revenge: Striking Back, Riverside Park, The Alley, 8th Avenue Station)
Chase track as monster is chasing ellen through forest back to house

7. Will scott Answer The Door? (On Her Majesty's Secret Service Score - This Never Happened To The Other Feller)
Ellen bangs on the door, scott takes his time to answer

8. Trying To Calm Ellen (????????????????????????????)
Shelly & scott try to calm ellen, scott leaves to look for bruce

9. Bruce Attacks Shelly (????????????????????????????)
Shelly goes to look for bruce. He attacks & stabs her

10. Bruce Is Trying To Get in (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Rescue)
Use as ellen get the knife & goes over to the door & stabs scott

11. BAAA! (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Infiltration (Suite))
Bruce jumps Out

12. Can't Get The Door Shut (????????????????????????????)
Ellen can't get the door shut, bruce is attacking

13. Going Into The Cellar (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Main Title)
Used as ellen makes her way into the cellar

14. Ellen Emerges From The Cellar (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Angel of Death)
Used as ellen comes out of the cellar

15. Ellen discovers Shelly's Body (????????????????????????????)
Ellen finds Shelly's body, then bruce jumps out

16. BAAA! (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Score - Infiltration (Suite))
Bruce jumps Out

17. Bruce & Ellen Fight (Jaws Score - The Underwater Siege)
bruce bites off his hand and he & ellen fight.

18. Ellen Stabs Bruce (Jaws Score - The Underwater Siege) (Repeats from start)
Ellen & Bruce wrestle on the monopoly board, Ellen picks up the knife & stabs Bruce.

19. Bruce attacks A Second Time (????????????????????????????)
Bruce attacks ellen a 2nd time, Ellen chops him up with the axe

20. Ellen Cries For Bruce (????????????????????????????)
Same music as track 2 (Going For A Picnic)

21. End Credits (Sorcerer Soundtrack - Tangerine Dream - Search)
Song used over end credits


Radio Songs
-----------

22. Radio Song #1 (????????????????????????????)
Plays while they prepare the food for the picnic

23. Radio Song #2 (Sister Sledge - We Are Family)
Plays on the radio while scott & Shelly are playing monopoly

Dear Rob:

I wasn't around for the scoring of that film, or the shooting, for that matter, so I can't help you.  The music all works amazing well, though.  The two scores that we all fell back on regularly were, as you noted, Herbie Hancock's score for "Death Wish" and Denny Zeitlin's score for the 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," both of which have long stretches of suspenseful, scary music that almost always randomly synched up to the action.

Josh

Name:              David
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I've been doing some shooting with a 16mm handcranked Bolex for the first time in years.  Fun stuff.  I filmed my girlfriend, who had only seen herself on video, and she loved the look of Kodak black and white reversal.

This reminded me: don't you have a friend who has been shooting a film with a Bolex?  Did that ever get finished?  Any interesting Bolex stories to share?  Cool effects, bad screw-ups, whatever.

Dear David:

Yes, my buddy Paul has just completed his first decade of working on that film.  Will he ever finish?  None of us know.  He does have a lot of good-looking footage, though.  The key Paul and I discovered with the Bolex is before shooting any shot remember the three Fs: focus, f-stop, and frame-rate.  The biggest problem is opening the aperature all the way to see what you're doing, then forgetting to set it back at the proper exposure. Given that the camera and the lenses are really just cheap junk, it's amazing how gorgeous some of the footage is.

Josh

Name:              K.D.N.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Just saw WORLD TRADE CENTER. I agree with you on the rational believability, but I didn't care for it and it was 30 minutes too long for me.

Meanwhile, you said Wyler constantly sought out themes that he believed in like Family in War Times. He also seemed to have a thing for doomed love and unhappy endings.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Cathy forsakes love of a stable boy)
THE HEIRESS (ugly duckling discovers her suitor IS a fortune hunter)
DETECTIVE STORY (discovers wife has an abortion, destroys marriage)
CARRIE (forsakes rich life for love, ends in suicide)
ROMAN HOLIDAY (princess forsakes love for her duty)
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (engagement broken up over rumors of lesbianism)
THE COLLECTOR (doesn't trust the woman, results in her death)
FUNNY GIRL (gambler cannot take wife's fame, ruins his marriage with jail)

I don't get it. I can tell where he gets the families in war time because of his childhood, but doomed love? His second marriage lasted the rest of his life.

Dear K.D.N.:

You could also add "Jezebel" into that list.  "Dodsworth," on the other hand, is about a marriage dying and new love taking hold.  In many of Wyler's other films love does triumph, like "The Best Years of Our Lives" (which also has the marriage dying and new love taking hold, as well as a new love, and an old love rekindled), "The Big Country," though he starts with the wrong girl, he ends up with the right one.  Anyway, I admire the fact that Wyler frequently didn't need a happy ending on his stories. Perhaps his first marriage to Margaret Sullivan really broke his heart.

Josh

Name:              John Vesbit
E-mail:             planzdissonant@hotmail.com

Dear Josh, Mr. Becker if you like,

    As an aspiring writer/director in Michigan in the year 2007, my question is this; In your opinion do you think it would be easier or harder to raise money for an independent feature than lets say in 1978 (Evil Dead) ? Furtherly, do you think that the dentists and big-shots have cooled on the idea of investing in independent cinema, seeing as how flooded the market already is? I guess I'm straying from the real question. What I really want to ask is, Given how many low-budget horror/sci-fi movies are out there already, is there still room for one more? and can it still have the potential to make a profit?

Dear John:

Anything's possible.  The bottom line of filmmaking is, if you've got to make a movie, then you'll make it no matter what.  The marketplace be damned.  Nothing says, however, that if you make it they'll come.  The only thing you can be sure of is, if you make a movie, then you've got a movie. If you happen to have a worthwhile story to tell, people might even pay attention.  Or not, there's no way to know in advance.  Regarding the raising of money back then and now, I had a bitch of time raising the money for TSNKE.  Sam, Rob and Bruce with ED were much better at it than me. Raising money is extremely difficult, then, now, whenever.  For better or worse this is the time period you're stuck in, so this is what you've got to deal with.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Anthony Walker
E-mail:             tbalony@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

New Zealand sounds like a hoot, I have a pal named Titch up in the Coramandel Valley who everyone seems to know. I really like what you say about religion and hope one day humanity can be de-programmed from all this archaic and lethal nonsense. Cheers =Tony=

Dear Tony:

I'm glad you agree with my views.  Personally, though, I don't believe that humans will ever move beyond their superstitions.

Josh

Name:              JonathanMoody
E-mail:             jondoe_555@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hey just wanted to let everyone know that if anyone still wants to listen to the interview I did with you well now they can. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/JonathanMoody/page/6   I hope to all your fans who couldn't hear this interview enjoys it.

So how are all your projects coming along? Have anything in the works we may be excited to hear about?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Everything for me is in a big stall right now.  It could all come back to life in the new year, but I'll just have to wait and see.  I thought "Rushes" would be out already, but it hasn't even been fully laid out yet, so maybe it'll be out before the end of the year, we'll see about that, too.

Josh

Name:              Donkey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What band, that first debuted in the 2000's, is your favorite? I know you don't dig a lot of current music, but I'm just curious to know what you do like. :)

Dear Donkey:

I'm just an old stick-in-the-mud and I don't listen to any music made in the 2000s.  My musical taste barely makes it into the 1980s.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just to clarify, "She's not There" is a song by The Zombies and not The Kinks, and I would have to disagree with you about The Kinks as they became a little lost in the 70's doing concept albums which did not work too well, ("Celluloid Heroes" being a song from one of those albums), however, I think 3 of their greatest albums are "Something Else", "The Village Green Preservation Society", and "Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)". All were made in the late 60's.

I am a big fan of the Kinks and I think Ray Davies is one of the best lyricists in Popular music. What I find with them is either people like them or they don't and there is no real reason for that.

Much of it may have to do with the fact that Davies's songs are very English in nature and most are about England, but I think the themes in his songs transcend the Atlantic and can be applied to much of American society as well as other western societies.

Anyhow, I think one of their best songs is a song called "20th Century Man" from "The Muswell Hillbillies" album which is one of their best albums from the 70's, and there is a great live version of that song on "One for the Road" from 1980.

Lastly, I had always wonderded what you thought about the film "Quadrophenia" and now you have answered that question here.

I always enjoyed that film too and I received it as a gift for my birthday when it came out on DVD a few years back. I hadn't seen it in ages and I have to say that it still held up very well when I watched it again for the first time in a long time and as the Album "Quadrophenia" is my favorite album by "The Who", I too felt that the film was a very good interpretation of the Album and much better than "Tommy", but I never found the story in "Tommy" to be all that great anyhow and I think the story in "Quadrophenia' is much stronger and more believable.

I too wish Franc Roddam would have gone on to so better things, but not to be...

Scott

Dear Scott:

I knew "She's Not There" was The Zombies the second I pushed send.  Crap! I meant, "You Really Got Me."  I had a brain-wiring problem.Well, anyway, I still think the same nonsensical thoughts about The Kinks. I liked them at first, then grew to not care.  But that's just me, there's plenty I used to care about that I no longer care about.  It almost shocks me.  The fact that I keep trudging through the minefield of the film business when I don't care about or like most movies I now see seems utterly absurd.  Meanwhile, I did see a film I liked, "World Trade Center."  It was so rationally made that I began to doubt that it actually was Oliver Stone. When it was over I got a bit angry at Stone, thinking, "You son of a bitch, you can actually make decent, rational, emotionally believable movies, but you just haven't bothered for the last 15 years."  I'd say it's Stone's best film since "JFK."

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you like the song "Celluloid Heroes"?  It's one of my favorites.

Dear Bob:

It's funny you bring that up because I was just bitching about the Kinks the other day.  I think they were a great early rock band that quickly developed into a novelty song band.  The Kinks' work in 1964, like "She's Not There," is the cutting edge of rock and roll, but everything thereafter, including "Celluloid Heroes," is set to a jaunty, inoffensive, English music hall melody, similar to Paul McCartney's silliest songs, like "Lovely Rita" and "When I'm 64."  Anyway, so no, I'm not a big fan of it.  But it's weird you brought it up.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

There was some discussion on here maybe a year or so ago about there not being an good female directors. Well, I think there is at least one good active female director, and possibly two.

Susanne Bier, the Danish filmmaker, has been doing very good work the past 10 or so years. She's not very well known here in the States, but her films "Brødre" (Brothers, 2004) and "Efter brylluppe" (After the Wedding, 2006) are both excellent. They are basically character dramas with superb acting. No special effects to speak of, just human drama.

Also, Caroline Link did a very good job with "Nirgendwo in Afrika" (Nowhere in Africa), which won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I haven't seen any of her other films though so I can't be sure it wasn't a fluke. I was impressed with that film though.

Dear David:

I saw "Nowhere in Africa" and I agree, it is a good movie, and well-made, too.  It seemed like a companion piece to "White Mischief," which I also liked.  White people in Africa during WWII.  I haven't seen the Danish films you mention, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Josh

Name:              Lucas
E-mail:             check the archives

Hey Josh,

As part of a new job, I've recently had to subtitle two movies from the 1930s that I'd never heard of, and I'm interested to hear your opinions, if you have them.

One was "A Free Soul" (1931), and the other was "Female" (1933).

I can't say that I particularly enjoyed either one, but Clark Gable was pretty great in "A Free Soul".

Any thoughts?

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

I haven't seen "Female," but it sounds very interesting, directed by Michael Curtiz.  "A Free Soul" is a big lumpy old early-sound Hollywood extravaganza with a particularly good cast.  It's famous for Lionel Barrymore winning an Oscar, and he's pretty damn impressive in his big courtroom finale.  Norma Shearer kind of interests me, and young Clark Gable is great.  I pretty much always find Leslie Howard to be a stick-in-the-mud.

Josh

Name:              Kevin N.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

<< I'm also not a fan of the zither score in "The Third Man," so go ahead, shoot me.>>

Is it just me, or did that score remind me of Woody Allen's BANANAS?

Dear Kevin:

I don't hear the connection.  "Bananas" is a Marvin Hamlisch Caribbean sort of thing.  The zither is just a zither.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   Well, when it posts it pours, I guess.  My latest question is about the MASTERS OF HORROR series on Showtime, whether you've seen it, and what you thought of it.  Having watched several episodes on Netflix (most of Season 1 has been uploaded so that you can watch it directly on your PC, without ordering the DVD), I have some mixed reviews.  While I applaud the idea of taking some of the best directors of horror films and letting them showcase their skills, it's clear that some of the older directors are just not up to it anymore.  Tobe Hooper's DANCE OF THE DEAD episode was disappointing, but then again his films have been disappointing since POLTERGEIST.
    Still, some of the films are quite promising.  I'm looking forward to watching Dario Argento's piece JENIFER, and Takashi Miike's IMPRINT was shocking.
    A little more on IMPRINT (if you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it). Miike beautifully composed and shot his piece, and although the logic comes apart a bit at the end, the overall effect is generally eerie. There are also some EXTREMELY graphic sequences that are done with a certain disturbing realism.  His treatment of taboo subjects (i.e., torture, abortion, incest, and so on) is absolutely frank and unflinching, and it was rumored that Showtime refused to air IMPRINT, but held it for the DVD release.  I wasn't 100% for this piece, but some of the images are still stuck in my head.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I haven't watched it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

The zither in "The Third Man" is so terribly innappropriate that it nearly ruins the entire movie. At least it's not as poorly imagined as that Giorgio Moroder score to "Metropolis". I hope the Master Print of that was fired into the sun. I heard recently that Brian DePalma turned down an offer to re-release "Scarface" with an all rap score. He stated something about not wanting to damage the integrity of his original work.

He's currently working on a prequel to "The Untouchables".

Dear Angel:

You managed to both diss and praise Giorgio Moroder in the same paragraph, sort of.  I do think Moroder's score for "Scarface," though dated and silly, is still perfectly appropriate to the time period and subject matter of the film.  The story is specifically set in a particular time, with the flood of Cuban refugees in Miami, disco, and cocaine, so that rap would have no meaning or place in the film.  Is the prequel called "L'il Untouchables," with all of the characters as kids?  Ten-year-old Elliott Ness against ten-year-old Al Capone, with slingshots.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   I rather liked the jazz score in ANATOMY OF A MURDER; it seemed to me to give the film a comfortable feeling.  Also, it rounded out Jimmy Stewart's character a little and made him more interesting, a little eccentric.  Lee Remick's character comments on that in the film, to the effect that he has odd taste in music for a lawyer.  Still, I suppose the pace could've been picked up a little in the second act.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I have no issue with Stewart's character being a jazz fan, nor him going and jamming with Pea-Eye (Ellington), but that doesn't mean the movie should have a dramatic jazz score.  Jazz on it's unconscious emotional level says "Urban," whereas the film takes place in a small town in the upper penninsula of Michigan; jazz, particularly Ellington's hot jazz, says "Sophisticated," but it's a reasonably unsophisticated story of abuse and rape, set in the middle of nowhere.  The dramatic score sets the emotional landscape for the story, and I simply think it's an inappropriate choice for that film.  I'm also not a fan of the zither score in "The Third Man," so go ahead, shoot me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

A lot less people seem to be writing in these days, based on the size of the updates. Is that affecting you?

Dear Matt:

It goes up and down, just as it has for the past nine years.  I generally have several Q&As every morning, but sometimes they're so meaningless or dumb I don't bother answering them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   It seems as if you've softened your view a little bit on DV, although I agree that it currently still has too many artistic and commercial restrictions to replace film at this time.  Still, if the medium continues to develop, it seems to be the way of the not-so-distant future.
    In an unrelated question, I watched ANATOMY OF A MURDER last night, and wondered what you thought of it.  Apart from the fine performances (Jimmy Stewart was great when confronting Ben Gazzarra and wrangling in the courtroom with George C. Scott), the thing that I liked best about the film was Otto Preminger's style.  He made all of his films from a very mature standpoint; his characters are adults, and he doesn't dance around or titillate over sexuality or real-life situations.  In an era when it seems as if every film is ultimately made for teenagers, it was refreshing to see a film made by a grownup for a change.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I liked "Anatomy of a Murder" much more when I was a kid, but the film has not held up very well for me over the years.  It seemed sluggish and lumpy the last time I watched it.  Even though I'm a fan of Duke Ellington, as is Jimmy Stewart's character in the film, I don't think the jazz score fits the setting or the action of the movie.  And though I agree with you that Otto Preminger was pushing motion pictures to be more mature, I think we was a sloppy, thoughtless director.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

When can we look forward to the release of Rushes-and will you be doing any signings or appearances?  I couldn't attend either of the Hammer screenings.  It would be great to meet you, your Q&A and writings have always been caustically inspiring (I mean that as high praise.)  I'm nearing the end of the road on my 7-years in the making feature.  Learned a lot of lessons on this one.

You mentioned Hondo in 3D a while back- several years ago they aired it on network television in the "miracle of Naturalvision," where you could watch it with or without 3D glasses.  You are right, 3D didn't add a damn thing to the movie.  Somewhere I still have my free pair of Hondo 3D glasses with an Indian on the side of them.  Good stuff.

Best,
Jason Roth

Dear Jason:

I would of course be happy to do a book signing if I (or my publisher) could get a bookstore to back it.  The store has to order several boxes of books, then advertise in some way.  They don't do this unless they think they can move the books.  So, seven years into making a feature, eh?  Where are you along the path?  What lessons did you learn?

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             upon request

Hi ya Joshie Poshie,

Last night I caught an episode of the documentary series "Secrets of the Dead" on PBS.

This one was called "Bridge on the River Kwai".

I had *NO* idea there were 96,000 people killed making that railroad; of which 18,000 were Allied POWs (the rest being Asian indentured "slaves")! Before watching this, I had the sense the Japanese were brutal, but that stunned me. The footage, stills, and details were horrific and brought to my mind what making The Great Wall Of China or the pyramids must have been like.

I was wondering if you've seen this because a directing choice caught my attention ... well, I don't know if it bugged me or if I liked it ... anyway I'd like to have your opinion. When they had filmed interviews with several POW survivors, they did rather extreme close ups but lighted their faces so that half was in complete shadow and the other side was bright enough to see one eyeball.

I was distracted and, as they were giving such devastating accounts and breaking down emotionally at key moments, I wondered why that would be the choice - to omit half their expression during the harrowing retelling.

Perhaps it was to set an ominous mood ... perhaps a symbolic visual that half of these men's souls remains back in the dark past, half in the illuminated present. I'm guessing.

I can't decide if it was a good move or not!

If anyone is interested, it's repeating again on many PBS stations at ~ 5 p.m. tommorrow (Saturday) night, and likely several more times throughout the month.

I know you're a PBS buff and the subject interests you, so I hope you'll catch it.

Dear Diana:

No, I haven't seen that show, but it sounds interesting.  I think you got why they lit the close-ups as they did -- a half lit face is dramatic.  It was a specific lighting choice to give the close-ups more drama.  Honestly, how many ways can you film a close-up?  And let's face it, we've seen them all: all the way to the left, all the way to the right, centered, high, low, hand-held, starkly-lit.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   Thank you kindly for wishing me well on the documentary project, as we certainly need it!  In reply to your statement on Don Coscarelli, I have to say that I was impressed by his energy and his accomplishments.  For one, he made his first feature, JIM THE WORLD'S GREATEST, and got it released by 20th Century Fox when he was only eighteen.  Also, he brought Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm into the spotlight, whose performances I really enjoy.
   Anyway, on to my real question.  Recently, it seems that digital filmaking has enjoyed great technological improvements, which more and more render it viable as a new industry standard.  True, digital filmaking hampers cinematography because of lighting and color reproduction problems, but these only seem to be temporary issues (much like the way that cumbersome early sound technology hampered camera technique).  If these problems can be licked, then filmakers can make real use of the advantages of the technology (cheaper editing with instant feedback, no negative decomposition, etc.).  That being stated, do you think that you will ever experiment with DV for one of your features in the future?

                          Darryl

Dear Darryl:

If I had a suitable script and the only way I could get it going was to shoot it super-cheap on DV, I'd happily shoot do it.  However the last two scripts I've written (both with Paul Harris), "The Horribleness" and "It's a Lost, Lost World," both have big enough productions so that I wouldn't want to go through the trouble of putting them all together, and not shoot them on film.  So, under the right circumstances, yes.

Josh

Name:              christopher bolender
E-mail:             youearnedit@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I'm a marine and I'm trying to pitch my script. Who do I contact? Are agents really impossible to get? And, what do you think about contacting everyone and their mother?

Dear christopher:

I had eight agents over the course of 20-odd years in L.A., so they're certainly not impossible to get, not by any means.  Getting a good agent, though, is a whole other issue.  And "contacting everyone and their mother" doesn't mean anything.  You have to know who you're trying to get to before sending your stuff or you may as well just put it straight in the trash. But getting an agent is completely possible, you just have to hustle to make it happen.  Good luck.  Semper Fi.

Josh

Name:              Harold
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

This is a three part question.

One: Do you ever get writer's block? If you do, how do you get past it. Do you have any tricks or anything?

Two: When you finish a script, who do you give it to read first? Who is your trusted group of peers who you always have give you feedback?

Three: Do you ever have friends give you their scripts to read and give input on? And have you ever done any uncredited rewrites for your friend's scripts?

Dear Harold:

One: I consider not writing part of the process of writing, so I don't think of it as Writer's Block.  It's more like the bucket hanging on the side of the Maple tree collecting the syrup -- once you pour it out, you then have to let it fill again, drop by drop.  I also believe that stories frequently need to ferment in your head for some amount of time before they're ripe enough to write.  Just keep thinking about the idea of stories, and how one event sets off another series of events, and think about dramatic situations, not about "What will I write next?" or "Oh my god, I've got Writer's Block."  And keep a daily journal (I do), so then you're writing everyday anyway, so how can you have Writer's Block.

Two:  The first two people I usually get are my good buddies, Bruce Campbell and Paul Harris, who have both been kind enough to read most every script I've written.  Since I wrote my last two scripts with Paul, we got Bruce and Paul's buddy, Robbie, and of course my good buddy, Shirley LeVasseur, the webmaster here.  But then I elect others, too.   My good friends, generally.

Three:  No, not really.  I really hate reading scripts, unless I'm going to direct them.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Josh, just wondering if you've seen a British flick called Quadrophenia, and if so, can you recommend it?

Dear David:

Yes, I have seen "Quadrophenia," and I also have the CD.  I think it's a very interesting, and almost successful, attempt at adapting the Who's album into a movie, and I enjoyed it, too, but I don't think it's a great film.  I was expecting even better things from the director, Franc Roddam, after that and never got anything.  But yes, I do recommend the film.  It's also Sting's first film and he was surprisingly good.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   Sorry to pester you with a second post, but this didn't really fit with the other one I just sent.  Anyway, here's my question:  what do you think of the films of Don Coscarelli, and Mr. Coscarelli as a director?

                              Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I was amused by the first half of "Bubba Hotep," mainly by Bruce and Ossie Davis's performances.  I was seriously underwhlemed by the "Phantasm" movies, and "Beatmaster" wasn't much, either.  Basically, I'm not particularly impressed with him.  Bruce said he enjoyed working with him.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   I haven't checked in for quite some time, and I wanted to give you an update on the documentary project, as promised.  Currently, the subject we settled on (female kickboxers) is in post-production limbo, with one partner in London, another in Thailand, and me in Connecticut.   This whole thing started when my friend John and I were with our National Guard unit in Afghanistan.  John got two weeks leave and went to visit his buddy Thor, a British expatriate living in Pattaya, Thailand with his wife.  One night, they were shooting the shit and got to talking about all the unusual things going on in Pattaya, and decided that they could make a documentary and possibly sell it.  The idea stuck, and over the remaining months in Afghanistan, Thor and John worked out the details by email.  I was brought into the project (despite my general lack of filmaking knowledge) because both Thor and John are, by their own admission, more talkers than doers and needed a third man to round out the team.
   Anyway, a few weeks after we got home from Afghanistan, John and I went to Pattaya and we started scouting out subjects to film.  The plan was to make documentaries for television, so we were able to go with HDV, which turned out to be a much cheaper option than film.  Our setup was very basic:  one Panasonic camera and one Sony backup, one tripod, one poor man's steadicam rig for handheld work, John as the Director and DP, me doing gaffing and sound, and Thor doing interviews, voiceover narration (he's been on TV in before in the UK, and has a good screen voice and presence) and using his local contacts to get us subjects.  Sound was very simple.  We couldn't afford a mixing board or any type of portable rig, so we used the onboard shotgun mike on the panasonic to get ambient and crowd sounds, and rigged a directional mike on a long cord to plug directly into the camera for interviews and dialogue.  On alot of our work, I'm just out of frame handholding the microphone, which worked surprisingly well.  We played with exposure in the camera to make maximum use of natural light, and found through experimentation that our editing software could do color and light correction to give us decent, professional looking visuals.
   Our two main problems were getting permission to shoot different subjects, and finding an editor.  For instance, we wanted to do a documentary on bar girls and Thai prostitution, but we couldn't find a bar that was willing to let us shoot (they were worried that the camera would discourage customers).  Our greatest success came when Thor used his contacts to get us involved with two gyms teaching muay thai (kickboxing). The gyms were eager for exposure and gave us free reign to film training, practice, and matches.  We managed to get alot of good footage, and we're trying to assemble the narrative now.
    As for an editor, we did hire a Thai editor from the local TV station and while she was an experienced cutter, the language barrier was too great to convey what we wanted, even through an interpreter.  Since then, Thor's been in touch with a fellow who has edited a few National Geographic subjects, but that's still in negotiation.
   Will we sell the finished product?  I hope so.  If not, it was the cheapest working vacation I ever took, and the perfect way to decompress from Afghanistan.

                          Yours truly,
                          Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Good luck with it, and welcome back.  Getting movies made, any kind of movies, is tough.  Now you know, so the next one will be easier.

Josh

Name:              Dean
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I watched Alien Apocalypse on D.V.D ( did you know it has U.K Distribution now ? )

Piece of crap is going a bit too far, but I of course respect Bruce Campbell's opinion.

Anyway for what it was I enjoyed it, it had a little bit of sly political satire, religious satire, it was witty and far better shot than most Sci Fi movies, certainly it has a cinematic quality not usually present in their stuff.

Sure it isn't Citizen Kane, the overdubbing and some of the acting and effects are terrible, but it works as a sort of Fifties B-movie pastiche/homage which I am sure was intended, it had a point to make, I thought it was ok, just a silly throwback to movies I enjoy.

Also the DVD is cheap and has a good commentary, it isn't your best film, but you are right to have a fair amount of pride with it, especially considering the production difficulties.

Was the Ivan cutting off limbs sequence a homage to Evil Dead 2 when Ash is cutting up the pee wee head ?

Dear Dean:

No, it wasn't meant as an homage, at least not consciously.  The film may be a piece of crap, but I'm not ashamed of it.  As far as Sci Fi Channel movies go, I think it's pretty good.

Josh

Name:              Joseph St. Lloyd
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You were saying there is an exception to every rule, so I was wondering what the exception to the rule is as far as good movies shot digitally? In your opinion, what is the best film shot with digital cameras and why do you consider it the best film?

Thank you for your time and I very much look forward to your answer.

Dear Joseph:

I just read a review in the NY Times about a film called "Quiet City," that they not only liked, but throught was beautifully shot on digital.  So  it certainly can be done.  I haven't seen Bruce Campbell's new film yet, either, "My Name is Bruce," but it was shot high-def by our buddy the DP, Kurt Rauf, and from everything I hear it supposed to look great.

Josh

Name:              Jimbo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

If you go to Fangoria.com and click on their Radio button, I think it's the first interview there unless they added more.

It's 41 minutes. You should listen to it. It's funny. He only talks about AA and MWTSB for a few minutes. :(

Dear Jimbo:

I've since spoken with Bruce, and he was referring to the cheesy productions of both AA and MWTSB, which were pretty crappy.  Anyway, I'm not interested enough to listen to the interview, but thanks.

Josh

Name:              Jimbo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'm not trying to rub salt on an open wound or anything, I'm just genuinely curious. Does it hurt you at all to hear Bruce call your movie crap?

I know you get a bunch of assholes on here saying "You suck!" and "You make horrible films!", so I know you're used to some backlash, but I would think coming from a friend of yours it might hurt a little.

Again, I'm not trying to hurt you or anything. I thought AA was a good enough film. Better than a lot of other films made these days. Especially for Sci-Fi.

Dear Jimbo:

Since I never read that quote by Bruce, nor has he ever said such a thing to me, I 'd be interested to know the context in which he said it -- not that matters.  Bruce has been my good friend for a very long time, and if he thinks my film is crap, then it probably is.

Josh

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

Josh,

Haven't written in a while though I've been reading and following developments here.  "Xena" and it's related productions ("Herc," "Jack," "Cleo,")were engaging shows whose great commonality was a willingnest to explore form within an over-arching structure.  I did not all of those series (Sorry Bruce, I liked you in "Jack" but the rest of the show not so much.  Herc was much better and I always looked forward to it.  Xena was even more so.  There was only one way to know what the creative team would come up with next and that was to watch the show.  And I wish folks who criticise your (Josh Becker's) contributions need to see the episodes that you actually directed.  By watching those episodes one could call out which important outside films these jerk-weeds haven't yet seen yet which you reference throughout.

All of those shows took tremendous chances on funny budgets with strange schedules.  I would have been proud to be able to claim to have been a part of that experience.  Someday my kids will wish they could have seen it first-run too.

I am tremendously pleased for Bruce on Burn Notice  He's on a funny, well-balanced show, the writing is great and age appropriate and it's doing well, so well that I finally got TiVo just to record it.  Don't know when you might see him again but we think he's doing a great job.

As are you and Shirley.  Thanks for keeping this Blog up and running. John

Dear John:

Being a former "Xena" director does make me an easy target.  I had a few encounters with a movie journalist in L.A. who loudly disparaged my opinions at a party because I directed "Xena."  My response to him was, loudly, "I may not be at the top of my field, but I'm not a parasite on the movie business's ass, either, like you, for instance."  The idea that some dipshit journalist, who's never worked on a movie in any capacity, has a more valid opinion than mine is utterly ridiculous.  When I make a comment about screenwriting it's based on having written 35 scripts over the past 30 years, five of which have been produced as movies.  When a film critic comments it's based on nothing other than having watched movies, and I've done plenty of that, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

In case you haven't heard, Alien Apocalypse is on Sci-Fi this Sunday (Sept. 2nd)  at 11 AM EDT, preceded by Screaming Brain.   And in other Bulgaria news, turns out your Harpies colleague Declan O'Brian is making his directorial debut on Renee O'Connor's movie, which she's shooting over there even as we speak.

While you've said we'll have to wait for "Rushes" to come out to find out the details on all the challenges you faced while filming Harpies, I'm curious - do you think you burned bridges with the whole network?  Or just the individual producers for that film?  (Since there seem to be a ton of different producers shooting things over there right now.)

Regards,

August

PS - did you ever watch the rest of "These Are The Damned?"  Wasn't that just really jarring, to go from claustophobic, stereotypical Outer Limits-style interiors to these sweeping shots of cliffs, the ocean, helicopters, boats, high speed chases and so forth done on location in broad daylight?

Dear August:

Thnaks as always for the update.  The film with Renee is actually Declan's second directorial effort.  His first film hasn't aired yet.  And he's done shooting the second one, as well (I just spoke with him a few days ago, and he's back from Bulgaria).  No, I didn't burn any bridges with Sci Fi, I don't think, other than I'll bet they were disappointed with "Harpies" and they probably blame me for the shitty special effects.  But I did manage to burn my bridges with UFO, the studio in Sofia that makes about half of the Sci Fi movies every year.  The bottom line of these Sci Fi movies, though, is that I don't think anybody gives a rat's ass who directs them, nor if they're any good at all, just that they get delivered on time.  Since a whole aspect of Sci Fi's Saturday Night Movie is that it's supposed to be a piece of shit, the kind of idiotic crap you would have seen at the drive-in 30 years ago, why bother getting a decent director?

Josh

Name:              Russ
E-mail:             aurorapicturesuk@aol.com

Josh!

I spoke to you a few years ago on here when I was starting to make short films, they are going pretty well and I'm getting a bit of notice for them and a couple of awards. I have to say that I used to think I knew it all but then I just read your book and it has completely changed my outlook on film making. Its really well written and i cant believe how well you have broken down every stage of the production to make it manageable. This is the best book ever on the subject of film making. Thank you so much. I've completely rewritten my screenplay with your ideas in mind and its turned into something much better than I expected. Do you ever make short films? I feel that the book, made for features, can be so well translated into shorts. Just wondering really if you have any plans to impart your wise knowledge about short films? If you have any tips for my shoot next week that would be great.
Yours sincerely
Russell Gomm - England

Dear Russ:

I'm pleased you got something out of my book.  Yes, most of it applies to shorts as well as features.  I haven't shot a short film in a long, long time; I focus exclusively on features now.  Here's my advice: plan all of your shots in advance, and think about where the cuts will be.  Any director who doesn't do this, in my opinion, is a lazy hack.

Cheerio,

Josh

Name:              Jeff
E-mail:

Josh,

I was referring more to the clunky phrasing aspect. Has the editing process made you more aware of writing tendencies you have that might be considered "bad"? Did the professional eye show any things you weren't aware you were doing or was it more of "add a comma here" type of changes.

On a unrelated note - I recently saw "Lord of War" and thought it did a good job of educating me on a subject the director/writer obviously felt strongly about without being preachy. I can't remember the last "issue" film that did that.

Ok, here's the question - I felt "Lord of War" successfully used voiceover narration by integrating it throughout the movie, rather than just at the start and end of the film as a lazy way to kick start the action. Do you know of any other films you could recommend that do a good job using narration? Other than the obvious(i.e. Sunset boulevard)
Thanks!

Dear Jeff:

Seemingly, my biggest English issue was the use of the word "which," which I used far too many times.  I then had to go on a "which" hunt and remove as many of them as possible.  Otherwise, my writing seemed to hold up pretty well.  I could go five, six or sometimes seven pages without a correction, then there'd be a bunch on one page, then five more pages without any.  As I said, I like having an editor go over my prose.  The use of voice-over narration has become somewhat ubiquitous over the past ten years, and generally I don't like it.  It seemed to come into fashion in the 1940s with the Raymond Chandler/Phillip Marlowe detective movies, like "The Big Sleep" or "Lady in the Lake," and the true-life docudramas like "The Naked City" ("A cop doesn't spend most of his time running down hunches, he runs down his shoe leather . . .").  But there's been some well-conceived, creative uses of VO narration, like "A Clockwork Orange."

Josh

Name:              Wannabe Raimi
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was just wondering how you and Sam Raimi compare as directors? What things do you do similarly, what things do you do differently?

Dear WR:

I can't make the comparison, someone else has to.  I've never really been directed by Sam, nor have I been on one of his sets since "Army of Darkness" about 15 years ago, and then I was just an extra.  I would think that he and I work very differently, though, since we've always worked on completely different schedules.  Sam had about 6 months to shoot this last Spider-Man movie; I generally have 3 weeks to shoot my films.  I've never had more than 4 weeks ("Lunatics"); and Sam has probably never shot a feature in less than 10 weeks, and occasionally has had as much as 15 or 20 weeks.  So I have no idea what anything like that's about.  When I'm shooting I usually go at the top speed humanly possible, and that's probably not the best way to work.

Josh

Name:              Jeff
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

For most of your recent movies it seems that you have edited your own scripts without much outside input. If true, now that you are having books published, how has the experience of having a professional editor reviewing your written work been? Good, bad, indifferent?

Dear Jeff:

I really had to think about that for a minute.  Are you referring to the editing of spelling and grammar, or to comments leading to rewrites? Whenever I write a script I always get people I trust to read it and give me their comments, then I either address them or not.  Regarding the books, the editor is really only going after poor grammar, clunky phrasing, or the repitition of words, he's not making overall rewrite comments.  I must admit that I've always kind of enjoyed having an editor clean up my grammatical messes.  The editor and I just finished the editing process on my next book, "Rushes," and I liked it.  It's never easy getting useful notes on a script, that's why you have to cherish and coddle the people who will actually go to the trouble of reading your screenplays, then give you honest, useful comments.

Josh

Name:              Anthony Palmer
E-mail:             relap@nlc.net

Dear Josh:

In a recent Fangoria interview Bruce called "Alien Apocalypse" a piece of crap.  How do you feel about him denigrating this film?  I actually enjoyed the film quite a bit, as it was simply fun to watch.  I also felt that the special effects in "Alien Apocalypse" weren't nearly as shitty as those I usually see in Sci-Fi productions.

Best regards,
Anthony

Dear Anthony:

I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Bruce can think what he likes.  If it didn't have such crappy dubbing, costumes and beards I might defend it.  As far as Sci Fi Original films go I think it's pretty good, but that's not really saying all that much in the scheme of things.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I just finished reading the William Wyler biography "A Talent for Trouble" and I must say that it's very sad that so few know of Wyler these days. I've seen many of his films (though not all yet)and the fact that everything about them seems so "right" never ceases to amaze me. His direction was always invisible, as many like to say, and yet it was still distinctly a William Wyler Film. And as you said in your ode to him, his oeuvre has such variety. Throughtout the history of film there haven't been many directors like Wyler and I'll say again that it's very sad that not many people know of him. However, people will always know of his films and I think he would have preferred that more than anything.

Dear Trey:

As my friend Paul and I were discussing yesterday, directors like Wyler or Hitchcock or Ford, who didn't write their own scripts, were in fact every bit as much auteurs as any filmmaker's ever were because they searched out, found and developed their material, intentionally seeking stories that put across their point of view.  Wyler didn't write "Mrs. Miniver," "The Best Years of Our Lives" or "Friendly Persuassion," but they're all very similar pieces of drama, about the impact of war on a family.  Or "Fort Apache" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," as examples for Ford, that tell totally different stories with exactly the same point -- history decides who the heroes really are, not the truth.  Hitchcock is the most blatant example because he was constantly trying every way he could to keep approaching the concept of suspense, and he didn't write any of those scripts.   But he developed them, as did Wyler and Ford.  The scripts were written to their specifications.  Then you had director-writers like Billy Wilder, John Huston or Howard Hawks, who knew what their themes were and kept writing them into their scripts.  As Hawks said, "When I watch a film, I want to know who the devil made it."  He didn't necessarily mean camera style, he meant thematically.  But now, for the most part, directors are just included into packages put together by talent agencies.

Meanwhile, getting back to William Wyler, his best friend John Huston said of him, "He had great taste," and that's ultimately what it's all about.

Josh

Name:              JB
E-mail:             sotto1@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Your comments on Private Ryan (Speilberg can't tell a story) are laughable... Especially coming from the hack director of Zena: Warrior Princess. In order to save you further embarrassment you might want to take them off your website.  What a maroon.

Dear JB:

My comments and criticisms of "Saving Private Ryan" are perfectly logical, and you haven't done anything to dispute them.  I find your comments laughable.  And why anyone would believe that the opinion of a "hack" director of Xena (that's with an X, not a Z, you moron) are any less meaningful than a film critic who knows nothing about screenwriting or filmmaking continues to befuddle me.  I feel no embarrassment, I assure you.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You have given your views on religion.  Where do you see religion going in the future?  The next 50 100 200 years.  Do you think it will gradually vanish?  Will it decline but always hold onto a certain percentage of humanity due to some psychological predisposition in some people?  As far as the major religions go, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, will some of these decline while others expand?  Just wondering what your take on this is.

This weekend's movie line up for me is 'In Which We Serve' and 'Hondo'.

Dear Bob:

I don't see religion going anywhere in the future but where it is. Five-sixths of the world's population is religious, and I don't think that'll change.  Most people are afraid of death, afraid of mystery, and need something "spiritual" to cling to, otherwise they're only stuck with themselves.  Most everyone wants to believe that their actions will somehow affect their outcome, as opposed to the idea that life is merely chaos and random confusion, and when you're dead you're dead.  I think that people particularly want to believe that there's more to life than the painful insignificance that life appears to be, and the half-assed attempts most of us have made at making the most out of our lives.  Due to this, religion will be with us as long as there are fearful humans, which is always.

Meanwhile, both of those films are worth seeing, although neither one is great.  "In Which We Serve" is probably primarily remembered because it's David Lean's first co-directing credit, since he had to step out of the editing room and bail Noel Coward out, who didn't really understand cinema or editing.  It's also young Richard Attenborough's first film.  "Hondo" is a good John Wayne western (shot in 3-D), and an early film produced by John Wayne's company, which was originally Wayne-Fellows, then it became Batjac. I like the writing of "Hondo," based on a Louis L'Amour novel.  I actually saw it in 3-D and it added nothing to the proceedings.

Josh

Name:              carlon
E-mail:             brandedwolf63@wmconnect.com

hello mr becker

im wanting to make a western movie but im needing investers to help out do u know of any or can u point me in the right direction to find any

Dear carlon:

Your best bet is to mooch as much as you can off your parents and relatives. Use guilt, act pathetic, pitch a fit, do what you must.  Or don't.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I read and liked your book on filmmaking. It seems to really get into what other 'filmmaking' books just skim over.

I always believed and agree that restrictions in 'art' are good, especially movies. I just heard Sydney Pollack say the same thing on a show about the industry on MSNBC.

I think in the least, restrictions (budgetary ones anyway) make you focus on the script/story more.

Now a question, how many shots should make up a scene? I know certain scenes could be done in one shot (a 'oner' as you call it), but on average, how many shots should make up a scene? Is there a 'rule of thumb'?

By the way, it seems 2 perf Techniscope may be making a quiet comeback. Aaton, Arri and even Panavision all have 2 perf movements available for their cameras.

Dear CD:

I'm glad you liked my book.  I'm also pleased to hear that 2-perf Techniscope is making a comeback, it's a logical, terrific format that gives you 20 minutes on a 1,000 foot roll of film, as opposed to the usual 10 minutes.  As for how many shots should be in a scene, it entirely depends on the scene.  If you have ten people in a room talking for four pages, it could take 50 shots to cover it all.  Everything, in my opinion, is subservient to the scene, and what you feel the scene needs to come to life. Can it be covered in a oner, or does every person need a close-up?  Or will two-shots of each group be enough?  You the director must decide, given your schedule and budget, and what seems important.  The ultimate answer is, there's no rule of thumb because all scenes are different.

Josh

Name:              sandeep singh
E-mail:             sandeepnamdhari@yahoo.co.in

Respected Sir

i am 25 graduate from india .i have a idea for internatonal label film .Indian history is very old like EYPUT so naturaly there are many inncident happend and some brave are people involve in these incidents and faced most difficult situtions like(TROY film)and many more english movies sir i wish to make a film for these people i have a idea and u have experience like that movies .i know indian history so i can help u lot .I just cannot explain my idea i need some time .if u interseted in me contact me  MY EMAIL IS sandeepnamdhari@yahoo.co.in

Dear sandeep:

It's such a tempting offer, but alas I must decline.  Good luck to you.

Josh

Name:              Maria
E-mail:             xenaiya@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Don't pay attention to what Dilyana has written (for Bulgarian Impressions). Someone has something crawled up her ass. Bulgarians aren't that bitchy. I know, because I am one.

Take care.

Dear Maria:

I've liked most of the Bulgarians I've met so far.  The essay was just my impressions, for goodness sake.  It seems like there's someone out there ready to take offense at most anything.  My favorites are still the folks who seriously defend sequels and remakes, whom I fondly think of as the Unoriginal Thinker's Club.  Angry Bulgarians are nice change of pace.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How did that most recent screening of "Hammer" go, and the Q&A afterwards?

And while I'm at it, in the words of Porky Pig to Marvin the Martian, Happy B-b-b-b-irthday, you b-b-b-b-thing from another world, you!

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Thanks Porky old pal.  Thus begins the last year of my first half-century. I guess I didn't manage to kill myself before I got old, so I've got that going for me.  Meanwhile, the screening went very well.  The projection was good, the audience paid attention and laughed at all the jokes, then had bright, interesting questions afterward.  We could have easily kept the Q&A going another half hour had we not been kicked out of the theater.

Josh

Name:              Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Have you seen the recent indie noir flick, "Brick"? I really dug it. It's basically a noir set around a modern-day high school. I know that may sound odd, but they really pulled it off. I might add that it was an impressive debut from Rian Johnson, with a budget less than $500,000. They smoke in it, too (actual cigarettes).

Dear Jeff:

Sounds interesting, I'll keep my eyes peeled, like bananas.

Josh

Name:              Man From Seattle
E-mail:             I love you.

"Well, quit smoking or fly to America to buy from the unfucking cigarettes."

I don't like making fun of how others say things in English when it's not their first language ... because you know, in Bulgarian I would suck much more balls, but I have to comment on the quote.

First, how can cigarette, or anything for that matter, unfuck someone? I understand how somebody can be fucked, but never unfucked ... the word unfuck just makes me smile to think about. Second, you're not suppose buy some of these magical unfucking cigarettes, but you're supposed to buy from them. I imagined a box of unfucking cigarettes running a vending machine on the streets of New York City right next to a hot dog guy.

Oh god, I'm gonna love this forever.

Dear MFS:

Ah, the transliteration of an angry Bulgarian.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

Josh,

My favorite musicals are MY FAIR LADY and HAIR.

What was the last (as in latest) musical that you liked?

Dear K.:

It might very well be "Hair."  I do like that film a lot, but over the course of time Milos Foreman's direction seems too dull and flat-footed for the subject matter.  But I like a lot of musicals, like: "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music," "Cabaret," "An American in Paris," "Singin' in the Rain," "Gigi," etc.  I was just listening to the broadway soundtrack of "My Fair Lady," with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, and it's still a crime she didn't get the part in the movie.  I also wish that the movie of "My Fair Lady" had been shot on location in England, instead of in Hollywood, entirely on sets.

Josh

Name:              colin cunliffe
E-mail:             lencol1@hotmail.com

dear josh,

my son elton sebastian was shot and killed in bogota on the 28.6.07.he always looked up to you ,this is part of page 68,

Name: Elton Sebastian
E-mail: eltonsebastian@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

I've been following your career for quite some time now. You have inspired me, to write, direct and shoot my own movies.

I've read your scripts and your essays. And in them has been valuable information that no Film School professor has ever shown me.

My last short 16mm Film, Nerd Wars, won several awards Sunday before last in Miami. A few cable stations have offered to show it and I'll soon have it up on the net, and showing at other festivals around the US.

I know you must be extremely busy, but It would be a great honor to have you as a mentor.



its a sad time for me ,but could you put it in your q&e as i know a lot of his friends read this and may be they can get in touch.

thank you for your time,i have a web page if his friends would like to light a candle.
http://www.gatesofremembrance.com/main/tribute/index.php?id=2470&music

Colin cunliffe
Eltons dad

Dear colin:

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Josh

Name:              Dilyana Zlateva
E-mail:             international2@gmail.com

Dear Mr.Becker,

Allow me to comment on your "Bulgarian Impressions." My name is Dilyana Zlateva and I live 30 km. away from our capital Sofia, where you were shooting.

It really warmed my heart, the way you tried to make fun of every little thing you saw on less than 5 sq.km. for I guess about 2 -3 weeks, and how generously you stamped it - Sofia, Bulgaria, the Bulgarians, the children etc.

But first things first:
-Bulgarians are not stupid, because they don't have AC, although most places here don't. Most of us happen to survive on ridiculously small amounts of money. I am glad, that you find that so amusing.
-Difference, even in terms of parks, gardens etc., is a good thing. I applaud your need to write about it. And "the plates piled with some sort of stinky little gray fried fish, sort of like herring or smelts", which you haven't tried are part of the national cuisine, good that we have one. Hotdog as national dish does sound better.....riiight!
-It seems to you, "that most Bulgarians over a certain age, say 35 or 40, frown all the time. Life just seems like a bitch to them".  Hey, very observant, OR "Maybe they're all constipated". How brilliant! And I do mean that. When you learn to survive on 80 levs (40 dollars) a month, like some of "them" do, you are, please, welcome to feel the need to write new "impressions".
- You seem to have had problems with the Cyrillic alphabet. I suppose, that was also a bad impression and all fault goes to the Bulgarians, no doubt. Just for your information, young people in Bulgaria, and Sofia especially, are very good linguists, English included. When I travel abroad, and I often do, I don't expect people in Holland to speak Bulgarian now, do I? But, hey, English is maybe special and we are all to learn it. So says the law! We are criminals, I admit. And you couldn't remember the name of the street...Ops, our fault again.
- Stray dogs. And they roam free. I know - it is so easy to just humanely euthanize them.
- Dutch and fun. I have been all over Holland and those two words are only to be used separately. Bulgarians find fun in every little thing they do. We take the time to chat with our friends are family. We enjoy sitting in the park and eat stinky zaza and drink Kamenitza. And at night we throw the biggest parties and have great time. But maybe you should be loud and pretentious all the time to show, that you have a great time.
- And by the way - Che Guevara and James Dean...Wow - that is so far from the truth in Bulgaria. That was just Ivo, the driver, thinking.
- I am glad to know your opinion of "even" Korean, Pakistani or Arab store owners in America. Spooky!
- There’s a real pissed-off, angry streak in these Bulgarians. Damn right! Good, that you became an expert on Bulgarians in just about a minute, and that you put all eggs in the same basket.
- These people would rather take less than the item costs than have to make change. And cab drivers simply won’t make change at all. Shoot them! What a place!
- Every other TV channel has people dressed up in local native garb singing and dancing to Bulgarian folk songs, because we take pride in our heritage and we do have a history, "a biiiit" longer than say... 200 years. Then there’s another channel that’s entirely programmed with cheap documentaries about what a great place Bulgaria is. From it’s mountains to it’s seas . . . How cute to write impression on something you have never seen. Very mature. And yes, Bulgaria is a great place. And yes, Bulgaria is a liiiiiitle more than Sofia-Centre. And yes, there is no such thing as cheap American propaganda about what a great nation America is and how it should poke its nose into every nation's business.
- After three weeks here in Bulgaria you are growing very weary of the whole damn thing. Well, then go shoot in Germany. It’s a drag never understanding what anyone is saying. Well, learn at least 2 sentences in Bulgarian. People are occasionally talking derogatorily about you, or about Americans in general. Well, they have pretty good reasons to. Meanwhile, you can’t smoke anymore of those fucking horrible Bulgarian cigarettes. Well, quit smoking or fly to America to buy from the unfucking cigarettes.
- "I completed my first week of shooting." No kidding. Your comments were more like you have been here for like 5 years.
- You just walked across “the garden” or park, as you’d call it, to go to the nearest big market about the size of an American liquor store, yet has a bit of everything. And you spent between 20-30 leva and that apparently made you one of the very big shoppers they ever saw. Undoubtedly this is because they’re poor. My dear, Bulgaria has more super cool cars per capita than America. Your opinion of yourself is flying higher than the US flag on the White House.

- And now: The Bulgarian character in a nutshell. Ta-da: "the first time you ask for anything their response is, “It’s impossible.” When you ask again, the response is an impatient, “Of course,” which is then promptly ignored. The third time you must yell it at them and then they’ll begrudgingly do it." Should I laugh or should I cry?! Next time (and hopefully there is never a next time - for our sake), pick your staff better. This is just a testament to your incapability to choose the people you work with.

Just shoot this goddamn movie already, and may the plane make a turn to Frankfurt next time! You undoubtedly have enough bucks to shoot there.

'Blagodarja'. Oh, it's the same like the English 'Funk you'. Gotta be amused!


Regards,

Didi Zlateva

Dear Dilyana:

Who's got a bug up their ass?  And are we just a tad defensive or what?  I think you prove my point about the Bulgarian angry streak.  I did finally eat the za-za fish, and they really are as nasty as they smell, too.

Josh

Name:              extreme
E-mail:             extreme1982@hotmail.it

Dear Josh:         

Hi!Please could you tell me, where the Movie Alien Apocalupse was made?
thank
goodbye

Dear extreme:

Sofia, Bulgaria.  For more info, read "The Making of 'Alien Apocalypse'."

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Josh,

We have discussed Kubrick's "The Shining" before but I have another question about it.

I was watching it again a little while ago and there is this part...

Jack - " Wendy I have let you fuck up my life so far but I am NOT going to let you fuck this up!"

This happens after the shit has basically hit the fan with the young beauty turning into the old decaying woman in room 237. Jack goes back after clearly being freaked out and tells Wendy he saw nothing. He then blames it on Danny's psyche and goes off the deep end when Wendy suggests leaving The Overlook and seeking a safer haven.

Jack then storms out of the room and therein lies the question.

As Jack is leaving Wendy he walks right past the camera and looks directly at it with that hateful look on his face.

I don't see that tool used much and when I do it is usually in a comedy like Darrin McGavin sitting at the dinner table in "A Christmas Story" describing how the puzzle he is working on could be "worth $50,000 dollars".

Why do you think Kubrick had Nicholson look at the camera on that shot? We could already see Torrance was well off his rocker and pissed off. Could Nicholson have improvised it? Even then it breaks that rule of not looking at the camera.

I hope this isn't an "out there" line of questioning.

What do you think?

Tim

Dear Tim:

I don't remember the moment off hand, but most anything that's considered a "rule" in filmmaking, Kubrick tried to break at some point or another.  Then again, Nicholson might well have improvised it, and Kubrick liked it when he saw the footage.  But unlike most directors, Kubrick really did seem like he had everything worked out the way he wanted it, then made damn sure to get it no matter what the actors thought.  As I've mentioned before, both "The Shining" and "Full Metal Jacket" are films that I think keep improving with age, like fine wine, whereas most films age like fish.

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

OK, I finally tracked down a copy of your book. I haven't read it, but I'll let you know what I think. I have been reading through your website, and I think I got the whole idea of "theme" down. The theme is the general idea behind the story that reflects each character's motivation (so if the theme was loyalty, for example, the main character's actions would perhaps be motivated by his loyalty to another person or organization, or outright lack of it), and each character's motivation is their "point." Is that right?

Anyways, I was perusing the archives (I'm trying to memorize everything you have to say about screenwriting, since you seem to be the only person who knows what he's talking about), and was especially interested in your thoughts on Spielberg and his prevailing "inner-child" philosophy. I believe the reason this ideology has become so prevalent in our society is because many people, particularly Spielberg (and Michael Jackson) are desperate individuals who believe the only time in their lives they were really happy was when they were children. I think most people seem to have misinterpreted happiness for the bleary-eyed sense of amazement most children have (which does indeed seem to fade somewhat as routine, monotony, and social pressure become more prevalent in life) and subsequently have a sense of esoteric nostalgia, and think the only times in their lives they had imaginations or creativity was when they were kids. I think it's all horse shit.

I recently watched an interview with Spielberg and couldn't have been any more embarrassed for him; every other word that came out of his mouth was "childhood" and "imagination;" as if all children were gay. Most children, from what I remember, are mean, snotty, and very violent ferret-like creatures who don't resemble anything close to the purely "innocent" children in "Peter Pan" (which I was forced to read as a child, and thought it was incredibly lame). For someone like me, who started developing more mature intellectual interests by the time I was 13 (I had read most of Harlan Ellison's books by that point, for example, and thought "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" was WAY more imaginative and cool than anything Spielberg could come up with), whereas most people my age (I'm 22) seem to be still stuck in the miasma of Star Wars, comic-books, and superheroes (which always seemed really lame and didn't even interest me as a child), this prevailing notion in our society, and particularly in cinema, can be quite vexing. So you can at least take comfort in the idea that SOMEONE out there is more interested in making films dealing with mature subject matter and themes instead of faggy "superheroes" running around in codpieces.

An aside. Another interesting aspect of my childhood, I think, was that I was an adamant Christian and did, in fact, believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. When I was about seven or eight, it slowly occured to me that these three things were, in fact, ridiculous and silly bullshit designed to pacify children (Santa is particularly disturbing because he comes off as a jolly old pedophile, constantly "watching" little kids and sneaking into their homes at night). It came as quite a shock to me when I started studying different religions as a teenager, and that most grown adults not only still believed in stuff that was equivocal to Santa and the Easter Bunny, but that they frequently killed each other over it! Life is weird sometimes, man.

Dear Nick:

I'm with you, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" was a much, much stronger piece of imaginitive art than anything Spielberg has ever done or gotten close to.  I haven't read that story in over 30 years and it has completely stuck with me.  All this "inner-child" horseshit really gets me down.  I'm far more interested in my outer adult.  And even though the late '60s and early '70s were a particularly interesting time to have lived through, I have no nostalgia, nor would I want to go back for one second, although I do wish we'd all start making decent movies again.  This whole Harry Potter thing gets me down, too.  When I hear that my seventeen-year-old nephew spent two days locked in his room reading the new Harry Potter book it makes me want to scream (and I have a mouth).  The response is, "Well, at least he's reading a book."  Yeah?  So what?  By seventeen he ought to be reading Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Cather, not kid's books.  And if I diss Harry Potter (and admittedly, I haven't read any of the books, I just saw about 30 minutes of the first film -- Yuk!), the response is generally, "Do you know how much money she's made on those book?"  Like that means shit, and makes her books better.  For 12-year-olds Harry Potter is fine; for 17-year-olds it's pathetic.  And if that's the only book a 17 year old reads, they may as well not bother.  I don't care how well those books may be written, they're about weary, tired, flaccid, boring old concepts like wizards, witches and sorcerers, and I didn't care about that crap when I was eleven.  It really is time for everybody to grow up.

Regarding theme, yes, you've got it, but it should not only relate to the lead character, but every other character you can make it relate to.  A good theme covers every character, although it can (and should) bring them all to different points about it.  A theme brings a story cohesiveness, as well as a point, and without those things a story is simply mush.

Good luck,

Josh

Name:              Jabba The Bruce
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Why is it, do you think, that any series Bruce Campbell is the lead in (Brisco, JOAT) gets canceled, yet any show he's a supporting member of (Burn Notice, Xena and Herc; though technically these two are more recurring guest spots) go for several seasons? Do you think that Bruce suffers from the same curse as Ben Affleck, in which if he's the star, it's doomed, but if he's a supporting character it'll be praised to the sky?

Dear Jabba:

"Brisco" and "Jack" just weren't the right shows at the right time, but three hits out of five ain't bad.  And let's all congratulate Bruce on "Burn Notice" not only being a hit, well-reviewed, with consistently increasing ratings, but it also got picked up for season two.  Good on ya, Bruce!

Josh

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

Josh,

With regards to Matt's comment on Kieslowski's "Red" from his color trilogy, I think that he needs to watch the other two to be less confused as "Red" was the last and connects the first two.

Oddly enough, everyone I know liked "Red" the best of all three with the exception of me. I thought "White" had the most solid and believable story and "Blue" came in second.

"White" also has Julie Delpy which is probably why I like it so much because I think she is one of the most beautiful actresses.

Anyhow, I did not know that you did not care for Kieslowski's color trilogy. Personally, I enjoyed the trilogy and it was after "Red" that I really started to notice the true decline in good films (I know you put the decline period much before that and I am not saying that these three films were great, but I think they were good films).

I also enjoyed his film "The Double Life of Veronique" and oddly enough, My girlfriend of 5 years at the time watched this film and I think it was the catalyst that tipped the scales in favor of her breaking up with me.

Talk about the power of a film. sheeesh.

Really, if you compare these films to what we have now even in foreign cinema, there is really no comparison with the exception of Mike Leigh's films of course.

Just my two cents.

Dear Scott:

I didn't hate the films, they just left very little impression on me, other than pretty photography and pretty girls.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you read much Science Fiction, or do you think that S.F. is as good now as it used to be?  For some reason, I don't seem to have the imagination for it that I once did.

Dear Bob:

I stopped reading sci fi, other than some Harlan Ellison, over 20 years ago so I don't know what it's like anymore.  I generally don't read much fiction anymore, either, although I am on my fifth novel by Philip Roth at the moment.

Josh

Name:              Child of GOD
E-mail:             taadal@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

U see evil comes from negative people such as yourself. People tends to down talk people instead of helping and lifting there spirit up. We all are walking epistles cause we all have a story and if you are still alive your story hasn't ended yet.God is in charge of us all both good and evil. It's all for His pleasure not ours. That is what him GOD. We have children and discipline them when they don't obey by wooping, standing in corners,taking away there toy or game, t.v. radio and sometimes don't explain why because our children fear us (respect) They just deal with Like God is with us. So alot of us into different religions and tradition to fill that emptiness inside us that void. God keep alot of us blind because we are not mature enough in his eyes to understand all that is going on. Alot of people will never understand. Check out this minister Jim Brown he is from Tennessee he is an white man with an actual gift in God's word. But it only for the true believers that God called. If you don't get it you are one of the ones who is blind. Many are called few are chosen.

Dear C of G:

Although I'm sure you make many valid and cogent points to yourself, sadly, at least to me, you make no sense at all.  English is clearly not your first language.  So, would you then say you enjoyed my essay, "Religion is Evil"?

Josh

Name:              claire
E-mail:            rs_cyr@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Have you seen Bruce in his new USA Network series Burn Notice? He is a riot! Best new show this summer. Lucy will guest star in an episode on Sept. 13. It will be good to see them acting together again.

Dear claire:

Yes, I've seen three of the first four episodes.  I've enjoyed it, although I must admit that the intensely formulaic quality, which is fundamental to series TV, gets me down.  However, all the reviews have been good, as well as the ratings, so it may very well get picked up for a second season.  I just spoke with Bruce the day before yesterday and he's got two more weeks then he's done shooting for the season.  You go, Bruce-man.

Josh

Name:              Kurt Doelle
E-mail:             lincdoelle@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:         

I will be buying your book and do respect your work as a highly talented director.
Regarding your essay:
If you knew what is really going on in the Middle East and what went on under Reagan you wouldn't make so many general assumptions. Some facts you (I hope you will repsect)
# Despite what the media reports...
1. In reality there are over 400,000 CONFIRMED dead terrorists that were hell bent on killing you, me and every other U.S. citizen.  These were the "filth" who applauded when the SECOND attempt at the WTC resulted in chaos. They were stopped dead on foreign soil rather than in Hollywood Hills or in your backyard.

2.  Hussein (who ordered hits on three U.S. Presidents) is dead.  His sons are dead, Chemical Ali is dead.  Hussein's corrupt cabinet officals have all been dismebered or killed.

3.  Seven (potentially disabling)terroist attacks have been thwarted since 911

This is no small feat!  If Americans for one moment could reflect on the absolute terror these animals WOULD have inflicted upon our nation...they would stop writing childish essays and become appreciative of the effort, the sacrafice and the dedication of our troops and leadership. You are FREE to write your opinions...it was paid for by the blood of our troops

We are currently fighting an ideology-
This ideology (unlike conservatives & liberals)thrives on a fractured USA
This ideology beleives that their salvation is linked to our destruction.
Our president (like Lincoln) is under constant internal and external fire from the media.
Our President (like Lincoln) knows the results associated with failure.

When you safely write you next sophmoric essay in the quiet comfort of your home...consider the mandatory fight going on between some blood thirsty terrorist and some kid from some small town you've never heard of...Anyone who blows themselves up for salvation has no respect for their life...and even less respect for yours.  This is your enemy and mine...Stick to directing

With respect and admiration for your work,

Kurt Doelle

Dear Kurt:

400,000 dead terrorists?  You're the biggest sucker who ever lived.  Yes, there are 400,000 dead Iraqis, of every age, sex, shape and size, Sunni, Shiia, Kurd and Christian, but to believe for one second that they're all, or even mostly, terrorists is as true as all Americans are Scientologists. The only effort I will ever be appreciative of in Iraq is when our troops come home.  Our troops are there under completely false pretenses, and were Saddam Hussein alive I'd happily give him his job back.  Your talk of "filth" and "animals," in my opinion, is what makes the world an ugly place, and is very similar to the views of the Islamic terrorists toward us. Although I do respect the fact that you think I'm a highly talented director.

Josh

Name:              Matt Kerny
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you like any of Krzysztof Kieslowski's films? I saw "Red", and although Irene Jacob is gorgeous and the direction is very nice, I thought the story itself was really... puzzling. Maybe I just didn't get it!

Dear Matt:

I didn't like any of his color trilogy.  I agree they look good, and the gals in the leads were all pretty, but I didn't care at all.

Josh

Name:              Martha Elrod
E-mail:             melrod43@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

With your incessant comments berating Americans and their way of life:
    [EX: Dear JGH: I don't think we have to worry about world peace. At any
given point in this world there are generally between 25 to 50 wars going
on, most about absolutely nothing.  Humans are warlike creatures.  It
would be nice to not kill each other over pure idiocy like our mythical
invisible god is more real and powerful than your mythical invisible god.
Instead, we can go to war and kill each other over real things, like oil,
which is the reason why we attacked Iraq (right after closing our military
base in Saudi Arabia), and the reason we never intend to leave Iraq.  We
Americans would rather fight than conserve in any way.  We kill for the
right to drive Hummers, heat our pools, and run our AC all the time.

Josh]

By all means let us know what you personally are doing to solve American's bloodthirsty ways and oh by the way, what do YOU drive? oh genius one. What are YOU doing to conserve--you pathetic Hollywood types make me puke. You sit around talking about film--you're not curing cancer, so quit denigrating America who gave you whatever spot of celebrity you gave, you ungrateful little prick.

Martha

Dear Martha:

Americans are not quite 1/20th of the world's population, yet we use 1/3 of everything, and we create 1/3 of all the pollution.  If bringing up facts like this denigrates Americans, and if we're displeased with terrorists flying planes into our buildings, maybe we ought to try not being to biggest pigs on the planet.  We might also try not aggressively attacking countries and occupying them just to steal their oil.  I drive a mid-sized Chrysler, but if I could afford a hybrid I'd buy it.  As for being a "pathetic Hollywood type," I live in Detroit, Michigan.  Quite frankly, since Bush came into office I have been downright ashamed of being an American.  If you're not ashamed, then you probably believe that Iraq blew up the WTC, that we attacked Iraq to bring them democracy, that a half million Iraqi lives don't equal 3,000 American lives, and that torturing prisoners is perfectly okay and the American way.

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

Nice to speak to you again-it's been a while. This is about one of our favorite writers: Harlan Ellison.

There's an article about a Harlan Ellison documentary called "Dreams With Sharp Teeth". Harlan is also interviewed here. The link:

http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=17991

And here's a quote from Harlan that had me rolling on the floor:

"Death is hovering over your shoulder like a salivating fan boy at a 'Star Trek' convention. It's just out of eyeshot but you know its there."

Long live Harlan!

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Yeah, he's 73 and as fiesty as ever.  There's very few people out there like Harlan Ellison, who simply say what they think without censoring themselves. I've been inspired by him for most of my life.  May he live long and prosper (not to sound like a salivating Trekkie fan boy).

Josh

Name:              Bubba
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Alright, how about this. RT and TSNKE are both sold seperately, but, if you buy the special super duper deluxe two pack you get "Hammer" for free! Only thing is, it costs about five dollars more or something to buy the three pack.

I know you're not the guy in charge, but you're the only guy who can talk to the people in charge that I know. I don't know. I just really want Hammer to be released. I understand that they won't flat out sell it because they don't think it's well known enough to sell enough copies for it to be worth it, but I think there's enough Becker fans and enough Bruce Campbell fans (I know he's not in Hammer) to buy the dvd if it were packaged with an already guarenteed to sell film.

All the same, I'll but the two dvds as they are, but it'd be cool to get Hammer in there as well. :( :( :(

Bubba:

All things in their time.  "Hammer" is truly my lost, underground film, and I'm honestly glad you like it.  Soon, if all goes right, I'll finally pay off my credit cards after eight years and put a definitive end to "Hammer." Then it can move onto its next stage.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Laszlo Kovacs:

'Everybody thinks that my big break was with 'Easy Rider', but not really. That film was really a result of something that already started happening. You're a filmmaker, you're making movies! Jack Nicholson did three bike movies before that and nobody had heard of them… 'Rebel Rousers', 'Hells Angels on Wheels' and so on… anyway. You sort of look to find a director who likes to work with you. It's very important to "team up". Early on I was teamed up with Richard Rush, and we did all kinds of crazy bike movies and psychedelic movies like 'Psych-Out' which was about the flower children in San Francisco. That was significant to me; one night back in 1967, it was playing the Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard, and Dennis Hopper just happened to see this crazy movie. It was actually very rough and raw, but it was visually very, very interesting. He knew a production manager that I also worked with, and Dennis said, "Look. I want to find the guy who shot this movie 'Psych-Out', and I want him to shoot my first picture."*

'This production manager comes to me and asks if I know Dennis Hopper. I said that I knew him well; he was already a name by then as an actor. He then told me that Dennis was about to make a bike movie, and I went, "You said bike? I don't want to hear about it… I mean how many bike movies do you want to see the rest of your life? I'm sick and tired of it." "No, no," the manager said, "This is a different kind of bike movie." "How is it different?" I asked. "They have bicycles, but you ought to listen to Dennis who is coming from Toronto where they finished writing the script. He's going to come into a meeting and explain the whole thing." And he did, and he grabbed the script pages and threw it up in the air all over the place. "This guy is totally crazy," I thought. "Don't worry about it," > he said, "I'll tell you what the story is about." And so he began, he started talking about these two guys who take this incredible journey. And that's what basically grabbed my imagination which made me beam. Finally, I could do something really interesting here. And then he finished the story that sounded like a Greek tragedy. There was silence in the room; everybody was impressed. I said to Dennis, "When do we start?" He was blown away that I liked it. Every person who was there was a future crew member. That's how 'Easy Rider' was born. In those days when it hit like a bomb, and shook like an earthquake, that they thought it was a bunch of kids who grabbed a camera, went out, filmed some bikes and they got lucky! We had a very serious script, everything scripted for the dialogue, especially the campfire sequence. Only the riding shots were unscripted. Jack had his big monologue, and he was unbelievable; he was stoned, of course, but he's got such incredible control as an actor that he made it work for the scene. He never missed a letter of the monologue. A couple of times he broke up then he left it in because it was very funny.*

'By this time, you know, my name was all over the place. The film went to the Cannes Film Festival and Dennis got his first director prize. I went as well and it was the only time I ever went; I paid my own way because the studio wouldn't pay. I couldn't believe that the night before we were nobodies; you know, a bunch of hippies. But after the showing, suddenly we were the celebrities. The rest of it is history.*

'One of the movies of which I'm most proud is Peter Bogdanovich's 'Paper Moon'. We wanted to evoke the classic b&w Hollywood tradition pioneered by cinematographers like Arthur Miller, John Alton and Gregg Toland. 'Citizen Kane' was our biggest influence; I had seen it for the first time in Budapest in 1948 and it had made an indelible impression. Orson Welles and Peter were very close friends, and I got to meet my 'god' while we were preparing our film. I'd been testing b&w film with various filters but still hadn't found the right look. Orson said, "Use red filters, my boy." And I did, because although the filters reduced the film speed and meant I had to use big arc-lights to achieve the deep-focus look Peter wanted, the red filters created incredibly beautiful, dramatic skies and gave us exactly the expressionistic look we were after.'


Scott

Dear Scott:

Thanks as always for the extra info.  Although I've always liked the look of "Paper Moon," it's never reminded me of "Citizen Kane."  I also think that "The Last Picture Show," shot by the great Robert Surtees, is a better-looking B&W movie.  I asked Bogdanovich why he used Kovacs instead of Surtees for "Paper Moon," and he replied disdainfully, "I don't use a cinematographer, I work with them."  What an asshole!

Josh

Name:              Dean
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Thanks for the answers Josh ( Good luck with the Hammer screening )

I have been reading the Sag "ultra low budget" agreement, which states that you can use union or non union actors, this surprised me as all I have ever heard is you have to be all SAG or non SAG.

Apart from the financial realities, shooting overseas means dealing with our national unions too.

Not sure if you are aware of the "Ultra Low Budget agreement" but maybe if you are not, then it is something your next indie film could benefit from ?

http://www.sagindie.org/docs/sag-ultralowbudget-2005wm.pdf

I will probably give SAG a call and see if this is viable, but it seems just what I need.

Also what do you think of unions ? ( especially seeing as you often put your own money into your films )

On a studio picture I can see that they are a great boon to talent and absolutely fair and just, but in the world of indy film making it can sometimes seem like "on the waterfront" ( probably a poor similie but it was all that came to mind )

Thanks for your help Mr B ....again.

Dear Dean:

If you sign an agreement with SAG, any agreement, you're stuck with it forever.  The Ultra Low-Budget Agreement also states that your film is not intended to be shown on TV, on DVD, or anywhere, and not intended to make any money.  You must also report back to SAG about almost everything, and you have to keep good records, meaning you'll need a 2nd AD to do all of the SAG paperwork.  I personally think it's bullshit.  What's the point of making the movie if you don't intend to sell it?  Or show it anywhere?  And if you do sell it, you're no longer covered by the Ultra Low-Budget Agreement, and then you're stuck with the standard agreement, so you better read that, too.  My feeling is either go SAG, meaning making a fully-SAG production, or don't go SAG.  My advice is don't, and your life will be 100% easier.  You absolutely don't need the headache early on in your filmmaking career.

Josh

Name:              Bubba
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Seriously, why don't you just get the dvd company releasing RT and TSNKE on dvd to include Hammer in the set? Even if it's just a special feature.

It's worked for other movies. And I don't think it would hurt sales on the other two dvds. Have you suggested it?

Dear Bubba:

Seriously, the films are not coming out as a set, and both films already each have a second disk of extra features.  Just making a decent transfer of a feature film to digital is at least $5,000, and no one is interested in doing that unless they believe they'll get their money back.  Nothing is as easy or as simple as it might seem.

Josh

Name:              Kovacs the Cinema Stalker
E-mail:

<<We really don't need anymore horror movies at this time.>>

Having said that Josh, and I agree, can't we just extend that and say <<We really don't need anymore movies at this time.>> Movies period, no more movies. Bob Dylan once said that the world doesn't need any more songs (ezcept of course for the ones he still writes) Why does everyone have to make a movie ?
>The world has enough movies. Enough already. No more movies.

Dear Kovacs:

Let's not overreact, shall we?  Not that I myself haven't thought, from time to time, that the film form may just be played out.  But I honestly do believe that good and great movies still can and will be made.  Horror movies, at this moment, are played out.  This has happened a half dozen times during my lifetime -- that horror movies become a big craze, tons of them come out, they quickly become boring, then peter out, then they got sort of scarce, someone makes money with one again, and the next faze begins.  Part of it is waiting for the next group of kids to grow up, so the same old shit horror cliches will scare them the just like they did with the last group.  But when horror movies get to the point where they're just pure gore (or "gorn" as they call it now, which is particularly demeaning), they've overstayed their welcome, yet again, and it's time to go away.

Josh

Name:              Dean
E-mail:

Hello Josh, commiserations on "Harpies" not turning out how you would have liked ( or in this case, not completely hated ).

Two quick questions.

I am starting my first feature at some point by the end of the year when I am fully comfortable with the schedule and pre production elements ( one of independent films many strengths ).

However, I am in the UK and may be using an actor who is SAG registered, would I still require an all SAG cast ?  ( Which I can't afford so would need to cut the SAG actor ) I know you have had experience shooting internationally so I hope you could advise me on this.

Also any more news on the "Hammer" front, really loved watching it on Youtube, ( sent a fanboy email to you which got posted ) and I would eagerly like to buy it and show friends how it can be done when you focus on the script.

When is it coming out ? Did the screening(s) help distribution ?

Have a good weekend Mr B and thanks for helping me and all the other indy filmmakers out there, you are one of the only people who will give it to people straight and it is appreciated.

Dear Dean:

Going by SAG rules, no, you can't just have one SAG actor on a non-SAG show. However, if the actor has gone financial core with the guild, meaning they're no longer a voting member, they can work non-union anytime they like (this is my relationship with the DGA), then they can do it, as long as you meet their demands.  But I would guess that most union members are not financial core.  Therefore, the long answer is probably no.  Meanwhile, I've got another screening of "Hammer" next week at the nice Landmark theater The Main Art Theater, for the Mitten Movie Project series (so it's not a public screening), and I'll be doing a Q&A afterward.

Josh

Name:              Richard
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an incredibly dumb movie. If you take Indiana Jones out of the film, the Nazis still find the Ark, still open it, and still die. Enough said.

Dear Richard:

Okay then.  But it was well-shot, by the great British DP Douglas Slocombe, who had already photographed many of the wonderful Ealing comedies of the '50s with Alec Guiness, like "The Lavender Hill Mob" and "The Man in the White Suit," as well as "Julia," "Rollerball" (the original) and "The sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea" and "The Lion in Winter" and "The Music Lovers."  All terrific-looking movies.  He also shot one of the scariest horror movies I saw in my youth, "Dead of Night" (1945), that really frightened the hell out of me when I saw it on TV when I was about 12.

Oh, and Michelangelo Antonioni died.  Most of his movies bored me to tears, but I did enjoy both "Blow-Up" and "The Passenger."  Arrivederci.

So, as far as movie people go (excluding Tom Snyder), that's three: Ingmar Bergman, Laszlo Kovacs and Michelangelo Antonioni.  And era has ended.  Only Godard remains.

Josh

Name:              Louis
E-mail:             wolverinefilms@gmail.com

Hey, Josh

2 questions.  First, on technology.  Have you considered shooting a movie on DV or HD, given its ease of downconversion, uploading, and archiving abilities, especially given the ubiquitous attitude among local low-budget filmmakers on DIY distribution, especially with YouTube, BSide, and other sites of the like, and digital projectors?
(okay, that was long-winded, and I apologize). But that leads to my second question.  I noticed from an ol' MetroTimes article that you're back in town (awesome! welcome back!). That said, I'm not sure how much attention you've paid to the local filmmaking scene, but wanted to know if you've noticed any local filmmakers that you openly support.
Thanks for reading.

-- Louis

Dear Louis:

If I had to shoot digital I would.  If it's left up to me, I'll shoot film. I don't know what you mean by DV and HD's "ease of archiving."  Presently, neither format is archivable at all, since neither format has been around for more than ten years.  You can also bet that neither format will be around ten years from now, and digital doesn't convert upward.  As for local filmmakers, it seems that almost all that I've heard about are making horror movies, and that just bores me to tears.  The horror movie market is not only glutted, it's bottomed out.  We really don't need anymore horror movies at this time.

Josh

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

Josh,

Another sad note. I just found out that Lazlo Kovacs died last week and somehow I missed it.

http://www.cameraguild.com/index.html?news/guild/07-07-21_Family_and_Friends_of_Laszlo_Kovacs.html~top.main_hp

Dear Scott:

I hadn't heard of his death either.  Kovacs was a great cinematographer, and now I'll never get a chance to work with him.  Bummer.  74 isn't all that old anymore.  Still, he achieved most everything he set out to do, and that's very impressive in this world.  I asked Vilmos Zsigmond about him 1979.  He said he was having a lot of psychiatric problems at that point and had quit the film biz.  Luckily, he got better and went back to work.  One his best-looking films that's rarely mentioned is "Paradise Alley" for Stallone.  I love "Easy Rider" and "Five Easy Pieces."  So, with Ingmar Bergman and Tom Snyder, that makes three.

Josh

Name:              Ingmar Snyder
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

So Ingmar Bergman and Tom Snyder died ... any thoughts on this tragedy?

Dear Ingmar:

What's the tragedy?  Ingmar Bergman was 89 years old, which is a ripe old age to make it to.  Death isn't a tragedy, it's part of life.  Ingmar Bergman was a great filmmaker who completely understood what he was going for in movies and drama, and wasn't emulating anyone else.  I really liked and was moved by his films "Scenes From a Marriage" and "Autumn Sonata," and I quite liked "The Serpent's Egg," among others.  Bergman shot some of the greatest close-ups in movies ever, and was clearly influenced by Carl Dreyer.  But his death isn't a tragedy as far as I'm concerned.  People die, and 89-year-old people have an even greater tendency to die.  As for Tom Snyder, I could care less.  He did have Harlan Ellison on his show pretty regularly, and I liked that.

Josh

Name:              Alison Reed Ouellette
E-mail:             oletboys@bellsouth.net

Hi Josh,

I grew up as best friends with Scott Spiegel's niece, Aimee Majdi.  We actually are credited as extras in Thou Shalt Not Kill... (or is it Stryker's War?) - also in Torro, Torro, Torro.  Anyway - I have enjoyed watching all of your gang become sucessful in your endeavors.  Wondering how it would be possible to obtain copies or view any of these older films.
Best to you,
Alison Reed Ouellette

Dear Alison:

I remember you.  You were Aimee's cute friend.  Nice to hear from you.  You can purchase TSNKE at Amazon, or many other places.  "Torro, Torro, Torro!" isn't available.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I am surprised to hear you didn't like even Raiders of the Lost Ark. Out of all the Indiana Jones flicks that was the best one. My question is if you didn't like it why did you parody the movie with Cleveland Smith? I thought you lampooned it because you and Scott must have liked Raiders. I wanna kick myself because I was too young to see that movie on the big screen. Wish they'd put it back out. I'd pay 10 bucks for that.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Although I will readily admit that technically "Raiders" is a very well-made movie, I found it a soulless, poorly-conceived, very thinly written, hodge-podge of an homage to B-movies, with a super-cynical ending it didn't need or deserve.  Between "Star Wars" and "Raiders" is when the A-movies became B-movies, with no depth, minimal characterization, and total lack of logic.  But worst of all, this was the first truly soulless Spielberg movie that presaged all of his films to come, where everybody in the film seems to have a glassy, dead look in their eyes, as though they were no longer human, but robots going through the motions of humans.  I think this deadness actually began the film before with "1941," but that film was such a mess and a disaster that it was difficult to tell what all the problems were. For me, Spielberg's career was over three-quarters of the way through "Close Encounters," then a replicant took over.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Not long ago you were saying that filmmakers like William Wyler and John Huston were a master filmmakers who applied the appropriate style to each film, rather than possessing idiosyncratic styles. I've been watching Louis Malle's films lately, and I feel he also belongs in this category. Let's look at a small portion of his filmography: "Le Fou Follet" (black and white existential drama, shot by Cloquet), "Zazie dans le metro" and "Viva Maria" (colorful and aesthetically inventive comedies), "Pretty Baby" and "Black Moon" (tales of young women, the former realistic and the latter surrealistic, both shot by Sven Nykvist), "Atlantic City" and "My Dinner With Andre" (great performances and scripts, both appropriately more visually passive than the films of his that immediately preceded them), "Murmer of the Heart" and "Au Revoir Les Enfants" (tales of children, made for adults). What a variety, and watching them all together one sees that his approach to filmmaking was superbly intuitive, instinctual. What do you think of Malle and his place among filmmakers?

Dear Kristie:

I absolutely love "Atlantic City," and I was moved by "Au Revoir Les Enfants."  I haven't seen "Mumer of the Heart" since it came out, but I quite liked it then, even if it hasn't stuck with me all that much.  I thought "My Dinner With Andre" was completely interesting, and rather daring in it's total lack of visuals.  I didn't care for "Pretty Baby" or "Black Moon," although they both certainly looked good.  I haven't seen the first three, and I think I should.  In my opinion Louis Malle doesn't come close to the likes of Wyler or Huston, but I do think he was a talented, serious filmmaker who was most definitely worthy of attention and study.  I'd put Louis Malle at the top of the heap among French filmmakers.  It seems like you got a lot out of watching all of his films in a group, which sounds like an interesting thing to do.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

Shirley, Your Spanish write is much beter than my. I'm glad you like my postcard from Sevilla. Josh right now i got Holliday and saturday night i get from Wuppertal (West Germany) to Arad Romania, and from there, so about 06-08-07 my wife Daniela and our son Alexandros, we driven with our Car through Bulgaria to Greece. I wish both of you a nice SUMMER: Always yours, George.

Dear George:

Have fun.  Give my regards to Sofia.

Josh

Happy Holliday, George & Family!

-Shirley

 

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

Dear Josh:         

I agree with you on maney things definatly on religion, but i had the displeasure of going to my good buddy and partner in crims grandmothers (shewas 82 and sandiwched between the trunck of her car andthe rear end of the car that hit her) funeral. I have been to my share of funerals but this if i recal was my first Catholic funeral...not too terribly diffrent from other funerals but annoying non the less. but here is my question when it comes fo funerals...to you just tune every thing out(grin and bare it) at the service, stand in the back, or jsut not go to that part and just show up at the cemetary? i myself had to for the sake of my freind had to grin and bare it ( i think he did too) was just a thought i had durring the service

thanks again

Dear Brandon:

Funerals are for the living, not for the dead.  Yes, I just grin and bear it, particularly when the holy man of whatever religion tells us about how wonderful this person whom they didn't know was.  I do like the idea of a Wake, where you get drunk and remember the deceased.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

<<Yeah, it didn't hold up very well the second time I saw it, and I probably ought to remove it from the list.  Still, I enjoyed it the first time. >>

It's like you said in the essay, the problem with movies are once you've seen them, you've seen them. You have to wait a few years to forget them sometimes.

I recently bought LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND which I liked when I rent it, but it didn't hold up really. It was unintentionally creepy, like the bastard cousin of THE KING OF COMEDY. The films Jason Priestley starred in were like inbreds of GREASE 2, PORKY'S REVENGE, and JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. I look at John Hurt falling in love with this guy while watching the shitty movie, and I think "Jesus, I mean every bit of hatred for Michael Bay, but not so I can defend a film like this" Still, it was kind of different.

Dear K:

You lost me with your thought abot Michael Bay.  Anyway, I enjoyed "Love and Death on Long Island," and I thought John Hurt was terrific, but I'll just bet it doesn't hold up all that well.  It was a very slight movie.

Josh

Name:              Herbert
E-mail:             hezy@omnisys.co.il

Dear Josh:         

I have an idea for a feature film, it seems to me like a very good one. I have no experiance in script writing and I do not expect to get into it. Are there any good options for me that you can recommend?

Dear Herbert:

Alcohol.  If you drink enough of it perhaps you'll be able to forget your feature film idea and happily get on with your life.  Or you can start writing, which will undoubtedly cause you grief.  I'd say alcohol is the wiser, easier option.

Skol,

Josh

Name:              Peggy Dauphin
E-mail:             pdauph@jdate.com

Dear Josh:         

I can understand your reluctance to date "god-fearing" women, but have do you also draw the line at "dog-fearing" women?

I don't like dogs, but I like cigarette-smoking loners with surly attitudes and strict tastes in film.  Do you like Thai food, backrubs, and walks on the many scenic beaches of Detroit?

I'm unfortunately not a real person, let alone a woman, could we work around that?

Yours,

Hot to Trot for Potheads, Antiauthoritarians, and Underachieving Genius Iconoclasts of the Midwest

Dear Peggy:

You have a way with words, for not a real person (let alone a woman). Meanwhile, dogs can actually be feared since they do occasionally bite; gods, on the other hand, which don't really exist, cause humans to bite each other.  As Ken Kesey put soon before he died (and I paraphrase) -- there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who line up at the ladder they believe goes directly to god's ass, so they can kiss it; and the ones climbing the crooked, Dr. Suess ladder, with broken rungs held together with duct tape, that may very well not go anywhere.  Each group can see the other group on their ladder, and each group feels ashamed and sorry for the other group.

The Underachieving Genius Iconoclast of the Midwest,

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I was happy to see "Diggstown" in your favorite films list. I watched the film at an advanced screening. The theatre was packed with patrons who had won tickets, and the enjoyment of the film infected the entire audience. Everyone applauded at the end. Has that ever happened at a screening you've been to? Any further thoughts on "Diggstown"?

Dear Stan:

Yeah, it didn't hold up very well the second time I saw it, and I probably ought to remove it from the list.  Still, I enjoyed it the first time.  I've seen many, many movies in my life that totally took hold of the audience, like the very first screening of "Alien" at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, or the opening day showing of "The Road Warrior" here in Detroit, or anytime I've ever seen "The Sound of Music" at a theater.  I haven't seen such a thing occur in at least decade, however.

Josh

Name:              Johnny Go Handsome
E-mail:

     G'day. First, I thought you might like the link to Colburn's myspace posting of your Religion Is Evil article. Here ya go: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=98051504&blogID=290697144
Oddly enough, Colburn is a 17 year old boy, but I have to question his real age because he looks more like 13. I wonder if the ladies like a guy that looks so young.

Bitch of things is, I poke fun now, but in thirty years when he's 47 and still looks 25, who'll be laughing then?

I just have one little note to make about your article. At the end you talk about focusing on peace and what not, but I don't think we should have total peace in the world. The world would be boring then. Just like in the movies, one needs drama, one needs conflict in order to hold any interest. I'm not saying being destructive or anything silly like that. I try to be good to everybody and I encourage others to be good to each other, but total peace would be a drag.

Watch me go handsomely,
Johnny

Dear JGH:

I don't think we have to worry about world peace.  At any given point in this world there are generally between 25 to 50 wars going on, most about absolutely nothing.  Humans are warlike creatures.  It would be nice to not kill each other over pure idiocy like our mythical invisible god is more real and powerful than your mythical invisible god.  Instead, we can go to war and kill each other over real things, like oil, which is the reason why we attacked Iraq (right after closing our military base in Saudi Arabia), and the reason we never intend to leave Iraq.  We Americans would rather fight than conserve in any way.  We kill for the right to drive Hummers, heat our pools, and run our AC all the time.

Josh

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

Dear Josh, Shirley.

Right now i just take a look into the Q + A for to see about, if both of you did get my postcard from Spain? And i've read the Q from --Panoramic Pete-- about Stan Lee...i know that, you do not like to writing/talking about comic books  but, i got something for ---Panoramic Pete---Please show more respect for Stan Lee. My oppinion about Stan. Let as go back in Time, Twenty Billions, Millions of Earth years ago! "Before all was nothing! And than!...Came Stan Lee the Master of Fantasy!!!Thank you. George Pilalidis

Dear George:

Tell it like you see it.  I'm not a fan of comic books, but Stan Lee hasn't done me wrong.  Nor do I blame him a bit for removing his name from above the title on "Harpies."  I wouldn't want my name there either.

Keep on truckin', George,

Josh

Muchas gracias, George, por la postal de Sevilla; es ciudad histórico y muy, muy hermosa. Josh will receive his postcard soon and I'm sure it will please him, too. Viajes felices, hasta la vez próxima...

-Shirley

 

Name:              Robin
E-mail:             rjchero@aolcom

Ok Josh; you didn't dismiss me or worse, swear at me, and I will even say that you firmly supported your arguments for what accounts for believability in a film. You have certainly viewed many more movies and written many more scripts than I have, but I wanted to challenge your beliefs anyway, to see how "solid and believable" they really are ;0 I teach literature, so I am very generous about extending my belief to get to the heart of the matter. And, like everyone else who visits your site, I am calling myself a screenwriter. I am obligated to write it since it has been in my head for more years than I can recall, and it's so good, I am frozen in fear of doing anything with it. I know, it's bad manners and idealistic to talk about our own writing in such a way, but cleansing none the less. Anyway, your site, and others like it help me to keep one toe in the surreal world of film. Thanks for a decent rhetorical battle.

Dear Robin:

My pleasure.  I seriously believe what I'm saying, too.  As for expletives, they're just a few more words to work with, but ones that have a bit more power to them than most of the others.  Part of what I enjoy about this internet forum is that we can all use any words we want, and so far the moral minority hasn't figured out how to censor us (although I have no doubt that they ultimately will).  For my own amusement I can write: shit, piss, fuck, motherfucker, cocksucker, asshole and tits, and nobody can stop me. And kids can even read it, then have their whole lives ruined forever.  I wield a lot of power with total abandon and utter irresponsibility.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Its good to know that you enjoy the lost pastime of reading books as much as I do. Heres the deal, Im 21 years old,which some would say is still young, so I am enjoying my youth while I  still can. "Living it up" so to speak. However I have always had my moments since I can remember where I like to just sit in peace,savoring(sp?) the silence with the world leaving me alone for a few mintues to dive into pages and explore new worlds and gain coutnless amounts of knowledge on our worlds history and the people that made it happen. So what if my peers think that makes me "dorky" right? Besides I have always had the desire to make films and or writing my future career. So I almost need to thrive off this stuff to make that happen.  Anyways sorry about my long babel, heres my question, whats going on with your publications right now? I cant wait to be able to take your essays to work with me and read them on my lunchbreak. Any idea when anything of yours will come out? I will be one of the first in line to purchase them.

Good day , and maybe you be watching one of my films or reading one of my books in the near future.

Sincerely,
-A.J-

Dear A.J.:

If you say it will be so, then it will be so.  As Virgil wrote, "They are able because they think they are able."  In my opinion, if you intend to be a writer then you MUST read books because that's where the knowledge of our species is kept.  You cannot be a good, or even decent, writer and not read books.  Period.  My next book, "Rushes," will probably be out before Christmas.  I slowed the process down by adding another essay to the end of the book ("The Making of 'Harpies'") that still needs to be edited.  The rest of the book is done and edited.  As for 21 being young, we were already making feature films by the time we were 21, so there's no time like the present to get on with it.  Here I am 28 years later still struggling like hell to get films made, and books published.

Josh

Name:              Anthony Palmer
E-mail:             relap@nlc.net

Dear Josh:

I recently purchased and watched "Running Time" and I really enjoyed it. You did an excellent job with the continuous shot approach, and you got great performances all around, especially from Bruce.  Prior to watching the film, I read the screenplay, which you have posted on this site. While the film pretty much follows the screenplay verbatim, I was upset to see that you omitted the final shot of Carl's letter jacket on Janie's bed.  To me, this shot captures the essence of the film because throughout the film, the principals constantly allude to their high school glory days.  The problem with these individuals is that they never wanted high school to end because this represents a time in their lives when they had power and success without having to resort to crimes, like robbery and prostitution.  By the end when Carl and Janie decide to leave together, they are also deciding to leave behind their unfulfilling, criminal lives. They finally decided to grow up and forget about high school, which is why the scripted final shot of them closing the door on the bedroom with the letter jacket in focus is so symbolic and beautiful to me.  I just wanted to know why decided to omit this powerful and seemingly important final shot in "Running Time"?Still, I feel like you have made a really good film that should deserves to be more widely seen.  Thank you for allowing me and others to ask you questions pertaining to your work.

best regards,
Anthony

Dear Anthony:

Good question, and I'm glad you enjoyed the film.  I did shoot the scripted ending, but for some reason both myself and the editor decided that it all seemed to work better ending on the door closing.  Now the film begins with a door opening, and ends with a door closing.  The letter jacket just seemed like one more extra thing.  I thought it was the right ending when I wrote the script, but it seemed wrong on film.  I initially had in mind that the jacket would be in foreground as the characters exited in the background, thus I'd have both the jacket and the closing door, but it couldn't be blocked that way due to the physical reality of the location.  Instead I had the camera tilt down to the jacket and I just didn't like the shot, so we cut it before the tilt.  You can still see the camera make a tiny little movement as it was about to tilt down to the jacket.

Josh

Name:              Colburn Clark
E-mail:             colburnpclark@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Bravo on the religion diatribe. It pretty much hits the nail on the head without being didactic. Very good, going to link to it on my myspace.

Dear Colburn:

Thanks.  I'm put in mind of women who include in their personal ads as a desirable trait "God-fearing."  To me that's sort of like being "Oxygen-fearing" or "Shadow-fearing."  That's what I'm looking for in a mate, someone who's afraid of everything.  To be God-fearing does that mean one is only a-feared of one god, or of all the gods?  Should we all be constantly looking over our shoulders because Shiva or Zoroaster might be sneaking up on us?  Or is it just Jehovah who likes to sneak behind people and kick them in the ass?

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Josh,

I noticed neither version of "Lolita" are on your favorite films list. I checked the Archived Q&A and read your reasons for disliking Kubrick's version, but was wondering if you had any thoughts on the more recent one. I just saw it and liked it a lot. I thought Dominique Swain was perfect for the part of Lolita. The score was excellent, and I liked Adrian Lyne's direction very much. Not a great film, but a good one in my opinion.

Dear David:

I didn't see the remake.  The girl with her braces didn't look very sexy to me.  But the drama of will he or won't he have sex with the underage girl doesn't seem very interesting to me, which is why I never finished Nabokov's book.  Does he actually have sex with her in the remake? He doesn't in Kubrick's film.

Josh

Name:              Robin
E-mail:             rjchero@aol.com

Dear Josh,

You state that neither American Beauty or Little Miss Sunshine has a "solid, believable script." How do you define believable in terms of a script or a film? If art mimics life, does that mean we should do away with allegory, metaphor and symbols? Can a script be unrealistic yet still believable? Shoving grandpa's corpse out the window is surely unrealistic, but saying f-you (sorry, I'm not big on the f-bomb) to the impersonal, heartless, "grief" counselor by breaking "the rules" for a well-intentioned cause is absolutley believable. And the message about kid beauty pageants is that they are superficial, exploitive societies that prey on human insecurities about beauty, popularity, and talent. The little girls with layers of makeup, big hair and thousand dollar costumes exude adult modes of sexuality and conduct, and everyone involved pretends not to know it. Innocent little Olive gets right to the point with a song and dance that screams sex, and she, and her entire super freaky family are dishonorably discharged from the popularity contest. Her brother did not forgo his vow of silence because Olive rested her head on his shoulder; rather, he releases a painful, gut wrenching cry of disapointment about the obvious state of his miserable life. He gets back in the van because he still has a minor respect for Olive's innocence, and, because he's smart enough to know staying outside the van would just be stupid. Most of us do not cheer for the unpopular, the unattractive, and the untalented because doing so might unveil the same unpleasant characteristics in ourselves (which is what the mistaken homo scene did for the militant father in American Beauty). Porn magazine/cop scene aside, I think the movie is solid and believable for it's subtle and not-so-subtle truths.
Robin

Dear Robin:

And that's why they have horse races -- you'll bet on one horse, and I'll bet on another.  In storytelling you establish what sort of story you're telling in the first act -- is it a realistic human situation, or is a science fiction fantasy, or whatever?  Once those ground rules are set, you're stuck with them.  In LMS they established in their first half that this was a fairly realistic human situation (I personally didn't really buy the whole family going off in a shitty van to take Olive across the country to a beauty contest, but I went with it).  Once it steps over the line into farce, to me it had broken its own rules and subsequently lost my interest. Meanwhile, allegory and metaphor have nothing to do with believability.  An interesting example of allegory would be Oliver Stone's "Salvador," where James Woods' relationship with the Salvadoran woman is a miniature version of America's relationship with El Salvador -- although we may like them, and we try to help, we end up just hurting them.  Just because the smaller story represents the bigger story, neither is unbelievable.  "Believability" in a story is not based on science or physics, it's based on whatever the writer establishes in act one as reality, which could be in a mining camp on Mars or a gulag in Siberia or a family in a van traveling across the U.S.  But once you've established it, that's your reality.  And though you may have rationlized for yourself why the older brother gets back in the van, it's not in the film.  Nor is there a clear point as to why Olive dancing to "Super Freak" is any different than the other girls' dances, other than they've clearly practiced more than her.  And how the rest of her family never heard a note of the song while she was minimally practicing is, once again, unbelievable.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Two questions. 1- What have you been reading lately? 2- Do you like pot comedies like 'Up in Smoke' and Half Baked'?
Stan

Dear Stan:

I liked "Up in Smoke," but that's it for pot comedies.  All of the others seemed both unrealistic and unfunny.  Right now I'm reading "The Counterlife" by Philip Roth, and it's very good, just like all of his other books I've read (this is my 5th book by him).  Before that I read "Andrew Jackson" by H. W. Brands, which was completely fascinating, and a chunk of history I knew nothing about.  When Jackson was fighting the Indians, two of the soldiers in his Tennessee miltia were Davey Crocket and Sam Houston.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I've recently been watching Tennessee Williams adaptations, most of which I've liked but some I'm on the fence about. This Property is Condemned, with Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, and Charles Bronson (about a month ago I wrote in to you about Charles Bronson) was pretty good. Wood is at her best when she's hysterical (I really like her best in Splendor in the Grass). I also saw Baby Doll (from Williams' screenplay), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Sweet Bird of Youth, and The Rose Tattoo.

Baby Doll was pretty fun. Karl Malden and Eli Wallach falling all over each other....you can smell the Mississippi sweat. Mrs. Stone was weaker; Beatty wasn't a convincing Italian, but Vivien Leigh's performance was awesome. I felt like I was watching her and Williams aging, clinging to dignity, in the same body.

Sweet Bird of Youth would have been good, but the changes made to the story to clear the censors made the whole thing a little too much over too little. In the movie, Shirley Knight gets an abortion and Paul Newman gets a cut on the face for it. But in the play, Newman's character gives her VD, and she gets a hysterectomy, ending her family's dynasty. Newman's punishment is castration. I think THAT justifies all the drama. Oh well, it was still worth seeing.

The Rose Tattoo was my favorite of the bunch. Anna Magnani is a revelation; I'd never seen her act before. And so what if Burt Lancaster's accent is shitty, he's still great.

All in all, these have been a welcome tonic as Transformers and Adam Sandler shit all over the screen this summer. I guess I'll try to get out to see Sicko, though.

Dear Will:

Sounds like an interesting film festival.  Now you need to see "A Streetcar Named Desire," the 1950 Kirk Douglas/Jane Wyman version of "The Glass Menagerie," "Night of the Iguana," "The Fugitive Kind," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Suddenly Last Summer," "Summer and Smoke," "Period of Adjustment" and "Boom!" and you'll be all set.

Josh

Name:              Steven Millan
E-mail:             stevmedia@aol.com

Hi Josh,

     As you may notice,there has been an awful lot of publicity for Rudolph Giuliani to be president,for you do have any views and opinions to share about what you think about Giuliani and his chances at becoming president(who would only continue the run of the current neo-con Republicans and Bush,if given that type of power).

Dear Steven:

Guiliani is nothing more than a fear-mongering scumbag.  He was a rotten mayor of NYC, and I have no doubt he'd make an even worse president, god forbid.  Fuck him.

Josh

Name:              Panoramic Pete
E-mail:             pete@panoramicpicturesfanclub.com

B-Man:

What do you think the odds are that Stan Lee ever watched that friggin' movie?  Between "Harpies" and "Spider-Man 3," Stan Lee is seriously messin' with the pride of Detroit filmmaking (the only difference being that you're the only one of the two directors involved with a developed enough critical faculty to realize you were working on crap).  Hasn't this Lee guy heard about retirement?  Or self-respect?  Geezus.  Stop before you kill another movie, Stan the Bland.

Dear Panoramic Pete:

Oh, come on, it's not Stan Lee's fault.  He didn't write either script, or supervise either film.  And "Spidey III" is going to end up as the biggest grosser of 2007, you wait and see.  As for "Harpies," I think Stan saw it and took his name off.

Josh

Name:              Danielle
E-mail:

Hi Josh.

I hate to be nasty, but the recent message left by Allen Tompkins truly made my skin crawl. He not only WARNS you (how creepy and disgusting is that?), but informs you that your eventual moment of supposed enlightenment (which he absurdly assumes to be inevitable) is going to be PAINFUL. The hostile and intimidating words this self-righteous ass uses to express his "concern" seems to be terribly revealing.

Anyway, there's no question here. I simply envy your attitude. It takes someone with a thick skin to stomach such nauseating remarks.

Dear Danielle:

To me being "religious" is a synonym for "intentionally ignorant." Religious people pretend that they know something for a fact that deep down they're not at all sure of.   Instead they have "faith" that what they don't know to be true is in fact true.  It's all utter nonsense.  A bozo like Allen is in such inner turmoil that he feels secure in judging me because he thinks that I'm judgemental.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

That's sucks, it says in 1960, The Alamo, The Sundowners, and Elmer Gantry were nominated for Best Picture over Spartacus and Inherit The Wind. In my silly little fantasy world, I figure if Spartacus were released in 1963, it would've had to win over Tom Jones. I'd say I like it better than West Side Story, but Judgment At Nuremburg was nominated that year, and I wouldn't dream of depriving Lawrence Of Arabia. What do you think?

Dear K:

I think that if my grandma had balls she'd have been my grandpa.  Meanwhile, I don't think "The Alamo" should've been nominated for anything, let alone Best Picture.  "Spartacus" should certainly have had "The Alamo's" place in the Best Picture nominees, but it should still have lost to "The Apartment." As for putting "Spartacus" into another year, that's silly.

Josh

Name:              Valintino
E-mail:             valintino@qmail.com

Hello,

Your site is great.

Regards,
Valintino Guxxi

Dear Valintino:

Thanks, we do our best.

Josh

Name:              adeline toro
E-mail:             adeline.toro@verizon.net

Dear Josh:         

l am searching for a BOLO TIE like the one shown in the movie Godfather 11, when Frank Pantangoli's brother walked in to the Senate Committee Hearing of Al Pacino.Thank You

Dear adeline:

"Godfather Eleven"?  Shit, I thought they stopped after three.

Josh

Name:              olgamaria
E-mail:             mangoneisabbella@alice.it

Dear Josh:         

bellisssssimo!!!!neanke ad 1 di 8 anni(k sarei io) fa paura!!!è bello più di kannibbal letcer!!!ma k skifo k gli mangia la testa!io l'ho visto mentre mi mangiavo un gelato quella scena!comunque il regista dovrebbe avere un immagginazione......

Dear Olgamaria:

Sorry, I don't speak gibberish.

Josh

Name:              Franklin Purvis
E-mail:             mrsbb@operamail.com

Dear Josh:         

Stanley Kubrick's last film 'Eyes Wide Shut' is an expose of a new world order that seeks globalisation and he even names it's leader, Lord Rothschild, through one of the masks, which also appears as a statue in Buckinghamshire owned by Rothschild.  Rothschild was last seen getting Salman Rushdie a knighthood, which could spark terror attacks and be used to justify a war on Iran.

Watch Eyes Wides Shut again and notice the shapes of the christmas decorations, the patterns on the actresses dresses and it may open your eyes to a lot of other things.

So far more than a hundred hidden symbols have been identified in the film and it look as if Kubrick may have been cleverly murdered for making it.

Dear Franklin:

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Josh

Name:              Dale Wayne
E-mail:             pasta@noham.com

Dear Josh:         

You've probably already considered and rejected such an idea, but since I don't recall hearing you discuss it, I was curious as to whether or not you would ever consider writing and directing a dark satirical comedy about the non-glamorous end of the movie business, having an experience like you did on "Harpies" in such an absurd situation in Bulgaria, for instance.  If you combined the behind-the-scenes hassles and shennanigans of both "Alien Apocalypse" and "Harpies," emphasizing all the crazy shit you had to put up with due to the budget, and threw in other observations of movie industry types gained through your lifetime of expierience, and added the ironic fact that you can no longer stand anything produced in Hollywood, I would think it would have a chance of being something brilliantly observed, hilarious and ass-kicking.  I suppose in a way it would be thematically similar to Bruce's autobiography (in that it would be concentrating on the less glamorous side of the industry where people are just trying to make a living), but your authorial tone and experiences are so different from his that it would still be completely original.

Dear Dale:

Thanks for the suggestion.  I'm of a mind that if a screenwriter has to revert to writing about filmmaking, they haven't got any stories to tell and should probably find another line of work.  Filmmaking is a boring process that only seems interesting to young filmmakers who haven't done much of it, and haven't got any actual life experiences to write about.

Josh

Name:              Film Lover
E-mail:             don't want it listed online

Hi Josh,

I have over 1000 film scripts properly formatted in PDF on my computer...mostly classics. If you'd like to read anything, just let me know, and I'll email it to you.

Cheers,
Film Lover

Here is a list of some:

Ace in the Hole
Angels with Dirty Faces
Diner
Great Escape
In America
Little Big Man
Outlaw Josey Wales
Spartacus
Twelve Angry Men
lenny
lion in winter
One, Two, Three

Dear Film Lover:

Thanks for the offer.  I spend my spare time reading these old-fashioned, out-of-date things called "books."  Having written 35 screenplays, I think I have a sense of what they're about.  Perhaps someone else reading this will be interested.  However, since you didn't include your email address no one can contact you.

Josh

Name:              Paul 2.0
E-mail:

Josh

Have you watched any episodes of the Fox "reality" show "On the Lot" ? It is a filmmaker talent show with your pal Speilberg behind it. Or any thoughts on such things ? I have seen a couple of episodes and little desire to watch more.

Dear Paul 2.0:

I can't find words in the English language to express my lack of interest in turning filmmaking (and everything else) into a reality show.  To me there's absolutely no difference between watching knuckleheaded bikers chopping a motorcycle, or a handsome bachelor rejecting blubbering pretty girls, or wannabe filmmakers competing to be the next Spielberg (whom I can't stand to start with).  I would much, much, much rather watch Charlie Chaplin's 1918 film, "A Dog's Life," on TCM, which I enjoyed very much.  It was imaginiative, funny, honest, and not a minute too long.  Last night on TCM I watched "St. Louis Blues," a biopic about the early jazz composer W.C. Handy.  It was a crappy movie, but it had Nat "King" Cole as Handy, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Ruby Dee, Mahalia Jackson, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and 12-year-old Billy Preston as young Handy.  To me, even though it was a crummy movie, it was a million times more interesting than any reality show.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Well Renee said she will be leaving Friday for Sofia, Bulgaria to film The Genesis Code, I think the film involves some religious aspects and the discovery of the remains of Noah's ark if I'm right (which by the way I don't believe was found on Mt. Ararat, Turkey at all). I heard the name of her ex-husband was changed from David to Nicholas Solomon, I don't know if that was her idea. David sounds more appropriate in my opinion. The film sounds kind of Indiana Jones-esque, are you a fan of that series? What do you think?

Alotta

Dear Alotta:

No, I'm not a fan of the Indiana Jones series, nor even of the first one. And as I get older action movies about nothing become more and more egregious to me.  I certainly do wish Renee all of the luck and success in the world.

Josh

Name:              Robin
E-mail:             rjchero@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

I'm sorry Josh; although the American Beauty question was, technically, a complete sentence, I do aplogize for not making my question clearer . . .You shared a list of movies you thought were good enough to, well, mention. So, I ask you, what about American Beauty? That film speaks to the ironies of life: we spend half our lives, or more, too paralyzed to seek what could truly make us happy, and when we finally take a stand and decide to live, we die. I also loved Little Miss Sunshine for the reasons described above: This dysfunctional, family of independent oddballs put aside their own fears and obsessions and united to save one of their own from the Lions. It takes guts to be honest.

Dear Robin:

I don't like either of those movies.  Both seem like dramatic failures to me, no matter what their underlying messages may be.  Both films start off promisingly, then, like most movies these, completely drop dead somewhere about halfway in.  From the moment Alan Arkin's character dies in LMS, then they improbably and severely unbelievably steal his body, the movie goes down the crapper.  From there on out we get more and more painfully idiotic scenes, like the cop stopping them, opening the back door revealing a body wrapped in a sheet, but the cop sees a porno magazine, grins and lets them go?  And other than the obvious point of a family sticking together, what on earth were they trying to say about kid beauty pageants?  That they're too sexy?  That they're exploitive of kids?  Yet the finale is Olive is doing a striptease to "Super Freak"?  And the boy's problems all work out in one scene because Olive puts her head on his shoulder, and now he speaks.  It's painfully idiotic, and really bottom-end, unmotivated, mushy drama.  Without the weight of Alan Arkin's performance, that movie is worthless garbage. The same goes for AB, which also completely falls apart halfway through.  By the time we get to Spacey jerking-off for the second time in the shower, a sub-title should have crawled by stating, "The writer has run out of ideas, go get more popcorn."  And when you get to Chris Cooper watching his son and Spacey smoking pot, but misconstrues it as gay sex, it too has dramatically hit rock bottom.  These may well be examples of the best American movies of the past ten years, but they're pathetic, inane, stupid examples of inept screenwriting, and are merely poor drama.  It does take guts to be honest, but it also takes skill and craftsmanship to write a solid, believable script, and the neither of these films has one.

Josh

Name:              Robin
E-mail:             rjchero@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

What about American Beauty? You just forgot, that's all . . . right?

Dear Robin:

Am I supposed to have any idea what you're talking about?  Try forming a complete sentence next time.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Billy Wilder's 'lost' classic "Ace in the Hole" is being released tomorrow (Tuesday) on DVD. Supposedly this is the very first time it will be available in any home video format. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on the film and/or can recommend it?

Dear David R.:

I definitely recommend it, although it's not one of my favs, nor is it one of Billy Wilder's very best, but it's still certainly worth seeing.  Kirk Douglas is perfect for the part, and gives a terrific performance.  My favorite thing about it is the shtick with the match and the typewriter. What amuses me is that the film, and Wilder, are always referred to as "cynical" because it's about a reporter who exploits a guy stuck in a cave, except that it really happened.  So what makes the film or Wilder cynical? Like if I say that Bush and Cheney are criminals as they consistently keep breaking the law, ignoring the constitution, and wiping their asses with the Bill of Rights, that somehow makes me cynical.  In both instances I think this just being realistic, not cynical.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I have been having a discussion with another filmmaker in another filmmaking forum about the state of Hollywood. I have been discussing how much the output of films in Hollywood have declined in terms of great or even good films and he stated this to me in his last post and I would like to get your comment on this.

I have just asked him where he received the info on these statistics, but he hasn't replied just yet about that.

Criticizing "Hollywood" as if it acts as a whole I think is incorrect, but that's not really the point. Criticizing can sometimes be a good thing, such as saying I can do that better. That's what made America great. But, many take it way to far in thinking. "Hollywood" is evil (just to be clear I'm not necessarily talking about you). This type of thinking can really poison your mind. Like I said before, if you don't believe anyone will buy your project how could you ever sell it.

As for the sequels and remakes, so many people love to write about this nonsense. Hollywood reporters love this topic as much as CNN loves little kidnapped blond girls. The facts are, in 2006 Hollywood Studios released 607 films, less than 4% where sequels or remakes."

Scott

Dear Scott:

As per my count, there were 308 films released in the U.S. in 2006, including all of the foreign films, documentaries, and other sundry films that got very tiny, one theater releases.  There were 171 American-made, wide-release movies released in 2006, and of those 31 were sequels or remakes, which is about 20%.

Of the largest grossing films of 2006 -- 1. Pirates II, 2. Da Vinci Code, 3. Ice Age II, 4. Casino Royale, 5. Night at a Museum, 6. Cars, 7. X-Men III, 8. Mission Impossible III, 9. Superman Returns, 10. Happy Feet -- 60% are remakes and sequels.

Josh

Name:              allen tompkins
E-mail:             moptim@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

You qoute a lot of people in sort verse.  How much time have you actually spent in study? I see a lack of self esteem in your arguments and a lack of intelligence in your profanity. Who elected you to judge anyone?  By what authority do you claim your wisdom? I warn you now the only way someone gets saved is by someone else praying for them first and you are in my prayers. It's going to hurt when you realize what a fool you have been.

Dear allen:

Are you not judging me?  Who elected you?  And by what authority do you claim your wisdom?  Because the bible told you so?  If you seriously believe that you can petition the lord with prayer, thou art a fool.  You cannot petition the lord with prayer.  In my opinion the only lord there is to petition is yourself.  Your useless prayers and your silly hope of salvation mean diddly-shit to me.

Have a nice day.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

How's it going. I noticed you mentioned Sofia, Bulgaria and you filmed Alien Apocalypse with Renee O'Connor there I think, I was curious if you have heard of her new film The Genesis Code? It will also be filmed in Sofia. Please let me know your thoughts. Its described on www.ausxip.com.

Alotta

Dear Alotta:

Yes, we filmed "Alien Apocalypse" in Sofia, Bulgaria.  That's where most of the Sci Fi movies are made.  This is the first I've heard of "The Genesis Code," but then I don't pay attention to Sci Fi's movies.

Josh

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

Hi Josh:

This ran in the AP the other day and I thought I'd share. Brad Bird said: "People in Hollywood, the press always fixates on technology because it's easier to quantify. The truth of the matter is the technology has never been the answer. The same answers to making a good movie are the answers that were around 80 years ago."

ALSO: JJ Abrams new producing effort is a code-named film "Cloverfield," which is relying on word of mouth from its trailer and viral marketing for a hopefully storng box office. What do you think of film marketing these days? Should a film really have to resort to this kind of marketing ploy?

Dear Greene:

You gotta do whatever you gotta do.  Opening a movie costs a lot of money, more than most distributors are willing to spend.  Most movies never see the light of a projector, and basically never have any chance at all.  More than once I've thought that the only way I'll ever get anyone to pay attention to my movies is to set myself on fire and jump off a tall building, yet for some unknown reason I refrain.  Of course Mr. Bird is exactly right. Technology has very little to do with making a good movie, nor has technology been the cause of more good movies being made.  Good movies are about good ideas, and technology has nothing to do with that.

Josh

Name:              Josh Jr.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

How did you burn your bridges at Scifi? Couldn't keep your gob shut? LOL! You are one twisted guy, but that's why I like you. BTW, I saw Fat City for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I really liked it. Have you seen it, and if so what did you think?

Dear Josh Jr.:

I've seen "Fat City" three times at the theater, a several more times on video.  I've also read the book, which was quite good, and the film is a very true adaptation.  It's as bleak as any movie ever, with wonderfully grainy, blown-out photography by the master DP Conrad Hall.  I'd say it's probably John Huston's last great film, although I have a ton of respect for "The Dead," his last film.  As for SciFi, you'll just have to read my new book, "Rushes," to get the complete story.

Josh

Name:              K.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Here's a good question:
Why do you consider THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE a bad movie, but THE LAST VOYAGE a good one? Granted I like both.

Dear K.:

"The Last Voyage" is filled of believable characters and believable situations, whereas "The Poseiden Adventure" is full of painfully cliched, unbelievable characters going through ridiculous, unbelievable situations. Even as a kid when I saw "Poseiden Adventure" at the theater I was ready to scream at how idiotic and absurd it all was.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

I had heard of Directors using light meters before and have one picture of George Romero holding up a light meter to someone's face.

I think it might be good to know a little bit about everything even if your primary focus is directing.That way nobody can put one over on you. We folks that have a film camera, that shoot on weekends with $200.00 6 rolls of 100' reversal film type budgets, typicaly use the light meter in addition to telling people what to do. I'll either do it myself or just have somebody point it at the camera and sound off the meter reading. I'll then dial that into the lens. Most times I do OK.

Now obviously that doesn't apply to you because you are on a very different level and have been filming and writing for over 30 years. Us newbies, even an older newby like me, are gonna ask questions that might make your blood pressure go to dangerous levels. I asked the original question so as to be sure I wasn't missing anything. You answered in a way that said to me to not take a short cut to save a few minutes. Meter every shot.

I saw an interesting movie last night called "The Thin Red Line". It was made in 1964 and directed by Andrew Marton. I had never seen it before and it turned out to be a war movie with the character friction being between a private and his Sgt. during battle with the Japanese.

Some cheese but not bad at all and the story was pretty good.

What did you think about it Josh?

Tim

Dear Tim:

The 1964 version of "The Thin Red Line" was okay, and better than the Terrence Malick remake.  It's James Jones' follow-up to "From Here to Eternity," which was far superior as both a book and a film.  The third book in the trilogy, "Whistle," hasn't been filmed yet.  Meanwhile, if you're both the DP and the director then you should certainly be using a light meter, but directors, as a rule, don't need light meters because they don't set the exposure on the camera.  If you're working with a real film crew the director very rarely touches the camera, since the director isn't in the camera department.  Nor does a director really touch any equipment.  The camera dept. or the set crew move around the video monitors and the director's chair.  The director's only props are the script, the shot list or storyboards, and the schedule.  I don't even bother with a director's finder, which I find to be a waste of time.  I just have them set up the camera where I want it, put on a lens, then I look at it through the monitor to see if I like it.  I agree that a director should know how to do as many other jobs on the crew as possible, and should know how to use a light meter, know the differences in all the lenses, and understand lighting, but it's not really required.

Josh

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