Q & A    Archive
Page 48

Name: Jon Booth
E-mail: oraknabo@newterminus.com

Dear Josh:

This is mostly in response to your "The Need For Structure" series, with an emphasis on Part Four:

I am not a professional writer. I am an artist, a wage-slave, a sometimes comic creator and a fanatical reader and movie watcher. I would agree with you pretty closely when it comes to great films, Lean and Powell are easily on top of my list, as are Ford, Renoir and Hitchcock.

First, to correct your assumptions on Jackson Pollack, Since you are so fond of defending Picasso, I'd like to inform you that Pollack studied for years under the great Thomas Hart Benton before launching into his own individual style. In some ways, Benton is the John Ford of the art world, traditional but highly innovative and possessed with elevating the mundane American west to a mythical status. Though Pollack never mastered rendering to the degree Picasso did, he was developing an extension of the work of Kandinsky under the guidance of Clement Greenberg that moved him away from the style he learned with Benton. He WAS a master craftsman. You've probably seen it by now, but even though it only briefly touched on the Pollack/Benton relationship, I was pleasantly surprised by Ed Harris's "Pollack,"

Anyway,
Recently I came across a story that I felt would make a great movie. Not just a "cool" move, not even a highly marketable one, but one that has the potential to tell an important story of daring human enterprise racked with struggle and deeply explored themes and characters. Though I keep a freewriting journal as a habit and have written a good number of comics, I was not at the time familiar with the conventions of screenwriting. I pulled as many scripts I could find off the internet and bought some excellent books like Egri's "The Art-" and even reread Aristotles "Poetics" ("Ethics" is still his best though). Then I read Syd Field's work and I probably disagreed with 60-80% of it. Does this mean my screenplay is destined for failure. Maybe. Maybe Not.

I've read a hell of a lot of books in my short life, and I can say this with a pretty good degree of certainty: The three act structure is one of many choices available to the writer! Like 4/4 rhythm in music, It has become the western standard for stories, but that soesn't necessarily make it best. As you quote in part 3 “The abuse of a thing is no argument against the use of it.” Very true. And the success of a form does not always exclude its alternatives. You're from Michigan, right. Well, consider vehicles. our world is dominated by 4-wheeled vehicles. The car industry as a whole has adopted the form as a standard. Sure there are a lot of shitty 4-wheeled vehicles that have been made over the years as well as excellent ones. Can you argue that there isn't a proper place for 2, 3 and 18 wheeled vehicles? A 3-wheeled car probably won't sell in great numbers, but it isn't by default crap for having three wheels.

I'm sorry to give you a hard time. We both basically still arguing for the importance of structure. Of course you still need wheels and engineering skill to build a properly working vehicle. You just don't NEED a 3-act paradigm! Sure it's easier that way, but how many novels resort to it? Does it only apply when the story is acted?

Also, attacking "American Beauty" while defending "The Dead" on the same page just looks bad. They both come from Joyce. Sure one's a shameless ripoff with a changed ending where the writer won't even admit to reading the book ( see http://nasty.cx/essays/jja-11032000.html ) while the other's an official adaption, but both seem to be easily forgiven in the post-tarrantino "recontextualized" movie industry. "American beauty", as "Ulysses", comes from later in his career, a much more complex piece of work. Reductionism and Postmodernism may be a joke that's gone on too long, but I still thank the muses for giving us writers like Thomas Pynchon, John Barth and David Foster Wallace.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I wouldn't call "Lawrence of Arabia" 3-act, or "Annie Hall." And what point does the main character of "Citizen Kane" make? If we're talking about Kane, each variation stands for something different. If we're talking about the REAL main character, the one the plot actually HAPPENS to, the reporter, he has no personality -it's still a great movie. Even movies without defineable plot or characters can be good. I'm sure you would disagree, but in my humble opinion, Soderbergh's "Schizopolis" is an unbelieveably good film. And if I may quote "The Need For Structure, Part 5", "if you don’t like it, fuck you!"

Sorry for the rant, It's 3:30 in the morning, so I'll stop. By the way, I love "Lunatics," Ted's character is great. And Running time was interesting viewing. I just finished "If Chins Could Kill" and I think it might help spread the word about these two. Bruce puts in a good word for both.

Dear Jon:

As I say somewhere along the way in the structure essays, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for most people, just trying to follow the rule is hard enough. Yes, there are a few good films out there that don't follow the 3-act structure. Nevertheless, most good films do follow it. And I say you can't go beyond it until you've mastered it. Presently, nobody is even close to being a master of it, let alone surpassing it. Your comparison of "The Dead" and "American Beauty" both being adaptations of Joyce seems ridiculous to me. Quite frankly, I don't care how hard Jackson Pollack struggled and fought demons, his work doesn't interest me. I do agree that no one had spattered paint quite like that before him, but so what? It's still spattered paint.

Josh

Name: Annie
E-mail: annieknowsbest@usa.com

Dear Josh,

I'm a friend of Sam Raimi's sister, Andrea. When I saw the note from "Sam" I was very suspicious. So I checked with Andrea, and she said that did not sound like Sam at all. She then talked to him and confirmed that he definitely did NOT write that note on your site.

It's sickening that someone would get their jollies by deceiving you and the fans here by posing as Sam - or any other well-known person for that matter. It would probably be a good idea to confirm the identities of "famous" people before posting messages alleging to be from them. Someone is abusing your (our) trust and openness in ways that may ruin it for everyone.

What a shame...

Annie

Dear Annie:

Thanks for checking. I suppose I really ought to have myself. It seems to be getting to be a bigger and bigger problem here on this website. I'm not quite sure what to do about it, either. Anyone can write in and say they're anyone -- like the idiot that's been saying he's Bryan Singer. I guess anyone that says that sort of thing, without a valid and recognizable (by me) email address (which I would then delete), will no longer be posted. Thanks again.

Josh

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

Hello Dr. Becker,

I was wondering if you've seen "Meshes of the Afternoon", by Maya Deren? I think it came out in the 1940's. I don't know if it's too artsy or "structureless" for you, but I think it's a great short film, especially for the time. I seem to recall you saying something good about "Un Chien Andulou", and I thought "Meshes of the Afternoon" might appeal to you on a similar plain.

-S.C.

Dear S.C.:

I haven't seen it. I like and respect "Un Chien Andulou" because it's a legitimate part of a very interesting movement, surrealism. I also think you can get away with a lot more experimental type stuff in short films. The film, though, was so popular that they threw Luis Bunuel out of the movement.

Josh

Name: Mary
E-mail: miller@vancouver.wsu.edu

Dear Josh:

Here's a list of films:

Goldfinger, Star Wars, Silence of the Lambs, The Shawshank Redemption, ET, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Yellow Submarine, Planes Trains and Automobiles.

These are all films on Roger Ebert's "Great Films" list, in other words the greatest films ever made. After sifting through the list I picked these as the least worthy of being on such a list. Do you think any of these films are truly "GREAT?"

By the way, he chooses one new film to add to the list about every two weeks and all of the above titles made the cut before he finally chose Lawrence of Arabia.

Dear Mary:

Roger Ebert is a putz and his taste is up his ass. The only thing that made Ebert bearable was Siskel. None of the films on that list would be on my greatest list. I think "Yellow Submarine" and "Planes Trains and Automobiles" are legitimately bad films (The Beatles HATED "Yellow Submarine" and it's not even their voices). Nothing by John Hughes is good enough to even make the mediocre list. I like "Saurday Night Fever" and "The Shawshank Redemption," but I wouldn't say they're great films. Roger Ebert just wants to be liked.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail:
Dear Josh: Hi Josh. Just curious...Is there any particular reason why you didn't like Kurusawa's Ran? I assume you have seen it since you've seen nearly eveything.

Fingers crossed for If I Had a Hammer,
Noelle

Dear Noelle:

I found "Ran" to be extremely dull and clearly the work of an old man who no longer had any sense of pace. I kept getting the feeling that Kurosawa would only cut when the camera ran out of out film. I do, however, quite like a number of Kurosawa's films from the 50s and 60s.

Josh

Name: Tommy
E-mail:

josh becker? hwo do u feel about star wars being crowned by empire as the greatest film of all times?

Dear Tommy:

Are you of alien origin? You can't be human.

Josh

Name: Cheri
E-mail: sarno2001@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I just started attending college and realized that I want to be a director. I was wondering where you started your career. I read that you wanted to become an actor but changed to directing. What was the change in your life that you wanted to direct over acting?

Dear Cheri:

That changed happened between the age of 9 and 12, when I realized that there actually were directors. But I was never really serious about being an actor, I was too young.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail: bseckard@hotmail.com

Josh,

How did Ted Raimi meet Bryan Singer?

I'll tell ya what, that Hunky Ares, or whatever, sure makes me mad. (My apologies to Fan X for mistaking him for the Ares dip) Why would anyone want to lie about something so stupid, is beyond me. What in the hell is there to possibly gain?

I think you need to write an essay about weird fans! How they first came into your life, if any have ever showed up on your doorstep, or if you ever recieved important advice that helped you, etc.

Have a good one.

Blake Eckard

Dear Blake:

Bruce made a film about it called "Fanalysis," which Anchor Bay picked up, so it will be available soon. Fans don't show up on my doorstep, and my door's always open. Local cats just wander in and out.

Josh

Name: Fan X
E-mail:

Josh,

I really enjoyed Tender Mercies too. Do you like the Aussie Brian Beresford's work in general? He has worked steadily about a movie a year since 1972 to now, a weird hodge-podge of films from Hollywood garbage like Her Alibi to respectable stuff like Breaker Morant. I rented a pile of DVD's this weekend. Lilies of the Field (excellent), Tom Jones (also excellent), and Juno and the Paycock (an old Hitchcock, pretty dull but I did get a kick out of seeing the original "Joxer"). Lilies was the best of the bunch, I'd recommend it to anyone here who hasn't seen it yet.

Dear Fan X:

I had a lot more hope for Bruce Beresford than how his career has panned out. I liked "Breaker Morant," but other than "Tender Mercies" I can live without all of his films since then, even the Aussie films he's gone back to make. I was very moved by "Lillies of the Field" as a kid, but I find it a tad clunky now. Still, it's good stuff. Although no one ever mentions him anymore, I was a big fan of the film's director, Ralph Nelson, for a while there. He had a terrific run of pictures in the 1960s and early 70s: "Requiem for a Heavyweight," "Lillies of the Field," "Fate is the Hunter," "Father Goose," "Duel at Diablo," "Charly," and "The Wilby Conspiracy." I also think "Tom Jones" is a darn good film. Diane Cliento, as Tom's mom, realizing that she slept with her own son and shrugging it off is pretty hilarious. The old English Hitchcock films from the 1930's are mostly dull. "The 39 Steps" is the best of the bunch. I did like "Murder" and the original "The Man Who Knew Too Much," as well. Hitch didn't really hit his stride until he got to Hollywood.

Josh

Name: Bryan
E-mail: Hunky Ares@aol.com

K... Josh, if you DID have the financing and time, which of your scripts would u want to direct or produce next? And secondly, who do these people here reckon the best looking film director in the world is? I wouldn't be surprised if you looked my ways, guys!

Dear Whoever You Are:

Ted Raimi did NOT meet Bryan Singer at a science fiction convention. That's the incorrect answer, therefore you are not Bryan Singer, you're just some idiotic schmuck that thinks lying to me is funny. Get lost. No more of your emails will be posted.

Josh

Name: Fan X
E-mail:

Josh,

I noticed something about the film Tender Mercies, that it doesn't have a music score. Alot of films, especially dramas, should really leave out the music or keep it subtle. Do you agree that alot of times directors are using music to substitute for good writing?

Dear Fan X:

There actually is a little bit of score, but not much. I think everyone is just used to wallpaper musical scores that cover everything. As Joe LoDuca, the composer that's scored all of my films, has said to me, being a good composer has a lot to do with where you put music and where you don't put music. The entire first act of "Running Time" has no score. There's a piece of source music coming from the car radio, but no dramatic score until act two begins, and when it does, it always makes me happy. But you must believe in your drama to leave it unscored. That's why Xena was wall-to-wall music (also scored by Joe)--no one believed in the drama. I really do love "Tender Mercies."

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

Like, wow!
I'll assume it's really the super Sam visiting here!

Please know that a group of us hard core RenPics fans are all wound up for the upcoming Spiderman. Sam, you even met one of us on the streets of NYC going to lunch while filming Spidey, she had a "director's chair" charm necklace on you noticed and were so kind to chat and pose for a pic with her. We're all smitten with your Alfred Hitchcock-esque coat and tie style on the set!

Now, it's only fair since we've been teased, that we get the scoop on this Andrea story.

And I don't suppose, Josh, you've seen the latest (?) picture of yourself at:
http://www.fakeshemps.com/ (after the opening main page moving clip)

Long hair! Say it wasn't so! A 70's thing for you? I'm digging the goatee though.

Dear Diana:

That wasn't an old picture of me, it was from the set of "Hammer." That's what I look like now, when I let my hair down. Andrea is Sam and Ted's older sister, who used to be best friends with my older sister in high school. I don't know what sam's referring to, Andrea was always nice to me and never beat me up, although she could have being five years older than me.

Josh

Name: Tuna
E-mail:

Josh,

What did you think of the film "Rosemary's Baby"?

Do you think we will see a rush of patriotic films made in the upcoming months?

Dear Tuna:

I think "Rosemary's Baby" is a truly brilliant film, and is my favorite horror film. It takes more than a couple of months to get a film up, going, shot, and edited. There are, however, a bunch of WWII pictures already in post.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Dear Josh:

I have a friend who used to co-manage a movie theater, and he told me that all theaters got their movies through a booking company. Is there any to get your movie straight to these companies after you've already made a print? Some way to forgo actually selling your movie to a studio?

Also, I remember you said once that you had a friend who ran the Chicago Underground film festival. Have you tried getting him to show "If I Had a Hammer"?

Dear David:

You don't get your movie to a booking company, they get their films from distribution companies. If there's no money to advertise the film, no theaters will be interested in showing it. As to the Chicago Underground Film Festival, yes, I know the guy that runs it, Jay Bliznick, and I'm sure he'd show my film, but I don't really care (with all respect to Jay). Once Anchor Bay is set to release the Video/DVD, I'll see if some indie arthouse theaters are interested in showing it.

Josh

Name: Linda Drumsta
E-mail: tldrumsta@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I am looking for LUX bar soap and noted that you bought yours at a 99 cent store. What city did you get this in? I live in the US and cannot find it. Please e mail me and let me know. Do you have the address and phone number of the store? thanks.

Dear Linda:

I live in Los Angeles and 99-cent stores are all over the place. You must handle the rest yourself.

Josh

Name: Brian D.
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I was wondering if you heard any news about Renee and the baby.

thanks, Brian

Dear Brian:

I just asked and apprently not yet.

Josh

Name: Ray-The Screenwriter
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Which one of your scripts do you want to produce next? Are you sure, yet? Do you have any ideas?

Dear Ray:

I don't have any financing to produce anything next. My immediate hope is to get my last film to come out in any way, shape or form. I will undoubtedly end up taking a big loss on it, too.

Josh

Name: keke varnado
E-mail: kekecv@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Hi,I was interesting in becoming an actress. I am from down south, I recently move to the LA area to start my acting career. All I am trying to do is follow my dreams. As I was reading you said that you wanted to be an actor since the age of 9 me too. I would like some tips on how should I make my dream come true. What is the first thing that I have to do to get started. Since you have follow your dream and sucessfully made it to the top, from a viewer point it would be more that delightful if you can give me some tips on becoming a ACTRESS.

Thanks for your time


keke

Dear Keke:

Read as many books as you can.

Josh

Name: kady
E-mail: mus120mi

hi,i wanted to ask u if u have more xena behind the scenes photos?of hercules or ares with her? i have never scena a picture of lucy and kevin smith together of the set

Dear Kady:

No, that's all I've got. Shooting photos wasn't really allowed on the set, I just sneaked a few.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Seems I often end up asking you questions relating to people's birthdays. So today (Sept. 20th) is Michael Hurst's 44th birthday. You directed some really wonderful scenes with him in "Maze of the Minotaur," including that incredible bar room brawl, and the nice reminiscing scenes with Hercules. Any memories or stories that you might share?

Also, a technical question on that one - was the idea supposed to be that something had happened to Iolaus's wife, and he was a single dad? (I seem to recall him mentioning something to that effect to Hercules.)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Yeah, Iolaus's wife supposedly died between "Circle of Fire" and "Maze of Minotaur" (if I'm not mistaken). A funny thing that immediately comes to mind about Michael and that film was that several times it's Iolaus that remembers the flashback, so the scenes begin with the camera pushing into a his close-up as he says, ""Why, it's just like when me and Hercules fought the Amazon women . . ." and that would be all of the dialog written in the script. Michael, being a first-rate actor, knows to never stop acting until the director calls cut. Well, I simply wouldn't call cut just to see what he'd improvise, and it was always hysterically funny.

Josh

Name: Kevin Mills
E-mail: thespythatshagsu@home.com

Dear Josh:

I finally saw Styker's War.....

One of the best short films I've ever seen. The music was brilliant (especially the sampling of Patton), although quite cheesy when Jack and Sally "discover" each other.

I was wondering if you've ever thought of pitching a film idea to Renaissance Pictures and get "the gang" back together?*

--Kevin "Kelvin" Mills

PS: I noticed that you put Un Chien Andalou amognst your favourite films. Do you know where one can currently find that Dali/Bunuel jem? I've got a song by Toronto artist Nash the Slash that he wrote for a live performance of the film. I've heard the song and I'm groovin' on it but I've never seen the film that goes with it.

*= Upon reading it back I'm not sure if a question mark fits there....but then a period doesn't seem right either.

Dear Kevin:

I'd say a question mark goes there. How on earth did you see "Stryker's War"? "Un Chien Andalou" is available at Movies Unlimited, I just checked. I just pitched Rob Tapert the idea of doing a feature together and he's not interested.

Josh

Name: Laura González
E-mail: Cyane@xenaverso.net

Hello, Josh!

I love your film "Lunatics:A love story", You will think I am comun, but I will very happy if you can say Ted Raimi that see his letter. And Do you know if Ted have a girlfriend? hahah! I'm 15 years old, I'm spanish and I don't speak english very well, but I hope that you can understand this message.

A lot of kisses

Dear Laura:

I called Ted and read him your letter, which he thought was "very nice." I don't know if Ted has a girlfriend or not at this point, but I think you're too young for him.

Josh

Name: Amy Desantes
E-mail: Dbf4912@aol.com

Dear Josh:

i dont realy have a question you might want to answer but oh-well.............my brother met Haly joel Osment and He said Haly was a little bratty........was he like this when you were shooting?

Dear Amy:

Shooting what? You must be confusing me with Steven Spielberg. He lives a couple of miles north of here and his beard's much grayer than mine.

Josh

Name: Tuomas Laasanen
E-mail: tuomas@cinemasf.net

Dear Josh:

Do you have any idea how I could send a question to Scott Spiegel? I've heard a lot about his horrorflick "Intruder" and been wanting to see that one for a long time. The problem is that I'm not interested in watching some cut version or spending a fortune on obtaining the greek tape - which is supposedly the full uncut version. The question for him was that is the film going to get a dvd-release?

And I also had a question for you about the upcoming "Hammer"-dvd. Have you recorded an audio commentary or prepared any other supplementary materials for the disc? And if you could share any specifics of the presentation of the film itself, it would be great.

Dear Tuomas:

Honestly, I don't know how you can get in touch with Scott. He seems to have lost contact with almost everybody. As to the "Hammer" DVD release, I haven't even gotten the contract yet, let alone having done anything else. I'm sure there will be a commentary track when it's released.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i think you guys can take down that charity auction link now ;)

Dear ?,

Yikes, you're right. It shall happen soon...

Shirley

Name: Noelle
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Alas I am not Bryan Singer.

I saw the film on your list called Living in Oblivion--this was ages ago it seems, but I remember a great line from Steve Buscemi "You got a couple'a hamsters blowing f***ing smoke rings in there?" (of the smoke machine that won't work.) I liked it, but it seemed more like a comedy best understood by people who make indie film.

Dear Noelle:

I don't think it's a great film, but Buscemi is terrific and there is an amazingly good sequence between and older actress and a younger actress, where technical things keep going wrong, the boom drops in, a truck goes by, lines are forgotten, so Buscemi calls a break, and during the break both actresses do the scene perfectly. Good stuff.

Josh

Name: Sam
E-mail:

Josh,

So, you'd take "If I Had a Hammer" and "Running Time" over "Spiderman" any day, huh? Better watch what you say or I'm going to have Andrea beat you up again.

Dear Sam:

With all due respect, mind you. The fact is, I couldn't do "Spiderman." I'm sure I would have been fired very early into the deal. I deeply respect your ability to handle such enormous projects, but you've always known that I've never liked comic books or super heroes. I do honestly wish you all the very besy with it, though.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think is the most terrifying part of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? What do you think is one of the most best mindbending films as in screenplays of all time? Speaking of mindbending thrillers, you might want to check out the new independent film Memento. No, correction: you HAVE to check it out. It has a great cast along with their acting, incredible premise, great writing and directing. Oh did I mention it is about a-- whoops, my bad. It is better to not know what it is about when you see it. I can assure you youll be blown away. I, myself, loved it. I found a few flaws. Just a few, but hey, not all great films can be absolutely perfect. Check it out, man, you will not be dissapointed. Trust me. If you are, then my bad. Aight, Im out, by the way, keep up the badass workk!

Dear Nobody:

I really don't like eltters without a name attached. Quite frankly, I don't find any part of "Baby Jane" horrifying; it seems much more like a black comedy to me. There is a good suspense scene when Crawford writes the note and throws it out the window to the neighbor and Bette Davis finds it. I love seeing Davis in her little dress singing "I've Written a Letter to Daddy." And when "Memento" is shown on cable, I'll see it.

Josh

Name: FilmGeek
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Why is it that you have more scripts than on this site but you just didn't post them? Is there any specific reason? What is "The Biological Clock" & "If I Had A Hammer" about?

Dear Film Geek:

Being as old as I am, the first five or six scripts I wrote were not on a computer, and the next several were on a software that no longer exists and can't be accessed. I have scanned in a number of these, but I grew weary of the process. Also, there are a number of my scripts that I simply don't like anymore and will not put them on display. I've also been holding back on "Hammer" until the film is released. "The Biological Clock" is posted so if you want to know what it's about, read it. "Hammer" is about a folk club in 1964 and the end of the folk movement, with an erstwhile love story and ten folk songs.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: ben@internetben.com

Dear Josh,

Regarding knowing a producer being the best way to get a script looked at, I began to wonder how well perseverence stacks in the Hollywood world. If you go through all six degrees (or more) to get a script to an actor or producer, would that generally be impressive to them? Likewise, if you keep on them (within the legal allowances), are they likely to break down? If someday, Universal finally says, "Okay you annoying SOB, let's see what you got," what should I have in addition to the script? A logline? A high concept? A synopsis? And just to be clear, is a logline that clever little line that appears under the title on the poster? And is a high concept a combination of two movies or other works that the producer can relate to?

Thanks.
Ben

Dear Ben:

I occasionally feel like I'm persevering myself to death. I've been pounding on this cement wall with my little hammer for 25 years now and I haven't really made a dent yet. It's not all that hard to get to a low-level executive at any of the studios, just call and make an appointment. But keep in mind that the only execs you can get to are the ones that can only say no. They don't have the power to say yes and will probably never stick their necks out regarding anything. I believe they think that if they just stay quiet they'll last longer in their jobs. As far as a specific producer goes, you have to figure out a way to differentiate yourself from all the other poor schmucks trying to do the same thing. Remember, there are a million people trying to get 250 film deals a year, and most of those deals were made in-house and have nothing to do with folks showing up and pitching their swell scripts. If you do go in and pitch, keep it short and leave the script. The logline, BTW, is like the TV Guide description--one sentence. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Bryan
E-mail: Hunky Ares@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Hey in case u didn't get my mail.. which i did did send... it goes:
I met Ted at a sci-fi convention... I prefer to refer to him as the genuine, funny, Jewish guy... lol... anyway, can u tell ur fans to stop hating me so much!
See ya
Bryan

Dear Bryan:

Thanks for answering my question.

Josh

Name: Bryan
E-mail: Hunky Ares@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Ok... look this aint a place to showcase who they are... so please let's not go on! Ain't that right, Josh? U wanted to know who I was.. the anonymous stuff was getting on your tits... so I let you know who I was let's leave it at that. NOW JOSH I HAVE KILLER QUESTION I NNNNEEEEED AN ANSWER.. HOW DO THE ARCHIVED PAGES WORK?? ITS SO WEIRD!! I MEAN I GO TO PAGE 47... THE NEWEST ONE AND IT COMES UP WITH OLD LETTER SO I GO TO PAGE 1 AND IT COMES UP WITH REEEEEAAAALLY OLD LETTERS!! HOWS IT WORK MATEY?!!

Dear Bryan:

No answer on the Ted question, eh? Our webmaster, Shirley, will field this question.

Josh

 

Dear Bryan,

When this page fills up too much I move it to the archive. Page 1 is the very first page that was archived, and Page 47 was the 47th page archived, the most recent. Does this make sense to you?

Shirley

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail: bseckard@hotmail.com

Josh,

I couldn't agree more with the idea that longer, rock steady shots are the sign of good direction. I never could stand the visual look of "NYPD Blue" or "Homicide" either. And I particularly hate so many indi films now, partly because they are so damned handheld it's sickening.

Since I just saw it for the first time in ages last week and am still thinking about it, I really must say that one of the most wonderfully photographed independent films would have to be Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I love how the entire chase scene (that lasts nearly 5 minutes) is composed of these really long and fast moving dolly shots that are chopped up into seemingly hundreds of quick cuts. I also like the shot that moves under the swing and towords the house just after the 1st guy is killed.
Aside from all this, the acting and story are really outstanding. I hated the guy in the wheelchair so much, and then felt almost ashamed when Leatherface jumped out of the bushes and killed him. I can't see any movie having the guts these days to make you dislike a cripple and then killing him off when you're starting to rely on him because he's the only living man left. That's cold and calculating! I loved it.

I've always felt that had I been a critic in 74 I probably would have hailed Hooper as the next Hitchcock. (Before knowing he'd make "Spontaneous Combustion" and "Crocodile") I still think TTCM is the scariest movie I've seen. I'd just forgotten how well the film was made.

Have a good one.

Blake Eckard

Dear Blake:

I completely agree with you. I honestly don't think any movie has scared me as much as the first time I saw TCM. When Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen, with whom I co-starred in "Mosquito") puts that kid on the meat hook, then starts the chainsaw, I was so relieved that it cut away I could barely breathe. The dolly shot under the swing is terrific. I loved the nutty kid they pick up ("It's a good picture. You can pay me now"), and I really, really like the very opening with the flashes at night so you can barely see what you're looking at, then it cuts the daytime shot of a sculpture of human remains--truly horrifying. I'm not sure all of this will be nearly as powerful on video as it was in a movie theater at the time, but what that film did to an audience was incredible.

Josh

Name: Steve
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Been awhile. Thought I'd pop in and see what was going on. ****2001 Spoilers***>>> I always thought the "Star Baby" was like supposed to symbolize the next step of evolution. Like when the first monolith appears they begin to make an intellectual leap forming an abstract connection between objects and tools. But it really is in the eye of the beholder. I liked the stuff with HAL more than you did. Even though Keir's re-entrance into the ship was not realistic, that the whole sequence when HAL hears them talking about shutting him off to when Keir turns off HAL were the best part of the film. It's a mysterious film, but in a good way not a frustrating way.

Dear Steve:

I agree with you that the HAL section is the best part of the film, but it's also dramatically entirely unnecessary. I have a tendency when I watch the film to stop and rewind when the "Jupiter and Beyond" section begins. I really enjoy the exchange between HAL and Dave when he wants to get back on the ship and HAL won't let him. "Open the pod-bay door, Hal," which HAL won't do. Dave threatens to come in through the emergency hatch and HAL replies, "That would be difficult, Dave, without your space helmet" and it cuts to his helmet sitting there by itself.

Josh

Name: Yori Nakazono
E-mail: yori@excite.com

Dear Josh:

I think your Structure essays are really interesting. It makes me wonder about where we are as a literate society when this sort of thing has to be explained at all, especially to people who profess to be budding screenwriters. I'm probably going to repeat some of your ideas here so bear with me.

I have to think that much of what we consider normal dramatic structure is really related to convenience. Back in Shakespeare's day they had more "acts" but when most of the audience is standing on its feet you'd better have alot of breaks. The live play in modern times has three "acts" broken up into two sections with an intermission. Now with film, as we grow further away from any sense of logical breaks, do you think that modern filmmakers are simply so far removed from the one on one reality of an audience and interludes that they simply forgot how to relate a story? I have a recollection of 2001 Space Odyssey having an intermission, not many films do, maybe they should because it would force filmmakers to think about acts.

Dear Yori:

I believe that any film that runs over about 130-140 minutes should have an intermission. But you don't need an intermission to know where your act breaks go (nor do you need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows). As to why most screenwriters now don't know anything about story structure, I think it's infinitely easier to just spit shit out onto the paper. If you actually know where you're going and why, it's much more difficult. Therefore, I'd say the answer is sheer laziness.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Josh-

First of all, I wanted to thank you for breaking down 2001 for me. It at least clears up a lot of questions. I'm reading Clarke's "the Sentinel" as we speak.

I know you're not that impressed with Woody Allen's last few movies, but have you ever seen "Sweet and Lowdown" with Sean Penn? I think it's a really interesting movie, and it has a really great soundtrack. I think the movie pretty much falls apart when Uma Thurman steps into the picture, though.

Thanks,
David

Dear David:

I couldn't stand it and I bailed out within the first 25 minutes. It seemed really thoughtless and horrible to me. Just because Woody Allen likes jazz guitar (which I do too) doesn't mean there's a feature film there.

Josh

Name: Steve
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Been awhile. Thought I'd pop in and see what was going on. ****2001 Spoilers***>>> I always thought the "Star Baby" was like supposed to symbolize the next step of evolution. Like when the first monolith appears they begin to make an intellectual leap forming an abstract connection between objects and tools. But it really is in the eye of the beholder. I liked the stuff with HAL more than you did. Even though Keir's re-entrance into the ship was not realistic, that the whole sequence when HAL hears them talking about shutting him off to when Keir turns off HAL were the best part of the film. It's a mysterious film, but in a good way not a frustrating way.

Dear Steve:

I agree with you that the HAL section is the best part of the film, but it's also dramatically entirely unnecessary. I have a tendency when I watch the film to stop and rewind when the "Jupiter and Beyond" section begins. I really enjoy the exchange between HAL and Dave when he wants to get back on the ship and HAL won't let him. "Open the pod-bay door, Hal," which HAL won't do. Dave threatens to come in through the emergency hatch and HAL replies, "That would be difficult, Dave, without your space helmet" and it cuts to his helmet sitting there by itself.

Josh

Name: J.B. Fan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I got two questions:

1) What did you think about Single White Female? Have you ever seen it? Heard about it? Thought of anything strange of the film? Found things unusual and new?

2) How do I get a script looked at by getting in touch with a producer?

Dear J.B Fan:

Yes, I saw "Single White Female" when it opened. It was interesting for a while, but finally settled out into a dull slasher film. I did like the moment when Jennifer Jason Lee comes in with the same haircut as Bidget Fonda. As far as Barbet Schroeder films go, though, I'll take "Barfly." The best way to get a producer to look at your script is if he/she is a relative of yours. I guess you first have to figure out who you want to send it to, then figure out how within the six degrees of seperation you can get to them. It's like being a detective.

Josh

Name: Kevin Mills
E-mail: thespythatshagsu@home.com

Dear Josh:

I just finished reading your Walk of fame essay and tell you what...

If I ever have a spare five grand I'll give it to you and we'll go through the motions for a star bearing the name "Josh Backer" (misspelling is intentional) and instead of a camera just have a hand flipping the bird to anyone who looks down.

Dear Kelvin:

I think the price has gone up since then. Hey, if Coppola doesn't have one, I don't want one.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your take on the way that shows like NYPD Blue use shaky-cam? The camera jiggles around all over the place. Why is this effect used? It doesn't seem to me like it is any more "natural" than just holding still. If the POV is someone running I think it probably works but if the people are stationary it seems like random camera movement is just distracting.

I guess I must have been wrong about the Ted/Bryan back story since you didn't reply. But I swear I read that somewhere.

Dear Noelle:

You were right, although you had the details wrong. I didn't want to post it so that Hunky Ares had a chance to answer on his own, which he hasn't done. Wait a minute, are you Bryan Singer? This is starting to remind me of Dr. Suess's "Are You My Mother?" If you think back to when "NYPD Blue" started it was much shakier. They've actually cooled that down a bit. "Homicide" did it the worst, and I found it unwatchable. That's how Lars Von Trier shot "Breaking the Waves" and I also found that to be unwatchable. The bottom line is that I personally hate very shaky camerawork, it's distracting and annoying, and has nothing to do with reality. The human eye works like a Steadi-cam, removing all the shakiness and bumps to give a constant smooth view of things, even when we're running. Also, one of my favorite parts of filmmaking is shot selection and montage, how do these images go together? If it's all hand-held then you've blown both of those things. Although I'm not a big fan of "Full Metal Jacket," I really enjoy Kubrick's shot selection and his sense of montage and I find the film very watchable from that perspective. I also like the fact that he doesn't cut all that much, he'll actually let me see what I'm looking at. That's my idea of good direction.

Josh


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